GPEE: Shaping Policy and Reforming Education in Georgia for Two Decades

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We at Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education are throwing a party–our 20th anniversary party.

Founded in 1990 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Partnership consists of business, education, community and government leaders who share a vision of improved education. The Partnership serves as the foremost change agent in education and takes lead roles in shaping policy and reforming education.

As I look back over the past 20 years of the Partnership’s history and the achievements we made in improving education in Georgia, I realize there is much to celebrate. In January 2012, Education Week ranked Georgia seventh in the nation based on the state’s commitment to improve educational policies and practices. Georgia has made consistent gains on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the nation’s report card of student achievement. By 2011, fourth graders in Georgia were matching the national average of 65 percent of students reading at or above the basic level. Since 2001, Georgia has cut in half the number of fourth graders who failed to meet the basic levels of math proficiency. Our high-school graduation rates have consistently improved over the past decade.

In 2012 our state received its best-ever national KIDS COUNT ranking for the wellbeing of children. Policymakers, advocates, service providers, civic leaders, and funders use this data to inform their decisions about priorities, services, and resources for children and families. For Georgia, the information shows significant progress over time on measures of education, health, and family and community wellbeing. 

We at the Georgia Partnership feel we have much to celebrate on our 20th Anniversary and the improvements we have seen in Georgia. However, looking forward towards the next 20 years, I see there is still work to be done. While our high school graduation rates have been steadily improving, we’re still behind the national average. The 2012 KIDS COUNT data also show the measures of economic wellbeing have declined over the past few years. This is the area where our state struggles the most. Childhood poverty rates are increasing, as are the percentage of teens who are not working and not in school. Parental unemployment also continues to rise. Through our work to inform Georgia’s leaders through research and non-partisan advocacy we continue to address these problems.

I invite you to join all of us at the Partnership to celebrate not only our work over the past 20 years, but looking forward to the next 20. We will continue to work with and leverage the resources of our great partners, like Georgia Family Connection Partnership, to convene and inform Georgia’s leaders around research informed solutions. Our goal is to make Georgia a leader in the nation across all areas of economic development and educational achievements.