Our History

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Our History

For 26 years (1992-2018) the  Georgia Partnership has been making a difference in the public education landscape of Georgia. For more historical background, check the 20th Anniversary web site and the 25th Anniversary page.

Major accomplishments include:

–  Leveraging $30 million in state, private, and local matching funds to turn 51 local school systems into models of academic excellence.  Each system participating in the Next Generation School Project succeeded in raising student achievement results.

In 2002, the project narrowed its focus to reform models that involve specifically adding time to the school calendar, whether it is lengthening the school day, extending the school term, or adding weekend or other special sessions for students who are at risk of failure. Here’s a detailed report about the project.

–  Advocating successfully for such educational reforms as a lottery-funded statewide pre-kindergarten program; a constitutional amendment calling for appointed school superintendents and elected school boards; and an amendment allowing school systems to hold local referendums to establish sales tax funding for school construction purposes. The Partnership provides non-partisan information for educational policies that often ultimately become law.

–  Raising private and public support for scholarships directed to teachers seeking National Board Certification. The Partnership donated $1 million to help establish the scholarship program.  This incentive along with legislated pay increases for educators earning the certification leveraged the increase in the number of Georgia teachers achieving National Board Certification from 111 teachers in 2000 to 2,572 in 2015.  Georgia now ranks 14th in the nation on this important indicator of teacher quality.

–  Strategically enhancing education through collaboration with statewide businesses to provide advocacy, influential policy change, performance management and leadership skills, and systemic financial support.

–  Boosting school improvement by taking a lead role in 2002 in the development of one of the state’s most successful programs – the Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement.  The Institute has trained and continues to train, equip, support and inspire hundreds of education leaders to drive change for student success in their local systems.

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education continues to look for ways it can provide catalytic leadership to maintain positive momentum and instill public confidence that education in Georgia is on the right track. Past programs continue to pay dividends and continuously developing programs and strategies keep us moving forward:

The Bus Trip Across Georgia, which began in 1993, annually showcased model schools and educational programs that result in outstanding student achievement.  Business, education, government and civic leaders boarded buses for the tour to observe educators in action improving learning opportunities for their students.   Bus Trip 20 promotional video (2012).  The program was discontinued in 2013.

The Education Policy Forums, first conducted in 2002, became a regular election-year program.  Partnering with the Georgia School Boards Association, the Partnership conducted education policy briefings for local school board and state legislative candidates. Expert speakers covered a wide-range of educational topics that provided the participants with a firm non-partisan foundation on which to make future education-policy decisions.  The program was discontinued in 2012.

The Georgia Partnership commissioned an external audit of the state Department of Education’s new proposed curriculum in 2004.  The audit had the full support and cooperation of State Superintendent Kathy Cox.  Phi Delta Kappan International conducted the review while the standards were under revision.  The in-depth 167-page report included recommendations that were used to strengthen the curriculum building process.

2004 saw the Partnership intensify its efforts at engaging the business community in the educational process.  Partnering with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Economics of Education program and publication were created.  Updated four times in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2017, the message was and is clear: education in Georgia must be improved if the state is going to remain competitive for economic development and subsequent prosperity.  The initiative uses state and national data and research to underscore the impact on individuals and communities if higher educational levels are not achieved. It also provides strategies for community leaders to get involved in improving education by addressing issues of early learning, high school completion, and teaching quality – all factors that if not addressed can have a detrimental effect on quality of life issues and the business environment.  Economics of Education presentations continue to be delivered to numerous business and civic audiences across the state.  Request a presentation. 

An off-shoot of the Economics of Education program was the Partnership’s Community Engagement Program that began in 2005 – an offer to work with communities that decided to move forward with a concerted educational improvement plan.  Representatives assisted several Georgia counties (Elbert, Troup, Butts, Bulloch, Paulding, Tattnal, Forsyth Counties and Marietta and Calhoun City School Systems) in developing comprehensive and focused plans designed to increase student achievement and make their educational systems more attractive to outside business development. The “How To’s of Community Planning” brochure provides details. This program has been discontinued.

The Partnership has developed strong ties with the business community. Working with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and independently, the organization has raised awareness of the importance of education to the state’s economic prosperity. The Partnership’s Board Chair is always a business leader.  Currently serving is Milford McGuirt, Atlanta and MidSouth Area Managing Partner, KPMG.

In 2006, Governor Sonny Perdue realized the importance of a concerted, focused effort on the part of the various state educational agencies in improving student achievement.  He directed that these agencies come together under the heading of the Alliance of Education Agency Heads to better pool and share their expertise and resoucres. In the early years of the Alliance, the Partnership and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce were asked to serve as partners in reaching out and informing the business community on Alliance initiatives.

The state Board of Education asked the Partnership in June 2008 to serve as a part of the Commission for School Board Excellence Task Force to develop and present a template for successful school board governance for boards across the state.  The organization worked closely with both the Georgia and Metro Atlanta Chambers of Commerce and AdvancedEd.  The Commission’s work resulted in the 2010 passage of Senate Bill 84 which standardized school board ethics policies and training, clarified the roles of superintendents and school board members and created minimum qualifications for school board candidates.  It also gave the state the ability to replace school board members who fail to serve the best interests of their students.  Gov. Sonny Perdue signed the bill in to law.

The Georgia Partnership publishes works that focus on topical issues as a way to inform education stakeholders for their own advocacy purposes. The annual Top Ten Issues to Watch targets the key educational policy issues facing Georgia specifically and the nation in general.  The Georgia Department of Education in the fall of 2014 asked the Partnership to conduct an independent review of the state’s 4-year, $4 million Race to the Top program.  The latest Partnership works are available here: Reports.

Here are some earlier Georgia Partnership reports:
Commonalities of 85-10 Schools – Sustained Graduation Rates Success
Achieving Excellence in Secondary Education
Increasing the Graduation Rate
Gap Analysis – Georgia’s Unfinished Business
Anyone interested in these reports should contact the Georgia Partnership.

Introduced by the Partnership in 2008, the Education Policy Fellowship Program (EPFP), a national professional development program – provides leaders with the knowledge and networks to advance the core issues of education policy.  The first seven Fellows cohorts graduated after their 9-month program and all indications are they found the program exciting and professionally challenging and beneficial.  The ninth cohort with 20 professionals from a variety of fields graduated May, 2017. Cohort 10 is now underway. The specific goal of the program is to enhance Georgia’s education policy expertise and educational leadership.

The Georgia Partnership has long believed in the need for higher standards for Georgia’s classrooms. In 2014, the organization partnered with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to spearhead an effort joined by more than 20 groups to stop a legislative push to repeal the Common Core in our state.  That effort was successful and full implementation of Georgia’s higher standards is now underway. Visit the Better Standards for a Better Georgia web site for more information.

The periodic Critical Issues Forums – free and open to the public –  bring subject matter experts to the table for discussion and the Georgia Partnership’s annual Media Symposium (born in 2007) provides Georgia education reporters and editors a chance to get an inside look at the state’s public education system.

The organization’s leadership and resources are constantly being engaged in a wide-range of issues designed to reform the state’s educational system.  There are few more important bedrock issues than education when it comes to the quality of life for all Georgians.  The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education is making a difference every day.