Education report: Funding big issue for 2009

ATLANTA - The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education recently released "Top Ten Issues to Watch in 2009," the fifth annual report of topics that will likely impact public education in the coming year.

This year's list covers a variety of topics, including education policy action at the federal level, school funding and the economic crisis, and the resurfacing debate on school vouchers.

Each subject area is broken down into three sections - an issue overview, the political context of the issue and a discussion of what's next for Georgia. The value of the report is in its analysis of the issues and how they impact the state, said Susan Walker, the partnership's policy and research director.

"The report is based on thorough research of various state and national sources and provides nonpartisan analysis of topics that will undoubtedly impact our schools and students in the coming year," Walker said.

Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said the list published by the partnership is very comprehensive and outlines a number of issues that will impact school systems throughout the state.

"In Gwinnett, the upcoming budget is a very real concern," Wilbanks said. "While GCPS will have some options due to the flexibility granted through its IE2 (Investing in Educational Excellence) Partnership Contract, I still expect this to be our most challenging budget to date.

"Obviously, our district's work to implement these flexibilities will be a point of interest this year, along with our ongoing efforts to eliminate the achievement gaps that exist among different groups of students."

Partnership President Steve Dolinger said the publication has gained popularity each year. The organization distributed more than 4,000 copies last year, and thousands of copies were downloaded from the Web site, www.gpee.org.

"This is a document that can be used by every education stakeholder in Georgia as they inform themselves on the key issues facing us," Dolinger said. "Whether we have children in school or not, we are all education stakeholders. Education directly impacts the economic prosperity of each and every community in our state. We must be better informed to do all we can to make Georgia's school system the best in the nation."

The report is available online at www.gpee.org. The Partnership will provide up to two copies for free upon request. Postage costs will be charged for orders of more than two. For more information, call the Partnership at 404-223-2280 or e-mail Communications Director Bill Maddox at bmaddox@