By Meghan Meier
Tampa- Appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to serve on the State Board of Education, Dan Israel represents the 4th District of the state of Georgia on the school board and as an alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention.
As the State Board of Education, Israel and leading board members oversee about 180 school districts in the state of Georgia grades k through 12. Their primary focus is to oversee that all federal money is distributed accordingly to all schools equally. Secondary objectives require members to promote regulations regarding monetary funding going in and out of each school.
When it comes time to distribute the funds and federal money, schools get evaluated based on student performance Israel said. These performances, like graduating from high school, are evaluated and considered into the annual yearly progress. If schools do not meet a 70 percent passing rate of student graduating, the school would be put on a list for needs improvement. Evaluating schools allows the allocation of federal money to go where improvement and supplies is needed the most.
An innovative initiative, Race to the Top, is a participating method used by the State Board of Education to better improve the school environment. Its purpose is to help board members and school districts to function more efficiently at state level.
The main purpose of Race to the Top was to evaluate teachers and their performance while in class. Findings showed that there was no consistent way to measure teacher performance.
“That’s valuable,” said Israel in an interview during the 2012 Republican National Convention. “Because we can help teachers determine how they can improve things and become more effective”
Another progressive action that is taking place within Georgia schools is the integration of higher technology Israel said. In selected classes, students are allowed to bring a laptop, game boy, tablet or any electronic equipment that can be used for virtual use. Students without an electronic device are supplied with one through the school.
There have been many objections from parents who believe integrating technology and allowing their children to handle equipment during times of study will cause distraction. Some teachers insist that it is their job to impart wisdom to their students, not teach digital technology.
But research has found student academic performance and behavior to improve greatly as students used technology more in the classroom.
The use of technology has also helped teachers identify student strengths and weaknesses Israel said.
Technology is also eliminating the cost in operating budgets. As a result of using technology in the classroom for example, Forsyth County has gone from $3 million for buying books to $ 500,000 Israel said.
The future of the students and the career paths they choose is a top concern for the State Board of Education and leading members citizens of Georgia.
“We understand that k-12 is vital and improving it is part of the future of our state,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. as he spoke to the Georgia delegates during the 2012 Republican National Convention.
A program called Quarter Pathways is a new strategy that is taking shape within 44 states of the U.S including Georgia.
Reinventing the high school curriculum, students in the state of Georgia are able to choose between 17 career tracks under Quarter Pathways. These tracks are focusing on a specific discipline that prepares students to further their education with either a two-year degree or four- year degree.
“We want students to start thinking what they want to do and the careers will lead to getting a job and what are the academic pathways,” said Israel.
The Quarter Pathways and Raise to the Top are programs that will provide Georgia students with the opportunity to experience and take control of their future ambitions while receiving a high school diploma at the same time.
“Education I believe is key to a successful life,” said Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal during an interview with a Kennesaw State University student during the 2012 Republican National Convention. “A successful life is getting a good education.”