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Lawmaker targets education policies
Dudgeon: Some laws outdated, redundant
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Forsyth County News


District 24 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon plans to introduce legislation Tuesday that will repeal 33 laws that many officials say are redundant, outdated or provided no positive difference in education.

“There are requirements on the books for spending a lot on different paperwork and … a lot of programs that are in there that are not funded, that have never been used and are just taking up space and creating the wrong impressions,” said Dudgeon, a Republican from south Forsyth.

“We’re getting rid of that kind of stuff, a lot of bureaucracy.”

Among the most recognizable is the 65 percent rule, passed in 2006. The law requires schools to allocate 65 cents of every education dollar to classroom expenditures.

An education finance commission held multiple hearings about the rule, reviewing its impact over the past five years.

Dudgeon, who previously served on Forsyth County’s school board, said the commission “found no evidence that it made any difference or had any correlation with achievement.”

“They looked at a number of schools and what was happening and the bottom line showed it didn’t seem to work,” he said. “The rule was always very, very unpopular with school boards and superintendents because they feel it intrudes in their local control.”

The Forsyth County school system did not have to follow the rule because of its Investing in Education Excellence, or IE2, contract with the state.

The contract allows more freedom from state mandates in exchange for increased accountability.

Still, Forsyth County Superintendent Buster Evans said the system has consistently spent more than the 65 percent in education for years.

“We are a district that has gotten to get outside of some of the regulations that the Georgia Title 20 education code prescribes,” Evans said. “We think that is good for us, but we think that same kind of philosophy of fewer mandates is good and it probably helps other districts operate more efficiently.”

Evans, who served on the education finance study commission, said the goal of his work there is to help make “education more efficiently delivered in the state.”

Dudgeon said the list of potential repeals compiled were based largely on recommendations from the state school board and superintendents’ associations.

Dudgeon, a longtime proponent of technology, said his interest in the issue stemmed from the state ban on cell phones in the classroom.

The law was intended to keep students’ focus on classroom materials.

But with initiatives like Bring Your Own Technology, or BYOT, cell phones and other devices have become classroom materials.

Forsyth, which has a waiver, is following the technology initiative, using everything from cell phones to iPads to teach curriculum.

The repeal would allow school systems the ability to choose their own path on the issue.

“What we’re going to do is … basically leave it up to the local school board and the local principals to decide how they want to use technology,” Dudgeon said.

Other possible repeals in the bill include one for annual performance evaluations, removing the set due date to allow for test results and other factors to be considered.