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Lawmaker's first resolution backs teacher degree change
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Forsyth County News

The newest member of Forsyth County's state legislative delegation had a busy week.

Republican District 24 state Rep. Mike Dudgeon's first resolution was approved overwhelmingly by the House.

HR 459, which supports a recent Georgia Professional Standards Commission rule change, passed 159-7 on Wednesday.

The rule change says teaching certificate upgrades can be extended only for degrees that come from a specific list of schools that meet quality standards.

The rule also requires degrees be in a field in which a certificate is offered by the Professional Standards Commission.

Dudgeon said the measure helps ensure teachers use their degree in the classroom, and also prevents teachers using degrees from “bogus institutions.”

“I strongly believe that we should encourage our teachers to get higher education and to further themselves," said Dudgeon, a former member of the Forsyth County Board of Education.

"But I also don’t like people who game the systems by just getting a random degree or even getting it from an invalid institution.”

Candy Norton, chief human resources officer for the Forsyth school system, said she supports the Professional Standards Commission change and is pleased the legislature has done likewise.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” she said. “We want to make sure the type of institutions and training people receive are worthwhile and add value to the teaching profession.”

Dudgeon said one of the biggest problems the rule addresses is that of teachers getting advanced degrees for leadership roles they do not fill.

Instead of moving up, the educators remain teachers but at a higher pay scale.

Though current teachers are grandfathered in, Dudgeon said the change will be a tremendous help moving forward.

“It’s going to save us a lot of money,” he said.

According to the resolution, Georgia is the third highest state in the nation for advanced degree compensation for educators, yet ranks near the bottom for advanced degree standards and rigor.

In addition to the future, Norton said the rule “gave enough time for transition for people in grad programs right now. It was a good move in the right direction.”