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23 September 2016

Educating Georgia

Written by Senator Brandon Beach

An education is the greatest tool someone can have. It sets the foundation for a life full of possibilities and fulfillment. It’s imperative that we work together to ensure our students have the opportunity to receive a top-notch public education that will set the course for future learning and success. We’re fortunate in Cherokee and North Fulton to have some of the best public schools in Georgia.

Georgia’s Department of Early Care and Learning sets the bar high for our children’s learning with the Bright from the Start, lottery-funded, pre-k program. Children who live in Georgia are eligible to attend any Bright from the Start learning center beginning at the age of four — free of charge. The benefits of a pre-k education are quickly being realized by teachers, parents and state lawmakers, so enrollment in these programs is continuing to expand. In July of 2016, the Georgia Lottery announced they were transferring more than $1 billion to Georgia’s education programs. These funds will not only go toward funding pre-k programs, but also to funding the college educations for our brightest students through the HOPE Scholarship.

With an influx of technical and industrial companies moving to Georgia, it’s crucial to prepare a workforce that’s adequately educated to work in these complex fields. The General Assembly worked to pass legislation during the 2016 session to award a high school diploma to students who have completed dual-credit, college coursework and have earned certification to work in an “in-need” industry as designed by the Technical College System of Georgia. Under this legislation, students meeting these requirements would be given expanded HOPE scholarship eligibility. Programs like these, along with low tuition costs and career outlooks, are a few of the reasons why Georgia’s community college system was ranked eleventh in the nation by Wallethub.

Unfortunately, even though Georgia has an abundance of opportunity for low-income students to receive a great education and attend college, housing and food security options are limited once they get there. Kennesaw State University (KSU) is making strides to aid the homeless student population on its campus. In August, KSU announced a first-of-its-kind housing program for its homeless students. This one-bedroom suite provides a safe place for a student to stay for up to two weeks in an emergency situation.

Education is a top priority for me under the Gold Dome. In recent years, we’ve taken steps in the right direction to improve the public education system in our state, and I believe it’s only the beginning. As Georgia progresses, building our economy and bringing new industries to our neighborhoods, there will be higher demand for a highly skilled workforce. Our public education systems, technical colleges and universities are transforming and adapting to meet the needs of our ever-changing world. I look forward to seeing what the future holds for our students and the opportunities available to them.

About the Author

Senator Brandon Beach

Senator Brandon Beach

Brandon Beach is a Republican state senator who represents District 21, which includes parts of Cherokee and North Fulton counties. He is also the president/CEO of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce. 404-463-1378, brandon@beachforgeorgia.com.