Hall County School officials are weighing in with positive reactions to gubernatorial hopeful Nathan Deal's education platform that was released Tuesday.
With lawmakers at the state Capitol, Deal announced he would give teachers greater flexibility in the classroom, develop more charter schools and attract teachers in the math and science fields.
"(Deal's plan) continues to move us in the direction of personalization and is very realistic. We are in the middle of an incredible economic downturn. It's nice to move toward math and science and remember how important it is for children to read and read well, but not pretend there's a big bag of money out there that people can take out of the back room," Hall County Superintendent Will Schofield said.
Deal said he would also emphasize the STEM approach to education, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Schofield said this is a crucial issue, especially in today's global marketplace.
"We are seeing that our competition is not from Alabama and Florida but from Asian tigers and Eastern Europeans. We need to give our children the skills they need to meet on that world stage. The language of that stage is science and math," he said.
Gainesville City Schools superintendent Merrianne Dyer said Deal shares a similar philosophy to her district when it comes to "move on when ready." As part of Deal's plan, it would allow teachers to move a student up a grade level during the school year by providing more advanced coursework.
"We accelerate our students not with grade-level being the ending," Dyer said.
Deal's platform to expand charter schools is another point of interest, Schofield said, as the Hall County school system includes eight.
He also considers Deal's funding sources to be more realistic than that of Democratic challenger Roy Barnes.
Deal said he plans to work mostly with existing resources to achieve his proposals. About $20 million, Deal said, would go toward a loan forgiveness program for college students to earn teaching certificates in math, science and technology.
Barnes, whose platform includes banning teacher furloughs and reducing class sizes, has recommended restoring lost funding to Georgia schools to improve student achievement.
"We've adopted the mindset of doing more with less and take advantage of technology. That's the reality we live in. We've had to do it locally and we hope the state will do the same," Schofield said.
Dyer said Deal's proposal is consistent with the national blueprint and therefore the Race to the Top goals.
"His ideas are fundable and sustainable," she said.
Deal, Barnes and Libertarian John Monds will square off Nov. 2.