By J. Mac Holladay, Founder and CEO.
Last week as I flew back
from Kansas City, I read USA Today as I often do on the road. I always
review the “News from every state” to see what I can catch up on or to
find a little piece of trivia about a client community. This time,
however, the brief report from my state, from Georgia, stopped me
Here is what it reported. The Atlanta public schools
will cut 375 teachers, Gwinnett County schools 600, and Cobb County
schools 350. Each will also add furlough days. So my question is: what
are we doing? Every study tells us that smaller classes and great
teachers are the number one factor in quality education and stronger
attainment. So where is the outrage? Why is the business community in
Metro Atlanta just sitting there instead of asking for revenue
The State of Georgia , after years of working to
improve our schools, has cut $2 billion from the pre K- 12 education
system over the last 5 years. So this is a state policy and local policy
question. The number one issue today and tomorrow in economic
development is the quality of the workforce. We cannot cut our way to
prosperity. Quality and results have a cost. Yes, we should and must
demand accountability, but we also must provide adequate resources. No
one believes these huge cuts are helping our children.
Recession has changed the world of economic development. The Atlanta
region has suffered greatly and many of its economic drivers from
banking to construction have taken huge hits. The jobs of the future
will require more education not less. A high school graduate with solid
basic skills is the beginning not the end.
Everyone in the
community and economic development world needs to ask hard questions
about the massive cuts to education across the country. Some say we
can’t afford to restore the funding, my reading is the opposite. We
cannot afford not to enhance our support for what will determine our
future as a global competitor.