What We’re Reading: Monday, July 28th

Welcome to What We’re Reading, a weekly rundown of the articles that caught our eye related to investing in our community or the things that make Athens great.  Here’s some light reading while you wait to find out if the bachelorette and the bulldog are a match made in television.

Flagpole has the latest on the Clarke County School District’s decision to move towards a charter school district next fall.  CCSD, and all other Georgia school districts, have until July 2015 to decide on the implementation of a new school model (the charter model or a model called “Investing in Education Excellence”) or to stick with the status quo.  CCSD Superintendent Philip Lanoue says the charter model will allow for more flexibility in governance at the school level and be a boon to technology in the classroom.  Frequent ABH columnist Myra Blackmon gave her take on the school district’s decision on Tim Bryant’s Newsmakers last week.

ABH reports that Georgia schools will begin implementing the Georgia Milestones tests this year.  The tests will count for 20 percent of a student’s grade and be required to move to the next grade.  The assessments will also count for half of a teacher’s assessment.  Superintendent Lanoue said, “In my opinion, the expectations we hold for our performance far exceed those minimally required in the new system.”

Georgia Health News reports that health insurers will pay $11 million in rebates to Georgia individuals and employers this summer due to a provision in the Affordable Care Act.  The rule requires that insurers spend at least 80 percent of the premiums they charge on medical care.  The refunds will go to 304,000 Georgians and average $53 per family. Cindy Zeldin of Georgians for a Healthy Future says the rule incentivizes insurers to “provide better value and operate more efficiently.”

AJC reports that middle wage jobs are largely missing from the economic recovery Georgia has experienced since the Great Recession.  The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute found that 138,100 fewer Georgians are employed in middle wage industries than before the recession.  During the recession, Georgia lost 388,032 jobs, half of which were middle wage jobs.  Since then, the state has regained 208,700 jobs, but only 15% of these jobs have paid wages between $31,000 and $57,000.

Republican Congressman Paul Ryan released a plan last week to provide more responsibility to state and local governments in alleviating poverty.  The plan calls for 11 federal programs to be consolidated and the funding for these programs to be distributed to states in the form of a block grant.  The proposal did not include explicit cuts to the funding for these programs, a significant turn from his recent budget proposals.  Ryan said the plan intends to repair the safety net by providing states flexibility.  Bob Greenstein, President of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington D.C., said the plan as described will not react quickly enough to increased need as occurs typically during a recession.

Got anything else we should be reading?  Let us know!

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