Morgan (D-Austell) announced her candidacy Tuesday for the state’s top education post in 2014.
Morgan is the first Democrat to enter the race.
“I am a mother and I understand what it takes to address the needs of a child,” said Morgan, surrounded by family and supporters. “We need someone in the state school superintendent’s office who feels a sense of urgency about the education challenges facing Georgia.”
She slammed the state budget cuts of $7.6 billion to education since 2003, with more than $1 billion in cuts occurring in 2014 alone, she said. She also highlighted a growing number of Georgia communities reducing their school year to below the 180-day standard, cutting Advanced Placement, and arts and music classes.
“Today, our educational leaders at the state level do not feel the same urgency we do to address our students’ needs,” she said. “Each time a child drops out of school before graduation, gives up on learning to read or fails yet another math or science test, we should all take responsibility. Our economic future depends on it because these are our future leaders.”
Morgan promised to campaign aggressively across the state to build a grassroots coalition of education and community leaders who are ready for change at the Department of Education.
Morgan, in her sixth term in the State House, consults for the U.S. Department of Education, evaluating applications for programs such as President Obama’s federal “Race to the Top” and “Promise Neighborhoods” programs. She also serves on the House Education Committee in the Legislature.
Support for Common Core and charter schools
Morgan has also been a supporter of the controversial Common Core State Standards, a set of national standards for K-12 education that have been embraced by the U.S. Department of Education and the Georgia Department of Education under Republican Superintendent John Barge. The standards have been lambasted by many Georgia conservatives as a “one size fits all” solution that will federalize the nation’s public education system and erode local control of education. Some have also complained the standards are not rigorous enough, a charge Morgan refutes.
In a July article in MDJ, she said Common Core was a “critical step for us to take to ensure that students have a rigorous education.”
She has also been a supporter of charter schools and spoke at the Kentucky Charter School Press Conference in February on the topic “overcoming fear of charter schools.”
“I have dedicated my life to serving youth and to seeing that every child has an opportunity to succeed. As a mom of a first grader, this is personal,” she said via email Tuesday following the announcement of her candidacy. “I only get one shot to get it right for my daughter Lailah. I don’t have 10 or 20 years to do so, just one. I’m going to bring the kind of leadership to the Department of Education that puts students first and brings adults together from all communities including education, civic, faith and business. I’m going to unite Georgians who share the sense of urgency to get it right for my daughter and every child in our state.”