Poverty and a lack of English proficiency or parental involvement are factors that either drive good teachers out of south Cobb schools or burn out the ones that stay, he said.
His proposal targets teacher retention and quality. For existing teachers, Morgan proposes a three-week summer training program based at Lindley Middle School's seventh and eighth grade academy, where teachers would receive advice and training from the district's most polished educators. The training would be ongoing throughout the school year, with meetings twice per month to keep teachers on track.
For new teachers, Morgan proposes partnering with Georgia State University's College of Education and requiring beginning teachers to receive more training in exchange for a better salary.
"One of the best ways to help them is to have more talent around them. If you get five or six really good additional teachers the school prospers," he said.
The student teachers would clock an additional 200 hours of field experience, 20 hours of community service with the Austell Community Task Force, and take a course on classroom management. If they made those commitments and agreed to teach four years at Pebblebrook High, Lindley Middle or Bryant Elementary, they would start out with a salary equivalent to that of a five year teacher.
"If they do it you've got to be able to compensate them more," he said.
It's more than most student teachers are asked to do, but then, "In the U.S. military if you want to be in the Navy Seals, baby, you've got to go way above basic training," Morgan said.
Morgan said he proposes partnering with Georgia State University because he didn't receive interest from Kennesaw State University. Moreover, Georgia State has a number of initiatives with Atlanta Public Schools and those schools are similar in makeup to theones Morgan represents.
Morgan proposes about 30 teachers for the summer training program, which he calls South Cobb Outstanding Urban Teachers, or SCOUT, program. The cost is $38,280 a year for three years from summer 2010 to fall 2012.
The program would be evaluated by state and national test scores and by other evaluation measures to prove its effectiveness, he said.
He also sees 25 to 30 candidates participating in the Georgia State partnership.
"It's merely creating another vehicle to bring talent to the table," he said.
When Morgan delivered his proposal to the school board in October, board Chairman Dr. John Abraham asked Superintendent Fred Sanderson to review it and bring back a recommendation. Sanderson did not respond to Journal inquiries sent Wednesday and Friday regarding the proposal. Morgan said Friday that Sanderson hasn't told him whether he supports the pilot or not, either.
Abraham said he was not opposed to Morgan's teacher initiative, but he wanted to see how the recent federal $8.9 million five-year grant Kennesaw State University's Bagwell College of Education worked first. The KSU grant is meant to help prepare education majors to teach in more of an urban setting. KSU faculty will use the funding by partnering with teachers in the Osborne area to improve the training for educators who teach poor students or those who are learning English as a second language.
"I don't disagree with what he says. I just don't want a duplication of effort," Abraham said.
Morgan said the KSU grant will accomplish much of what he's proposing, but it's targeted at the schools in board member Alison Bartlett's Post 7.
"What I'm proposing is concentrated in my post (Post 3). We need to have something also," he said.
Two years ago, Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Sam Olens raised the problem of southern Cobb schools, saying for too long the county was content to talk about its top high schools such as east Cobb's Walton and Pope. The county needed to have equal pride in its south Cobb high schools, such as Pebblebrook, Osborne and Campbell, Olens said. He called on Sanderson to take some risks in those areas.
Two years later, Olens said many southern Cobb schools are doing better such as South Cobb and Osborne high schools.
"Principals Grant Rivera and Steven Miletto have made great strides. The increase this year in the number of schools making AYP is very impressive," Olens said.
Olens believes teachers are making great improvements in the area, but it is the parental factor that needs to change.
"No school will succeed without parental involvement," Olens said.