If you open any newspaper or watch any news program, you will hear about the American education problem. The K-12 pipeline is broken; too few students graduate high school and those that do aren't always prepared for college; students spend too long in college and the price tag has skyrocketed. Georgia is no exception.
On Aug. 28, Cathy Henson (J.D. '89), an attorney and advocate for the improvement of public education presented findings to Urban Fellows students. She began her lecture with a question:
"What is the point of K-12 education today? We can't fix the education system if we can't agree on the philosophy."
Henson noted that few vocational and technical schools remain in Georgia and asked whether this was a mistake; whether every students needs a college prepartory curriculum. "Should we have the same goals for everyone," she asked.
Showing the students a graphic called "The Education Puzzle," Henson listed the factors involved in educating our youth: teachers, curriculum, instruction, assessment, students, funding, governance, and philosophy. Wealth and resources, another large factor in education, was illustrated in a handout showing Georgia's marked rise in free and reduced lunches. Poverty dramatically affects student retention and success.
"A problem this big can only be fixed by an interdisciplinary group of passionate people, like the Urban Fellows students," said Henson, encouraging the students to become involved in their local schools and with their local school boards. "This is where the most change can occur."
This year, 53 students from across Georgia State University, Georgia Institute of Technology's School of City and Regional Planning and Emory University's School of Law address critical issues facing cities, and allow them to participate in the creation, planning and execution of city projects. The Urban Fellows Program is an interdisciplinary initiative of the College of Law's Center for the Comparative Study of Metropolitan Growth.
Henson began her career as a school teacher, served as the president of the Georgia PTA, and was appointed chair of the State Board of Education by Gov. Roy Barnes in 1999..In the early 2000s, she served on Georgia's Education Reform Commission and the Closing the Achievement Gap Commission.