- T.J. Kaplan, GSTA Legislative Consultant, and GSTA Advocacy Committee
Members of the GSTA presidential chain regularly seek opportunities to connect with key policy makers to speak up on behalf of science education in Georgia. We work to position the organization as a key source information for these policy makers and to advocate for the importance of research-based STEM education. December's Biennial Institute allowed us to connect with several legislators to voice our support for the CCGPS in math and ELA.
In the new year, we are shifting our focus to coming revision of Georgia's science standards. Last month, we met with Pam Williams, who is Governor Deal's newly appointed Education Outreach Coordinator. Mrs. Williams will have a role in education policy within the Governor's office, but she will also act as a self-described "cheerleader" for the good things happening in Georgia's public schools. Consider emailing Mrs. Williams if you would like to highlight an innovative science or STEM program at your school. She is on the lookout for opportunities to visit and highlight schools. This week, we will be visiting the Capitol to connect with legislators and Superintendent Woods. The visit with Mr. Woods will provide an opportunity to follow up on his conference session and continue building a productive relationship with him and his staff.
As we approach the midpoint in the 2015 Legislative Session, the volume of bills is beginning to grow as is the sense of urgency in the Capitol halls. The first few weeks in early January were marked by the pomp and circumstance of the Governor’s swearing in and inaugural gala. Since that time, there has been steady growth in number of committee meetings and floor votes.
Although no legislation specific to science education has been proposed, we continue to keep a close eye on activity in both chambers. In particular, we closely monitor all meetings of the House Education and the Senate Education and Youth committees. We have established open lines of communication with their respective chairs, Representative Coleman and Senator Tippins.
The 40 day session is currently scheduled to adjourn "Sine Die" on April 2nd. The 30th day of the session, which is scheduled to occur on March 13th, marks “crossover day,” which is the drop dead date for any bill that hopes to reach the Governor’s desk. On that day, all bills must pass out of their chamber of origination by midnight. Any bills that do not meet the deadline can be taken up by the General Assembly in the 2016 session, which will be the second year of the current biennium.