CONYERS - State School Superintendent Kathy Cox made a trip down Interstate 20 for a special visit to Conyers on Tuesday night where she spoke to the Rockdale Newton Young Republicans Club.
Nearly a dozen club members and supporting members - those who don't fall into the 13 to 40 age range - showed up to hear her speak at O'Charley's restaurant about some hot topics in education, as well as the state's strategic plan goals.
"Nothing we're doing in education ... is being done randomly," she said.
Goals she focused on in her remarks included the high school graduation rate, teacher quality and work force readiness among students.
She said the graduation rate is improving, the number of students who take Advanced Placement courses is increasing and achievement scores are ranking higher among others in the nation.
"We're raising the expectations and are having the students meet those expectations," she said. "We're starting to see the results (of changes)."
Cox also hopes to increase the amount of highly qualified teachers and improve the education that students get for real-world experiences and work force readiness, such as what Rockdale is doing with the Rockdale Career Academy.
"Rockdale is a shining star for us; it's a great program," Cox said, adding that students need to be able to compete in the work force and around the world in various post-secondary options during high school and especially after graduation.
She encouraged the public to go to the Strategic Framework Web Site to see the goals and follow their status by visiting www.gadoe.org/strategicframework.aspx.
"There's a lot of work to be done in education," she said.
Of course, she said changes won't pay off overnight, and some of the work may be delayed due to budget constraints.
"The state budget is horrible. We're very grateful for the federal stimulus money - it has prevented a lot of horrendous things from happening to teachers and schools and students - so it's been tough, but manageable," she said. "We're got to stay focused and keep plugging away at it. The good news is that we have a plan."
Cox is one of several high-profile guests that the Rockdale Young Republican Club has brought to Conyers since its inception in January. It also brought in Georgia Insurance and Fire Safety Commissioner John Oxendine, among other Republicans, to speak to its group. Members hope to have more political figures and other guest speakers in the future.
"If you ask politicians to come out and you're sincere about it, they will all say yes," said James Carroll, chairman of the club and a rising senior at Heritage High School.
The club tries to meet monthly and is open to members ages 13 to 40. Anyone can attend meetings, and supporting members can be of any age.
During the meeting, the club voted to change its name from Rockdale County Young Republicans to the Rockdale Newton Young Republican Club and begin a push to recruit more Newton County members.
"We're really trying to mobilize the silent majority," Carroll said. "We want to educate people on what being conservative is all about."
More information about the group and its meetings is available on its Web site www.rockdaleyoungrepublicans.com and on Facebook.
SideBar: At A Glance
Strategic Plan of the Georgia Department of Education
· Increase high school graduation rate, decrease dropout rate and increase post-secondary enrollment rate
· Strengthen teacher quality, recruitment and retention
· Improve work force readiness skills
· Develop strong education leaders, particularly at the building level
· Improve the SAT, ACT and the achievement scores of Georgia
· Make policies that ensure maximum academic and financial accountability
Source: The Georgia Department of Education