Georgia Governor Brian Kemp Elected to Chair Southern Regional Education Board
On Sunday, the Southern Regional Education Board, a 16-state body aimed at improving education policies from Delaware to Texas, elected Georgia Governor Brian Kemp as its chair for the next 12 months. The board has historically been instrumental in enhancing education in the South, with West Virginia Governor Jim Justice serving as chair from 2022 to 2023.
Governor Kemp, a Republican, addressed the board at its annual meeting held in Atlanta on Monday, emphasizing that Georgia and other southern states are “leading the great American comeback” with regards to recovering from the impacts of missed learning during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Apart from addressing the fallout of the pandemic, Governor Kemp stated that an essential issue for him is ensuring that schools and colleges meet the required worker needs of businesses. He referred to the current shortage of workers as being “our biggest challenge” in economic development.
“These kids that we’re all educating are vital to our success,” emphasized Governor Kemp, underscoring the importance of a workforce that is adequately prepared to meet the demands of evolving industries.
Other priorities for Governor Kemp include implementing Georgia’s new law aimed at improving reading instruction in early elementary grades, examining how higher education can handle a decline in traditional college-age students, and increasing the number of K-12 teachers.
Governor Kemp added that he is focused on preventing Georgia’s university and technical college systems from wasting resources by competing for students. He said, “being realistic with what our enrollment numbers are going to be over the next several years, I think you’re going to have to make some really tough choices.”
Governor Kemp also highlighted initiatives aimed at providing payment for teacher aides to become certified teachers and allowing retirees to return to the classroom without having to sacrifice their pensions. While teacher pay is a significant aspect, he noted that simply appreciating and thanking teachers for their hard work is also essential.
The Southern Regional Education Board is a nonprofit organization established in 1948 by southern governors and legislators to research education issues and recommend education policies. Its mission is to help governments in the South improve education, assess and share educational progress, and work together to identify and advance sound education policies and practices.
In conclusion, Governor Kemp’s election as chair of the Southern Regional Education Board comes at a time when education is under immense pressure, particularly in the southern region of the United States. The education sector has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with students and teachers alike experiencing unprecedented disruptions to their education routines. As Governor Kemp takes the helm of the board, the hope is that his leadership will bring much-needed relief to the education sector in the South, ultimately setting the region on a path towards educational recovery and growth.