Saturday, October 9, 2004

Join the Campaign to Protect Georgia's Children

Georgia Public Broadcasting recently had the privilege of hosting the 2nd Annual First Lady's Summit on Our Children, an event sponsored by Georgia First Lady Mary Perdue and designed to galvanize community resources on behalf of Georgia's abused and neglected children. The Summit was held at the Georgia Public Broadcasting facility in Atlanta and simulcast to seven regional sites, including Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Savannah, and Tifton, which held workshops simultaneously.

Mrs. Perdue, who said she was "inspired by the response the Our Children Campaign has received since the first annual Summit held at GPB in 2003," declared that the goal behind the Our Children Campaign is "to raise awareness about these children" and that the highest priority is to determine how to "provide for, educate, and protect our children."

According to the Protective Services Data System Report, Georgia received 92,612 reports of child abuse in 2003 alone. Of the cases that were determined to valid instances of child abuse, 39, 538 were victims of severe neglect, 4, 791 were physically abused, and 2,285 were sexually abused ( As of July 2003, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services was responsible for the care of 14,481 children, of whom 7,925 were in foster care ( A final sobering fact, according to Kids Count, is that Georgia ranks 40 out of 50 states in overall child well being ( Statistics such as these make the important work Mrs. Perdue is conducting through the Our Children Campaign even more valuable.

With the goal of helping Georgia's children squarely in mind, the 2nd Annual Summit began with a welcome from Georgia Public Broadcasting Interim Executive Director Nancy Hall, each of the regional sites, First Lady Mary Perdue, and Governor Sonny Perdue. After welcoming remarks, a video entitled The 11th Commandment with singer Collin Raye, of ChildHelp USA was shown. Guest speaker Naomi Haines Griffith then shared her personal comments about the state of child welfare and the need for initiatives such as the First Lady's Our Children Campaign.

After remarks were concluded, participants broke out into work groups, which focused on raising support from community groups in the following key areas:

* Prevention
* Department of Family and Children's Services and the Courts
* Housing and Services
* Foster and Adoptive Parents

Once the groups completed their work, all of the Summit participants came together to share their suggestions for better ways to secure support for Georgia's children and to hear Mrs. Perdue's charge to action.

To date, the Campaign has received commitments from 29 Champions for Children, corporations and faith communities that have made an obligation to their community or organization to volunteer on behalf of any become involved with the cause of children in state custody. If you would like to learn more about the plight of Georgia's abused and neglected children and how YOU can make a difference in their lives, watch the 2nd Annual Summit online at or contact the Campaign at

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Presenting Russian History - Through the Eyes of Its Children

Georgia Public Broadcasting is pleased to partner with the Youth Art Connection of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, which is sponsoring a special exhibition that celebrates children's art. "Russia's Heart Through Children's Eyes: A Century of Youth Art," belongs to the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg and features Russian children's art spanning 100 years.

The exhibit, which will be at the Woodruff Art Center's Center Space Gallery from October 6-31, offers Georgia educators and learners a unique opportunity to view Russian history - from the Tsarist and Soviet Periods to present day - through the eyes of its children. During the first week of the exhibit, special guests from the State Russian Museum, the St. Petersburg Children's Arts Coordinating Council, and the St. Petersburg Institute for Cultural Programs will offer workshops and seminars for both art educators and the public.

A second exhibit, which features contemporary works from the Russian Museum will be exhibited in the Youth Art Connection Gallery, Atlanta's only gallery dedicated entirely to children's art and education. This exhibit will include the "My Home Town" book of paintings produced by young St. Petersburg and Atlanta artists in 2002.

Georgia Public Broadcasting is committed to supporting the integration of arts across the curriculum. Recognizing that the limited duration of the exhibit will prevent many Georgia students and educators from benefiting from its unique combination of art and world history, GPB has committing to developing a virtual tour of the exhibit so that its impact can reach every interested Georgia learner. The tour, which will offer digital images of the art in combination with audio and video of discussions between Russian scholars and other arts leaders about the artworks and their historical context, will be available for video streaming so that it can be accessed on demand via the GPB Education website.

Take advantage of this rare opportunity to offer your students to learn about the way that children across time have expressed their experiences through art and to encourage them to examine their own lives and surroundings through an artistic lens. For more information on the exhibit, contact Rebecca Des Marais, Director of Youth Art Connection at or Barbara O'Brien, GPB Education Project Manager at

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Becoming Part of the Solution Voting - The Focus of 2004 Civics Month

November 2004 will be a time when the American people decide the course of the future on the local, state, and national levels through exercising one of their most basic civic duties: VOTING. In celebration of the right to vote and in recognition of the grave responsibility that accompanies that right, Georgia's Office of the Secretary of State (SOS) has named October Civics Month. The SOS Office has partnered with organizations such as the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia Public Broadcasting, the Youth Leadership Institute of the University of Virginia, and the Georgia Project for Active Civic Education (Georgia PACE), to develop resources to support Georgia students and teachers as they explore the meaning of civics during Civics Month:

* Secretary of State's Office - Providing the official Civics Month website, including articles, primary resources, materials, lesson plans, activities, and Mock Election information for students - lesson plans and other resources also provided by the Georgia Council for the Social Studies and Georgia PACE
* Department of Education - Providing links to lesson plans, resources, and activities
* Georgia Public Broadcasting - Providing video content designed to support the teaching of civics and government courses in the classroom to be aired via satellite and via the Internet
* Youth Leadership Institute (YLI) - Conducting the online voting for the 2004 Mock Election
* Georgia PACE - Providing student input on ballot questions and debate questions as well as recruiting student leaders from each school to assist teachers with the Civics Month activities and the Mock Election

Many of these resources, such as the web and video components, will be available to Georgia students and teachers not only during Civics Month, but also throughout the school year.

As part of the Civics Month events, the Capitol Education Center will host a special debate between three college students representing the Democratic, Libertarian, and Republican parties at 11 AM on October 13. The debate will cover current issues of particular interest to students, and will be held in front of an audience of high school students from area schools. If you are interested in having up to two of your students attend the debate, please contact Stephanie Caywood at; please secure permission from both your school Principal and the parents of each student before submitting their names. The debate will be monitored by a local journalist, but the questions asked of the debaters will come from a special panel of high school journalists who represent the interests of Georgia students across the state. Georgia Public Broadcasting will air the debates LIVE via satellite on Channel 430 and the Internet at so that students across the state can benefit from the discussion.

Once your students have had the opportunity to hear all sides of the issues through the debate, they will have the chance to participate in the 2004 Mock Election, which will allow them to vote for such offices as President of the United States, U.S. Senator, and U.S. Congressperson. This year, Georgia students will be able to cast their votes directly online, making Georgia the first state outside of YLI's home state of Virginia to participate in the Mock Election on a statewide scale. In order for your students to vote in the Mock Election, your school must register its participation in advance by visiting the Civics Month website at and clicking on the link that says voting registration. Note that multiple teachers from the same school may register individually and submit classroom totals rather than school-wide totals. Teachers planning to participate with your classes should register as early as possible so that you can receive special classroom materials. Students may vote online from Monday, October 18 until Thursday, October 28th at 7 PM. Results from the Mock Election will be available October 29th at 8 AM, allowing students to see the impact of their participation in the voting process.

Teachers are encouraged to give extra credit for students who go to the polls with their parents on Election Day to witness the official voting process firsthand. Students aged 12 and under may accompany any adult-aged voter. Students who are aged 13-15 may accompany a parent or guardian only. Be sure that your students aged 16 and 17 know that they can become part of the process by working at the polls on Election Day.

Join the Office of the Secretary of State and Georgia Public Broadcasting in celebrating Civics Month and remind your students that by joining in the democratic process, they have the power to change the future for the better.

Sunday, October 3, 2004

GPB and The Department of Education Put Reading First

Georgia Public Broadcasting has joined forces with the Georgia Department of Education to support an important program called Reading First. This initiative, created by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, is charged to prepare young children to enter kindergarten with the necessary language, cognitive, and early reading skills they need to prevent reading difficulties and ensure school success.

It is a foundational assumption of Reading First that literacy is a learned skill rather than a biological "awakening." It follows, then, that children learning to read need the best in terms of early reading instruction to help them succeed. The National Reading First program, which gives grants to support the development of resources to enhance young children's language and cognitive development, has awarded the Georgia DOE a grant to develop and produce research-based professional development programming for reading coaches. Reading coaches that have been given the tools they need to be better and more effective instructors will be better able to meet the charge of improving language and cognitive development.

GPB recently hosted two days of training for Georgia reading coaches, who participated in workshops with other reading and education professionals from across the state to develop best practices that will serve as models for all teachers of reading in Georgia. These two days of professional development were recorded and will be repurposed as satellite and video streaming training modules that, along with a curriculum developed by DOE, can be accessed by educators any time, anywhere.

Additionally, the reading coaches who participated in this special professional development training will take the strategies they learned to their school systems for broader implementation. This "train the trainer" model in combination with distance-learning technology enables GPB and DOE to reach the greatest possible audience, thereby directly affecting the learning of more Georgia learners than would be possible through the traditional face-to-face training model.

To learn more about Reading First professional development opportunities, visit the DOE website at or contact Laura Miller at You may also want to take advantage of the following web resources provided by the North Central Educational Laboratory (NCREL):

* Instructional Leadership: Steering Schools to Reading Success - this site includes leadership guidelines for implementing a new Reading First program, the principals many roles that affect reading programs, and common scenarios that principals face with reading programs.
* SBRR: Your Roadmap to Reading Instruction - this site is designed for schools involved in Reading First, and explains the concept of scientifically based reading research (SBRR) and how it effects classroom instruction.
* Professional Development: Equipping Teachers for the Road Ahead - this site explains the important link between professional development and Reading First and offers guidelines for developing professional development plans.