The public will get the chance to query national and state political figures on education issues at a forum Monday.
The Columbia County Association of Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators will hold the public forum at 7 p.m. at the Evans Government Complex Auditorium.
Moderated by Columbia County schools Associate Superintendent Lauren Williams, the forum will focus solely on education issues, particularly funding.
"Most of the funding for public education is through state and national funds," said GAE Uniserve Director Deede Chatelain, who covers a 12-county area, including Columbia and McDuffie counties. "The property tax received in each school district is negligible compared to state and national money."
Confirmed attendees so far include state Rep. Ben Harbin, Democratic candidate for the state Senate Chuck Pardue and Democratic candidate for Congress Bob Ellis.
Pardue's opponent, Jim Whitehead, also confirmed as of Wednesday, Chatelain said.
She said a representative from U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood's office, which Ellis is attempting to claim, has been asked to attend the forum but had not confirmed by Wednesday.
Candidate Barry Fleming has been invited but has yet to confirm.
"I want them to answer some hard questions about how come that funding is not coming," Chatelain said. "Why are there so many unfunded mandates like No Child Left Behind?"
Still, the politicians will field any education-related question from the audience, Chatelain said. She said she expects many parents to attend but hopes educators will show up to voice their concerns.
"It is every teachers' and employee in a school district's responsibility to participate and be active in the political process," Chatelain said. "All of their funding, with the exception of a small portion, comes from the state and national level.
"If they are not savvy to how the process works and where the money comes from, I take that as not really being educated on the issues that affect them on a daily basis."
For more information on the forum, call 651-9206.
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