Wednesday, January 10, 2001
Cox: Education to get a new look
By PAT NEWMAN
State Rep. Kathy Cox joined her colleagues on the floor of the Georgia General Assembly Monday, prepared to introduce several new bills and fulfill her duties on the Education, Industry, and Health and Ecology committees.
Among her first orders of business was the nomination of Rep. Lynn Westmoreland to be minority leader, a colleague she calls "very personable" and someone who is "open to new ideas."
Cox, who is entering her second term of office representing District 105, lives in Peachtree City with her husband, John, and two sons, and teaches social studies at McIntosh High School.
This term, Cox predicts there will be a reassessment on several key issues contained in House Bill 1187, the A+ Education Reform Act, which was passed in the Legislature last year.
One of those items will be getting parapros, or teachers' aides, back in the classroom. "There will also be a real emphasis on accountability and school construction," Cox said.
She is particularly concerned about the gradual implementation of of HB 1187 and how it will affect students in the classroom.
A bill to encourage driver's education is one of several pieces of legislation Cox plans to introduce in the months ahead. "We need to find ways to facilitate public and private partnerships," she said. One tenet of the bill will call for a tax credit for employers of teenage drivers who pay for driver education classes for their young employees.
Cox sees water quality and quantity as being a contentious area of debate in the months ahead. "This will affect the whole state. The Flint River Basin is one of the areas targeted for the whole coordinated effort," she said.
The Flint River is a source for Fayette County's water supply. According to Cox, "In terms of quality, Fayette County has a pretty good track record." In terms of quantity, the amount drawn from the river can have an impact as far away as Albany. The impact future development may have on water quantity and quality are two issues facing heated debate, she noted.
Cox also plans to introduce a child protection bill, which would provide an intermediate level of protection for children in possible danger.
"Georgia does not have a child endangerment statute," Cox said. She wants to draft a measure to hold parents or guardians accountable for the welfare of a child.
Cox gave an example of the Atlanta grandmother who forgot her young grandson was in her car and proceeded to leave him in an overheated car last summer, ultimately resulting in the child's death.
"Clearly, there is a gap in this state in not protecting our children," Cox said.