Martha Dalton

Reporter, Fill-in Host

Martha Dalton is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She came to WABE in May 2010 after working at CNN Radio. 

Martha covers education and immigration issues in the metro Atlanta area and statewide. She also reports on how federal education policy is enacted at the local level. She has covered the DeKalb County school district extensively, including governor’s recent decision to replace six board members. She reported on the indictment of 35 former educators in the Atlanta Public Schools.  Martha has worked in partnership with NPR and its StateImpact project on reporting key educational issues, such as the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. She is also a contributor to the NPR show LatinoUSA and American Public Media's Marketplace Morning Report

Martha has worked for radio stations in Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston, S.C.  In her former life, she worked for ten years as a teacher and reading specialist for students in grades K-12. She has a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master’s degree from Georgia State. 

You can follow Martha on Tumblr and Twitter

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News
4:40 pm
Wed May 27, 2015

Children of Rev. MLK, Jr. Head To Mediation Over Bible, Peace Prize

Dexter King appeared in court in January when attorneys were arguing over ownership of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Bible and Nobel Peace Prize medal.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

A legal fight over the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s traveling Bible and Nobel Peace Prize is headed for mediation. Attorneys for Dr. King’s children said in court Wednesday they’re close to an agreement.

Dr. King’s sons, Martin III and Dexter, voted 2-1 against their sister, Bernice, to sell the two items. Bernice King’s attorney, Eric Barnum, said that conflict is just one issue the siblings are at odds over.

“We asked the court to grant the opportunity to mediate what are the remaining issues,” Barnum said.  

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Education
9:29 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Fulton County Plans To Offer Families More School Options

Fulton County's Centennial High School created a ''technology hub'' for students to provide more options.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Parents who have children in the Fulton County schools may soon have more types of schools to choose from.

Fulton will offer more school models, such as Montessori schools, dual language programs and honors academies, for high school students. By giving families more choices, the district hopes to keep them from going to private schools or other districts.

“As we spent the last few months getting information from parents about what their needs are, we tried to match models to address the needs of each community,” says Ken Zeff, the district’s chief strategy officer.

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Education
6:30 am
Wed May 27, 2015

Some Ga. Charter Schools Aren't Outperforming Others

Georgia’s State Charter Schools Commission wanted to evaluate the performance of the 13 schools it has approved.
Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

State-approved charter schools perform about the same as regular public schools, according to a new report from the State Charter Schools Commission.

The report looked at test scores, school report cards, and other data for charter schools approved by the state. There are a total of 14 state-authorized charters. Officials combined data for two of the schools, focusing on a total of 13 in the report. 

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Local
6:00 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Atlanta Club Offers Friendship, Activity For Latino Seniors

A tender moment between Gloria Patiño, from Ecuador, and Maria Guadalupe Nuñez, from Mexico, as they catch up at the weekly seniors’ group meeting.
Brenna Beech WABE

It’s common for senior citizens to feel lonely and isolated. That’s especially true for seniors who emigrated from other countries. Once they’ve retired and their kids are grown, it can be hard for them to find friends who share their language and culture.

But there's a program in Atlanta that tries to solve that problem for Latino seniors.

This is an hour-long Zumba class. While it may not be moving at a rapid fire pace, it is moving.

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Education
6:00 am
Mon May 25, 2015

State Superintendent: Ga. Won't Require 'Funny Math Methods'

State Superintendent Richard Woods says Georgia doesn't require any particular methods to teach Common Core math standards.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Georgia students could struggle to learn if teachers use "funny math methods." That’s according to State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods, who recently wrote a column about Georgia’s math instruction.

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Education
4:13 pm
Thu May 21, 2015

Report: Clayton State, Ga. Southern Prepare Teachers Best

According to the NCTQ, teacher training programs need to raise admissions standards and give students practical experience.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

How do you know if a teacher is well prepared?  According to the National Council on Teacher Quality, it could depend on where they went to college.

The council ranks colleges’ teacher preparation programs. It uses criteria like admissions standards, curriculum, and how much time students actually spend in classrooms teaching.

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Education
11:23 am
Thu May 21, 2015

DeKalb Superintendent Finalist 'Taking Stock' Of District

Stephen Green visited the DeKalb schools for three days this week to meet with school and community leaders.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

DeKalb County's sole finalist for school superintendent wraps up a three-day visit to the district Thursday. Stephen Green currently leads the Kansas City Schools in Missouri.

Green met with school leaders, staff and parents during his trip. He said he’s coming in with an open mind, but he’s also taking inventory.

“I am taking stock, not just in terms of the facility and the resources — financial — but also, human capital,” he said. “I’m assessing: What do we have here? What do we preserve, protect, keep, enhance, and what do we need to change or modify?”

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Education
6:00 am
Tue May 19, 2015

Report: Georgia Deceived Parents With Old Testing System

A national study by Achieve found Georgia's old test, the CRCT, had the lowest passing standards in the country.
Credit Judy Baxter / flickr.com/judybaxter

Georgia deceived parents under the state’s former testing system when it said kids “met standards” in math and reading. That’s according to a new national report that found Georgia had some of the lowest criteria in the country.

The report found Georgia’s old state test, the CRCT, was too simple. In some cases, it was 60 percent easier to pass than national tests, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

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Local
4:19 pm
Fri May 15, 2015

Sister Of Atlanta Woman Shot By Police Wants Investigation

Alexia Christian's sister, Ramada Christian, said her family is struggling with painful questions surrounding her sister's death.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

On Thursday night, the family of a woman who was shot and killed by police in a patrol car two weeks ago complained to the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, the group that investigates allegations of police misconduct in Atlanta.

Alexia Christian was arrested for stealing a truck. Police say she shot at officers and they returned fire. The APD hasn’t released video of the shooting, saying it’s evidence in an investigation. Now Alexia Christian’s sister, Ramada Christian, wants the Atlanta Citizen Review Board to launch its own investigation.

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Local
6:06 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Atlanta Citizen: 'Don't Run' Campaign Should Say 'Don't Shoot'

One of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board’s “Don’t Run” campaign billboards is on McDaniel Street in southwest Atlanta’s historic Pittsburgh neighborhood.
Credit Charles W. Jones / WABE

A meeting of the Atlanta Citizen Review Board, which looks into allegations of police misconduct in the city, became heated Thursday night over a "Don't Run" billboard campaign that urges people not to flee from police.

In the aftermath of incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, North Charleston, South Carolina, and Baltimore — where police were said to have used excessive force against citizens ─ the board started the “Don’t Run” campaign.

Kalonji Changa was one of several citizens who said it sends the wrong message.

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Education
6:00 am
Thu May 14, 2015

Kansas City Superintendent Chosen To Lead DeKalb Schools

DeKalb School Board chairman Melvin Johnson, center, announces Stephen Green, not shown, of Kansas City will lead the district.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Stephen Green, from the Kansas City Schools, has been chosen for the job of DeKalb County superintendent. The DeKalb County school board made the announcement Wednesday night.

Green has led the Kansas City schools since 2012, after the district lost accreditation. DeKalb County school board chairman Melvin Johnson credited Green with turning things around.

“Dr. Green brought back the Kansas City school district to provisional certification,” Johnson said. “He has demonstrated innovative approaches to teaching and learning and moving student achievement forward.”

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Education
4:28 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

DeKalb County Schools To Announce Superintendent Finalist

The DeKalb County school board is expected to announce Stephen Green, of the Kansas City Schools, as its superintendent finalist.
Credit Elle Moxley / WCUR

    

The DeKalb County School District has picked a superintendent finalist. Sources tell WABE the district has tapped Stephen Green, the head of the Kansas City Schools in Missouri.

Green took over the Kansas City Schools in 2012 after the district lost accreditation. The DeKalb school board is expected to announce his candidacy at a press conference Wednesday night. The board will have to wait 14 days before offering him a contract.

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Education
7:34 am
Mon May 11, 2015

GSU Report: APS Cheating Put Kids Behind In Reading, English

Prosecuting attorneys charged former APS educators with conspiring to cheat on state tests.
Credit Kent Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The effects of the Atlanta cheating scandal on students were not huge, but not insignificant either, according to a new report issued by Georgia State University.

Researchers studied about 3,700 students whose answer sheets were manipulated. They found they were behind their classmates in reading and English/language arts for several years.

“We’re looking at one-fourth or one-half of what students would typically learn from one spring to the next,” Tim Sass, the study’s lead researcher, says.

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Education
6:00 am
Fri May 8, 2015

Some Ga. Teachers Frustrated By New Milestones Test

Teachers at Newnan High School spoke with Georgia Schools Superintendent Richard Woods Thursday.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Georgia’s new Milestones test got a critical review from some teachers who met with the state Schools Superintendent Richard Woods. He visited Newnan High School in Coweta County Thursday.

Students just finished taking this test made specifically for Georgia’s public schools. The exams are meant to be rigorous. But math teacher Samantha Allen said test prep takes too much time away from actual teaching.

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Education
8:29 pm
Thu May 7, 2015

Superintendent Surprises One Of Georgia's Longest-Serving Teachers

State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods paid a surprise visit to Barbara Landreth, who has taught at Newnan High School for 53 years.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, State Schools Superintendent Richard Woods paid a surprise visit Thursday to one of Georgia’s longest-serving educators in Newnan, Georgia. Barbara Landreth has taught English at Newnan High School for 53 years. She showed the superintendent her classroom, which still has chalkboards and original furniture that has been in the school since it opened in 1949.

“I’ve been in this room, right here, for 51 years, and I’m finally learning how to do the job,” Landreth said. “I’m going to get it right one day and quit.”

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Education
4:50 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

DeKalb's Superintendent Search Key To Regaining Accreditation

The DeKalb County School Board has less than two months to find a new superintendent.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

The DeKalb County School Board has fired PROACT, the firm that was leading its superintendent search. PROACT’s CEO was embroiled in a controversy over allegedly using racial slurs in emails while he was dean of a Chicago high school. The FBI is also investigating a PROACT subsidiary, also run by its CEO.

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Education
7:42 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Atlanta Leaders Try To Help Kids Affected By Cheating Scandal

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard will help lead the effort to develop the Atlanta Redemption Academy.
Credit Kent Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Community leaders will meet Tuesday to develop a program to help students affected by the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal. Eleven former educators were recently convicted of conspiring to change students’ test answers. Officials say now that the trial is over, they want to help children who’ve suffered the consequences.

People like Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard; the Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.; and the Rev. Gerald Durley will start planning the Atlanta Redemption Academy on Tuesday.

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Education
7:00 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Computer Glitch Delays Milestones Test For Some Ga. Students

A technical glitch delayed some students who were taking the Georgia Milestones test online.
Credit Matt Rourke / Associated Press

Public school students in grades 3-12 took new state tests this spring.

The new testing system, called Georgia Milestones, is meant to be demanding. It requires students to explain their answers, and it’s aligned to the more rigorous Common Core standards. But some students who took the test online hit an additional hurdle.

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APS Trial
3:43 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

3 Atlanta Cheating Scandal Educators Get Reduced Sentences

Former Atlanta Public Schools school research team director Tamara Cotman, center, is one of the educators who was resentenced Thursday. In this April 1 photo, Cotman is led to a holding cell after a jury found her guilty in the Atlanta Public Schools test-cheating trial.
Credit Kent D. Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter has reduced the sentences of three defendants in the Atlanta cheating trial on Thursday. Baxter said he had a change of heart, but some attorneys think a legal problem was at the root of his decision. 

Former educators Michael Pitts, Tamara Cotman, and Sharon Davis-Williams were originally sentenced to 20 years in prison – to serve seven with the rest on probation. That was more than double what prosecutors recommended.

Today, Judge Baxter showed remorse. 

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Education
6:30 am
Thu April 30, 2015

Atlanta Alumnae Join Effort To Save Sweet Briar College

Atlanta alumnae of Sweet Briar College in Virginia recently raised almost $200,000 in an effort to help the school stay open.
Credit Maria Thacker Goethe / Sweet Briar Alumna

Atlanta alumnae of Sweet Briar College are involved in an effort to save the all-women’s school in Virginia. After last month’s announcement that the small, liberal arts college will close in August, a national grassroots movement popped up to save it. At an event last weekend, a group of Atlanta Sweet Briar College graduates pledged $197,000 toward the effort.

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Education
6:00 am
Thu April 30, 2015

Three Atlanta Cheating Trial Defendants To Be Resentenced

Judge Jerry Baxter will resentence three defendants Thursday.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Three former Atlanta Public Schools educators will be resentenced at 2 p.m. Thursday. 

Former testing coordinators Sharon Davis-Williams, Michael Pitts and Tamara Cotman received 20-year prison terms after a jury found them guilty of conspiring to cheat on state tests. They were sentenced to serve seven years of the 20-year term. 

Judge Jerry Baxter will give them new sentences.

WABE legal analyst Page Pate says there could be a couple of reasons for that.

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News
1:41 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Ga. Christians, Muslims Come Together To Honor ISIS Victims

Hundreds came out to honor Ethiopians killed by ISIS in Libya.
Alison Guillory WABE

Thursday night, the Ethiopian community in held a candlelight vigil Clarkston, Georgia. The event was in remembrance of Ethiopian Christians killed by ISIS in Libya over the weekend.

Safi Ahmed is Muslim. He’s speaking to the crowd of 200 to 300 people gathered for the vigil. You don’t have to understand Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia, to hear the passion in his voice.

Afterwards, he loosely translated his words.

“I was mentioning the way they [were] killed,” he said. “I also mentioned Libya and also, finally, I mentioned South Africa.”

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News
6:00 am
Fri April 24, 2015

Clarkston's Ethiopian Community Honors ISIS Victims

Hundreds of people came out to Clarkston to honor 30 Ethiopian Christians killed by ISIS.
Alison Guillory WABE

The Ethiopian community in Clarkston held a candlelight vigil Thursday night to remember 30 Ethiopian Christians killed by ISIS in Libya. 

Music played as organizers handed out candles to hundreds of people who came to honor those who were murdered last weekend. Attendees, like Tekle Tessema, said Ethiopians everywhere are in mourning.

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Education
4:27 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Confusion Over State Laws May Be Reason For APS Resentencing

Judge Jerry Baxter may have handed down the wrong sentences to three defendants in the APS test cheating trial.
Credit Kent Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Confusion over state laws could be behind a move to reconsider the prison terms of three convicted former educators in the Atlanta cheating trial.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter had sentenced the three to 20 years in prison – to serve seven years in jail and 13 years probation. But that may have been a mistake. WABE legal analyst Page Pate says 20 years is the maximum sentence for violating the state's racketeering law. The defendants were tried under Georgia's conspiracy law.

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Education
11:04 am
Wed April 22, 2015

Judge To Resentence Three Defendants In APS Cheating Trial

Judge Jerry Baxter will resentence three defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial next week.
Credit Kent Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Judge Jerry Baxter will issue new sentences next week to three defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial who were convicted of racketeering.

Former administrators Michael Pitts, Sharon Davis-Williams and Tamara Cotman received the harshest penalties of the 10 defendants who were sentenced. They were each sentenced to 20 years in prison, to serve seven and spend 13 years on probation. They were each fined $25,000 and required to complete 2,000 hours of community service.

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Education
4:34 pm
Tue April 21, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal Signs School Recovery Plan Into Law

Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation Tuesday to create an Opportunity School District in Georgia. The measure would allow the state to step in and help underperforming schools if voters approve it next year.
Credit Brenna Beach / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill Tuesday that would let the state step in and help underperforming schools if voters approve the measure in 2016.

The legislation would create a state-run school district to manage low-performing schools. Deal said 139 Georgia schools currently qualify.

“For those who fail and drop out of our schools, they become the fodder for our state prison system, where almost 70 percent of our inmates dropped out of school themselves,” Deal said.

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Education
7:09 am
Tue April 21, 2015

Some Ga. Parents Are Pulling Their Kids From Milestones Tests

Some parents think the Georgia Milestones test puts too much pressure on students and teachers.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

It’s testing season in Georgia’s public elementary and middle schools. This year, students will take a new test called Georgia Milestones. But, a growing number of parents are choosing not to have their children tested.

In addition to multiple choice questions, the new test asks students to explain their answers in each subject. State education officials say that gives teachers a better idea of how much students are learning.  

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Education
4:00 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

Superintendent Avossa: Leaving Fulton Schools Is 'Bittersweet'

Robert Avossa, left, says he'll miss the Fulton County School District, but he's returning home to Florida.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Fulton County School District will soon start searching for a new leader. Superintendent Robert Avossa is leaving to head the Palm Beach County Schools in Florida.

A lot has changed in the Fulton County Schools since Avossa came to the district four years ago. It’s become the state’s largest charter system, high school graduation rates have improved, and Fulton’s SAT scores are now the second highest in the state. So why leave now? Avossa says it was a matter of opportunity.

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Education
6:00 am
Wed April 15, 2015

As Atlanta Cheating Trial Concludes, Officials Focus On Kids

Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., will serve on the board of the new academy.
Credit Kent Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ten former educators were sentenced Tuesday, as the Atlanta test cheating trial came to a close. But as the community tries to heal, some are now turning their attention to the children affected by the scandal.

Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced the idea of the Atlanta Redemption Academy. It would provide tutoring for students who are behind because their teachers cheated. Colleen Burns’ daughter is one of those students.

She was held back because she didn’t learn academically at an APS school like she should have,” Burns said.

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Education
6:15 pm
Mon April 13, 2015

APS Judge Tells Defendants: Admit Guilt Or Serve Jail Time

Former APS testing coordinator Donald Bullock spoke on his own behalf. He denied cheating.
Credit Kent Johnson, Pool / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Ten former teachers and administrators convicted of racketeering will be sentenced Tuesday instead of Monday. After hearing last-minute witness testimony, Judge Jerry Baxter pushed the sentencing back.

Character witnesses – friends, family members, and co-workers – all lined up and vouched for the defendants and plead for light sentences. Some defendants, like former testing coordinator Donald Bullock, spoke on their own behalf.

“My livelihood is gone,” Bullock said. “My license is gone, all because I told the truth.”

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