Martha Dalton

Reporter

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 also 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

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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Education
6:00 am
Thu November 27, 2014

Georgia Colleges Try to Help Homeless Students

The CARE center at Kennesaw State University has a food pantry where students in need can receive meals.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

We often think of the homeless during the holiday season. We don’t usually associate the term with college students. But it’s a problem most colleges have to face.

Kennesaw State University is the first Georgia college to develop a program devoted to helping homeless students. The CARE (Campus Awareness Resource & Empowerment) center has a food pantry for students in need and helps homeless students find a place to stay. The center is currently helping about 30 students.

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Politics
6:00 am
Tue November 25, 2014

Faith-Based Groups Split on Obama's Action on Immigration

Immigration rights activists staged a protest last fall outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Atlanta Headquarters.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

President Obama’s executive action on immigration will provide temporary deportation relief and work permits for millions of undocumented immigrants. But some faith-based communities are split on whether it was wise for the president to take matters into his own hands.

Atlanta’s Catholic Archdiocese favors the president’s plan.

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Local
5:38 pm
Fri November 21, 2014

Obama's Immigration Action Expected to Affect Thousands in Georgia

LAA President Jeffrey Tapia says President Obama's executive action is a critical step, but comprehensive immigration form is needed.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Following President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, some local organizations are bracing for a flood of inquiries. The Latin American Association, for one, will hire extra attorneys to guide people through the process.

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Politics
5:52 pm
Thu November 20, 2014

Atlanta’s Latino Community Weighs In On Obama’s Expected Immigration Actions

Immigration reform advocates rallied last year outside the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Downtown Atlanta.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

President Obama is expected to announce Thursday night he’ll expand his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, also known as DACA. The policy provides temporary deportation relief for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. WABE’s Martha Dalton asked some in Atlanta’s Latino community to weigh in on the issue.

At Plaza Fiesta, a shopping mall on Buford Highway, Roberto Jimenez stands at a counter selling items like t-shirts. He says expanding the DACA program is a good idea.

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Politics
8:11 am
Thu November 20, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Tables Vote on Islamic Center

Kennesaw Commons is the proposed site of the Islamic prayer center.
Credit Google

The Kennesaw City Council Monday tabled a vote on a proposed Islamic prayer center. This isn’t the first time such a plan has hit a roadblock.

City of Kennesaw spokesperson Pam Davis declined to give details, but said the public had its say during a two-hour hearing.

“Many people spoke both for and against the request,” she said. “There were strong emotions on both sides.”

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Business
11:15 am
Wed November 19, 2014

Atlanta Business Reporter Maria Saporta Remembers Herman Russell

The late Herman Russell.
Credit H.J. Russell and Company

Atlanta businessman Herman Russell passed away Saturday at the age of 83.

Russell was a pioneering African-American business leader, who forged partnerships with Atlanta's white business community during a time of racial discrimination.

Atlanta business reporter, and family friend of Russell, Maria Saporta, wrote a tribute to him after hearing of his death. Here, she talks with WABE's Martha Dalton about Russell's legacy. 

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Local
6:49 pm
Mon November 17, 2014

Atlanta Business Reporter Maria Saporta on Zoo Atlanta's Unprecedented Gift

Zoo visitors wait in line at the entrance to Zoo Atlanta.
Credit Valerie Renee / flickr.com/valerierenee

Zoo Atlanta will receive an unprecedented gift from the Woodruff Foundation. The money will go toward a planned expansion.

WABE's Martha Dalton spoke with long-time Atlanta business reporter Maria Saporta, of the Saporta Report and the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Saporta started by explaining what the gift will mean to the zoo. 

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Education
4:48 pm
Thu November 13, 2014

Are Schools Too Test-Focused?

Burgess-Peterson Elementary School principal Robin Robbins meets with students during an after-school study program in Atlanta, in preparation for last year's state standardized testing.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The federal government requires states to test students in grades 3-12 every year, and several states, including Georgia, are starting to use scores from those tests to evaluate teachers. Some parents and educators, however, worry schools are too focused on ‘the test’.

Every year, you can tell when it’s ‘high stakes test time’. Parents start posting on social media about how stressed their kids are over end-of-the-year tests.

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Education
5:21 pm
Wed November 12, 2014

Researchers Urge U.S. Lawmakers To Prioritize Early Education

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

U.S. lawmakers are pretty polarized these days, but they seem to agree investing in early education pays off. Studies show kids who go to school early have a better chance of graduating from high school and are less likely to commit crimes. So hundreds of education researchers wrote an open letter to policymakers urging them to prioritize early education.

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Local
7:26 am
Wed November 12, 2014

Empty Stocking Fund Expects Big Boost In Kids This Year

The Empty Stocking Fund usually serves about 50,000 kids. It is estimated that number will jump about 20 percent this year.
Credit The Empty Stocking Fund

  What do a local children’s charity and a federal health care law have in common? More than you might think.

The Affordable Care Act expanded requirements for Medicaid, the federal/state program that helps low-income families and individuals pay for health care.

“More than 90,000 Georgians were assessed ‘Medicaid eligible’ by the marketplace and many of those were children,” says Beth Stephens, the Health Access Program Director for Georgia Watch.

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Education
2:00 am
Wed November 5, 2014

Woods Takes State Superintendent's Race

GOP candidate Richard Woods, seen here at a forum in September, beat Democrat Valarie Wilson by a wide margin.
Credit John Bazemore / Associated Press

The Republicans’ election sweep included the race for state schools superintendent. GOP candidate Richard Woods beat Democrat Valarie Wilson by a wide margin.

Early on, Wilson’s supporters were confident.  Noisemakers and confetti sat on tables, ready for a victory celebration. But they remained untouched shortly before midnight when Wilson conceded. She said she was surprised Woods nabbed 60 percent of the vote.

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Politics
8:11 am
Tue November 4, 2014

Lewis Stands By Voter Suppression Claims

Georgia Congressman John Lewis leaves a campaign stop Monday.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

In an effort to get more people out to the polls this Election Day, a new group launched an effort to register first-time voters.   But the group has claimed more than 40,000 registration forms went missing.

The issue of the so-called missing forms created a public tug-of-war between Secretary of State Brian Kemp and voter registration group the New Georgia Project. The group sued Kemp and some Georgia counties.

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Politics
7:35 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Critics Question Georgia's Participation in Crosscheck Voter System

Asian Americans Advancing Justice campaigned to register 10,000 Korean Americans registered to vote in Gwinnett County.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

A system used by 27 states, including Georgia, to check voter registrations has flagged thousands of ‘double voters’.  That is, voters who’ve registered in more than one state. But some critics say the system is unreliable.

The intent of the Crosscheck system is to safeguard against voter fraud. But advocacy groups say there are problems.

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Politics
4:27 pm
Fri October 31, 2014

Voters Will Decide Whether to Cap Income Tax

As voters head the polls Tuesday, they’ll cast ballots for governor and U.S. Senate. But they’ll also be asked to weigh in on some state and local initiatives. One measure is a proposed constitutional amendment that would cap the state’s income tax rate.

The question seems like a no-brainer: who wouldn’t want to stop their taxes from going up?  But is it good economics?

“I think this amendment is much more to do about politics than economics,” says

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WABE Specials
11:20 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Dekalb School Superintendent Michael Thurmond on the District's New Ebola-Driven Health Policy

Dekalb School Superintendent Michael Thurmond, then Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor, speaking in 2010
Credit John Amis / Associated Press

Concerns about the Ebola virus prompted several Metro Atlanta school districts to update their health policies for those coming from Ebola-affected regions.

DeKalb changed its policy after two students who traveled from Liberia tried to register for school. District officials said they didn’t have the right medical documents.

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Local
8:11 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Cobb Voters to Decide on SPLOST Renewal

Credit Chris Ferguson/WABE News

Georgians will head to the polls Tuesday to vote for governor and U.S. Senate. But they’ll also face some ‘ballot initiatives,’ those questions that come at the end of the ticket. This year, Cobb residents decide whether to renew a one-cent Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST.

The tax would fund a long list of projects that include upgrading roads, bridges, and drainage systems.

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Politics
4:46 pm
Tue October 28, 2014

Judge Won't Intervene in Voter Registration Lawsuit

Credit Michelle Wirth/WABE News

A Fulton County Superior Court judge Tuesday refused to get involved in a legal battle over Georgia’s voter registration process. Judge Christopher Brasher dismissed a lawsuit filed by The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights

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Education
8:11 am
Tue October 28, 2014

Emory Group Goes to Bat for Undocumented Students

U.S. Congressman John Lewis spoke at Emory's 2014 graduation ceremony.
Credit Michell Eloy / WABE

During the Freedom Summer of 1964, hundreds of college students flocked to Mississippi to help register African-American voters.  Fifty years later, that event is still inspiring other social movements, some of which also use the name ‘Freedom’. One such group at Emory University is sticking up for undocumented students.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis helped organize the Freedom Summer. He also delivered Emory’s commencement address last spring, where he urged students to support immigration reform.

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Politics
8:50 am
Mon October 27, 2014

Candidate Interview: Valarie Wilson

Credit John Bazemore / AP Photo

Tuesday, Nov. 4 is Election Day. This week, WABE will air interviews with some candidates in statewide races. Monday we focused on who might succeed John Barge as State Schools Superintendent. Democratic Candidate Valarie Wilson spoke with WABE’s Martha Dalton. Wilson served on the Decatur school board and the state School Boards Association. But some might wonder why a candidate for superintendent has never been a teacher. The interview starts with Wilson’s answer.

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Education
3:52 pm
Fri October 24, 2014

Thurmond: DeKalb Schools' Ebola Policy Errs on Side of Caution

The word "Welcome" is displayed in 11 languages in the entrance of the DeKalb Schools central office.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Several metro Atlanta school systems have updated their health policies to include Ebola guidelines. The DeKalb County school district was one of the first to do so after delaying enrollment for two students who came from a country affected by the virus. Now, the students need to have their medical documents approved by the district superintendent before they can attend class.

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Politics
12:43 pm
Thu October 23, 2014

Barge Endorses Wilson in State Schools Superintendent Race

Republican State Schools Superintendent John Barge (far left) endorsed Democrat Valarie Wilson to take his place.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Republican State Schools Superintendent John Barge Thursday endorsed Democratic candidate Valarie Wilson. Barge decided against a second term as superintendent to challenge Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican gubernatorial primary last spring. Deal won by a wide margin.

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Education
9:42 am
Wed October 22, 2014

Brazil Emerges as New Market for International College Students

A few years ago George State University decided to focus on countries with emerging markets, like Brazil.
Credit Silver Starre / flickr.com/starre/

More international students are coming to U.S. colleges. About half of them are from China, India, and South Korea. But, American colleges are also becoming popular with Brazilian students. Through a new program, about 125 Brazilian students are attending Georgia colleges.

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Politics
3:13 pm
Mon October 20, 2014

Voter Registration Group Questions Kemp on Transparency

Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, said she was confused by Secretary of State Brian Kemp's recent comments. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is to her right.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Leaders of a voter registration group said Monday they’re confused by recent comments made by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp.  The group, called the New Georgia Project, sued Kemp’s office and five counties over thousands of voter registration forms they say are missing. 

Kemp denied that last week, saying officials have added 40,000 new voters to the rolls.

Group founder and Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams Monday asked Kemp for clarity.

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Education
6:46 pm
Sun October 19, 2014

School Districts Update Policies to Include Ebola Response

Credit Dan Raby / WABE

Some metro Atlanta school districts are updating their health policies to include guidelines for the Ebola virus. Some districts, like DeKalb and Cobb, announced this week students from Ebola-affected countries won’t be able to enroll until the superintendent approves their medical documents. Cobb schools spokesperson Kyler Post says it’s a proactive move.

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Politics
8:11 am
Fri October 17, 2014

Do Political Endorsements Help Candidates?

Experts say endorsements can say a lot about a race, even if they don't produce votes.
Credit WABE

With elections coming up next month, some Georgia candidates are racking up endorsements. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was in town this week to support Republican Senate candidate David Perdue. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was in Atlanta Thursday stumping for Gov. Nathan Deal. But do endorsements really give candidates an edge?

It may be nice for a nominee to get a pat on the back from a big-name politician or even a celebrity. But does it matter to voters?

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Politics
2:37 pm
Thu October 16, 2014

Kemp Fires Back at Critics: Eligible Voters Have Been Processed

Brian Kemp denied that more than 50,000 voter registration applications have not been processed.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp Thursday shot back at critics who accused his office of failing to register thousands of voters. Last week, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights sued Kemp's office and five Georgia counties over 55,000 'missing' voter registration forms. Kemp called the lawsuit frivolous.

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Politics
9:00 am
Wed October 15, 2014

Are Atlanta Voters Ready for Next Month's Election?

Credit Chris Ferguson / WABE

It’s less than a month until November's General Election. But are Atlanta voters tuned into the races? WABE asked some registered voters if they’re ready to cast a ballot.

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Business
8:15 am
Tue October 14, 2014

Who Loses When Gas Prices Plummet?

Credit WABE News

Gas prices are dropping in Atlanta and across the country. But, there are some drawbacks to the price plunge.

As prices fall toward the $3/gallon mark, that’s a big win for you, the consumer. But as Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with gasbuddy.com, says there will inevitably be some losers.

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Education
4:59 pm
Thu October 9, 2014

'Test Optional' Colleges Consider Alternatives to SAT

Agnes Scott College, in Decatur, is one of a handful of Georgia schools that don't require students to submit SAT or ACT scores.
Credit Uncommon Fritillary / flickr.com/30473186@N05/

SAT results came out this week. Georgia’s average scores fell slightly. But some colleges don't require the test anymore. They're part of a growing number of schools that have gone "test-optional". 

An SAT or ACT score won’t always predict how a student will perform in college. That is why Agnes Scott College in Decatur decided to let students choose whether to submit their scores.

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Education
8:10 am
Wed October 8, 2014

Loan Changes Squeeze Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Several U.S. colleges have seen declining enrollment since the recession began. But changes to a federal loan program in 2011 have hit some historically black colleges and universities, or HBCUs, especially hard.

Clark Atlanta sophomore Jasmine Johnson says waiting for a loan to be approved can be stressful.

“My freshman year when I got here, I didn’t have enough money because my Parent PLUS hadn’t been approved yet,” she says.  

The Parent PLUS is a federal student loan.

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