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

Pages

Education
6:00 am
Thu March 26, 2015

Academic Common Market Offers College Tuition Relief

A program issued by the SREB allows students in 15 Southern states to pay in-state tuition at some out-of-state colleges.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

It’s no secret that college tuition rates are on the rise, but a program available in 15 Southern states has helped some students cut down on their costs.

Imagine you’re in a supermarket. But instead of shopping for food or toothpaste, you’re looking for college degree programs. You want to find one you like at a good price.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Tue March 24, 2015

Some Metro Atlanta School Districts Begin Digital Learning

Students at Webb Bridge Middle School study for an upcoming science quiz using tablets.
Credit Lillian Govus / Fulton County Schools

There’s no way around it—schools are going digital. A bill in the Georgia Legislature would require public schools to convert to digital textbooks by the year 20-20. Some districts are transitioning to tech-based instruction now. WABE visited a Fulton County school to see how its transition is going. 

Susie McFarlane’s class is busy. They’re working in groups. Each has a different task-- from building food webs to studying biomes. And they’re using technology to help them.

Read more
A Closer Look
12:00 pm
Mon March 23, 2015

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Discusses High School Graduation Rates

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he's encouraged by the recent uptick in high school graduation rates.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The U.S. Department of Education has released new data on high school graduation rates

Georgia’s rate of 71.7 percent rose 4 percent in two years. However, it’s still well below the national average of 81 percent.

Recently, WABE’s Martha Dalton spoke with Education Secretary Arne Duncan about the new numbers. The conversation starts with Duncan’s reaction to the data.

Read more
Education
8:15 pm
Thu March 19, 2015

Judge Tells APS Jury To Read Indictment As Written, Despite Mistake

Judge Jerry Baxter instructed the jury to read the charges against Sharon Davis-Williams as they are written in the indictment.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Jurors in the Atlanta test cheating trial hit a snag today soon after they began deliberating. They were confused by a mistake in the indictment. 

A count against former administrator Sharon Davis-Williams mixes up two different schools where she worked.

The jury asked Judge Jerry Baxter if it should treat the mistake as a clerical error. Prosecutors argued it should. Davis-Williams’ attorney, Teresa Mann, said Baxter should direct the jury to find her “not guilty” because of the state’s mistake.

After hearing from both sides, Baxter instructed the jury.

Read more
Education
7:08 am
Thu March 19, 2015

APS Cheating Trial Now Goes To Jury

Fulton County Senior Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker told the jury the case isn't about race or politics, but children who didn't get the help they needed.
Credit Kent Johnson / The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Closing arguments in the Atlanta test cheating trial ended yesterday. Twelve former educators face up to 20 years in prison for allegedly conspiring to cheat on state tests.

Defense attorneys questioned the credibility of some witnesses who said they saw defendants cheat. Some of those witnesses were indicted in the case, but struck plea deals. Attorney Gerald Griggs, who represents former administrator Angela Williamson, said the witnesses who testified against his client couldn’t keep their stories straight.

Read more
Education
4:57 pm
Tue March 17, 2015

Defense Attorneys Push Back During APS Closing Arguments

Attorney Scott Smith defends client Theresia Copeland, a former testing coordinator.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After hearing from prosecutors yesterday, the defense attorneys made their closing arguments today in the Atlanta test cheating trial. A dozen former teachers and administrators face up to 20 years in prison for charges including racketeering and making false statements.

Prosecuting attorneys argued Monday the former educators conspired to cheat to boost test scores and get bonuses. Tuesday, the defense attorneys fought back.

Read more
Education
9:51 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Georgia's College Tuition Rates Keep Climbing

Analysts say private and public colleges raise tuition rates for different reasons.
Credit John Amis / Associated Press

Since 2007, tuition in Georgia’s university system has increased 88 percent. But why are costs so much higher each year, and where is that money going? 

Private and public colleges raise rates for different reasons. Thomas Weko, a managing researcher at the American Institutes for Research, says public universities are getting less money from state governments. 

Read more
Education
5:44 pm
Mon March 16, 2015

Jury Hears Closing Arguments In Atlanta Cheating Trial

Prosecutor John Floyd, who argued on the state's behalf, said there was a system-wide plot to change answers.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

After six months of testimony, jurors heard closing arguments Monday in the Atlanta test cheating trial. Twelve former teachers and administrators face up to 20 years in prison for charges including racketeering and making false statements and writings.

State attorneys are trying to convince the jury the defendants conspired to cheat. That’s different than proving cheating happened. Prosecutor John Floyd, who argued on the state's behalf, said there was a system-wide plot to change answers on the 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Test.

Read more
APS Trial
11:58 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Atlanta Test Cheating Trial Attorneys Begin Closing Arguments

Attorneys began closing arguments Monday morning in the Atlanta test cheating trial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Attorneys began closing arguments Monday morning in the Atlanta test cheating trial.

Twelve former APS educators face up to 20 years in prison for charges including racketeering and making false statements. Jurors have listened to six months of testimony, and now state attorneys are trying to convince them former educators conspired to cheat.

Fulton County prosecutor Clint Rucker argued cheating was systemic. He said teachers who changed students’ tests answers on the 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Test corrupted students’ minds and spirits.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Mon March 16, 2015

Closing Arguments Begin In Atlanta Cheating Trial

Judge Jerry Baxter has been presiding over the Atlanta Public Schools test cheating trial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

For six months, attorneys have presented testimony and evidence in the Atlanta Public Schools test cheating trial. Monday, closing arguments begin. Twelve former teachers and administrators face up to 20 years in prison for racketeering and other charges.

The state has been trying to prove a conspiracy to cheat and boost test scores in an effort to get cash bonuses. That’s what Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Fani Willis argued when the trial began.

Read more
Education
5:30 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Fulton County To Offer New Teachers Signing Bonuses

The bonuses will range from $1000 to $2500.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Metro Atlanta school systems will soon start recruiting new teachers for the upcoming school year. But districts will face stiff competition from the Fulton County Schools, which is offering new teachers signing bonuses.

If you’re a teacher looking for a job, it may seem like a no-brainer to go with the district offering bonuses. But Fulton County doesn’t make it easy for prospective teachers.

“They engage with what we call a 'new teacher selector,'” Ron Wade, Fulton Schools’ chief talent officer, says.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Thu March 12, 2015

Georgia Senate Passes Resolution Challenging AP US History Exam

In this file photo, Sen. William Ligon looks over paperwork at his desk on the Senate floor on March 27, 2012, in Atlanta.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Senate passed a resolution Wednesday urging state officials to get into the test-making business.

The Republican National Committee called the changes to the Advanced Placement U.S. History exam “a radically revisionist view of American history” when the issue surfaced earlier this year. 

Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, said they want a new test.

“We’re encouraging our governor and the state board of education to work with other states to promote an alternative program to the Advanced Placement history class,” Ligon told the Senate.

Read more
Education
4:00 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

Sikh Coalition Says Gwinnett's Bullying Response Is 'Inadequate'

A student who was bullied on a Gwinnett County school bus filmed the incident and the video went viral.
Credit Toby Talbot / Associated Press

A Gwinnett County student of the Sikh faith, which originated in India’s Punjab region, was bullied on the bus recently. The student caught the incident on his phone.

The student is wearing a turban in the video. He filmed himself and some kids behind him. It’s hard to understand most of what the kids are saying, but it’s not hard to understand when one student calls him a "terrorist."

Read more
Education
9:42 am
Tue March 10, 2015

Sen. Johnny Isakson Wants To Cut FAFSA Form Down To Two Questions

Sen. Johnny Isakson is sponsoring a bill that would cut the form down to two questions: How big is your family and what was their income two years ago?
Credit Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

In Georgia, $82 million in federal student aid was left on the table last year. Experts say that’s because the application to get the money is too long. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., wants to change that.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA is the form colleges use to decide on student aid.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Mon March 9, 2015

Kids Are Learning To Be 'Kind,' 'Respectful' In Ga. Schools' Behavior Intervention Program

Third grader Ian Price says his parents are proud of what he's accomplished through PBIS.
Brenna Beech WABE

Georgia has one of the highest school suspension rates in the country.

But, it is dropping. To shrink the number further, some state officials are pushing a program that has helped reduce discipline problems nationwide.

Read more
Education
7:22 pm
Thu March 5, 2015

Senate Approves Gov. Nathan Deal's School Turnaround Plan

The Georgia Senate approved Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to rescue failing schools Thursday.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to rescue failing schools continues to advance in the Legislature. The Georgia Senate approved the plan Thursday.

The Republican-led Senate gave the green light to the governor’s school takeover plan, but only if voters approve it.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Tue March 3, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal's School Rescue Plan Clears Key Committee

The Senate Education Committee Monday approved a bill aimed at turning around failing schools.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to turn around failing schools is moving ahead. The Senate Education Committee approved the controversial bill Monday.

The plan would let the state set up an Opportunity School District, which would help run failing schools. State officials could apply different interventions, like turning the schools into charters. They could also shut them down.

But that’s not the goal, says the governor’s floor leader, Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville.

Read more
Atlanta Public Schools
3:01 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Former APS Superintendent Beverly Hall Dies

In this file photo, former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall stands as her attorney presents a motion at the Fulton County Superior Court hearing for several dozen Atlanta Public Schools educators facing charges alleging a conspiracy of cheating on the CRCT standardized tests in Atlanta on May 3, 2013.
Credit David Tulis / Associated Press

Former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall died today from complications related to stage four breast cancer according to her defense team. Hall had been at the center of the APS cheating scandal. 

In March 2013, she was indicted along with 34 other former school officials on charges of racketeering, theft by taking, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. Those charges stemmed from an alleged systematic process of changing students’ answers on the 2009 Criterion Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). 

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Georgia's Fight Over AP US History Exam Continues

Jose Gregory says the new AP U.S. History framework gives teachers more flexibility.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it" is a phrase often quoted by historians. 

Republican lawmakers in some states, including Georgia, are worried students taking a new AP U.S. History exam won’t learn the “right” lessons.

Jose Gregory’s Advanced Placement U.S. history class at the DeKalb School of the Arts begins with the Pledge of Allegiance. Today’s topic is World War I, specifically America’s entry into the war.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Wed February 25, 2015

Democrats Say Republican Proposal Could Decrease Funds for Atlanta School Districts

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan isn't happy with a Republican rewrite of No Child Left Behind.
Credit Kevin Wolf, File / Associated Press

The federal "No Child Left Behind" education law is up for reauthorization. So far, two Republican-sponsored proposals have Democrats up in arms. 

Democratic U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Tuesday blasted a bill sponsored by Republican Rep. John Kline of Minnesota.

“This partisan, House Republican proposal, which will be voted on this week, caps spending and allows states to redirect federal resources from poor districts and communities to wealthy districts and communities,” Duncan said.

Read more
Education
6:11 pm
Wed February 18, 2015

State Legislators Hear From College Board On AP History Changes

Georgia is not the only state reviewing Advanced Placement U.S. history courses looking for what is being regarded as objectionably un-patriotic content. States including Oklahoma and Colorado (as seen above) are also examining the curriculum.
Credit Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

Some Georgia lawmakers say the new Advanced Placement U.S. History exam downplays American exceptionalism. Wednesday, they heard from members of the College Board, which issues the test.

Some lawmakers contend that the new AP exam presents a negative, slanted view of American history. They complained students aren’t expected to know documents, like the Articles of Confederation, the Federalist Papers and the Constitution.  

College Board Vice President Trevor Packer said the documents are included, but different exams refer to different historical documents.

Read more
Politics
6:14 pm
Tue February 17, 2015

How Will Immigration Ruling Affect Georgia?

Immigration activists protest deportations outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement headquarters in Atlanta last year.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

A federal judge in Texas granted a request by 26 states ─ including Georgia ─ to temporarily block President Barack Obama's executive action on immigration. But it’s not clear what the ruling means for immigrants in this state. 

The president’s order gives temporary deportation relief to children brought to the U.S. illegally. It would also provide relief for some of their parents.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen issued an injunction, saying the president overstepped his authority.

Read more
Politics
8:56 am
Tue February 17, 2015

Survey: Voters Favor Higher Gas Tax To Fund Transportation Projects

A new survey shows voters are willing to pay a higher gas tax if it means improved roads and transit.
Credit Chris Ferguson/WABE

 

     

A new survey shows voters are willing to pay more at the pump if it means improving roads and other transportation projects.

The survey, issued by the Georgia Transportation Alliance, says likely voters don’t mind paying a higher gas tax if the funds go to improving roads and enhancing other transit systems.

According to the report, 51 percent of those polled said the state isn’t allocating enough money to maintaining roads and bridges.

Read more
Education
5:33 am
Tue February 17, 2015

School Closings: Tuesday, Feb. 17

Georgia Tech is one of the colleges that will open late Tuesday.
Credit Wally Gobetz / flickr.com/wallyg

    

The following schools are closed Tuesday, Feb. 17:

Atlanta Public Schools — administrative buildings open at 10 a.m.

Cobb County

Clayton County Schools

Dekalb County — 12 month staff report by 11 a.m.

Forsyth County Schools

Fulton County Schools

Gwinnett County Schools

Hall County Schools

KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools

Christ the King School

All Brenau University Gainesville, Norcross and Fairburn classes cancelled and administrative offices closed

Read more
Weather
8:13 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Metro Atlanta Scrapped From Winter Weather Advisory

Piedmont Park and Midtown Atlanta during the winter storm on Jan. 28, 2014.
Credit nickmickolas / Flickr/nickmickolas

Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency for 15 counties in north Georgia. But it looks like the severe weather will miss metro Atlanta.

Most of the metro area has been dropped from a winter weather advisory. Ryan Willis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, says temperatures will be warmer than forecasters thought.

“Right now, we just have a winter weather advisory out for the very northern fringes of the metro, for the Forsyth County and the Cherokee County area,” he says.

Read more
Education
6:56 am
Mon February 16, 2015

School Closings: Monday, Feb. 16

Credit Nick Nesmith/for WABE

The following schools are closed Monday:

Public Schools:

Cobb County Schools

Forsyth County Schools

Floyd County Schools

Hall County Schools

Private Schools:

Children Today Montessori Learning Center

Premier Learning Academy

Colleges:

Chattahoochee Tech — all campuses

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Also, be sure to check your school’s website or social media feeds for the latest updates. 

Read more
Local
6:52 am
Mon February 16, 2015

Deal Issues State Of Emergency For North Georgia Counties

Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency until Tuesday ahead of a wintry mix expected to hit areas of north Georgia Monday.
Credit nickmickolas via flickr / http://flic.kr/p/k2t2mR

Gov. Nathan Deal has issued a state of emergency until Tuesday ahead of a wintry mix expected to hit areas of north Georgia Monday.

The order applies to 15 north Georgia counties that are under a winter storm warning. They are: Catoosa, Dade, Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Habersham, Lumpkin, Murray, Pickens, Rabun, Towns, Union, Walker, White and Whitfield counties.

Read more
Education
7:56 am
Fri February 13, 2015

DeKalb Charter Cluster Proposal May Get Second Chance

The DeKalb County school board voted 5-4 against the charter cluster proposal over a year ago.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

A petition for a Druid Hills charter schools cluster may get a second chance for approval in DeKalb County.

The charter cluster petition would have given Druid Hills High School and its feeder schools more autonomy, loosening the grip of the school district. But the DeKalb school board narrowly rejected the proposal just over a year ago.

Recently, some petitioners considered annexing to Atlanta, which would make the schools a part of APS.

Read more
Education
6:57 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Cobb County School District Names New Superintendent

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Cobb County School System officially has a new leader. The school board unanimously voted to make Christopher Ragsdale the district’s new superintendent.

Ragsdale had been serving as Cobb’s interim superintendent since May, after former schools chief Michael Hinojosa stepped down before his contract ended.

At the time, Ragsdale said he was looking forward to the challenge of leading one of the state’s largest school systems.

Read more
APS Cheating Trial
12:38 pm
Wed February 11, 2015

Prosecution Rests In Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Trial

Prosecutor Fani Willis, seen here earlier in the trial, has rested the state's case in the APS cheating trial.
Credit Kent D. Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution Pool

The prosecution in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial rested its case Wednesday morning, but it's not over yet.

Since September of 2014, the state has been calling witnesses and presenting evidence. But now the defense gets to make its case. There are 12 defendants, so it could take a while.

First up: Dana Evans. She’s the former principal of Dobbs Elementary School. Evans is accused of making false statements as well as racketeering. Her former colleague, Mario Watkins, testified on her behalf. He was asked to describe what kind of principal she was.  

Read more

Pages