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
4:45 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Carter Nabs Big Education Endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and state Sen. Jason Carter snagged an endorsement from the Georgia Association of Educators Wednesday. GAE president Sid Chapman is behind Carter. Democratic state school superintendent candidate Valarie Wilson is to his left.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter nabbed a key endorsement Wednesday. The Georgia Association of Educators announced they’re backing the state senator.

GAE president Sid Chapman said Carter has the right vision for education. Carter said his plan, which is focused on funding, is simple.

“The first thing we must do is have a separate education budget, which will force the politicians in Atlanta to be politically accountable for the way that they do their job on education funding,” he said.  

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Politics
4:04 pm
Tue August 26, 2014

Gov. Deal Defends Board Appointees

Gov. Nathan Deal
Credit Governor's Office

Gov. Nathan Deal this week dismissed recent criticism from Democratic opponent Jason Carter. Carter took issue with an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report that showed members of three state boards contributed to the governor’s re-election campaign.

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Education
5:26 pm
Mon August 25, 2014

Gov. Deal Unveils New Plan for High School Computer Classes

Gov. Nathan Deal Monday said he wants high school students to be able to take more computer programming classes as part of their core requirements.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are still taught in schools these days. But if Gov. Nathan Deal has his way, Georgia schools could change the way they approach arithmetic.

Speaking at Georgia Tech’s Ferst Center Monday, Gov. Deal said Georgia has jobs to fill.

“We must continue to meet the workforce needs if we want to further attract businesses and to maintain jobs we currently have,” he said.

The governor said businesses need computer programmers and software developers, and they’re not finding qualified candidates in Georgia. So, he wants schools to help.

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Local
5:34 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

BeltLine Eastside Trail Gateway is Officially Open

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (center) and other officials cut the ribbon for the BeltLine's Eastside Trail Gateway ceremony.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A new part of the Atlanta BeltLine opened Friday. Mayor Kasim Reed cut the ribbon for the Eastside Trail Gateway path.

The path connects the 2-mile East Side Trail to the Historic Old Fourth Ward Park. Reed said the ‘gateway’ may be small, but it will make a big difference.

“It will bring together Atlantans who already use the Eastside Trail in new ways,” he said. “And it will give the 21,000 weekly visitors direct access to one of Atlanta’s most stunning green spaces.”

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Education
8:15 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Grant Will Cover New Assessment for Kindergarten Students

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Early education officials are expanding some programs and services thanks to a $51 million federal grant. Part of the money will be used to develop an assessment to see if kids are ready for Kindergarten.

Parents, you can relax. Your five-year-old won’t have to take a standardized test. Melissa Fincher is the deputy superintendent for assessment and accountability for the Georgia Department of Education. She says the Kindergarten assessment will be informal.

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Education
4:14 pm
Wed August 20, 2014

Georgia Students Scoring Higher on College Entrance Exams

Credit Evan Changhwan Jang

Georgia students are making gains on college entrance exams. Georgia’s class of 2014 scored higher than many others in the South on the ACT.

Georgia’s composite ACT score is 20.8. That’s slightly lower than the national average of 21, out of a possible 36. Officials would like Georgia’s number to be higher, but Department of Education spokesperson Matt Cardoza says it’s progress.

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Education
4:58 pm
Tue August 19, 2014

State Superintendent Candidates Debate Issues

Former Georgia School Boards Association President Valarie Wilson and Irwin County educator Richard Woods debated each other in the race for state schools superintendent.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia students are back in class and whether they know it or not, they’ll have a new leader in January. In November, voters will elect a new state schools superintendent. Tuesday, the two candidates vying for that post debated each other for the first time at a forum hosted by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

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Politics
8:15 am
Tue August 19, 2014

Libertarians Running in Some of Georgia's Big Races

Libertarian candidate Andrew Hunt is challenging Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter in Georgia's gubernatorial race.
Credit Andrew Hunt Campaign

Most Georgia voters know the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate. But both races also have Libertarian candidates. And some poll watchers say those nominees could affect the outcome.  

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and Democratic challenger state Sen. Jason Carter have taken swipes at each other. But neither has really acknowledged Georgia’s third gubernatorial candidate: Libertarian Andrew Hunt.

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Education
8:00 am
Sat August 16, 2014

What's the First Day of School Like for a Superintendent?

Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa greets teachers at North Springs Charter School.
Credit Fulton County Schools

The first day of school for students and teachers can be exciting, busy, even nerve-wracking. But what’s it like for a school district leader? WABE’s Martha Dalton accompanied Fulton County Superintendent Dr. Robert Avossa during his first day of school to find out.

Starting Out

Avossa visited seven schools on the first day. But it’s clear from the start, this isn’t about him.

How are things running? He asks principals. Where are the gaps? What needs to go more smoothly?

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Education
10:06 am
Thu August 14, 2014

DeKalb Schools Registering Thousands of Immigrant Students

Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE News

Hundreds of immigrant children and their families spent the night outside the DeKalb Schools’ International Welcome Center last week. Parents apparently thought if they didn’t register their children for school last week they wouldn’t be admitted to school this year. But DeKalb Schools Spokesperson Quinn Hudson told WABE the district is accommodating all 21,000 students.

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Education
5:07 pm
Wed August 13, 2014

Gov. Deal Talks Education, Tours DeKalb High School

Gov. Nathan Deal greets students as he tours Chamblee Charter High School in DeKalb County.
Credit Evan Changhwan Jang

During their first week of class, some DeKalb high school students received a visit from a high-ranking state official.

    

Gov. Nathan Deal Wednesday toured Chamblee Charter High School, which moved into a new building in December. The campus houses cutting edge technology, spacious athletic facilities, and a building for the arts.

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Education
3:20 am
Wed August 13, 2014

Georgia Common Core Review Under Way

About two dozen people attended Georgia school board member Mary Sue Murray's meeting about the Common Core education standards on Tuesday night.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE News

The state board of education is conducting a review of the Common Core education standards at the request of Gov. Deal. As part of that process, board member Mary Sue Murray held a hearing in her district last night.

About two-dozen people attended Tuesday evening’s hearing at Alexander High School in Douglasville. Several attendees spoke. Educators generally expressed support for the standards, like Tara Campbell, Douglas County’s Language Arts content specialist.

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Education
5:22 pm
Mon August 11, 2014

Fulton County Students Head Back to Class

Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa (right) talks with a student at Mimosa Elementary School in Roswell on the first day of school.
Martha Dalton/WABE News

Thousands of metro Atlanta students returned to class last week. But Monday was the first day of school for other metro districts, like Fulton County. WABE’s Martha Dalton accompanied Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa as he visited schools Monday morning to see what the first day of school is like for him.

As he walks through the halls of Mimosa Elementary School in Roswell, Dr. Avossa greets teachers, parents, and students and pops into classrooms. He also checks in with new principal Ariane Holcomb, who walks with him.

“Any facilities challenges?” he asks her.

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Education
8:40 am
Mon August 4, 2014

Veteran Educators Dole Out Advice for First-Year Teachers

Veteran teachers at Maynard Jackson High School gear up for a new school year.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Some metro Atlanta students will head back to school this week. Cobb and Gwinnett Counties and the Atlanta Public Schools all resume classes. Teachers, though, have already been working, planning for their students’ arrival. Some of those teachers are new on the job.  

WABE’s Martha Dalton spoke with veteran teachers at Maynard Jackson High School in APS to see what advice they have for first-year teachers. Here’s what they had to say.

    

WABE’s broadcast license is held by the Atlanta Board of Education.

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Education
10:00 am
Sat August 2, 2014

Carter Campaign Responds to Unaccompanied Minor Crisis

The crisis on the U.S./Mexico border has recently caused waves in Georgia. Gov. Nathan Deal has weighed in on the number of unaccompanied minors sent to the state. Now, the campaign of his Democratic opponent, state Sen. Jason Carter, is responding.

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Education
8:54 am
Thu July 31, 2014

Committee to Study Federal Government's Hand in Education

The Federal Government's Role in Education Committee met for the first time Wednesday.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A new statewide committee made up of educators, lawmakers, parents and grandparents met for the first time Wednesday. The group is charged with investigating the federal government’s role in state education.

At issue are the Common Core standards. Developed by states to provide consistent math and English standards, 48 states initially signed on. But critics claim the federal government was really behind it all, trying to exert control.

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Education
8:15 am
Wed July 30, 2014

State Officials Launch New College Initiative

Gov. Nathan Deal announces the launch of Go Back. Move Forward.
Credit Jackson Spalding

State officials Tuesday announced a new college initiative. The plan urges adults who started college but didn’t finish to go back and complete their degrees. 

The program is called Go Back. Move Ahead. Gov. Nathan Deal said it’s part of his Complete College Georgia plan.

“It is projected that by 2020,more than 60% of the jobs in Georgia will require a college certificate or a degree,” Deal said. “Today, only 42% of Georgians hold a degree or certificate.”

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Politics
5:41 pm
Tue July 29, 2014

Mayor Says Atlanta Will Welcome Unaccompanied Minors

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (r) said he disagrees with Gov. Deal (l) on when it comes to providing for unaccompanied minors.
Credit City of Atlanta

Gov. Nathan Deal recently wrote a letter to President Barack Obama. Deal accuses the president of neglecting to tell state officials about more than 1,000 unaccompanied minors sent to Georgia. Tuesday, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed responded to the governor’s claims.

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Education
8:15 am
Tue July 29, 2014

What's the Problem with Math?

Stephen Leader teaches a geometry class at Cross Keys High School in DeKalb County.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

There’s consensus among education experts: Americans are bad at math. Recent results on international tests show U.S. students trail not only mathematical leaders like China, Japan, and South Korea, but countries like Canada, Viet Nam, and the Czech Republic also outranked American kids.

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Education
8:15 am
Mon July 28, 2014

How Much Do Students Learn in a Year?

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

State education officials Thursday released a new set of data detailing students’ academic growth. The idea is to show how much kids are learning during the school year.

Georgia parents now can see how their children are performing compared to students with similar academic histories. They’ll receive a growth report with their child’s standardized test results. Georgia Department of Education Spokesperson Matt Cardoza says historically, parents were just told whether their kids met, didn’t meet, or exceeded standards.

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Education
8:15 am
Mon July 28, 2014

Statewide Committee to Investigate Federal Government's Role in Education

House Education Committee meetings to take up an anti-Common Core bill, drew big crowds while the General Assembly was in session.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A statewide committee will meet for the first time this week. The Federal Government’s Role in Education Study Committee will examine education policy. 

One of the biggest battles in Georgia’s 2014 Legislative Session was over the Common Core education standards.

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Education
4:47 pm
Thu July 24, 2014

Fulton County Schools Gearing Up for New Year

Fulton County Superintendent Robert Avossa (center) announced changes for the district at a Thursday press conference.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Changes are coming to the Fulton County schools. From construction projects to beefed-up Internet access, officials say students and teachers will see improvements.

Some of the changes are due to Fulton’s status as a charter district. Fulton Superintendent Robert Avossa said the designation lets schools waive some state requirements.

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Education
3:55 am
Wed July 23, 2014

GOP State Schools Superintendent Runoff Too Close To Call

Mike Buck held a watch party at a law office in Rome, Georgia, where he lives.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

  The Republican primary runoff for state schools superintendent was too close to call Tuesday night. Former educator Richard Woods had just over 50% of the vote. However, his opponent, state chief academic officer Mike Buck, was trailing by less than one percent, which could lead to a recount. 

The Buck campaign held a watch party in Rome, Georgia where Buck lives with his family.

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Education
6:00 pm
Tue July 22, 2014

Interview with State Schools Superintendent John Barge

Credit Evan Changhwan Jang

Voters will decide the Democratic and Republican nominees for state schools superintendent today. Current superintendent John Barge didn’t run for a second term. Instead, he entered the Republican gubernatorial primary, but lost to Gov. Nathan Deal.

WABE’s Martha Dalton spoke to Barge about his time in office. The conversation starts with Georgia’s waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Barge explains how that changed the state’s accountability system. 

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Education
9:19 am
Mon July 21, 2014

Small Number of Voters Will Decide Tuesday's School Board Races

Credit Charles Edwards / WABE News

Poll watchers expect low voter turnout for Tuesday’s runoff elections. That’s especially true for school board races, which draw smaller numbers in general.

In Cobb County, there will be one school board runoff; DeKalb will have three.

But, if history repeats itself, it’s likely that many voters will skip the school board races altogether, like DeKalb County resident Mattias Pohl did in July of 2012.

“I’m just not sufficiently familiar with the people who were up for election, so I decided not to cast a vote,” he said.  

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Education
7:10 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Douglasville Student to Compete in Jeopardy! Teen Tournament

Douglas County High School senior Josiah Takang will represent Georgia in the Jeopardy! Teen Tournament starting July 21.
Credit Evan Changhwan Jang

This teenager will soon compete in a TV quiz show where he’ll have to give answers in the form of questions.

A:  Who is Douglas County High School senior Josiah Takang?

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Josiah Takang is really smart. Take, for example, what he’s doing this summer.

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Education
5:16 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

End of Course Test Results Reveal Weakness in Math

Credit Berklee.edu

Georgia school districts received end-of-course test results this week. High school students take the exams after each core class they complete. Once again, math scores were the weak spot for most metro Atlanta districts.

Most metro districts’ results mirrored the statewide outcomes. Scores in subjects like English literature, U.S. History, and Biology were fairly strong. Math scores were markedly lower. Georgia Department of Education spokesman Matt Cardoza told WABE officials made the math exams tougher to get students used to new, harder tests coming this school year.

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Education
4:25 pm
Mon July 14, 2014

Low Voter Turnout Expected in State Superintendent Race

There are just over 5 million registered voters in Georgia. But poll watchers only expect the most committed ones to vote in next week’s runoffs. In particular, the race for state schools superintendent is likely to have some of the lowest turnout.

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Education
8:35 am
Mon July 14, 2014

Will California Tenure Ruling Affect Georgia Teachers?

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Teachers’ unions have reacted strongly to a recent California court ruling, which stripped teachers of protections, including tenure. The country’s biggest teachers’ union asked U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to resign after he publicly supported the decision.

But will the ruling have any effect in Georgia? Education and legal experts don’t think so.

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Education
5:08 pm
Thu July 10, 2014

Clayton County Swears In New School Superintendent

Luvenia Jackson was sworn in as Clayton County's superintendent Thursday.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The Clayton County school district has a new leader. Interim Superintendent Luvenia Jackson was sworn in Thursday. 

Jackson is a 33-year veteran of the Clayton schools who retired in 2010. She rejoined the district as interim superintendent in 2012, when former superintendent Edmond Heatley abruptly left.  

“This is far from what I thought retirement would look like, but it is a good place," Jackson said after the ceremony. "It’s not unfamiliar. So I welcome the opportunity to make an impact in a different way.”

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