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
Fri December 19, 2014

African-American Girls Disciplined At A Disproportionate Rate In Schools

Credit Matt Rourke / Associated Press

When it comes to school discipline, boys get about two-thirds of all suspensions. But among female students, African-American girls are disciplined at a disproportionately high rate.

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Education
6:06 pm
Tue December 16, 2014

Officials Hand Out Report Cards to Georgia Schools

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Georgia Department of Education issued report cards this week, but the recipients were schools, not students. Schools were graded on students’ tests scores and whether those improved. Overall, report card scores dropped this year, but Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, isn’t too worried.

“It’s something that you want to look at,” Cardoza says. “You don’t get cause for concern necessarily on one year’s worth of data, but if it’s a longer-term trend, then it’s something that’s a little more cause for concern.”

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Politics
7:29 am
Tue December 16, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Reverses Mosque Vote

The Kennesaw City Council listens to Carlene Fregeolle, who opposes the mosque.
Katie King for WABE

Exactly two weeks after the Kennesaw City Council voted down a proposed mosque, to be located in a strip mall, it changed its mind Monday night.

The council unanimously approved the mosque this time. Four ‘no’ votes changed to ‘yes’.

“They have substituted the vote they had two weeks ago for the vote they had tonight, which is for approval, unconditional,” said Doug Dillard, the mosque’s attorney.

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Politics
2:29 pm
Mon December 15, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Expected to Reverse Mosque Decision

The Kennesaw City Council voted 4-1 against a proposed mosque on Dec. 1.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Kennesaw City Council will vote again Monday night on a proposed mosque to be housed at a strip mall on Jiles Road.  On Dec. 1, the council voted 4-1 against the plan. The Suffah Dawaad congregation had 30 days to file a lawsuit challenging the decision. Their attorney, Doug Dillard, says they plan to sue even if the council reverses itself.

“If they change their vote, anyone who wants to challenge that has 30 days in which to do that,” Dillard says. “So, if somebody challenges what they did, and we haven’t been in court protecting ourselves, then we’re done.”

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Local
9:21 am
Fri December 12, 2014

How Are Police Trained In Georgia?

Police guard an entrance to Emory University Hospital.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Police training has come under scrutiny after two high-profile cases of alleged use of excessive force by police in Ferguson, Mo. and New York City. Demonstrators are still protesting across the country after grand juries failed to indict the officers involved. In order to better understand how Georgia's officers learn to react to situations on their beats, WABE's Martha Dalton took a look at police training in Georgia.

If you want to be a police officer here, you have to pass basic training required by the state.

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Education
5:40 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Spelman Sets Pace In Sciences

White House office of science and technology director John Holdren meets the SpelBots.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The U.S. needs more engineers and scientists, according to the White House. So it sent its director of science and technology to Atlanta’s Spelman College Wednesday to get some ideas.

Programming robots is just part of what the SpelBots do. The Spelman robotics team also conducts research and does community outreach.

“We’ve been using the robots to do things like outreach to children, students at middle schools, just kind of introducing robotics to them, as well as competing,” says senior Daria Jordan.

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Politics
4:06 pm
Tue December 9, 2014

Will Kennesaw City Council Revisit Mosque Proposal?

Members of the Suffah Dawaad congregation (right) huddle during last week's Kennesaw City Council meeting. Attorney Doug Dillard is to their left.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The Kennesaw City Council is expected to revisit a proposal to allow an Islamic activity center to rent space in a local strip mall. The council voted 4-1 against the plan last week. Members are scheduled to meet for a work session Wednesday. They will be able to discuss the issue, but won’t be able to vote until its meeting next Monday.

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Education
5:44 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

How Are Georgia Colleges Responding To Sexual Assault Claims?

Two women have sued Georgia Tech’s Phi Kappa Tau fraternity for shrugging off rape allegations. Georgia Tech is not named in the lawsuit and the university expelled the accused offender and shut down the fraternity’s chapter.
Credit Wally Gobetz / flickr.com/wallyg

Disclaimer: The following story may not be suitable for young readers.

Rolling Stone magazine has retracted parts of a recent story on sexual assault at the University of Virginia. The victim’s credibility has been called into question. But, the issue is an important one for Georgia colleges.

Two women have sued Georgia Tech’s Phi Kappa Tau fraternity for shrugging off rape allegations. Their attorney, BJ Bernstein, says the organization encouraged its members to sexually assault women.

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Politics
6:09 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

DeKalb Sheriff Won't Honor ICE Detainers

Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Another metro Atlanta sheriff’s office announced it won’t honor detainer requests by  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). DeKalb Sheriff Jeffrey L. Mann joined Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill and Fulton County commissioners in refusing to comply with the requests.

ICE detainers ask jails to hold prisoners 48 hours past their release dates so the agency can check immigration status. Some recent federal court decisions have determined such requests violate the Fourth Amendment.

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Education
4:47 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Atlanta Superintendent Says There's A Lot To Fix

Carstarphen and the district have developed a new strategic plan in hopes of combating mismanagment.
Credit Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen held a roundtable discussion with reporters today. The APS chief explained how the district plans to address some long-running problems.

You could call it a “back to basics” approach. Carstarphen said before APS can make academic progress, it has to tackle some systemic issues.

“Simple things that get very simple in our world: master scheduling and scheduling for students, bus routes, things that most districts kind of do like clockwork, but for APS it has been a struggle over the years,” she said.

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Politics
10:59 am
Thu December 4, 2014

Interfaith Group Urges Kennesaw City Council To Reverse Mosque Decision

Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews (center) had a hard time getting the council to vote on the proposal.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Monday night the Kennesaw City Council rejected plans to house a mosque in a local strip mall.

While some residents applauded the move, others expressed disappointment.

A group made up of people from different faiths drafted a letter to the council (below) criticizing the decision.

An Interfaith Open Letter to the City Council of Kennesaw, Georgia

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Politics
1:36 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Kennesaw City Council Votes Down Proposed Mosque

Protestors oppose plans for an Islamic center at a Kennesaw strip mall.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Monday night the Kennesaw City Council rejected a plan to house an Islamic center in an empty retail space in a strip mall.

The vote came a month after a heated debate at the last city council meeting. Doug Dillard, the attorney for the Suffah Dawaad congregation, says they took painstaking efforts to comply with the community’s demands.

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Politics
1:23 am
Tue December 2, 2014

Obama's Immigration Policy Reaches Beyond Latino Communities

Raymond Partolan is relieved his parents qualify for temporary deportation relief.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

President Obama’s latest executive action on immigration will provide temporary deportation relief and work permits to millions of undocumented immigrants. The policy will certainly affect Latino communities. But it will also impact Asian immigrants.

Raymond Partolan’s family came to the U.S. legally from the Philippines when he was a baby. They settled in Macon. But his father hit a roadblock when he tried to become a legal resident.

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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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