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.

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 from Georgia State. 

You can follow Martha on Tumblr and Twitter

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Education
4:06 pm
Mon April 21, 2014

State Issues Grades to Schools, Districts

State Superintendent John Barge announces the overall results of the College and Career Ready Performance Index. The CCRPI is the state's new accountability system. It was implemented when the state received a waiver from part of the federal No Child Left Behind Law.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

It’s report card time, but not for students. The Georgia Department of Education Monday released report cards for individual schools and districts. 

Schools are scored on a 100-point scale. They’re graded on three main components: achievement, progress, and how  well a school or district narrows the achievement gap. State Superintendent John Barge (who is challenging Gov. Nathan Deal in the Republican Primary next month) said he weight of each category has changed.

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Education
8:35 am
Mon April 21, 2014

Venezuelans in Atlanta Protest Regime

A small, but dedicated, group tries to bring attention to the political turmoil in Venezuela.
Martha Dalton/WABE News

A group of Venezuelans living in Atlanta held a protest in Buckhead this weekend. They want to highlight ongoing anti-government demonstrations in their homeland.

The group isn’t happy with the Venezuelan regime, led by President Nicolas Maduro. And some say conditions there keep them from returning home. However, that has created an internal conflict for some Venezuelan nationals here. 

A Symbolic Protest

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Education
5:42 pm
Fri April 18, 2014

Cobb School District Presents Balanced Budget

The Cobb County school board is expected to vote on a proposed budget later this month.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Cobb County school officials this week presented a balanced budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. The district seemingly overcame an estimated $80 million deficit.

Officials said they cut spending by $20 million; benefitted from another $20 million in increased property tax revenues; and received an additional $35 million in state funding this year. Chief Financial Officer Brad Johnson said the district will restore some cuts.

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Education
5:19 pm
Thu April 10, 2014

Cobb School Board Names Interim Superintendent

The Cobb school board tapped Christopher Ragsdale as the interim schools chief.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The Cobb County Schools named a new interim superintendent Thursday. Christopher Ragsdale, a deputy superintendent for the district, will take over when Michael Hinojosa steps down in May.

Ragsdale has been with the Cobb schools for eight years. He is currently the district’s deputy superintendent of operations and chief technology officer. Ragsdale spoke at a press conference announcing his selection.

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Education
10:32 am
Tue April 8, 2014

Lawsuit Against Board of Regents Moves Forward

Students involved in the lawsuit rallied outside a DeKalb County courthouse in December.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A lawsuit filed by a group of undocumented students against the Georgia Board of Regents is moving forward. The students, who have temporary legal status, are suing because they have to pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend state colleges.

The Board of Regents’ policy says students can only qualify for in-state tuition if they have a “lawful presence” in the U.S.  The students’ attorney Charles Kuck says they do have legal status through the federal ‘Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ program.

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Education
10:11 am
Tue April 8, 2014

DeKalb Teachers to Pay Fines for Breaking Contracts

Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE NEws

DeKalb County teachers will have a new clause in their contracts for the upcoming school year. Teachers will be held accountable for ‘liquidated damages.’

DeKalb teachers will  have to pay a fine of $750 if they break their contracts.

“Teachers are pretty upset about it,” says David Schutten, the president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators. “DeKalb is facing a crisis in terms of retaining teachers.”

At a recent board meeting, district officials complained that several teachers violated their contracts by not showing up at the beginning of the school year.

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Health & Science
10:46 am
Mon April 7, 2014

Congress Extends Home Visiting Program

Congress recently extended the Maternal, Infant, and Child Home Visiting Program.
Credit Glyn Lowe Photoworks via flickr.com / http://www.flickr.com/photos/glynlowe/7662531448/

Congress recently extended the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, or MIECHV. The program provides childcare assistance to low-income families.

MIECHV was originally passed as part of the Affordable Care Act. But unlike the healthcare law, this program has wide bi-partisan support.

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Education
9:44 am
Fri April 4, 2014

Federal Education Officials Withhold Georgia Grant Money

The U.S. Education Department is withholding $10 million of the $400 million Georgia won through Race to the Top.
Credit Daniel Borman

As part of Georgia’s federal Race to the Top education grant, state officials agreed to develop a merit pay program for teachers. The idea was to tie a new evaluation system to teachers’ salaries. But after a series of delays, federal officials recently took action.

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Education
4:35 pm
Thu April 3, 2014

State Board of Education Approves New Teacher Evaluations

The state board of education approved a new evaluation system for teachers and principals Thursday. The system will be fully implemented next year. However, most Georgia schools have been piloting the new evaluations already.

The system has been somewhat controversial. Students’ test scores comprise at least half of teachers’ evaluations. Before the board vote, retired professor Cita Cook urged a cautious approach.

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Education
8:35 am
Thu April 3, 2014

Report: Schools Aren't Meeting Needs of Students from Immigrant Families

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia’s public high schools and colleges aren’t meeting the needs of students from immigrant families. That’s according to a recent report from the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.

The report examines how children of immigrants fare in Georgia’s education and workforce preparation systems. Michael Fix, the Migration Policy Institute’s CEO, says there’s room for improvement.

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Education
8:40 am
Wed April 2, 2014

Childcare Expensive for Parents and Centers Alike

Children enjoy a "sensory experience" by playing in big rolls of paper.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Entrusting the care of a child to someone else is one of the most difficult things a parent can do. And it’s hard for many families to find good care at an affordable price. Conversely, it’s also expensive for childcare centers to offer high-quality care. In a series on early childhood education, WABE looks at obstacles families and providers face.

The Quest for Quality

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Education
5:41 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Report: Preschool Suspensions Show Racial Disparities

African-American preschoolers are suspended at a disproportionate rate to their peers.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Suspended students are more likely to be suspended again and are less likely to graduate high school on time, according to the U.S. Education Department.  Recent data from the department’s Office of Civil Rights show suspensions for some students start as early as Pre-Kindergarten.

In addition, African-American students are suspended at a disproportionate rate. None of that surprises Susan Adams, the assistant commissioner of Georgia’s Pre-K program.

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Education
9:24 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Common Core Opponents Not Ready to Quit

A child holds up an anti-Common Core sign at a rally to stop the standards.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia lawmakers didn’t pass legislation this year aimed at getting rid of the Common Core education standards. But on the last day of the session, the House adopted a resolution establishing a committee to review the standards. That move indicates that the standards’ detractors aren’t going anywhere.

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Local
5:59 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Senate Approves Two MARTA-Related Bills

Sen. Brandon Beach spoke in favor of two bills that would affect MARTA.
Credit The Georgia Senate

Efforts to change the way MARTA can operate passed the state Senate Thursday. 

Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, made headlines when he used public transit to get from Kennesaw State University to Gwinnett Arena. It took him three and a half hours. Beach, a Republican from Alpharetta, has called for more continuity between transit systems. Beach said one MARTA bill would give the transit agency more flexibility.

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Local
4:03 pm
Wed March 19, 2014

Georgia Board of Regents Passes System-Wide Campus Tobacco Ban

The Georgia Board of Regents has adopted a tobacco and smoke free policy for college and university campuses.
Credit Katie King/WABE News

Students, faculty, staff, and visitors won’t be able to light up on public college campuses anymore. The Georgia Board of Regents unanimously approved a ban on all forms of tobacco Wednesday.

University system officials say more than half of Georgia’s colleges and universities already ban smoking. Regent Don Waters presented the system-wide proposal.

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Local
6:10 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

Lawmaker Says Bill to Block Affordable Care Act Still Alive

Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, is sponsoring HB 707.
Credit State of Georgia Tea Party

A bill aimed at exempting Georgia from some provisions of the Affordable Care Act seems to have found new life. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House. But the Senate Rules Committee tabled House Bill 707 Monday. That drew some harsh words from the bill’s sponsor.

Jason Spencer, a Republican from Woodbine, is sponsoring the legislation. He told WABE’s Michell Eloy the bill is still alive.

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Education
8:35 am
Tue March 18, 2014

DeKalb School Board Races Draw Crowded Field

Twenty-two candidates have qualified for the upcoming DeKalb County school board elections.
Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE NEws

The DeKalb County school district has been through a lot since December 2012. A scathing report from the district’s accrediting agency led to a heated state hearing. Shortly afterwards, Gov. Nathan Deal replaced two-thirds of the school board. 

The district improved its accreditation status after a review last December. But the upcoming school board elections could bring more leadership changes. 

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Education
11:20 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Common Core Bill Dies in House Education Committee

A packed room awaits the House Education Committee vote on SB 167.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The Georgia House Education Committee Wednesday rejected a bill aimed at separating the state from the Common Core education standards. The original bill was sponsored by Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick. 

Senate Bill 167 had an easy time in the Senate. It sailed through the Senate education committee. Then it easily passed on the Senate floor, with little discussion.

But when it got to the House, its momentum slowed down. Lauren Fralick, of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, was just one of the bill’s opponents who spoke at a House Education Committee hearing last week.

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Education
9:28 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Ligon Withdraws Support for Common Core Bill He Championed

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) defended SB 167 during a House Education Committee hearing last week.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The House Education Committee is expected to vote Wednesday on a bill aimed at pulling Georgia away from the Common Core standards. The committee amended the bill after a hearing last week. But now, the bill’s sponsor has withdrawn his support for the legislation.

At last week's hearing, Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) explained why his bill created an advisory council to review the Common Core.

“We’re making it clear in the bill that Georgia will retain absolute control and the right to determine what our standards and assessments will be,” he said.

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Local
7:10 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Are Early Education Programs Worth the Investment?

Experts say program quality goes a long way toward ensuring early childhood education programs are effective.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Early education programs, like public pre-kindergarten, are generally popular among parents and educators alike. But when communities invest in such programs, are they getting their money’s worth?

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Education
1:06 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Common Core Hearing Attracts a Crowd

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) defends SB 167, which aims to divorce Georgia from the Common Core education standards.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A bill debated in the state legislature is so controversial, 68 people spoke about it at a House Education Committee hearing Wednesday. The bill aims to separate Georgia from the Common Core education standards. The legislation triggered passionate pleas on both sides of the issue.

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) is sponsoring the bill, which has already passed the Senate. As he’s done several times this legislative session, he explained the bill’s purpose to the committee. 

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Politics
4:41 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Live Tweets From Committee Hearing on Restricting Common Core in Georgia

A standing-room-only crowd awaited the start of the House Education Committee's hearing on SB 167.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Martha Dalton is down at the state Capitol covering the hearing by the House Education Comittee on Senate Bill 167.  

This controversial bill, introduced by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick), would mandate a review of the Common Core education standards, prevent Georgia from implementing other education standards, would prevent the state from adopting certain assessments, and would severely limit data collection.

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Local
8:35 am
Wed March 5, 2014

House Education Committee to Hold Hearing on Common Core Bill

The Georgia House Education Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on a controversial bill. Senate Bill 167 mandates a review of the Common Core education standards. But there are legislation contains several other requirements.

 

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Local
5:47 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Military Members Lend Support to Common Core

Retired military members stood in support of the Common Core education standards at the Capitol Tuesday.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

A group of retired military members gathered at the State Capitol Tuesday to show support for the Common Core education standards. Georgia has invested plenty of time and money in the standards’ implementation. But a bill that cleared the state Senate puts Georgia’s future participation in the Common Core in question.

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Local
6:36 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Immigrants' Rights Groups Support Apparent Defeat of Legislation

Vietnamese immigrant, U.S. citizen, and Georgia resident Thai Ly spoke against SB 404 and HR 1031.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Immigrants’ rights groups gathered at the State Capitol Monday to applaud what appears to be the end of two pieces of legislation. One bill would have denied drivers’ licenses to immigrants who’ve received temporary protective status. A proposed resolution would have made English Georgia’s official language.

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Education
7:15 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Common Core Bill Could Cause Data Problems for Schools

A Senate bill aimed to modify the Common Core education standards could cause problems for teachers using a statewide data system. Note: All data shown are from a dummy account.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The state Senate passed a bill last week setting up a review of the Common Core education standards. The same bill also places heavy restrictions on how officials can use student data. That has some educators concerned about what will happen to a statewide longitudinal data system.

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Education
8:10 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Bill Banning Adoption of Science Standards Sparks Concern

Credit University of the Fraser Valley via flickr.com / http://flic.kr/p/eJ7WhA

This week, the Georgia Senate passed a bill that sets up a process to review the Common Core education standards. The legislation also prevents the state from adopting national science and social studies standards. That has caused concern among some education experts.

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Local
6:00 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Picking a Preschool: A Guide for Parents

Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

It’s that time of year. Parents are already thinking about preschool enrollment for the 2014-2015 school year. But, where do you begin?  WABE sought input from two early childhood education experts at Georgia State University.

Starting Out

Stacey French-Lee is the director of GSU’s child development program. She says parents need to visit preschools person.

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Local
8:17 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Senate Passes Bill Aimed at Separating Georgia from Common Core

Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) urges senators to support HB 167, which aims to pull Georgia away from the Common Core.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

The Georgia Senate Wednesday approved a bill aimed at separating the state from the Common Core education standards. 

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Early Childhood Education
8:45 am
Mon February 24, 2014

How Effective Are Early Education Programs?

At College Heights Early Learning Center in Decatur, 5-year-old Brice demonstrates how to draw horizontal lines.
Credit Martha Dalton/WABE News

Georgia is one of the few states that offers a universal Pre-Kindergarten program. It’s received national acclaim. But, how well do such programs prepare children for kindergarten?

Inside the Classroom

If most pre-k classes are like those at College Heights Early Learning Center in Decatur, they’re noisy.

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