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

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Politics
12:40 pm
Fri August 28, 2015

Group: Registering Korean-American Voters Is Multi-Year Effort

Helen Kim Ho, AAAJ-A's executive director, gives an update of the group's 10,000 Korean Votes campaign.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Getting Americans out to the polls during election season can be difficult. It can be even tougher in immigrant communities. Asian and Latino populations usually have lower voter turnout rates than Caucasians and African-Americans. But a local organization that launched an effort to get Korean Americans to vote says it’s making progress.

The Atlanta chapter of Asian-Americans Advancing Justice started a grassroots effort last year, called 10,000 Korean Votes. AAAJ-A’s executive director, Helen Kim Ho, says it’s a multi-year initiative.

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Education
4:00 pm
Thu August 27, 2015

How Some Teachers Handle Race And Politics In The Classroom

Seniors at the DeKalb School of the Arts get to design their own ceiling tiles. When they're done, teachers put them in the ceilings in their classrooms.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Students returned to class this month after a summer filled with tragic events, like the murder of nine African-American church members in Charleston, South Carolina. That and other high-profile cases have added fuel to movements like “Black Lives Matter.” Here in Atlanta, social studies teachers are having discussions about race and politics in their classrooms.  

WABE spoke with a group of teachers at the DeKalb School of the Arts to see how they approach those conversations.

Making Connections

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Education
3:42 pm
Tue August 25, 2015

Ga. Commission Set To Approve Brookhaven Charter School

The Georgia Charter Schools Commission says it will likely approve Brookhaven Innovation Academy as a charter school.
Credit Eric Risberg / Associated Press

The Georgia Charter Schools Commission says it will likely approve a new school in Brookhaven, Georgia, Wednesday.

The commission turned down the Brookhaven Innovation Academy’s petition last year. For one, it said there were too many city officials on the school’s governing board. Bates Mattison, who chairs the board, says that’s changed.

“We now have a diverse group of board members, 12 board members, and we’ve reduced the number of city elected officials to only two,” he said.  

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Education
10:49 am
Thu August 20, 2015

Study: Atlantans Pay More For Homes To Get Charter School Access

Atlanta's Charles Drew Charter School was one of the 13 schools included in the study.
Credit East Lake Foundation / Courtesy of East Lake Foundation

Some Atlanta residents are willing to pay more for their homes if it means they have access to charter schools. That’s according to a new report from Georgia State’s Fiscal Research Center.

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Education
1:06 pm
Thu August 13, 2015

Ga.'s Alternative Education Programs Evolving To Reach Students

Students at McClarin High School listen during a “town hall” meeting last year.
Credit Timothy Hicks / McClarin High School

When you hear the term “alternative school” you might think of troubled children or students who can’t cut it at regular public schools. While that’s true for some students, alternative education programs vary widely in Georgia.

A Nontraditional Model

McClarin High School has a pretty campus ─ almost scenic ─ near downtown College Park. It's what's known as a nontraditional school. Principal Chuck Gardner calls the school “McClarin Success Academy.” 

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Education
11:19 am
Thu August 13, 2015

Life For A School Principal: Long Hours, High Expectations

Biology students wave ''hello'' on the first day of school at Harrison High School in Kennesaw. Principal Ashlynn Campbell wants to get ''face time'' with her students.
Credit Ashlynn Campbell / Cobb County Schools

  

Half of all new teachers in the U.S. quit their jobs after five years, according to national data. But half of new principals leave after just three, statistics show. We wanted to know what makes the job so tough to handle. So, WABE visited with a principal in Cobb County.

What Does A Principal Do? 

Ashlynn Campbell is new at Harrison High School in Kennesaw. On the first day of school, she’s trying to make sure she gets what she calls “face time” with students. She walks into classes and introduces herself.

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Education
12:20 pm
Mon August 10, 2015

CDC: Most Schools Deprive Teenagers of Sleep

A new CDC study shows most schools aren't following a national recommendation to let teenagers start school after 8:30 a.m.
Credit John Lorinc / WABE

School starts too early in the morning for most teenagers. That's not just a gripe. It's the result of a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The CDC found, on average, only one out of six schools follows that recommendation.

CDC epidemiologist Anne Wheaton says those that don’t make the change are fighting biology.

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Education
12:15 pm
Fri August 7, 2015

Ga. Students Make The Leap To A New Phase In Life

Some experts say transitioning from elementary to middle school and from middle to high school can be stressful for students.
Credit Dan Raby/WABE News

As a new school year begins, some students aren’t just changing grades; they’re changing schools.

Brothers Collin and Sean Lynch are both making that kind of transition this year. Collin will start kindergarten in Fulton County. He has an idea of what’s ahead.

“I bet kindergarten’s not going to have that much painting,” he says.

He’ll also take the bus for the first time. His mom, Melissa Lynch, says it’s a transition for her too.

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Education
11:40 am
Thu August 6, 2015

A New School Year Could Mean A Fresh Start For APS

Justin Gillette, known to Atlanta Public Schools kids as ''Chef Justin,'' runs the district's food program and serves kids at the recent Back to School Bash.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Wednesday was the first day of class for students in the Atlanta Public Schools. The district is trying to make a fresh start and move on from the recent cheating scandal. As APS tries to rebuild, some obstacles still lie ahead. 

A New Start

To get ready for the new year, APS recently held its first “Back to School Bash.”

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Education
7:04 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

DeKalb Superintendent: Special Education Department 'Under Reconstruction'

New DeKalb County Superintendent Stephen Green says the district's Special Education Department is “under reconstruction.”
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Some parents of children with special needs in the DeKalb schools are not satisfied with the service they get. The group said the district’s Special Education Department was ineffective – citing poor communication and a failure to get services their kids are entitled to by law.

In an interview, DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green responded to the parents’ complaints. He said they have a right to be upset.

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Education
1:34 pm
Mon August 3, 2015

APS To Start New Grade-Changing Regulations After Investigation

The former principal at South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice was let go after officials said she changed hundreds of students' grades inappropriately.
Credit Brenna Beech / WABE

Atlanta Public Schools said it will strengthen its rules on changing students’ grades. This comes after a districtwide investigation, which was triggered when APS officials found administrators at some high schools inappropriately changing students' failing grades to passing ones. 

The district issued a report, which says the investigation didn’t uncover any additional instances of "serious" grade-changing.

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Education
1:09 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Parents: DeKalb Inattentive To Students With Special Needs

Some parents of DeKalb students with special needs say the district isn't responsive to their concerns.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

Trying To Be Heard

Every child in the U.S. is entitled to a “free and appropriate education” under federal law. That includes children with disabilities. But some DeKalb parents of children with special needs said their kids aren’t getting the services they should and that the district is unresponsive.

A group of parents met at a library in Tucker recently to compile a list of concerns. They each have at least one child with special needs.

“DeKalb is just broken,” Linda Bryant-Butler said.

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Education
12:19 pm
Wed July 29, 2015

Commission Considers Changing The Way Georgia Pays Teachers

Georgia teachers could soon see their students' test scores tied to their paychecks.
Credit East Lake Foundation / Courtesy of East Lake Foundation

“How should Georgia pay its teachers?” That’s just one of the questions Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission is trying to answer.

Right now, Georgia teachers are paid by their years of experience and their level of education.

But that could soon change. The commission is considering different salary models. All of them would take students’ test scores into account when calculating teacher pay.

Claire Suggs, the senior education policy analyst at the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, said so-called performance pay models aren’t a quick fix.

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Education
12:48 pm
Tue July 28, 2015

High Demand For Georgia Pre-K Won't Lead To More Slots

There are 5,000 children on Georgia's pre-K waiting list, but officials want to use money to ensure program quality before expanding to add more spaces.
Credit Gene Blythe / Associated Press

About 84,000 4-year-olds are expected to show up in Georgia’s prekindergarten classes this year. But demand for the program is even greater than that.

Anyone can apply for a place in Georgia’s lottery-funded pre-K program. But there’s not enough room for everyone. So, students are chosen by another lottery. “We have about 5,000 children on our waiting list,” Georgia’s pre-K program director Susan Adams said.

Adams said there’s probably more demand, but pre-K isn’t available everywhere.

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Education
12:55 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

Group: Ga. Should Examine La. School Recovery Plan Mistakes

Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation to create an Opportunity School District in Georgia. The measure would allow the state to step in and help underperforming schools if voters approve it in the fall.
Credit Brenna Beach / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to turnaround Georgia’s failing schools has stirred contention between lawmakers and educators. Now, a national education group says there are some flaws in the New Orleans program on which it's based.  

The National Education Policy Center says Louisiana’s school recovery plan is too focused on test scores. Schools have improved their scores, but the NEPC says officials haven’t paid enough attention to other problems.

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Education
12:09 pm
Wed July 15, 2015

Online Summer Learning Popular With Some Atlanta Students

Students in some metro Atlanta counties have the option to take online summer courses.
Credit Evan Changhwan Jang / WABE

Metro Atlanta students have about one more month before they head back to school, but some are spending part of their summer taking classes.

Some school districts now offer virtual summer courses. Kids can attend class from the comfort of their home, as long as they have a computer and Internet access. The model allows teachers to focus more on individual students, said Justin Castille, director of Fulton County’s virtual learning program. 

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Education
12:21 pm
Wed July 8, 2015

Superintendent: APS Culture Shift Needed To Eliminate Cheating

To help eliminate cheating, Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen wants the district to make it easier for whistleblowers to speak up.
Credit WABE 90.1 FM/Dan Raby

When a jury convicted 11 former Atlanta educators of a test-cheating conspiracy two months ago, some thought it was the end of a long, ugly chapter. However, recent allegations of grade-changing at some Atlanta high schools may indicate the district’s troubles aren’t over.

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said Tuesday attitudes in the district need to shift if it wants to stamp out cheating.

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Local
4:42 pm
Fri July 3, 2015

Emory Doctor To Study Peachtree Road Race Runners' Hearts

Dr. Jonathan Kim holds up the t-shirt his study participants will wear during the Peachtree Road Race.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

More than 60,000 athletes will lace up their shoes to run the Peachtree Road Race Saturday. This year, a select group of runners also will be part of a medical study.

Cardiologist Jonathan Kim, who teaches at the Emory University School of Medicine, wants to see how well runners’ hearts work before and after running a 10-kilometer race. That's why he will be testing his subjects at the race expo before they run.

Kim calls his study Promoting Endurance Exercise in Atlanta for Cardiac Health, or PEACH.

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Education
10:36 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Stephen Green To Become DeKalb Schools Superintendent Wednesday

Stephen Green, from Kansas City Schools, will be sworn in Wednesday as DeKalb's new schools superintendent.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

DeKalb County will swear in a new schools superintendent Wednesday. Some community members hope Stephen Green’s tenure will be the start of a new chapter for the district.

DeKalb has been trying to earn back full accreditation since it was placed on probation more than two years ago. The district’s accrediting agency said poor leadership led to financial problems and mismanagement.

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Education
12:26 pm
Tue June 30, 2015

APS Officials Determined To Prevent Another Cheating Scandal

Officials with the Atlanta Public Schools say they've launched a grade-changing investigation and will take swift action if necessary.
Credit Nick Nesmith / WABE

It’s been two months since 11 former Atlanta Public Schools educators were convicted of conspiring to cheat on state tests. Now, the district has launched an investigation into grade-changing. But officials say they are determined not to let history repeat itself.

When the state investigated allegations of test cheating in APS in 2010, some employees said a culture of fear and intimidation kept them from reporting any wrongdoing. New APS chief accountability officer Bill Caritj said that shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

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Education
8:53 am
Mon June 22, 2015

Henry County PTO Dissolved After ‘Mother Funders’ Appearance

Mother Funders cast members, from left, LaShon Thompson, Shana Koorse, Shayzon Prince, Carla Stephens, Robin Dyke, Amber Bryant and Amber Coulter.
Credit bravotv.com

A parent teacher organization in Henry County is the subject of a new reality show on the cable network Bravo. The school district isn’t pleased with the content of the show, called “Mother Funders.”

A show trailer features parents arguing, children crying when parents leave for meetings, and power struggles between PTO members at Bethlehem Elementary School. In one scene, PTO President Carla Stephens explains the group’s purpose.

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Education
11:56 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Testing Company To Compensate Georgia For Computer Glitch

Schools across Georgia reported that some computer screens froze while students were trying to take the new Milestones test this spring.
Credit Evan Changhwan Jang / WABE

Georgia is taking a company to task over a computer glitch that slowed down its brand-new testing system this spring. CTB/McGraw-Hill will give the state $4.5 million in services to compensate for the problems.

Some students who took the new Georgia Milestones test on computers waited a long time to for the pages to load. To make up for that, CTB/McGraw Hill has agreed to pay for an analysis of what went wrong.

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Local
10:57 am
Thu June 18, 2015

Incidents, Campaign Remind Adults Not To Leave Kids In Hot Cars

A Fulton County judge ruled Wednesday a day care center in Southwest Atlanta will have to temporarily shut down after a child was left unattended on a van for two hours. The incident illustrates why state officials have launched a campaign against leaving kids in hot cars.

In Georgia, licensed day care centers undergo transportation training each year. That includes checking vehicles twice when kids are transported to make sure no one’s left behind. But recently, centers in Austell and Southwest Atlanta left toddlers on hot vans for hours.

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Local
10:13 am
Thu June 18, 2015

4 Ga. Mayors Sign Supreme Court Brief In Support Of Gay Marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule this month on whether states can legally ban gay marriage.
Credit Ted Eytan / flickr.com/taedc

Gay marriage could come to Georgia if the U.S. Supreme Court decides at the end of June that states can’t ban it. Hundreds of mayors, including four in Georgia, have signed and submitted a brief to the High Court in favor of same-sex marriage.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Hinesville Mayor James Thomas, East Point Mayor Jannquell Peters and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry all pledged their support.

Terry believes it’s an equality issue. But beyond that, he said, Georgia’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is bad for business.   

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Education
11:08 am
Fri June 12, 2015

APS: Communication, Training Key To Preventing Further Cheating

Atlanta Public Schools has restructured the office that handles complaints.
Credit Judy Baxter / flickr.com/judybaxter

More cheating allegations are popping up in the Atlanta Public Schools, just months after almost a dozen former APS educators were convicted in court for conspiring to cheat.

The district is looking into allegations that students in an online learning program at Crim High School used the Internet to find test answers. Additionally, the principal at the South Atlanta School of Law and Social Justice reportedly changed students’ failing grades to passing ones. She no longer works for APS.  

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Education
7:39 am
Fri June 12, 2015

Georgia Schools Superintendent: Kids Take Too Many Tests

Credit Alison Guillory / WABE

Georgia got a new schools superintendent this year. Richard Woods was elected in November 2014 after former schools chief John Barge stepped down to run — unsuccessfully — for governor.

Woods took office in January.

Recently, WABE talked with him about a range of topics from testing to summer learning.

The conversation begins with Woods describing the duties of the state’s new fine arts director, Jessica Booth. 

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Education
7:30 am
Thu June 11, 2015

DeKalb School Board Member: Accreditation Fears Led To Hasty Leadership Search

DeKalb school board member Joyce Morley says the district's superintendent search was rushed.
Credit Nick Nesmith/WABE News

The DeKalb County Board of Education has named a new superintendent ─ a task it needs to complete to regain full accreditation. But one school board member says the candidate pool was “tainted,” raising questions about board unity.

The DeKalb school board voted 6-1 to offer Kansas City Superintendent Stephen Green a superintendent contract in May. Joyce Morley was the only board member who voted “no.” She explained why at a recent board meeting.

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Education
4:56 pm
Tue June 9, 2015

Graduation Coaches Keep Ga. Students From Sliding Through The Cracks

Korey Thomas credits his graduation coach, David Harvey, with helping him earn his diploma from Henry County High School.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Korey Thomas is a friendly, polite, 18-year-old who recently graduated from Henry County High School with the help of his coach. But three years ago, he wasn’t passing his classes.

“When I got all the speeches about paying attention in ninth grade and all that, I did not pay attention to that,” he says. “I was just goofing off and I messed up in a couple subjects.”

There were distractions—skateboarding, girls, music. He also has diabetes, which caused him to miss class sometimes.

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Education
4:33 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

Superintendent Carstarphen: APS Is Not Getting Rid Of Arts

Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says the district is not scrapping its fine arts program.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

The Atlanta Public Schools will cut 18 band and orchestra positions next year. But, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen says APS is still committed to the arts.

“It’s true that we’ve had a rough budget year,” she says. “It’s true that we’ve had to rethink our model.”

Carstarphen says the cuts were mostly in elementary schools and for programs that had low enrollment. Even though one-third of all music positions were cut, Carstarphen says APS is not ditching the fine arts.

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Education
8:56 am
Wed June 3, 2015

Metro Atlanta School Districts Vary in Search for Leadership

DeKalb County School Board Chair Melvin Johnson announces DeKalb's superintendent finalist Stephen Green at a press conference last month.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Several metro Atlanta school districts have looked for new leadership lately. But DeKalb, Cobb and Fulton counties have all approached the superintendent search process differently.

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Fulton and Cobb have looked within their ranks to fill the top job. For example, when former Cobb Superintendent Michael Hinojosa left last year, the school board tapped administrator Chris Ragsdale as interim.

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