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

Pages

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
6:00 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
6:11 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
Education
4:54 pm
Tue February 10, 2015

Bill Would Let College Students With Deportation Relief Pay In-State Tuition

Undocumented students rallied for in-state tuition rates last year.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Should immigrants with federal deportation relief be able to pay in state tuition rates at Georgia’s colleges? That’s the question a state Senate committee considered during a hearing Tuesday.

Georgia treats those with temporary deportation relief as undocumented immigrants, and undocumented immigrants are banned from Georgia’s top five public colleges.

Read more
Politics
11:27 am
Tue February 10, 2015

Ga. House Subcommittee Approves Date Change For Kindergarten

A House sub-committee on education has taken the first step toward giving parents more time to enroll their 5 year olds in Kindergarten.
Credit Howard County Library System / flickr.com/hocolibrary

A House sub-committee has taken the first step toward giving Georgia parents more time to enroll their five-year-olds in kindergarten.

New legislation would have required kindergarteners to turn five by Aug. 1 of this year.

The sub-committee amended the bill, changing the deadline to Aug. 1, 2017.

In 2018, however, the cutoff would be pushed up to July 1. 

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Tue February 10, 2015

APS To Delay Inman Middle School Expansion

Atlanta Public Schools will delay a planned expansion at Inman Middle School.
Credit Nick Nesmith/for WABE

Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen recently sent a letter to parents at Inman Middle School, in Virginia-Highland. Carstarphen explained the Atlanta Public Schools will delay a planned expansion at Inman.

Carstarphen said APS is not canceling construction. But, she says, the planned design for Inman won’t work.

“What became crystal clear to us is that the enrollment projections, and parents have been saying this for some time, were pretty significant," Carstarphen said.  "So, if we were to build out what we have, it would not fix the problem at all.” 

Read more
Education
4:46 pm
Mon February 9, 2015

Standoff Between Reed, Carstarphen Continues

Mayor Kasim Reed and APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen have been clashing recently over selling old Atlanta schools.
Credit Alison Guillory and Jason Parker / WABE

A standoff between Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen and Mayor Kasim Reed over the right to sell school property intensified Monday.

 Carstarphen gave a speech to members of Atlanta’s Rotary Club.

“I want to thank you for coming today, even though it was recently said that I don’t know what I’m talking about,” Carstarphen began. 

Read more
Education
5:58 pm
Fri February 6, 2015

How Will A Rewrite Of No Child Left Behind Affect Georgia?

Georgia has a waiver from the accountability piece of No Child Left Behind.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

The federal No Child Left Behind education law is up for reauthorization.

Republican congressional leaders in the House and Senate have introduced bills revising the law.

Georgia has a waiver from the accountability piece of No Child Left Behind. That let the state come up with its own way of grading schools.

WABE’s Martha Dalton spoke with John King, a senior adviser to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, about the proposed legislation and its possible effects for Georgia. 

Read more
Education
5:44 pm
Thu February 5, 2015

Can The State Get RICO Convictions In APS Case? A Conversation With Attorney David Hungeling

Attorneys for the state are trying to get RICO convictions for the 12 defendants in the APS cheating trial.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The cheating trial of 12 former Atlanta educators has been going on since last September. 

All of the defendants face charges related to racketeering, under a statute known as RICO.

WABE’s Martha Dalton spoke with RICO attorney David Hungeling to talk about the chances of getting such a conviction. The conversation starts with a definition of RICO. 

In the extended version of this conversation Martha Dalton and David Hungeling go deeper into examining RICO cases and evaluate the potential impact of this case if the state does get a RICO conviction.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Thu February 5, 2015

A Closer Look At The APS Cheating Scandal's Racketeering Charge

Is a RICO conviction for former APS educators realistic?
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The defendants in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating trial are charged with racketeering, under a statute called RICO. The law was enacted to catch mobsters and serious criminals. So, can the state convince a jury that former educators deserve a RICO conviction?

RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Read more
Local
7:58 pm
Wed February 4, 2015

Georgia State Apologizes for Traffic Jam, Evacuation Caused by Art Project

Credit Drew Dabney

Suspicious packages paralyzed traffic on the Downtown Connector Monday and caused an evacuation of a Hapeville business Tuesday. In both cases, it was a Georgia State art project that used pinhole cameras.

GSU art professors are apologizing profusely for the confusion. For years, they’ve assigned the time-lapsed cameras to capture the sun. Michael White is director of Georgia State’s Welch School of Art and Design. He says they’ve never had issues until now.

Read more
Local
5:58 pm
Tue February 3, 2015

Police Explain Why A Suspicious Package Brought Traffic To A Halt Monday

Lanes in both directions were closed for about two hours and traffic backups extended to many surface streets.
Credit Gregor Smith / flickr.com/flc

The Atlanta Police Department Tuesday explained why a suspicious package brought traffic to a standstill on the Downtown connector Monday. APD Assistant Chief Shawn Jones said officers detonated the package to make sure it wasn’t an explosive device.

“The Atlanta Police Department takes all calls of suspicious packages very seriously,” Jones said at a press conference, “And we act accordingly. The safety of our citizens and the visitors to this city must always be our top priority and that’s what we did yesterday when we closed the Interstate down.”

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

GOP Lawmakers File Resolution Over AP US History Exam Changes

In this photo, Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, looks over paperwork at his desk on the Senate floor on March 27, 2012, in Atlanta. Sen. Ligon testified before the Senate education committee last year. He urged the state to opt-out of the Common Core education standards.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Some Republican state lawmakers are unhappy with the new Advanced Placement U.S. History exam. They’ve introduced a Senate resolution to express their concerns.

So, what’s the problem with the new AP exam?

“History is viewed more from the lens of grievances and social justice and these other issues to the detriment of American exceptionalism,” Sen. William Ligon, R-Brunswick, who is sponsoring the legislation, says.

Read more
Education
2:19 pm
Mon February 2, 2015

Beverly Hall's Attorneys Say She's in Poor Health

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter asked Hall's attorneys for an update on her health.
Credit Kent Johnson / Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lawyers for former Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Beverly Hall say she’s still too sick to stand trial. Judge Jerry Baxter, who’s presiding over the Atlanta cheating case, asked for an update on Hall’s health last week. Hall has stage four breast cancer.

Hall is one of 13 former APS employees on trial in the case. She was to be tried separately from the other defendants.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Fri January 30, 2015

New Bill Would Let More Georgians Earn High School Diplomas

Georgia’s high school class of 2015 will be the first in 20 years that won’t have to take a graduation test.
Credit cajWebmaster / flickr.com/62426095@N07

Georgia high school students no longer have to pass a graduation test to earn their diplomas. But some former students who had trouble passing the exam have been stuck in limbo. Lawmakers are trying to fix the problem. 

Georgia’s high school class of 2015 will be the first in 20 years that won’t have to take a graduation test. The state has phased out the requirement and replaced it with end-of-course tests.

However, students who had trouble passing the exam before that change couldn’t graduate.

Read more
Education
4:23 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Kindergarten Birthday Cutoff Would Change Under New Bill

Under Dickson’s bill, a child would need to turn five by Aug. 1 this fall to be enrolled in kindergarten.
Credit Howard County Library System / flickr.com/hocolibrary

How do you know if a child is ready for kindergarten? Some state lawmakers say age should be a factor. 

Right now, children need to be five years old by Sept. 1 to start kindergartens in Georgia. Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, thinks the cutoff should be earlier. He says teachers say often kids who turn five in July and August aren’t ready for school.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Lawmakers Propose Changes To Kindergarten Age Cutoff

In Georgia, children can start kindergarten if they turn 5 years old by Sept. 1.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

In Georgia, children can start kindergarten if they turn 5 years old by Sept. 1. But, that might change soon.

Starting this fall, children may have to be 5 years old by Aug. 1 to attend kindergarten. Some state lawmakers want kids to start kindergarten later. Their bill pushes the age cutoff up by one month this year.

But next year, it would add another month and go to a June 30 cutoff for kindergartners.

Read more
Education
1:30 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

Rethinking Georgia's Approach To School Discipline

By law, either a hearing officer or a tribunal, appointed by the local school board, decides the outcome in school discipline cases.
Credit Nick Nesmith/for WABE

In Georgia, kids who misbehave in school are treated differently based on their race. That's according to advocates, who are trying to change the state's school discipline laws. Now, some state officials are re-examining Georgia's approach to school discipline. 

During a busy day at the state Capitol, Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, retreats to his office for a few minutes between meetings. A red folder sits on a table. Inside are several drafted bills related to school discipline reform.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Tue January 27, 2015

Emory Students Push For Financial Aid For Undocumented Immigrants

Undocumented students can attend Emory. But they can’t apply for any financial help. Tuition costs $44,000 a year.
Credit Laura Emiko Soltis / Freedom At Emory University

Some Emory students will meet this week with the university’s president to talk about financial aid policies for undocumented students.

Undocumented students can attend Emory, but they can’t apply for any financial help. Tuition costs $44,000 a year.

Senior Andy Kim co-founded the group Freedom at Emory University. He says the school should set an example and help undocumented students, who are currently barred from attending the state’s top five public colleges.

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Should Georgia Change How The State Schools Superintendent Is Chosen?

Voter Larry Levatte, left, walks away from a voting booth after casting his ballot inside the old Hoggards Mill Courthouse. Some lawmakers want to change the way the state schools superintendent is chosen.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press

Every four years, Georgia voters elect a state schools superintendent to run the Department of Education. Some lawmakers want to change that.

Thirty-eight states appoint their superintendents instead of electing them. State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, wants Georgia to join them.

“Generally, you don’t elect people to be administrators; you elect policy people,” Dudgeon said at a recent symposium. "So, I believe that the governor should be able to appoint the person to run the Department of Education, just like he appoints the Department of Revenue.”

Read more
Education
6:00 am
Fri January 23, 2015

Some Gwinnett Residents Say AP US History Exam Is Anti-American

Residents, such as Dahlys Hamilton, had three minutes to address the school board.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Some Gwinnett County residents tried to convince the school board at a meeting Thursday night that textbooks they use for Advanced Placement U.S. history are anti-American.

About 10 residents lined up and had three minutes each to tell the board their concerns over the AP history text.

Read more

Pages