What Your Virtual Teacher Wants You To Know

What Your Virtual Teacher Wants You To Know

How Should I Prepare My Child for Virtual Schooling?


By Jennifer K. Hale 


It is a different world. Things are changing daily; numbers, statistics, and educated guesses are becoming the norm. It is in this climate that we are attempting to educate a nation of children in an unprecedented way—virtually.


Many states have had virtual schools for some time now, but not many states have attempted virtual education through large school districts all at one time like we are seeing in our nation as we approach a new school year. Each district has different plans and expectations, but all have the same goal—to give your student the highest quality education and help them achieve academic success.


As the school year begins, there are some things that your student’s virtual teacher will want you to know, prepare for, and pay attention to. In order for your child to be successful, give these points some careful consideration.

“…all have the same goal—to give your student the highest quality education and help them achieve academic success.”

  • Virtual teachers are real teachers. In most schools, teachers have extensive training, certifications, and degrees in education and content. They continually attend professional development to hone their craft and they are professionals who are passionate about what they do.


  • Virtual teachers are still learning. Every day new technology is developed that can help engage your child in exciting lessons and teachers are constantly learning how to implement these tools into the classroom.


  • Please read all messages from the teacher carefully. Information is easy to come by if you commit to reading messages, emails, announcements, and communications from your student’s teachers, school, and school district.


  • Your child is expected to be in class. Just because the platform might be virtual does not mean that the schedule is flexible. Students need to stay on the schedule set out by the district, school, and teacher.


  • Teachers want your support! They need you to be engaged and aware of what’s going on in the virtual classroom so that you can be your student’s support from home.


  • Teachers want to communicate with you. They are available to answer your questions and address your concerns—just reach out!


  • Students need a calm learning environment free from distractions. When learning virtually, it’s very difficult for teachers to compete with the TV, cell phone, or other distraction at home. Please help keep those to a minimum during learning time.


  • Teachers don’t expect perfection—just engagement! Students who show up, try, and make an effort are those who will reflect the most success.


  • Virtual education can provide everything your student needs—if your student is willing to take advantage! Relationships can be built in a virtual setting just like in a traditional school and what’s more, your student can form relationships with students and peers they might never had have the chance to know otherwise!


  • If your student is struggling, please let the teacher know. Typically your teacher will already be aware, but please don’t hesitate to reach out for extra help, support, and guidance.


  • While there are certainly challenges that many families will have to address, don’t forget the advantages of virtual education:

 – Some flexibility in location for your student to learn

–  More quality time at home making family memories

–  Certified teachers who will be teaching your child, no matter if your student is at home    with you or in a childcare setting

–  No parent has to create their own curriculum—it’s all provided by professionals

–  Meeting new people in the virtual classroom they might not have the opportunity to meet otherwise

–  Saving money on school clothes and supplies

–  Exploring classes that might not be offered in a traditional school

–  Learning new technologies via the virtual classroom

Virtual education was once a wonderful option for families, but in this pandemic has become a requirement for many who weren’t expecting it. We’re all learning together and a positive attitude will go farther than anything else. We teachers encourage you to take advantage of this time in our history to make memories with your child so that one day they will look back on this time not remembering what they “missed” by not being in a traditional classroom, but what they gained by having the opportunity to learn virtually. Certainly history will reflect that the option of virtual schooling provided a nation of students the education they needed in a time when caution was most important.


Jennifer K. Hale is an Assistant Principal at Georgia Cyber Academy High School. She is passionate about student success through high quality teaching and best practices. Originally a history teacher, she is also passionate about helping students to become active, knowledgeable citizens of our nation.





A quality education is key to a child’s future success. Academic achievement paves the way to a good job, self-sufficiency, and the earned success we all want for our children. To learn more about education options in Georgia click here

Children excited as they leave school

What’s Georgia’s Real Unemployment Number?

What’s Georgia’s Real Unemployment Number?

What’s Georgia’s Real Unemployment Number?

By Erik Randolph

Don’t be fooled by Georgia’s unemployment rate. While many are breathing a sigh of relief that barely one in ten Georgian’s are out of work, the reality is much worse.

Georgia’s unemployment rate (U-3) dropped to 9.7% last month—according to official numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released today.  

This number is adjusted for seasonal fluctuations, if that still makes sense given the current conditions. Otherwise, Georgia’s rate would be 9.5%, relatively close due to the time of the year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly makes adjustments to smooth out the data from the impact of seasonal employment, such as temporary employment during the Christmas season, teenagers working as summer camp counselors, or landscaping jobs dependent on the growing season. The smoothing out of data is intended to help economists detect trends more easily. 

The sense of relief comes from more dismal expectations that the unemployment rate itself could have been much worse—especially considering the unprecedented havoc on the economy from COVID-19—and from the encouraging news that Georgia is among the 38 states where the rates are coming down. 

 Georgia’s unemployment rate is among the lowest of the states. The nation’s rate was 13.3% (adjusted). Three states—Nevada, Michigan, and Hawaii—had seasonally adjusted rates of 25.3%, 22.6%, and 21.2%, respectively. 

However, one in ten workers unemployed is still very high. There were 475,338 unemployed Georgians last month (seasonally adjusted). That number was 161,147 in February. The state went from a historic low unemployment rate of 3.1% (adjusted) to a record high of 12.6% (adjusted) in just two months. 



The Loose Link

The situation is actually worse than what the unemployment numbers show. First, there is a loose relationship between employment and the labor force. The Bureau counts only those who are employed or actively looking for work as part of the labor force. 

When the economy does well and jobs are more plentiful, the labor force grows in size because more people decide to enter or reenter the labor force. However, when the economy grows sluggish and jobs become harder to find, the opposite happens: the labor force shrinks.

The labor force participation rate demonstrates this well-known phenomenon. The chart below illustrates this relationship in Georgia. By definition, the labor force participation rate shows the percentage of workers in the labor force to the potential population of those who could be in the labor force, defined as all individuals age 16 and older who are not institutionalized, such as in prison, and—as the Bureau of Labor Statistics defines it—not in the military. 

Of course, there are other factors at work. The aging population is pushing down the participation rate. An issue of great concern is the increasing proportion of individuals in their prime working age who have dropped out of the labor force altogether. This has been a topic of study from across the political spectrum, and recessions seem to only aggravate the trend. 

The size of the recent labor force loss is astounding. A record number of 262,577 Georgians dropped out of the labor force in April. This is the seasonally adjusted number. The unadjusted number is 286,733. 

The labor force bounced back just 0.1% in May, but still the net effect is that 256,208 individuals dropped out since February. 

What this all means is that 570,399 Georgians either lost employment or dropped out of the labor force since February. If you add back in the 161,147 who were unemployed in February, there are at least 731,546 workers either unemployed or who dropped out, and 751,116 workers if we use unadjusted numbers. 



However, we are still missing one part of the analysis. Prior to February, the labor force was growing and grew at a rate of 1.6% from the prior year (unadjusted). This implies that the labor force number should have grown over the last three months, perhaps to 5,208,019 in May (adjusted). This would make the combined unemployment/labor force problem closer to 15.0% (adjusted), or 14.8% (unadjusted).

It Gets Even Worse

The official unemployment rate does not capture everyone, including those who are working part-time but want to work full-time. For this, we must turn to the alternative measurement of labor underutilization known as U-6, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ broadest metric. The national number jumped from 7.4% in February to 22.4% in April, and back down to 20.7% in May. 

Unfortunately, the Bureau does not publish U-6 on a monthly basis for the states. For statistical reliability reasons, they only provide annual rolling averages each quarter year. 

Most recently, Georgia’s annual rolling average U-6, ending the first quarter of 2020, was 6.7% compared to the national rolling average of 7.2%. This implies that Georgia’s U-6 is probably around 19.3%. Combining this number with those who dropped out of the labor force yields an impact well above 20%, probably around 25%, or one-in-four Georgians adversely affected, instead of just one in ten.


Note on Sources: All data came from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, except for the identification of the recessions that came from the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research.  

Erik Randolph is Director of Research at the Georgia Center for Opportunity. This article reflects his calculations, analysis and opinion and does not necessarily reflect that of the Georgia Center for Opportunity.

To learn more about what Georgia Center for Opportunity is doing to help get Georgians back to work check out our Hiring Well, Doing Good initiative. 

To Rebuild Trust in Law Enforcement, We Must Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

To Rebuild Trust in Law Enforcement, We Must Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

To Rebuild Trust in Law Enforcement, We Must Reform Civil Asset Forfeiture Laws

By Buzz Brockway

In the wake of the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and now Rayshard Brooks, issues of racism and questions about use of force by police dominate the news. Understandably, emotions are high as people want answers and change. The Georgia Center for Opportunity has worked diligently over the years on issues of criminal justice reform.  We see this as a key issue in pursuit of our goal of a society where everyone has the opportunity to flourish. We stand with our African-American sisters and brothers as they call for justice.

One key area in need of reform is called civil asset forfeiture. Civil asset forfeiture is a process in which law enforcement officers take assets from persons suspected of involvement in illegal activity without necessarily charging the owners with wrongdoing.  The assets are thought to be either obtained as a result of illegal activity, or used in the commission of a crime. A civil court proceeding takes place to determine if the assets are to be forfeited and the funds used for law enforcement purposes.

As solutions are being offered, it is important to keep in mind the vital role law enforcement play in protecting the vulnerable and seeking justice for victims. Human flourishing and freedom cannot take place in unsafe communities. Therefore, law enforcement can and should be a key part of the solution to issues such as racism and discussions about the proper application of force against those suspected of criminal activity.

While the facts surrounding each of the tragic deaths listed above differ, one common thread moving through each case is lack of trust. Lack of trust that officers will use force responsibly, lack of trust that officers will properly deal with arrest warrants, and lack of trust that prosecutors will prosecute crimes equally, especially crimes committed against the African-American community.  As we consider potential reforms, focusing our efforts on restoring trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve would seem to be efforts that could bear much fruit.

To that end, let me suggest we look at increasing transparency and oversight of Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture laws. The Georgia Center for Opportunity recently completed a study of these laws, how the system works, and made recommendations around increased transparency and accountability. 

 officers investigating a carCivil forfeiture of assets from law enforcement activities has become an important      funding mechanism for many law enforcement agencies as well as multi-jurisdictional task forces crucial to fighting criminal gangs. However, the issue raises concerns about justice, freedom and prosperity.  While a 2015 law made major improvements in civil asset forfeiture reporting requirements, it is not possible to know whether there was a conviction in the case that resulted in the property being forfeited. To restore trust, collecting this information is crucial.

Additionally, understanding the outcome of the case would allow us to determine if Georgia civil asset forfeiture laws violate the 8th Amendment prohibition on excessive fines. The recent Supreme Court decision in Timbs v. Indiana makes it clear that the 8th Amendment applies to the state. As it relates to civil asset forfeiture, is it an “excessive fine” to forfeit a car worth several thousand dollars for a minor drug conviction?  To restore trust in law enforcement, this question must be answered.

Rebuilding trust between law enforcement and the community will take time and many policies and practices must be reviewed and debated.  Increasing transparency and accountability in Georgia’s civil asset forfeiture laws is an important step in the right direction.


To learn more about Civil Asset Forefeiture in Georgia click here


Georgia Enters into May with a New Executive Order and Guidelines for Georgians

Georgia Enters into May with a New Executive Order and Guidelines for Georgians

Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp issued a new executive order today outlining guidelines as Georgia resumes more of a pre-coronavirus lifestyle. Many of the guidelines come with strict stipulations for businesses to follow in order to remain open.

GCO’s Vice President of Public Policy, Buzz Brockway, put out a Facebook live video with the answers. Please take a look below!


  • The Public Health State of Emergency is extended through June 12, 2020.
  • People over the age of 65, in a nursing home, or with certain conditions must continue to shelter in place at home.
  • Businesses must continue to operate with strict social distancing and sanitation rules.



Working from Home: 101

Working from Home: 101

Working from Home: 101

Our nation and the world have been thrust into a new lifestyle by the Coronavirus pandemic. Unlike many, my daily routine under the “shelter-in-place” order hasn’t changed much, since I’ve split my 16 year career working in fast-paced offices and more recently, from a corner in my home. I’ve learned there are some major differences in both environments and some key best practices to being successful working in both places. 

While I work very hard to maintain a high level of professionalism, there are some days I have to chuckle and understand life happens – especially when you add children and spouses into the work-from-home mix. 

Since much of the American workforce has been catapulted into a work-from-home pace, I’ve been asked several times for some of my best tips for making business days successful. Here are some tips that work for me:


Designate a Workspace

Having your own workspace helps with organization and establishes a consistent working cadence. Not everyone can have a home office, but making even a small corner in a quiet room your space makes for easier conference calls and concentration. If you regularly participate on video calls, make sure you have space with an appropriate background for your web calls. 


High-speed Internet

Having a stable, high-speed internet connection in your home will be the magic that keeps you from wanting to rip your hair out. You’ll be able to perform video calls with ease, upload and download large files with no hiccups, and have no interference if family members are home and also using streaming devices. 


Invest in the Right Tools

If you think you might be working from home for the long-haul, don’t hesitate to invest in the right tools to make you comfortable throughout your day. The majority of my communications work is done on a computer and on the phone which means I’m pretty stationary throughout my day. In order to promote better overall health, I sit on a yoga ball at my desk and also utilize a standing or sitting rolling desk. The small rolling desk allows me to move my workspace to various locations in my home as needed. Having a young child at home, I can often be found working from my front porch while she’s riding her bike or roller skating. I also have a timer that reminds me to stand up and walk around so I don’t get into the habit of sitting for extra long periods of time. Although having kids at home often forces one up prior to any timer alerts. 


Have a Routine 

If you have children at home this is key. My day has some flexibility, but for the most part I keep normal office hours. During that time, my little one also has a schedule of learning time, play time, scheduled meal times, and nap. As a mom, I don’t want to miss my daughter growing up right before my eyes, so I like to incorporate her into my day. She can often be found helping me make coffee, doing small office tasks, or working at her “desk” next to mine. As I mentioned above, I often work from outside with my portable desk so she can play outside and just be a kid. 


To-Do Lists

Having a to-do list written down is key to productivity. Check items off as you make your way through the project list. There is a sense of accomplishment in making that little tick mark throughout the day. 


Pause Notifications 

If you work with your team through a chat feature like Google Hangouts or Slack, take a little time each day to pause the notifications and focus strictly on getting your actual tasks done. Just make sure your team knows the time of day you “unplug” to work. 


Be Flexible 

If your position will allow for it, create your office hours and turn off work in the evenings to be with your family. During the day (especially now while families are together all day) allow for times during the day you might need to support your family. Lead by example, and understand that your colleagues are going through the same thing. They may not be able to respond to your project requests immediately. Be clear with your team what projects and tasks have hard deadlines. Figure out what you can do asynchronously with your team. This actually creates greater flexibility and reduces questions and confusion from your team members. Your colleagues will be able to access information themselves and digest information and determine next steps. Also, when you can automate for your team do it! Go ahead and schedule a calendar invitation with reminders. 

Share How You Are Staying Connected In The Comments!