Georgia citizens will be voting on the Opportunity School District (OSD) this November. Supporters see this as a way for the state to finally step in do something about perpetually failing schools. Opponents liken this effort to the charter school movement and the privatization of public education.
Educators circled the wagons in opposition to OSD last year. Governor Deal has been busy spending a lot of money on education but slow out of the gate in garnering support for his amendment. Dave Williams writes about the Governor’s plea to the affluent Atlanta business community to support the Opportunity School District referendum. Half of Atlanta Public Schools, by the way, qualify as perpetually failing and are on the list to potentially be taken over.
Gov. Deal asks for business support of school takeover vote
By: Dave Williams covers Government
Gov. Nathan Deal appealed to Atlanta’s business community Monday to help build support for a referendum this fall on a proposal to let the state take over chronically failing schools.
The National Education Association is preparing to spend $1.5 million on an ad campaign opposing a constitutional amendment passed by the General Assembly last year, Deal told members of the Atlanta Rotary Club.
“I don’t understand why people are satisfied with a status quo of chronically under-performing schools,” the governor said. “It is not a power grab by me, as they will argue. … It is a critical step for us to change the dynamics of our education system.”
If voters ratify the constitutional change in November, the state would be permitted to intervene in schools that score below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) for three straight years. Such persistent failure would put those schools under the supervision of a statewide “opportunity” school district that would operate them through the governor’s office.
Deal said there are nearly 140 schools that meet those criteria statewide, schools that serve nearly 75,000 students. He cited statistics showing that students relegated to such schools are more likely to end up in prison than students who attend higher-achieving schools.
“Their chances of graduating [high school] are significantly diminished,” he said. “Chances are they’re going to become the fodder of our prison system.”
The legislation cleared the General Assembly largely along party lines. Democrats argued giving the state the power to take over failing schools wouldn’t solve the underlying problems of poverty and under-investment in education affecting student progress.
But the constitutional amendment won widespread support from business groups, picking up endorsements from the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and others.