A takeover. A power grab. A coup.
Governor Deal’s push for Amendment 1 on Opportunity School Districts is all of those things, and you should vote against it.
Pay no attention to the gauzy TV ads, promising the Constitutional Amendment will “save failing schools” and “help the children.” Let’s take a look at who’s behind it, and why it’s facing so much opposition around the state.
If Amendment One passes, schools that are failing will be, at the discretion of the governor, absorbed into a new district, or shut down. If a school is pulled into an ‘Opportunity School District,’ the local school board could be removed, the school could be converted into an independent charter school, staff could be replaced, and the appointed superintendent would answer to one person and one person only: the governor.
And who’s going to get that type of appointment? Someone who’s politically connected to the governor.
Republicans say they support the measure. They say that now because they’re in power.
But what happens when someone they don’t agree with takes the reins? We all know if it were former Governor Roy Barnes presenting this measure, they’d be crying foul. The position of governor is far too political and partisan for something like this. Besides.. how much does a governor REALLY know about Education?
If state intervention is absolutely necessary, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to give the authority to the State School Superintendent?
And even the language is wildly deceiving. Part 1 reads: “Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.”
How is GIVING authority to the governor providing state accountability? Who would he, and his appointed superintendents be accountable to? The answer is “no one.”
Part 2 reads: "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?"
Uh...no! What evidence do we have that state will actually improve student performance?
The proponents of the measure argue that closing schools and removing staff would be a last ditch effort. If that’s the case, how is an administrator supposed to fix a failing school?
And that leads me to our next point: What constitutes failing?
A large emphasis would be placed on standardized testing, at a time when elected officials here and elsewhere are increasingly skeptical of the scores.
The measure says the governor could take charge of no more than 100 schools at a time, but what’s stopping lawmakers from expanding their reach over time?
That’s one reason why more than 50 local school boards, the Georgia PTA, the Georgia Association of Educators, the Georgia School Boards Association, and the NAACP have come out against the Amendment.
Tell the legislature that the Opportunity School District Amendment won’t fix our schools, and would give too much power to the governor.
There ARE other options, closer to home, like local school board elections or the state school superintendent. Send a strong message at the polls that we don’t want more state control and bureaucracy. And most importantly, Vote NO on Amendment 1 on Tuesday, November 8.