September 9, 2016 9:13 AM
There are signs of bipartisanship in Clayton County as some Democrats are supporting Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s education reform plan heading into the November election. After the Clayton County school board unanimously approved a symbolic resolution disavowing the Opportunity School District constitutional amendment (which will be on the ballot in November), Democratic State Rep. Valencia Stovall (who represents parts of Clayton County) sent out a press release opposing the resolution.
It is a disappointment for the Clayton County school board to pass a resolution opposing the Opportunity School District (OSD) amendment and not address the fact that 73 percent of our schools scored below a ‘C’ on the College and Career Ready Performance Index. Clayton County schools have the lowest graduation rates in metro Atlanta — lower than the state’s average. Not one of Clayton County’s elementary schools had more than 55 percent of students pass the language arts and math sections on the 2016 Georgia Milestones Assessment. Our economic viability depends upon an effective school system, but this is not what we currently have. The Clayton County school district is failing our students. I remain in support of the passage of the OSD amendment because our students cannot wait.
If approved, the Opportunity School District (OSD) amendment would allow the state to take over “failing” schools. It is one of the most ambitious education reform initiatives being pushed by Gov. Deal. Several school boards have noted their opposition, including the ones in Cherokee, Fayette, and Chatham counties. They claim it will do away with local control of education funding and planning. Several of the school boards, including Clayton County, do not have any schools that currently qualify for state takeovers. Atlanta has 22 schools that would qualify for takeover, but, as of Tuesday night, its school board has declined to take a public position on the OSD amendment.
If a majority of Georgia voters approve of it, the OSD amendment will trigger the enactment of SB 133, which you can read through here. Based on the wording of the ballot question, I would guess that it passes:
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”