Opportunity School District Opponents Are Serving Themselves Not Our Kids

In 47 days, Georgians will vote on the Opportunity School District (OSD) amendment. Put another way, Georgians will vote whether or not to force kids to stay in chronically failing schools. Anti-OSD forces dropped a television ad with the same old arguments used for years to scare people into submission. It’s, quite frankly, shameful.

It seems curious that the opposition is focused more on adult problems than the simple fact that any school that is put under state control has to be failing for three straight years. This is about the education establishment protecting their turf, jobs, and hierarchy while students are being robbed of opportunity and economic mobility because of where their parents can afford to live.

For every person screaming “but local control!,” where is the local accountability? Why are you content with sending your tax dollars to schools that continue to fail the same kids, year after year? And despite these failing schools getting at least two types of additional grants on top of state funding (Race to the Top and SIG), they continue to do nothing and scream “even more money!”

Arguments used by opponents ignore basic facts. Some of their arguments, I’d say, are downright lies. They argue OSD is an aggressive state takeover of public schools, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. OSD is providing accountability where none exists. OSD is our state declaring that failing schools are unacceptable.

OSD is our state telling kids stuck in poor schools that we care about their future.

In an op-ed written by Senator Elena Parent, a vocal opponent of OSD, she notes that the amendment fails to address other factors impacting students. That’s exactly why we need OSD: Local accountability is nearly nonexistent.

At the end of the day, anti-Opportunity School District forces seek to keep thousands of kids in failing schools, to protect the education establishment, and to reinforce the education hierarchy. For them, it’s not about kids stuck in failing schools for reasons entirely out of their control. That’s a problem.

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bethebalance
bethebalance

i saw the ad, and it has a claim in it that the OSD would, to paraphrase, remove or diminish funding to districts. is the basis of this claim that the new OSD would need its own funding, and thus reduce the QBE grants to districts proportionately, or is it that the powers granted under the OSD would allow such a reduction? because imo, the win-win would be if the OSD provided a practical and likely mechanism to increase funding to failing districts.

IrishPat
IrishPat

Well said Will Kremer. Throwing more money at the problem certainly isn’t the answer. Using the old union playbook (oh wait they are called associations) of fear and the claim of under-funding isn’t going to work. Thanks to Governor Deal and the legislature for trying a different approach and putting Georgia’s kids first.

OSDisForProfit
OSDisForProfit

Thanks to Governor Deal for nothing. He’s starved our schools, slashed funding and done everything he could to cause failures, especially in the inner city schools. His budget constrictions have caused over-crowded classrooms across the state, teacher layoffs, slashed health insurance benefits for all teachers & forced custodian outsourcing. His has created a CCRT and CRPPI testing system to judge failing schools via a flawed testing method that has been thrown out completely or changed to fit his needs every year since it’s inception to ensure that he had a fat list of schools to hand over to his ALEC-friendly,… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie

I like to start out with new folks by saying something positive. You’ve mastered ALL CAPS for effect. It almost masks your complete lack of paragraph composition. It’s been a while since I’ve had to deal with issue shills around here. While I’m used to it, what I find tiresome is someone that posts hyperbole mixed with outright lies while calling someone else’s ethics and motivation into question. I’ll return when I have time to deconstruct the “substance” of your argument. With that said, a warning: You’re welcome to have a debate here. You’re not welcome to commit libel, nor… Read more »

OSDisForProfit
OSDisForProfit

Charlie – I guess I’m a rookie here. And obviously you are not. I was unaware this was your sandbox. I’m not debating you. I stated my opinion about how I feel that our public education system has been treated by The Gold Dome in recent years. I live with a teacher, I’ve experienced it firsthand. As for the contribution figures, they are straight off of http://www.followthemoney.com. If indeed they are inaccurate, I cannot offer an excuse for that. I was simply stating the facts as I read them. And I don’t like what I have read. As well, please… Read more »

Charlie
Charlie

David, this isn’t my sandbox, this is my publication. As such, I’m ultimately responsible when people decide that they can come here and commit libel on others. You’ve taken a few “facts” as you see them and added provably untrue allegations. As such, you have opened this up to more than beyond the usual political commenting. We’re going to break this down one at a time, and I caution you in advance that your ability to remain here is dependent on answering only the specific questions as they are asked. Let’s start with the claim of “They also flew him,… Read more »

Ellynn
Ellynn

I’m not a fan of the OSD. However; If you want to further your cause, try using reason instead of actuations. Let me give you an example of where your actuations is not doing you any favors. Classroom sizing is based on the number and sizes of a room that holds a class or by not having enough teachers. State law enforced by the DOE, and predating Gov. Deal ,Purdue and Barnes set min. students per classroom. Local Board of Educations control the physical property where a classroom is located. They are assisted by the BOE in inventorying and assigning… Read more »

Will Durant
Will Durant

You left out Common Core and Agenda 21. You lost me by stating that career educator and 24-year legislator Brooks Coleman is “his [Gov. Deal’s] Education Committee Chairman”. I know Brooks and he would only do what he feels is best for kids. He is one of the few politicians I can personally vouch for as in it for the right reasons. Thank you for helping me decide to vote yes on Amendment 1.

OSDisForProfit
OSDisForProfit

Well, he is Gov Deal’s “Education Committee Chairman”. See: http://www.house.ga.gov/Committees/en-US/Committee.aspx?Committee=102&Session=24 .
And Mr Coleman has taken money from American Federation For Children ($3000)…. and StudentsFirst, who were his 4th highest non-individual donor @ $7000. Vote yes, that’s your right. My guess is he will too.

OSDisForProfit
OSDisForProfit

Michael J. Dudgeon is Vice-Chairman under Brooks Coleman on the Education Committee. Mr Dudgeon’s #1 non-individual contributor is American Federation for Children (directly tied with StudentsFirst) at $4500. StudentFirst came in 4th at $2000. #FollowTheMoney

Jared
Jared

My default position with any constitutional amendment is NO unless I’m really convinced it’s a good thing – particularly since the actual text of the amendment is never on the ballot. I’ve just started researching this OSD proposal, and I have some questions for those who know a lot more about this than I do: 1) What was the thinking behind creating a new state-level agency rather than allowing the existing State Board of Education to run the OSD? 2) SB 133, the enabling legislation for the OSD, repeals Code Section 20-14-41, which seems to give the State Board of… Read more »

Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

I agree that the default position on any state constitutional amendment is no. Ballot language below:

“Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

Consider the amendment has nothing to do with community involvement yet that what’s cited by the preamble in forming your opinion.

bethebalance
bethebalance

thank you for citing some actual language. this also raised a heretofore unanswered question for me: how would a school get out of the OSD? Suppose there is state intervention in a school, and lo and behold, three years later its performance metrics rise to where it otherwise would not have been in the OSD. What happens then? Will the local BOE get another chance? Will the private contractor get to stay indefinitely? Is there a decision procedure laid out for transition out of the OSD at all?

Benevolus
Benevolus

These are similar to my questions. Unfortunately, I haven’y had time to research these yet for answers. – So presumably the OSD would make teacher/administrative changes in schools? Where/how will they find the different teachers and administrators? What is the hiring process? Same contract as everybody else or something special? – If the teachers and administrators are the problem (it’s the only significant difference between systems isn’t it? Everyone is teaching essentially the same curriculum) isn’t the problem really with the local school boards? Don’t they do the hiring? So what happens when an OSD school goes back into the… Read more »

davidmac
davidmac

I have some reservations as well, given that the Senate turned aside a series of floor amendments (including appeals process for the schools, a limit on the number of schools that could be added to the district, and a ban on for-profit operators) that would have made the amendment better.

zedsmith
zedsmith

Ditto– I’m completely on the fence about this, and commentary that tries to go deeper than ideology or “it’s better than what we’ve been doing” are hard to come by.

And I’ll add that in some way, “throwing money at the problem” is exactly the solution, since average household income in a district is a very reliable predictor of the quality of the local public schools. That might not mean increased spending on teachers and facilities will fix a failing school, but the effect cannot be dismissed out of hand.

Charlie
Charlie

The problem is we have thrown money at these schools. It has been done in the form of SIG grants and race to the top funds. Whether that money makes it to the schools in question or is divided up among an entire district, stays in administration, whatever, is somewhat up to the local district on how the money is actually spent. I again go back to the districts that have the most failing schools – DeKalb, Chatham, and City of Atlanta – that each issued press releases last July showing amazing new initiatives for their failing schools and included… Read more »

Ellynn
Ellynn

Chatham’s issue is they migrate students. They create magnets, art academies, charters, career academies, whatever. So they audition to these specialty schools which have grade and behavior requirements. Other students were moved by the NCLB allowances to leave a failing school. Meanwhile the children from three relatively close facilities who didn’t get into the specialty schools end up forced into just one building so the other two schools (the ones that were in worse shape then that lone school they keep open) are converted into the new magnet, academy, charter whatever. The high test scorers are gone, the strong parent… Read more »

gagoodoleboy78
gagoodoleboy78

I realize that this is a blog- so there really are no rules, but I find it troubling this is clearly one writer’s opinion, but it is presented in the exact same way as all the other pieces of actual reporting (or summaries of reports). I might be off base with the purpose of this site, but if the intention is to share local and state news, than i believe it is a matter of journalistic integrity that you tell readers that what they are about to read is an opinion and not actual news coverage.

Charlie
Charlie

I’m sorry that people posting under their own names with opinions bothers someone who wants to question other people’s integrity under a psudonuym. As for the disclaimer you seek, perhaps you could spend a few minutes looking around the site, maybe even at that tab on the top left where is says “welcome”. If you click that, you’ll find this: “As is customary with new media, articles may not be as clearly defined within those rigid categories. As such, we will not pretend that our authors do not have biases or agendas. Rather, we believe the true honest debate is… Read more »

xdog
xdog

I was hoping for some answers to Jared’s questions from Will or Charlie but I guess they’re too busy. Maybe they could request one of the governor’s men to fill in.

Charlie
Charlie

They’re more detailed than info I have in my head. I’ve sent off some emails. My main subject matter expert is at a conference/unavailable.

Lea Thrace
Lea Thrace

suggestion that you make the responses to the questions posed by Jared a new post or bump this post somehow so it doesnt get buried?

looking forward to the answers! Thanks Charlie.

xdog
xdog

Thanks Charlie and I second Lea’s suggestion.