It’s a time for choosing for Georgia voters. Four constitutional amendments are on the ballot awaiting the popular consent of Georgia’s governed. One of those constitutional amendments seeks to help alleviate struggling students in some of Georgia’s failing schools. There is a lot of opposition to it from school teachers, to Democrats and Republicans, to teachers unions, and other organizations. Frankly, the big reason to oppose it is because of a supposed removal of local control. Okay, but as Kyle Wingfield pointed out, the state charter school system amendment was opposed by similar reasons: lack of local control, taking money away from schools, a huge state bureaucracy. Overall, the gloom-and-doom predictions by detractors of charter schools largely didn’t come true.
Over the course of the past few months, opposition to the Opportunity School District amendment has been growing with arguments playing on people’s fears rather than facts. Those arguments are playing on people’s fears of ceding authority to a state entity. That’s understandable since we Republicans generally believe that a government that governs the closest governs the best. Unfortunately, sometimes those local school districts are unable to sustain successful schools and need help in order to fulfill the constitutional mandate that children in Georgia receive a quality education. I believe this amendment will help with that.
The good news is that the intervention by the state OSD isn’t forever, in fact, the OSD is limited to the number of schools that it can intervene. The purpose is to rehabilitate the school and then turn the school back over to the local school board for (hopefully better) management. Plus, the OSD doesn’t exclude local teachers and parents from consulting on how to get the school back to a path of success. It’s not a system where people from an ivory tower come to dictate on how things will be and to hell with what teachers and parents think. It’s a partnership (similar to what should be occurring now at the local level) rather than a radical government takeover of local public schools as some Facebook scholars and pundits pontificate.
I know a lot of my Republican and (L)libertarian friends that I respect will vote no on the amendment, and that’s okay. We’ll agree to disagree and still be friends. I just choose to stand against the status-quo. I don’t want to stay with the status-quo while we pursue a chase for a golden unicorn and keep students in failing schools for another 2, 4, or 8 years. A Recovery School District is implemented in Louisiana and have show some promise. I hope that we have stellar results in turning failing schools around with the OSD. Let’s try it and see how it works.