Former U.S. Ambassador and Atlanta mayor Andrew Young and Atlanta Braves Hall of Famer Hank Aaron were recently joined by a host of Georgia-based politicians, community leaders, and education advocates, including chairman emeritus of 100 Black Men of America Tommy Dortch and Lisa-Marie Haygood of the Georgia PTA, to oppose a constitutional amendment allowing the state to take over some Georgia schools.
In short, if Georgia voters vote yes on the November 8, 2016 ballot to Amendment 1 it would allow officials to create the Opportunity School District. The proposal, backed by Governor Nathan Deal, would allow private state appointees to take over up to 20 failing schools a year and try to turn them around.
According to Ballotpedia, The Georgia Authorization of the State Government to Intervene in Failing Local Schools, Amendment 1 is a legislatively referred constitutional amendment and modeled after the Recovery School District in Louisiana and the Achievement School District in Tennessee.
- A “yes” vote supports authorizing the state to form an Opportunity School District that would govern certain elementary and secondary schools determined to be “chronically failing.”
- A “no” vote opposes authorizing the state to form an Opportunity School District that would govern certain elementary and secondary schools determined to be “chronically failing,” thereby continuing to have school boards/districts supervise respective schools.
The amendment will be made to SB 133 which provides for three governance models of schools under an “Opportunity School District” (OSD) agency:
- direct management by the OSD,
- shared governance between the OSD and local board of education and
- transformation of the school into a charter school.
Young tells the packed room at the Gathering Spot in Atlanta that federal and state policies have most harmed schools serving students that are poor or disadvantaged, making teachers’ jobs more difficult. He says the amendment would minimize parent and community input.
“This started with the federal government taking money from Title 1, aid to the disadvantaged, and they gave it to a testing company. I looked up that testing company and didn’t find a single educator on its board. It’s an entire Wall Street corporate operation,” says Young. “I was always a struggling C-student. Public school is where I learned to deal with life. It’s where I learned to deal with poor people and rich people. It’s where I developed a sense of self-confidence.”
The proposal’s defenders say local officials have failed to improve schools over the years. However, even lifelong conservative Republican Dan DeLamater sees that this proposed legislation is part of a national for-profit education industry agenda being pushed by “ALEC, a hideous national legislative-steering organization where lobbyists, private interests, and legislators craft legislation behind closed doors,” DeLamater wrote in an AJC opinion column. The deceptively worded amendment proposal has already passed in Louisiana to create the Recovery School District, and in Tennessee to form the Achievement School District.