Governor outlines state-controlled Opportunity School Districts

Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal

Here is what Nathan Deal had to say about education in his state of the state address today.

By Nathan Deal

Over 19,000 students dropped out between grades nine and twelve over the past school year. That is far too many. Neither Georgia nor these young people can afford the disparaging effects that typically result when someone leaves high school prematurely.  This is why over the next few years we intend to take a comprehensive look at how we can make K-12 education more accessible and more effective.

A child that does not graduate from high school is that much less prepared for the workforce, that much less prepared for college and that much more prepared for a life behind bars!

I am establishing an Education Reform Commission to study a number of questions regarding our education system, such as increasing access to Georgia’s world class early learning programs, recruiting and retaining high quality teachers in our classrooms, and expanding school options for Georgia’s families.  This group, which will be composed of legislators, educators and a variety of other stakeholders, will recommend potential improvements to me by August 1 of this year. I fully anticipate this process to be as successful as the one involving our justice reforms after which it was modeled.

In addition, a subset of this group will examine the most appropriate ways to modernize our QBE funding formula from the 1980s. This model is older than every student in our classrooms and some of their parents! … Just as most of us wouldn’t dress our children in parachute pants and jelly shoes and we wouldn’t teach them about computers on a Commodore 64, neither should we educate them under a 1980s funding formula. Our students are now using iPads and Androids. Why tie them to a desk when technology can take them to the moon and back?

This undertaking will require detailed work. My vision is to create a formula driven by student need that provides local school and district leaders with real control and flexibility. It is our hope that funding changes based on the commission’s recommendations will go into effect as early as the 2016-2017 school year.

While we must certainly address the outdated funding formula, education still remains a top priority in our budgets.  This year’s budget coupled with my proposal for next year’s budget represents an infusion of over one billion additional dollars for K-12 education.

Working together, we have devoted the largest percentage of the state budget to K-12 education of any governor and General Assembly in the last 50 years. Now, the focus is on turning those dollars into academic progress. I look forward to working with all of you to accomplish that goal.

However, no matter how well we fund education, the fact of the matter is that far too many students are trapped in a failing Georgia school. Roughly 23% of schools have received either a D or an F, which constitutes a failing grade, for the past three consecutive years! When the system fails, our children have little chance of succeeding.

New options can enrich lives, brighten futures and rekindle hope.  Three years ago, the legislators here called for and the voters of this state overwhelmingly approved the charter school amendment. I have good news: It’s making a positive difference. This year, I am asking you to continue the trend of restoring hope and opportunity to areas of our state that could use a helping hand.

I am proposing a constitutional amendment to establish an Opportunity School District.  It would authorize the state to step in to help rejuvenate failing public schools and rescue children languishing in them. This model has already been used successfully in other states. My office has been in contact with a student from New Orleans, who tells us he could not read until he was 12.

Now, because of the Recovery School District in New Orleans, Troy Simon is going to Bard College in New York, where he intends to earn a degree in American Literature. His life has changed. There is perhaps no sweeter irony—the young man who couldn’t read at all may one day teach others to read, and read well.

There are many excuses that will be offered for why schools are failing—the students come from families in poverty, their parents are dysfunctional, they don’t care because they have no hope.

Let’s stop making excuses—If we want to break the cycle of poverty, let’s educate those children so that they have the skills to escape poverty; if we want to interrupt the cycle of dysfunctional families, lets educate the children in those homes so that their families of the future will return to normalcy; if we want our young people to have hope, let’s give them the greatest beacon of hope we can confer on them – a quality education that leads to a good job, a stable family and the stairway to the future.

There will be those who will argue that the problem of failing schools can be solved by spending more money. They ignore the fact that many of our failing schools already spend far more money per child than the state average. The problem is not money. More money without fundamental changes in the delivery system will not alter the results; it will only make state and local taxpayers greater enablers of chronic failure.

If we take this step, more students will be able to gain employment or go to college when they graduate, more employers will be satisfied with our state’s workforce, and more of their colleagues might just decide to locate in our state.  Above all, students and parents will relinquish the burden of having nowhere to go to get a proper education, something no family should have to experience in the first place.

Liberals cannot defend leaving a child trapped in a failing school that sentences them to a life in poverty. Conservatives like me cannot argue that each child in Georgia already has the same opportunity to succeed and compete on his or her own merits. We have a moral duty to help these children who can’t help themselves. The sea is great and the boat is small, but the boat must not have first and second-class seating.

I am calling on you to do your part this session to get this referendum on the ballot so that Georgians can assure that a child’s hopes of success aren’t determined by his or her ZIP Code.  Our places of learning should be where a child learns triumph, not defeat.

 

Reader Comments 0

69 comments
jerryeads
jerryeads

Sorry didn't get here sooner. Glad you put this in the paper, Maureen.

While we've heard me many times rail about the competence of some management at DOE, MANY of the folks down there are dedicated hard-working folk. E.g., if you will, there's every indication that the math folk put together a very good system for helping teachers walk the bridge from traditional math courses to the 'new' approach. That approach failed not because the soldiers in the trenches didn't do their job but because few in leadership have a clue how to actually pull off a major policy shift of that nature. There was plenty of water but there wasn't a successful plan in place to get people to drink it. We'll never know whether it WAS a better way because the incentives weren't there to make it happen.

On to state-run schools: same problem, kinda. During the 25 or so years I worked for state gummint I learned when doing workshops to lead in with the line "Hi!  I'm here from the state and I'm here to help you!"  If I got a laugh I knew we'd get on okay. If the room was dead silent I knew I'd be in trouble.

The resources simply won't be there to pull off an authoritarian takeover of schools and actually make things better for kids. The DOE won't have the expertise (most staff have never run a school so don't have a clue what that means), there won't be enough of them, and there won't be anywhere near enough cash or other resources. The data are overwhelming that handing over schools to the private sector will be a disaster. Private for profit anything in education has been an abject disaster. If you want to make poor kids' education better for them, simply moving around the pea under the shells won't do it. Con games won't help kids. Effort (and cash spent wisely) will.

satan
satan

Schools are simply a reflection of the local community/population they serve. Some of the best teachers teach in "failiing" schools...unfortunately, not enough of them. Some very "average" teachers teach in cushy upper-middle class schools...unfortunately..too many.  However, at the end of the day, the upper middle class schools will always come out better on whatever metric you use because of their student population.  You might as well compare zip code median income instead of any educational metric.  The two will match up hand in hand.

 

honested
honested

@Mr_B 

An even better overview is in the current issue of Progressive Magazine.

It's all about cost shifting with little or nothing about improved outcome.

Mr_B
Mr_B

I find it fascinating that we keep hearing about "failing" schools without a clear idea of what a "passing" school would look like. Increased graduation rates are easy to achieve. Having a majority of the graduates being able to hit a target on a standardized test is slightly harder, but not by an order of, if a passing school produces graduates  magnitude.


On the other hand, if a passing school is one that produces graduates who are actually able to function as productive citizens, maybe we need to be looking in other directions.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

The primary position of bloggers here who do not like Governor Deal's proposals are that he is a crook, he is tampering with education for some personal gain, and the schools aren't that bad- what we are doing is just fine, we simply need more money.

I have not seen one reasonable reform solution from his opposition to be considered as an alternative.

Governor Deal is passionate about Georgia and about education, and is making real attempts to improve the public school system. We are either 48th or 49th in the nation by most standards and the nation is now around 17th or 18th in the world; Georgia Public Schools cannot continue as they are, but there are a LOT of people making a living off of the systems who are primarily committed to saving their jobs, not to educating children. THAT is  the ultimate conflict of interest, but no one wants to question the motives of the public educators. They have been at the helm of a failing ship and therefore have forfeited the right to retain control.

I applaud the Governor's efforts to improve education in Georgia. If you have better ideas let us know, but keep the personal attacks of the Governor on the political blogs, not the Education blogs.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @RoyalDawg 

@Wascat- 

Okay, what is the Democrat plan? Governor Deal outlined his yesterday,subject to filling in some gaps,so what do the Dems propose?

Astropig
Astropig

@Looking4truth @RoyalDawg 

The teachers never threatened his reelection.Thats silly.If they were a threat to him,we would be discussing the education reform plan introduced by "govenor" John Barge.

honested
honested

@RoyalDawg 

So when will the Governor buckle down on the House and Senate to come up with adequate funding for ALL PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

8 years of cuts have created the mess which he ignores.

Astropig
Astropig

@honested @Astropig @Wascatlady @RoyalDawg 

" Increase funding, reduce class sizes, provide additional paraprofessionals in the classroom, you know stuff that works."

Fine, call the two or three Democrats still in the legislature and tell them to put that plan forward.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Your statements about Deal are just conspiracy theories- I can't tell you how, but I have a view of the inside. This man cares that our education system is broken, but has to fight through people with a financial interest in maintaining the status quo.

As for spending money effectively, compare ANY public school system's central office cost to ANY Charter school's administrative cost PLUS the state administrative fee. I'll give you a hint- the % in the city and county systems will approximate 35% in most cases, the Charters will be under 10%.

If you folks aren't doing something, stop sitting in the peanut gallery and throwing stones. The cynicism amd paranoia is at a sad level. And I don't have time to prove it, so go ahead and reply with a snarky comment, but you critics display an amazing level of ignorance of the facts.

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@RoyalDawg Governor Deal was not all about education until the teachers and teacher supporters threatened his re-election.  Just watch - whatever suggestions come out of these "studies" will be all about "raising standards" (despite our students not meeting the ones we have in place), raising "teacher quality" (while paying under market for skilled educators), raising graduation rates (when graduating from high school is a student and family decision), and overall creating more bureaucracy that sucks up money that should go to our classrooms.

It's not about more money being spent on education.  It's about spending the money we do spend more effectively - like eliminating state offices that seek to control local schools. 

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@Astropig @Looking4truth @RoyalDawg Maybe not at the end, but teachers were not happy with his attempt at health care reform at the beginning of 2014.  Even after his "fixes" were in place, I'd be interested to see how many stuck with him. 

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@RoyalDawg


Abstract from a report written by the Education Policy Center at Michigan State University:



Resource Allocation in Charter and Traditional Public Schools: Is Administration Leaner in Charter Schools?


Abstract


There is widespread concern that administration consumes too much of the

educational dollar in traditional public schools, diverting needed resources from classroom instruction and hampering efforts to improve student outcomes. By contrast, charter schools are predicted to have leaner administration and allocate resources more intensively to instruction. This study analyzes resource allocation in charter and district schools in Michigan, where charter and tradition public schools receive approximately the same operational funding. Holding constant other determinants of school resource allocation, we find that compared to traditional public schools, charter schools on average spend nearly $800 more per pupil per year on administration and $1100 less on instruction. 




From The Notebook

Charter executive pay: How much is too much?

Last year the Inquirer reported that one charter executive, Dorothy June Brown, was drawing salaries totaling more than $500,000 from three Philadelphia charters and a private school. Brown has stepped down from her position at Ad Prima Charter School, one of the charters now up for renewal. Before she left, she was earning $150,000 from that one school alone, for a reported 26-hour work week.

Notebook examination of the recent tax returns available online for the 10 charters up for renewal found that most, in contrast, were unremarkable.

But two of these charter schools now pay CEO salaries of $190,000 or more, far higher than principals and regional superintendents in the School District. Until recently, one of these was being paid as a consultant through her management company, obscuring her actual earnings.


From the Dallas Morning News


Charter school superintendents in Texas are being paid much more for the small number of students they supervise than superintendents in public schools, according to the vice chairman of the State Board of Education. Thomas Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, on Thursday released a survey of superintendent salaries that showed the top 10 highest paid charter school superintendents make an average $242,172 a year, compared with an average salary of $323,156 for the top 10 highest paid public school superintendents.




Astropig
Astropig

@RoyalDawg 

The Democrats "education improvement plan" is to call Nathan Deal  names.That's their plan,which is why they can't get elected in Georgia.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Read the ideas- Democrats think more money will work. It never has before, but THIS TIME it would.

What did Einstein say about trying the same thing over and over again?

newsphile
newsphile

@RoyalDawg  I am not a Democrat, but I am opposed to the state taking over schools.  After all, this is the party that campaigned on less government.  Politicians don't have solutions!  Good public school teachers can help solve some of the issues, if they were allowed to do so.  There are currently issues in DFCS, GEMA, GDOT, SHBP, ETHICS, and the list goes on.  GA has proven it doesn't run ethical, effective agencies, so why would anyone want the state to take over more?????

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @RoyalDawg


Really?  Seems to me you were just complaining about how much public school administrators make in a thread a few days ago.... Something about being willing to pay teachers more, but not administrators because they already make more than they should?  Am I misremembering?


Oh, and if you were replying to me, I must point out that I was merely responding to RoyalDawgs suggestion that we "compare ANY public school system's central office cost to ANY Charter school's administrative cost"....

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @RoyalDawg 

You lost me when you started criticizing what people earn.They are paid what they are paid. I'm sure some people think that you're overpaid. Class/wealth/earning envy doesn't contribute anything to the discussion but hatred and division.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @RoyalDawg


Went back and looked...and here is what you said, "Again, teachers deserve more money. Educrats already make too much."  So I suppose "they are paid what they are paid" only applies when you are talking about Charter School administrators. but not public school administrators.  Seems your bias is clear.  So, I can't help but wonder whether YOU stand to make some money from the Charter School movement in some way.

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @RoyalDawg  The administrators earnings are relevant because they are paid with public money, you know, your blessed tax dollars.

So it bothers you that people might get some public assistance, but you don't care if your tax dollars go to exorbitant salaries for Charter schools?

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @Astropig @RoyalDawg


I am biased.I like the idea that a school can be closed down if it under performs. You're darn right I''m biased. I'd be willing to pay more for public school administrators if they were doing a good job.


As far as making money from charter schools,alas, I haven't figured out how to do that yet. I'm in a totally different business. I just want better schools and if it takes breaking up the public school cartel,I'm okay with that.

AlreadySheared
AlreadySheared

Off-topic: Ga Tech 2015 early action stats:
Admit rate 45% Averages: SAT 1488/2196, ACT 32, and 9.9 AP/IB/DE courses
The incoming class includes students from all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico, not to mention 40 nations. ‪#‎gojackets‬

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Maybe it is Past High Time to ask, "What makes a "failing school" fail?  That is, what do these "failing schools" have in common?  Anyone want to take a swing at that?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady  Sure- Low attendance rates, high disciplinary rates,  kids that have been continually socially promoted, schools that have high rates of single-parent families

Tip of the Iceberg
Tip of the Iceberg

Maureen, what are the 25 lowest scoring schools in Georgia according to the CCRPI?

Aren't most of them alternative schools?

How can the governor fix them?

Teach2Learn
Teach2Learn

The drop out rate is more of a reflection on home life than school life. Parents are allowing their children to drop out. They should be held accountable. The students I have seen drop out don't want to follow rules, do class work, or get to school on time. They make excuses and their parents allow it. My school does everything possible to entice students to stay. We can only do so much.

Astropig
Astropig

@Teach2Learn 

Good points,all. Accountability should not just be for teachers or school districts. I agree with you 100% on this. But how? What should the consequences be for parents? For dropouts?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @Teach2Learn Go ahead and put dropouts on "pretrial diversion" and boot camp and make the parents pay for it!.  Then, when the young person "graduates," they can themselves start paying it back (sort of like a student loan.)

Lynn43
Lynn43

@Wascatlady @Astropig @Teach2Learn Wascatlady,  You are so right.  Birthcontrol is the answer to most of societies' ills.  We keep hearing people say, "Stay in school", but that is not going to help if, while these students are in school, the only thing they do is prevent those who want to learn from learning.  Overhaul our foster care system and start removing these children from dysfunctional families when the children are very young in order give them a chance to develop positive attitudes about academics and correct behavior

.

historydawg
historydawg

How can the Governor champion charter schools, which escape state regulation and mandates, as a solution, while at the same time tricking the people of Georgia into supporting state takeover of "failing" schools, which will eliminate local control and increase state regulation and mandates? These are contradictory solutions. If State regulation, DOE, etc is the problem, let all communities escape this. But alas, this is not the purpose. Some students and some schools need to fail, and the Governor wants to decide which those will be. And which corporations can get rich off the taxpayers. This the sole purpose of the flawed tests and evaluation apparatus.

Astropig
Astropig

@historydawg 

" How can the Governor champion charter schools, which escape state regulation and mandates,"...

Categorically false.Charter schools have the same regulation as zip code schools.They are public schools.They have to take special needs students and the like.You don't have a clue what you're talking about,you're just spouting the stuff that the educrats want everybody to believe.

Here- read this and actually learn something-  http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/General-Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx

Astropig
Astropig

@historydawg @Astropig 

Okay, you're irrational. No problem. You're just gonna have to live with what happens next in the legislature. It's not a slam dunk, but the odds are pretty good that the legislators will pass the amendment and put it on the ballot.Then you can shout from the housetops.But for now, you're just going to have to live with it.

Lynn43
Lynn43

@Astropig @historydawg I have no doubt that legislators will pass the amendment and put it on the ballot.  Also, just like the charter school amendment, it will be worded so that almost all the voters will have no idea what it is they are voting on and probably won't care.  Most legislators have no idea what "public school" is like as they send their children to "other" learning centers.  Even the ones who send their children to public schools, if they are republican, have been indoctrinated to believe that public schools are bad.  Oh, and by the way, you can shout it from the rooftops that charter schools are public schools, but until, just like public schools, they have to take every child that walks through the door, provide transportation and cafeterias, and abide by the same rules, then they are only public to the extent that they are funded with public money.  

Astropig
Astropig

@Lynn43 @Astropig @historydawg 

Charter schools are public schools.They take less  money per student than zip code schools.As for transportation and cafeterias,there is a giant waiting list to get into charters,so you seem to be the only one that cares about it.

historydawg
historydawg

@Astropig @historydawg No. Did you read the link you shared? The charter is the relationship between the state and the school. Charter schools are afforded tremendous latitude in terms of policy, which is what I stated. They do not follow state mandates, etc. The link says that "flexibility" and "autonomy" are the "two words that distinguish charter schools from traditional schools." They do, according the charter, have to produce results. The tests are smoke and mirrors--all multiple-choice, etc. They are not bound to take all students. That would make the school impossible to run. Even still, they are not any more successful than traditional public schools. 

Cere
Cere

If we could have a 'State of Massachusetts Opportunity District' takeover, well, then maybe... But Georgia is a** backwards and completely race-based. I have tried for years, but still to this day cannot see a way past this mess.

mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

Implementing true school choice would be cheaper and more effective. The bad schools close because they're bad.  The less we involve the state government the better.  It always has a large price tag.

Howsabout we just enact a constitutional amendment to simply implement school choice? REAL school choice.  Cheaper, easier, and the ones who win are the kids.   

Astropig
Astropig

@historydawg @mensa_dropout


Don't discount that as a proposal. Maybe not free,unfettered choice,but a transitional plan that gets us there. This phrase from his speech gives me some hope on that subject:


"increasing access to Georgia’s world class early learning programs, recruiting and retaining high quality teachers in our classrooms, and expanding school options for Georgia’s families."


"Expanding school options" Could be the sign of some good things to come.

historydawg
historydawg

@mensa_dropout I choose to take my share of the state finances and have my own roads, my own parks, my own public services, just for me. Everyone else can suffer. I demand a choice. Really? School choice is a fallacy, misguided individualism, and ignorance to the founding ideals of the Republic. Pooling resources is how communities improve. Just because a child opts out and leaves the community schools doesn't mean the state and community is not obligated to run buses, electricity, etc for those left behind. But now they must do it without the money. In markets, those making products have choices--which resources to use, techniques of manufacture, etc. In schools, teachers and administrators have no choices, they are bound to educate everyone who comes in the door. 

mensa_dropout
mensa_dropout

@historydawg @mensa_dropout

So the state can close a school, but the community isn't allowed to do so? 

I think that you underestimate people.  We don't need Big Brother; we need a choice.  Bad schools will close; good schools will open.  It's not rocket science. 

BKendall
BKendall

Having followed Ga Education for more than a decade, I have learned that anytime someone whom we should be able to trust starts talking percentages they are hiding something. However, if something positive does come of this I will be pleased.

gactzn14
gactzn14

I support those issues grounded in truth- unfortunately- this decision is based on a post-Katrina New Orleans where many of its original inhabitants were displaced- Really! He could have gotten "success" stories from here in Georgia if he was looking- straight from the public schools!!!

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

A lot to "read between the lines" here... Someone is going to be making a lot of money off the tax payers in the next few years.  And although a few students may see their educational prospects actually improve,  I suspect many more will see things stay the same or even grow worse.


The New Orleans success "story" is not quite so shiny, if one bothers to look behind the curtain.  There is evidence of a great deal of smoke and mirrors with the data... like using different cuts off percentages for pre and post data, including or not  including certain demographics as needed to show improvement or hide negative growth, etc. Deal needs to take a clear, unvarnished look of the New Orleans system before committing Georgia to the same path - if he is truly interested in doing what is best for the children of this state.