House Ed Committee approves school takeover bill. Can it pass full House at higher bar?

Update at 4:44: After a lot of discussion of  “failing” vs. “chronically failing,” the House Education Committee today passed Gov. Deal’s two-part legislative package to empower the state to take control of failing schools. The bill now moves to the full House.

SR 287 and SB 133 are the enabling legislation for a state  “Opportunity School District” freighted with the authority to seize control of schools deemed to be chronically failing. The state would be able remove principals, transfer teachers, change what students are learning and control the schools’ budgets.

The Governor’s Office estimates about 140 schools would be eligible, including more than 60 in the metro area.

SR 287 amends the Georgia Constitution, so it requires a higher bar to pass the General Assembly,  a twothirds majority in each chamber. The resolution won passage in the Senate. Now, we will see if the measure can do so in the House.

During the House Ed meeting today, proponents sought to strike a delicate balance, not wanting to denigrate schools even while declaring them incapable of reform.

House Ed Chair Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, said he saw mostly good schools when he toured the state with other lawmakers. “But we saw some that just won’t change. This gives us a chance to take those schools and get them out. If we give them the opportunity to improve, I honestly believe 75 to 85 percent will do it. But for those that don’t, let’s help the children get out.”

On hand at the meeting was Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, who did not like the protracted discussion on whether the term “failing schools” in the legislation unfairly labeled schools.

“Don’t pretty it so much that it is not clear to voters we are talking about schools in desperate need of intervention,” said Jones.  “There are not euphemisms for students who fail to graduate. It’s called a very poor future.”

Back to original blog:

I am not sure this morning’s rally by the Georgia Association of Educators and the Georgia PTA in opposition to Senate Resolution 287 and Senate Bill 133, which would lay the groundwork for Gov. Nathan Deal’s “Opportunity School District,” will make any difference to this afternoon’s vote in House Education.

protestopp

Students held signs that read “makeover not takeover,”  at a protest this morning of the governor’s state takeover proposal. (AJC photo)

In the heat of battle over a prized piece of legislation, the Legislature doesn’t pay much heed to organized education groups, whether parent or teacher. And that’s true no matter which political party controls the Legislature.

Deal is dedicated to passage of this proposal, seeing it as his signature education legislation and his legacy to Georgia’s student. He says:

While Georgia boasts many schools that achieve academic excellence every year, we still have too many schools where students have little hope of attaining the skills they need to succeed in the workforce or in higher education.

We have a moral duty to do everything we can to help these children. Failing schools keep the cycle of poverty spinning from one generation to the next.

Education provides the only chance for breaking that cycle. When we talk about helping failing schools, we’re talking about rescuing children.

I stand firm on the principle that every child can learn, and I stand equally firm in the belief that the status quo isn’t working.

The House Education Committee is scheduled to vote at 3 p.m.

Here is a piece in opposition by the Rev. Frank Brown, president of Concerned Black Clergy of Metropolitan Atlanta, and Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers

By Rev. Frank Brown and Verdaillia Turner

Over the past several decades, there has been a desperate quest to find the miracle cure for ailing public schools. When a particular reform gets a lot of buzz — often based on not much more than promises and unverified stories of success — everyone wants to jump on that bandwagon.

Let’s not make that mistake and act impulsively. Our kids deserve a great, high-quality public education that is based on proven strategies, not hype.

Gov. Nathan Deal is promoting legislation to create a so-called Opportunity School District that would turn over control of struggling schools to the state or to private companies that operate charter schools. Deal is basing his design on other state takeovers, especially Louisiana’s takeover of New Orleans schools. To pressure lawmakers and fire up his supporters, he attacks public schools, saying children “trapped in these schools can’t wait.”

The only thing that is trapping kids in low-performing schools is a resistance to using proven programs that will help turn around schools and give all kids a great, high-quality public education. Let’s fix struggling schools with proven programs, not close them, farm them out or privatize them.

Parents want their neighborhood public schools improved, not taken over. And that could be done in time for the start of the 2015-16 school year. Deal says kids “can’t wait,” yet he’s pushing a bad idea that wouldn’t even get onto the state ballot until November 2016.

We know what works to turn around low-performing schools, especially in districts with high concentrations of children in poverty. About 1 in 4 children in Atlanta live in low-income households. They need supports, services and resources to ensure that their academic, health, social and emotional needs are addressed. They need targeted academic interventions, enrichment classes like art and music, in-school health clinics, and more social workers and guidance counselors.

This is how we mitigate the effects of poverty on academic achievement and help all kids achieve their potential. This strategy might not have a catchy name, but it happens to succeed.

Let’s look at New Orleans, the highly touted supposed miracle on the Gulf on which Deal’s proposal is based. Practically every public school there has become a charter school since Hurricane Katrina.

Here are the facts. No doubt about it, New Orleans public schools were struggling before Hurricane Katrina, but the main reason is that they were starved for resources. Yet, research has found that test scores for New Orleans public schools were rising before Katrina hit. Today, after the drastic privatization changes, student achievement in New Orleans schools continues to be near the bottom of all the parishes in the state of Louisiana.

And in a highly public embarrassment, Tulane University’s Cowen Institute for Public Education Initiatives was forced to retract its widely cited report hailing improved New Orleans high school performance. The institute cited “inaccurate” research and flawed methodology.

Failed policies won’t fix our schools. There is a better way.

Take New York City. Years ago, the teachers union worked closely with the school district to create the Chancellor’s District, an initiative focused on the lowest-performing schools. Through reduced class sizes, increased instructional time, after-school programs, professional development for teachers and other supports, the Chancellor’s District was able to significantly improve student outcomes.

Sadly, this innovative and successful model was disbanded when Mayor Michael Bloomberg came into office. His strategy of mass school closures, turning to charters and a fixation on testing failed to improve the public schools.

In Austin, Texas, Reagan Early College High School was slated for closure, but educators, parents and other community members fought back. The school became a community school, offering not just wraparound services for its low-income students but college-level courses that enable students to graduate with scores of college credits. Since 2008, Reagan’s graduate rate has soared from 48 percent to 85 percent.

In Cincinnati, every school was turned into a community school, providing students with access to strong academics and programs and services addressing kids’ health, social and emotional needs. Cincinnati is now the highest-performing urban school district in Ohio.

Let’s do what works, not what “sounds” good. We can do it if lawmakers are willing to show some fortitude, grit and backbone to stand up for our kids’ best interest.

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

127 comments
Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Our legislators Love a higher bar!

EdUktr
EdUktr

Legislators: Effective new ideas are never going to come from a broken school system. That much is clear. 

Pass SR 287 and SB 133 so voters will have a chance to be heard.

Squirrel_Whisperer
Squirrel_Whisperer

Put the right people in charge of schools. I'm talking about good effective veteran teachers with plenty of classroom experience. Too often those dictating policy are those who spent a couple of years in the classroom, went online for a higher degree to escape the rigors of actually teaching, and ended up wearing stylish clothes and shoes while enjoying a leisurely lunch hour sitting at a table instead of gulping a sandwich while patrolling the cafeteria to make sure an Animal House food fight doesn't break out. Somehow I don't see the owner of Bubba's Tire Store who managed to win a legislative position because he's a good ol' boy fixing our schools the way he fixes tires.

Any teacher worth his/her mettle doesn't need a bunch of tests to know if Johnny knows what he should know; a good teacher knows this the first week of school. He/she also knows if Johnny is ready for the next grade.

Power to the teachers!

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Squirrel_Whisperer  "Power to the teachers!"


Are you speaking about the teachers in APS that are on trial?  Or the teachers that give students a "C" when they cannot do the minimum in the class?  Or are you speaking of the teachers that defend the system of social promotion tooth and nail (because they were brainwashed in education college), when they have to deal with the effects of it every day? THOSE teachers

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Squirrel_Whisperer  "He/she also knows if Johnny is ready for the next grade."


So why do we have 9th graders reading on a second grade level?

Mr_B
Mr_B

@class80olddog @Squirrel_Whisperer A much better question would be why do have 2nd  and 9th grade at all. Some kids will pick up literacy or math concepts easily; some will take a little longer. The idea that learning should be rigidly attached to a calendar is absurd.


Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog @Squirrel_Whisperer You know that most of that is dictated from on high, don't you?  Teachers do not want or like to give grades with enough fudge factor to be a Keebler elf cookie.  But the higher ups demand retakes, no zeroes, no homework, etc.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Be watchful for how many of these so-called failing schools in Georgia, after the state's take-over of them, may be turned into charter schools.  Be especially watchful for how the taxpayer's money will be distributed among these charter schools and if for-profit corporations will be running them (a Republican ideological goal).


I'm not saying this WILL happen; I am only saying this MAY happen, and that the public should be watchful and aware of what is happening in public education in Georgia, under Republican leadership, regarding the planned state take-over of failing schools. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings  If a for-profit company can deliver better results for less money, I am all for it.  Or would you rather all your tax money go to DCSS and let them spend it on the Taj Majal and on lawsuits to keep Druid Hills from leaving?

HarryCrews
HarryCrews

The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, last Friday, called for (Bobby) Jindal’s resignation:

'We have some of the nation’s highest poverty and worst health outcomes and you’ve done little to address them. Baton Rouge, your hometown, has the nation’s second-highest H.I.V. rate (New Orleans is fourth), but you’ve done nothing to address that crisis. What you have done is hollow out higher education and inject needless confusion and rancor into the state’s elementary and secondary education system."

Why is Georgia following the model set up in this disaster zone of state politics? As a city and metropolitan statistical area Atlanta has less in common with New Orleans, instead of say, Charlotte, Nashville or another business center who's economy is not tourist based. How is New Orleans similar, in any way, to Atlanta?

According to the right-leaning, Business Insider website, the top 10 school public districts in the country are:
Edgemont School District — Edgemont, New York
Jericho Union Free School District — Jericho, New York
Tredyffrin/Easttown School District — Tredyffrin Township, Pennsylvania
Lower Merion School District — Montgomery County, Pennsylvania
Scarsdale Union Free School District — Scarsdale, New York
Great Neck School District — Great Neck, New York
Pittsford Central School District — Pittsford Town, NY
Rye City School District — Rye, New York
North Allegheny School District — Wexford, Pennsylvania
Chappaqua Central School District — Chappaqua, New York
Why does the Governor's office and state legislature look to a long term, consistently lowest performing school district  for ideas regarding how to improve Georgia public schools. Why not look to those with a history of success that didn't implement some unproven draconian takeover measure?

Starik
Starik

@HarryCrews New Orleans is an almost all black and poor system, as is Atlanta. I'm reasonably sure that these NY districts are white and wealthy.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@HarryCrews 


Thank you, Harry Crews for that post. 


You asked "Why is Georgia following the model set up in this disaster zone (New Orleans) of state politics?"


Why, indeed.  Politics at play, imo

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

It seems to me that most of the programs of the Republican leaders in Georgia's legislature follow national Republican guidelines for their most newsworthy legislation.


I maintain that most of these programs are short-sighted and lack depth.  The Democratic plan for failing schools is much more substantive, imo, and, if followed, would have sustained improvement in these failing schools and their neighborhoods, over time.  That Democratic plan is to uplift the entire community in which the failing schools reside.  Their plan entailed creating "community schools."  I have previously described the details of emotional and academic support provided through these "community schools."

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Aastro and ED are not answering, maybe hiding in the cellar from the ALL POWERFUL GEORGIA TEACHER UNIONS. 


Those same "unions" that have forced the state to: cut education funding and give no raises for 5 years (except for superintendents - check out Carrollton City Schools superintendent ($70k raise from 2010-2014 - from $151k  to 218k (he's on the governor's state education committee),  reduced health insurance coverage, etc. Yeah those "teacher unions" have really been running the show. EduKtr has established him/herself as a a troll, shill or person who is out of his/her depth.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@AvgGeorgian

Yes, first-year teachers duped into joining the Georgia Association of Educators may wonder why the hundreds of dollars they pay in GAE-NEA dues money—are squandered crusading against Right-to-Work legislation and reforms in other states rather than higher salaries here.

Googling "NEA" and "contributions" shows where union money goes.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

OSD - Why should the state be able to take the local taxpayers property/education tax money and give it to an out of state charter school corporation?


Vouchers or $ follows the student - I agree with this IF ONLY the $ that the parent/s pay for their local property/education tax is used. I have no kids in the system and I want my local tax to stay local  to support my local school system and create local jobs so local people  can spend local $ in the local economy.


The state already loses $58 million from Georgia taxes in the private school tax credit scheme that is shielded from scrutiny. Oh My! We can't dare be allowed to follow the money for private school tax credits or State Charter Schools Commission schools. 

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

One of the biggest problems so far has been the big lie perpetuated by the GaDOE.  An 8th grade student who, according to the ITBS, was reading and doing math at a 4th grade level would have been labeled "proficient" by the old CRCTs.  


This year, we have the Milestones tests for elementary and middle schools, and EOCs (instead of EOCTs) for high school, and they are supposed to be "more rigorous" - which in Edu--Speak means the scores will be more realistic and more students will fail.


I decided it was all a political game when they told us that none of the scores would be back until fall, and they wouldn't determine whether this year's students passed or failed.  


They ought to know (1) what students should know and be able to do, and (2) what score on the test would indicate passing before the test is even given, so scores should have been available immediately for those students who tested on the EOCs in December.  Since they're waiting, it seems to me that they've already decided what percentage of students must pass and what percentage must fail, and they're waiting for all the results to come in to apply those percentages.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

Maureen, I surely do wish you'd ask the state about this. We're told that we should decide what the students should know and be able to do (the standards already tell us this), how we'll know that they know it or can do it (what sort of assessment we'll use), and design the assessment to test the knowledge and the instruction to impart it.


The state is designing the assessments, which we're not allowed to see lest we cheat, but surely the state knows what the students need to know, and what they'll have to do on the tests to prove they know it?

EdUktr
EdUktr

Legislators do well to pay zero attention to the teachers' union or its hand puppet, the national PTA. Neither represents parents or kids victimized by failing public schools.

And their continual opposition to education reform is shameful.

newsphile
newsphile

@EdUktr  So, you prefer that legislators pay attention to campaign donors who don't live in GA and to those who stand to gain financially from their votes??  That mentality is not in anyone's best interest...except the top bidder who definitely doesn't have GA residents' best interests at heart.

Astropig
Astropig

@newsphile @EdUktr


You people said the same thing about the charter amendment and it passed (approximately) 60-40. Same old boogeyman as before. When your people can't win on the merits you appeal to class and race warfare to scare people.

Astropig
Astropig

The bill and the resolution passed. Now on to the full house.

EdUktr
EdUktr

@Astropig

Like Maureen, historydawg apparently still hopes to talk this reform to death.

Astropig
Astropig

@EdUktr @Astropig


Some goofus tried to insert a poison pill in the resolution to make takeover contingent on both the state and the local district agreeing.It got, I think, 4 votes and went down in flames.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Astropig @EdUktr  Yeah, like the local district would ever agree!  Sort of like leaving charter schools up to the local district (wait a minute...).

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Let’s do what works, not what “sounds” good. We can do it if lawmakers are willing to show some fortitude, grit and backbone to stand up for our kids’ best interest.


But having grit and backbone won't make the evening news.  Gotta play to the monkeys in the stands.


class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady  "Let’s do what works, not what “sounds” good."


I have repeatedly told everyone what I think will work, and I believe a lot of teachers would agree - but no one at the school system will listen.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

@Wascatlady Hmm....if we took that approach, we'd have blown up the current school systems decades ago!

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Love watching the toothless AJC and their intrepid "education blog expert", as well as the NEA play the role of Don Quixote vs Gov Deal.  


Here's an idea - why don't you line up support from all those (D) elected officials that you supported?  Oh...dang, you mean they didn't win?  Seriously?  How in the world did your incredibly innovative message of "1) We have no idea how to fix the issues with our education system, but 2) You taxpayers need to shut up, and send us more money" not win out?  It was so compelling...hilarious.


When you have actual ideas that might work, let the Gov know.  In the meantime, since you couldn't come up with anything that delivered actual results, others who actually run the state and local govts will step and and make the adult decisions.


Gen George S Patton had some awesome advice for you all in the eduacracy - "Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way".  You obviously weren't capable of leading ("shut up and send more money" didn't exactly qualify), and you won't follow - so might try just getting out of the way.

dcdcdc
dcdcdc

And to be even more clear.  The eduacracy is those who "run" the school system, who typically focus on delivering for the adults in the education system, not the kids.  Teachers, most of which do amazing work, and focus on helping kids, are not the issue.  Even the bad/awful teachers really aren't to blame, since without the protection of the "eduacracry" they'd be fired and could no longer damage kids.


THe issue falls squarely on those who are focused on protecting their and their cronies power and position.  And the people who developed "programs" that sounded good but delivered nothing for students, only protection for bureaucrats, are one of the biggest contributors to the failure of our education system.


Free the good teachers.  Let them teach in ways that they know will reach individual students.  Support and empower them, but get the heck out of their way and don't burden them.  And let students and parents take their funding TO the schools that are delivering, and AWAY from schools that are awful.  Only then will the education system recover and begin to work again.

Astropig
Astropig

@dcdcdc


The groundswell of the GAE produced "dozens" of protesters at the capitol today.

Astropig
Astropig

@ScienceTeacher671 @Astropig @dcdcdc


Or maybe they just don't agree with their organization? Maybe they feel like a couple of my teacher friends in Tennessee-They "officially" oppose their ASD,but they know that the system will never reform itself? 


Gotta consider those possibilities.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@dcdcdc


You want to empower us and not burden us?  Then get RID off all the reform laws that push testing testing testing, accountability data collection out the ying-yang and having overburdened teachers and administrators have to endure SIX observations a year! My administrators are wonderful people and do an awesome job, but they are struggling to keep up with the demands of having to observe and report on all of us six times a year.  They could just fake it, as I am sure some of their lesser colleagues will do, but their integrity will not allow for it - so they solider on.  Our school is an award winning school.  Our students always outperform the state norms, but these reforms have tossed us into the same pit as every other school, including those that truly are failing, and NOW our job has become even harder.   I spend hours when I should be planning engaging lessons, sitting in meetings filling out forms and collecting data in order to prove I am actually doing the job I have hired to do, and have been doing with good evaluations for the last 20 + years.  These days, it seems I spend more time proving I am doing my job, than being able to actually DO my job!  The reforms are actually making it less likely we can help our students succeed.  The optimist in me hopes all this is just the result of good intentions gone awry.   The pessimist in my suspects it is deliberate.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@Astropig @ScienceTeacher671 @dcdcdc


If the problem is state and federal regulations, ALL schools should be spared them, not just a few charters or ASD schools.


I have no experience in metro counties, but I know that in many of the small, rural counties there is nowhere else to go without a very long commute, and I'm not sure those counties could support "choice" due to the small student bodies.


I know that my colleagues and I often speculated on what a state takeover might look like, and what the "state-approved" teachers could or would do differently.


When you have students and parents who don't much value education, and don't see the value in attending school regularly, you're going to have problems no matter who is in charge.

bu2
bu2

@Quidocetdiscit @dcdcdc 

Its overdone and nobody likes all the paperwork, especially teachers who have their own share with grading, but measurement is essential.  You can't just say "trust us, we're all fabulous," because, of course, everyone isn't fabulous.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@ScienceTeacher671 @Astropig @dcdcdc 

"When you have students and parents who don't much value education, and don't see the value in attending school regularly, you're going to have problems no matter who is in charge."


AMEN, Brother!