Gov. Deal wins passage of constitutional amendment to take over failing schools

The House just passed Senate Resolution 287, which means voters will be asked in 2016 whether they are willing to vest new and unprecedented powers in the governor to take over failing schools.  The resolution passed on its first try with a vote of 121-47.

Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Nathan Deal

It was a narrow win — constitutional amendments require a two-thirds majority — but it was still a win.

Senate Resolution 287 will ask voters:

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

Yet to come this afternoon, the House debate and vote on Senate Bill 133, which is the playbook for how the state’s Opportunity School District would operate.

There was lots of fiery rhetoric both for and against the resolution. Proponents argued it was immoral for the state to stand by while students withered in persistently failing schools. Opponents countered lawmakers had cut school funding for years and stood by while schools cut hours, days and staff.

Gov. Nathan Deal has spent the last few weeks pressing for passage, and he persuaded several key Democrats to his side. Their support proved decisive.

And Deal was likely counting votes and counting on victory as his statement came out minutes after the vote:

Gov. Nathan Deal today celebrated House passage of legislation that will allow Georgians to vote next year on creation of an Opportunity School District (OSD) to rescue children from chronically failing public schools. Already passed by the Senate, the constitutional amendment will require support from a majority of voters in 2016.

“I commend members of the General Assembly for putting aside partisan politics to prioritize the needs of our children,” Deal said. “We have both a moral duty and a self-serving interest in rescuing these children. Every child should have a fair shot at doing better than their parents before them, and we as a society benefit if more Georgians have the education and job skills needed to attract high-paying jobs.

“I believe the voters of Georgia will wholeheartedly endorse this proposal because they want these children to have a chance in life, they want them to get an education, they want them to have good jobs, support their families and be productive, law-abiding citizens. Our most vulnerable children deserve no less.”

The OSD would allow the state to intervene in schools that have received failing grades for three consecutive years. The district could add no more than 20 schools per year, for a total of 100 at any given time. The schools would remain in the OSD for no less than five years and no more than 10 years.

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69 comments
dcdcdc
dcdcdc

So you were all for the federal dept of education taking on "new and unprecedented powers" over the past 30 years.  But now, it's a crisis that the Gov might do something similar.  Lets see..why might that be?  Hmm...


Oh, I think I get it.  The federal dept of education was all about "NEW PROGRAMS" that sounded great, didn't' do anything for the students, but gave more jobs to the eduacracy. 


But the Gov might actually put in place accountability for the eduacracy.  And NOTHNG scares the eduacracy as much as someone who might hold them actually accountable for the product the produce.


OK, now it all makes sense.  The issue is the State might require actual performance and improvement, and not just create cushy jobs for back office folks.  And we can't have that.

Cere
Cere

It's not so much that this requires a Constitutional Amendment, as it requires rewriting or repealing the old Amendment to the State's Constitution forbidding the formation of new school districts. This was done decades ago, in an effort to force rural areas to combine resources.  No one at the time could have envisioned the large metro school districts we have today. It's too bad that this was ever originally an amendment, as it should have just been a law or a mandate.  Georgia is much too overly zealous in writing and rewriting the state's Constitution. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Cere


Senate Pro Tem Jan Jones sponsored the charter bill to change Georgia's Constitution 3 years ago, and she spoke fervently for this present state take-over of failing schools' bill yesterday on the floor of the Senate.  She is, also, a member of ALEC and on ALEC's Educational Committee.


Yes, "Georgia is much too overly zealous in writing and rewriting the state's Constitution."  We need to start probing deeper into Republican politics to understand why. 

jerryeads
jerryeads

I just love it that the radical right wing, screaming bloody murder about federal central control, now rails for state central control. Talk about schizoaffective disorder - -

The AJC was the ONLY - repeat the ONLY reason the APS cheating scandal came to light. Guess the non-EdUktr would be happy if there were only the fantasies of Fox "News" and the psychotic ramblings of such as Limbaugh.

What only too likely could happen if the voters are suckered into approving the measure is that schools full of dirt-poor minority kids will be handed over to for-profit companies (that have failed virtually everywhere else) so they can pocket millions of taxpayer dollars off the backs of powerless kids. Five or ten years later after the lives of tens of thousands of kids have been ruined somebody will get the nerve to boot 'em out after the owners have pocketed their profits and can move on to another set of suckers.

What COULD happen: There is little question that there are schools that need help. Some may have principals (and teachers) who don't want to (or can't) change. Many will have principals and teachers who dearly want to help their kids better but don't know how. Assuming that the state actually wants to help kids and not simply line the pockets of profiteers: With adequate funding, perhaps the state could draw on the expertise of retired successful principals and superintendents to help "turn around" those schools - replacing those who should go, or co-leading in schools that have good people who want help. Provide the time and the funds for teachers to learn how to better help their kids. Replace AT LEAST the funding stolen from the schools since 2002. Keep working at it with consistent support for at least a decade. Then maybe we'll see something that might help save Atlanta and Georgia from becoming another Detroit and Michigan.

Astropig
Astropig

@jerryeads 

"  With adequate funding, perhaps the state could draw on the expertise of retired successful principals and superintendents to help "turn around" those schools - replacing those who should go, or co-leading in schools that have good people who want help. Provide the time and the funds for teachers to learn how to better help their kids. Replace AT LEAST the funding stolen from the schools since 2002. Keep working at it with consistent support for at least a decade. Then maybe we'll see something that might help save Atlanta and Georgia from becoming another Detroit and Michigan."

Sounds like an implicit endorsement. Welcome aboard!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jerryeads


Oh, Man, can you call it exactly the way it is.  Much better than I can, Jerry.  Your 3rd paragraph is right on the money! (Pun intended)  Thanks for this post.

EdUktr
EdUktr

Perhaps the best news in all this? The fact that the AJC's intensive campaign to sink this measure came up short. Just as their previous campaigns to block charter schools and to elect a Democrat state schools superintendent.

The newspaper's irrelevance is now that much less deniable.

Zzyzxman123
Zzyzxman123

Oh yeah, Governor Deal knows how to fix failing schools. Give me a freaking break!

L_D
L_D

While I can assume the ultimate reason the governor needed a Constitutional Amendment for the OSD, I cannot understand how proclaimed conservative lawmakers voted for something that ALREADY exists in the GA code - the same "turnaround" language in SB133 is ALREADY in law (including charter schools).  For those of you so thrilled to see this legislation pass through the chambers, do you even wonder why there is such a push to get a Constitutional amendment for state powers that ALREADY exists? (and for the record, I have no issues with the existing code which does include options of replacing all school staff, admin, bringing in a charter, setting up a plan, etc.,etc.  I do think there are schools that need a good intervention to truly get on track to help students).

So now, the state is going to spend millions of dollars for an amendment to do something that it could ALREADY do!  Please explain how this is fiscally responsible.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@L_D 

Perhaps the lawmakers fear that the present Ga. Code on "turnarounds" could be amended or even deleted by some future legislative body....with a perhaps Democratic majority (unthinkable as that is).  So they are enshrining it in the Ga. Constitution, which is much harder to change than the Ga. Code.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

Folks, If all you add to the discussion is rancor, you will be banned. Several of you are on the brink. I don't have access to emails to warn you. 

But you know who you are.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

That wording  suggests a forgone conclusion.


Shouldn't there be a "try" in there somewhere?

HollyJones
HollyJones

No one, not even those alleged "unions" that don't actually exist in GA, is saying that we don't need to address the issues facing these schools.   My problem is that this bill does not address those issues. Most of the issues facing struggling schools and students will not change one iota if you swap out teachers or administrators.   Nor will they magically become scholars because the word "charter" is now in the school's name.

 No one is discussing the real issues of generational poverty and a culture in which education isn't valued because those are hard problems to face,  and they don't make for catchy sound bites  You can't legislate parental involvement or student motivation.  We COULD try to tackle the generational poverty issue, but most plans call for money for job training and child care (just to name a few), and therefore die a quick death of "we're not going to throw more money at the problem."  There are real barriers to poor people who want to pull themselves out of the cycle (not everyone who's poor likes it and wants to stay poor), but we're not willing to address those because they will cost money.  So we continue to blame the poor for being poor, and teachers,  for not force feeding the horse that refuses to drink.  

4PublicEducation
4PublicEducation

@HollyJones We need an AMEN button.  You have stated the crux of the problem that no one wants to talk about.  Schools reflect the problems in society; they do not create them.  Teachers should not be blamed for the results of generational poverty and lack of family education, nor should they be expected to magically fix it.  All good teachers try to make a difference and often they do, but they cannot singlehandedly solve all the problems in society.  

Starik
Starik

@4PublicEducation @HollyJones We have teachers who need to be doing something else. They keep their jobs because failing teachers blend in to a failing school, and nobody notices.  Another reason might be because they have protection at the higher administrative levels, or they are veterans of teaching, or people fear EEOC complaints. You can't teach kids what you don't know.  Maybe new leadership will do what's necessary to break the chain.

Raja44
Raja44

Nice language for the resolution to be voted on -- explains it perfectly.  How could anyone be confused or mislead?  Such honest and straightforward government!

Astropig
Astropig

@Raja44


Voting is not mandatory. You have the option of abstaining.If you're afraid that you'll accidentally improve schools by voting yes,I'd advise not voting.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Merriam Webster; to become involved in something in order to have an influence on what happens.


Like, you have an old car and you are stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery, I INTERVENE by:


A. jumping your car off and helping you get back on the road?


Or 


B. Taking your car away from you and selling it to a used car dealer?

historydawg
historydawg

@MaryElizabethSings Agreed. The benefits of competition can never emerge in education, as most are simply a part of a narrative controlled by real estate and developers. As long as you are mandated to educate all kids, it cannot work. Kids are not raw materials to be manipulated and discarded. The Governor's takeover will see to it that the kid's futures and the democratic process are.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@historydawg 


Human beings have individual potential which must be fostered by nurturing, competent teachers in a relaxed, professional, healthy environment.


Human beings are not Ford automobiles to be assembled by a certain day to a certain quota, for business advantages.


Thank you for reading my thoughts, based on my educational background, in my link above.  I hope some Republican legislators will take the time to study what I know to be true in developing - to a maximum degree - the innate potential of every student.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@dcdcdc @MaryElizabethSings @historydawg


dcdcdc


It is rather obvious to me that MaryElizabeth is speaking of k-12 schooling, which differs in many ways from college educations.   I suspect you are fully aware of that, but just had to get your snark on.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@popacorn 


I consider your post to be a personal attack, and I hope that Maureen Downey will make note of that fact.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@dcdcdc


I consider your post to be one that insults personally, and I hope that Maureen Downey will make note of that fact.


You seem not to factor in relativity and nuance into your understanding of my perceptions. Nothing is totally pure and nothing is all one thing or the other in this world.  It is a matter of understanding degree of dominance and subordination of ideas.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

In November 2016, Georgia voters will vote on this proposal... meaning nothing happens for the next 20 months.


Then, if the amendment passes, Nathan Deal can spend 2017 setting up his takeover plan.  Then --maybe!-- Deal can take over some schools in 2018.


Term-limits ensure that Deal will leave office in January 2019, meaning someone else gets to clean up the mess.

newsphile
newsphile

@dsw2contributor  Another bit of cash coming to Deal just as he retires.  He's going to get big bucks from this somewhere along the line.  Anyone want to guess which Deal relative or Hall County resident is about to become filthy rich at the expense of Georgia's students?  Follow the money.

EdUktr
EdUktr

Get set for a year-long crusade of fear and loathing by Maureen to counter our legislature's good sense today.

heyteacher
heyteacher

I still don't understand why this needs to be a constitutional amendment. It's a power grab, plain and simple -- and the only folks that stand to profit from this are the ones who will be "directing" from an ivory tower somewhere (and no where near the failing schools that need reform).

Astropig
Astropig

@heyteacher


I think that the governor went the constitutional route because he knows that the political winds blow for and against one side or the other over time. He wanted to enact a reform that would survive any temporary Democratic majority,where the teachers organizations would make its repeal a condition of their support of candidates.A constitutional amendment is really,really hard to pass (as we saw today) and really,really hard to repeal.This should also answer the critics that have complained that reforms have a really short shelf life before we move on to another one.

historydawg
historydawg

@OriginalProf @Astropig @heyteacher Realipolitik was top-down direction from European monarchies, most notably, the 19th century's Cavour and Bismarck. It was a brand of authoritarianism fitting and expected in Georgia today, not so much for our Republic.

HollyJones
HollyJones

@Astropig @historydawg @OriginalProf @heyteacher "political earthquake"??? The bill passed by ONE vote.  That is NOT a mandate.  Same in the Senate, squeaked by with just exactly enough votes, thanks to a $19 million dollar carrot, I mean, "funding" for that one vote.  If it were truly an "earthquake" I would expect more support than it got.  

HollyJones
HollyJones

@Astropig @HollyJones @historydawg @OriginalProf @heyteacher Umm, yes, I do.  I can read, you know.  It was  EXACTLY a two-thirds majority.  That's my point.  Why were both those votes razor thin if this is such a great deal for the kids of GA?  Seems like it shouldn't have required arm twisting in the form of funding or heaven only knows what else to get those votes.  

Astropig
Astropig

@HollyJones @Astropig @historydawg @OriginalProf @heyteacher 

A two thirds majority in the legislature is VERY hard to get. This is "bipartisanship"-which Democrats always demand when they need Republican votes to pass something. Today, we saw "bipartisanship" and "statesmanship" from courageous Democrats that bucked the party line and did what will be best for Georgia's kids. We should all celebrate. 

Don't you crazy kids overdo it.

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @Astropig @historydawg @heyteacher 

There are 59 members of the house that are Democrats.There were 47 nays.So it was not just Republicans that enacted this.This was bipartisan,which is a great concept EXCEPT when "your guys" join "their guys" and pass something you don't like.

heyteacher
heyteacher

@OriginalProf @historydawg @Astropig @heyteacher 

Back to my original point -- amending the constitution so that some future leader can take over failing schools? I understand amending the constitution for say, tax reform, but education reform is a moving target. So we amend the constitution. Then what? If you can't find teachers to work in failing schools now, a state takeover is not going to solve the problem. We're just re-arranging deck chairs on a sinking ship (again). As a teacher who is still in the trenches, I challenge folks to actually go and work or volunteer in a "failing" school for more than a week and then vote on this amendment. Education reform is needed -- yes - but not like this.

GATeacher
GATeacher

How will this affect schools like GA Cyber Academy which are public online schools with a history of low scores?  Are they held to the same standard or exempt from takeover?

dg417s
dg417s

And I'm sorry, why can't the General Assembly ever write ballot language that is truly what will happen?  I.E..... SR287 should read: "Is it ok for the state to take your school away from your community if the measure of poverty we administer every year says that you're really a community in poverty?"  Seriously, "intervene" should have been replaced with "take full control of."


Intervene seems to indicate that assistance will be given to the school.... additional support.... resources.....


Sorry, but this frankly makes me ill.

Astropig
Astropig

@dg417s


The ballot language is perfectly clear. You sound like you don't trust the voters to make the right decision unless you frame the question in a distorted way.

Mr_B
Mr_B

@Astropig @dg417s The ballot language includes the fact that a "failing" school will be removed from any local control an be placed under the direction of an unelected an unaccountable entity who will be empowered to turn the school over to a for-profit corporation? Glad to hear that.

Raja44
Raja44

@Astropig @dg417s Oh yes, it's perfectly clear that they want to fool people into voting yes.  No spin here at all.