As Deal signs school takeover bill, signs from Michelle Rhee and Kevin Johnson that APS cluster may be target

Gov. Nathan Deal should have signed his Opportunity School District legislation at a Morehouse College education forum this morning headlined by former NBA star and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson and his wife and former Washington, D.C., Chancellor Michelle Rhee.

“This legislation is groundbreaking. It’s unheard of,’’ said Johnson, who acted as master of ceremonies while his more controversial wife limited her role to panelist.

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Michelle Rhee spoke this morning at an education forum at Morehouse, urging the audience to make use of a proposal to allow the state to take over failing schools. (AJC File)

Deal signed the legislation this afternoon at the Gold Dome, a more sedate setting than the Morehouse forum where fiery speeches and biblical references by Atlanta’s Rev. Gerald Durley and former CNN pundit Roland Martin lent a revival feel to the day.

In blasting critics of the black leaders in Georgia who backed Deal’s plan, Martin said, “Too many of us are apologizing for standing up for kids…We’re putting unions and civil rights group in front of kids … (who) believe there is only one way to educate kids. Public schools, charter schools, online, homeschooling … I don’t care what way a child gets educated, as long as they get educated.”

The program was sponsored by Johnson’s education advocacy group Stand Up and Rhee’s StudentsFirst. Morehouse President John S. Wilson introduced the pair by saying, “This is a power couple if I have ever seen one or known one.”

Rhee’s comments followed a pragmatic path, telling the 100 people in the audience they need to identify the failing schools in their communities eligible for takeover, study successful reform models including the charter schools her husband founded in Sacramento, St. Hope Public Schools, and then present a plan for their school.

ormer NBA star and now mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson told 100 people at Morehouse today that the governor's Opportunity School District was a critical element in reforming schools.

Former NBA star and now mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson told 100 people at Morehouse today the governor’s Opportunity School District was a critical tool to spur school reform in Georgia.

“It is doable,” she told the crowd. “You don’t need more to do this than who is in here right now.”

In what ought to be considered a warning shot for APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, Rhee and Johnson cited the five elementary schools, two middle and one high school in Atlanta’s Carver cluster as ideal candidates for state takeover.

Flashing slides of the schools’ failing grades from the state Department of Education and the enrollment, Johnson said a takeover would help 4,690 APS students. “This is manageable,” he said, “Eight principals, 15 teachers at each school. This is not an unattainable goal and the Opportunity School District gives you an opportunity to do that.”

No one mentioned the extensive reforms already under way in the Carver cluster under Carstarphen, and whether ditching those to start anew with another plan would help or hurt, although I have to assume that question crossed the minds of APS school board chair Courtney English and board member Matt Westmoreland, both of whom were at the forum.

When Deal signed his bill, he issued this statement:

By signing the Opportunity School District bill, we are promising better days ahead for students trapped in failing schools. The power of positive change now rests in the hands of Georgia’s voters, and I know they share my belief that every child can learn and should have access to a high-quality education that prepares them for the workforce or for college.

There are currently 139 schools across Georgia that have received a failing grade from the state accountability system for at least three consecutive years. Too few of these students go on to higher education, too few attain job skills and too few get a high school diploma. Too often this leads to a life that never fulfills its potential. With this new system, we can and will do better.

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

121 comments
atln8tiv
atln8tiv

A co-worker just alerted me to the news that 11alive.com is investigating the newly-appointed commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia for misusing state funds. The report on 11alive.com was slim, so I did a quick Google search for "ga commissioner under fire" and the first four links (and some lower on the page) were about other commissioners under fire for various abuses of office. And of course, this doesn't cover the many other offices that have come under fire for ethical violations.


http://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=ga+commissioner+under+fire&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8


Is this state even capable of electing an ethical leader at any level of government? I understand that trumped-up charges are part of politics, but many of the accusations made are valid, and I, for one, am sick of hearing how there hasn't been enough money for raises for the last 6-7 years when people in leadership positions, making a heck of a lot more money than myself and my colleagues, are misusing our tax dollars.


Frankly, I'm hard-pressed to recall a time when we did actually have ethical people holding leadership positions in this state, and I'm no spring chicken. Business 'as usual' isn't working and hasn't for some time, but d*mned if I know how to fix it, given the spread of the disease.


Here's a link to the 11alive video:

http://www.11alive.com/story/news/local/investigations/2015/04/22/commissioner-gretchen-corbin/26213197/

hssped
hssped

@atln8tiv

Just watched the video (thanks for the link).  Wow.  What is wrong with people today? How do you spell love....m o n e y.  

atln8tiv
atln8tiv

So, looking at the big picture, our Governor believes that allowing our fine state — which has cut education funding for at least a decade now — to take over failing schools, is the solution to ensure those students get a proper education.


Yes, well, that makes perfect sense. [eye-roll]


Fox, welcome to the hen house.

liberal4life
liberal4life

Let the state try, but any contract they make with non-profit or profit organizations should be all based on outcomes.  If they don't get the results, they don't get paid.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@liberal4life 


Sounds fair. Let's not pay "educators" and administrators unless they get results that can be measured by honest testers.

newsphile
newsphile

IMO, only Georgians should have a say in what happens to our schools.  I hope we are smart enough to ignore the parade of "education consultants"  we are about to endure.  Millions of dollars at stake here are the reasons there is so much interest in what happens to our schools.  I, for one, don't believe for one minute that anyone in CA  or NOLA or TN has the answer for us. 

GA has many intelligent people in our own state who could provide insight.  That isn't happening.  If you aren't one of Deal's buddies, you are excluded from any of the commissions, committees, and meetings.  If you notice, almost everyone who has been invited to speak from out of state is very young.  I believe we need some of our excellent experienced teachers to join the youthful idea group. We need balance.

We are about to pay more than ever for little to no improvement over what we have now.  Politics and money form the roots of much evil.

Toots0000
Toots0000

The business model that will be applied to education will have mixed results. There will be more pressure on teachers, administrators, and students. Some may elevate their ability but many more will quit or become a burden. The one thing for sure is that private companies will take 10-20% of the money aimed for education. Michelle Rhee used this model in D.C for just long enough to get positive results(cheating had not yet been an issue), Then she fled to start a lobbying group and raise hundreds of millions of dollars - StudentsFirst - Then she stepped down for her new job. .....On the board of directors of a chemical company. Michelle Rhee -1. degree in Gov., 2.five-week teachers summer training program, 3.elementary teacher, 4.CEO of The New Teacher Project, 5.Chancelor of D.C Public Schools, 6.CEO of StudentsFirst,  7.Scotts Miracle-Gro Board of Directors. In 15 years Michelle Rhee went from an inexperienced elementary teacher to BoD of one of the biggest companies in the world....... It is all about the children.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@Toots0000 


Doesn't matter how much "private companies" take if they produce results. Current system works poorly, and administrators and teachers employed for their own economic self interest,  "profit," take gobs of education money.

BCW1
BCW1

Here we go, it is all about reforming the schools. What about the communities? I know that does not include everyone. but in a lot of cases if the parents are not involved or don't care, guess who else does not care!!! Who is going to take over the communities...there is where the real reform needs to take place.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Realizing that the deck is heavily stacked for voter approval, who will be named superintendent of the OSD?  How about pulling Wilbanks from Gwinnett, since "he" has so much success?   Then we have the friends and family component, which is probably pulling for the supt of Hall County, Will Schoefeld.  Of course, both these men are too smart to be willing to take on the job, without certain guarantees in place.

Norning
Norning

If there's hope of finally rescuing children from an uncaring public bureaucracy, that hope is symbolized in Michelle Rhee. 

Looking4truth
Looking4truth

@Norning  Ms. Rhee is the very embodiment of arrogance run amok.  She is rescuing no one, she's just trying to make a name for herself by giving the anti-public school policy wonks some half-baked ideas. 


She couldn't cut it as a public school administrator, so now she wants to dismantle the system. 

dg417s
dg417s

@Norning Wow.... I about choked on my drink when I read this. Michelle Rhee is of the same caliber of Beverly Hall - make the school *look* good regardless of what is actually true. The only difference between the two women is one got indicted and one got away with it.

ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

I've said it before, and will say it again: In the 1920s Martha Berry, after starting her school for poor mountain children in GA, realized that in order to have real impact on their education she needed to remove them from the pressures of their impoverished home life situation (they didn't consistently come to school for a variety of reasons, whether that the parents needed them to work the farm, they were malnourished or sick, etc. etc. Sounds familiar, right?). She decided to make her school a boarding school, and the students worked for their education (also supported by massive amounts of philanthropic contributions). They received food, a roof over their head, medical care, gainful employment, as well as education.

My grandfather was one of those students. I would not be where I am today without that intervention. He is buried in a cemetery overlooking the Berry campus.

The impoverished kids of Georgia today need nothing less than the opportunity for a similar intervention, whether to ameliorate their poverty in place, or removing them from the situation (which I don't see happening). 

We are in similar circumstances in this state as Martha Berry almost 100 years ago. That was a time of massive income inequality. Those impoverished kids needed a heavy lift.

We are here again. No amount of education "accountability" will sufficiently address the needs, though undoubtedly some of that is called for.

I hope that we can all broaden the scope of our conversations.

ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

Martha's school was certainly "selective" (since students had to seek out the school and apply). But what she proved was that removing a bit of the incredible pressures of day to day experience of poverty enabled those students to achieve academically. 

Not more pressure on the kids, not more pressure on the teachers (though that may have been part of her standards, I don't know). Rather,  giving the kids the essentials of what they needed to survive and thrive, and then asking them to contribute.

Which philanthropic entities can we sign up today to do something similar?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@ProHumanitate


Also, if schools in impoverished areas could raise the funding (maybe through private corporate donations) to send these students to summer camp in the mountains of north Georgia, that, too, might make a difference in their lives.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@ProHumanitate


Check out the Georgia Democratic Legislative Educational Plan especially for children living in impoverished neighborhoods, as contrasted with the Republican Take Over Business Model Plan, in which the neighborhoods are enriched as well as the schools by offering direct social services, counseling, medical services, and academic tutoring to the students.  The Democratic Plan is called the School/Community Plan.  Now, if only enough Georgians would vote for Democratic state legislators and governors and put the Republican ones out to pasture, Georgia might save not only these children, but public education, itself.

HollyJones
HollyJones

@ProHumanitate It all goes back to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. If your belly is empty, if you don't know where you'll sleep tonight, if you don't have a coat when it's cold, then ABCs and 123s willnot be your priority.  

ProHumanitate
ProHumanitate

@Wascatlady @ProHumanitate

It's a shame that Deal didn't look for a model of "opportunity" in his own back yard. This proposed amendment should be called the "Missed Opportunity District".

bu2
bu2

@MaryElizabethSings @ProHumanitate 


Democrats run nearly every one of these districts with failing schools.  Democrats are making the resource allocation decisions in all these districts.  Deal is trying to save public education from the Democrats who ran this state until the last dozen years and still run almost all the failing schools.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@bu2


Using a business model will not accomplish that goal.  Democrats understand this.


Also, today's Democrats in Georgia are not yesterday's Democrats.  Those former Dixiecrat Democrats have now re-labelled themselves as Republicans.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@MaryElizabethSings @bu2 


Err, BU was referring to current democrats whose "non-business" models strip state treasuries, drive productive taxpayers to better environs and saddle future taxpayers with unsustainable tax burdens to pay the salaries and retirement benefits for these education deities. They do this for a couple generations because the poorly educated public does not apprehend the damage done by issuing bonds to pay current expenses, as democrat politicians kick cans down the road.

Lexi3
Lexi3

@HollyJones @ProHumanitate 

Sounds like an argument for not having children if you cannot afford them. Instead, we will "improve" education by importing millions more impoverished, non-English speakers to sop up huge portions of scarce education dollars.

government is to blame
government is to blame

The proverbial elephant is in the room and no one acknowledges him. The REAL problem is not the teachers. The elephant in the room represents the breakdown of the family, the influx of ELL students, the increase in class sizes, the lack of resources, and the unreasonable standards for each grade level. The state taking over "failing" schools is a farce. Until the REAL problems are addressed there will continue to be under performing schools. The question is, who has the courage to tell it like it is and quit blaming the teachers? I predict that the teacher will continue to be the scapegoat because that is the easiest target. Shame on those who know better for not addressing the real problem.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@government is to blame You left out stuffing sped kids into classes with those ELLs, bright students, slow students, disruptive students, and average students, frequently with no sped aide or other assistance.

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@Wascatlady @government is to blame /sarcasm font/ I'm surprised at you, Wascatlady.  Didn't they explain to you what a miracle differentiation is?  Too bad there aren't any super human teachers to actually do that well. /sarcasm font/

What a bunch of BS.  Part of me hopes Deal's deal goes through and they get what they wish for.  Can't wait to hear their excuses... or watch them shift the blame.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@EdumacateThat @Wascatlady @government is to blame Had fun a few years back with the differentiation drive.  A very talented teacher at our elementary school asked the math coach (who had been a very talented teacher of the best and brightest at the high school) to do a  demo lesson showing all the things that were being required for differentiation.  After 30 minutes or so, the math coach was exhausted, and admitted it could not be done, but had to be done anyway!  (When you have taught the top students in the highest math classes, not much is needed to differentiate.  The students in these classes had the needed skills.)


And now with TKES, it would even be worse.


I was approached more than a decade ago by our reading coach, who was thrilled to tell me that I would be spending a significant amount of my time doing RTI with kids years behind.  I let her run on, then I said, "I can TEACH them, OR I can use the time filling out the paperwork.  NOT BOTH.  You choose."  She never bothered me on that subject again.

EdumacateThat
EdumacateThat

@Wascatlady @EdumacateThat @government is to blame You crack me up.  Had a similar experience years ago when I complained that my son was being used as a parapro.  Told the teacher and the school administrator that while I sympathized with their situation, my son was not being paid to fill the gap and I thought it unfair for his education to be stunted.  Their response:  "His education isn't being negatively impacted; smart kids can handle it themselves."  I kid you not.  Looking back, I'm thankful they made that stupid comment as it spurred me to request a full-grade acceleration for my son.

What really gets me is that there are so many studies that confirm the proper number of cohorts per class should be limited to three.  Had a Cobb County administrator tell me that she didn't believe any of that, but instead believed that "sparks of learning" would leap from the highly-capable students onto the struggling students.  I won't tell you what my response was to that.  Just imagine how colorful it was.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EdumacateThat @Wascatlady @government is to blame 

I was not a professor of Education before I retired, and have found this blog very instructive in terms of general educational concepts for K-12.  I often explore them further via Google. Such as "differentiation," here, and "Continuous Progress" from another blogger earlier....which seem about the same. I've learned via Google that Continuous Progress as a concept is about 50 years old (http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ed083165), and that Differentiation took its place around 2000 or so. Both seem brilliant theoretically, but problematic for the teacher with the actual classroom full of 30-35 students. Your comments support my impression.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EdJohnson @OriginalProf 

Thanks.  I did both. But I can see that whereas Deming uses "Continual Improvement" in his context of engineering and technology, it is not the same as the educational concept termed "Continuous Progress," so often described at great length on this blog by MaryElizabethSings. The latter has been compared to the Montessori method of education, and was used from the late 1960s till about 2000, when the similar tactic of Differentiation came into vogue.  


I've been interested to read the blogger-educators here with recent experience of the practical problems they have encountered using this in schools that seem mainly interested in processing the students through as quickly and cheaply as possible.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson @OriginalProf


To clear up some false perceptions here, my principal, the former Associate Superintendent for Instruction of my school system, often told parents that our multi-aged, continuous progress school (grades 1 - 7) was not like the Montessori method of education.  It was modeled, he said, after the ideas of Professor John Goodlad, who espoused the educational thinking of John Dewey.  We practiced that model successfully for a decade, with the same budget used by traditional public schools, but whose principals did not use our instructional design which reached each child's growth individually and continuously, with teachers having no more than 3 (maximum 4, on occasion) groups in both reading and math.


Please see the link and video to Dr. John Goodlad educational ideas.


http://insidetheacademy.asu.edu/john-goodlad

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings @EdJohnson @OriginalProf


OriginalProf,


Deming’s last book, The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education, 2nd Edition, will disabuse anyone of believing his “continual improvement” context is engineering and technology.  For example, it was my pleasure to sponsor a teacher’s participation in the Deming Institute’s 2014 Fall Conference out at University of California-Northridge that featured a two-day pre-conference dedicated to education.

Another item you might want to check out…

http://blog.deming.org/2015/02/deming-in-education-education-as-a-system/

And to MaryElizabethSings’ point, if you were to look closely you will find Deming is right there with John Dewey and similar other humanistic systems thinkers, includeing MaryElizabethSings, given all she has continually – not continuously – shared with us on this blog.

Another thing about continual vs. continuous… “Continual” admits failure and learning from failure without blame.  “Continuous,” which echoes the business model of management, does not admit failure.  It was Beverly Hall’s pursuit of continuous improvement that drove APS to experience the cheating scandal that it did.  It is an outcome that Deming so plainly makes clear.  "Continuous" demands flipping a coin, say, 100 times and expecting to get 100 heads in row or 100 tails in a row.  And the way to do that is to use a loaded coin -- in other words, cheat.

Thus misunderstanding continual vs. continuous can be like playing with fire.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EdJohnson @MaryElizabethSings @OriginalProf 

My point was that you seemed to be mixing up the term "Continual Improvement," used by Deming, with "Continuous Progress," an educational concept. I got my knowledge of Deming from your link, which described "Continual Improvement" as a concept used by Deming in engineering and technology, so if I was wrong blame the link you gave me.

popacorn
popacorn

Anyone know a good plumbers blog we could recommend?

Toots0000
Toots0000

@traderjoe9 We can't use education to fix the economy of anything. It is the other way around, if we eliminate poverty, education will reap the benefits. Not everything can be cured by profit.

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Trolling with a script......but no answers for real questions! Very sad!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

 Hey, Asropig... Why don't you address the real problems of failing schools? After the stupid teachers are run out by people like you and Rhee, Who teaches? When we make all schools Charter and we still have the same problems, and we will, what then? When parents choose  to segregate their children, what then? How about that football dynasty that parents of choice builds, what then?

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

You should be, you probably work for him.....or related!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Astropig...... It's just sad how much you don't know about education. Troll!

dg417s
dg417s

Better is the poor who walks in his integrity Than he who is crooked though he be rich.

Proverbs 28:6

Too bad the governor you're so proud of cannot hold to this standard.

Astropig
Astropig

@JBBrown1968


Personal attack.


I'm proud of my governor. He's doing a good job. Sorry you don't agree.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

So, Roland Martin said: “I don’t care what way a child gets educated as long as they get educated.”

Now keep that in mind as you read and consider:

The Purpose Of Education

 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,


Morehouse College Student Paper, The Maroon Tiger, in 1947

As I engage in the so-called "bull sessions" around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the "brethren" think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.


It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate (sic) goals of his life.

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one's self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character--that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, "brethren!" Be careful, teachers!

I suggest Dr. King had the Roland Martin kind of “brethren” in mind when he penned these words.