Gov. Deal comes out swinging today against opponents of his Opportunity School District

Gov. Nathan Deal appears to be building a case for signing the campus carry bill this year. (AJC File Photo)

My AJC colleague Ty Tagami was downtown this morning to hear Gov. Nathan Deal defend his Opportunity School District.

Here is Tagami’s account:

By Ty Tagami

Gov. Nathan Deal told Georgia educational leaders Thursday that his final two years in office will see a pivot to education policy, and he lashed out at critics of his budgets and his push for a state takeover of “chronically failing” schools.

Speaking at the Georgia Education Leadership Institute, an annual conference for superintendents, school board members, principals and other education leaders, Deal tied his previous focus on helping former convicts transition to society to his pending emphasis on students and keeping them out of the prison pipeline in the first place.

“Education reform is the best and the ultimate criminal justice reform,” Deal said in an impassioned speech that went a dozen minutes beyond the allotted half hour.

 The governor, who married a schoolteacher, said the state under his watch has spent proportionately more on education than any Georgia administration in the last half century, and he lambasted education advocates who complain about “austerity cuts” despite annual increases in the state’s education budget in recent years. He had special venom for school leaders who repeatedly failed to pass along budget increases to teachers in the form of raises and reduced furlough days over the past three years, saying he and lawmakers would make such raises mandatory in future budgets.

“The General Assembly and I have lost our patience in trusting” superintendents and local boards of education, he said.

Deal unleashed his sharpest words on critics of his proposed constitutional amendment to create an “Opportunity School District.” The Nov. 8 ballot item would take away some of the control of education long endowed in locally elected school boards. If voters approve it, the amendment will allow the state to take over “chronically failing” schools — schools that Deal said have trapped mostly poor, “voiceless” and minority children for generations.

Nearly 68,000 kids are compelled by law to attend these 127 schools, Deal said. “If you think that’s right, then vote against the constitutional amendment.”

In a backhanded compliment, Deal credited local superintendents with keeping out of the fray, or, as he put it, “They’ve kept their mouths shut even if they don’t agree with it.”

But the clearly agitated governor noted that some school board members had spoken critically in newspaper articles about the state takeover proposal.

A handful of school boards have adopted formal, though symbolic, resolutions opposing the amendment, including Cherokee, Clayton, Fayette and Henry counties in metro Atlanta, saying it erodes local control over education and tax dollars. (The Georgia PTA is also opposing the amendment, in part because of what they and other critics see as “deceptive” and “misleading” ballot language.)

Deal said people should ask these critics if they send their children or grandchildren to a failing school. “I can almost guarantee you the answer will be no,” said the governor, who was raised by two schoolteachers and whose wife, Sandra, is a retired teacher. (He noted that the choral director for the group that sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of his speech had been a student in his wife’s sixth-grade classroom.)

The governor also looked beyond the November voting, telegraphing one key legislative push next year. Deal said he plans to work with lawmakers to overhaul the decades old school funding formula. He promised districts that would get less money under a formula change would be protected by a “hold harmless” clause. “So there is no loser in the proposal. There will only be gainers.”

The two-term governor, who said he has no plans to run for another office, opened his speech saying it is an “exciting” time for education, “and I consider myself to be an educator.”

His pledge for a relentless focus on education policy, with no worries about re-election as his administration winds down, promises to make it a top topic in this state.

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
Joeleejohnson
Joeleejohnson

'Opportunity School District' came straight from God---To punish us for our sins!

Diane Daniel
Diane Daniel

Deal has been lying since he took office.  I know because I serve on my local school board and the "austerity" cuts have been horrendous.  Yet, the schools are expected to function as if they've been fully funded by the State.


Laurie A. Carroll
Laurie A. Carroll

So many who want to help improve the education system have never been a teacher. Walk one day as an educator...

newsphile
newsphile

Many school districts didn't give raises to teachers because Deal gave them a one-time chunk of money.  Deal didn't include these funds in the budget to be continued after this one-time payment, sticking local systems with future costs that most can't afford.  Of course, he is now trying to imply that school districts misused the money and mistreated their employees. Deal is disgusting. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

This mention by L-D, below.  "He had special venom for school leaders who repeatedly failed to pass along budget increases to teachers in the form of raises and reduced furlough days over the past three years, saying he and lawmakers would make such raises mandatory in future budgets."


Well gee, governor. There is that there thing called the state salary schedule that would force school leaders to pay the budget increase straight to the teacher.



AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Why does Deal not use the state intervention power he already possesses to intervene and help the children?


Maybe because he wants the money to go to the "right" people more than he wants to help kids?

Astropig
Astropig

Bravo to Governor Deal. He's taking on the eduacracy and the kids will be winners.He put the blame for these failing schools squarely where it belongs-The crony dominated school boards that have blocked improvements and reforms.


(Applause)


We're lucky in this state that he has such hateful,cynical,stupid (not to mention lazy and sloppy) political opposition.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig


It certainly is. Your ability no offer no additional enlightenment despite hundreds of posts and thousands of words is something very few could accomplish.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig

Let's see.-

Republicans are wonderful-check

Say eduacracy - check

Say kids will be better off for no specific reason - Check

Say public schools(boards) are bad - check

Call people names - check


That Astropig, he has "the best words" - bless his heart.



AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig Your homework - look up non sequitur, and apply to at least 3 of your posts today.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig No you don't. My post is apparently inaccessible from your lexile measure.

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


I don't have to do homework at my age. (Tee-hee!)


Look, we all know what you think of Astropig.We get it-you're jealous.Check. Think you could digress long enough to tell us what you think of the governors remarks today? (sharp readers will remember that that is what the story was about up above)

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@sneakpeakintoeducation

I would think the pig would have at least a smattering of persuasive writing skills if someone were paying for the posts. If, on the other hand Sus scrofa domesticus is a purveyor charter schoolery, the lack of basic pedagogical knowledge makes perfect sense.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

I've said it before; Atropig's unrelenting support for the introduction of a system that shows only success for the investors and the private charter industry and failure for the children ho will sit in their classrooms indicates that he must have some financial gain from this passing. There can't be any other reason since we know it's not about helping the children from a low SES background.

dg417s
dg417s

Governor Deal has forgotten that those Boards of Education are our elected officials.... and if he's lost patience with them, he has lost patience with the citizens of Georgia. Let him say that out loud.

Intteach
Intteach

Deal said he "did not want to criticize and condemn" educational leaders but that is exactly what he did this morning. He was visibly aggravated. What a way to get participants into the mood of sharing! He was also proud of the superintendents that "kept their mouths shut".

speccie
speccie

The Governor, and parents stuck with failing schools, have only one opponent: teachers' union bosses who see any reform as a potential threat to their revenues.

The union has multiple mouthpieces but they all get their material from a single source.

speccie
speccie

@sneakpeakintoeducation 

Detroit, Chicago and Washington DC are all heavily unionized. But no one cites their academic results, except where non-union charter schools like KIPP have given parents new hope.

Giving parents real choices is key.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

Detroit is a full charter system running under the system deal wants to institute here and it's failing miserably. The other places are cities, not states, as I mentioned in my post. Deflect away....

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

Your point would be more appropriate if it told the whole story and you acknowledged that the states with more union activity shows better educational outcomes than those that don't. You also fail to acknowledge the incredibly powerful and rich charter industry lobbyists. Even though many charter schools fail in other states, their voice and influence is so strong that they are allowed to continue to take tax payer dollars to keep their lucrative industy going. The for-profit management companies see a huge opport unity to further pad their coffers under the pretense of caring about our neediest children.

redweather
redweather

"He had special venom for school leaders who repeatedly failed to pass along budget increases to teachers in the form of raises and reduced furlough days over the past three years, saying he and lawmakers would make such raises mandatory in future budgets."

So which school leaders is he referring to?

L_D
L_D

@redweather I was wondering the same thing. If the governor was so concerned about teachers getting raises, why didn't he adjust the state salary schedule to give the raises?

Gandolph
Gandolph

Like Obama, the governor is furiously working to leave a legacy of his time in office. Too bad he didn't work with the legislature in the Capital Dome earlier, maybe he would have better luck getting one.  

daks
daks

@redweather 

It's sad to think a hater like you is allowed to teach children.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

@daks @redweather Hate has nothing to do with the Republican to pass nothing that the president wanted and in fact do nothing at all to help the country. If you know any teachers in Georgia let me know if any are happy with the way the state has treated them for six years.

Astropig
Astropig

@Gandolph


You have it backwards. He's the one in office-They have to work with him.He wasn't elected to carry out their  priorities.Thats the way this whole political thingy works.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @Gandolph

Is he governor or king? I know the republicans have blurred the lines between branches of government, so who knows?

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig @Gandolph


Haha. You guys seem to love it when Republicans just cave.You can lob grenades at Governor Deal here all day long but juts LOOK(!) at the venom when he lobs some back!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian I know. I want people on this blog to be happy, and reading your posts and feeding you a little negative attention now and then takes very little effort. 


redweather
redweather

@Gandolph Obama's legacy is that the Republican Party, beholden to its racist base, decided to treat him like a house slave. If further proof is needed, simply cast your eye on this year's Republican nominee for president.