Opponents of Opportunity School District use scare tactics to preserve status quo

(Photo StudentsFirst)

                                                                                  (Photo illustration: StudentsFirst)

Atlanta attorney Edward Lindsey is a former five-term state legislator and three-term Georgia House Majority Whip. In 2012, he chaired Families for Better Public Schools, Inc. which successfully campaigned for the passage of the state constitutional amendment creating a State Charter School Commission.

In this column, Lindsey urges passage of the Opportunity School District.

By Edward Lindsey

Well funded television ads are running throughout Georgia trying to scare voters into voting against the proposed Opportunity School District constitutional amendment, an education reform proposal desperately needed in our state. These scare tactics by advocates of the status quo failed before in 2012 when Georgians overwhelmingly supported the state charter school amendment, and we need to reject them again this Nov. 8.  This proposed amendment adds additional needed accountability to insure a quality education for all Georgia children.

The Georgia constitution rightly places general responsibility over education in the hands of local school boards but also mandates: “an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.”

The proposed OSD constitutional amendment puts additional teeth into this broad state mandate by allowing it to temporarily place chronically failing schools — defined by the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measures as schools falling below a 60 grade for three years in a row — into a statewide Opportunity School District for a period of not less than five nor more than ten years.

The number of schools in this special school district is limited — no more than 20 a year may be added and no more than 100 may be included at any one time (out of more than 2,200 K-12 public schools operating in Georgia). At the end of its minimum time in this program, the school may be returned to the control of the local school board, converted into an independent charter school, or remain in the OSD. While in the Opportunity School District, this specially created state district shall have broad discretion to upgrade the school staff and curriculum and undertake programs to improve parent participation.

By injecting this added accountability, this proposal will assist those Georgia K-12 students now trapped in Georgia’s worst performing schools to receive the public education they deserve. Equally important, it should provide additional incentive to local school districts to work to make sure their schools do not qualify as a failing school. Opponents of the amendment, however, scream that this amendment will somehow harm public education. In doing so, they haul out the same arguments that they made in opposition to the state charter school amendment that was passed by Georgia voters in 2012. Then, as now, the opponents argued that the amendment would severely damage or destroy “local control” over K-12 public education.

Wrong.

First, it is difficult to see how assisting students trapped in the lowest performing public schools — capped at less than 6 percent of the total number of public schools in Georgia — “destroys” local control. This proposal merely creates a safety valve to assist the most vulnerable students in Georgia.

Second, local control should  never amount to exclusive control. While, local school systems and boards should have primary responsibility over local schools, no governmental entity at any level should ever have unfettered unchecked authority over anything – especially public education. If a student fails a math or English test, he or she is expected to take the necessary steps to adjust and correct his or her mistakes. The same should be true for the public school he or she attends. If it consistently fails to meet the needs of its students, allowing it to simply continue on as if nothing is wrong is unacceptable. The OSD will provided the needed accountability to rip the blinders off chronically failing schools and make needed changes.

In conclusion, this amendment will assist our state in delivering on its constitutional and moral responsibility to Georgia’s next generation. Georgians made a step in the right direction in 2012 and should do so again in this election year by voting “YES”on Question 1, the Opportunity School District Constitutional Amendment, on Nov. 8.

 

Reader Comments 0

110 comments
AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Is Lindsey a lobbyist for charter school corporations?

Tom Green
Tom Green

Says the people who are presenting an extremely deceitful amendment to uninformed voters.

jezel
jezel

Many on this blog write about symptoms that indicate families are breaking down and that  communities are failing....Failing schools...test scores....are the symptoms of a problem...they are not the problem.

daks_
daks_

All these blog cry babies bawling about how the amendment is "too hard" to understand ...

... should spend one day in the shoes of an inner-city mother stuck with failing neighborhood schools.

jezel
jezel

@daks_ an inner-city mother....struggles to pay bills  making minimum wages...struggles with child care.....she fears for the life of her kids as they come and go...


Having taught and coached in two inner city schools....the inner city mothers treated me and the school with respect and were thankful for us.


These inner city mothers that you refer to...never expressed to me...THEY WERE STUCK IN FAILING SCHOOLS.



daks_
daks_

@jezel @daks_ 

Then giving those mothers real choices wouldn't at all worry you. 

Right?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@daks_ When did "those mothers" appoint you their spokesperson? 

jezel
jezel

@daks_ @jezel " choice " is a ploy. The sum of 2 plus 2 is the same where ever you go. It is not difficult to teach or difficult learn. We are not talking about brain surgery.


Why is it that some folks are interested in segregating schools again ?

Laurie8750
Laurie8750

If the amendment is worded in any sort of way that slants to one side and does not deliver the point of the amendment in an objective manner, I will vote opposite of the slant.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Reposted:

You know, I think it is time to respond to the bloggers who repeatedly, to every question, assert that we need to try something new (even if it has failed where it has been tried)because what we have been doing doesn't work.  They are right!




Here is what Governors Perdue and Deal and the legislature has done in the last decade plus:




Refused to allot the money state law says the schools are to have (QBE) by Billions (with a B)




Reduced the role of state superintendent from leader to rubber stamp




Piled increasing expectations on these underfunded schools




Mandated tests and "evaluations" that lack validity and reliability




Responded to the needs of increasing numbers of poor students from poor families by saying, "So what?" in part by refusing to expand Medicaid or provide auxiliary services




Failed to listen to educators about the needs of their students, preferring to listen to such "experts" as Michelle Rhee




Taken every single opportunity to disparage and dismiss teacher efforts




Given financial support through taxes to private schools.




AND THEY ARE RIGHT:  THIS HASN'T WORKED!

jezel
jezel

@Wascatlady And I have yet to see...a blogger in favor of OSD....respond to any one of the issues you have raised.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@jezel @Wascatlady That would take a willingness to put themselves in the situation poor families are in.  After 41 years, I have a fair idea of what the challenges are, and I know the "solutions" are not helped by any of those actions or lack of actions I listed above.

PJ25
PJ25

Beauracrats hate outsiders and the voters know this, which is why this will pass by a large margin.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

Put the money back in the school system that you have taken out for years and support the teachers and then say that our schools are failing.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

Generally, Edward Lindsey impresses as being a respectable and well-informed truth speaker, someone to listen to.However, this opinion piece of his is reason enough see otherwise.

The following, arguably intentional Edward Lindsey obfuscation makes the case (emphasis mine):

“The proposed OSD constitutional amendment puts additional teeth into this broad state mandate by allowing it to temporarily place chronically failing schools — defined by the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measures as schools falling below a 60 grade for three years in a row — into a statewide Opportunity School District for a period of not less than five nor more than ten years.”

This may be GaDOE’s definition of chronically failing schools but is not the SB133 definition, which states:

“'Qualifying school' means a public elementary or secondary school that earns a rating of F pursuant to Code Section 20-14-104 for a minimum of three consecutive years.”

SB133 posits no relationship between “below a 60 grade” and “a rating of F” and does not even mention the word “chronically.”

Moreover, to say “a 60 grade for three years in a row” can only be taken as yet another intentional Edward Lindsey obfuscation, arguably.

Why did not Edward Lindsey offer truth? … currently, a College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI) score of 60 or below for three years in a row.

Does Edward Lindsey think the public too stupid to know the difference between the simpleton word “grade” and the truthful term, CCRPI?  If so, such condescension is telling.

But if Edward Lindsey had offered just that little bit of truth, then that little bit of truth could have led to more truth.

For example, the truth that a CCRPI Score is a sum of several different types of score points, with a dominate type of score point being “Achievement Points,” which now are derived from Georgia Milestone Assessment System (GMAS) results.

Then that truth could have led to the truth that norm-referenced test items are a GMAS feature, as GaDOE explains (emphasis mine):

“Features the Georgia Milestone Assessment System include: … norm-referenced items in all content areas and courses, to complement the criterion-referenced information and to provide a national comparison; ….”

Then that truth could have led to the truth that norm-referenced test items are designed and included in tests in order to distribute test takers over a bell curve, as The Glossary of Education Reform makes clear (emphasis mine):

Norm-referenced tests are specifically designed to rank test takers on a ‘bell curve,’ or a distribution of scores that resembles, when graphed, the outline of a bell—i.e., a small percentage of students performing well, most performing average, and a small percentage performing poorly. To produce a bell curve each time, test questions are carefully designed to accentuate performance differences among test takers, not to determine if students have achieved specified learning standards, learned certain material, or acquired specific skills and knowledge.  Tests that measure performance against a fixed set of standards or criteria are called criterion-referenced tests.”

Then that truth could have led to the truth that, in order to achieve producing their design purpose, bell curve outcomes, norm-referenced items 1) are field-tested test items high social and economic status (SES) test takers tend to get right and low SES test takers tend to get wrong, and 2) are not field-tested test items high SES test takers tend to get wrong and low SES test takers tend to get right.

The purpose for forcefully producing bell curve outcomes via norm-referenced items simply is this truth:

Naturally, high SES test takers should achieve the higher test scores, because what they know is more worthwhile knowing.  Naturally, too, low SES test takers should achieve the lower test scores, because what they know is less worthwhile knowing.

Then, finally, that truth could have led this truth:

Georgia has no so-called chronically failing schools, except for the Edward Lindsey brand of obfuscating politics that produces chronically failing schools, by design.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@EdJohnson I truly don't believe he has actually read, and given critical thought, to the information the leaders have put out about the OSD.  

Richard Cionci
Richard Cionci

I want to know what the OSD is going to do magically fix failing schools, that regular districts cant do

Pbae
Pbae

It seems to me the tactics he claims are used by the opposition are also used by the supporters.


So local control should not be exclusive control according to this gentleman.  I'll support the school takeover at the same time we can have a takeover district for the politicians who continually fail the citizens of Georgia.  

Debbie Proctor
Debbie Proctor

"Scare tactics"?? More like presenting the truth about this deceitful amendment - vote NO.

Jennifer Hall
Jennifer Hall

OSD is not the way to go! Keep our schools under local control!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Lindsey and Hillary.....just humble servants of the people!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Lindsey has been apart of the failure for years!

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

If Lindsey was able to fix education he would have twenty years ago! 

Michael Campbell
Michael Campbell

Is more government control of the schools the solution? I thought we tried that and nothing changed. I want to try more parents and citizens in the failing schools to see problems in person and then decide the solutions. The amount time parents/citizens spend in schools should be double the amount of sports games or recitals attended. I mean some classroom time too. Then things will change. Ceding your failing school to government officials who are partisan or only trying to be re-elected will solve nothing. Fix schools by being in them, and not looking for a miracle cure.

Astropig
Astropig

The basic premise of Mr. Lindseys essay is very sound: The opponents of the OSD can't defend these schools and their performance,so their only hope is to inspire fear in the voters.


You NEVER,EVER see the same old tired posters here defend these schools.The only thing they can do is stir up resentment against the governor,proponents,charter schools and everything else that stands in their way. It's pretty sad.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig

Elementary pal did a great job defending these schools in a post below, but I somehow get the idea you read very few posts outside your own. Hey, don't get me wrong, you have the "best posts".

jaggar1
jaggar1

@Astropig Actually, if you would research the OSD models in Michigan, TN, and Louisiana you would see they have all failed. The failing schools are all located in areas with no parental support. Check out the demographics and the research which clearly states that if you live in a community with no parental support and doesn't value education, you have failing schools. Teachers can't do anything with children who choose not to learn. 

newsphile
newsphile

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig Astropig won't be able to respond until Monday or perhaps Tuesday due to the holiday.  He isn't paid to post on weekends. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig

Please post the Governor's plan, the reason the Governor can't fix the chronically failing schools created by the charter amendment and run by his appointees. Also please post the reason all spending for the state charter schools is hidden from the public.

elementary-pal
elementary-pal

Thanks for the shout out! I have decided that it is easier for AstroPig to skip over the posts that offer up an opinion that is supported by facts than to try to counter the arguments.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

The Governor already has a failing school system - The State Charter Schools Commission-their schools have been failing for years and they can't figure out how to turn them around. They do know how to hide all school spending from the public.

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian


Not true.If the charter system was failing,the schools would be closed because the parents could leave them at will,unlike these terrible zip code schools.

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


Nonsense.Kindergarten nonsense.Parents can leave charters anytime they want and they are growing like weeds and being founded in record numbers here in Georgia.You're not dealing in reality.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian

Scared to research or don't know how?

Go check out the State Charter Schools Commission schools. Check their CCRPI scores, their charters, and their accountability. You seem to be okay with hiding all hiring and spending from the taxpayer.

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


Blah,blah,blah. You're worried about schools that parents can leave at will but you don't dare mention the schools that they can't.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian

So you did look up the State Charter Schools Commission schools. Yes they are terrible. Does it bother you that they hide all spending?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian

False. The State Charter Schools Commission changed their rules to allow their failing schools to escape their charter goal requirements and adopt a new "framework" that requires them to not meet their goals. They just have to make "progress" of some sort.


You have been hoodwinked. The State Charter Commission could be a big friends, family and campaign donors bonanza on the backs of failing students. We don't know because there is no academic or financial accountability to the taxpayer. 


Do some research outside your head.

cellophane
cellophane

Several of the state charter schools have dwindling enrollment (and rack up millions in "hold harmless" state funding as a result). The state charter school in CHEROKEE county (a corporate run school) has lost hundreds of kids, and operates with multiple vacancies on its governing board. New parents enroll their kids each year because it looks like a free private school (because, uniforms!). It takes a them a year or two to figure it, then they leave. But in a fast growing county, there are newbies ready to take the bait each year. Sad for the kids. So yes, parents do leave, but the illusion perpetuated by politicos that charters are great lures new parents in to fill empty seats. And the state only measures the kids who leave during the school year. Not the summer "wash." The charter school in Cherokee is one of the best of the state charter bunch-- and it rates a C by the Governor's office. None of the state charters earned A's or B's. All were C's, D's and F's.

newsphile
newsphile

@cellophane Not only do the students leave, but there is a revolving door of teachers at Cherokee Charter.  The last published accounts showed it cost around $2,000 more per student than the successful Cherokee County School District.  That figure does not include the tax dollars that are spent on renting facilities for the charter school.  The school is floundering, at best.  The politicians aren't going to admit it, so the state funds keep flowing to the corporate office in FL.  It's like "The Emperor's New Clothes".

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @AvgGeorgian Parents can leave the zip code schools at will now.  Do you think there will be two schools available for each child, a zip code one and a charter one?  Of course not.  Parents will have no more choice than they have now.


At least, POOR parents won't.  They will have to continue to put their kids on the bus to go wherever.  However, the more wealthy, with SAHMs, can get in their SUVs and drive to other schools.  THOSE are the people who, initially, stand to get "choice."