Is Gov. Deal running scared on Opportunity School District?

With the lilting language on the ballot, I assumed the Opportunity School District would be a slam dunk. But given the governor’s flurry of activity on behalf of the amendment, I’m beginning to wonder if Nathan Deal is worried.

I still think the amendment will pass. But it will be closer than I thought. I suspect the governor may have new data indicating a close contest. A WSB poll last month found Georgia voters were split on the OSD with one out of five still undecided.

And Deal must be getting nervous about that, judging by the surge in outreach this week including the new ad above.

Here’s evidence of trouble:

•See prior blog on Nathan Deal putting out a long video Monday on why the OSD is important for Georgia jobs.

•Read the account on Diane Ravitch’s blog by a Savannah pastor who was among 29 ministers asked to meet with Deal. The Rev. Chester Ellis of St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah wrote a summary of the meeting Deal organized with African-American ministers to seek their support of his OSD amendment. Ellis writes he left the meeting at the Governor’s Mansion with more questions than answers:  “But, what I got from the Governor is he’s making it up as he goes. There’s really no plan. At best, it was guesswork…I thanked the Governor for inviting me, but I told him before I left that there are too many uncertainties and too many unanswered questions to go before my congregation and say we should support this. I’m not comfortable with the Governor’s answers or his solutions. His Opportunity School District has no facts and no plans to improve schools. This is an opportunity that citizens can’t afford to take. It is all about the money. It’s just that simple.”

•The OSD is increasingly seeing opposition from well-known Georgia conservatives, including Mary Kay Bacallao. Voicing her objections on social media, the former GOP candidate for state school chief writes, “About the OSD Amendment: Be wise. Read the bill. Line 67-69 “…the final selection of which schools are transferred into the OSD shall be the sole discretion of the OSD Superintendent.” Lines 108-111 “…rating…based on student achievement, achievement gap closure, and student growth. Such ratings shall be based on the state accountability system…” This means the CCRPI with bonus points for federal initiatives. What will happen to the schools? Option (3) “Reconstitution of the school as an OSD charter school in which the OSD works in collaboration with the State Charter Schools Commission to build capacity of petitioning governing boards and charter school applications to establish a charter that will be approved by the State Charter Schools Commission; or…” lines 119-122. The State Charter Commission is not elected. It is appointed. Say goodbye to electing your school officials. The measures are not for absolute student achievement. Bonus points are given to favored races and classes so they will not take the lowest performing schools. It will cause strict adherence to the dumbed down federal education program. Vote no while you have the opportunity.”

•A reliable voice for many conservative issues in Georgia, Jane Robbins, senior fellow for the American Principles Project, opposes Deal’s plan. “Conservatives are always skeptical of greater centralization of power. OSD combines centralization with almost total lack of accountability to parents and local communities. Under OSD, the Governor’s Office would be running the show, and the governor has given conservatives no reason to trust him on education or anything else. There is zero evidence that his office can fix problems with local schools if given even more power,” she told me in an email Friday.

•Another possible sign of Deal’s nervousness: The state Department of Education notified school boards they cannot “expend funds or other resources to advocate or oppose the ratification of a constitutional amendment by the voters.” If that message was supposed to subtly constrain school boards from speaking out, it missed its mark; 43 boards have adopted resolutions against the OSD.

•Debbie Dooley, a leader of the tea party movement in Georgia, told my AJC colleague Jim Galloway, “Conservatives shouldn’t go around proclaiming they believe in local control, while at the same time trying to take it away.”

•On Thursday, the pro OSD group, Opportunity for All Georgia Students, is holding a conference call in which leaders from the New Orleans Recovery School District, Tennessee’s Achievement School District and parents will speak. The announcement says, “As you know, Georgia’s Opportunity School District is modeled after these reforms. Using the lessons learned from Louisiana and Tennessee, the best practices were incorporated into our legislation and made unique to Georgia. Moderated by Erin Hames, we will hear from our participants and then open the call for questions.” (Hames is Deal’s former ed adviser who has now hung out a shingle as an education reform consultant. Among her first clients was Atlanta Public Schools, which hired Hames to help avert OSD takeover.)

For 7 things to know about Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District, go here.

Reader Comments 0

75 comments
willbeback2u
willbeback2u

Deal is a greedy corrupt moron that needs to be impeached.

Julie Krackow Conrad
Julie Krackow Conrad

Good to know, thank you for that information. I hadn't seen what the local politicians' stances were on A1.

Diane
Diane

The majority of people who vote will see this as a sympathy vote-they will want to DO something good for the people in question...however in reality-they will be giving power to all governors in the future to end Public Education and over ride it with Charter initiatives....On Nov 9th if it passes-all governors will have a say over all school boards and elected officials-legally-until the Amendment is changed...


This is NOT about improving schools

This IS about giving the governor power OVER schools....it is a trick to end democratic practices...


MsDP12
MsDP12

Question, why do you need an amendment to fix failing schools? Why not fix the schools now? Existing tax dollars will be used to implement this OSD. Why not use those same tax dollars and fix the failing schools NOW? Simple, it's not really about fixing failing schools, it's about diverting existing tax dollars for profit. Vote No on Amendment 1 on 11.08.2016, and fix the failing schools NOW!

Diane
Diane

@MsDP12 We do NOT need an Amendment-they can be FIXED now and it the governor's constitutional responsibility to see that it is done...

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MsDP12  They don't fix the failing schools NOW because the existing eduacracy will not implement solutions that they consider NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT - things like enforcing attendance, enforcing discipline, and enforcing no social promotion.

happyinga
happyinga

There are very few school districts that will be impacted. Adding an amendment is a power move on the part of the state and other authorities. Over the summer, teachers were given a "gift" of free liability insurance....... perhaps an attempt to convince them to vote for this issue. 

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

For the most part, poor black parents wanting something better for their children passed the Charter School Amendment while the Black Caucus and the Democratic screamed "cronies, for-profit, inherently evil." These parents looked at what was best for their children, the predominate victims of the failing education system, and voted "YES". They most likely will again.

BRV
BRV

That's an easily debunked lie. that vote like so many other statewide elections was determined by middle income suburban metro ATL voters. My neighbors voted overwhelmingly for the charter commission. They are not nearly as keen on the OSD. Time will tell.

Daryl Smith O'Hare
Daryl Smith O'Hare

And for those in Roswell, Alpharetta, and Johns Creek please note that Senator John Albers is up for re-election against a candidate who supports the overwhelming educator stance on OSD (against). Albers voted FOR OSD. He has consistently voted against educational progress by endorsing state control in many matters. He even wants guns on campuses against the wishes of educators who have pleaded he stop his support. It's time to vote out Albers. Otherwise we will see more of the same as he supports a Trump presidency as well. I am voting for Patrick Thompson as he listens to educators. https://votesmart.org/bill/19524/51331/122715/establishes-opportunity-school-district#.V_5DUHTD_qB

John Richard Doe
John Richard Doe

I'm not surprised. A politician can't win a thing like the OSD by yelling "conservative" or "progressive" or any other buzzwords. Parents are remarkably alike across the political spectrum. Almost all parents love their kids and want whats best for them. Meanwhile, any reasonable person can look cross-eyed at the OSD bill and tell it puts corporate profits first though it does try to be sneaky about doing it. Whether they vote for Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, or Repubicans, no parent is going to vote to undermine the education of their own kids because somebody's brother-in-law stands to rake in the moola.

class80olddog
class80olddog

"no parent is going to vote to undermine the education of their own kids because somebody's brother-in-law stands to rake in the moola."  they do  that in DeKalb county all the time - in the traditional schools.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

I have been gratified to see so many folks where I live who are questioning this.  In the past, whatever Deal said came straight from God's mouth.  Now, with this, they see a threat to their own interests, and are saying they want no part of this amorphous blob of "reform."


Silly local people--they think THEY should be in charge of their schools.  They think THEY know what their children need.  And they don't want others coming in and taking over!

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady  Local people have been in charge of these failing schools since the sixties and they just get worse.  So we should just continue the status quo? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog  Yes. we should hold communities accountable and quit looking to schools to solve every societal ill.  But these schools are not even taking the most basic steps to improve - by addressing attendance, discipline, and social promotion.  These three things destroy a school.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog @Wascatlady And they are 3 things that 99% of educators would like to see addressed. Unfortunately, there is fear that doing so will bring the wrath of the federal government down on the schools.


Don't blame the teachers.  They do as much as they are allowed (by the CO interpretation of federal statutes) to see that kids are in school, behave themselves, and leave a grade meeting the expectations.  However, they are countermanded by those above and way above on the food chain.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog  I DON'T blame the teachers (unlike some on here).  So if Federal intervention has so negatively affected schools, why do all the educational people on here constantly sing their praises?  One of the "conservative" themes is to do away with the federal Department of Education, and everyone argues against it.  It is just a blind opposition to anything "conservative " (like a lot of the reaction to the OSD)?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@jezel @class80olddog @Wascatlady  The only ideas I have seen floated were "send more money"!  If there were ideas out there to improve these schools, then why have they not been implemented at those failing schools?  I have suggested several ideas for improving failing schools, and they are met with "it would not be PC to do that"!  (Discipline, attendance, social promotion).

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@jezel @class80olddog @Wascatlady As is the case with HRC- if they have been running the schools already, and these "bloggers" have been explaining "the problems with education and how to correct them", why haven't they done so already?


"I have been in charge; I have failed; but trust me, I know how to fix things"  Give me your vote again!!


jezel
jezel

@class80olddog @Wascatlady Old dog...several bloggers over the past few months have patiently explained over and over...the problems with education and how to correct them. OSD/charter schools/privatizing education...is not the answer.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog @Wascatlady No.  We should instead realize that there is a lot more to educating a child than what happens at school, and then begin addressing that.  It will require significant parent support and re-education, which costs big bucks.


I would posit that, without these "local people" and their efforts, these schools would be light years "worse" than they are right now.  The "local people" (teachers who know the area) are what has held it together as well as it has.


It's really about high time we realize that ideas and values that middle class people are fed with their breast milk is not routinely fed to many poor kids, and decide to take action (and hold communities accountable) to address this.

ATeacherLikeMe
ATeacherLikeMe

@class80olddog @jezel @Wascatlady Well discipline is something we all agree on. The state punishes systems for too many suspensions.  Attendance, we can't control how often or when the kids show up, but in my school you can best believe they get a phone call every day they aren't there.  Social promotion-you are right as well.  But do you believe the state is going to better?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Voters should ask themselves if the OSD schools will will reflect the best in educational practices , as follows:

This presidential race, which is probably the longest and most dramatic/traumatic I have ever witnessed, tells me that we are not educating children well enough in our nation.

Educating children well means more than simply teaching facts and/or job skills. It means teaching them how to think and experience the wonder of life, to have a thirst to explore in creative ways and to develop an infinitesimal curiosity to learn all of their lives.

Educating children has become mundane to the point that they are missing depth of understanding of themselves and of others. No wonder 40% of the American population supports Donald Trump for our president. Sad.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings  But we have stopped teaching facts and skills - you know, skills like reading, writing, and simple arithmetic.  What good is "teaching how to think" when a job applicant can't fill out an application or make change at a cash register?  Oh, that's right, they know how to think when they choose a life of crime and drugs and end up in prison. (by the way, I challenge that we are "teaching to think" - I believe we are teaching NOTHING.)

ATeacherLikeMe
ATeacherLikeMe

@class80olddog @MaryElizabethSings I won't disagree with your entire statement.  I think that teaching basic skills enables one to be able to think.  The lower grades, and quite frankly the upper elementary grades too, should be learning basic facts and skills until they have some level of mastery before attempting to answer convoluted multi-part questions- in constructed response-on a computer-with a time limit.  

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MaryElizabethSings  "No wonder 40% of the American population supports Donald Trump for our president"  Sounds like you want schools to "teach students how to think" just like you think.  So if they do a reasonable assessment of the issues and still support Trump, they never learned to "think". 

jezel
jezel

Not sure that Deal is.... RUNNING SCARED....but think he is surprised that many see that he is...RUNNING GAME.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

The Governor already has a track record for creating a school district.

The Governor appointed the commissioners that run The State Charter Schools School District. 

Its high school has 1,500 students, a score of 41(F) on the CCRPI, and a graduation rate of 7.7%. It has been failing for 6 years, and has never been "taken over" or shut down. 

Taxpayers can't find out who works there or where the money goes.

Estimates are this state run school gets about $8-$12 Million per year for a graduation rate of less than 10%.

So here we have a chronically failing school that hides spending from the taxpayer and continues year after year.

Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent on the state run chronically failing schools.

class80olddog
class80olddog

You would really think that the school systems would be GLAD to get rid of their worst schools, but unfortunately if the schools go, so does the money.  Opponents say the OSD is about the money, but traditional schools are all about the money, too.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@class80olddog No, they are not glad because there are many in the system who actually CARE about the kids--who don't want them used as pawns or trollops to enrich businesses.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog  And you believe the kids will actually be WORSE OFF in charter schools than in traditional schools?  What was that quote from Angels in the Outfield - "What is the worst that can happen - we fall out of last place?"

class80olddog
class80olddog

I will be so freaking glad when the election is over and I no longer have to read an article every day about the OSD.  If the OSD fails, then I think the most reasonable alternative is to reduce state funding of failing schools by 10% each year that they are failing - after 10 years, there will be no more "throwing good money after bad".  Then you won't have APS spending $14000 per student to produce prison inmates who cannot even read.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Wascatlady @class80olddog  I wasn't suggesting it as a way of improving schools - you don't need money to do that, just cojones.  I was suggesting quit sending our tax money into a failed system. 

John Richard Doe
John Richard Doe

@class80olddog Who's holding a gun to your head forcing you to read an article every day about the OSD? If you don't want to read it, skip it.

Blynne Roberts
Blynne Roberts

We sure hope so! The is a BAD piece of legislation, and needs to be Defeated! VOTE NO!

sf33
sf33

There have been numerous leaders in metro Atlanta to question the value of OSD. Some have mentioned the seriousness of changing the state constitution in any case and OSD is not an exception. Even your column has noted the opposition of several education experts. If the election is anticipated to be close, it is "jump ball" whether it will pass or not. If Trump voters stay home, then OSD might not pass. Trump has declared "war" on GOP. In this strange election cycle, the norm isn't the norm.

Diane
Diane

A Perfect Storm - FILM on the New Orleans Recovery School District & Conversation on Georgia's OSD


OCT 18    6-7:30pm


Urban Life Bldg: Room 220 - 140 Decatur Street, Atlanta, GA 30303

Guest speaker from New Orleans will also be present---Spread the WORD!

This is Sponsored by Southern Education Foundation

CharterStarter_Too
CharterStarter_Too

There are so many lies swirling around about this amendment from the opponents.  Anybody who would take 5 minutes to read the enabling legislation could see that the ads and information coming out is just plain false.  

jezel
jezel

@CharterStarter_Too So I guess many of us are....just too dumb....to see that the amendment will really help ?

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

You are correct in your comment, redweather.

To readers: Please read the newly published book by Jane Mayer, entitled, "Dark Money," to understand WHY so many lies have been perpetuated about traditional public "government" schools.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@CharterStarter_Too "Enabling legislation" is just that. It can be changed at the drop of a hat, if the constitution is amended.  And, you gotta ask, "Just what, and WHO, is this "enabling?"  Georgians are finally starting to ask.

BRV
BRV

No, there's not money pouring into campaign coffers and into AstroTurfed "advocacy" organizations. Nothing to see here. Your contempt for the intelligence of the public is appalling and completely unsurprising. However, the public is (finally) waking up.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@BRV Who is the "charter lobby"? Did you just make that up?


I really feel sorry for you- someone has convinced you to swallow a LOT of misinformation.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@RoyalDawg Who is the "someone?"  Did you just make that up?


Apparently you have convinced yourself to swallow a LOT of misinformation.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@EdJohnson @class80olddog @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too  Your graph for the 8th grade says that there are around 32 schools in the bottom 25% - where the average EOCT score is not even up to "Developing" (let alone "proficient").  These are the worst of the worst.  According to your graphs, if we used my definition (proficiency), over half the schools in the state would be labeled "failing". 

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@EdJohnson @RoyalDawg So who are in the "charter lobby", and to who are they giving money? And if they aren't doing education business in Georgia (i.e., the Walton Foundation), they aren't lobbyists, they are education advocates. There is a big difference.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@class80olddog @EdJohnson @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too Your definition is arbitrary and reductive and fails to take account of all Georgia schools as a system.  And therein lies the seeds of the kind of thinking that just keeps on making things worse.  If you were to understand all Georgia schools as a system, you would see, as slide 2 summarizes, only a trivial few schools perform for the worse outside the system (call them "failing" if you wish), and only a trivial few schools perform for the better outside the system.  Moreover, no school the OSD targets falls outside the state-wide system.  

BRV
BRV

All they have to do is register a 501(c)4. See LEE, TFA's lobbying arm. And there is in practical terms no difference between creating an AstroTurfed advocacy organization and lobbying. You truly think the public are a bunch of rubes. Which "advocacy" group issue with is paying you to post on here?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@class80olddog @EdJohnson @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too No.  Application of the definition that addresses your challenge says the improvement opportunity is the Georgia schools system itself and not especially individual OSD-targeted schools.  To the extent there is "failing," it is the Georgia schools system itself that is failing.  And guess who is responsible for that?  Better yet, guess who IS NOT responsible for that? 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@EdJohnson @class80olddog @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too  Let me use an analogy that I have used before about CC standards:  If I define the "acceptable level" of listeria bacteria in my ice cream to include the highest "natural" level that we see in our plant - does that mean that it is OK and safe for people to eat? Of course not!  The FDA sets limits that would keep most people from getting sick.  However, you want to set NO limits on how badly the students score on tests and have their school be considered "failing" (most likely because you object to the word "failing").  Sort of like the principals who have a "no grade below 50" policy.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@class80olddog @EdJohnson @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too Do you not understand that every individual school is also a system as is the Georgia schools system but only smaller?  Do you not understand our US educational system is a bigger system, still?  Do you not then understand the Georgia schools system could be "failing" (or succeeding) just like any individual school system could  be "failing" (or succeeding)?  Do you not understand there will always be some below average this or that whenever ranking is used?  Can you fathom an alternative to ranking?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@EdJohnson @class80olddog @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too  No I do not understand any of that. I asked you for a definition of "failing" for an individual school, and it sounds like you are saying that there are no failing schools.  What if I asked you for a list of "priority" schools that need improvement?  Would that make it more palatable?  Or are you just good with certain areas of the state having students who cannot function in society and are doomed to the "schools to prison" pipeline? 

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@class80olddog @EdJohnson @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too A system's behavior or internal workings cares nothing about targets or limits somebody might impose upon it, except to invite tampering with the system and making things orse.  A listeria producing system will produce what it will produce as constrained or not constrained by environmental factors.  And there will be variation in the amount of listeria bacteria produced.  The amount produced will be below average at some points in time and above average at some other points in time.  But if all is working well, the amount of listeria bacteria produced at any point in time will occur with natural limits of variation independent of imposed limits but desirably within imposed limits.  Thus your analogy does justice to, for example, Beverly Hall and what she did to APS.  It also does justice to those who rationalize needing an OSD to solve a problem that does not really exist.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@class80olddog @EdJohnson @John Richard Doe @redweather @CharterStarter_Too See slide 2 again for a list of a trivial few schools that fall out below the systemic limits indicating they need special help (intervention, if you wish) to improve. Other than those trivial few, then as you said, "there are no failing schools."  Again, the "failing" is the Georgia schools system itself where the opportunity to improve all schools as a system lies.

BRV
BRV

Oh cry me a river. The charter lobby is unhappy that they're facing, organized, funded opposition unlike with the state charter commission scam where they easily steamrolled their opponents. Finally suburban school boards stopped sitting on their hands in fear of the governor and legislature. Sooner or later suburban parents were bound to wake up to threat to their interests posed by the enabling of selling public schools to campaign contributors. Hopefully enough of them have to defeat this blatant money and power grab.