Anyone else surprised by strong opposition to Opportunity School District in new AJC poll?

I have to admit surprise at the results of a new AJC poll finding significant opposition to Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District, which is Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The OSD requires a change to the state constitution because it gives the governor sweeping new powers to take control of local schools and the local taxes going to those schools. Those who control the Statehouse also control the ballot language so voters are being asked simply whether the state should intervene in failing schools. I thought the genial language of the ballot would ensure easy passage, but it appears voters are digging deeper on this complex question of local vs. state control and recoiling at what they are learning.

An earlier poll this year by WSB-TV also found a majority of Georgians were against the OSD, but the margin was not as wide. I suspect fierce TV ads against Amendment 1 are playing a role in souring voters on state takeover of schools. In addition, there have been dozens of public presentations about the implications of state takeover just in the last few weeks across Georgia.

It may be a public wariness of government overreach is also feeding the dissent.

People tend to trust government they can see and touch — locally elected officials who attend Friday night football games, shop at the Main Street Piggly Wiggly and go to the same church. Georgians understand who runs their local schools now; it may not be clear to them who will be in charge if the state seizes a school. The Opportunity School District vests tremendous power into a single individual, the appointed superintendent chosen by the governor. And that person is an unknown at this point.

Some poll results worth discussing: Despite the OSD being the signature legislation of a popular Republican governor, the proposal has the least support among Republican voters, 28 percent. It has the highest support among independents, 38 percent. Among Democrats, 34 percent support the OSD.

According to a news story this morning by AJC education writer Ty Tagami:

Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District has significant opposition just weeks ahead of the Nov. 8 election, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll.

The results released Friday found likely voters siding nearly 2-1 against Amendment 1, the referendum that would create a statewide school district to take over Georgia’s lowest performing schools.

The poll question revealed more about the proposal than does the ballot question itself, which has been criticized by opponents as misleading because it does not clearly say that the state would take over schools.

The AJC poll found 34 percent of likely voters indicating they would vote for the measure while 59 percent were opposed and 8 percent undecided. Support was greater among men at 37 percent versus 31 percent for women; it was weakest among Republicans at 28 percent and strongest among independents at 38 percent, while 34 percent of Democrats were in favor.

Oddly, or perhaps not so odd in this election season, supporters of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump were more likely to favor the school proposal than supporters of Democrat Hillary Clinton, at 37 percent versus 32 percent.

Regionally, opposition was greatest in metro Atlanta, and the measure was most popular in southeast Georgia, where there were still far more “no” votes. There was slightly more support among whites than blacks but the difference was within the margin of error and both were still strongly opposed overall. Those without college degrees and earning under $50,000 a year were the biggest supporters, but again the majority in those groups opposed the measure.

The poll was conducted by ABT SRBI between Oct. 17-20 and included 1,003 registered voters, including 839 likely voters. The margin of error for the registered voter sample is 3.9 percentage points. For the likely voter sample, it is 4.26 percentage points.

 

Reader Comments 1

32 comments
ChrisCross
ChrisCross

Color me "pleasantly surprised."


Politicians love to hide behind three things:  the flag, the bible, and children.  It appears that the tide may be turning, though.  The dirty tricks (like putting misleading and rah-rah language on ballot initiatives) that worked in the past aren't anymore.  

PrettDee
PrettDee

This hasn't worked in Michigan of Louisiana. All it does is put money in the hands of corporate Americans.

Ron Fowler
Ron Fowler

Concerns:

No educational interventions in the bill.

Despite the preamble; it is clear that local control will be lost.

This amendment has ALEC fingerprints all over it.

There is s process in place to address the needs of failing schools. The only reason to circumvent it is money.

Allow teachers to be a part of the process of getting education right; they are in the trenches.

These so called failing schools are sending our children to some of the top colleges in the country.

Ben Bryant
Ben Bryant

Too bad for him and his plan; He could have passed it last year but he poisoned the well before he drew the water now it's just not gonna happen.

Tim Langan
Tim Langan

I'm libertarian wing of the party (if that even exists in the GOP anymore). This is more power for centralized govt in our state and less transparency. I'm happy to vote no!!

Stacey Freeman Gyorgyi
Stacey Freeman Gyorgyi

Some of the District Representatives, like Joyce Chandler, voted yes only to give her constituents a voice. To lump ALL of the GOP into one "basket" is ridiculous. This woman is a retired educator with 31 years’ experience as a counselor and teacher. She is on the House Education Committee and was the only reason we got SB355, The Student Protection Act, through the House at 12:08 am (even though Governor Deal vetoed it). She is a champion for public education, our kids, teachers and schools. She has grandchildren in Grayson High School.

Melissa Suzanne McCoy
Melissa Suzanne McCoy

No. I'm a full on libertarian and I hate it: it allows local tax dollars to be spent at state direction. Completely wasteful. And it has failed in every other state that's tried it. Ridiculous.

Daryl Smith O'Hare
Daryl Smith O'Hare

And I'm holding my district representatives accountable for this also by voting them out. We continually vote for GOP incumbents who have been a huge part of this problem. They want guns on university campuses, they want to rewrite curriculum, they want to police educators, and they want to generate revenue on the backs of our children. The GA GOP is anything but pro education. They are pro education business contracts with zero accountability. Talk about being wasteful of taxpayer dollars.

SoundAndFury
SoundAndFury

We all saw what happened when the state of Michigan took over the city of Flint. Why should we believe that the state of Georgia will handle our schools with any more competence?

cellophane
cellophane

In addition to the obvious state asset grab, maybe voters have learned more about charter schools since 2012.  They are not a panacea. The ones approved by the State Charter School Commission have earned a few C's, and the rest D's and F's. Not much to be proud of there. And the transparency and accountability we were sold with that amendment has been a joke, as well as the "we can do it better for less money" claim-- all charter operators have done is whine about how they don't get local money, but in reality, they get MORE than they would if locally approved because the state charter supplement doubles their QBE allotment-- even when they lose enrollment. The Governor's QBE revamp proposal bumps up that charter supplement EVEN MORE. 

Retiredmathteacher
Retiredmathteacher

I am not surprised at all.  I have yet to find a a friend or acquaintance that intends to vote for the measure, and the majority are voting against all four ammendements.  Most people that I know are ready to put a stop to the current gang of leaders of the "party of transparency" in Atlanta, who continue to put misleading language on ballot initiatives, put their elected friends in appointed jobs before their terms are up so that said friend can then keep their campaign contributions for their own use, and do the opposite of the greater good of the people while receiving massive "campaign contributions" from special interests.  These contributions are nothing but legal bribery.


Until about 15 years ago, I was a proud card carrying member of the Republican party.  I campaigned heavily in the 1990's to help get rid of the equally corrupt Democratic gang in Atlanta at that time.  I feel betrayed that the Republican gang is now even more corrupt and cut throat than the Tom Murphy Democrats.  At least they didn't lie about everything!


Until things change, I will vote against every candidate that I can, and I definitely will vote every constitutional ammendment they propose, knowing that they are laughing at the "common folk" as they carefully compose the very misleading ballot language for each proposed ammendment.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Retiredmathteacher Rule of thumb over the last 15 years or so: Proposed amendments to the Georgia Construction:  A "yes" vote usually means some kind of financial benefit will be given to some group or another, and the rest of us "little people" will have to make up for it.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

Nope. I'm thrilled. This is a bad, bad piece of power/money grab and people are onto it, despite the extremely deceptive ballot question.

Vera Wynn
Vera Wynn

No, so much has been written about other school take overs that have not worked and folks have read your articles and others that have been published by the ajc.We are eager to vote.On this issue the voters are informed and fired up.

Astropig
Astropig

Still waiting for the Jason Carter - Nathan Deal runoff results up here in North Ga.

BRV
BRV

What has surprised me is the extent to which people I know who reliably vote Republican and who otherwise support Deal are opposed to the OSD. Obviously conversations with friends and neighbors aren't a statistically valid survey, but if this amendment ends up not being approved in Forsyth it certainly isn't going to be approved statewide. And I'm absolutely correct that unlike 2012 there is organized local opposition, the existence of which makes for a much more competitive campaign by itself. Four or five months ago I expected this amendment to pass pretty easily. I don't any longer.

BRV
BRV

Whistling past the graveyard I see. My impression from talking with folks in Forsyth County is that the amendment appears to be DOA here. If Deal can't get his core constituents in a county such as Forsyth to support the amendment, it's going to get crushed statewide. The difference between this year and the 2012 charter amendment is organized grassroots opposition, especially from Republicans at the county level.

MD3
MD3

@Astropig @BRV So, you're admitting that the ballot question is misleading? I mean, if people are only willing to vote for something when they don't know the whole story, that's pretty much the definition of misleading isn't it?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@BRV And folks have seen the poor work done by the charters approved by the State Charter Commission.  Oops!  They weren't supposed to NOTICE that!


You see, it can a bit different when the idea of charters ORIGINATES and is carried out by LOCALS.


People in the small counties is Georgia, which is many of the counties, believe that they CAN influence their school boards by buttonholing members at ball games, at church, and in the Walmart.  I've seen it done here when members of the school board had their lives made miserable about supporting an idea proposed by an "Outside Agitator,"recently-hired superintendent.

Astropig
Astropig

@BRV


If you read the story,you'd realize that they didn't ask the actual verbatim question that the voters will see in the voting booth-they added "context" (their spin),which makes this no more than a glorified push poll.That "context" remark in the original was left out here.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MD3 @Astropig @BRV Misleading or taking advantage of people who will vote yes on anything, believing the "leaders" to be truthful.

Holly McCann Jones
Holly McCann Jones

No, considering it creates another government bureaucracy (generally anathema to the GOP), it takes away local control (despite what our governor says is his ads), it's being pushed by folks who are in it for the money, and it has not delivered in the other states where it has been tried.

daks_
daks_

The AJC strategy every election cycle is to tirelessly talk up Democrat candidates and liberal initiatives—while sowing doubt on all else.

But perpetually failing schools have infuriated parents and taxpayers.

Amendment 1 will pass.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Astropig @daks_ You ought to identify the source. That is a quote from AJC political columnist Jim Galloway; it is not a finding from a contracted poll by a professional polling firm. 


http://politics.blog.ajc.com/2014/11/03/education-money-rushing-to-democrat-valarie-wilson/


By the way, you had more faith in polls back then as you posted a comment to Jim's very column in which you said:

Astropig

Nov 3, 2014

Wilson would be a lame duck on Thursday. The legislature will be veto proof Republican. They will let her know real fast how limited the job is that she's trying to win.


That said, it speaks well for Woods that he's been outspent 9-1 and has led in every poll that I've seen since they started polling the SOS race.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Astropig @MaureenDowney @daks_ Nope, just clarifying for readers there is  difference between a columnist's opinion and a professional poll. You point out the polls were right on Richard Woods without noting that several of the key political polls in Georgia were contracted and paid for by Cox Media. So, you cite and quote the Cox polls when they align with your view, but say they are misleading when they do not. Just making sure we are clear on that.


Astropig
Astropig

@MaureenDowney @Astropig @daks_



You have continued that tradition this year by being all over the place on this-It's gonna pass easily because voters don't know what they're voting on,it's gonna be close for the same reason,its going to fail...You'll be right,but when you predict every possible outcome,you're never wrong.


I've always said that I want the voters to decide-not me,not the media,not the teachers-the voters.If they say yes,it's yes and let's get going.If it's no,then the voters will have spoken and I really respect that. Unlike the opponents,I personally will not complain that they didn't know what they were doing.


BTW-Thanks for looking that up.I had forgotten how right I was back in '14.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@daks_ "Liberal" is small government and local control? Who knew!