Pastor: Opportunity School District is experiment in privatization of Georgia schools

votenoRev. Diane Dougherty is a member of the Concerned Black Clergy and an active participant in the Committee to Keep Georgia Schools Local.

By Rev. Diane Dougherty

When what you want to accomplish is stymied by slow traffic, jurisdictions often solve the problem by spending funds to create systems of bypass. Such is the work for the past 30 years in Georgia by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which, as of last year, had introduced 172 education bills into state legislatures for the express purpose of privatizing public schools, weakening teachers unions and lowering teacher’s standards.

Slowly and with calculating accuracy, this outside group ALEC enters into political races to support candidates who will adopt their education legislations. Funded by monies from the Koch Brothers, the DeVos family, Michael Milken and others, these bills divert tax monies to private schools through tuition tax credits to unaccountable charter schools, shifting power away from democratically elected local school boards.

Certain words such as “opportunity” (most particularly for those in high poverty areas) or “school choice” (which appeals to those who want private education with tax dollars) are trademark giveaways.

Amendment 1, the so-called Opportunity School District, has every mark of ALEC legislation. By focusing on the high-poverty areas that supposedly produce poor public school education for 68,000 Georgia children, Gov. Nathan Deal is setting up bypass systems to “take over” schools and “reform” them by shifting power from duly elected school boards to a system he says will improve the life of the children. Deal has chosen to bring about this change by asking voters to amend the Georgia constitution.

Diane Dougherty says Amendment 1 destroys local control. (Facebook Photo)

Diane Dougherty says Amendment 1 undermines local control and opens Georgia schools to profiteers. (Facebook Photo)

In reflecting on the intention behind changing the constitution, I realized this bypass system will allow for the swift movement of monies and resources from the Governor’s Office to the OSD superintendent because there will be no local power that invests in an accountable system  of the checks and balances. There will be no accountability by the state to local districts for fiscal responsibility.

Within the enabling legislation, there is no indication of the plan for improvement, so voters really do not know what they are voting for. If you study the trend toward privatizing education, you discover there are no for-profit companies that have proven records of success in educational improvement in high-poverty areas.

So what is the real purpose behind amending the constitution of Georgia?

A movement to end public education and end the democratic processes that give people skin in the game is targeting Georgia. This reform movement demonizes school boards. When our governor says school boards have a monopoly and are the root cause of the problems with these schools, it is messaging from this privatization effort.

The sole purpose of the school takeover amendment is to privatize education. It is a proposal that has proven to be dangerous and destructive in Louisiana, Tennessee and Michigan. The power behind this amendment gives the governor, and all who come after him, a pathway to privatize Georgia’s schools. This sets our democratic process at risk and forces us to ask the question, “Is a duly elected school board less effective than an authoritative takeover that concentrates power into the hands of a single appointee?”

Under which influence will the children of today and the people of Georgia benefit? Will the poorest among us gain more educational “opportunity” by amending the constitution, giving up our vote and transferring power to the Governor’s Office to use tax dollars to fund the privatization of our schools, or will we benefit more by attending to the democratic systems embedded in our constitution? I believe in the latter, and we should seek to elect school board members who will provide for the educational and societal needs of our most disadvantaged students.

And perhaps the most important question of all, “Should we alter the constitution to allow the state to experiment with the poorest Georgians among us?”

Make no mistake. OSD is an experiment in privatization of schools. I, for one, do not believe taking away our democratic process of checks and balances through local school elections will serve the best interest of any Georgian. I encourage all to vote “No.”

And, beyond that “No” vote, work on creating new systems within the structures of our school boards that will deliver to the 68,000 children the quality education they are promised through our constitution.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

67 comments
add57
add57

I have spent the morning reading comments from RoyalDawg to Maureen and want to clarify the data behind the justification for VOTING NO on Amendment ! in three parts

RoyalDawg  to MAUREEN

Part 1  Poverty, Systemic Racism and Governing Boards

RoyalDawg says: I am privy to much of the truth about this issue and the opponents have resorted to pure, manufactured LIES to oppose Amendment One. 

As an opponent-I would like readers to understand No Vote stance is based in facts and data. If the Amendment succeeds public education as an equalizer of opportunity in America will end as we know it…

…I will reference this note with comments from Royal Dawg as RD

RD says…”mostly poor and minorities- are not being educated and are locked in to the continuing cycle of poverty and crime.”

The Atlanta Women’s Foundation research on Generational poverty in Atlanta 2015 notes that as a society we should be attend to Atlanta’s basic needs as well as education.

http://atlantawomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/TSG-Report-Breaking-the-Cycle-official-copy.pdf

RD says, A lot of middle class white people …and black politicians are fighting potential help for poor, minority children.

and

If black parents don't rise up and vote for their children, this Amendment will fail and their children will lose to selfish adult political agendas.

The assumption that black voters are turning away from helping their children improve their lives is untrue.  They/we understand systemic racism and do not want generations to be locked into segregated schools.

Louisiana’s Recovery School District failed to include 26,000 children (black and brown) between the ages of 16-24 were pushed out of the system, are not graduated nor employed.  Hindsight tells me the supposed success of the 13 year project left out an important piece of data to keep their stats high…

Measure of America  Non partisan research

http://ssrc-static.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/MOA-Zeroing-In-Final.pdf

Metairie, LA Metro Area Disconnected Youth-(Recovery School District)

RD says,…Local control will not be eliminated- community governing boards MORE LOCAL than a county board will be selected and will have a big say in the schools governance.

When voters are asked to give power through an amendment-they give up their right to vote people in or out.  Appointments become the whim of the governor and all participation becomes advisory-those appointments can take advise or leave it.  Voters cannot change appointments made by a governor.  Voters lose their democratic rights and the governor can stack his deck. 


add57
add57

Part 2  Operating Systems

RD says:  There is no shift to "for-profit" corporations who will prosper.

Downloading a research initiative revealed that certain organizations were targeting public education, I asked myself why the Walton’s would give 600K,  K-12 Inc 300K, Kipp Board member DFisher 250K.  and on and on…why would they want skin in the game unless privatization of public schools was news on the horizon….

If they did not think that down the road they could make a profit using tax payers funds….not their own.. creating their own system through the power invested in a governor is a good move-thus an Amendment fills that goal.

https://populardemocracy.org/sites/default/files/Georgia-Schools-Report_WEB.pdf

RD says: While there are some locally-approved charters run by for-profits like Kipp (who outperform the local public schools- so where is the sin in "profit" if the children benefit?)

Not a single "for-profit" company runs a state-chartered school- not one. A few hire consulting firms to assist them with some tasks normally provided by the central office, but their fees and the fees paid to the State Commission are less, in every single case, than the percentage of school funds skimmed from the schools in their district to go to the central office.

From Maureen Downey

K12 is a for-profit company and is in Georgia. 

K12 Inc. is a publicly-traded (NYSE: LRN) for-profit, online education company headquartered in Herndon, Virginia.

This info is from Diane Radvitch blog, August 26, 2015 and a warning sign ofwhat can come if the amendment passes….

While teachers across the nation have salaries lower than those of other professions and often need to take a second job to make ends meet, the executives at Michael Milken’s cyber charter chain K12, Inc. are faring very well indeed.

Their schools have high student turnover and low graduation rates, but it is a very profitable business.

The chairman of the board and CEO made $4.2 million last year.

The former CEO made $4 million.

The executive vice-president and chief financial officer made $824,000.

The president and chief operating officer made $5.5 million.

The executive Vice President, secretary, and chief counsel made $1.1 million.

The executive Vice President and manager of school services made $854,000.

Numbers are rounded.

Remember: It is all about the kids.

https://dianeravitch.net/category/k12-inc/

This known train is headed to Georgia.  I vote NO on the Amendment because I cannot see how  kids benefit under this influence.

add57
add57

Part 3Teachers, Governing Boards Funds

RD says:  There is also talk of teachers being fired without cause. That is just fear-mongering as well. No dedicated teacher has anything to fear, there is already a shortage of dedicated teachers.

ASP superintendent Meria Carstiphan has already done this.  Teachers who are whistleblowers, speak up against wrongdoing are not hired.  Teachers who understand education and disagree with the system that marginalizes and standardizes education are not hired….You have not heard from many teachers of excellence who have been fired because of the fear we live with-simply to survive…there is a cadre of them in classrooms as well as ones who have left the state.We will lose our salaries and pensions and have children to raise...Many can't afford to be honest-but they are voting NO because it is a bad idea.

RD says: see arguments that the state will "seize" property and money; …facility housing the failing school will be under the control of the governing board,……

It is a misnomer to say governing boards will have control-they will not because they are appointed.- think buddies who will agree and go along with the plan. Objectors will be put off the board for non-compliance.

RD says:…and the money- ON A PER STUDENT BASIS- will also be budgeted and spent by the governing board.

Appointees to this governing board could well come from the corporations whose profits come from backdoor deals.  NO accountability or transparency here so we will never know.

RD says:  If people wish for more money for education, they can forget it if Amendment One fails, because we will be funding the prison system instead.

This is ironic in that there is NO more money for education in the legislative pipeline this year or in past years,  but existing taxpayer funds are now paying for Charters in prisons as well as for-profit prisons.  This is a sweet deal for corporations under the umbrella of criminal justice and educational reform. Which is why we need a different “recipe” .  This recipe creates poverty by stripping resources from targeted areas, highlights their losses by targeting one area like education, fools people into sending money their way-and years later the reformers have lined their pockets, declared bankruptcy’s, and children grow up uneducated and are still poor…

This initiative is an experiment that has not and will not work-Vote NO



30303
30303

Vote YES on Amendment 1.

This newspaper column and the teachers' unions are tireless opponents of charter schools and education reform in general. And they LOVE it when Washington calls the tune, so their claim to support local control is simply untrue.

How can they continue to excuse perpetually failing public schools?

Diane
Diane

@30303 Readers must come to look at "failing schools" from another direction.  These schools are "made to fail" because in high poverty districts they do not have equitable resources schools have in other districts.


Ask yourself-do schools create poverty?  No.  poverty is caused by low wages , poor housing, lack of transportation, poor health...


Then ask yourself-what purpose does high poverty hold in jurisdictions-could it be that the bottom line of corporations could be raised...taxes that could benefit the least of these are removed..."yes"


In looking at chronically failing schools-look directly in they eye at societal failures that make them poor....


AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

The plan for the OSD is the same as the state run State Charter School District - do not help the kids that are failing, take the money and hide it from the taxpayer.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian 

I am happy that local taxpayers can vote on their school board that will oversee their local school-and vote them out if they dissaprove.

I am happy that local taxpayers can go to local board meetings and ask questions.

I am happy that local taxpayers can look up spending, hiring, personnel, and vendor payments for their local schools(unlike the secret spending of the state run charter schools).

I am for local control, smaller government, and financial accountability. The OSD provides none of these.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @Starik Can they look up the qualifications of their kids' teachers? If poorly educated parents don't care about education should the rest of us?

add57
add57

@Starik @AvgGeorgian What a sad statement.  Of course they care, but try to work a 14-16 hour day to pay rent and buy food and find time to come to school to meet teachers.  Schools fail when communities are unstable.  Communities are unstable when basic needs are not met by the societies in which they live...

Starik
Starik

@add57 @Starik @AvgGeorgian It is a sad statement. It's a sad situation. Some parents do work long hours. Others steal to live, and to get money for the drug addictions that mean more to them than their kids.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

The governor appointed, chronically failing, State Charter School District has failing schools it can't turn around. It's high school has a 7.7% grad rate, has been failing for 6 years but still had its charter renewed. All state charter schools hide all spending, hiring, personnel, and vendor payments from the taxpayer unlike REAL public schools.


If the spending is PRIVATE, the school is not PUBLIC.

add57
add57

@Starik @AvgGeorgian We try to educate kids but the best education happens when basic needs are met....when children have a stable home not a hotel to live in or street bridge.  When they have food that nourishes them....

add57
add57

@Starik @add57 @AvgGeorgian Demonizing the poor is a methodology to keep up the efforts to privatize education.  This is a blatant false statement and is not justification for this argument.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

Amendment 1 is a total farce and nothing but a power grab by the governor. This would also affect many rural counties with a poor tax base.

Carlos Danger_
Carlos Danger_

Parents want an end to failing schools.

And that's why this ballot question will easily pass. Shame on the teachers' union bosses spending dues money hoping to defeat it.


FrankStuff
FrankStuff

@Carlos Danger_ @FrankStuff


Isn't it a bit hypocritical of a Republican Governor, a Republican Senate, and a Republican House within Georgia to to wrest away local control? 


Should Amendment 1 pass, power is vested in an un-elected, governor appointed "Opportunity School District" superintendent that is only accountable to the governor. Too much cronyism opportunity here with limited accountability.


That is a primary reason why many, many conservative republicans will be voting NO on Amendment 1. 

Astropig
Astropig

@FrankStuff @Carlos Danger_


"Should Amendment 1 pass, power is vested in an un-elected, governor appointed "Opportunity School District" superintendent that is only accountable to the governor. Too much cronyism opportunity here with limited accountability."


Try to vote out a terrible  county superintendent sometime.Beverly Hall gained and maintained control of APS with a handful of insider-crony buddies on the school board and it basically took public revulsion to run her out.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Carlos Danger_

Hello Carlos  Anger. Did you get your $10 for posting "Union Bosses"? Please give me the link you use for "pay to post".

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

MAUREEN-


Good journalism might include you doing some research on this issue and discussing the truth about it rather than just allowing your space to be occupied by other people. I am privy to much of the truth about this issue and the opponents have resorted to pure, manufactured LIES to oppose Amendment One. 


With all due respect, many or most opponents have been deceived and believe that their objections are valid, but they are not. A lot of adults- school boards, administrators, superintendents, PAGE, GAE, the PTA, and the Black Caucus and Democrat Party- are intentionally spreading lies in order to maintain power and access to $$ and do not care that children in failing schools- mostly poor and minorities- are not being educated and are locked in to the continuing cycle of poverty and crime.


A lot of middle class white people- whose schools are in no danger- and black politicians are fighting potential help for poor, minority children. I am appalled at their efforts and at the gullibility of their lemmings. If black parents don't rise up and vote for their children, this Amendment will fail and their children will lose to selfish adult political agendas.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@sneakpeakintoeducation @RoyalDawg LIES?


Local control will not be eliminated- community governing boards MORE LOCAL than a county board will be selected and will have a big say in the schools governance.


There is no shift to "for-profit" corporations who will prosper. While there are some locally-approved charters run by for-profits like Kipp (who outperform the local public schools- so where is the sin in "profit" if the children benefit?)


Not a single "for-profit" company runs a state-chartered school- not one. A few hire consulting firms to assist them with some tasks normally provided by the central office, but their fees and the fees paid to the State Commission are less, in every single case, than the percentage of school funds skimmed from the schools in their district to go to the central office.


Speaking of the State Commission- these mailers and ads keep speaking about a "new bureaucracy" to consume the tax dollars. The SCSC has a staff of 7 people and now oversee 21 schoolsfunded by 3% of the revenues from the state; however, every year since they were re-constituted, they have returned 2% to first year schools and 1% to the others, and have created an emergency fund to assist schools who have financial issues out of their control. They are supervised by seven unpaid commissioners who make every decision based upon the impact on children, not adults.


That is the vast bureaucracy that the fear monger refer to.


There is also talk of teachers being fired without cause. That is just fear-mongering as well. No dedicated teacher has anything to fear, there is already a shortage of dedicated teachers. HOWEVER- yes, ineffective principals and teachers who are lazy and incompetent may be in danger- so should you vote NO to protect incompetent teachers?


I see arguments that the state will "seize" property and money; OK, if not a lie, just a deception. The facility housing the failing school will be under the control of the governing board, and the money- ON A PER STUDENT BASIS- will also be budgeted and spent by the governing board. So the local districts lose NOTHING for which they don't lose the purpose of its expenditure- except the central office loses THEIR piece of the pie.


Medicare and education are apples and oranges, they are funded from separate sources. And while OSD opponents pound their drums for "local control" you DO realize, that in order to expand MEDICAID (Medicare is for retirees who have PAID for their coverage) requires that Atlanta cede most of the control of the program to the federal government. Do you "localers" really want that?


The state charter school system is used out of context to attack this measure. A few facts are omitted- granted, because they may not be known.

* There is a stringent approval procedure in place at the SCSC now; most applicants take at least TWO years to get through it. Before its establishment, charters were issued by the original Commission and the GBOE with very little vetting. Those schools, which make up about two thirds of the current school population, will likely be closed when their charters expire beginning next year.

* There are some virtual schools among the State Chartered schools; they are failing and that is a national trend. They are not likely to survive the renewal process.

* Several of the charters serve ONLY "at risk" students, mainly drop outs- that may have failing grades, but where would their students be without these schools? NOWHERE! They drag the "average" scores down but service a VERY crucial role.

* There are two charter campuses INSIDE MAXIMUM SECURITY PRISONS! Should they be eliminated if their scores are weak?


That explains much of the statements about the failing charter system which, if not lies, are deceptions born of a lack of understanding.


I could go on- forgive my lack of brevity- but I have a heart for these children and see them being stuck in schools which are failing to educate them be false assertions of people trying to preserve themselves with no concern for these children. If people wish for more money for education, they can forget it if Amendment One fails, because we will be funding the prison system instead.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@sneakpeakintoeducation @RoyalDawg That's the point- they are NOT telling the truth. You are either among the perpetrators of their dishonesty, or more sadly, a lemming deceived by it.


Read my post above and then do some research. You should be outraged at the deception fed to you to make you look ill-informed.

Astropig
Astropig

@RoyalDawg @sneakpeakintoeducation


Amen-This has been lied about since its inception by the status quo.


The status quo really reminds me of the crooks of Wall Street:They say they want accountability-but they want accountability only to themselves,with the same results we see on Wall Street.A few insiders benefit from the system and the rest of us have to pick up the cost of this bogus "accountability".

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@RoyalDawg


Royal Dawg


Where is your proof that this tried and failed policy actually works? Shame on you and your self-promoting agenda. You are right about those who don't care about the poor children.I'll bet most of those who claim to care about those in poverty would reject almost every single program out there and was happy that the Governor refused Medicare for the working poor in our state.  They have shown that over and over again with their failure to truly help these children come out of poverty through proven methods; not failed ones like the OSD provides. Not failed ones that a true transfer of public wealth into the privateers hands for the sham that the OSD is. Shame on you for trying to blame unions and teacher's organizations for telling the truth about the OSD. You are the one who is complicit for trying to lie to the public by finding no fault in  Amendment one and its deceptive language.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@RoyalDawg K12 is a for-profit company and is in Georgia. 

K12 Inc. is a publicly-traded (NYSE: LRN) for-profit, online education company headquartered in Herndon, Virginia.

Astropig
Astropig

Voting No means that you are totally in favor of a state sanctioned,officially recognized set of second class schools.


All of this jive (like the above) about "curing poverty' and providing "wrap around services" is total BS.Unless you're a total crackpot,you know that that is never going to happen. We've been "curing poverty" since the beginning of time and it's still around,albeit defined differently these days.


"Keep 'em dumb,easily led and ignorant" -That's what they say on the left when religious leaders take political action.The above is just equal opportunity cynicism and hypocrisy.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@Astropig


And yet, wraparound services have been proven to be successful in helping our children attain better educational outcomes. Research has shown that some methods have failed but there is evidence that some have shown great success and could be used to better the lives of our most neediest students. You ignore research until it comes to the OSD, which has failed. 


http://www.massbudget.org/report_window.php?loc=Uplifting_the_Whole_Child.html


http://www.dcfpi.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Part-I-Poverty-and-Childrens-Learning-Final.pdf

smithmc
smithmc

@Astropig How will simply creating a new district, which is all the legislation details, help children?  What is the academic plan?

30303
30303

Failing schools will continue to fail if something new isn't done to fix them. And those school districts have run out of ideas; surely, that much is evident.

Vote YES on Question 1.

FrankStuff
FrankStuff

@30303 First of all, let's call this what it is... It's not Question 1, it's Amendment 1. That is how it is referenced on the ballot. Calling this Question 1 obscures the fact that this measure is an Amendment to Georgia's Constitution. Why do you think it is so difficult to amend the US Constitution? Mainly because it's designed to be left alone. Conversely, Georgia's citizens agree to constitution changes with leap year like regularity. 


For how many years has Georgia failed to fully fund its Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula? More than 12 years. Austerity measures began in 2002.


Even today, Georgia is not fulfilling its public school funding obligations. The education budget still includes significant austerity measures.


Now, Deal suggests the state can improve schools by commanding resources and then throwing more money at the schools he should have been budgeting/supplying anyway.


The last Georgia education related amendment dealt with approving the State Charter School system. Most of those schools are performing at an F or D level. Many have regressed from C to D, and from D to F. This is a terrible track record and an prescient indicator of how poorly Georgia runs schools. 


Vote "NO" on Amendment 1 !!!!!!!

jezel
jezel

@30303 no they have not run out of ideas. Do your homework and you will vote NO,

Kurt Ohberg
Kurt Ohberg

@30303 If your car was not running the way you think it should, would you consider taking the wheels off to make it run better?

Georgia has cut 8 Billion dollars from Education funding during the last two Republican administrations.  "Shady" Deal's boastful "infusion" of 1.2 billion dollars over the last two years was in fact only a reduction in the previously planned austerity cut--it's still less than before.  Now he wants to take local education money and its local control and give it to the private sector.  Amendment 1 has ALEC's stink all over it.  Vote NO.

smithmc
smithmc

@30303 And specifically what are the great new ideas of the governor and his political appointee?

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@jezel @30303 Why aren't these "ideas" being implemented so that the schools haven't failed for 3 consecutive years?


We are no longer falling for the "we need more money to succeed" mantra any more.


The successful charters are succeeding WITHOUT local tax revenue and without their facilities having been paid for by a SPLOST. The unsuccessful charters were not properly vetted and should never have gotten a charter in the first place.


Unlike a continuing poor regular school, when an under-performing charter school's charter expires, they will be closed.

FrankStuff
FrankStuff

@Astropig @FrankStuff @30303

Dispute the facts - Is it nonsense that:


* It is an amendment to Georgia's Constitution?

* Georgia is still under austerity measures instilled since 2002?

* Georgia has failed to fully fund the QBE formula?

* That most state charter schools perform at a D or F level?

* That many of the state charter schools have regressed from a D to and F and from a C to a D?

* That the Governor would get to appoint an Opportunity School District superintendent and that un-elected person would only be accountable to the governor?


By the way, which Boards of Education and Systems are you specifically throwing under the proverbial school bus since you seem to know about actual cronyism? Name them, get them out in the open, and have the local communities address the issues. 


Additionally, file ethics complaints. As you certainly know, education boards are prohibited in Georgia from micromanaging  - specifically OCGA 20-2-61 states;  It shall not be the role of the local board of education or individual members of such board to micromanage the superintendent in executing his or her duties.

Astropig
Astropig

@FrankStuff @30303


Total nonsense.


The truth is,things are not going to change that much in these schools.They will still use and teach the same approved curriculum,hold the same benchmarks for student achievement that other schools already have,use pretty much the same teachers and serve the same terrible lunchroom food.


The one big difference after a state intervention will be that there won't be any more easy,no-accountability educrat positions for "friends and family" of school board members to soft-land in when it's discovered that their main talent is being relatives of insider crony board members.That's what is the real concern here for these terrible local school boards.

Falcaints
Falcaints

If the goal is to make public schools like private schools then we need to just eliminate the State Department of Education.  Private schools do not have to follow few  state or federal mandates, thus they are not held to the same "measuring" stick as public schools.  The goal of this amendment is to eliminate public schools in order to make a selected few rich.  Follow the money.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@Falcaints If you follow the money NOW way too much is heading to the central office instead of the classroom. Amendment 1 would divert less of that money to administration and give these schools a better chance.


That's why these administrators are fighting this tooth and nail and couldn't give a rats a$$ about the children in these failing schools. If you oversee a failing school- principal, superintendent, school board- you shouldn't even have a vote in this matter.