Charter school leader: Don’t believe myths about Opportunity School District

(Photo StudentsFirst)

(Photo StudentsFirst)

Tony Roberts is president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. In this essay, he urges passage of the Opportunity School District, which is Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

The state Department of Education lists 115 charter schools in Georgia, 97 start-ups and 18 conversion schools, which means they were existing public schools that adopted charter status.

The list of 127 failing schools eligible for absorption into the OSD include six charters, including three approved by the state Charter Schools Commission.

By Tony Roberts

Many people have asked my opinion of the proposed Opportunity School District in Georgia. The board of Georgia Charter Schools Association and I personally support the proposed constitutional amendment for one main reason: we believe in doing everything possible to help Georgia’s children receive a more effective public education. This is consistent with our association’s mission to advance student achievement in public schools.

Those who are urging Georgians not to support the Opportunity School District are using the same myths we heard back in 2012 surrounding the constitutional amendment to allow charter schools to be approved by both local school districts and the state. The myths then and now are: 1. The OSD will cost the taxpayers thousands of dollars; 2. Local control of public education will be lost; 3. For-profit, out-of-state companies will come in large numbers to Georgia to operate with only their bottom line in mind.

None of these myths materialized following the passage of the 2012 charter schools amendment. And there is no evidence or logic in the claims they will occur with the proposed OSD. These are fear tactics in our opinion, disguising the real intent of those in opposition: to maintain the status quo and not make any real change that might make a difference for kids in failing schools.

Those who really care about the Georgia children trapped in failing schools must be willing to move outside of their comfort zone and try something new. So far, opponents of OSD have not put forth any (better) ideas to turn around the Georgia schools that have received an “F” rating for three years in a row. Millions of dollars from out-of-state interests have poured into Georgia in an effort to convince Georgians not to support OSD.

Those outside interests do not have the children of Georgia in mind. Instead, they are motivated by the desire to protect districts who are allowing these failing schools to continue without any real intervention or innovation. Opponents choose to ignore the good work already occurring in school districts due to the proposed OSD.

A number of districts with schools on the potential OSD list have already started moving resources and implementing turnaround plans to improve educational outcomes for students. Just the idea of the Opportunity School District has caused district administrators and school boards to work toward new and innovative solutions to boost student achievement in schools that need the most help.

For all these reasons, we believe the Opportunity School District will make a positive difference for Georgia’s children. If the measure fails, it could mean districts will continue to let 68,000 students languish in poor performing schools.

How can we in good conscience leave failing schools alone because we fear change or hard effort? We don’t believe a student’s zip code should determine the quality of the education they receive. Our children deserve better.

Reader Comments 0

100 comments
AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Here's a good explanation of how out of state corporate money influences political decisions. It also explains how "not for profit" charter schools make profits for charter management companies. The article specifically details Atlanta school board campaign donations by out of state entities.


"Wall Street is designing the future of public education as a money-making machine"http://www.salon.com/2013/12/05/wall_street_is_designing_the_future_of_public_education_as_a_money_making_machine/
If you don't believe that politicians will enact laws/create constitutional amendments that harm thousands of children and teachers  just to make a few family members/friends/campaign donors wealthier, you need to WAKE UP!

NikoleA
NikoleA

I've grown especially tired of the OSD proponents saying that we haven't given any alternative plans to OSD. The community schools model has been given as the alternative since the beginning.

redweather
redweather

This piece is long on assertions, but that's about it.

EliasDenny
EliasDenny

No teacher that I know is in favor of amendment 1 and I have several in my immediate family. If you think this involves only schools in metro Atlanta then think again and look at all the rural counties.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@EliasDenny Of course not- they see this as a referendum on "their" system and are voting to preserve their brethren- students be damned.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

The governor appointed, chronically failing, State Charter School District HIDES all spending, hiring, personnel, and payments to out of state corporations and other vendors from the taxpayer. Public schools provide all this information.


This hiding of $millions and $millions, as well as hiding hiring and personnel, tells you all you need to know about the plan for the OSD.


Anyone who is for the OSD is against state accountability to the taxpayer. All of you posters who are pro state charter/OSD stand to make a profit, benefit personally, or have not bothered to research the topic.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian Where can we access public school teacher and staff salaries, educational background and previous employment?

newsphile
newsphile

@AvgGeorgian @NikoleA @Starik Proponents of OSD keep saying that tax-funded charter schools are public.  Receiving tax dollars does not qualify anything as public when there are no requirements to report how those tax dollars are spent. 

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @NikoleA @Starik What about the other critical information?  Look in the back of college catalogs - degrees earned are listed. The opposition to the Governor's experiment seems to be coming from undereducated "educators" worried about their jobs. 


Lets work for the kids, not the educational bureaucracy.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian @NikoleA

All teachers have to be certified according to state standards. If the state wants to raise standards, they will have to raise salaries due to decreased supply. I am all for that. This could easily be done by the REPUBLICAN governor and legislature. 

The reason they don't do it and the reason Deal plans to cut teacher pay is that the charter corporations want low priced teachers - this allows a larger profit skim from each student's allotment of tax money.

class80olddog
class80olddog

"

Rolling Stone found liable for defamation for rape story"

30506Dawg
30506Dawg

Please don't forget who also benefits tremendously from the passing of this ammendment - Denise Deal, the governor's daughter in law.  She and her company, southern magnolia, stand to make HUGE 6 figure profits off of the passing of the OSD ammendment.  I am a republican who lives less than 6 miles from the governor's home in Hall County and I too am fed up with the corruption and good ole boy politics that have come from Nathan Deal's time in office. 

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@30506Dawg Denise has profited from PROMOTING the OSD- her compensation does not depend on victory.


I am constantly amazed at the paranoia and lack of knowledge that the AJC bloggers have.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@RoyalDawg @30506Dawg

Maybe the lack of knowledge comes from the state charter system hiding all its spending and hiring. For all the taxpayer knows, your whole family out to 3rd cousins could work for a state charter - because it it hidden from the taxpayer - unlike REAL public schools.

newsphile
newsphile

@30506Dawg Denise can take her money and run, whether or not OSD passes.  Deal should be working with one of the cellular companies.  His family and friends plans are the best I've seen yet. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@RoyalDawg

Do you not think Deal has a post OSD plan to enrich friends and family? Really? Are you that naive or do you also stand to profit?

class80olddog
class80olddog

@Education_Patriot "almost none of which are performing better than an average public school in the state! "  The question is:  how are they performing compared to the zip code schools in their area from which their students come.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@class80olddog @Education_Patriot No. the question is: Has each individual student's scores improved at a significantly faster rate than in their previous school.

If that is not your measure, then you have no grasp of the scientific method or basic research methodology.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@AvgGeorgian @class80olddog @Education_Patriot I have watched you blather on ignorantly for weeks, and this may be the first truth that you have posted.


If you are truly concerned about STUDENTS, go to the next SCSC meeting on November 16 and either make useful suggestions or confirm your fears. You are truly speaking untruths about the system and do not know enough history and context to understand the charter system.


There is a lot of nuance to be understood before evaluating charter school results. You come on here and attack scores and graduation rates without clear understanding. Rome was not built in a day.

Education_Patriot
Education_Patriot

@RoyalDawg @AvgGeorgian @class80olddog @Education_Patriot

Why don't you tell me what this looks like, Royal?


https://s15.postimg.org/6q7udb6zv/image.png 


Those scores represent how students at these charters grew in learning compared to students with the SAME TEST SCORE AS THEM the previous year. And it controls for student characteristics. I don't know...seems like a good statistical measure to me, even without confidence intervals. 


And it's pretty damning for SCSC. 6 out of 9 schools have below-average student growth, even when you control for literally the same test score the previous year.


At least they improved somewhat in middle school (page 23). High school looks okay, but that's probably because a lot of these (newer) schools took in kids from their (reasonably successful) traditional school.


So no, I think I'm interpreting the data just fine.


I'd be happy to give SCSC some advice:  shut down your administration apparatus. Let the charter schools under your control operate under join control of their charter org and the local school board. These schools are failing either because they are 1. run badly, 2. are run the the state, or both. 


Schools can't be run successfully from the top down, at the state level. The results here are clear evidence that SCSC administration of these schools, just like the OSD's potential administration of schools, doesn't work.


Rome wasn't built in a day, but a system that funnels ed money to corporations wasn't either.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Very well said, Tony. These local educrats are fighting tooth and nail to retain their fiefdoms at the expense of children being deprived of an education in these bottom-feeding schools.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@RoyalDawg You seem to be fighting for a failing charter system that hides all spending and renews charters of failing schools- por ejemplo, Graduation  Achievement High School - failing for 6 years and charter renewed.


You can't even find out where the money goes for your own charter school.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian @RoyalDawg

But where does the money go?

Are there any attendance requirements for the school to get the FTE money?

Who works there?

Is it worth $millions of secret money going to who knows whom or what to get a handful of kids to graduate? What does it cost the taxpayer? $200,000 per graduate?


Also if you are giving a pass to ka school with hard to educate kids, why do you not do that for the targeted takeover schools? Sounds hypocritical to me.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Vote "No" to Question 1 on the ballot and support Georgia's Democratic Caucus Educational Plan to improve poor communities and educational delivery with public schools throughout Georgia.

-------------------------------------------------


Aside:  Please vote today, especially to the black people and women in this state, for the reasons I give below:


Black people, get out the vote for Hillary Clinton in massive numbers today.  This is the last day for early voting.  The demagogue Trump only has 1% point more than Clinton as of today  (45% to 44%).  YOU can make that difference in Georgia and in this nation, as a result of Georgia's electoral college votes if you vote for HIllary in massive numbers.


Change the course of history from domination and submission to egalitarianism - what Jefferson and Lincoln preached for this nation's benefit.


Women, if you do not vote for Hillary Clinton, the first woman to have the courage and strength to fight the misogynists in this nation, you will have it on your conscience forever if you vote for Trump or Johnson, or even if you decide to do nothing, a typical passive female response of days gone by.  VOTE for Hillary.  Make a world better for everyone because of women like Hillary Clinton.

southerntchr
southerntchr

Not voting for Hillary, ever! I cannot fathom any educated person thinking she is what is best for our country.

Starik
Starik

@southerntchr That's not the issue. She's certainly not the "best" for our country but she's better than Trump.

newsphile
newsphile

@MaryElizabethSings I regret your trying to make this a race issue.  Everyone should be opposed to OSD, regardless of race and regardless of socio-economic status.  Facts from other experiments in nearby states have proven this won't work.  Here we have an opportunity for both parties to work together to defeat a bad thing.  We desperately need to work together, not be further divided. 

zzyzx
zzyzx

READ MY TEXT " WE ARE NOT VOTING FOR  AND WILL NOT SUPPORT THE OSD" FINAL!! END OF STORY!!

methuselahschild
methuselahschild

until tenure is removed, nothing will change. i will not vote for a bill which does not remove the tenure law.. teachers should earn their jobs every year..  just like the rest of us..

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@methuselahschild Not true. Plenty of public sector jobs give extended contracts. Instead of blaming teachers, what you need to do is educate yourself on the real issues, such as what is going on at home and the constant cutting of K-12 funding in this state.


For example, due to funding cuts, the state now allows up to 28 students in one class in third grade. Let's see you walk into a room with 28 eight-year-olds -- all of them not perfect angels -- and make all of them reach their academic potential.

class80olddog
class80olddog

@TruthReallyHurts @methuselahschild Let's see if I can do math.  If the school system spends $12000 per student (as does APS), then those 28 students equal spending of $336,000.  Even if you paid the teacher $100000 a year, that leaves $226,000 still left on the table for those 28 students.  Wonder where THAT money goes!

TruthReallyHurts
TruthReallyHurts

@class80olddog @TruthReallyHurts @methuselahschild That's a kooky way of looking at it, but if you insist, that money goes for transportation, food, maintenance of the building, extra tutors, educational programs that have shown success for students from low-income districts, professional development for teachers, and that's just a start.

Before you spout off that conseeeervative factoid about per pupil expenditure in Atlanta, blah, blah, blah, educate yourself a bit on how school funding works and then actually visit a school in Atlanta.

Then after all of that, you should go see how challenging it is to teach 28 third graders. It is the hardest, most thankless profession there is.

Letusteach
Letusteach

@methuselahschild Gov. Barnes eliminated tenure for teachers with HB1187.  Teachers earn their annual contracts like every other professional.  

Letusteach
Letusteach

@JBBrown1968 If this comment was directed at me, I assure you that I am not whining.  Just trying to inform folks about some popular myths about education, e.g., tenure and teacher's unions.