Board Of Education
On November 8, 2016, the people of Georgia will vote on Amendment 1: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?” A “yes” vote supports authorizing the state to form an Opportunity School District (OSD) that would govern certain elementary and secondary schools determined to be “chronically failing.”
1. Does the state have any responsibility for the performance of local school districts?
2. If the state does not abdicate all responsibility to local school districts, then what is the alternative to OSD?
This Monday, the DeKalb County Board of Education will meet, discuss and vote on this DRAFT “Statement Opposing OSD.” What are your thoughts?
After careful consideration, the DeKalb County Board of Education urges voters to vote NO on the proposed Constitutional Amendment #1, the Opportunity School District amendment.
Local control of education is a bedrock American principle. We strongly believe that citizens whose taxes pay for a majority of the cost of educating our children should exercise control over decisions relating to that education. We believe it is not only wrong but risky to give up local control to a new state bureaucracy; this approach failed to improve education for children when introduced in school districts in New Orleans, Memphis, Normandy (MO) and elsewhere.
The Board strongly believes that the answer to improved academic outcomes and achievement is in the classroom and the schoolhouse, with motivated, well-trained teachers; engaged, challenged students; and involved, supportive parents, caregivers, and communities.
To accomplish our goals of restoring DeKalb’s national reputation for academic excellence and for providing world-class services to our students, staff, and communities, DeKalb County Schools will continue to invest in our children and our teachers. We have demonstrated our commitment over the last year by eliminating all teacher furlough days and granting multiple pay increases for our teachers and staff. We are transforming our schools through rigor, relevance, and relationships. Voting NO to a state takeover of our local schools will allow DeKalb to continue its progress for all our children.
Opportunity School District – In The News
School boards defy Gov. Nathan Deal on state schools takeover
Sept. 2, 2016 – The Cherokee County school board joined about a half dozen of Georgia’s 180 school districts in a rebellion against Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to take over “failing” schools across the state, and more boards may stand beside them this week. The Cherokee board, in a GOP stronghold of the state, voted 7-0 for a symbolic resolution that says the proposed statewide district, with a superintendent answering only to the governor, would erode local control over education and tax dollars.
Gov. Deal comes out swinging today against opponents of his Opportunity School District
Sept. 8, 2016 – Governor Deal had special venom for school leaders who repeatedly failed to pass along budget increases to teachers in the form of raises and reduced furlough days over the past three years, saying he and lawmakers would make such raises mandatory in future budgets. Deal unleashed his sharpest words on critics of his proposed constitutional amendment to create an “Opportunity School District.”
Note to governor: Opposing state takeover doesn’t mean you support failing schools
Failing schools are typically located in impoverished communities dealing with high crime, low employment and families in crisis. Those communities lack the safety nets and comprehensive social services needed to address all of these problems, so we turn to the schools and ask them to change the trajectories of the children. And schools do, for some of the kids. But the schools alone cannot revive economically desolate Main Streets, conquer crime, get parents good-paying jobs and help them to guide their children to better choices than they made.
There are two ways of looking at this. If you were a school board member you would probably oppose it. Reason… The school board is supposed to take care of things like performance through the superintendent and staff. In DeKalb that has now been a failure for decades. Advanced Ed. has now pretty much set up a situation where if the BOE of any county opposes the superintendent and staff they could likely be dismissed. That has already happened in DeKalb. Ask yourself if performance has really changed since then.
If you were a private citizen in DeKalb you should probably vote for the Governor’s plan. Remember the definition of insanity …. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Of course our Governor is held captive by his staff. They are not the most astute when it comes to educational issues.
How about hiring Robert Duron from Texas and having him set up a state program for the entire state. He took San Antonio schools and turned the district around. He had a real track record of producing winners out of previously losing schools.
Having said all this I am still a believer in local control. Our local control is now mostly an incompetent bureaucracy.
DeKalb must be changed. It cannot play the same hand again. This has become a game played by adults at the expense of the children.
You are 100% correct. Long past time for change!
Does the state, be it DOE or GOSA, have any responsibility for the performance of the local school districts … not just DeKalb
Stan,I think the board should be more honest. Say something like “The DeKalb County Board of Education urges voters to vote NO on the proposed Constitutional Amendment #1 because if it passes, then most of our Region 5 (South Dekalb) schools will be taken over by the state”.
If the school district was honest they would say, “If you are under qualified for the position you are in at the school district or know somebody that is, vote NO to save their job. If OSD passes, the jobs program at the DeKalb County School District is over.”
If the amendment passes this November and if a new school district, the OSD, is then created, what are the potential implications for the state constitution’s provision, from 1976, that “no independent school system shall hereafter be established”? Presumably, some will argue that a district tied directly to the executive branch is not “independent”?
@William: As I understand it, the vote to allow the Governor to start up this “Opportunity District” will also open the gate for communities around the state to start up their own districts. I could very well be wrong, as the wording is not clear, but in essence, voting yes on this amendment requires reconciling the original amendment not allowing new school districts. I have heard there are many places around the state chomping at the bit to take control of their local schools. Ironically, this amendment allowing the state to take over failing local schools could actually make for even more local control.
Stan. The DOE should have some responsibility in the issue, but they have basically had most of their power usurped by the legislature. The state school superintendent is basically irrelevant to what is happening in the schools. The legislature makes all the power moves. We know how knowledgable the boys at the Gold Dome are regarding public education. The majority of the legislators represent mostly rural counties. Their issues in the schools are often light years away from the issues of urban schools. This has boiled down to a power play between the Boards and and the Governor. The Boards are failing. The other night you pointed out how a member of your BOE violated almost every policy regarding the naming of schools. You had the facts. The vote was 6-1 against the facts. Like it or not BOE’s are going to be responsible. Do you think they can live up to the task?
@Cere – It is interesting that the OSD vote is coming up at the same time that the deep dysfunction in DeKalb’s “planning” is being laid bare for all to see. Because of Fulton’s different political dynamic, North Fulton has developed quite dramatically with the schools to show for it. Within Atlanta, the significant economic and business interests have always acted as a counterbalance (for better and, also, certainly, for worse). When you look at the two radically different trajectories that north and south DeKalb find themselves on — with little prospect for any significant private-sector investment in south DeKalb — you have to wonder if the tipping point isn’t nigh. Given the acknowledged needs, it is rather shocking that the Doraville TAD issue was not at least investigated seriously as a way to funnel private-sector money into public-education infrastructure — especially since significant tax abatements were a given in any event. The ongoing very patchwork spatial development of the metro area illustrates the problems when “local control” becomes embedded in problems that are best addressed at the macro level. Unfortunately, effective regional planning seems always unattainable — as the skeletal MARTA rail system and the out-of-control traffic monster make plain every day.
Let me ask this question – what incentive would the OSD really have to improve anything at any school it takes over? I would argue really, none. Here’s why. If a school is deemed eligible and taken over, it goes to OSD for a minimum of 5 and maximum of 10 years. That is 5-10 years of our tax dollars going to someone who has no accountability back to the taxpayer. We have seen DeKalb voters start to rise up and do their job. There have been changes in the Board of Commissioners, the DA’s office, and yes, even the Board of Education when a removed board member wanted to come back on. Let’s also look at schools that are on the list. Schools that haven’t even existed for 3 years to earn the CCRPI scores are on that list. I see Peachcrest and Obama Elementaries going first – with their pretty new buildings. How much did the Board just approve for the tech package at Obama? That all goes to OSD if it gets selected.
OSD gives the Governor and the General Assembly a blank check that I’m not comfortable writing. I can’t take credit for this, but let’s say when the results mirror what is happening in other takeover states – no real improvement – they decide to change the definition of failing (no Constitutional amendment required) to say less than 10% growth on CCRPI is “failing.” Suddenly, DECA, DSA, and Vanderlyn are “failing.” They don’t have the room under CCRPI to grow that much. Don’t say it can’t happen. I think of a report I saw about a Florida teacher who was dinged on his evaluation because one of his students didn’t meet her growth goal – a goal that was higher than the score range on the test. The child scored a perfect score, but the teacher was still dinged because she did not exceed perfetion. It’s a bureaucracy and stuff like that happens.
I’ll be honest. I live in the Stephenson area and work at SWD. Neither school is in danger under the current model, but I also pay taxes to the DeKalb County School District and if DCSD isn’t doing what I like, I have every right, and the duty, to vote for change to my local leaders. Once we turn that power over to the OSD, I give up that right and I don’t like the idea of my tax dollars being taken over by someone who doesn’t answer to me. Anyone who reads SB133 – the enabling legislation – should have a lot of questions and concerns about OSD.
So, state wide, what’s the role of the state in education? Is the Board of Education and superintendent at the top with the state just policing and providing guidance?
After all I am seeing in this Reclustering mess and the ability of the BOE to destroy a working cluster in order to fix another, I say give the state power! I have lost faith in our school board to represent ALL schools in its clusters we need action. When my child’s education becomes a “political deal” between Board reps it’s time to dismiss the board!!!
Thanks for the comment. Could you elaborate?