Gov. Nathan Deal’s Georgia Opportunity School District Will NOT Expand Learning Opportunity
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal’s statewide Opportunity School District, a state takeover plan for so-called “failing” schools, will appear before Georgia’s voters in November. His plan will become part of the state constitution if voters approve it. The timing is bad for Deal, however, because public opinion and expert opinion seems to be turning against the kind of scheme he has proposed. More and more evidence is accruing that statewide “achievement” school districts do not improve student achievement; neither do statewide “opportunity” districts expand learning opportunities. Let’s hope voters are paying attention!
Jack Hazzard, a professor emeritus at Georgia State University, explains exactly how Governor Deal’s state takeover Opportunity School District will work: “The misguided Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, has pushed through an amendment to the Georgia Constitution (if approved by the electorate) to enable a czar within the Governor’s office to name 20 schools per year from around the state that are considered ‘failing schools’ based on the state’s use of high stakes testing. Using an arbitrary cutoff score of 60 on Georgia’s school evaluation measure, the state has identified a list of schools around Georgia that they believe are chronically failing. The Georgia plan is essentially a ‘turnaround’ strategy of school reconstitution. There is a quartet of plans out there including transformation (fire the principal followed by changing around the school and testing the heck out of students to see if it worked), turnaround (fire the principal and… 50% of the teachers, and then test the heck out of the students), restart (bring in a charter school), and closure (a devastating measure, as Chicago can attest)… According to Senate Bill 133, which authorized an amendment to be placed on the November ballot, the state will use the ‘restart’ model, and turn all ‘chronically failing’ schools into charter schools.”
Today’s statewide “takeover school districts” are an expanded version of the old fashioned state takeovers, in which the state seized a bankrupt or low-scoring school district and imposed an overseer to clean things up. To my knowledge, these old-fashioned state occupations of existing school districts have not ever turned things around. The emergency austerity managers for the poorest school districts in Michigan are the latest examples. Newark, New Jersey’s public schools have been under state control for over twenty years, and Gov. Nathan Deal’s Georgia Opportunity School District Will NOT Expand Learning Opportunity | janresseger: