Friday, November 4, 2016

This Governor Wants to Take Over ‘Failing’ Public Schools and Turn Them Into Charters | The Nation

This Governor Wants to Take Over ‘Failing’ Public Schools and Turn Them Into Charters | The Nation:

This Governor Wants to Take Over ‘Failing’ Public Schools and Turn Them Into Charters

These activists are telling Georgia’s Nathan Deal: That’s not how it works.

Melissa Ladd never imagined she would sue the Governor of Georgia. The fifth-grade public-school teacher from Coweta County describes herself as a conservative Republican who agrees with Governor Nathan Deal on most issues. But now Deal is pushing a plan to wrest control of “failing” schools across the state from their local boards of education using a model based on Louisiana’s Recovery School District (RSD), which turned a majority of the public schools in New Orleans to charters.

“It’s going to hurt the kids that Nathan Deal promises it will help, kids without resources,” Ladd said of the plan, which appears on Georgia’s 2016 ballot as Amendment One. If passed, the measure would amend the state’s constitution to allow for the creation of a state-run “Opportunity School District” (OSD), helmed by a gubernatorial appointee. This person would have the unilateral power to take over 20 “failing” public schools per year and close, directly operate, co-operate with school boards, or turn them over to charter operators.
The state of Georgia has made it clear it intends to pursue the charter option. A recent Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) grant application seeking federal funding for charter schools bluntly stated that the OSD “aims to take 20 of the lowest performing traditional public schools and make them charter schools.” It added that the department has a plan to “attract education service providers,” referring to the franchise-like charter management companies that typically operate for profit.
Ladd saw firsthand what for-profit charter management looked like when the state authorized a charter school in the district where she teaches. From high teacher turnover stemming from miserable pay, to pedagogy that’s “scripted,” to white flight that has drained her school of resources, Ladd says the charter company that operates the school is little more than a “money-maker” that’s deepening educational disparity in the district. She also says the language of Amendment One—it cheerfully proposes to “fix failing schools through increasing community involvement”—deceives voters and obscures the real impact of the measure. It was on those grounds that she decided to sue the governor and other state officials.
Ladd is joined by two other plaintiffs—a parent and a minister—in her lawsuit, which will be heard in court after the election and could nullify the vote. But it might be opposition from outside of the courts that stops Amendment One. Keep Georgia Schools Local, a broad coalition of parents, teachers, and education activists—whose collaboration cuts across race, class, and party lines—has come together to fight the measure. They say the plan would import a model that has failed students and enriched private interests in New Orleans and elsewhere, all while using local resources without local input. And though they’re up against some of the biggest names in education reform, they might just win.
While there’s a decade-worth of documentation outlining the perilous impacts of Louisiana’s RSD—from gutting teacher’s rights to creating a feeding frenzy for consultants, education entrepreneurs, and other opportunists to capitalize on public education, with negligible academic results—there has been scant attention focused on how the takeover district model has spread in recent years. Several of the RSD’s architects have traveled the country, proselytizing the “New Orleans miracle” to state legislators. Tennessee and Michigan adopted the model in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and Nevada and North Carolina followed suit more recently.
Georgia has been on this path since 2008, when lawmakers created a State Charter School Commission that could overrule local school boards to This Governor Wants to Take Over ‘Failing’ Public Schools and Turn Them Into Charters | The Nation:
Nathan Deal and the longest corruption scandal in Georgia history -

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