Myra Blackmon is one of the most astute commentators on education in Georgia. She writes often for AthensOnline. In this column,she takes issue with the advocates for an “Opportunity School District,” which is on the ballot on November 8.
The proposed constitutional amendment would allow the state to take over schools with low test scores. It guts local control. As we have seen again and again, state takeovers have repeatedly failed, because the state doesn’t know more than the local school board. The Tennessee Achievement School District, which is a model for Georgia, has not produced any results in its four years of operation. The low-performing schools in the ASD are still low-performing, still eligible to be taken over yet again, but by whom? The Educational Achievement Authority in Michigan has been a disaster.
So why is Georgia following these failed examples? Well, eliminating local control is recommended by the far-right ALEC. ALEC’s goal is privatization, not “rescuing” poor kids.
The proponents of this measure claim that they will “rescue” poor kids from “failing schools,” the usual mantra of privatizers. But the claim is a hoax and a deliberate effort to deceive voters.
These rescuers must have been living on another planet if they haven’t seen their proposed “solution,” a state takeover with no accountability, go down in shame all over the country. They tried it in New Orleans and gave up because it didn’t work. They’ve been trying it in Nashville, and the confiscated schools are doing worse than they were when their “rescue” began. They tried it in Detroit and 11 of the 14 schools that were “rescued” are still failing.
The so-called “Opportunity School District” is among the worst of a long string of dangerous ideas and policies forced on local school districts in Georgia. It is a power grab, pure and simple, moving control of local schools from those closest to them to an unaccountable gubernatorial appointee who, from on high in Atlanta, will dictate local education policies and practices.
The language both on the ballot and in the enabling legislation sounds like a plan for everyone to hold hands and happily work to improve education. But that’s a lie.
These self-styled rescuers of poor children want to turn education over to their buddies in the privatization movement. They want accountability for everyone but themselves.
Rescue, my eye. Keep our opportunities local. Vote “no” on Amendment 1.