The “Opportunity School District” or OSD championed by Governor Nathan Deal will be on the ballot this November. The ballot question's wording reads, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?” Georgians need to understand that the wording of this ballot question is deceptive. The actual purpose is to benefit for-profit charter schools and their proponents at the expense of funding a public education for all students.
The OSD would take schools deemed “failing” by the governor, his appointees, or by the state legislature (according to some yet-to-be-determined criteria) and remove them from local control. A state-appointed leader would be able to hire and fire teachers, allocate resources, set curriculum, and enforce school discipline without public oversight or accountability. Private charter school corporations, often based in other states, would run the schools and spend tax money without oversight.
Voters need to understand that this is not a “conservative” solution to Georgia public schools' problems. Instead, it is a classic example of “big government” at work, with the state stepping in and taking power away from locally elected school boards, and administrators, teachers, and parents.
Georgia's public schools have been chronically underfunded for years. Rather than siphoning still more tax money out of local systems and into the hands of politically appointed bureaucrats, we need to be working to help all our schools. Lowering class sizes, improving support and resources in the classroom, and increasing health and nutrition services will do much more to help Georgia's school children than the governor's misnamed “Opportunity School District.”
David Cofield, LaFayette