Georgia Teachers Union, Lawmakers Say ‘No Deal’ To Opportunity School District Amendment

A lot of local opposition is brewing to a proposed constitutional amendment that would impact about 20 schools in the Richmond County School System.

The Georgia Federation of Teachers joined state and local leaders to launch a grassroots campaign against Governor Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District. 

The topic may be education, but these educators mean business.  A panel of teachers and state lawmakers picked apart Governor Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District or OSD.

Georgia Federation of Teachers AFT President Verdaillia Turner told News Channel 6, “These schools are not failing schools.  Anytime someone continues to raise the bar, at some point, you’re not going to succeed.”

She said the bill will not improve struggling and low performing schools.

“There isn’t one intervention in the governor’s bill that talks about how to educate children or what those interventions should be,” Turner explained.

Georgia State Representative Wayne Howard voted no on the constitutional amendment that would allow the state to supervise, manage and operate failing schools.

“We do have some issues with our school system that we need to fix.  I don’t think any of us disagree with that.  We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to do that,” said Rep. Howard, GA-District 121.

He added lawmakers needed more time to discuss the bill.  Senator Harold Jones voted against it too.

Teachers said OSD is already operating in Louisiana and Tennessee unsuccessfully.

“That district today is doing worse after Katrina, after eight years have passed, than it was before Katrina.  They are actually doing worse.  Over 70 percent of the children that graduated in 2014 could not pass the ACT and get into a college in the state of Louisiana,” Turner said.

There are 21 schools that would be impacted by OSD, including Butler, Glenn Hills and Josey High Schools.  Failing means schools scored below 60 on the state mandated College and Career Ready Performance Index or CCRPI. 

Pamela Perkins-Carn, Coordinator of Interfaith Children’s Movement said, “We need to look at suspensions.  We need to look at the school to prison pipeline.   We need to look at poverty.  We need to look at disproportionate application of funding.”

Rita Scott is a Political Director with Communications Workers of America.  She is also a CWA and AFT Lobbyist.  She told the public, “I sat in every single meeting.  You know what some of the legislators asked?  Will private industry be able to contract to the school system?  Guess what?  They know somebody, that knows somebody that wants to contract to the school system.”

The group is calling on voters to become educated about OSD.  They will have to decide whether OSD is best for the state in the 2016 general election.  

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