Voters await “Yes” or “No” on how to address chronically failing schools in Georgia

Voters decide if schools need state control.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – While voters look to see which candidates receive the highest numbers, a lot of eyes in Georgia await the results to a Yes or No question.

Opportunity School District, commonly called OSD, is on every ballot.  It calls for a constitutional amendment to allow the state to step in and fix chronically failing schools.  In short, the schools that qualify for OSD scored below 60 on the College and Career Performance Index for three consecutive years.

Voters we spoke with were passionately for and against the measure.

Addison Knox, who voted for the first time this year, said she supports the legislation.

“I think everyone should have an equal opportunity when it comes to education in the public school system,” she said.

It’s certainly not the first time Election Day meets the classroom and some voters think government should not have a place there.

“I don’t think that the government should step in,” Pay Winfrey told us after she voted.

Winfrey and other voters must decide who will best run schools between local leaders or a state appointed superintendent.

Georgia Senator Harold Jones, of District 22, explained that OSD would only take in 20 schools a year if the measure passes.

“The Governor makes the appointment, but they are confirmed by the Senate.”

Some went to the polls in complete support of OSD because they believe schools are truly failing.

Anthony Lever does.

“I’m going to vote for it because our schools are horrible and without educated kids they don’t have no future and it keeps on failing and failing and nobody ain’t doing nothing to change it and without educating them they ain’t gon have a chance in hell,” Lever said.

We asked Fred Winfrey whether he supports OSD and he does not.  He said plainly, teachers are not paid enought money.

“Yes because then the teachers will put more into teaching them,” he said.

Richmond County School System has 19 Schools eligible for OSD.  Long time Richmond County parent Monique Braswell said her child attends one of the high schools on the OSD eligible list, so she voted no.

“Government needs to stay out of education,” Braswell stressed.  Teachers need to be allowed to teach at a level of comfortability that children can learn.   Teachers aren’t allowed to teach what they’ve actually been certified to do.  They’re teaching to someone else’s standards and that’s not what they went to school to do.”

Photojournalist: Gary Hipps

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