The Georgia Opportunity School District Slips Away from the Hands of Privatizers

The Georgia Opportunity School District Slips Away from the Hands of Privatizers.  This is a great victory of teachers and their students, and the integrity of local control of the education of youth.

Source: NY Times Election Watch, extracted 10/9/16
Source: NY Times Election Watch, extracted 10/9/16

There were no professional educational organizations that were part of Nathan Deal’s plan to take “chronically failing” schools out of the able hands of local education school districts.  Deal was and probably still is on the wrong side of education, and questions related to provide a system that promotes continuous improvement.

He now much congratulate the groups that supported the opposition, and reach out to the State Department of Education, and turn the improvement of education in the schools over to local districts who may use the DOE as a collaborative partner, and resource.

If Mr. Deal intends to carry out his threat to “watch” how local districts use funds, then he should be called out, and told to stick to the business of Governor.  Much will happen as a result of this vote.  What kind of Governor will emerge from his office over the next week, or will he turn his attention to bigger and perhaps more important issues such as running for higher office, joining the Clinton administration.

Let’s Vote the Opportunity School District Down: Vote No on Amendment 1, Georgia Ballot

Let’s Vote the Opportunity School District Down: Vote No on Amendment 1, Georgia Ballot

For the past six months, we’ve documented why the Opportunity School District is a bad deal for Georgia schools.  Deal says that the OSD will enable parents and teachers to fix Georgia’s failing schools.  This is such a very big untruth.  The OSD will turn these schools over to a Czar appointed by Gov. Deal, and the Czar will be able to fire and hire at will.

I voted No on Amendment 1.  I hope you will join me tomorrow.

Deal, The Bully, Calls Local School Boards Power Hungry Monopolies Because They Oppose His Misfortunate School District

Deal, The Bully, Calls Local School Boards Power Hungry Monopolies Because They Oppose His Misfortunate School District

  • monopoly: exclusive control of a commodity or service in a particular market
  • bully: a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

Governor Nathan Deal is calling local school boards a power-hungry monopoly because they oppose his Opportunity School District which would steal 20 schools per year from the same local school boards.  Deal’s definition of a monopoly (according to an AJC report) are entities “that have no competition and see no reason to change.”

Deal, I suppose, is angry that local districts are really not monopolies, but in fact run by democratically elected school boards, which indeed, change.  However, since the Federal No Child Left Behind Law, and Race to the Top, the biggest obstacle facing local schools is the State which carries out the laws of the Federal Government.

Schools districts are not monopolies (thank goodness) but independent entities that have the right and responsibility to educate the youth in its communities.  The only monopoly in the State seems to be the Governor’s office which wants to control educating children in direct opposition to the Georgia Constitution.

The Georgia Department of Education rank-orders all schools in the state on a scale with 100 being the top score. This score is primarily based on achievement test scores. Any school that has a scale-score less than 60 for three consecutive years is put on the list of chronically failing schools.  It’s from this list that the Governor will be able pick his schools that are “chronically failing” and put them under his control.

Many school districts are opposed to the Governors plan. So now the governor is lashing out saying  he will punish districts if his plan is defeated. He says he will mess with the districts use and access to money and will require districts to give parents a choice in sending students in “failing schools” to a better school in the district.  This is nothing new.  Districts have in place the ability to do this, but it often is simply not realistic for parents who would find it difficult to provide the transportation for their children.

The Governor is acting like a spoiled child.  Maybe he needs detention.

I voted no today on Amendment 1.  Please join me and vote no on Deal’s plan.

If Poverty & Financial Hardship Affect Cognitive Function, Then is the Opportunity School District a Good Idea?

If Poverty & Financial Hardship Affect Cognitive Function, Then is the Opportunity School District a Good Idea?

The Opportunity School District is a plan by the Governor’s Office in Georgia to take over “chronically failing” schools across the state.  To be voted on in the November 8 election, if passed, schools will be selected by an OSD Superintendent (Czar), from a list of schools that fall at the bottom of a rank ordered list of schools across the state based on state-mandated multiple choice achievement tests along with other factors such as progress to round out a complete score called CCRPI.

A school’s CCRPI is an over all score and values are used to rank order schools from high to bottom.  Schools producing CCRPI scores below “60” are on a list called “chronically failing” are eligible to be pulled out of their local district and pushed to the state Opportunity School District with administrative office presumably near the governor’s office.

It might be better for the OSD to rent a hangar at the Charlie Brown Airport, in Fulton County.  As I mentioned in an earlier post having a private pilot’s license might just be the ticket  to get folks to visit OSD schools spread across 59,425 square miles.

Oddly the Georgia Department of Education is not privy to the OSD, meaning that there will be two independent state-wide administrative bodies competing for the same pool of resources.

Seems to me like a bunch of bull promoted as a vanity project to make Governor Deal look righteous.

Many (perhaps all) of the schools eligible for OSD have very high percentages of students living in poverty and/or economic hardship.  To remedy this fact, the Governor is going conduct mass firings of principals and up to half the teachers and support staff.  So half the teachers that have worked and may have lived close to the school community will be given the boot.

The evidence based on experiences in New Orleans is that the teachers who replace the fired educators will be non-certified teachers from the temp agencies, Teach For America and the New Teacher Project.

Free or reduced lunch is not a perfect measure of the poverty level of students attending a specific school, but it the best measure we have that we can use to predict how well kids will do in school, especially on state mandated achievement tests.

Many of the students whose school will taken by the OSD are living in poverty and face some form of economic hardship.

A longitudinal study (1985 – 2010) of 3,400 young adults was carried out to investigate the relationship between poverty and economic hardship, and cognitive function. The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, in advance of Volume 52, Issue 1 (January 2017).  In this report, “Sustained Economic Hardship and Cognitive Function: The Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults Study, by Adina Zeki Al Hazzouri, the authors collected income data over the period of the study, and in 2010, tested the participants using three cognitive aging exams.

Four groups of participants emerged:

  1. Never in poverty
  2. Less than 1/3 of time
  3. From 1/3 to nearly 100% of the time
  4. Always in poverty

The results showed a strong and graded association between greater exposure to economic hardship and worse cognitive function.  The researchers concluded that poverty and economic hardship may be important contributors of cognitive aging.

The lead investigator, Dr. Zeki Al Hazzouri, said that maintaining cognitive abilities is a key part of health.  He made it clear that poverty and economic hardship most likely contribute to premature aging.

Not only that, there is clear evidence that poverty has a direct association with performance on academic scores and other school measurable (Graph 1 & Graph 2).

Using data from the Georgia Department of Education, Graph 1 plots CCRPI and percent poverty.  For these data there a strong relationship between CCRPI scores and student poverty.  Lower test scores are associated with higher poverty rates.  The same relationship is true when we plot achievement scores and poverty percent (Graph 2) (CCRPI and Achievement Scores and Percent of Poverty, Georgia Department of Education).

Graph 1: CCRPI Score and Percent Poverty


Graph 2: Achievement Points and Percent Poverty



Are charter schools the answer to the problem of chronically failing schools?  Is it a valid idea to replace public schools with charter schools and expect the outside force of a charter school to do better than regular public schools.

The OSD is a misplaced idea simply to give a few politicians a feel good experience at the cost of thousands of Georgia parents and their children.

We have already dismissed the idea that charter schools are miracles falling out of the sky.  In the last post I showed how P.L. Thomas put this to rest with his analysis of the charter school sham.

Secondly, and perhaps even more important is the fact that charter schools foster a re-segration of schools.  In Learning from the Federal Market-Based Reforms: Lessons for ESSA. Ed. By William J. Mathis and Tina M. Trujillo. Charlotte: Information Age, 2016, Gary Orfield, in his chapter entitled “A New Civil Rights Agenda for American Education, 279 – 313 provides critical information for policy makers about charter schools, race and civil rights.

Orfield makes it clear that so-called “choice” in education (ergo, charter schools) leads to a stratification of educational opportunity, and in my view, the Opportunity School District is a perfect example of stratification.

Charter schools do far worse than regular public schools.  In earlier posts, I’ve cited the research of Michael Marder, at the University of Texas.  He has examined the relationship between poverty concentration and percentage of students meeting SAT criterion scores across all Texas Hugh Schools. Take a look at the chart below.  We see here that Marden’s graph is similar to the Georgia graphs.  The higher the level of poverty, the lower the test scores.

But look.

Charter schools, irrespective of poverty level, are at the bottom of the graph.  They form a straight line, showing how ineffective they are compared to regular public schools.



The schools that will be part of the OSD will most likely be in metropolitan areas of the state (Atlanta, Athens, Columbus, Savannah, Augusta).  Most of the students attending these schools will either be living in poverty, or facing some form of economic hardship.  Simply changing a school from a public school to a charter does nothing to improve the economic status of the parents and their children in this schools.

Gary Orfield says that a new civil rights agenda is needed to remedy this and many other problems.  We need to understand that identifying each school as chronically failing without considering the context of the school raises serious civil rights issues. Orfield offers this is something to think about:

Educational stratification and inequalities today are basically defined by school-district boundary lines, much more than by problems with on district (or school, my addition), so civil rights remedies must have a metropolitan dimension.  This is vital not just for the central cities but to provide stability and block resegregation by race and class in growing sectors of suburbia. Boundary lines and the housing segregation which makes them so significant must be central foci. If opportunity is allocated on the basis of space within a metropolitan area, crossing boundary lines and regional cooperation arrangements in schools and housing become urgent priorities. (Orfield, G.  “A New Civil Rights Agenda for American Education,” Learning from the Federal Market-Based Reforms: Lessons for ESSA. Ed. William J. Mathis and Tina M. Trujillo. Charlotte: Information Age, 2016. 293).

As Ed Johnson and others have spoken and written, the issues of students in any school need to be embraced within a systems model of education.  There is an interconnectivity among schools in a district or region, and separating one from the other because of performance of achievement tests is bogus.  But more than that, it leads to a non-solution.

In order to make sure that students have a chance to be fully functioning and healthy human beings, they need to be living in an environment where they see hope and love, and that the community pulls together to help each other.  A community based agenda is needed for schools to improve for our students, not one of isolating the school from the community to be run by outsiders.

Deal’s OSD is not only a bad deal, its without merit and is violating the civil rights of the students involved.







Vote No On the Misfortunate School District on November 8, 2016

Misfortunate School District

The Governor and a few elected Georgia legislators–Democrats & Republicans alike, approved a bill that will be voted on in the November 8, 2016 election. If passed, the state constitution will be will enable the Governor to create his own school district.

It will be called the Opportunity School District (OSD).

It will round-up the worst of Georgia’s schools (up to 20 per year) that are classified as being populated with failing students based on state mandated tests.

Opportunity schools can be chosen from any state public school and the district has little to no defense or recourse to be free of this blunder.  They will literally be ripped away from their school district and indirectly wear a scarlet letter on their shirts, signifying failure and a lack of acceptance in their own district, the district that their parents support emotionally and financially.  They’ve lost the democratic right to vote for the school committee that manages their own school.

This is a sham.

The money to pay the charter schools will come directly out of the local school district budget.

The principal and most of the teachers will be given the boot and replaced by the state controlled OSD.

The purpose of these schools will be to drill as much information into the so-called “failing students” so that their grey cells expand” making them ready to spit it out on the paper and pencil test that is now a computerized multiple choice version of the test.

VOTE NO on November 8 on the OSD amendment and tell as many coworkers, neighbors and family how bad this will be for education Georgia’s school children.