Gov. Deal’s Opportunity School District is Now About Poverty and Crime!

Gov. Deal’s Opportunity School District is Now About Poverty and Crime!

That’s right.  In a paid TV advertisement, the Governor is pleading with folks in Georgia to Vote Yes on Question 1 on the November 8th ballot.  His message is that if you vote Yes, then poverty and crime will be affected.

Where did this language come from?  Why is Deal using it to promote his pet education project?

In particular, Gov. Deal is claiming that,

If you vote Yes on Question 1 on the November 8th Ballot, then the Opportunity School District will somehow

  1. End the cycle of poverty and crime
  2. Carry out a rescue operation from 127 failing schools

screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-9-04-02-pmThese two new outcomes will result from changing 127 public schools to 127 private charter schools. Now, mind you, in all the documents that were filed in the Georgia Legislature related to Senate Bill 133 during the 2016 legislative session, poverty and crime were not discussed as part of this bill.

In fact, I ran a search of Georgia Senate Bill 133, and neither the word crime or poverty appear in the document.

So it looks like there has been a shift in the rationale for the OSD.  Instead of just improving kids’ test scores on the OSD will reduce crime and end the cycle of poverty.

The 127 schools will do this.

Are you kidding?  The Governor has it backwards.

Georgia citizens will have an opportunity on November 8th to tell the Governor and his cronies that the OSD is a fraud.

According to Nathan Deal’s comments on a 30 second video, the OSD is going to break the cycle of poverty and crime, rescue children trapped in 127 failing schools.

And if you watch another video from Georgia Leads on Education, Gov. Deal’s political action group, you will have to have brown bag handy.

The language and the imagery of the Georgia Leads video tape propaganda serves only the Governor, his daughter-in-law (Denise Deal) whose company (Southern Magnolia Capital) will earn 5% its raising for Deal’s opportunity pac, as well those people who will come into the state and set up private charter schools in local Georgia districts, use the local communities’ money, and have little to no tie to the school community.

This equation was never part off the legislation (Senate Bill 133) that went through the the Georgia Legislature
This equation was never part off the legislation (Senate Bill 133) that went through the the Georgia Legislature

Words like fix, crime, criminal justice system, crisis, less fortunate propagate the Georgia Leads video.  Combined with the Deal 30 second video, we have a newly reconfigured OSD based on poverty and crime.

The one who gets an F is the Governor and his staff that have pushed the OSD.
The one who gets an F is the Governor and his staff who have pushed the OSD, not the 127 schools in the chronically failing list.

But the fundamental problem here, is ancient thinking suggesting that the schools can have the major impact on poverty and crime, when we know that these are more complex issues, and simply holding professional teachers as the one’s responsible for solving a massive problem is unfathomable and unconscionable.

Deal’s view of education, poverty and crime is without any base of research and knowledge.  It is based on undemocratic politics and questionable ethics. The Opportunity School District is rooted in Deal’s ethical and financial problems, and has nothing to do with improving education in Georgia.

Improving School Achievement

The solution to school achievement, as presented by David C. Berliner in his research article, Our Impoverished View of Educational Reform, in Learning From the Federal Market-Based Reforms (Library Copy), edited by William J. Mathis and Trina M. Trujillo is embedded in the problem of poverty.

In 2005, Berliner analyzed the relationships among educational achievement and poverty.  His 2005 article was republished in the Mathis & Trujillo research book, and as Dr. Berliner says, the relationships he describes and arguments he made are exactly the same as today.

In Berliner’s original study, his work is summarized in this sentence.

The data presented in this study suggest that the most powerful policy for improving our nations’ school achievement is a reduction in family and youth poverty (Berliner, p.439)

The fiasco that Deal has run through the state legislature and now put before the voters of Georgia to plunder Georgia school districts by taking possession of more than 120 schools over the next year and beyond is a fraud.

It must be stopped.  It must be voted down.

Vote NO on question 1 on the November 8 Georgia ballot.


We Should Be Mad as Hell, and Not Take It Anymore from the Governor & His Opportunity School District Plan

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We Should Be Mad as Hell, and Not Take It Anymore from the Governor & His Opportunity School District Proposal.


The Governor’s Hypocrisy: Charter Lobbyist Pays for Travel to New Orleans Recovery School District.  The Governor claims it is his moral duty to rescue Georgia’s struggling schools by taking them over.  I think he has an ethical problem, and needs to come forward to explain himself.

When the Governor flew his hand-picked team to New Orleans to find out about the cities’ Recovery School District, he forgot to mention that a special interest group paid for the trip.

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 9.06.32 PM
Click on the image to go to Empowered Georgia to learn more about how special interest groups will use its funds to support the Governor and his supporters who wish to dismantle public education in Georgia.

The AJC reported that an out-of-state special interest group paid to fly state officials out to New Orleans and Tennessee to sell the Opportunity School District idea. This special interest group spent over $10,000 on luxury hotels, first-class airfare, and fine dining on just one trip.  That’s $10,000.  Many of the parents who send their students to charter schools in the Recovery School District work to try to earn $20,000 to $30,000 per year, and our Governor enables a pro-charter company to spend 1/3 of a families’ budget on their junket to New Orleans.

I don’t know about you, but I’m mad as hell.

What was the Governor thinking?

Or, I’m sorry, he wasn’t thinking.  He was following orders from corporate special interest groups who are bent on dismantling public education in favor of the corporatist model that is plaguing U.S. education.

And that Special Interest Group, StudentsFirst, was formed by Michelle Rhee.  When she resigned as superintendent of D.C. Schools, she formed StudentsFirst which is a political lobbying group that works with legislators to change the laws governing schools and teachers. In particular, it fosters choice and vouchers, and is a steadfast supporter of charter schools.   StudentsFirst pushes doctrines of student choice, charter schools, and the dismissal of teacher tenure.

So, this group sent the Governor packing to New Orleans to find out about charter schools in the Recovery School District and how they improved student’s academic learning in struggling schools in the post-Katrina era.


The Governor’s advance team never talked with people in New Orleans who have done research and shown that the New Orleans experiment has not been a raving success.  He doesn’t want to hear this.  All he want to do now is make sure he gets the votes in the House to pass Senate Bill 133 and Senate Resolution 287.

I don’t know about you, but I’m still mad as hell.

[Georgia’s] Governor, Nathan Deal, and most of the members of the General Assembly fail to understand that the corporatist agenda they are pushing will do great harm to the education of children and youth. I just don’t know what will move them to realize that education is in the public sphere, much like our state and national parks, forests and wildlife preserves, and should be protected from the corporate privateers.

But don’t expect any protection from Governor Deal and those who accompanied him to New Orleans to “learn” about the Recovery School District.

The 1976 movie, Network, from which I borrowed the lines “mad as hell, and not take it any more,” is extremely relevant today, especially when we think what has happened to American education since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002.  Screen writer Sidney Aaron “Paddy” Chayefsky‘s (three academy awards for screen writing, including Network), words make so much sense in the context of the Opportunity School District.

The Governor, instead of using research from scholars in the University System of Georgia, bends his ears to corporatists who use tabloid journalism to spread lies about teachers, and American schools.  The only crisis in education is the ongoing invasion by the locusts of corporate reform and their heap of followers.

And finally, as Chayefsky wrote in Network:

I want you to get up right now. Sit up. Go to your windows. Open them and stick your head out and yell – ‘I’m as mad as hell and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Things have got to change. But first, you’ve gotta get mad!…You’ve got to say, ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’ Then we’ll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first, get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: ‘I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not gonna take this anymore!’

Innovation in Education: Time for Change

Ok, now that there is going to be a political change in Washington, and in many state governments as well, will this be reflected in needed changes in education, especially in science, mathematics and technology education? There is an enormous need at the Federal level that supports educational innovation, and that this philosophy be reflected in national standards and state wide policy as well.

A friend of mine in a large Russian city wrote recently that scientists can be trusted more than politicians. I would tend to agree with this, yet would encourage us to believe that politicians can be held accountable for their actions. I think the recent election results bear this out

I’ve written in earlier posts that the Bush administration has not really been a friend of science, and has not made use of scientific knowledge to make important decisions. In specific cases, White House lawyers have been involved in the “rewriting” of scientific reports so that the resulting papers would better reflect administration policy. I cited an example in which some of the work on climate change of James Hanson was rewritten as cited in this link.

What kind of change is needed? In my own view, a systemic change is needed starting with the No Child Left Behind Law, and its associated mandate of student testing at nearly every grade level, from K – 12. This approach is added enormous pressure on students to continuously measure up to set of standards that are by far an attempt to “cover the ground” in each academic discipline, rather than help students uncover the delight of knowing science or mathematics or history. For example, in a new report to be issued by the National Research Council entitled Taking Science to School, the authors recommend a new generation of standards, and these standards at the national and state levels should be structured to identify a few core ideas in a particular subject, and how these ideas can be cumulatively developed over time. The report also claims that current standards do not take into account what is now known about children’s thinking , especially the cognitive abilities of younger children. (You can read this report for free online at the National Academy Press.

The No Child Left Behind Law has tended to thwart innovation. Local principals are really not interested in creative or innovative teaching. They are interested in how well their students will do on the Spring tests. And its not to say that these principals do not know about the value of creativity and innovation; its simply that they are held accountable by how well students do on a trivial test. A single test. One day in the life of a student. And that determines how well they are doing. Unfortunately, superintendents of education at the state level are hired or run for office on this ticket, and then become the chief spokesperson for an outmoded plan based on questionable results in Texas when Bush was governor then.

I find it interesting that the state that I live in (Georgia) has a supposed “education” governor, but he has done nothing to advance education in the state or even to mention creative or innovative teaching in anything that he has said. And coupled with the fact that the superintendent of Education in Georgia hasn’t had an original idea in her life, there is little hope for change here until there is a change at this level. Unfortunately, they were both re-elected.

So we need to look to the Federal level. Now that the House and the Senate are in the hands of the Democrats, there is a greater chance for dialog between the Congress and the Administration. I say this because now we have a two-party system back in Washington, and innovation and new ideas tend to have a better chance of emergence than what we have had recently.

I would like to see a group convened by Congress that would be comprised of innovative teachers, constructivist and humanistic researchers, select group of governors, heads of a few innovative foundations, and legislators to set an agenda for educational change that would focus on innovation and creativity in teaching and learning. The knowledge that we have about how children learn needs to be integrated into educational change and policy. Curriculum development needs to be reinvigorated and supported at the national level in all areas of the curriculum. The group should also examine the research on teacher education, and encourage colleges and universities to develop models of teacher education that are experiential and based on constructivist models of learning. In each of these recommendations, there are examples out there that could be used as starting points for change.

And finally, we need a educational leaders at the national level that not simply political hacks or cronies. We need strong forward looking educators to take charge, and lead educators further into this century.