Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Vote "No" on School Take-over

With one flick of your finger on November 8th, you will make a decision that will have a profound effect on our children and generations to come.   No, I’m not talking about whether you vote for Trump or Clinton.  I’m talking about how you vote on Amendment 1, a proposed Amendment to change the way our children are schooled.  Voting on an Amendment to our Georgia Constitution is basically an everlasting law.  There is no quick remedy when the people vote to amend the Constitution.  You can’t say, “Oops!  We made a mistake, it’s not working,” and then easily undo the changes wrought by the new law.

Usually, the most over-looked aspect of the voter ballot is the section on Amendments.  We tend to think that voting is all about the candidates and we spend much time studying and deciding who would be the best for our state and nation.  Then when we enter the voting booth, “We say, Oh snap!  I forgot about the Amendments.”  Then we try to make an on-the-spot decision based solely on the wording on the ballot.  I have been guilty of this.  Amendment 1 on this year’s ballot is one of the most important initiatives we have ever had to decide.  Let’s treat it as such and give it the attention it demands.

We now have the wording of the proposed Amendment 1 to our Georgia Constitution on our 2016 ballot.
Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?
( ) YES (X ) NO

I hate the word “failing.”  Most of the children impacted by this Amendment are minorities and children living in poverty.  These children have enough challenges without being further stigmatized.  Also, the word “intervene” should be “taken over.”

The following are a few things that the ballot wording did not tell you.  This is only the tip of the iceberg.

Governor Deal was nearing the end of his second term and needed a signature accomplishment for his legacy.  This Amendment gives Governor Deal the authority to take over failing schools and place them under his new program called the Opportunity School District (OSD).  He will appoint one person with sole authority as the Superintendent of the OSD.  Beginning with the 2017-18 school year, they will select 20 schools from the now list of 139 failing schools, and place them under OSD. They will add 20 schools each year up to 100. When these schools are taken over, we will have no clue what will happen to our children because the Amendment makes no mention of what or how our children will be taught. 

It doesn’t matter that we have an elected school Superintendent.  The person appointed by the Governor as Superintendent of OSD will usurp his authority.  There will be no local school boards or local superintendents overseeing these schools.  Parents have no input; there will be no appeals process for parents, taxpayers, or the local Board of Education.  All decisions will be made in a central Atlanta office.   However our tax dollars will still support these schools.  This is a clear case of “taxation without representation.”  The OSD Superintendent will decide which teachers to keep and the administrative staff will be automatically replaced.  The local school district will be responsible for the legal cost of terminations, RIF’s, and non-renewals.  And lest we forget, all the state, local, and funding for these students will be transferred to the OSD School. 

This constitutional amendment is fraught with many inexplicable requirements.  One is if OSD closes a school, the local school district cannot use the facilities for three years.  What if a local school district needs a new school or needs to expand and there is a building just setting there that cannot be used? 

The OSD also has the authority to make a failing school, a charter school.  That opens up another rotten can of worms.  I daresay, that’s what this is really all about; a pathway to privatizing and profiteering off our schools.  The constitutional provisions for the charter schools call for the local school district to pay for all repairs except routine maintenance.  Yet, the charter school gets all the funding allocated for those students. 

Do your homework before voting on this Amendment!  You owe it to all the children of Georgia.  And don’t be swayed when the Koch Brothers unleash millions of dollars in pro-OSD advertising any day now.  They oppose public education and will spend any amount to win.  If they win, our children lose.


  1. Thank you, Marilyn, for all your insightful research. I must remember to get registered in Fulton County so that I can vote in Nov. Will find out where I need to go to do this right now.

    1. Unfair and unbalance on school take over?
      Up to the 1990’s the USA was the top Country with the BEST education, followed by Japan and China.
      From 1995 to 2008 we fell to the 16th country. Under obama we have fallen to below the 35th county as of 2015, where Japan and China fight for the best country in education. We used to hold spelling bees, math quizzes with other countries, now we cannot do that, our kids are too stupid. It is especially bad when Chinese and Japanese immigrants come here and can speak, and read better English than our own citizens, and obama calls this progress? Whatever standards we had back from the 1960 to the 1990’s we need to go back to, where we can educate our children, instead of indoctrinating them. The USA spends more money per student than any other country in the world, yet we have the dumbest children around when it comes to education. They have some states that make it illegal to teach a child proper English, for they think it is oppressive. So they teach ebonics instead of teaching proper English. From my time as giving hiring test, I found today’s USA kids cannot do basic Math either The Teachers due to all the other non-educational stuff that is mandated for them to teach, like you child maybe gay, are not allow enough time to teach a proper class, so what they do is teach what is on the test and forget about the rest, so doing this Math, Science, History suffers to what is only found on the standard test. Whose fault is this? It is ours for allowing this to happen. The USA, used to be the greatest country with the best education, is now listed below the 35th country, they have children in war zones that get a better education than our children. Where Japan and China are still in the Top Two Countries with the best education. So what should we do? It seems we cannot come up with a plan to educate our children, so we need to fire the Board of Education, and all teachers, and hire in people from Japan and China as replacement, since it seems they know how to give an excellent education to their children.

    2. I agree that we need to re-examine the way we educate. I was schooled in late 50's and 60's in a very rural GA area and I got a very good education. We had recess, music, drama. School was fun, yet we learned. Few discipline problems. Today, the teachers are stressed, the children are stressed, and the parents are stressed. Having said that, the answer is NOT to put the children in an environment that advertises that they are failures and different from the other children in their city (who happen to be mostly white).

  2. This is one of the slimiest things that Deal has ever done, and he's done plenty. You know that this is just a way for him to privatize the schools, and then he and his buds are going to make pots of money off it. And we the taxpayers are the dummies who will be paying for it. The kids are absolutely the last consideration in this, another rotten "Deal."

    1. Dead on! We have to be vocal and not allow this travesty to happen.

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