Written by Joshua Smith for “On Common Ground News”
Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to overhaul 141 failing schools is receiving mixed reactions in DeKalb County, which has 26 schools on the list, the second-highest number behind the Atlanta Public School System, which has 27 failing schools.
Deal’s proposal would give the state control over struggling schools to bring them up to par, convert them to charters or shut them down. The governor wants to launch what he is calling the “Opportunity School District” in the 2017 school year.
“Most of you will never understand what it’s like to work as hard as you possibly can in a failing school and fall further and further behind each year. This region has the highest homeless rate in the county and an extremely high rate of transience among students,” said Allen, responding to bloggers on the site. “I watched my school excel when it was a primary school with a class size reduction grant and fall deeper into the abyss every year since the grant was ended. Check the data on Midway Elementary.”
The measure requires a constitutional amendment and Deal says he will work with lawmakers this legislative lesion to put the amendment on the 2016 ballot to create the district.
The proposal is one that has Donna Priest-Brown, who serves as the South DeKalb Parent Council, concerned.
“The pulse I’m getting from parents is at least give us a chance to fix it first before the governor comes in and takes over our schools with people that are complete strangers to our children,” said Priest-Brown, who also serves as co-chair of the Parent Councils United. “A lot of parents are telling me that they don’t think the proposed plan is even about the children, but more so a way for the governor and others to make money by bringing in vendors that specialize in improving education.”
Priest-Brown has a sophomore at Chamblee High School and says that she would like to hear a response from the Superintendent or the school district about what they plan to do.
“As I get mixed reactions on this, I have to say I agree with some aspects of it but disagree with others. I have been checking the (DeKalb School District’s) website daily, but I don’t see a game plan from the school system on this. We don’t have to know the game plan, but we just want to know that the school district has plans to work on this before the governor just moves in on us,” said Priest-Brown.
Marshall Orson, who represents District 2 of the DeKalb County Board of Education, says he believes people need to keep an open mind about the governor’s proposal.
“I believe the governor’s proposed plan is just in the exploratory phase, but we should hear it out,” said Orson. “We have to do something. Parents at failing schools in this district and across the state are eager to find the solution, whatever that may be. As more and more meetings pop up across the county and state on this issue, I expect them to be well attended by parents looking for answers.”
Read the rest here >> Gov. Deal’s overhaul list of failing schools gets mixed reactions
The Georgia Partnership for Educational Excellence, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocate for public education, is hosting a community discussion on the proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 24. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association founded the group in 1992.
The discussion will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Georgia Freight Depot, 65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E., Atlanta. For more information, call 404-223- 2280.
“Our duty is to inform Georgia leaders and stakeholders through research and non-partisan advocacy. By hosting meetings like this one, we want to make an impact on education policies and practices for the improvement of student achievement,” said Stephen D. Dolinger, Ed.D, the group’s president.