Opportunity School District: Gov. Nathan Deal, GAE President Dr. Sid Chapman discussion

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Your children are important, and their education is a big part of who they are.

That’s why when you head to the polls November 8th, you’ll want to pay attention to the list of referendums you can vote on–including the first one which has to do with the opportunity school district.

There’s two ways to vote–yes, or no.

Dr. Sid Chapman is the president of the Georgia Association of Educators.

“Provide professional development, advocate for public education, it’s not just teachers–we’re wall to wall with support personnel,” said Chapman.

He’s not a fan of the opportunity school district, which would allow the state to step in to help chronically failing schools.

“The wording on the ballot is deceiving,” said Chapman.

He ran through a few problems he had with the idea of a company the state hires to take over for local school boards.

He talked about schools that had already implemented a similar program.

“Now where these so-called opportunity school districts have modeled after the New Orleans model–the Bobby Jindal model, Memphis, Nashville, Michigan they’ve all failed there,” said Chapman.

But where Dr. Chapman sees failure, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal sees success.

“I expect that progress will come,” said Deal. That’s been the example that happened in Louisiana. In fact the progress there has been rather significant. They showed a 19% increase in their graduation rates for example. The test scores in the Louisiana Recovery School District (which is what they called it) were remarkably higher than they had been.”

That’s why Deal wants you to vote for that first referendum.

Even if you just looked at Bibb County–13 schools qualify to be on the list to become an opportunity school.

8 of those are elementary schools.

Deal says the need for change is large.

“Of third graders at chronically failing schools, only 11.8% of them are reading at grade level,” said Deal.

But why not trust the local school boards to fix it?

Chapman thinks the amendment shows a lack of trust.

“Bringing in private companies to run your local schools, taking away control from your elected officials,” said Chapman.

But Deal wants a change.

“If local school boards want to change this dynamic, I believe they’ve had ample opportunity to do so,” said Deal.

No matter how it happens.

“When they knew this was coming, so if they can pull these schools out of the category of chronically failing, then I would say more power to them–and I would encourage them to do that,” said Deal.

Chapman argues the for profit companies that may come in to run the schools would be disconnected from the students and parents.

“If you’re coming in for a bottom line of profit, then where do you cut? That’s the thing we’ve seen,” said Chapman. “You cut cut cut cut. You’re not going to provide the services that you need and everywhere they’ve come in for profits the ones I’ve spoken up they come in like locusts and then they’re gone. They make their money they close and then they go up.”

But Deal says parents will have a huge influence–one they deserve–on their children’s education.

Parents of children in chronically failing schools can be a part of a parent council.

“I don’t know of a single one of these schools that has such a council now,” said Deal. “Local school boards have not seen fit to reach out to those parents to get them involved.”

“I haven’t seen where they have paid much attention to that in the education reform commission that they Governor appointed,” said Chapman. “Most of them are either superintendents or charter people. There’s one active teacher on that entire committee…it’s just being disingenuous to the people of Georgia.”

Ultimately Deal and Chapman have what they think is the best idea for students in Georgia.

It will be up to you to vote November 8th.

Categories: Bibb County