Gov. Deal on fixing the ‘worst of the worst’ of Georgia’s public schools

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

The next several months could prove crucial to the future of Georgia’s children, in ways that have nothing to do with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

First is a measure that’s also on the ballot this November: the Opportunity School District sought by Gov. Nathan Deal. That referendum will be followed in January by the governor’s long-awaited package of education reforms, including changes to the way the state distributes money to schools.

“They all fit together,” Deal said during an interview last week, speaking about OSD and the reform package. “If we don’t do something about the worst of the worst, then not only statistically are we going to continue to look bad, but in practicality, we’re going to continue to suffer the consequences of students who are being required to attend failing schools.”

With OSD, voters are asked to amend the state constitution to allow the state to intervene drastically in schools with at least three consecutive years of failing grades from the state. Deal expanded on what that failure really looks like.

“Their graduation rates are significantly lower” than the state average, he said. “Fifty-three-point-something percent of their students actually graduate.

“Their reading skills in the lower grades are significantly lower than the reading skills on average. And the average is nothing to be proud of, quite frankly, when you have almost one out of every three students leaving the third grade who are not reading at third grade level – that’s (out of) everybody. We’ve got a lot of work to do there.”

Deal also specifically linked the need to shore up the state’s worst public schools to another long-running priority of his: criminal justice reform.

“When you look at our reforms in our prisons, and you find that the most common characteristic of inmates in our state prisons that are costing us $19,000 a year on average to keep them confined … is that they dropped out of school, then if we want to do something about our crime, if we want to make our dollars go further and not spending on incarceration but on helping students be better, more productive citizens, then these kind of reforms are part of a bigger picture.”

That bigger picture, Deal suggested, is why even voters whose children attend good public schools should care about the OSD. He cited not only the cost to taxpayers of jailing criminals, but the likelihood that high-school dropouts don’t commit crimes only in their backyards.

“The state becomes the playground for criminal conduct,” he said. “They may not have a failing school in their community, but that does not mean they are immune to the consequences of children who drop out of failing schools, if they resort to a life of crime.”

The governor also chided those who, angry about his vetoes of campus-carry and religious liberty bills earlier this year, have suggested they will oppose OSD in retaliation.

”If people see that you are that vindictive, or that narrow-minded, that you’re … willing to be actively vindictive about reforms that would make our state better,” he said, “that doesn’t speak well of whatever cause you’re for.”

Reader Comments 0

30 comments
Janice Hudson
Janice Hudson

My Heart Weeps when Gov. Deal is angry because he can't get rid of schools that were ruined and ignored after the testing scam!!! Schools the city promised assistance so the children will be able to reach their educational levels! Schools who's needs for updated equipment, and building repairs were slow in arriving!! Schools located in areas that can't promote growth because Major Banks are not willing to assist in loaning for quality small buildings!!!!Schools with dedicated Teachers having to teach children who are labeled as less important by high officials even before they graduate!!!! Doomed to fail as adults!!! Schools that are a drain on taxes!!!! Schools located in area ideal for the growth of, 'GEORGIAWOOD'!!!! BUT, CEO"s Promising money to build a new stadium if the tax payers match their offer!!!! But, when the amount to complete the stadium raises higher than the original CEO;s offer!!! The tax payers pays and CEO's aren't required to match the increase!!!!! So the tax payers have paid more than the CEO's whose names coves the stadium!!!! But, finance assistance for children's educational needs is a problem!! 

rmitch788
rmitch788

I think that the legislature will hold the OSD bill hostage. They will very early in the session pass some versions of religious liberty and campus carry bills but refuse to vote on OSD until he has called for and signed the other bills.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@rmitch788 I believe they have voted on it. It just waits the vote of the people as an amendment.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

"Why are the "worst of the worst" always in poor neighborhoods?"

------

Because of the large percentage of households without a father.

Let me know if I can help with anything else.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

It's not the schools fault or the teachers fault. Are we going to blame the kids? No--it's the irresponsible, immoral "parents".

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Here is the state's OSD record so far - The state run charter commission schools.


C-5 schools

D-5 schools

F-5 schools


https://schoolgrades.georgia.gov/school-search?f


These schools have no financial accountability to the public, do not have to publish salary or vendor amounts as do real public schools, and do not have to meet charter goals.

They do not get closed because the state seems to have created a new "framework" that these schools may choose instead of meeting their original charter goals.


Is this the model for the OSD?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Why are the "worst of the worst" always in poor neighborhoods?  Someone needs to answer that, because the "cure" must address it.  Will the schools offer after school and weekend tutoring?  Serve supper?  Will the schools offer typical middle class field trips, in addition to instruction?  Will the schools have available, like Westminister and Drew Charter, all kinds of supplemental student services and materials?  Will the schools have social services available for the adults who are raising these children?


All of this will cost an incredible amount of extra money.


Will the state provide new buildings, a la North Atlanta High?


Will the most recognized teachers from the highest ranked schools be transferred to teach these students?


How would the state pay for this "miracle?"

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Wascatlady it's long past time for people to recognize it's not the building, it's not the extra services, etc.

Instead, it's the teachers and how the time is used coupled with parent involvement to ensure the kid is following the plan.

Serve supper?

That's an indicator.

An AJC article on the APS cheating mess showed that almost all students in APS were on the free meal program.  I assume that is breakfast and lunch if a school offers breakfast.  Now they want dinner too?

Let's see.

If the Left gets its way pre-K will expand.  Parents can get up, rush their kid off to school and get him/her back after dinner time.  Or maybe grandmother gets the kid back.

Therein is the true problem - parental involvement, more free stuff, and no responsibility.

Starik
Starik

@Wascatlady @JohnnyReb It's the kids in low income schools, some of the teachers in those schools, and the parents who can't take care of themselves, let alone their kids.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

I wish Deal well in his fight for Georgia's kids, but he's up against two huge special-interest groups--Big Education, and a large percentage of parents who have no business raising children.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Lil_Barry_Bailout if I can take your comment a step further -

There is a large group of parents who are not raising their children.

In some cases it's negligence, while others it's single parent households where the demands of a job and household keeps the parent from giving the kids the attention needed.

The problem is accepted by the Left who wants to transfer more and more responsibility for raising kids to government programs instead of working the root of the problem.  Evidence is their desire to expand pre-K when data shows by the 4th grade there is no difference in kids.

They want the free day care.

Pop culture celebrates baby daddies whereas it still should be that unwed mothers are discussed quitely with some degree of shame.

It's all collateral damage from liberal welfare programs. 

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@JohnnyReb "when data shows by the 4th grade there is no difference in kids."

And you have a source for this? There are other studies showing pre-K works long term, which I find a better measurement than some bubbles filled in on a standardized test. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Instead of the State taking over county schools - 

My preference is vouchers to parents, same amount per child, that are then passed to their choice of public or private school.

Let the chips fall where they will.

Bad schools would disappear.

Commitment could be a year in advance for planning purposes.

As to Deal's vindictive comment, the vote is the parents only form of control.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@JohnnyReb

You just said that parents were not involved or responsible enough to properly parent their children. Then you say you want to give those parents vouchers they can give to schools with no taxpayer accountability.

FlaTony
FlaTony

Please find and publish the evidence that show OSD works in the states where it has been implemented. To my knowledge Michigan, Tennessee, and Louisiana have all been failures.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Lil_Barry_Bailout @FlaTony It actually is what he thinks it is. After hours of reading OSD research, I could find no appreciable positive effect attributable to OSD's that used same child(or similar populations) same test, same cut score methods. 


There are plenty of articles written that try to paint OSD's as effective but use faulty/improper research methods and practices to slant the story.

2013SummitTeam
2013SummitTeam

@ajc that idiot couldn't find his butt with two fingers and a flashlight. He should resign in shame and hope GA eventually forgets him.