(The Weekend “I’m Ranting” Edition)
My father used to tell me often that there are three things you don’t discuss in polite conversation: sex, religion, and politics and I have always done my best to be cautious when the subjects come up, unless the conversation isn’t at all polite and then I have at it. This, of course, means I have had plenty of opportunities to talk about all three during this election season because nothing, I repeat NOTHING, about this quadrennial event can be called polite and Lord knows we’ve been force fed all three whether we wanted a seat at the table or not. It is for this reason that I am going to forgo all that my father taught me (sorry dad), throw caution to the wind, and discuss politics in this very polite forum. Okay. Not really. It’s my blog and I can be impolite if I want to. So let’s talk the politics of education shall we>
So, if you live in Georgia, you are already aware that Governor Deal’s been channeling his inner Pinky and the Brain and has come up with a plan to take over the world, which in this context, actually means schools. In a push to “help” chronically failing schools, he is having us vote to change the state constitution to allow the creation of an Opportunity School District. For those of you who aren’t from Georgia and who are unfamiliar with this concept let me explain. The Governor is asking “we the people” to allow the state to “assume the supervision, management, and operation of failing public elementary and secondary schools, including the power to receive, control, and expend appropriated funds for such purposes.” In other words, the state wants permission to take over the schools with the goal of improving student achievement. This sounds like a great plan. Shoot. It sounds down right noble doesn’t it? After all, Governor Deal himself stated “I’m in my last term as governor. I didn’t have to take this on…but I think there’s a responsibility when you’re elected to be the governor of this state to focus on the problems that your state has.” *Insert slow clap here* Thank you, good sir, for your sacrifice. (Note: This statement was made AFTER he used the word “colored” when referring to Blacks in Georgia. He claims he misspoke because he was frustrated and meant to say the National Association of Colored People but for real. Who calls the NAACP by it’s government name anymore? And how many of us, when frustrated, opt to using derogatory terms for people of color? Seriously? I call BS but that’s just me. I’ll let you decide. You can read the quote and the full article here.)
So, what’s my real issue with this ballot proposal? The fact that the OSD was modeled after similar concepts that failed miserably in Tennessee and New Orleans? Or perhaps it’s the headline that only a few weeks ago read “Governor’s relative earns commission from role in school takeover fight.” Maybe it’s the absolute lack of concrete details concerning how the OSD will work and what impact it will have on communities and educators. Or further still, maybe it’s the educators, politicians, and parents, on both sides of the aisle, who have spoken out against it. Could it be because the person who was a part of the governor’s administration and helped craft the OSD bill is now working with Atlanta Public Schools to FIGHT it? Yes. It is all those things. But as one who is impassioned about educational equity for all children I have a question. What makes the State of Georgia equipped to turn around anyone’s school? The reason there is a proposed need for the OSD is the mediocrity that, until Common Core, the state passed off as quality standards for our students. When the new Georgia Milestone Tests were released a few years ago, the uproar concerning the rigor of the assessments from legislators, students and parents was deafening. Why? Because as any quality teacher could tell you, the previous tests and the standards they tested were laughable. This damage was self-inflicted and now the state has found a solution that has failed elsewhere? Forgive me as I channel by inner Public Enemy and loudly declare, “Can’t trust it!”
Do we need education reform? Yes. Do we need a government who has spent years failing our students to intervene? No. The state is unqualified to fix failing schools but being unqualified appears to be a theme this year. Our students deserve better and it is up to us to make sure they get it. I’m up for the challenge. How about you?
You may now return to regular polite conversation elsewhere.