Valarie Wilson, executive director of the Georgia School Board Association, strongly urged Glynn County school board members Monday night to continue speaking out against Amendment 1, to be on the Georgia ballot in November.
Amendment 1 would create an Opportunity School District to take over struggling schools in Georgia.
Wilson voiced her opposition of the proposal at the GSBA’s District 8 meeting in Brunswick, attended by several members of the Glynn County Board of Education as well as by members from surrounding counties in District 8.
“We cannot allow this to happen on our watch, because it’s not right,” Wilson said.
Amendment 1, proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal, passed through the state legislation earlier this year. If Georgia voters approve the change to the state constitution, the governor will appoint a superintendent to run the OSD, which would then begin accepting schools deemed as “failing.”
According to the proposal, failing schools would be defined as those that earn an “F” rating on the College and Career Performance Index for three consecutive years.
But Gov. Deal’s proposal, Wilson said, is filled with significant gaps in information.
She said the claimed goal of Deal’s proposal — to rescue students from poorly-run schools — does not appear to be genuine, as its currently written.
“Nowhere in the legislation does it talk about an academic remedy for moving these schools from ‘failing’ to being successful. Nothing in there talks about that,” Wilson said. “This resolution talks about money and facilities and power.”
The GSBA voted at its last meeting to pass a resolution formally opposing Amendment 1. The Glynn County Board of Education also recently joined about 35 other local school districts in passing a resolution to oppose the amendment.
The Georgia Department of Education’s governor-appointed board, however, passed a resolution in support of Amendment 1.
Wilson said the amendment would create redundant legislation, as regulations are already in place to allow the state to support struggling schools.
“There are statutes on the books currently that allow the state to come in and to contract with local boards of education for turn around,” she said.
And she said the CCRPI score, a school accountability measure used by the Department of Education, was not designed to determine “failing” schools, but instead to chart growth, or lack thereof.
The proposal states that 68,000 students in Georgia currently attend schools that the state deems as “failing.” But missing from the proposal, Wilson said, is the fact that 68,000 students only makes up 1 percent of the 1.7 million children in the state attending public schools.
“Those are things that we have got to make sure we are sharing with our communities,” she said. “We have to talk about that. We have to make sure that people at least go to websites … and read the facts and make an informed decision.”
Millard Allen, a Glynn County school board member, said the board’s role will be to make sure local voters fully understand the proposal before they enter the voting booth on Nov. 8.
“If you look at the way Amendment 1 is written, you look at it and say ‘Gosh, if I vote against this it’s motherhood, the flag and apple pie,’ — but that’s not what it is,” he said. “So we really have a big job to educate … and just make sure the message is clear.”