The school choice fight rages on in Georgia.

On the ballot this year is a constitutional amendment that would create a statewide “Opportunity School District”. In 2012, Georgia passed an amendment creating its charter school program. Opportunity School District (OSD) is one of the last remaining pieces of Georgia Governor Deal’s education reform initiative. Its function? To assist in the turnaround of failing schools.

According to the proposal’s official site, OSD is, “ased on similar, successful initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee,” and, “would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools and rescue children languishing in them.”

Governor Deal explained:

“While Georgia boasts many schools that achieve academic excellence every year, we still have too many schools where students have little hope of attaining the skills they need to succeed in the workforce or in higher education. We have a moral duty to do everything we can to help these children. Failing schools keep the cycle of poverty spinning from one generation to the next. Education provides the only chance for breaking that cycle. When we talk about helping failing schools, we’re talking about rescuing children. I stand firm on the principle that every child can learn, and I stand equally firm in the belief that the status quo isn’t working.”

Place quality of education over a teacher’s union though, and you’re bound to incur the wrath of a large, national union dedicating immeasurable resources to squashing your local efforts.

Enter the National Education Association (NEA) — one of the largest labor unions in the country. They’re dumping millions into Georgia’s election cycle, hoping to kill Governor Deal’s education reforms.

Georgian, Charlie Harper, who’s covered the issue closely, summarized the election fight:

Unofficial talking points from opponents have tales of the Governor and legislators being whisked away on private jets for junkets to New Orleans to see schools that the Opportunity School District was modeled on. I was on the trip the Governor took to Louisiana. He flew Delta and sat across the wing from me in coach. In fact, he sat in a middle seat, giving first lady Sandra Deal the window seat. Our Governor, in coach.

We have a Governor that has demonstrated he knows that education and criminal activity are inversely linked. Children who fail to receive a proper education are robbed of future economic opportunity. Educators are often the ones making this point when demanding “more”. They get a bit flustered when this argument is not only accepted, but policies are designed to fix this problem that contain both change and accountability.

Amendment one isn’t about power. It’s about accountability.

Harper nailed the opposition’s reason for fighting so adamantly:

Half of the state budget goes into education. Failing schools are the calling card for the education establishment to always come back and ask for “more”.

It’s hard to pour money down a black hole when accountability is required and success is expected. But that is the function of modern unions — combatting efficiency and success.

Concluding, Harper wrote:

That works well if you’re a teachers’ union. The problem is never fixed, so you can always demand “more”. “More” is then given as a reward for service to the experienced teachers in good schools, and only the futures of the most vulnerable students must be sacrificed for this exercise to be repeated every budget cycle. More begets more.

The Opportunity School District isn’t an exercise from a power hungry governor. It’s a chance to hold local districts accountable for the investments state taxpayers are making in their communities.

Follow Kemberlee on Twitter @kemberleekaye


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