Wed, 14 September 2016
Georgia’s Governor Wants To Turn His Public Schools Into Post Katrina New Orleans
A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
There’s a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Georgia this November. The word voters will see on their machines election day read thusly:
“Amendment #1: Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?"
It’s Georgia Governor Nathan Deal's cynically misnamed "Opportunity School District" or OSD, the latest atrocity in the bipartisan right wing drive to privatize public education in the United States.
The so-called “Opportunity School District,” as its corporate funded multimillion dollar advertising campaign calls it, empowers the governor, through an agency he appoints, to decide what schools are “failing”, usually by low scores on standardized tests. It authorizes the closing of a hundred Georgia public schools, almost entirely in black Georgia.
The governor then gets to fire up a virtual school district stretching across the entire state, a district in which he alone appoints all the officials on whatever basis at what ever salary suits him. OSD lets the governor create up to a hundred new charter schools in his virtual district to eat the funds which used to go to those public schools. The new OSD charter schools will make fortunes for their investors and contractors, who have already and will continue to donate generously to the governor and his friends. OSD’s charter schools will only be responsible to their own boards and investors, and of course the governor.
There is no “flexibility” or “community involvement” whatsoever. It’s simple school privatization. OSD will strip locally elected school boards, along with parents, teachers and communities of any and all rights to control their schools and the educational destiny of their children.
The only opportunity in Governor Deal’s opportunity school district is a business opportunity for his friends, not an educational opportunity for our children.
The leading candidate to head this contraption is said to be Illinois Democrat Paul Vallas, who shredded the public schools of Chicago and Philly before being named the first head of the post-Katrina New Orleans Recovery School District, an all charter operation created when one-percenters closed all 127 New Orleans public schools. So it’s not metaphor when we say Governor Deal wants to turn Georgia’s schools into those of post-Katrina New Orleans.
Some Democrats DO oppose, though they only criticize Republican privatizers, not Democrats. Some Republicans oppose it too, because OSD will strip locally elected school boards of any semblance of control over the educational futures of children. But the most powerful politicians of both parties do want school privatization. They just don’t like to use p-word, it has “high negatives.” So their privatization amendment is on the ballot, nicely wrapped up to look like something else entirely.
Unlike Democrats and Republicans, many of whom are deep in the pockets of charter school sugar daddies, the Green Party is the only political party which unequivocally opposes school privatization in general and the OSD in particular. If the amendment passes, it will be the biggest set of school closures since Katrina, and Chicago a few years back when Rahm Emanuel shut down 50 schools at once. The eyes of the nation, for a little while will be on Georgia.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com, where you can subscribe to our free weekly email newsletter.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and the co-chair of the GA Green Party. He lives and works near Marietta GA and can be reached via email at email@example.com.