Dear Gov. Nathan Deal, I didn't support you but I support your Opportunity School District

Elrado Ramsay of Atlanta is a U.S. Air Force veteran with a master's degree in accounting and finance. In this letter to Gov. Nathan Deal, Ramsay explains why he supports the governor’s Opportunity School District, which goes before voters next month. He sent this piece to the AJC as a letter to the editor, but I asked him if I could share it here on the blog.

Dear Gov. Deal,

As a general matter, I am not one of your supporters. I was not supportive of your run for governor of Georgia. However, I have come to respect your leadership and find that your decisions, and, per se, your government has been quite reasonable and responsible to all the citizens of Georgia.

One of my passions is education. I believe a society has no greater responsibility than to educate its people. I support your Opportunity School District proposal and I believe it is incumbent upon you to go into localities and articulate the arguments for it and call out the hypocrisy in arguments of the miraculously discovered competence of the “local control” brigades.

You must not only make this proposal, but you must go to bat for it because it is critical for a successful future for education in Georgia for years to come.

“Chronically failing schools” are a national cancer. You have found the foresight to do something about it in Georgia, and you should go to work to make this amendment happen. “Local Control” hypocrites are rattled by their perceived loss of academic slush budgets for schools they have written off anyway.

For example, Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, trumpeted the DeKalb County School Board’s “symbolic stand” against the OSD last month. For these people, nothing is real. It is all symbols, and symbolism that schools are improving and that students are learning is eminently sufficient.

The propaganda is nauseating, particularly in African-American school districts where the argument is about a “state takeover.” You must counter this rubbish with facts and logic. Ask these charlatans where was “local control” when these schools were failing year after year after year? If “student performance” is the salient argument, then a takeover by Fred and Wilma Flintstone seems to be an improvement over dumping more money into schools that have had generational destinations of failure.

That people would resist a state triage of schools with failing scores on the College and Career Performance Index for three consecutive years is unconscionable. You must get out in front of Georgians; state the ridiculous, unclothe the cynical, and expose the power drunkards before Nov. 8.

Come to DeKalb County where there are 26 of these laggard schools and confront these people. Ask them to explain themselves in a forum where all Georgia taxpayers can hear them puff about the perennial budgetary and performance bloodbath they are trying to protect. Do not run or hide from these people. Let them speak. Give them the microphone because there is ample guarantee they will eventually make the most cogent case for OSD.

It never fails to amaze me how just when the hammer is coming down all the crooked nails want to be part of the construction program. Of course, now that OSD is on the table, all DeKalb schools will become Harvard High.

I believe this amendment is going to be a significant statement about the legacy you leave behind as the 82nd governor of Georgia. How can we continue to have schools that fail year after year when our problems and our need for more highly educated people become more and more acute?

Given the problems facing us -- global warming, cyber-terrorism, super resistant pathogens, transportation and mobility gridlock choking our lungs and economic progress, military superiority that is no longer as superior as it once was – we cannot afford failing schools.

So, governor, I encourage you to come out swinging on this one before Nov. 8th.


Elrado Ramsay

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About the Author

Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey
Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.