Gov. Nathan Deal takes a question from a member of the audience while discussing the Opportunity School District referendum at a forum in October. He could not sell voters on the OSD, so is trying for a similar result through legislation. Curtis Compton /

Deal rolls out new school takeover plan. Will it help or hurt kids?

Left empty-handed after voters rejected his plan for state takeover of failing schools, Gov. Nathan Deal is back with his promised Plan B.

Deal is trying to do with legislation what voters would not allow him to do through a constitutional amendment — put the control of low-performing schools under the control of someone new. House Bill 338 would allow the state to step into the lowest performing schools and replace the staff or take over the school and give it to someone else to run.

Is the legislation a good idea? A teacher and former president of the the Professional Association of Georgia Educators doesn’t think so. Writing today in the AJC Get Schooled blog, longtime Gwinnett County middle school teacher Tim Mullen says, “The rhetoric about ‘fixing’ failing schools is only political posturing until the real discussion about what is happening in the communities and homes of those students is addressed.”

Mullen says the impact of poverty — and its attendant problems — cannot be overlooked. Nor can the solutions rest solely on teachers. The governor’s plan of simply putting these schools under the control of a charter school network or sending the kids to other schools does not address the core issues that undermine the ability of children to succeed, he says.

On the other hand, Atlanta school choice advocate and attorney Glenn Delk, also writing in the the AJC Get Schooled blog, says the legislation does not go far enough because it doesn’t offer parents a way out of low-performing public schools. He asks, “Do our elected officials propose continuing the insanity of perpetuating a failed governmental monopoly, or do they support giving all Georgians the economic means to make their own choices?”

To read Mullen’s piece, go here. To read Delk’s case for private school choice in Georgia, go here.

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