Response to today’s conversation

Commenters on the AJC Get Schooled blog debated Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District, which will come before voters next year. They also discussed the decision by the Atlanta Public Schools to pay outgoing Deal education adviser Erin Hames $96,000 to help the district avert state takeover of failing schools. Here is a sampling of comments:

HS Math: Does a state takeover include making sure kids get promoted based on merit? I’m sick and tired of our teachers trying to rescue and salvage kids who are three to four years behind the 9th grade level. Let’s make a Deal: Fund our schools at the true level they should be and, if a school gets “taken over,” you call the parents and tell them their kids are flunking. You write the lesson plans you think will remedy the situation. You make sure 180 copies are made, and teach the special ed teachers what the flavor of the day is.

Milton: All of the schools targeted for state takeover are in liberal areas. How apropos.

Point: So much manure being thrown around about this. It has not worked in the other states that have been taking over schools districts for more than 10 years. Communities have less say in what happens, minorities, poor and special education students are left out, and the taxpayers are double billed.

Living: Before APS schools are moved into the Opportunity School District, give Superintendent Meria Carstarphen a year to show progress. As the head of 50,000-plus students, one of the largest systems in the state, she deserves a chance to show she can turn them around. It doesn’t make sense to take schools out of APS when the new superintendent hasn’t had a chance to execute her turnaround strategy.

Enoch: Now that there’s a threat of a takeover, APS suddenly sees urgency in fixing schools that are truly awful. Not one peep from the usual suspects about terrible schools or a deep desire to see them improve.

Jaggar: There is nothing you can do when parents are at fault. It is statistically proven children who succeed have parents who are involved.

Moderate: For years, I have heard reform after reform, and the same problems exist. The right wants more testing and teacher pay tied to performance. The left complains about racism and poverty. If poverty and race are a problem, why does a country like Vietnam outperform the United States in math? Yet Norway, probably among the richest countries in the world, barely outperforms the U.S. The solutions proposed by the left and right are both failures. More money doesn’t work, and more testing doesn’t work.

MD3: Someone with minimal experience in education can somehow swing a no-bid contract for almost $100k by proclaiming herself some kind of expert? I guess if we lived in a state that had any sort of reputation for having ethical leadership, this would seem outrageous. But because ethics don’t exist in Georgia, it generates little more than a yawn. We get the leadership we deserve, I suppose.

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