The Georgia Senate on Thursday approved a measure introduced by Gov. Nathan Deal that would allow the state to temporarily take over what it calls chronically failing schools.
Deal and its backers say the so-called Opportunity School District gives students and parents hope for a better future. It now goes to the House and, if approved there, will go before voters, probably in 2016, since it is a constitutional amendment.
Deal praised the Senate.
“Today, we are one step closer to creation of an Opportunity School District, and one step closer to restoring children’s and parents’ hopes for a brighter future,” Deal said. “We’ve seen the successes that Louisiana, Tennessee and Michigan attained with similar, bipartisan measures. Working together, I believe Georgians can achieve the same for our students and families.”
The measure passed the Senate with 38 votes, the least possible for a two-thirds majority on an amendment.
“Through the efforts of our legislators,” Deal said, “we will put this referendum on the ballot so that Georgians can assure that a child’s chance of success isn’t dependent on his or her ZIP code.”
A simple majority is all that is required when the issue goes to voters at the next general election.
The OSD would allow the state to intervene in schools that have received failing grades for three consecutive years. The district could add no more than 20 schools per year, for a total of 100 at any given time. The schools would remain in the OSD for no less than five years and no more than 10 years.
“The Opportunity School District will allow us to bring new focus by education experts, better governance and best practices to schools that have underachieved for too long. The children trapped in these schools can’t wait…” the governor said. “It’s my vision, and that of many legislators here, that every high-school graduate in Georgia should have the skills needed to enter the workforce or further their educations in college.”
— Compiled from news releases