Toomer Elementary among APS schools that would be eligible for takeover under Gov.’s planA photo of Toomer Elementary students. Photo from TalkUpAPS blog.
Gov. Nathan Deal believes the state should take control of a local school if consistently comes up short on the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index.
He’s backing a constitutional amendment that would allow for the creation of Opportunity School Districts.
“In the governor’s proposal, persistently failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measure, the College and Career Performance Index (CCRPI), for three consecutive years,” a press release from the Governor’s Office says.
Four Atlanta elementary schools that feed into Jackson High School meet the definition of a “persistently failing school.”
– Toomer Elementary
– Benteen Elementary
– D.H. Stanton Elementary
– Dunbar Elementary
“I would like nothing more than for the need for the Opportunity School District to decline every year; that would show our reforms are working,” Deal said in a press release. “But everyone – regardless of where they stand on this issue – can agree that today there is a need. We know from other states such as Louisiana and Tennessee that these programs can produce positive results for students and communities.”
Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said she is working to avoid having the state take over one of the system’s schools.
“We believe that every student in Georgia deserves an excellent education,” she said via email. “As a new administrative team, we are focused on doing what is best for students by removing barriers and providing opportunities for all students in the system, especially those who have been historically undeserved. APS is moving down the path toward becoming a charter system. This will allow us to provide more autonomy, flexibility and discretion around resources. Additionally, it carves a path for community engagement for schools and their communities to meet every student’s unique needs. We hope that through building trusting, collaborative relationships with our communities that APS will be able to achieve positive outcomes for our students without state intervention.”
Under the governor’s proposal, “The Opportunity School District would take in no more than 20 schools per year, meaning it would govern no more than 100 at any given time. Schools would stay in the district for no less than five years but no more than 10 years.”
Education in the Jackson Cluster is in flux at the moment.
Last year, the Atlanta Board of Education voted to close Coan Middle and merge it with King Middle. The decision came after parents lobbied to make Toomer Elementary a K-8 school, in part because of the popularity of Drew Charter School and its drag on middle school enrollment at Coan and King. The former superintendent, Erroll Davis, nixed that idea shortly before leaving APS, and instead recommend the school system reexamine middle school education in the Jackson Cluster.
State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, introduced the Opportunity School District legislation.
State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, said the idea of a state takeover seems contrary to Republican ideology. She noted that two of the schools that would meet the definition of a failing school are state-chartered schools.
“I find this almost to be the antithesis of what Republicans talk about when they talk about government overreach,” Drenner said.