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Dear Decaturish – Opportunity School District is a valiant effort

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Dear Decaturish – Opportunity School District is a valiant effort

Gov. Nathan Deal. Source: Georgia.gov
Gov. Nathan Deal. Source: Georgia.gov

Gov. Nathan Deal. Source: Georgia.gov

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Dear Decaturish,

Governor Deal has been proactive in prospecting and bringing companies to set up headquarters here in the state of Georgia. I wish that DeKalb County could benefit from this as well. DeKalb County has a lot of great qualities: affordable housing, undeveloped land, close proximity to highways and an available work force. There is room for great economic prosperity and job creation.

However, until the problem of our failing schools is addressed and fixed, it is unlikely that we will benefit from new business. What company would choose to relocate in an area where the employees would have the expense of private school tuition in order for their children to receive an adequate education? Until the problem with DeKalb’s failing schools is fixed, new businesses will continue to relocate to other Georgia counties.

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I’ve watched in amazement as entire school boards passed resolutions against Amendment One, the Opportunity School District. These are school boards in which the public school system has a good reputation and graduation rate. Do these board members in other Georgia counties have any idea what a substandard education that children in my neighborhood receive when they attend their zoned school? The Opportunity School District should not be viewed as a political battle between educator groups and the Governor. In today’s America, an equitable education is a civil right.

The OSD plan will allow for up to 20 schools at a time to receive an individualized plan, expert guidance and additional resources for a fixed interval, five to 10 years. It is a concrete plan with a timeline, one that could make a big difference in the education outcomes of thousands of children in DeKalb County. Is it a perfect plan? Of course not. However, I consider it a valiant effort to kick-start achievement in a district that has been allowed to languish and produce large numbers of young adults that are unprepared to begin a professional career.

My children are fortunate because I have been able to move them to schools outside of my zip code (30032) and they are now thriving. There are still many DeKalb children that find themselves trapped in their “zip code” zoned schools. The OSD will give these children a chance by providing better school leadership, clear and attainable goals and accountability within a fixed time period. Better schools and higher graduation rates will lead to better lives for these children, an improved business environment in DeKalb and careers for our graduates. I hope that Georgia voters will consider the children left behind in DeKalb schools and vote YES for Amendment One.

– Rae Harkness

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