In previewing this year’s election, here’s a look at the proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution.
When voters see the ballot on Nov. 8 they will be asked to not only choose local, state and federal representatives but also to help out with the Georgia Constitution.
Four constitutional amendments will be on this year’s ballot. Here is a look at what those amendments are and what they mean for voters.
AMENDMENT 1 – OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT
WILL APPEAR AS: Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”
WHAT IT IS: On the ballot, Amendment 1 reads as follows: “Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement. Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?" Voters may answer “yes” or “no.”
If approved, Amendment 1 would authorize the creation of a new statewide “Opportunity School District” (OSD). A superintendent appointed and supervised by the Governor would run the OSD.
Public schools scoring 60 or below on Georgia’s College and Career Readiness Index for three consecutive years would be judged “chronically failing.” The OSD would take control of these schools’ money, facilities, equipment, and operations. The OSD could retain their teachers, staff, and administrators or release them to the local school board for reassignment or layoff.
Following takeover, individual schools could be closed, administered by the OSD, transferred to the State Charter Schools Commission, or run by the local school board under a contract with the OSD requiring specific changes. The local board of education would lose control of the school for a minimum of five and a maximum of ten years.
Governor Deal proposed creation of the OSD as a way of helping children and families as well as reducing poverty and crime in the communities served by chronically failing schools. Students now attending OSD schools eligible are nearly all low-income or minority.
Opponents argue the OSD will not give struggling schools what works, namely the additional resources needed to hire the best teachers, support smaller class sizes, give students more attention, and provide “wrap around” health and nutrition services. They point out that OSD-like approaches in Louisiana and Tennessee have not always worked. They believe schools are best run by locally elected citizens.
WHO SUPPORTS IT?
Legislators who supported the amendment’s corresponding legislation are Sen. Butch Miller (R-49), Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-37, Sen. Rick Jeffares (R-17), Sen. Freddie Powell Sims (D-12), Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-53), Gov. Nathan Deal (R). An organization who supports it is Students First Georgia.
WHO OPPOSES IT?
Rep. Spencer Frye (D-118), Valarie Wilson, executive director of the Georgia School Boards Association, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Parent-Teacher Association, Georgia Federation of Teachers, Georgia AFL-CIO state chapter, Georgia School Boards Association, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, Georgia School Superintendents Association.
To read about Amendment 2 click here.
To read about Amendment 3 click here.
To read about Amendment 4 click here.