Constitutional amendment would change who runs failing schools

Amendment lets state run failing schools

ATLANTA -- Young Middle School in southwest Atlanta is one of 127 public schools across the state that the state Department of Education considers to be failing.  It means these schools have  scored 60 or below on the College and Career Ready Performance Index – which compiles basic curriculum tests. And they’ve done so for three straight years.

Those so-called failing schools would be eligible for takeover by a state government entity called the Opportunity School District. The governor would appoint a superintendent to run the failing school – who would be answerable to the governor. The local school board would yield control – but local taxpayers would continue to fund the school’s operations. And locally-appointed school councils would advise the state appointed superintendent.

"Right now what we have is institutional complacency," said David Morgan, a Cobb County school board member who supports the amendment.  "We have local schools boards who have taken these children in our community for granted for decades."

Young Middle School is named for the late Jean Childs Young -- the first wife of former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young.  He is among the many activists who oppose the Opportunity School district.  

"I’ve run into children from so-called failing schools from all over America, succeeding in universities," Young said Tuesday.  "I never trust grades. And I never trust artificial evaluations."

Governor Nathan Deal is the foremost supporter of the amendment, and appears in commercials backing it.

If the state takes over a school, schools would continue to be tested.  The state runs schools can revert back to local control if they score passing grades for three straight years.

If the amendment passes, the state takeover of failing schools could begin as early as 2017.


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