DEKALB COUNTY, GA -- Some of the people who could benefit most by a proposed constitutional amendment say they aren’t sold on it. The amendment would allow the state to take over failing public schools.
Governor Nathan Deal likes to say that opponents of his Opportunity School District amendment probably don’t have children at failing schools. Turns out, some of them do.
"Just looking at the teachers, I can definitely understand that it is a failing school," said Nadia Britton. She was outside Allgood Elementary school in DeKalb County -- a school that would qualify as "failing" under the state takeover plan.
"Everytime I turn around, we’re fundraising for something," said Britton. Her daughter Honesty is a first grader, whom she says is thriving despite Allgood's troubles.
Britton says the school struggles because it appears to lack funding from the local government.
"Maybe if they invested into the schools, put some money into these schools, the schools wouldn’t fail," Britton said.
But instead, the November ballot offers the Opportunity School District – which would allow the state to seize control of Allgood and other failing schools from the local school board. Backers of the takeover plan say if the school is failing, the state can try to find a way to fix it.
But parents and grandparents of Allgood students say Allgood has a new principal this year – and perhaps a new attitude.
"I’m seeing some successful steps being made at this school," said Anthony Carmichael, the great grandfather of an Allgood student. "And I see them trying to do a positive thing here." Carmichael says he is undecided on the OSD amendment.
As she waited for her daughter Jasmine, Simone Piyas agreed that the DeKalb school system appears to be focused on fixing Allgood. "I would like the community to try to take care of what’s going on with the community, not the state," Piyas, the mother of a pre-K student, said. She says she's voting against the amendment.
Britton says she’s still undecided on the state takeover question – but thinks there are other solutions out there now. "It definitely needs to get better, is all I can say. Parents need to start investing better in their children at home. And they need to put some money in these schools," she said.
Backers of the amendment say one of the best arguments for passage is that it motivates local folks to pull together and improve their school and avoid a state takeover – something parents at Allgood elementary told us is happening right now.