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Opponents launch TV attack today on governor's Opportunity School District

The first TV ad opposing the proposed Opportunity School District airs today. (Proponents launched their ad the following day.)

The 30-second ad is the handiwork of the Committee to Keep Georgia Schools Local. Members of the group include the Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia AFL-CIO, PAGE, Georgia Stand-Up, the Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Public Education Matters, Southern Education Foundation, Working America, Pro Georgia, Better Georgia, Georgia Federation of Teachers and Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta.

“The Amendment 1 ballot language is intentionally deceptive,” says Keep Georgia Schools Local campaign manager Louis Elrod. “That’s why we have to move quickly to educate voters about the pie-in-the-sky promises they’ll see at the polls. If you read the fine print, you’ll see that Amendment 1 will silence parents and teachers and hand over local control of our schools to an unelected, unaccountable political appointee who can close schools without public input and fire teachers without cause. We have to use our voices now to stop the state takeover.”

So far, at least 16 school boards have taken stands in opposition to Gov. Nathan Deal's proposed state takeover district, which will be on the ballot in November because it requires a change to the constitution.

Georgia PTA opposes the amendment because of the fuzzy ballot language that simply asks whether the state should intervene in failing schools. The preamble that will introduce voters to the ballot item -- written by the governor and General Assembly leaders -- is also vague: “Provides greater flexibility and state accountability to fix failing schools through increasing community involvement.”

The PTA believes the language misleads voters rather than informs them.

As the AJC reported:

“Parental and community involvement is not increased by or required by the OSD enabling legislation,” Lisa-Marie Haygood, president of the Georgia PTA, said. She said “local communities” and their elected school boards are the most effective school stewards, and she noted that the constitutional amendment would allow the governor’s new superintendent to take local tax dollars for any school absorbed by the OSD. “Forcing local taxpayers to fund local schools in which their local school board (and by extension, the voters) have no voice is not the answer,” she wrote in an email to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

And here is the ad:

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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.