When Gov. Deal introduced his “opportunity school district” plan, every Georgian familiar with his record of shameless corruption and cronyism asked the same question: “Opportunity for whom?”
One has to look no further than Erin Hames, one of Deal’s former aides, to begin to understand how the governor’s school takeover plan will funnel taxpayer money away from our teachers and students and into the pockets of Deal’s cronies.
From the AJC:
“Documents released Thursday in an Open Records Act request reveal that Erin Hames will make $30,000 over the next year consulting Deal on education policy even as she draws from a no-bid $96,000 consulting contract with the Atlanta Public Schools system.”
Hames, one of the chief architects of Deal’s school takeover plan, has figured out a way to make an easy six figures — or maybe more — by consulting school districts onhow to avoid being taken over while continuing to write the rules about which schools will be taken over.
This is more than a conflict-of-interest. This is double-dealing with taxpayer money.
As is true with most of the governor’s business dealings, Hames’ “consulting company” is shrouded in secrecy. According to an email obtained through open records requests from Deal’s top aide Chris Riley, “two national families” fund Hames’ new business venture. And while Hames is raking in tax dollars through no-bid contracts, both she and Riley refuse to disclose who these mysterious families are.
Hames is taking $126,000 of our tax dollars to play both sides of legislation that she helped push.
And the Hames scandal is small potatoes in contrast with what Deal has planned next. The governor’s friends in the for-profit charter school industry will make millions if Georgia voters allow Deal to implement his school takeover plan.
Now Gov. Deal’s billions in K-12 budget cuts while in office make even more sense.
His plan? First, starve public schools. Then, designate them as “failing.” Next, without local input, turn the schools over to out-of-state corporations who will profit from the misfortune of underprivileged students and the teachers trying to do their jobs without adequate resources.
Teachers from around Georgia oppose the governor’s school takeover plan because they know that other states have tried this scheme before and that the results are dismal.
In Louisiana, after nine years of state control, only four of the 107 schools taken over by a similar plan are performing at above the state average.
Let’s be clear: Gov. Deal’s so-called “opportunity school district” plan has nothing to do with improving student performance. This is yet another business deal designed to enrich himself and his cronies at the expense of students, teachers and Georgia taxpayers.