Last week, Deal publicly vocalized his appreciation for the silence of school superintendents that disagree with him about Opportunity School District. He stood in front of a group of district leaders and expressed his gratitude that they haven’t spoke up about his attempt to take over failing schools.
“They’ve all been pretty good,” he said. “They’ve kept their mouths shut even though they may not agree with it.”
If there was still any question that state takeover of failing schools was a bad idea, Deal’s Orwellian expression of gratitude should reveal this attempt as the silencing, regressive idea that it is.
One of the largest things parents, teachers and communities would learn if the state took over a school is openness. Ann Zaniewski, a Detroit Free Press reporter, noticed that since Michigan took over Detroit’s failing schools, “There may be meetings, but a lot of decisions get made behind closed doors.”
Gov. Nathan Deal’s deception and education failures since taking office confirm that Georgia’s education policy can’t afford to become less transparent. What’s also concerning is the fact that Deal is in many ways surrounded by people who are willing to, in his words, “keep their mouths shut.” And when they don’t, he is ready to accuse and attack school board members who speak out against his takeover scheme.
However, as Deal continues to harass school board members, a dozen (and counting) schools boards around Georgia have come out in public opposition to his OSD plan. They know his plan would silence parents and gut local control. Although not all of the school districts that oppose Deal have schools on Deal’s so-called “failing” list currently, some opposing districts fear that their schools might show up on the failing list out of retaliation if the change is approved.
Any action that encourages silencing parents and educators and takes public education decisions away from the community it serves should be vehemently opposed — and Georgians from around the state are doing just that.