Last year, Better Georgia and a coalition of teachers, parents and advocates fought hard to stop Gov. Deal from taking local control away from our public schools and handing our schools over to his handpicked, unelected education czar.
Thanks to a lot of hard work by the coalition, voters overwhelmingly rejected Deal’s school takeover measure at the polls last November, marking a huge win for pro-public education Georgians.
But instead of listening to what Georgians actually want, Deal decided to slither around voters earlier this year. He underhandedly implemented the policy through legislation called The First Priority Act.
Now, the first round of school takeovers are underway and the education czar, Eric Thomas, is already overstepping his bounds.
Last week, Thomas announced the schools he had picked for this new “turnaround” experiment. He claimed the schools, which are in Bibb, Clay, Dooly, Dougherty and Randolph counties, had invited him in.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Daryl J. Morton, president of the a Bibb County school board, said his superintendent was still discussing the matter with the targeted school principals, and that the school board, which would have to vote to participate, hadn’t discussed it yet.
“To my knowledge, no formal decision has been made,” Morton said.
And yet Thomas announced that these schools had already agreed to participate. It seems the new education czar is not communicating well with local elected public school officials, which can only set the stage for problems.
Meanwhile, some Ga. school districts are still furloughing teachers, and all public schools are still struggling with massive budget cuts.
In fact, as of the passage of the 2018 budget, the state has cut funding for Georgia’s public schools by $9.2 billion since 2003, according to the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.
It’s clear what Deal’s plan is. He starves our public schools and labels them “failing,” so he can take them over and hand them off to his friends at for-profit, out-of-state corporations.