“While Georgia boasts many schools that achieve academic excellence every year, we still have too many schools where students have little hope of attaining the skills they need to succeed in the workforce or in higher education. We have a moral duty to do everything we can to help these children. Failing schools keep the cycle of poverty spinning from one generation to the next. Education provides the only chance for breaking that cycle. When we talk about helping failing schools, we’re talking about rescuing children. I stand firm on the principle that every child can learn, and I stand equally firm in the belief that the status quo isn’t working.” ~Gov. Deal
About the Opportunity School District
In order to turn around struggling schools, Gov. Nathan Deal proposed creation of an Opportunity School District (OSD). Based on similar, successful initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee, it would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools and rescue children languishing in them.
- In the governor’s proposal, persistently failing schools are defined as those scoring below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education’s accountability measure, the College and Career Performance Index, for three consecutive years.
- The OSD would take in no more than 20 schools per year, meaning it would govern no more than 100 at any given time.
- Schools would stay in the district for no less than 5 years but no more than 10 years, and would then return to local control.
The OSD legislation requires a constitutional amendment, for which there must be a two-thirds majority in both chambers. The General Assembly passed the constitutional amendment resolution and the implementing legislation during the 2015 legislative session. It now requires a majority approval by Georgia voters in the 2016 general election.