Ballot Breakdown: News 3 explains Question One on the Georgia November ballot

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SAVANNAH, Ga (WSAV) – We at News 3 want you to be informed heading to the polls. There are four amendments on Georgia’s state ballot this year.

Amendment one is the most talked about potential change to the Georgia state constitution this election year. The opportunity school district is the state’s plan to help the nearly one hundred and forty consistently failing schools statewide. The critics have come out in full force.

This is the amendment 1 question Georgia voters will see on the ballot.

“Shall the constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

You can see the facts for yourself of what the Governor’s office says about the education overhaul.

“It’s a state lifeline.”

At least that’s what state representative Jesse Petrea believes.

“The bottom line is that these schools which will most likely become state charter schools will end up with more local input than any of these schools have today,” says the representative.

Passage creates a state level “Opportunity School District”, to directly supervise attempts to turnaround the most seriously under performing local schools.

“Parents won’t be able to have a say so, the board of education won’t be able to have a say so, educators wont’ be able to have a say so in what happens in those schools,” says Chatham Association of Educators president Mary Snowden.

What happens in schools deemed “failed” would be up to a separate state superintendent. Options do include working with the local school board to effect change. There could be a complete school takeover that could lead to the removal of principals, transferring teachers and controlling school budgets and curriculum.

“This is a disruption to the status quo but we have too many kids, too many kids that are failing and it’s our job to try and save them and if shaking things up in some of these poorest performing schools is the way to do that,” says representative Petrea who adds,  “I think that’s what we need to do and that’s why I support amendment one absolutely.”

Six Chatham county schools could be subject to a takeover. No other schools around coastal Georgia are listed. As you might expect, local teachers, administrators and school boards all across the state hate this idea. Vicki O’Donnel is a long time Savannah-Chatham teacher.

“Find the information, do your homework, but this one here the only place student performance is mentioned is on that ballot, please vote ‘no’ for amendment one,” says O’Donnel.

The superintendent will be elected by the Governor and approved by the state Senate.


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