Governor Nathan Deal hit the campaign trail, Tuesday, pitching one of his administration's key proposals to a key voting bloc in the November election.
(Gov. Nathan Deal [shown left] answers questions about his Opportunity School District from moderator Karyn Greer at Impact Church in East Point. Photo Credit: Andre Walker/Georgia Unfiltered)
Impact Church played host to Governor Deal as he explained Opportunity School District (OSD) to a mostly black crowd in East Point.
"Opportunity School District gives the state the right to select not more than twenty chronically failing schools in any one year to bring them into the district," the Governor said. "The schools who come into Opportunity School District are the worst of the worst."
Opportunity School District (OSD), appearing on the General Election ballot as Amendment 1, is a centerpiece of Gov. Deal's second term.
Under OSD, the state would take over schools that consistently score below 60% on the Georgia Department of Education College and Career Readiness Performance Index (CCRPI). The state would then have between five and ten years to turn around the low performing schools, before returning control back to the local school system.
Governor Deal was asked the location of these low performing schools by forum moderator Karyn Greer.
"The majority of the students who are attending these chronically failing schools are minority students," Deal replied.
East Point, where the OSD town hall was held, is a city of 33,712 people according to the 2010 Census. East Point is a majority minority city. 74.6% of the south metro Atlanta locale's residents are black. When the Governor's Office released a list of schools eligible for Opportunity School District, in May, four East Point schools made the cut.
Deal is counting on black parents, angry at their local school systems, to help propel Opportunity School District to victory at the ballot box.
The Charter Schools Amendment, another controversial education reform plan backed by Deal, won every precinct in majority-black East Point four years ago; indicating that black voters seem receptive to alternative methods of educating their kids.
Still, not everyone at the meeting was convinced.
A small group of protestors chanted, "No OSD!," as the event came to a close before being escorted out by East Point police officers.
Yvette Robinson, Secretary-Treasurer of the Georgia AFL-CIO, sported a white t-shirt emblazoned with the words, "Vote No on State Takeover."
"There have been other options and role models that have been presented like community schools, where you work with the parents and you work with the students," Robinson said. "You bring health services to the schools. You bring social services to the schools.
"The schools that have been targeted are minority communities that are low-income. Instead of trying to help get these people out of this income, you're going to send it to a private company that's going to make money off of our children," the state AFL-CIO official continued.
Deal responded to Robinson's criticisms, denying that others would profit from Opportunity School District.
"The only way the state will profit is to have these children get an education," Deal said to applause. "The entire state will profit from that."