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Amendment 1 is not the answer
Letter to the editor

Editor: In order to turn around struggling schools, Gov. Nathan Deal proposed creation of an Opportunity School District (OSD). To do this, there has to be an amendment to the State Constitution. This amendment is scheduled for vote in the November election, as "Amendment 1." The voters will make the final decision. This amendment would authorize the state to temporarily step in to assist chronically failing public schools and rescue children languishing in them, or so says the governor.

We know that there are problem schools in the state, but is this the answer? Instead of investing in smaller class sizes, good teachers and more resources for learning, Amendment 1 cuts money from local schools to make the taxpayers pay for a new set of bureaucrats. Like we need more bureaucrats running anything — think common core.

The governor and lawmakers have lost patience in trusting local school boards to fix the 127 schools eligible for state takeover, which have around 68,000 students. Here is where I agree with the governor. The local school boards are terribly failing these students.

The main problem that I have with this proposed school district is no one has stated exactly how they will do better than the local districts. One thing we know for sure is that an entire district administration would be needed, including a purchasing department, personnel department, etc., creating a budget nightmare.

I understand that there is already a process that allows the state Department of Education to intervene in school systems. The state DOE can dictate budgets, initiatives and school improvement plans. They have a lot of control and power. Why do we need a completely new district?

I believe the local school districts are failing these students for the following reasons. One of the key problems in these failed schools is discipline. The students are allowed to get away with just about anything, but the teachers have their hands tied. I came up through the Catholic school system in the ’50s. The one accessory every nun had was a wooden ruler and they knew how to use it. In high school, I had a Latin teacher, who could throw a shoulder block with the best of the NFL. Step out of line and you would find yourself a few feet from where you sat. We learned discipline and respect.

The districts need to stop passing failed students just to protect their fragile egos. If they don’t meet the passing requirements, hold them back; otherwise the entire class suffers.

There are also too many people running the districts and school administrations. Cut back and pay the teachers more.

And most importantly, the districts need to stand up to the unions or get rid of them all together. Unions are outdated and destructive to the process of education. Just look to Detroit to see what damage unions can do. The once great automotive industry is no more. The districts need to pay for good teachers and fire bad teachers. Unless the districts can control who teaches our children, bad teachers will acerbate inferior performance.

The submission of Amendment 1 is a warning sign that the local districts need to revise their thinking and methodology, or the government will surely step in. For now, I am against Amendment 1, but that could change if the local districts do not improve.

Len Calderone


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