Kyle Wingfield

Political commentary and opinion from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's conservative blogger

OSD critics argue about language rather than how to help kids


The hopes of those wanting a serious debate about the Opportunity School District were dashed this past week.

Instead of arguing the proposed constitutional amendment, opponents filed a click-bait lawsuit that should be laughed out of court, but which got free media coverage for their unproven claims about the OSD.

Here’s the crux of this unserious suit , per a press release:

“The plaintiffs argue that the ballot language is intentionally deceptive — Amendment 1 will not ‘increase community involvement,’ it will not ‘fix’ failing schools and the Amendment will not provide ‘greater flexibility’ compared to current public school models.”

These are of course the opinions of the plaintiffs, who prefer to ignore the 19-point climb in New Orleans’ high-school graduation rate within nine years of instituting a similar Recovery School District. They don’t want to explain why Georgia’s OSD couldn’t spur schools in Atlanta, DeKalb, Macon and elsewhere to match the RSD’s 50 percent increase in graduates who earn Louisiana’s version of the HOPE scholarship, or its doubling of students who pass state exams.

They don’t want unopinionated ballot language; they want ballot language that reflects their opinions.

The press release also quotes Lisa-Marie Haygood, head of the anti-OSD Georgia PTA , as saying “the preamble, and indeed, the entire amendment question, is intentionally misleading and disguises the true intentions of the OSD legislation.”

Those words “entire amendment question” are key. Here’s how the question reads: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing schools in order to improve student performance?”

Which of those words does the Georgia PTA find objectionable? All of them — including “Constitution,” “Georgia” and “amended.” Don’t believe me? Here are some of  the group’s talking points about ballot language :

“First understand that the average citizen holds an unspoken reverence for anything referred to as a ‘Constitution!’ The average citizen thereby feels this word as a symbol of protection and liberty and will be significantly inclined to trust how it’s (sic) will might be expressed.

“Accept that the use of the state name ‘Georgia’ is not just intuitive, but that strategically, it plays on the minds of the average person’s understanding to yield to a higher authority.

“Nowadays especially, many citizens in a state like ours will even hear the words ‘amend the constitution’ and reflect on all things positive in the pursuit of and even the personal struggle for civil rights.”

Aside from thinking the use of “Georgia” is somehow a matter of strategy, the group clearly looks down on the critical thinking skills of people in “a state like ours.” What does that even mean? A conservative state? A state poorly served by many of its public schools? We can only guess.

But here’s one thing you won’t hear OSD opponents talk about much: kids.

They’re too busy trying to protect adults : adults who want to control tax dollars, adults who don’t want to lose their jobs for poor performance, adults who are afraid of the word Constitution. (Excuse me: “Constitution!”)

It seems they’ll talk about anything — except why they tolerate thousands of children being shuttled through failing schools, without choice for themselves or accountability for those adults.

 


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About the Author

Kyle Wingfield joined the AJC in 2009. He is a native of Dalton and a graduate of the University of Georgia.