House passes school improvement bill

[private]House members voted 138-37 Wednesday for a bill (HB 338) that would provide state assistance to low-performing schools.

HB 338 would create a “chief turnaround officer” (CTO) answerable to the state Board of Education who would be sent in to help schools improve their performance. The CTO would recruit turnaround coaches to work with the school.

The bill was drafted after the last school improvement plan, the Opportunity School District (OSD), was overwhelmingly rejected by the state’s voters last November.

Critics of HB 338 said it was too close to the proposal that was turned down by 152 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

“The people spoke,” said Rep. Dewey McClain {D-Lawrenceville). “When the people spoke, we should have listened. This is OSD with a dress, with lipstick, with high heels, but it is still OSD.

Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville) said the new plan would only be carried out if local school boards agreed to sign a “flexibility contract” with the state.

“The state cannot go in and physically take over a school,” Tanner said. “We don’t have the power as a state to physically take over local schools.”

“The bill we are debating today is not the Opportunity School District,” House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta) said. “I’m pleased that this bill does not include the scourge of vouchers.”

“I applaud the members of the House of Representatives who demonstrated their commitment to improving education outcomes for Georgia’s most vulnerable students,” Gov. Nathan Deal said. “I’m grateful for their cooperation and collaboration on behalf of Georgia students.”

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration.

© 2017 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Kevin Tanner , school improvement plan