Your opinion: March 9, 2016

Published 2:00 pm Thursday, March 10, 2016

EDITOR’S NOTE: This message was sent to the members of the State Legislature.

Regarding SB 364
I am very concerned about provisions in SB 364 that apply to only two school systems in Georgia. These provisions clearly target the Buford City School System and the Webster County School System since we are the only two systems in the State that did not sign a flexibility contract. Simply, the application of the weight of student evaluations on teacher and administrative performance evaluations should be the same for all school systems in Georgia (that is, if they are used at all).
I have discussed the bill with Buford and shared with them my belief that the measures (in that they target us) are legally challengeable. Each system’s board simply chose not to increase the amount of state involvement in our local system — each for its own reasons. Beyond that decision, we follow all the laws and rules and work hard to provide a quality education to our children. I ask that you caution whoever will listen in the state legislature against using tactics that include (but are not limited to) veiled threats and intimidation. Enough is enough. Let us provide an education to our children in a manner that best fits the needs of our respective populations. After all, is that not what public education systems are supposed to do?
Governor Deal, Lieutenant Governor Cagle, and members of the state legislative branch have systematically stripped funding from the public school systems and provided funds to private and charter schools through a series of legislative acts. It looks as though this trend will continue this year — another bitter pill for public education to swallow.
I ask that you gather data and compare the level of achievement of public education to charter (many for profit) and private education of similar socio-economic demographics. School Systems were given three choices (Strategic, Charter, or Title 20). We made our choice. We should not be subjected to penalties simply for choosing a path that is unpopular with some state officials.
Janie S. Downer
Webster County superintendent