Kathy Cox is acting like Georgia just won a prize. We most assuredly did not. Georgia is one of six states selected by the U.S. Department of Education to pilot a program allowing "differentiated accountability" under the No Child Left Behind Act. Touted and "freedom" and "flexibility," the devil is, as always in the details.
1. Not one dime. Local school systems have been told that this grand prize comes with not one extra dollar. Never mind that most local boards just signed off on their budgets for next year, and that no one has yet determined whether this program will cost districts additional money-how can it not-and if so, how much.
2. Not on our time table. When Cox (who, as we know from the CRCT mess, just loves to spring surprises on local school districts) applied for this program in May of 2008, she told the U.S. DOE that the earliest Georgia could implement the program would be the 2009-2010 school year. Now, because a condition of being a pilot project was implementation this year (2008-2009), school districts across the state learned just today that they will be expected to make changes most do not yet understand. Never mind that most school districts have very few 12 month staff positions. When you're saddled with 1.6 billion in cuts, you can't afford many 12 month positions. Who, exactly, is going to stop putting out the daily fires to sort this out? Implementation is going to be chaotic, at best.
3. Just say "no" to local control. Talk about loss of local control, Cox's plan includes the creation of "State-Directed Schools." Here's the exact language from Cox's proposal as submitted to the DOE:
State-Directed Status (NI-5 or higher)
All schools in Needs Improvement year 5 or higher will receive a State-Directed status label which involves an immediate loss of local governance and other additional consequences as determined by the GaDOE in each school’s required state directed contract.