Georgia Federation of Teachers Calls On Gov. Deal to Respect Voters’ Will

Gov. Nathan Deal
Gov. Nathan Deal

The Georgia Federation of Teachers has called on Gov. Nathan Deal to immediately meet to discuss a path forward for public education, after voters overwhelmingly rejected his bid to strip local control from public schools.

On Election Day, a supermajority of Georgia voters spoke against the ballot initiative—Amendment 1—that would have led to a state takeover of public schools.

The GFT, whose community campaign against the initiative was pivotal, is now asking Gov. Deal to work with educators to move forward to implement proven strategies to ensure school success.

GFT President Verdaillia Turner said: “It is time to raise the bar. Georgia voters sent a message that we can no longer pander to political agendas when it comes to schools and kids. In the past, educators who were not handpicked by elected officials were excluded from the process. Decisions were somehow made without our input. This must cease.

“The GFT has asked the governor’s office for a face-to-face meeting. We’ve been put off until January, while state Superintendent Richard Woods has called a ‘next steps’ meeting without us. The General Assembly will convene in January, and there will be many competing agendas. The governor cannot afford to wait until then to begin the conversation with educators.

“Schools, tax dollars and our children are far too precious to continue to ignore what works in public education.

Retreading the same old path wastes money, resources and time. The time for action is now— Georgia is ready to move, and the governor needs to move with us.”

The GFT has an extensive agenda to support public education. It has called for an expansion of college-focused schools, a bolstered curriculum and the immediate end of all austerity cuts. It has a blueprint for community involvement, a commitment not to meet in silos, and a process for educators to be heard without reprisal.

It supports providing mandatory yearly training for all school board members and candidates before they qualify for office, orientations for parents and guardians on how schools work, and the safeguarding parents’ rights and responsibilities.

Turner invited the governor to come and see what is already working in schools: “We are calling on the governor and the governor’s wife—an educator— to walk with us through our neighborhoods and schools. Together, we can open a dialogue with students and families to remove barriers to health, well-being, full employment and housing. We are ready to move forward together, and we’re hoping the governor is too.”

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