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The Art of Teaching Science: The Dangerous Path for Georgia Schools Created by the Purdue, Deal and Hames Troika


  • Sonny Purdue: Former Governor of Georgia when Georgia was awarded $400 Million Race to the Top Grant
  • Nathan Deal: Governor of Georgia who inherited the $400 million RTT funds, and instigator of the Georgia Opportunity School District
  • Erin Hames: Former Governor’s Office staff member under Purdue (headed up Georgia’s RTT) and Deal (Deputy Chief of Staff who lead the work to pass the Opportunity School District, which will authorize the Governor’s Office to take over 20 or more of Georgia’s schools each year for the foreseeable future).

Between the Race to the Top and the Opportunity School District, this Georgia troika has set in motion the infrastructure to tear Georgia’s public schools apart.  Georgia’s Race to the Top funds were used to set into motion ways to use student test scores to rate teachers and schools, and to rationalize the concept of “failing schools” based on this data, which most educational research organizations have deemed unreliable and invalid.

The Race to Top Fund promoted the idea that the lowest achieving schools should be either closed, or “reformed” using one of various reform models.  In these reform models, the principal is fired, and at least half the teachers are replaced. In all cases, the measurement to decide performance is high-stakes testing.

The Opportunity School District, Deal’s bad deal to take over the “failing schools” that were defined in the Race to the Top, will set up a state-run school district to insert charter schools into buildings that were once public schools.

And who was the connection between each of these ideas?  Why, Erin Hames, a lawyer, with three years of teaching experience who believes that experienced teachers don’t really do better in the classroom than inexperienced ones.  How would she know?

Hames work on the Race to the Top and Opportunity School District is only the tip of the iceberg.

She recently resigned from the Governor’s office, and was hired as a “permanent” consultant to the Atlanta Public Schools for $96,000, but retained by the Governor’s office for another $30,000.  And its been reported that she will lead an ReformEd group (funded by two unknown national families) to turn around failing schools.

But here is the very strange thing.  Atlanta hired her to help them figure out a way to save the 20 or more APS schools that have been labeled as “chronically failing schools” from being swallowed up the Governor’s Opportunity School District.  And she is looking for other districts who could use her consulting services.

Where does this path take public education in Georgia?  It’s a path that is based on fear.  It’s a path that is based on competition.  It’s a path that is based on greed.  It’s a path that is based on opinion and not knowledge.

As others have said, the plan that will be voted on in the 2016 election, and will be supported by a group that Hames will lead, and will be targeted by organizations and families outside of Georgia who stand to make a financial killing in the state.

We’ve created a dangerous path for public schools in Georgia.  It needs to be disrupted.

What do you think?

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Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a former high school science teacher and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University. While at Georgia State he was coordina...