Tag Archives: bright flight

The local “unification” attack on public schools is part of a nationwide assault

The “unification” attack on the public schools in Valdosta and Lowndes County, Georgia is part of a nationwide assault on public schools, which has nothing to do with improving public education, and everything to do with private profit and private schools: disaster capitalism right here at home. And it’s not government causing our local disaster: it’s local business interests. What should we do about that?

Jeff Bryant wrote for Campaign for America’s Future 13 October 2011, Starving America’s Public Schools: How Budget Cuts and Policy Mandates Are Hurting Our Nation’s Students

Critics of America’s public schools always seem to start from the premise that the pre-kindergarten-through-12th-grade public education system in this country is failing or in crisis.

This crisis mentality is in stark contrast to years of survey research showing that Americans generally give high marks to their local schools. Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup surveys have found that the populace holds their neighborhood schools in high regard; in fact, this year’s survey found that “Americans, and parents in particular, evaluate their community schools more positively than in any year since” the survey started.

The first factor: New austerity budgets passed by state legislatures are starting to have a huge influence on direct services to children, youth, and families.
Well, we don’t have that problem in Valdosta City and Lowndes Schools. For example, graduation rates in Valdosta schools have been improving year over year, and both school systems are solvent.

So what happened instead? Why, they made up a crisis instead!

A local business group convinced enough registered voters to sign a petition to get a referendum on the November 8th ballot to decide whether to abolish the Valdosta City School System, which would force the Lowndes County School System to take it over, and also would result in massively raised taxes, which still wouldn’t be enough, so services would have to be cut. Voila! Forced budget crisis! Fortunately, the two school systems have seen through it, and Continue reading

What qualifies you to come talk about education? —Kent Bishop @ VLCoC 11 October 2011

The first question Kent Bishop asked at the Chamber’s Candidates Forum, where he got eight minutes to speak for school consolidation while each of the candidates for Valdosta Mayor only got five, still hung in my mind at the end:
What qualifies you to come talk about education?
Like so many CUEE speakers, he isn’t an educator and he hadn’t done his homework.
You know, what I hear is that, from the other side, is that our taxes would go up because of consolidation. The facts just don’t point to that. Generally what you’d see is some blending of the costs. And if we do that and average it out, we’re gonna find the two millage rates will come out somewhere in the middle. It makes total sense.
Well, maybe it makes total sense if you like just making stuff up. Or you can see, hear, and read the extensive research by the Lowndes County Board of Education that demonstrates if consolidation passes taxes will go up and public school services will go down.

The speaker went on about ongoing white flight, without ever mentioning that consolidation would cause bright flight to head out of the county to Lanier and elsewhere.

He did come right out and admit something I’ve been saying: Continue reading

CUEE brags about 9,000 petition signatures

It’s interesting what paying people to collect petition signatures can accomplish. The CUEE press release of yesterday is on their web pages. Here’s an excerpt:
9,000 and Counting!
Petition Drive Hits Key Milestone In Effort to Give
Valdosta Residents Opportunity to Vote on Unification
Plan to Attend Saturday Event at McKey Park to Join the Movement, Sign Petition
(Valdosta, GA) The petition drive campaign giving Valdosta residents the chance to vote on school unificationreached a key milestone Friday when it topped its goal of 9,000 signatures.

The 9,000 signatures was the target set by the Community Unification for Educational Excellence (CUEE),which launched the petition drive May 12 after three years of planning. The minimum number of validsignatures needed to place the issue on the November ballot is 25 percent of registered voters in Valdosta, or7,375. The target figure of 9,000 represents a 22 percent increase over the minimum required and nearly 31 percent of all registered voters.

It’s too bad they haven’t dedicated all this organizing to something that might actually help education around here, such as prison reform or preventing bright flight by squelching sprawl.


Bright flight visualized

Lanier County gained more than 30% in children under 18. Lanier looks like the exurbs around Atlanta, except it’s even more striking. Also visible on the map is Hamilton, County, Tennessee, home of Chattanooga, CUEE’s favorite example of school unification: Hamilton County showed a loss of children while just across the state line Catoosa County, Georgia gained 15-30%. If school unification doesn’t cause bright flight, it doesn’t seem to stop it.

Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg wrote in USA Today 3 June 2011, Census reveals plummeting U.S. birthrates

Because families with children tend to live near each other,

the result is an increasingly patchy landscape of communities teeming with kids, and others with very few.

Even in counties where the percentage of children grew, only 49 gained more than 1 percentage point — many of them suburbs on the outer edge of metropolitan areas such as Forsyth, Whitfield and Newton outside Atlanta and Cabarrus and Union outside Charlotte.

So that makes Lanier County one of only 49 Continue reading

Why school consolidation is useless: bright flight

What local county grew twice as fast as any of the others? If you guessed Lowndes, nope, no prize for you. The answer, according to the 2000 census, is Lanier County:

What school consolidation would get us is more of that. Not white flight, rather bright flight, to Lanier and other counties. Many of the leaders of the local African-American community already don’t live in Valdosta; they live in Lowndes County or even Berrien County. More of both black and white people will move out of a county with a consolidated school district, resulting in lower educational results not just for Valdosta but also for Lowndes schools. Is that what we want?

How about all the people who claim they know how to take our schools to “the next level” get on with doing that right now with the two existing school systems?