It’s not the kind of thing you like to hear.
It’s not news that Richmond County schools have struggled. But Augustans couldn’t help but wince a bit when Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal gave such public voice to that fact in February, when he visited the city to celebrate the news of the Hull McKnight Georgia Cyber Innovation and Training Center, now taking shape on Reynolds Street.
“They have too many chronically failing schools,” Deal said about the school system. “And in order to have the pipeline for workers and students who will be able to take advantage of this” – meaning the cyber center – “if you want those to be local students, they have to have an underlying good education.”
At the time he said, that, Richmond County had about 20 “chronically failing” schools, according to the state’s College and Career Performance Readiness Index, CCRPI.
What Deal might not have known at the time is how the school system was in its second year of teaching classes offering cybersecurity career pathways to Richmond County students.
If the schools keep failing by the state’s measurement, they would fall under the influence of the state’s First Priority Act, which would give the state control over the schools under the direction of a chief turnaround officer.
But here’s the kind of thing we do like to hear: Earlier this month the latest released CCRPI scores revealed that 48 of Richmond County’s 60 schools have shown signs of improvement.
“I think we are really beginning to see the results of the things we have put in place to see student achievement,” said Richmond County Schools Superintendent Dr. Angela Pringle. “Everyone has a sense of urgency on student achievement and realize that we’ve been given a charge to improve student achievement.”
Dr. Eric Thomas is scheduled to assume his new role as the state’s first chief turnaround officer Nov. 16. It will be his job to decide which of Georgia’s bottom 5 percent of schools will be overseen by “turnaround coaches.”
Naturally we’d like to see the schools keep improving on their own, but if the state determines it has helpful input to grow that small momentum of success, the school system should keep an open mind and heed the best advice.