House ed passes charter school amendment. But what does it actually do?

Had you attended the House Education Committee meeting today and listened to the debate around the charter school amendment, you might have been confused about what the proposed change to the state constitution would do. That didn’t seem to faze the House members who passed the amendment despite a lot of nagging questions.

At various points, the amendment was described as a simple effort to clarify the definition of a special school, put into question by the May, 2011, state Supreme Court ruling declaring a state-created Charter Schools Commission illegal. Other times, the amendment was cast as a means to bring charter schools to under-served rural areas where school boards remain hostile to them.

That confusion probably wasn’t an accident.

And it was never even quite clear if the amendment did what its detractors allege, even after the sponsor modified the language to appease them: Does this amendment allow the state of Georgia to channel local funds — through a complex sleight of hand that involves withholding state funds from local systems –  to charter schools rejected by local boards but approved by a state entity yet to be named?

The architect of the amendment vacillated over whether the amendment merely “affirmed what we have been doing for 14 years,” as state Rep. Jan Jones of Milton initially explained, or whether it created a legal route around local schools boards to address what she called “their hard-line in approaching start-up charter schools.”

A lesson I’ve learned from the dozens of constitutional amendments that the General Assembly has foisted on the ballots over the years: The more innocuous and innocent the language, the more complicated and costly the consequence.

I asked some educational professionals about how they saw today’s House Education Committee vote and what the amendment actually did.

Here is what Tim Callahan of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators said:

We feel that today’s committee vote was both unfortunate and disappointing. Despite the smoke screens, this is not about naming an alternate authorizer for start-up charters; it is about tapping into local funds without the local board having approved the charter school. It is not about “choice” but who pays for the choices of others. The Supreme Court ruling addressed charter schools that were authorized by the Charter Commission. It did not address schools authorized by the state board of education receiving state, but not local, funds.

Current state law:

“Upon denial of a petition for a start-up charter school by a local board and upon application to the state board by the petitioner, the state board shall approve the charter of a start-up charter petitioner for a state chartered special school if the state board finds, after receiving input from the Charter Advisory Committee, that such petition meets the requirements set forth in Code Section 20-2-2063 and the provisions of this title, and is in the public interest.

If this were really about alternate authorizers needed to overcome recalcitrant local school boards, current law seems to be just fine. We will oppose this amendment, but continue our support of charter schools – even those who get turned down locally and later get state board approval – as long as local boards are not forced to fund them. The “price” for not getting local board approval is loss of local funds. The remedy for Luddite local boards is appeal to the state board. I think there is at least an imperfect balancing of interests here that does not run roughshod over either local boards or the constitution.

And here is what Angela Palm of the Georgia School Boards Association said:

While the changes to the proposed constitutional amendment took out some of the much-criticized language, it would still give the state the same authority as the previous version.  The Georgia School Boards Association remains opposed.  We should all keep in mind that the role of the Constitution is to establish the parameters within which the government works.  The amendment does not have to be specific about what the state would do; it just has to provide for what the state could do.

The Georgia Charter Schools Association said its own polling shows public support for the amendment.

“As Georgians learn more and more about the success of high performing charter schools, they want this option for their own children,” said Tony Roberts, CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. “Unfortunately, there are not enough charter schools in Georgia to meet the demand. People are astounded to learn how many local school districts have denied well-thought out charter petitions with strong community backing.  They have been rightly enraged when local districts have denied renewals to some of the top performing charter schools in the state. We need to change the law, and the Constitutional Amendment is the only way to do so.”

And the amendment has chamber support. “No issue is more important to job creation and the future success of Georgia businesses than the education of our children. In our global economy, employers place a premium on an educated workforce, and public charter schools represent an exciting new opportunity to achieve success on this front. We strongly encourage the legislature to act quickly in passing this measure,” said Georgia Chamber of Commerce President Chris Clark.

If the House and Senate approve this constitutional amendment by the necessary margins, the question may be one of the most important facing voters in November. It is likely many of them will not understand the full implications of what’s being sought. And it won’t be because they can’t read. It will be because they can’t read between the lines.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

104 comments Add your comment

HS Public Teacher

February 2nd, 2012
5:14 pm

I can tell you what it does….

It allows these politicans to go back to their constiuents and say something like, “See, I voted for school choice. I voted for charter schools.”

That is all it does.

These politicans will do what they want to do. And, it is these conservative republicans that cater to the most wealthy that are pushing this through. To heck with what’s in the best interest of the students or for the State of Georgia. As long as the major campaign contributors are happy, then that is all that matters!

Ron F.

February 2nd, 2012
5:16 pm

Clearly, if state law already allows for the state to choose to approve, and thus fund, a charter school when local board disapproves, then the school should have funding from the state- independent funding that will not circumvent local decisions. The language seems vague and I worry about the “withholding” of funds that would otherwise go to local systems. It could make budgeting a nightmare for systems that end up with charters they don’t approve.

Charter schools can be a good alternative, but I think it’s imperative that the relationship with local public systems be a good one. This really seems like a step towards privatizing public education or at the very least forcing local systems to fully fund themselves- which would shut most down entirely..

Kelly

February 2nd, 2012
5:50 pm

I guarantee you that Charters will force the tradiional public schools to step up and improve. Cherokee County did not want a Charter for numerous reasons, and even theough they did everything they could to make sure it did not open, once it did open and was successful, CCSD is now wanting to start their own “choice” programs.

Everyone on all these blogs that say how great their schools are, do you all realize we are in the bottom 5 nationally? Status quo is not working. I want better for my children and yours too.

Some School Boards realize that they will have to make some changes in their county to compete with Charter Schools. Fulton Science Acadamy is a Blue Ribbon School, and their BOE denies them.

All I hear about is money, money money. Cherokee County scared their teachers that if a Charter School was approved, they would lose jobs, have more fulough days, etc. Cherokee Charter Academy opened, and no jobs were eliminated, no additional fulough days were given, in fact CCBOE found the money to start Cherokee Academies for the 2012/2013 school year.

Mikey D

February 2nd, 2012
5:55 pm

Another example of the “local control” of education that everyone seems to be so big on, huh?
NCLB, RTTT, CCSS… Local, indeed.

MiltonMan

February 2nd, 2012
6:10 pm

Leave it up to a HS Public Teacher to bitch & moan about competition.

Mary Elizabeth

February 2nd, 2012
6:25 pm

“If the House and Senate approve this constitutional amendment by the necessary margins, the question may be one of the most important facing voters in November. It is likely many of them will not understand the full implications of what’s being sought. And it won’t be because they can’t read. It will be because they can’t read between the lines.”
===================================

This statement is very true, and I thank Maureen Downey for writing it. I was present at the House Education Committee meeting today. I heard all of the discussion, and I took note of the vote.

I want to thank Representative Brian Thomas (D – Lilburn) for pursuing much needed, in-depth discussion about what HR 1162 the might mean to education in Georgia from a long-ranged perspective, and, also, for asking the simple question as to whether intent, ultimately, is to alter our present public school delivery through charter schools. His were vital questions that needed to be asked. Thank you, Rep. Thomas, for your impacting wisdom, as well as your impressive courage, in asking those questions, among other points of discussion you made.

I, also, want to thank Representative Rashad Taylor (D – Atlanta) who did an outstanding job in proposing two very important amendments to HR 1162, even with limited support. He pressed on, with good will toward all. At least, Rep. Taylor placed the two amendments on public record, and votes were recorded, accordingly. His first amendment would have removed the words “or local” (in that local school systems already have the right to establish charter schools). He wanted clarity in the language of the bill so that the public might fully understand the bill’s intent. His amendment stated for HR1162 to read “state” (only), and not “state or local” (right to establish charter schools). Again, local schools systems already have the right to establish charter schools, he said, and the heart of the issue is also to give the state jurisdiction regarding establishment of charter schools. Seven members voted for Rep. Taylor’s amendment, and the remaining committee members did not support it. There are 27 members on the Committee. A rough sight count informed me that at least 25 to 26 members were present. Perhaps all were.

The second amendment Rep. Taylor proposed would insure that local funds remain local. Only 4 members voted for that amendment.

HR 1162 passed by a vote of 15 for and 6 against. Some members did not vote, or were not in attendance.

Rep. Kathy Ashe (D – Atlanta) stated publicly that the process regarding charter schools may need to slow down. She cautioned all to let the “ink dry” so that reflection about what is happening regarding charter schools could be well-measured, long-ranged. (paraphrased)

Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
6:27 pm

I agree with Kelly. It will force local school boards to step up their efforts to create better public schools. When a corrupt school board like APS refuses to provide good public schools and when it has total control over all the local money, then a monopoly is created and real parents have no real choices, particularly those who cannot afford private school.

So when a corrupt school board has nothing to offer except a failing school and it refuses to allow a charter school to open, there is an appeal system. The population can appeal to the state.

I heartily approve of this amendment. When we as a state are 48 out of 50, we have to try something different. We owe it to our kids and our nation to provide educated, employable adults.

followthemoney

February 2nd, 2012
6:31 pm

Kelly, you can’t guarantee anything except that you don’t have any facts to back up your claims. Charter schools don’t perform any better than regular schools (see the Sanford study) and there is no evidence that districts with charter schools eventually perform better because of competition. Indeed, if Florida is an indication, all schools begins to perform worse because public dollars are not wisely spent by unelected charter schools boards and everyone eventually is harmed…period. Charter schools need to be closely regulated, have a great deal of oversight, be held to financial standards (not just an audit once a year), and should be held to higher standards than regular schools because they have no elected oversight. Our state politicians are not capable of doing that (see the failure of the Commission schools) and the GADOE is not staffed to do that (see Peachtree Hope). We are going to be overrun by charter companies who will laugh all the way to the bank (read Mosaica or SABIS) or mismanaged incompetents who can’t handle the challenges, get into debt and lawsuits and then expect the taxpayer to pay for it (read FSA). That lack of oversight might be okay for Freddie Mac or Solyndra, but it isn’t a solution for the students of Georgia. We need to focus resources on students, not scatter them to the hype-driven, un-accountable winds of charter schools who have politicians in their back pockets. Best way to fix education? Get rid of the US DOE, allow the GADOE to go to a two year budget cycle and prevent the golden dome from playing political football with our students every January. The politicians need to get out of the way and let schools, elected and communities get back to the job of teaching our youth!

Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
6:37 pm

I hope the state will go further than this bill. I would like to see, in cases of egregious corruption like APS, I would want to give the state control to fire the superintendant and the members of the board of education. When rampant corruption and neglect of our state’s children is imbedded in a culture this deeply, we need a stronger authority to take control and make it right. We also must remember that the state is a group of people who were also locally elected.

followthemoney

February 2nd, 2012
6:38 pm

should have been elected citizens and communities get back to the job…

followthemoney

February 2nd, 2012
6:42 pm

good mom, and the state has done such a good job in the past with this? Are you crazy? They don’t care about local issues (and they are not elected to do so), and there is nothing more local than education. We need less government and more local oversight. Parents need to get off their duff and elect qualified school board members from the community and stop expecting big government or outside charter companies to fix their schools. They need to get involved in their kids lives again.

Larry Major

February 2nd, 2012
6:58 pm

Tim Callahan hit the nail on the head. To paint this a little more clearly, it isn’t the big bad local school board these people want to circumvent – it is their neighbors. To see exactly how they operate, you need only look at Ivy Prep’s track record.

When Ivy Prep was approved as a State Special Charter School, Nina Gilbert could have requested a referendum on local funding and, if Gwinnett voters approved, Ivy Prep would have been fully funded from day one. But Nina Gilbert didn’t ask us, did she?

Instead, she re-filed Ivy Prep as a Commission Charter School. Just like HR 1162, the Commission wasn’t required to follow the local funding formula in O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2068.1, and they didn’t. The Commission gave Ivy Prep over $300,000 more than it would have received had we approved full local funding – and this money was deducted directly from the state QBE funding earned by kids enrolled in GCPS schools. Circumventing the will of voters has rewarded Nina Gilbert handsomely.

Now that the State Supreme Court pulled Ivy Prep’s hand out of our pocket, Nina Gilbert and her supporters are trying to change our constitution so we can’t stop them.

Even if you are willing to let an unelected board make decisions you should be making, you could at least make sure your own children’s education funding isn’t ripped away from them by some political appointee.

Contact your state legislators and tell them to kill this bill.

sheepdawg

February 2nd, 2012
7:30 pm

idiots elected by idiots

Ron F.

February 2nd, 2012
7:34 pm

Followthemoney is right about the boards of charters. In the end, there is no oversight for those boards as in publicly elected boards, so they will likely, over time, make some of the same budgetary mistakes or worse. Private schools often have to deal with less than stellar boards controlling them. A good charter school can be a very productive alternative for a struggling school system, but there isn’t enough data that I’ve seen to track their performance over more than just a few years.

Another, and perhaps as important issue is this: if charters become the “thing” to fix education, and we eventually have money following kids via vouchers, how is that going to really change anything? We’re still talking about the same pool of kids from the same homes and families. Some are great, some are average, and some are dysfunctional. How will charter schools, vouchers, and privatizing education in the state improve that? Will we just shut out the kids who can’t or won’t measure up?

To follow the money from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
7:42 pm

You said “Parents need to get off their duff and elect qualified school board members from the community and stop expecting big government or outside charter companies to fix their schools. They need to get involved in their kids lives again.”

Yes, of course parents need to get involved and charter schools are proof that parents are getting off their duff and getting involved in their kids lives.

This bill does not allow the state to initiate a charter school. Read more closely. When a local community wants a charter and the local board of education denies it, then the state has the ability to approve that charter school.

Charter schools ARE parents getting up, getting active and getting involved in schools.

yes i am worried

February 2nd, 2012
7:45 pm

For once, I agree with Good Mother. The state needs to have more power to act when things go terribly wrong like they have in DeKalb and Atlanta. In addition, other states have taken over school systems when the academic outcomes are horrible.

I am not sure that the state DOE could do a better job, but I sure as h*ll know it couldn’t be worse.

To Ron F from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
7:49 pm

Ron F, you asked an important and intelligent question:

“Another, and perhaps as important issue is this: if charters become the “thing” to fix education, and we eventually have money following kids via vouchers, how is that going to really change anything? We’re still talking about the same pool of kids from the same homes and families.”

The difference is that we will have a different pool of people with oversight and control over the money.
The APS board has proven it is corrupt. It covered up its own corruption. It had complete power because it had all the authority and all the money. APS has no oversight.

…but when a local community demands change in their local community, they can get it and they have the power (the money) to do it with.

I am sure every corrupt teacher and administrator is quaking in their boots about charter schools. Every well-performing system and teacher has nothing to worry about.

This bill may definitely be a strong tool to create real change, quickly in those communities that need it most.

RaceToTheBottom

February 2nd, 2012
8:01 pm

Speak the truth General Assembly. You want a way to bring back schools for white (or mostly white kids) and charter schools are the best you can do. I am surprised no one in the media has latched onto charter schools as a code word for segregated schools for whites. Or am I missing something?

Maxine

February 2nd, 2012
8:05 pm

I don’t consider Charter schools to be a panacea for the all of the problems associated with the public school system. Why not work on improving the current system?

With Charter schools things may initially be upbeat, but eventually will return to the same.

Rick in ATL

February 2nd, 2012
8:06 pm

Sorry, “Race.” We just want better schools. The municipal employees who deliver public education to us now (and do no better a job than the somnolent folks at DMV) will only get a clue when faced with extinction–and steadily, that is where we’re headed (thank god). Parental control and school choice–it’s the way the wind is blowing, and the only thing howling louder is the screeching liberals who see their cheese being moved.

Rick in ATL

February 2nd, 2012
8:07 pm

@Maxine: Are you effing kidding us? “Work on the current system?” Really? How many DECADES of failure are you going to require before you concede that the current system isn’t, and cannot be incrementally made to be, competitive? Public schooling in this country is NOT a renovation, it’s a TEAR DOWN AND START OVER.

SouthGAMom

February 2nd, 2012
8:13 pm

@Rick in ATL: I agree 100% with your comments. I congratulate Jan Jones on this constitutional amendment.

SouthGAMom

February 2nd, 2012
8:14 pm

I see it as the local school boards are afraid of the direct competition that local charter schools will provide.

To Race to Bottom from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
8:14 pm

Race “You want a way to bring back schools for white (or mostly white kids) and charter schools are the best you can do.”

How is that possible? Charter schools are public schools with the same laws. No one can be denied because of their race or their income.

Please explain why you believe the way you do. How can what you say be true? Please use your best argumetn with some examples or facts.

Thanks,
GM

Maxine

February 2nd, 2012
8:17 pm

@ Rick: I repeat work on the current system. If that means a tear down, build up and start over – do it.

SouthGAMom

February 2nd, 2012
8:20 pm

@Maxine: I have been trying to “work” on my local school system for 8 years. The Educrats are stuck in their ways. It took a charter opening for ANYTHING to be done here. It is a shame.

Kelly

February 2nd, 2012
8:21 pm

followthemoney – The state of Georgia is in the bottom 5 nationally, that is a fact. What the state of Georgia is doing is not working, that is a fact. We need a change, another fact.

If Charters do not suceed they are closed down. If traditional public schools don’s suceed we just keep giving them money and more money. If you have two schools where parents have a choice, they are going to choose the school that offers a better education. With all the students going to school #1, school 2’s teachers better start performing or they will lose their jobs. Traditional public schools do not offer that competition, your teacher is guaranteed a job as long as you live in her zip code.

The above blogger stated it perfectly ” I am sure every corrupt teacher and administrator is quaking in their boots about charter schools. Every well-performing system and teacher has nothing to worry about”

What were doing is not working!

To Maxine from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
8:22 pm

Maxine, you ask an honest question “I don’t consider Charter schools to be a panacea for the all of the problems associated with the public school system. Why not work on improving the current system?”

I have an honest answer for you. Working on improving the current system does work in many cases. Look at the improvements at Mary Lin elementary. Attendance and confidence was so low at that school they almost closed it but now it is a thriving, successful, school. An abundance of hard-working parents and an honest principal have turned that school around. The physical structure is nothing to brag about but the quality of the education in that school is one to be proud of and that is why it is overcrowded.

You see, where a public school is successful, there isn’t a clamor for a charter school.

But other communities don’t have the same situation and that is why communities like the East Lake community have charters schools such as Drew charter school. It is a remedy where the local school board has failed to provide a viable public school and the community created a working alternative.

Mary Elizabeth

February 2nd, 2012
8:31 pm

Ron F., 7:34 pm

“. . .:if charters become the ‘thing’ to fix education, and we eventually have money following kids via vouchers, how is that going to really change anything? We’re still talking about the same pool of kids from the same homes and families. Some are great, some are average, and some are dysfunctional. How will charter schools, vouchers, and privatizing education in the state improve that? Will we just shut out the kids who can’t or won’t measure up?”
=============================================

Ron, you have gotten to the heart of the problem. Rep. Ashe recommended, well, that we let the “ink dry” on what we are doing relative to charter schools so that we could reflect with insight. I would say that we not only need to to weigh, carefully, what we may be end up doing to all of Georgia’s children not only in this rush to create more and more charter schools, but also to legislate for vouchers to follow the student, which may end up privatizing education in larger measure.

For example, even with vouchers, the very poorest children, from the perspective of my 35 years as an educator, will not be able to afford private schools.Therefore, they will remain in their public schools that will have been altered for the worse, because their public schools will have lost many other students (and the funding that had come with those students) to charter schools and private schools. We will have created a homogeneously poor student body in the remaining public schools, with less resources than before, in these ongoing traditional public schools. In other words, we will be returning to a form of segregation of students, but this time by class and by wealth rather than by race. (The end result of the “everyone for himself” ideology of the past 40 years?)

That is one possiblity of what vouchers could bring to public schools. In terms of public charter schools, many poor children have parents who simply cannot afford either the time or money for the transportation to public charter schools. Is the local system, then, going also to provide bus transportation to the local public charter schools? Doesn’t it make more sense simply to improve the traditional schools we already have than to make massive changes in educational delivery and in transportation? If we don’t attempt to improve the schools we have in place, and if we move too hastily toward a bandwagon thinking that charter schools are “the” answer in education, we very well could inadvertently resegregate children by housing the very poor in our remaining traditional public schools, separated from those who had the resources, personally, to move out

I can envision that a few public charter schools might work well with local mainline public schools to enhance education for all students through coordination with one another and through the sharing of innovative approaches to instructional delivery. There is almost a frezy in the atmosphere that we must have massive numbers of charter schools and that charter schools are “the” answer. We must be wary of overly simple answers in the delivery of instruction especially when we must educate massive numbers of students throughout this state, not just a select few. And we are reponsible for educating all of Georgia’s children. As Rep. Ashe warned, we must move slowly enough to think through every aspect of these huge educational changes that we are in the process of undertaking.

And, I would caution the public to remember that there remains a national Republican agenda to continue cutting government “to the bone,” and that includes public education. Some of our state legislators have strong ties to this national movement. Others do not. And others, again, are simply unaware of this national agenda’s impact on state educational policy, or its strong ties in Georgia.

To Ron F from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
8:34 pm

ROn F, you said it perfectly ” I worry about the “withholding” of funds that would otherwise go to local systems. It could make budgeting a nightmare for systems that end up with charters they don’t approve.”

Exactly. A nightmare. That’s the “teeth” that make this bill work. When a corrupt failing school has no money they will have to fire the incompetent people who made the school fail. When we continue to pour money into a corrupt system, the thieves will continue to do the same old thing. If they have less money or no money at all, they will be forced to either make positive changes or to fire the incompetent employees.

This is Darwinism at its best. Survival of the fittest. The BEST public schools will survive instead of the worst public schools.

yes i am worried

February 2nd, 2012
8:36 pm

I think that what turns around a school is mostly a shift in demographics. Let us look at the example that GM cited — Mary Lin.

In 2001, the school had about 415 students — 53 percent of whom were black and 62 percent were poor. Ten years later, the school has 574 students, 19 percent of whom are black and 11 percent are poor.

I suspect that the demographic changes are primarily responsible for the gains at Lin. The question is, what caused the shift — was it destruction of public housing, redistricting, some combination of both?

It begs the questions, in terms of individual school improvement, what comes first, the chicken or the egg? If the demographics had stayed the same in 2011 as they were in 2001, even with the same community involvement and strong school leadership, would Lin be a desirable school today?

To Mary E from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
8:46 pm

Mary E,
You say charter schools would create a homogeneous school filled with students who are too poor to go to charter schools.

I would like to hear your thoughts about Coan Middle School. Coan is a public school that is already a wretched dismal, failure filled with children who are served the very worst in education. THey were rated as a massive failure in learning and then became a complete scandalous debacle in the cheating scandal. There is no charter school that created this problem. Coan and APS created this problem.

So your prediction is true that public schools will become a homogeneous crowds of underserved poor people — it has already happened at Coan middle school. No one wants to go to school at Coan. No one has ever said a good thing about Coan yet we continue to pour money into that sunken ship. A charter school could definitely help that community and it certainly could do no worse.

Your thoughts? GM

Mary Elizabeth

February 2nd, 2012
9:16 pm

First, I would ask, Why the children are failing at Coan? Are they being taught on the level that they can function or are they being taught standard grade level curriculum that is on the frustration level of many who go there? What coordination exists between the teachers and the community to teach parents – as I did of my own volition and without extra pay in the evenings – how to teach reading skills in content areas to their children? Are there Reading Specialists at Coan who have an expansive instructional vision for the whole school? If not, they should be hired at that school. Incompetent or unethical administrators and teachers should be fired. Take it to the Board of Education and, if you get no results, take it to the State Board of Education. But, think first in terms of rebuilding your community school that already exists. If you get a charter school, who would run it? For how many children? Are you sure they would know instruction and curriculum continuum, well? Would the finances for running be aboveboard? Would the teacher- pupil ratio be low? 1 to 6? All GA public schools cannot have a 1 -6 ratio. Too costly. Work where you are first. Insist on improvement. If children are taught where they are functioning, usually there are fewer discipline problems and that helps instruction, too. Maybe a charter school is the answer. I am not necessarily against it. I believe there is presently in place at the State Dept. of Education a mechanism whereby parents who are denied a charter school on the local level can appeal for a charter school to the State Board of Education, even without HR 1162 (and a Constitutional Amendment) being made into law. Check that out. Work to improve you own school as it is now, first, in ways I have shared.

You deserve a great answer. You are a parent who really cares. And I care for you. Every child in GA deserves a fine education. That means we must start teaching children where they are individually truly functioning, and that we put children first, not ourselves. That is why we must keep teachers as public servants – real public servants, not just after advancement or money for themselves. I wish I had time to answer you more thoroughly tonight. But I must go.

However, I will place new educational information for parents on my personal blog this by the end of this coming weekend (Sunday evening) – specifically about instruction in reading. Maybe you can use some of that info to tutor your own child in reading and share the info with other parents in your school. Best to you. I care. Here is my personal blog link:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/about-education-essay-1-mastery-learning/

To Yes I am worried from Good Mom

February 2nd, 2012
9:18 pm

Yes, I am worried, you asked an intelligent question “I suspect that the demographic changes are primarily responsible for the gains at Lin. The question is, what caused the shift — was it destruction of public housing, redistricting, some combination of both?”

I was around in 2001. THere was no public housing closing then or now and there was no redistricting but demographic changes are involved. Allow me to explain.

I was around in 2001. There were some nice homes but a lot of bad ones and there were crack houses too. Drug addicts living and selling drugs on the street was common and the streets were in bad repair.

I was unmarried then and had no children and lived there. I worked to make my neighborhood livable. I continually called the police and patrolled the area showing them where the addicts and dealers lived and how they worked. We, as neighbors, cleared away debris and trash and places where these horrible people thrived. I kept on the city to get the roads repaired and you bet I bought every piece of wrapping paper and other item every little school child was selling. I helped to create a better neighborhood along with my neighbors and the school became successful by the efforts of other hard-working people like me.

When the school began to have a good reputation, more families moved in. It’s just exactly like that old saying “If you build it they will come.”

If you build a good public school, the families will come. Families look for a good public school, then buy the best house they can afford that is zoned for it.

The demographics change is two-fold. You have pioneers like me who made it good and then you had good families moving in to make it even better.

GM

Rick in ATL

February 2nd, 2012
9:47 pm

Why should any local school board be able to stop parents from asserting their rightful place as taxpayer-stewards of the public schools? The proper role of parents is oversight, not acquiescence. This legislative change is long overdue and a harbinger of things to come–MORE choice, MORE parental control, FEWER mediocre educrats with mail-order degrees running the show. Lawmakers are appropriately reacting to local school board arrogance, and it’s about time.

Charter Parent to Rick

February 2nd, 2012
10:02 pm

I absolutely agree, this resolution is long overdue. Competition will separate the good schools from the bad. Charter schools will make the local schools step up their game.

interested educator

February 3rd, 2012
6:08 am

I agree with the concept of the bill. What needs to change to be fair for public schools is for charters to have a requirement of educating all students that come to their schools. Charters usually have a contract stating that parents or students have to follow certain guidelines such as coming to all parent teacher meetings. If these guidelines aren’t met, then the student can be removed.

Public schools have to educate all children. Charters should do the same.

catlady

February 3rd, 2012
6:51 am

I was never a cheerleader for charters (and still have serious reservations about those granted to “for profit” companies) but I have come around to the type of charter started by parents in the community. My system is going through this right now. A segment of about a third of the system’s parents are very dissatisfied with the decisions of the BOE, and would like to have a charter in a (now) unused, recently closed school, a school with 130+ year history. I have hopes that, one way or another, they are able to get this up and running, because it could provide a “laboratory” school where new ideas can be tried out–ideas that might be adopted for all the schools eventually. I think the new law is the only hope the charter parents have.

Skeeter

February 3rd, 2012
7:15 am

Charter Schools? An attempt to privatize public schools…with public funds. Even ole Skeeter can see this.

Mary Elizabeth

February 3rd, 2012
7:40 am

@Skeeter, 7:15 am

“Charter Schools? An attempt to privatize public schools…with public funds. Even ole Skeeter can see this.”
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Skeeter, you are not the only one who can see this coming. The Legislature established this past week as ‘School Choice Week’, and if anyone cannot see the ideological agenda behind promoting “school choice” as a week of note, you need to look more closely at the ties some in Georgia’s Legislature have with those of national influence and wealth, who have an ideological agenda to promote in many states, as well as nationally.

If parents do not put some brakes on this “school choice” bandwagon, you may see yourself, in 10 years, having predominately privatized schools (not paid with public funds) in which you pay businesses yourself to manage your children’s development – for profit and for their own purposes, and that includes public charter schools that may well transition to private charter schools in the process. Furthermore, law could be changed for a state-ordained Commission of Charter Schools to be able to allow that to occur.

The public would be wise to look deeper than some are looking, presently. This is a bigger movement than just involving your individual children. Moreover, public taxes for education may get less and less as business interests take over educating children. You could end up paying more in the long run, as retired people and others, who have no children to educate, no longer pay taxes to educate all of Georgia’s children. This occurring would truly be “everyone for himself” even in education which was designed, and promoted by Jefferson, to serve the “common good” of all.
Is this what you really want long-ranged for yourself and for your nation? Better look deeper.

Mary Elizabeth

February 3rd, 2012
7:44 am

@To Mary E from Good Mom, 8:46 pm, 2/2/12

Good Mom,

My 9:16 post last evening was written for you. Be sure to notice the last few sentences in that post. I offered my help to you, which may be of benefit to some students at Coan Middle School.

followthemoney

February 3rd, 2012
7:46 am

Folks, Again I ask for the FACTS. If the primary purpose for charters is to provide competition to the system schools so they will improve, show me an instance where that has happened? APS has more charters than any other system in the state. Need I say more? Competition sounds good in theory, but it isn’t producing the desired results in this case. And school choice is a separate issue from charter schools. We could have school choice without giving our money to snake oil salesmen who are promising a better education for children when, FACTS don’t indicate that charters perform any better than regular schools. Charter parents aren’t getting involved in fixing their local schools, they are being duped into fleeing the problem and watering down the focus. I’m fine with innovated laboratory schools in a school system, but 1) that doesn’t require a charter school and 2) not when they are unregulated and not held accountable for excellence. Show me a charter that has ever been shut down because it is mediocre or it has failed to use the taxpayer dollar wisely(and, again FACTS show that is a majority of them.) The only one I know that has been shut down by a system recently is FSA and Fulton County had to take it in the teeth to get rid of that mess. Parents didn’t know or didn’t care if the business decisions of the school were horrible (and congrats to the AJC for reporting on it). The parents just didn’t want their precious child to have to attend the regular schools (some of which are Blue Ribbon school as well) with all “those other kids”. A state constitutional amendment giving authority to an appointed group of charter czars isn’t the way to improve the poorly performing schools districts in Georgia and it will certainly detract attention and money from the ones that are working to improve or are already doing well (and FACTS indicate we have some well performing public schools in Georgia.)

Elizabeth

February 3rd, 2012
8:01 am

I want educators not politcians running public schools. Who will pay for a state authorized school? What criterea will be used to evaluate a charter a charter petition that the local board denied? Who wiil monitor performance of the school and terminate it if it doesn’t live up to the charter? Who will guarantee the taxpayer that this “special” state authorized school paid for with our tax dollars one way or the other uses public money for the students vs. for the operators profit or hidden agenda? Who will be minding this store? The devil is in the details and so far there AREN’T any. Our legislators don’t want to hear about current charter school issues and scandals. Please pay attention if you pay taxes!!

East Cobb Parent

February 3rd, 2012
8:06 am

I think I’ll read the study done that states Charters do no better than public schools. My personal observations say that often Charters work and accomplish the goals the parents established for their child(ren). Most charters are performing with less money – I would say if they are measuring performance then doing the same with less would be an improvement. In Cobb the school board seems to only approve charters they have a special interest in – David Morgan for one. I keep reading the slams on Florida. My sister teachers in a charter school in Leon County. The children came to them all under performing. Those same children are now passing the FCAT (similar to CRCT) and showing gains on the ITBS. The school does not do social promotion and each teacher teaches a subject to three grades. I see a lot of value in that approach. You already know which children need more direction, should not sit in certain places and other details you learn those first few weeks of school.

yes i am worried

February 3rd, 2012
8:14 am

I am a big proponent of grass roots charters. The organizers most often have a good sense of what the community needs and what is driving the need for a charter.

I am also a believer in charters started by true non-profits, like KIPP, that from day one of the organization’s existence have been non-profit.

I am much less enamored of groups like K-12, Imagine, etc that are/were for-profits everywhere but GA, which doesn’t allow charters started by for-profits, so they form a non-profit just to do business in GA. These organizations seem much less responsive to the parents. Check out Imagine’s track record in Cobb.

followthemoney

February 3rd, 2012
8:20 am

East Cobb – the report was done by Sanford University. It is interesting reading. You can also look up all schools performance in Georgia on the state’s website gadoe.org under “data”. to see how every indivudal school is doing. As for what you mention your sister is doing, that can also being done in regular schools. It is called Looping and works well for schools that don’t have a lot of turnover in the student body. Finally, your comment that charter schools have less money – that is not true. Under Georgia law, charters have to be funded “no less favorably” than regular schools. I think the system get to keep some small percentage of the money to pay for the monitoring costs (like 2% or something), but Georgia charter get the same exact funding that other schools get. And they can even get their buildings for free if there is an unused building in a system. But again, it all is monitored by a school system – not the state government. This amendment is not a good idea.

d

February 3rd, 2012
8:35 am

I don’t have a problem with the state getting involved – as long as those who are actually making the decision are ELECTED officials and not someone who is appointed as a political favor – and therefore answers to no one. I need to know that as a voter, I have the power to vote against – aka fire – someone who is making decisions that is contrary to the public good.

carlosgvv

February 3rd, 2012
8:42 am

Republicans have pushed this thru in order to satisfy the demands of their far-right conservative supporters who want a State full of Christian Academys. The fact that these schools will teach, among other things, that Science is just full of unproven theories and result in graduating students who can’t possibly compete with those from non-charter schools does not faze them in the slightest. To them Scripture tops Science every time.

momto2

February 3rd, 2012
9:09 am

to followthemoney

What FSA provides that the local other middle schools do not, is a safe, caring, environment for children to learn. It is about the child. The discipline is tight and there is an atmosphere of valuing differences. Middle school is a very difficult time for most kids. yes, there are other Blue Ribbon Schools in North Fulton, but none that my children feel safe in. The FCBOE had a side agenda here that has to do with their own desire to become a county charter. They dont want competition within their county. Yes, they said its about fiscal responsibility, but I dont believe it for one second. Why shoudnt my children get choice, even in NFC.

CATTRANS

February 3rd, 2012
9:20 am

“Full Charter Schools” do what public /converter charter schools can’t do! They have the flexibility to adjust staff and to meet the educational requirements of the children.
Many of these public and converted charter schools are top heavy in personnel head count in administration and high cost; just like many of the local boards. When a Full Charter gets a fixed dollar per student that it! They have to use this for staff, buildings, educational supplies, and class room materials However; local public schools have “other tax revenue streams such as SPLOST”.

Example: Fulton Co + State pay a full charter about $7900 per student (That it the buck stops here, if the school needs more they have raise it on their own)
Where Local public school in State + Fulton it more like $9700 per student (Already a imbalance of higher cost tax dollars to public school)
Wait,, that Local public school also gets SPLOST (more tax pay money) to pay for buildings and other improvements wink wink. (Yet the Full Charter gets zero extra tax dollars!)
Therefore, when you hear someone say the state is taking away from local fund to fund a charter school. What really should be saying is that the State is saving taxes by doing so.

I love teachers and I think they are underpaid. Yet they get steady stream of misinformation from the local adminstration and lobbying groups that skew the truth. The teachers feel compelled or threatened thy must back the adminstrations and so called lobbiest/assocations. If the teachers will wake up to the fact that the adminstrators and board are the blood suckers of the tax dollars and cause of their low wages they would be more apt to pull for full charter schools to improve their lives. The charter teachers get the same benefit package under state law, the salary are based on preformance. So you reguar school puplic good teachers what work hard with little reward get discurrage over time and many then just cave in and not work as hard. Just think how you feel when you head of a local board making $400,0000!! to your what $35-65K? Or what about all those other adminstrators or tentune teachers (sittiing arroung not teaching at all collecting pay) while we have over crouded class rooms. A lot of that money could be better server to the teacher salarys, class room supplys, field trips .

I was privliage to get involved with a full charter school Fulton Science Academy (FSA) in N. Fulton just recently because of the chater renewal was denined by Fulton Country Board. Why you will hear all kind news and after I investiaged this found them to be full of negetive lies by mainly the school board. Examples ‘they approved a bond for new school building with out our approval and as tax payor steward we can not allow this’ Truth, The tax payors are not on the hook for this bond, as the bond was with a investment company and FSA would only lease to own the building. Then you hear some say this iCharter that gets to pick and choose students.. Truth, no they have standard enrolment and with in a geograhic zone just like all schools, parents can enroll their students their as long as they have space. FSA only problem they are limited by the Charter on number of students thus new applicats must apply and be placed on lottery system. This system is open and video taped for all you nay sayors to see the lottery drawing. After the lottery for open slots 30-65 or so they have about 200 student place on waitiing list. (This I found to be incredable the number of students wanting to go to this school by choice and they don’t have wining sports but winning acadmemic teams) Also after the charter was denined by the local board the school applied for state chater and funny of the 513 students all but 1 re-enrolled knowing next year will be a finanical tough scracrafic. This just show you how much the kids and parents love this school. Then I saw another post from a school boad adminstrator that the school was being investagte by the FBI and Attoreny Generals office for violation of imigraton laws and the FBI told Dr. Alvosa to not to renew the charter. Fact; this is a lie, the FBI does not investiage this not their juersdiction (Civic teachers you should know this), it is the INS and State Department and no such investigation exist according to you know this is true). I have heard so many lies from the board and its adminstrators that the teacher in reguar public school are starting to belive these lies I found out over the 10 years this school has operated with this fixed revene (much less than regular public schools) that they were able to save yes save in their bank account $750,000 which they have as an emergency fund. I ask what local public school has saved an emergency fund on their own? No they just ask the board for more and the board figures out a way to shift money arround and if they can’t then they just find a way to levy more taxes!

This is occuring not just with FSA but it is full attack on all Full Charter schools. Why? It all’s come down to simpley the adminstrators and board make big $$$ to control the teachers at expense of students and tax payors. The Full Charter schools system is a threat to the aminstration and board (only and not teachers) lively hood of minulapution of funds from teachers and tax payors so neither get more bang for the buck like in Full Charter schools system. A full charter shows that more Tax dollars do not equate a better education as the charters opperate with less with better results. (FSA) just became a National Blue Ribbon school for excelense in learning. This frankly scares the school board because it show their system is bad for the students, teachers and tax payors. So their answer to this threat was two fold “ apply for conversion charter” (PS: not same as full charter and they still maintain control over teachers salarys and hiring practices) and to get rid of high preforming Charter schools that make them look bad.

Now the State and voters see this and they want to support Charter schools and here come the spin masters from all the local boards and adminstrators trying to protect the statiou quo that has kept GA in the bottom of educations ranking for years.

I hope all teachers, parents, tax payor’s and voters get behind the Full Charter schools.