Rep. Jones: Proposed constitutional amendment affirms true local control — parents

State Rep. Jan Jones

State Rep. Jan Jones

Among the most influential and dedicated supporters of charter schools is House Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones of Milton, who represents District 46. She is the sponsor of the constitutional amendment that would resurrect the state’s ability to create charter schools, an ability lost in last year’s state Supreme Court decision.

She wrote this essay today to explain why she believes the amendment is vital.

By Jan Jones

Most people agree local school boards play a critical role in Georgia public education. Most people also agree, however, that local school boards should not have exclusive control over public education.

Businesses considering relocating to Georgia place a top priority on an overall educated workforce. Clearly, we have a state education brand to foster and protect in attracting jobs.

Our ability to do so was jeopardized in a controversial 4-3 Georgia Supreme Court decision last May striking down a 2008 state law.

The problem with the state supreme court’s decision is that it explicitly stated that school boards have exclusive control over general k-12 public education. The decision calls into question whether state government has any meaningful role, except, perhaps, for putting a check in the mail.

The broad court decision deviated sharply from the state’s historically significant role in public education, including funding half its costs, establishing graduation standards and providing a teacher pay scale.

Thanks primarily to these state policies, when adjusted for cost of living, Georgia ranks first nationally in teacher salary and benefits.

With that in mind, House Resolution 1162 would re-assert the state’s partnership role in public education through a constitutional amendment. The legislation says, “the General Assembly may…provide for the establishment of education policies for such public education.”

HR 1162 would clarify the Constitution in the way most people thought existed prior to the court’s action.

The headline-grabbing issue, though, is that the court decision also invalidated the state’s general ability to authorize public charter schools, a practice exercised prudently for over 10 years. Since 2008, only 12 state charter schools opened.

The legislation would allow existing charter schools approved and fully funded by the state to continue teaching students.

The state could also approve additional charter schools as do other states. Georgia would have another tool to give students learning opportunities, which sometimes cannot be offered within attendance lines.

For example, a technical college covering several counties, as is typically the case in rural Georgia, could partner with a charter school to offer vocational certification while students are still in high school.

Charter schools, in some instances, could place added focus on science and math, vocational or International Baccalaureate certification, or the arts. They could even offer a longer day and extra tutoring.

Parents, though, would choose whether their children attend optional public charter schools. If HR 1162 passes, the voters of the state can decide to put “local control” where it counts the most – with parents.

History has shown that charter schools are better performing and more apt to grow if school districts are not the sole authorizer allowed by law.

To find a middle ground, the Education Committee omitted from the resolution a narrow reference to charter school funding as lobbyists for school boards and superintendents requested. This allows the Legislature to reconsider a better method to fund charter schools.

HR 1162 recognizes public education policy has been and should be a shared effort by the state and school boards to deliver the best educational opportunities to students.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

123 comments Add your comment

GA Teacher Pay tops in the nation

February 6th, 2012
7:44 pm

I am wondering if anyone paid close attention to what she just said :

“Thanks primarily to these state policies, when adjusted for cost of living, Georgia ranks first nationally in teacher salary and benefits.”

Teacher pay and benefits in GA — tops in the nation.

GM

Tony

February 6th, 2012
7:52 pm

The representative is blind to the harsh reality that the true failure rests squarely upon the shoulders of the governor and legislature of our state as they have grossly underfunded public education for many years. Resources have been stripped from our schools while people like her sit in Atlanta and point to charter schools and vouchers as the solutions to our educational woes.

She is now trying to paint a delusional picture of local control when that is farther from the truth than ever. Sad.

Finally, Georgia is NOT tops in teacher salary and benefits, and what little is given to teachers is rapidly dropping in value because of their methods of underfunding our schools.

Dr. Proud Black Man

February 6th, 2012
7:53 pm

“Thanks primarily to these state policies, when adjusted for cost of living, Georgia ranks first nationally in teacher salary and benefits.”

http://247wallst.com/2011/02/26/the-ten-states-that-pay-teachers-the-most-and-why-it-doesnt-matter/

Liar liar pants on fire!

echo

February 6th, 2012
7:55 pm

@GM…I’m wondering if anyone paid close attention to the fact that the comment was said by a politician with an agenda and nothing cited to back up her comment that teachers in GA rank first.

Local school boards just want the state to pay for any charter school approved by the state instead of being forced to pay for a charter school not locally approved. School board positions are elected positions, so if the locals want a charter school they can get their school board to approve one.

Mikey D

February 6th, 2012
7:58 pm

She only thinks the court decision was controversial because she didn’t get what she wanted. Constitutionally speaking, it was the correct decision. She can throw her tantrums and try to fire up her base all she wants, but that doesn’t change the facts.

On a side note…Top salary and benefits in the nation? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I’ll have some of what she’s drinking!!!

Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
7:59 pm

LOLOL!!! Unfortunately, Georgia hasn’t “adjusted for cost of living” in a long time….unless you count furlough days, which mean they adjusted down. At least I have a job, so I guess I’ll take what they deign me worthy to have after 20+ years of excellent service as rated by every administrator I’ve ever worked for or with.

And when you take into account the unfunded portions of the QBE formula, pretty much every district in the state has taken on a bigger portion of their budget locally. So, this isn’t about the state having no control- they set the kearning standards, choose the assessments for students and teachers, and set rules for every aspect of school function- including transportation, building age of usefulness, class size, teacher certification. This amendment is nothing but a way to go around the supreme court because the state wants the ultimate say about charter schools. I’m all for them if they meet a local need and can be agreed upon by all stakeholders. The state shouldn’t have the final say in local matters.

“For example, a technical college covering several counties, as is typically the case in rural Georgia, could partner with a charter school to offer vocational certification while students are still in high school.”

Ahhhm, in many districts they’ve been doing this for YEARS. That’s not news and state approval of charters hasn’t significantly influenced that partnership as of yet.

This is one step towards vouchers. I know how many here support them, but they better be ready for the uncertainty that will cause. If a school becomes popular, get ready for trailers and large class sizes…wait, we already have that in the regular public schools.

Ed Johnson

February 6th, 2012
8:07 pm

Sometimes the temptation surfaces to just step back and let this idiocy run its course.

The more one pushes against legislators’ APOT (abject poverty of thinking), the more those legislators will push back, as Jan Jones’ essay demonstrates.

mift

February 6th, 2012
8:09 pm

State Rep. Jan Jones’s constituents need to reevaluate her status as representing the fine people of Georgia. Anyone this misinformed can not be doing an adequate job. To say Georgia teachers have it the best in the nation is crazy.

Winnie

February 6th, 2012
8:24 pm

Why are the educrats terrified of charters?

mift

February 6th, 2012
8:25 pm

Maureen, Can you fact check the teacher salary claim?

say what?

February 6th, 2012
8:27 pm

Local control belongs to the taxpayers, many of whom are NOT parents. She is pandering to her base.
When teacher pay in GA is first in the nation, I would vote an all Republican ticket. And not first in being last.

teacher&mom

February 6th, 2012
8:37 pm

.”The decision calls into question whether state government has any meaningful role, except, perhaps, for putting a check in the mail.”

How funny! This reminds me of a parent who refuses to pay child support but insists on playing a “meaningful” role in their child’s life. (meaningful role = a birthday & Christmas card)

Ed Johnson

February 6th, 2012
8:39 pm

Hmmmmmmm……. Competition?

rivalry, race, struggle, opposition, war, antagonism, opposition, contention, competitiveness, enmity, conflict, challenge, jealousy, contest, battle, duel, sprint, fight, brawl, scrap, scuffle, skirmish, melee, free-for-all, tussle, battle, antagonism, hostility, disagreement, obstruction, disapproval, unfriendliness, resistance, conflict, combat, warfare, fighting, confrontation, hostilities, battle, resentment, dislike, bitterness, hatred, antipathy, ill feeling, ill will, bad blood.

Yep, competition will make things better.

Maureen Downey

February 6th, 2012
8:39 pm

@Mift,
Teacher Portal puts us at third:
http://www.teacherportal.com/teacher-salaries-by-state

The US Census puts us 17th in average salaries:

http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/2012/ranks/rank20.html

Charter Parent

February 6th, 2012
8:42 pm

Scared of the competition? Hmmmmmmm…….

Mikey D

February 6th, 2012
8:49 pm

@Maureen
Are you going to call her and give her the opportunity to retract her claim of Georgia being #1, in light of the links you just posted? I’d be interested to see if she’s willing to admit that she’s blowing hot air, or if (like most of our political “leaders”) she stubbornly clings to her falsehoods, as if repeating a lie over and over will magically make it true.

echo

February 6th, 2012
8:57 pm

The jury is still out on if charters are even “successful” or not. Most charters are pretty well run organizations but it isn’t very difficult if your school is allowed to screen entrants and dismiss any “problems” that arise. If public schools were allowed to dismiss no more than 5% of their student populations for being disruptive, unmotivated, lazy, do nothings; there would be a major shift in all of those categories that seem to be important to everyone (standardized test scores, attendance, behavior problems, student/parent/teacher satisfaction, etc…). I’m actually all for school choice as long as it cuts both ways. Pretty sure that some parents may change their tune about “school choice” if their kid isn’t “chosen”.

Jeff in Roswell

February 6th, 2012
9:06 pm

@echo – What do you mean by “chosen”?

South GA Teacher

February 6th, 2012
9:09 pm

Another caveat about the charter movement is President Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan wants to bypass the states and offer Race to the Top (RTTT) dollars directly to schools districts who become charters. Georgia received $400 million of RTTT money and awarded half of those dollars to twenty-six “less functional” districts. Many agreed to change to charter governance and adopt the Common Core Standards to receive those dollars. With the siphoning of equalization dollars away from local school boards in addition to the passing of HR 1162, Duncan’s agenda will be fulfilled with the help of Georgia Republicans in the House and Senate. How ironic that a Democratic President’s educational agenda will be implemented by Georgia’s Republican legislators meanwhile Georgia Democrats want to block-vote to keep local control for school districts. Keep in mind, there is no entity in the state that has been determined to regulate the flow of these dollars to local school districts. Is this choice or is this deception to sacrifice local control? With the help of Georgia Republicans, the Obama Administration has found a way to circumvent the tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, change Georgia’s. Unfortunately, this may be the end game for local school board control as we know it. Starving rural systems will quickly accelerate the federalization of Georgia public education, thus weakening Georgia’s ability to be economically competitive. There is no independent research of significant student performance under charter systems and RTTT endorsed curriculum.

Charters Change Lives

February 6th, 2012
9:10 pm

I’m not a seasoned blog poster like you all, but I am a supporter of charter schools. Rep. Jones is right. Charter schools break down the barriers between the “educators” that protect their turf instead of educating my kids.

Rep. Jones is a smart mom.

echo

February 6th, 2012
9:15 pm

@Jeff…”chosen” = picked to attend the school of their choice. At some point certain schools will not be able to add anymore students. For instance, lets say John’s Creek (pretty stellar school!) can only house 1500 students (not sure what the capacity really is) but 2200 students want to attend JCHS. If the school picks the best 1500 kids, that leaves 700 kids/families out of luck. And if I am zoned and pay taxes for JCHS and my kid doesn’t get picked I will not be very happy.

followthemoney

February 6th, 2012
9:18 pm

The funding isn’t planned out? So much for fiscal responsibility. Ms. Jones, work out the details of your bill and then ask us to vote on the merits of your thoughts. Don’t bring us half baked ideas. It is insulting to the intelligence of the voters. And parents are not the only decision makers; those of us who happen to be paying for the schools might have a horse in this race. Show me who is going to be selecting the charters, the criteria for selection, the criteria for termination, the proof that the charter will actually teach students better than the neighborhood school, that the charter will actually teach all the public, (not just those who can afford to drive their kids to the school), the reason why the local board thought it was a bad idea and why your folks are better suited to make this decision than the people I elected. Finally, guarantee to me that the school is worth the investiment and put your money where your mouth is. If the school fails, we get to fire you, just like the elected school board member. If you can do all that, I’ll think about your ideas. I don’t mean to be fresh, but those are the details and the gurantees I want if you are to gain my support.

Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
9:22 pm

Lives: who are these teachers who “protect their turf” rather than educate your kids? They have to answer for kids who don’t pass the tests and believe me, as a teacher myself, I know full well what happens when parents complain. If you’ve got a specific teacher in mind, go to the school, go to the board, and keep going until they listen. They will if the complaint(s) hold water. Trust me on that one.

The thing to watch out for about charters is that they often work with their own board independent of scrutiny from outside. Not to mention the private companies that will swoop in setting them up with all sorts of promises. That gives them a level of authority and autonomy that will, in some cases, make them much more about protecting their turf. You’ll get to choose the school, but once your kid is in, you may not have as much power as you do now to influence teachers or administrators. I’m all for the competition and the potential improvement they might possibly bring to public education in general, but the devil is in the details, and the details are a bit fuzzy as of yet.

Maureen Downey

February 6th, 2012
9:25 pm

@Mikey, I have sent her a question about the source of that claim. Will post her source when she responds.
Maureen

Ron F.

February 6th, 2012
9:29 pm

followthemoney: my sentiments exactly. I won’t believe it until I see the details, and those are far too sketchy at this point. One of my fears is that this will lead to a rush of charter schools setting up all over that will have rancorous relationships with local boards, which isn’t going to help either one succeed. Perhaps my greatest fear is the all too obvious fact that the poor will be left with no options unless they can work out transportation. In a rural county like my own, that will very heavily segregate the schools along class lines (which closely mirror racial groupings). The problem I have stated on several threads here is that the pool of children is the same whether you have charters or not. How will charters do a better job of teaching the troubled kids, the slow learners, the unmotivated often from dysfunctional homes? The answer, I’m becoming more aware of, is that they won’t have to because there will be no imperative for them to accept kids or keep them.

Mary Elizabeth

February 6th, 2012
9:40 pm

Rep. Jones says in her article above, “Thanks primarily to these state policies, when adjusted for cost of living, Georgia ranks first nationally in teacher salary and benefits.”
===========================================

As a retired teacher, one of those teachers’ benefits that I, and other retired teachers, receive is being a member of the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia. Many active and retired teachers have worked hard for this benefit, over the years. Yet, Rep. Jones had sponsored HB 664 which would have allowed the state Commission on Charter Schools to “exclude” (”may exclude” was the actual language of HB 664) public school teachers of Commission Charter Schools from the TRS. That fact, alone, informs many that Rep. Jones, and perhaps others with whom she confers, is interested in allowing removal of retirement benefits, of which she expresses praise in the article above, from certain public school teachers (those who would work in Commission Charter Schools)..

Perhaps others, also, see a mixed message, regarding teachers’ benefits, from Rep. Jones, given the mismatch of her words above to her actions in sponsoring HB 664. Ms. Downey had stated to a blogger named “H S” on Feb. 5, 2012, “Also, education is political — very much so. I wish it wasn’t, but politics influences a lot of education policy.”

I cannot help but wonder how political HR 1162 is.

Georgia already has a State Board of Education which could hear appeals of charter school applicants who had been turned down by local School Boards. Why do citizens need a State Commission for Charter Schools, through a Constitutional Amendment, which would put educational decisions regarding charter schools in the hands of politicians in the General Assembly, instead of in the hands of educators, such as those educators in the State Board of Education?

Gov. Ellis Arnold (1943 – 1947), who established the Teacher Retirement System in Georgia in the 1940s, also placed the State Board of Education within Georgia’s Constitution so that political undertakings could be removed, as much as possible, from educational policies. I do not wish to see education in Georgia return to that ill state of political maneuverings present before Governor Ellis Arnold advocated for that Constitutional change. As an teacher with 35 years experience, most in educational leadership, who had earned both a Bachelor’s degree and M.Ed. degree, I remain supportive of Gov. Ellis Arnold’s thinking – that politics should be removed from education. Educators know better about education than do politicians. Only 5 or 6 members of the 27 member House Education Committee list an educational background in their biographical information. I was impressed to learn, yesterday, that the Coca-Cola Corporation in Georgia had supported Ellis Arnold for Governor. Arnold was one of Georgia’s most progressive governors. He abolished the poll tax, helped the University of Georgia regain its accreditation after it was lost under Gov. Eugene Talmadge. He reformed the penal system in Georgia, and enhanced the Regents System in Georgia for Higher Education. He also balanced the budget. Today’s politicians would be well to follow the outstanding and inspirational legacy Gov. Ellis Arnold left to Georgia.

[...] A response: http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/02/06/rep-jones-proposed-constitutional-amendment-affirm… [...]

Atlanta mom

February 6th, 2012
10:03 pm

“History has shown that charter schools are better performing”
Wrong!!!!! History shows that charter schools perform better at the beginning because they are often exempt from educating special needs students. Once they are required to take all comers, they perform pretty much at the same levels as regular public schools .

Kelly

February 6th, 2012
10:11 pm

Atlanta mom

February 6th, 2012
10:15 pm

If this ends up passing,then, the charter school that takes the student has to keep the student. No sending the student back to the zone school when Johnny is disruptive or Mary brings a gun to school. You got ‘em, you keep ‘em.

Mary Elizabeth

February 6th, 2012
10:30 pm

Speaking of political maneuvering and education. Read the following information re: HR 425.
—————————————————————

Sponsored by Representative Jay Neal, HR 425 is commonly known as the “Blaine Amendment.” This resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution that would allow religious or faith-based organizations to receive public taxpayer dollars, directly or indirectly.

This resolution is currently in a House Judiciary subcommittee and is expected to be on the House Judiciary Committee agenda this week.

The Georgia State Constitution includes a specific protection to make sure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund religious worship, proselytizing or discrimination.

Repealing the Blaine Amendment is a backdoor attempt to implement taxpayer vouchers for private religious schools. Such a system will assuredly hurt our public schools. Money will be taken out of the hands of public schools, educators, and students. Instead, it will be funneled into funding private and religious schools.

Religious houses of worship that would provide these taxpayer-funded services must be accountable to the public.

Religiously affiliated organizations currently receive government funds to provide social services. This bill would go a lot further and allow taxes to flow directly into churches, mosques and synagogues.

Contact the House Judiciary Committee and tell them to VOTE NO to the Blaine Amendment,
HR 425:
(Remember the value expressed by Thomas Jefferson, regarding the separation of church and state.)

Wendell Willard, Chairman
wendell.willard@house.ga.gov
404.656.5125

Mike Jacobs, Vice Chairman
repjacobs@comcast.net
404.656.0152

Stephen Allison, Secretary
stephen.allison@house.ga.gov
404.656.0188

Rick Golick, Ex-Officio
rich.golick@house.ga.gov
404.656.5943

Joe Wilkinson, Ex-Officio
joe.wilkinson@house.ga.gov
404.463.8143

Rick Crawford
rick.crawford@house.ga.gov
404.656.0265

Mark Hatfield
mhatfield@wayxcable.com
404.656.0109

Roger B. Lane
rogerlane167@hotmail.com
404.656.5087

Billy Maddox
billy.maddox@house.ga.gov
404.656.3947

Doug McKillip
doug@dougmckillip.com
404.656.0177

Randy Nix
randy.nix@house.ga.gov
404.656.0177

Mary Margaret Oliver
mmo@mmolaw.com
404.656.0265

Pam Stephenson
pamelann@bellsouth.net
404.656.0126

Roger Bruce
rbruce5347@aol.com
404.656.0314

Elly Dobbs
elly.dobbs@house.ga.gov
404.656.7859

Stacey Evans
stacey@staceyevans.org
404.656.6372

Edward Lindsey
edward.lindsey@house.ga.gov
404.656.5024

Larry O’Neal
larry.oneal@house.ga.gov
404.656.5052

Jay Powell
jay.powell@house.ga.gov
404.656.7146

Andrew Welch
awelch@swblawfirm.com
404.656.0109

Tom Weldon
tom.weldon@house.ga.gov
404.656.0152

Please contact members

of the House Judiciary

Blue Dog

February 6th, 2012
10:34 pm

When the State makes it top budget priority a well funded public education system throughout Georgia its legislative leaders might have a sound argument for State leadership. However, State funding for public education was placed on a back burner under former Gov. Perdue who seemed to dismantle what his predecessors were developing for public education more for contrariety than for sound policy reasons. With the Georgia legislature shifting to Republican control and continuing to squeeze local districts with heavy funding cuts but laying on costly mandates a shift to local control away from the State dominating educational policy is quite reasonable. We are not the same Georgia of 1943 when the State needed to be pushing many counties to educate all of their children. What Rep. Jones needs to understand is that when the “State won’t pay then why should it play” the leadership role.

Mary Elizabeth

February 6th, 2012
10:39 pm

The below bill appear to some to be another example of political maneuvering in the area of education. Read the following information re: HR 425.
—————————————————————

Sponsored by Representative Jay Neal, HR 425 is commonly known as the “Blaine Amendment.” This resolution proposes an amendment to the Constitution that would allow religious or faith-based organizations to receive public taxpayer dollars, directly or indirectly.

This resolution is in a House Judiciary subcommittee and is expected to be on the House Judiciary Committee agenda this week.

The Georgia State Constitution includes a specific protection to make sure that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund religious worship, proselytizing or discrimination.

Repealing the Blaine Amendment is seen by some to be a backdoor attempt to implement taxpayer vouchers for private religious schools. Such a system will hurt public schools. Money will be taken out of the hands of public schools, educators, and students. Instead, it will be funneled into funding private and religious schools.

Religious houses of worship that would provide these taxpayer-funded services must be accountable to the public.

Religiously affiliated organizations currently receive government funds to provide social services. This bill would go a lot further and allow taxes to flow directly into churches, mosques and synagogues.

I hope that many will feel motivated to contact the House Judiciary Committee and ask members ASAP to VOTE NO to the Blaine Amendment, HR 425.

Charter Schools are PUBLIC Schools

February 6th, 2012
11:05 pm

@Ron F.
9:29 pm

“The thing to watch out for about charters is that they often work with their own board independent of scrutiny from outside.”

Hmm, this is about 1/3 right. All start-up charters ALWAYS have an independent, non-profit board. That board governs the school and oversees the hiring and performance of the administration. The Governing Board is responsible for submitting an annual report to the charter authorizers (local BOE and state BOE for locally approved charter schools) and must renew their charters every five years. That’s a pretty far cry from “independent of scrutiny from the outside”. Also, if the charter authorizer does a poor job of reviewing the annual report and charter renewal application then that is a problem with the way the authorizers are doing their job not the charter school.

“Not to mention the private companies that will swoop in setting them up with all sorts of promises.”

Many charters don’t contract with private companies at all, and for those that do, the governing board is still the one in charge (the private companies can’t place any employees on the governing board). If the Governing Board isn’t handling those contracted services well, the parents should call them on it. If the Governing Board doesn’t respond, then the parents should engage the local school board and state BOE if necessary.

“That gives them a level of authority and autonomy that will, in some cases, make them much more about protecting their turf. You’ll get to choose the school, but once your kid is in, you may not have as much power as you do now to influence teachers or administrators.”

That’s why parents should always read the actual charter very carefully BEFORE they attend a school, especially with respect to how the Governing Board is formed and maintained. If elected parent representation is minimal on the board, that’s a good warning sign that you might be getting into a situation as you describe.

In addition, the charter authorizers should make sure the board make-up is adequate to allow parents to have a strong voice in the school. Charters that have minimal parent representation or a lack of parent-elected board members with multi-year terms can lead to the exact situation you describe, and charter authorizers should address that issue during the initial application or upon the renewal application to rectify it.

It amazes me how many charter school parents have never even read a majority of their school’s charter or know how their charter schools’ governing board is composed.

Lynn43

February 7th, 2012
12:22 am

Charter schools are not public schools. The only thing public about them is that they are financed by public money. All students are not welcomed as they are at true PUBLIC schools.

I'm a teacher

February 7th, 2012
3:24 am

Several points – I wonder when the data was collected for all of the above mentioned sources for teacher salaries – the situation has changed drastically in the past few years with the furlough days (as was brought home to me as I began to prepare my taxes this year) and the fact that there have been no cost of living increases for several years as well. Also many times when they say “teachers” they include any certified position which includes administrators all the way up to the superintendent which will, again skew the data.

Parents – why do you think you will have any more say in the governing of a charter school than you do with your neighborhood school or local school board? YOU vote for the school board – you put them in office and if you don’t like what they are doing vote them out. Taking your concerns to the governing board of a charter school will be exactly like taking them to a principal or district office.

The final think I would like to point out is that one of the reasons charter schools are so attractive to some parents is that they want to remove their children from classes where there are major disruptions, where the pace and rigor is dictated by the lowest performing students and into a situation where they are surrounded by others more “like” themselves (whether that be by religion, race, gender, or socioeconomic group). Because charter schools will be funded by public money (whether at the local level or the state level) those very reasons will be the basis of lawsuits as soon as charter schools deny access to those very students who are disruptive, low performing and “different” and soon the charter will look just like the local public school you moved away from.

Instead of spending your energy setting up these charter schools – try working with the teachers and other educators who are trying to address these problems and improve the public schools

Fled

February 7th, 2012
4:40 am

I just don’t “get” repukes. Anyone with any critical reading abilities at all realizes immediately that this so-called representative and those of her ilk are tools, unwitting or not, for putting public funds in the hands of for-profit corporate interests. If you want to get a close look at what such schools would be like, take a look at Mosaica, which is headquartered right there in Atlanta. They have an awful reputation everywhere.

I also don’t see how parents are going to get what they think they will out of a for-profit school. When the classroom becomes a profit center, who is dumb enough to believe that decisions will be made in the interests of the students? OK, I mean who is dumb enough other than republicans? Don’t think that this is about anything other than money, folks. Parents seem to believe that a charter school is a private school with no tuition. If you want a private school, you must pay for a private school: there isn’t any other way.

At the same time, I cannot defend the school system in Georgia, as I know well it is rotten to the core, especially Fulton. What you need are schools that prepare students for the real-world challenges of the twenty-first century, but I don’t think that will happen in Georgia until the twenty-second century, given the low level of intelligence among republicans and their hatred of learning.

Georgia teachers are the best-paid in the USA, Well, LMFAO! Is that a fraud, Beverly?

Teachers, it is never going to change. Had enough?

Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

Brandy

February 7th, 2012
4:43 am

I hate to say it, but I smell a rat. During desegregation, countless school districts were split and new ones were created (along with private schools) to exclude and to maintain the previous status quo. This same mentality often seems to me to be behind advocates of school choice, be it charters, public-private partnerships, or vouchers. “Those kids” (insert any group you find unfavorable here) aren’t performing well/interested in school/safe for my kid to be around, so let me send my kid to a school that is filled with kids just like him or her. Yeah, that’ll work! Those schools and districts formed to avoid desegregation were eventually desegregated, just like all the others. Eventually, these utopian charter schools will be forced to accept reality, admit all students, not expel unruly, uncooperative, or under-performing students, and any perceived gains will fall to the wayside. Let’s grow up, folks, and admit to the real problem: we underfund our public schools. Shiny and new is not necessary; reinvesting in what already exists is. The same thing is happening with transportation in this state: MARTA and other public transportation is underfunded and left to rot, while our brilliant lawmakers hit on the shiny new concept of light rail! monorail! and trolleys! But, ten years down the line, those will be old and crumbling. Will those same lawmakers be interested in reinvesting in them, or will they jump on what is shiny and new at that time?

Right now SPLOST is building new science classrooms at the school my mother teaches at in Cobb. But, despite rising enrollment, teaching staff has been cut to bare bones and is expected to be cut further for 2012-2013. There are not enough science teachers to need those new science classrooms. They will sit empty and unused, despite being filled with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. All spent on what was shiny and new, rather than what was actually needed–money to pay teachers and support staff.

Rather than supporting HR 1162, I call for legislators to present a bill or proposed constitutional amendment that would allow SPLOST to be spent on things like teacher and support staff salaries, teacher training programs, and maintenance of materials and facilities in tough economic times. We don’t need more classrooms, SmartBoards, or turf grass, if we don’t have anyone to use them.

ScienceTeacher671

February 7th, 2012
5:56 am

@Kelly 10:11 p.m.: This study shows GA #1 as of 2008: http://www.johnlocke.org/acrobat/spotlights/spotlight-367_teacherpay2009.pdf

I wonder how much that has changed since National Board Certified Teachers had their supplements taken away and furlough days have cut pay for all of us?

ScienceTeacher671

February 7th, 2012
5:59 am

Apparently the great thing about charter schools is that they don’t have to abide by the same state rules by which “regular” public schools are bound.

So why isn’t Rep. Jones sponsoring legislation to free all schools from the repressive state rules that are hindering the proper education of our children?

And what good would this do for all our small counties that barely have enough students for one school at each grade level?

ScienceTeacher671

February 7th, 2012
6:06 am

@Maureen – Please note that the Teacher Portal data showing Georgia as #3 is apparently based on the U.S. Census data showing Georgia’s salaries at #17, but those are 2007 numbers – again, before the NBCT’s had huge salary cuts because their supplements were eliminated, and before most of us had our pay reduced due to furlough days.

If Rep. Jones is basing her claims on outdated numbers, she’s either ill-informed or too disingenuous by half, since the General Assembly is responsible for those pay cuts. Maybe she’s both.

Larry Major

February 7th, 2012
6:26 am

The Supreme Court struck down the Charter Schools Commission Act. The state authorized charter schools under the Charter Schools Act of 1988, which is a different code section.

When did the SBOE stop approving charters and why did they stop?

God Bless the Teacher!

February 7th, 2012
6:28 am

Jan Jones of Milton. Milton. Doesn’t that area want to break off of Fulton County and become its own county? Milton. Like Milton Man who frequently is on this blog bashing public schools and their teachers, because he has all the right answers about everything? Brandy (4:43AM) is SO right in her assessment. Bright and shiny, reform du jour approaches are for photo ops and re-election bids. Jan Jones may be speaking for her constituents (as she should), but Milton is not a representative sample of our State. To buy into her blither is one more death nail in public schools’ coffin.

teacher&mom

February 7th, 2012
6:50 am

@Maureen – Perhaps the AJC should make an open records request into Rep. Jones’s political finances. I wonder how many lunches/dinners Students First, Gates Foundation, K12, Pearson etc. have been purchased on behalf of Rep. Jones.

catlady

February 7th, 2012
6:57 am

“Thanks primarily to these state policies, when adjusted for cost of living, Georgia ranks first nationally in teacher salary and benefits.”

Could the AJC do a fact checker on this one, Ms. Downey? And, whatever the results, publish them boldly on the front page, along with Ms. Jones’ name? Look at beginning teacher salaries and state mandated benefits, adjusted for COL. Also, perhaps, look at 5 year, 10 year, 15 year T4 level salaries.

Hey Teacher

February 7th, 2012
7:15 am

Where is the data for “adjusted to the cost of living” — is she trying to say it is cheaper to live in Georgia? What is that based on — the price of a home? Health care (which has risen dramatically)? Groceries? Her warrants don’t have claims.

Thanks to Mary Elizabeth for doing a little detective work — keep digging!

To I'm a Teacher from Good Ma

February 7th, 2012
7:17 am

You ask a good question : “Parents – why do you think you will have any more say in the governing of a charter school than you do with your neighborhood school or local school board? YOU vote for the school board – you put them in office and if you don’t like what they are doing vote them out.”

I vote for only one member on the APS board. That member cannot represent my interests because other board members can outvote my member, in effect, the APS board takes my money and I have so say so.

THe APS board is far too big. The board covers far too much territory. We need smaller boards and areas they conver. We (my interests) always get outvoted by others’ interests.

With a charter school, the area is much smaller and the money is far less. The more money there is, the higher the chance of corruption.

At APS Beverly Hall and her band of theives had all the money. With that money comes all the power It was a monopoly. Now, with charters being able to take those funds away, the crooked school board cannot control the charter school, the parents will have a voice and a choice.

I’m a big proponent of public education. I was raised on it and I believe in it but we have to have an escape hatch when the plane is going down in flames and many public schools in APS (like Coan) are schools that have already crashed We need an alternatibe to throwing money at that crashed plane. We need a new plane for our kids to soar.

Gma

Brandy

February 7th, 2012
7:20 am

Just looking around the web (I too am a teacher, but in a field that has zero job opening here in Georgia :-( ), it is obvious Georgia teacher pay ranks low compared with many other states. Teacher pay in the Midwest is very high. Same with New England and Pacific Northwest. Plus, our rank is skewed by the pay differential between APS, Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Dekalb, and Decatur as opposed to smaller, rural, or non-metro districts. Some districts only pay based on the state minimum salary schedule which is appallingly low. I was raised by my mother on a Coweta County teacher’s salary (she now teaches for Cobb). Most years, we only just barely (by a few hundred dollars) failed to qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch. And, Coweta actually pays relatively well compared to many rural districts! Please fact check her claims and publicize the fact that Georgia teachers do NOT make high salaries. I just wish someone would also nix that false claim that Georgia teachers are unionized. Unionization of public employees is illegal in Georgia. The only district with a true union is APS. Every other district has Professional Organizations which do not have collective bargaining rights, the right to strike, or other rights of unions. Misinformation and more misinformation.

Ed Advocate

February 7th, 2012
7:49 am

Rep Jones is misinterpreting or misleading us re: the State Supreme Court ruling in an effort to bolster her claims for HR 1162. Hunstein’s opinion re: local systems’ exclusive ability to authorize and fund charter schools does not jeopardize the bulk of state education policies and rules like those regarding teacher salaries and benefits. Perhaps she’s trying to scare educators into supporting HR 1162. Ironic considering her votes to slash education budgets that resulted in teacher furloughs and larger class sizes. According to the John Locke Foundation, the Foundation is a conservative think tank dedicated to personal liberty and limited government. I’m not sure we should take the Foundation’s word that GA teachers receive the highest pay–especially because by its own admission, the Foundation used 2009 data–a year prior to major furloughs and local supplement cuts. I appreciate Rep Jones flimsy claims in this regard however–sheds some light on her methods and other claims regarding HR 1162.

Misty Fyed

February 7th, 2012
7:55 am

37k for a starting teacher is #1 in US. Pffffft. I highly doubt that. You simply cannot trust an politician to tell the truth.

Charter schools are not the answer. They give advantage to a privileged few by releasing the school from requirements they know are detrimental to education while keeping other public schools saddled with ridiculous requirements.

School Choice is where we need to go. Every student is given X amount of dollars to cover education costs. They simply tell the State where to send the check. All students will have the same opportunity to attend any successful school; not just those selected by politicians to be eligible for a charter school.