Charter school amendment battle shifts to Senate

With the House passing the charter school amendment last week, the issue now moves to the Senate where battle lines are already being drawn.

Here is a first volley from one of the amendment’s opponents in the Senate. Sen. Vincent Fort of Atlanta is Democratic Caucus whip. Fort says he supports charters, but does not support the amendment.

By Vincent Fort

Much has been made these past weeks about charter schools. Last week, the Georgia House of Representatives passed HR 1162, a measure billed as a pro-charter schools initiative.

Proponents of this state constitutional amendment claim it is a decision of whether or not to support charter schools. It is not. They also claim a constitutional amendment is needed because the Georgia Supreme Court has deemed it necessary to establish the legitimacy of charter schools. This is not only a misunderstanding of the court’s ruling in Gwinnett County Schools v. Cox, it is an intentional misreading and completely invalid.

Many state legislators – in the House and in the Senate – support charter schools. The charter school concept is one of building community education – providing parents, educators and students the ability to self-govern, offering educational opportunities that may not be offered in their local public schools.

A very small number of people have conflated the concept of “control and management” of local schools and, in doing so, are threatening public school systems across this state. The constitutional amendment offered would allow the state to approve charter applications over the objection of local boards. If the state approves, it is allowed to appropriate local school funds to the charter school.

The state should not be allowed to spend local money, without accountability and with unfettered power. Local taxpayers would have no choice in the state decision but would be left with the consequences. This is the purest form of taxation without representation and is the equivalent to giving the state a blank check.

During the past decade, school systems have lost 25 percent of their funding. Some school systems have survived in spite of the cutbacks, but in many areas – particularly rural areas of our state – administrators are at a financial tipping point. Removal of any more money would mean collapse – not just of one school but of entire systems – leaving thousands of children without their primary constitutional right of an adequate education.

If a constitutional amendment or legislation similar to HR 1162 is approved, the state could create their own state schools and then use local tax dollars to fund them. We cannot in good conscience allow the state to create a parallel system of public schools.

We cannot allow state administrators to reach into local communities and pull out money without oversight. All elected officials struggle at times to satisfy constituents. It is impossible to please everybody all the time, but duly elected boards of education are held responsible by the voters for the decisions they make – a group of seven people on a state commission are not.

While alternative methods of education, including charter schools, should be pursued, I will never support decimating public schools nor taxing our citizens without representation. Government should be accountable, honest and transparent.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

89 comments Add your comment

Shar

February 28th, 2012
6:47 am

Senator Fort is correct. I also support charter schools that are initiated, supported and accountable locally, and if they are successful I would go beyond Fort and agree to “decimate public schools” that do not serve students or taxpayers, replacing them with more effective schools of choice. However, allowing the state to force their schools of choice – or, far more likely, schools of graft and/or propaganda – into communities in which they have little or no accountability, and to take local property tax money to do it, all without any oversight (as a constitutional amendment would put the matter beyond the reach of the courts) is to invite political donors to feed upon the public trough at the expense of Georgia’s already beleaguered public school system. This is particularly true in rural areas.

It remains true that there is nothing in this legislation that offers anything new to any constituency except politicians (and therefore their patrons). That alone is reason enough to oppose it.

The House rode roughshod over this, jamming it through over legislative resistance. Let’s hope that the Senate has a less selfish outcome.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2012
7:29 am

I posted the following yesterday on the “Atlanta Forward” blog, but my words also relevant to this thread. Here is my post regarding the charter school movement in Georgia and this charter school Constitutional amendment presently in Georgia’s Senate.

“The charter school movement cannot be considered, with truth, in isolation from other ’school choice’ options as touted by many Republican legislators, who have already proclaimed a ‘School Choice Week’ during Georgia’s current legislative session. Those other choices include private schools through vouchers using public funds, home schooling, online courses through technology, as well as creating an amendment to Georgia’s Constitution to allow for the creation of additional charter schools authorized by a state Commission which is removed from local, elected school board jurisdiction.

Clearly, the intent is to dismantle traditional public education, and that intent is also a national Republican ideological one. Only last week, Rick Santorum was declaring that neither the federal government nor the state government should have a place in the education of the nation’s young. Dismantling traditional public schools would certainly ’starve the beast’ of government even more than has presently been accomplished, and doing so would certainly pave the way for private education, in which corporations would have another avenue for increasing their profit margins.

I find it quite ironic that now that Georgia’s DOE has the ability to send academic data to every public school teacher in Georgia and that that data can follow students as they transfer from one public school to another, and that public school teachers are now being trained in how to use this data to individualize for instruction, that many of Georgia’s legislators are attempting to dismantle traditional public schools by depleting the funding to traditional public schools for more funding to these other school choices. This sophisticated data base may not be readily available to these other school choice options – in the detail needed, nor with the continuity of transfer accessibility provided by traditional public schools – to improve the quality of education, not only for individual students in Georgia, but for Georgia’s educational quality and ranking, as a whole.

We must work to improve, and not to dismantle, traditional public education, and we must fund it. I am certain that, if we do, Thomas Jefferson would be pleased. Many of Georgia’s current Republican leaders are serving the self-interests of those outside of Georgia, in my opinion.”

dc

February 28th, 2012
7:56 am

Change can be a very scary thing to those entrenched in the traditional way of things.

teacher for life

February 28th, 2012
8:01 am

One issue is that if you looks at the charters of charter schools, there is always a way to remove students if they or their parents don’t meet the guidelines of the charter agreement. This is an advantage over traditional public schools who have to teach all students. I think there is a place for charter schools but not when they aren’t on equal footing with the traditional public schools.

Ed Advocate

February 28th, 2012
8:02 am

Well said Senator. Thank you for your leadership and thoughtful take on this issue. I hope Senator Fort’s stance is representative of other senators’ positions as well. The momentum and lobbying pressure being brought to bear on the senate by pro-1162 advocates is tremendous. Public school advocacy groups are struggling to keep up with the amount of energy and money spent by the GA Chamber, GA Charter School Association, the Center for an Educated GA, and others. Just yesterday, I saw that the Center for an Educated GA is offering $10 Starbucks gift cards and the chance to win a $100 gift card to parents who contact senators in support of 1162.

Chaos

February 28th, 2012
8:06 am

While there are certainly areas of traditional public education that are in need attention, this Bill, and the notion of allowing Atlanta to appropriate local funds for charter schools is not the answer. Bluntly said, why should my property taxes, which are supposed to be appropriated for local governmental services and local public education, be controlled by a panel of people who are not accountable to the electorate? Does the legislature really think that they know better what is good and right for local communities? Do I think that my community, and others like mine, will be represented on any Charter School Panel?

My answer is a resounding NO. If I wanted Atlanta in my life, I’d move there.

To Teacher for Life from GM

February 28th, 2012
8:14 am

You write “. This is an advantage over traditional public schools who have to teach all students.

No, that’s not accurate.

Traditional schools can and often do expel students for bad behavior. It happens often and the Cataholic Church and their schools often aceept these espelled students…and help them learn.

Good Mother

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
8:14 am

Don’t people understand how this bill will particular destroy public school in rural areas?

First, rural areas are unlikely targets for charter schools. There just isn’t enough of a student body to support one. And, the corporations are not going to open any where that they cannot make a profit.

Second, so when the State “sponsors” and opens charter schools, if funds them from the total State budget. Thus, the amount remaining will be divided by the school systems in Georgia.

While the larger systems in the State such as Fulton and Cobb can easily absorb this lesser revenue, it will totally devastate the smaller school systems.

How is this at all fair?

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
8:19 am

With all of these obvious and logical reasons why this bill is so very bad for the State of Georgia, note that it passed the House anyway. Heck, even some representatives of rural areas voted for it.

Why is this? Because Georgia politics is driven by corportations and the almighty dollar. The politicans (and I will call out specifically the republican ones) don’t really give a rat’s behind about the people. They care 100% about the businesses, the corporations, and the money.

Do you really think that any cared about or even discussed “quality of education” at all in their meetings? …… Don’t make me laugh!

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2012
8:22 am

@Ed Advocate, 8:02 am

“The momentum and lobbying pressure being brought to bear on the senate by pro-1162 advocates is tremendous. Public school advocacy groups are struggling to keep up with the amount of energy and money spent by the GA Chamber, GA Charter School Association, the Center for an Educated GA, and others. Just yesterday, I saw that the Center for an Educated GA is offering $10 Starbucks gift cards and the chance to win a $100 gift card to parents who contact senators in support of 1162.”

————————————————————–

A suggestion for the AJC: Assign an investigative reporter or two to “follow the source of the money” being spent to pass the state Senate’s Charter School Constitutional Amendment. Some interesting results and answers might be forthcoming. The public has the right to know, in depth.

carlosgvv

February 28th, 2012
8:23 am

“the ability to self-govern”

This is Republican code for giving politicians and fundamentalist parents the legal right to establish “Christian Academys”. Republicans will do anything to keep their far-right base happy. If this means using deceptive language in an attempt to fool the liberal public, they won’t hestiate to do it.

Slip

February 28th, 2012
8:50 am

Another sad chapter in the century old effort of Georgia to keep its disadvantaged, well, disadvantaged. The politicized charter amendment will siphon money from traditional schools and the charters will (through transportation exclusions and high “materials fees”) be priced out of the ability of those who are in districts that really need help.

This legislature seems to have adopted the words attributed to an 18th century French monarch, (paraphrased) “after us, who cares what happens to Georgia”

Dori

February 28th, 2012
9:00 am

For the sake of accuracy, I thought an amendment was made to HR 1162 while it was still in the House to specifically prohibit the use of local funds to pay for state-approved charter schools.

Georgia Teacher

February 28th, 2012
9:18 am

Cherokee County is one of the battlegrounds for this movement, but we are not alone.

The real pressure for the charter school in Cherokee was the bankruptcy of the local private school. The folks who were left with no affordable alternative to public schools pushed very loudly for a charter school here, ironically in the same building the old private school was in.

My problem with the charter school is how it is being funded. The state is “fully funding” this school, meaning the state is finding the money to pay for every student fully, unlike the rest of the students in Cherokee County.

Here are the questions that should be asked and are not:

Where is that money coming from? Where are the school’s balance sheets? This is taxpayer money, afterall.

Most importantly: what makes these students so “special” or “blessed” to receive a greater share of the pie than their neighbors?

Julie

February 28th, 2012
9:30 am

Depleting funds for local schools is not the motive or objective behind 1162. It is about an option for parents who feel that their child is not getting the education that they need in their current school. I look at it this way….if I am someones attorney and my client is paying me for my services yet that client feels they need to leave my firm for better services..I don’t continue to get paid by that client? If a student leaves your school to go to another school because they feel that they will increase their student achievement then why should the school continue to get paid? Its about choice for students, don’t make it all about money…..

teacher&mom

February 28th, 2012
10:17 am

@GM: “Traditional schools can and often do expel students for bad behavior. It happens often and the Cataholic Church and their schools often aceept these espelled students…and help them learn.”

Please back up that claim with actual statistics.

teacher&mom

February 28th, 2012
10:18 am

I emailed my Senator this morning. My Representative has already lost my vote in the next election.

Ronin

February 28th, 2012
10:24 am

Well, it will be interesting to see where the Senate goes with this one. Personally, I believe it has the potential to improve the public/government education system in Georgia.

In reviewing the posts, I do have to call B.S. on High School Public Teacher 8:19. Your comment:******** “Why is this? Because Georgia politics is driven by corportations and the almighty dollar. The politicans (and I will call out specifically the republican ones) don’t really give a rat’s behind about the people. They care 100% about the businesses, the corporations, and the money****************

While I consider myself non-partisan, your statement scares the bejusus out of me. You are interacting with 9th – 12th graders and instead of Occupying Wallstreet, you’re Occupying a Classroom that requires mandatory exposure to thinly veiled political rant.

Despise all the Republicans, for they are the root of all evil. Greedy political capitalists all.

Without business you have no jobs, no jobs equals no or low population and a lower tax base, which results in fewer/no schools or lower school funding. Hence, you’re out of a job. Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.

Tonya C.

February 28th, 2012
10:28 am

teacher & mom:

No they don’t. As a former student of Catholic schools and a parent researching them…no they don’t. What is tolerated in a public school will a kid kicked out of a Catholic school faster than you can say Hail Mary.

Ronin

February 28th, 2012
10:30 am

Julie @ 9:30…. you make an excellent point.

Reinvent_ED

February 28th, 2012
10:32 am

Unfortunately, Mr. Fort is in the vast minority on this issue, and he will lose this battle. He clearly is happy with mediocrity and believes that local schools with be able to innovate themselves. With all due respect, Mr. Fort needs a lesson in organizational behavior 101.

irisheyes

February 28th, 2012
11:00 am

@Ronin, where in HS Teacher’s post did they say that this is the opinion they express in the classroom? Are teachers not allowed to have political opinions anymore?

Ronin

February 28th, 2012
11:13 am

Irisheyes, please note I said thinly veiled. I don’t care if you’re a card carrying communist or socialist. Just keep your political agenda in your back pocket during “business hours”.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2012
11:21 am

I understand that some want more options; however, the public must become aware of why there is a growing Republican movement in state legislatures across the nation to dismantle traditional public schools. Read below what is happening in N C. I have provided the link to the whole article. If readers, google “Republicans Dismantling Public Schools,” they can see a whole list of states attempting this same agenda. Then, google “ALEC” to understand one political source for this movement. We must not close our eyes to what is happening in legislatures across the nation, not simply within Georgia’s legislature. This is not coincidence. Georgians must work to sustain and improve traditional public schools. There is only so much money in the state budget’s pie. Senate Democrats stand firm, please.

=====================================

Excerpt from the NC article:

“They just don’t want to cut funding, they want to destroy traditional public education. And that’s not hyperbole.

House Speaker Thom Tillis confirmed it at a recent town hall in Asheboro. Here’s how Tillis responded to a question about teachers and public schools.

‘I understand that Majority Leader Stam has said that his goal would be to ultimately eliminate public schools and I categorically disagree with that for a variety of reasons. Right now with him being Majority Leader and me being Speaker, I like my chances.’

Bizarre as it is, that’s Tillis actually confirming that the elected Majority Leader of the Republican House wants to eliminate public schools.

Stam introduced a voucher scheme last year that he promises to revisit next session.

And Tillis has more than Stam to explain. The Republican majorities in the House and Senate not only lifted the cap on charter schools, they voted to allow for-profit companies to set up virtual charters in North Carolina.

The Cabarrus County Board of Education recently voted to approve a virtual charter school run by K-12, Inc. An audit of K-12’s virtual charter in Colorado found the state paid $800,000 to the company for students who never enrolled or lived out of state.”
================================================

Here is the link to the NC Policy Watch article:
http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2012/02/07/the-republicans-education-problem/

Ernest

February 28th, 2012
11:21 am

I had an interesting conversation with my son about this. He asked if we believe in ‘public education’ or education for our own children. His point was public education, though flawed in some cases, is funded by a belief of all contributing to the common good. Citizens without children in the school system subsidize schools through their tax dollars because they derive benefit from good schools and an educated society.

As Senator Fort indicated, I support charter schools that are approved through LBOEs. The checks and balances we have in place are elections to ensure we have say in who our school board members are. I am concerned about an appointed board making decisions about the use of local dollars for education. If we believe in education for our own children, this could open the door for citizens to begin demanding additional earmarks for their tax dollars.

cantweet2012

February 28th, 2012
11:27 am

If you all want to know who these legislators are really listening to, go to the following link. I would then recommend looking at the Americans for Prosperity website to understand their motivations. They are a creation of the Koch brothers who own Koch Industries and who have no interest in a Free and Appropriate Public Education, but are only interested in the destruction of it and any other governmental entity that does not fit into their view of the world.

http://www.facebook.com/events/325118084201271/

cantweet2012

February 28th, 2012
11:32 am

BTW Cherokee…when is the next meeting of parents concerned for the future of our children who attend a Cherokee County School? It is past time to act.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2012
11:39 am

@cantweet2012, 11:27 am

Thank you for your post. I can only respond by, again, reiterating that Thomas Jefferson would be appalled at the movement to dismantle traditional public schools. For the purpose of sustaining of our nation’s original tenets, Jefferson advocated for public schools, paid for by taxes on the general public, to serve the public’s interest, not corporate special interests which are owned and operated by the wealthy elite (Jefferson opposed) of our day.

Proud Teacher

February 28th, 2012
11:41 am

These students are not commodities. They are not merchandise. They should not be handled as a business arrangement of any kind. Cutting and running away from a problem does not fix it. Cutting the public schools by creating charter schools for the dissatisfied to run toward is not fixing any education problems at all. There should not be a different set of standards for public schools. Why can’t the same rules and regulations be applied to public schools that charter schools enjoy? This country is divisive enough without adding to it. The Republicans want a child’s education to be bought by either private school or selective charter. This will only make the divide greater between social classes. The feudal system was not to follow our forefathers into this country. The Republicans need to be apprised of this information.

Brandy

February 28th, 2012
11:43 am

Amen, Senator!

@Teacher&Mom, Hmm, perhaps it is the “Cataholic” schools that are accepting “espelled”
students? ‘Cause I sure as heck know Catholic schools are not. Maybe “Cataholic” schools are some other beast all together? And for that matter, what are “espelled” students–are they somehow bewitched or under the undue influence of spelling tests?
We need to stop feeding this Troll until he/she learns to spell check…

Raquel Morris

February 28th, 2012
11:50 am

Senator Fort’s commentary would hold more influence if they were an accurate representation of where the public charter school amendment currently stands. The House addressed the local funding issue when it reconsidered the legislation. The State of Georgia would NOT be able to spend local school dollars under the House-passed amendment.

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
11:51 am

@Ronin – Wow. You assme a lot when you say that “your statement scares the bejusus out of me.”

Do you really think that teachers teach our opinions in the classroom? I do not. Do you really think that teachers teach our politics in the classroom? I do not. Do you really think that teachers teach our religon in the classroom? i do not.

My point was well made and I stand behind it in my original post. Stop being scared.

Maureen Downey

February 28th, 2012
11:55 am

@Raquel:
UPDATE: Jones is bringing a revised HB 797 back to committee tomorrow in which this language is supposed to be removed. The altered version is not online, but someone is going to FAX it to me and I will report on how it now reads:

Take a look at this Jan Jones bill: HB 797. It appears to restore the local funding to these schools despite what the amendment may or may not say. This seems to do exactly what the local districts don’t want. (This bill will be discussed by the ed committee tomorrow.)
Here is an excerpt, but it is a lengthy bill:
On 28 and after July 1, 2012, if one or more local boards deny a petition that is subsequently
29 approved by the state board as a state chartered special school pursuant to subsection (c)
30 of Code Section 20-2-2064.1, the state chartered special school shall be entitled to and shall
31 receive funds pursuant to subparagraph (d)(1)(B) of Code Section 20-2-2068.1, and the
32 state board shall be authorized to take action to withhold all or any portion of state funds
33 from such local board or boards in accordance with Code Section 20-2-243.”
34

http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/797

For Kids

February 28th, 2012
11:58 am

@cantweet2012 – visit Cherokee Citizens for the Kids website at http://cherokeecitizensforthekids.org/ and sign up to receive emails. Check out the letter this organization sent to the Cherokee Delegation at http://canton-ga.patch.com/articles/group-amend-or-rescind-redistricting-plan We have been fighting the good fight for months now to no avail. Our delegation ignores us and chants “one man, one vote” and “school choice” as one body. Get involved everyone! The main thing you can do is call and email the Cherokee Delegation about the issue because if they don’t amend or rescind HB978, Cherokee County is going to enter the dark ages just like Clayton did. We’ve all been telling them this but they’ve been too hung up on their own power trips to pay any attention.

It's Elementary Math, folks

February 28th, 2012
12:11 pm

Come on everyone, the wording about funding is not worth two hoots. The money is just a shell game. You cannot believe for one minute that taking millions of dollars from the budget to fund additional schools won’t hurt current school funding? Surely you aren’t that obtuse…. if so, I’m sure our Cherokee Senator Rogers would have loved to have you buy that dilapidated hotel he thought he was going to make a mint off of but instead ended up defaulting on the loan. Oh, that’s right, I forgot, he was given a ‘pass’ on the loan and instead the American public took the hit… just like public schools will if this issue comes to pass…

Rick in ATL

February 28th, 2012
12:15 pm

@Mary Elizabeth: No, Jefferson (who could not have foreseen the implosion of the traditional family or the spread of inner-city blight) would be smart enough to see the folly in our big-city public school model, which is tasked with warehousing children who have no interest in learning or behaving appropriately while simultaneously offering high-quality instruction to children who DO wish to learn.

An impossible task, and yet many continue to profess surprise when our public schools utterly and repeatedly fail. (And these are the same ones who say–”just keep trying harder and spending more and we’ll get it right!”)

And, as the sign down at the local tavern says: Free Beer Tomorrow!

Public school apologists insist we can’t afford to let the public schools fail even though we have explicitly set them up to fail. This is how the Vincent Forts of the world avoid tackling the real problem, which is the parents who do not value education; who have no tradition of education in their families, and who use public schools as daycare centers for their feral children.

Until that problem is addressed, parents will reluctantly but doggedly use the charter school as a way to escape the public schools. We WILL end up with a re-segregated, two-caste public school system (an outcome we did not seek and do not want, but which seems inevitable)– and no matter how much you want to blame good parents for driving the charter bandwagon, the propulsion for this movement really comes from the do-nothing parents who bring nothing to the table but their oversized fork.

Big Bill

February 28th, 2012
12:30 pm

@Mary Elizabeth. I completely agree with your comment that clearly the intent is to dismantle public education and that this is also a national Republican ideological one. But it’s not just that. HR 1162 is also a local manifestation of a well coordinated, well funded scheme by a group of extreme right-wing billionaire ideologues who are working nation wide through non-profit fronts organizations with seemingly innocuous pro-education titles to funded by them individually and through their corporations and family foundations with a goal of dismantling our hallowed tradition, concept and public policy guaranteeing every citizen the right to universal free public education . These wealthy, influential ideologues are moving on many fronts to garner legislative support for charter schools, school choice vouchers, home schooling, for profit schools, in short to privatize our public school systems, as Mary Elizabeth pointed out.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. Let me briefly document what I assert here and focus on a particular billionaire who is active in behind-the- scene efforts to get HR 1162 passed by the GOP House and Senate in Georgia: Google “The Republican War on Education” by Ruth Coniff, The Progressive, May, 2011 which focuses on SB 22, the Wisconsin equivalent of Georgia’s HR 1162 and shows how the bill, which is the Republican governor’s plan for setting up a state funded system of charter schools, directly undermines, if not destroys the system of local public schools locally funded through local school boards. The article reports on the efforts of Dick and Betsy Devos, billionaires from Michigan (Dick Devos is the son of Amway cofounder Richard Devos; Betsy Prince Devos is the sister of Blackwater founder Erik Prince) both of whom are influential Republican fundraisers and operatives. They founded and funded two “education” non-pofits, All Children Matter and its affiliate the American Federation For Children and, the article reports, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into electing GOP Wisconsin legislators who would support this effort to pass SB 22.

Betsy Devos is operating in Georgia. On February 22, 2012, a press release was issued by the American Federation of Children which she heads praising the passage of HR 1162 in the Georgia House. Google: “Georgia Charter School Measure Passes House of Representatives – Betsy Devos – American Federation for Children.” But I would urge folks to dig deeper, to look further into what Betsy Devos has been doing to “reform public education in our country.” Here are more sources:

Google; “Daily Koss: Report Exposes Devos Plot to Destroy Public Education” April 21, 2011. This blog refers to an outstanding piece of investigative journalism written by Rachel Tabachnick delineating how Betsy Devos, the Koch brothers and others billionaire families are acting to privatize our public education system. The report has two parts:

Part One can be found by googling: “Voucher Advocate Betsy Devos, Right-Wing Think Tanks Behind Koch-Style Attack on PA Public Schools, by Rachel Tabachnick,” published in Talk To Action, April 20, 2011.

Part Two can be found by googling:” Pro-Voucher Astroturfing: Campaigns Across Nation Coordinated by Devos, Funded by a Few Mega Donors, by Rachel Tabachnick” published in Talk To Action, April 24, 2011.

This two- part investigative journalism piece says it all. Please, please read it before you decide to throw your support behind HR 1162. Part One contains this quote: “Chances are a Betsy Devos-led campaign is already at work in your state or will be soon.” Is Betsy Devos at work in Georgia? Yes. She is not just issuing press releases. Her non-profit the Georgia Federation For Children is listed as a member of the coalition called “Better Georgia Education Foundation” which is described as a “neutral” group supporting HR 1162 but also is an affiliate of the right-wing Georgia Family Council which in turn was funded by the Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation in 2007. Source: google “grants – MediaMatters Action Network – Dick and Betsy Devos Foundation Grant to Georgia Family Education and Research Council.” I urge the news media to investigate these issues further. Extreme right-wing billionaires should not be conducting stealth campaigns in Georgia which have a goal the dismantling of our public school systems.

Preserve public schools in Georgia. Defeat HR 1162!

Ronin

February 28th, 2012
12:31 pm

@H.S. Teacher: that’s an easy one: your questions:

“Do you really think that teachers teach our opinions in the classroom?” Absolutely Yes

” Do you really think that teachers teach our politics in the classroom? Yes, Quicker than Al Gore can say global warming.

” Do you really think that teachers teach our religon in the classroom? ” Pass the plate and hold the snakes. Unequivocally Yes.

Don’t take it the wrong way. Just review the content of your 8:19 post. As a government employee, you’re biting the hand that feeds you.

Ronin

February 28th, 2012
12:43 pm

Rick in ATL, 12:15: That’s a good analysis of what is happening and it will come true.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2012
12:44 pm

@Rick in ATL, 12:15 pm

Having taught students from all socio-economic groups, and having worked with their parents in individual conferences and in reading training sessions after school hours, I cannot share your negative view of others: i.e., “children who have no interest in learning or behaving appropriately” and “do-nothing parents who bring nothing to the table but their oversized fork.” I have found that people, generally, want to improve their life situations, and that when they know others are trying to give them a “hand up” because they care, they respond to that belief in them with renewed hope and with renewed effort to better their situations.

I believe in public education, as did Jefferson, and I have written of ways to improve public education on this blog, as well as on my own blog, where I have written detailed essays of how to improve the educational skills of children. See below, for a link to one such essay:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/about-education-essay-4-sq3r-expanded-for-reluctant-readers/
————————————————————

You are wrong about Jefferson. His ideas regarding public education reflect his egalitarian view of all people. The corporate world reflects a hierarchial view of people. Alexander Hamilton was more attuned to that hierarchial view. To read of Jefferson’s thoughts, in more depth, I suggest you read
Saul K. Padover’s book, entitled simply, “Jefferson.”

—————————————————————————————

Rick in ATL

February 28th, 2012
12:45 pm

Don’t buy the “the Republicans are out to destroy us” diversion. I’m not a Republican, but I too want to completely dismantle the current system and replace it with one that is not crippled by design.

And surely even the most die-hard public school apologists on this forum see which direction this national train of ours is heading, right? Toward MORE charters. MORE vouchers. MORE support for money-follows-the-child.

You think you’re going to step in front of that still-accelerating train and get it to suddenly reverse direction? Good luck with that, Vincent Fort. Watch out for the cowcatcher.

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
12:51 pm

@Ronin – I guess there is no convincing you. I speak of none of that in my job. Calm down. I think you are being silly.

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
12:56 pm

@Rick in ATL

Who has said that “the Republicans are out to destroy us”????? It certainly wasn’t me.

The republicans certainly do profess to be for businesses and corporations. Don’t you agree? This is what I stated.

And, because of this, they quickly adopt things such as company charter schools, vouchers to go to private schools (which can make a profit), and so on.

And, because of this, the QUALITY of education and the student LEARNING is likely a secondary or later consideration for republican politicans.

My statements are PROVEN true by the recent vote by the republicans in the House.

Big Bill

February 28th, 2012
1:04 pm

Correction to my comment above: it’s the “Brighter Georgia Education Foundation” not the “Better Georgia Education Foundation.”

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
1:10 pm

@Rick in Atlanta….

I do agree with you that we set public schools up to fail. It seems that every single one of society’s problems fall into the lap of public schools to solve.

Hunger? Offer breakfest and lunch at school. That began the expense of building cafeterias. That began the expense of reduced and free lunches.

Bullying? Have schools counsel students. Expect parents to actually speak to their kids about it? No need. Let schools do it.

Latchkey kids? Parents work late hours so whatever to do with the kids? Make the schools offer after school programs. Let the kids stay at schools all ours and further “babysit” until the parents care to come and get them.

I could go on and on.

When you expect public schools to do EVERYTHING, then the main goal of schools – education – is totally lost.

HS Public Teacher

February 28th, 2012
1:12 pm

To follow on to my last post….

I wonder – will these new charter and corporate schools be required to do everything that public schools do? They are getting the public money, so shouldn’t they?

Jackson

February 28th, 2012
1:13 pm

Here is my concern about the Charter ruckus – the teachers aren’t different, the facilities won’t be that different (although I do wonder how they are going to get the technology that the public schools have). The only things that will be different will be the students. How will that be any different than “separate but equal” on a socio-economic level? Will charter schools have special education, ESOL classes, speech therapy? The great “equalizer” in America is education, partially because in public schools all economic levels come into contact with each other. The “haves” set the bar for the “have nots.” What happens when this bar is taken away? I wish those who are so adamant about fighting to leave would fight to make their local public school into the school they want to see!

Rick in ATL

February 28th, 2012
1:13 pm

@Mary: I’m a parent in APS and I don’t have to rely on theory or what long-dead Thomas Jefferson might think

(As much fun as it is–and it is fun–to imagine his reaction upon waking from his long sleep to see his ideal of public education translated into Coan Middle School)…

It’s not the absence of something (like enough money, or enough academic theorizing by well-meaning professionals like you) that causes most APS schools to fail. It is the PRESENCE of something–the presence of a small but lethal cohort of students and parents who do not value and in fact outwardly reject education as an aspiration. Who bully and disparage any child who DOES try hard in school.

These saboteurs ruin schools for a great many other children who might otherwise succeed, and we not only let them do it, we elect fools like Vincent Fort to make sure they can keep right on doing it.

The parents who show up for your conferences aren’t the problem. It’s the ones who don’t. All the teachers on this forum will attest to that.

These no-show parents might love their children, but they have no tradition of education in their family history and no frame of reference; they really believe they’re discharging their duty by dropping their kids off at school–and if the outcome isn’t good, it must be somebody else’s fault.

Mary Elizabeth

February 28th, 2012
1:13 pm

@Big Bill, 12:30 pm

“I urge the news media to investigate these issues further.”
————————————————————————————

Thank you for the detailed information in your post. I, too, urge the news media, specifically the AJC’s investigative reporters, “to investigate these issues further.” If the Washington Post, under Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee’s leadership in the 1970s, could expose Watergate and Richard Nixon, I am sure that the AJC could get to the heart of what underlies this national attack on public education, if someone in authority at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution would give the ok to do so.

There should be a balance between the public and private sectors in our nation. Unfortunately, many current Republicans have been trying to “starve the beast” of the public sector since the 1970s. Only within the past decade have these forces been brazen enough to try to dismantle public education.

One of the reasons Jefferson advocated for public education was (Jefferson’s words are stated in Padover’s book) that those of wealth and political power would try, through stealthy machinations, to control the common people for their own self-interests. Jefferson said that if all of the people had the opportunity to be educated by public monies, within public schools, that they would be educated enough to see into these machinations of the wealthy elite of power.

As a well-educated, retired public school teacher, I “see into” the present day machinations done by these wealthy elite, and because I do, it is my public duty to share what I see with others. Jefferson believed that power and responsibility to govern should be spread throughout all classes and all people within our nation. That power and responsibility has, unfortunately, been skewed to only the top tier of the wealthy elite in our nation, who frequently use government to enhance their own self-interests. And that can be true of people from both political parties.

There is a reason we honor and remember Thomas Jefferson more than Alexander Hamilton. Jefferson’s thoughts were at the heart of what America stands for, at her best.

Ed Johnson

February 28th, 2012
1:20 pm

When they asked me to introduce myself and speak, I gave this brief, impromptu statement to yesterday (2/27/2012) morning’s Senate Democratic Caucus Meeting members (as I recall me saying it):

“We don’t need legislation to contribute to dismantling our [K-12] public education systems.”

(“We sure don’t,” interjected one Caucus member.)

“What we need is legislation to provide for learning how to improve our [K-12] public education systems.”

I sensed the Caucus members agree. Let’s certainly hope so. And let’s hope the full Senate does, too.