The raw politics under way in state Legislature may give Cherokee school board a raw deal

The Cherokee legislative delegation continues to meddle with the school board, which strikes me as peculiar in a county noted for its public schools.

In a phrase, why mess with success?

Cherokee draws many of its new residents because of its schools. I first saw eight years ago at a lacrosse game between my son’s rec team and a Cherokee-based team. Almost all the Cherokee parents I met were Northern transplants, and they all told me the same thing: They moved to Cherokee for the public schools. (For those keeping score, the players from New York and New England brought great lacrosse skills South with them. Cherokee won.)

I don’t dispute that there are some unhappy Cherokee parents who want more charter school options or who send their children to private schools, including some influential lawmakers. But, by any objective measure, Cherokee schools are performing well.

In its campaign to revamp the school board, the Cherokee delegation won the help of the full House yesterday, which passed House Bill 1223.

Sponsored by Reps. Mark Hamilton, Charlice Byrd, Calvin  Hill and Sean Jerguson, the bill is a second attempt by Cherokee lawmakers to reconfigure the school board to their liking; their first effort, a far more blatant power play, was rebuked by the national accreditation agency.

I am getting emails from concerned Cherokee parents wondering about the politics at play here and the implications for their schools. There will be a rally Friday afternoon by Cherokee parents in support of the schools from 4:30-5:30 outside Hickory Flat Elementary.

Cherokee Superintendent Frank R. Petruzielo and the school board leadership contend that this comes down to a petty vendetta for failing to approve a charter school application last year. The school district is hoping that the state Senate will not pass HB 1223, but I think senators will back their Cherokee colleagues.

Some Cherokee parents are appealing directly to Gov. Nathan Deal to veto HB 1223 once it has passed, but that is a long shot.

In the meantime, here is a district statement about the House campaign.

Despite being given a proposed map in August approved by a 5-2 super majority of the school board, the delegation instead chose to spend state taxpayer dollars to create not one, but two maps, both of which are poster children for gerrymandering and blatantly violate basic principles of reapportionment… including the avoidance of pairing incumbents in the same posts.

After the delegation withdrew its initial map upon learning how the House Bill 978 governance model would threaten the school district’s accreditation, we again asked the delegation to use the school board-approved map. The school board-approved map was drafted using input from parents, educators and other stakeholders gleaned through a series of public town hall meetings and an online poll open to the entire community.

The school board-approved map not only meets all state and federal laws and guidelines, but also the “General Principles for Drafting Plans” document presented by Rep. Sean Jerguson at a town hall meeting, which he said would be the basis for the new school board map.

The latter of which states maps should “avoid the unnecessary pairing of incumbents” in posts; but apparently, the delegation doesn’t feel the need to follow its own rules.

One of the most glaring examples of gerrymandering in the delegation’s new map includes ignorance of Lake Allatoona. The principles for reapportionment require posts to be connected by more than a single point of contiguous geography and, while Census blocks do lie under Allatoona’s waters, the Post 4 School Board member would be unable to travel from one side of his post to the other without use of a boat, as there is no land connecting the two sides.

Similarly preposterous is the split of Post 1 over Allatoona with only the Bells Ferry Road bridge connecting the two sides. Not only are communities and neighborhoods split by the delegation’s map, so are streets within neighborhoods; and school attendance zones appear to have had no bearing on the design.

It’s clear that this gerrymandering was the means to the delegation’s desired end, as the House Bill 1223 map, just as the Delegation’s first try, again pairs School Board Chairman Mike Chapman in the same post as School Board Member Robert Wofford and School Board Vice Chairwoman Janet Read in the same post as School Board Member Rick Steiner.

As Mr. Chapman and Ms. Read are up for re-election this year, but Mr. Wofford and Mr. Steiner are not, Mr. Chapman and Ms. Read will automatically lose their seats on the School Board come Jan. 1.

The fact these are the four school board members who voted last year to deny the flawed Cherokee Charter Academy petition is no coincidence. It has been reported that these school board members were threatened by members of the Delegation that they would be drawn out of their posts if they made such a vote, and that threat has now apparently come to pass.

This move by the delegation is widely perceived as a vendetta and reflects their disregard for the welfare of our school district by removing two of the school district’s most veteran school board members, who have been outspoken advocates for our educators and our children and who have stood up publicly to the delegation.

These actions will likely have a chilling effect on remaining and future school board members… if they don’t do the delegation’s bidding. It should be noted that in their last elections, Mr. Chapman was re-elected with 65 percent of the primary vote over one opponent; and Ms. Read was re-elected with 59 percent over two opponents; so the Delegation is also overruling the majority of community voters with this action.

It’s unclear whether the delegation has finally heeded the school board’s call to leave the governance model alone, as House Bill 1223 does not address how the seven School Board members will be elected. It is our hope that the successful longtime system of each voter electing all seven school board members who, as a result, are obligated to serve the entire community in order to win re-election, will be left untouched. The delegation in House Bill 978 dictated that school board members would be elected by voters in their post, which inevitably would lead to politics taking precedence over the equitable distribution of education resources throughout the School District.

Such a change would lead to polarization of our governance model through local legislation that not only comes unrequested by the School Board, but which the school board unanimously voted to oppose through approval of its 2012 Legislative Program. If the delegation continues its pursuit of this change, it would be violating its own delegation rules by pushing local legislation that was not requested by the local government entity it would affect.

This model’s “zip code” education threatens the very foundation on which we’ve created and sustained our SACS CASI-commended governance model over the past 13 years… when the current superintendent was hired to restore the School District’s accreditation. You don’t have to look far to find examples in Metropolitan Atlanta where school boards driven by politicians beholden to their own communities sacrifice the good of all children in the school system to benefit the few.

The delegation’s vendetta goes beyond four school board members.

They don’t appreciate that the School District’s student achievement outshines state and national averages and continues to rise despite the fact that our community’s overall affluence is waning in these economic times, with a third of our students now living in poverty and an increasing number of our students requiring more costly services due to special needs or due to speaking English as a second language.

They don’t appreciate our philosophy that it takes “unequal resources to meet unequal needs,” meaning we need to spend more time, effort and resources on the poor, the academically and physically challenged and the children of parents who don’t speak English.

They don’t appreciate that we expose how state government is continuing to cut millions of dollars from the school district budget while at the same time finding millions to fund charter schools run by for-profit management companies without necessary accountability, liability and oversight and which create a duplication of services through payments of taxpayer dollars to separate school system “central offices.”

They don’t appreciate that our administration costs per student have been kept lower than any other school system in Metropolitan Atlanta.

They don’t appreciate that a majority of the school board for the past 13 years has generally supported the Superintendent’s recommendations, and that we have not only restored the school district’s accreditation, but also upped it to the highest level of accreditation granted and saw that accreditation renewed in January with glowing reviews from the granting organization.

They don’t appreciate that we stand up for our educators and for our public school children.

The school district’s refusal to stand down makes it harder for them to make their anti-“government schools” arguments, demean our educators and shift more control and taxpayer dollars to corporate friends who want to run schools for profit.

We can only hope at this point that the Governor stands up for our educators and children and shows them that his support of education extends beyond charter schools.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

54 comments Add your comment

A Teacher, 2

March 13th, 2012
4:00 pm

And yet, we all keep re-electing our legislators!!


March 13th, 2012
4:03 pm

I have been following very closely from the beginning and it is even uglier than it sounds. The republican party revoked 4 school board members affiliation with the GOP because the SB didn’t vote for charters. One of the principles of the Republican party is less government….this whole deal stinks of government interference. There are also 2 huge egos in play here….Chip Rogers and Dr. P, they both need to but their grandstanding aside. Dr. P has taken this county from one threatened with losing accredida


March 13th, 2012
4:07 pm

As always, this push for more charter schools is just a way to get, in reality, “Christian” oriented schools that say all science is just theory and that “intelligent design” is a viable theory if not a hard reality.

Rick in ATL

March 13th, 2012
4:24 pm

Come on. Are lawmakers really going after these four in such aggressive fashion because the BOE members took a principled stance to deny a “flawed” charter application? Or are they going after them because the BOE members just plain don’t want charters and refused to approve a perfectly good application out of their own arrogance and hubris?

This is EXACTLY why we need a referendum this fall. Local BOEs just don’t get it. PARENTS WANT OPTIONS because what local BOEs are giving us now is often FULL OF FAIL.

The more these BOE yokels try to hold onto the monopoly they were once granted (and continue to feel they deserve), the faster it’ll slip through their fingers. And thank god; it’s about time.

The Deal

March 13th, 2012
4:25 pm

Can we get Cherokee’s legislators to come to DeKalb and revamp our board?

Maureen Downey

March 13th, 2012
4:36 pm

Rick, But why is it the role of the Legislature to go after elected school board members in a high performing district because of a disagreement on policy? Isn’t that the responsibility of the Cherokee voters?
Would it be appropriate for the House delegation in Fayette to go after board members there who opposed the current guns in schools bill?
Seems dangerous ground for the Legislature, which is not a model of functionality or rationality, to punish school boards — duly elected and running districts that are doing well – for political gain.


March 13th, 2012
4:37 pm

I’d be glad to send our delegation to DeKalb.

And yes it was a direct result of a flawed charter application and the refusal for the charter to change some red flagged areas in the application. If CCSD board had approved the charter, it would have tapped into our reserve fund which could have resulted in a decreased bond rating.

Mary Elizabeth

March 13th, 2012
4:43 pm

“They don’t appreciate that we stand up for our educators and for our public school children.

The school district’s refusal to stand down makes it harder for them to make their anti-’government schools’ arguments, demean our educators and shift more control and taxpayer dollars to corporate friends who want to run schools for profit.

We can only hope at this point that the Governor stands up for our educators and children and shows them that his support of education extends beyond charter schools.”


Having been away for the weekend, I posted the following at 12:17 am late last night as promised, on a previous thread (”Micromanaging schools. . .”), as a response to C Jae of EAV’s remarks to me. My remarks are relevant to this thread, also, so that I will repost them, here, for the parents of Cherokee public school students to read and consider. See below.


“C Jae, your last words, above, indicate support for private outsourcing, in general, ‘in order to drive greater efficiency.’ If that is your point-of-view, it seems to me that you are going to see value in having the business part of charter schools run by ‘private outsourcing.’ The problem with that is that those businesses must show ‘profit’ in order to remain in business. Traditional public schools, which are operated through public taxes, do not have to generate profit in order to remain viable. I do not want to see public schools become part of a ‘for-profit’ mode for their survival. I believe that doing so will hurt the educational process, and that doing so will, ultimately, undermine our nation’s basic tenet of equal opportunity for all.

You had stated, in an earlier post, that public schools are big business. I believe that in the past you have mentioned the buying of textbooks as being ‘big business’ and I gave my personal experiences in that regard n which I stated that publishers were chosen, from my experience, based on the value their books to the students and that they were not selected for any kind of personal favors to particular publishing companies. Even if some unsavory types exist in public education, and these people misuse their positions to benefit themselves financially, I believe there is even greater danger of this financial abuse happening if, and when, public charter schools turn over more of the responsibility for their existence to profit-seeking firms.

Here are a few examples:

(1) ‘The motivation for dismantling the public education system — creating a system where schools do not provide for everyone — is ideological, and it is motivated by profit. The corporate members on ALEC’s education task force include representatives from the Friedman Foundation, Goldwater Institute, Evergreen Education Group, Washington Policy Center, and corporations providing education services such as Sylvan Learning and K-12, Inc. All stand to benefit from public funding sent in their direction.’

(2) ‘The first large-scale voucher program, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, was enacted in
1990. Although the Milwaukee voucher program had the backing of leaders from other philosophic camps, including Howard Fuller, a former superintendent of Milwaukee Public Schools and current board member of Black Alliance for Educational Options, the legislation was modeled after the rubric ALEC provided in its 1985 Education Source Book. ALEC’s hand in this program continues. In 2011, one of the ultimately defeated amendments to the Milwaukee program proposed removing all income requirements for participating students, a proposal laid out in ALEC’s Parental Choice Scholarship Program Act (universal eligibility) and a step toward a full-scale state voucher program.
In fact, to help states advance school choice without running afoul of state constitutional limitations, ALEC published School Choice and State Constitutions (Komer & Neily, 2007) to provide a state-by-state analysis and promote programs tailored to foster privatization.’

(Source for #s 1 and 2 above: March, 2012, p. 54)

(3) ‘The pressure to cut costs in order to have money left over for expansion forces nonprofit entities to act in a similar fashion to their for-profit cousins. Every nonprofit charter operator is under immense pressure right now to expand as quickly as possible and to measure success by how quickly they are able to replicate themselves. The newest mandate from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is that we need to close thousands of broken inner-city schools and replace them with charters. There is fierce competition over who will get the contracts, especially among nonprofits. And nonprofits are, of course, allowed to pay their administrators very high salaries as well as keeping a small profit.’

(4) ‘Celerity, a nonprofit charter school that made an attempt to co-locate on the campus of Wadsworth Elementary in Los Angeles, contracts out all its services to a for-profit firm, Nova, run by the same owner. This backdoor model—of a nonprofit funneling dollars to a separate, for-profit entity—is common. Kent Fischer explained it in the St. Petersburg Times:

‘The profit motive drives business…. More and more, it’s driving Florida school reform. The vehicle: charter schools. This was not the plan. These schools were to be “incubators of innovation,” free of the rules that govern traditional districts. Local school boards would decide who gets the charters, which spell out how a school will operate and what it will teach. To keep this deal, lawmakers specified that only nonprofit groups would get charters. But six years later, profit has become pivotal…. For-profit corporations create nonprofit foundations to obtain the charters, and then hire themselves to run the schools.’

(5) ‘Whether it’s technically legal, ‘contracting out’ or direct corruption and profiteering, abounds. In their article ‘The Corporate Surge Against Public Schools,’ Steven Miller and Jack Gerson cite many cases of such corruption. Brenda Belton, charter oversight chief for the D.C. Board of Education, admitted to arranging $650,000 in sweetheart contracts for herself and her friends, and C. Steven Cox, CEO of a large chain of charter schools in California, was indicted on 113 felony counts of misappropriating public funds.’

(Source for #s 3, 4, 5 above: Internationalist Socialist Review, Issue 62, November–December 2008, Article by Sarah Knopp, entitled, “Charter Schools and the Attack on Public Education.”)

C Jae, you have stated that the public should not be so concerned with these national forces which wish to dismantle public schools that they fail to focus on the good that particular charter schools in Georgia can offer students.(paraphrased) I think that my purpose in writing is to alert others that, while we may be looking at the good certain charter schools may do for their particular populations of students, this national force of impact will probably continue to gain ground through legislation which may become unstoppable in their attempt to dismantle traditional public education and to use public money for private schools, ultimately, through vouchers.

I look at some of the young students in charter schools, and they do seem to value being special and for the most part they seem to want to make a special effort to succeed. But, I cannot forget about those children who are left behind in the traditional public schools whose parents are not able to afford transporting them to any charter school. Everyone is special and should be treated so. I do not want to see society again segregated by class, if not by race. I want to see traditional public schools sustained and improved to benefit all children.

Finally, please read the below from the ‘International Socialist Review’ (article cited above), which reinforces part of your position that public money for traditional public schools is already being used for ‘big business’ enterprises. The point is, we should try to decrease this tendency in public education, not allow these profit-making attempts from public education funds to become accelerated. In some ways our views overlap in our dislike of this practice. Again, I am not against charter schools per se, but I believe that we must handle charter schools with much care and with awareness of what we may be producing a decade or two from now, if we are not prudent in how many charter schools we authorize and to whom we give the authority to authorize them and their numbers.

‘Charter schools are just the extreme end of the whole spectrum of the corporate takeover of our schools. Already, schools that are wholly public are being forced into serving the military and business interests of this country. The tendrils of Corporate America reach deep into our schools via nepotistic contracts—from the $3 billion testing industry accelerated under No Child Left Behind, to McGraw-Hill and its Reading First program pushed through by the Bush administration. And as Jonathan Kozol chronicles in Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, teaching children obedience and corporate values (such as kindergartners being asked to role-play workplace managers) is, along with drill-and-kill methodologies, increasingly erasing all the best practices that came out of the educational reforms of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. We need to oppose mandates and all incursions of the private sector into the running of our schools.

New visions for the kind of schools that we want for our children will rise out of the struggles against the attacks that we are facing. This is fundamentally about fighting for democracy in the schools.’ ”


Beverly Fraud

March 13th, 2012
5:03 pm

Chip Rogers; Boss Hogg without the witty, urbane, sophistication.

Dump Cherokee BOE Attorney

March 13th, 2012
5:25 pm

Glenn Brock has one of his cronies under fire again. Anytime there is change in the Board of Education, Brock has to call out SACS and his fellow Republican cronies. When will Georgia run Brock on a rail? Maybe tar and feather him.


March 13th, 2012
6:01 pm

What does Glenn Brock have to do with Cherokee County BOE? I don’t know of the connection

Rick in ATL

March 13th, 2012
6:09 pm

@Maureen: If you dislike a lower-court ruling, you can appeal to a higher court. And if the rubes you unwisely elected to represent you on the BOE level turn out to be, to no one’s surprise, not very skillful or honest, then at least you have the recourse of appealing to a higher power.

When you say “high-performing” system, however, I have to remind you that many of us believe there is no such thing. Some of the best schools in GA, as you point out in another very interesting blog post today, still teach that desultory, test-focused curriculum. Parents should ALWAYS have the option of trying to upgrade the Alpo their school system wants to feed them into something actually edible.

When you say the food in Cherokee is pretty good, there’s always the unspoken but implicit caveat: “For a school system in one of the lowest-ranked state ed systems in the country.” Yeah, I’ve seen that meal. I’ll have the pink slime burger instead, thanks–just let ME make it.


March 13th, 2012
6:19 pm

Rick: Appeal to the state DOE is already an option. There is nothing in the proposed amendment that does not already exist for students, parents and charter supporters. The ONLY thing in the amendment is allowing the Legislature to insert itself into local schooling, and to get its hands on local money. It is being proposed as a constitutional amendment precisely because the Legislature does not want to have to abide by oversight from the courts – they want to be able to bully through decisions on education (despite having neither local accountability nor professional expertise) just as they are doing their best to bully through decisions on the Cherokee school board which are clearly not in accordance with local wishes. It is a despicable power play designed to sacrifice local control and quality of education in pursuit of the almighty political “contribution ‘ – read bribe.

It is a dangerous and vicious effort by bought and sold political prostitutes. It is not worthy of your support.


March 13th, 2012
6:43 pm

@Rick in ATL. When exactly will you start making that slime burger? I’ve heard you talk about a DIY school for a while now – just wondering when it will open and if you think many people are interested in joining you?

Mary Elizabeth

March 13th, 2012
6:51 pm

@ Rick in ATL, 6:09 pm

“Yeah, I’ve seen that meal. I’ll have the pink slime burger instead, thanks–just let ME make it.”

The thing is Rick – as a taxpayer who supports public schools and whose youngest child graduated from college a decade ago, I do not want my tax dollars used to pay simply for the “choice” selections of the few, such as those of your family; I want my tax dollars used toward educating all of the children – across the board – so that our society, as a whole, is uplifted. I want this, especially as a retired public school teacher who had witnessed, firsthand, the wide range of socioeconomic need in children and families. That is why I am a proponent of improving, not dismantling, Georgia’s traditional public schools, whose main purpose should be to educate, and uplift, all children and, thereby, all families. Some are not able to afford even transportation to select public schools. I want my taxes used to help these families, especially.


March 13th, 2012
7:35 pm

Rick….check out Cherokee’s results with national standards….ITBS, CoGat, SAT, ACT, AP exams…we compete extremely well

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
7:39 pm

Seems the republicans are indeed for smaller government…just take out anybody who doesn’t agree with them! While we can debate the need for the charter school that seems to be driving this ridiculousness, what can’t be debated is the intended role of the local legislative cadre. They should, of course, be aware of and monitor events in their districts. Their work at the state level should support the positive growth of their region. This, however, is clearly overreach on their part based on the complaints of a few. This redistricting should be put to a referendum and let the voters decide which map they prefer.

@Beverly 5:03. All Chip needs is the white suit, the Eldorado, and a bumbling fool to drive him around. How did let these fools get the jobs they have?

Grammar Police

March 13th, 2012
8:07 pm

I remember my experience with the Cherokee County School system back in 1998. My 8-year old son had classes in a “portable clasroom” (trailer). He needed to go to the bathroom and the teacher would not allow him to go (it was in the “main building”), so he ended up peeing in his pants. I tried to talk to his teacher about it but she wanted to turn our conference into a “normal” parent-teacher conference and talk about his grades! The principal was no help, so I pulled my son out of Cherokee County schools and never went back. That is how I view the Cherokee County School System.

I don’t like the blatant politic, but it has become clear that most BOEs will turn down even the best charter school applications just to hang onto their monopoly on the taxpayers money. If the BOE would clean up their own mess, maybe there would be no DEMAND for charter schools.

BTW, in 1998, Cherokee County was on probation from SACS.

Joe Rural

March 13th, 2012
8:12 pm

@Rick in ATL — Those “BOE yokels” as you called them, are giving the parents options! There are six new Academies opening in six different elementary schools in August of this year. They are focused on either STEM or Fine Arts. And guess what….the “BOE yokels” are going to provide transportation and have room for more than the “lottery chosen 1000″, or 832, or whatever number they are reporting this week. It is not about choice, but rather about money. Of course if the state would actually give the school districts the money they are entitled to, under the State formula, this would all be a moot point.


March 13th, 2012
8:19 pm

Mary Elizabeth – 4:43

That is a nice excerpt from your book. When will it be published?

Hillbilly D

March 13th, 2012
8:21 pm

Since I don’t live in Cherokee, I suppose it’s none of my business and I’ll admit to being cynical and suspicious by nature but I can’t helping thinking that this is being pushed so hard because somebody stands to make a lot of money out of it.


March 13th, 2012
8:23 pm

@Grammar Police…..I am sorry for your experience with Cherokee County Schools; however, things have changed since 1998. Our latest SACS CASI review,this past November, was passed with flying colors. Under Dr. P’s leadership, we now compete on a National level.
The true debate here is how much power should the legislatures have over the local school board?

Active in Cherokee

March 13th, 2012
8:28 pm

@Grammar Police – The school system that has been built in the years since Dr. P has taken over is a completely different one than existed in 1998. Yes, many schools still have mobile units in Cherokee Co, as well as in schools across the state and the nation.

For anyone who hangs on the argument – “one of the best systems in one of the worst states” – please take the time to also look at National test scores and other comparisons. The Cherokee Co SD (and virtually every school within it) is well above the national averages also. Also, the “lowest ranked state” argument mainly comes from a SAT score ranking. Thanks to the HOPE scholarship, GA has one of the highest percentages of students taking the SAT, which is a requirement to get into GA colleges. In a state (say Alabama) that focuses more on ACT for its colleges, the percentage of students taking the SAT is much lower and is often limited to students looking to go out of state – ie many of the brightest. Georgia outperforms most of the ACT focused state on the ACT for the same reason those states score above GA on the SAT.

That being said – the political involvement in the schools here is ridiculous.

that's goofy

March 13th, 2012
8:42 pm

I do not have an issue with changing how SB members are elected. Right now the majority of them come from affluent areas in Woodstock.

Dr. P did a great job over a decade ago – but he has created his own Banana Republic with a rubber stamp school board. Too many (non teaching – not important) Board of Education employees make over 100K a year. Human Resources has a family and friends policy for hiring new employees.

To quote Active in Cherokee: “That being said – the political involvement in the schools here is ridiculous.”


March 13th, 2012
8:47 pm

Does it bother anyone else that the “district” as Maureen phrased it is putting out a statement on behalf of incumbent board members? I don’t see any real difference between these people and Dekalb’s board.


March 13th, 2012
9:12 pm

Lawmakers screw up 95% of the education legislation they come up with, so this is no surprise. How about a recall, folks? Let them know not to mess with your schools! If you continue to allow them to “serve” you, they will “serve” you right into a big mess!

Grammar Police

March 13th, 2012
9:20 pm

“however, things have changed since 1998″

I would bet that the teacher who treated my so the way she did is still employed in the Cherokee County School Syatem, teaching YOUR kids.

I remember how the school system refused to issue bonds to build new schools, only building schools when there was enough money generated by the 1-cent SPLOST. They built and opened one school in 1999, with an enrollment of 1200, and the student population increased by 1400!

I would bet that 30% of students STILL are being taught in trailers. Maybe a charter school could at least have a real building that doesn’t turn over in a tornado.


March 13th, 2012
9:29 pm

@that’s goofy…how do you get that the majority of the current Board live in affluent areas of Woodstock? Usher, Reed and Steiner all live in middle class neighborhoods of Woodstock. Wofford lives in mid-north west. Chapman and Cochran live in north east district
The legislators over stepped here. The delegation acted reprehensibly here by slapping the board’s hand…they should be careful as many of them are up for reelection this year.

Flock of Schoolgirls

March 13th, 2012
9:44 pm

Cherokee parents are fighting back against their state delegation!

Check out:

Be sure to view “about us” and look at how we got our name. The site is dedicated to one of our favorite representatives!!

Hillbilly D

March 13th, 2012
9:51 pm

Wonder where my post went this time?

Rick in ATL

March 13th, 2012
10:09 pm

Could someone from the system please shed some light on why the state lawmakers would go to such lengths to rebuke the BOE members if the charter decision in question was a reasonable “no?” That’s what’s missing from this discussion. Either the state lawmakers are drunk on testosterone or the BOE did something to provoke their admittedly very aggressive reaction. What was so “flawed” about the rejected charter application? (If so many others have been accepted, this should be an easy question to answer).

I’ll concede I want parents to be able to assert their rightful role of oversight whenever they’re willing to put in the hard work that requires. But I also think charter organizers should have to demonstrate an ability to meet demanding initial requirements. Can somebody who was actually involved please illuminate?

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
10:12 pm

Grammar Police: I can’t speak to your experience, but I know as a veteran teacher of 20+ years that most administrators tell us not to let kids go to the bathroom except at certain times. Believe it or not, I have been called to answer for that very issue at times, as ridiculous as that seems. I’m in no way defending the teacher you’re mentioning, but be aware that many administrators don’t trust us to use professional judgment and I have had a few flat out tell us to say no, period. I also believe that to judge the entire system over this one teacher, who was likely following instructions from her superiors, hardly makes a case against an entire school system. And don’t think the issue will be any better in a charter school. When the test scores come in and the push is on to get them up, the same or worse controls over such simple things as bathroom breaks will ensue.

Rick in ATL

March 13th, 2012
10:15 pm

@Brit: Waiting to see what APS does with redistricting first. However, it’s safe to say I will not call it the Slime Burger school. : )


March 13th, 2012
10:15 pm

This battle is not about the children. While the legislators may attempt to eloquently paint such a picture, their intent is less than noble. This fight is about power and control. The children lose out every day our legislature and governor spend time trying to pass charter school legislation. They are ignoring the vast majority of children in our state. I hope parents and citizens begin to take notice.


March 13th, 2012
10:16 pm

I can’t illumniate on the details, but the tone was that some of the parents and the board had their feelings hurt that anyone would want to do a charter instead of going to their schools. From the quotes, it made me doubt they were doing anything other than making it impossible for the charter to be approved.

Maureen had a post on the denial some time back.

Ron F.

March 13th, 2012
10:18 pm

“Either the state lawmakers are drunk on testosterone or the BOE did something to provoke their admittedly very aggressive reaction.”

Rick: probably some of both, but I think more of the power-trip for the lawmakers. What’s happening is the big donors to their campaigns want this, and the legislature in general wants to control charter schools unilaterally, so they’ll make an issue out of it regardless. When you consider that state funding for charter systems and for existing charters runs out at the end of the current charter, which will then force all of them to reapply (and I’ll bet the farm the state will make sure to have complete control of the issue by then), this is clearly the legislature taking control to make sure they get all the potential roadblocks out of the way now. Why else would they mess with a statistically successful system, when their interference will, at the very least, cause bad feelings and hurt morale in a system that clearly doesn’t need the interference?

Flock of Schoolgirls

March 13th, 2012
10:28 pm

The Chipster is mad because he’s not allowed to announce the Etowah football games anymore. The Etowah parents were tired of his lack of support for public schools and asked that he be removed as the announcer.

local control

March 13th, 2012
11:08 pm

Rick in ATL– this same petition by Charter Schools USA was rejected in multiple other counties, a total of a dozen times over three years; it was a cookie cutter template thrown at multiple school districts to see where it would stick. The Georgia Charter School Commission even rejected it when it first was denied in Cherokee and they appealed to the commission (it was approved the next year, although nothing about the petition was substantially different). The school district still has all the documents from the review and denial posted on its website–

Joe Rural

March 13th, 2012
11:09 pm

@Flock of Schoolgirls — So this is about Chip being an announcer at high school football games? Are we in junior high? How petty! Maybe he should see about announcing at his kid’s school, unless they don’t have a football team? In that case, he should go to another county where voters might still think he is wonderful!

Flock of Schoolgirls

March 13th, 2012
11:27 pm

@ Joe Rural

It ALWAYS comes back to football.

Mary Elizabeth

March 13th, 2012
11:57 pm

At the bottom of this post is the link that “Flock of Schoolgirls” mentioned at 9:44 pm. Evidently, a demonstration is planned for this Friday, March 16, 2012, from 4:30 pm to 5:30, outside of Hickory Flat Elementary School in support of traditional public schools in Cherokee County. See the information, immediately below, which was taken from the link, given at the bottom.


Please visit our “Get Caught Up” section to read more from local and regional newspapers to learn more about the hot topics surrounding this issue.


About Us

We are presenting this information to URGE you to support the Cherokee County Board of Education and our district in speaking out to our local legislative representatives in the Georgia General Assembly along with our Governor, Nathan Deal, who seek to continue to cut our school funding. These cuts have affected our children already. Our schools are experiencing even larger classroom sizes, diminished learning opportunities, and reduced time in specials, such as Art and Music.


Our district incurred state budget cuts in excess of $118 million over the past 8 years! In 2004, the state cut the Cherokee County School budget by $5.2 million.

The cuts continue to get worse…

-2010-2011 – we lost $25.3 million

-This year, our schools are losing $26.6 million and are slated to lose another $26.6 million again for 2012-13.

-When the State approved the opening of the Cherokee Charter Academy (CCA) in August, they provided over $10 million to the CCA and the rest of the state-funded charter schools, despite the Georgia Supreme Court ruling it unconstitutional, which resulted in an additional loss of approximately $3.1 million to our district.

-Our district had to absorb this additional shortage through larger class sizes, displaced teachers, and further reductions in elective classes for our children.


-Our State has a Fair Share policy that requires school districts to pay no more than a maximum of 20% of their “Fair Share” formula to assist lower income districts in the state of Georgia. However, for the past 3 years, our Fair Share amount has exceeded the 20% formula. This past year, we paid an additional $2.8 million over the 20% required by the state. Why are our legislators not upholding the 20% threshold? Imagine how much $2.8 million could help our schools! And no one can tell us where that money went.

With the continued budget cuts which have led to our increased class sizes and loss of special classes, parents have become increasingly concerned about the future of our children and our district. As such, we believe our best solution is to voice our concerns to our elected state representatives in hopes that they will act upon our concerns when setting and passing future budgets.

We are asking YOU to be a part of our voice. Get involved and share your concern with these representatives. We know that there is strength in numbers and the elected officials must be persuaded to act on our behalf. Go to our Get Involved page for a sample letter and a list of representatives and their contact information.

Get your PANTS ON and



4:30-5:30pm (Furlough Day)

Outside Hickory Flat Elementary School as we demonstrate”


Flock of Schoolgirls

March 14th, 2012
12:16 am

@ Mary Elizabeth

Thank you for posting the link again. Lest another Cherokee delegation member think that it is ok to come after their constituents with sexist, disrespectful comments….think again.

Mothers AND fathers were already upset about the Cherokee county schools’ funding and redistricting problems. But when Representative Calvin Hill decided to start responding to his constituants as if they were 1950s housewives who had just recently won the right to vote and could easily manipulated by Dr. P, he brought upon himself a special kind of “wonderful”. He has no idea the lengths that the “PTA moms” have committed themselves to to make sure he is run out of office. This website is only the beginning.

Flock of Schoolgirls

March 14th, 2012
12:34 am

And Calvin Hill is not the only Cherokee delegation member that has sent out questionable e-mails. Charlice Byrd has sent out her share of snarky, rude emails that have also made the rounds of Cherokee county residents. Perhaps Ms Byrd needs a website of her very own?

Vowelly Girl

March 14th, 2012
1:03 am

@ Grammar Police

Could you please review the Cherokee County GOP’s website? Alphabet you’ve never seen so many misspellings and grammatical errors. For folks so concerned with the state of Cherokee county schools, they sure seem to be in need of a remedial English class. (clause?)

Thanks and metaphors be with you!

Mary Elizabeth

March 14th, 2012
7:50 am

@Flock of Schoolgirls, 12:16 am
@ Mary Elizabeth

Thank you for posting the link again. Lest another Cherokee delegation member think that it is ok to come after their constituents with sexist, disrespectful comments….think again.

Mothers AND fathers were already upset about the Cherokee county schools’ funding and redistricting problems. But when Representative Calvin Hill decided to start responding to his constituants as if they were 1950s housewives who had just recently won the right to vote and could easily manipulated by Dr. P, he brought upon himself a special kind of “wonderful”. He has no idea the lengths that the “PTA moms” have committed themselves to to make sure he is run out of office. This website is only the beginning.


You are very welcome. Good luck.

Did you know that Rep. Calvin Hill is one of Georgia’s legislative representatives to ALEC? Check out my 7:29 am post on today’s “Get Schooled” thread, entitled, “Should every Georgia high school student take an online course? Why?” I think you will be quite interested in the information, shared.

Dr. John Trotter

March 14th, 2012
10:02 am

Perhaps this is not just some mere Glenn Brock – Mark Elgart dalliance behind this squabble in Cherokee; it appears to me that SACS is being used again by the good ole boys to accomplish their purpose. Folks, SACS is a private, money-grabbing organization which attempts to hide its avarice behind some holier-than-thou image of caring for kids. SACS, in my opinion, cares for one thing: money. It’s all about the cheddar, friends in Cherokee.

A Joker

March 14th, 2012
10:46 am

At Joe Rural Chip does not have a child in a Cherokee county school.His child goes to a private school. He is also pushing for a bill that would allow private school children to play sports in public schools.

Rick in ATL

March 14th, 2012
10:52 am

@local control: very helpful link! I read the whole thing. It looks to me like the charter petition was deeply flawed, AND that the system examined it with a scanning electron microscope looking for any and every reason to deny it. The charter organizers come off looking sloppy; the school board comes off looking petty and arrogant.

I don’t think I’d want a for-profit partner if I were starting a charter. It’s not rocket science to run a school. You know how I know that? Because I look at the people who are running our APS schools, and they are the FARTHEST thing from rocket scientists.

Grammar Police

March 14th, 2012
12:33 pm

The one thing I learned about Cherokee County School System with my experience was: They don’t care if you leave; in fact, they encourage it. When you leave the system, that is one less student that they have to worry about and educate, but you have to leave your tax money with them to do what they want to with. That made me a believer in vouchers. Not a voucher for the “average cost per student” but for what it cost to educate the student that is leaving. Cost per tudent is highly skewed – for the average student, it might be $3000 per year. For a SPED student, it might be $20,000 per year. I haven’t seen any charter schools springing up for SPED students (no profit in it).


March 14th, 2012
1:27 pm

It might be a really good idea to trade the Cherokee Legislative Delegation to DeKalb county, but we surely don’t want to exchange it for their politicians. On the other hand, what could we get in trade for Chip Rogers?