Senate passes charter school amendment. Now, voters will decide the question in November.

The state Senate passed the controversial charter school amendment this afternoon, enabling a constitutional amendment on the question in November. The amendment passed 40-16, which represents the two-thirds majority required. The amendment already had passed the House.

One of the reasons for passage is the assurance from its author, Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, that the state would cover the costs of a state-approved charter school if its original charter application was not approved by a local school districts.

However, skeptics argue that the language is fuzzy enough that the state will still be able to divert money from local school districts to pay for state-approved charter schools.

The bill has become one of the most promoted pieces of legislation in the General Assembly this year, in part because of the assistance of the influential for-profit charter school industry, including online providers , which is looking to expand its foothold and profits in Georgia.

The research on charter schools remains mixed, as noted in a detailed Education Week review this month.

A new state Department of Education study found that Georgia charter schools do not outperform traditional schools. In 2010-11, 70 percent of charters met the adequate yearly progress targets of No Child Left Behind, while 73 percent of traditional schools in Georgia met those AYP targets that year. Charters had an 82 percent graduation rate in 2010-11; the state average that year was 80.9 percent.

First out with a response is the Center for an Educated Georgia at Georgia Family Council: (I will add reactions as I get them today.)

“We applaud a large majority of Georgia’s Senators for focusing on the interests of students instead of the heated partisan politics of adults,” said Jerri Nims Rooker, director of the Center for an Educated Georgia at Georgia Family Council. “Thanks to their courage, Georgia is one step closer to protecting the state’s shared role with local districts to support public education and the development of public charter schools. It is now up to the people of Georgia to approve this amendment, which is crucial for the future of quality public education in Georgia and to ensure that parents can choose the best public school for their child’s learning needs.”

The amendment will essentially put the state into the charter school business, which had been squelched last year by a state Supreme Court decision saying local boards of education controlled the right to create schools.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, decried the passage as a loss for students, saying, “Peel back the layers of the onion and what is revealed is a $400 million charter school management business coupled with underlying real estate deals. Our limping schools systems will be financially decimated when we redirect funding to these barely public charter schools — schools that create a parallel school system. Some of these multimillion dollar management contract amounts could fund entire school budgets in some areas of our state…Deals have been made for jobs, appointments, redistricting and more. What they have proven in the debate of HR 1162 is that the State Capitol is for sale. It is corruption in every sense of the word.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

212 comments Add your comment

Historydawg

March 19th, 2012
4:19 pm

How these folks at the center for educated Georgia sleep at night is beyond imagination! Using Georgia’s children and democracy for corporate takeover and the interests if a select few. It is a sad day for Georgia’s children and for local decision-making

that's goofy

March 19th, 2012
4:22 pm

Guess now we will see the will of the people. Do they favor traditional public schools or charter schools?

To put it another way: Do they support corporations profiting from education?

Cutty

March 19th, 2012
4:22 pm

Let’s just cut out the middle man (the General Assembly) and pass every law or regulation via referendum.

Jefferson

March 19th, 2012
4:26 pm

This is not what amendmends are for. If the state wants the job, let them fund the whole public education system and take property owners out of the financing business. Raise income and corporate taxes.

phil

March 19th, 2012
4:32 pm

Can’t wait to vote AGAINST charter schools! Thank you legislators for finally giving me this opportunity.

Local Control

March 19th, 2012
4:35 pm

Will these work like the Kittredge Magnet School for High Achievers in Dekalb County where students have to test to attend or like Gwinnett School of Mathmatics, Science, and Technology where anyone who can sign their name with an X can enter into the lottery?

Concerned Parent and Educator

March 19th, 2012
4:44 pm

THANK YOU! This is amazing. Thank you for leaving politics aside and making the right decision for the future of education in Georgia.

Historydawg

March 19th, 2012
4:45 pm

Local control, therein lies one of many problems: tax money with no accountability. Communities divided and individuals making bank off money intended for the common good of all. How are we reducing money and increasing pointless accountability measures for public schools, while creating more charters that have no accountability and that can select who has access to good education with no recourse for those excluded.

Historydawg

March 19th, 2012
4:47 pm

Thanks for the doublespeak, concerned educator. This is only about politics and greed. No one under the gold dome cares at all for Georgia’s kids.

Bernie

March 19th, 2012
4:50 pm

The ultimate goal of this process is school vouchers. if anyone, tell you otherwise is not being truthful.
This is the State Government picking and choosing winners of a quality education.

If you are not lucky enough to get into one of these CLASS based schools, your education will surely be compromised because of school funds and resources will be directed to those schools first.

Ronin

March 19th, 2012
5:01 pm

This will give the people the choice to decide on traditional district schools or Charter options.
It will be interesting to see the results this November. Granted, there is no guarantee that this will pass at the ballot box. The largest employer in many counties is the district school system.

However, I see this as a great opportunity to expand public/government education options in the State of Georgia. As for the fear mongers that say that corporations are going to “profit” from education tax dollars, that already happens by service contracts with local district schools. All the goods that are currently purchased by district schools go to shareholders or investors who in turn “profit” from the education dollar. If the employee/teacher/administrator works for the district or a Charter company, they too will profit. The important difference is that this will potentially allow parents to have more direct control or involvement in local school decisions.

This will be interesting.

Cherokee mom

March 19th, 2012
5:03 pm

Of course the state will divert money from the local school systems to fund these charters! Where else would the money come from??? I can’t wait to see how the wording on this amendment is phrased when it is put before the voters in November. I will enjoy voting against it….no taxation without representation!

Decaturite

March 19th, 2012
5:06 pm

This is a sad, sad day for Georgia’s k-12 traditional students, and a great day for corporate charter schools’ shareholders. Those corporate charter schools will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in slick ad campaigns to convince Georgia’s voters that traditional public schools are failing its students (when in fact the traditional schools are getting slightly better results than their charter counterparts in the state.) There’s no way that the traditional k-12 schools could remotely come close to to competing with them in ad campaign dollars. If it passes, we might as well admit that we’ve gone backwards as a state and created a segregated system again – only this time it’s not about race, it’s more about economics – the haves and the have-nots. Come on Georgia, just fund public education like the Constitution says you’re obligated to do. I am so ashamed to admit I’m a Republican!

Local Control

March 19th, 2012
5:08 pm

But where is the accountability now? APS is still unraveling a cheating scandal, Gwinnett has millions in overpriced, underdeveloped real estate parcels, both Gwinnett and Dekalb have bloated administrations while children are in overcrowded, underserved classrooms.

Accountability will come when the money isn’t dictated by a school district map. Accountability will come when parents and children can vote with their feet. Until then, mediocrity will rule.

Lynn43

March 19th, 2012
5:12 pm

The only thing public about charter schools is that our public tax money is used to pay for them. I’ve dealt with these charlatans (for profit school promoters) for 4 years, and I’ve seen the greed and conniving tactics they use, and it is not pretty. If you think these are public institutions, then go to the door and try to enroll your child. You will get a surprise.

Ed Johnson

March 19th, 2012
5:17 pm

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
5:24 pm

“Thank you for leaving politics aside and making the right decision for the future of education in Georgia.”

Since they haven’t even begun to spell out the details of how this appointed state commission will work and who, ultimately, they answer to, I’m not so sure this is such a good decision. While I support change and see charter schools as one possibility, I don’t think the state commission will make any better decisions. It’s still a bunch of power-hungry politicians choosing which schools get approved, only now we’ll have less say in the matter. I hope the details will be carefully planned and presented prior to the amendment vote so that voters know exactly what we’re voting for and how this will all be managed and funded.

Cherokee Parent

March 19th, 2012
5:26 pm

Can’t wait to have the opportunity to VOTE NO for for-profit management companies crossing the GA borders to steal MY TAX MONEY.

Jayne

March 19th, 2012
5:29 pm

Until the local schools think that parents and kids have alternatives, they won’t change. No one is forcing anyone to do anything in the charter school issue. Parents and students who have an alternative are (shudder) sometimes exercising that alternative and are choosing a charter school. O NO. Lock up the children! This outrage must end! Worse, sometimes the state takes the money that was following the child into the public school and sends that money to the public charter school. Then the public school folks go bat crazy that someone is taking “their” money.
All this hyperventilating about corporate schools is just that,
The thing that drives the educrats over the edge is the possiblity of competition and parents free to choose which solution best fits the needs of their child.

carlosgvv

March 19th, 2012
5:37 pm

“focusing on the interests of students”

The only interests served by this are the ones of fundamentalist parents who want their children in Christian oriented schools which promote their religious views and denounce all science as just liberal theory. Republican politicans know they will be rewarded by being elected and re-elected by these far-right voters.

Stop Stealing Dreams

March 19th, 2012
5:38 pm

What a wonderful day for education reform efforts in Georgia! Now, Georgia has a chance to be a leader in ed reform and stop stealing dreams! Finally, common sense is coming to education reform. Now, onto the ballot boxes!

Mary Elizabeth

March 19th, 2012
5:40 pm

“The amendment will essentially put the state into the charter school business, which had been squelched last year by a state Supreme Court decision saying local boards of education controlled the right to create schools.”

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

These words were well chosen. I do not think that the educating of children of Georgia should become primarily a “business” enterprise. Some will argue that public education is already such. Nothing is totally pure, but a charter school mandate which requires a Constitutional amendment foretells much more business investment in schools in Georgia than is currently the case. I do not think it wise, nor educationally healthy, for children to be used for profit. We shall see what the future holds, and what the essential intent is behind this Constitutional amendment. As I had stated in a previous post. “Time will, eventually, tell intent.”

—————————————————————————–

From Saul K. Padover’s book, entitled, “Jefferson,” pages 395-396: “The twin evils of bigotry and persecution could be avoided in the United States by a vigorous policy of enlightenment. ‘To penetrate and dissipate these clouds of darkness, the general mind must be strengthened by education,’ Jefferson concluded. And so, in his old age, Jefferson developed a plan for public education in a democracy and gave the last years of his life to its realization. ‘I am now,’ he wrote at the age of seventy-four to George Ticknor, ‘entirely absorbed in endeavours to effect the establishment of a general system of education in my native state. By 1817 Jefferson had the last detail of his plan worked out. It was one of the most ambitious projects ever designed for education in a free republic.. . .They (the public schools) were to be free to all children, for Jefferson insisted that it was the duty of government ‘to provide that every citizen. . .should receive an education proportioned to the condition and pursuits of his life.’ ”
————————————————————–

Thomas Jefferson mentioned nothing of profit for business enterprise in his educational plan. He did state, however, that it was the “duty of government” to provide “free schools for all children” and that the purpose of education was “enlightenment” to dispel the “twin evils of bigotry and persecution.”

Jefferson believed that the continuation of our democratic Republic depended upon education of all citizens, with the intent that he had described, and that intent was not profit.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
5:43 pm

Jayne: as simple as it seems to have the money “follow the child”, how much of that money really is the child’s? The average property owner pays far, far less than the current per child amount spent by the state. Now if you want your money to follow your child, you should have just that- your contributed share via property taxes. If you rent, then what? The notion that all the funds the state puts into educating a child should be at the parents’ behest is absurd.

I understand the frustration parents feel- believe me, many teachers who post here feel it too. While I like the idea of choice, I also like being able to work and get paid in the profession I LOVE. I don’t think I’d much like the idea of having my contract yanked and suddenly being out of a job because a group of parents pull out and go to another school. You’re not going to have teachers with their lives packed in a rolling suitcase to move wherever the tides of fickle parental feelings dictate. And how will you attract good teachers when they won’t know where they’ll end up? I also don’t like the idea, as a taxpayer, of “trusting” a commission appointed by our crooked state legislators to decide which schools get approved and how they will be funded. That’s a great big mess waiting to happen.

And you should do some research on charter schools and the management companies used to run many of them. Hyperventilating is the least of your worries if there is a corporate profit to be paid.

And what about the kids? The pool of children we have to educate isn’t changing. How are charter schools going to do any better with the exact same bunch of kids? All you and many others are thinking about is how you can pull your kids away from the riff-raff and have a nice, safe, successful school. What about the rest?

money for nothing

March 19th, 2012
5:50 pm

Keep an eye on the Morgans (state rep Alisha & Cobb school board member David). Alisha went against party lines because it’s in her financial interest. David serves as both a school board member and as a lobbyist for charter schools (I know, it doesn’t look right to me either).

Ignorant Education

March 19th, 2012
5:52 pm

Watch “Waiting for Superman” and then vote your conscience.

My goodness...

March 19th, 2012
5:53 pm

The comments here reflecting the ignorance about charter schools and clear unwillingness to actually learn about the issue are illustration enough to expand the network of charter schools in this state. Clearly we are not teaching our citizens to think critically. Here’s a couple of places where opponents on this board an in other places are dead wrong about charter schools and this amendment:

1) There is nothing secret to the wording of the amendment — it’s in the resolution. Check it out.

2) Charter schools are not private schools, they are public schools and cannot (and do not) handpick their kids. If there is more demand than the number of seats available, they hold a lottery

3) To the issue about “for-profit management organizations,” they provide a service to the school, many times providing all back-office services, supplies and books, student management software and everything else you need to run a school. But let me ask this of the for-profit demagogues that propagate fear on this board and others: Do you have a problem with for-profit Microsoft making money from schools that need Windows? How about for-profit Sysco or another food providers making money off the schools for lunches? What about for-profit construction companies that build the schools? And what about for-profit textbook companies? And what about every other for-profit provider of every good and service in every school in every county in this state and across the nation. I guess they are just lining their pockets with taxpayer money, eh? Come on now…

Active in Cherokee

March 19th, 2012
5:56 pm

We still don’t have all of the information needed to vote of this amendment. My concerns, as they always have been, are with the state control of locally collected funds. To me, this is not a vote for for against ‘charter schools’, as it has been advertised; but a vote for or against state control over local funds. If the legislature finds its can spend local money in reagards to education, whats to stop them from trying it in other regards? As someone who generally votes Republican, I am ashamed of this Republican push away from local control and for a larger state governmnet. Local Money = LOCAL Control – end of story.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
6:05 pm

My goodness… Do some reading also. The for-profit companies, while providing a service, are in it for profit. They charge a flat, per-student price, for those services. That doesn’t include the computers, books, etc. that you mention. That money, from tax receipts, goes to a company over which the payers have little control beyond negotiation of a contract for those services. Outsourcing those management services doesn’t guarantee any better, or more accountable, providing of those services. And it worries me that an appointed state commission could influence how those companies are chosen and awarded contracts. A commission which has no direct accountability to voters- not a pleasant thought for me as a taxpayer.

As to how charter schools ‘pick’ their students- that is entirely the decision of the charter school. If approved, the school can, and many will, have entrance requirements. There is nothing in the current wording of anything I’ve seen about this amendment that says the charter schools will have to take any and all students. They can be as specific as the charter commission allows them to be.

pleasebeserious

March 19th, 2012
6:05 pm

Finally, a chance to have choice in Georgia. People in Cherokee County against Charter Schools should be complaining about their tax dollars going to schools in rural areas rather than where they live. Most people don’t have a clue what they are complaining about.

Ignorant Education

March 19th, 2012
6:05 pm

My goodness…. hit the nail on the head. It’s refreshing to hear the thoughts from somebody that actually has awareness of the legislation and issues at stake. The fact that the comments illustrate the degree of ignorance by teachers writing on here just makes me want to get further and further from an already broken public school system. The inertia will always be against change and those who benefit most from the currently failing system will push back the hardest. Hence the rampant entitlement mentality permeating Atlanta educators.

Get rid of teacher associations, fire all teachers that cannot pass merit based assessments (without cheating) and give parents the ability to choose where their children have the lowest chance of failure in this state’s awful public “education” options.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
6:11 pm

Ignorant Education: AS one of those teachers to whom you so derisively refer, bring on your merit based assessments. I’ll gladly show you how qualified many posting here are. I don’t know how you think you’re going to find teachers for your charter schools once you get rid of the despicable educators you seem to think are so rampant in the current system. I can also assure you that there isn’t a ready pool of qualified individuals just waiting to do your bidding as teachers in the new order of things. If you think it’s so bad now, go get a degree, pass the assessments, and become a teacher. Then let us know how things go. I’ll be waiting to read your first how-to best-seller on teaching.

Truth Hurts

March 19th, 2012
6:12 pm

Once again, state legislators say one thing, then do something else. But we knew that Painful Truth.

They say the best government is that which is closest to the people. But then they set up a situation whereby local school board can be told to fund a charter school approved “downtown” and not locally. To make matters worse, these same legislators say we are “just seeking the will of the people” by having a referendum on this amendment. But we know the Painful Truth. They know that the vast majority of such amendments pass whether they should or not.

Should local school systems have reductions in funds available for non-charter schools (which they will) and if a tax increase is necessary to maintain basic levels of education, those tax increases will come at the local level, not from the legislature. Legislators can then say “Hey, we didn’t raise taxes; your local school board raised taxes.” But we really know the Painful Truth.

If the boys downtown can tap into local school board funds thereby taking away local control, then state legislators have once again played games which ultimately hurt some children so legislators buddies (and contributors) can have a locally funded charter school without local approval or oversight.

The Painful Truth: Georgia education is lagging because of stunts like this one. Shame on you!

another comment

March 19th, 2012
6:15 pm

I am a Liberal, so Anti-Republican it isn’t Funny, but these School Boards and Superintends signed their own death card here. Fulton County signing the death warrant on High Performing Science Charter. Gwinnett fighting the popular Ivey Charter. I myself favor just going all the way to vouchers for all and letting the funds that the State and County are paying to cover each child to follow the child.

After all why should my child be stuck in a school where 40% of the kids are ESOL. Let someone take that money plus the Title one money and open up and ESOL school. There is no interation anyways. They self-segregrate especially in high school.

Let the kids with disabilities go to seperate schools. Look at what Sophia, Schenk, Atlanta Speech School, Howard School. Parents pay $22,000 a year so their children can have seperate special ed, education. They bring them up to level. Then they don’t slow down the rest of the class.

Lets let the kids that can be challenged. What is wrong with letting a parent decided where their children goes. It will also bring down the private school tuition as the public schools get better. It works both ways.

It is really sad that most of the people in Georgia do not know what good schools are. They do not know what good teachers are.

Ron C.

March 19th, 2012
6:16 pm

Yep, diverting money to corporate, elite interests. I’ll be voting no.

Active in Cherokee

March 19th, 2012
6:20 pm

@pleasebeserious – though I’m not fond of the tax dollars that go to the more rural counties, I do understand the reasoning. It does perplex me that Gwinnett is a system that recieves rather pays out; however, I don’t think anyone in the Atl area can truly understand the understand the needs of rural/south Georgia.

@ Ignorant – thanks for not being one of the people that says teachers in GA have a union, but if you think the teacher ‘associations’ here in GA have even as close to as much sway as other education groups (ie for-profit charter lobbyists) you are sorely mistaken.

d

March 19th, 2012
6:22 pm

@pleasebeserious says “”Finally, a chance to have choice in Georgia.” People have ALWAYS had choice…. That’s what the modified-free market system that we live in is all about. If you don’t like the publicly provided option, you make the necessary sacrifices and save up for a privately funded education. I am curious to see what will appear on the ballot versus the actual language of the amendment and exactly how the state plans to fund these schools without hurting the traditional K-12 education system…. and who do I get to complain to when an appointed board approves a school that cannot live up to the promises of its charter.

@Ignorant Education – Why do you want to limit my choice (specifically to belong to my professional association) but want to push “choice” for all other Georgians? Am I not a citizen with all the rights of all other citizens? What “merit based assessments” do you speak of? GACE/PRAXIS? You have to pass those content-knowledge tests to become certified to begin with, so there is no firing teachers on that, they can’t be hired without passing them. As DeKalb County says – “The School Cannot Live Apart From The Community.” Students who want to succeed will succeed regardless of the school. I have students who do not care about the class I am teaching, and they make it known. Fine. I have students, who in that same class, do care, and are succeeding and will do great things once they graduate in May. Those who don’t care, well, I’ll do my best for them, but the old adage about leading a horse to water comes to mind at this point.

Midway

March 19th, 2012
6:24 pm

Stop Stealing Dreams

March 19th, 2012
6:24 pm

My Goodness, THANK YOU for your comments. Finality, sanity and rational thinking is coming to this blog!!

AMHS Dad, Former Ivy Prep Dad

March 19th, 2012
6:27 pm

Finally! The opportunity for a real choice, not Hobson’s choice.

d

March 19th, 2012
6:28 pm

@AMHS Dad – as I asked before, how did you not have choice in Georgia prior to the possible adoption of this amendment?

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
6:29 pm

“After all why should my child be stuck in a school where 40% of the kids are ESOL. Let someone take that money plus the Title one money and open up and ESOL school. There is no interation anyways. They self-segregrate especially in high school. ”

And that is precisely the point of view that will turn charter school into publicly-finded institutions of resegregation. If that excuse holds, many others will follow. How sad indeed.

Sadly, the influence of private charter school companies will begin in earnest very shortly. Groups of concerned parents, with innocent, heartfelt concern for their children, will have no idea where to begin. In will come the reps with their slick brochures and promises of grandeur and how easy the process is once you have the right group helping you. They’ll write the charters and salivate as the bean-counters add up the potential profits. The parents will be blindly, blissfully happy…for a while. It’ll take a few years of getting gouged by these companies for parents to realize that the promised land has a hefty price tag and essentially no better results. One need only look at published data, based on black and white numbers, to realize the charter schools aren’t performing any better. But alas, it will be too late by the time the giddiness wears off. God help us figure out what to do then. Once we’ve wasted billions of the state taxpayer’s money throwing it down the wishing well, we’ll be in a mess that will take years to fix.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
6:35 pm

“What is wrong with letting a parent decided where their children goes”

They have that choice now. They can choose to pay tuition to go anywhere they want. The money any parent pays in property taxes isn’t nearly what the state pays per child for education. Give them back the property tax money and let them pay the rest themselves.

“It will also bring down the private school tuition as the public schools get better. It works both ways”

LOLOL!!! If you think that will happen, you haven’t paid private school tuition lately. That’ll happen about the time Newt’s colony gets going on the moon!

Taxation Without Representation

March 19th, 2012
6:38 pm

This is, without a doubt, taxation without representation. Charter schools, in theory, are fine and may benefit all counties. However, this is different. Our politicians propose to divert funds from existing public schools to charter schools which are run by a for-profit corporation. Read the fine print — this is a bad idea, no matter how you look at it.

Native Atlantan

March 19th, 2012
6:40 pm

We’ve always had a choice in Atlanta — public or private schools. Why is there a need to introduce a competing hybrid using the same funds?

Hillbilly D

March 19th, 2012
6:53 pm

When y’all got out to vote on this, you better read it backwards, forwards and sideways. Amendments in Georgia have a long history of a yes vote meaning no and a no vote meaning yes. I suspect this may be one of those times, when we see it on the ballot.

AMHS Dad, Former Ivy Prep Dad

March 19th, 2012
7:01 pm

@ Native Atlantan – 45 percent of Georgia children live in low- income families, what private school choice fit their parent/parents budget?

http://www.nccp.org/profiles/GA_profile_6.html

AMHS Dad, Former Ivy Prep Dad

March 19th, 2012
7:01 pm

@ Native Atlantan – 45 percent of Georgia children live in low- income families, what private school choice fit their parent/parents budget?

http://www.nccp.org/profiles/GA_profile_6.html

Earl

March 19th, 2012
7:03 pm

For everyone who is opposed to school choice, do you find the performance of Georgia’s public schools acceptable? I moved to Atlanta as a strong supporter of public schools (and as a graduate of a public high school, state college, and state law school). However, I was shocked at the poor level of education my children received at supposedly quality north Fulton County schools. I would like nothing better than to send my children to my local public school, but it does not attempt to challenge the brightest students.

Hillbilly D

March 19th, 2012
7:07 pm

I find Section 2 of HR1162 as troubling as the charter schools part of it.

Old timer

March 19th, 2012
7:13 pm

School choice can only improve all. Schools…..

Mary Elizabeth

March 19th, 2012
7:26 pm

I have shared this link before, but I will share it again, this evening, for any reader who may not have read the contents of it, previously. The link is entitled, “Charter schools attack on public education” and it is replete with factual information of how public charter schools today, often – tomorrow – become for-profit schools. Looking beyond the present moment, one can foresee, through this detailed article, what can happen over time to turn traditional public schools, which are financed through public taxes for the common good of all, to for-profit schools which may serve only a select few.

http://www.isreview.org/issues/62/feat-charterschools.shtml

catlady

March 19th, 2012
7:34 pm

Any law that allows the state to sponsor COMPANIES that run charter schools is unacceptable. If citizens want to have a charter school, and are willing to do it themselves, and their school board turns them down for significant deficiences, okay. If the school board just doesn’t want the competition, then okay to the state funding it. However, NO to schools run by profit-making corporations!

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 19th, 2012
7:39 pm

Just a question I suggest people ask themselves when ads in support of this amendment start appearing in the media… who is paying for these ads? Why are they investing in such ads? What is in it for them?

I suspect there will be a major effort to push for the idea of “school choice” under the guise of giving the parents more of a voice. But really…ask yourselves…who does that sort of thing “for the good of the children”? Who is going to put that much money into doing something beneficial for other people’s children, unless they hope to gains something in return?

If I had enough money, I would like to open a school too…for the good of the children, but I care because I am a teacher – and as a teacher I do not have the kind of money that is necessary to start up such a school. Nor do I have the kind of money that would be able to pay for big advertising in support of a constitutional amendment. Parents would likely want to do things for their children, but they too have limited funds. So just who, pray tell, will be able to pour all that money into supporting an amendment to help other people’s children?

People who expect to turn a profit – that’s who.

Follow the money folks. There is nothing altruistic about this.

catlady

March 19th, 2012
7:42 pm

another comment: Not sure where you live, but many of those ESOL kids “raise up” the scores of our “white” kids where I work. That is, many of them score higher than the WASP babies.

ScienceTeacher671

March 19th, 2012
7:47 pm

the assurance from its author, Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton, that the state would cover the costs of a state-approved charter school

Nice of them. They don’t “cover the costs” of other public schools; where will they find the money for these?

Note

March 19th, 2012
7:57 pm

Take a good look at Florida – it’s headed our way.

Rafe Hollister

March 19th, 2012
8:03 pm

Well, what we are doing now is working so well, lets just put more money into education, quit testing the children, pronounce them geniuses, give them a diploma, and proclaim how well we have it. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

Ronin

March 19th, 2012
8:18 pm

Catlady @ 7:34, your comment:”Any law that allows the state to sponsor COMPANIES that run charter schools is unacceptable…..” and “However, NO to schools run by profit-making corporations!

You always have interesting posts, however, there will be a substantial marketing campaign by these companies and people will be bombarded with statistics, TV and print media….. when the dust settles, people won’t care who is making a profit, they only want a better school for their child or the freedom to make a choice. So, in my opinion, you will have to convince people that you have the best system for their child. Will they do a better job? Who knows, but the people of GA will have the opportunity to decide. Speak to your strengths instead of lambasting the evil Corporate Empire, because The Empire will Strike Back, like a sledgehammer. You’ll never convince a majority of people voting using the not for profit argument.

I’m going to review the link that Mary Elizabeth posted earlier, it should be interesting.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 19th, 2012
8:22 pm

@Rafe “…lets just put more money into education, quit testing the children, pronounce them geniuses, give them a diploma, and proclaim how well we have it. Nothing ventured nothing gained.”

Well, because obviously THAT would be the only alternative to a charter School amendment!

Or we might try actually consulting the people who work to EDUCATE children every day (you know, those pesky teachers) what reforms we really need to make education better…

But no one ever asks the teachers…and why should they? The powers that be have done a great job of portraying us all as lazy, bottom of the barrel, dumb, government teat suckers. What could we possibly know?

Maureen Downey

March 19th, 2012
8:45 pm

@I love teaching, To your comment:
I interviewed a researcher today about his work on effective online education, tied to Georgia’s attempt to mandate that every high school student take an online course. (He thinks it is a bad idea but I will write about that later this week.)
The researcher noted that the most successful online programs in terms of student outcomes are not the ones being pushed by the for-profit companies, but the ones created and supported at the school district level. And that’s because those programs are designed to meet specific student needs and have great on-the-ground teacher support, he said.
Somehow, we have come to a point where the people closest to the issue are the people whose opinions and efforts have become least respected.
Maureen

dekalbed

March 19th, 2012
8:50 pm

Not sure if this is such a bad thing. For those of you concerned @ the children with parents who many not choose or know how to choose, how are they currently being served in Dekalb County?

For others concerned @ the profit-making effects of charter schools, compare Dekalb County to Decatur City Schools. Which school district publishes its salaries-for all employees-and which doesn’t? Exactly how many assistant, district, area superintendents and instructional supervisors, coordinators, and instructional coaches are currently profiting from a business enterprise that values positions over education?

Jayne

March 19th, 2012
9:02 pm

It’s amazing to me that the forces fo the status quo are out in such force, demanding that there must be no vote by parents on state charter schools. These same forces oppose any change that would allow parents choices in how THEIR children are educated. At all costs, the monolithic one size fits all failed system we call public schools must be maintained and supported. Why? It can’t be for the kids. If the charters do a bad job, the parents will move their kids back to public schools. The parents are being given a choice, some degree of influence and control they are denied today.
Taxpayers are sick of pouring more and more money into a system that seems to be getting worse and worse. They gain by letting other models have a chance at success.
Perhaps the kerfuffle is all political. Maybe its all the teachers.

Ronin

March 19th, 2012
9:12 pm

Okay, the link that Mary Elizabeth posted at 7:26 was from Sarah Knopp at the ISR (International Socialist Review) from 2008.

Nothing really new there. It links the “trend” that Charters are the path to privatization of traditional public schools. Frankly, I don’t care if someone has socialist or communist leanings. However, it does concern me that “protection” of the current system of education delivery is paramount to their cause. The closing of the article listed bullet points:

As per the International Socialist Review, the following needs to happen:
“Here are some ideas for what we can do to begin to win the battle for public education:

1. Fight for resources

2. Wage an educational campaign against charters.

To date, none of the large teachers’ unions has launched a public relations battle against the charter takeover. Often the objection is that this is too politically difficult, since “the public supports charters.” This is not surprising, though, given that no national force has ever made the case against them. No doubt we’ll lose a battle that we choose not to fight.

3. Welcome charter schoolteachers into our unions but demand that they have all the key provisions of our contracts.

4. Fight all mandates and corporate incursions into our schools.

Charter schools are just the extreme end of the whole spectrum of the corporate takeover of our schools.”

Interesting…

yuzeyurbrane

March 19th, 2012
9:14 pm

The 1% win again.

d

March 19th, 2012
9:19 pm

Here’s an interesting thought, why do we say the schools or the systems are failing? They aren’t. They aren’t the ones taking the tests. What’s going on then? Even “priority” schools are going to have students who succeed despite the label. I wonder how many of the students who are struggling actually leave a school versus students who are actually doing well are being pulled from their neighborhood schools in the name of choice.

historydawg

March 19th, 2012
9:44 pm

Jayne, the “one-size-fits-all” argument is so fallacious. It is the state government that mandates this paradigm and you are advocating giving them entire power over public money. Public educators pay great attention to student differences; the idea that differentiation is not central to a teachers’ day is absurd. You have fallen for rhetorical doublespeak, so that some get money that is intended only for the common good. Americans used to care about their neighbors, but I guess that is not what it “seems” to you. Apparently, “seeming” trumps reality.

Tony

March 19th, 2012
9:45 pm

It is truly disgusting to hear the pompous politicians patting themselves on the back and claiming a job well done for students. Students are not the winners in this vote. Schools are not going to be helped by this vote. Offering a new, preferred funding stream to state approved charters when all other k-12 schools are having money withheld is not a “win” for students.

Sad day for Georgia’s children.

historydawg

March 19th, 2012
9:45 pm

Schools are only failing to those who want to control them, get public money for their kids alone, or those who need to sell the next curriculum/instructional fad. It is a myth used since public-school teachers were blamed for Sputnik.

Tony

March 19th, 2012
9:53 pm

Let me add that a vote against this charter school resolution is not a vote for the status quo. Too many people are using that line as if it wielded some sort of strong message. There are many good reasons for our politicians to vote against the resolution. There are many educators who are doing extraordinary work, and, guess what, they are in public schools. This is not about changing the “status quo”. It is about taking money away from schools and giving it to corporations.

North Fulton Parent

March 19th, 2012
9:58 pm

UGH! Well, I’m not surprised. There was way too much lobbying and back room shenanigans to let this one fail. Here are my concerns:
1.) There is no new revenue stream identified to pay for this. The funding will come from the general state education fund which will be depleted and then chopped up to go to the counties. That way the legislature can claim they didn’t take the money directly from the counties…. but somehow the counties will have less funding in the next budget cycle. sleazy, sleazy, sleazy.
2.) What happens when there is a problem with a teacher or administrator at your state commissioned charter school? To whom do you complain? To some state commissioner from some other area of Georgia? As if! If you have a problem in a public school there is a chain of command. Problem with a teacher, go to the principal. Problem with the principal, go to the area superintendent or superintendent. Problem with the superintendent, go to the school board…..
And anyone who says that they close ranks and won’t talk to you, isn’t doing it right. You can create change in your area.
This amendment isn’t about choice, darlings, it’s about campaign contributions and committee chairmanships and board appointments . There is a great deal going on in this story, but absolutely none of it has anything to do with educating children.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
10:04 pm

If the current schools are so bad, and the teachers in them unqualified and unconcerned about real education, then where do get the new teachers, properly trained to meet the standards of the new, parent-controlled and chosen schools? We still have the same number of kids to teach, with all their varying needs. How will we meet those needs and provide caring, motivated teachers for all of them? And how will we do it when education budgets are slashed every year? How will the state, which funded the current system, do any better job in the new design?

I LOVE teaching, and I love the kids I fight so hard to get through to every day. I only hope when all the new “choices” come online that those of us who are still advocating for the struggling learners, who don’t have the support at home that others have, will have somewhere to work with them that isn’t left behind in the rush for innovation. I only hope enough of us will continue to deman the same quality for them that we are at least trying to give them now. We may be about to excuse and even encourage further marginalization of these wonderful, challenging, and imperfect children.

Bernie

March 19th, 2012
10:08 pm

Charter schools..education for the few and affluent at the expense of all the other kids. Seperate and unequal is always been the State of Georgia’s motto when it comes to the children’s education, so why am I not surprised by this move.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
10:08 pm

“This amendment isn’t about choice, darlings, it’s about campaign contributions and committee chairmanships and board appointments . There is a great deal going on in this story, but absolutely none of it has anything to do with educating children.”

Truer words were never spoken. And evidently we’ll sacrifice anything, even our own children, at the altars so many have built to themselves beneath the gold dome, and believe we’ve been given this wonderful gift of “choice.”

Angela Palm

March 19th, 2012
10:10 pm

@Jayne 9:02

So should those opposing the amendment have sat the debate out or supported it moving thru the legislature then opposed it? GSBA will make the same arguments to the public we made to the General Assembly. How hypocritical it would be to do less.

As others have mentioned, it’s not just about the parent’s money. Parental choice is usually referred to as if it is some endless opportunity, but is that realistic? Do we really want to set a goal that we get to the place where every parent can demand whatever they want and they receive it? I don’t think that is financially or logistically possible.

As for the “one size fits all” condemnation, I don’t know where that happens.

historydawg

March 19th, 2012
10:27 pm

Earl, I am against this amendment and certainly not content with Georgia’s public schools. We need to challenge the students–not invest in testing, bureaucracy, and more state legislature mandates. We have better places to spend money. But we must do it together. We must work to improve together, rather than separating kids, rather than re-segregation along class/racial lines, rather than giving public money to corporations who care for their own pocketbooks and not the students.

Ronin

March 19th, 2012
10:37 pm

When the controversial 4-3 decision was handed down by the State Supreme Court regarding the State Charter Commission, the traditional district school crowd was jubilant that their cause was vindicated. However, you had to see this coming. The legislature saw their creation set aside by what some would consider judicial activism and given the national ranking of Georgia schools, it was highly probable that this issue would surface again and also gain political backing from both sides of the isle.

From a probability standpoint, given the resources that are available to fund the Charter movement, I’d estimate that there is a high probability that the amendment will pass in November. It would be interesting to fast forward 10 years to see the change it will bring and the positive or negative results.

Brandy

March 19th, 2012
10:39 pm

@Ron F., I completely agree with everything you’ve said here.

Charter schools are just the new form of segregation. There, I said it, go ahead and claim otherwise. Just remember, “Separate but Equal” has been determined inherently unequal. Whether your precious special school is only for “good kids”, “kids whose parents care”, “kids who can speak English”, or what have you, what you really, truly are fighting for is a school that excludes those you deem unacceptable. Hate to break it to you, but that is segregation on the public’s dime and that is illegal. You want school choice? Send your kid to a private or parochial school, homeschool, or move. Better yet, work in the system to change the system. Remember though, your child (and my child and every other child in the US) is only guaranteed a “free, appropriate public education”–they aren’t guaranteed the Cadillac of education, more likely the Ford Fiesta of education.

@Maureen, Any word on when the wording of the referendum will be publicly available?

Mary Elizabeth

March 19th, 2012
10:40 pm

Regarding the link I shared at 7:26 pm, I did not think it necessary to defend the fact that the article was written by a teacher in Los Angeles’ schools for “International Socialist Review.” I became aware of this article simply through “Googling” terms related to charter schools. I have thought that Ms. Knopp’s article worthy of sharing now, and previously, because of the number of facts it contains regarding charter schools, including facts regarding what has happened in Florida with their charter schools. See below, an excerpt from my 7:26 pm link:

——————————————————————–

“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.34 (Footnote 34 from the Knopp article in ISR is from ‘Klonsky and Klonsky, Small Schools, p. 108.’)”
————————————————————————

You will need to read the link for yourself to become aware of all of the factual information that it provides, without prejudging that legitimate information simply because of the name of the magazine. I do not have a Socialist agenda. I am a liberal Democrat who believes in traditional public education which is paid for by public taxes, as did Thomas Jefferson. I have said many times on this blog that I support some charter schools, especially those that work in harmony with traditional public school systems. I believe that the number of charter schools, authorized, needs to be prudently measured. I support improving traditional public schools; I do not support dismantling them for a corporate agenda based on profit and on the dismantling of traditional public schools.

Regarding online education and the corporate agenda where that is concerned, I will share, again, the below link from Common Cause regarding Minnesota’s legislation (Educational legislation is found on page 19 of the brochure.) which highlights ALEC’s influence in Minnesota as to the corporate interest in online education there. ALEC has influence is in many states throughout our nation, not simply in Minnesota, and that includes influence in Georgia. See link below:

http://www.scribd.com/fullscreen/78448237?access_key=key-a6hdjq8v38luteku97w

Cherokee Parent

March 19th, 2012
10:49 pm

EVERY SINGLE PARENT NEEDS TO READ THIS MIAMI HERALD ARTICLE about the big money involved in the ‘charter school movement’. Wake up, voters!! This is what Georgia will become… and we need to put a stop to it!!

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/19/2541051/florida-charter-schools-big-money.html

Cherokee Parent

March 19th, 2012
10:53 pm

… and now I’m getting a 404 error message. Try again later. EXCELLENT ARTICLE.

Decatur Joe

March 19th, 2012
11:06 pm

@Ron why don’t you take a quick look at federal law? Charter schools are Public schools. Charter schools can not discriminate. Charter schools must take all students. Charter schools offer parents options within public education. Most parents are unable to afford public vs private and are unable to burden their family to move where schools may be better. Charter schools empower those parents to simply say “what is the best setting for my child, the traditional public school or the charter public school”? In a perfect world, bipoth are good and parents are really empowered. For many, opt he charter is the only outlet they have.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
11:08 pm

“From a probability standpoint, given the resources that are available to fund the Charter movement, I’d estimate that there is a high probability that the amendment will pass in November.”

And it’s where those resources must be drained from, along with the unfettered power the state charter schools commission is likely to have, that is the foundation of my concerns about the amendment. I’m in favor of innovation and change that can benefit all students. But it will take a lot to prove to me that the path we’re taking is the best way to make the changes happen. We have little choice but to wait and see. The rush to get this through is alarming, to say the least.

Ronin

March 19th, 2012
11:19 pm

Mary Elizabeth, it doesn’t matter to me if you are a Liberal Democrat or a Liberal with Socialist leanings or a Conservative. You simply posted a link and I read it. There wasn’t really anything that hasn’t already been posted by you or others on this blog.

What I did find interesting was the four points that were listed as objectives by Ms. Knopp. I felt that they were relevant to the topic and posted the content from your article. The language explaining the four points did concern me.

As an Independent, I’m not convinced that the Charter movement is the “cure all” to the educational woes of Georgia. However, I firmly believe that the “for profit” argument will not resonate well with the Georgia voters this November. Parents will decide the issue based on the information provided.

The far left will have to craft an argument to go up against a media machine. Make no mistake, these people are experts at advertising and selling and are highly capable opponents in the corporate and political arena.

They’ve proven it in the legislature and will do the same in November.

Decatur Joe

March 19th, 2012
11:21 pm

Maureen, for once you are right and I never agree with you on anything. “Somehow, we have come to a point where the people closest to the issue are the people whose opinions and efforts have become least respected.”

That is exactly what our charter school friends at Pataula CS, Icy Prep, and other charters want; decision making a school level in the best interest of the school. I k
New you would come around.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
11:21 pm

“Charter schools must take all students.”

Joe- then how will that be any different than what we have now? The push for charters is driven, in no small part, by parents’ cries for their children to be shielded from the “bad” kids that interfere with their education. Once approved, a charter school can choose to accept or not accept children as it’s charter outlines. With a state commission appointed to the task of making the decisions about which charters are approved, I suspect you’ll see lots of “specialization” that specifically targets a part of the population. That would then open the door for all sorts of legal exclusion of students based on their ability or inability to qualify for the particular school. We’ll see I suppose.

Oversight Urged for Charter Schools

March 19th, 2012
11:27 pm

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/25/education/25educ.html

“…experts, ALL OF THEM CHARTER SCHOOL ADVOCATES, testify that Washington should also make sure charter schools are properly monitored for their admissions procedures, academic standards and financial stewardship.”

Who are our legislators kidding? If voters approve this, charters will have LESS oversight than they had with local control.

Ron F.

March 19th, 2012
11:29 pm

“what you really, truly are fighting for is a school that excludes those you deem unacceptable. Hate to break it to you, but that is segregation on the public’s dime and that is illegal.”

I’m afraid you are exactly right, Brandy. I’ve spent too many years working with some of the very kids many deem unacceptable to know they will be some of the first to be pushed aside, and they deserve better, no matter how bad they may seem to the rest of the world. It’s sad that those behind all this are taking legitimate concerns of parents in general and using the issue as a means of achieving what, in my opinion, will ultimately lead to legal segregation based on a number of factors. It’s the kids I teach, the victims of society’s ills, that will be last in line to have a school designed for them. The charter supporters aren’t exactly jumping and down to help them anyway.

historydawg

March 19th, 2012
11:33 pm

Decatur Joe, True. But you also want local school control at the expense of the local community, at the expense of your neighbors who are excluded from the school, but who still remain your neighbors. It is about your school, rather than our school. More dividing of communities.

Mary Elizabeth

March 19th, 2012
11:46 pm

@Ronin, 11:19 pm

“Make no mistake, these people are experts at advertising and selling and are highly capable opponents in the corporate and political arena.

They’ve proven it in the legislature and will do the same in November.”

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

I agree with you completely on the above statements, Ronin. I believe that it will be hard to stop them in Georgia and throughout our nation. I am truly concerned that the America that Thomas Jefferson envisioned may not continue into the future – if and when this corporate agenda is implemented, in full, throughout our nation.

A hierarchical vision of humankind is inherent to most corporations. Jefferson championed an egalitarian vision of humankind based on inalienable human rights. We are moving further and further from Jefferson’s egalitarian vision, unless the American people wake up and fight back, in spite of the enormous corporate power and wealth which is reshaping American society into this hierarchial vision. Ironically, the world seems to be moving toward a more egalitarian consciousness.

Angela Palm

March 19th, 2012
11:57 pm

@Brandy

The ballot question is in HR 1162 as it is for all Constitutional amendments

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

The question is misleading in that it implies that neither local boards nor the state can now approve charter schools. It also implies charter school petitions come from communities. Isn’t it interesting it doesn’t mention parents?

Brandy

March 20th, 2012
12:02 am

@Ron F., Absolutely. I worry most about the poor, disadvantaged, and largely disenfranchised inner city parents and children who are being trotted out as the beneficiaries of charter schools. What happens to them when the for-profit companies, the capitalist-slash-idealist benefactors, and the haves give up on them? Once the charter schools become easy to create, I believe most will be formed in areas and in ways that serve small populations of (largely) advantaged students. I also believe the for-profits will pull out as soon as they realize they can’t really make a buck off poor kids. To me, this entire concept is flawed at its core. I don’t understand why innovation is viewed as only valid if it happens outside the system.

Brandy

March 20th, 2012
12:06 am

Thanks, Angela! I wasn’t sure if that would be the “official” wording or not. You are right, confusing since currently local districts do have that power.

Enough already

March 20th, 2012
12:15 am

Google is in overdrive tonight. Interesting is the op-ed and more interesting is the current version of the resolution on legis.ga.gov. below the comments…

People hypothesize what future GA students will “look like” post charter schools…the same…not one iota different, but for different reasons…until politicians and talking heads let go of the reins and turn them back over to educators. I have never seen a more micromanaged bunch of professionals who, remember, had to be accepted to an accredited college of education, pass the courses, do countless semesters of practicums, pass PSC and state sanctioned assessments, pay to be fingerprinted, pass interviews and background checks to finally enter the classroom. Teachers, for the most part and especially in a right to work state such as Georgia, are typically the ones who have altruistically held back from entering the fray and kept their noses to the grindstone for the good of the child. I wish Maureen would reblog what Mitchell County superintendent, Jim Arnold, had to say regarding allowing NCLB proponents to take control early on and now “we are all left behind.”

Check out the following:
http://www.cumminghome.com/news50000/opinion/What-We-Need-to-Know-About-HR-1162-and-HR-1335.shtml

http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/122370.pdf

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
12:16 am

I was present when a member of the House Education Committee suggested that the amendment – for greater clarity as to the amendment’s essential purpose – read, as follows:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

The sponsor of HR 1162 did not support that suggestion. She wanted the words “or local” included.

As it stands now, I believe that the words in the amendment are misleading because they can be interpreted differently. There should be less ambiguity.

Reality

March 20th, 2012
1:09 am

@my goodness – and anyone else who claims a for-profit charter management company is like any other vendor: does Microsoft set your School Board’s meeting agenda and develop the budget? Does Scholastic hire and fire your principals and teachers? Does Bluebird decide what your school supply lst includes? Didn’t think so. These companies micromanage every detail,designed to squeeze every last dollar from parents and the community, down to charging parents a fee for the laminated sign for their car to go through the child pickup line, all the while providing an illusion of parent control. The company makes all the decisions from hundreds of miles away, nothing local about it.

Grammar Police

March 20th, 2012
5:39 am

There would be no demand for charter schools if parents were happy with their current schools. .

Of course the local boards turn down the charters, they would rather the child go away and their tax money stay with the county.

Grammar Police

March 20th, 2012
5:43 am

Now if there was a charter school where discipline was practiced, social promotion non-existent, and parents expected to have their kids in school on time, every day, THAT would be a good school. Same thing for public schools.

ScienceTeacher671

March 20th, 2012
6:16 am

Meanwhile, the state government in Georgia, to which some would like to give the power to create and fund charter schools, is ranked as the most corrupt in the nation. See

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/20/opinion/the-states-get-a-poor-report-card.html

and

http://www.wtoc.com/story/17194182/study-georgia-faces-worst-corruption-risk

or even the entire study (links at the 2 articles posted.)

Maybe the General Assembly should clean itself before worrying about education?

Note

March 20th, 2012
6:27 am

If charter schools were funded in the exact way local schools are funded, this would be a different story. Child is accepted to attend, and goes on the first day. By late September, the child has presented numerous behavior problems and is no longer welcome by the standards set. Child returns to public school the first week after October. Funding was diverted for that child from the local public school for the entire year. Local public school now accepts said child, and deals with the host of problems for the remainder of the year, minus the funding.

Now, tell me again how local schools, who only get funding month to month from the state, will be able to pay the utility bills let alone the salaries of the employees who serve the child. This is my problem with the bill. Pay charters month to month, and return any funding for any student not accepted.

As an aside, we’ve received two families recently from a popular, corporate run charter school. Those students are coming back to us two years behind. Who pays the price for the lack of oversight? Ultimately, the student.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
6:33 am

Note: if the money truly follows the child, as many here support, then it would go back to the public school with the child…but I’ll bet the farm it won’t!

RT77

March 20th, 2012
7:18 am

This is a HORRIBLE IDEA> There are so many many many problems with this, from issues of whether or not these charter schools violate Federal laws to who has control over the administration of these schools. Imagine you child being unfairly treated….and at that point you realize that you cannot go to your elected school board representative or superintendent.

RT77

March 20th, 2012
7:18 am

This is a HORRIBLE IDEA> There are so many many many problems with this, from issues of whether or not these charter schools violate Federal laws to who has control over the administration of these schools. Imagine you child being unfairly treated….and at that point you realize that you cannot go to your elected school board representative or superintendent.

GCAE President

March 20th, 2012
7:46 am

Georgia needs to fully fund Public Education and colleges, Hope Scholarship and many other endeavors. Charter Schools and vouchers decimate the local control of schools and their budgets.
Shame on the senators that voted for this bill. Shame on the representatives that initiated this.

Without fully funded public schools, our children will be given less and less. There will be less opportunity to enhance the core curriculum. With a 1.9 billion dollar deficit to public schools in the past 10 years in Georgia, this stinks of lobbying and promises that do not and will not help our children at all.

Ronin

March 20th, 2012
7:54 am

Ron, 5:43 5-19: your comment: “And what about the kids? The pool of children we have to educate isn’t changing. How are charter schools going to do any better with the exact same bunch of kids? All you and many others are thinking about is how you can pull your kids away from the riff-raff and have a nice, safe, successful school. What about the rest?
***********************************************************************************************

I see your point. However, for parents, the scope of control is limited to their kids. They want their ”
” your kids away from the riff-raff and have a nice, safe, successful school? The answer to that is YES. To improve learning and a successful school, it is imperative to have a safe learning environment, with as few distractions as possible.

Will this lead to segregation in schools? Possibly so, but not segregation based on race or ethnicity, rather segregation based on motivation to learn. This will require educators and legislators to examine core content that is currently being taught to the less motivated students. The fact is, most of the students are NOT stupid, they simply aren’t motivated by what is being taught.

Offer more trade (auto mechanics, basic HVAC, plumbing, construction basics, electrical) related classes starting in 7-8th grade and you’ll retain more of the students until at least the age of 16, possibly longer. This is a market that the Charter groups will not go after and will teach marketable skills to students who can then obtain a GED or maybe graduate with skills to enter the workforce.

While some would say this would cut into the vocational school business model, it would potentially integrate it into k-12 education, for the last two years of high school.

If you’re an advocate of the current district school system, tell what you can do for me, as a student/parent, not why it’s wrong to support the Charter school system making a profit.

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
8:07 am

@GCAE President, 7:46 am

Thank you for your words. There has been a concentrated effort, in Georgia, and nationally, to dismantle traditional public schools from the same ideologues who want to “starve the beast of government,” in general. Yet, they support corporate hierarchial control. I hope citizens will – at the very least – consider this as a possibility of what has been happening, for well over a decade, on the larger landscape of American politics. America is being transformed from the egalitarian America envisioned by Jefferson to control by the wealthy, elite of power. Citizens can stop this heavy-handed corporate control of their lives, if they are aware. They have the numbers to do so.

Obozonomics

March 20th, 2012
8:07 am

What a bunch of liberal whiners, did you all scream when Obozo spent $1 trillion on nothing? I would bet my last dollar that if a loser liberal presented the same bill they would praise how good it is. But the real question is why are they so scared of competition to guvment skools? LOL, The average private school spends less money per student and they do a better job, just ask any LL in the senate or congress where their kids go to school, 100% private schools.

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
8:17 am

The segregation of students in the educational process will be by class and wealth, ultimately. There will always be some form of traditional public schools because some students’ families simply will not be able to afford the extra expenses, including transportation, that will occur with charter schools. To the extent that there will be a growing number of charter schools in Georgia, to that extent funding will be taken from these traditional public schools, thereby leaving the children behind who are in most need of educational support. There are only so many “slices” in the state budget “pie” to be awarded. Why not improve traditional public schools instead of dismantling them to a growing number of charter schools? Because ideologues are insistent upon transforming America on many fronts. Time to wake up.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
8:25 am

“The fact is, most of the students are NOT stupid, they simply aren’t motivated by what is being taught”

You’re exactly right. The one reason I support change in education is so that schools/systems might one day have the impetus and resources to redesign schools to meet needs. If I truly felt that this amendment, and the forces pushing for it, were truly dedicated to reforming education for ALL students, you’d hear a much different tune from me. As it is, the predominant support for this is fueled by the desire to get away from the less fortunate or less motivated. I understand the parental frustration (I have two in the public school system myself), but I am very deeply concerned about how the state plans to be fair to all kids. And I agree that the charter proponents are not likely to give those kids a thought. If the for profit industry can truly do it better, bring them in and get them started. The data doesn’t support that at this time, however.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
8:37 am

In response to Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, who says, “Our limping schools systems will be financially decimated when we redirect funding to these barely public charter schools — schools that create a parallel school system,” he said.

What’s so “barely public” about them? Charter schools have a lottery because they can’t take all the applications that they receive. What does that tell you about parent support of the charter schools?

Parallel school system? Some GA charter schools are part of a system that chose to switch from traditional to charter. These systems don’t perform as well as independent charter schools (Coweta Charter Academy is independent). Independent charter schools are not part of a system and therefore are not a parallel.

If the local school districts weren’t staying in the “Good Ole Boys’ Club” of “let’s not change anything,” then this amendment would not have made it to November’s ballot.

The worst performing schools in GA just got approved for all sorts of Fed money to improve. If a charter school doesn’t “make the grade,” they don’t get extra money to improve. They close their doors.

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
8:41 am

“They” say never borrow money from a friend because exchanging money in this way will endanger the friendship. The problem with for-profit schools is that they may have an ideological agenda and that agenda could easily be reflected in the curriculum that they establish. Moreover, “they” can control that curriculum because they will hold the purse strings when money is exchanged “for-profit.”

That is one reason why Jefferson envisioned “free” public schools paid for by public taxes on all citizens – to keep the public schools focused on enlightenment and skills, and not on paid for propaganda.

Oblama

March 20th, 2012
8:53 am

Teacher’s unions will not allow bad teachers to be removed from the class room. Look at the situation with the cheating teachers in Atlanta and Albany. The teachers admitted cheating to bring more money in to their schools and give them bonuses but they can not be fired because of the powerful teacher’s union. Government employee unions should be illegal. The current system is a total failure. It is time to make teachers and principles accountable. Social promotion is history.

Decatur Joe

March 20th, 2012
9:10 am

I think the question is simple and fair. Stop complaining.

So Ron, is it terrible that KIPP schools in APS and Fulton are 98% African American and achieving stellar results? What I think is discraceful are the academic achievment results in APS, South DeKalb, South Fulton and other areas which have high populations of minority children. Which is more offensive in your mind, a low achieving diverse traditional public school or a high achieving charter public school which resembles the community it serves? I am not satisfied with the status quo and support the state’s efforts to be an instrument of change/reform. Georgia School Boards Association would like you to believe that all would be right with public education if the state would throw more money at the problem and then leave all 180 school districts in Georgia alone. I think there needs to be a shared responsibility between state and local boards and this constitutional amendment attempts to do just that. I look forward to its passage in November!

North Fulton Parent

March 20th, 2012
9:11 am

Cheryl,
Who says underperforming charter schools will close their doors? What entity will review charter performance and require an underperforming charter shut down? This new state commission? Will there be transparency regarding how public funds are being spent at these charters? Right now, none of that is spelled out in the enabling legislation. I anticipate in the next 5 to 10 years the AJC will be running exposes on the waste and corruption in for-profit state sanctioned charter schools. The story will parallel what we are hearing right now about the secrecy and waste regarding state sanctioned “scholarships”.
And before you claim that public schools don’t need to jump through these hoops, yes they do:
1. Public school principals must present their school improvement plans and budgets to their elected Local School Advisory Councils. If your councils are not operating at your area public schools you need to point out to your local principals that they are mandated by law to advise the public on student safety and school improvement.
2. Public schools have their data and test scores published in the press to inform the public on their successes and failures. And yes, currently, locally approved charters must do the same. Will these state sanctioned charters need to publish data? Not sure, as it isn’t outlined in the legislation.
3. Parents and community members have a chain of command to follow when they are unhappy with their public school. It’s like when Delta loses your luggage and the “customer service agent” is useless. What do you do? Go over their head to their supervisor, of course. The same holds true in education. Generally, I’ve been very happy with my children’s public school experiences. When I haven’t I have worked within the local system to address the situation. And when that hasn’t worked, as it sometimes doesn’t in life, I go over the offender’s head to their supervisor. Everyone has a boss.
Who are the bosses of the state sanctioned charter schools? The Atlanta-based charter school commission? The for-profit entities in Florida and Tennessee that will run these schools? I didn’t elect them and I can’t vote them out of office or get them fired, so I have no leverage in a disagreement. That is not good for voters/tax-payers.
4. Why is it that I can’t shake the feeling that the folks under the gold dome just figured out a way to get me to pay for chip rogers kids to go to private school and for jan jones to find some swanky high paying private sector job? Why is it the same Republicans who tout the importance of capitalism and the private sector need so much help from the public sector to be financially successful? Embrace your republican ideals and make your money by actually earning it.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
9:14 am

d March 19th, 2012 9:19 pm
“Even “priority” schools are going to have students who succeed despite the label. I wonder how many of the students who are struggling actually leave a school versus students who are actually doing well are being pulled from their neighborhood schools in the name of choice.”

My son will perform well on tests no matter what. He’s intelligent and he’s a good test taker. I took him out of the local school because they wouldn’t challenge him nor would they work with his special needs (many special ed students are also gifted). Because I could not afford private school, I homeschooled. The local school *got to keep the money* allotted for his education despite the fact that I pulled him out mid-year.

Now my son is being properly challenged in our independent charter school. Can you imagine how upset I am that my tax money is going to a school district that did not meet my child’s needs? At the same time, my local tax money is NOT going to the school that IS meeting my child’s needs. I’m voting with my feet–the charter school is far better for my child. Don’t take away my freedom to choose.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
9:18 am

North Fulton Parent, the whole deal with charter schools is that they have to meet their mandate or be closed. That’s how charter schools work.

HB 797 (the enabling legislation) spells it all out. You can read it for yourself at http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/797

North Fulton Parent

March 20th, 2012
9:37 am

Cheryl,
Thanks for sharing the obvious. We’ve all reviewed it which is why we don’t like it. The enabling legislation spells out the problem…. this is a state commission not elected by local citizens making decisions that should be made locally using taxpayer dollars. It’s a power grab by the gold dome. And before you go off thinking the commission will be vigilant in overseeing schools and shutting down ones that fall short, let me remind you what happened with the math curriculum a few years back.
The state swore it would be wonderful (it wasn’t), they promised they had contacted other states that had attempted similar standards and integrated best practices (they hadn’t), they vowed they would measure success and admit if it fell short (they didn’t) and they would admit if the new standards failed (Of course they didn’t! Their political animals. Admit failure in front of the electorate… Never!)
So before you go off thinking this commission will actually work for you and your son, think again. They will be serving their own interests entirely.

dcb

March 20th, 2012
9:45 am

Detractors of Charter Schools seem to get caught up in the age-old argument that stats do not support Charter Schools students perform better than those at traditional public schools. They miss a very big philisophical point – Charter Schools are by their mission statement designed and intended to serve parents looking for a program that meets the needs and interests they have for their child – not the one-size-fits-all that the public school demands.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
9:50 am

North Fulton Parent at 9:37 am–”So before you go off thinking this commission will actually work for you and your son, think again. They will be serving their own interests entirely.”

How is this different than the local school districts?

I’m asking for choice. Let me choose who to support. My feet are the best representation of my taxes.

North Fulton Parent

March 20th, 2012
9:56 am

dcb said “Detractors of Charter Schools seem to get caught up in the age-old argument that stats do not support Charter Schools students perform better than those at traditional public schools. They miss a very big philisophical point – Charter Schools are by their mission statement designed and intended to serve parents looking for a program that meets the needs and interests they have for their child – not the one-size-fits-all that the public school demands”
But where does that argument end? What if the parent wants a religious education for their student? What if they want two kids in their kid’s class? What if they refuse to admit their child has a learning issue and won’t allow their child’s disability to be identified? (and I’ve seen this one a lot… parents pulling their children out of public schools that “couldn’t meet their needs” when it is obvious to everyone but the parent that little Johnny is dyslexic.) Is the public required to meet every whim and desire of every parent? Not when the request is unreasonable. And there are a lot of unreasonable parents out there.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
10:28 am

And there are a lot of parents who know what’s best for their children. Don’t you?

North Fulton Parent at 9:56 am said, “What if they refuse to admit their child has a learning issue and won’t allow their child’s disability to be identified? (and I’ve seen this one a lot… parents pulling their children out of public schools that “couldn’t meet their needs” when it is obvious to everyone but the parent that little Johnny is dyslexic.)”

I’m very familiar with this situation. It’s very hard for us parents of kids with special needs to admit that our kids are different. However, that was not the situation with me. I am very aware of my child’s special needs. The local school, however, was unwilling to learn about and work with his special needs or to consider my input.

And special needs or not, the school is not parent friendly.

Our charter school is just the opposite. Parent friendly. Completely willing to work with me to challenge my son where he needs to be challenged. I have a fantastic relationship with his teacher, his special ed teacher, and the principal. We work together.

From what parents are telling me, there are many Georgia public schools that resist testing kids at their parents’ request because they don’t want to deal with the child’s special need (which makes no sense whatsoever) or because they want to keep their special ed numbers below a certain number (again, something I don’t understand).

So, I take no stock in the special ed argument.

C Jae of EAV

March 20th, 2012
10:51 am

It continues to be extremely painful to read the degree of mis-information and flat out lies being perpetuated in discussions on this topic. And no matter how many times people are corrected, they continue to spout the same mis-guided positions. What I would really like to see is a statewide series of debates on the issues to truly inform the people about the issue. I’m assuming this measure will be on the Nov ballot and considering this is a presidential election year, it will be quite interesting to see how this one pans out.

As for some limited rebuttals:

@That’s Goofy – Corporations are already profiti quite well (absent Charter institutions) from doing business with the traditional public edu admin/operational model.

@Ronin (03/19 – 17:01pm) – You’re so correct and I’m willing to bet you that districts across the state will prey on the fear of many by telling folks to vote against the measure as a way of saving their job with the district (i.e. Charter Schools are taking away your job). I’m sure such a tactic will work mightly in some rural districts where severely depressed property values are so eroded the tax digest that funds the district.

@Mary Elizbeth – At on point the Supreme Court has also squelched the idea of local districts collecting tax receipts meant to fund public schools and turning them into municipal bonds to fund for-profit corporate real estate development. But that too was wisked away via legistative votes and election day ballot measures. My point here is the will of people be done.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
10:59 am

“Government employee unions should be illegal.”

Evidently adults can’t read any better than the kids can…we don’t have unions in Georgia. They’re illegal. Please read and remember this fact.

“Can you imagine how upset I am that my tax money is going to a school district that did not meet my child’s needs?”

Cheryl: Are you paying tuition to your independent charter? Please don’t forget the taxes you pay are no longer your money. You pay, as all property owners do, in good faith, a sum of money meant to help encourage the better welfare of all in your county. It’s not just about your child- and I know your frustration as a parent and taxpayer. Also think about what the state pays per child for education in a district versus how much you actually pay in property taxes. You’re likely paying somewhere between 10% and 25% on average. If the public schools are so bad, what happens when we take them away? How will charters do any better job of educating all children? What about the ones you find objectionable? Do they just get to kick them out?

I’m all for change that will help ALL kids be more successful. We have problems in our society that are clearly reflected in our school performance. I’ve yet to see how charter schools will change that. Current stats don’t back them up. And no education reform is going to be 100% until we find a way to address the real problems in our society. I really don’t want the state to have the unilateral authority, without any real checks and balances, to make such decisions via a commission appointed by legislators whose interests are clearly controlled by big dollar donors.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
11:00 am

C Jae of EAV at 10:51 am said, “What I would really like to see is a statewide series of debates on the issues to truly inform the people about the issue. ”

yes. Yes! YES!

Sign me up. I’d be happy to speak from a parent perspective.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
11:10 am

“I’m willing to bet you that districts across the state will prey on the fear of many by telling folks to vote against the measure as a way of saving their job with the district”

As a teacher in one of those rural districts, I can tell you that strategy isn’t going to work. We’ve had so many furlough days and pay freezes most of us would just laugh at the idea anyway. I’m voting against it for one simple reason:

I do NOT want a commission, chosen by corrupt legislators, to have the final say about what schools may be implemented in my district. I can assure you if a charter comes along that has a better plan than we have now, and the money to make it happen, it would be welcomed in most places. What I am pretty sure of is that the state wants to centralize the decision-making process so that they can more directly influence how these charter schools are designed, funded, and managed. I can’t imagine why that would be scary…

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
11:10 am

Ron F., I am not paying any tuition to my local charter school because it is a public school, publicly funded. This is not a private school. No tuition. Everyone got that?

55% of a child’s public education in the local school district is funded by state taxes, 35% by local taxes, and 10% by Federal taxes (ignoring any special grants recently awarded by the Fed).

As I understand HR 1162, my child’s public education in our charter school will be funded 90% by the state and 10% by the fed.

I pay taxes to the state as well as to the county as well as to the federal gov’t. No matter how you cut it, I’m paying for my child’s education. I want my money to go to the public school that I choose. My feet are the best representation of my taxes.

Again, If the local school districts weren’t staying in the “Good Ole Boys’ Club” of “let’s not change anything,” then this amendment would not have made it to November’s ballot.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
11:18 am

Ron F. said, “what schools may be implemented in my district. I can assure you if a charter comes along that has a better plan than we have now, and the money to make it happen, it would be welcomed in most places. ”

The state-issued charter schools may be geographically near you, but they are not in your district unless your district accepts them, in which case they are not state-issued.

If it were the case that local school districts were welcoming charters that have “a better plan than we have now, and the money to make it happen,” then the issue never would’ve been brought to the state level. Local school districts are not welcoming charter schools.

Again, If the local school districts weren’t staying in the “Good Ole Boys’ Club” of “let’s not change anything,” then this amendment would not have made it to November’s ballot.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
11:27 am

Does anyone know of an independent charter school within a school district in the state of Georgia? I’ve been asking around, and I haven’t found one. That is to say, the local school districts are not welcoming charters.

That’s why we’re having this discussion. If the local school districts were welcoming charters, the issue never would’ve gotten to the Supreme Court or the state legislature.

Notice that independent charter schools, by definition, are brought forth by parents. PARENTS.

“Types of Charters

Charter schools in Georgia are varied both in type and focus. Georgia law authorizes six distinct types of schools:

Independent Charter Schools:

* Startup Charter Schools – locally approved schools created by petitions brought forth by parents, organizations or local public entities

* State Chartered Special Schools – schools that are state approved ***after local denial***

Dependent Charter Schools:

* Conversion Charter Schools – traditional public schools that opt to become charters

* LEA Startups – startup charter schools created by submission of a petition by the Local Education Agency to the local school board

* Charter Systems – a local school system operating under the terms of a charter in order to have greater flexibility to meet the needs of students”

http://www.gacharters.org/schools/types-of-charters/

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
11:43 am

Ron F., I’m glad that you will not be swayed by districts pressuring you to vote “no” to keep your job. You are the kind of teacher I like. Vote your conscience, not the threat of losing your job.

I support teachers. I’m paying you to educate my children. I want you to be successful. I have 13 more years of parenting children through the GA education system. I’m not going away. You’re not going away. Let’s work together.

But in light of the cheating scandal, I don’t trust your colleagues to make good choices. I’m sorry to say that Atlanta teachers have given all teachers in the state of GA a bad name. This needs to change! (GA teachers should get very active in Project RESPECT. See http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/02/launching-project-respect/ )

And remember the numbers of teachers working in these public charter schools. If the amendment does not pass, then they are going to lose their jobs. I wonder why these teachers are teaching in charter schools–because these are the only jobs available to them? or because they think they are doing the right thing for the kids?

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
11:57 am

“I pay taxes to the state as well as to the county as well as to the federal gov’t. No matter how you cut it, I’m paying for my child’s education”

Not to be nitpicky, but since you brought it up…

You pay taxes that allow you to receive a great many services, including but not limited to, fire and police protection, roads, sewers, water, parks, plus a slew of county/city services depending on where you live (should you need them). As a citizen, we all pay a small portion so that we can collectively participate and benefit. As parents (I have two kids), we have to get past the idea that we’re paying directly for our children’s education. We’re not- and if we were allowed to take only what we pay directly for education out of the system, we wouldn’t get nearly what we have now for that money. As much as I want my child’s school to better, I know that giving the state more direct control over it isn’t going to be the best way to make it happen. Far too many politics involved in that.

“I wonder why these teachers are teaching in charter schools–because these are the only jobs available to them? or because they think they are doing the right thing for the kids?”

Some maybe. A lot are there because they couldn’t hack it in the public schools. I’ve done it for over twenty years in the public schools and will stay as long as I can. I have too many kids, whose needs are even being discussed in this debate, who will need somebody to teach them when the charters turn them away. And they will, trust me.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
12:27 pm

Ron F. said, ” we have to get past the idea that we’re paying directly for our children’s education. We’re not- and if we were allowed to take only what we pay directly for education out of the system, we wouldn’t get nearly what we have now for that money.”

Ah, but we should be. Other states have open enrollment and are successful. I’ve experienced open enrollment in Minnesota. My experience in the Minneapolis Public Schools is that the schools are far more parent friendly and special needs are better met. We Georgians can get even more out of our money if we were able to pay directly through open enrollment where the money follows the child to the public school of the parents’ choice.

My feet are the best representation of my taxes.

Formerteacher

March 20th, 2012
12:29 pm

What about this scenario: A homeschooling family declares itself a “charter school” with all the paperwork filled out, curriculum listed, etc.. They present this application to the non-elected, non-accountable state level commission and thus receive funding. Does anyone think this won’t happen? I can’t believe it hasn’t been tried already.

As to the “money following the child back to the public system:” I can tell you that it doesn’t. The charter schools receive all of their money at the beginning of the year, even though the county gets its state funds disbursed throughout the year. If a child comes back to the county school from the charter, the money does NOT follow him or her.

another comment

March 20th, 2012
12:40 pm

My youngest Child is at a conversion charter middle school. Parents are suppose to volunteer 10 hours of time per child that attend the school. But since most of the children at the school are zoned there, I don’t see how they can enforce that requirement. Where would they send child that is zoned to this public school. There sees to be about 20 of us who volunteer consistantly. I have only seen 1 black mother volunteer, the rest are white. The school demographics are 40% Hispanic, 40% Back and 17% white and 3 % other. It is 77% free and reduced lunch and in encompasses houses that are in two of the North Side of Fulton Counties highest priced zip codes. Alot of fishy filling out of the Free and Reduced Lunch forms. Alot of lack of volunteering. Alot of Apartments like that one where the hostage situtation was yesterdays. In fact that one was in the district. Seems like alot of parents just like that mother.

If the school is a start up Charter they enforce the volunteer requirements so just the same 10-20 people aren’t always volunteering.

Even though they where uniforms, seems like every girl had Ugg boots $200 and a Vera Bradley Back Pack $100. They are a strech for me and I don’t come anywhere near to qualifying for Free or Reduced Lunch.

TO ROn F.

March 20th, 2012
12:51 pm

You wrote “The money any parent pays in property taxes isn’t nearly what the state pays per child for education. Give them back the property tax money and let them pay the rest themselves.”
Where do you think the state gets the money for education? Out of thin air?
The “state money” is our money too. It comes from our STATE taxes. The other money that the feds kick in — well that’s our money too.
Why is it that people think that property taxes are not the only taxes parents pay for their kids to go to school? I pay a whopping heap of federal and state taxes and so do other parents. Property taxes are only a portion of the taxes we pay that go towards education.
GM

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
1:03 pm

Even with open enrollment Cheryl, you’re still only paying a small percentage of your child’s education costs directly via your taxes, but getting the benefit of controlling the entire amount. It sounds nice, but even Minnesota isn’t 100% satisfied with the results, nor are the results qualitatively better than before the charter school system. If the results were so much better, we would have followed the model by now.

I’ve always found that parents are happier and special needs better met when there’s involvement. People are happier with charters because they require parental involvement. If we could do that in public schools, I bet you’d see more parents satisfied with what their children are getting and you’d see the children getting what they need.

Kids complain because they don’t get what they want at school. What kids want is easy classes, no accountability, and lots of breaks (they’re kids, right?). They complain about anything resembling responsibility. I love them, but teenagers for the most part just aren’t cognitively ready for the responsibility that’s about to hit them full force. If they’re happy, parents need to wonder if the school is doing its job! :-)

As long as the state takes this on without significant reduction in funding to districts like the one I’m in where there isn’t likely to be much demand for charter schools, then the metro counties may have at it. They need the smaller, more directly parent-controlled schools.

To Another Comment

March 20th, 2012
1:20 pm

I see the same thing at traditional public schools and a WIC offices where I’ve volunteered. “Poor” people somehow are able to afford gold jewelry (real gold) for their Latino toddlers and babies and black kids on free lunch with professional extensions in their hair and flashy, expensive clothes. Those make the hair on my neck stand up too…but it isn’t a function of a charter school. It happens in regular public schools too and on Wall Street. Corruption, greed, lying and cheating is part of our society at every level, in every race and in every class of Americans.
We need to get rid of it for certain, I agree.
GM

Where to get good teachers

March 20th, 2012
1:28 pm

ROn F laments “If the current schools are so bad, and the teachers in them unqualified and unconcerned about real education, then where do get the new teachers, properly trained to meet the standards of the new, parent-controlled and chosen schools?”
That’s an easy question to answer. You get them from the same society we get traditional public school teachers with a major difference — the parents and those elected by parents will hire and fire the teachers. This will eliminate the “friends and family” nepotism we often see here in APS. We can recruit good teachers and fire those that aren’t performing.
GM

C Jae of EAV

March 20th, 2012
2:29 pm

@Cheryl – There are many Independent Charter Schools in operation across the state that have been approved by the local BOE in their respective area. APS by way of example has several. You’re correct in that some local districts have frowned upon them from them moment the charter law was passed and have consistantly denied 100% of applications submitted.

@Formerteacher – If the senerio you posed is put forth and by some stretch of the imagination approved by a state commission or a local BOE does it matter if the individuals directing the edu of the students served do the job expected of them? I personally have a lot of respect for the families in GA who have gotten so disgruntled with the state of public education that they make the sacrifice to home school. Also you’re completely INACCURATE when speaking to how charter school funding is dispursed. It IS NOT delivered in a lump sum at the beginning of the academic year, but instead delivered in installments spread throughout the school year.

@Another Comment – The simple answer is the volunteer “requirement” is rarely effectively enforced even at Start Up charter schools. I’ve yet to see it in 7-8 years of observing multiple charter institutions in multiple counties in GA. The level of participation you’re experiencing as you can now observe doesn’t magically change from traditional public school to charter school in the vast majority of cases. The level of participation is a direct result of the motivation of the parents involved and isn’t a factor of what type of public school it is. I know of some traditional public schools who get a higher % and more diverse level of participation than do some charter schools and vice versa. There is no magic cure to stimulate 100% parent involvement in any institution public or private. The observation you described speaks to the where the priorities are placed for some families.

C Jae of EAV

March 20th, 2012
2:39 pm

@Mary Elizabeth – Its not a matter of the pie shrinking as much as it is how the pie is cut and distributed. Further the overall pool of kids to be served by the pie isn’t changing its relatively constant. It’s the on the basis of those two points IMHO that the arguments regarding “funding taken away” fall apart. Think through your logic, If the traditional district is having to provide for a lower population of kids then why should the local district be funded as if its serving a higher population than it is?? If both traditional and charter are essentially getting the same per pupil allotment perportional to the % of the public education population they’re serving then each of the groups responsible for governance over the respective institutions should be able to scale their program to deliver an effective service to their constituants. There is no acceptable excuse for that not to happen.

@North Fulton Parent – I couldn’t help but laugh at your comments. So much of what you speak is misleading. Local School Advisory Councils have no-binding authority and in many schools they function only to the satisfy the letter of the law. However, most that I’ve encountered are worthless bodies that in effect don’t function as meaningful change agents. Local School Advisory Councils don’t have hire/fire authority over the principal, faculty or supporting staff (the Superintendant’s office utimately holds that), they don’t direct the school budget on the whole or in part (ditto the Super), they don’t direct cirricullum choices (ditto the Super /w approval from local BOE), heck they don’t even direct the school lunch menu. I had to pick myself off the floor laughing at you pointing to these entities as the saving grace for parents in a woefully under performance academic environment.

All charter schools are compelled to publish academic data as would any other public school. The body authorizing the charter in question doesn’t change this fact. Thus the any charter school authorized by a State Commission would be compelled to report just the same. This law changes nothing in that regard as that obligation is spelled out in another area of state law

You point regarding “chain of command” to be followed by parents/community members unhappy with the traditional public school zoned for their area is the very motivation for the law passed in the first place. Concerned parents/community members in many cases have suffered poor performance for decades dispite engaging the “chain of command”. In a traditional public school the Local BOE is the boss, in a charter school = Charter Governing Board is the boss (and here is a little secret, for-profit EMO’s hired to manage school operations are not allowed to have representatives sit on the Charter Govering Board). In either case when the BOSS stands in a fixed position unwilling to change and does everything it can to stack the deck in its favor to curtail opposition then what? I guess your suggestion is suffer your sour grapes quietly and sacrifice your children in the process.

Formerteacher

March 20th, 2012
3:24 pm

@C Jae of EAV “Also you’re completely INACCURATE when speaking to how charter school funding is dispursed. It IS NOT delivered in a lump sum at the beginning of the academic year, but instead delivered in installments spread throughout the school year.”

I am NOT inaccurate about the disbursement of funds. I got that information DIRECTLY from a central office employee of a metro county school district who I would trust with my life to tell me the truth.

Mary Elizabeth

March 20th, 2012
3:44 pm

@C Jae of EAV

I had already addressed that question. I don’t care to “keep reinventing the wheel,” if you will. :-) However, I will say that it is not simply a matter of so much money per pupil being the same, whereever the money goes. It is, also, a matter of a school building’s overhead, etc. Having more smaller schools (public charter schools) instead of one larger school (traditional public school) in order to educate the same number of children equates, financially, to more cost for running the school buildings – among other factors that will also effect the overall school’s environment, which are not related directly to one teacher per students’ expense. Librarians who serve the entire student population is one example that comes to mind. It costs more to have one librarian in each of 12 schools instead of one librarian for one larger public school, for instance.

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

Readers may be interested in the fact that a national organization has proclaimed that, politically, Georgia ranks #1 in corruption. Read it here: (It was announced on CNN yesterday.)

http://savannahnow.com/news/2012-03-19/national-study-says-georgia-most-corruption-prone-state

From the link: “A new study ranks Georgia politics the country’s worst for accountability and openness — and the most at risk for corruption. . . .It said our political process is awash in special-interest cash and heavily influenced by lobbyists about whom the public has too little information.”

This analysis should bring up many caution flags and questions related to educational matters in Georgia.

C Jae of EAV

March 20th, 2012
4:28 pm

@Mary Elizabeth – Your thought concerning fiscal responsbility and effeciency is well taken. Your reference to the apparent corruptive nature of GA poltics is also well taken.

@FormerTeacher – Purhaps there are differences in how local districts are adminstering funds to charter schools or your source is misinformed. I can attest from my direct experience funds are not being dispersed in a lump sum in the case of every charter school. Actually from a cash flow management perspective there would be some benifit to doing so however that’s not what I’ve directly observed.

Regardless your rebuttal observation reflects to me that there should be a greater level of uniformity to how funds are dispersed. The lack of operational standards in this regard could and would leave the door open for fiscal mismanagement.

Brandy

March 20th, 2012
4:29 pm

@Cheryl, Just curious, but why do you feel your child deserves more money from the state for his or her education than other children in the state? You stated that you believe the state will provide 90% of the funding, far more than is the case in a traditional public school. Where do you think that additional money will come from–it will be paid for out of cuts to public education and other public services (police, fire, parks, transportation, healthcare, and more). I’m sorry, but as a tax payer myself, that rubs me the wrong way.
I get that you love your child and want what is best for him or her, but as a taxpayer, you also have to consider the needs of all children in the state. A few individuals should not receive perks to the disadvantage of the whole.

Formerteacher

March 20th, 2012
5:28 pm

@ C Jae of EAV- honestly, the disbursement formula is less troubling to me- it’s really a bookkeeping issue ultimately. What I don’t understand is why the money doesn’t come back with the child. If that’s the argument for funding, then the charter should have to reimburse the county for any student who re-enrolls in the county schools.

This is where I get nervous about charters and the politicians who back them. It seems that some politicians are trying to stack the deck in favor of charters at the expense of traditional schools. Keeping track of the money is hard enough, but when you add in our less than open Legislature, it’s just ripe for abuse. And I’m not convinced that for-profit charter school management companies are going to flock to the areas that might benefit the most from an alternative school – namely inner city and rural areas.

Formerteacher

March 20th, 2012
5:34 pm

And you know what, if the amendment passes and charters pop up like mushrooms, I hope they prove me wrong about where they go and what they do. Because I want most passionately for those kids in those less advantaged areas to have access to the best education possible.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
6:44 pm

Why is it that people think that property taxes are not the only taxes parents pay for their kids to go to school? I pay a whopping heap of federal and state taxes and so do other parents. Property taxes are only a portion of the taxes we pay that go towards education.

GM- that’s just the attitude that makes this a powder keg. We ALL pay taxes, whether we have kids or not, that support schools. Those taxes allow us all access to a variety of government sponsored services. It’s part of being a member of a productive society- we agree to pool our resources to provide a level of service for all citizens. When we get to the “it’s my money so I should get what I want” ideology, we start down a very slippery slope to justifying all sorts of things that may benefit one group at the expense of another. It isn’t always fair, it isn’t well-managed, and needs constant adjustment and change to keep it working, but our society is founded on and dependent upon our willingness to make it work together. The “my money” philosophy is dangerous, in my opinion, and counter to the entire idea of education for all in a constitutional republic. Now, if charters are done right, they might just be a good alternative. But the way the state is going about this just doesn’t lead me to believe there is one whit of concern about education for all.

My biggest worry is my struggling, often poorly behaved, poorly reared, but incredibly bright and wonderful students. They have very few advocating for them, very few who will even join me in the fight to make sure they get their share of the new education formula. And nothing in this debate convinces me they’ll have powerful advocates in the state commission, or the legislature that is pushing this amendment. I’ll glady, thankfully accept being proven wrong.

Ron F.

March 20th, 2012
6:51 pm

Brandy: right now, there is a pervasive attitude of “I don’t care about the less fortunate.” As Newt himself put it, they should take a bath and get a job…as if that solves everything. It’s scary to think that we’re on the verge of encouraging this attitude. As a parent, I understand the desire for change and improvement. As a teacher, I definitely have a nice, long list of changes that could be made. I don’t see anything in this new paradigm that convinces me that this push in education is really for the benefit of all children. And I definitely don’t like handing over more control to the state to decide how best to do it. Scary, isn’t it?

Brandy

March 20th, 2012
7:47 pm

@Ron F., Again, I completely agree–and well stated, by the way. I still don’t get why innovation is only valid if it happens outside the system, outside the box. I am extremely creative and go above and beyond to reach my students’ needs. I supplement, supplement, supplement, and I also share what I find successful with my peers. I do all of this while working within the system, because I believe that true change occurs from within, not from without.

What really scares me, though, is what happens to the inner city and disadvantaged children and parents who are being trotted out as the beneficiaries of charter schools once for-profits and capitalist-idealists realize they can’t make money off them. I am also scared about what happens to those students deemed “undesirable” by charter school advocates–be they disabled, poorly behaved, or speakers of the “wrong” language. While it might not be race-based segregation (I’m still not convinced that it is not), it is still segregation. I cannot, in good conscious, support anything that promotes segregation–and I am appalled that any thinking, educated, mature American can in this day and age.

I will say it again. If you want school choice, it already exists: send your child to private or parochial school, enrich them outside the school day, homeschool, move, or work with the system to change the system. I will also repeat that your child is only guaranteed a “free, appropriate public education”, not the Cadillac of educations, more the Ford Fiesta of educations.

what's a charter school

March 20th, 2012
8:49 pm

@Local Control
The schools you mention are CONVERSION charter schools. These are still public schools. The schools this bill addresses are the PRIVATE charter schools. Think KIPP academy and the Ivy Prep that was in Gwinnett. Public conversion charters will not be affected, except that any down side financially will affect them as well. We’d be better served demanding changes that allow for money to follow students within our public systems.

GA Legislative Update | COE Policy Blog

March 20th, 2012
9:32 pm

[...] Constitution and the Athens Banner Herald cover the story and Maureen Downey offers commentary at Get Schooled. Downey notes that most charters perform at the same level or worse than traditional public schools [...]

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 20th, 2012
9:53 pm

@FormerTeacher–”What I don’t understand is why the money doesn’t come back with the child. If that’s the argument for funding, then the charter should have to reimburse the county for any student who re-enrolls in the county schools.”

and vice versa. If a child leaves a local public school mid-year for a charter school, then the county should have to reimburse the charter school.

@Brandy–”Cheryl, Just curious, but why do you feel your child deserves more money from the state for his or her education than other children in the state?”

It’s not about my child deserving more from the state; it’s about my child deserving the same amount as my neighbor’s child. Why should my public school be underfunded? Why should less money be allotted for my child who is attending a public school?

@Brandy–” I am also scared about what happens to those students deemed “undesirable” by charter school advocates–be they disabled, poorly behaved, or speakers of the “wrong” language.”

I truly don’t understand this. Educate me. Because our charter school is a public school and does not and cannot discriminate. Can you point me to enrollment policies that say otherwise? I really, truly want to read these policies.

@what’s a charter school–”The schools this bill addresses are the PRIVATE charter schools.”

I don’t understand this either. What is a private charter school? Because as I understand it, charter schools are by definition public schools. Ours is.

Grateful Parent

March 20th, 2012
10:53 pm

I am so grateful to our state legislators for listening to parents like me who want school choice not only for our own kids but for the future of this nation! How can anyone call adequate funding of charter schools, including virtual schools like the one my children are thriving in, “taxation without representation?” No charter school can survive to receive any funding unless parents/families first vote with their feet – what’s more local than parents choosing a school for their children??
What’s more unamerican than a real estate decision dictating a decision about your children’s education? I know from my own experience that parents are more engaged in their children’s education when they have a meaningful choice. I guess any monopoly would fight tooth and nail to keep that monopoly – because a choice between that one local school you’re “districted” to and paying thousands of dollars per child per year for a private school is really no choice at all for most families, and particularly for the most vulnerable of these.
What about the report out today from the Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security that “America’s failure to educate is affecting its national security?” Wake up America! And thank you GA legislators! The fact that public education as we know it may be on its way out is reason for celebration!

Brandy

March 20th, 2012
11:23 pm

@Cheryl,
First, you have stated that you believe your school will receive 90% of its funding from the state. That is more than traditional public schools receive from the state. Therefore, you are stating that your school (and child) will get special treatment. In Georgia, traditional public schools are funded by local tax payers. Why should your school be treated any differently?

Second, does your charter school allow students with behavior problems to enroll? Does it allow those students to remain? Traditional public schools must. Charter schools are often designed to exclude them. How does your charter school treat enrolling students with disabilities? Many exclude them by not making their needed special services available. Your charter school might do neither of these things, but don’t delude yourself into thinking all do not.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/10/06/new-orleans-accused-of-failing-disabled-students.html

http://blog.timesunion.com/schools/charter-schools-enroll-less-special-education-students/336/

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/A-skewed-measure-of-test-success-547295.php

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ693722&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ693722

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/17/2548470/special-needs-limited-options.html

“Based on available statistics, however, charter schools have fewer of these families, including the poorest of the poor. One problem with “school choice,” as writer-activist Jonathan Kozol noted, is that the “ultimate choices” tend to get made “by those who own or operate a school.” At stake is not just who gets in, but who stays in. Studies show “selective attrition” in the KIPP chain, among others, with academic stragglers—including those seen as disruptive or in need of pricey services—leaving in greater numbers. In one flagrant local example, East New York Preparatory discharged 48 students shortly before last year’s tests, among them seven poor-scoring third-graders. (Citing financial mismanagement, the Department of Education plans to revoke the school’s charter in June.)” http://millermps.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/patron-saint-and-scourge-of-lost-schools.pdf

“At Harlem Success, disability is a dirty word. “I’m not a big believer in special ed,” Fucaloro says. For many children who arrive with individualized education programs, or IEPs, he goes on, the real issues are “maturity and undoing what the parents allow the kids to do in the house—usually mama—and I reverse that right away.” When remediation falls short, according to sources in and around the network, families are counseled out. “Eva told us that the school is not a social-service agency,” says the Harlem Success teacher. “That was an actual quote.”” http://millermps.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/patron-saint-and-scourge-of-lost-schools.pdf

“English Language Learners (ELLs) are another group that scores poorly on the state tests—and is grossly underrepresented at Success. The network’s flagship has only ten ELLs, or less than 2 percent of its population, compared to 13 percent at its co-located zoned school. The network enrolls 51 ELLs in all, yet, as of last fall, provided no certified ESL teacher to support them. After a site visit to Harlem Success Academy 1 in November, the state education department found that the school had failed to show evidence of compliance with its charter and with No Child Left Behind, which mandates ESL services by “highly qualified” teachers. The matter is currently under review. (According to Sedlis, the network hired an ESL teacher in January.)” http://millermps.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/patron-saint-and-scourge-of-lost-schools.pdf

(all three quotes are from New York Magazine’s “The Patron Saint (and Scourge) of Lost Schools)

“…KIPP schools often have a high attrition rate. Apparently many students and their parents are unable or unwilling to comply with KIPP’s stringent demands. A 2008 study of KIPP schools in San Francisco’s Bay Area found that 60 percent of the students who started in fifth grade were gone by the end of eigth grade. The students who quit tended to be lower-performing students. The exit of such a large propotion of low-performing students –for whatever reason- makes it difficult to analys the performance of KIPP students in higher grades. In addition, teacher turnover is high at KIPP schools as well as other charter schools, no doubt because of the unusually long hours. Thus, while the KIPP schools obtain impressive results for the students who remain enrolled for four years, the high levels of student attrition and teacher turnover raise questions about the applicability of the KIPP model to the regular public school” and “Regular public schools must accept everyone who applies, including the students who leave KIPP schools. They can’t throw out the kids who do not work hard or the kids who have many absences or the kids who are disrespectful or the kids whose parents are absent or inattentive. They have to find ways to educate even those students who don’t want to be there. That’s the dilemma of public education.” Diane Ravitch, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, 2010

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/dc-charter-schools-exclude-the-disabled-advocates-say/2011/05/12/AFVgcV1G_story.html

http://www.examiner.com/special-education-in-santa-ana/lausd-charters-may-discriminate-against-special-education-students

As an educator, I am concerned about your claims that your child’s special needs were not being met in his or her traditional public school. Did you complain? Did you pursue your and your child’s due process and civil rights? Were you an active participant in the IEP process? Or, is there something else going on here?

Ronin

March 21st, 2012
7:57 am

Brandy @ 7:47, 5-20. I’m gonna have to disagree with you on two points in your last paragraph:
your comment: “I will say it again. If you want school choice, it already exists: send your child to private or parochial school, enrich them outside the school day, homeschool, move, or work with the system to change the system” **********************************************************************************************
The purpose of the amendment is to allow the vote for public/government choice by the people. The legislature has listened to a concern from the people, drafted a proposed change to the Constitution and see where the chips fall after the vote. Personally, I feel there is far more potential for improvement in government education than harm.

Your second comment: ” I will also repeat that your child is only guaranteed a “free, appropriate public education”, not the Cadillac of educations, more the Ford Fiesta of educations.” ****************

I’m going to have to strongly disagree with that statement. Who is to determine what is an “appropriate” education? You? Your principal? Your Superintendent? Or, your customer?
That’s exactly why we’re having this debate/dialog is because many of the customers aren’t satisfied with the limited selections of public/government options for k-12 education. Further, based on the national test ranking of Georgia public/government schools, I can’t understand how anyone would not support drastic reform of the current system, unless their livelihood was dependent on maintaining the status quo.

We should be aiming to provide “the Cadillac” of education models to all our k-12 students, knowing that if we fall short of that goal, they’ve still gotten above average exposure to educational material.
Currently, many parents would agree with your analysis that they are getting the “Ford Fiesta” version of public education (some would also argue that government has failed to meet that level), as such, the legislature listened to it’s constituents and will put the issue to a vote in the general election in November.

This election may well be the spark that initiates true positive change in public/government education in Georgia.

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2012
8:20 am

Grateful Parent, 10:53 pm, 3/20/12

Have you ever stopped to think what will happen to the other children who are left behind in the traditional public schools when parents, such as yourself, choose to move your children out of these schools, with public funds?

Some would answer that all children (100%) should attend charter, private, or online schools. If that is the answer, it is not a realistic one, based on my 35 years as a teacher and as an educational leader. Wouldn’t it be wiser, as well as more financially prudent, simply to improve traditional public schools, especially if the thinking is to remove all of the children from these traditional public schools?

It is not a matter of “fighting tooth an nail” for the continuation of a school “monopoly.” It is a matter of looking at what will happen to all of the children and, particularly, to those who will be left behind when some move out, and of caring about the quality of their education, also. It is better, in my opinion, to improve traditional public schools than to attempt to dismantle them. Some charter schools can be helpful in this regard, but the growing vision of a wholesale moving of students to charter schools or to private schools is neither realistic nor helpful to society, as a whole. The momentum for this thinking reminds me of what happened in the South during the days immediately following the end of Segregation.

You may want to read the following article by Diane Ravitch, an Assistant Secretary of Education for President George H. W. Bush, for the Wall Street Journal on March 9, 2010, entitled “Why I Changed My Mind About School Reform.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704869304575109443305343962.html

Grateful Parent

March 21st, 2012
9:17 am

Dear Mary Elizabeth,

As I stated, I believe that giving meaningful choice to parents in their children’s education is not only good for those children but for the future of this nation. I don’t envision all children moving out of their local brick & mortar public schools, but I don’t understand where the improvement in our public education system is going to come from without some competition to the current local school district monopoly. As far as funding goes, we have increased per student funding since I was student in Georgia public schools over twenty years ago with no measurable improvement in education.

With virtual schools, in particular, equitable funding does not mean equal funding, so these schools save the state money and leave more money to “spread” amongst those who remain in their local school district.

The article to which you provided a link is mostly an indictment of No Child Left Behind, of which I am no great fan! NCLB is a great example of the best of intentions gone awry. Even bureaucrats and politicans can see how our public education system is failing our children and our nation as a whole, and so they come up with these cumbersome and expensive systems to impose “accountability” and “standards.”

Let the parents choose! What could be simpler or more effective than that!

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2012
1:12 pm

Grateful Parent, 9:17 am

“. . .but I don’t understand where the improvement in our public education system is going to come from without some competition to the current local school district monopoly.”

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

I think your understanding is centered on a business model. Those who think in that manner do not understand the process of education, nor do they understand how educators think and work best. Teachers enter into the teaching profession not for profit for themselves, but to give to others, primarily, and specifically to give to their students. They do not need “competition,” from outside themselves, to want to succeed. Teachers, for the most part, possess internal motivation to want to help children succeed. The business model of thinking in terms of competition may actually hurt education, in the long run. Educators are motivated to seek excellence in and of itself. Competition creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. That atmosphere is not good for classrooms. It is not good for students nor for teachers. It is counterproductive, in fact.

Since you were a student in secondary schools, twenty years ago, society has greatly changed. It has changed even more in the 50 years since I was a high school student. Per pupil spending has increased over that time because the cost-of-living in every aspect of life has increased, as a natural economic phenomenon.

There has been a fervent propaganda movement by ultraconservative ideologues to disparage public schools in the twenty years since you have been a student. Your thinking, in my opinion, has been influenced, to some degree, by that ideological propaganda.There are some outstanding public schools in Georgia. Poverty remains the greatest indicator of where the lower achieving students and the lower achieving schools will be found.

When I was a student, an emphasis in America was placed on self-service to others rather than on inordinate self-interest for greater financial gain which has become the norm within our nation since the 1980s. Mine was the era of the Peace Corps, the Civil Rights Movement, and the “War on Poverty.” Since my time, proceeding into your time, I have witnessed that same ultraconservative ideological movement create a society of more privilege for the already well-off, while fostering less upward mobility for those in the lower classes. Our schools are simply reflective of our society-at-large. In order to improve our traditional public schools, we must first return, as a nation, to the egalitarian vision of Thomas Jefferson for all Americans. When we, again, place an emphasis upon improving the working and living conditions of the lower middle and working classes within our society at large, our schools will reflect this positive redirection and effort.

In terms of the Ravitch article, it was much more than simply an indictment of NCLB. Below I have excerpted only some of Diane Ravitch’s words regarding charter schools:

———————————————————

“The only major national evaluation of charter schools was carried out by Stanford economist Margaret Raymond and funded by pro-charter foundations. Her group found that compared to regular public schools, 17% of charters got higher test scores, 46% had gains that were no different than their public counterparts, and 37% were significantly worse.

Charter evaluations frequently note that as compared to neighboring public schools, charters enroll smaller proportions of students whose English is limited and students with disabilities. The students who are hardest to educate are left to regular public schools, which makes comparisons between the two sectors unfair. The higher graduation rate posted by charters often reflects the fact that they are able to “counsel out” the lowest performing students; many charters have very high attrition rates (in some, 50%-60% of those who start fall away). Those who survive do well, but this is not a model for public education, which must educate all children.

NAEP compared charter schools and regular public schools in 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009. Sometimes one sector or the other had a small advantage. But on the whole, there is very little performance difference between them.

Given the weight of studies, evaluations and federal test data, I concluded that deregulation and privately managed charter schools were not the answer to the deep-seated problems of American education. If anything, they represent tinkering around the edges of the system. They affect the lives of tiny numbers of students but do nothing to improve the system that enrolls the other 97%.”

—————————————————————————

Ms. Ravitch, also, wrote these words in her article, which confirm my assessment, above: ” . . . the best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers.”

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

“School choice” sounds good on the surface, but it is not the answer to serving, well, the 97% of students to whom Ms. Ravitch refers. We must continue to change our direction in our nation to that of helping the disadvantaged instead of looking out for “number one,” exclusively. When our emphasis is refocused on this larger, more humane vision, our public schools will reflect this effort and will show more improvement. “Bailing out” will not improve our public schools. I am not against school choice for a select few, who have unique individual needs, but I am against a massive movement of “school choice” change which will undermine our present traditional public schools.

You may want to read a post I wrote on my own blog, entitled “Mastery Learning.” As an Instructional Lead Teacher in a traditional public school, I found that maximum academic growth of students will occur when the individual “lnstructional Level” of each student is addressed, regardless of the student’s grade level. This individualized instruction can be accomplished within traditional public schools. Moreover, the state of Georgia now has computer access which will identify each student’s instructional scores. This data can be shared with any public school in Georgia – as students invariably move from one public school to another. These present advancements indicate that many positive possibilities are ahead for traditional public schools in Georgia. We must not, now, attempt to dismantle Georgia’s traditional public schools Here is the link to my post on “Mastery Learning”:

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

Charter Schools Add To Financial Strain In Some Districts

March 21st, 2012
1:22 pm

Short news report video from Harrisburg, PA about charter school effect on traditional district schools.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb3Q7lLn7Js

mark

March 21st, 2012
3:34 pm

Obozonomics – Senator Santormum set the bill for his childern’s private school outside of DC to the PA Tax payers for tution. He lived in one of the best school systems in the state! He was booted out of PA/washington for several of these “bill the people” ideas.

by the way, G. Bush spent $1 trillion looking for weapons of mass destruction the did not exist. costing us 5000 soliders, 100,000’s of God’s innocent people.

Joe Banks

March 21st, 2012
3:43 pm

This is an effort by politicians and their cronies to fund pseudo-private school education for their children and have the government pay for it. Their motivation is base and despicable and is no more complicated than that. I cannot comprehend how a middle class, hardworking citizen would support the wealthy and powerful in their effort to take money from local, well-run school boards.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
4:52 pm

@ Ronin (This is long, so please read all of the following posts before you react and forgive any accidental grammatical errors as I wrote this before I had my daily allotment of caffeine. Also, please don’t be offended by the use of the rhetorical “you”.)

I am going to completely shock you here, sir, and admit that I do in fact agree that, in a perfect world, every child should get the Cadillac of educations. Actually, I’ll take it further and say that in that perfect world every child should get the Maybach of educations–customized to their every need, whim, and preference.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in that perfect world. There is a finite set of resources that must be spent on every child, as equitably as possible. With education funding as it stands today, it would be impossible to give every child what you are espousing for a chosen few. Now, perhaps I’m too much of a realist for your tastes, but that certainly seems wrong to me.

I believe in school reform–shocking, I know! But, I believe that real, true, powerful, lasting change happens not from without, but rather from within. I believe that the efforts of pioneering educators who have chosen to work within the system to change the system will, in the end, win out. Yes, charter schools are the new “it” thing, the “bright and shiny” as it were; but, if they are so wonderful because they are able to operate outside constraints placed on traditional schools–why not simply remove those constraints from the traditional public schools?

Of course, that idea may seem antithetical to you because you believe that traditional public schools are so inherently flawed they can never be fixed. Or, perhaps, you believe some of the children served by traditional public schools are so beyond help they aren’t worth your time, attention, or money. Or, you might even go further and believe that it is the educators who are flawed–we must all be lying, cheating, selfish, idiots who care nothing about children and only care about our pensions, precious summers, and job security. In response to those feelings or beliefs, I can only ask: What has made you that cynical, cold, and unfeeling? Further, are you truly that selfish? I sincerely doubt it and hope not.

Yes, American public schools seem to underperform against other countries’ schools; but, have you ever considered why?

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
4:53 pm

First, American public schools admit, retain, and educate every single child in America until age 16 or older regardless of ability, interest, income, first language, creed, religion, race or ethnic origin. “One in three of the children around the world who do not have access to primary education have a disability, says a report from the charity Sightsavers.” (Pasted from ) In regards to the Japanese educational system, special needs students are underserved at best and excluded at worst: “I found that the Japanese education system unfortunately trends toward providing segregated instruction to students with disabilities. This can mean being taught in a self-contained classroom within a general education school or attending a separate school away from peers altogether. As I talked to teachers, administrators, and parents, I was also struck by the absence of uniform special education services among school districts and the lack of legal safeguards, like the individual education programs that define America’s special education system.” (Pasted from ) Likewise, in China, while efforts have been made to encourage special education, “[sic]…the most pressing problems facing special education is the scarcity of qualified special teachers, which have led to a serious stunting of educational development.” (Yanhui & Richey, “The Development of Special Education in China”, International Journal of Special Education, Volume 21, Number 1, 2006) China also sets disabled students up for failure in their post-school lives: “Liu and Liang (1993) have argued that parents will never send their children with disabilities to school if after graduation students will have to stay home just as before. Currently, education is available and compulsory for students with disabilities only through the ninth grade. Establishing a vocational education system and postschool services for children with disabilities will support independent living as well as encourage parents to send their children to school. However, traditionally, the vocational education that is available in special schools is limited in scope: painting for students with hearing impairment, massage and weaving for students with visual impairments, and sewing for those with mental retardation. Besides representing limited opportunities, these skills are not necessarily appropriate for those living in rural areas.” (Yanhui & Richey, “The Development of Special Education in China”, International Journal of Special Education, Volume 21, Number 1, 2006) Were American public schools able to eliminate or greatly reduce the special needs student population, it is possible that test scores would rise.

Second, the United States is not a cradle-to-grave socialist society. We provide neither universal healthcare nor universal child care and preschool–two of the hallmark’s of Finland’s success: “It’s almost unheard of for a child to show up hungry or homeless. Finland provides three years of maternity leave and subsidized day care to parents, and preschool for all 5-year-olds, where the emphasis is on play and socializing. In addition, the state subsidizes parents, paying them around 150 euros per month for every child until he or she turns 17. Ninety-seven percent of 6-year-olds attend public preschool, where children begin some academics. Schools provide food, medical care, counseling and taxi service if needed. Stu­dent health care is free.” (Pasted from ) Universal healthcare and significant childcare subsidies are also part of Canada’s success and that of (most) major, industrialized nations. If we had such a system, it is possible that our children would be performing far better in school and out.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
4:54 pm

Third, the United States is less homogenous than Japan, China, South Korea, and many of the other top performing nations. While some schools in Finland have high proportions of immigrants, not all do, and most immigrants are from Central European, Slavic, or Baltic nations–most are of Caucasian or Asian descent, two groups shown to outperform other ethnic group in the United States with some level of predictability. (http://www.stat.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_vaesto_en.html#foreigners) and (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/achievement-gap-widening-between-asian-american-students-and-everyone-else/2011/04/05/AF5YvclC_story.html) Little modern research is available as to whether communities in the United States that are more racially or ethnically homogeneous than average perform better or worse than those that are more racially or ethnically diverse. Economic diversity has been shown to improve the performance of disadvantaged students, but to have little meaningful impact on advantaged students’ scores: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130647610. If we could somehow eliminate much of our diversity, would our students suddenly improve?

Fourth, educators in the United States are neither in charge of creating, enacting, and enforcing educational policy nor are they allowed the freedom to reach their students needs. Both factors are primary contributors to Finnish success: “There are no mandated standardized tests in Finland, apart from one exam at the end of students’ senior year in high school. There are no rankings, no comparisons or competition between students, schools or regions. Finland’s schools are publicly funded. The people in the government agencies running them, from national officials to local authorities, are educators, not business people, military leaders or career politicians. Every school has the same national goals and draws from the same pool of university-trained educators. The result is that a Finnish child has a good shot at getting the same quality education no matter whether he or she lives in a rural village or a university town. The differences between weakest and strongest students are the smallest in the world, according to the most recent survey by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Equality is the most important word in Finnish education. All political parties on the right and left agree on this,” said Olli Luukkainen, president of Finland’s powerful teachers union. (Pasted from ). Further, education is neither a highly regarded career nor is a highly sought after one here in the US. It is in Finland: ““Whatever it takes” is an attitude that drives not just Kirkkojarvi’s 30 teachers, but most of Finland’s 62,000 educators in 3,500 schools from Lapland to Turku—professionals selected from the top 10 percent of the nation’s graduates to earn a required master’s degree in education. (Pasted from ) A number of things conservative politician and parents find objectionable in American public education–things that are often blamed for America’s perceived failure–are intrinsic parts of the Finnish system: a powerful union for teachers, low hours, high pay, tenure, job security, and that four-letter word of the test-obsessive: play. In Finland, play is both encouraged and viewed as educational! Yet, we continue to cut recess and active periods for American students. All Finnish students receive arts, music, English, and Swedish instruction beginning in Primary School–something few American schools are capable of providing and something many American politicians seem willing to sacrifice. Standardized tests are largely viewed as worthless in Finland. The curricula in all successful nations is national and (in general) so is the funding, staffing, and equipping of all schools. This is far from being the case here in the US, where curricula can vary from city to city (sometimes even school to school), where funding is disproportionate and inequitable, and where even the tests vary from state to state and year to year.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
4:55 pm

Finally, no matter how wonderful another country’s education system is, and believe me, some are amazing–we still educate more students on a daily basis than any of the others, with the possible exception of China. Our undergraduate and graduate programs still rank at the top or among the top in the world and are still destinations of choice for students from around the globe. Innovation and creativity are still hallmarks of the United States. We may look like failures on paper and some schools are failing their students, but I do not believe that we are actually failing as a whole.

Could we one day replicate other countries’ successes? Yes, if we make extreme changes to our entire conception of society and education. First, we would have to increase funding–i.e. raise taxes. Second, we would have to have federalize our education system, ensuring that every school in the nation has the same curricula, the same materials, the same level and quality of trained educators, and the same level of funding proportionate to population size. Third, we would have to introduce true universal healthcare (not Obama’s modest in comparison plan) and universal childcare and preschool. Fourth, we would have to decide if we will continue to include the disabled or the different in our education system. Fifth, we would have to reconsider our anti-union, teacher-bashing culture. Sixth, we would have to decide, together, on one vision for America and for America’s children–our future. Do 80-90% of these things and I guarantee student performance would shoot to the top of the list.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
4:56 pm

You asked who determines what qualifies as “free, appropriate, public education”. Currently, that job is split between the Federal government, the states, and the local boards of education. At the fundamental level, since we live not in a true democracy, but rather in a representative one (a republic, to be accurate), we and all of our fellow voters decide by who we put into office. Sometimes I lose out, sometimes you lose out, but the system continues on. When you toss in the for-profit school management companies, capitalist-idealist investors, and lobbyists, business seems to have a disproportionate amount of control over education, often overriding the will or interests of the people. Is this system the best available? Maybe, maybe not.

Now, back to the Ford Fiesta. To me, a Ford Fiesta is a small but reliable vehicle (it tends to produce predictable results every time I turn it on) that is fuel-efficient (it does not cost me a prohibitive amount to run), easy to maintain (my local mechanic is able to repair it easily), and gets me where I need to go (I can depend on it if I put my effort into proper maintenance and fueling). What is wrong with that? Our educational system need not be a Cadillac, when a Ford Fiesta will suffice. Is every school providing Fiesta level quality, reliability, affordability, and dependability? No. Are some schools providing Cadillac level service, thus taking away money that could go to other schools? Yes. And therein, sir, lies the rub: you want what you deem best for your child, so do I and so does every parent or guardian in this country, but our definitions of what is best are so diverse and, often, divisive that it is impossible to give everyone what the want all of the time. Remember, you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but you can please some of the people some of the time or you can please none of the people all of the time. You might view a school that excludes X group as best for your child. What about the parents of children in X group, what are they to do? Or, think of it this way: you are part of Y group, and a school is created only for ABC and D students, would you be upset that your Y group child was excluded simply for being a Y?

Take your passion and change the system by working with the system, not against it. Run for political office, volunteer your time and/or expertise to your local school, support your politician of choice financially or through volunteering on his or her campaigns, write letters to your politicians, attend and speak at your local school board meetings, or become an educator if you think you can do a better job. By working together, even when we disagree, we can improve education for all, not just a few.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
4:58 pm

and now, back to your regular scheduled programming…

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2012
6:15 pm

A beautifully stated and highly substantive narrative, Brandy.

As to this particular statement, I’ll say a “maybe not” for reasons I gave in my first paragraph at 1:12 pm: ‘When you toss in the for-profit school management companies, capitalist-idealist investors, and lobbyists, business seems to have a disproportionate amount of control over education, often overriding the will or interests of the people. Is this system the best available? Maybe, maybe not.”

Ronin

March 21st, 2012
6:17 pm

Brandy, you’re right. That was a long post. I see the point that you’re making and understand the difference between American vs. Finnish or Swedish education. To tell you the truth, a good friend of mine from Sweden has the equivalent of a high school education (he’s above average intelligence) and was continually passed over for advanced positions with an American company because he does not have a college degree from an American college or university. The point is, in my opinion, he received a much better education in twelve years in Sweden, than most people do in 16 years (considering four years of college).

I understand that you believe that all the criteria that you spelled out, including comprehensive medical coverage, will facilitate the improvement of public/government education (Mary Elizabeth believes the same thing). However, given the difference in culture, business interests and several other factors, (including but not limited to, the general population places little value on education). I would estimate that there is basically a 0% chance of what you described happening in the United States education system.

I hate to use the word Utopian, but that’s what fits best. There will be two distinct public/government school systems, those that are motivated and those who are trying to hang on until age 16.

As far as the Charter programs, I’m not convinced that they hold all the answers. However, of one thing I am sure. In the State of Georgia, come November, there will in all likelihood be a major change in public/government state education. Maybe the two systems can coalesce and and succeed, maybe not.

I do know that a public system north of Atlanta, Forsyth County, has their own in-house Charter program and it is, from what I’ve read, a work in progress.

Gotta run.

sneak peek into education

March 21st, 2012
6:58 pm

Take five minutes out of your day to read the latest article by Diane Ravitch. It discusses the story behind Florida’s push for Charter Schools and the ensuing failure it has been for children and parents.

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/

For all those proponent of Charter Schools BEWARE and be careful what you wish for. The push will be for the for-profit driven companies to swarm to GA. What do you think they will care more about; your child’s education or squeezing every penny out of the system to turn a profit?

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
7:19 pm

@Mary Elizabeth: I completely agree.

@Ronin: Yes, it is utopian and, as I stated, unrealistic. All of those things I mentioned are things we as Americans seem either uninterested in or fundamentally opposed to. I’m a liberal, but I am also a realist. As I said, I would love for every child to have the best of the best (the Maybach), but I recognize that the most we can hope for is for every child to receive the average we find most generally acceptable. Where I disagree fundamentally with you is that a two class system of education, whether based on race/ethnicity, socio-economic status, ability, or motivation, is a good thing. I cannot believe that one person’s child has the right to more (on the tax payer’s dime) than another. To me, that is segregation and it is unacceptable. Obviously, you disagree. So, should your vision of education determine my child’s options? Should mine? Should someone else’s with a completely different vision?

I believe this amendment will be passed by Georgia citizens. Not because it is the right thing. Not because Georgians are inherently selfish or segregationist. Not because Georgians, as a whole, are stupid or uneducated. Not even because every Georgian believes the public schools are failing. No, this amendment will pass due to its vague wording and the influx of private money (i.e. businesses) to promote it. The average Georgian has never heard of Get Schooled and I’d venture that many don’t even read the paper. Most will rely upon what is portrayed on news media outlets like Fox News and what information is provided via commercials and other propaganda. I feel confident that 90% (if not more) of that propaganda will be pro-charter schools.

Ron F.

March 21st, 2012
7:51 pm

“A 2008 study of KIPP schools in San Francisco’s Bay Area found that 60 percent of the students who started in fifth grade were gone by the end of eigth grade.”

Well, that about sums it up for me. Let’s see how long some of the charters last if that’s the generally expected rate of return for our money.

“Yes, charter schools are the new “it” thing, the “bright and shiny” as it were; but, if they are so wonderful because they are able to operate outside constraints placed on traditional schools–why not simply remove those constraints from the traditional public schools?”

Ya think? The only problem is, there’s no profit to be made from that and the immediate return in public opinion polls wouldn’t be fast enough. I totally agree with your posts, and you mirror my own passion for making changes, which are fluid and ongoing, from within. The basic premise of public education is sound, necessary, and one of, if no the most important, pillars of a successful democratic society.

Dear, if you can post that passionately and with such detail without caffeine, I’d hate to see you get worked up after a trip to Starbucks!! :-)

Keep at it Brandy. There are more of us out there than we realize at times who will fight and work for the best for kids. I think the process we’re entering now will bring them out of the woodwork.

Ron F.

March 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

“No, this amendment will pass due to its vague wording and the influx of private money (i.e. businesses) to promote it.”

Wanna bet they have the ad writers working on the story boards already? I expect by June we’ll be seeing the ads right here in the AJC and on the local channels.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
8:47 pm

@Ron F., Thanks! I’m right there with you all points. What keeps me going, keeps me fighting, is the knowledge that in the end what is best for the public will out. It may take years or decades, but one day we will all be saying “Duh, how could we have possibly thought such ridiculous things.” That is what happened in regards to slavery and what is currently happening in regards to civil rights for all, inclusive of sexual orientation and gender. Schools will have their day, someday.

Ronin

March 21st, 2012
9:14 pm

Brandy, your comment: ” I cannot believe that one person’s child has the right to more (on the tax payer’s dime) than another. To me, that is segregation and it is unacceptable. Obviously, you disagree.”
It’s not that I agree or disagree (on the money) it’s segregation based on motivation. Parents will opt for the school with the best learning environment for their child, hence the child that is motivated to excel will be in a different group or learning caste. It’s always been that way, and for the foreseeable future will be.

Even in the early days of America, the elite were well educated, the commoners were offered little education. Mary Elizabeth often references Thomas Jefferson and his vision for public education, but it only was meant to offer rudimentary level education of the masses. The gentry or elite class were from noble bloodlines or were lords of commerce and were taught by the finest schools.. Either way, the education “classes” were segregated, not by motivation, but by wealth and social standing.

So, if the current schools return to a “motivational” based segregation, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In a previous post, I mentioned curriculum or core content, it needs to be changed for different groups, which would offer a trade based education.

Mary Elizabeth

March 21st, 2012
10:51 pm

“Mary Elizabeth often references Thomas Jefferson and his vision for public education, but it only was meant to offer rudimentary level education of the masses. The gentry or elite class were from noble bloodlines or were lords of commerce and were taught by the finest schools.. Either way, the education “classes” were segregated, not by motivation, but by wealth and social standing.”

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

I think I can combine thoughts to Ronin, Brandy, and Ron F in this one post.

First, Ronin, I urge you to read the Saul K. Padover book, “Jefferson,” if you can get your hands on a copy of it. It will open your eyes to Jefferson’s thinking. His father was a self-made surveyor who did well; his mother was from an aristocratic family. Jefferson identified more with his father than with his mother, although he loved both. He thought the “noble bloodlines” concept of rule was the antithesis of his egalitarian view of mankind and he, actually, wrote often against the aristocrats, or “elite class,” having power over the masses. His was truly an enlightened mind and he saw through their more limited thinking of how human beings should perceive one another, as displayed by many of the aristocrats in his day. He wanted the masses educated to each person’s full potential. He, especially, wanted the population-at-large to be educated well enough to see through the machinations that the upper classes, with power and wealth, would use against the less well educated masses for their own selfish ends. He believed that our nation functioned best as a democratic Republic when political power and responsibility was shared equally among all classes of society. Jefferson never wavered in his support of the French Revolution, although other Founding Fathers did so, especially when that revolution became so bloody toward the French aristocrats.

Jefferson, further, believed that the unequal status of African-Americans was the direct result of the conditions of their lives (which was inflicted upon them), and not because their natural ability was less than other races. In that sense, too, Jefferson was an egalitarian in his vision. Once, as an old man, when Jefferson was riding with his eldest, favorite grandson, and namesake, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, (who later assumed Jefferson’s remaining debts and paid them off for his grandfather, posthumously), an elderly African-American man bowed and tipped his hat to Jefferson as they rode by, so wrote Padover. Jefferson, in turn, extended the same gesture to the old black man. His grandson ignored the black man, but Jefferson did not ignore his grandson’s aloofness. He said to his grandson, “Do you allow an old Negro to be more of a gentleman than you?” I feel sure that Jefferson’s words of reprimand to his grandson made an impact upon him, as well as Jefferson’s egalitarian gesture to the old African-American – a gesture of one equal human being to another, in terms of the inherent equality of both. Therein was Jefferson’s wisdom, which he possessed even as a young man.

Brandy, Ron F is correct, you should continue to write with the same passion and intellect that you do presently, regarding public education. The Civil Rights era did not change segregation to integration until people spoke out against its inherent immorality and injustice. Education will not continue to serve all citizens – without a profit motive – as Jefferson envisioned public education, unless people such as yourselves continue to speak out for the public education of the masses. Public education is a mainstay of our democratic Republic, as Jefferson believed, and when it goes, I fear that the essential raison d’etre and foundation of our nation will also go – as described so beautifully, by Jefferson, in the American Declaration of Independence from England: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all. . . are created equal.”

To both Ron F and Brandy: Yes, I, too, believe that the state charter school amendment will probably pass in November for all of the reasons that you both gave, including because of the financial resources that will be contributed to insure that it will pass. In my opinion, those financial resources will probably come not only from state sources, but also from national sources. As I have often written, the effort of dismantle public education is a national movement. To the extent that this amendment is political, to that extent the children of Georgia will be negatively effected. I hope that, over time and reflection, this amendment will bear good fruit for Georgia’s students and will not dismantle Georgia’s public education.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
11:40 pm

@Ronin, Those elites were generally not educated on the state’s dime, in fact I’m struggling to find any exclusively public-funded education in the United States before the mid to late 19th Century. Even the premier schools in Europe, often subsided by the state, received most of their money either from tuition paid by parents or students or from religious groups. The education of the elites you refer to was exclusively paid for by their parents, guardians, or (occasionally) their religious groups. They chose the best schools and they paid more for them. This is still the case. I have NO problem if you want to send your child to a private school. I do have a problem with you wanting a private school education for a few on the state’s dime at the expense of others. Segregation is segregation is segregation. No matter how you slice it, it is wrong and illegal. You keep justifying it to yourself, but don’t assume that we all are drinking the Kool-Aid.

Brandy

March 21st, 2012
11:49 pm

@Mary Elizabeth: We tend somewhat in terms of scope; but thank you, your kind words were appreciated and I always enjoy hearing your take on the issue(s) at hand. Please, keep up the fight yourself!

Ok, I’m off to toss out the Kool-Aid.

(If you didn’t get that joke or the one before, please read The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test and spend 5 minutes researching the 1960s).

Grateful Parent

March 22nd, 2012
12:25 am

Mary Elizabeth,

I read with great interest the post on your blog for which you provided a link . . . especially since MY children are CURRENTLY benefiting from a mastery-based curriculum/teaching through K12 and their GA virtual school. So I couldn’t agree with you more except for your view that I should be willing to compromise my own children’s future because that somehow serves the collective good while I wait for my local brick & mortar school to implement what the virtual schools have been offering here in GA for 5 years and in other parts of the country for much longer!

And am I to understand that because I support school choice, I must have been influenced by ultraconservative propaganda along the way? And “competition creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation?”

I have a deep appreciation for teachers – it is a unique calling and a challenging profession. We don’t have bad teachers, we have a bad system. I disagree with your view that somehow the business model is hostile to teaching and education – that is if you understand the business model as I do – an environment where those who provide a service are accountable to those who benefit from that service, in that the users of the service have the power to vote with their feet. What do you find hostile or intimidating about parents having a meaningful choice in where, by whom and how their children are educated?

What motivates teachers is really not the issue – teachers and students alike are stuck in the current system. Why do you think “the best predictor of low academic performance is poverty?” Could it be because we are “tied” to a school based on how much real estate we can afford? I know there are good schools in GA, I graduated from one. We currently live in the richest county in GA and one of the richest in the U.S. – the schools should be good! In fact, if this amendment doesn’t pass and our virtual school goes away due to inadequate funding, it would not be catastrophic for my kids to find themselves back in our local school. However, for many parents in the state who take advantage of charter schools – virtual and other – and who do so because they don’t live in a rich district or because their student has needs which are better met at home or in a charter school, losing their charter school will be much more agonizing.

I’m no scholar on the charter school vs. traditional school data. However, it seems obvious that in order for competition to have an impact, you need more than 3% of the kids taking advantage of charter schools. And if so few are moving out of the traditional schools, why do local school districts feel so threatened? Personal experience and common sense tell me that allowing some of the tax dollars that would have gone with my child to my local school to simply follow him to a charter school is not going to bring the whole public school system to its knees, and if he’s the only one who benefits from it . . . well, shouldn’t he be the primary beneficiary of HIS education?

You imply that I don’t “understand” education. Do you understand economics? Again, I like teachers, I believe we have a bad system, not bad teachers. Although your depiction of teachers as so very different from the rest of us that they just can’t work effectively within a system that has elements of a “business model” really does nothing to clarify my understanding of education, it does fascinate me!

My husband is a veterinarian and after many years working as an associate, he started his own practice. As an associate, he was paid straight salary and did not “profit” beyond that. Interestingly, the average starting salary of an associate veterinarian and a teacher are similar. Could I say of associate veterinarians that: “they enter into the veterinary profession not for profit for themselves, but to give to others, primarily, and specifically to contribute to the health and well-being of their patients. They do not need ‘competition,’ from outside themselves, to want to succeed. Veterinarians, for the most part, possess internal motivation to want to help sick pets.” Did the fact that one of his clients could at any time go less than five miles down the road and visit a different veterinarian plague him with feelings of “fear and intimidation?”

In response to your insinuation that anyone who supports school choice does so out of their own or under the influence of others’ “inordinate self-interest for greater financial gain,” let me introduce you to a mom who simply wants the best for her kids and for every American parent to have a meaningful choice in their children’s education. Eleven years ago, I had just begun an executive development program at a major corporation where I had worked for several years. As part of this program, I was preparing to begin an Executive MBA program at the Wharton School of Business. My salary alone at the time exceeds what my husband makes now as a small business owner. I was expecting our first child and decided to leave my career so I could be a full-time mom and support my husband in opening and running his practice. After that first child attended kindergarten and 1st grade in our local public school, I enrolled him in 2nd grade with a virtual school – I now have 3 children in virtual school.

Local school districts might have a monopoly on public education, but teachers do not have a monopoly in the pursuit of higher goals than financial gain. I don’t know who you’re hanging out with, but my experience living in this country and abroad has taught me that it is an inherent human quality to find much more satisfaction in CHOOSING to serve others than in seeking financial gain.

Mary Elizabeth

March 22nd, 2012
12:50 am

The direct words of Thomas Jefferson regarding public education and government from Jefferson’s “Notes on Virginia,” Query XIV, excerpted from “The Life and Selected Writings of Thomas Jefferson,” edited by Adrienne Koch and William Peden, pages 244 – 246:

“The first stage of this education being the schools of the hundreds, wherein the great mass of the people will receive their instruction, the principal foundations of future order will be laid here. Instead, therefore, of putting the Bible and Testament into the hands of the children at an age when their judgments are not sufficiently matured for religious inquiries, their memories may here be stored with the most useful facts from Grecian, Roman, European and American history. The first elements of morality too may be instilled into their minds; such as, when further developed as their judgments advance in strength, may teach them how to work out their own greatest happiness, by showing them that it does not depend on the condition of life in which chance has placed them, but is always the result of a good conscience, good health, occupation, and feedom in all just pursuits. Those whom either the wealth of their parents or the adoption of the State shall destine to higher degrees of learning, will go on to the grammar schools, which constitute the next stage, there to be instructed in the languages. . . .As soon as they are of sufficient age, it is supposed they will be sent on from the grammar schools to the university, which constitutes our third and last stage, there to study those sciences which may be adapted to their views. By that part of our plan which prescribes the selection of the youths of genius from among the classes of the poor, we hope to avail the State of those talents which nature has sown as liberally among the poor as the rich, but which perish without use, if not sought for and cultivated. But of the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History, by apprizing them of the past, will enable them to judge the future; it will avail them of the experiences of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views. In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially necessary. An amendment of our constitution must here come in aid of public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people. If every individual which composes their mass participates of the ultimate authority, the government will be safe; because the corrupting the whole mass will exceed any private resources of wealth; and public ones cannot be provided but by levies on the people. In this case every man would have to pay his own price. The government of Great Britain has been corrupted, because but one man in ten has a right to vote for members of parliament. The sellers of the government, therefore, get nine-tenths of their price clear. It has been thought that corruption is restrained by confining the right of suffrage to a few of the wealthier of the people; but it would be more effectually restrained by an extension of that right to such members as would bid defiance to the means of corruption.
Lastly, it is proposed, by a bill in this revisal, to begin a public library and gallery, by laying out a certain sum annually in books, paintings, and statues.”

Brandy

March 22nd, 2012
2:39 am

@Grateful Parent, Have you done your research on K12?

“By almost every educational measure, the Agora Cyber Charter School is failing. Nearly 60 percent of its students are behind grade level in math. Nearly 50 percent trail in reading. A third do not graduate on time. And hundreds of children, from kindergartners to seniors, withdraw within months after they enroll. By Wall Street standards, though, Agora is a remarkable success that has helped enrich K12 Inc., the publicly traded company that manages the school. And the entire enterprise is paid for by taxpayers. Agora is one of the largest in a portfolio of similar public schools across the country run by K12. Eight other for-profit companies also run online public elementary and high schools, enrolling a large chunk of the more than 200,000 full-time cyberpupils in the United States. [sic] The New York Times has spent several months examining this idea, focusing on K12 Inc. A look at the company’s operations, based on interviews and a review of school finances and performance records, raises serious questions about whether K12 schools — and full-time online schools in general — benefit children or taxpayers, particularly as state education budgets are being slashed. Instead, a portrait emerges of a company that tries to squeeze profits from public school dollars by raising enrollment, increasing teacher workload and lowering standards. Current and former staff members of K12 Inc. schools say problems begin with intense recruitment efforts that fail to filter out students who are not suited for the program, which requires strong parental commitment and self-motivated students. Online schools typically are characterized by high rates of withdrawal. ” (”Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools”, New York Times, December 12, 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/13/education/online-schools-score-better-on-wall-street-than-in-classrooms.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all)

“Expanding on the 2009 CREDO National Charter School Study Multiple Choice: Charter School
Performance in 16 States, this report examines the performance of Pennsylvania charter schools for the
period 2007 – 2010. Compared to the educational gains the charter students would have had in their traditional public schools, the analysis shows that students in Pennsylvania charter schools on average make smaller
learning gains. More than one quarter of the charter schools have significantly more positive learning
gains than their traditional public school counterparts in reading, but their performance is eclipsed by the
nearly half of charter schools that have significantly lower learning gains. In math, again nearly half of
the charter schools studied perform worse than their traditional public school peers and one quarter outperform
them.” “The typical cyber charter student is white and ineligible for subsidized meals, while the typical brick and mortar charter student is black and receiving free or reduced-priced lunches. Furthermore, the starting score for cyber students is significantly higher than for brick and mortar charter students in both reading and math.
Additionally, cyber students are more likely to be repeating a grade than brick and mortar charter
students. [sic] The learning gains for students in brick and mortar charter schools in Pennsylvania were not significantly different from their traditional public school counterparts in reading. Brick and mortar charter students learned significantly less on average than their counterparts in math. Cyber charter students have
significantly smaller gains in reading and math than those of their traditional public school peers.” [sic]
“In both reading and math, all 8 cyber schools perform significantly worse than their traditional public
school counterparts. For brick and mortar schools in reading, 32 of the 91 schools (35%) perform
significantly better than their traditional public schools, while 25 of the charter schools (27%) perform
significantly better in math. In reading, 31 brick and mortar charter schools (34%) perform at lower
levels than their traditional public schools, and 38 of them (42%) perform worse in math. In every subgroup with significant effects, cyber charter performance is lower than the brick and mortar performance.” (”Charter School Performance in Pennsylvania”, credo.standford.edu, April, 2011)

What you do with your children is an option that has existed since before publicly funded or provided education was invented: homeschooling. This choice has never been in danger here in Georgia, as far as I can tell, and has even had distance and virtual/online options for decades. But, the difference is now you expect the state (i.e. every single taxpayer) to fund your choice. You don’t get state or local funds to send your child to private school and you shouldn’t get them to homeschool either.

It is wonderful that you feel your children are getting a better education than they would in their zoned traditional public school. I’m certain that most of the parents who send their children to Paideia or St. Pius feel the same. The difference? They (generally) aren’t trying to use state or local funds to pay for it.

You are right it is YOUR choice how your children are educated: you can enroll them in their zoned public school, you can send them to private or parochial school, you can homeschool them, you can enrich their educations outside the school day, you can exercise your political voice and run for the school board, you can vote to replace school board members you find fault with, or you can move to an area that you feel has better schools. That’s school choice for you.

Brandy

March 22nd, 2012
2:44 am

@Ron F., Did you catch this one? The charter school brigade really is out to hoodwink us all:

“Lamenting this series of defeats, Patricia Levesque, a top adviser to former Governor Jeb Bush, spoke to fellow reformers at a retreat in October 2010. Levesque noted that reform efforts had failed because the opposition had time to organize. Next year, Levesque advised, reformers should “spread” the unions thin “by playing offense” with decoy legislation. Levesque said she planned to sponsor a series of statewide reforms, like allowing taxpayer dollars to go to religious schools by overturning the so-called Blaine Amendment, “even if it doesn’t pass…to keep them busy on that front.” She also advised paycheck protection, a unionbusting scheme, as well as a state-provided insurance program to encourage teachers to leave the union and a transparency law to force teachers unions to show additional information to the public. Needling the labor unions with all these bills, Levesque said, allows certain charter bills to fly “under the radar.”

http://www.thenation.com/article/164651/how-online-learning-companies-bought-americas-schools?page=full

And to all, sorry for the odd formatting in part of my prior post. PDFs and cut-and-paste seem to be the bane of my existence this evening.

Meanwhile, back on the ranch…

Charter School Movement

March 22nd, 2012
7:00 am

@Brandy…
“You are right it is YOUR choice how your children are educated: you can enroll them in their zoned public school, you can send them to private or parochial school, you can homeschool them, you can enrich their educations outside the school day, you can exercise your political voice and run for the school board, you can vote to replace school board members you find fault with, or you can move to an area that you feel has better schools. That’s school choice for you.”

… Or, you can send your child to a Charter school.

Formerteacher

March 22nd, 2012
7:08 am

Brandy, your previous well-written post(s) say what I’ve been trying to tell the folks in my very “red” neck of the woods for years- comparing the US to other nations academically is an apples-to-oranges issue. And Finland IS the the Maybach of education, that’s for sure! Unless and until we are willing to have national standards so that every child from California to New York is taught the same curriculum and tested with the same test, the comparisons are flawed.

And the thing is, a national curriculum isn’t the spawn of Satan. Just because everyone has to teach the same information, doesn’t mean they have to teach it the same way- that’s where teachers can have some creativity and freedom to tailor to their students. The standards are just the destination. The curriculum is the larger road map, the interstates, if you will. But there are lots of side roads and scenic routes on that map (read: creative teaching methods and such) to make the trip more enjoyable and still get you where you want to go.

And the last post about the diversionary measures in FL was more than frightening. But sadly, not very surprising.

Mary Elizabeth

March 22nd, 2012
7:17 am

Grateful Parent, 12:25 am

Thank you for your extended remarks to me and for your compliment of my post on “Mastery Learning” from my own blog.

I continue to maintain that schools should not be run as a business model. Education essentially enlightens; it is not in existence for profit. Teachers are not intimidated by the private school “down the street.” The intimidation, of which I wrote, was one of an overall tone within the school which is fostered by an unrealistic and out-of-proportion emphasis on test results, alone, to determine a teacher’s evaluation that will effect job security or salary. When one works with human beings, many other factors than simply test results are operative to determine if the teacher has performed well. As you read from my post on “Mastery Learning,” I support testing students for diagnostic and prescriptive reasons, but I do not support using test results to intimidate teachers to “perform better.” As I wrote earlier, most teachers are self-motivated to perform well. A school based on enlightenment, should certainly be enlightened enough to use testing and test results prudently and wisely so that the school, as a whole, will reflect joy in learning, and not fear.

Here is another of my posts from my own blog that will elaborate on this in greater detail. It is entitled, “Assessing Teachers and Students”:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/25/about-education-essay-5-assessing-teachers-and-students/

Regarding my communicating the historical trends of our nation from the 1950s to the present day, it was not my intent for you to take that historical overview personally. I simply wished to give a historical perspective from my life’s experience which would demonstrate, to all who read my post, that our society, as a whole, must be redirected from the ideological agenda of the ultraconservative movement if our public schools are to improve and if our government is to return to the government Jefferson envisioned. I shared Jefferson’s words at 12:50 am last evening regarding education and government. Here are his words more specifically centered on those two elements, from my 12:50 am post:

Thomas Jefferson: “For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History, by apprizing them of the past, will enable them to judge the future; it will avail them of the experiences of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views. In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover, and wickedness insensibly open, cultivate, and improve. Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree. This indeed is not all that is necessary, though it be essentially necessary. An amendment of our constitution must here come in aid of public education. The influence over government must be shared among all the people.”

As to poverty’s correlation to poor educational results, many research studies have proven this. I have known this as far back as my grad school days in the early 70s. Diane Kavitch also mentions this in her WSJ article.

I hope you have had a chance to read Brandy’s excellent post to you at 2:39 am. I am glad that your children are doing well in the educational environment in which you have chosen for them. From Brandy’s post, I must, however, repost these words of hers to which I concur:

“What you do with your children is an option that has existed since before publicly funded or provided education was invented: homeschooling. This choice has never been in danger here in Georgia, as far as I can tell, and has even had distance and virtual/online options for decades. But, the difference is now you expect the state (i.e. every single taxpayer) to fund your choice. You don’t get state or local funds to send your child to private school and you shouldn’t get them to homeschool either.”

I believe public taxes should be used to pay for public education for all of Georgia’s students equally. That is why – if I had a say – I would not want my tax money going to support private schools or for-profit charter schools. I have gladly paid taxes on my home for over a dozen years to support the public education of all children in my area even though I have not had a child in school, myself, during that time. I do not wish, however, that my tax money be used to dismantle traditional public schools. I believe, as Jefferson, that public education is inextricably linked to the viability of our democratic Republic.

Mary Elizabeth

March 22nd, 2012
7:28 am

@Brandy, 11:49 pm 3/21/12

“@Mary Elizabeth: We tend somewhat in terms of scope; but thank you, your kind words were appreciated and I always enjoy hearing your take on the issue(s) at hand. Please, keep up the fight yourself.”

——————————————————–

Thank you, Brandy, for this post, and I do plan to “keep up the fight” myself. It is just that you have many more years remaining on this earth to fight for public education than I do, so I encourage you to “Keep on, keeping on.” :-) You are doing a superb job of informing the public. Keep going. . .

Ronin

March 22nd, 2012
8:00 am

@ Grateful Parent: Your overall evaluation of the dynamics of choice in education is correct. It’s not about one child getting more that the other, it’s about doing what is best for your child and your family.

Certain people want to limit your ability to have that choice. However, the era of monopoly government education in Georgia is coming to an end. When you look at the ideology of the extreme left and try to finance the programs they want, the math simply doesn’t work.

Mary Elizabeth often comments on the writings of Thomas Jefferson, he was a smart man, however he was socially isolated in his views on education from the other founding fathers. He was a great thinker (and drinker), but his idea of public education was never realized in this country. He died with a debt that in today’s dollars would be about $2,000,000.00 dollars. Again, he was a very creative thinker, but not a very savvy businessman.

We can all agree to disagree on what the best public/government based solution is for the children of the State of Georgia. However, Greatful Parent, you are about to assume the “catbird seat” for public education. You will have the support of the legislative and executive branches of government in Georgia for the foreseeable future. Also, you can add the political leverage of business owners who, in my opinion, do create a competitive environment, which does increase efficiency in many areas. Georgia Cyber Academy will finally have the budget to offer elective classes for various interests in language and arts.

One last point, the far left can rail all it wants against the pending change and the evil “for profit” institutions that it will bring, in the end, it simply won’t matter. The media campaign that the pro-choice movement launches this summer will be overwhelming and effective in driving the point home of: “you deserve a school system that ranks better than 48th in the nation”, and it will work. My suggestion for people that support the current education system, learn the art of compromise, so that they can still have a voice at the leadership table.

Formerteacher

March 22nd, 2012
8:32 am

Charter School Movement
March 22nd, 2012
7:00 am

Yes, and none of those choices affect the total funding of traditional public schools (i.e. our tax dollars) EXCEPT charters. Anyone with rudimentary math skills understands that splitting a pie among more people at the table means smaller pieces for everyone. And the number of kids leaving any given school for a charter school, at least in my county, doesn’t change the overhead for the that school one bit. The building still has to have power and water; entire classes are not eliminated so the same number of teachers are employed. But with less money.

Grateful Parent

March 22nd, 2012
10:24 am

Brandy,

Do you ever read anything that doesn’t support your point of view? Hopefully, you don’t take the NYT as the gospel on anything. In case K12’s response is of interest to you, here is an interesting excerpt and as well as a link to the entire response:

“The article did not state that in 2010 K12-managed online schools nationwide made 80% of overall AYP targets (academic + participation), nor did it mention academic assessments showing positive student academic growth. And the article ignored data that shows the longer students are enrolled in K12-managed online schools, the better they perform on state assessment tests. All of these data points were provided to the reporter.
The Times failed to explain that first year students who enroll in online schools often struggle on state tests after years of falling behind in traditional schools, a problem that is especially apparent in schools with fast-growing enrollment and the capacity to serve all children that choose to attend. In fact, recent analyses by an independent firm found that, in some K12-managed schools, the overwhelming majority of the new students came in behind grade level requiring more than one year of academic growth during the year to be proficient on state tests”

http://dc.citybizlist.com/5/2011/12/13/K12-Responds-To–New-York-Times-Article.aspx

Indeed, from speaking with other parents of kids enrolled in our virtual school, their choice comes too frequently out of utter despair from their experience with their local brick & mortar school – their kids often start the K12 program well behind their peers. Do you think that might influence test scores? Fortunately, that was not my motivation for our family, and my kids score way above grade level on everything. My 5th grader exceeded standards on every part of the CRCT in 4th grade (not that I’m a big fan of the CRCT!!!) My second grader is currently preparing a “research” paper on his community – I’m blown away by the rigorous nature of the writing curriculum. How I wish the labor pool for our small business had the writing skills of my 5th grader! I’d put my kindergartener up against any “man on the street” for her knowledge of basic history and geography!

The NYT article mentions that the K12 virtual schools require parent commitment and self-motivated students. Commitment from parents? Now that’s a novel idea – what educator wouldn’t like to see more of that! I believe the K12 curriculum helps DEVELOP self-motivated students – I know they’re not all born that way. Oh, and I believe that “self-motivation” is a GOOD thing AND somewhat lacking in today’s society – please don’t confuse self-motivation with “inordinate self-interest for greater financial gain.”

In all seriousness, I KNOW that a K12 virtual school is NOT for everyone. I do believe strongly, however, that giving parents meaningful choice will bring more good than harm to our education system. The profit motive of private enterprise is no less pure than what motivates many local school districts to cling to the status quo and their coffers. Individual choice has an unmatched power to keep corporations AND elected officials AND bureaucrats honest. To somehow believe that local school board officials will do a better job of deciding what kind of education is best for children than their parents can is ludicrous!

Ronin, I hope you are right in believing that “the era of monopoly government education in Georgia is coming to an end.” And Brandy, I say that not only as a parent who cares about my own children but also as an American who cares about the future of this country!

Mary Elizabeth

March 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

@ Ronin, 8:00 am

“Mary Elizabeth often comments on the writings of Thomas Jefferson, he was a smart man, however he was socially isolated in his views on education from the other founding fathers. He was a great thinker (and drinker), but his idea of public education was never realized in this country. He died with a debt that in today’s dollars would be about $2,000,000.00 dollars. Again, he was a very creative thinker, but not a very savvy businessman.”

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

Ronin, I simply cannot let you share such erroneous information about Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the architect behind the human rights and liberties that we are privileged to have inherited. You spread erroneous information and you do so in depicting Jefferson in stereotype. As a teacher, I cannot let that pass. Here are the facts about Jefferson which will correct your erroneous information.

(1). To say Jefferson was a “drinker” is grossly misleading. Jefferson was a disciplined man who believed in moderation in drink and eating habits and who had excellent work habits. Even if he read his books late into the night, he would always rise with the sunrise and he was known for always staying busy, never being idle. He was a connoisseur of excellent wines and served his wines to his many dinner guests. He was a healthy man well into his old age, which finally took his life at the the end of a very long, productive, and healthy life (83 years). Even in his late seventies, people often remarked that Jefferson looked at least 10 years younger than his age. He went riding, often to inspect his property, each day, sometimes for hours, even into his eighties. He had a daily, disciplined routine which he kept faithfully. From footnote #13 on page 409 of Padover’s book: “Jefferson was always an enemy of hard liquor, believing it to be an enemy of health and society. He wished that people would drink wine rather than whisky. ‘I have. . .seen the loathsome and fatal effects of whisky, destroying the fortunes, the bodies, the minds & morals of our citizens,’ he wrote to William H. Crawford in 1818.”

(2) Thomas Jefferson died with debts because he gave most of his life to the service of our nation. In that regard, he was not able to be at his plantation and oversee the day to day running of its operation. On one occasion, after serving overseas for five years, he came back to Monticello and put his farm back together, in good working order, himself, so that it was financially sound again. He did not particularly enjoy being away from his farm. He also refused to accept money through his contacts with public service, as other public servants had done, and he insisted upon only receiving his pay for those govenment positions which he held in service to this nation. He did not receive private benefits which others gained from their names and associations with govenment service. Jefferson said he wanted to “sleep with a good conscience” and had no regrets regarding that decision. While he was in France and England to do America’s bidding, Jefferson had to pay for much of his living expenses, there, in service to our nation, as the nation was young and had little money to give him for his living expenses there, so Jefferson actually lost money in service to this nation. After his eight years as President, he gladly went back to Monticello to care for his farm and put it again in order. After he retired from public service, citizens came by the hundreds to see the old sage and he never turned visitors away because his character was so gracious to others. One woman who came by Monticello to capture a look at the aged former President actually broke one of his windows with her umbrella to get a better look at Jefferson. That is an example of how many people he had coming to see him daily. He sometimes would go for a ride on his horse to a smaller place on his farm to get away from the crowds. His guests literally consumed much of his income, to be rather blunt, but Jefferson would not turn his visitors and guests away. He, also, had a very large family, to help support. His daughter Martha had 11 children and his younger daughter, Mary or Maria, who died in her twenties, left two young children and a husband. In addition, Jefferson had cousins to which he felt obligated as a family patriarch. He signed a note for a cousin in the amount of $26,000. in that day that the cousin had to forfeit. Jefferson also had over 200 slaves which he needed to feed and clothe.

The following are the words of Jefferson’s friend, and the subsequent president, James Madison in his letter to Lafayette, explaining Jefferson’s financial difficulties in the same year that Jefferson died:

“The expences of his numerous household, his extensive hospitalities, and a series of short crops and low markets, to which are to be added old debts contracted in public service abroad and new ones for which private friendship had made him responsible; all these causes together, had produced a situation of which he seems not to have been fully aware, till it was brought home to his reflections by the calls of creditors.”

(3) Jefferson, however, served our nation very well financially because he was so financially astute. From Saul Padover’s book, “Jefferson,” p. 310: “Jefferson inherited a national debt of over $80,000,000. To cut into this sum, the President and Gallatin elaborated a system whereby $7,500,000 was set aside annually for the payment of principal and interest. This worked so well that by the end of Jefferson’s Administration — despite the purchase of Louisiana, wars, and losses due to the Embargo – the national debt was decreased by $27,500, 000. . . .In the realm of finance, the Jefferson Administration instituted two major reforms. Under Hamilton and his successors, government finances had been handled in the English way – an account was given to the legislature after the money had been spent. In Jefferson’s eyes, such a system was both undemocratic and potentially corrupt. He believed that Congress should know beforehand what the Government intentded to spend in the coming year. The representatives of the people should have the power to approve or disapprove of each detailed item. This, in Jefferson’s opinion, was the only way the people could control the Government and check upon its actions. . . Jefferson wrote to Gallatin in 1804: ‘Would it not be useful also to oblige our succesors, by setting the example ourselves, of laying annually before Congress a . . .calendar of the expenditures 1. for the civil, 2. the military, 3. the naval departments, in a single sum each?’ ”

(4) Regarding Jefferson’s vision for our nation, here are his words on page 311 of Padover’s book:
“Jefferson’s love of country was, indeed tinged with the universal. . . .He was so proud of America that he wanted his land to be a beacon of freedom to mankind. Always he was conscious of world opinion. He knew that if the democratic experiment succeeded in America it would be followed elsewhere. In 1802 he wrote to Governor Hall: ‘We have the same object, the success of representative government. Nor are we acting for ourselves alone, but for the whole human race. The event of our experiement is to shew whether man can be trusted with self-government. The eyes of suffering humanity are fixed on us with anxiety as their only hope, and on such a theatre for such a cause we must suppress all smaller passions and local considerations.’ ”

(Abraham Lincoln was so impressed with Jefferson’s vision for our nation that he gave homage to Jefferson by making a stop at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in order to stand on the very ground that Jefferson had stood on in Philadelphia, as Lincoln was traveling to his inauguration.)

Lincoln, obviously, deeply understood what Jefferson was about for our nation, when Lincoln penned these words in the Gettyburg Address:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. . . It is . . . for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us. . .that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

From page 296 of Padover’s book: ‘His was, beyond a doubt, the most capacious and impressive intellect in the country, and possibly in the Western Hemisphere. His was also one of the subtlest minds in America. The range of his interests was astonishing. Apart from his vast knowledge of law and great knowledge of literature, he was also a botanist, an agronomist, a paleontologist, a zoologist, an anthropologist, a geologist, a mathematician, a metereologist, an astronomer, a surveyor, a gardener, an architect, and a musician.”

(4) You say that Jefferson’s ideas on education were not accepted, yet the University of Virginia, which he founded in the last years of his life, stands today as an excellent school of higher learning, almost 200 years later. It was part of his educational plan. Furthermore, the Virginia legislature did appropriate money for elementary education for the poor. From the Padover book, p. 397:
“Early in 1818, the Virginia legislature appropriated the munificent sum of $45,000. for elementary education for the poor and the generous sum of $15,000. for the endowment and support of a university.”

I believe that public education today stands as testimony to Jefferson’s efforts almost 200 years ago. Here are Jefferson’s words regarding his enormous task in convincing his fellow citizens of the value of public education to our nation, from page 397:

“People thought Jefferson’s educational plan visionary, and when it was introduced in the State legislature, it was, as Jefferson expected, rejected. Legislators, commented the Sage of Monticello dryly, ‘do not generally possess information enough to perceived the important truths, that knoledge [sic] is power, that knoledge is safety, and that knoledge is happiness.’ But Jefferson was too seasoned a political maneuverer and too patient a philosopher to be discouraged by a first failure. He knew that it was a tough task to persuade many simple people, farmers and artisans, that a good system of education in a democracy was not a luxury, as some thought, but a need.”
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I believe that those with an ultraconservative ideological agenda are producing national policy that works against the egalitarian vision that Jefferson had for America, although they may not fully be aware of this because many, ironically, continue to perceive of Jefferson as their mentor. I hope that my voice will continue to speak for Jefferson’s egalitarian vision for our nation, and for his vision of public education, which I believe should not be part of the marketplace.
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Thomas Friedman, in his NY Times article of March 13, 2012, entitled “Capitalism, Version 2012,” wrote the following words of advice, to which Americans would be wise to heed:

“Capitalism and political systems — like companies — must constantly evolve to stay vital. People are watching how we evolve and whether our version of democratic capitalism can continue to thrive. A lot is at stake here. But if ‘we continue to treat politics as a reality show played for cheap theatrics,’ argues Rothkopf, ‘we increase the likelihood that the next chapter in the ongoing story of capitalism is going to be written somewhere else.’ ”

Ronin

March 22nd, 2012
12:48 pm

Mary Elizabeth, with all due respect, brevity should be your new best friend, not Thomas Jefferson.

Your comment: “Ronin, I simply cannot let you share such erroneous information about Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the architect behind the human rights and liberties that we are privileged to have inherited. You spread erroneous information and you do so in depicting Jefferson in stereotype. As a teacher, I cannot let that pass.*********************************************************************

Again, with all due respect. We have a difference of opinion on a subject and how history is interpreted. Further, it’s not your place to tell me what I can or can’t share on an open blog, even if you consider it to be erroneous or in your judgement “let it pass.”

We disagree on most social and educational issues, but you’re entitled to your opinion. However, others may interpret events and history different that you, how they perceive things and interpret events is not subject to your censorship. If you don’t agree with what I think, that’s fine, but your verbose commentary on Thomas Jefferson is bordering on obsessive compulsive behavior (OCB).

So please discontinue telling me how to interpret the books and information that I read.

That is why I mentioned earlier that those associated with the current district public/government schools need to learn the “art of compromise”. Those individuals (including yourself) have grown accustomed to, as head of the class, it’s my way or the highway mentality and speak as if yours is the only viewpoint. The only alternative that a parent had, if they didn’t approve of government schools, was to withdraw from the government system and pay for private school, or home school. Parents were held hostage to a monopoly government education system, that in Georgia has delivered abysmal results for decades.

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing the whining of individuals stating that “it’s a sad day for the kids of Georgia because the evil for profit companies are going to take our money”. Currently, for the majority of the public/government educated kids, the sad day is today, and the one that follows on on Friday, then again on Monday. It’s sad that we have become an educational laughingstock, but it’s true. 48th out of 50 states in testing doesn’t lie. We are a regional hub for business and international trade, yet we have one of the worst public school systems in the nation.
Government at the state level recognizes this and supports public education change as do a majority of the people.

I’m going to make a prediction. In five- ten years, the Charter schools, in some areas of the state, are going to blow the top off off the performance scales. You’re going to have highly motivated children with highly motivated parents working with educators that have fewer government restrictions, and people in the Legislator will be there to take credit for their creation.

I’m proud that the Legislature has the intestinal fortitude to take a bold step to free the children of Georgia by allowing the public to decide the future of public education in Georgia. Now, there is hope. Come November hopefully we can celebrate progress in Georgia public education which will allow true school choice and then proclaim, in the words of Dr. MLK “free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty…. we are free at last….. from a government monopoly education system.

that’s from the pulpit of the Church of the Painful truth.

Mary Elizabeth

March 22nd, 2012
3:02 pm

@Ronin, 12:48 pm

Ronin, you have given your opinions of Jefferson, but you have failed to document any books or articles from which you have gathered your opinions, as I have carefully done with my opinions of him. I have documented my source materials, and I have included the direct words of Jefferson, himself, so that that you – and others – may decide for yourselves what Jefferson was about, instead of my simply expecting readers to accept my remarks as fact, as you appear to expect by the absence of documentation. I neither said nor implied that I wanted to “censor” your thoughts or that I wanted to “tell you what you can or cannot share on an open blog.” Those are your words, not mine. I would never want to “censor” any blogger who is engaged in an honest exchange of thought. I simply wanted some kind of proof offered for your assertions. For instance, I think when you state that a person, such as Jefferson, was a “drinker” that that needs to be explained more fully and documented better because it has many negative connotations. When you state that Jefferson was “not a savvy businessman,” I think you need to document your source for that broad generalization about Jefferson’s ability to manage finances. I did not address the fact that you said Jefferson was “socially isolated in his views on education from the other founding fathers.” . However, I have never read that and I would have hoped that you would have given your source material for having made that statement, too.

You have, also, resorted to name calling, i.e. “your verbose commentary on Thomas Jefferson is bordering on obsessive compulsive behavior (OCB).” That remark was a personal one and was inappropriate, in my opinion, especially on a blog which is centered on the discussion of ideas.

We can certainly disagree without being disagreeable. I still perceive that you painted Jefferson in stereotype because your words are not detailed enough to back up your remarks, nor are your sources given. As a result of my assessment of that, I simply gave documentation to refute your assertions because I think that it important that a credible picture of Jefferson be given. My doing so was not personal against you, in any way, nor was I trying to “win” some kind of argument with you. I simply believe that it is important for readers to know the truth about one of the primary molders of our nation. My narrative was long, in part, because it contained much documentation of directly quoted paragraphs from specific source material – in order to refute what I believe were erroneous statements, on your part, relative to Jefferson.

You, and others, may want to read this link from my personal blog. It is called, “Danger Zone: Stereotypical Thinking.” The link follows:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2011/06/11/danger-zone-stereotypical-thinking/

I wish you well, Ronin. I simply urge you to document for readers any bold opinions given of our leaders. I also hope that you will resist resorting to name calling. You are certainly free to write anything that you wish. That is not up to me to censor. I would never desire to do that, anyway. However, I do have the responsibility, as I see it, to refute erroneous information (of which I am aware), especially if that information communicated reflects poorly upon the essential character of one of our primary founding fathers, and especially if Jefferson’s ideas are to be given credibility today, and perpetuated into the future.

Brandy

March 22nd, 2012
5:57 pm

@Grateful Parent, I hope you take your own advice and look beyond sources that fit your particular world view. I suggest you research academic citation practices in regards to judging the validity of a source–rarely is a press release viewed as a reliable source due to its inherently progandistic nature.

I will repeat that I applaud your choice to homeschool, but it should not be on the taxpayers’ dime. Homeschooling is a wonderful alternative that has existed for millenia; however, it should not be paid for by state and local governments (i.e. taxpayers), because it benefits the few at the expense of the many.

Grateful Parent

March 22nd, 2012
7:33 pm

Brandy,

Thanks for the reminder to consider sources of information, which is why any negative portrayal of an organization going up against the government education establishment by the NYT inspires skepticism. I know what a press release is, and in the case of this particular rebuttal, the arguments set forth coincide with my personal experience with this organization over the past 4 years. But I suppose I shouldn’t trust my own personal experience as my vision is marred by a fog of ultraconservative indoctrination!!

In fact, I have a pretty broad world view as someone who has lived, studied and worked in Western Europe and who has lived and studied in Russia. I speak French fluently and have rusty Russian. I met my husband in his Western European home country, where we visit friends and family regularly. I know enough about the world and about this country to say with confidence that your well-intentioned defense of the current U.S. system of public education is leading us exactly in the direction that good intentions usually do.

K12 virtual schools are not the same as homeschooling. I, too, admire homeschoolers – I would have never chosen that road prior to learning of the opportunity to enroll my kids in their virtual school. The support of and accountability to a certified teacher, optional online “classroom” learning sessions for my kids, regular assessments that reassure me they are progressing and online lesson plans are CRITICAL to my ability to pursue this option for my kids. And did I mention that I have no confidence in my own ability to evaluate and choose curriculum, so I love using a vetted curriculum – vetted by people who actually know something about curriculum, unlike me!

This is not homeschooling on the taxpayers’ dime. I know a lot of homeschoolers – they value their independence more than they do the taxpayers’ dime! This is about better schools for the “many” and not just the few that are brave enough to homeschool or rich enough to enroll their kids in private schools. How much longer do you suggest we wait for the public education establishment to get it’s act together??

Brandy

March 22nd, 2012
8:12 pm

@Grateful Parent, With 5 minutes of googling, I came across over 15 examples of online or distance learning options for homeschooling. Many provide the elements you highlight as reasons your program is not homeschooling. Just a few are below:
http://epgy.stanford.edu/
http://www.laurelsprings.com/aboutus/
http://www.setonhome.org/
http://www.utexas.edu/ce/k16/ut-high-school/overview/

These, just like your program, are homeschooling options whether you admit it or not. Remember, K12 is actually marketed to homeschoolers in areas where it is not available as a charter school.

I am confused by your statement that “This is about better schools for the ‘many’ and not just the few that are brave enough to homeschool or rich enough to enroll their kids in private schools.” How is at home online education for the many? For that matter, how is any charter school benefiting the many?

Finally, I, too, read and analyze articles critically, which is why I also referenced a Stanford (CREDO) conducted study. Is Stanford suspect in your view as too liberal? I found similar articles to the one I cited in both the Guardian (UK) and the Washington Post. Are these too liberal?

Obviously, you have no interest in considering opinions that do not fit into your world view. I hope that others who may come across the posts here and are considering charter schools or online education will be open minded enough to take both sides of the argument into consideration.

Cheryl Krichbaum

March 22nd, 2012
10:27 pm

Like Grateful Parent, I have great respect for teachers. What you do is amazing to me. You have patience and endurance beyond belief–all without the pay that you deserve. For those teachers who are on this list, keep it up and spread it to all your colleagues.

Brandy, although I am offended that you would think that I did not participate in the IEP team, I appreciate your posts. Very informative.

I, too, want the teaching profession esteemed. I do not think it’s right, in the least, that we pay what we do for education. It’s all messed up. We’re paying you to educate our children–OUR children.

I will support a grassroots movement from the teachers. But, unfortunately, what the public sees is the cheating scandal in the APS. Instead, we need to focus on improving the perception of teachers. (see http://www.ed.gov/blog/2012/02/launching-project-respect/)

We are getting a grassroots movement *from parents*–right now–in the form of charter schools. Independent charter schools are brought forward *by parents.* We want them here in GA because we’re dissatisfied with the public education that’s offered. This is not to say that the teachers aren’t doing their jobs. Most of them are. But the system is broken. The system needs to change.

While I was at the capital, I chatted with a teacher who works as a long-term substitute and has her Master’s Degree. Oh, and just in case it matters to anyone, she is African American. She pointed out a couple things to me that I found very interesting.

1–the Principal has got to have the teachers’ backs. If a kid is breaking policy and the teacher sends said student to the office, the Principal needs to provide consequences rather than sending the student back to the class without consequences. Support the teachers!

This is a systemic issue that needs to change.

2–Parents are intimidated by the schools. Parents who may not have much of an education are sending their kids to school–doing right by their children. But parents are made to feel dumb because they don’t know what the school knows.

I hadn’t thought about that before, but I’m sure she’s right based on my own experience. I come from a very educated family. Although no one had much money, my grandparents, parents, and I all went to college and got our bachelors degrees. Yet in our local school, I was made to feel like I didn’t belong there and to feel that my input was not welcomed nor informed. (BTW, they did come around to my way of thinking but only because they realized that his test scores would benefit them.)

This is a systemic problem that needs to change.

Mary Elizabeth said, “The business model of thinking in terms of competition may actually hurt education, in the long run. Educators are motivated to seek excellence in and of itself. Competition creates an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. That atmosphere is not good for classrooms. It is not good for students nor for teachers. It is counterproductive, in fact.”

I disagree. If you were to talk to teachers in an open enrollment situation (that is, one where schools compete for students), I think you’d find the teachers are not intimidated at all.

From a parent perspective in the open enrollment situation, I found that the competition resulted in schools being parent friendly. Schools that are parent friendly have higher attendance and more parent volunteer hours. Wouldn’t that be helpful to you as the teacher?

Also from a parent perspective in the special needs world, open enrollment provided better education for special ed students.

Mary Elizabeth talks about Mastery Learning. That’s fantastic. Is that Dr. Marzano? I haven’t read Marzano myself, but I understand that he is all about individualized education. Now, teach your colleagues how to do that. Mastery Learning needs to be system wide, not just in your classroom.

Our whole school does individualized education. That’s the expectation for all classrooms for all students. It’s a charter school.

Ronin

March 22nd, 2012
11:00 pm

Mary, this is waaaay to easy. It’s not up to me to document my opinion for you on a subject,as, it’s my opinion. If you want to bloviate about the workings of Thomas Jefferson with cut and paste documentation, that’s fine. My opinions are fact based and I simply don’t need to take the time to share every morsel that Thomas Jefferson worked 18 hours a day was in good health until age 83 and on and on and on and on.

I read a lot of material and have many liberal and conservative friends, yet, I find your commentary curious. You mention Thomas Jefferson in almost every post, really. Exactly what “name” or disparagement did you take from my observation?

As far as censorship: also easy: ***************** “Ronin, I simply cannot let you share such erroneous information about Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was the architect behind the human rights and liberties that we are privileged to have inherited. You spread erroneous information and you do so in depicting Jefferson in stereotype. As a teacher, I cannot let that pass. Here are the facts about Jefferson which will correct your erroneous information.**********************************

Mary Elizabeth:
YOU HAVE NO AUTHORITY TO AUTHORIZE WHAT FACTS ARE POSTED, GIVEN THAT YOU ARE NOT THE MODERATOR, SIMPLY A GUEST TO THIS FORUM, LIKE ME. (THE OWNER IS THE AJC AND/OR COX COMMUNICATIONS, WITH MAUREEN AS THE MODERATOR)

Simply because a statement does not agree with your mission statement, that gives you no cause to label it erroneous.

Point, you’re taking this way to seriously and yes other posters have mentioned this, ( and I have to agree) spend more time “doing” to advance liberal causes instead of blogging.

Oh, and this is a freebie, the documentation on Thomas Jefferson, from Monticello in Charlottesville, VA.

http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/debt

Debt

Thomas Jefferson bore the burden of substantial monetary debt throughout his life. Except for a brief period at the beginning of the nineteenth century,[1] it was not possible to declare bankruptcy and it was his reputation in large part that kept creditors at bay. While debt was not unusual for Virginia planters of his time, his eventually grew so ponderous that his family were forced to sell much of his property, including Monticello, after Jefferson’s death. His grandson and executor of his estate, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, posted an advertisement for his estate sale, indicating that Jefferson’s debts at his death amounted to $107,000. Converting this figure into a modern estimate is an inexact process at best, but it would probably be somewhere between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000.

Many factors contributed to Jefferson’s indebtedness, many of them beyond his control. These are only a few reasons behind the accumulation of his debt:

Jefferson inherited a great deal of debt from his father-in-law, John Wayles, when Wayles died in 1774.
Although Jefferson was wealthy in land and slaves, farming proved to be an unreliable and inadequate source of income. Also, although Jefferson himself was a major creditor, payments owed to him were unreliable and inadequate as well.
Jefferson lived perpetually beyond his means, spending large amounts of money on building projects, furnishings, wine, etc.
The financial panic that occurred in 1819 added a substantial burden onto his already-substantial debt. Also, he acquired debt from a friend in particular late in life. In 1818, Jefferson endorsed a $20,000 note for Wilson Cary Nicholas. Nicholas died in 1820, and Jefferson was forced to take on his unpaid debt.

FOOTNOTES

↑ The United States Congress did pass a bankruptcy law in 1800 because of “unsettled economic conditions from widespread speculation in new companies dealing in land and in government scrip.” However, it was repealed in 1803 after a return to prosperity and generally low public approval. (Concise Dictionary of American History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1983.)

FURTHER SOURCES

Sloan, Herbert. “Jefferson’s Debt and His Career as a Shopper.” Lecture delivered at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies on April 6, 2007. Available as a podcast {add link}.
Sloan, Herbert. Principle and Interest: Thomas Jefferson and the Problem of Debt. New York: Oxford University

Brandy

March 22nd, 2012
11:01 pm

@Cheryl, I did not mean to offend, simply to express my concern at your statement. Your child, if he or she is in special education, should be receiving instruction tailored to his or her strengths, weaknesses, and needs, whether at a traditional public school or a charter school. As an educator, I have encountered many parents who either refuse to accept the extent of their child’s disability(s), who expect the school to place unreasonable or no expectations on their disabled child, or who have unreasonable expectations of what their child can or cannot achieve. Assuming none of those problems to be present in your case, then I am surprised you did not pursue your and your child’s due process rights. Were it not for parents and students fighting to change the system, special education would not exist–by fighting for your child’s rights you could have made the situation better for another student and his or her family. Working within the system to change the system is the way to affect real change, not obstinately working against the system.

I don’t know what system you are in, but, here in Cobb all teaching is to mastery. Unfortunately, CRCT does not accurately gauge mastery of the content in any of tested subjects. The teachers I work with all strive to reach their students were they are, adapting the content to include both remediation and acceleration. This is the norm at every school at which I have worked. However, our class sizes are being raised to untenable levels due to budget cuts. Not another body will fit in many classrooms. Increasing the charter school options will, most likely, mean additional school budget cuts for traditional public schools. If a particular strategy is so great at the charter schools, why not apply it to the traditional public schools? If charter schools are successful because they operate outside the constraints placed upon traditional public schools, why not remove those constraints from all schools?

Obviously, you care about your child(ren). All good parents care about their children. But, the many should not and cannot be sacrificed for the benefit of the few. Why not place your passion and energy behind encouraging change at your zoned traditional public school and in your school system?

@Cheryl & Grateful,

“Certainly schools must play a critical role in assuring that these needs of national security can be met. Yet, while some of the data are disturbing, nothing in this report convinces me that that our public schools “constitute a very grave national security threat facing this country.

Indeed, claims of alarm can only set the stage for dramatic actions unsupported by evidence: in this case, market-based approaches to school reform, that, overall, have not demonstrated their effectiveness. Indeed, charter schools and vouchers are diverting funds and energy away from neighborhood schools, and the more successful ones rely on additional support from private sources (“voluntary taxation”), a situation that is neither sustainable nor scalable. Moreover, the drive toward “competition” can diminish individual commitment to the common good, thus undermining the very nature and purpose of public education: preparing young people of all backgrounds to become informed and active citizens who understand their rights and responsibilities to contribute to society and participate in the shaping of policies that affect their communities and the larger world. ” (dissent statement attached to Council of Foreign Relations task force report, written by Carole Artigiani, joined by Linda Darling-Hammond, Stephen M. Walt, and Randi Weingarten)

“One shortcoming is that this report accepts, uncritically and despite significant evidence to the contrary, that competition and privatization are essential — indeed perhaps the most important — strategies for improving public educational systems. It ignores the fact that the nations that have steeply improved achievement and equity and now rank at the top on the PISA tests (i.e., Finland, Singapore, and South Korea) have invested in strong public education systems that serve virtually all students, while nations that have aggressively pursued privatization, such as Chile, have a huge and growing divide between rich and poor that has led to dangerous levels of social unrest.

It also ignores research that raises serious cautions about the outcomes of unbridled privatization in education. Although I agree that many charters have done excellent work in serving diverse student populations, and I have personally worked closely with some of these schools, it is also true that the nation’s largest multistate study on charter schools found that charters have been, overall, more likely to underperform than to outperform district-run public schools serving similar students.

In addition, studies have found that, as a sector, charters serve significantly fewer special education students and English learners, and too many have found ways to keep out and push out students who struggle to learn. While touting the privatization of schools in New Orleans, the report fails to note that many high-need students have been rejected from charters there, that school exclusion rates are extraordinarily high, and that the Southern Poverty Law Center had to sue on behalf of special education students who were unable to gain admission to public schools.

Meanwhile, New Orleans remains the lowest-ranked district in the low-performing state of Louisiana. Similarly, the report neglects to mention the many studies that have failed to find positive outcomes of voucher systems when similar students are compared.

Finally, the report ignores the fact that our highest-achieving states have all built high-quality systems without charters, vouchers, educational management companies, or other forms of privatization…. “(dissent statement written by Linda Darling-Hammond, joined by Carole Artigiani, Stephen M. Walt, and Randi Weingarten)

“Fourth, there is no consensus among professional educators, academic scholars, or engaged citizens about the net impact of charter schools, vouchers, or other forms of privatization, because empirical evidence is mixed. The report leans heavily toward one side in this contested set of issues, however, thereby encouraging a policy course that could do more harm than good.” (dissent statement written by Stephen M. Walt, joined by Carole Artigiani, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Randi Weingarten)

“…The report rightly acknowledges that, ‘Public education is an essential institution in America’s quest to provide equality of opportunity and to ensure that social and economic mobility are available to all children, regardless of circumstances. It is not hyperbole to say that a robust system of public schools is essential to U.S. democracy.’

“Regrettably, some elements of this report actually undermine this vital institution. The report casts public schools in the worst possible light while ignoring facts to the contrary. It correctly states that parents should have great academic choices for their children, but certain recommendations may actually limit those choices. It advances recommendations that lack evidence of effectiveness while ignoring the lessons of high-achieving, fully public education systems in the United States and elsewhere. The report advocates privatization, competition, and market-based approaches that, while sounding compelling, have not worked in a scalable and sustainable way either here or abroad. Therefore, I must respectfully offer this partial dissent.

“The report rightly emphasizes the need for all students to have access to great schools and the opportunity to develop higher-order knowledge and skills. Yet by promoting policies like the current top-down, standardized test-driven accountability that has narrowed the curriculum and reinforced the teaching of lower-level skills, which President Obama correctly criticized in his recent State of the Union address, it does the opposite.

“The report goes to great lengths to blame a current generation of educators for their assumed institutional resistance to innovation when, in fact, the problem is less about an opposition to change than it is about too much churn and change. This adds to disrespect and the sharp demoralization of our current teaching force — something that is never seen in the countries that outcompete us. We ask teachers to do a lot, and while we have the responsibility to remove those who do not belong in the profession, we have just as great a responsibility to provide the tools, conditions, and support to the vast majority of teachers who do. Public schools have been buffeted by so many “silver bullet,” top-down solutions and unprecedented austerity measures that sound reforms with the potential to drive system-wide student success have not been consistently and equitably implemented.

“Vouchers and charters have not proven themselves to be sustainable or systemic ways to improve our schools. They will, instead, deplete badly needed resources from the public schools that educate nearly 90 percent of our students. We are concerned, therefore, that their favorable mention in this report—without accompanying comments about the problems inherent in each—could have the effect of “walking away” from the public responsibility and sufficient funding for public schooling. Decades of independent research show that vouchers do not improve outcomes for children who receive them or drive improvements in nearby neighborhood schools. Recent polling on communities of color and public school reform (conducted for the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, and others) showed that parents favor improving, not closing, struggling schools. Moreover, the countries that have enacted voucher systems, such as Chile, have not seen the improvements in achievement predicted by advocates. Chile, in fact, is the most socioeconomically segregated country regarding education opportunities, according to the OECD. (dissent statement written by Randi Weingarten, joined by Carole Artigiani, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Stephen M. Walt)

The people I have included are: Carole Artigiani, Global Kids, Inc; Linda Darling-Hammond, Stanford University professor; Randi Weingarten, president of the American of the Federation of Teachers; and Stephen M. Walt, Harvard University professor.

Ronin

March 22nd, 2012
11:13 pm

Greatful Parent, you bring great questions and solutions to the table, that’s more than I can say for others.

Ronin

March 22nd, 2012
11:19 pm

Horrors, I’ve been cast into the media filer pit…..

Mary Elizabeth

March 23rd, 2012
1:16 am

Brandy, 11:01 pm

Outstanding! Thank you very much for your comprehensive and highly coherent analysis. All I care to add is what I have previously said: There has been an ultraconsersative movement in our nation to promote privatization of government and to promote the dismantling of public sector functions (for the common good of all) since the 1970s. The iceberg of their intent is only, now, being fully exposed to public view. Their efforts can be seen in their attempts to privatize Social Security and Medicare, as well as in their attempts to eliminate as many state and federal jobs as possible. The city of Sandy Springs has become privatized in most of its service functions, as a model to other towns and cities in Georgia. Now we see clearly that this movement’s latest, and most intense, effort has been to transform traditional public schools into a privatized school model, whether through charter schools, school vouchers for private schools, online learning, or home schooling. However, those forces in America, not only in Georgia, who have been attempting to transform America from the egalitarian visions of Jefferson, Lincoln, and especially FDR, with his social safety net programs, to an America with an exclusively hierarchial business, privatized model for all of society did not expect to encounter a group as savvy to their stealthy machinations as public school teachers. Nor did they expect to find a group as vocal as public school teachers in exposing their cunning intent to transform not only our nation, but our traditional public schools, to fit their ideological agenda.

To All Public School Teachers: I think that if you have not joined your professional organizations, such as GAE, PAGE, or MACE, it is past time for you to do so. I, also, think that you should start thinking about the possibility of establishing actual teachers’ unions in Georgia. That, of course, would mean a crusade to change the state laws in Georgia from a right to work state. You should be able to recognize, by now, that you have not been afforded authentic respect as a public school teacher, nor as a public servant in giving of yourself to others. Few in state leadership are looking after your interests. Time to wake up. Time to protect yourself, and time to advocate for what you as an individual and what we, as a collective group, are about. And what we are about is the essence of what America was designed to be about – the inalienable human rights of each and every citizen, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson.

Brandy

March 23rd, 2012
5:06 am

@Mary Elizabeth, Wonderfully stated. I have to admit that, even having grown up in a relatively rural and conservative area of this highly Red state, I am often shocked at what our legislators and politicians come up with, at all levels. However, I haven’t been surprised by this current onslaught. It has striking parallels, in my opinion, to the push on science and mathematics focused instruction during the Space Race and Cold War that ultimately led to that most chillingly relevant best seller: Johnny Can’t Read. Less than a decade later, other reforms were being tried–anyone remember open schools, talking sticks, and horseshoes? Then, we realized that Johnny couldn’t add and some of Johnny’s classmates still couldn’t read either. Next came the 80’s and a push towards reforms that, again, didn’t have much affect–remember New Math? I, myself, was a product of the Hands-On Math! and Whole Language approach during the 90’s. While I excelled in the English Language Arts (yes, Whole Language worked for me), my learning disability in mathematics went undiagnosed due to the instruction models in Hands-On Math! NCLB, Race to the Top, and many of the other espoused reforms are just symptomatic of a larger trend in education: what I call the “bright and shiny” syndrome. Policy makers seize far too quickly on the new “it” theory, model, or delivery method, without taking the time to carefully analyze, evaluate, and critique it.

When I was in high school, I was on the debate team. My first year our official topic was “school reform”. Now, this was before NCLB and still during the Clinton era. My team mates and I had to research both sides of the issue thoroughly, ready to debate either side. One of the things that struck me as I was conducting my research was how many of the reforms had been tried over 30 years before and had been proven to have either little to no impact on student performance or to actually be detrimental to it. Private school vouchers, proto-charters (they used to be called lab schools), distance learning, school uniforms, and more were all tried during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. It was hard to locate evidence of their successes, easier to find proof of their faults. Were they all failures? No. But, many turned out to be less than what was promised. One personal example: My aunt and uncle both attended high school in the early to mid 60s in Florida. My aunt was educated at the top Catholic school in the area and my uncle (her now husband) was educated at one of the premier public high schools. Both remember classes were the instruction was provided via TV–my aunt’s calculus courses (1 & 2) and my uncle’s English and history courses. Both were top students and graduated near or at the top of the classes, but neither did well in the TV courses. Within two years of their graduation from high school, both the Catholic school and the public high schools in the area had completely scrapped the model. Is there anything we might learn from this that is relevant today? Of course: jumping in head first without weighing the consequences is often a fool’s errand. Remember, those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.

Now, some might read my posts and assume that I am opposed to school reform, that I am an obstinate supporter of a fatally flawed system. That is not true. In point of fact, I actually believe radical school reform should happen. To be frank, I believe that our system of education was designed, from the start, to fail–to keep the working class just educated enough to make them dependable workers, but not enough to question those in authority. I believe the only hope of completely fixing things would be to federalize education, make curricula standard in every school in every state, fund all schools equitably from one pool of money, institute a national curriculum or model for teacher education and certification (and professional development), equip all schools equally in terms of technology, books, materials, and facilities, and to make arts, both visual and performing, education and second (or third) language learning mandatory for all grade levels. I would even go further to make all schools bilingual with immersive instruction models beginning when students enter middle school. I would make special education more inclusive, more rigorous, and more focused on realistic outcomes. I would reintroduce vocational education options (including options allowing students to earn professional certifications while in high school) and make dual enrollment open to all qualified students. I would eliminate the ability to drop out of school completely and allow all students to attend until age 18 or graduation (21 for students with disabilities). And, while I was at it, I’d universalize paid parental leave, childcare, preschool, and healthcare.

BUT, I am, at heart, a realist. I know that none of what I would do is bound to happen anytime soon–or ever. Does that mean I’m going to run out and start my own school and expect taxpayers to fund it? No. Does that mean I am going to degrade educators, thereby degrading students and devaluing education? No. Does that mean I don’t do everything in my power to serve my students’ needs? No. Does that mean I am not going to speak up and fight for reform? Of course not. I simply choose to work within the system to change the system.

I find your posts thought provoking and insightful, even when we disagree. If you don’t find this offensive (not meant to be)–where you worship at the altar of Jefferson, I’m more of Franklin girl, myself. I tend to take a healthy dose of pragmatism along with my idealism. I think we need both of our approaches, pure, unadulterated idealism AND pragmatism, to affect change.

What I have trouble understanding is how, well, for lack of better words, selfish and mean-spirited some people can be about the whole thing. When did sacrificing the greater good for your own benefit become an admirable trait? Yes, on some level it is human nature. And, yes, many people have succeeded do to such a philosophy. But, it is also antithetical to many of the ideals we as a nation are founded upon and (once upon a time) hold dear. I am an addicted to a site and a magazine called Mental Floss (www.mentalfloss.com). This week they featured two stories that I hope everyone will remember before they decide to vote everyone else off the island: “On Heroic Self-Sacrifice: a London Park Devoted to Those Most Worth Remembering.” (http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/history/2012/03/on-heroic-self-sacrifice-a-london-park-devoted-to-those-most-worth-remembering/) and “8 Female Fighters of World War II” (http://www.mentalfloss.com/blogs/archives/120766). Sometimes we all need to remember that it is a good and wonderful thing to give of yourself for others in need, even when that gift means sacrificing your own life. As a practicing Christian and a human being, these stories of both ordinary people and extraordinary people who chose to do the right thing for others is truly moving. As far as I know, this is a virtue that is espoused by every major religion in the world and upheld by many who choose not to practice a religion. While we ordinary mortals often fail to live up to this virtue, I hope that we keep its message in our hearts as we embark upon decisions and changes that affect those most vulnerable and valuable: our children.

Brandy

March 23rd, 2012
5:10 am

That should read “have succeeded due to”. Need caffeine now!

You may now return to your regularly scheduled programming.

Grateful Parent

March 23rd, 2012
9:12 am

Brandy,

Set me straight if I’m wrong on this, but I’m reading (and I haven’t read all of it, I have kids with me all of the time!) your view to be that it is in the public interest to confine any efforts to improve the current system within the current system. In other words, any money that is collected from taxpayers – and it comes from the federal, state and local level – for education should be utilized at the discretion of the U.S.. Dept. of Ed, State School Boards and local school districts (local school boards?) Any influence that WE (because I am a citizen and and a taxpayer, too!) want to exert on how this money is used to educate OUR children is limited to what we can do at the ballot box and by lobbying our elected officials.

Second thing I want to clarify – do you really believe that the public schools are doing a good job overall? Do you dispute our ranking as a state in terms of education? Do you dispute our ranking as a country in math and science?

I know that this is an extremely complicated issue (and I would argue that it is such to a large degree because we make it such and because everything that government touches becomes such!), and I’m willing to admit that you have read a lot more and know a lot more than me on this subject from an academic and theoretical view.

HOWEVER, from a practical view – which is the world in which most of us live – I have 3 kids, and I never gave much thought to the U.S. education system until the oldest was in 1st grade. And because I no longer work full-time, I’m part of a 2-parent household, I’m college-educated and we have a good financial situation, I have a lot more time and resources to think about it than the average American parents do!

Again, from a practical standpoint, people invest a lot more time and effort in those “things” in which they believe they have meaningful choice. Most families who spend any time at all considering what quality of education their children will have do so when they’re looking to buy or rent a place to live and from that point on, they consider it “outsourced!” They have no meaningful choice in the matter – because homeschooling and private school do not represent a meaningful choice for the average family – for the parents of the “many.”

I simply argue that CHOICE is a more effective and expedient means of improving our education system. My husband’s home country (featured in Stossel’s “Stupid in America” – hint: we’re stupid, they’re not!) has nearly 100% publicly funded education – the only private schools are international schools for expats. However, you can enroll your kid in any school in the country. The country is the size of Maryland with dense population and very developed public transportation, so I understand the differences with the U.S.! However, as a result, they have some secondary schools that are more oriented toward college prep, others more vocational, some have a bent toward the arts, others toward sports/physical education and still others toward foreign language immersion. Some parents choose a particular school (especially at the elementary level), because it’s near Grandma’s house who provides childcare after school or because it’s near the office, and Mom or Dad can easily leave work to have lunch with their kid and can easily pick their kid up after work BEFORE fighting traffic home. I know that TEACHERS in the U.S. have the priviledge of enrolling their children in the school where they teach for these same reasons – if it’s good for “teacher parents,” why not for the rest of us?

So, do you really not understand why I believe that if we provide parents with REAL choices in how, where and by whom their children are educated, those parents will become more engaged and influence the system for the better – which will benefit all?

My husband and I run a small business – he is a dedicated and talented professional (and this is my most objective assessment!). I don’t know anyone of greater integrity or who is more conscientious about his work. We invest a lot of effort in hiring the best people we can find – any one of them could take their skills into the human healthcare arena and make a lot more money than they do in our industry. Despite how good we are, competition makes us better! We know that our clients do not HAVE to do business with us, and that keeps us in tune with their needs and at the top of our game. And because our clients have meaningful choices, they are more engaged in understanding the services that we offer – they’re better educated clients, and, for the most part, a joy to work with!

I’m sure you can quote me thousands of academic articles that would tell me why education is SO different from every other service profession, and you’re right – I’m not buying! Maybe we can agree that our education system is in dire need of improvement, we’ll have to disagree on how to go about it!

Mary Elizabeth

March 23rd, 2012
9:43 am

Brandy, 5:06 am

I agree with everything you have written, with the exception of tipping my hat, perhaps, a little more deeply to Jefferson than to Franklin although the great American statesman, Ben Franklin, would certainly get a very respectful bow from yours truly, also! :-)

I, too, have been an advocate for dramatic change within traditional public education, and in my prime, I worked in a model school that fostered such change as its Instructional Lead Teacher. I support all of the excellent suggestions that you have outlined, above, to change traditional public education by working within the system.

You make two statements above I want to address:

(1) “To be frank, I believe that our system of education was designed, from the start, to fail–to keep the working class just educated enough to make them dependable workers, but not enough to question those in authority.”

(2) “What I have trouble understanding is how, well, for lack of better words, selfish and mean-spirited some people can be about the whole thing. When did sacrificing the greater good for your own benefit become an admirable trait? Yes, on some level it is human nature. And, yes, many people have succeeded do to such a philosophy. But, it is also antithetical to many of the ideals we as a nation are founded upon and (once upon a time) hold dear.”

—————————————————————–

Brandy, I am now 69 years old. I grew up in south Georgia, as you did, but I spent nearly seven years of my twenties in New York City’s East Village. I worked and studied at nearby New York University. We are both products of a state that has been hierarchial in its vision and paternalistic in its attitude toward those citizens who are lower on the pecking order of power than themselves, and that has included, in the past, a paternalistic attitude toward African-Americans, women, and now we can see that same paternalistic attitude playing out toward Latinos and public school teachers.

One of the advantages of having lived as a New Yorker for nearly seven years of my life is that I have been able to witness, firsthand, the differences in the two cultures. The norm, there, was to encourage speaking out to authority, when needed, and to question if the authority in power was just. That same attitude of questioning authority was, also, encouraged in students and in teachers -in that place and in that time (the 1960s). I found from my experiences in living as a “native” in both locales, that the overall culture in NYC was one that valued intellectual development more than did the culture of the South. When intellectual development is given a high priority in a society, it follows, naturally, that citizens will question authority because they will have built the necessary internal confidence to question all, and questioning is not seen as threatening. (Hence, my deep respect for Jefferson’s vision. On his monument in DC are engraved his words: “I have sworn upon the altar of
God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”)

I am, also, old enough now – and I have read widely enough, especially since my retirement, regarding the political forces in our nation – to understand what has been happening politically, under the table, if you will. The ultraconservative forces have had a tenacity of purpose to change American society to fit their ideological vision since the days of FDR with his “New Deal” for America, which they have so resented for so long. Many who follow their lead (and their propaganda) do not realize, imo, how deeply they have been led by their stealthy machinations. All can, however, see the results of this radical movement. One result has been an American society that has become deeply fragmented because the private and public sectors are seen as enemies of one another instead of being viewed, with the more balanced vision, that both the public and the private sectors are necessary for the betterment of all.

It is my belief that the public sector keeps this nation more humane. When it is “starved,” you will see more of the harsher attitudes that you have well described in my #2 example, above. The private sector is built upon a hierarchial vision in which one does not feel equal to those in higher power positions, such as workers in relation to those who are owners or CEOs of major corporations. Yet, Jefferson proclaimed when this nation was formed that “all are created equal” which is an egalitarian vision. (Btw, Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, also, served on the Declaration of Independence Committee which shaped the basic tenets of our nation.)

So you see, my crusade for the continuing life of traditional public schools (reformed from within) is also, and perhaps more deeply, a crusade for the egalitarian vision that this nation was founded upon. Can you imagine an America in which the lower, working classes go to schools where they feel inhibited to question authority, and, then, they graduate to go to work in factories or corporations where they, also, feel intimidated and inhibited to question those in authority over them who are getting wealthier and accruing more power from their unquestioning labor? This is not what America was meant to become, but the forces of ultraconservatism are so powerful, today, that they are attempting to reshape America to fit their heirarchial ideology, and part of their plan is to dismantle traditional public education.

Brandy, I have been around a long time, and I have seen much in public education. I can sincerely tell you this: If you do not become a school administrator and an educational leader of the highest eschelon, it will be a waste of your potential, personally, and it will be a great loss for education and for the students in Georgia. Please consider moving into educational leadership. Perhaps, you can become an educational leader who will help to establish teachers’ unions in Georgia, which may finally move Georgia toward a more egalitarian way seeing and relating to all other human beings, irrespective of their external status. Think about it.

Brandy

March 23rd, 2012
4:51 pm

@Grateful Parent, First, please take the time to read all I wrote as I gave you the same courtesy. Second, I do not oppose choice, I simply believe that you, I, and every other stakeholder actually has plenty of choices: private school, homeschooling, moving to a different school zone/district, and working with the system to change the system. I don’t see charters as choice–they are thinly veiled attempts to de-fund and dismantle public education to benefit a few over the many. Obviously, you disagree, which is one of the beautiful things about the US: we both get a voice and we both get a vote. Unfortunately, the issue has been clouded by for-profits and capitalist-idealist investors who are bent on determining the outcomes of these decisions with the sole purpose of making a buck. Corporations may “be people” in the eyes of the Supreme Court, but they aren’t in many people’s eyes. The corporate shills need to get out of the field of public discourse so that it can return to being just that–public. Thank you for expressing your innate right as an American to use your voice. If we all keep it up, even when we disagree fundamentally, perhaps we can drown out the corporate double-speak.

Brandy

March 23rd, 2012
5:09 pm

@Mary Elizabeth, Wonderfully written and thank you for your kind words. I’m not sure I’m ed leadership material as I most enjoy working on the front lines, but I would like to become an advocate one day, many, many moons from now. I, too, have lived and worked outside of Georgia. While Maryland’s education system is no Maybach, it far exceeds Georgia in performance largely due to more equitable funding and a rigorous curriculum that is used across the entire state–the standards are the most well-written ones I’ve ever seen and I often find myself deferring to them where Georgia’s fall flat. But, I worked in Maryland’s “forgotten” quarter: Baltimore City. The only district more dysfunctional might be APS. Our saving grace many times was the powerful voice a real, true teachers’ union gave us. Was it perfect? No. But, it showed me how vital it is for the people most affected by changes and cuts to education to have a seat at the table: the teachers and the students. I would love to see a true teacher’s union here in Georgia, but I’m not sure that will ever happen due to centuries (now) of misinformation and prejudicial policies towards unions. But if we could form one, maybe real change could occur and last.
First example: When my mother was in elementary school in Florida during the 1960s, her classes were so overcrowded they had to hold classes at local churches and there were sometimes up to 50 students in a class. While in 5th grade, the district proposed further cuts and that was the straw that broke the camels back and drove teachers with no legal right to strike to do so: at a number of “town hall” style meetings, the board actively encouraged unqualified parents to cross the picket lines and to teach. Thankfully, brave and educated parents like my grandparents stood up and said “no”. They stood their ground and forced the district to increase the education funding, to decrease the class sizes, and to give the teachers (in that district only) the right to strike. You see Grateful Parent, it is possible to change the system by working with the system and parents need not be at odds with teachers.
Second Example: Raise your hand if you remember how we got Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., day as a recognized holiday here in Georgia. Atlanta bus drivers went on strike. They shut down the city and forced the Gold Dome to address the issue. Today, it is a state-recognized holiday and a teachable moment for us all.

Mary Elizabeth

March 23rd, 2012
7:53 pm

Brandy, 5:09

Again, your words are so inspiring. I can see why, too. You come from excellent stock! The story of your grandparents supporting the teachers in Florida took courage and insight from both of them. You must be very proud of their vision and their bravery.

Even though I am a white women, I supported integration of the schools in Georgia in the 1950s when I was in high school. I had progressive parents, too. My father was the City Manager of that small South Georgia town, and he promoted the first black man to a supervisory position in the city’s work force, which later cost my Dad his job, but my father said he would do it all over again, because the black man was the most qualified man for that position and he deserved that promotion. When my mother took my little sister to school, she observed that the principal was unfairly berating a black student and my Mom reprimanded the principal, herself, in front of others, simply because her heart was so moved by the humiliation the black child was experiencing because of the principal’s insensitive tone and words. So, you see, I come from good stock, as well!

When I am quite old, I hope to read about your leading the way for Georgia’s teachers, finally, to have a legitimate teachers’ union. Thank you for reminding us of the story of how we got MLK Day in Georgia. It started out as a sad story, but it had a happy ending because of the courage and passion of ordinary workers – bus drivers – to see justice done by going on strike, even if it cost them their jobs, which hopefully, it did not.

After Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize, the business leaders in “the city too busy to hate” were not going to honor that achievement to a native son, until the Woodruff family insisted upon it and their business connections followed the lead of that honorable family and honored King properly at a dinner with Atlanta’s business leaders. A good depiction of that evening and that era is put on film through Jessica Tandy’s and Morgan Freeman’s performances in “Driving Miss Daisy.”

Mary Elizabeth

March 23rd, 2012
8:12 pm

Brandy, 5:09 pm

Again, your words are so inspiring. I can see why, too. You come from excellent stock! The story of your grandparents supporting the teachers in Florida took courage and insight from both of them. You must be very proud of their vision and their bravery.

I have just attempted to post a couple of stories, that I shared with you, from my family’s history in Georgia during the days of Civil Rights Era. That post is awaiting moderation. Check back later; my post at 7:53 pm tonight might be released later. I would like for you to read those stories, if they are posted.

Mary Elizabeth

March 23rd, 2012
8:24 pm

Brandy, 5:09

Again, your words are so inspiring. I can see why, too. You come from excellent stock! The story of your grandparents supporting the teachers in Florida took courage and insight from both of them. You must be very proud of their vision and their bravery.

Even though I am a white women, I supported integration of the schools in Georgia in the 1950s when I was in high school. I had progressive parents, too. My father was the City Manager of that small South Georgia town, and he promoted the first black man to a supervisory position in the city’s work force, which later cost my Dad his job, but my father said he would do it all over again, because the black man was the most qualified man for that position and he deserved that promotion. When my mother took my little sister to school, she observed that the principal was unfairly berating a black student and my Mom reprimanded the principal, herself, in front of others, simply because her heart was so moved by the humiliation the black child was experiencing because of the principal’s insensitive tone and words. So, you see, I come from good stock, as well!

When I am quite old, I hope to read about your leading the way for Georgia’s teachers to have a legitimate teachers’ union. Thank you for reminding us of the story of how we got MLK Day in Georgia. It started out as a sad story, but it had a happy ending because of the courage and passion of ordinary workers – bus drivers – to see justice done.

After Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize, the business leaders in Atlanta were hesitant to honor that achievement to a native son, until Robert Woodruff, a major business and philanthropic leader in Altanta, signaled his support for a dinner honoring King. Thereafter, ticket sales for the dinner to honor King increased and the dinner was held. A good depiction of that evening, and of that era in Georgia, is put on film through Jessica Tandy’s and Morgan Freeman’s performances in “Driving Miss Daisy.” The courage of only a few voices can go a long way in correcting injustice.

Brandy

March 23rd, 2012
10:34 pm

Thanks, Mary Elizabeth! Wonderful stories.

Big Bill

March 26th, 2012
4:51 pm

Today’s Paul Krugman op-ed piece in the New York Times (3-26-12) is worth looking at in the context of the HR 1162 debate. It’s entitled “Lobbyists, Guns, and Money,” addresses the activities of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) around the country, and says this, among other things: “”And in case you’re wondering, no, the kind of privatization ALEC promotes isn’t in the public interest; instead of success stories what we are getting is a series of scandals. Private charter schools, for example, appear to deliver a lot of profits but little in the way of educational achievement.”

julia

March 28th, 2012
3:21 pm

Just one question: If a county does not approve the amendment, does it have the authority to reject this outlandish charter school idea? In other words, even if my county does not approve the amendment, can it opt out?

Maureen Downey

March 28th, 2012
3:47 pm

@julia. No. If it passes statewide by the required percentage, it becomes law.