Does charter school funding leave taxpayers holding the bag?

Regular Get Schooled blog readers know Cherokee businessman John Konop as an astute commenter on the economics of education. He’s also a great debater as he focuses on the facts and does not get carried away with politics or ideology.

And he posts under his name, which signals that he stands behind his comments.

Konop has sparked debate in Cherokee County over questions on the funding of a charter school there and who gets stuck with the bill. Konop raised these issues with the Cherokee County School Board at a recent meeting.

Here is a followup letter he sent board member Michael Geist:

Dear Mr. Geist,

According to a recent newspaper article, it seems you are still very confused about why you’re getting so much negative feedback about the lack of fiscal controls in the charter school amendment that you support. I will once again clarify the issues by explaining how the Cherokee Charter Academy (CCA) was funded and how the current charter school amendment fails protect tax payers.

• CCA’s owner/operators (a private company) were given over $1million of taxpayer money as start-up capital.

• CCA’s owner/operators receive a management contract that pays them close to $1 million a year (a rate that is higher on a percentage basis than what Cherokee County currently spends on our public schools). These funds are above and beyond the additional, regular operating money that charter schools receive from the school district.

• CCA’s owner/operators were not required to purchase a guaranteed bond (a form of insurance) that pays the school district in the event the CCA closes midyear (and dumps over 1,000 students back into the system).

If the CCA goes out of business — which looks increasingly likely — its owner/operators get to keep the $1 million start-up capital (and/or whatever assets they bought with it) and have no liabilities. You supported giving a private company over a million dollars, guaranteed profit, and NO downside risk.

This is a terrible deal for taxpayers. You should NOT support forcing taxpayers to capitalize private companies or give them no-obligation government contracts. As a public school board member, your duty is to protect the school’s assets, not look for creative ways to squander them.

The taxpayers of Cherokee County have already been burned with similar deals. For example, we may lose $50 million that went to fund a private recycler that went bust (leaving taxpayers again holding the bag). As you well know, taxpayers across the country have already lost massive amounts of money in poorly structured charter schools deals. For the record, I support charter schools and believe they play an important and positive role in our education system. What I do not support is officeholders like you that make foolish and emotional decisions with taxpayer money.

In closing, Mr. Geist, here are some questions that the taxpayers of Cherokee County would like your answers to:

•Please list all the other school district services that a vendor can perform where taxpayers provide free start-up capital and guaranteed revenue, all with no penalty for failure to perform. Assuming you can’t provide such a list, why did you support the private owner/operators of the Cherokee Charter Academy receiving such a deal?

• Why do you support a charter amendment that does not include the taxpayer protections needed to prevent CCA-like deals from happening again?

Regards,

John Konop

–From Maureen Downey for the AJC Get Schooled blog

305 comments Add your comment

catlady

September 10th, 2012
11:16 am

To the point and excellently written! Thanks, John! Send a copy to our governor, et al.

bootney farnsworth

September 10th, 2012
11:22 am

said it before, will say it again.

I have no issue with Charters as a concept. but they must find a community partner to offset their start up and unique upkeep costs.

we’ll pay the teachers, you pay the facilities.

bootney farnsworth

September 10th, 2012
11:26 am

what is silliest to me is Giest thinking we can afford to bankroll a technically unnecessary venture in this economy. when is the last time Cherokee teachers saw a raise…?

who does he think he is, Sonny Perdue?

Mary Elizabeth

September 10th, 2012
11:32 am

“This is a terrible deal for taxpayers. You should NOT support forcing taxpayers to capitalize private companies or give them no-obligation government contracts.”
==============================================

As a senior citizen who has not had a child in public schools for over a dozen years, I balk at having to pay my public school taxes in order to support the purposes of profiteers who are taking public funds meant for the not-for-profit education of all public school children.

More people need to be aware of the intent of ideologues who have stealthily controlling the direction of our nation (privatization of public programs) and the destiny of public education, in this regard. The ideological vision begins the process which, thereafter, filters down to community situations, such as the one Mr. Konop has so ably described.

I posted the following broadcast regarding what has been happening, ideologically, in our nation for several decades, on Jay Bookman’s blog yesterday. I will repost it here, in the hope that some will read the book,”The Betrayal of the American Dream,” or try to see the C-Span2 rebroadcast about that book, in the coming weekends, to be more aware of the source of what has been happening in America, which has deeply effected public education:

“For anyone who wishes to hear an erudite discussion of why the American middle class has been shrinking and the very richest Americans thriving, tune in right now (yesterday at noon) to C-Span 2’s “After Words” discussion until 1 pm with with Juan Williams, moderator, and James Steele, co-author of The Betrayal of the American Dream,” and Don Bartlett, the other co-author. The discussion involves politicians being bought, etc. The discussion is in depth.”

Also, please be aware of the information in the following link, which came from a link on the “Virtual Schools” thread of this blog. (I posted the following comments on this blog on Sept. 8, 2012, at 7:08 am.):

“Here is more for the public to view – it will open your eyes – of what is happening via ALEC and public education, with a profit a motive for corporations. See the graph below, which I just saw and read, from the “Portland papers” link in the article, above. (”Virtual Schools” thread of this blog):

http://media.kjonline.com/images/virtualschoolsfull.jpg

Cellophane

September 10th, 2012
11:36 am

These private charter school management companies should have to BID for the contracts to run these schools. In this case, Charter Schools USA created a front non-profit organization, Georgia Charter Education Foundation (they even registered it in Florida first– oops!) to hire themselves as the operator. The non-profit board is not elected by anyone, not even parents at the school, and the management company creates the budget (including whatever management fee they want) for the puppet board approval each year. What a deal!

Teacher Reader

September 10th, 2012
11:50 am

Children in charter schools and public schools should have the same amounts of money spent on them. The school districts should get funding for the children that actually have and the charter schools should get funding for the children that they are servicing. The same goes for the extra money collected for schools through property taxes. Our children and parents deserve choices as right now many of Georgia’s school districts are just too large and are failing our children.

Dunwoody Mom

September 10th, 2012
12:03 pm

CCA’s owner/operators (a private company) were given over $1million of taxpayer money as start-up capital

But, wait…I thought charter schools were public schools? I mean how many public schools do you know that are owned by private companies???

MANGLER

September 10th, 2012
12:08 pm

Another issue I’ve always had with the concept of Charter Schools is that the system of paying people to move away from their local schools provides no incentives for the local school to perform better. If parents truly want their kids in a different school for whatever reason, then it should be up to them to move into that district. Why force everyone else to pay for their choice? That’s just referring to public school movements. Giving the money to private schools is even more ridiculous.

If a community cannot work together to support itself and it’s students, then what makes anyone think that paying to ship those students somewhere else will have any better results? You’ll end up with the under perfoming schools closing from lack of students and the schools into which they transferred will become overburdened and suffer. Rinse, lather, repeat.

Unless you want to have one huge school campus and everyone from an entire region all goes to that one school, it’s got to be up to the communities. Otherwise why even bother having school districts in the first place?

Reality_Check

September 10th, 2012
12:10 pm

Again, this is an effort to have privately-operated, publicly-funded schools which have very little or no accountability to anyone. This Cherokee County venture is a very good example of the reasons this amendment should always fail in Georgia.

Centrist

September 10th, 2012
12:11 pm

From the linked article (whose reporter is obviously opposed to the Charter school amendment as is this blog author) and the well written follow up letter from Mr. Konop, I would stand opposed to the amendment also. I await a response from either school board member Mr. Geist or other representatives supporting the amendment. I hope such a response will get equal time on this blog.

yuzeyurbrane

September 10th, 2012
12:29 pm

I am pleasantly surprised to find Centrist and I in agreement. My thanks to Mr. Konop and to you, Maureen, for continuing to follow the money. I think this is a big rock to overturn and what you see will lead to the highest levels of state government.

Ned

September 10th, 2012
12:43 pm

Once again we see people not understanding that

Centrist

September 10th, 2012
12:45 pm

@ yuzeyurbrane – We are not yet in agreement. While I await representative leader supporter’s response, I do note that districts seem to have facilities (property taxed?) as collateral for the seed money. It is still an open question to me whether that is enough of an offset, or whether other at risk collateral such as a bond is needed. Unlike many ideological partisans, my mind is still open on this subject. It seems to me that Mr. Konop is like me on this issue from this comment in his letter: “For the record, I support charter schools and believe they play an important and positive role in our education system”.

10:10 am

September 10th, 2012
12:45 pm

Understand, Mr. Konop, that your opinions are only useful to obsessed anti-choice crusaders such as Maureen insofar as they support limiting the number of charter schools. And parental choice.

Any critical assessment of how public education arrived at its current sorry state are most unwelcome.

Ned

September 10th, 2012
12:51 pm

Well, I don’t know what just happened.
I was trying to say that once again we see people not understanding that not all charters are the same. MOST charters are start-up or conversion schools approved by local boards, not by the state,and they get generally less $ per student than is spent on students in mainstream schools. FOR PROFIT CHARTERS ARE NOT TYPICAL CHARTERS.
You would think a blogger/journalist whose own kids attend a charter system might feel inclined to explain how NOT ALL CHARTERS ARE THE SAME.
For the record, I am opposed to the amendment, not because I am opposed to there being some route of appeal when local boards arbitrarily vote down a charter, but because this is so transparently about sending tax dollars to private corporations. If the amendment were accompanied by a restriction requiring funding go only to non-profit schools I’d be all for it.

Marney

September 10th, 2012
12:58 pm

Does Public School Board Funding Leave Georgia Taxpayers holding the bag?

Dekalb county…

Rico indictments of former Superintendent and COO.
$40M in Lawyer’s charges accrued for lawsuit where former COO now under indictment was to be star witness.
$43M shortfall in SPLOST program because CFO left from former leadership “forgot” they would have to pay interest on earlier bond funding so they could build early
$24M+ overspent to fiscal 2012 budget
Moody’s downgrades credit rating of district twice in the last 6 months
$90M in tax anticipation notes needed in order to be assured of meeting payroll till xmas
Only 4 high schools passing AYP the last year NCLB was in effect and the highest number of AYP transfer request of any district east of the Mississippi.

Pending lawsuit over failure to fund social security for Teachers.

And…
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/09/06/dekalb-will-deal-with-accreditation-issues-behind-closed-doors-big-mistake/

Could we please address the problem that traps 96,000 children?

Once Again

September 10th, 2012
1:04 pm

Problems with private companies failing our children while profitting but consistent support year after year for a government system that fails our children and employs tens of thousands in the process.

Seems like a bit of hipocracy to me.

Marney

September 10th, 2012
1:11 pm

If we are to talk about capital funding perhaps you would consider this, which is far more typical :

http://littlebillclinton.csmonitor.com/littlebillclinton/2009/03/09/charter-schools%E2%80%99-biggest-crisis-a-place-to-call-home/

Dekalb county has finally allowed ICS to use a vacant elementary school, 3 years after the legislature passed a bill that required districts to make available “unused” buildings… Commission schools were not anticipated by the law. I don’t think the Cherokee example is typical and, if true, I’m not going to defend it. But I would affirm, and hope that after you look through some of the other articles on this website that you will agree: ALL CHARTERS are not the same.

Karl Marx

September 10th, 2012
1:16 pm

Excuse me but Cherokee County is not spending one thin dime on any charter Schools. All of the charter school funding is coming from the state which the local system would not be getting anyway. The real question is what is Cherokee County Public school is doing with the local taxes they receive for the 1000 students that are not attending the public schools. BTW someone should look into construction contracts. Our grandkids will be paying the debt the school board has run up building new way over priced schools.

Once Again

September 10th, 2012
1:22 pm

Either you are against having your money stolen to be spent on unaccountable failure or you are not. The solution is to end the theft and let the market provide its inherent accountability that no government program ever can.

Bernie

September 10th, 2012
1:28 pm

This proposes plan will not only leave The Georgia taxpayer with a bag of unjustifiable and unwise expenses, but will cause even more financial distress and harm to all of the struggling school systems across the STATE.

In addition to the millions of Georgia students who will be abandoned and not have access to the same quality of education as those lucky enough to get slots into these planned Charter schools. How can the citizens of Georgia possibly trust our Political Leadership on the handling of $430 million new Education spending on a New UNTESTED and UNPROVEN State Wide program such as the one proposed?

The amount of money set aside is only the initial investment. Surely there will be untold millions to follow in future years. Spending that will benefit only a very small percentage of Georgia students and completely ignoring the vast majority of our student population. A time when the importance of a good and quality education is paramount to ALL of our children’s future success.

This investment is not a good way to spend Taxpayer money in times of dire financial stress. Especially when the many current school systems across this great State, are presently struggling just to get their budgets in a manageable position to provide for All of its students they now presently serve.

This proposal is a classic example of the failure of Political Leadership giving in to the plans of a National Political Party. Despite the obvious facts of the sizable potential failure before them. Our leaders are forging ahead strong willed, to implement a plan that is clearly of a political Party’s invention and not in the best interest of the people they serve.

Just as in T-SPLOST the taxpayers money is the the chopping Block for dispersion and use for the politically connected, family members,church members, business associates, and select campaign donors.

We all should reject this plan as was T-SPLOST. The millions of Georgia’s students DESERVE better CARE and TREATMENT from our existing Political Leaders.

Mary Elizabeth

September 10th, 2012
1:45 pm

I do not support using children for profit. “The market” belongs in the business world, not in the educational domain. Public schools should be improved, not dismantled. Public charter schools, that have been authorized by local school districts, could help in that improvement, by working with the school districts. If parents cannot get a particular charter school authorized by their local Board of Education, then they can appeal that decision of their Board to the state’s Board of Education via the state’s Superintendent of Schools. The State Commission for Charter Schools is not necessary, and it appears to be, in part, politically motivated, in my assessment.

John Konop

September 10th, 2012
1:49 pm

Karl Marx,

…. Excuse me but Cherokee County is not spending one thin dime on any charter Schools. All of the charter school funding is coming from the state which the local system would not be getting anyway…..

The money came from state and federal taxes. As a tax payer, no matter what pocket it comes from I want it to be fiscally rational transaction. Is that asking too much?

Ernest

September 10th, 2012
2:08 pm

Mary Elizabeth, well stated at 1:45pm!

yuzeyurbrane

September 10th, 2012
2:23 pm

Once Again @ 1:22 pm—if you believe that is the problem, there already is a solution. It is called private schools.

CharterStarter, Too

September 10th, 2012
2:23 pm

I can address Mr. Konop’s statements and assertions.

Related to “lack of fiscal controls” for charter schools:

To start with, there are several controls in place to protect tax payers:
1. Charters must submit an independent audit each year, pursuant to 20-2-2065(b)(7).

2. Charters must annually submit a report to the state Department of Education, which includes a copy of the audit and reports on all goals, including financial goals.

3. Under the Charter Schools Act of 1998, a provision for the state to close a charter includes:
a. (c) A failure to meet generally accepted standards of fiscal management.

4. Charters earn their funds monthly, not an allotment for a full year. For those engaging the services of a management company, they do not turn over the full allotment to the EMO for the year. It is asinine to state the excessive risk in these terms, as they do not exist.

5. SBOE Rule 160-4-9.04 (g) states: upon termination, whether initiated during the charter term or at the end of the charter term and with or without the consent of the charter school, all assets and unencumbered funds for the terminated local charter school remaining after liabilities have been satisfied shall revert to the local board or boards. All assets and unencumbered funds of a state chartered special school shall revert to the Office of the Treasury and Fiscal Services (for state or federal funds) or the local board or boards (for local funds.)

6. Cherokee Charter Academy was under the Commission Statute, which also provided protection. 20-2-2089 stated, “If a charter is not renewed or is terminated, the commission charter school shall be responsible for all debts of such charter school. The local school system may not assume the debt from any contract for services made between the governing body of the commission charter school and a third party, except for a debt for which the local school system has agreed upon in writing to assume responsibility.”

Konop says: “CCA’s owner/operators (a private company) were given over $1million of taxpayer money as start-up capital.”

Praytell, to what “$1M of taxpayer money” are you referring? Start up capital is not provided except through a Federal Implementation Grant, for which schools may only apply allowable expenses and must first invest and then have reimbursement requests approved by the state. The assets procured belong to the school, not the management company.

Konop says: “CCA’s owner/operators receive a management contract that pays them close to $1 million a year (a rate that is higher on a percentage basis than what Cherokee County currently spends on our public schools). These funds are above and beyond the additional, regular operating money that charter schools receive from the school district.”

I find it somewhat ridiculous that you are concerned about spending $1M for an organization to manage a school (for central administration which includes personnel, finance, legal/regulatory, instruction, assessment, insurance, etc.), and yet…

Cherokee County spent $127,770.53 on 2 secretaries to support 1 person – Dr. P, plus his salary of $225,953.54 – and NONE of these 3 handle personnel, finance, legal/regulatory, or instruction. The district spends another $8M just in central office personnel. Who is holding the district accountable for their egregious spending? Let’s see – at $7917 per pupil in Cherokee County, these two secretaries and Dr. P’s salary could have funded 44.6 students education…plus the central admin costs could fund another 997 students.

Taking Cherokee out of the equation and just looking in general at how tax payers are protected from district mismanagement. Please tell me how DeKalb County tax payers have been protected from the $63M hole the district has dug? Please tell me how a district like Baker County has been under a mandated corrections plan due to significant audit findings since 2008 that they have YET to correct. If these districts were charter schools, they would have been closed. Tell me, Mr. Konop, how is the taxpayer protected?

Marney

September 10th, 2012
2:32 pm

Mary Elizabeth. The Elephant in the room is that a straight reading of the legal opinion that struck down the commission could also equally apply to the process of direct state board approval–those schools are probably unconstitutional as well. It’s just that they weren’t contested in the lawsuit.

For a long time the state board would not approve anything that the locals didn’t, because none of them could produce balanced budgets on only state FTE funding. They quickly “caught” the ones the appeared to be good ones orphaned by the commission’s demise. But the “extraordinary emergency funding” that the governor promised was only supposed to be 1 year. If the state were to establish an ongoing flow of subsidy to state chartered schools, don’t you think someone will go back to court to close them down as well? That it hasn’t happened yet is merely that strategically the foes of competition know that the “added lawyer of government” point should be won first.

This begs a couple of questions…if straight state FTE funding is inadequate for long term maintenance of a program of any quality (discounting the federal launch money) than how can the state say that they are fulfilling their constitutional responsibility to provide an adequate education.

Second—you still must deal with the question of why local board do or don’t approve charters. A self-important, poorly preforming school administration or board is unlikely to suddenly put children or parent concerns first in the case of a competent charter applicant.

Centrist

September 10th, 2012
2:38 pm

John Konop posted “The money came from state and federal taxes. As a tax payer, no matter what pocket it comes from I want it to be fiscally rational transaction. Is that asking too much?”

Absolutely not. But the post above from CharterStarter, Too seems to address your issues. What say you?

yuzeyurbrane posted “if you believe that is the problem, there already is a solution. It is called private schools.”

It is only a solution to those parents who can comfortably (and uncomfortably in some circumstances) afford to pay school taxes and private school tuition.

After reading the detailed post from CharterStarter, Too – I am swaying back toward supporting the Charter school amendment, but still learning with two months to go before I vote.

It must be nice to be a partisan knee jerk voter who doesn’t have to weigh both sides of an issue and vote according to party political ideology.

John Konop

September 10th, 2012
2:57 pm

Charter,

Obviously the charter schools that went out business in Georgia and around the country demonstrate the lack of controls. Secondly the fee portion of close to a million dollars year is paid to the private company as a service, nothing allows any crawl back rights to that money or any assets accumulated by the private company. That is why it is a joke to call this a public charter school ie follow the money. Also the start-up capital was the Obama stimulus money that was given via grants. As I said I would love a business deal that the government give me matching dollars for a start-up with a contract that guarantees me close to a million a year with no penalties or obligations.

Mary Elizabeth

September 10th, 2012
3:06 pm

Thank you, Ernest.

Prof

September 10th, 2012
3:20 pm

Just as an observation to CharterStarter, Too, you often seem to shift the ground of the argument when answering criticisms, a real logical fallacy that’s quite misleading. For example:

John Konop is questioning the private CCA owner and operators being given more than $1 million of taxpayer money as start-up capital, which seems to me a real problem as a taxpayer. Your reply to him: “I find it somewhat ridiculous that you are concerned about spending $1M for an organization to manage a school (for central administration which includes personnel, finance, legal/regulatory, instruction, assessment, insurance, etc.), and yet… ”

And then you go off on an unrelated tangent to discuss expenses of Cherokee County re. 2 secretaries and central office personnel, and DeKalb County’s fiscal problems. But you still haven’t discussed the point that John Konop brings up about taxpayers’ money being paid to a private company, without any oversight or penalties for failure.

Mary Elizabeth

September 10th, 2012
3:37 pm

Marney, 2:32 pm

With the courage that Republican State Superintendent of Schools John Barge has demonstrated in not supporting the Constitutional Amendment because of his concern for the financial viability of all public schools in Georgia, I trust his word that parents do have the right to appeal local Board of Education decisions regarding charter schools to his office, directly.

sneak peek into education

September 10th, 2012
3:48 pm

@prof and charter starter-

Well done, prof. You took the words out of my mouth. When there is no response to the argument, the old tactic of deflection and finger pointing ensues. There are a number of horror stories of for-profit charter schools on the web that have lined their own pockets at the tax payers expense. I am not saying that our public schools are perfect but we should be working together to build those up. I am getting tired of hearing the BIG LIE that our schools are failing when it has been shown that schools that serve the communities with little or no poverty are outperforming the rest of the world-the ones that struggle continue to be those with a higher level of poverty.

By the way, when at the movies yesterday they previewed one of the biggest propaganda movies of the year “Won’t Back Down”. It is based on so many untruths and has been bank rolled by the reformers to paint teachers as heartless, uncaring, and evil and the unions as obstructionists.Much to my daughter’s dismay, I yelled out LIES and booed while they played it. The current reforms are all about a shift in money and power into the hands of the wealthy-not the parents/students that they portend to serve.

Karl Marx

September 10th, 2012
3:51 pm

Actually Mr. Konop it matters a great deal where the money comes from. While you say what happens when a charter School fails is the “Local School district” get hit with a surcharge however the TRUTH is the local school district is collecting taxes and keeping the money. They do not pass the local tax component on to the Charter school they keep it. So the fact is the local public school board is keeping the local tax dollars to educate those kids in charter schools. What are they doing with it? Obviously those funds are a windfall for the local school boards and they are getting money for kids they do not teach.

jarvis

September 10th, 2012
4:06 pm

@Karl, Cherokee County has 8 fulough days next this year. Maybe the used the funds to prevent a 9th.

John Konop

September 10th, 2012
4:07 pm

Karl Marx,

In all due respect, people who support your logic is why our country is so far in the red. I have news for you we cannot afford the game you support much longer.

jarvis

September 10th, 2012
4:15 pm

Once Again

September 10th, 2012
4:23 pm

yuzeyurbrane – Yes, an option, but certainly NOT the free market. You can’t take your money with you, there are tons of regulations that restrict access for competition, and countless other regulations that impeed parents being able to take personal responsibility in an affordable manner.

And then of course is the money that everyone else has taken from them that don’t even have children, etc.

Marney

September 10th, 2012
4:23 pm

Mary, what you find out after a while is that “charters” as a political cuts not as Republican/Democrat but as those comfortable with the status quo and invested in it vs. those who are not. Kathy Ashe, a Democrat, was the originator of the original Charter school Legislation back in the late ’80’s. I respect her greatly. John Barge was is more a product of the educational establishment than the Republican machine(which greatly respected Joe Martin), and his turf is comparatively enlarged if the amendment fails.

CharterStarter, Too

September 10th, 2012
4:55 pm

@ Mr. Konop: Please tell me which schools in Georgia have closed due to financial issues, and of these, which are operated by management organization.

Secondly, yes, it is a service. As I stated, they provide personnel, financial, legal and regulator, curriculum development, assessment, insurance, etc. So does a central office, which, was my related point that Prof seemed to miss. Nothing allows “crawl back” rights to the money districts spend on wasted central office bloat either. That’s why oversight of charters AND district should be rigorous. Charters have a stiff consequence if they get out of line – districts don’t.

@ Prof – I DID answer the questions Konop posed – I answered them directly and quoted both the law and state board rules to refute his assertions. Moreover, I believe what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, so I posed the very SAME question back to him with districts as an example (instead of the one he likes to single out – Cherokee Charter Academy). He has not responded to MY questions though.

yuzeyurbrane

September 10th, 2012
5:06 pm

Centrist @ 2:38–you really quoted me out of context in a manner that is unfair to my comment and also to CharterStarter. My quote was not in response to anything Charter Starter posted but was a response to a 1:22 post by Once Again in which he stated: “The solution is to end the theft and let the market provide its inherent accountability that no government program ever can.” I simply stated the obvious. We already have that approach and it is called private school. Also, I think it is fair to infer that I don’t think this is a solution available to many to the problems of public education.

Once Again @4:23–I don’t really understand your rationale for arguing that private schools are not the free market, but I would be willing to listen to further explanation of your point.

CharterStarter, Too

September 10th, 2012
5:08 pm

It is pretty interesting to me to hear that Cherokee County has 8 furlough days. Dr. P told his teachers that Cherokee Charter Academy would be taking their money and causing furloughs….

And here we are. Cherokee County has not lost a dime of local funding and they are STILL furloughing. Dr. P took a 6% RAISE from 2010-11 (as did his secretaries). And did you all know that Dr. P, in 2010 had 6 (yes, 6) Superintendent Secretaries paid $304,848.62. Wonder how many furlough days that would have helped? His Superintendent Secretary staff is bigger than the whole Charter Commission staff!

Mary Elizabeth

September 10th, 2012
5:15 pm

Marney, 4:23 pm

Marney, I do not perceive the charter movement as simply a Republican or Democratic movement. It is a multifaceted movement. For instance, I support traditional public schools, with improvements made within, and I, also. support public charter schools that work in alliance with traditional public schools, not against them. I do not support the Constitutional Amendment mainly because I perceive that it is political in nature, in large part, and also because I do not believe that it is needed. Those wealthy, powerful ideologues, of national standing, who are supporting the charter school movement and who do not support traditional public education are, however, Republicans, not Democrats.

I only mentioned that Superintendent Barge was a Republican in my last post because I believe that it took courage for him to transcend the political interests of his fellow Republicans. You may recall the harsh criticisms he received from other Republicans, who are in power positions in Georgia, because of his having made the decision that he did regarding the Constitutional Amendment.

Moreover, as I recall, it was Democratic Rep. Kathy Ashe, a member of the House Education Committee, who advised that Education Committee to go “slow” in the Charter Constitutional Amendment issue in order that members might fully understand what repercussions that bill might have, in days and years to come, upon students and schools in Georgia. In my opinion, her words of not rushing into decision-making, relative to that bill, to the Education Committee were wise and courageous remarks. As you have stated, she supports charter schools overall, as I do.

President Obama advocates for charter schools, but he also support traditional public schools. He said in his speech at the DNC last week, “And now you have a choice – we can gut education, or we can decide that in the United States of America, no child should have her dreams deferred because of a crowded classroom or a crumbling school. No family should have to set aside a college acceptance letter because they don’t have the money.”

http://educationvotes.nea.org/2012/09/07/obama-biden-stand-up-for-students-education-at-convention/

Centrist

September 10th, 2012
5:21 pm

@ yuzeyurbrane – I quoted you accurately, and I never said private schools are not free market. I plainly said they are beyond those who do not have the means to pay both school taxes and private tuitions, and are not the solution you suggest.

CharterStarter, Too has done an excellent job of addressing every issue opponents have thrown up, and most of the opponents here are simply liberal partisans.

Ron F.

September 10th, 2012
5:23 pm

“The solution is to end the theft and let the market provide its inherent accountability that no government program ever can”

Well, while that makes a nice bumper sticker, it doesn’t answer the questions inherent here. As Charter Starter points out, the assets after all liabilities are paid returns to the system. Well, what about those liabilities? It would seem the company itselft should have to pay those liabilities if it failed to succeed as well as any tax dollars (whether local, state, or federal) back also. If you want the market to run the show, then the players in the market must be willing and required by law to be responsible.

@Charter Starter: “Charters have a stiff consequence if they get out of line – districts don’t.”

Now that I agree with! That is a problem that education law needs to address, whether traditional public or charter school. I think a great many of the problems we see with school systems could be, and in fact should be, controlled. There wouldn’t be the need for a “new” system to redo it all, at some expense to both private and public funds, if we would just address that very issue.

Ron F.

September 10th, 2012
5:26 pm

@ ME: “I do not support the Constitutional Amendment mainly because I perceive that it is political in nature, in large part, and also because I do not believe that it is needed.”

If there weren’t so many cantankerous, divisive politicians pushing this, I just might give it more consideration. As it is, those who truly are trying to find a way to make charter schools work are overshadowed by the fools who are only in this for personal and political gain. I don’t trust them, and the truly honest up there seem to be few and far between.

John Konop

September 10th, 2012
5:34 pm

Charter,

In all due respect, it is obvious you are taking a fanatic position on Charter schools. Numerous charter schools across the country and Georgia have gone out of business with simular watered down requirements. You obviously have never run a business or you would laugh at the requirements. This deal is fairly simple. The private management company put up about 1 year of profits paid by tax payers to get another million dollars from tax payers of free seed money to start the school. And for taking almost no risk they were rewarded with about million dollars a year in profits.And if they go out of business tax payers took the overwhelming majority of risk. Do you really not see the issue with transactions like this with tax payers money?

If you have a personal issue with the performance of Cherokee county schools, Dr. P…….that has nothing to do with the above fiscally irresponsable transaction. This is a lesson most parents teach their kids.

Charles Douglas Edwards

September 10th, 2012
5:41 pm

Charter schools siphon funds and attention away from public schools.

The state public schools system should always be the #1 priority of elected state educators.

Charter schools give us another layer of unelected administrators and bureaucrats who now want to dictate educational policy.

CharterStarter, Too

September 10th, 2012
5:44 pm

@ Konop – Let me try this again, as you are apparently struggling with direct questions that counter your claims.

1. WHICH charter schools IN GEORGIA have closed due to financial reasons, and of these, which are affiliated with management organizations.

2. HOW do you find the pay increases and excessive expenses on personnel to support Dr. P fiscally responsible when teachers are being furloughed?

3. HOW are taxpayers protected when local school districts have NO consequences, NO accountability for spending on excessive central office services, contracts through the “Good ‘Ole Boy” system, and general stupidity in spending on things that don’t benefit teachers and kids?

Fanatic I may be, but this fanatic believes you don’t have a reasonable answer to a single one of these questions.

CharterStarter, Too

September 10th, 2012
5:46 pm

@ Charles Douglas Edwards – Kindly answer my question how a Superintendent and his 6 secretaries is a more important bureaucracy than a Commission that selects quality schools and ensure fiscal accountability and academic achievement.

Which one provides a greater service to our state?