State senator on why he opposes amendment: Best charter schools are those approved by local boards, not state.

Yesterday, I posted a pro charter amendments piece by two Georgia House members. Now, here is a piece in opposition by a Senate member, state Sen. Steve Henson of DeKalb, the leader of the Senate Democratic Caucus.

By Steve Henson

As we approach the Nov. 6th general election, Georgians will be asked to make their voices heard on a number of important issues. From the President of the United States to local government representatives, voters will head to the polls to determine who will make governmental decisions on their behalf.

One critical issue voters will decide on doesn’t have a name or political platform; yet, it has the potential to drastically change the face of public education in Georgia for our children and grandchildren. The Charter School Constitutional Amendment on the November ballot would reshape the way we fund secondary education.

The charter schools ballot conversation has focused on the idea that public schools are inferior to charter schools. Supporters have repeatedly cited facts and figures that make the claim of the superiority of charter schools. Charter schools can be a great addition to the education mix.

The truth is, according to the state Department of Education, during the 2010 –2011 school year, Georgia had 162 charter schools in operation serving 56 local school districts. Of these charter schools, 70 percent made “adequate yearly progress.”

This is comparable to 73 percent of traditional public schools earning the same that year. Of all the public charter schools in our state, conversion charter schools – those schools that have converted from traditional public schools to public charter schools – are outperforming virtually all other public charter schools in the state. These schools have been chartered and supported by their local school boards.

However, the ballot initiative isn’t about the merits of charter schools. Once voters make it past the extraordinarily biased preamble language on the ballot and read the fine print, they will find the proposed amendment creates a new state level funding mechanism that builds a parallel school system, diverting additional taxpayer funds away from our public school system. This parallel funding scheme uses charter schools as theme; but buyer beware.

Partisan politics aside, we can all agree on one thing: Georgia’s children deserve good schools and a great education. The Charter School Amendment, however, is not the solution. Local school systems, parents and educators, should be able to retain control of their districts and decide if, and when, they admit locally approved charter schools.

As we continue to recover from the most severe economic collapse since the Great Depression, it is important to look at the financial ramifications of the amendment. The state has repeatedly cut teachers salaries, and funding for local school systems, increased class sizes, laid off 4,400 teachers, reduced the teaching tools available to educators and has shortened the school year by up to 36 days in two-thirds of our school districts. Year after year, budgets cuts to our secondary education system have left local school systems with no choice but to make drastic changes that hurt our most important resource: our children.

But our children are not the only ones hurt when we do not prioritize education. An educated workforce positively impacts our economy and supports job growth. Good schools attract businesses to our communities. Georgia will flourish when we emphasize education and support it with state dollars. Instead of using our tax dollars for special interest tax breaks or tossing them carelessly at risky schemes, we must make education our number one priority.

Republican leaders, who drafted the charter schools amendment, want you to think this ballot initiative is the only way to save schools and improve education. But they are wrong.

Many know the ballot initiative is a risky plan. The Georgia Department of Education and Republican state School Superintendent John Barge have been steadfast in their opposition of this constitutional amendment. Local boards of education and business organizations have encouraged taxpayers to reject this measure that would take away local control and divert funds from existing schools.

I believe in Georgia and I believe we simply cannot turn our back on our children and our public school systems. It is imperative that we prioritize and adequately fund our schools so that our children have the greatest chance for success.

Please join me in voting “No”’ on the Charter School Amendment. In doing so, you will effectively be voting for local control, a brighter future for all students and an economically healthy Georgia.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

107 comments Add your comment

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

October 2nd, 2012
11:37 am

Charters provide ANOTHER option for the children of Dekalb and other challenged areas.

jd

October 2nd, 2012
11:37 am

My dad used to tell me “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.” The supporters of charter schools propose that a company can run a school, with less money, and achieve better results. In other words, get more, get better with less!

I guess if you hire teachers from Turkey on visas, pay them below min wage, borrow money on the taxpayer’s credit card, and charge fees on the air they breath — yeah, that works.

Dunwoody Mom

October 2nd, 2012
11:40 am

Not true. Believe or not, Charter schools use teachers too

Sure, teachers from countries out of the USA, whose only interest is a VISA to get to this country. Teachers who are not certified to teach, etc., etc.,

John Konop

October 2nd, 2012
11:42 am

I agree! GREAT POINT!!!!!!

……..@ John Konop – I’ve repeatedly asked why the central office can’t supply the adminstrative services to charter schools in their districts instead of having these institutions seek these services from other 3rd party suppliers? Most of these private managers are not doing anything that the local district central office couldn’t do. But if the local district is so bent on not allowing the charter school to operate in the first place it seems to me the opportunity to create a synergistic working relationship is lost. ………

Marney

October 2nd, 2012
11:49 am

Dunwoody—your name says it all. The wave hasn’t gotten to Dunwoody yet. I have two kids in a Dekalb magnet program–and they are doing well there. But magnet programs with entrance criteria are far freer to segregate than charters.

My “home school” has been on the “failing school’s” list ever since such a list was created by the state (prior to NCLB’s creation). It has received a “turnaround grant” which is being spent on scripted programs(to the profit of the company selling it) which is being implemented by school “leadership” whose qualifications seems to be her relationships with the top brass of the central office.

The charter school movement is not built around the idea that teachers are bad… nor are all of them enclaves of affluence.

Read stories 3 and 4…

http://wiltenburg.wordpress.com/little-bill-clinton-project/

Mary Elizabeth

October 2nd, 2012
11:50 am

“Of these charter schools, 70 percent made ‘adequate yearly progress.’
This is comparable to 73 percent of traditional public schools earning the same that year. Of all the public charter schools in our state, conversion charter schools – those schools that have converted from traditional public schools to public charter schools – are outperforming virtually all other public charter schools in the state. These schools have been chartered and supported by their local school boards.”
=====================================

Sen. Henson, I will be joining you in voting NO to this unnecessary Constitutional Amendment. (There is already a means of appealing decisions of local Boards of Education, and that is to appeal to the State Board of Education via the State Superintendent of Schools.)

Also, I want to say that I will not forget your name. The above article, that you penned, was an excellent one – full of insightful truth, as well as the needed facts to back up your analysis.

It is my opinion that this Constitutional Amendment had its genesis from a national political agenda to change the course of educational delivery in Georgia from one which serves the public good, based on public taxes, to one that serves the interests of the few and becomes more privatized, which means that it will make profit off of school children.

Sneak a Peak into Education mentioned the Bill Moyers’ broadcast this past Sunday, entitled, “The United States of ALEC.” This video broadcast explains how this national agenda reaches into state legislatures, such as into Georgia’s Legislature. Rep. Jan Jones, who sponsored the House Resolution 1162, which became this Consitutional Amendment, is not only a member of ALEC, but she is also on ALEC’s Educational Task Force. Listen in the video, below, as to how ALEC’s Task Forces operate. Here is the link:

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/09/28/bill-moyers-alec-is-still-everywhere/

Dunwoody Mom

October 2nd, 2012
11:52 am

The charter school movement is not built around the idea that teachers are bad… nor are all of them enclaves of affluence.

Marney, I respect your thoughts and beliefs. However, Michelle Rhee, Bill Gates and the charter school “movement” have built their reputation on the mantra that teachers are the problem with our public schools. Whether they really believe this or are using this argument to further their own agendas, I could not say.

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
11:52 am

@DM…
“Sure, teachers from countries out of the USA, whose only interest is a VISA to get to this country. Teachers who are not certified to teach, etc., etc.,”

Wow, why such a bad attitude regarding teachers? In the couple of charters I’ve been to, I didn’t see anyone like that. If the teachers were so awlful, and going to charters was a choice – not forced – I would think that no one would be sending their children to charters. But more and more – they do.

citizen

October 2nd, 2012
12:01 pm

Read the Lewis Powell memo from 1971, ‘Corporate Blueprint to Dominate Democracy’.
The memo outlines the strategy for the corporate takeover of the dominant public institutions of American Society, POLITICS, JUDICIAL LAW (Citizens United), COMMUNICATIOPNS and EDUCATION.
It is an eye opener.

Dunwoody Mom

October 2nd, 2012
12:05 pm

@Marney…not sure what you meant by “name says it all”. Time to leave the conversation when it starts to turn personal.

Lynn43

October 2nd, 2012
12:17 pm

The charter schools will be funded as the 5 poorest school systems are funded. They don’t tell you that the state funds poor schools with more money that wealthier systems. It is called “Equalization Grant”. My school system lost 4 million dollars this year because our “wealth” was higher than in the past.

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
12:44 pm

@lynn:
While it is a shame that districts like Cobb are funding Gwinnett schools through equalizations, you are inappropriately mixing up 2 concepts. Related to Charters, the topic of this blog, equalizations are not included. The funding is based on the lowest 5 school systems based on Assessments/FTE.

Marney

October 2nd, 2012
12:46 pm

I did not intend for it to be personal…merely that one’s perspective is highly colored by whether one is “happy” with the good school for the neighborhood or trapped in the mediocre one. Our real estate agents are our best segregationists. And I don’t mean segregation by color, I mean it by SES, otherwise why all the infighting over whether particular streets were redistricted to Austin, Vanderlyn, Fernbank etc. at the last round of redistricting.

I love the international flavor of my neighborhood just outside of Clarkston. There is an ICS bus stop that picks up about a dozen kids (paid for to district by the Charter school). But Clarkston High school is a far cry from Dunwoody High school==> otherwise why would so many be requestion NCLB transfers. I feel a desperation that you clearly don’t share. There is a flaw in the assumption that those that are Democrats will automatically vote against the amendment. The pull of parenthood is stronger than a knee jerk party line loyalty.

When those who have already abandoned public education combined with those who see it’s abandonment as the only means of saving their own children reach a voting majority–you will see the passage of all manner of other legislation, including vouchers. Charter schools ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLs, yet Steven Henson’s essay seems to infer that money not going to the presently structured “public school SYSTEM’ is illegitimate. I do believe in “common schools”. I draw the circle bigger than the current SYSTEM…to include charters. Charter’s actually meet the Horrace Mann’s definition of “common school” to a far greater degree than our present magnet schools or our “real estate agent segregated” schools.

living in an outdated ed system

October 2nd, 2012
1:23 pm

With all due respect, I have already lobbied the Democratic caucus, including Senator Henson, for failing our children and for taking a flawed view at what this amendment is for. It is NOT saying that public schools are inferior to charter schools – that is a paranoid mentality! What the amendment is saying is that you can’t have local school board monopolies in charge of innovative approaches to education, such as public charter schools. They are not the magic bullet, but they provide options for children whose sole option is not acceptable. It is truly a shame that we cannot continue under the status quo and that certain politicians are afraid of change and will make up stories to scare folks into considering voting against this amendment.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 2nd, 2012
1:28 pm

Good time to mention there are different types of charters with different implications:
Startup Charter Schools – locally approved schools
State Chartered Special Schools – schools that are state approved
Conversion Charter Schools – traditional public schools that are so bad they are converted into charters by the county

It’s important to note that conversion charter scores will obviously not compare well to other schools in Georgia on average.

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
1:31 pm

re: “Conversion Charter Schools – traditional public schools that are so bad they are converted into charters by the county. It’s important to note that conversion charter scores will obviously not compare well to other schools in Georgia on average.”

Brilliant piece of information. Please share this with the principal of Walton High.

DeKalb Teacher

October 2nd, 2012
1:41 pm

I don’t see where race, ancestry or visa status is relevant in this conversation. I guarantee I can teach a math class better than any teacher off the boat from Turkey or India. I welcome the challenge to keep students in my school and classroom.

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
1:46 pm

re: “I don’t see where race, ancestry or visa status is relevant in this conversation.”
Followed by:
“I guarantee I can teach a math class better than any teacher off the boat from Turkey or India.”

equals: Nonsense

What do you have against people from Turkey or India. The absolute best mathematicians I’ve ever met are from Turkey and India. Further, given that everyone likes to say the US is so far behind these countries in education – they may have been exposed to far better teaching techniques than you have.

Marney

October 2nd, 2012
1:49 pm

@Buba Yes, NCLB did allow chartering as an option for school in NI5+ to use it to avoid firing staff..in one case the school got a charter and had forgotten that they were one until renewal time. Far more common is the circumstance of a school that has an assertive enough parent population that wants some degree of autonomy from district or state rules…Druid Hills, Chestnut, Walton, or that needs to fill an empty building…Chamblee or Smokerise. The “we are good and chaffing at the bit to be a little different” is more common than than lousy schools suddenly getting the inspiration and great effort necessary to produce a charter.

Also to DeKalb Inside Out—you forgot Charter Systems as another category that significantly ups the school count.

Also please note that in the beginning conversions were the only type allowed (gotta get those federal implementation funds =) A good many of those schools dropped out after they had spent the money cause the charter renewal process wasn’t worth the hassle. Also note that anything that they needed state waivers to do, could equally be done under the “waiver of rules and laws” that was added to the law in order to satisfy the complaint that “we could be good too if we were allowed to ditch the rules”. Unfortunately,climbing outside the box is far more difficult than starting outside the box. But it has been my experience that charters have themselves been increasing beaten back into the “box”…

Read article 4 regarding the loss of freedom in the hiring of staff…

http://wiltenburg.wordpress.com/little-bill-clinton-project/

And article 3 which speaks to the NCLB “failure” that is painted on all of us if we choose to accept the challenge of the challenged child…

Marney

October 2nd, 2012
2:03 pm

@Dekalb Teacher My children’s 5th/6th math teacher was from India…they both tell me they learned no new math in their 7th grade magnet school. And the elder is at the head of her accelerated math class in her 10th grade magnet school and still tells me that it was Ms. Rushni’s teaching that has gotten her there. This despite the “diversity” that caused ICS to “fail AYP” for LEP kids the last two years that it was measured… Yeah… that school is really “skimming”. And it is why Steven Henson’s resorting to “% of school in category passing AYP” as a way of slamming charters carries no weight with me.

DeKalb Dad

October 2nd, 2012
2:52 pm

I will be voting yes and I don’t hate teachers. I do hate that driven, competent teachers and principals have their love of educating children destroyed by bureaucracies at the district level.

C Jae of EAV

October 2nd, 2012
2:59 pm

@ Bill & Ed’s Excellent Adventure – Your over generalization of the voting profile and anticipated voting preference regarding this admendment is laughable. Trust there are many who defy your pattern.

living in an outdated ed system

October 2nd, 2012
3:16 pm

Thank you, DeKalb Dad. BTW – a major national blog wrote a story about Dekalb County’s tragedy regarding teacher shortages today: http://www.innosightinstitute.org/education-blog/how-online-learning-can-solve-teacher-shortage-problems/

C Jae of EAV

October 2nd, 2012
4:13 pm

@Mary Elizabeth – While I don’t doubt the national poltical agenda driven by ALEC is at play to some degree, in this instance the proposed admendment, came more as direct result of the extremely shortsighted GA Supreme Court rulling from last year. The aforementioned ruling left a number open ended issues on the table, which has brought us to this point hereinnow.

@Bubba – thanks for helping to correct misconceptions that continue to perpetuate themselves dispite evidence to the contrary.

@Marney 10/02 12:46pm – Your opening rebuttal statement is quite profound.

sneak peak into education

October 2nd, 2012
4:48 pm

@Stevie Y – Yes, those figures look good but what has been known to happen is that charters have a high attrition rate of their students, especially in the last few years of their schooling. The students are “asked” to leave for a variety reasons (obviously some will move out of the school system due to relocation), some of those are that they are no longer deemed a good fit for the school. This is done when those students are considered a risk factor in the the school’s ability to post good scores or graduation rates. Sometimes it’s easy to look at a snapshot without knowing all the facts behind them. I recently read how the KIPP schools have a very high attrition rate of 40%, which was much higher than the districts they were serving in. Makes you wonder.

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
5:15 pm

re: “Makes you wonder”, it does:
http://www.mathematica-mpr.com/publications/pdfs/education/KIPP_middle_schools_wp.pdf

snippet:
Recent quasi-experimental and experimental studies have found that KIPP middle schools…..—have large, positive impacts on academic achievement. In light of these findings, skeptics have asked whether KIPP schools benefit from unusually selective student attrition and replacement patterns. We investigate this question using longitudinal, student-level data covering 19 KIPP middle schools. ….Overall, we find that KIPP’s impacts do not appear to be explained by
advantages in the prior achievement of KIPP students, even when attrition and replacement
throughout the middle school years are taken into account.

mountain man

October 2nd, 2012
5:47 pm

I tell you what – I will give up support of charter schools… as soon as the records of public schools on discipline, attendance, social promotion and spending on SPED are released. I want to know what the public schools do when a teacher refers a student to the office for being a discipline problem and disrupting the class. Do they send them right back? What is the average number of days missed and days tardy and days left early for the students? How many students who failed their grade level testing were promoted to the next grade? How many students are two or more grade levels behind in mastery of subject matter? What percentage of total school spending goes to SPED students and what is the average cost per student? What are the outcomes of this increased spending?

Answer me these questions, and if the answers are all satisfactory, I will change my mind and say we don’t need charter schools. But until then I will vote YES.

Mary Elizabeth

October 2nd, 2012
5:51 pm

C Jae of EAV, 4:13 pm

“@Mary Elizabeth – While I don’t doubt the national poltical agenda driven by ALEC is at play to some degree, in this instance the proposed admendment, came more as direct result of the extremely shortsighted GA Supreme Court rulling from last year. . .”
=========================================

This amendment may be the result of the GA Supreme Court rullng of last year, but – going forward – its passage has the potential to change the delivery of education in Georgia from public schools meant to serve all students, equally, to a quasi-private public educational system that is two-tiered, with underprivileged students remaining in traditional public schools and those whose parents have more resources being placed in quasi-private public schools that operate, in part, for profit.

mountain man

October 2nd, 2012
5:56 pm

“The supporters of charter schools propose that a company can run a school, with less money, and achieve better results. In other words, get more, get better with less!”

That company can get more and better with less when they address issues with discipline (allowing the teacher to spend more time teaching the class rather than dealing with a disciplinary issue), by addressing attendance (can’t teach a empty seat anything), and social promotion (how is a teacher supposed to get all of her 5th grade students up to 6th grade level when she is too busy trying to get those that read at a 2nd grade level up to 5th grade).

And yes, if public schools dealt with these issues, we probably wouldn’t see a need for charters.

mountain man

October 2nd, 2012
5:59 pm

You know, the interesting thing is, I keep saying the same things over and over, like a broken record, and NOT ONCE has anyone said I don’t have a point! No one has ever said I am wrong about discipline and attendance (some defend the social promotion part). I take that silence to say that I am correct in identifying these things as issues in our current public schools.

Ron F.

October 2nd, 2012
6:06 pm

@ mountain man: “qui tacet consentire videtur” (he who is silent is taken to agree).

You are right. If the child is present and “encouraged” to learn, he will learn. Some rebel and act up no matter what their parent(s) teach them, but they are few. Most keep it within some reasonable limits if there is an emphasis on getting an education from home. Some do well even without the family structure they need when they decide it matters.

mountain man

October 2nd, 2012
6:08 pm

Ron F. – so is THAT where the term “tacit agreement” comes from?

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
6:41 pm

@Mary Elizabeth:
Re: “its passage has the potential to change .. two-tiered, with underprivileged students remaining in traditional public schools and those whose parents have more resources being placed in quasi-private public schools”

I don’t see how you get that thought. When we briefly had a child in a startup Charter, it was selection solely by lottery (without regard to race, color, income, etc.). Parents had to commit to putting in 40 volunteer hours (which many of the stretched families executed through leveraging extended family members) – beyond that no other differentiation from a neighborhood public school.

Our children will probably go to a Conversion Charter in the future – again, no income/race/etc. tests.

I don’t have a wealth of knowledge oncharters (and actually pulled my child out of a startup charter in favor of the neighborhood school when the startup was too much of a mess); however, the ones I’ve seen have been the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you think:

They are a way for parents who have less resources to place their children in quasi-private public schools that operate, in part, for profit. As a choice against poorer performing neighborhood schools. I applaud the parents in these Charters – it costs them more (generally uniforms are in place); it causes more of a commitment for them (volunteer time, etc.); it is more of a hassle (no busses) – but they can be a more effective option for their children.

3schoolkids

October 2nd, 2012
6:52 pm

Mountain Man your points are like anyone else’s, that is they may be true for some of the schools, but not ALL of the schools. While others may agree with all of your points they seem to highlight the insanity of your argument. We cannot fix these things in the traditional public school so I will vote for “choice” so there will be schools that do not have these problems? So we set up a parallel system which is currently earning a per child rate almost the same and in some systems higher than the existing system (except for virtual schools which cannot be funded over 2/3 of a brick and mortar unless the charter commission votes to increase funding-which it did for Georgia Cyber Academy in 2011 prior to the supreme court decision). We are also told that they everyone will be eligible for enrollment. Which means that the problems in our traditional schools will continue into the parallel system. Not just continue, but blossom as more schools open and enrollment grows. So instead of fixing the problem, let’s just spread it out! That makes a lot of sense.

Ron F.

October 2nd, 2012
7:33 pm

@mountain man: I think that is indeed where the term comes from, but I never thought about it until you pointed that out. The teacher becomes the student today!

Mary Elizabeth

October 2nd, 2012
7:44 pm

bubba, 6:41 pm

Bubba, let me show you and others, visually, how passage of this Constitutional Amendment has the potential to create a two-tiered educational system throughout Georgia. It is not a matter of race, ethnic group, or even income, as you say, and I am aware of the lottery system. However, let’s look at the criteria parents would have to possess (according to your experiences) for their children to become students in some charters by numbering your points and placing those points in a vertical position. See below:

Parents in charter schools would need (according to Bubba’s experiences) to possess :

(1) Financial Resources of a Certain Degree: “It costs them more (generally uniforms are in place).”

(2) Time and Energy Resources: “It causes more of a commitment for them (volunteer time, etc.).”

(3) Time balanced to job requirements and Financial Resources: “It is more of a hassle (no busses).”
=====================================

It is commendable that some parents have the resources to volunteer time at charter schools, to have enough money to buy uniforms (and other personal needs that may materialize) for their children, and have both the finances and time to transport their children to school and pick them up after school.

However, from my 35 years of teaching students from a very wide range of socio-economic backgrounds, I know that there are many parents, who love their children, but simply are trying to
get by themselves day to day, and they simply do not have the resources you mention above. Schools are dismissed at 3 pm in most situations. How could a single mother pick up her child after school when she is not off work until 8 pm? The busses would deliver her child to his/her home and the child would be a latchkey child until the mother arrives home after 8 pm. Now, compound that problem if that parent has two children and one is in an elementary school and the other is in a middle school or high school. With charter schools, that parent would have to juggle taking two different children to two different schools and juggle picking both up in different schools. That would work for those parents, of any ethnic, racial, or income group, who have enough resources to do so, but it would not work for the parent who does not have enough of those financial and time resources. And there are many parents who do not have those minimum resources. Their chlldren will be left in the traditional public schools segregated (not by race but by these other factors) from students whose parents have more resources. Moreover, some parents are not as secure, themselves, as other parents – emotionally, financially, or educationally. That is not to judge or blame these parents. I believe traditional public schools have the opportunity – and the challenge – to help whole families to grow and to better themselves. I used to conduct reading workshops for parents after school hours for just that purpose. I wanted to help elevate parents, as well as their children.

Why not improve our traditional public schools, instead of dismantling them for charter schools and vouchers to private schools, so that we do not resegregate society by the “haves” and the “have nots” to an even greater degree? There will always be some form of traditional public school. We must value them, again, and improve them. We must not abandon them.

LarryMajor

October 2nd, 2012
8:44 pm

Steve Y: The Commission you’re praising took away $849,944 in state funding earned by kids enrolled in Gwinnett schools and gave it to Ivy Prep. The second year, the Commission took $1,102,766 away from our kids. When you support ripping off 160,000 public school students to overfund 216 Ivy Prep students (court records show Ivy Prep was funded $1400 per student more than equivalent GCPS students), you aren’t supporting public education; you are abusing it to fund a self-serving special interest group.

Don’t think for a moment the opposition is only school officials because I have a long list of Gwinnett parents who are still more than a little ticked off at the way your Commission treated our kids.

Since you wanted a list of for-profit companies outside Georgia that are supporting the amendment, here’s a start including the amount they donated:

K12 Inc. – Virginia – the largest EMO by enrollment – $100,000
Charter Schools USA – Florida – $50,000
The Huizenga Group – Michigan – $25,000
National Heritage Academies- Michigan – $25,000
Edison Learning Inc. – Tennessee – $2,000 (yeah, the one that got thrown out of Philly)

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
8:54 pm

There is no magic bullet to save the public schools where the families don’t care enough to
get involved. So, why penalize the families that do care by not providing them with viable
options.

Regarding the cases you described of people with too many kids and a lack of minimal resources (or aren’t sharp enough or care enough to make changes putting their child’s education as a higher priority) – bluntly, too bad, so sad – life is not fair and will never be. The addition of charter schools makes it a bit more fair.

re: “Why not improve our traditional public schools”, well we have waited far too long, in your 35 years – things have for the most part gone downhill and you seem to fear competition, change, and challenge and continue to Hope for some mysteriysterious TBD Change – while generations of children/families are ill-served (and taxpayer funds are squandered).

mountain man

October 2nd, 2012
9:22 pm

“We cannot fix these things in the traditional public school so I will vote for “choice” so there will be schools that do not have these problems? ”

WHY can we not fix these things in the traditional public school? This is what frustrates me! What is SO difficult about establishing sufficient alternative schools to house all the pre-thugs? What is stopping the enforcement of truancy laws? I understand that Georgia law restricts schools from retaining students more than one year (although I don’t understand why). But schools could segregate students into skill levels and let the 16-year old 2nd graders be in their own class.

mountain man

October 2nd, 2012
9:24 pm

At least with charter schools, the parents that CARE about their students can keep their kids away from the thugs who try to chain them down.

Mary Elizabeth

October 2nd, 2012
9:30 pm

Bubba, I don’t fear competition. I support charter schools that work with traditional school districts, and as Sen. Henson has pointed out those are the most effective charter schools.

In terms of your statement, “too bad, so sad – life is unfair and will never be,” as a teacher, I never thought like that, nor could I ever think in such a callous way toward other human beings. Every life has value, even those who are not “sharp,” as you say, as others.

We have not witnessed the end result of the school choice movement. It may not be the “salvation” to society’s problems that some promote. However, perhaps, through the wise use of charter schools that collabore with traditional public schools, traditional public schools might see greater improvement for all students, at a more rapid pace than has happened previously. The answer, imo, is not to simply focus on schools, however, to achieve this end. Our legislators must also focus upon poverty and programs outside of a school’s setting that will lift our young, and their families, before they even enter a school setting.

Mary Elizabeth

October 2nd, 2012
9:32 pm

correction: “collaborate,” not “collabore”

bubba

October 2nd, 2012
9:48 pm

re: I support charter schools that work with traditional school districts, :

So, if a traditional school district is led by idiots who won’t support Charter schools (change/challenge/competition) your approach is to not provide a state option for these children?

3schoolkids

October 2nd, 2012
10:37 pm

@Mountain Man: YES, we should be fixing the problems not expanding them. I agree the students who are motivated to do well should not be held back by students who are not. It is not so cut and dried all the time though. Some students have the motivation under different circumstances. Should we have different education models? YES. Should we limit them to Charter Schools? NO
Should the state interfere when a local school district is not doing the job? YES Should they wait until SACS gets involved when a referendum vote on the amendment is approaching? NO

Mary Elizabeth

October 2nd, 2012
10:38 pm

No, I would say that there already exists, by law, another option for these children. And, that other option is for parents to appeal the decision made by a traditional school district to deny a charter school to the State Board of Education, via the State Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Barge. Dr. Barge has recently mentioned to citizens that that additional possibility for establishing a charter school exists. The Constitutional Amendment is unnecessary.

LarryMajor

October 3rd, 2012
5:41 am

If the new commission is comprised of idiots who hate public education and shower anyone who can sign a form with taxpayers’ money, there is nothing you can do about it because you have thrown away your voice in government.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 3rd, 2012
10:21 am

Mary Elizabeth,
Every time you say that charter school decisions can be appealed to the State Board of Education, I will continue to correct you.

The State Board of Education via the State Superintendent of Schools can NO LONGER approve charters. In 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that there must be a constitutional amendment for the state to approve charters. The Georgia Charter Schools, Amendment 1, addresses the 2011 Supreme Court decision giving the state the right to create special schools.

Quasi-Private ??
Every time you refer to socioeconomic segregation, I will remind you that Ivy Prep in South DeKalb is 95% black. I will also remind you that public charter schools have attendance zones and blind lotteries to get in.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 3rd, 2012
10:48 am

Mountain Man – Discipline and Attendance – Why can we not fix these things in traditional public schools.

Good question … I’ll tell you why. There is not enough political will power. In addition to discipline issues sucking up the teacher’s time, let’s add some special needs children that don’t need to be there. A normal public school should neither be a youth detention center nor a medical care facility, teachers spend an increasingly amount of time on both.

There is a lot of social pressure to keep these kids in regular classes. It is easy to demonize a system over these issues. The parents want their discipline or special issue children in a class with regular kids. Various groups say that is what is best for those kids.

If it makes you feel any better, I do see a push from the inside to make these things happen. It’s an uphill battle, so don’t expect results anytime soon.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 3rd, 2012
11:05 am

Ron F.
I would encourage any traditional or charter school to advocate as they see fit for their school as long as it’s not on the school time or dollar. If a school is intent on having the best math program, then they should be able to tell the population that students should come to their school for great math.

Steve Y
The commission may have taken the state funds away, but they leave the local funds. For every student that attends a public state charter, the funding per student in the traditional school goes up. That’s more money per child in traditional public schools.

mountain man

October 3rd, 2012
12:38 pm

Thank you, Dekalb Inside Out at 10:48 – I think you have hit the nail on the head. I would only correct one thing – it should not be the TEACHER’s responsibility to deal with discipline, attendance, social promotion – that should be handled at the ADMINISTRATOR level. A teacher should be free to give a student an F it they deserve it, and if that means retention, then the administrators should back that up. If it results in needed retention for a second year, the ADMINISTRATORS should create a special class (3rd grade operating on a second grade level).