Former DOE official: Amendment 1 should be about quality charter schools

Andrew Broy is the president of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools. Formerly, he was associate state superintendent for the Georgia Department of Education where he oversaw charter schools.

Broy  supports the recreation of a state-appointed commission to approve charters and explains why in this essay:

By Andrew Broy

I have watched the debate over the constitutional amendment over the past year and am increasingly puzzled by the arguments. When House Bill 881 was signed by the governor in 2008, one of the key goals was to create an independent, single-purpose body that could focus on quality authorizing and professionalize the process of deciding which schools were strong enough to be granted a charter. This purpose has been forgotten in the current rush to politicize the amendment.

I have a special interest in the outcome of the referendum. As sssociate state superintendent for the Georgia Department of Education, I served as the lead state charter school authorizer for five years and was instrumental in the initial establishment of the Charter Schools Commission.

I also served as its staff lead for the first round of votes. During my tenure, we granted more than 60 charters of all types — start-up, conversion, system  and commission. We denied even more. We also closed a number of charter schools that were not meeting their academic goals or were not successful in attracting sufficient students.

From these experiences, several things became clear. First, a charter is simply a performance contract that allows flexibility in exchange for a promise to increase student achievement. Saying a school is a charter does not mean very much without additional context. The same things that make a great traditional public school — focused leadership, great teaching, engaged students — make for a great charter school.

To the extent charter schools succeed in Georgia, and there is ample evidence that they do, it is because the model permits flexibility in these areas and, more important, demands accountability for student results. So while a charter is not a guarantee of quality, it is a guarantee of accountability. But it is only a guarantee of quality when chartering is done right, which was the whole purpose of the commission.

Local school districts have dozens of duties: setting curriculum, hiring principals, establishing budgets, and providing transportation, among many others. As a consequence, they rarely devote the time and resources necessary to develop quality authorizing practices. In a state with 180 school districts, I can count on one hand the number of districts that have a full-time charter school director devoted to authorizing.

The result? With a few notable exceptions, authorizing quality in Georgia is uneven, inconsistent, and often maddening. Georgia is not unique in this problem. Charter authorizing across the country suffers from a lack of professionalism and consistent standards.

That is why there is an emerging national consensus that establishing independent, single-purpose charter boards like the commission is the right way to create new authorizers. Abundant recent research suggests that there is a direct link between the quality of charter authorizing and the caliber of the state’s charter sector.

So if Georgia wants charter schools, I think we can all agree they should be quality schools. If that is what we want, a professional commission will help us get there. Since the enactment of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission in 2008, states as diverse as Illinois, Maine, Indiana, Nevada, and Tennessee have established single-purpose authorizing bodies without the sort of controversy Georgia is now experiencing.

Second, during my five years reviewing charter applications, there was substantial evidence that some school districts were not providing charter applicants a fair hearing on the merits of their proposals. This problem varied across the state and year-to-year, but demanded a remedy. I can recall one case in which a local school board denied a 200-page charter application the week after it was received. No superintendent or staff can properly review an application and make a decision that quickly.

Many have argued that we shouldn’t allow an unelected state panel to make decisions about opening schools and allocating school funding because those decisions should be in the hands of a locally elected school board. But who do you think sets state curriculum standards, provides federal funding to public schools, writes special education guidelines, implements school facilities regulations, approves transportation plans, and controls hundreds of decisions that directly impact local schools? The state Board of Education. An unelected body, appointed by the governor. No one seems to be especially worried about that unelected board, suggesting that the local control argument is a red herring cited by those who simply oppose providing autonomy to schools and holding them strictly accountable.

In the final analysis, the question on the ballot is whether Georgia wants to join the growing number of states that have created the right charter authorizing conditions by establishing independent chartering boards. If we support high-quality charter schools, I hope the answer is yes.

–From Maureen Downey for the AJC Get Schooled blog

93 comments Add your comment

Historydawg

October 16th, 2012
4:39 am

Mr Broy, the promise of the charter school is that it escapes the regulation of the appointed, unaccountable-to-voters State BOE. Local folks can make their own decisions and focus on teaching, rather than buses, lawyers, following the rules etc. Why not give this flexibility to ALL Georgia students? Why not full support the education of all, rather than creating another bureaucratic structure which will award such freedom to a few? Why not give local monies back to local communities to make ALL our schools great, rather than to a handful of corporate interests that prey upon our kids and the funds intended to educate them? Vote in favor of local control, in favor of the kids. Vote NO

Annie

October 16th, 2012
5:06 am

Mr. Broy points out the obvious: the LEGISLATURE and subsequent at State Board Rules creates a lack of flexibility that may hamper schools from being effective. Instead of creating another state education agency for taxpayers to fund, we should demand that our legislators give flexibility to all public school systems and find them. It appears that the Governor and leadership of the Legislature is out to choke public schools to death by lack of support and funding so that independent and private authorizers can set up schools that can offer the kind of schools that we want for all children in Georgia. Why not requre that ALL public school systems begin the process of charter conversion instead of this? The Legislature can do that. Let’s face it. Because of the dysfunction in Atlanta, Dekalb, and Clayton, the Legislature is willing to sacrifice the children in public schools around the state.

Annie

October 16th, 2012
5:09 am

Excuse the typo FUND them, FUND public schools, they already have more accountability requirements than privatized schools, so FUNDING and FLEXIBILITY – VOTE NO.

For those systems who are dysfunctional, legislators, just cut off their money and see how fast they shape up.

Linda

October 16th, 2012
5:49 am

Again, if flexibility is so great, why not allow ALL schools to have it? Why not individual classrooms?

Karl Marx

October 16th, 2012
6:41 am

Why hasn’t the opposition of this amendment said anything about the kids who attend these schools? The kids I have heard from like and want their school. They are doing better there than in regular public school. So it is not about the children at all. It is about protecting the “Industrial Public Education Complex isn’t it. I’m voting yes.

mountain man

October 16th, 2012
6:42 am

“Again, if flexibility is so great, why not allow ALL schools to have it?”

Public schools have had the authority to correct many of the problems that they have, but they have CHOSEN not to use that authority. Public schools can create policies to deal with disciplinary issues – but they have chosen not to do so. Public schools can choose policies to combat absenteeism – but they have not done so. Public schools can require students to go to summer school (if there is a summer left) or be retained when they fail, but they coose not to do this.

Charter schools can be successful when they address the issues that public schools have refused to address. That is why my vote will be YES for parental choice.

Marney

October 16th, 2012
6:49 am

@linda All schools COULD have flexibility…it is called the “Waiver of rules and laws” state Board rule. It COULD function to make any school equal to a conversion charter (in fact, conversion charters no longer need to exist)…but in order for it to be used, the current school administrations must think outside the box, articulate their desired waiver, and agree to accountability for the improvements that their substitute process would create. It is human nature that once you are “educated” into certain ways of doing and looking at things, it is exceedingly hard to envision something else.

I watched many a DOE subcommittee meeting during Andrew Broy’s tenure at DOE. I respect him greatly and hope that others will hear his points.

Marney

October 16th, 2012
6:51 am

@mountain man
Charter schools ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

catlady

October 16th, 2012
7:02 am

I will be voting no. I think it is my responsibility (and that of my neighbors) to hold our LOCAL school board responsible for providing that which is wanted.

JustCurious

October 16th, 2012
7:15 am

If the constitutional amendment is so logical and common sense, why is the language on the ballot so deceptive? Why is the question couched in “legalese” aimed at misleading the casual reader who may not have the background context of the discussion?

Mountain Man

October 16th, 2012
7:21 am

“Charter schools ARE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.”

OK, OK. I will use the term “traditional” schools to refer to our current schools.

Mountain Man

October 16th, 2012
7:24 am

“I think it is my responsibility (and that of my neighbors) to hold our LOCAL school board responsible for providing that which is wanted.”

That worked really well in Atlanta Public Schools. It is also working well in Clayton County and in Dekalb County.

When the Cobb County Board was voted in by “responsible citizens” and reversed the calendar, they were trashed on this blog.

Mountain Man

October 16th, 2012
7:35 am

Dekalb county under investigation by SACS:

“The words “friends and family” get tossed around as an explanation for many of the system’s ills. It’s a knowing reference to an abiding suspicion that officials use the school system to dole out jobs to those they hold close.”

Good thing tose “responsible citizens” elected great school board members. Yessiree, Bob, those are the people I want making decisions about whether my child can attend a charter school.

Eddie Hall

October 16th, 2012
7:38 am

Mr Broy as he points out is hardly unbiased. While touting the handful of states that have expierenced MILD success, he fails to mention Florida, Oklahoma, New Mexico and others that have been dismal failures and are now mired in lawsuits. As I have said from the begining, in what ever way shape or form, depending on who you are, THIS amendment is about MONEY, not children. Vote NO! We kept their hands off transportation dollars by defeating TSPLOST, do it again with education dollars. VOTE NO!!!!

Mountain Man

October 16th, 2012
7:43 am

There was a mechanism at the State level for approving charters before (without a Constitutional Amendment). You enemies of charter schools filed a lawsuit and had it declared unconstitutional. You forced the supporters to go for the amendment. Happy, now? If it passes, it will be because you MADE it happen.

This amendment is NOTHING like TSPLOST. No one ever promised us to remove tolls on roads and then reneged like in TSPLOST. Money is not being siphoned away from roads to let MARTA waste more money like in TSPLOST. The election is near, we will see which way it goes. I am prepared to be philosophical if it loses, are you prepared if it wins?

MAY

October 16th, 2012
7:46 am

Thank you Mr. Broy for a thoughtful piece. I believe most of the people in Georgia will vote yes. They will because they understand these schools provide another way for children to learn. Even in the best school system (and we have many), there are children who could do better with a different approach. I will vote yes because I’m thinking about the kids….not some superintendent’s kingdom or local board rep’s power.

MAY

October 16th, 2012
7:47 am

Enter your comments here

Bill Mackinnon

October 16th, 2012
7:49 am

The Commission is about State authority and its use to “make” local Boards bend and do what they may or may not choose. Citing the problems in APS, Dekalb and Clayton is real, but the election process moves much more slowly than the eruption of the problems. The pace of reform slows the higher up the political ladder we go. The State can’t be trusted to be any more able to quickly make needed changes happen locally. (the old saw is everyone should be anxious while the Legislature is in session) We are stuck with the electoral process and it is up to each community to act. Putting the Commission in place removes any leverage we have as voters. It simply further reifies the good ole boy network. The State could have put in place a professional office of Charter consultants to educate and professionalize the 180 local school boards. (That would give more power to the old joke: “Hi I am from the State office and I am here to help you”)

South Georgia Retired Educator

October 16th, 2012
7:51 am

Mr. Broy’s ideas are worthwhile, but won’t work in the current political environment in Georgia. Since the only reaction to the economic slowdown from the governor and legislature for the past 10 years has been to slash funds from QBE and force local systems to cut student days and teacher days, a change in charter school approvals has to be put on the back burner. If there’s no money to fund the current QBE law, how can there be money to set up an expensive charter commission? The leaders in Atlanta just don’t get it and never will. To the governor and legislators who have made public schools suffer and then put the charter question on the ballot, I say shame on you!

alpharetta mom

October 16th, 2012
7:58 am

If this change is such a great idea why deceive the voters? Why was the preamble signed on August 15th and then hidden from those who opposed the amendment? The preamble is biased and a lie – “improving student achievement” or “parental involvement” cannot be found anywhere in HB 797. The ballot question is meant to be misleading. A charter petitioner can appeal to the state under current law – the state charter division is not capable of making informed decisions according to Mr. Broy yet they will be doing most of the heavy lifting if this thing passes. If the objective is to create more charter schools, faster, why not just say so. We already know that’s the end game and resent being played for fools. That is the crux of the issue Mr. Broy – what is the propoents strategy, how much money are we talking about, where is it coming from, how do the proponents of charter schools see this system of state charters in relation to traditional public schools – are they competitors and aim to “win”, what does “winning” look like? All schools will look like traditional schools in 10 years because they will all have to adhere to the common core – it will just be a redistribution on the money. As a taxpayer and parent I will be voting no because no one in this entire conversation is looking at the big picture except for Dr. Barge. We are sick of spin and legislators who are dishonest.

Ed Advocate

October 16th, 2012
8:17 am

Mr. Broy’s position here is hardly unbiased. He has a professional and personal interest in seeing Amendment #1 pass. That being said, when he was working here in GA, those of us who encountered him found him to be a bright, thoughtful, and reasonable young guy.

Unfortunately, the situation in GA has deteriorated since his departure. Billion dollar state funding cuts have compromised student learning and pushed a dozen school systems to the brink of bankruptcy. Cronyism and anti-public education sentiment under the Gold Dome run rampant.

If supporters of Amendment #1 really cared about increasing outcomes for all students and serving in a complementary fashion alongside public schools, then the amendment wouldn’t have encountered such resistance.

Instead state policy makers are using state charter schools as a weapon against public schools. Supporters are playing favorites within the charter community–threatening to take money from local charter schools and charter school systems and give it to state charter schools. State leaders have created a mess, and despite Mr. Broy’s thoughtful words, we can’t trust these GA leaders to work in the best interest of all GA’s students.

GA students and GA taxpayers deserve better. State leaders must get real about how we pay for the government expansion they say we need. Reject Amendment #1.

jd

October 16th, 2012
8:38 am

So, why not seek a profession board of education to improve the lot of all our schools? And, make sure the part-time legislators understand they cannot micro-manage this board –

Dunwoody Mom

October 16th, 2012
8:41 am

Let’s be clear here: The only reason that Charter Amendment proponents can get away with saying “they are Public Schools” is that these schools WILL get taxpayer money.

#1. The fact that the State of Georgia Constitution would be changed ONLY to allow for-profit companies to come in and setup private schools paid for by taxpayer monies should scare the beejus out of all of us. This is our Constitution we are talking about here!! Changing it should be a BFD, not on the request of Walmart or ALEC or Gates or anyone else whose sole purpose is to make money, not education.

#2. The commission which would be setup to approve these schools is not elected – it will be a political board filled with cronies of whomever is Governor – most likely individuals who have little to no experience in education.

#3. If you don’t like your public school, go start your own charter outside the realm and influence of an out-of-state for-profit company.

If this Amendment passes, this will not turn out well for the children in our public schools. But, hey, I only have a year and half left before my youngest graduates from HS, what do I care???

Ronin

October 16th, 2012
8:42 am

Mr. Broy is spot on in his analysis on why Charter schools need to be developed at the state level rather than left to the local district schools systems to approve. It’s not logical to expect an unbiased review of a Charter application when the decision directly impacts the enrollment at district schools.

As to those who say that current district schools can adopt similar policies and can all then be considered “Charter like” schools, it simply won’t happen. If it was going to happened, this transformation would already have occurred. The current district education system has certain standards that are in place and “thinking outside the box” is akin to putting your head in a hangman’s noose if you’re a teacher. Compliance with procedure and school policy are rewarded with longevity which equals a higher salary. In my opinion, that’s why accountability may be thrown out the window and movements to grade teachers in other areas of the country is strongly opposed.
In other words” “don’t rock the boat, I’ve got three more years until I retire.”

Charters knowingly agree to accountability. That’s a step in the right direction.

indigo

October 16th, 2012
8:43 am

“if we support high-quality Charter schools”

In Georgia, “high-quality Charter schools” is an oxymoron.

Dunwoody Mom

October 16th, 2012
8:46 am

Mr. Broy is spot on in his analysis on why Charter schools need to be developed at the state level rather than left to the local district schools systems to approve

The State BOE already has the authority to authorize charter schools.

scrappy

October 16th, 2012
8:48 am

“guarantee of accountability” with a charter school? How? Why?

Because said commission can then just revoke the charter and force the school to close? Or because they can just change the standards applied to the school? Or, some other type of accountability?

Anyone know?

BC

October 16th, 2012
8:51 am

I love current education system benefactors rail against for-profit organizations operating schools when most of the teachers and administrators received their BS (not bachelor of science, by the way) graduate degrees from these same organizations to artificially inflate their paychecks in this bogus system.

William Casey

October 16th, 2012
9:17 am

How anyone can believe that a state-appointed “commission” will improve schools is beyond my comprehension. A new, parallel bureacracy, that’s just what we need… NOT! I’m voting NO.

RAMZAD

October 16th, 2012
9:45 am

It boggles the mind that those who oppose the Amendment 1 will not admit that local school boards, at the cellular level, is failing miserably.

One is five or two in six seniors do not graduate. School boards are local war zones. School districts can’t seem to do anything about bullying and mob beatings. Official cheating is endemic. Remedial approaches to college readiness is business as usual, and the horrors go on and on. Accreditation is a guillotine proposal to make property values quake.

Why can’t they see that, as Mr. Broy is saying, that we need a vehicle to approve high quality charter schools to shift the paradigm to the accountability of those who can’t seem to reach quality?

Do they really believe local school districts are giving us quality now? Or; is it just ok that the school in my neighborhood is great, and my kids are getting a great education- under my local control, and so your kids will not be able to compete with mine.

momof2

October 16th, 2012
9:53 am

You say hold the school board accountable. My child doesn’t have 10yrs or 2 yrs for them to change and get it right. Many child needs and deserves a great education now, not later. Charter schools provide this choice.

pride and joy

October 16th, 2012
10:12 am

“So while a charter is not a guarantee of quality, it is a guarantee of accountability.”
BRAVO.
Very well said.
ACCOUNTABILITY.
It’s the key ingredient missing from many metro Atlanta public schools.
When charter schools do not perform, their doors are closed.
When metro Atlanta public schools do not perform, the taxpayers are blamed for not giving enough, the parents are blamed for not doing enough, the community is blamed for not supporting enough and the state is blamed for not funding enough.
When a metro Atlanta public school fails to teach, it is everyone else’s fault — except the schools.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
10:16 am

@ Mountain Man, you funny guy.

“Public schools can create policies to deal with disciplinary issues – but they have chosen not to do so.”

Not true. School districts that actively discipline students (records are kept of this) are reprimanded by the state and told to back off.

“Public schools can choose policies to combat absenteeism – but they have not done so.”

What are you talking about, putting parents in jail? Currently, if the police see truant kids they pick them up and take them to the school. Students who miss a certain number of days do not proceed to next grade level. There is a limit to how much you can control people.

“Public schools can require students to go to summer school (if there is a summer left) or be retained when they fail, but they choose not to do this.”

Not true. You can not send kids to summer school, even if you need to for remediation, if there is NO MONEY to pay for summer school, to pay teachers to teach summer school. Budgets are divided the specifics. Currently there is very little discretionary funds. There might be a couple thousand dollars and this is usually spent on a remodel or painting a room or little bit of furniture or something. Remediation summer school probably got cut from the budget like any other number of things. Mountain Man, I have seen FOUR ROUNDS of budget cuts, like carving an apple down to trying to eat the stem and the seeds. Like, what does it matter when there’s five rounds of testing in the school year and you’re harassed about it all year long through the tv announcements, the speaker system, the meetings, like singing the Wal-Mart song or something.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
10:24 am

Hey Mountain Man, Schools who love their children LOVE summer school and LOVE to assign children to summer school and teachers LOVE to teach summer school, but there is NO MONEY assigned for this purpose. And just an FYI, I have spend my own money to buy desks and tables and chairs because it was either that or go buy a file and grind off the sharp edges from the broken metal on the desks so kids would stop cutting themselves on the razor sharp edge where the metal was broken off on the desks. And I didn’t want the liability of some parent saying, My child cut themselves on a desk in your classroom.” And when there is no money being spent on anything, it seems sort of pointless to make some request to buy new furniture for your classroom. FYI the management strategy is to build new school buildings one by one to replace the antiquated buildings. Makes sense but it does not change that there is not a dime spent on the old buildings if at all possible.

Ronin

October 16th, 2012
10:28 am

@Ramzad 9:45, well said.

While there are some good district schools in GA, there are students and families that are trapped in schools that are failing to meet their needs.

This amendment stretches beyond zip codes and district maps to offer an alternative to traditional government schools.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
10:48 am

BC, Good point but you (and me) will be glad to know the issue of superficial degrees to increase pay has been addressed. Degrees not specific to duty will no longer be honored and there is cut-off date for people currently enrolled in such programs. The era of funny degrees and “I got mine at Argosy” may be over. I’ve known some good people pay to get these mail-order master’s degrees because they could not support their family on the teacher salary for a 4-year BA/BS degree. When you take the funny degree add-on to the “doctorate” level and pay, it is a whole different order of magnitude. There a couple different ways you can identify these type degrees: “for-profit schools” and “non dissertation doctorates.” Note that traditional private universities are not “for profit.” This is the distinction.

K12 educators with real dissertation non-profit doctorates are treated as complete pariahs in the school districts. People are scared of these type persons because their standard mode is so much higher than the make-believe credential crowd. It might be okay if they left the real people alone, but they don’t. As Old Physics Teacher said, if you have real training from a real university, in many Georgia public school districts you get marginalized. It starts slow, and then it becomes real and the in becomes a pattern. And its got nothing to with educating children, it has to do with a paranoid mafia caste and their adherents.

Pass the charter amendment. For Georgia public ed. K12, use an outside agency to do teacher work reviews, come into the classroom, videotape, evaluate and leave and then make their recommendation. You might (emphasis) have a chance if you did this, removing teacher work review from the local political environment.

I know of three science teachers who left in the last year. One went to teach in Asia, one left the state, and one retired early. It is true that good talent is being gutted. People are not dumb and are not going to work in an abusive depression era environment. It is one thing to receive moderate pay. It is another to receive moderate and be abused where the uneducated tell the educated what to do. There is some type of change afoot. I’ve also seen a super great talented central office subject head displaced. A person with zero political aspiration and a master of their field. This person was put on the griddle and screwed around. Seems to be the order of the day to routines displace and replace people. This person wasn’t making a big salary either but they did not politic and play house with the local admin. authority club. Some people rationalise “Well if you’re that smart, you should be teaching college.” Well folks, 65% of U. S. college courses are not taught be temporary per-class-taught hires who receive no benefits and no medical coverage, nothing. Yes, so “go teach college” and live on $9,000. a year or something.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
10:52 am

PS “Go teach college” and get paid less that survival, have no medical or retirement, nothing, and be teaching the same students from the K12 who are just a few years older and just as completely unlearned and no-vocabulary and hair-bristles-at-new-ideas as they were in the K12 school. Maybe the one difference is that due to the FERPA laws their parents can’t complain about you, so instead there is always one of two of them running to the dean to trash you like their hair is on fire. The department dean is a political appointee and uses the students as “very serious” customers and wants to know what the “instructor” (not professor) is doing. This type student and dean are a match made in heaven, two pieces of a puzzle that lock together.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
11:12 am

“65% of U. S. college courses are now taught by temporary per-class-taught hires who receive no benefits and no medical coverage, nothing.”

“In 1969, professors who were either tenured or tenure-track made up 78 percent of the faculty. Those working part time made up only 18.5 percent. By 2009, those proportions had almost flipped, with tenured and tenure-track making up just 33.5 percent, and those working part time nearly 50 percent.” http://chronicle.com/article/2-Tracks-for-Faculty/135050/

“instructors off the tenure track account for more than four-fifths of the faculties of two-year public colleges, more than two-thirds of the faculties at private four-year colleges, and more than half of the faculties at public four-year colleges” http://chronicle.com/article/Accreditation-Is-Eyed-as-a/131292/
____________________

Go teach at a college? How about go work for PepBoys.

ChartersStarter, Too

October 16th, 2012
11:18 am

@ Linda,

Local districts have had the opportunity for flexibility at the school level (via conversion charters) for nearly 20 years. The conversions I know have very, very little decision making authority over important things like budgets and personnel, and limited decision making authority over instruction.

Districts have always had the ability to request waivers from the State Board. Few actually request or utilize waivers for flexibility for any meaningful purpose.

Everybody doing the same thing is more “manageable’ and more “expedient” than supporting and overseeing the vitality of autonomous, real professional learning communities at each school. Large bureaucratic systems can only be validated if they control every thing from the top down uniformly.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
11:28 am

@CharterStarter, seen where there is a charter school in a district and it is like the district threw a tantrum and declared the various and substantial things they (government school district) control about the charter school. This is with an established quietly run high performing charter school, not a greenhorn newbie, minding their own business and just doing their work and with results to show for it. It is like the local district just up and got furious that someone had intruded on their territory. It was said that after the meeting where the school district asserted their power and dominion over the charter school, the charter school people at the meeting were all leaving with a funny look on their faces.

Marney

October 16th, 2012
11:32 am

@Dunwoody mom

I did start my own charter school 10 years ago. It is not for profit and has received national exposure for its focus and the challenges in Dekalb it seeks to address. You can read about it here:

http://littlebillclinton.csmonitor.com/littlebillclinton/

It was more than a full time job protecting it and I have never gotten a dime for that service. I have stood in front of the Dekalb board many many times to try to get them to understand that ICS existed to help children and wasn’t a threat or an insult to them, but part of the Dekalb schoo district. Spent years trying to get Crawford Lewis to like me and trying to figure out how to deal with Pat Pope…

I don’t believe that this amendment will make anywhere near the difference for good or ill that all this hoopla would suggest.

I am tired.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
11:36 am

Why why why are the Georgia public school administrations rotten like the rottenest apple? Mr. Barge? (”Well,.. I’ve got nothing to do with that.”) Attorney General? (”Well, we don’t do that here.) Anyone?

d

October 16th, 2012
11:40 am

Mr. Broy brings up my main argument against Amendment 1 – the fact that this is an appointed board – and then says why don’t we worry about the fact that the State Board of Education isn’t elected. I agree that this is also a problem and should be remedied. GAE has a resolution (one of their belief statements) that the State Board should be elected and have them appoint the state superintendent. I think this is how it should be, but right now the question on the floor isn’t the state board – it is Amendment 1. We don’t need more unelected boards making decisions for the use of taxpayer dollars. Fix that and I wouldn’t have any issue with a charter board, but as it stands, my vote will still be no.

Let's be Clear

October 16th, 2012
11:44 am

The amendment will pass because it is not clearly worded. The amendment states,

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

Many on this blog keep bringing up APS, DeKalb, and Clayton as the reason to vote for the charter amendment. Atlanta has more school board approved charter schools than any district in the state. Atlanta also has a full time charter director. The ONE commission approved charter in Atlanta (Heritage Prepatory) also has lower value added scores as evidenced on this blog http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/10/12/ajc-uses-open-records-to-see-value-added-scores-for-aps-some-surprises-heads-up-this-is-future-for-all-schools/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog

The ONE commision approved charter school in Atlanta “managed” (established after shopping around for parents) by a for-profit corporation enrolls few if any hispanic students; however there are many who are serviced by the traditional schools in the neighborhood and that live in the neighborhood. The school also serves very few special education students; the traditional schools in the area serve many times more. The nonprofit board (parents) owe millions on a building to the for profit company.

When the Commission was operating the main concern was making sure that charter schools had the financial resources to open. There was no interest in making sure the charter offered an improvement to the local disctrict offereings. It is clear the ONE commission approved charter in Atlanta has not improved the educational outcomes for the students most in need, in fact they ignore the the most disadvantaged groups.

No one has spoken about the financial impact this amendment will have on the rural districts with one middle, one high school, and one elementary school. These schools are funded minimially over the state allocated funds. These rural cannot afford to support two schools with the same grade levels.

The problem I saw with the commission was that the main concern in approving a charter was

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
11:58 am

Any ideas how to repurpose these temples of doom? http://oldwww.dekalb.k12.ga.us/administration/operations/plantservices/images/9923D0A97FD4442F9D4AAC7CB173E1A5.jpg

http://www.hjrussell.com/constructionProjects/constProjectImages/officeAtlPublicSchools.jpg

A hundred years from now it will probably all be run by computer from a consultant’s office in Alpharetta.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
12:01 pm

err. skating rink and movie theater.

Private Citizen

October 16th, 2012
12:05 pm

@ Marney, Sounds like you need SUPPORT.

Prof

October 16th, 2012
12:30 pm

I do not think that this amendment is about charter schools at all. It is about whether a new, appointed not elected, state commission to approve charter schools should be created. The funding for this new expensive bureaucratic office is not specified, nor are its criteria for approving new charter schools. These new commission-approved charter schools would get taxpayer funds as public schools.

I don’t think that is a good idea. So in about an hour I will be voting early and will vote NO on the amendment.

Marney

October 16th, 2012
12:55 pm

@private citizen No, I don’t need support, ICS does. I’ve retired. I won the GPAN “Power to the Parent” award at the Charter School Association’s award banquet last year, and my children are now both doing exceedingly well in the best Magnet School Dekalb has.

I simply know too much of all the push and push back that goes on and have given up on all the idealized “we can change the world if we just do this one thing” positions and people that hold them.
I will look after my own and such other individuals as I respect.

There are several ways things could play out with this amendment. It could pass and thereby be the excuse for districts to turn down all future applicants and renewals…so that it becomes a net decline in funding for all start-ups to that of the average of the 5 poorest district. It could fail, and thereby embolden districts to turn down all future applicants and then sue to make sure that the ones that are approved at the state level only are also closed thereby triggering another attempt.

It could pass…and the commission make it a free for all of new EMO managed schools. But then the charters that are opened will all start crying poor…and then we can all cry poor together and maybe the Republicans will start to believe that there isn’t enough funding the Adequately educate children when their “favored” schools are saying the same as all the others.

More likely, it will pass…take a year to set up the commission…another year to get 5-10 more schools open…but those 10 schools will educate such a small fraction of number of needy kids in the state that it IS an island that it primarily just demoralizes parents and teachers who are still trapped.

Dave

October 16th, 2012
1:42 pm

I’m starting with the idea of voting no; but, I don’t want to oppose something that has value. What I don’t understand about this whole charter school thing is the compelling reason for charter schools in the first place and if they are a good thing, why we need two paths to establishing them.

I had always thought that charters were kind of “laboratory” schools that experimented to find better ways to teach kids that could be used in the rest of the public schools. In what I’ve read recently I’ve seen nothing about this, so maybe I’m wrong. If charters are meant to be an alternative to other public schools, providing flexibility and improved teaching, then the entire mechanism seems wrong. A small percentage get the benefit and the rest flounder. If improvement as the result of competition is the true reason for charters, the way to go is create a voucher system. Let all schools compete with ideas for students. Charter schools are a half measure.

If charter schools are a good thing, I still have a problem with the idea of creating two paths to them. Mr. Broy says: “Charter authorizing across the country suffers from a lack of professionalism and consistent standards.” Isn’t the way to deal with that problem to demand professionalism and adherence to standards in one rather than two paths? What does two bring to the table other than extra cost? If Mr. Broy is sincere, he should be supporting either state or local control with strong standards, not split control with muddy standards.

As an aside, Mr. Broy and some of the commenters above talk about disfunctional school districts with Clayton and DeKalb as poster children mentioned in the comments. I don’t see how two charter systems or indeed charter schools at all solve the problem of idiots elected to school boards, though I do feel sorry for the kids subjected to their bungling.

Still leaning towards a no vote; but, I’ll keep reading.