Guest column: Charter schools amendment is cash cow

The charter schools amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot has generated record numbers of op-ed submissions across my desk. I published one here yesterday in support of the amendment. I am running an opposing view today.

This is by the Teaching Georgia Writing Collective, a group of educators, parents and citizens who engage in public writing and public teaching about education in Georgia. The group had its impetus in Athens and includes UGA faculty.

The writers contend that charter schools are now being seen as a business opportunity,  and the amendment will increase those seeking to make money off charters. To that end, Reuters had an interesting story about the flow of foreign money to charter schools.

According to Reuters: (This is an excerpt. Please read full piece before commenting.)

Wealthy individuals from as far away as China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are spending tens of millions of dollars to build classrooms, libraries, basketball courts and science labs for American charter schools.

In Buffalo, New York, foreign funds paid for the Health Sciences Charter School to renovate a 19th-century orphanage into modern classrooms and computer labs. In Florence, Arizona, overseas investment is expected to finance a sixth campus for the booming chain of American Leadership Academy charter schools.

And in Florida, state business development officials say foreign investment in charter schools is poised to triple next year, to $90 million.

The reason? Under a federal program known as EB-5, wealthy foreigners can in effect buy U.S. immigration visas for themselves and their families by investing at least $500,000 in certain development projects. In the past two decades, much of the investment has gone into commercial real-estate projects, like luxury hotels, ski resorts and even gas stations. Lately, however, enterprising brokers have seen a golden opportunity to match cash-starved charter schools with cash-flush foreigners in investment deals that benefit both.

Now, here is the piece by the Teaching Georgia Writing Collective:

Opening the floodgates to for-profit charter schools across the state of Georgia will have devastating long-term effects on our state’s public education. Vote “no” on Amendment 1, but don’t do it because we want you to. Vote “no” because you know the facts.

Without the approval of local districts, Georgia will open its educational system to a stampede of charter school corporations and real estate brokers who see this bill as a cash cow. These out-of-state corporations are funneling dollars into Georgia right now to get this amendment passed, and if we pass the amendment, we will funnel those dollars and many more right back into their corporate pockets.

Charter schools appear to be about money and politics and influence peddling. Why, with the state Department of Education reporting that charter schools don’t perform as well as traditional public schools and their graduation rates are no better, is the Legislature is so bent on changing the state constitution to allow charters to be created by an appointed state commission?

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that doing so is unconstitutional – which is why we are now faced with a vote that would change the constitution.

Charter schools in other states do not compete favorably with traditional public schools. Why this big push for more charter schools?

The Miami-Herald did a study of charter school operators in Florida, and found that charters are nearly a half-billion dollar business, and one of the fastest growing industries in Florida. According to the newspaper report, charter school industry is “backed by real-estate developers and promoted by politicians” and “rife with insider deals and potential conflicts of interest.”

In Florida, management companies run almost two-thirds of charters. The management companies charge fees that sometime exceed $1 million per year per school. On top of such fees, these management companies frequently own the land and/or the buildings where the school is housed, and charge either the state or the local school system rent.

Our political leaders have turned what started out as a good idea—the creation of charter schools to meet particular local needs—into a political battleground where money takes precedent over education. Lurking in the fringes of this battleground are corporations that see public education as a new market in which to make bets and money – on the backs of our Georgia children and youth.

Be on the right side of history  and on the right side of our children and their futures. Vote “no” on Amendment 1.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

84 comments Add your comment

Phil from Athens

October 17th, 2012
6:05 pm

Public education is doing just fine…right Maureen? Wake me up when a charter school is accused of cheating like the schools in Atlanta.

Phil from Athens

October 17th, 2012
6:05 pm

“why is it that the states with the strongest teachers’ unions have the highest student achievement?”

Chicago has unions and most of their kids can’t read.

DeKalb Teacher

October 17th, 2012
6:23 pm

Bootney
YOU and your friends might have plenty of choices, but understand that many people do not. There are many less fortunate people trying to make ends meet. Charter schools aren’t going to fix education, but it is at least another tool in the belt. Please don’t forget about those who have fallen on hard times.

FUBU

October 17th, 2012
6:46 pm

All children in Georgia are educated equally! But the problem is this: NOT ALL CHILDREN ARE EQUALLY INTELLIGENT!

MAY

October 17th, 2012
7:24 pm

Less than 15 school systems out of 180 have approved independent charter schools after 11 years. Parents deserve to see if there might be a school that helps their child better than another. I love the idea that a family who knows their child is very hands-on could choose a constructivism curriculum at a charter school over the non-charter public school. That doesn’t mean one is better than another, just that we as citizens of Georgia will see more children reaching their full potential. I’ll vote YES!

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

October 17th, 2012
7:51 pm

Oh yes. We can just “close” charter schools when they don’t perform well….

For a price….

“The closing of six St. Louis charter schools operated by Virginia-based Imagine Schools Inc. has cost $250,000, the Associated Press reports.
The schools boasted 3,333 students — about 89 percent of whom transferred to St. Louis Public Schools after the state voted last spring to close the Imagine network of St. Louis charter schools following years of academic and financial management issues.
….Speaking at the Missouri Public Charter School Association’s annual conference earlier this month, state Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said that Imagine schools in St. Louis had performed below the city’s public schools on state tests, and also spent significantly less money on instruction compared to administrative costs, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.”

Full article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/closure-of-six-charter-sc_n_1974695.html?utm_hp_ref=education

ChartersStarter, Too

October 17th, 2012
7:54 pm

Charters, because they have no access to capital dollars, ave a very difficult time obtaining facilities and financing. I have a solution to this problem! How about the school districts who have charter schools….

1. Actually allow them to use their unused buildings (rather than using them for storage/warehouse, professional development, bus parking, etc.)

2. Allow their charters to be a part of SPLOST.

3. Work with charters on obtaining bonds like any other school in the district.

And how about the legislature ensure that charters, like every other child in the state, has access to capital funds?

Miss Management

October 17th, 2012
8:37 pm

Yeah, I used to think like this author too. That is, until my child started to really not fit at our locally mandated public school. If I had the option to choose a Museum School or a Leadership Academy or DeKalb Academy of Technology and the Environment or a conversion charter like Kingsley or Chesnut, I SO would have applied for my child! Instead, he suffered — greatly — at the hands our our locally mandated attendance zoned public school.

Marney

October 17th, 2012
9:04 pm

@ChartersStarter, Too to your number 1 point above you need to add: or the occasional training of the district’s drug sniffing dogs.

That was the stated use of Forrest Hills elementary school for several of the years it sat empty as the children at ICS–less than a mile away– had to walk to lunch in the rain from their trailers. But it was still better than my mandated attendance zoned school.

Tony

October 17th, 2012
9:08 pm

Phil, sorry but last time I looked Chicago was not a state. How about actually checking into the question. What about the northeastern states?

catlady

October 17th, 2012
9:15 pm

How do you say “Moo” in Chinese, Nigerian, Russian, etc?

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:42 pm

@ Dekalb teacher

I’ve been laid off by GPC. I get the the limited resources bit. I haven’t had a raise of merit in at least 7 years before I got laid off. I quit being able to make ends meet some time ago.

doesn’t change the fact there are choices, and that there is never going to be a set of choices which pleases everybody.

YOU and your friends may just have to make some harder decisions than you want to.

choices don’t necessarily translate to convenience.

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:43 pm

@ tony,

it’s one of the extra seven states in the US of Obama.
he has 57 of them

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:45 pm

Dr. Monica Henson

October 17th, 2012
10:06 pm

teacher&mom asked, “What are/were the start-up costs for your charter school?”

Apologies for the late response–it’s been a long day of writing federal paperwork. :)

Our start-up expenses totaled $134,837 for the first two months of operation, including personnel & non-personnel expenses. We were awarded a federal Implementation Grant of $600,000 that will be spent over the first two years of operation and that covers our start-up costs.

Ron F.

October 17th, 2012
10:08 pm

“How do you say “Moo” in Chinese, Nigerian, Russian, etc?”

Now THAT’S funny!! Thanks for the laugh!! :-) :-)

FBT

October 17th, 2012
10:20 pm

The expense of a failed charter to the state is nothing compared to the lifelong opportunity costs of students with no options being forced to attend a failing traditional school which has no risk of being shut down for underperformance.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 17th, 2012
10:29 pm

Clarity posted, incorrectly, that “EVERY charter school has been found to have a significantly lower percentage of free and reduced meal students as compared with the county they are in. Factor in this fact that admission is selective…”

I have to throw the BS flag on these two items, as well as the allegation that there is such a legal entity as a “for profit” charter school.

The statewide average FRL rate is about 57%, nationally about 46%. My state chartered school’s FRL rate is 70%. We also serve 61% minority students in 160 cities and towns. Our special education population is about 14%.

We have a contract for back-office support and education services with a for-profit corporation. We bought supplemental readers from for-profit textbook publishers. We have an account at Office Depot for business supplies and purchased fax machines & printers there; they are a for-profit corporation. We bought a refrigerator and microwave for our break room from–you guessed it–a for-profit corporation. The breakfast and lunch snacks we will provide for our students at our hybrid learning centers will be purchased from supermarkets, which are all for-profit corporations.

Our LEA/school, however, is governed by a nonprofit Board of Directors and does not turn a profit, just like any other public school district.

LarryMajor

October 17th, 2012
10:29 pm

These discussions always seem to degenerate into arguments about the value of charter schools, when the amendment is only about how charter schools are approved. Still, some of the misleading statements here need some sunlight.

The State BOE has had the authority to approve charter petitions denied by local boards since 1998 and nothing in the recent Supreme Court decision affects that authority. When the Commission was declared unconstitutional, the State BOE reviewed the petitions of all 16 Commission schools

Someone mentioned that there are “only” 15 charter schools originally approved by the SBOE, which is true (they approved 19 over the years and 15 are still operating). These 19 approvals were from something over 50 applications, which means the SBOE denied most of the charter petitions. The original Charter School Commission approval numbers are very similar.

The Commission had 50 applications and approved “only” 16. Even at this level of scrutiny, one Commission School collapsed in a financial fireball and a second is on notice for failing to comply with state and federal regulatory filing requirements.

The reality is that most charter petitioners have been judged incapable of operating a public school by local boards, the State BOE and the Charter School Commission – literally every entity ever involved with approving charter petitions. The reason most school systems have no charter schools isn’t because they voted them down, but because no one ever submitted a charter petition for approval.

Do we really need to spend sorely needed education dollars on yet another government agency that will – at best – duplicate our current working appeals system?

Vote NO on amendment 1.

horkheimer

October 17th, 2012
11:29 pm

It comes to this:
Corporate profits first. There’s no better way to separate folks from their money than by having the govt. do the separating. Education is the latest frontier for corporations to pad their bottom line at the taxpayers’ expense. And remember: in a corporation’s eyes, profit will always be more important than your child’s education.

Second is teachers’ unions (or professional organizations in Ga.’s case) and wage compression. The Powers That Be think teachers make too much money and charter schools are a good way to undercut established means of determining teacher salaries. There are those out there who cheer this, but remember: it’s your kids who are going to suffer when the good teachers leave for better paying jobs, and it’s your community that will suffer when teachers don’t have as much money to spend. If teachers’ wages fall, so will the wages of others who depend on teachers’ money.

It’s just another step in the pillaging of the country ( and Georgia in particular), and most folks are too deluded or distracted to see it.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 18th, 2012
10:00 am

Love Teaching
“St Louis closes 6 failing charter schools to the tune of $250,000.”

Question
Should we keep children in the worse of the worse failing schools like we do with traditional public schools? Wouldn’t it be nice to close the 6 worse schools in your county and put those children in better schools?

Note
Put the $250K in perspective. Considering the budget, that is a drop in the bucket. Go online to the last board meeting and check out how much was spent on the various items. Here are the fist couple of item’s at DeKalb’s last BOE meeting …

Software Maintenance, Hosting and Services for Y5 – $464,002.00
Leadership Development Program – $300,000
Telecommunication 24/7 Monitoring – $375,000.00

St Louis – Get kids out of 6 failing schools – $250,000
I would spend $250K to shut down our 6 worse schools and transfer all the kids to better schools.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 18th, 2012
10:44 am

horkheimer posted, “charter schools are a good way to undercut established means of determining teacher salaries.”

Darn straight! My staff and I are working on developing a creative and innovative way to pay our teachers HIGHER salaries than the traditional longevity salary schedule calls for. This means throwing out a lot of assumptions and not just thinking outside the box–but building our own box. Without a broad flexibility waiver and an independent charter, this kind of innovation would never be possible.

One of our goals is to have teachers able to earn six-figure salaries eventually. You can’t get there with the hidebound restrictions of the traditional brick and mortar school district. We won’t be paying people simply for breathing another year or adding another degree.

Incidentally, our for-profit education service partner does not hold any administrative decision making authority–we are constructing new paradigms without their direction and control, but with their support and assistance. THAT’S what we are paying them for.

Wonder if there are any public school districts out there paying independent consultants and companies to help them figure out new ways to do things? Nah–everyone knows that school districts only deal with nonprofits and no one makes any money from working with a district public school. ;)

ELMom

October 18th, 2012
1:34 pm

The foreign investor line appears to be a scare tactic. If a wealthy foreign person wants to immigrate to the US there are many, many more ways that they could do so besides investing in education. http://www.cnbc.com/id/37357190/Want_to_Become_a_US_Citizen_Money_Talks

John Konop

October 18th, 2012
4:58 pm

The following are important taxpayer protections that should be added to the charter school amendment:
• School board members are forbidden from being a consultant, owner, or employee of the charter school management company or its vendors within the past two years. They must provide full disclosure of any such prior affiliations.
• Officeholders that vote on public or charter school legislation and/or funding must fully disclosure any affiliations with any charter school and/or vendors providing services to charter schools. They must also disclose any relatives that are affiliated with charter schools and/or vendors.
• No charter or public school board member and/or officeholder may have any interest in the real estate underlying any charter or public school.
• Charter school board meetings must be publically listed 30 days in advance and must be held after 7 pm (note: short-term notice, unannounced date changes, and inconvenient meeting times have been used to reduce public participation and oversight).
• Every privately managed charter school with over 750 students must secure a bond that compensates the school district if the charter school closes before the end of a school year.
• If a charter school’s private owners/management company owns an interest in the real estate underlying the school, that property must be put up as security to repay any free taxpayer money the school received (e.g. grants or loans) in the event the school fails.
• The contract between the private management company and the charter school must be fully disclosed.
Taxpayers have too often been left holding the bag for failed publically funded private businesses. The above are, for the most part, common requirements in the private sector. We taxpayers deserve these minimal protections.

Clarity

October 18th, 2012
5:00 pm

Dr. Monica Henderson – the comparison of Free and Reduced Lunch wasn’t to the state average, it was to the County the charter school is in. So please provide your Free and Reduced Lunch rate compared with the County that you are in. Wait a minute – you get to compare to the state because you are a virtual school (you say blended but I see no bricks or mortar that is really a component of your education). Everyone needs to recognize that the huge campaign money coming from out of state is from virtual school companies. Passage of the amendment will be a free for all for them to have access to taxpayer dollars. Part of the problem is not that virtual options are not part of the future of education, but it highlights that since public education has been cut $1.1 billion this year, where will the money come to pay for students who do these virtual schools that are currently not enrolled in public schools? Again, with a $1.1 billion cut, where does the money come from given that a virtual school can take a student from anywhere in GA, taking the taxpayer funds with him or her, but not reduce a class enough to reduce a teacher, let alone the maintenance costs of buildings or the fuel cost of buses? I call BS on you Dr. Monica Henson. I notice you did not throw the BS flag on anything else in the post – I’d love to see you tell me they are not factual and prove it.

I also like your schools parental involvement vehicle – since this deceptive opinion before the ballot question has this about increased parent involvement. How do you know? In a virtual setting I would assume parents would have to be more involved – otherwise they learn nothing. But how do you know?

Could you please show us where your F&R rate is published? I find it interesting that your post says your school is 70% when the document on your own website says, “As of August 31, 2012, enrollment is 347 with 54% designated economically disadvantaged, based on their qualifying for Free or Reduced Lunch.” I do not see your financial information submitted like every other school system has to do because of HB122.

Private Citizen

October 18th, 2012
5:35 pm

ha Someone posting using the name of Max Horkeimer. Well, just call me his best friend, Theodor Adorno.

Just a note to say, I like the Chinese. I buy my cell phones / smart phone / support parts, etc. directly from a person in the Shenzhen city region where they make all this stuff. Impressive manufacturing skills, excellent quality and intricate electronics. They’re really serious on the build. China has a lot of cell models, and I mean advanced stuff, too, that will never see the U.S. market. Sort of US is conditioned to by TOY-O-TA and other few brands, there is a lot of stuff out there being made and sold that does not go to the US market. Go visit France and the streets are filled with brightly colored nice new little cars from Renault, Peugot, and Citroen, and not a one of them are sold in the US and no one in the US evens knows they exist (put that in your standardized testing). Meanwhile, I’ve got a friend 30 year lifer guy, spent 20 years in a Volkswagen plant outside the U.S. and now is a dealership mechanic has nothing good to say about them. Cheap parts (made in China) break and the dealership replaces them with the same cheap parts. I think for the cell phones and smart phones, China has a big enough internal market, they make a lot of high end goods for themselves and have no need to hassle with the US market.

Fine with me if the Chinese invest in schools in Georgia. The person I buy my phone(s) from send me email in English, albeit a little chopped up. I can not return the courtesy and communicate of type or write in Chinese. I looked up their address on Google maps. It shows the whole neighborhood, Jinzhou Yiyun Kindergarten, Shenzhen Wende School, Buxin Middle School, Shenzhen Luogang Hospital. Based on my phone equipment, I do not think the Chinese suffer much waste. They’re environmental protections might be lacking, but they sure know how to manufacture electronics now.

Cool! “Students who were left idle at Wende School in Luohu District yesterday when 100 of the school’s teachers went on strike in a dispute over wages.” http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-886-100-teachers-go-on-strike-over-wage-dispute-in-shenzhen.html

“Air-conditioners for honors students only in Shenzhen school” http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-2523-air-conditioners-for-honors-students-only-in-shenzhen-school.html

Private Citizen

October 18th, 2012
6:31 pm

Chinese investment coming to a Georgia school near you. Sounds good. http://english.sz.gov.cn/lis/

annual average salary up 8.0 percent over the previous year.

per capita annual disposable income up 10.7 percent over the previous year. The per capita annual living expenditure up 5.9 percent over the previous year.

total bank deposits by Shenzhen residents increase of 17.4 percent over the beginning of the year.

registered urban unemployment rate was 2.45 percent.

public health insurance system that covers almost every resident. In 2010, 10.38 million residents were included in the public health insurance system, an increase of 13.9 percent over 2010.

Private Citizen

October 18th, 2012
8:46 pm

Wow. Trippy stuff from where they make the cellphones.

“These stores, to be called “Unlimited Yihaodian” will actually just be blank city spaces where Augmented Reality (AR) technology and your smartphone’s camera bring the store to life. So, yes, no actual physical products. The items that are bought will then be delivered – just like with Yihaodian’s regular website.” http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-4239-china-s-online-retail-giant-yihaodian-to-open-virtual-stores-in-shenzhen.html

Good to read, like new air. All of this authority and faux regulation. And here’s their featured “rising international musician.” What does that make you think of? Blue jeans and booty shake? How about she plays marimba and is a graduate of the arts school. http://www.whatsonshenzhen.com/news-4234-meet-rachel-zhang-a-rising-international-musician-from-shenzhen.html

Intellectualism and the arts is alive and well where they make the cell phones. I guess it has to be because you need lots of engineers for both design and manufacturing.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 18th, 2012
10:05 pm

Clarity, we have already opened one brick-and-mortar hybrid center in downtown Atlanta and will open a second Atlanta center, along with one each in Macon, Augusta, and Savannah. The 11 students currently attending our temporary quarters downtown (construction remodeling will be completed mid-November and will have 30 workstations available, running at least two four-hour shifts daily) are 100% FRL and all but one are minorities, two of whom are also teen parents. Among my virtual students, I have several 19-year-old freshmen and sophomores who are dropouts that have enrolled with us to try to earn their high school diplomas before they age out.

Not sure why it would be “interesting” (read: not true?) that our enrollment as of August 31, 2012, was 347 with 54% FRL, and now that we are at 700+ kids, we are up to 70% FRL. We have engaged in a massive outreach campaign in the inner city and across the metro Atlanta area for the past month, which has not only increased our enrollment but also increased the percentage of FRL-eligible students.

Our FTE as of the October 2 Count Date was 602. As of today, we are at 713. The reason why you don’t see FRL rate published is because FTE Count Date data are still being processed by GaDOE and won’t be finalized until Oct. 25. Our general operating budget was submitted to GaDOE at the same time that all district school financials were uploaded across the state, in the summertime. I am not sure of GaDOE’s time frame for publication of FTE data and financial documents.

As for your question about “how do you know?” about parental involvement, I don’t know specifically what it is that you are asking me. Please rephrase and I’ll be glad to respond.

Finally, you posted, “with a $1.1 billion cut, where does the money come from given that a virtual school can take a student from anywhere in GA, taking the taxpayer funds with him or her, but not reduce a class enough to reduce a teacher, let alone the maintenance costs of buildings or the fuel cost of buses?”

The enabling legislation states: “No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the geographical area of the local school system.” The funding comes from state tax dollars separate from the funding pool that is allocated to district schools and locally-authorized charter schools.

It’s a fact that when students leave a school system, fixed costs are not automatically reduced. However, it is not the obligation of my, or any other charter school, to ensure that district public schools continue to operate sufficient funds to cover the same fixed costs when their students depart to attend elsewhere. That’s what happens when competition comes to town.

The identical situation occurs when a district public school student withdraws to be homeschooled or attend private school. The simple fact that districts insist that they somehow be funded sufficiently to continue to operate at the same fixed cost levels without making adjustments to reflect the reality of a declining enrollment is evidence of the stultified behavior of an organization that has enjoyed a monopoly and wishes to continue the status quo for its own sake. That is emphatically not my concern–educating students and saving young lives is.

If you are so concerned about transparency, how about posting under your real name? I find it “interesting” that you do not.

Clarity

October 19th, 2012
11:48 am

Dr. Monica Henson, you wrote:

Finally, you posted, “with a $1.1 billion cut, where does the money come from given that a virtual school can take a student from anywhere in GA, taking the taxpayer funds with him or her, but not reduce a class enough to reduce a teacher, let alone the maintenance costs of buildings or the fuel cost of buses?”

The enabling legislation states: “No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the geographical area of the local school system.” The funding comes from state tax dollars separate from the funding pool that is allocated to district schools and locally-authorized charter schools.

You can take any department – not just the $1.1 billion underfunded for public education -and ask where does the money come from? If your school is paid with taxpayer dollars and every department is already massively cut, where do you think the funds came from? It is one pot of state money divided out. With this new system of state approved schools, do you think the pot of total dollars magically expands because your school was added? I love enabling legislation that says we aren’t going to take from your formula, cuts every department, and will use a different pot to fund this. Not to mention that, by law, schools are obligated to receive $1.1 billion more than what they get now – they’ve created a lot of wiggle room in that, haven’t they? What happened to that obligation? Thanks for acknowleging that the fixed costs do not go away and that a public schools expenses will still be there with the creation of these new schools. I’m sure your school does an admirable job in trying to identify students that have not quite gotten on track yet (e.g. 19 year olds). Sounds like something that doesn’t have to go around local authority responsible to local taxpayers).

You identified the major problem by saying its not your obligation. When the revenue leaves with that child, and the expenses remain because the teacher still has 30 kids instead of 31, I’m sure it is not your concern. That’s why it needs to be everyone else’s concern. The State has one pot of money. They may not take directly from a funding formula, but whether its Higher Education, DOE, Transportation or some other department – the addition of this will divide that pot further with money they don’t have. That is why New Jersey has had to put a moratorium on approving charters.

The comment about the parental involvement refers to the ballot preamble stating that this vote is about increasing parental invovlement – which I’m not sure how you measure in a virtual environment. Like I said, if it didn’t exist in that environment, there would be no learning.

Lastly, I love the kind of competition created when $1.1 billion is cut from one group, they are told that they do not do well enough, and another group is created. So again, I ask, where will the money come from?

Clarity

October 19th, 2012
11:54 am

Also, there is a very specific reason why legislators were not putting language into the amendment to address funding, but rather doing it through enabling legislation. One is much easier to change. $1.1 billion is cut right now, what’s another few hundred million.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 19th, 2012
6:17 pm

I don’t find the ballot language to be confusing, but I’m obviously biased. I also am quite well-versed in charter school law, so when I read it, it makes perfect sense to me.

The preamble language, in my opinion, addresses the fact that families who want school choice are more likely to be involved parents, and therefore providing choices in the form of state- and locally-authorized charter schools would lead to increased parental involvement. I don’t think it was necessary to have this language, but I don’t find it particularly disturbing.

As far as the question, where will the money come from, I don’t know the exact response. State tax dollars fund all state obligations. For the time being, the Governor and the legislature have set aside funds for state-chartered schools that do not “dip into” the funds for district schools and locally authorized schools. If state-authorized schools do demonstrate that they can substantially improve student outcomes on less total funding than district schools & locally authorized charters receive, then there is certainly the possibility that funding would be redirected, and I think that’s what alarms the defenders of the status quo.

What I don’t understand is why school officials don’t look at creative ways to manage the declining enrollment versus fixed costs, better yet ways to improve the services they provide so that families don’t leave for charters/private schools/homeschool. Instead, they continue to insist that they should continue to receive funding when families pull their kids out, as if fixed costs alone are justification for allowing a district to hold kids hostage.

This is simply ridiculous. If McDonalds took that attitude when Burger King came to town, refusing to make menu adjustments and upgrades in service, instead complaining that the public should simply continue to eat at McDonalds no matter how much they prefer BK, Mickey Ds would soon be bankrupt.

educator

October 21st, 2012
8:04 am

I love the comment by “whitewolf of the bones,” who said “they” in speaking about public schools. The word “public” includes you, too, Mr. Bones, and every one of us. The welfare of all of our students is OUR responsibility. Like many other public school teachers, I support the idea of locally-approved charter schools set up to serve a purpose that the local public agrees on the need for. If these charters are difficult to get approved locally, it’s probably for good reason. I am not so naive as to think that state politics and money don’t play a role in even these, but let’s don’t just hand over our students to people who may not have the best interest of all of the public school children at heart. You as a voter have the right to disregard the public good, but it isn’t the RIGHT thing to do.

A. Friend

October 21st, 2012
5:13 pm

And then if the Charter school gets sued who is responsible for their mistakes? Why does Georgia Charter Schools Inc DBA Kennesaw Charter School now have have $300,000.00 law suit. If I read it correctly their former landlord has sued them for breaking their lease and not making repairs to their former building. Look it up in Cobb County records. Many questions need to be asked about how these schools use our State of Georgia and Cobb County dollars. Is it worth it?