State Sen. Fran Millar on charter schools amendment: Inject competition into system with mediocre results

I remain surprised at the keen interest in the charter schools amendment, although a metro school board member told me that the issue is not as high profile in rural Georgia where there are few charters and little momentum for or against them.

At an event in south Georgia earlier this month, she discovered that most people knew little about the amendment controversy. I asked a charter school researcher about that lack of interest, and she explained that charter schools are still located primarily in urban/suburban areas and likely will stay that way.

But the issue remains on the minds of metro Atlanta voters.

I was part of an Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting program Sunday featuring state Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, and Kelly McCutchen, founder of the now closed Tech High Charter School, speaking in favor the amendment.  Representing the opposition were J Alvin Wilbanks, CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and Valarie Wilson, president of the Georgia School Board Association and a city of Decatur school board member. Donna Lowry of WXIA-TV moderated, and I fielded online questions for the panelists. Here is an AJC story about the program.

Guest columns are still pouring into the AJC on the amendment, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot. I am posting another pro/con pairing today on the topic.

State Sen. Fran Millar says the charter schools amendment will bring needed competition to public education and increase parental engagement.

State Sen. Fran Millar says the charter schools amendment will bring needed competition to public education and increase parental engagement.

First up is state Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, writing in favor of Amendment 1. For the other side, see the companion post by Millar’s fellow DeKalb senator,  Democrat Jason Carter.

By Fran Millar

There is a lot of misinformation on the Charter Schools Amendment. I want to try and set the record straight.

•First, charter schools are public schools.

•Second, there are different types of charter schools. For example in DeKalb County, Chesnut, Kingsley and Peachtree Middle are examples of converted charter schools from traditional public schools.

• Third, the charter school amendment primarily deals with charter schools created by the state after a local school board turns down the application. The exception is a school with a statewide attendance zone like the virtual charter school which goes directly to the state.

•Fourth, the academic performance of the state created charter schools by the former commission is as good or better than the schools in the district where the state created charter schools are domiciled. This data comes from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

• Fifth, parental involvement is a key component of a charter school because in many cases a parent must sign a contract of involvement in their child’s education.

• Sixth, the current state created charter schools that are brick and mortar facilities receive about 85 percent of the funding that traditional public schools receive. The difference is due to the fact that the state created charter schools do not receive local tax dollars.

• Seventh, it is true that the state can currently create charter schools. However, based on the Supreme Court ruling it is very likely that any lawsuit challenging this right will be successful. The reason I say this is because in the Supreme Court opinion ruling that the state could not compel the locals to contribute to a state created charter school, the court also said the following: state special schools are not schools that enroll the same types of K-12 students who attend general K-12 public schools or that teaches the same subjects that may be taught at general K-12 public schools. As a layman this means to me that the state special school (state created charter school) would not be an option except for special circumstances such as for the deaf and the blind.

•Eighth, there are areas of this state where local school boards will not approve any charter school. Everyone can’t move or send their child to a private school. Maybe this is why 44 percent of voters in the Democratic Primary said “Yes” to this amendment.

• Ninth, if a state-created charter school does not meet its objectives, then it can be shut down. When was the last time a traditional public school was closed due to poor academic performance?

•Tenth, for profit-companies can make money by running these schools. Why do we care if this means we increase academic performance?

Bottom line, if we can increase academic performance by injecting competition into a system with mediocre results and increase parental involvement, then I will vote YES! YES! YES!

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

56 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

October 22nd, 2012
2:20 pm

“Donna Lowry of WXIA-TV moderated…”

After a decade’s worth of shilling for Beverly Hall, how does Donna Lowry even have the credibility to moderate a debate between two drunks at Five Points Station, much less this issue?

catlady

October 22nd, 2012
2:54 pm

LOL Bev! Two drunks at 5 Points Station–priceless!

Rep. Millar: And what happens if a parent does NOT meet that committment?

po

October 22nd, 2012
2:59 pm

Re: “Tenth, for profit-companies can make money by running these schools. Why do we care if this means we increase academic performance?”

That’s not really a strong point for voting for this amendment. We care because it will be years before the state terminates the contract that is making all the profits for the for-profit company. Some things just really don’t need a profit motive to get right.

Just A Teacher

October 22nd, 2012
3:14 pm

“. . . the issue is not as high profile in rural Georgia where there are few charters and little momentum for or against them.”

Even though the issue is not as high profile in the rural part of the state, we will still have our tax dollars used to pay for the state charter commission. That’s my issue with the amendment. There are no charter schools in my county, so why should my taxes be used to pay for a bunch of guys sitting around a table in Atlanta discussing something that has nothing to do with me?

Mikey D.

October 22nd, 2012
3:17 pm

@Senator Millar:
The problem with turning over education to for-profit companies is that the schools run by these companies are typically exempt from the reporting of standardized test scores and other achievement measures. So how would we really know that the achievement was being improved? You know, other than the companies simply saying, “Just trust us…”
Sorry, but the laughable lack of leadership shown by you and your colleagues over the past decade has left you with very little credibility on this issue.

Eddie Hall

October 22nd, 2012
3:21 pm

As stated ALL OF THIS CAN BE DONE NOW WITHOUT changing the constitution! Even though you address this in #7, NO THREAT of lawsuit has been made. This was not the case with the previous law, and no one seemed to care? It boils down to a few people did not get their way, the legislature got it’s hand slapped by the courts and didn’t like it, and business wants to let me(Mr/Mrs Taxpayer) fund their ATTEMPT at education, which has had only lukewarm results! I find ironic that the statement is made. “if a state-created charter school does not meet its objectives, then it can be shut down. When was the last time a traditional public school was closed due to poor academic performance?” . These same folks clammer that time is too precious to vote out bad BOE’s and get more involved in their schools, yet they lean on THIS arguement?
Finally, remeber, in the rural parts of the state, these schools can be built so that not everyone can easily get there. The parental involvment contract? How does this serve the child of the worker who works a 12 hour shift from 6am-6pm? Too many questions for me, VOTE NO, NO, NO!

yuzeyurbrane

October 22nd, 2012
3:24 pm

Competition is one of those charged words like motherhood or apple pie. Who could possibly be against them? However, Millar is spending a lot of taxpayer money to create 2 alternative school systems which, as he admits, has yet to show any significant improvement over the traditional public schools. Also, the for-profit aspect is something the education companies care about a lot. Their incentive will be to cut costs to increase their profits. Kind of like private health insurance companies caring more about their dividends to stockholders and exec salaries rather than spending on the quality of health of their customers. Plus, with the Governor being the gate keeper of who gets charters with little or no oversight, God help us all. Corruption is Georgia’s middle name. Finally, I might pay more attention if these pro-Amend opinions came from people other than Millar and Jan Jones who have long advocated vouchers and other actions which would destroy quality public education and put cash into the hands of their pals and constituents.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 22nd, 2012
3:36 pm

We’re supposed to believe the same local school districts that sued to overturn the original state commission and are actively opposing this amendment would sit idly by while the state school board continued to wield virtually the same power.

The 2011 Supreme Court ruling leaves no room for any state agency to create charter schools, a power the justices held to be the “exclusive” constitutional domain of local boards. Only an amendment can change that.

This is why no state chartered schools have been commissioned since the 2011 ruling.

Ed Advocate

October 22nd, 2012
3:39 pm

I appreciate that Senator Millar admits that the state serves as an appellate authority which can approve charter schools denied at the local level. Some of his colleagues aren’t being as truthful. Rep. Ed Lindsey, the chair of the Amendment #1 campaign, and himself an ATTORNEY (as he frequently reminds anyone who fails to agree with him) sent out an e-blast today stating that “opponents of the Charter School Amendment have disingenuously argued that the State School Board can already create charter schools.”

Maureen, I wish that you and your colleagues would nail Lindsey and others on this.

Beverly Fraud

October 22nd, 2012
3:42 pm

It still feels like a choice between voting No and letting North Korean bureaucrats continue to run the show or voting Yes to allow Somali pirates into the mix under the guise of competition.

But a question to Sen. Millar: We understand why you make an exception to “local control” in this case, because the “locals” are too embedded in the dysfunctional monolith that is public education. We get that.

But what we don’t get is this:

Why has the party that claims as core values the rule of law and personal responsibility done NOTHING in terms of supporting teachers in holding students accountable for behavior and academics, so that students can learn these lessens BEFORE they become a burden to society?

We know why liberal bedwetters are spineless on discipline; but why are YOU, the tough talking “law and order” crowd, EQUALLY spineless?

Or perhaps THOUSANDS of Georgia teachers are wrong and you can point to what your party has done to give direct, tangible support to teachers in matters of discipline?

If these aren’t fair and legitimate questions to ask Republicans, they please (anyone) make the case they aren’t.

Dunwoody Mom

October 22nd, 2012
3:46 pm

This is why no state chartered schools have been commissioned since the 2011 ruling.

This statement is somewhat disingenuous on its own face. How many schools has the state been asked to commission? I know the GA BOE approved 4 start-up charters that had been approved by local BOE”s – belying the nonsense that start-up charters cannot get approved.

[...] Earlier today, we heard from a Republican state senator from DeKalb on the charter schools amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot.  State Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody wrote a column on why he supports it. [...]

DeKalb Inside Out

October 22nd, 2012
4:25 pm

Ed Advocate
OCGA says the state can commission state charters. The GA Supreme Court says they can’t.

Dunwoody Mom,
I am assuming Barge was correct when he estimated 7 new state chartered schools every year to get to $430 million after 4 years. I am open to the possibility that Barge was WAY off on that estimation.

What do you think? (Sorry about the double post … wrong thread on the original post)

Ed Advocate

October 22nd, 2012
5:10 pm

@ Dekalb Inside: the State Board sure thinks it can approve state charter schools in the wake of the GA Supreme Court ruling and has been acting in that regard. I think some folks in support of Amendment #1 are intentionally misreading the court’s opinion.

living in an outdated ed system

October 22nd, 2012
5:28 pm

State Senator Millar is 100% correct.

Hermione

October 22nd, 2012
5:41 pm

@Ed Advocate @DeKalb Inside Out:
This is an important point. Can the State Board of Ed legally approve charter schools? 7 charter schools are approved by the state board of ed to open this (2012-13) school year. I don’t know when they were approved.
Here is the link to the list:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Documents/New%20and%20Closed%20Charter%20School%20List%20for%202012%20-%20as%20of%202012-06-13.pdf

Concerned DeKalb Mom

October 22nd, 2012
5:49 pm

I keep hearing about how this amendment will allow parents real freedom of choice when it comes to schooling for their children. My question: who is suddenly putting together all these charter schools that will be the cure for what ails DeKalb? I haven’t heard anyone stampeding ahead with plans to jump and be the first in line…schools don’t magically appear the day after Election Day. It takes time to put a good, quality school together and to find space to house it.

To all those DeKalb folks who post on all of these blogs in favor of this amendment…What charter school are YOU planning on starting? Or is everyone waiting around for someone else to do it?

bootney farnsworth

October 22nd, 2012
5:55 pm

and the money comes from where…?

this reminds me a great deal of the “let us deregulate gas and you’ll see prices go down” dance.

crankee-yankee

October 22nd, 2012
6:44 pm

“This data comes from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.”

That’s a problem for me. The Gov helped craft the misleading language of the preamble to the amendment, what’s to say he isn’t capable of misleading us with funny data? I do not trust our governor and probably never will.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 22nd, 2012
6:46 pm

Ed Advocate
Name one NEW state chartered school commissioned since the 2011 decision.

Hermione,
This is a common misconception. This amendment is about state chartered schools. Whether this amendment passes or not, local boards of education will be able to approve local charter schools. If you follow the link you provided, you will notice all the schools in that document are local charters approved by local boards of education except Ivy Prep.

Ivy Prep is a former locally-authorized charter school that became a state charter school. The state is continuing existing state charters to alleviate the chaos of closing them just to have them reopen if the amendment passes. If the amendment fails, rest assured all state charters will be closed down. The opponents of the amendment would say otherwise, but I’m happy to have that convo.

Let me know if I’m missing anything.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 22nd, 2012
6:55 pm

Mikey D posted, incorrectly, “The problem with turning over education to for-profit companies is that the schools run by these companies are typically exempt from the reporting of standardized test scores and other achievement measures”

Completely false. All charter schhols, whether they have a management contract or not, must administer the state examinations. In fact, they are held to far more stringent standards than district schools. Charters that don’t meet the goals outlined in their contract can be shut down. District schools that don’t meet their goals continue to exist and receive millions of dollars in federal school improvement funds..

DeKalb Inside Out

October 22nd, 2012
6:58 pm

Bootney,
What money are you looking for? Adjusted for inflation, per student funding is as high as it has ever been (short of $121/student).

Enough is enough. Tax payers are tired of paying more and more for education without any gains.
* Class sizes are larger than they have ever been
* Per student funding is as much as it has ever been (short of that $121/student).
* Teachers are getting furloughed and RIF’d
* Executive administration pay is through the roof
* Executive administration continues to pay themselves raises
* Etc … the list goes on and on and on ….

Stop the insanity!

I hope we can change traditional schools together. Unfortunately ‘Hope’ is not a method, but Amendment 1 is a method for changing education in Georgia in November.

Ed Advocate

October 22nd, 2012
7:01 pm

@ Dekalb. I contacted the GA Dept of Ed today about this issue. They believe the state can approve state charter schools and they intend to do so. Their staff said that the Dept and State Board of Education have reviewed 7 state charter applications since the Supreme Court opinion. These applicants who are obvious supporters of state charter schools, thought they should apply to the state. So, they must agree with the DOE and SBOE that the state can currently approve. While none of the applications have yet been approved, it is only a matter of time.

Mary Elizabeth

October 22nd, 2012
7:15 pm

“Seventh, it is true that the state can currently create charter schools. However, based on the Supreme Court ruling it is very likely that any lawsuit challenging this right will be successful. The reason I say this is because in the Supreme Court opinion ruling that the state could not compel the locals to contribute to a state created charter school, the court also said the following: state special schools are not schools that enroll the same types of K-12 students who attend general K-12 public schools or that teaches the same subjects that may be taught at general K-12 public schools. As a layman this means to me that the state special school (state created charter school) would not be an option except for special circumstances such as for the deaf and the blind.”
==============================================

With all due respect to state Sen. Fran Millar, his interpretation in both of these regards – state charter schools continuing to be authorized by the State Department of Education if the constitutional amendment fails because of possible future Supreme Court decisions, and the meaning of the word “special” legally as it pertains to this amendment – is not consistent with what I was told by the administrative assistant to a high-level educational administrator at Georgia’s State Board of Education. Here is what I was told:

(1) I asked, specifically, if the State Board of Education would be able to continue approving state charter schools whatever the results of the vote regarding the Constitutional Amendment. I was told –most definitively – that the State Board of Education would be able to continue approving state charter schools whatever the results of the vote on the Constitutional Amendment. I repeated my question several times to make absolutely certain that I had communicated my question correctly and that I had understood the response given me correctly. I received the same answer each time. The State Board of Education did not take a position – simply gave me the facts.

(2) Sen. Millar’s idea of the word “special” is not consistent with how that word was defined for me (as used by Georgia’s legislation in this regard) by the State Board of Education. I was informed that the word “special,” as written by Georgia’s legislators, was not intended to represent “special ed” students, such as students who are deaf or blind. All public schools, public charters or tradtional, are required by law to serve all students, I was informed.

Furthermore, below is my slightly edited response to another poster who had raised the same fears regarding the continuation of state charter school authorization by the state Board of Education that Sen Millar raises:

“Your words above sound remarkably like fear tactics to me. Moreover, no one has the ability to ‘play God’ with the future. But even if what you fear were to materialize in the future, I would be prepared to fight a battle, then, for the right of the State Board of Education, as part of Georgia’s traditional educational delivery system, to be able to grant appeal to parents who wish to form a state charter school when denied by their local districts, but I will not fight that battle for a separate state agency, such as the State Commission for Charter Schools run by appointees who may well be of a certain political ideology, to grant those state charter schools.”
============================================

It should be noted that Sen. Fran Millar is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Rep. Jan Jones and Rep. Edward Lindsey, who sponsored HR 1162 which became the Constitutional Amendment, are also members of ALEC. See link below.

http://mediamatters.org/research/2012/05/09/how-alec-is-quietly-influencing-education-refor/184156

Ron F.

October 22nd, 2012
7:25 pm

“schools don’t magically appear the day after Election Day. It takes time to put a good, quality school together and to find space to house it.”

Something tells me they will appear, and we’ll likely see quite a few of them very quickly. And with most local boards, especially outside the metro loop, completely cash-strapped right now, they’ll have a very hard time getting approved locally regardless of the amendment. The amendment will almost surely guarantee that the state commission will have many, if not all charter school applications sent to them, thus granting that commission authorizing and monitoring authority over what could quickly become quite a number of schools throughout the state.

Until the legislature tackles the issue of school funding and rewriting an obviously derelict formula that doesn’t work and hasn’t been fully funded since its inception, then they won’t get a YES vote from me. We’ve got some very important issues to deal with in education, and I want those issues dealt with directly, not via creation of more schools that will still have to educate the same population of kids. No school can wave a magic wand and fix all the societal issues that contribute to our current challenges, and ten years of education funding cuts with no end in sight won’t solve them either. Throwing more state money at the problems by creating charter schools so we can separate the caring from the uncaring isn’t going to solve the problems either.

Dekalb parent

October 22nd, 2012
7:27 pm

I am interested in data on how many non-conversion charter high schools there are in the state. Maureen notes in her intro that Tech High is closed. Many parents in DeKalb are unhappy with their middle schools and high schools but these might be the least likely type of charter schools to be created even if the amendment passes. Funding, staffing and outifitting a comprehensive high school is a very expensive and major endeavor.

The supporters of the amendment talk expansively about more “choice” but I wonder if that would really happen at the middle and high school levels.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 22nd, 2012
7:28 pm

Ed Advocate,
I’m just trying to keep it simple. OCGA says the state can commission state chartered schools. The GA Supreme Court says they cannot. Soooo under cover of the OCGA, the state BOE can commission a state charter. Without Amendment 1, the GA Supreme Court will knock it down in a heartbeat with the first lawsuit.

The same local school districts that sued to overturn the original state commission and are actively opposing this amendment will hardly sit idly by while the state school board continues to wield virtually the same power.

The 2011 Supreme Court ruling leaves no room for any state agency to create charter schools, a power the justices held to be the “exclusive” constitutional domain of local boards. Only an amendment can change that.

Mary Elizabeth

October 22nd, 2012
8:22 pm

To highlight a sentence from my 7:15 post:

“I was told (by the Admin. Asst. of a high-level DOE administrator) –most definitively – that the State Board of Education would be able to continue approving state charter schools whatever the results of the vote on the Constitutional Amendment.”

No one can “play God” as to how the Supreme Court would rule regarding the DOE’s role in this regard in the future. The DOE is not a separate agency.

Ed Advocate

October 22nd, 2012
8:27 pm

@ Dekalb, I appreciate your clarification, and I can promise you that I would be very unhappy about a school system challenging the State Board’s ability to approve quality charters denied at the local level. I do not think you’d see the same level of opposition from the diverse coalition opposed to Amendment #1.

FairLady

October 22nd, 2012
9:49 pm

Thank you Senator Millar for your stand for Amendment One!! Parents deserve options, and state public charter schools are a valuable tool to help assist students who may not succeed academically in traditional public schools. Georgia needs a well educated workforce for our future economy. Business and industry will not find GA an appealing place to locate if we continue to lack a capable and educated workforce, or a good place to move and educate their children. Failing schools, cheating scandals, or lack of school choice does not serve GA well in these highly competitive economic times.
Come on, we are continually in the bottom three in the nation in high school drop outs each year. Many Georgians are tired of competing with Mississippi for the bottom of the ladder in education. It’s time for some new options in education, and charter schools are one of those options. I voted YES for a step in the right direction. My children deserve it!!

DeKalb Inside Out

October 22nd, 2012
10:11 pm

Ed Advocate
1. You firmly believe that most of the people and organizations opposing Amendment 1 are just fine with the state board’s authority to commission state charters? Ahhhhhh …. C’mon … really? Pull on my other leg and it plays Jingle Bells. GSBA, Georgia PTA, all the local school boards that passed resolutions? Look at their arguments … how do they not apply to the State Board? Local control, funding, non elected people approving charters, multiple layers of bureaucracy, etc …

2. The answer to number one doesn’t matter because all it takes is one person to file one lawsuit. The Ga Supreme Court majority report said the 1877 Constitution of Georgia granted local boards of education the exclusive right to establish and maintain K-12 education.

It is what it is and only a constitutional amendment can change that.

Matt

October 23rd, 2012
7:06 am

As a former BOE member I can tell you that we need choice. Here are some more comments on Amendment 1:

http://www.mattshultz.org/?p=1258

LarryMajor

October 23rd, 2012
7:22 am

The Supreme Court DID NOT say the DOE can’t approve charter petitions; it clearly stated the ruling did NOT apply to the original Charter Schools Act:

“State chartered special schools” established under the Charter Schools Act of
1998, OCGA § 20-2-2060 et seq., are not in issue in this appeal and we intimate no opinion as to their status under the 1983 Georgia Constitution.

The remarks amendment supporters cherry pick from the decision, involved the challenged law’s wording which attempted to define the constitutional meaning of “special” schools. The Charter Schools Act doesn’t contain similar wording, so this hypothetical court case is pure nonsense as is the existence of these charter school haters waiting to file it.

The lawsuit was about funding. This is why there was no lawsuit during the first six or so years the state was approving charter schools, including Ivy Prep. This is why the lawsuit was filed only days after the Commission took $850,000 away from kids enrolled in GCPS and gave it to Ivy Prep. This is why the decision has been on the books for a year and a half and there is no talk of other any legal action.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 23rd, 2012
8:45 am

LarryMajor
The original lawsuit was a constitutional challenge to OCGA § 20-2-2081, the authority for the Georgia Charter School Commission to commission state chartered schools. That appeal was upheld and OCGA § 20-2-2081 was deemed unconstitutional.

Please explain how we’re supposed to believe the same local school districts that sued to overturn the original state commission and are actively opposing this amendment would sit idly by while the state school board continues to wield virtually the same power.

The Ga Supreme Court majority report said the 1877 Constitution of Georgia granted local boards of education the exclusive right to establish and maintain K-12 education. This ruling leaves no room for any state agency to create charter schools, a power the justices held to be the “exclusive” constitutional domain of local boards. Only an amendment can change that.

The GA Supreme Court went on to say “State chartered special schools” have always and will always be special schools like schools for the blind. Those are the schools the State Board can commission. No NEW state charters have been commissioned since that ruling last year despite Barge’s prediction of 7 new state charters every year.

I’m not a lawyer and I can’t predict the future, but it seems logical that the future existence of state charters in Georgia hinges on Amendment 1.

Representative Edward Lindsey

October 23rd, 2012
9:59 am

In response to Ed Advocate’s request to Maureen to “nail” me, let me explain the concerns of Amendment proponents about the future ability of the State School Board to handle charter application appeals absent this constitutional amendment. Justice Carol Hunstein’s majority opinion in the case of Gwinnett School Board v. Cox found as follows:

“[The Georgia Constitution] sets forth the sole delegation of authority in our constitution regarding the establishment and maintenance of general primary and secondary public schools. No other constitutional provision authorizes any other governmental entity to compete with or duplicate the efforts of local boards of education in establishing and maintaining general K–12 schools.”

As a result, Justice Nahmias in his well-reasoned dissent warned of the state’s future inability to consider charter application appeals in light of this majority decision.

While local school boards should have primary responsibility over our schools, no governmental entity should ever have exclusive monopolistic unfettered authority over any action – and especially not in the area of our children’s education. There must always be a check and balance. The proposed Charter School Amendment merely restores an appeal process and insures all Georgia parents and students that they will be treated fairly in applying for the establishment of a charter school.

Ed Advocate and others argue, I guess, that we should ignore Justice Hunstein’s majority opinion and simply wait and see what a future court would say about this question. I do not believe that is a wise use of taxpayers’ education dollars. Instead, of remaining in limbo and having different sides pay lawyer fees to decide this issue, we should end this legal debate and have the people clearly establish that the state has a legitimate role in handling charter application appeals.

State Representative Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta)
Georgia House Majority Whip

Ed Advocate

October 23rd, 2012
10:24 am

@ Ed Lindsey: thank you for clarifying that the state board currently has the legal authority to approve state charter schools. The email blast you sent yesterday said otherwise. I think it is unwise to let the minority opinion in the State Supreme Court case drive public policy.

We have many emergencies that must be addressed in public education. Creating another state authorizer for charter schools isn’t one of them since the State Board can already authorize.

I hope you and other leaders in the House and Senate will address these issues moving forward.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 23rd, 2012
10:44 am

Ed Advocate,
Correct me if I’m wrong. Rep Lindsey’s comment was that Supreme Court Just Carol Hunstein’s majority opinion stated that local boards have exclusive rights to establish and maintain K-12 education … “No other constitutional provision authorizes any other governmental entity to compete with or duplicate the efforts of local boards of education in establishing and maintaining general K–12 schools.””

Nahmias warns us of the inability of the State Board to commission charters under this ruling should it be contested.

Rep LIndsey is asking if we should let the courts decide if the constitution gives states authority to commission charters … OR … should we amend the constitution and make it crystal clear that the state can handle charter application appeals.

Private Citizen

October 23rd, 2012
10:53 am

Representative Edward Lindsey Wow. Well said. I vote for you.

Representative Edward Lindsey

October 23rd, 2012
11:22 am

DeKalb Inside Out is correct. I am guided by the dissent but by the majority opinion. This amendment seeks to fix the problem created by Justice Hunstein’s majority opinion which clearly brings into question the authority of the State Board in this area to do anything. We are seeking to fix this problem.

Representative Edward Lindsey

October 23rd, 2012
11:24 am

Written too quickly in haste. The first line should read: “I am not guided by the dissent but by the majority opinion.” My apologies.

Mary Elizabeth

October 23rd, 2012
11:26 am

“Instead, of remaining in limbo and having different sides pay lawyer fees to decide this issue, we should end this legal debate and have the people clearly establish that the state has a legitimate role in handling charter application appeals.”
—————————————————————

I would agree with you, Rep. Lindsey, if this were a matter of the state’s DOE not being able to establish state charter schools. But it is not. It is about the ability of a separate agency, the Commission for Charter Schools, to establish state charter schools.

I believe that there is more to this constitutional amendment than meets the eye. I do not trust the unstated political intent behind this amendment. Therefore, I will be voting NO for Amendment 1. It is more politically based, than educationally based, imo.

Private Citizen

October 23rd, 2012
11:52 am

Yes, initially not the easiest thing to re-read / edit in the little box.

Private Citizen

October 23rd, 2012
12:06 pm

PS This comment contraption on this website is Java computing in action. Java has improved a lot. A long time ago, one of the Georgia state-level education agencies was using a lot of Java on their website and it would barely work, it was a real kluge. I hand wrote a ranting letter to the director and told them what the website was doing and why and that they needed to fix it. I think I used the term “Java-junk.” The director called me on the telephone and left a message acknowledging the letter and a thank you. Soon after, they had it fixed. Not long after that, the director got vaporized and was never seen again. Their employees said they were a very nice person. Thusly, yes it was me who got the website to work, and there goes another one off to the land of pension and fishing.

I would say there is a very high degree of worker instability in Georgia education. Maybe when the Gate Foundations gets through with us, things can settle down. You know, Gates’ computing approach is now obsolete, he has abandoned his company and now he is colonizing education. In Europe, Gates is viewed as a crook and has been fined by the courts. My high school friend built half the internet in one of the states and they didn’t have a single Microsoft machine in the building (that he owned and that sat on top of where the fiber cable came into the state). Not a single MS machine and they kept it that way until this day. Pretty cool guy. Grew up dirt poor with rats running around his grandmamma’s wheelchair and he grew up and donated the internet service to the public library system in the city he was born in. He had no use for Microsoft, none whatsoever and did not like them. Georgians would be smarter to not fall for this cult of personality from Gates.

Private Citizen

October 23rd, 2012
12:19 pm

Just realised that Bill Gates is kind of like Sarah Palin, only he is better at it. Palin abandoned her governship mid-term because she couldn’t handle it and to advantage herself. Gates abandoned his company because it is obsolete and has now moved on to work his monopoly skills elsewhere, expanding to crops and pharmaceuticals in third world countries, and to education at home.

Somewhere in the middle he rambles about energy but he does not know a d— thing of what he is talking about. He has powerful skills of coordinating people, though. A lot of people sign on with him and release themselves to the Rashneesh Guru. When he gives a tech. talk, workers from India post, “Oh I like this. He makes me very happy.” Yeah, buddy. He’s the new version of Hindu god Ganesh, the elephant head with the jewelry and trunk. Seriously. Here’s a picture of Ganesh and the Hindu crazies will kill you over it. http://www.telugubhakti.com/telugupages/pdfs/Ganesh/Ganesh.jpg

Private Citizen

October 23rd, 2012
12:22 pm

If you know anything about the standard of living in India, you should be concerned. Gates is your guru and the people of Georgia do not even know it because the state politicians keep fronting for Gates Foundation initiatives and redelivering them to schools and teachers and using funny names that sound strangely legitimate… like the playing of a flute….

Traditional Teacher

October 23rd, 2012
1:03 pm

Maureen,
What is the status of the justices on the State Supreme Court? Are any of their terms nearing an end? What are the terms?

waitaminit

October 23rd, 2012
1:07 pm

The idea that charter schools run by private companies (non-profit or for-profit, non-profit designation is abused)–the idea that these are public schools and the idea that they are “run” by parent and community reps is stretching things–alot. Note the expansion of government charter schools with parent boards (conversion charters) has some merit, but the new law would not be needed.
So if the privatized schools are “run” by parent boards (rather than guided)–then who operates on a daily basis? If the parents (huh?), then what are the companies, owners and bookkeepers? That’s a money laundering operation, not a school.

Melissa Westbrook

October 23rd, 2012
1:28 pm

Oh Georgia, you are so entertaining. You see, here in Washington State, we are – for the 4th time – debating whether to even HAVE charters (We’ve turned them down three times.)

So I listen to your arguments about your charter commission amendment and am astonished. My first reaction is this:

Why does your state need to enshrine charter schools into your constitution?

This is really THE most important issue for your legislators? And to put it into the constitution which is normally for issues for the ages?

The arguments I see heer are very much what is playing out in our discussions in Washington State except that we underfund our schools already so this idea of bringing on more underfunded schools seems folly to me.

I wish you luck but I wonder out loud why you need to put this into your state constitution.

Dr. Monica Henson

October 23rd, 2012
1:44 pm

What waitaminit describes is not the case for my state-chartered special school. We are not “run by” our private partner–we are run by me, along with my fellow administrators, all veterans of district public schools. Our Board negotiated a contract for education services, not for management of the school. We have one parent representative on our Board. The daily operations of the school are administered by seasoned, experienced public school administrators.

We are quite a different animal than many other charter schools that work with for-profit management companies in that none of the staff is employed by the company–we are employed by the Board and are members of the Teachers Retirement System. We don’t have any of our partner corporation employees sitting on our Board, either.

The danger of a group composed exclusively of parents banding together to propose a charter school without ensuring sufficient broad-based expertise among the board, including knowledge of public school governance, is that they can be persuaded by a management company to enter into a contract that gives far too much authority and control to the company. This is why quality authorization is so important–the authorizer needs to establish clearly who is in fact in control of the staff, the finances, and the governance of the school.

Light Comes Late

October 23rd, 2012
4:24 pm

Okay. The amendment reads: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

It’s taken me a week of ruminating following a meeting on charter schools in Dekalb County (sponsored by the Emory LaVista Parent Council) to fully grasp what I now believe to be the intention of the framers of this amendment.

First, please note that the amendment’s wording makes no mention of a state created and operated commission to approve charter schools outside the purview of the established state Board of Education (BoE).

Second, the wording makes no mention of what parameters are meant by local (although I believe most would assume that to be the local school board; and in most cases in GA, that would mean the county school board, since the state constitution limits pubic schools to counties and not cities, with a few cities grandfathered in – Decatur, Marietta, etc.).

Third, no mention of funding or allocation of resources, either financial or as capital assets (school buildings, etc.), is included.

So, let’s go from the wording “…. to allow state or local approval…..” to what’s proposed: a state commission, with members appointed by elected state representatives, to have powers outside of and unaccountable to the established state BoE. And let’s say that this interpretation and implementation of the amendment is legally challenged and upheld by our state Supreme Court.

Okay, now you’re ready for the pump fake.

Would it not be a logical extension of this interpretation and implementation, now legally upheld for the state, to be copied at the local level. Ah, but how have we defined “local?” Could it be a city? For argument’s sake, let’s take the recently established City of Dunwoody (and it’s only a happy coincidence that this new city is also the home of State Senator Fran Millar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education and Youth, which may have something to say about state amendments on charter schools and its interpretation and implementation). The duly elected city representatives of Dunwoody see that this amendment allows “state” to establish charter schools. Well, gracious, the City of Dunwoody is “local,” so let’s establish a “local” committee to approve charter schools (just like the state did). And let’s approve all the schools in the city as charter schools – or even a charter school system. And since “local communities” can approach the state commission, let’s make that happen – as the local community of Dunwoody. And for extra funding (since that is not specified – and we certainly don’t want to be forced to raise taxes if it’s not absolutely necessary), let’s make sure that the city’s charter schools (now separated from the Dekalb County School District) receive the 1% SPLOST tax collected within the city for it’s schools – just like the Decatur City Schools and the Marietta City Schools.

Within no time, an amendment for which all of the focus is the impact at the state level has been massaged to create separate city school systems, funded by the state and the local SPLOST. Of course, since they’re still within the county BoE district, they would be open to anyone in the county who wished to apply and attend. Just provide your own transportation – and best of luck enjoying the daily commute through the traffic to get there (anybody been to Perimeter Mall before 9:00am recently?).

Voila. A return to locally-controlled, community-exclusive, public schools. With all the other noise, who’d a thunk it?