Charter schools amendment: Say “no” to ed biz “shamans” and “snake charmers”

In the final stretch of the charter school amendment battle, I am going to run a few more pro and con pieces.

Here is the con from high school educator Ian Altman of Athens. Stay tuned for a pro piece shortly.

By Ian Altman

Georgia voters will decide next week on Amendment 1 and whether to allow a politically appointed commission in Atlanta to override elected boards of education. Hence, they will be deciding whether to let millions of their tax dollars evade the respectability of their provenance by enriching the lives and moral self-regard of the billionaire Koch brothers, professional disparager of teachers Michelle Rhee, and Walmart heiress Alice Walton, among other mega-donors outside of Georgia who are dissatisfied with the vintage of our state constitution.

The mellifluous promises of these white collared carpetbaggers would have us believe that the best interest of our kids is in the fragmenting of the public interest through the proliferation of for-profit charter school choices.

Their motivations are the same as those of the Milton Friedman shamans and Ayn Rand snake charmers and Lehman Brothers flat-earthers whom we assumed to know how to behave like adults, who would burn my salary in half a month’s worth of private jet fuel, and who left us high and baked in a desert economy from which they tell us we’ll never emerge if our students don’t learn the proprietary programming language to fix the pecuniary wings of our bumbling financial Icarus.

The business of learning is to be transmogrified by high-rent holy writ into the learning of business. In 2007, as now, I’d rather have had impoverished kindergarteners, who at least remember our lessons about sharing, handle my money.

Accordingly, I decline to accept that there is no longer such a thing as a common good which finds among its highest expressions a public school system. Under the control of elected boards which are accountable to voters, our public schools have, when we account for variables such as poverty to compare apples to apples instead of to pepperoni, kept achievement standards just as high as Singapore, Shanghai, Finland, and any other place a charter school company stockholder will point to as ostensible proof of a crisis.

You will not hear that from them because without that crisis, their product sits on the shelf like an ineffably gaudy chandelier, spun out of the poor imagination of the Gates Foundation – that Gatsby of educational theory – and discarded because it’s not bright enough.

None of this is to deny that public schools have problems. I live with those problems every day and know them far better than any politician, think-tank analyst, or armchair sociologist. The issue, however, is that the problems the apostles of for-profit charter schools would solve are not those we actually face, which nearly everyone who is both honest and serious in education research knows to be caused by poverty and exacerbated by the other private part of the education industry: the ship-boarding privateer proprietors of our standardized tests like McGraw-Hill and NCS Pearson, the latter of which writes Georgia’s tests. Every year they bring out from their opaque autoclaves these testing instruments which are as monkey wrenches for the performing of brain surgery, and every year we struggle to analyze the results which any competent teacher could have predicted without the extra consultants’ fees and the insult to our students’ dignity.

What do these tests have to do with the charter schools amendment, you ask? The two issues are the two sides of a silver coin proffered to buy away our trust in the very idea of the public as such, complimentary acts of skullduggery that undermine on the one hand the project of public education and on the other the professionalism of its employees.

Students in my literature classes read Faulkner’s “Barn Burning” and learn to separate the moral awareness of the narrator from the emotional awareness of the protagonist, understand the celestial rhetoric of Romeo and Juliet in relation to the earthy vulgarity of Mercutio, write analyses of the logic of competing editorialists’ views of Arizona’s ban of ethnic studies courses, and reflect on the theft of history as rendered in August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson.”

Such learning is difficult, emotionally unsafe, politically unstable, necessary for the mold-breaking lives of free-thinking citizens in a democracy, and utterly unrelatable to the choice of A, B, C, or D on a sterile scantron sheet. Whatever it is those tests measure or purport to measure, it just isn’t that important.

Many for-profit charter school curricula are bought and paid for in accordance with the wishes of the industry that designs their assessments. In other words, they pay and are paid to institutionalize that anesthetizing practice which we in the public schools have tried so hard to resist: teaching to the test.

Students can watch a video of a lecture on a computer and spit answers back at a computerized multiple choice test without having a teacher at all. That is exactly the model some for-profit charter schools use, and those are the charter schools Amendment 1 is designed to attract, as evidenced by the many thousands of dollars those companies have poured into Georgia from outside to influence our vote. It is a high-tech version of a 2,000- year old practice, and it is meant to save money, not kids.

There are plenty of good charter schools in Georgia already, and more no doubt will be approved by local boards of education, but we do not need a commission to force communities to have for-profit charter schools designed to siphon Georgia taxpayers’ money through proprietary canned curricula, textbooks, computer programs, and other materials specifically wedded to those curricula, and mind-numbing assessments, to companies outside of Georgia which will sell the package at a premium and call it a revolutionary success when it will in fact be the death of truly critical thinking.

Parents and voters need to realize what they’re really asking for if they vote “yes” to Amendment 1. They will not like many of the results of these new choices, and many of their kids will languish horribly if the amendment passes. The real solution to our public school problems is two-fold. First, make responsible social policies that do more than pay lip service to fighting the vitiating academic consequences of poverty. Second, hire the best teachers with the best academic learning and pedagogical training available, pay us properly and give us the resources we need, and get out of our way.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

107 comments Add your comment

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

November 2nd, 2012
3:36 am

This persuasive piece, like almost all such pieces, is full of baseless rhetoric and misinformation.

Dr. Stan DeJarnett, retired Morgan County SS superintendent, would provide a more closely reason opposition to Amendment 1.

Mary Elizabeth

November 2nd, 2012
3:52 am

“I decline to accept that there is no longer such a thing as a common good which finds among its highest expressions a public school system.”

“The real solution to our public school problems is two-fold. First, make responsible social policies that do more than pay lip service to fighting the vitiating academic consequences of poverty. Second, hire the best teachers with the best academic learning and pedagogical training available, pay us properly and give us the resources we need, and get out of our way.”

“There are plenty of good charter schools in Georgia already, and more no doubt will be approved by local boards of education, but we do not need a commission to force communities to have for-profit charter schools designed to siphon Georgia taxpayers’ money through proprietary canned curricula, textbooks, computer programs, and other materials specifically wedded to those curricula, and mind-numbing assessments, to companies outside of Georgia which will sell the package at a premium and call it a revolutionary success when it will in fact be the death of truly critical thinking.”
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I agree with the erudite essay, above, by Ian Altman, who is opposed to Amendment 1.

I particularly support the three comments that I have highlighted, above, which were penned by Altman. Ian Altman understands, and writes, the underlying truth behind why voters should vote NO on NOvember 6 to Amendment 1.

Pardon My Blog

November 2nd, 2012
5:27 am

I say NO to any publicly funded private “Charter” Schools, period. Basically you are allowing a select few to get a private school education and the rest of the kids be damned.

TimeOut

November 2nd, 2012
5:51 am

Public Education is not a ‘for profit’ venture. We would be wise to avoid the privatization of this particular institution. We should not allow profiteers or foreign interests to manage or staff our schools.

Rascal

November 2nd, 2012
6:03 am

People like Ian, so blinded by the notion that government has to run schools for them to be of decent quality, are the problem. Wake up and understand that there is nothing special about education that prevents healthy, free market competition from making it better and more efficient and less expensive. As long as government requires we all pay for education, the same government owes us a successful and competitive environment in which it can flourish. Amendment 1 is just one more step in the right direction. Vote YES

rcs

November 2nd, 2012
6:25 am

Hey TimeOut. Ask Alvin Wilbanks in Gwinnett, pulling $400k+, if education is a for profit venture…

Lee

November 2nd, 2012
6:43 am

Various educator groups have come out against this Amendment but still do not seem to understand that there are a lot of people out there who are unhappy with the current state of education. These same educators moan and groan about the NCLB act, but refuse to acknowledge that they gave the politicians justification to pass that law on a silver platter (Hint: passing students from grade to grade who could not do the work and graduating illiterates).

In response, these educators only response has been “more money, more money, more money” and “get the politics out of education” (ain’t gonna happen. That Genie was let out of the bottle a long time ago).

Well, that and to continue with their misguided social engineering experiments, such as the “Mix It Up” program promulgated by the politically correct, racist hate group SPLC. http://blog.al.com/spotnews/2012/10/about_70_alabama_schools_to_pa.html

Little wonder parents are trying every option to get their kids away from traditional public schools….

mountain man

November 2nd, 2012
6:46 am

Traditional schools have had forty years to address the problems within them and they have only declined, BECAUSE of and not IN SPITE of the changes they have made (attendance, SPED, discipline). They are getting worse by the minute.

At least with charter schools, the parents who CARE (who aren’t rich enough to move or use private school) have an option for their kids. Otherwise their kids would be TRAPPED in failing traditional schools that will not address those problems.

I voted yesterday YES, and I encourage all who wish parents to have a CHOICE to vote YES.

For those who say the state commission will be corrupt, the local school boards are ALREADY corrupt (see Dekalb County and Clayton County and even Cherokee County in the 90’s). They vote to maintain their own power, not for the good of the children. At least the amendment gives another option for parents who CARE.

2big2 educate

November 2nd, 2012
6:48 am

TOO BIG TO EDUCATE is the real problem. Over sized and lacking accountability systems is our state’s real education problem. Charter schools are a bandaid that create yet another branch of government. Atlanta Public Schools is a $600 million dollar a year oversized organization. Fulton County, DeKalb County and Gwinnett County are all very similar. Try being a parent with a concern about your child, much less a real problem in those systems.

Why in the world would Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Chattahooche Hills, Brookhaven, etc. want to become their own cities if they can not control their own education system? Even when a City like Decatur creates its own Charter District it is still leaving tax payer money in the hands of a gaint system that doesn’t deliver.

homeschooler

November 2nd, 2012
6:48 am

@Pardon. That is simply not true. I have met numerous kids from a Charter School in Smyrna and they are all lower socioeconomic, African American kids who have one thing in common. Parents who have risen above their circumstances and decided they needed to take additional steps to ensure the best education for their children.
I read fb comment that said the Charter Amendment will separate the “haves” from the “have nots”. I believe it will separate the “cares” from the “care nots”.
Face it. The ‘haves” have always had a choice. This levels the playing field so the “have nots” do not have to be stuck in a failing school. It gives people desperately needed options. And please don’t tell me we already have charters. We need more and the local school boards are not going to approve them.
After a great deal of research, I’m voting “yes” and encouraging all my friends and family members to do the same.

Bill Mackinnon

November 2nd, 2012
6:50 am

Access to money and power corrupt, even in the face of “regulation” and oversight, especially political oversight. Vote NO. I already have. We got a call the other week. “Can we count on you to vote yes on Amendment 1?” she asked me. “You can count on me to vote no on the amendment,” I said. I think she was surprised because she hung up.
BTW, you guys who already commented get up (or got to bed) way too early (late).

HenryH

November 2nd, 2012
6:53 am

TOO BIG TO EDUCATE is the real problem. Over sized and lacking accountability systems is our state’s real education problem. Charter schools are a bandaid that create yet another branch of government. Atlanta Public Schools is a $600 million dollar a year oversized organization. Fulton County, DeKalb County and Gwinnett County are all very similar. Try being a parent with a concern about your child, much less a real problem in those systems.

Why in the world would Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Chattahooche Hills, Brookhaven, etc. want to become their own cities if they can not control their own education system? Even when a City like Decatur creates its own Charter District it is still leaving tax payer money in the hands of a gaint system that doesn’t deliver.

MAY

November 2nd, 2012
6:53 am

Vote Yes. There are no for-profit charter schools. Not every child fits the school they’re in. Let the families have another option. That’s it. I can’t believe how hard the establishment is fighting this amendment. They fought legalizing home schooling and many fought dual enrollment, preferring to keep the kids in AP classes rather than allow them to start earning college credit. This group, as a whole, doesn’t look at what’s best for each family. They only care about keeping that money on their campuses. I don’t want to home school and the charter school near me doesn’t fit our families needs but I can’t judge the families making those choices. I like knowing I have another choice. Does it keep my traditional school on its toes? I think so. We could leave and go somewhere else.

HenryH

November 2nd, 2012
6:58 am

TOO BIG TO EDUCATE, this is the real problem. Charter schools are a bandaid to try to give control back to the parents. When Atlanta Public Schools, Fulton County, Gwinnett County and DeKalb County are running 1/2 a billion dollar a year budgets they are looking after money not kids. I just wonder why Sandy Springs, Chattahooche Hill Country, and the newest Brookhaven haven’t realized that all their efforts to create these independent cities are still leaving their kids in unaccountable oversized government schools. I say vote for or against it is not going to solve the problem.

KB

November 2nd, 2012
7:05 am

95% of the teachers in 99% of the schools do the most they can with the students who walk in the door. Problems in education are a direct reflection of the problems in American society.

Our students simply don’t work hard enough.

Diverting money is not the solution.

redweather

November 2nd, 2012
7:07 am

Yikes! That piece is badly in need of some editing.

Mama S

November 2nd, 2012
7:08 am

If the public school system met the needs of the students then thousands of parents would not be supporting the charter school amendment. (Just as the US Postal Service failed to meet the needs of the public and UPS took root!) I have worked in the public school system as an employee for over 30 years and yet I borrowed money to send both my children and now my grandchildren to private schools.
Not because of racism or religious idealism – but because I wanted them educated in small classes with children who were also there to learn. If their behavior was a problem, there was not an IEP but an Out-The-Door.
Public schools are filled with tired and overburden teachers, too many students in a class, and those students are a grab bag of children needing speech therapy, emotional therapy, English-language instruction, remedial reading, remedial math, remedial manners, basic health care, etc.
How can public school teachers teach the few who arrive ready and willing to learn. Answer, they can’t.

bubba

November 2nd, 2012
7:18 am

I agree with
Homeschooler
It’s great to see how the parents of the Smyrna Academy have taken steps for their children and created a viable alternative.

Jezel

November 2nd, 2012
7:21 am

This piece is no more baseless than the articles supporting the amendment. In fact…since it is written by a teacher…I place a great deal of value in it.

Many Georgians feel insulted by this charter school amendment. Sorry to say… but it reeks of corruption. A non-elected group in charge of millions of tax payers dollars…come on. New and improved schools and curricula…not readily available to all students? Makes very little sense.

And…if the amendment passes and is challenged in the courts…which it most certainly will be…and after millions in legal fees…how will the U.S. Supreme Court rule on the constitutionality of the amendment?

Eddie Hall

November 2nd, 2012
7:28 am

When you throw out the people that want this because the “party” wants it, and you throw out the “my kids don’t get the right education” group, (a) what qualifies them to determine b) they will NEVER be happy anyway), you are left with the people I really do connect with. People like Mama S. above. The problem is, this will not fix her concerns, and the other two groups are playing on her discontent to achieve their goals! The truth is Mama, you and others like you, have the power now to change those things that concern you most! You have your vote! USE IT! Vote on someone’s resume, not other factors.Should this pass, you will have cast your LAST vote with local control. The system may need change to get out the FEW boards that do not preform, but this is NOT it. Information released yesterday proved changes made by No Child Left Behind are WORKING overall. Our schools work overall. The biggest test should be, Do you really trust Nathan Deal, Chip Rogers, etc. to bring about worthwile change? I don’t. VOTE NO!

Mountain Man

November 2nd, 2012
7:40 am

“Access to money and power corrupt, even in the face of “regulation” and oversight”

Just look what it has done to the local Boards of Education. Corrupt to the core.

Jim Dalton

November 2nd, 2012
7:42 am

Give parents who care about their children’s education, and cannot afford private school, a choice. Vote Yes.

Mountain Man

November 2nd, 2012
7:42 am

Who are the supporters of this amendment? PARENTS and young voters who will become parents. Who opposes this amendment? Teachers and EDUCRATS. ‘nough said.

Ed Johnson

November 2nd, 2012
7:45 am

Gosh, where did my socks go?! I had them on before reading Altman’s piece.

Well done, Ian Altman.

And, yes…

“I decline to accept that there is no longer such a thing as a common good which finds among its highest expressions a public school system.”

Private Citizen

November 2nd, 2012
7:46 am

Whuh, chortle. The old Russian Volga argument. “Our schools work overall.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WD0WVL-HjE

Mountain Man

November 2nd, 2012
7:48 am

“Public Education is not a ‘for profit’ venture.”

Tell that to a UGA professor who requires his students to buy the book he wrote! (Wasn’t that also the case in a traditional school: the school bought copies of the administrators book?) There is ALWAYS profit; the better question is: What are you getting for your money? In the case of APS – VERY LITTLE.

Ed Johnson

November 2nd, 2012
8:11 am

“I read fb comment that said the Charter Amendment will separate the ‘haves’ from the ‘have nots’. I believe it will separate the ‘cares’ from the ‘care nots’.”

In either case, it’s a win-lose proposition. Some of us are so thoroughly steeped in, and accepting of, win-lose thinking – that is, competition – that we now believe it is just human nature, as Chip Rogers recently expressed to me in an e-mail:

“Competition is at the heart of almost every advancement in human existence. To suggest it doesn’t work in education ignores both reality and human nature.”

mikeDW

November 2nd, 2012
8:19 am

Vote “NO”. Vote against choice. Vote against options. New ideas and new ways of thinking scare the establishment to death. The Earth is the center of the universe- don’t use that telescope, Galileo. Fear change. Fear knowledge.

Jaynie

November 2nd, 2012
8:19 am

The charter school amendment should be defeated for the very reason that it takes control away from local parents and borads of education. I cannot understand the comments that say the charter schools don’t have the same problems as local schools. Yes, they do. Any time you have people, you have problems. Private and charter schools have just as many issues as public schools, they just hide them better. Charter schools have a place, but they should not be overseen by an appointed board answerable only to whoever is in governmental power. I do not want my tax dollars spent on a charter school that local parents and school boards oppose. Everyone one always points out APS, DeKalb, and Clatyon Counties as examples of bad scool systems. I agree, there are many significant problems with those school systems. But this amendment is not going to fix those problems. Let’s don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Vote NO on Amendment 1.

Bob

November 2nd, 2012
8:20 am

For those against charters I ask, since my public school choice is dominated by Hispanics and has classroom instruction grades 1 – 5 in Spanish, why shouldn’t I vote for change ? Its pathetic that American kids have to comply with the native language of immigrants, many illegal. Taking power from people that make decisions such as the above is a good thing. Then you have the new head of APS, Errol Davis that looks parents in the eyes and lie about North Atlanta being taken over by the state. Again, any way to take power from these people is good.

Pardon My Blog

November 2nd, 2012
8:24 am

We all want smaller classrooms, better teachers, etc. but sucking money away from existing schools does not solve the problem. What about the kids who are good students and want a good education (and are have nots) but by virtue of the “lottery or selection process” do not get into the Charter School? Are they expendable? Instead of Charter Schools perhaps Boot Camp for those problem kids would be a better solution.

misty fyed

November 2nd, 2012
8:24 am

I’m glad I read this article. It persuaded me to vote for this initiative. Despite his use of big words the author comes across as a child stomping his feet and calling people names. I mean how dare these rich people not just give him their money and let him teach what he wants to teach (why is it to a liberal, sharing and compromise is always them getting their way). This teacher is why we should have testing…to ensure he is teaching what is supposed to be taught. Imagine his teaching left unchecked. The Occupy Atlanta crowd would multiply with each graduating class.

That said… I really don’t think charter schools will fix the problem. The teachers aren’t the problem. Poverty isn’t the problem. It’s another by-product of the problem. . The problem comes from the home and the choices the parents make. The lack of focus on the child through discipline and support is the problem along with the refusal of the rest of us to call it like it is. The best of teachers cannot make sure the child has someone reading to them at home; someone to help with what they don’t understand; someone to keep them focused on the importance of an education. They simply cannot undo in 7 hours what a parent does in the remaining 17.

Until society as a whole drops the political correctness and addresses the true root of the problem; all this is just a band aid. At least a charter school will give the good parents who are stuck in that particular system an option to separate their children from poor influences caused by poor parenting.

bootney farnsworth

November 2nd, 2012
8:26 am

it’s funny how fast the anti-entitlement/work for what you want types toss their principals right out the door when the special perks might go to them

Engineer71

November 2nd, 2012
8:27 am

Public money, that is our money, keeps enriching the rich at the expense of taxpayers. The solution is to fix the mess in our public education created by politicians, who will do anything to reward their contributors. That is legal corruption. We had enough corruption already.

bootney farnsworth

November 2nd, 2012
8:28 am

that was a horribly written piece. which side is he on?

Goodforkids

November 2nd, 2012
8:29 am

Love his contribution…especially the reminder about the common good, and the below quote about real learning. So sick of the dumbing down of education via fill-in-the-bubble tests.

“Such learning is difficult, emotionally unsafe, politically unstable, necessary for the mold-breaking lives of free-thinking citizens in a democracy, and utterly unrelatable to the choice of A, B, C, or D on a sterile scantron sheet. Whatever it is those tests measure or purport to measure, it just isn’t that important.”

Lynchmtn

November 2nd, 2012
8:30 am

“Galt’s Gulch”, here I come!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jsmith

November 2nd, 2012
8:30 am

i vote yes!!…..its a no brainer… there is no LOGIC in voting no, our public schools are a mess and they will NEVER GET BETTER!! people will be having the same arguements and discussions ten or twenty years from now if change is not made….. i wish education was privitized and i think one day it will be , but until then i vote for anything that take power away from the local school boards and gives people more choices

indigo

November 2nd, 2012
8:41 am

The Koch brothers are members of the far-right Tea Party so, it’s not hard to guess why the’re pouring so much money into the pro Charter schools ammendment. They want school boards filled with fundamentalist parents who will insist on creationism and other anti-science views being taught.

jsmith

November 2nd, 2012
8:49 am

indigo , i dont think this is what this fight is all about?? this is about sending our children ( the most important people in our lives) to a descent school …. and if you have not looked around lately the PUBLIC SCHOOLS IN GEORGIA suck !!! the school boards are made up of incompetent idiots who only care about RACE . the school board members are crooks!! people need a CHOICE AND MOST CAN NOT AFFORD PRIVATE SCHOOL , BECAUSE IF THEY COULD THERE WOULD BE NO ONE LEFT IN THE PULBIC SCHOOL SYSTEM

Fed Up Parent

November 2nd, 2012
8:52 am

Read the amendment folks!!! THESE STATE APPROVED CHARTER SCHOOLS CANNOT BE BE FOR PROFIT!!!!

Maureen Downey

November 2nd, 2012
9:01 am

@Fed up. The charters schools can hire for-profit companies to manage them. That is legal and increasingly the case. There are many for-profit companies running charter schools in Georgia.
For example, the Charter Schools Commission approved Peachtree Hope, which was run by by Sabis International Schools Network, a for-profit education management firm operating world wide.
But the local board and Sabis clashed and the school closed. Ivy Prep took it over. See this blog on what happened.

You can read about Sabis here.

Maureen

Fed Up Parent

November 2nd, 2012
9:08 am

To Mr. Altman…….the current system, YOUR SYSTEM, is getting TERRIBLE results! Teachers like yourself are simply afraid of true competition. Your afraid that charter schools will actually prove to be a better model for success. A model where teachers get fired if they don’t do their jobs……a model where you are not guaranteed annual pay increases regardless of performance…….a true model of accountability!!! Voters take notice…….it’s teachers like Mr. Altman that are against Amendment One because they are trying to protect their bloated and incompetent little fiefdoms!!

Private Citizen

November 2nd, 2012
9:11 am

Poverty isn’t the problem. It’s another by-product of the problem. . The problem comes from the home and the choices the parents make.

misty fyed If you make a list of 100 of the most modern countries in the world, there is only one country on that list that does not have a system of health care distribution for all of its citizens, and you live there. To compound the situation, for half the citizens, going to the doctor guarantees certain destruction of credit which is determinative in standard of living. Until the USA decides to have a look around and join the civilized world, yes, poverty is a determinative factor in the health, well-being and performance of a country. Some question if this observation belongs in a discussion about education. I suggest go to any education studies department in the first world outside of the United States and you will find that this is the first topic addressed when one is concerned about performance.

d

November 2nd, 2012
9:17 am

Before I say what I am about to say – please understand that I am pro-charter. Personally, I believe EVERY school should be a charter…. that being said – anyone who truly believes that Amendment 1 is really about charters, choice, or improving education needs a true education in Georgia politics. This amendment is about taking local control and giving it to Atlanta. Atlanta is not “local.” @Maureen – any word on the lawsuit filed about the misleading language used on the ballot?

Gerry Lopez

November 2nd, 2012
9:19 am

The baseless and unsupportable comments are coming from those opposed to the charter school amendments.

Here is the unabashed truth (look it up)

- charter schools will receive not 1 dime of local money. Currently and in he future 100% of your local property taxes used for support of local schools will continue to go to local schools.

All funding for Charter Schools will come from the state.

- the State funding for Charter Schools will be only 62% of that provided for current local government schools. Current schools will not receive 1 less dime from the State

Let’s be honest, this is a bold faced attempt by the local school establishments to avoid the competition that local Charter Schools will bring. The opposition is coming from the very people that have failed YOUR CHILDREN in this State.

Charter Schools regularly out perform government schools. And this is the crux of the matter, the establishment will be shown for the failures that they have been to so many if this amendment passes. Like cockroaches heading for the corners when the light comes on, these opponents what to keep all of our children in darkness.

Dr. Monica Henson

November 2nd, 2012
9:31 am

Mountain Man posted, “There is ALWAYS profit; the better question is: What are you getting for your money?”

Well said. Anyone who doesn’t believe that private, for-profit companies don’t do huge business with public school districts needs to visit any conference or convention of school administrators, school teachers, school counselors, school finance officers, and school boards. The vendor exhibit halls are huge and are filled with companies offering products and services, all at a price, and all designed to earn a profit for the vendor company.

Not every charter school that does business with an education service provider allows them to manage the school’s operations and/or hire the staff. The best practice, which my school’s board of directors understands, is to treat the provider as a vendor of services and products, NOT as a management organization.

This arrangement preserves the integrity of the charter school. Our school is governed by the nonprofit board. I and all of my employees are employed by the board, NOT by the education services provider. The provider does not have any employees sitting on our board of directors, nor does anyone in the company have any decision making authority on behalf of the school.

Our school is run by three experienced district public school administrators, our support staff is composed of experienced veterans of the public schools, and all of our teachers are certified public school veterans as well. We are all members of the Teachers Retirement System. The education service provider supports our work and follows the lead of my fellow administrators and me.

Dr. Monica Henson

November 2nd, 2012
9:36 am

(Hit “send” too quickly.) My professional opinion is that when a management company operates the school and hires the staff and “owns” them as employees, the service mission of public education becomes conflated with the business mission of generating profit. There is then the potential for the profit motive to outweigh the service motive.

The protection that is built in is that if the school fails to meet its academic and financial and organization goals, the authorizer can close them or decline to renew their charter.

For any management company to place directors on the board with which they have a contract would be a serious conflict of interest.

Private Citizen

November 2nd, 2012
9:36 am

C’mon now Gerry Lopez Charter Schools regularly out perform government schools.

If you look into it, and it takes time to do so, many charter schools do not keep up with good government schools and one main reason is that good government schools have seasoned faculty, which is the real mechanism of good performance. You may want to do a little browser-search-engine search on your generalization re: performance of charter schools. That said, I support the movement toward charter schools for one reason, as a worker I am compelled to work in a sane work environment. As a man on his deathbed once told me, “Don’t sacrifice,” and I’m not interested in sacrificing my well-being playing 8th tier fiddle to the power column of Georgia bureaucracy and government schools management mono-culture. I just do not care for it. Teachers are told to differentiate instruction for students, but there is zero differentiation to make room for teaching styles of adults. I support the charter amendment for my own selfish reasons. I would like a diverse marketplace to work in. In college I never joined a fraternity, had zero interest in them. As an adult I do not want to join a fraternity and the government schools work environment is way waay waaaay too clubby for my tastes. Any artist or intellectual has a strong need for individuality and in the government schools, there is no room for it. The irony is that it is the artists and intellectuals who are the rightful bearers of knowledge and are caring teachers.

Dr. Monica Henson

November 2nd, 2012
9:40 am

Finally, I want to note that we have on our board of directors two former district-level educators and one attorney experienced in education law. I believe that this is the primary reason why our board negotiated a service provider agreement, rather than a management agreement, with our education partner.

When you have a board composed primarily of parents and folks without education experience themselves, they may not feel qualified to open a school without the services of a management company, leaving them open to persuasion by sales representatives of the company. We do have a parent representative on our board–I’m not knocking parent participation in governance. He also brings substantial expertise in decision theory and risk analysis. But there’s definitely something to be said in ensuring that the board has some public education expertise, particularly at the district level, represented.