Charter school amendment glides to victory

In a 58 to 42  percent vote, Georgians adopted a constitutional amendment tonight that will put the state back in the business of approving charter schools over the objections of local boards of education.

The amendment was always favored to win, in part because of the benign language of the ballot question put before voters: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?

The assumption is that the Legislature will reconstitute the appointed commission that was in place before the state Supreme Court struck it down a year ago, setting the stage for this bitter amendment battle.  (See my AJC colleague Jim Galloway’s column tomorrow on the political ramifications of this political fight, which pitted the Republican state school superintendent against the GOP governor and House leadership.)

One of the first responses to the amendment passage came from Nina Gilbert, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Schools.

In an email, Gilbert said:

“In the words of statesman Frederick Douglass ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.’ We have been in the trenches fighting for the right for parents to choose their children’s schools for more than five years. I am so glad that the end of this fight is near and rests in the hands with the people of Georgia.

Our goal in the charter community has been and always will be to put children first and work to close the achievement gap. We do this by giving parents the option to choose schools with innovative programs, small class sizes and teachers who have the autonomy to make sure students learn at high levels. We offer alternatives for students assigned to low performing schools and students who want a new environment that challenges them. We have done our very best to serve our scholars, engage our parents and meet every requirement mandated by law.”

Also offering comment tonight was state Rep. Alisha Morgan of Austell who said, “This is what happens when you put politics aside and you bring black, white, young and old together and you just focus on the kids. This is the right thing. Kids won tonight.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

122 comments Add your comment

living in an outdated ed system

November 6th, 2012
9:31 pm

Like I said yesterday, my sources were correct, and it is clear from your short note where you stand on the issue, which is against real reform in public education in Georgia, and America. Georgia’s voters have spoken loud and clear that they will not allow local school boards to continue to wield monopoly power and prevent public charter schools from providing quality education options to its children.

This is good for Georgia, and if the trend holds, this will be great for our state’s youth.

mountain man

November 6th, 2012
9:43 pm

Good news. I will repeat what I have said all along: If traditional schools had done a better job of addressing the issues, there would not be this push for charters.

banshee29

November 6th, 2012
9:45 pm

Bad news…more money out the door for those of us in the trenches. We need better equipmentand better books and better leadership, not more competition!

Concernedmom30329

November 6th, 2012
9:51 pm

Easily winning in DeKalb. To Dr. Walker, most of the DeKalb Board, most of the members of the DeKalb delegation– this is on you. You are doing a terrible child governing the school system. Simply watching the meeting last night is an example of why things can not improve in DeKalb any time soon. What a shame for the children of DeKalb to have such ineffective leadership both at the school system and in the Delegation, when you missed multiple changes to effect changes that would have led to improvements in our school system.

Former Ivy Dad, current Chamblee Magnet Dad

November 6th, 2012
9:53 pm

Finally the scholars at Ivy Prep gets justice!

Bc

November 6th, 2012
9:54 pm

To the amendment detractors-if you hadn’t favored complacent mediocrity and the path of least resistance, there would not have been a groundswell movement for changing the perception of entitled and aloof misplaced priorities. I cheer passage of the amendment and hope to see the changes.

It’d be hard for things to get much worse so there’s only one direction this can go. Removing the cronyism and infighting of local school boards and reducing the influence of education associations is a great step in the right direction.

Take your blinders off

November 6th, 2012
9:55 pm

If you really think this will improve education, you are sorely mistaken. The students who would have succeeded, will still succeed, and those who would have failed, will still fail. The problem with education in this state is not the teacher, it is on the parent and the home the kid is raised in. Until people realize that, nothing in this state will change.

Mike

November 6th, 2012
9:56 pm

As a second year teacher in a struggling school that is already strapped for funds and resources, I can’t help but feel a sense of despair. What about my students who aren’t accepted into charter schools. Better yet, what about the areas of GA where charter schools will not go. My school is already depleted and now even MORE of the very small amount of funding we do receive will be divided even further… charters are a respectable option. But good education should not be private. We need to FIX public education and I don’t see how this does that…

Nonetheless, we will roll up our sleeves tomorrow and continue to prevail. For our communities and for our exceptional youth. Stay strong, fellow public educators.

School Mom

November 6th, 2012
10:04 pm

Welcome and flash back to the “separate but equal” dual system in GA. The rich and those who can drive students to white flight schools will do so. The special ed. and poor students will stay in public education schools with LESS funding than ever before. You think schools are bad now, folks ain’t seen nothing yet. We’re on the road to more financial woes and corruption in education and governance than ever before! For profit charters will be the first to come in, and they don’t have to worry about fairness as long as the school is profitable. Hope you folks that voted yes are ready for the reality that is going to take down all educational systems in GA.

canyouhearus

November 6th, 2012
10:06 pm

57% to 43% with 49%+ reporting. Cue Edwin Hawkins.

Commence the continued call for flinging more money at a demonstrably failed approach.

I fully support teachers, the incompetent and corrupt bureaucracy not so much.

Rick L in ATL

November 6th, 2012
10:09 pm

This needs to be said: to those of you who self-identify as “progressives:” you should’ve been the last to support shackling poor black kids to failing traditional public schools–schools that have zero chance of ever becoming what we need them to be (and not, as you insist, because of inadequate funding–but because of inadequate everything-else).

Aren’t you supposed to be the high-minded, oh-so-moral folks who want to help lift the underprivileged out of their circumstances?

Not so much, as it turns out.

If you really wanted to help those kids you’d be lining up at detonator switches to implode traditional public schools throughout Georgia, starting with about 50 in APS.

Your support of the status quo was, from the start, morally bankrupt. You wanted to make this about state overreach, but what it always WAS about was defending the indefensible; protecting the adults who profit from each child’s’ failure.

You said it was about big money–and you were right; the big money of the cozy fat-cat educrats and the obsolete machinery they keep telling us is always just one more tax increase away from actually doing useful work. Nobody I know among our parent group wants for-profit charters; it was never about that. It was always about reminding you that this system of ours is paid for and belongs to taxpayers and parents, not to educrats, and you will not tell us how it should be run.

You haven’t earned that. Even after all this time and all these millions, you haven’t earned that.

You should view this vote as what it is: a vote of no confidence, not only in our Keystone Kops school boards, but also in you–our “progressive” public-school apologists. This isn’t just an I-told-you-so, it’s a big shiny Eff You to you and your failed system and your stubborn refusal to admit that you’ve been dragging around a corpse, Weekend-At-Bernies style, for decades now. And it’s really starting to stink.

Pride and Joy

November 6th, 2012
10:13 pm

When this amendment passes, it will pass because of one major reason: the low-performing traditional public schools.
If traditionaly public schools were doing their job, there would be no need for charters.
I hope this is a wake up call to all of those who work in public education; the days of the monopoly over pubic education are over.
Choice is here to stay.
Either make your public school a place parents will choose or we parents will choose another place. Georgia’s children deserve better than what they’ve been given for fifty years.

Point/Counterpoint

November 6th, 2012
10:14 pm

Last one leaving the state, please turn the light off.

Pride and Joy

November 6th, 2012
10:16 pm

I agree with Rick L.
The vote FOR amendment one was a vote of NO confidence in Georgia’s traditional public school system.

Bc

November 6th, 2012
10:17 pm

Wow, well said Rick L.

Too bad they still won’t “get it”

canyouhearus

November 6th, 2012
10:19 pm

Note to School Mom & Reverend Lowery.

DeKalb County – 78%+ for Obama and 64% to 36% yes.

This is a resounding vote against the status quo in public education.

Pride and Joy

November 6th, 2012
10:19 pm

Banshee29 makes an interesting point “We need better equipmentand better books and better leadership, not more competition!”
It’s interesting because banshee is a teacher and is tellng us what teacheres need…
There is no concern about what the STUDENTS need.
Typical.
So typical.
And so sad.

Thomas's Paine

November 6th, 2012
10:20 pm

Maureen, I’m not sure what your ballot question said, but in my county it said more like: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow THE IMPROVEMENT OF EDUCATION through state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?

I was aghast at the wording, it was a no-brainer for the uninformed to put “yes.” Interests paid some serious cheddar for that wording.

I am confident that other posters will recount a similar recollection of the wording.

Pride and Joy

November 6th, 2012
10:24 pm

I found this comment particularly sad”As a second year teacher in a struggling school that is already strapped for funds and resources, I can’t help but feel a sense of despair. What about my students who aren’t accepted into charter schools.”
Mike — they have YOU. Are you NOTa good teacher? why would you have a sense of despair for the kids that are left in your classroom?
Perhaps your despair is not for the kids. it seems like the despair is for yourself. you worry about your job prospects.
Don’t worry, Mike. We still ahve the same number of children in GA. If you lose your job to budget cuts, charter schools will need you if you are a good teacher.
Good teacheres never have to worry about getting a job. It’s the horrible teachers that need to worry.

Private Citizen

November 6th, 2012
10:31 pm

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

That’s not what it said on the computer voting machine where I live. I just looked up a ballot image. The first five words were “Provides for improving student achievement” (Yes / No.)

Looks like they were taking no risks.

Goodforkids

November 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

Me

November 6th, 2012
10:35 pm

I love how it is automatically assumed that only the rich and privledged go to charter schools and we are trying to segregate our children. Huh, I must have dreamed that my child is the minority in his class-yes I’m white. I also must have dreamed all that anxiety over money and wondering how we’ll make it. Guess the many other parents at my childs school in the same boat as me think it’s fun to pretend they don’t have money. Wake up and pay attention folks because this has nothing to do with race and very little to do with money. For many of us, having to drive our child to school and buy them uniforms is a hardship, which is why we come together and carpool or hand down uniforms that are outgrown. It’s difficult to get in our required volunteer hours, hours needed to help make up the difference in funding we receive, bc of work, etc. We do it bc we had a choice in where to send our children to school and want them to have every chance they can. I cannot speak for other schools, but I know at ours the parents are involved as much as possible. We want the best teachers and curriculum for our kids. We don’t complain about lack of money, we volunteer to help in classrooms, clean our own school grounds, have bake sales, and do everything we can to keep our school open which is probably why this community supports us so much. Seems to me that if regular public schools had better parent involvement and maybe even added volunteer hours so much emphasis would not be put on the money, but how the systems could be improved. Yes-there are problems in our schools and I for one would like to see them ALL improve, but if you had a chance to put your child in a school that out performs the others in your district and offered a better variety of classes then you would be doing your own child a great injustice not to put their name in that lottery, just as I did with mine.

Teacher and Taxpayer

November 6th, 2012
10:42 pm

I voted for it! Now the PARENTS WILL HAVE TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. Why are teachers responsible for your children’s school supplies? We were poor as dirt, but my parents went without and bought us SCHOOL SUPPLIES. My students wear $200 shoes and designer clothes to school and have designer purses, but no paper to write with, no computers and no pens or pencils. I am sooo glad that the Charter School issue is a a go!!!Yaaay for productive change! Long live the Charters! I live in Dekalb County and I am an African American!

Charles Douglas Edwards

November 6th, 2012
10:43 pm

Public sentiment is everything
With public sentiment nothing can fail
Without it nothing can succeed

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

We accept the sentiment of the people !!!

Mike

November 6th, 2012
10:43 pm

I’m not worried about my job prospects; I put 110% to my work every day and have seen my students flourish in ways that keep me going regardless. However, what saddens me, is the lack of funding that my already poor school has- now my students will go without more resources, more benefits, more nice things and better opportunities that their more affluent peers DO have. I am saddened that GA has just decided to further cripple public education rather than solving its problems. I don’t want to teach at a Charter School. I don’t believe that students and families should have to look any further than their community to find a solid education. I do believe that public education needs to be fixed. However, what saddens me lastly, is that this measure tonight, has done nothing to fix public education. Hello to more bureaucracy and more educational inequity…

The fight continues.

Rick L in ATL

November 6th, 2012
10:54 pm

@Mike: there is no “fixing” public education. It’s not a renovation, it’s a tear-down. Pressed by charter schools on one side and (eventually) vouchers on the other, traditional public schools will be forced to completely reinvent themselves or perish. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

When we finally come to that day–the day we see the launch of Public Schools 2.0–perhaps you’ll still be in the trenches. But dude– you need to improve your homework skills, because you should already know that every student who exits your school for a state-approved charter triggers MORE local per-pupil funding for your district, not less.

I’m going to chalk up your error to the fact that you’re likely overworked like most good teachers, and I hope you hang in there and end up working someday in a school worthy of your talent and effort.

Pride and Joy

November 6th, 2012
10:56 pm

Mike,
I am educated. I went to a very poor public school and we, at times, were poor. My school had no air conditioning. We sweated out August. We had no computers, no “work books.”
At times, we shared text books.
The teacher hand wrote questions on the chalk board with chalk and we wrote the answers on plain notebook paper.
The only supplies we had were paper, pencils, erasers and occassionally, a ruler.
The only supply the teacher used was chalk and a blackboard. Back then they were green.
If you are a good teacher, Mike, you don’t need to worry about funding. You don’t need work books. You don’t need computers, the Internet, and so on.
All the students need is an educated human being who cares.

Teacher and Taxpayer

November 6th, 2012
11:00 pm

@Mike…no offense but you are an enabler. These people need to take personal responsibility for their actions. These children and their parents need to be taught that nothing will be handed to them including an education. You are not doing these children any favors by giving them everything. The old saying still applies, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” @ Mike teach your students how to fish. Creativity comes from necessity.

mountain man

November 6th, 2012
11:03 pm

Now that we can put this charter school question behind us, we need to start putting the pressure on the failing ADMINISTRATORS who are allowing the inmates to run the asylum. It is NOT the teachers’ fault that schools don’t enforce DISCIPLINE, ATTENDANCE, AND SOCIAL PROMOTION. Start with the basics, please. BOEs take note. If you won’t do it, your days are numbered.

Mike

November 6th, 2012
11:03 pm

And, Charters will pull money from the same pool we do, which is the major problem here. Overworked, yes… in fact, watching these elections way past bed time. But I agree with you that public ed needs to be gutted and fixed. I just don’t see this amendment doing that. We’re just getting even more depleted with this. And so continues the facepalm and the banging of the head against the desk…

And I am not so much focused on finding a school “worthy of my talent”; that’s a major problem now as to why so many students go without resources, including GOOD TEACHERS who are motivated daily, who care and value them, and who lift them up. I don’t want to leave the community I serve. And my students shouldn’t have to, either. That’s my point. It’s a dismal day…

Mike

November 6th, 2012
11:07 pm

And teacher/taxpayer, I love your “enabler” label. That is extremely insulting, especially coming from another teacher. You know how hard we work and how much frustration we deal with and how patiently we have to press on to enforce high expectations, work ethic, behavior, etc. Rest assured my students do not go without in regard to the education I bust my behind to provide them with each day… however, that does not make it OK that they will continue to be underfunded and underresourced. This shouldn’t be happening, period.

canyouhearus

November 6th, 2012
11:10 pm

I am sorry to disagree Mike but it is joyful day. At least it is for students, parents, and taxpayers. I can not speak for the education establishment. I will leave it to you to defend the staus quo.

Jessica

November 6th, 2012
11:12 pm

You’re going to blame the way the amendment was phrased on the ballot? Really???

I don’t think voters made the choice they did because of the way it was worded. I think it’s because people in this state recognize that the public education here is inadequate and outdated. Innovation and competition will be good for the kids in this state, or at least better than the status quo.

Mike

November 6th, 2012
11:13 pm

I’m not defending the status quo… maybe some of you should come into a classroom for a little bit and check things out. or not be mislead by vague ballot wording. My life’s work is actually to defeat the status quo… but anyway. This could go on for hours. Education will continue to gain more attention and hopefully reform… at least Obama is on his way to another 4 years and our civil rights have not been stripped away.

Private Citizen

November 6th, 2012
11:14 pm

Here’s an image of the ballot / presentation / wording. http://postimage.org/image/big6×1cat/

First five words: “Provides for improving student achievement”

Private Citizen

November 6th, 2012
11:16 pm

Jessica, I agree with your analysis but you can’t deny the manipulative presentation.

[...] Early returns: Charter school amendment on path to victoryAtlanta Journal Constitution (blog)The AJC is reporting that 58 percent of voters approved the amendment, which will put the state back in the business of approving charter schools over the objections of local boards of education. The amendment was favored to win, in part because of the …States Around The Nation Could Totally Change Their School Systems TodayBusiness InsiderEducation Ballot Measures in the StatesHeritage.org (blog)Judgment Day for Education is HereSan Jose Inside (blog)CNN (blog) -New York Times -The Atlanticall 297 news articles » [...]

canyouhearus

November 6th, 2012
11:22 pm

Mike all I hear you saying is a repitition of the mantra we have heard for decades, “more money”. The most important stakeholders, citizens, parents, and taxpayers, have delivered a clear message. I appreciate your efforts in the classroom. I have grown weary of funding a corrupt and faied approach. It is obvious a strong majority shares my opinion.

canyouhearus

November 6th, 2012
11:23 pm

“failed”

fat fingers

DeKalb Dad

November 6th, 2012
11:44 pm

It warms my heart to see all the positive comments on a blog that has been nothing but a mouthpiece for the opposition’s propaganda.

The fight for quality public schools is not over by any means but at least we’re moving in the right direction.

20/20

November 6th, 2012
11:45 pm

Erroll Davis and crew in Atlanta contributed to this charter win due to continous efforts to destroy APS every day and turn supporters away from public schools.

Pride and Joy

November 7th, 2012
12:05 am

20/20
I find it hard to believe you blame bad APS schools on E Davis. APS schools have been horrible since before Errol was born.

Pride and Joy

November 7th, 2012
12:07 am

It’s a really simple mandate from the voting citizens of Georgia.
A 58/42 margin is huge.
The mandate is:
Traditional public schools MUST change for the better or we will change to charter schools.
Change for the better or prepare for unemployment.
It’s really that simple.

Old South

November 7th, 2012
12:07 am

Rick L,

You are right, but until 2.0 schools arrive, the line among haves and nots will sharpen.

However the underlying structural problems are really not the schools systems fault. Trying to fix that via the schools will be an interesting “experiment” that Georgia is likely not smart enough to pull off.

Goodforkids

November 7th, 2012
12:21 am

Some kids who enroll in new charters will benefit, others will suffer. Meanwhile, I don’t believe we will have solved any problems in education. Because, just like now, those who go to schools with good leadership among adults dedicated to student success will prosper, and those who end up with adults who only see the children as means to their selfish ends will suffer. JUST LIKE NOW.

20/20

November 7th, 2012
12:22 am

Pride and Joy Erroll Davis has definitely made a bad situation worst after a decade of the Beverly Hall regime! !!! APS needs positive change now!!!!

Eddie Hall

November 7th, 2012
12:24 am

Well, we tried. I guess you can’t fight money, mis leading language, and people who rightfully want a reformed system, but just don’t realize this is not it. When the big money companies come in, financed by our tax dollars, and still nothing improves, AND you pay higher LOCAL property taxes, remember to thank Ol’ Nathan and his cronies.

Ktis

November 7th, 2012
12:28 am

Sad night for the children of Ga schools. Low bidder,cronies and family members of shady all get the much needed Education dollars…Error Davis will get a new contract. The state will loose many great educators.

Cannot wait until the law suits start flying and all the $$$ spent by both the Ethical and Non (shady)
unethical sides. Money wasted that could have been spent on fixing our current education system.

echo

November 7th, 2012
12:30 am

I find it more than just a little amusing to hear parents blabbing on about how they need to have more “say” and “control” of their child’s education while also voting for this charter school amendment. Parents do have a say in their kid’s education but a significant proportion of you are so inept as parents you manage to screw that one up. Go to any public area where there are groups of kids hanging out and watch how they behave…most of them didn’t get like that on their own, they are the direct result of crappy parent(s). And do you really think you will get more “say”? These schools will be run be politically connected, for-profit companies…figure it out.
I think we should scrap the whole system and let ALL schools be for profit/tuition based but the parent(s) should have to foot the ENTIRE bill for their child(ren)’s education. That would be helpful to the taxpayers that REALLY pay for your kid’s education…who don’t get much say in anything. Then you can let YOUR money follow YOUR kid.

Kris

November 7th, 2012
12:30 am

Sad night for the children of Ga schools. Low bidder,cronies and family members of shady all get the much needed Education dollars…Error Davis will get a new contract. The state will loose many great educators.

Cannot wait until the law suits start flying and all the $$$ spent by both the Ethical and Non (shady)
unethical sides. Money wasted that could have been spent on fixing our current education system.