Center for Ed Reform: Georgia ranks 16th for strong charter laws

Passage of the charter school amendment helped Georgia's standing in charter school laws. (AJC photo)

Passage of the charter school amendment helped Georgia's standing in regard to strong charter school laws. (AJC photo)

Georgia ranks 16th in the nation for strong charter laws, according to the Center for Education Reform’s annual scoreboard.

Last year, the state ranked 20th, but earned a boost this year from the approval of the charter school constitutional amendment in November.  Still, its laws and regulations regarding charter school approval, funding and operation only earn Georgia a C grade.

The only A’s went to Washington, D.C., Indiana, Minnesota and Michigan.

From the center:

With fewer than half of the U.S.’s state charter school laws earning a satisfactory grade, policymakers this year are faced with enormous challenges. The success of these new public schools is unparalleled, with more than two million students today attending in excess of 6,000 public charter schools. Yet, with fewer than half of the states able to meet the demands of parents and educators who want the freedom to choose charter schools, state laws simply must improve to ensure growth and sustainability.

This is the conclusion of the 14th annual Charter School Laws Across the States Ranking and Scorecard produced by  the Center for Education Reform. Among the nation’s 43 charter school laws, there are only four As, nine Bs, 19 Cs and the remaining 11 states earned Ds and Fs.

“At 21 years old, the national charter school movement is only making satisfactory progress,” said CER president Jeanne Allen. “Satisfactory progress is not good enough for our students’ report cards and it shouldn’t be good enough for our state report cards. In the past two years, we’ve seen two new charter laws but both are average in their construction, unlikely to yield large numbers of successful charter schools, and only minimal state improvements. Many states failed to advance substantive reform in 2012, a fact we hope to see change this year.”

Only four states improved their laws since the Center’s report card was issued last year, but nowhere near the trends of the late 1990s era when 17 states created or amended charter school laws.

Since 1996 the Center has studied and evaluated charter school laws based on their construction and implementation, and whether they yield the intended result of charter school policy, which is to ensure the creation of numerous quality learning opportunities for children.

“As policymakers consider changes to their charter school laws, they also need to be mindful of what it takes to have truly great education reform policies across all issues.” Allen said. “If a charter school law isn’t strong, school choice options minimal or non-existent, digital learning exists for the few over the many, and teacher quality measures are not assured, students will not have opportunities they need and deserve.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

33 comments Add your comment

Proud Teacher

January 16th, 2013
10:02 am

This is no surprise to me. If you follow the Republican course of restructuring education in Georgia, it’s a simple path to weakening the public school into non-existence and creating a state of charter and private school education choices fed by vouchers.

10:10 am

January 16th, 2013
10:17 am

Parents and kids locked into failing neighborhood schools look to leaders like Jeanne Allen for help with genuine education reform.

Bravo, Ms. Allen!

Private Citizen

January 16th, 2013
10:37 am

Why not be #1?

Michael Moore

January 16th, 2013
10:42 am

I think we should be number one…the Turkish economy needs us

DeKalb Inside Out

January 16th, 2013
11:09 am

When did the process of educating become more important than the results?

The Wall Street Journal is right in their article The Rise of the Accreditor as Big Man on Campus

For decades, these accreditors have effectively guarded the status quo, focusing on process and resources rather than on educational excellence.When it comes to accreditors’ real assignment—ensuring educational quality—the record is dismal.

Catlady

January 16th, 2013
11:15 am

” The success of these new public schools is unparalleled, with more than two million students today attending in excess of 6,000 public charter schools” Unparralleled? When the research shows otherwise? I am guessing this “group” putting out the scorecard is decidedly partisan, rather than unbiased.

DIO: Amen, and amen.

Catlady

January 16th, 2013
11:17 am

Sorry about the mispelling (unparalleled). I was so astonished with the malarkeiness of it, I lost control of my fingers!

Mary Elizabeth

January 16th, 2013
11:50 am

This topic brings to mind the GPB-TV broadcast, “Prime Time Lawmakers,” last evening at 7 pm regarding Georgia’s current legislative action. Last night’s broadcast included a panel discussion regarding Georgia’s public charter schools, in which Maureen Downey was a panelist. (That public television program continues tonight at 7 pm. The panel discussion, tonight, will be on healthcare in Georgia.)

I want to take this opportunity to compliment Mrs. Downey on her responses on that panel. Her responses were fair, factual, and nonpartial, imo. I was especially pleased, toward the end of the broadcast, when Maureen Downey pointed out that traditional public schools, in contrast with public charter schools, must educate all of Georgia’s students, by law. She further mentioned that traditional public schools cannot simply expel students permanently who do not meet given standards (in conduct, grades, etc.), as can charter schools, because traditional public schools are required, by law, to educate all of Georgia’s children. Then, she – or another panelist – highlighted the fact that a major challenge for Georgia’s legislators is to make certain that the education of all of Georgia’s students is equitable – across the board for all students – and that legislators do not end up spending an out-of-proportion funding for the relatively few students who attend Georgia’s public charter schools.

Astropig

January 16th, 2013
12:17 pm

The change that some of us have dreamed of since we recognized how bad the traditional public schools were (back in the 70’s/80’s in my case) is happening. It’s slower than we’d like,of course,but it’s happening. Our long guerilla war against the corrupt status quo is starting to bear fruit. I can remember when it was not a right to homeschool (as it is now in all states-opposed by teachers unions) Look how far we’ve come. The promised land is in sight.I may not get there with you,but we’ll all get there !

Viva Charter Schools!

Parent Too

January 16th, 2013
2:23 pm

Amen Astropig! My family could not be happier!

Dr. Monica Henson

January 16th, 2013
3:12 pm

Mary Elizabeth posted about Maureen that “[s]he further mentioned that traditional public schools cannot simply expel students permanently who do not meet given standards (in conduct, grades, etc.), as can charter schools, because traditional public schools are required, by law, to educate all of Georgia’s children.”

If in fact this is what Maureen mentioned, she was in error. District public schools CAN AND DO permanently expel students all the time. Several of my charter high school students have been previously expelled by their ZIP code districts. Charter schools do not have special privileges to expel students. Every public school, district or charter, must outline in writing a code of conduct and have it approved by their governing board. In the case of a charter school, this code, including the expulsion process, must be approved IN ADVANCE by the authorizer. In Georgia, authorizers include local district boards of education and the State Board of Education, along with the new Charter Schools Commission. The SBOE must provide final approval of any locally approved or Commission-approved charters as well. Therefore, the codes of conduct of every charter school in Georgia have been approved by the SBOE before the schools even opened (or were converted).

Districts in Georgia have always had the ability to customize their codes of conduct, subject to following the legal requirements imposed by statute. Some districts are more lenient than others. Some charters are more lenient than districts.

Please stop posting rank misinformation as though it is in fact truth, M.E.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 16th, 2013
4:04 pm

What if we edited Proud Teacher’s statement to read, “it’s a simple path to weakening THOSE public schoolS THAT ARE FAILING into non-existence and creating a state of charter and private school education choices fed by vouchers”?

I have no problem with that. None whatsoever. #whateversaveskids

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

January 16th, 2013
6:21 pm

“With fewer than half of the U.S.’s state charter school laws earning a satisfactory grade, policymakers this year are faced with enormous challenges. The success of these new public schools is unparalleled, with more than two million students today attending in excess of 6,000 public charter schools. ”

Say what? Fewer than 50% of state charter schools are earning even a “satisfactory” grade, but their success is “unparalleled”? Does not compute. I suppose if you measure “success” by number of students enrolled. In which case all our overcrowded classrooms must be showing “unparalleled success” too!

Astropig: “I can remember when it was not a right to homeschool (as it is now in all states-opposed by teachers unions) ”

Really? I taught in a few union states, and in none of them was homeschooling not a right. Nor was it opposed by any district policy that I encountered. In fact, we had school liaison officers who helped home schoolers follow state guidelines.

Mary Elizabeth

January 16th, 2013
6:26 pm

Dr. Monica Henson, 3:12 pm

I was, of course, paraphrasing Maureen Downey’s remarks and not stating her words verbatim, as I did not have an transcript of the actual broadcast before me as I was typing this a.m. As I recall, Maureen Downey mentioned that if a charter school releases a student because of bad behavior, that same student can enroll in a school in the district school nearby because that student must be served in that Georgia must educate all of its students. I do not believe Ms. Downey actually used the words “expel” or “release,” but she did use a word of similar meaning.

I recall from my years of teaching that students, who might be permanently expelled from one public school district, could thereafter enroll in another public school district within the state, in that they would need to continue to be educated in Georgia.

For you to state, “Please stop posting rank misinformation as though it is in fact truth, M.E.,” does not speak well for your caliber, in my opinion, Dr. Henson. With that statement you have made a public negative generality about me that carried no details or examples with it, with which I might refute your negative assertion.

I have stated accurately Maureen Downey’s thoughts which she expressed on last night’s broadcast of “Prime Time Lawmakers,” relative to students being able to be released from public charter schools for poor conduct and, thereafter, being able to be enrolled in their local traditional public school because traditional public school must serve all of Georgia’s students (although I cannot recall the specific word which Ms. Downey used which carried the connotation of “released” or “expelled.”)

Dr. Monica Henson

January 16th, 2013
6:27 pm

“Fewer than 50% of state charter school LAWS…”

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

January 16th, 2013
7:45 pm

@Dr. Henson, “Fewer than 50% of state charter school LAWS…”

That you for calling that to my attention.

However, I still wonder what constitutes “unparalleled” success – as measured by what? A majority of the studies I have read concluded that the differences between charter school academic success and traditional school success is not very clear cut. Traditional elementary schools appear to do better than their charter counterparts, whereas charter schools show more success at the high school level. Inner city charter schools often seem to have better results than inner city traditional schools. On the other hand, charters in more affluent areas tend to fare worse than their traditional counterparts. Success also varies by location, state, and structure. There is no clear “winner” between charter schools and traditional schools, despite the hype.

And considering some of the advantages charters often have over traditional schools, I would expect more if they are having such “unparalleled” success.

Astropig

January 16th, 2013
10:15 pm

“Astropig: “I can remember when it was not a right to homeschool (as it is now in all states-opposed by teachers unions) ”

Really? I taught in a few union states, and in none of them was homeschooling not a right. Nor was it opposed by any district policy that I encountered. In fact, we had school liaison officers who helped home schoolers follow state guidelines.”

Really- yep,really….But don’t just take my word for it-

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21568763-home-schooling-growing-ever-faster-keep-it-family?zid=316&ah=2f6fb672faf113fdd3b11cd1b1bf8a77

Charter Schools are round two in the ongoing battle between the dysfunctional and corrupt (http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/dekalb-school-official-i-am-not-a-plagiarist/nTycg/)

monopoly system that exists today. I say today because the traditional school model is running out of tomorrows.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 16th, 2013
11:44 pm

“I recall from my years of teaching that students, who might be permanently expelled from one public school district, could thereafter enroll in another public school district within the state, in that they would need to continue to be educated in Georgia.”

Mary Elizabeth, this is an inaccuracy. State law provides that public schools (district or charter) are NOT required to enroll students who have been expelled from another public school. This is why the State Board of Education and state statutes require that due process of law be exercised before an expulsion can occur–it spells the end of a student’s public school “entitlement.”

Unless a district can prove that a student was in fact expelled previously, if the student can prove age and residency, then the ZIP code district is obligated to enroll the student. Same for a charter, as long as the student lives in the attendance zone approved for the charter.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 16th, 2013
11:46 pm

Districts and charters have the OPTION to decide to accept a student who has previously been expelled from another public school. However, they are under no obligation to do so. At my charter high school, we have accepted all applicants who have previously been expelled. With our online program, we can serve students who might pose a risk to others in a brick and mortar environment.

Mary Elizabeth

January 16th, 2013
11:59 pm

POSTED FOR CLARIFICATION:

At 3:12 pm, Dr. Monica Henson wrote: “Mary Elizabeth posted about Maureen that ‘[s]he further mentioned that traditional public schools cannot simply expel students permanently who do not meet given standards (in conduct, grades, etc.), as can charter schools, because traditional public schools are required, by law, to educate all of Georgia’s children.’ ”

I did post that statement. However, Dr. Henson, in reading that statement, perceived that I had intended the narrow connotation of the phrase “traditional public schools,” as if I had been referring to individual public schools or individual school districts, instead of perceiving that phrase in the broader meaning that I had intended, which was that Georgia’s traditional public schools, as a whole, cannot expel students permanently.

At 6:26 pm I wrote: “I recall from my years of teaching that students, who might be permanently expelled from one public school district, could thereafter enroll in another public school district within the state, in that they would need to continue to be educated (by law) in Georgia.”

I posted that example at 6:26 pm to illustrate that broader connotation of the phrase “traditional public schools” that I had intended in my 11:50 am post.

I can understand how my original statement could be ambiguous, to readers, in my use of the phrase “traditional public schools.” I hope that I have clarified that ambiguity through this post.

Mary Elizabeth

January 17th, 2013
12:14 am

Dr. Henson, our posts crossed. I was working on my 11:59 pm post, as you were posting your 11:44 pm and 11:46 posts. In the course of my 35 year educational career, many students who had been permanently expelled from one traditional school system were, thereafter, enrolled in another school district in Georgia. That was common practice.

From the “Prime Time Lawmakers” broadcast last evening, it was further mentioned on that panel that one of the members of the House or Senate Education Committee (in Georgia’s Legislature) wanted to work on changing the state traditional public schools in Georgia so that traditional public schools had the same freedom to “kick out” (for lack of the precise vocabulary word used) students from their enrollment when behavior warranted it, as public charter schools presently have. It was further mentioned that that goal would be difficult to accomplish because the traditional public schools must educate all of the students in Georgia, unlike public charter schools. I will leave it at that.

Mary Elizabeth

January 17th, 2013
12:45 am

I must not leave before stating (as I believe was the thinking on the panel discussion last evening) that Georgia’s citizens will not be well-served by having educators create a situation in which hundreds, or even thousands, of traditional public school students might be permanently expelled from Georgia’s schools, and are left “on the streets,” if you will. Expelling permanently more students from Georgia’s traditional public schools would not be a positive, nor productive, resolution to disciplinary problems for Georgia’s overall social welfare and Georgia’s economic well-being.

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

January 17th, 2013
6:29 am

@Astropig “Really- yep,really….But don’t just take my word for it-”

I see that homeschooling was illegal 30 years ago (which is back in a time I thought most people considered schools to be doing a good job, BTW) but that still doesn’t explain you comment about unions opposing homeschooling. Like I said, in my union states, there never was any discussion about opposing homeschooling – at least none that ever affected us at the district levels.

Mary Elizabeth

January 17th, 2013
7:45 am

As I have pointed out on this blog previously, one of the reasons for disciplinary problems in schools is that some students are so far behind their peers academically in their grade-level course instruction that they are being taught on their “Frustration” levels, and not correctly on their specific “Instructional” levels. Being behind other students academically, and the frustration that that fosters, is one reason some students “act out” in school, and later drop out of school. (Moreover, as has been pointed out on this blog previously, 90% of Georgia’s prisoners are high school drop-outs.) See link, below, for some help regarding this.

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/about-education-essay-4-sq3r-expanded-for-reluctant-readers/

Private Citizen

January 17th, 2013
8:10 am

It would be useful to have an idea of how many K12 student there are in Georgia, and what are the varieties of schooling / method they attend, and percentages of each. For example, types of schools:

- General public government schoolme school
- membership based public government academy school
- home school
- charter school
- you-write-the-check private school

That’s five types of schools. Is there anywhere that publishes such information, how many K12 stuents in Georgia and the types of schools / percentages of how they do it, which “pathway,” school or approach?

Private Citizen

January 17th, 2013
8:12 am

I’m sitting here typing with the sun blindingly blasting my through a window, on a laptop with a failed screen connected to an outside monitor, and with a shot uneven keyboard. It’s comical, but if you see some typos… that may have something to do with it. Time for the periodic IT “rebuild,” like replacing athletic shoes.

Private Citizen

January 17th, 2013
10:37 am

Hey I learned something new. It’s really no big deal to replace the backlight in a laptop LCD (when the screen fails). It’s a light bulb tube positioned at the bottom of the screen, like a small fluorescent light. ‘Don’t even have to remove the screen from the laptop, just take the bezel off the screen, like opening the hood of a car. Cost for the part, about $10. Viola.

Another topic, every seen a school house and no one maintains the physical condition of the computers, each one of them not ever opened up and completely full of dust and dirt due to the fan pulling air n through there and the computer acts like a filter trap? Can’t tell you how many times I’ve taking the cover off of a school computer and blown out the dirt – a lot of it – with compressed air. Goes with cleaning up a classroom. I’ve not heard of anyone else doing this, they just use them like driving a car without changing the oil, waiting on Jesus to come, for the new computers to arrive.

Private Citizen

January 17th, 2013
10:40 am

We (I?) really need to make an online document bank to provide context to these threaded discussions.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 17th, 2013
10:22 pm

M.E. posted, “[i]n the course of my 35 year educational career, many students who had been permanently expelled from one traditional school system were, thereafter, enrolled in another school district in Georgia. That was common practice.

Certainly, and I’ve observed the same in my 25-year career spanning five different states :) . The point is, however, that districts are not legally obligated to enroll students who have been permanently expelled from another school system, and never have been.

“…[I]t was further mentioned on that panel that one of the members of the House or Senate Education Committee (in Georgia’s Legislature) wanted to work on changing the state traditional public schools in Georgia so that traditional public schools had the same freedom to ‘kick out’ (for lack of the precise vocabulary word used) students from their enrollment when behavior warranted it, as public charter schools presently have. It was further mentioned that that goal would be difficult to accomplish because the traditional public schools must educate all of the students in Georgia, unlike public charter schools.”

Just because a legislator says something, doesn’t make it true. :)

District public schools are free to tighten up (or loosen up) their codes of conducts, just as charter schools do, and legislation isn’t needed to grant them that freedom. They already have it, and they have always had it, in the O.C.G.A. statutes. All they need to do is revise their codes of conduct, ensure that they are within the law by outlining due process, and have their Boards of Education approve them. Simple as that.

Mary Elizabeth

January 18th, 2013
1:24 am

@ Dr. Monica Henson, 10:22 pm

“The point is, however, that districts are not legally obligated to enroll students who have been permanently expelled from another school system, and never have been.”
—————————————————————————–

You are correct on this point.
====================================================

“Just because a legislator says something, doesn’t make it true.”
—————————————————————————–

You are missing my greater reason for having mentioned the legislator’s attitude toward possibly establishing educational policy which would allow, or at least encourage, school districts to dismiss more students from their district’s enrollment for disciplinary reasons. The legislator mentioned by Maureen Downey on “Prime Time Lawmakers” is not any legislator; he is a formidable legislative leader on the House Education Committee. In mentioning this legislative leader’s statement, I was not trying to prove a legalistic point to you. I believe that this legislative leader’s educational ideas were mentioned on “Prime Time Lawmakers” in order to inform the public that he has given serious thought toward the possibility of establishing a means to encourage school districts to be more stringent in dismissing students for disciplinary reasons (as have some charter schools).

The Constitutional Amendment regarding the state Charter School Commission began as a House Resolution, generated from leading members of the House Education Committee. As you well know, there is power within that Educational Committee regarding bills that may be passed which, subsequently, could effect educational programs and policies throughout the state.

As I had written in my 12:45 am post last evening, “Expelling permanently more students from Georgia’s traditional public schools would not be a positive, nor productive, resolution to disciplinary problems for Georgia’s overall social welfare and Georgia’s economic well-being.” I further pointed out that “(b)eing behind other students academically, and the frustration that that fosters, is one reason some students ‘act out’ in school, and later drop out of school.” I also stated that “90% of Georgia’s prisoners are high school drop-outs.”

I do not post here to “win” points in educational arguments. I post in order to make a positive impact, educationally, for the students, parents, teachers, administrators, and legislators in Georgia. That is, also, why I have developed educational essays on my personal blog, which I have posted on this blog and on other blogs.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 18th, 2013
4:42 pm

Mary Elizabeth posted, “I believe that this legislative leader’s educational ideas were mentioned on ‘Prime Time Lawmakers’ in order to inform the public that he has given serious thought toward the possibility of establishing a means to encourage school districts to be more stringent in dismissing students for disciplinary reasons (as have some charter schools).”

This effect, of looking at the situation and making change based on what charter schools are doing, is the essence of what competition and choice provide in the public school marketplace–spurring traditional public school districts to make changes in order to compete, because they see that the customers like what they are seeing in charter schools, private schools, etc.

I am in complete agreement with you that expelling more students from district public schools is a negative outcome. However, until there are some dramatic shifts and changes in the way we “do school,” there will always be a substantial number of students who do not fit in and will not be successful in the traditional environment. Districts must either (1) create more choices and options within the current model or (2) work with schools like mine to facilitate transfers or (3) watch their dropout rates continue to climb. If a charter school like mine can educate those students and do it well, then why would any district not seek us out and work with us to transfer their “square pegs”? A surprising number of them are doing just that. There are still some hard-core holdouts who discourage students from transferring, but many, many districts are reaching out to us and asking how can they expedite the transfer process so that students don’t drop out.

Rather than expelling more “troublemakers,” and I understand that some students are indeed creating trouble, why don’t we look at the traditional environment and determine how best to make adjustments, offer choices, and otherwise do some tailoring and adjusting so that we don’t have 1/3 of our children quitting high school in this country before they graduate? That’s the real issue–what’s wrong with the environment we provide for children that so many of them are not successful in it.

Mary Elizabeth

January 18th, 2013
6:27 pm

Dr. Monica Henson, 4:42 pm

“That’s the real issue–what’s wrong with the environment we provide for children that so many of them are not successful in it.”
======================================================

I have addressed this valid concern in my two posts on the most recent thread of this blog, entitled, “Teachers refuse to give test, but aren’t there some tests that are worth giving?”

My first post was at 3:21 pm today on that thread, and the second was at 5:01 pm. I especially hope that readers will read my 5:01 pm post in which I have given suggestions as to how traditional public schools can better facilitate all students so that 1/3 of the students will not end up quitting high school before they graduate.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 18th, 2013
9:17 pm

Good to find common ground on this. I’m not posting to score debate points either–it’s important to me in my work that information posted about charter schools is accurate. There are a lot of misconceptions out there, and this blog is a good forum for getting the truth out.