Archive for the ‘Charter schools’ Category

Charter school amendment debate far from over: Next up in the Georgia Legislature, redefining “public” schools.

Here is a guest column by Lee Raudonis, former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party. He also worked for Paul Coverdell in the Georgia Senate, state GOP and U.S. Peace Corps. A former private school teacher, Raudonis is now a communications consultant and writer whose clients include political candidates, public officials and the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. 

By Lee Raudonis

Be forewarned: the recent referendum on Constitutional Amendment 1 related to state-approved charter schools is being viewed by its authors and key supporters as much more than an endorsement for increasing the number of charter schools and — they have promised us — improving academic achievement. They view it as an endorsement for drastically altering public education as most Americans define it.

To better understand what I mean, think about the terms “public housing,” “public hospital,” and “public school.” For most people, the term “public …

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Georgia: Putting all our eggs and hopes in charter school basket

The battle in Georgia to win passage of a controversial charter school amendment turned out to be costly, divisive and polarizing.

Many might also argue it was unnecessary, given that charter schools were never in jeopardy and more continue to open every year in Georgia.

The state Board of Education already had the ability to approve them, and local school boards, despite the characterization that most were hostile toward charters, authorized nine out of 10 of the existing 108 charter schools now operating in Georgia.

It’s a futile exercise now to question the rationale for the amendment, which, in its most practical application, accords the state Legislature the power to appoint a commission that can approve and fund charter schools over the objections of local boards of education.

The benign 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?”— …

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How do we entice great teachers to move to remote rural schools?

How do we get great teachers to move to rural areas? (Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com)

How do we get great teachers to move to rural areas? (Johnny Crawford, jcrawford@ajc.com)

In the Sunday paper today, the AJC takes a look at rural schools in a well researched package

AJC reporter Jaime Sarrio spent time in Wilcox County and other rural school districts interviewing educators, officials and parents. She also extensively researched the subject, reviewing studies by state government and nonprofit experts. AJC data specialist Kelly Guckian gathered extensive data on test scores, remedial education and other measures of college readiness, then analyzed thousands of records to demonstrate the disparity between rural and non-rural schools. Sarrio used that analysis in reporting this story.

Among their discoveries:  In 2010, 23 percent of Georgia’s rural students needed remedial courses, compared to 19.9 percent of non-rural students. Those figures were more pronounced in extremely rural districts, where 30 percent needed remedial courses …

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Chartering a new future for schools through a local focus

Adam Emerson is the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s school choice czar, directing the Institute’s policy program on parental choice and editing the Choice Words blog. This piece ran on the AJC print education page Monday. It originally appeared in slightly longer form on the Choice Words blog, which you can check out here.

By Adam Emerson

Charter school supporters can claim victory in two high-profile ballot initiatives, Georgia and Washington, but each state has a different story to tell — and lessons to teach.

In what may arguably be defined as a landslide, 59 percent of Georgia voters empowered the state to create an independent commission to authorize charter schools. But that margin of victory doesn’t even tell the whole story.

Consider Gwinnett County, the state’s largest school district, which has allowed only three charter schools within its boundaries and which filed the original lawsuit that ultimately killed Georgia’s previous independent authorizer, hence the …

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Georgia Cyber Academy responds to state board special ed concerns: DOE didn’t provide assistance or clarity

In light of the state board of education concerns about Georgia Cyber Academy, I asked the director of the online charter school to make a statement.

Here is a response from head of school Matt Arkin:

GCA has been committed to working collaboratively with the Department of Education since our launch in 2007. When, in early 2012 Department of Education staff came to us with concerns regarding the growth of our Special Education population, GCA met with DOE staff, provided all requested information in a timely manner, and cooperated fully in a completely transparent manner.

When the DOE identified a list of issues to be addressed in May, GCA moved swiftly to address every issue identified in a comprehensive manner (including the addition of over 25 new special education teachers and support staff), and met every deadline that was identified by the DOE without delay.

GCA has met every deadline and addressed every issue identified by the DOE to date, as Lynda White, the …

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Georgia Cyber Academy: Is virtual charter ignoring real problems with special ed services?

The last time we discussed Georgia Cyber Academy was in response to parent comments about their significant roles as academic coaches under the online school’s instructional model.

Now, it is the state board of education discussing the state’s first online school, suggesting it will pull its charter if it does not improve services for students with disabilities.

Georgia Cyber Academy is part of K12 Inc., a for-profit company that is the nation’s largest virtual school provider with online public schools in 30 states.

The charter school’s parent company has been garnering headlines lately, many of which have not been flattering, including a scathing investigation by The New York Times.

A report released this summer by the National Education Policy Center found that less than 28 percent of K12-run schools were meeting Adequate Yearly Progress during the 2010-11 school year, compared with 52 percent of brick-and-mortar schools nationwide. Georgia Cyber also did not make AYP in …

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In a close election, Washington voters approve first charter schools

It has taken nearly a week to tally votes, but citizens in the state of Washington appear to have approved charter schools by a narrow margin. (The state of Washington allows mail-in ballots to be postmarked through election day and then apparently counts them very carefully and slowly.)

The measure won 50.8 percent of the 90 percent of votes counted thus far.

Initiative 1240 will permit up to 40 charter schools over the next five years in the state. There are now 42 states that allow charter schools.

According to the Seattle Times: (This is an excerpt. Please read entire piece before commenting.)

Opponents have not conceded, saying they will wait until all votes are counted. To prevail, they would need about 57 percent of the remaining 300,000 votes to go their way. Roughly 90 percent of ballots already have been tallied.

Supporters hope the first charter schools will open as early as next fall, although that might be optimistic. The new state commission that will review …

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If you want to see the two Georgias, look at map of where charter school amendment passed and failed

Wow. If you want to see the two Georgias in stark relief, take a look at the AJC map on which counties supported and which opposed the charter schools amendment. The amendment passed 58 percent to 42.

(Click on the charter amendment tab on top of the map.)

The amendment had its greatest support in metro areas. It had its least support in rural counties and south Georgia.  All along, rural legislators from both parties maintained that this was a metro battle, and the map shows they weren’t far off.

The amendment, which puts the state back in the business of approving and funding charter schools over the objections of local school boards, will have its greatest impact on metro areas where charter school companies are far more likely to set up shop.

The amendment won the support of 2.1 million Georgia voters. It was opposed by 1.5 million.

Sixty percent or more of voters endorsed the amendment in Fulton, Fayette, Gwinnett, Henry, Clayton, Forsyth, DeKalb, Cobb, Spalding, Walton, …

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Incumbents appear safe in Gwinnett, Clayton. So, are voters happy with direction of their schools?

The results of school board board elections show incumbents retaining their seats in Gwinnett and Clayton, suggesting that voters are not unhappy with the direction of their schools.

Or at least not unhappy enough to vote in change.

On the other hand, voters approved the controversial charter school amendment, which gives the state more power to get involved in local education decisions.

Clayton offers an interesting situation. In July,  dissatisfied Clayton residents voted out two incumbent county commissioners and the sheriff. So, you can’t argue that Clayton voters aren’t paying attention or willing to act. They have proven they will oust incumbents, who often retain their posts through Georgia due to voter inertia.

But Clayton school board members appear to be holding onto their seats based on current vote counts. Yet, the district is under a warning from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools that its accreditation is being jeopardized by board feuding.

So, are …

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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 …

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