Archive for the ‘Legislature’ Category

Challenge is not only opening good charter schools, but closing bad ones. A new national discussion begins.

Mike Ritter/AJC

Mike Ritter/AJC

While Georgia seeks ways to open more high-performing charter schools, other parts of the country are engaging in a different challenge: How to close under-performing ones.

The House passed a parent trigger bill that would have allowed parents in even top-rated schools to petition their school boards to convert their school to a charter school. (The bill stalled late last week in the state Senate but could be attached to another bill and come up again.) The recently resurrected Charter Schools Commission is beginning to consider applications for new charters.

Charter schools are public schools that operate under individualized contracts that award them more freedom and flexibility in exchange for a pledge of higher student achievement. To expand parental choice, many states, including Georgia, have been eager to open charters, but less diligent in closing them when the promised achievement doesn’t materialize.

In his study, “Improving Charter School …

Continue reading Challenge is not only opening good charter schools, but closing bad ones. A new national discussion begins. »

DeKalb’s Eugene Walker intends to pass hat to pay for continued legal fight over school board suspension

With the unanimous vote of the newly reconstituted DeKalb school board this week, any suspended board members who want to fight their ouster were set adrift. They now have to front their own legal costs in court.

Former school board chair Eugene Walker intends to do just that.

But he is seeking donations to defray his legal battle. In a post on this blog about the importance of challenging the state law, Walker explained, “If this unconstitutional act is to stand, then what is next? It will only be a matter of time before another constitutional right will be taken away by another wayward and self-perpetuating politico under the guise of the greater good. Minorities should not feel secure if contrived allegations from anonymous sources with hidden agendas can go to private agencies and to have their civil rights stolen away. This cannot and shall not be allowed to stand.”

Ronald Carlson, a professor emeritus at the University of Georgia law school, told the AJC’s Ty …

Continue reading DeKalb’s Eugene Walker intends to pass hat to pay for continued legal fight over school board suspension »

The top HOPE Scholarships: Are the best and the brightest in Fulton and Gwinnett? Is rural Georgia shortchanged?

artchangeThe Georgia Senate debated the qualifications to become a Zell Miller scholar this afternoon while discussing House Bill 131, which accords high school students who take dual enrollment college classes the same .5 boost in their final grade that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate students now earn.

Ultimately, the Senate approved the grade boost for dual enrollment, but voted 33-15 against against an amendment  to change how the Zell Miller Scholarship is calculated so that more rural Georgia students would qualify.

Only one group of Georgia college students — those who graduated high school with a 3.7 or higher GPA  and scored at least 1200 on the math and reading portions of the SAT test or a 26 on the ACT –   now earn full tuition under the changes made to the lottery-funded HOPE Scholarship. These students are known as Zell Miller Scholars. Zell Miller is also extended to all high school valedictorians and salutatorians.

State Sen. Jason Carter, …

Continue reading The top HOPE Scholarships: Are the best and the brightest in Fulton and Gwinnett? Is rural Georgia shortchanged? »

Parent trigger bill stalls in Senate: The trigger wasn’t pulled but the bill was.

Earlier this session, folks in the Georgia Senate told me that the parent trigger bill was unlikely to win passage. I thought they were wrong when the bill flew through the House but today’s events suggest my sources were right.

House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, withdrew his parent-trigger charter school legislation amid doubts by his GOP Senate colleagues.

Seven states have enacted parent trigger laws; Georgia was among three state considering them. House Bill 123 would have allowed a majority of the parents or a majority of the faculty and instructional staff  to petition for a complete overhaul of the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model.

The Georgia bill had three unique aspects. It gave the final say-so to local boards of education. It permitted teachers in failing schools to also petition for a management overhaul. And it allowed parents in high achieving schools to petition to turn their schools into charter …

Continue reading Parent trigger bill stalls in Senate: The trigger wasn’t pulled but the bill was. »

Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed?

A Senate committee takes up the parent trigger bill today.

Originally, House Bill 123 allowed a majority of the parents or teachers in a failing school to petition the school board for a complete overhaul of a the school by converting to charter school status or another turnaround model. The bill specifies that the parents can remove school personnel, including the principal, or mandate the complete reconstitution of the school. In a feature unique to the Georgia bill, even parents of high performing schools can apply for their schools to convert to a charter school.

But House Bill 123 underwent dramatic change in its move from House passage to Senate consideration. The Senate eliminated any mention of teachers in failing schools being able to petition for a management overhaul. The Senate version limits that power to parents.

I asked the bill’s sponsor, House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, for a comment.

“We’ll see what the Senate committee does with my bill.  …

Continue reading Parent trigger on agenda today. Is the bill fatally flawed? »

Clean sweep of teachers in Senate parent trigger bill

Take a look at this Google doc of the newly revised Parent Empowerment bill, notable for the clean sweep of any mention of teachers or educators. See my blog yesterday on the odd changes to this bill.

Sponsored by House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, the bill initially had been called the Parent and Educator Empowerment bill, but you can’t find the words “teacher” or “educator” any longer. (I have sent Lindsey a note for comment, but have not heard from him.)

In its original form, House Bill 123 allowed a majority of teachers and parents in a low-performing school to petition to the school board for new management of their schools.

The bill, which passed the House, was discussed in a Senate subcommittee today. However, the subcommittee could not vote the bill out as it lacked a quorum at the time.

State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, explained why he excised teachers from the bill. He noted that teachers are not part of the parent trigger laws in the seven states …

Continue reading Clean sweep of teachers in Senate parent trigger bill »

President of Agnes Scott and college trustee: Cutting aid to private college students will cost more than it saves

Here is a guest column on the planned cut to tuition assistance given by the state to Georgia students who attend private in-state colleges. The authors are Beth Holder, a trustee and alumna of Agnes Scott College, and Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott.

According to the AJC:

House budget writers reduced the  Tuition Equalization Grant — money paid to all private college students — from $700 to $500. The subsidy program has been around for about 40 years and is meant to help private college students pay tuition.

The $6 million saved by reducing the grant would be plowed into the Technical College System of Georgia. Deal proposed a $24 million cut in technical college funding because of an enrollment drop at the schools. Technical colleges, like University System of Georgia schools, are funded largely based on enrollment.

The cut has alarmed private colleges, which contend that the money is often a factor in a student’s ability to enroll.

By Beth Holder and …

Continue reading President of Agnes Scott and college trustee: Cutting aid to private college students will cost more than it saves »

Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way.

downeyart0726 (Medium)A Senate subcommittee takes up the parent trigger bill this morning at 8.

As the Parent and Educator Empowerment bill moved from the House to the Senate, one piece apparently was lost in the journey: Teacher power.

According to the legislative update posted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators:

The official name of HB 123, formerly called the “Parent and Educator Empowerment Act” has been changed in a Senate substitute version to the “Parent Empowerment Act.”

HB 123 allows parents to vote to convert their school to charter status. An important portion of the bill which allows teachers to petition their school board to adopt a school turnaround model has been amended in the new substitute version to exclude teachers.

Since the bill has yet to be heard in subcommittee, the reasoning behind the changes is unclear. PAGE has deep concerns about the alterations. Our longstanding position regarding school turnaround and charter schools is that parents, students, and …

Continue reading Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way. »

Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit

Adam Emerson is the director of the program on parental choice at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank that recently released “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?”

Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson

In this piece, Emerson urges more transparency in how Georgia’s controversial private school scholarship tax credit program works. In what he calls a “grand bargain,” Emerson proposes, “More transparency in exchange for more (or more generous) scholarships.”

By Adam Emerson

The Georgia Senate recently took an incremental step toward responsible and accountable private school choice by unanimously passing a bill that shines more sunlight upon the Peach State’s embattled tax credit scholarship program. If the House concurs, then parents and taxpayers will have more information about the students and the scholarship groups that participate.

But Senate Bill 243 doesn’t go far enough. Yes, it requires the nonprofit groups that administer the scholarships to …

Continue reading Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit »

DeKalb school board drama distilled down to two questions for state Supreme Court, which has six months to answer

The controversy surrounding Gov. Nathan Deal’s removal of six DeKalb Board of Education members has been distilled down to two constitutional questions and presented to the  state Supreme Court.

I hate to think of the chaos if the state’s highest court, which has six months to rule, invalidates the governor’s appointment of six new members.

The court sent out this notice today:

The DeKalb County school board case, in which many media have expressed an interest, has just been docketed in our court. Please see the attached order certifying the questions the federal judge is asking this court to answer.

This case will be handled by the Supreme Court of Georgia like any other. The court has up to two court terms from the time it’s filed here – which is about six months – to make a decision. If the parties request oral argument, this Court will hear the case, as opposed to considering the case based purely on the briefs.

The brief from the “appellant” – the DeKalb County …

Continue reading DeKalb school board drama distilled down to two questions for state Supreme Court, which has six months to answer »