The bait-and-switch tactic driving Georgia’s education debate

The school-choice and voucher movement has long tried to sell itself to the public as a public-spirited crusade to allow low-income, often minority and inner-city students to escape bad public schools.

However, critics of the movement have long suspected that it was something else entirely. They have argued that the movement was actually an ill-disguised scam to divert public taxpayer money to private schools that serve a middle-class clientele, with the plight of poor students being used as a cynical cover.

Sadly, there is overwhelming evidence that in Georgia, the second interpretation is the correct interpretation.

The biggest success of the school-choice movement in Georgia came in 2008, when the state Legislature passed a “scholarship program” supposedly intended to help lower-income students attend private schools. Under the law, individuals and corporations who donate to a “student scholarship organization” can receive a dollar-for-dollar credit against their state taxes. In other words, if you donate $2,000 to a SSO, you can deduct $2,000 directly from your Georgia tax bill.

The SSO is then supposed to use those contributions to help defray tuition for low-income students. But in most cases, that’s not how it works. Instead, affluent families and relatives of private-school students are donating money under the guise that it will be used for “scholarships,” and are getting a dollar-for-dollar tax reduction on that donation. They then collect the scholarship that they funded in the form of lower tuition. It operates as a direct taxpayer subsidy of private schools.

For example, today’s New York Times reports on how the Georgia law was explained to parents attending a meeting last year at Gwinnett Christian Academy:

“A very small percentage of that money will be set aside for a needs-based scholarship fund,” Wyatt Bozeman, an administrator at the school near Atlanta, said during an informational session. “The rest of the money will be channeled to the family that raised it.”

A handout circulated at the meeting instructed families to donate, qualify for a tax credit and then apply for a scholarship for their own children, many of whom were already attending the school.

“If a student has friends, relatives or even corporations that pay Georgia income tax, all of those people can make a donation to that child’s school,” added an official with a scholarship group working with the school.

The exchange at Gwinnett Christian Academy, a recording of which was obtained by The New York Times, is just one example of how scholarship programs have been twisted to benefit private schools at the expense of the neediest children….

Most of the private schools are religious. Nearly a quarter of the participating schools in Georgia require families to make a profession of religious faith, according to their Web sites. Many of those schools adhere to a fundamentalist brand of Christianity. A commonly used sixth-grade science text retells the creation story contained in Genesis, omitting any other explanation. An economics book used in some high schools holds that the Antichrist — a world ruler predicted in the New Testament — will one day control what is bought and sold.

Is this an example of a well-intended law that has unfortunately gone awry? No, it is not. Despite what they have claimed publicly, it is a law that is working precisely as its supporters intended. Furthermore, in funneling state tax dollars to private and often religious-based institutions, it is in violation of the Georgia constitution, which states that “no money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church, sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.”

The charge that the law is being used precisely as intended may seem harsh, but the comparison with a similar program in neighboring Florida is telling. In Florida, only students from families that are at or below 185 percent of the poverty line may receive scholarships. Georgia law contains no income limit on recipients.

Florida law requires that private schools receiving significant tax-derived scholarship money report the performance of its students on standardized tests. Georgia law has no such requirement, and there is no accountability for the education that state tax dollars are providing.

Florida also requires that private schools benefiting from such programs release demographic information about students receiving the scholarships. Georgia schools are not required to collect or report such data.

These and other problems with the Georgia law are laid out in a well-researched, comprehensive report by the Atlanta-based Southern Education Foundation. Initially, the SEF was intrigued by the new law, which seemed to mesh nicely with its own mission of supporting “creative solutions to ensure fairness and excellence in education for low-income students from preschool through higher education.”

However, as SEF officials looked more closely at the law and how it operates, they discovered that it was not working at all as its proponents had claimed:

“(The program) lacks transparency regarding contributors, beneficiaries, and the criteria by which scholarships are awarded or even the size and number of scholarships awarded. Nor do the schools involved appear to be subject to any accountability regarding the academic standards in force or academic outcomes of their students. There are no income limits for eligibility and, in the absence of a mandate to report demographic information on participating students, it is difficult to see how the program is meeting its stated policy objective of increasing the affordability of private schools for low income families.”

In fact, rather than serve as a lifeline for poor minority students seeking to escape bad public schools, the SEF report found that “it appears from available sources that the Georgia tax credit scholarships have done little more than support white students to attend schools that already have extreme racial isolation.”

The lack of accountability consciously built into the bill has had other consequences as well. For example, the AJC reported earlier this year that three people running a private scholarship fund in Cumming are being paid $175,600 each to administer the money flowing through that supposedly charitable organization. Those salaries are in effect being paid with taxpayers’ money that is flowing through those organizations with little or no state oversight, and administrators at other poorly regulated SSOs are also collecting six-figure incomes.

Information about the salaries was obtained through federal tax records, not through state data. In fact, state legislators have made it a criminal offense for anyone to release a whole range of financial and tax data regarding the state scholarship program, the organizations that administer them or the schools that receive the money.

The cynicism and deception involved in passing and implementing the Georgia scholarship program is impressive. It also serves as a warning sign regarding a proposed constitutional amendment that will go before the voters in November that would strip local school districts of the power to control the creation of charter schools.

The proposed amendment is being pushed by the same groups and politicians who pushed the scholarship legislation, using similar arguments about trying to help those trapped in underperforming schools. Their track record suggests that their concern is insincere, and that their larger goal is to undermine public education by diverting public dollars to finance schools pursuing a private agenda.

– Jay Bookman

488 comments Add your comment

Finn McCool (The System Isn't Broken; It's Fixed ~ from an Occupy sign)

May 22nd, 2012
10:32 am

Crafty bahstads aren’t these folks.

Maximum

May 22nd, 2012
10:33 am

Ignorance is bliss for contemporary Republicans. Good luck preparing the next generation for productive adult lives, when being indoctrinated by religious zealots with little regard for reality.

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2012
10:35 am

Is this an example of a well-intended law that has unfortunately gone awry? No, it is not.

Of course not. It reeked of dogsh-t from the beginning, and anyone familiar with the thieving, lying, theocratic scum behind it knew how it would be used.

Thanks for shedding some light on this.

(And I’ll enjoy watching said theocrats come here and try to explain how you’re so very wrong.)

Peter

May 22nd, 2012
10:35 am

Kind of like the FaceBook IPO……..

Joe Hussein Mama

May 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — parents already HAVE the right to choose schools for their kids. They can move to get into their preferred school’s district. They can shell out of pocket for private schools if they don’t like the local public schools. They can even home-school if they want.

But who’d have thought that the GOP, who are ostensibly OPPOSED to expanding entitlements, would be so all-fired FOR this one?

You’ve got school choice. Exercise it if you want, but get your hand out of my pocket and stop expecting me to subsidize your lifestyle choices.

(I love it when I can use conservative words against conservative arguments) :D

Rightwing Troll

May 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

But ahhhh… god forbid we allow innovation in the form of charters… Granted Dealio is now on board with charters, but other wingnut rubes are not…

That Black Guy

May 22nd, 2012
10:37 am

Not “first”, but completely pizzed.

I am sick of politicians using taxpayer money to line the pockets of themselves and their friends.

The author(s) of this bill should be in prison.

“In fact, state legislators have made it a criminal offense for anyone to release a whole range of financial and tax data regarding the state scholarship program, the organizations that administer them or the schools that receive the money.”

That’s bullsht! :evil:

Finn McCool (The System Isn't Broken; It's Fixed ~ from an Occupy sign)

May 22nd, 2012
10:37 am

An economics book used in some high schools holds that the Antichrist — a world ruler predicted in the New Testament — will one day control what is bought and sold.

Really? LOL. Muslims aren’t the enemy; kooky christian fundamentalists are the true enemy of the U.S.

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

May 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

Seems like Georgia Politicians have figured out that you can’t go back to slavery if EVERYBODY is educated…In order to get business here we definitely need a working poor (slave) class… for sure…

Rightwing Troll

May 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

As a parent of two in a private school, I too have recieved emails from that private school’s administration explaining how to game the system as well…

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

Jay

No surprises here. I wonder how many of your detractors who detest “those people” getting taxpayer money will have problems with this. I’m sure they’ll write it off as the taxpayer getting their money back or something all the while completely ignoring the fact that it’s completely illegal per the Georgia Constitution.

This will be fun reading all the deflection and stuff….

Jay

May 22nd, 2012
10:40 am

Right wing, with anonymity guaranteed, could you forward those emails to me at jbookman@ajc.com?

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
10:41 am

Get’em Jay!!!!!!!!!

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2012
10:42 am

three people running a private scholarship fund in Cumming are being paid $175,600 each

Lord, you know I’m not much of a prayin’ man, but please please please, let the money trail lead to rent boys and meth.

Joe Hussein Mama

May 22nd, 2012
10:42 am

Jay’s Spider-Sense has detected a story!

Mr. Holmes

May 22nd, 2012
10:43 am

Ignorance is bliss for contemporary Republicans.

Sadly, I’m not sure ignorance is the whole story. If such ignorance were dispelled, would we really expect voters aligned to the controlling party in Georgia to vote any differently? They would say there is nothing wrong with diverting their own tax dollars to ends that primarily benefit them, regardless of the chicanery employed to do it. They would say, if the left were in the majority, it would do the exact same thing in raising public funding for public schools.

And they’d be right. Except at least there are some controls on public education to keep them from becoming out & out indoctrination mills. The same cannot be said for the alternative.

Aquagirl

May 22nd, 2012
10:43 am

I wonder how many of your detractors who detest “those people” getting taxpayer money will have problems with this.

My rough estimate: between zero and none.

That Black Guy

May 22nd, 2012
10:44 am

Jay, is there any serious effort to repeal this constitutional abortion and shed light on the maggots that wrote and passed it?

This is the kind of krap that made me stop identifying as a repub (other krap made me stop identifying as a dem).

skipper

May 22nd, 2012
10:45 am

Jay,
No offense, but with the cluster (and it IS a cluster) that APS has become, people (not all, but many) who truly value an education are willing to do what is necessary to get their kids, $, etc. to another school. Its not just poor kids…..its the whole mentality in many cases where kids in much of the “bad” areas, or at least their parents, do not put a priority on education. Folks get screamed, yelled, and cussed at for saying or thinking this, but the numbers speak loudly!

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
10:46 am

Bro – Explain how it is illegal per the state constitution. And if so, why hasn’t suit been brought challenging it?

Stevie Ray...Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right here I am....

May 22nd, 2012
10:47 am

That Black Guy

May 22nd, 2012
10:47 am

BTW Jay, thanks for this story. I mean it. This needs to be on the minds of EVERY taxpayer.

Finn McCool (The System Isn't Broken; It's Fixed ~ from an Occupy sign)

May 22nd, 2012
10:49 am

I can easily see Conservatives rationalizing this.

Jay

May 22nd, 2012
10:49 am

Skipper, the folks driving this kind of legislation don’t have kids in APS and could care less about APS. They, like you, are simply trying to use that as an excuse to hide their real agenda of getting taxpayer dollars to support their own private schools.

Stevie Ray...Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right here I am....

May 22nd, 2012
10:51 am

JAY

I believe all these christian private schools are not for profits. Seems some rep not on Ralph Reeds extortion train would figure a means to threaten that status. These evangelicals make me ill with their political muster enjoyed with tax exempt money…we all know those corruptresentatives garnering cash and votes pushing a prehistoric philosophical agenda are not acting very christian like in their discrimination…

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2012
10:53 am

I can easily see Conservatives rationalizing this.

well, we already have the “but but APS is super evil!” card played.

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
10:54 am

(ir)Rational

Jay pointed it out in his essay, but here it is for you in black, white, and digital…

http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/GAConstitution.pdf

SECTION II.
ORIGIN AND STRUCTURE OF GOVERNMENT

[...]

Paragraph VII. Separation of church and state. No money shall ever be taken from the public treasury, directly or indirectly, in aid of any church , sect, cult, or religious denomination or of any sectarian institution.

Pg 4

Jm

May 22nd, 2012
10:54 am

This law is stupid

Mainly for punching more holes in a screwed up sate income tax code

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
10:54 am

Finn – I’m not going to try and rationalize it. And I’m not responsible for it (especially considering I’m not the one who voted for the law, lobbied for it, asked for it, wrote it or was in anyway responsible for it), therefore I don’t have to make excuses for it. Is it wrong? Probably. Is it legal today? Yes. Therefore, I take advantage of it for my nephew. My sister’s family can’t afford to put him in private school on their own, and the schools where they live are atrocious. I had already made up my mind to give what I could before the law was passed, and now I just do it this way to get the tax break. If they change the law, I’ll just go back to giving the money directly to my sister.

Katie

May 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

Oh yes, Rightwing Troll. PLEASE forward those emails to Mr. Bookman! I am so pleased when corruption is uncovered. But it seems that, all too often, the uncovering isn’t enough because it goes conspicuously unnoticed or ignored. Americans (particularly those on the far right) seem so interested in screaming their party lines and supporting the polarization of politics. But so few are willing to actually examine real issues. Fixing a broken system (or should I say “fixing a fixed system”) is hard work. Best of luck in continuing to uncover this perverse use of taxpayer funds, Mr. Bookman, and in contributing to a solution!

Butch Cassidy

May 22nd, 2012
10:56 am

skipper – “No offense, but with the cluster (and it IS a cluster) that APS has become, people (not all, but many) who truly value an education are willing to do what is necessary to get their kids, $, etc. to another school.”

What happened to all that talk about “self reliance” and those bootstraps I hear so much about?

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
10:56 am

Bro – I wasn’t looking at it from the fact that these were church schools. Mostly because the money doesn’t only go to church schools. In that case, yeah, it probably does smack at that. However, I’m paying into the scholarship and I’m getting a tax break for doing so. If I donate large sums of money to a church, I can write that off on my taxes also. How is that any different?

skipper

May 22nd, 2012
10:56 am

@JAY,
My kids are grown and gone now……so I have no agenda. I do, however, have college friends, etc. who DO have kids still in school that are fed up with the MESS THE EDUCATION SYSEM HAS BECOME! Throwing $ at it will not work. And by the way, many of the former “white-flight” academies in the rural areas have black students now. Some of their parents have had enough as well. Amazing; put kids where education and discipline as opposed to the “feel-good rule-of-the-day” rule, and things work out!

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
10:57 am

(ir)Rational

I’m guessing nobody’s brought suit because, up until this point, the only people who were privy to the scam were the ones benefitting from it. I don’t know of a single person who’s gonna file suit AGAINST their gravy train, but that’s just me.

——————————-

Aquagirl

Only time will tell if you’re right or not. ;)

Stevie Ray...Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right here I am....

May 22nd, 2012
10:58 am

Jay,

Got time on my hands today…who can I email to offer my severe dismay at this crap?

Rightwing Troll

May 22nd, 2012
10:58 am

To honest with you Jay, it was during the school last year and they were on a laptop that I decommissioned and wiped clean. I’ll look on my workstation at the shop and see if they were per chance downloaded there.

As a parent at a private school, you get used to the constant begging for money and tend to just skip past the constant stream of requests.

Also, I ignored them because the former Mrs. Troll worked at the private school in question and as such we were not eligible for the “scholarships”.

Stevie Ray...Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right here I am....

May 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

“cult” seems to be the key word in the phase offered above…that’s how these nutjobs carry on….

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

If I donate large sums of money to a church, I can write that off on my taxes also. How is that any different?

You don’t get a discounted price for going to church that matches your donation while collecting that very tax break for your donation.

can not trust Georgia politicians

May 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

If the Georgia lottery funds do not put a cap on the income as far as who is entitled to receive the HOPE scholarships, how can this state be trusted to distribute the funds to the schools that need the resources the most?

Aquagirl

May 22nd, 2012
10:59 am

I’m not going to try and rationalize it.

….followed immediately by rationalization.

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
11:00 am

irrational-careful with thinking a private church school is all that. More attention is paid to jeebus training than to science, math, etc. Your grandchild will probably need remedial classes when entering a real educational program, especially in science. And good colleges will pass her over for another student that went the traditional route.

For the most part, private schools are a waste of money.

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

May 22nd, 2012
11:00 am

Well, put me down as somebody willing to run a private scholarship fund for these kids. I could use the $175,600. I know it’s just chicken-feed to the folks that raise the kids, but it will sure lift me out of near-poverty. Heck, I can even see a doublewide in my future and maybe getting the heck out of Simpsons Trailer Park and into one of them Gated Communities.

Anyhow, this scheme sure is slick. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m all for getting kids out of the public schools full of Those People and into a private school that will teach them Genesis along with how the gullet works. They don’t get that in the public schools where they ain’t allowed to pray and they’re taught about how they come from monkeys and other heathen stuff. But this is slicker than any of old Nathan Deal’s schemes to get the guvmint to pay him to run a private business. I’m just in awe.

Anyhow, if any of you scholarship folks need help in running the scholarships, you can find me at Simpsons Trailer Park anytime after 5 every day except on those nights when I go to Billy Bob’s. You can’t miss it. It’s the 2nd trailer on the right after you come in. It’s got a old wore out washing machine in the front yard. Have a good day everybody and let’s give Private Education a big boost.

Jay

May 22nd, 2012
11:00 am

(ir)Rational, one difference is that the write-off of tax money is dollar for dollar. You in effect “donate” $2,000 to your own kid’s scholarship, and you get $2,000 taken off your tax bill.

Your contribution to charity is deducted from your taxable income, which means you only get a fraction of its value in lower taxes.

TaxPayer

May 22nd, 2012
11:01 am

Thank you, Jay and all others working to shed light on this and similar issues. I am most sincere when I say, May God Bless You for your efforts. And a pox on those that would orchestrate such scams.

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:01 am

My kids are grown and gone now……so I have no agenda. I do, however, have college friends, etc. who DO have kids still in school that are fed up with the MESS THE EDUCATION SYSEM HAS BECOME! Throwing $ at it will not work.

Neither does cutting $$ work. So what do you propose to do that will work, genius?

Butch Cassidy

May 22nd, 2012
11:01 am

Becky – “For the most part, private schools are a waste of money.”

Yes, but it gives the parents bragging rights while keeping their kids away from the riff raff. :)

Butch Cassidy

May 22nd, 2012
11:02 am

Jay – “You in effect “donate” $2,000 to your own kid’s scholarship, and you get $2,000 taken off your tax bill.”

Otherwise known as “money laundering” in most criminal circles.

Grasshopper

May 22nd, 2012
11:03 am

If the government run schools weren’t in such pi**-poor shape and so bad at doing their job this wouldn’t be an issue, would it?

Stevie Ray...Clowns to the left and Jokers to the right here I am....

May 22nd, 2012
11:03 am

Does anyone know what is the position of the Georgia Association of Educators on this issue?

JamVet

May 22nd, 2012
11:03 am

of getting taxpayer dollars to support their own private schools.

Man, am I sick of these GOP mooches and their welfare queen wives, their poor work ethic and their entitlement society mentality!

I bet most of them have big screen TVs, fancy cell phones and drive Cadillacs.

And all of them just begging for more of their beloved nanny state government to pay their way!

And as a godly true conservative, Newt noted, those lazy, shiftless kids of theirs should be put to work as public school janitors…

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
11:03 am

Butch Cassidy-not much bragging rights when junior can’t get into college.

godless heathen

May 22nd, 2012
11:04 am

And you can be assured that not one single Democratic voter is taking advantage of this scam.

Grasshopper

May 22nd, 2012
11:05 am

“And you can be assured that not one single Democratic voter is taking advantage of this scam.”

Oh no, they are all way too civic-minded to engage in such tom-foolery.

They BOTH suck

May 22nd, 2012
11:05 am

Jam

You are exactly right…….. It is welfare for the middle and upper middle class disguised as something else……….

Butch Cassidy

May 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

Grasshopper – “If the government run schools weren’t in such pi**-poor shape and so bad at doing their job this wouldn’t be an issue, would it?”

Judging from the comments I’ve seen on this board over the years, it shouldn’t be an issue at all. What with everyone taking care of their own, not relying on the government to save them and constantly pulling on those bootstraps, I’m surprised an initiative such as this was even needed.

They BOTH suck

May 22nd, 2012
11:06 am

godless

I’m sure that many Dems are in fact taking advantage of this program, but wrong is still wrong……… All day long

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
11:07 am

Jay – True/good point.

Aquagirl – No, I didn’t attempt to rationalize the bill, which was what I was saying. I said I used it because it was legal today, and if it stops being legal, I’ll go back to helping pay for him to go to school without getting the break.

Becky – I said absolutely nothing at all about helping send my nephew to church school. If they do that, they lose my money and they know that. But sending your child to a school that (honestly) has maybe 4 good teachers, and three of them are on the brink of retiring (it is amazing I turned out as well as I did and that is debatable), and doesn’t allow certain kids to use the school code on the SAT to keep their stats high is much worse than sending him to a private school.

Bro – You have to pay to go to church? I don’t remember that from when I was there. ;) I understand your point though.

saywhat?

May 22nd, 2012
11:07 am

To put it politely, Georgia republicans are immoral thieving scum.

Jay

May 22nd, 2012
11:07 am

If the government run schools weren’t in such pi**-poor shape and so bad at doing their job this wouldn’t be an issue, would it?

Sure it would. The overwhelming evidence says that private schools do no better than public schools and in some cases worse with kids from the same socio-economic backgrounds. And if private schools wanted to prove otherwise, why not have them take the same standardized tests required of public schools?

Why are the same legislators who insist on multiple high-stakes standardized testing in the public arena so opposed to testing what private schools produce, particularly when, as in this case, those private schools get public dollars?

They BOTH suck

May 22nd, 2012
11:08 am

“What with everyone taking care of their own, not relying on the government to save them and constantly pulling on those bootstraps, I’m surprised an initiative such as this was even needed.”

Will probably be the best post of the day………………….

TaxPayer

May 22nd, 2012
11:09 am

At least when the AJC uncovered the misbehaving in the APS, the government jumped on that bandwagon and did something. In this case, will we see Perdue’s successor apply the same level of action and see that changes for the good are made. How about some simple common sense accountability requirements for openers. Our GaGOP “leaders” could even lump that effort in with their planned work on ethics reform. I’ll hold my breath.

Recon 0311 2533

May 22nd, 2012
11:10 am

The public school system nationally is in shambles as evidenced by this recent incident in N.C. where a social studies teacher berates a student for criticizing Obama after the teacher criticized Romney. We read about incidents such as this all too frequently. Granted there are many fine public schools with excellent teachers but the wheat from the chafe must be separated and if it takes competition from charter schools to achieve it we must disregard the voice from America’s far-left condemning it.

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
11:11 am

irrational-I apologize on assuming you were helping send your nephew to a church school. I do still feel it is wrong what you are doing legal or not.

TaxPayer

May 22nd, 2012
11:12 am

“And you can be assured that not one single Democratic voter is taking advantage of this scam.”

Oh no, they are all way too civic-minded to engage in such tom-foolery.

If that’s the motivational factor you tools need to fight for change, then go for it.

PJ

May 22nd, 2012
11:12 am

North Carolina, nice place visit and all that but isn’t this dicussion about what the scumbags here in Georgia are doing.

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2012
11:12 am

Ok, we’re up to three “but gubmint skoolz is so bad y’all deserve this!” posts.

Four? Do I hear four?

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

(ir)Rational

:) It all depends on what church you attend. ;)

skipper

May 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

@Brocephus,
Discipline, a desire for education, not having to have the Gestapo having to stand by to make the bad kids behave, the three “R”s, not having an assistant to the assistant on the dole, etc. These would be a great start! Classrooms turned back over to the teachers….disruptive students not coddled and protected by the administration, and competant school boards (once again, see APS) would be several other good ways to start. Too much emphasis on B.S. costs too much money! You think the system is working???

getalife

May 22nd, 2012
11:14 am

How do vouchers fix the education system?

AngryRedMarsWoman

May 22nd, 2012
11:15 am

I read about this tax/scholarship program when I recently enrolled my son in private (non-sectarian) high school. It seemed “strange” to me, so I bypassed it and wrote the tuition check (twice what I paid to attend a year of law school less than 20 years ago..choke) – a worthwhile investment IMHO because even though our public high school in Cobb County is a “Top 10″ there are 2,000+ students and recent budget cuts mean the class sizes are increasing. If you want your child to attend private school you need to suck it up, make sacrifices, apply for private financial aid….but not fund it by avoiding your own tax obligations . I see this as an abuse by both the schools and the parents. Shame on them….maybe they consider me a fool for not taking advantage of a $2k per year “tax savings”, but sometimes you have to do what feels moral/ethical in your gut rather than what the law will allow you to get away with and my morals are not for sale, especially not for a mere $2k.

Jay

May 22nd, 2012
11:15 am

I didn’t get into it in the piece above, which was complicated enough. But the scam has another interesting aspect:

State law says that a student first has to be “enrolled” in a public school before being eligible for a scholarship. Proponents of the law told the public that such a requirement would ensure that only transferees from troubled public schools would be able to benefit from such scholarships. In other words, those already attending private schools would not be able to take financial advantage.

However, those same proponents then quietly told their private-school constituency that the “enroll” language was specifically chosen because it was so easy to get around. Note that it doesn’t require that student actually “attend” a public school, only “enroll.”

The private school parents were told to trot down to their local public school, “enroll” their kids there even though they had no intention of attending, and then Voila! — they were scholarship eligible!!! The fact that at least some of the schools and parents participating in the scam were doing so to pursue a Christian education didn’t seem to faze them.

Again, this was a loophole inserted into the law on purpose, to allow just that kind of scam.

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:15 am

dB

Is that counting Recon’s???

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
11:18 am

Becky – And you’re perfectly within your rights to think what I’m doing is wrong, but if it is legal, I’ll continue doing it. It is my money, and like I said, I had already made the decision to help him before this became law, and this is how I choose to help him.

Grasshopper

May 22nd, 2012
11:18 am

“Ok, we’re up to three “but gubmint skoolz is so bad y’all deserve this!” posts.”

You’re right – there are absolutely no problems in public schools. Parents sending their kids elsewhere are rubes. Westminster marist and Lovett are all jokes academically, right.

What planet are you people on?

Aquagirl

May 22nd, 2012
11:19 am

No, I didn’t attempt to rationalize the bill, which was what I was saying. I said I used it because it was legal today, and if it stops being legal

I’m sure you’re e-mailing someone to stop this legalized theft right now.

Sorry, (ir), people who take advantage of a clearly dicey situation while remaining quiet are rationalizing.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, at least you’re willing to stand up and say what you’re doing. I’ve done things that I knew were absolutely legal but also absolutely not up to my standards (yes, I have some) and I long ago left the “it’s legal” thing by the wayside. It’s not worth it to me.

Jack

May 22nd, 2012
11:21 am

Those doggone folks contributing $2K are messing up everything. Just imagine, some folks trying to help their kids: they oughta be run out of town.

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:21 am

skipper

Did I state anywhere that I thought the system was working??? I thought not, so don’t try to build your “burning man” by putting words into my mouth. You can’t discipline a desire for education into someone. The first, and most important thing I can think of to correct our educational system is to get the politicians AND politics out of the system. Years ago, our public systems educated the very people who staffed NASA and every other organization, both public and private, that built this country into what it is today. The reason our system is in disarray is because we’ve allowed politics to encompass education. Anything politicians get involved with has a way of getting effed up. Remove the source of the contamination, and you can begin to rehab the system. It has nothing to do with money, discipline, or anything else.

Butch Cassidy

May 22nd, 2012
11:22 am

Maybe we need to get Sherrif Joe involved to get to the bottom of this. Any thoughts Mighty Righty?

Recon 0311 2533

May 22nd, 2012
11:22 am

Scam? Allowing parents to choose the education environment that they feel is best for their children. Bull $hit the scam is pretending everything is just fine in every public school and disallowing parents tax relief should they wish to choose alternatives.

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 am

ARMW

If everyone else thought like you, there would be no need for ethics reform in Georgia.

:)

Becky

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 am

grasshopper-I have no problem with where your children go to school as long as YOU pay for it and not me. Legalized theft indeed.

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 am

Bros, I believe “he who puts the ‘Reek’ in Recon” does make it four now, yes.

barking frog

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 am

Self designation of use of
your taxes is not necessarily
a bad thing and neither is
religious segregation. It
may even help public schools by freeing them
from the influence of these
parents.

stands for decibels

May 22nd, 2012
11:23 am

I do still feel it is wrong what you are doing legal or not.

I am not judging the parents who are working this system as it was intended. I am judging the scum that got this pushed through in the first place.

And to get just a little farther afield, I should point out I also don’t judge the parents who took advantage of crazy-ass mortgage deals during the previous decade, knowing that when the rates rose they’d not be able to pay and eventually would be foreclosed/evicted. The system made it all perfectly legal, and these folks were able to send their kids to better schools as a result.

I’ve pointed this out time and again, and it’s astonishing how little sympathy those folks get from the “free marketeer” types here. If you’re a big shot and you declare bankruptcy and stiff a bunch of vendors, hey, it’s just business. If you’re a nobody and you have an opportunity to live in a nice neighborhood for a few years, you’re scum. CRA-created, Barney-Frank-backed scum. Or so I hear.

And again, I think about this, and truly believe this sign says it all.

Butch Cassidy

May 22nd, 2012
11:24 am

Jack -”Just imagine, some folks trying to help their kids: they oughta be run out of town.”

Well, if they’re using methods that are just short of money laundering, then I would say yes. What next, are you going to be advocating ponzi schemes in the name of childrens education?

Finn McCool (The System Isn't Broken; It's Fixed ~ from an Occupy sign)

May 22nd, 2012
11:24 am

keeping their kids away from the riff raff.

This is what you are paying for in the first place. “Level of education” is the excuse used to justify it. Sounds better than “I don’t want my kid growing up around those people.”

They BOTH suck

May 22nd, 2012
11:25 am

Bro

People on here will put words in your mouth and make assertions and conclusions about what you are saying in no time flat

Jay

May 22nd, 2012
11:25 am

Skipper, if you took kids with the same demographic background as those at Westminster, put them into public schools and spent a minimum of $20,000 a year educating each one of them — $22,700 for grades 6-12 — like they do at Westminster, I bet public schools could do a pretty damn fine job.

Normal Free...Pro Human Rights Thug...And liking it!

May 22nd, 2012
11:26 am

Del,
I don’t think anyone is pretending everything is fine with the public school system, but my concern is if Georgia is so concerned about education, why do they cut its budget to the bone? As to this post, how it the world can you not condemn it and still call yourself moral?

St Simons- island off the coast of New Somalia

May 22nd, 2012
11:26 am

good to know what jayyysus would do with his schools

yknow, suffer the children, for they are the kingdom of god,
and the meek shall inherit…..
and all that crap, right Georgia Republicans?

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:27 am

Recon

Dude, nobody’s claiming that the public school system is all hunky dory ok, so calm your conservative reflex, to bash everything government, down a bit, okies??? The scam is in the fact that the tax credit is nothing but money laundering taxpayer funds to schools, some of which are religious organizations by proxy. That runs afoul of the Georgia Constitution with the passage Jay stated and I provided a link for.

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
11:27 am

Aquagirl – We’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one. Like I said, I would be giving the money regardless of the tax implications. I want my nephew to have good opportunities in life. The tax implications weren’t taken into account when I made that decision, and won’t be if things change. Like I said, if you want to call it rationalizing, go right ahead. I don’t believe it is, and neither you nor I are likely to change our minds.

Rightwing Troll

May 22nd, 2012
11:28 am

Jay, I’m pretty sure they have to attend a public school for at least a year. Another reason we weren’t able to avail ourselves of the program. Both little Trolls have only gone to the the private school for thier entire school careers.

I will say this, the oldest of the little Trolls switched this school year to a middle school in East Cobb and is on honor roll after a dismal performance for the last couple years in the private environment, and has had a fraction of the homework. Me and the ex Mrs. Troll are so pleased by his performance and experience, the second little Troll will be making the switch next year.

Read into that what you will, I endured the cost of the private for 6 years because of the high level of parental involvement and the “family” like environment, but I have been underwhelmed by the over all academic performance, and especially the overloading of young children with uneccessary and volumnous amounts of homework… Kids need to be kids, and 2-3 hours of homework a night is excessive for most grades, even high schoolers…

Liberal Chicks are UGLY

May 22nd, 2012
11:28 am

Finn McCool (The System Isn't Broken; It's Fixed ~ from an Occupy sign)

May 22nd, 2012
11:29 am

The schools aren’t in pis poor shape. Your kid gets out of the school what he/she puts into learning and doing the work. Are some teachers better than others? sure. Is there a “perfect” learning environment? Sure (some of us get maybe one great teacher that positively affects us the rest of our lives.)

The “piss poor” argument is just a rationalization to get their kids out of schools with all the other kids.

Paul

May 22nd, 2012
11:29 am

“Why are the same legislators who insist on multiple high-stakes standardized testing in the public arena so opposed to testing what private schools produce, particularly when, as in this case, those private schools get public dollars?”

That, and the lead article, get right back to the common denominator: money. I can understand people who want the credit on their taxes going for it, but people with no kids who are championing this in the name of ‘freedom’ and ‘no government control’ and ‘ parents’ rights!’?

Just shows the power of ideology over the reasoning process.

Regarding the ‘ A commonly used sixth-grade science text retells the creation story contained in Genesis, omitting any other explanation. An economics book used in some high schools holds that the Antichrist — a world ruler predicted in the New Testament — will one day control what is bought and sold’

Care to guess how quickly the support for deceptive funding for charter schools would evaporate if the report had said ” A commonly used sixth-grade science text retells the creation story : “Allah created the sun, the moon, and the planets, each with their own individual courses or orbits. “It is He Who created the night and the day, and the sun and the moon; all (the celestial bodies) swim along, each in its rounded course” omitting any other explanation.

An economics book used in some high schools states “Those who consume interest shall not rise…Allah has permitted trading but forbidden interest…” (Koran 2:275)

Recon 0311 2533

May 22nd, 2012
11:29 am

Well we’ll always have the dip $hit 10% that just can’t tolerate differing view points. That’s true practically everywhere and not only on a blog. later

Brosephus™

May 22nd, 2012
11:30 am

They BOTH

I know. I think Jay should have a FNM thread dedicated to the Burning Man festival in honor of all the strawmen that are built here and set ablaze by putting words in people’s mouth. Only a coward chooses to fight a shadow instead of being a man and debating what’s actually said.

(ir)Rational

May 22nd, 2012
11:31 am

Jay – Skipper, if you took kids with the same demographic background as those at Westminster, put them into public schools and spent a minimum of $20,000 a year educating each one of them — $22,700 for grades 6-12 — like they do at Westminster, I bet public schools could do a pretty damn fine job

Kind of a hit and run, as I have somewhere I have to run to, but I would love to see your reasoning of this as the states have thrown gobs of money at government schools and not gotten better results from the money. Last I heard, the average was somewhere around $12,000 per student. I could be way off on that, and don’t have the time to go look it up, but I’ll come back later to check it out. I really am curious as to your reasoning though.

larry

May 22nd, 2012
11:31 am

What i would like to know is , who introduced the “scholarship program” legislation in the first place and second, who introduced legislation to make it a crime to release information , including financial and tax data ?