Latest charter-school fight shows Legislature must act in 2012

One of the nation’s best schools may have to pack up its chalkboards and lock its doors come June because of a fight that would appear to concern money. But the bottom-line problem with the Fulton County school board’s refusal Tuesday to grant an extension of the contract for the Fulton Science Academy isn’t really the acclaimed charter school’s bottom line.

It’s this: While adults argue about the length of the contract for one particular school, the worst schools throughout Georgia have perpetual contracts with scant chance of ever losing them due to poor performance, fiscal mismanagement, cheating scandals — you name it.

Like a lot of big school systems, Fulton has some schools that are stars, and others that are so pitiful, you’d be forgiven for thinking you can’t spell education without “dud.”

Four of Fulton’s 23 middle schools, including Fulton Science Academy, ranked in the top 10 statewide for standardized test scores, according to the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s 2010 Report Card for Parents. But four others were on the wrong end of the spectrum, landing in the lower fifth of those same rankings. Two of them failed to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), determined by the federal No Child Left Behind law, four times since 2007.

The Fulton system as a whole has failed to make AYP each year since 2008. Unfortunately, it’s not alone: The Atlanta, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett and Paulding systems are in the same category.

Yet, there is no debate about shutting down the underperforming schools — one of which is even a charter school and should be easier to close. Instead, the only school that faces closure is Fulton Science Academy, which was designated this year as a national Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

Nor is there serious debate about shutting down any of the 44 Atlanta schools where teachers and principals were found to have cheated to make sure students passed the state’s standardized test. Ditto for Dougherty County in south Georgia, where just this week state investigators announced similar test cheating took place at 11 schools.

Last year, more than one in four schools in Georgia failed to meet the federal standard. The state’s reaction was to seek a waiver from No Child Left Behind. That could be a boon if it allows for more detailed and nuanced measurement of students’ progress and teachers’ effectiveness — or a farce if it merely leads to protecting schools and teachers that perform poorly.

Even if the state takes the high road, it’s unlikely any of the laggard schools will be closed to make way for better options for students. Compare that to the record for charter schools. The Center for Education Reform reports that, nationwide since 1992, about 15 percent of charter schools have been shut down, for a variety of reasons.

You will never see that kind of accountability among traditional public schools.

And, yes, charter schools are public schools: They’re publicly funded and are governed ultimately by public institutions. Which brings us to a point that will become very important in less than three weeks when the General Assembly reconvenes.

Ever since the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision last spring overturning the state’s strongest charter-schools law, there’s been much talk but few specifics about how the Legislature might set things right again.

The belief among many, including yours truly, is that a constitutional amendment is necessary if the state is to get back in the business of approving charter schools. However, almost as many people share the fear that it’s unrealistic to think two-thirds of legislators will sign onto such a measure. Both Speaker David Ralston and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, in separate interviews with me during the past few months, questioned the odds of success for a charter-schools constitutional amendment.

I have my doubts about the political feasibility, too. But there could be no better argument for choice measures than the cases of cheating in Atlanta and Dougherty County, and the recent school-board fights over charter contracts in Fulton and Gwinnett.

If not now, when?

– By Kyle Wingfield

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84 comments Add your comment

ragnar danneskjold

December 22nd, 2011
5:52 am

Fulton Science Academy is the best local evidence of the general incompetence of political entities (ObamaCare, and its ripple effects on unemployment, is the best national example of course.) FSA is a star, a quality organization, and in the more rational private sector would draw more funding and would be expanding its mission. In the political world, driven by nothing more rational than elected and – even worse – appointed overlords and their need to prove their power, it is merely another tool of control.

Bob

December 22nd, 2011
6:19 am

no surprise out of gov. Pour money into the losers and the hell with the rest

d

December 22nd, 2011
6:25 am

@Kyle, any time people throw out the failure to make AYP argument, they continue to show their ignorance. Without the state waiver, 100% of schools will fail to make AYP in 2014. NCLB requires that 100% of students be on grade level by 2014. It just can’t happen. One group of children can cause an entire school to “fail” AYP, so instead of focusing on the needs of that one group, students who don’t need it receive support in the form of transfers and supplemental services. The answer isn’t taking the power away from voting taxpayers as the state did with the charter board. Is there a problem with education in Georgia? Absolutely, but I would argue it is in the fact that the General Assembly does not trust the professionals (who do have to have actual training in their jobs) in the classrooms to actually make the decisions about what is best for the children of Georgia. Just because you can get yourself elected to the General Assembly does not mean you have a clue on how to fix Georgia’s schools – or worse yet, just because the Governor owes you a favor and puts you on the state Board of Education. I don’t know the particulars behind the decision in Fulton, but if I lived in Fulton and what the proponents of FSA are saying is true, I’d launch a massive overhaul of the Board of Education – and leave that decision to the voters in Fulton County. If they don’t make the necessary changes through the ballot box, then they obviously support the action of the FCBOE.

Jason

December 22nd, 2011
6:29 am

Isn’t the problem with this charter school that they demanded to be given a decade long charter while the county wants to give them a three year charter and then renewable five year charters after that? Quite a bit can change in just three years so I can’t say I’d be comfortable with giving the school at ten year charter. As far as I can tell, FSA has pretty much decided to put themselves out of business. Take the three year charter that is being offered and FSA can remain open.

Alex

December 22nd, 2011
6:35 am

I got a grand idea for the 2012 Legislature, pass school choice. Those that perform well will have more students attending and will get more money, those that are under performing, parents will pull their kids from.

MiltonMan

December 22nd, 2011
6:38 am

The best schools in Fulton = North Fulton where very, very few liberals are found. The worse schools in fulton = south fulton where you cannot walk without tripping over a lib. Good luck trying to close schools there. The libs will come after you.

Whenever Milton County breaks away, Fulton schools will really be labeled crappy.

MiltonMan

December 22nd, 2011
6:42 am

Let’s keep dumbing down residents in Fulton County by closing down well performing schools like FSA.

The libs need a reliable voting bloc like APS educated minions.

d

December 22nd, 2011
6:47 am

@Alex – we already have school choice. If you want a different option for your child, you work hard, you sacrifice, and you pay for it. You do not ask the government for a handout to pay for your choice.

Will

December 22nd, 2011
6:59 am

The only problem I have with Charter Schools (other than the miuse of the rules in order to create some “segregation schools”) is the insistence of advocates to compare results with regular public schools.

One of the major selling points of a Charter School is getting the waiver from public school requirements by the state (by the way, if state rules relating to public schools are so bad, why not eliminate these terrible requirements rather than create another category of government schools?).

If Charter Schools have these state rules waived, how can you honestly compare results to schools who must abide by these rules?

Let’s use this example: Let’ say before the Braves play the Mets next year, the Braves receive “Charter” status from MLB and the rules of major league baseball are waived.. The Mets go out in order in the top of the first and the Braves play as long as they want in the bottom of the first (no limit on strikes, outs, etc). “Charter” proponents then proclaim the Braves the better of the two teams based on the results of the first inning!!!!!

Liberal Mike

December 22nd, 2011
7:01 am

Let me se here Kyle, you want local control until you don’t like local control then you want state control. I would guess if you don’t like state control you want federal control, but only if it is republican control like no child left behind (worst school program ever conceived e.g. all law, no way to pay for it. Teach the test instead of educate). Liberals actually believe in educating not test teaching. The great thing about being a liberal is you can think for yourself. Poor conservative is told what to think and if he disagrees, he is cast out.

JohnnyReb

December 22nd, 2011
7:02 am

This may be the fault of the school, or it may be the fault of the government. The larger point is, why always Fulton? Years of one stupid thing after another has produced new towns within the county so as to shed themselves of Fulton (as much as possible). Now Milton. Fulton government needs an enema that completely washes out all but the novices. If the citizens there are tired of this kind of thing, try voting Repbulican. Until they do, they can wallow in the mess as it won’t change. And, until they do, there will continue to be two Georgias. The rest of the state wants no or as little to do with them as possible.

Aquagirl

December 22nd, 2011
7:04 am

If you want a different option for your child, you work hard, you sacrifice, and you pay for it. You do not ask the government for a handout to pay for your choice.

Why do cons whine about WIC and Peachcare for kids, then turn around and demand a handout for their own pet peeve? What is the difference between WIC and school vouchers? You are responsible for feeding, housing, and educating your child. If you have children you can’t afford, taxpayers will help you out. We’re a generous nation.

Remember: it’s only welfare if it’s for somebody else.

Larry Major

December 22nd, 2011
7:08 am

Any charter petitioner who is denied by the local BOE can still be approved by the state as a Special Charter School. This gives them the same state funding as any other public school.

As soon as their petition is approved by the state, the petitioner can request a local referendum and local taxpayers make the decision concerning local funding. If local voters approve, the charter school will open with the same local funding as all public schools in that system.

The only reason to change the current setup would be for the purpose of taking money away from local taxpayers to fund something the majority of taxpayers do not support.

d

December 22nd, 2011
7:10 am

Just to put numbers to my previous argument – The typical number people offer for vouchers is $5,000 per child. Three children and you’re looking at a handout of $15,000 per year. Not bad when you only pay (in my case) approximately $1,600 in school taxes a year.

Jefferson

December 22nd, 2011
7:23 am

Fulton county will just continue to raise taxes on those in N. Fulton for S Fulton needs, Milton Co is not going to happen. You can always move to Gwinette if you don’t like it. The state if failing in their obligations and you folks just reelect them.

#Occupy my desk...

December 22nd, 2011
7:32 am

Yes, time for Republicans to come in and clean this up. If Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, Philadelphia and now Atlanta have taught us anything, it is that Democrats left to their own devices will ultimately wind up drowning in debt, fraud, crime and poverty. Sorry, the farther left we go, the closer we circle the drain. My parents didn’t have these problems.

#Occupy my desk...

December 22nd, 2011
7:34 am

Liberal Mike – see my comments – have you no shame that your party can’t run something as simple as a school system? Cheating, fraud and it is still the worst school system in the country! Even when you cheat you fail! Keep voting Democrat!

John Trainor

December 22nd, 2011
8:13 am

The school continually tried to work with the staff of Fulton County Schools get a resolution. Fulton staff would simply restate their position (if they met at all). I think the county sensed that they have all of the power and really didn’t care about what the impact would be on the kids (I have two boys at the school and one that graduated from there last year).

As of yesterday, School Board President Linda Schultz said in an e-mail to the FSA Governing Board as they try to reach a compromise “The Board now considers this matter to be closed.”

Of course, she is ignoring the State Board of Education rule that FSA has a right to a direct appeal via the section governing this situation: “If a local board denies a petition, the petitioner shall not be precluded from submitting a revised petition to the local board that addresses the deficiencies cited in the denial”.

Why is Fulton County ignoring the rules of how this process should work? They truly want to shut down the school, regardless of what Avossa says. Unfortunately, FSA naively played right into their hands. It’s pure politics, power, and money and has nothing to do with education.

This gives the School Board and FSA an ability to solve this impasse (I’m sure FSA would take 3 years at this point now that they know that the Board cares nothing about the kids, but they do).

I have more details on my site to save the school at http://SaveFSA.com

GT

December 22nd, 2011
8:14 am

The school system is a glorified baby sitting exercise. We need schools that not only are academic but are building character. How do you do this when you are cheating as a administration? I think in a lot of these schools and organization in this part of the country character is what they learn on a superficial television show. Their definition of character has been watered down so far relates to street cred more than the real definition. It is not just the students that are sub par, it is the faculty that teach them. The ultimate end results is no corporation wants to turn their future over to weak character. Unemployment and poverty results from this factory of fools. Also a strong Republican Party.

td

December 22nd, 2011
9:07 am

I am a hard core conservative and I think this whole charter school system is against the conservative movement. The tax payers should not pay for quasi private schools. If a parent wants to send their children to private school then pay for it and send them. Charter schools is the lazy way out of doing the hard work and making the local school systems work for all students. Parents that want there school systems to be better then they need to go out and elect the right people for the legislature and the local school boards that will show enforce real accountability on the schools and demand real accountability of parents.

Junior Samples

December 22nd, 2011
9:15 am

FSA denied the Board’s three year extension, demanding a 10 year deal. If that’s not good enough, FSA can go private.

Isn’t that what this is all about? You want to send your kids to private school, but want the government to pay for part of it.

Admit it.

clyde

December 22nd, 2011
9:16 am

It’s a simple formula;throw out the best and the rest don’t look so bad.

Michael H. Smith

December 22nd, 2011
9:19 am

Kyle, I guess it is necessary to endure this process, if only to use more diplomatic words for the sake of appearing non-combative, although, you and those of us in agreement with you on this issue all know exactly what is going on and what the real issue of anti-charter school public education is about: It is not out of concern for the children’s welfare or educating the child for those who oppose equal public funding of charter and or private schools. Which, as you have CORRECTLY pointed out, these charter or private schools do remain under the oversight of the public school system’s Superintendent.

The government school education monopoly is strictly about MONEY, POWER AND POLITICS, which the Democrats want to continue to control in collusion with the teacher’s unions that contribute heavily to the election campaigns of Democrats.

I wish anyone that hasn’t followed this corrupt government public school education monopoly issue/scheme fervently could have listened to Eric Erickson yesterday morning on WSB-FM to have heard this same statement made in greater detail, along with a few real good caller comments.

Jay

December 22nd, 2011
9:33 am

Blaming liberals or making a pitch to become Republican is as effective as worrying about a math test.
I’m what my friends and family refer to as a very conservative, Christian Republican and the FCBOE got this completely wrong. FSA delivers high quality education with less funds than other public schools in the area. If they become a state charter they will receive even fewer dollars. The waivers that they take advantage of are of the same type of changes i’d like to see in our public schools. Math teachers that were engineers. Music teachers that are musicians teaching a real appreciation for music. Two very different and challenging foreign languages being taught to advanced students which help develop not only better language skills but better analytic skills. Many of the teachers are certified, a few with masters degrees–some are not certified. All of this at a lower cost to the tax payer. Sounds like real fiscal responsibility to me.
John T’s comments above are correct. The FSA administration naively believed that they were dealing with a BOE that was genuinely interested in the welfare of our children. The BOE end game was to shutdown the FSA school. I’ve read the FSA charter petition and it appears they were asking for the 10 year then 8 year charter so that they could secure a line of credit to build a facility which would accommodate every family that wanted to attend–apparently 500 students are left on a waiting list every year. FCSS has approved 10 year charters, in fact they approved the Hapeville school for 10 years so that they could obtain construction funding — very much like FSA. It’s odd that Hapeville gets a 10 year charter but FSA doesn’t, especially when FSA scores are so much better. By denying the 10 year term it undermines the ability to secure the loan and stall FSA’s growth trajectory. Well played strategy by the BOE.
The FCSS assertion that the 10 year renewal is needed for oversight just doesn’t hold water for another reason. All start up charters are subject to annual review and the charter can be revoked at any time if warranted. Many of us that have run business understand the context of this type of audit. Based on the facts, FSA seems to be willing and in compliance. Again the BOE got this wrong but it makes for a nice sound bite on the evening news.
Regarding Kyle’s comments, you are correct as well. The FCSS isn’t doing anything about poor performers. It’s easy to rally against a small group of immigrant educators organised and to committed to teaching math and science. The hard work won’t get done–well b/c it’s hard. 2, 3 5 years from now we’ll look back and I’m sure we’ll see that much is the same with poor performers while FCSS sells small incremental successes as big wins. What FCSS needs to understand is that they will never be responsible for innovation–I think they read too much of their own press. This school system is too large to implement real innovation which only takes place when teachers, parents and students work together. The overhead that FCSS brings will only burden the process. Successful businesses learned this years ago. Apparently central government authorities still haven’t.
If we are going to affect any change we need the legislature to look a range of options; tax credits to private schools, vouchers, charters that are funded with state and local dollars that follow the student.

I believe that the FCBOE is hoping the average person on the street will be disinterested b/c it isn’t their child. We all have children in this system–or in my case grandchildren. The FCSS is starting the largest charter in the state and certainly don’t want a start up chart to continue to outperform this new charter system. If FCBOE runs over a high performer like FSA, what will they do to your school next? If you are interested and concerned about education for our children, now is not the time to be complacent. I’m surprised the BOE doesn’t understand that this new grand plan is more than likely due to fail due to over management and lack of open collaborative leadership. This translates into more tax dollars wasted and children without a quality education.

Liberal Teacher

December 22nd, 2011
9:42 am

I think being in the classroom dramatically changes your opinions of schools. As a teacher, I spend a majority of my time making sure that your children have the best education possible. I have done my student teaching at a traditional North Fulton School and it was a great opportunity but it was extremely confiding. I now work at Fulton Science Academy. I understand that many of you have read reports and seen news documentaries but you have never seen my classroom? The “rules” that you speak of that we “break” here is choosing the BEST curriculum for our students. We spend our time after school tutoring our students that have huge educational gaps. When not tutoring, we have enriching clubs and academic teams.There is not run to the door that you see at most schools. Teachers are here until 5pm or until 6pm. Come to our school on a Saturday, it is packed. I chose to get my MAT in Middle Grades Math and Science because this is when students start hating school. Did you see all of the picture and all of the signs on the plethora of news channels? Our students love FSA. Kids love Middle School…how amazing is that! Yet unfortunately other middle school students are joining gangs, skipping school and dare I say it trying illegal drugs. At FSA we are prescribing an amazing education that should be a model for South and North Fulton. Let’s not focus on the negative past, let’s make our GA schools great! I am not a politician and I am just a student who fell in love with education who is trying to make a difference in my students lives. Working at FSA is not just a job, it is a passion come to life. Whether you are liberal or conservative, great schools should exist in GA. How are you doing your part making schools great?

JDW

December 22nd, 2011
10:06 am

@Kyle, I have not been following this particularly closely but several questions come to mind.

1. It seems to me that the Board did not vote to shut the school only to bring their review cycle into sync with other Charter Schools.

2. The vote was 7-0, while I don’t know the party affiliation of The Board, looking at the districts it is inconceivable that they are all Democrats. In fact its pretty damn likely that there is a Republican majority.

3. As always, lots of blaming Democrats but as I remember No Child Left Behind is a Republican fiasco.

Tom da bomb

December 22nd, 2011
10:12 am

Kyle, my friend, you are misstating the facts here for the sake of advancing your argument. The Fulton County school system offered the charter school a three-year extension on the contract. All the charter school had to do was say yes and they would be able to continue operating as they do now.

For reasons I don’t pretend to understand, the charter school people are insisting on a long-term contract and won’t accept the three-year offer. Why are they playing hardball? If educating kids is really their objective, as they claim, then why not simply accept the three-year extension, which seems quite reasonable to me, and continue to operate as they are now doing?

The Fulton school system has taken no action to shut down the charter school. The charter school officials are refusing to accept a very reasonable offer to extend their contract. That’s the question you should be asking here.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:14 am

@Jason and JDW: My understanding is that the Fulton board has granted a 10-year contract to another charter school in the past, and that three years is an abnormal length for a charter contract — particularly for one involving a school that’s been so successful.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:18 am

Will @ 6:59: I don’t believe charter schools are exempted from the performance requirements, only from requirements involving the way the school is run (e.g., teacher work rules). See here.

Hillbilly D

December 22nd, 2011
10:21 am

Seems like it’d be better to focus on what’s best for the kids, rather than use it as a political football, which many do, on both sides.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:21 am

Liberal Mike @ 7:01 and others who raised this point about local control: First, you’re the one bringing partisanship and ideology into this…there are plenty of Democrats and liberals nationwide, and a growing number in Georgia, who support charter schools and other choice measures. And there are Republicans and conservatives who don’t, or who oppose certain choice measures.

Second, a charter school represents even more local control than traditional public schools — i.e., more control by parents. The question of which level of government authorizes the charter is more of an administrative question.

Angus

December 22nd, 2011
10:23 am

Fulton County, nor its BOE, is anti-charter.

FCSS has more charter schools than any system in the state.

Most problems/squabbles with charter schools and BOEs are about finances – same here.

If you want public funds to run a school, be prepared to play strictly by the book. If you’re not, start a private school.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:23 am

Aquagirl @ 7:04, and others who have raised the money point: This is money that we are spending anyway. Is it welfare if the child moves to another school district and the money follows him there? Why is it suddenly welfare, or a different kind of subsidy (all public education represents a subsidy), or a handout if the child moves to a charter school?

GT

December 22nd, 2011
10:24 am

What a furious circle we have. In order to understand education you have to be educated. The Republican Party has made an effort to undereducate, because the conclusions of an enlighten population goes against generally all their positions. They are a “don’t believe what you read” crowd unless we wrote it. The Catholic Church kind of ran this way for a few centuries.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:25 am

Larry Major @ 7:08: Actually, we have no idea what the majority of taxpayers supports when it comes to this question. All the more reason to put it to a referendum as a constitutional amendment.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:25 am

d @ 7:10: See my 10:23.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:31 am

td @ 9:07: “Charter schools is the lazy way out of doing the hard work and making the local school systems work for all students.”

I strongly disagree. Charter schools are a way of proving that public schools, conceived and run differently, can produce better results with the same children and resources. They are a working template for improving local school systems. Many of those parents you criticize for taking “the lazy way out” have simply concluded that improving one school at a time is a lot more practical than trying to take over an entire school system, especially one as large as the ones we have in metro Atlanta.

JDW

December 22nd, 2011
10:34 am

@Kyle, I think you are right about the 10 being granted one time but this statement makes a lot of sense when you consider that the 3 schools want to issue joint bonds.

“The school system, however, only wanted a three-year extension so the school could be on the same renewal cycle as its affiliate schools, Fulton Sunshine Academy and Fulton Science Academy High School. The school system also wanted more control of the school’s operations.”

“It would be financially irresponsible for our board to approve a 10-year term that would divide the renewal process for three schools with shared financial obligations,” Schultz said.

http://www.11alive.com/news/article/218078/3/Fulton-Science-Academy-Middle-Schools-charter-extension-denied

Don’t know what they wanted operationally but the fincial part makes sense. My guess is they need to resubmit for 3 years.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:34 am

Actually, I’ve already addressed most of these objections before. See here.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:37 am

JDW @ 10:34: Except that only having a three-year charter may make it impossible to issue bonds…

If they’re worried about keeping the schools on the same cycle, and on sound financial footing re: the bonds, why not extend all three schools’ contracts to the eight-year mark requested by FSA?

In any case, we’re getting away from my main point — which is that, while the school board suddenly gets interested in accountability and good management when it comes to charter schools, traditional public schools that are failing kids every single day never receive that kind of scrutiny.

Dusty

December 22nd, 2011
10:45 am

Kyle is quite cognizant of failure when he finds a “good” school on the verge of being shut down for little or no reason.

The “bad” schools are even sadder. Usually it is a case of a school trying to fulfuill the need of a decent and stable home. Homes without legal fathers are over 50%. Single mothers usually do their best but it is an unbalanced household.

This morning’s news reported a teenager been kidnapped by invaders at a home. They were looking for the mother’s boyfriend. When they did not find him they kidnapped the teenage girl and carried her off. Will this girls make good grades in school? Doubtful.

Will teachers try to fill the gap with extra help? Probably but they are fighting the unsettlement of a bad home. That’s a hard barrier to jump..

This type of news is heard and read almost every day. Children in an unstable home or in the midst of criminal action.

Keep the good schools open. The children need all the help they can get. .

JDW

December 22nd, 2011
10:47 am

@Kyle, “Charter schools are a way of proving that public schools, conceived and run differently, can produce better results with the same children and resources.”

In some yes in some no. If we start increasing the numbers dramatically with no real strategy we end up with hodgepodge. I completely agree we need to act and act decisively to improve schools. The best approach, by far, I have seen is the way the Gates Foundation is going about it. Almost everything they say on the subject makes perfect sense.

Here is some info from them on Charters:

“Consequently, the most important measure of success for our work with charter schools will be the number of students—especially low-income and minority students—served by high-performing charters and the degree to which successful charter schools influence the broader public educational system.”

Goal #1: Increase the number of students served by high-performing charters by:
• Growing the capacity of charter networks aligned to our core strategy elements;
• Exploring Program Related Investments (PRIs) and other creative financing opportunities with high-performing charter networks; and
• Advocating for growth and results at the state and national levels.

Goal #2: Enhance the degree to which successful charter schools influence the broader system by:
• Building relationships between school districts and charter networks, especially those operating schools in-district;
• Piloting and expanding the core strategy elements in charters in coordination with district partners; and
• Incubating innovative new school models and approaches, with charters as early adopters.

http://www.gatesfoundation.org/college-ready-education/Pages/charter-schools-networks.aspx

Just having an Constitution Amendment to allow the State to approve Charters falls far short of what we should do. As I look at those goals and assess the likelihood of the Ga Legislature and School Boards being able to execute it is clear to me that we need to address those folks first…

JDW

December 22nd, 2011
10:51 am

@Kyle…”Except that only having a three-year charter may make it impossible to issue bonds…”

Don’t know and there is no doubt this is a cluster…well you know. I still go back to the vote being 7-0. I could be wrong but, I don’t really believe the Board is “out to get them”. I am thinking there is something we don’t understand. Maybe the school tried to play hardball and got smacked.

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:57 am

JDW @ 10:47: I don’t disagree with most of that. And note that I included in the article the stat about charter schools that are closed — no one claims every charter is a success, but they A) allow us to try to find better ways to educate children, and B) are not a permanent part of the educational landscape if they fail in A.

The point about who approves charters is that we now are at far greater risk of regressing when it comes to charters than we are to having charters expand too rapidly. Too many local systems have been intransigent on this issue. As I said earlier, charter schools represent more local control; the question of who grants that local control is imo more administrative than substantive.

JDW

December 22nd, 2011
10:59 am

@Kyle…” traditional public schools that are failing kids every single day never receive that kind of scrutiny.”

Sad but true, however those schools don’t have to go through the Charter process so it could be a lack of opportunity.

I can say having now spent two years with a child in Fulton County Schools that those test numbers, particularly the AYP numbers can be very misleading. Last year our school was on that list for the sole reason that there was an issue with the special needs program in one of the grades…it didn’t mean the school was failing.

The other thing I have come to learn is that if you check the scores by demographic you will find that performance tends to be very similar across the county. By that I mean a middle class white kid in a poorly ranked school tends to have the same basic scores as their counterparts in a more highly ranked one…the highly ranked school just has more of “those kids”

d

December 22nd, 2011
11:01 am

@Kyle, I’m going to have to disagree with your assessment that the money follows the child so it doesn’t matter if we do vouchers or charters or whatever. If I move from Gwinnett to Rockdale, I stop paying taxes in Gwinnett and start paying them in Rockdale, but the rest of the local funding does not follow the children between the districts. The other problem with the money follows the child argument is there is an overhead cost that does not change whether a school is operating with 2,000 students or 1,999 students. Those costs still have to be covered. The problem I see with this whole situation is that if a school is not serving a population the way it should, it is rarely those students that leave. It is often the students who are thriving in their current environment that leave – in the end the students who most need the help are hurt even more. There is so much more to this equation than people are able to (or frankly want to) see.

Dusty

December 22nd, 2011
11:01 am

GT @ 10:24

You are rediculous. No other way to put it.

Anybody who thinks Republicans are against education have obviously had none of their own.

There is not even a simple shred of truth in your post. Get some education in reality. You need it.

JDW

December 22nd, 2011
11:03 am

@Kyle 10:57, I understand your concern and share most of it. What we need in this state is some leadership on the issue and I just don’t see any.

Gee does that mean we need to add it to our list? :shock:

Dusty

December 22nd, 2011
11:15 am

JDW, @ 11:03

I see you are trying to “run down” the leadership of Georgia, obviously because you prefer a state run by Democrats.

I guess that means you think the Democrats in Washington are doing a great job and Georgia should do likewise. DEMOCATS DOING A GREAT JOB IN WASHINGTON?????

Send your list to Santa Claus. Democrats always want more gifts.

td

December 22nd, 2011
11:16 am

Kyle Wingfield

December 22nd, 2011
10:31 am

“Many of those parents you criticize for taking “the lazy way out” have simply concluded that improving one school at a time is a lot more practical than trying to take over an entire school system, especially one as large as the ones we have in metro Atlanta”

Then why do those parents not take the worst school in the county and improve it? Why must they either take one of the best schools and turn it quasi private or build a school near the district lines that house the “best and brightest” students? I have worked on team that has wanted to start a charter school and just about all of them wanted private school rules without private school prices. Show me conservative parents that have their children in a charter school that are still fighting to change the rest of that districts schools for the better?

The bigger issue here is that the charter school philosophy is not conservative. How does a small government conservative come to the conclusion that it is ok to take tax payer money and use it to set up a private school? A true small government conservative would be fighting for vouchers for all students instead of vouchers just for the best and brightest. This whole movement takes away any momentum for the voucher movement and moving away from the public school concept. This is my biggest arguement against charter schools.