Barge gets it wrong by opposing charter-schools amendment

Few people claim to be a true conservative by complaining about preventing judicial activism and saving money. But state schools superintendent John Barge tried it last week.

On Tuesday, Barge proclaimed his opposition to a constitutional amendment that would ensure the state’s authority to create charter schools. Barge cited three key factors: his support for local control, his desire to limit government, and the $430 million he said the amendment would cost the state over five years.

But Barge left out a few things.

I won’t spend much time on local control. As I’ve explained before, no control is more local than that wielded by parents and students, who would be empowered by this amendment. To fret over whether the state or a local school board grants them that power is to focus on the wrong question.

Barge’s reference to limited government concerns the state charter schools commission which the amendment would re-establish, reversing a 2011 state Supreme Court ruling. Here again, Barge misses the point.

A commission might seem duplicative given that the court’s ruling did not block the state school board from creating charter schools. But as the majority opinion notes, the court did not address the school board’s authority because it wasn’t asked to do so. The ruling does make clear, though, that a majority of the justices believe the Constitution gives the power to create schools almost exclusively to local school boards. The exceptions are special state schools serving, for example, the deaf or blind.

Given the ruling’s sweeping language, the only thing preventing the court from striking down the state school board’s chartering authority is another lawsuit. And if that lawsuit succeeded, we would be right back where we are today — if, and only if, the Legislature could summon another two-thirds majority to put the amendment back on the ballot. That was no small feat this year.

After the court’s ruling, the state school board continued to award charters, and Gov. Nathan Deal and legislators added money for those schools to bring them closer to the funding traditional public schools get, thanks to their local tax bases. The money comes from a different pot than that used for traditional school funding. Now Barge argues that “extra” money for future charter schools, $430 million between now 2018 by his count, should be used to restore budget cuts.

Here’s what he didn’t say. First, the supplemental spending for charters this year, about $33 million, amounts to just 2.9 percent of this year’s education shortfall, less than $20 per student.

Second, despite the cuts, state education spending per pupil has increased by 10 percent since 2003. No windfall, but hardly brutal austerity.

Most damning of all, though, is that local systems stand to save money that far exceeds that “extra” spending by the state.

This year, that state supplement of $33 million covers almost 16,000 students at state-chartered schools. But the average local school system in Georgia spent almost $3,700 per student in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available.

At 16,000 students, that comes out to local savings of about $58.6 million. Not a bad trade. At that rate, local systems would save about $750 million over five years.

Parental control, legal certainty and more savings. I call that a conservative solution.

– Kyle Wingfield

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295 comments Add your comment

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
6:14 pm

There should be no need for a supplement for charter schools. The schools that lose students should lose funding proportional to the loss of students. Why continue to spend the same amount of dollars on a school with fewer students than before?

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
6:19 pm

Does the proposed amendment truly give parents the authority to set up chartered schools?

If not, I would oppose it. If you really believe that putting control closest to parents is the best way to go, and the parents aren’t getting that control and it’s going to a state board instead, then it would be preferable to leave the control at the county level.

Hillbilly D

August 17th, 2012
6:29 pm

I don’t really have a strong opinion one way or the other on charter schools but I believe in local control, so I’m ag’in the amendment.

It also sounds like a good way for somebody’s buddy to make some money, with state help. We’ve seen enough of that.

schoolme

August 17th, 2012
6:33 pm

Another “shift the burden” of funds. Unless I missed it, there may be a voucher for charters. Parents would find themselves shouldering more. So, we have more money off the state books and onto the tax payers. And, where is the support for the ailing state educational system without adequate funding from the tax base after the shifting of funds.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
6:34 pm

Bad schools destroy whole neighborhoods while choice does no harm, how could you be agin it?

MakeItWhiter

August 17th, 2012
6:39 pm

Parents who want charter schools think charter schools will somehow shield their white children from mixing and mingling with blacks, hispanics and any other undesirables. They won’t admit this but this is the ultimate movitation for charter schools for these “caring’ parents. “Charter” is code for “let’s make the schools a lot less diverse”. A sprinking of upper crust black and hispanic students is ok, just not too many.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
6:39 pm

I don’t know about your fourth paragraph one way or the other; but, this issue seems to me to be exactly about a matter of control. There are folks and companies that aren’t happy that the local folks are opposed, right or wrong, to their proposal for a charter school. They went the state route and got shot down by the court. This proposal gives them another shot at doing what locals don’t want done. Explain again why I should be on board with that. It’s bad when Bad Obama does it to the States. Why isn’t it bad when Bad Deal does it to the Counties?

Hillbilly D

August 17th, 2012
6:41 pm

I Report

They can already have locally controlled charter schools, if they choose, as I understand it. Why get the state involved?

@@

August 17th, 2012
6:44 pm

This is a tough one for me. It was Clayton County’s citizens who elected the school board members that caused our schools to lose accreditation.

In my county, it would probably be better to give the state control.

We’re a dysfunctional county.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
6:46 pm

And, what MakeitWhiter said. There is an element of folks that have wanted to “charter” to create a “public” but exclusive school with public money and have been shot down. This proposal would give them a better shot with the “less diverse” folks at the state level.

Erwin's cat

August 17th, 2012
6:47 pm

is the blog open for the weekend?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
6:48 pm

D – To remove the motivation and money issues. Laziness and poverty are why kids is stoopid to begin with.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
6:57 pm

I Report, I’m the only “D” in the thread. I’m an old white guy that grew up poor and I’ll admit to a bit of lazy, but I get by. Are you equating poor and lazy to minorities? So it’s okay to cut them out, they’ll mess up no matter how much money you throw at their worthless butts?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
7:00 pm

Didn’t I say remove lazy and poor from the equation?

What is this race baiting garbage, can no one think anymore?

td

August 17th, 2012
7:02 pm

Kyle,

I totally disagree with you on this issue. Let us get some facts straight, Dr. Barge is not in opposition of Charter schools.

1: Where has it ever been a conservative or tea party value to take away Education decision making authority away from the local community and give it to an unaccountable, unelected commission?

2: You know as well as anyone else that the entity that controls the money controls the game. What happens when this local parents want to set up a curriculum that is in opposition to the sitting commission? Will the parents win the battle or will the unelected commission?

3: Where is this “another pot” of money going to come from? Are we going to raise taxes? If we agree that we are not going to raise taxes then the next biggest pot of money to pull from is the Education budget. Is it not true that while all other state budgets (including the DOE budget) was being cut that the legislature found money for the original Charter school commission? Since our budget has to be balanced and we did not raise any taxes then how many furlough days did this original commission cost our children?

I am all for parental choice in Education but this is not true choice and I smell a rat for Ed Lindsey to come out so forcefully to Dr Barges opposition.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
7:03 pm

No, I Report, you “removed” “motivation and money issues.” Poor and lazy are still in play. So black folks and poor white folks are their own worst enemies and don’t deserve a decent school system. Come on, spit out what you want to say.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
7:10 pm

Let’s start from the beginning, Dave. It takes effort to better ones self and money to provide the necessary tools for this betterment. Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas made the effort as did Paul Ryan. obozo, on the other hand, drifted through life in search of his next entitlement, and was a total failure in each and every one of them. Do you consider Chicago to be “organized?”

Is that what you was wanting to hear?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
7:13 pm

If you are wowed by obozo’s abilities the you really should consider a charter school for your next generation.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
7:14 pm

I was laughing so hard I forgot my n.

geez

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
7:14 pm

Parents who want charter schools think charter schools will somehow shield their white children from mixing and mingling with blacks, hispanics and any other undesirables.

Would you like to address this lying piece of inane stupidity Kyle or should I?

What the heck I’ll do it anyway. To the contrary, it is not the proverbial so called “white” children that benefit the most from school choice.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

August 17th, 2012
7:15 pm

I find that people who complain about bigotry (like makeitwhiter) are actually the biggest bigots on the planet.

ktbl

August 17th, 2012
7:18 pm

Over all of our opinions…..I am asking our Mayors, Governor, Cities Councilmen/women what is wrong with our state and the people we have elected to serve us…the people. We are being pounded with taxes, and with that comes more deceits by those who have been elected to serve us. Murders, trash in our cities, byways and highway and main interstates where we travel; slums, vacant buildings, homes, strip-malls, children needs food, education, people needs work, we have not close the gap among the have(s) and the have(s); we have demonstrated poorly leadership and mostly, we have shown that we don’t care about one and other but we have said we want you all to pay more so we can continue to cheat, steal and deceive all of you of your money as we make promises we don’t intend to keep. That is what I have read and what I have seen and to me, this whole thing about our state government don’t sit right at all! TSPLOST was not about untie anything; it was about the New Dome with upscale shopping venture with hotels, indoor parking decks with condo-like seating boxes for the rich and more money for the “beltline”, street-cars or for anything else they want to use the 7 or 17 billions over the 10 or 20 years without telling us anything until after they have either build or start to build whatever projects they deemed necessary. We was about to shoot ourselves in the foot and then there were noone who was willing to stop the bleeding! I want all of the Mayors, Governor, Counties Commissioners to resign on the lies they have told us as voters. They advertised to deceive us into thinking that TSPLOST was going to untile all of this traffic….in every counties mentioned or far out, in fact, it was about to make more of a traffic mess, worse than what it is now! TSPLOST was about making us all pay more for the benefit of the people and businesses to gain while we foot the bill. Remember………the Governor said funding that was my key, funding mean for a long, long period of time until the tax payers pay for those project they have already put on the table to begun. It has nothing to do with us voting to unclog anything such as traffic. Traffic…will remain traffic!

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
7:18 pm

MakeItWhiter: Parents who want charter schools think charter schools will somehow shield their white children
————————

What a surprise–a liberal making a race-based attack.

MakeItWhiter: Racist.

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
7:19 pm

Agreed Tiberius.

CharterStarter,Too

August 17th, 2012
7:20 pm

@ Kyle, YES! You hit it square on the head!

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
7:21 pm

Dave: And, what MakeitWhiter said.
———————-

Hmm…are non-white children eligible to attend charter schools?

Too bad Kyle doesn’t ban racists like Dave and MakeItWhiter. Their presence here disgusts Real Americans.

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
7:25 pm

Now who is it that really loses under school choice? Teacher union members, particularly members of the democrat party, the NEA and the bureaucracy controlling the government education monopoly.

MakeItWhiter

August 17th, 2012
7:29 pm

Wow. I think I touched a hot nerve in some of you. Maybe hit your conscience also? Good for you.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
7:31 pm

No, MakeItWhiter, you’re just an idiot.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
7:36 pm

Read this, racist idiots MakeItWhiter and Dave:
———————-

“We are concerned about the overrepresentation of charter schools in low-income and predominantly minority communities,” wrote the NAACP, the National Action Network, the National Urban League, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and others in a statement last year.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204485304576643461600325694.html

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

August 17th, 2012
7:36 pm

I have no respect for ignorant race-baiters such as you, makeitwhiter. The difference is that I don’t give a rat’s behind what color you are as long as you pull your own weight.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
7:40 pm

Lil’ Barry and the other guy (it isn’t worth scrolling up for his name) call me an idiot. Please, please? It makes for such good discourse. You might not agree with me but, talk would you? Why not? Convince me that I just have made some wrong decisions in life. These threads always amaze me. I though because I got in early on that it might be about what Kyle wrote. Rather, it’s about the commenters’ prejudices (I suppose mine included). Enjoy the weekend folks.

dabir dalton

August 17th, 2012
7:41 pm

To put it bluntly Kyle the money spent by the state on charter (private) schools is WELFARE FOR CONSERVATIVES. If you want to send your kids to a private school then by all means do so…Just don’t ask me to sit idly by while the conservative politicians you support steal food out of the mouths of my family to pay for it. Be a REAL MAN and TRUE to your stated PRINCIPLES and pay for it yourself.

Mary Elizabeth

August 17th, 2012
7:42 pm

Two points: (1) The charter movement is a growing phenomenon, so even if there have been only relative few charter schools to be concerned about supplanting traditional public schools presently, the real possibility for even greater momentum in this direction lies on the horizon through political means. (2) There is only so much taxpayers’ money to go around, divide it how you wish. Too much financial resource taken from traditional public schools for charter schools will weaken traditional public schools – which are charged with educating ALL of the children of the state. That is why local Boards of Education should be the overseers of this balance between charters in their districts and traditional public schools in their districts.

I want to go on record as saying that I am not against public charter schools and that I believe that working through local Boards of Education, public charter schools might complement rather than dismantle traditional public schools. Furthermore, there is no need for this amendment to Georgia’s Constitution, as there already exists by law a means of appeal to parents regarding establishing charter schools to the state’s Board of Education via the Superintendent of Schools.

I posted the following on Maureen Downey’s blog earlier today:

“The primary reason for the ‘vitriol’ around this issue is because it is political in nature – more than educational. The amendment to Georgia’s Constitution has national impact.

Those political forces who do wield national impact are looking at what will happen to this amendment to Georgia’s Constitution in November. Those politicians in Georgia who refuse to state what I have written as political reality are playing a surface game of educational and political reality with Georgia’s citizens – by using Republican ‘educational talking points.’ They have underestimated Georgia’s citizens and their commitment to improving traditional public education for ALL of Georgia’s school children – and it will not happen simply through charter schools. When Rep. Lindsey mentioned the words ‘education novice’ in order to berate Dr. Barge, he unwittingly also disparaged Georgia’s citizens who follow educational and political issues and are far from being “education novices” as to what is really occurring in this matter.

I was in attendance at the House Education Committee meeting in which Rep. Jan Jones (a member of ALEC) spoke in behalf of this Constitutional Amendment. She co-sponsored it along with Rep. Edward Lindsey (also member of ALEC). After citizens spoke for and against this amendment, a leading member of that committee said, ‘We are going to pass this (HR 1162) bill.’ That translated to me to signal that the House Education Committee had already predetermined its own agenda regarding HR 1162, irrespective of the public’s voice, and what it was going to do regarding this Constitutional amendment.

Here is a list of Georgia’s politicians with ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), whose agenda is to dismantle traditional public schools and use public tax dollars for the implementation of ‘public’ charter schools throughout the nation.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Georgia_ALEC_Politicians

This educational issue would never have this type of heavy-handed conflict unless it had national repercussions, politically. Readers should be aware of this fact. I would think that that fact, alone, would make citizens wary of voting for a Constitutional Amendment in November that is so political in nature – especially since there is already a means for citizens to appeal a local decision regarding disapproval of a charter school to the state Department of Education’s Superintendent of Schools. Again, this is not about education. It is about political power.

If Georgia’s Legislature spends almost a decade undercutting financially traditional public education, how can one expect traditional public education to improve? The main answer is not simply ‘public’ charter schools; the primary answer is for Georgia’s Legislature to start funding traditional public education with more commitment in the future.

In my opinion, Dr. Barge is being a true public servant and not a politician in this matter – and they evidently are hard to come by. The public should also take notice of that fact and compliment him for exercising his conscience even as political ‘darts’ are thrown his way, publicly. Abraham Lincoln had had a change of opinion, also, because of his conscience, and his deepening moral consciousness resulted in a better America.”

Good evening to all.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
7:43 pm

Charter schools aren’t private, dabir, so your entire post is ignorant garbage.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
7:43 pm

Oh hell, what dabir dalton said too. I’ll hang out for awhile for the flack.

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
7:46 pm

Enjoy the weekend folks

Oh we will and hopefully one that brings a better informed group of people with reality based facts not lies that have been repudiated so many times on this blog, on this very subject by Kyle, myself and others it should, by now, serve as judicial notice in any court of this country.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 17th, 2012
7:46 pm

Why shouldn’t traditional public schools that lose students to charters also lose funding?

Continuing to spend the same amount to staff a school with fewer students is just plain dumb, and an argument made mostly by folks who haven’t mastered simple economics and math…like those educated in traditional public schools.

@@

August 17th, 2012
7:51 pm

Where are all the white people in this newscast?

MakeItWhiter needs to acknowledge that many black parents are deserving of something better for THEIR children. They, themselves, are saying as much.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
7:51 pm

Mike, yo! Michael H. Smith, there was that one moment a few months back when we went back and forth about something and agreed a bit, even Kyle weighed in and commented on it! What happened? Bad night, week, month? Why don’t you folks want to have a conversation? Why is it all invective?

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
7:53 pm

dabir dalton

To put more honestly 1) why should I let socialist liberals keep my tax dollars from being better spent to give any child better education, though it has been demonstrated to benefit the very children socialist liberals claim need help the most and who often are depraved of better schools due to geography 2) Make everything I want to destroy politically stronger Et al the NEA, the government education monopoly, government worker unions and the democrat party?

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
7:56 pm

Dave

Pal if you agree with that ethnocentric nut-job and his BS on charter schools I’d say we are a world apart. My day week months moment whatever else are just fine and my position on the issues including this one have only become stronger.

Dave

August 17th, 2012
8:04 pm

So Mike no more discussion, just like the rest of the country, we bunker into our prejudices and hope for the best. Sad.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

August 17th, 2012
8:09 pm

Too bad Logic isn’t here, I’m sure he’d play with the race baiter.

Kyle, could you unleash our boy, just for one evening?

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
8:15 pm

Excuse yourself Dave, didn’t you say you were leaving and rather angrily as I recall?

When it is so common knowledge that the public schools education monopoly in this country fails blacks and mestizos at a far higher rate than whites and yellows and then you rush to defend it by agree with a ethnocentric nut-job?

Nah Dave, that is what you’d call sad.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right

August 17th, 2012
8:22 pm

Dave, the amount of money being used for charter schools doesn’t begin to cover the cost someone pays in local school taxes.

No welfare at all.

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
8:24 pm

Why did European kids call American kids “STUPID”, John Stossel?

Dare anyone with even half an open mind to read and watch John Stossel’s coverage on school choice.

The truth will make you mad before it sets you free.

Beverly Fraud

August 17th, 2012
8:25 pm

What proponents can’t say:

Yes we want to circumvent local control (even if it goes against our grain) because we are tired of our WILLFULLY IGNORANT peers voting in totally dysfunctional boards. And we are MORE than sick of ethically challenged boards such as APS turning a blind eye to cheating and having a FSQ (failed status quo) call them AWARD WINNING, for God’s sake!

Yes it does circumvent local control, ’cause some locals you just can’t fix…not unlike stupid.

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
8:28 pm

Tiberius

The public funding of education K-12 is an investment. As with any investment that I’ve ever involved myself in or with, I always want the very highest and best rate of return on my money. Education is no different.

Welfare, as we know it or as obama wants to have it is unwise charity, plain and simple.

Michael H. Smith

August 17th, 2012
8:31 pm

Yes it does circumvent local control

I totally agree with Kyle on so-called local control: Nothing can be more local than the control of a child’s parents.