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

Don

August 19th, 2012
5:59 pm

Mr. Wingfield, What pot will these funds come from. With the state budget in dire straits, how can the state afford to have a different pot set aside to fund charter schools which are no more than private schools for certain public students. What Mr. Barge did took exceptional courage and it was done after a careful evaluation and examination of the facts. That money should be placed in the general education budget to allow for programs which have been cut from public schools over recent years, i.e. middle school sports and music. I also wished you would have spend some time to address the local control. This committee totally takes the control away from the local boards. How can you guys say shrink the size of government on one hand but expand it on another. What you are really saying is shrink or get rid of the programs/agencies you don’t want and replace them with the ones you like. Thank you Mr. Barge for putting public education for all children ahead of petty partisan politics.

Rafe Hollister, suffering through Oblamer's ineptocracy

August 19th, 2012
7:27 pm

The only way to fix public schools is fire everyone, throw out the education manuals, and start over with new ideas.

If you are tired of the 40 year old argument with no solution here is a good article from Newsweek.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/08/19/niall-ferguson-on-why-barack-obama-needs-to-go.html

Johnny B Good

August 19th, 2012
7:57 pm

Only the damn Dems and idiots like John “I am a flip-flopper” Barge want to keep things as is, saying “we are doing just fine in public K-12 education. We don’t need choice or competition for children and families. We need more money”. As if throwing more money is the cure all for everything. We give local districts $$$$$$$ and they squander it with overhead as oppose to placing it in classrooms.

November 6 is the day when we as a state can say “vote yes” and change the dynamics of this sinking education ship GSBA, GSSA, Herb Garrett, Angela Palm, Sis Henry, and others in the education status quo have placed us in.

saywhat?

August 19th, 2012
8:22 pm

Kyle Winfield is FOR the amendment, and like George Costanza, you can pretty much rely on him being wrong every time. Just that fact tells me which way I should vote, even if I didn’t already know enough about this issue. Thank you, Kyle!

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 19th, 2012
8:42 pm

The vote in November will be in favor of more charter schools.

Johnny B Good

August 19th, 2012
8:44 pm

@td, you sure do come across as an angry old education status quo @$$.

As you SHOULd know by now, no LOCAL tax money flows to state special charter schools. The additional dollars in the HB 797 funding formula are intended to partially offset the loss of local dollars when a charter application is denied by a school board. The funding formula results in an average $6,900/student amount for state special charters, while the state-local average for traditional schools is $9,700. Because you appear to have some difficulty with you math, that is a $2,800 difference between average local funding and the set funding for a state authorized charter school.

If the charter is successful, that is a savings to the state. If the charter is not successful, the charter is closed. (accountability is the part you and your status quo friends hate to talk about)

Now let’s look at APS as an example. You remember APS, the nation’s largest cheating scandal? A state charter school would receive about $6,400 for a regular education high school student. At Atlanta Public Schools, the system would spend $15,000 on that same exact student.

But I now what you will want to point out, if the people of Atlanta are so dissatisfied with their local board, then they need to vote them out of office. And in the meantime, you will continue to shackle the next generation of children of failing schools and districts to their economic disenfranchisement.

VOTE YES on November 6th. It is a vote for children and families or all color and economic backgrounds!

Teacher in DeKalb

August 19th, 2012
8:48 pm

Have you people paid attention to what is happening here in DeKalb or elsewhere in our state? I want choices for children and families, but I want choices for me as a teacher even more.

I will be voting yes on November 6th. All teachers should be voting yes as well. I want to have options which meet my teaching philosophies!!!!

Jason

August 19th, 2012
8:50 pm

I do not understand the fear of reform. Are we as a state really satisfied with the current accomplishments of our education system in Georgia or across the United States? I do not expect charters to be perfect, but I am more afraid of keeping things as is for the years to come.

td

August 19th, 2012
9:03 pm

Johnny B Good

August 19th, 2012
8:44 pm

“@td, you sure do come across as an angry old education status quo @$$.”

You my friend are either new to this blog or have changed your screen name. I am not angry and I do favor Charter schools. I do not favor this amendment. As a conservative and having been Taxed Enough Already, I do not see the need to set up another bureaucracy when either the local board or the State BOE has the ability to set up Charter schools.

@@

August 19th, 2012
9:34 pm

Among the many things I did not know…

The Kwame Nkrumah Academy is a Chicago public elementary charter school. The mission of the Kwame Nkrumah Academy is to equip students with a strong sense of personal identity, requisite ethical moorings and academic and leadership skills to prepare them for participation in the global community.

The Kwame Nkrumah Academy was birthed under the vision of Trinity United Church of Christ and the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright., Jr. to establish an exemplary public school in the heart of the community.

Somethin’ wrong with Chicago’s schools?

@@

August 19th, 2012
9:40 pm

I wonder if Rev. Wright is teaching religion at the Academy?

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

August 19th, 2012
9:45 pm

Why does Paul Ryan scare the president so much? Because Obama has broken his promises, and it’s clear that the GOP ticket’s path to prosperity is our only hope. – NewsWeak

It looks like even the tools are jumping over the side of this ship.

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

August 19th, 2012
9:50 pm

Peggy Noonan: If Biden Were Republican Meet the dePressed Topic Would Be ‘How Stupid Is This Person?’

Well.

And it would have to be a 26 part documentary too.

@@

August 19th, 2012
10:16 pm

Why The Screwed Generation Is Turning To Paul Ryan

Kirsten Powers has always been smarter than the average lib.

Every time I see her, she can’t seem to support what Obama’s about.

No longer an Obama girl, I guess.

She REALLY doesn’t like Joe Biden.

@@

August 19th, 2012
10:17 pm

Goodnight, Andy.

G Mare

August 19th, 2012
10:39 pm

Vote NO. We taxpayers do not need to give the state officials MORE control of our money. Especially if you voted NO on tsplost, you should vote NO on this amendment, too.

Johnny B Good

August 19th, 2012
10:59 pm

@td, then you must have been in favor of the original law which ensured the children attending a state authorized charter school were funded with local dollars since they live in that community.

Let me go ahead and answer that one for you, you would say “no” b/c we don’t need a commission to do the work of the SBOE.

Well td, obviously you don’t give a damn about the welfare of children as you don’t care that some children are funded less, so long as your precious yet failing school system remains unharmed financially. Your arguments are meritless so long as you care more about systems/district employment factories and less about children.

You say you are a conservative but I bet you are a closet Democrat. Why don’t you come on out of the closet and admit you are a Cynthia McKenny supporter, keeping people down with the education status quo?

VOTE YES ON NOVEMBER 6
http://bettergaschools.org/

Mary Elizabeth

August 19th, 2012
11:16 pm

“I will be voting yes on November 6th. All teachers should be voting yes as well. I want to have options which meet my teaching philosophies!!!!”
=================================================

Teachers who vote “yes” for Georgia’s Constitutional Amendment in November will be voting against their own best interests. Their options will decrease, not increase. Rep. Jan Jones, the sponsor of HR 1162 which created the words for the Constitutional Amendment that will form a State Commission for Special Charter Schools, also sponsored another bill in which teachers who teach in those special charter schools could be disallowed from being a part of the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia by their principals in those special charter schools. Furthermore, from the link I provided at 10:09 am, teachers should take note of the following words:

“The most fundamental problem with a private model of education is that a company’s profits depend directly on cost-cutting. The cheaper the services they provide, just as in private prisons and hospitals, the more profit they turn. So there is always an incentive to do things on the cheap—poorly maintained physical plant and equipment, low pay for teachers and other staff, and larger class sizes mean bigger rates of return.”

From that same article, teachers will also read that some public charter schools have become profit-oriented schools through the influence of the corporations that have been chosen to run them. Some have even become private charter schools, based on profit, in time. See the link below for that information:

http://www.isreview.org/issues/62/feat-charterschools.shtml
———————————————————-

Teachers, refuse to put your “heads in the sand” on this Constitutional Amendment and not see that this amendment will hinder traditional public education, as well as public school teachers’ choices and interests. Vote “No” in November on this amendment to Georgia’s Constitution. Also, be aware that there is no need to change Georgia’s Constitution because parents, by law, already have a means to appeal their local Boards of Education’s decisions – by appealing decisions to the Superintendent of Georgia’s Schools, within the State Board of Education.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

August 20th, 2012
12:09 am

Who knows how well traditional and charter schools are spending public monies? To remedy this unacceptable situation, Georgia taxpayers need to see the unredacted reports of competent, disinterested, out-of-state auditing firms which would undertake regular, comprehensive financial, personnel and efficacy evaluations of all publicly-funded traditional schools, charter schools and school systems in Our Home State.

Mary Elizabeth

August 20th, 2012
1:53 am

I have just posted the following response to another poster on Maureen Downey’s blog on this topic. I wish to repost, here, to communicate my thoughts – related to this issue – with readers of this blog:
——————————————————————-

” I am going to say a few blunt words to you now so that you might see. ALEC has effected your life, my life, and the lives of all other Georgians more than you are aware. It has had influence in the creation of this Constitutional Amendment, imo. Most of Georgia’s legislators – I can assure you – are aware of its influence, and it is past time for Georgia’s citizens to become aware of this truth.

Jefferson was a primary shaper of the ideals and values of this nation. He would be appalled at the prospect of the education of America’s young turned into a profit-making industry for the greed of a few, and that is what could easily happen. Just as Lincoln, in his era, knew that it was up to him to have the fortitude and the vision to continue Jefferson’s (and Washington’s, Adam’s, and our other founders’) vision for our nation, so it is up to us, the living, to now know what we must be about in today’s America to make certain that this nation continues to be one “of, by. and for” the people, and not a nation for the corporate, monetary interests of the few. If you do not understand that, you are missing the main point of what this is about.

I am posting this simply for your awareness. There is no need for a response. Thank you.
———————————————————————–

From the link below, Jefferson’s words to William Giles in a letter dated 1825:

‘Jefferson wrote in 1825 to William Branch Giles of ‘a vast accession of strength from their younger recruits, who, having nothing in them of the feelings or principles of ‘76, now look to a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and monied incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry.’ ‘ ”

http://www.monticello.org/site/research-and-collections/end-democracyquotation#footnote3_54erh5f

Steven

August 20th, 2012
5:36 am

@CharterStarter, Too

August 18th, 2012
11:39 am

Shoving down Georgia’s throat also meaning A WHOLE LOT OF MIS-INFORMATION.

At the core of the argument for Charter schools is ’separate but equal’ phenomenom. This phenomenom nevers has worked and never will. Driving through the Carolinas and observing the predominately white State supported schools and the predominately black state supported schools. One will observe a BIG difference in how the campuses differ from each other. The predominately white schools look far superior to the predominately black schools and they are both tax payer supported. So, the Charter school amendment will never fly with me and my mileu.

CharterStarter, Too

August 20th, 2012
6:56 am

CharterStarter, Too
August 20th, 2012
6:45 am

@ Mary Elizabeth – Let me just take this one point at a time.

Retirement. Perhaps you are unaware that the state is upside down with the retirement system in Georgia. Teachers are FORCED to pay into a retirement system that may or may not be sustainable by the time they retire. There are many, many other retirement investment options available to individuals that would be less costly to the individual, the employer, and provide a better return on their investment. The state chartered special schools are being given an OPTION (not a requirement) to explore other investment opportunities besides TRS. Teachers CHOOSING to work in these schools will know this prior to being employed and can decide for themselves.

It is amazing to me how easily people are led into believing they should only have one choice in life and in their careers. That is simply not true.

CharterStarter, Too

August 20th, 2012
6:57 am

@ GMare – Can you please help me understand how this amendment will cause the state to have MORE control over your money?

CharterStarter, Too

August 20th, 2012
7:00 am

@ Steven – I am not sure what misinformation to which you are referring. Every bit of information I have provided has been via references to public sources where I recommend that people go and look for themselves.

As for racially divisive schools…the demographics show (go look for yourself) that charters demographics mirror traditional demographics, and in some cases are even MORE diverse. I have given the example in southwest Georgia where Pataula is more diverse than the almost 100% minority public schools in a community that is closer to 50/50.

I want to understand your concerns here. Can you please explain further?

Mary Elizabeth

August 20th, 2012
8:17 am

CharterStarter, Too, 6:56 am

“The state chartered special schools are being given an OPTION (not a requirement) to explore other investment opportunities besides TRS. Teachers CHOOSING to work in these schools will know this prior to being employed and can decide for themselves.”
==============================================

Your have chosen your words, above, shrewdly, which tells me a lot about who you probably are besides being a parent and teacher. If a given teacher has no other prospect for a job, because of teacher layoffs in traditional public schools, she/he may have no other financial choice but to work in one of these special charter schools. You, and readers, should be made aware that Rep. Jan Jones brought before the legislature in the last legislative session a bill in which teachers from these special charter schools were NOT to be given an option of whether they could join, or not, the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia. I read the language of Rep. Jones’ bill very carefully. Principals in these special state charter schools (formed by this Constitutional Amendment) were to be given the option of disallowing their teachers from joining the TRS. Their teachers would have had NO choice in whether or not they could have joined the TRS, once hired. If their principal said they could not join the TRS, then they couldn’t join it, even if they desired to. That is a regression in the respect afforded teachers as adults with full autonomy, and it reeks of paternalism toward teachers.

Charter Starter, Too, you are only disseminating surface realities to the public with this post of yours. Jan Jones’ bill was a bill that would have undermined not only the choices of those particular teachers in those special charter schools (formed by this Constitutional amendment), but it would undermine the TRS itself. The bill was pulled, fortunately, but its content should tell you, and the reading public, the intent behind its having being created to begin with. I will remind you, again, that Rep. Jan Jones is a member of ALEC.

BTW, the Georgia Teacher Retirement System’s funds are doing well because they are in the hands of financial experts who have the best interests of Georgia’s public school teachers in mind. Teachers, a few years back, refused to let the state of Georgia handle entirely their teaching funds’ investments, unlike other state agency employees’ retirement funds, and Georgia’s teachers have also refused to let Risky Venture Capitalists in Georgia – whose revenues fell to the tune of 40% according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle this past quarter – use any percentage of their retirement monies for their own risky adventures in business, unlike other state agencies, in which politicians have controlled other state employees’ choices, in this regard.

Most teachers are savvy to what is going on, stealthily, to their detriment, by some Republican politicans in Georgia’s General Assembly. Shame on them.

— Peach Pundit

August 20th, 2012
8:25 am

[...] – Barrow calls on Anderson and Allen to take a position on the Ryan budget. – Georgia Gwinnett College is growing, adding sports. – Runoffs in Gwinnett tomorrow: Beaudreau vs. Hunter for County Commission and four women compete for 2 Judicial positions. – Macon Telegraph: Runoffs Across Middle Georgia. – Wingfield: Barge gets it wrong by opposing charter schools amendment. [...]

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

August 20th, 2012
8:32 am

Hey, do prisons house the legitimate rapists with the illegitimate rapists? Is there a status difference between the two?

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 20th, 2012
9:06 am

“a single and splendid government of an aristocracy, founded on banking institutions, and monied incorporations under the guise and cloak of their favored branches of manufactures, commerce and navigation, riding and ruling over the plundered ploughman and beggared yeomanry.”
———

GM. Chrysler. Solyndra. MF Global. Fisker.

Thanks for reminding us of the real danger posed by our government today.

CharterStarter, Too

August 20th, 2012
9:40 am

@ Mary Elizabeth – please link us to this language of which you speak. The schools (having stakeholder input) would have the option of using TRS or not.

Do you really expect that charters will hire teachers “just looking for a job?” Ummmmm….no. They are looking for educators with a shared philosophy, passion, and proven results. Also, what your are insinuating is that out of the thousands of schools in the state – public, private, etc, unemployed teachers are going to be “forced” to be employed by one of these 16 charter schools. That is absurd.

Did you know that the state will not allow some charters who are not in State Health Benefits to opt in? Districts for years prevented teachers in charters from joining. What are your thoughts on that? So you want them forced into the retirement system which may or may not be in the best interests of those employees….but the state and districts should not be required to allow for health insurance. Really?

Mary Elizabeth

August 20th, 2012
10:12 am

Charter Starter, Too, 9:40 am

“Do you really expect that charters will hire teachers “just looking for a job?” Ummmmm….no. They are looking for educators with a shared philosophy, passion, and proven results. Also, what your are insinuating is that out of the thousands of schools in the state – public, private, etc, unemployed teachers are going to be “forced” to be employed by one of these 16 charter schools. That is absurd.”
=======================================

You build a case against my thoughts based on your own dramatic distortions of my thoughts, and then you call that “absurd.” You are playing semantic games with yourself, not with me. My thinking is more measured. For example, a teacher might need a job to survive financially and ALSO possess a “passion” for teaching and have “proven results” with students. And, I am not insinuating anything based on “16 charter schools.” Unlike you, I look to the future – the near future – based on precedence, not on a simple, flat reality of the present moment. There are already many laid off public school teachers in Georgia. They will look for jobs where they are available.

Do you realize that the State Health Benefit Plan (Department of Community Health) functions in conjunction with the Governor’s administration and members of the General Assembly? They don’t make decisions as an entirely separate entity; instead, their policies are made in conjuction with these two additional political, governmental bodies (which are now dominated by Republican leadership). Again, look deeper. Are you aware that Georgia’s state retirees were changed, without voice, from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage under a Republican governor’s administration in the past decade? Are you aware that Republicans, nationally, support Medicare Advantage?

But since you have resorted to distorting my thoughts in your erroneous restatement of them, as well as thinking, erroneously, that you have the luxury of insulting me which you do not, I will bid you farewell. Good day.

Mary Elizabeth

August 20th, 2012
10:18 am

My words from my 10:12 post: “Unlike you, I look to the future – the near future – based on precedence, not on a simple, flat reality of the present moment.”

For readers, please read the article, in full, (from the link I am providing, below) which will demonstrate precedence, and trends, relative to public charter schools, nationally. Georgia’s leaders should be aware of these trends.

http://www.isreview.org/issues/62/feat-charterschools.shtml

Morning Reads August 20, 2012

August 20th, 2012
11:02 am

[...] – Barrow calls on Anderson and Allen to take a position on the Ryan budget. – Georgia Gwinnett College is still growing, adding sports. – Runoffs in Gwinnett tomorrow: Beaudreau vs. Hunter for County Commission and four women compete for 2 Judicial positions. – Macon Telegraph: Runoffs Across Middle Georgia. – Wingfield: Barge gets it wrong by opposing charter schools amendment. [...]

Dirty Dawg

August 20th, 2012
11:03 am

That’s tellin em Kyle…these guys that try to exercise their own ‘good judgement’ and dare to venture off the required Rethug Doctrine Reservation, will soon find out who’s buttering their bread, and who’s part of the ‘mind police’ – that would be you Kyle. By the way, are you still proud of your role in this massive brainwashing propaganda initiative?

Prof

August 20th, 2012
11:07 am

I usually only read Maureen Downey’s blog “Get Schooled.” She’s had a number of blog-threads recently about the charter school amendment that Georgia voters are to consider this November. Prominent on all of them is CharterStarter 2, always repeating the same arguments and making the same platitudinous claims about charter schools. This blogger immediately answers any reservations about charter schools and the amendment at great length.

Reading this exchange here (where the jousting with Mary Elizabeth is very like that on “Get Schooled”), I have become convinced that CharterStarter2 is, in fact, Representative Jan Jones, sponsor of HR 1162 that creates this amendment. He wants YOUR favorable votes, folks!

Ernest T Bass

August 20th, 2012
11:07 am

From what Ive seen Charter schools basically just throw out teaching Science and replace it with Religion

Exactly what Georgia needs .

Darwin

August 20th, 2012
11:46 am

Same old Republican story. Destroy public sector unions and cater to private corporations who donate to campaigns.

Carol

August 20th, 2012
12:22 pm

Barge should be commended for taking a tough and unpopular stand on this issue.

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

August 20th, 2012
12:34 pm

The discord, these sources said, has on occasion flowed from Obama himself, who at repeated turns has made vocal his dissatisfaction with decisions made by his campaign team, with its messaging, with Vice President Joe Biden and with what Obama feared was clumsy coordination between his West Wing and reelection headquarters in Chicago. – Politico

Aahhh, yes, time to start throwing everyone under the bus.

We wouldn’t want our little obozo taking the heat for the landslide he’s gonna lose in, now would we?

saywhat?

August 20th, 2012
1:06 pm

We wouldn’t want our little obozo taking the heat for the landslide he’s gonna lose in, now would we?
____________________________________________________
Is he running against Ryan for prom king, or biggest brown noser?

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

August 20th, 2012
1:16 pm

Neither, saywhat. Obozo is running against President Romney on a very important election to decide who’s going to lead us out of the disaster of the last four years–the liberal fascist who put us there, or an actual American with real world experience and a long record of business and leadership success.

No Artificial Flavors

August 20th, 2012
1:40 pm

Concerning the argument of more parental control being the best local control, I would ask two questions.

1) are these parents paying the entire tax tab for their babies’ education?
2) have you seen the quality of most parents in our culture today?

Bonus follow-up: Do you think these parents, the majority of whom are sorry excuses of humanity, know better than duely elected local school officials that are selected from the broader constituency?

Most parents are only interested in daycare, not education for our society.

CharterStarter, Too

August 20th, 2012
2:34 pm

@ Prof – Jan is quite a bit taller than me. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Johnny B Good

August 21st, 2012
11:22 am

Why does Mary Elizabeth continue to link to articles by “International Socialists Review”? I live in the United States of America Mary and welcome choice and competition, not the iron hand of a Carl Marx society.

SatisfiedCustomer

August 22nd, 2012
1:38 pm

“First of all, education is not a public service like “garbage pick-up,” it is a field of public service that fosters the elevation of human beings – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Educators are not simply teaching facts such as that 3 x 3 = 9; they are inspiring our young to be the best that they can be in all of the areas mentioned.”

@Mary Elizabeth, you are so right in this statement and I believe this is why many people go into teaching in the first place, they want to inspire and help young people; however, something happens along the way in our traditional education system and many teachers are reduced to purveyors of the necessary facts & knowledge. That nurturing and inspiration that you believe can only come from a non-profit public school has been squeezed out of the school day; through no fault of the teachers for the most part, I’m guessing. For many students, this is fine; facts and knowledge are all they need, but for others, this isn’t enough. In fact, the nurturing and inspiration that you believe must surely be lacking in for-profit managed schools is found in the very same entity that you suggest it cannot exist in.

After my son’s confidence and self-esteem hit rock bottom in an educational environment (Our district public school.) that was toxic to him, we enrolled him in the local public charter school that is managed by a for-profit. His teachers at his charter school are AMAZING! I can guarantee you that they are not there for the money (Actually, I heard they get paid less than their district counterparts – though I haven’t verified this personally.). They have inspired my child and he enjoys school again and he has his confidence back. It doesn’t matter to me that a for-profit manages his school. What matters to me, his parent, is that before, I had a smart kid who hadn’t been successful in school for some time and now he might actually reach his full potential. I have never, ever witnessed such a high level of commitment and dedication to students that I see from the teachers at this charter school. I also have/had older children in traditional public schools so this is my 14th year as a public school parent and I attended public schools, myself. I had some wonderful teachers, my kids have had some wonderful teachers, but at this school, we’ve hit the jackpot!

Thankfully, the traditional public schools are successfully educating the majority of our children, but if the goal is to successfully educate ALL children in Georgia, not just the MAJORITY of children, charter schools, even those managed by for-profits, should be allowed if they can help get the job done. Also, the beauty of a charter school is that if a teacher doesn’t get the job done; their contract isn’t renewed. If the school doesn’t educate the kids as expected, it’s closed.

If you don’t do your job well, your employer lets you go. If a business cannot meet the needs of it’s customers, it goes out of business. What a concept!

waiting for jake

August 23rd, 2012
8:23 pm

If you think that diversity is the issue, you clearly have never stepped into a charter school. My son’s class clearly reflects the diversity of our county. The education is customized to _his_ abilities, both strengths and weaknesses. This allows him to be consistently challenged in his areas of interest and to avoid holding his classmates back when he struggles to keep up with them.
As for the confusion on funding, his school accomplishes all of this on significantly less funding per student than both our county and all of those surrounding us. Also, for the record, the reason the state offers slightly additional funding is that local county schools receive funding above what the state traditionally provides from local taxes, as well. The amount from the state in no way makes up for this per-student difference and makes the charter school’s ability to provide an excellent education at a lower cost-per-student even more impressive. Perhaps you can even infer from this that our locally-control board is operating quite inefficiently and simply wasting money that you could be saving in YOUR taxes if they would stop fighting us and instead try to learn from our success in this area. It seems silly to argue about an additional budget line item when your taxes are being wasted elsewhere, making the charter school option necessary in the first place. You may want to also note that that line item in no way impacts funding for your traditional public school, which comes from a completely separate coffer.
The school district we are zoned for has a record of test scores that decline by 25% between kindergarten and 5th grade. That tells me they are starting with fully capable students and then failing completely in their obligation to do so. By contrast, our charter school scores outperformed my assigned elementary school and the county as a whole, by a significant amount. (Makes that lower cost thing even more impressive…) We sought relief from our county and were denied, leaving us with a choice between a failing school and a private one to which we cannot afford to send our children. Yet in spite of this failure, we are still forced to pay the taxes that support this (substandard) education for others that our children will never use. If you have a child in public school and it is performing well, I truly am happy for (and a bit envious of) you. Your tax dollars are being used for a wonderful purpose in that case–please do not deny me the same privilege. If you do not have a child in school, wouldn’t you prefer to put the money you are forced to pay anyway into a school that spends it far more responsibly, placing less demand on the budget on a per-student basis?
Contrary to another post, there are no vouchers for either charter or private schools here. Your neighborhood school is your only choice. So many others in our area were burdened by the need for better schools here that the waiting list for our school far exceeds its capacity. There were more than twice as many applicants as there were slots available this year just for my child’s class alone. And since slots are assigned by lottery, using only an applicant number (based solely on the order your initial application was submitted), I find it hard to believe that there is any way to limit minority slots. They also cannot discriminate based on a child’s abilities, and must provide IEPs _and_ fulfillment of those already in place for every student as needed, despite any additional financial obligations they may incur as a result.
Please get the facts before you vote. Despite the picture painted by the school boards and the superintendent, some of the actual truth may surprise you–and benefit all of us in the long run.