Georgia charter schools amendment gets boost from RNC

In a state as red as Georgia, local suspense concerning the presidential race died with March’s GOP primary. Nor will any coattails worn by Mitt Romney sweep across our red clay: The only contested statewide races for November are the oft-neglected ones for the Public Service Commission.

No, the only question facing everyone from Trenton to Thomasville whose outcome is unclear is the charter-schools constitutional amendment. One surprise from last week’s GOP convention was that champions of the amendment, and school choice more broadly, got a three-pronged boost.

Let’s hope they paid attention. And are cutting ads from the video.

It came from the very top of the party, as Romney himself said education reform would be one of his tools for reinvigorating the economy. Specifically, he said, “When it comes to the school your child will attend, every parent should have a choice, and every child should have a chance.”

Florida’s Jeb Bush, whose gubernatorial record on education reform was second to none, sounded a similar note after reciting familiar statistics about U.S. students’ slipping global competitiveness.

“We say that every child in America has an equal opportunity,” he said. “Tell that to a parent stuck in a school” — i.e., a parent who can’t afford choices for her child — “where there is no leadership.”

“The sad truth,” he continued, “is that equality of opportunity doesn’t exist in many of our schools. We give some kids a chance, but not all. That failure is the great moral and economic issue of our time. And it’s hurting all of America.”

But no one in Tampa made a more eloquent or powerful pitch for confronting the crisis of status quo-ism in education than Condoleezza Rice.

“You see,” she said, “the essence of America, what really unites us, is not nationality or ethnicity or religion. It is an idea. And what an idea it is. That you can come from humble circumstances and you can do great things, that it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going. …

“But today, when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you’re going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going? The crisis in k-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.”

Rice pointed to three principles of reform that are anathema to the educational establishment but obvious to many of us:

“We need great teachers, not poor ones and not mediocre ones. We have to have high standards for our kids, because self-esteem comes from achievement, not from lax standards and false praise.

“And we need to give parents greater choice, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools.”

“This,” said Rice, who grew up in segregated Birmingham but became the face of America as our secretary of state, “is the civil rights issue of our day.”

To hear the status quo-ists tell it, to challenge teacher tenure is to denigrate the profession. No, protecting poor and mediocre teachers at the expense of children and learning is what debases the profession.

To hear the anti-reformists tell it, to insist on high standards for children is to adopt the warped priority of “teaching to the test.” No, the idea that well-taught students won’t perform well on standardized tests — or, worse, that measuring success will drive even good teachers to cheat — is what’s warped.

And to hear the educational establishment tell it, to let parents choose where to spend the tax dollars already allocated for their children’s education is to seek the destruction of the public school system. No, whistling past the graveyard of failing schools and wasted potential, suggesting we only pump more money into an educational system that already far out-spends many higher-performing countries, is what’s already causing many parts of the system to crumble around us.

May Rice’s words reach many more Georgians than the ones who watched her speak last week.

– By Kyle Wingfield

Find me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter

256 comments Add your comment

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

September 6th, 2012
7:15 am

Most parents would rather have their children educated instead of brainwashed and the libs intrenched in the public school system are soaked in the Koolaid.

Run them off and the problem is solved.

Mikey D.

September 6th, 2012
7:47 am

Ah yes, the “small government and local control” republicans pushing once again for an expansion of power at the capitol. I guess hypocrisy is a virtue.

Justin

September 6th, 2012
7:56 am

I agree with the previous comment. Get rid of the teachers that are not teaching and hold all of them to a higher standard. Simply “teaching to the test” is not really teaching. Education is more than just reciting information from a book. Our money should be spent to improve the current school system, not in creating more schools that only exacerbate the current problem of some children having better opportunities than others.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
7:58 am

And to hear the educational establishment tell it, to let parents choose where to spend the tax dollars already allocated for their children’s education is to seek the destruction of the public school system.

To let those same voice of that “educational establishment” choose where to spend the tax dollars for the children’s education is to seek the destruction of far too many young minds who are the last best hope for this country’s ability to compete in the global economy.

How many parents or adults without children in this country would prefer to see the waste of young minds and the socioeconomic destruction of the United States in order to save the government monopoly of education known as the public school system?

American children do well against European kids up to about middle school. Thereafter our children trail European kids academically. In Europe, the parents and their kids have school choice, where income, geography, teachers unions, mediocre teachers or the monopoly of a failing educational system can keep the European kids who have school choice from getting the very best possible education from the very best schools. School administrator and teachers in those European schools know they must perform and the children must learn or else the children will find another school and they will be out of a job.

tom paine

September 6th, 2012
8:13 am

A lot of foreign schools route children of different abilities to different schools at a certain age. That way, children who need to learn a trade might learn something useful and children who should go to college go to college prep schools. We might benefit from that sort of thing. I’m not sure even that would be enough for some systems, as support for some public schools has declined and calls for vouchers have increased since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Moving to the suburbs was the primary solution for years, but now that we’ve created these “fill-in-the-blank” religious schools all over the place, they need an ever increasing flow of students to stay afloat. This further erodes support for public schools.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
8:14 am

Our money should be spent to improve the current school system

That approach has been tried as long as I can remember in this state and it has repeatedly failed to produce the desired results. As long as the parents and their children do not control their portion of taxpayer education dollars, there will always be a child who gets trapped in a failing school because of income and geography when they shouldn’t be.

When you have money, as everyone knows, you have choices and the power to change your results.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
8:19 am

Moving to the suburbs was the primary solution for years, but now that we’ve created these “fill-in-the-blank” religious schools all over the place, they need an ever increasing flow of students to stay afloat. This further erodes support for public schools.

How does a child who does not receive a penny of public education funds going to a private religious school erode support for public schools when in truth the public schools are gaining monetarily?

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

September 6th, 2012
8:28 am

Romney himself said education reform would be one of his tools for reinvigorating the economy.

His reform is a plan to siphon off any funds for education for the poor, minorities, etc and funnel that money to the “haves” so their children can go to private schools for a little less money.

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

September 6th, 2012
8:31 am

A lot of foreign schools route children of different abilities to different schools at a certain age.

Can you see where the corruption would creep in and take this over here in America? Someone with means would not fathom their child being sent to a “trade” school so, next thing you know, checkbooks and favors would start appearing.

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

September 6th, 2012
8:34 am

have their children educated instead of brainwashed

Yes, and we ARE coming to take yer guns and force Sharia law on you!!!

Michael H. smith

September 6th, 2012
8:35 am

Yes, those poor teacher unions and the lousy teachers they protect that contribute quid pro quo to elect democrats can’t allow that siphon to divert funds from their funnel… Too many children might get an education and become smart enough to vote for Republicans! :lol:

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

September 6th, 2012
8:47 am

I don’t care who they vote for. This country is based on a consumer society which requires people to have money to buy stuff. Getting everyone educated leads to empoyability which leads to bank accounts which leads to purchase power.

Spending money that could help someone who really needs the help is more important than saving an upper class family a couple thousand a year on their private school tuition.

jconservative

September 6th, 2012
8:48 am

We treat kids in the US as if they are to dumb to learn. And in way to many cases they are being taught by teachers who were treated as if they were to dumb to learn.

Every child should be able to speak and read a foreign language by ten years of age. But we do not believe they have the ability.

If that takes charter schools, so be it. If that takes firing every teacher and starting over, so be it.

Ed Advocate

September 6th, 2012
8:51 am

I still don’t understand why some Republican’s are supporting GA’s charter school amendment. It creates new unnecessary state government, diminishes local control, and is 100% unfunded. Local property taxes are sure to rise as a result of passage. We should demand legislators return to the drawing board to come up with meaningful education reform. John Barge, a true conservative, is right on target in his opposition to this plan. The amendment smacks of paternalistic government waste–reminds me of TSPLOST–and we know what GA voters thought of that.

Whirled Peas

September 6th, 2012
8:52 am

When are we going to wake up and rid ourselves of the government run monopoly school system? Monopolies, almost by definition, are slow moving and unresponsive. If we had not boken up AT&T and the Bell System in the 1970’s, we would probably not have an internet today. The biggest obstacle is the teachers unions which spend billions in political contributions defending the host that the teachers have their tentacles in.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
8:52 am

Spending money that could help someone who really needs the help is more important than saving an upper class family a couple thousand a year on their private school tuition.

Piffle

It is the other way round, money is being kept from those who really need help/money to get out of a failing school system with lousy teachers.

And you most certainly do care about who gets elected you big liar.

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

September 6th, 2012
8:54 am

“We need great teachers, not poor ones and not mediocre ones.

Why do you think the best minds of this country no longer go into science, health, teaching? it’s the pay, stoopid!

Herein lies the hypocrisy of the Conservatives regarding schools and teachers. Maybe if you allow teachers to earn a decent wage without harassing them about their unions or trying to take away their benefits you might get a better quality of talent in the teacher pool?

If you took all stock traders and began cutting their pay and began denying their benefits, do you think most of the brighter ones would go do something that was more lucrative?

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

September 6th, 2012
8:56 am

If we had not boken up AT&T and the Bell System in the 1970’s, we would probably not have an internet today.

LOL. More Republican “gut” history.

Buzzy

September 6th, 2012
8:56 am

The best teacher in the world can’t make up for a parent who doesn’t value learning in the home. I think we have more of a parent problem today than a teacher problem.

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

September 6th, 2012
8:59 am

money is being kept from those who really need help/money to get out of a failing school system with lousy teachers.

conservative welfare = it sucks when those people benefit but it’s important when we benefit from it.

Conservatives say government is BAD….unless you are talking about funneling money to my upper class bank account.

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

September 6th, 2012
9:01 am

Somebody give Michael H Smith a handout before his eyes start welling with tears.

“Somebody give me a tax break ALREADY…before I drown”

“I gotta have it…..I gotta have a tax break or I’ll dieeeeeee!!!!”

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

September 6th, 2012
9:23 am

since 1961, the Republicans have held the White House 28 years, the Democrats 24. In those 52 years, our economy produced 66 million private sector jobs. What’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million!

~Bill Clinton

And Cons want to go back to that trickle down BS with more tax cuts…..

Just Saying..

September 6th, 2012
9:26 am

Wow, did you see Clint Eastwood?

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
9:34 am

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

I don’t need a tax break and I, like many others, don’t need your whiny lies to defend democrats and unions.

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

September 6th, 2012
9:40 am

tsplost? how did we get over onto that? deflecting?

BuckeyeInGa

September 6th, 2012
9:46 am

How much would it cost to attend a charter school? Who decides which students are able to attend?

Aquagirl

September 6th, 2012
9:49 am

how did we get over onto that? deflecting?

For some reason they’re incredibly proud that after more than a decade of Republican rule, we have no plan for handling traffic.

You can spot these people at football games cheering when their own team fumbles.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
9:50 am

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

Oh, did I gloat?

Okay Kyle, but it does go to my point that Finn is a socialist democrat hack that will tell any lie for the socialist democrat cause.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
9:51 am

You can spot these people at football games cheering when their own team fumbles

You and Finn losing again, got to love it.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
9:52 am

Got to go support some AJC advertisers for now.

azazel

September 6th, 2012
9:57 am

the first book a child should read at home with parents is Newton’s Principia, in Latin– a free ibook, but beware it is not for those who believe humans played with dinosaurs

Aquagirl

September 6th, 2012
9:59 am

You and Finn losing again, got to love it.

The whoopfest coming out of the DNC is making you cranky, Michael. Make sure you get a nap in today. That works better than inventing imaginary tsplost balls and spiking them in your own pockmarked end zone.

Del

September 6th, 2012
10:18 am

We have ourselves to blame for the deterioration within our national public school system. The hard-left took hold of our colleges and universities a long time ago and like a cancer there’s been a metastasis of that ideology into our K-12 public school system. We’ve been too apathetic and have looked the other way, while educators who put ideology ahead of education continue to fail our children along with the tax paying public. We’re continually hearing about school board scandals and misbehaving teachers everywhere in the country. The current system is far too broken for repair.

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

September 6th, 2012
10:21 am

If you Cons were serious about helping American businesses you would be focused on creating a bigger better middle class – the group that represents the true job creators. The more people you have with money to spend the more revenue for US companies.

How do you assist with getting more people up from the lower class to the middle class? Increase the minimum wage, make benefits like health care and 401ks available, quit trying to pull out the stairs as people work to move up into the middle class.

Kyle Wingfield

September 6th, 2012
10:28 am

Finn @ 8:54: Per the most recent data available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

Average pay in Georgia, all occupations: $42,590
Average pay in Georgia, kindergarten teachers: $51,110 (20% more than average for all occupations)
Average pay in Georgia, elementary teachers: $53,530 (26% more)
Average pay in Georgia, middle school teachers: $53,520 (26% more)
Average pay in Georgia, secondary (i.e. high school) teachers: $53,510 (26% more)

Not to mention teachers have above-average benefits.

So, how much more would qualify as “decent”?

Gimme Gimme Gimme

September 6th, 2012
10:30 am

Finn gets schooled. Pun intended.

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

September 6th, 2012
10:36 am

That’s great Kyle, but your next op/ed about teachers will be something along the lines of “we have to break their unions” or “their benefits/pensions are killing us so we need to make cuts to it.”

Del

September 6th, 2012
10:43 am

Finn,

We don’t have a teachers union here in Georgia.

yuzeyurbrane

September 6th, 2012
10:44 am

Kyle, I don’t see how you see Condeleeza’s Rice’s statement as being an endorsement for state controlled charter schools. And both Romney’s and Bush’s quotes leave them plenty of political wiggle room. But, of course, that is what politicians do, especially Romney. One of the many problems with the Georgia amendment is that it is not designed to help poor kids from failing public schools. It is designed help mostly middle class white kids who mostly are not from failing public schools and to enrich largely out-of-state for profit education corporations. Kind of a a mother lode of k-12 cash for the likes of Capella University, Inc. Not to even mention that education will likely become the new watering hole for thirsty politicians now that the traditional transportation source is no longer user friendly because of the T-Splost defeat. Folks, we are talking billions here and you don’t think you will see a few Deal relatives hired as consultants? Moving from mere logic to fact, more than $400,000 of the $500,000 raised so far to finance the pro-state control Amendment has come from out-of-state sources. Real grass roots! And, Kyle, I don’t understand why you continue to distort the local parent control embodied in elected local school boards. Isn’t this level of government, which is about as close to the people as you can get, the exact thing you conservatives usually scream for? Instead, you want to replace their role in charter schools with a new state board appointed by Governor Deal? And you assume that parents at these state charters will have more control over their schools than a very active PTA? No, the agenda will be set by the state and the for-profit education corporations that will be hired to manage these schools, and he that controls the agenda controls the program.

td

September 6th, 2012
10:56 am

Kyle,

I support Charter schools and I am a conservative and agree with Dr. Barge on this issue 100% and am totally opposed to this proposed amendment.

Can you either answer this question or find an answer to this question:

If we already elect local school boards and they have the authority to constitute charter schools and then there is an appeal procedure to the state BOE (appointed by the governor) and the head of the DOE is an elected official then why do we need another commission (appointed by the Speaker, Senate President and Governor) to do the same job and answer to the State BOE?

This sounds fishy to me.

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

September 6th, 2012
10:58 am

he that controls the agenda controls the program.

We’re on our way to Texas-style textbooks. Here’s some tidbits:
• Saying Senator Joe McCarthy was correct to charge that the U.S. government was infiltrated by communists.
• Saying Thomas Jefferson did not play a major role among the founding fathers, and removing him from a list of figures whose writings inspired late-18th-century and 19th-century revolutions elsewhere.
• Requiring teaching that the country’s founding fathers were all Christians.
• Questioning the separation of church and state and refusing an amendment declaring that, “the founding fathers protected religious freedom in America by barring the government from promoting or disfavoring any particular religion above all others.”
• Ordering that the word “capitalism” be replaced in all textbooks with the “free-enterprise system.”
http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/6-reasons-we-need-protect-america-texas-politicians?page=0%2C1

Kyle Wingfield

September 6th, 2012
11:00 am

yuze @ 10:44: “State-controlled” is a misnomer. They would be “state-chartered.” And they would be state-chartered because, in too many cases, local school boards are blocking the creation of charter schools because they don’t want the competition.

“it is not designed to help poor kids from failing public schools. It is designed help mostly middle class white kids who mostly are not from failing public schools and to enrich largely out-of-state for profit education corporations.” You have bought the establishment’s faux argument hook, line and sinker. Let me ask you this: If the same amount of money, or less, is spent per student, why do you care whether some of it goes to pay a private school operator or to inflated central-office salaries in a traditional school district? APS spends hundreds of dollars per student more on central administration than almost every other school district in Georgia (I believe it is hundreds more than any district, but I am going off memory here so I will err on the side of caution) and yet under-performs most of them. That’s somehow better than a profit for a company operating a better-performing charter school?

“Folks, we are talking billions here…” — that is an exaggeration of epic proportions. Not only because we’re actually talking, at most, tens of millions, but also because taxpayers spend less on the average charter school student than on the average traditional public-schools student — meaning, whatever is spent will be less than what would have been spent.

“the local parent control embodied in elected local school boards” — I prefer the local parent control embodied in … local parent control. No control is more local than that which belongs to parents. The local school board may create and run schools that are perfectly fine for two-thirds, heck, even 90 percent of the students in their district. The question posed here is: Why stand in the way of letting the other kids and parents have access to options that work better for them? We are going to spend the money anyway; why would we not want it to be spent as productively as possible?

“a new state board”: It is worth pointing out that we are simply returning to a system that worked well for several years, before local districts sued to keep their hands on more state money. Let me repeat that: What local districts disliked about the old arrangement was that it deprived them of state funding (which was offset by the local money they weren’t spending on the students they weren’t teaching, but whatever). It was always about money for them. Now it’s about control. Not students, or learning, or outcomes.

Kyle Wingfield

September 6th, 2012
11:07 am

td @ 10:56: Because, as I explained before, the Supreme Court’s ruling only leaves the state board’s power intact because the state board’s power was not challenged in that particular lawsuit. But if you take the central point of the court’s ruling at face value — that the creation of schools is an exclusive power of local districts, except in the case of a very few number of cases such as state schools for the deaf or blind — then the state board does not really have that power, either. Vote down this amendment, and we are counting on local districts not to sue to overturn that arrangement, too. Given their demonstrated hostility to school choice, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

If they do sue, they will almost certainly win, based on the court’s (incorrect, imo) ruling. And then we will be back to needing another two-thirds majority in the Legislature — which wasn’t easy to get this time — and another referendum. Why not just do it now?

Centrist

September 6th, 2012
11:07 am

Although the AJC lists this blog under “Opinion” while Galloway’s Political Insider and Downey’s Get Schooled are listed as discussion blogs – those other two liberal opinion blogs will continue to go nuts over the charter school amendment.

The Georgia electorate outside the perimeter where the AJC has little influence will almost certainly support the amendment. It remains to be seen if the liberal inner city enclaves will overwhelm that support.

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

September 6th, 2012
11:12 am

Yeah

Throw out the Science Books boys.

It will be replaced with Religion in Charter schools.

With your tax dollars.

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/07/photos-evangelical-curricula-louisiana-tax-dollars

A sample of what they teach kids in Charter schools in Louisiana.

Georgia is a joke.

td

September 6th, 2012
11:12 am

Kyle Wingfield

September 6th, 2012
11:07 am

OK, I will take your argument about the court and suing. Now, my next question as a conservative is why not write a amendment to give the power to the SBOE instead of a separate commission? Everything I have read on the subject states that the commission will work with the SDOE and be accountable to the SBOE so why should a conservative support this extra layer of government when we already have an apparatus in place to handle these appeals?

I demand to see Cheesy Grits Birth Certificate- Long Form Please

September 6th, 2012
11:18 am

Just more Republican BS.

Ill give you another example.

Republicans love to talk about Voter Fraud and needing an ID to vote.

But they NEVER talk about Voter Fraud with absentee ballots.

Why? Because absentee ballots favor them.

See they dont really care about voter fraud. That isn’t the point.

What a disgrace the GOP has become.

citizen

September 6th, 2012
11:18 am

Has the State made a compelling enough argument that it can prove that the current system is failing? If not, I would look for a lawsuit if this referendum were to pass and any federal/state tax dollars are spent to improve education due to the fact that the present process of educating our youth has failed our students. The Plantiff…a student in the present system up against the ‘Government’ in a new system. Can’t be done without the Government admitting they have failed our citizens based on a constitutional mandate.

Interested Observer

September 6th, 2012
11:18 am

It’s easy to make Georgia’s education system the best in the country and, if we wanted, the best in the world. How? More hours in the classroom per day, more days in the classroom per year, smaller classes, and attracting the best and the brightest to teach.

What is Georgia doing? The opposite. Across the state, schools are shrinking the length of the school year, laying off and/or furloughing teachers, and increasing class sizes. For years, the state has refused to fully fund local school districts required by the Quality Basic Education formula. Even if fully funded, the QBE formula mandates contributions to k-12 education that are wholly inadequate.

So, here’s what’s happening. The state undermines our schools by significantly reducing needed funding, then suggest that it’s the local school boards are dropping the ball. Having made that argument, Georgia legislators now ask us for permission to use taxpayer money to fund privately-run schools having had mixed results, charter schools, to solve the problem they largely created. They do this, of course, knowing that every dollar they spend for a new state-funded charter school is a dollar that they are withholding from our existing schools.

My opinion? The charter school amendment is a back-door approach, not to better Georgia’s education system, but to slowly privatize our schools. For me, the charter school amendment comes down to this… Vote yes, if you want a privatized school system in Georgia. Otherwise, vote no.

I’m voting no.

Michael H. Smith

September 6th, 2012
11:28 am

Oh let’s see now AquaGirl what was does all that claptrap you fired off at me have to do with this topic other than to deflect.

Well then again for someone who claims the Republicans have been in power for 70 years in this state explains why I like to remind you and Finn of your other loses. At least those have more to do with Finn’s lying than than the BS backslapping from a democrat convention or brucie’s bunk about crying for a tax break.