Charter amendment foes twist conservative language to make their case

One of the more surprising things to happen during the debate about the charter-schools amendment is the way some conservatives are buying the arguments advanced by the very same educational establishment they tend to distrust.

Granted, these arguments often sound appealing because they’ve been phrased cleverly in the parlance of the right. So, according to amendment opponents, we stand to get bigger government by taking away local control and handing it to unaccountable bureaucrats via a redundant state agency.

If all that were so, I’d be hard-pressed to support the amendment myself. But the above claim touches reality only in the minds, or at least mouths, of self-interested status quoists who are being more than a bit economical with the truth.

The crux of this claim is the State Charter Schools Commission that would be re-established if the amendment passes, having been declared unconstitutional in a misguided 2011 Georgia Supreme Court ruling.

Here, if you can follow it, is the essence of what amendment opponents say about the commission: We don’t need these seven unelected bureaucrats appointed by the state school board creating, and spending our tax dollars on, charter schools which various local boards of education deemed inappropriate — because we already have 13 unelected members of the state school board who can* create, and spend our tax dollars on, charter schools which various local boards of education deemed inappropriate.

(*Unless someone sues to overturn this power. Because, if we follow the language and logic of the 2011 Supreme Court ruling, that someone would win.)

Got all that?

The contradictions abound:

1. We’re supposed to believe an appeal of local decisions to the state board of education is OK — but an appeal of local decisions to a State Charter Schools Commission is a betrayal of “local control.” (In fact, the most important local control in educational matters belongs to parents, who need more choices to ensure their children get a quality education.)

2. We’re supposed to believe the 13 members of the state school board, all appointed by the governor, are perfectly accountable to the public — but the seven members of the State Charter Schools Commission, appointed by those same 13 state school board members based on recommendations from the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House, somehow won’t be trustworthy.

3. We’re supposed to believe the same local school districts that sued to overturn the original state commission and are actively (and illegally, according to the state’s attorney general) opposing this amendment would sit idly by while the state school board continued to wield virtually the same power. Here, it’s worth repeating: The 2011 Supreme Court ruling leaves no room for any state agency to create charter schools, a power the justices held to be the “exclusive” constitutional domain of local boards. Only an amendment can change that.

4. We’re supposed to believe, by implication, that the new state commission would create some kind of vast parallel school system across the state — even though the original commission approved (see p. 15) a mere 17 charter schools, only 13 of which actually opened, out of 62 applications during its two years of operation.

5. We’re supposed to believe the re-created commission would be some new abomination, even though the relevant section of the legislation enabling it is almost word-for-word the same as the equivalent part of the legislation that created the old commission. And remember, the objections to the old commission came from the educational establishment, which saw a threat to its precious monopoly on the billions spent each year on our public schools.

Finally, we’re supposed to believe all this consternation on the part of the status quoists, whose fine, fine work to date has left Georgia mired near the bottom of national educational rankings, is all about the kids.

This amendment is about the kids, all right. It’s about giving more of them a way to escape the same old crowd that keeps telling us the more things stay the same, the more they’ll change.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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101 comments Add your comment

A reader

October 11th, 2012
6:16 am

We are supposed to believe that 7 additional bureaucrats does not constitute bigger government? We are supposed to believe that 7 additional bureaucrats with the authority to spend tax dollars does not constitute more spending? We are supposed to believe that 7 additional bureaucrats appointed at the state level leads to more local control?

Republicans are started to sound a lot like “tax and spend” Demoncrats in favor of bigger government.

HadIt

October 11th, 2012
6:20 am

All this is about having the taxpayers pay for schools in the basements of Baptist churches where the children will be taught that the earth is nine thousand years old and people and dinosaurs co-existed. And that liberals are from the pitt of hell.

DeborahinAthens

October 11th, 2012
6:33 am

Haft, you are partially right. The rest of the story is that more money will be taken from our public schools to pay private corporations that can teach whatever they want and are not held accountable. These schools can take the best and deny the difficult students….meanwhile, the “regular” public schools have been decimated and continue to deteriorate further. It’s the same plan the Republicans have for Medicare. Give people a “choice” –vouchers–which healthy people can use to pay for part of their health insurance (they have to foot the remaining bill) let those that are unhealthy use traditional Medicare, which is going to go bankrupt because healthy people aren’t using the traditional system. Their plan for eradicating public education works the same way. This way they starve their most hated programs of money.

Del

October 11th, 2012
7:23 am

Amazing how effective left wing propaganda works on those who’ve failed to achieve functional self reliance.

JDW

October 11th, 2012
7:35 am

While many of the arguments put forth by the opponents of the amendment relative to the expense and unaccountability make some sense the real thing I can’t get past is why should the state be able to usurp the wishes of local elected officials when it comes to their school system and budget dollars?

Shouldn’t the state’s job be to set standards, promote best practices and support the local efforts?

Add that to the fact that as Kyle says…”according to the state’s attorney general” school boards are acting unconstitutionally in supporting the amendment while the Governor et al are not while supporting the very same amendment and I smell a rat.

I will be voting no…if I don’t like the way my school board handles Charters then I will vote no when reelection time comes.

JDW

October 11th, 2012
7:40 am

@Kyle…”Finally, we’re supposed to believe all this consternation on the part of the status quoists, whose fine, fine work to date has left Georgia mired near the bottom of national educational rankings, is all about the kids.”

O and on this…no it’s about people standing up and saying that this is not the way forward. No one denies that education needs improvement…except maybe those wishing to redirect education funds to transportation :roll: …It is just that this is not the way. I look at Louisiana where they did exactly the same thing and know that’s not the best way.

http://www.myneworleans.com/New-Orleans-Magazine/June-2012/Charters-Vouchers-Creationism/

alpharetta mom

October 11th, 2012
7:55 am

Speaking of twists in logic Kyle – many of the same “we should make welfare recipients pee in a cup prior to receiving benefits” legislators (which I don’t necessarily disagree with BTW if it actually saved money) now feel that despite the fact that our constitution mandates that all Georgia students are entitled to an “adequate” free public education (which is not being funded for tps), are encouraging the sentiment that all parents are entitled to a charter school that suits their needs. Despite the fact that Republicans are supposed to stand for individual freedom and our constitutional right to worship as we please (and not make others pay for our religious choice), it is now OK to remove the elected voice of the 90% to make sure the 10% can get the school of their choice via an appointed charter commission or divert money via the tax credit scholarship SSO ($51M in 2012) to Christian, Muslim and Jewish schools. Any means justifies the end of by passing the local “government” school boards? That is insane. Your argument rests in quicksand.

Bill

October 11th, 2012
7:57 am

Kyle, you never cease to amaze me!! You are against “big government” except when you are for it. How you can support one more legislative board “for the good of the kids” is beyond me.

So you do not like the current school board – vote them out!! Don’t create one more board to serve the same function. I am against big government except………………..

Regards,

Interested Observer

October 11th, 2012
8:24 am

Whatever happened to the GOP position on local control? They got elected, that’s what happened, and now they are new believers in the need for an expanded government — to promote the GOP agenda. Its education platform is that rich, (mostly) white families want to be able to segregate their kids from the rest of society. They can do that now at myriad private schools, but they want to do it on the taxpayers’ backs.

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

October 11th, 2012
8:25 am

recommendations from the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House

You could have stopped right there…

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

October 11th, 2012
8:26 am

I can see the Charter schools being run out of Gainesville.

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

October 11th, 2012
8:26 am

You are against “big government” except when you are for it.

He gets that particular tic from the Mitt.

carlosgvv

October 11th, 2012
8:29 am

This amendment IS about the kids, all right. It’s about giving them a chance to escape the same old crowd that’s teaching them evolution, astronomy and some sense of critical thinking. In Georgia, teaching the kids that evolution and The Big Bang Theory are “lies from the pits of hell” are the preferred methods of the conservative majority.

LoganvilleGuy

October 11th, 2012
8:30 am

So unless I misunderstand Kyle…. If I point out that the State can already approve charter schools through the State BOE, I am being hypocritical by complaining about the creation of another unelected state commission… Wow.

We should not be creating more layers of government… especially when one is in place that has the power to do what you seek. If and when the State BOE isn’t allowed to create charter schools, come back and talk to me. Until then, I am voting no.

Shine

October 11th, 2012
8:34 am

Bring back the democrats while we still have some of a state left!!

Cherokee

October 11th, 2012
8:39 am

Conservatives preach all the time that decisions are best made by the government closest to the people. States Rights!… and all that.

But I guess if your supposed values conflict with the shiny goal of more money in the hands of out of state private corporations, the heck with values….

Expanded government

October 11th, 2012
8:39 am

No right-minded conservative could vote for this. It’s an expansion of state gov’t, costing taxpayers $1 million/year. Read Kerwin Swint’s blog yesterday to get the facts.

killerj

October 11th, 2012
8:40 am

Right on the nose kyle,BILLIONS of tax payers money they would not have control of,good man,but who could we trust on either side?

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
8:43 am

Whatever produces more options for parents to choose from, and a more comptetitive, more free-market approach to education, I’m for. Teachers unions had their chance, and did nothing.

Metro Coach

October 11th, 2012
8:45 am

Hadlt-that has to be the absolute most ignorant comment so far in this entire debate. A debate, I might add,that has been filled with ignorant comments. Charter schools are public schools, they have no affiliation with churches or other religious institutions, unless they have some agreement for facilities usage. At this point, local school boards have basically sole power in determining whether a charter school opens or not. As we can see based on their possibly illegal campaigning on the issue school boards are opposed to charter schools, period, not just an amendment that would allow a state commission to create them. Therefore, how can the public expect these local boards to be open to allowing a charter school to be created? Charter schools have no chance as long as local boards are the sole judge, jury, and executioner. It amazes me how liberals, who are supposed to be the party of freedom and choice, continue to be the anti-choice party.

Metro Coach

October 11th, 2012
8:47 am

Lil Barry Bailout- Anything that the GAE is against is most definitely best for education. If you vote against the GAE then you’re going to be on the right side of the debate.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
8:52 am

GAE, NEA, and nearly the entire education establishment haven’t been getting the job done. If they had, this debate wouldn’t be happening. We need alternatives and competition. Education funding should follow the child.

Just Saying..

October 11th, 2012
8:59 am

Hoisted by your own petard?

J

October 11th, 2012
9:02 am

Lil’ Barry Bailout – Vote American- Just an FYI, not all teachers are in a union or even want to be in a union.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:06 am

J–I know. I have several friends who are school teachers and despise the associations and unions, and send their own kids to private schools.

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

October 11th, 2012
9:08 am

These folks just want the rest of us to pay for their kids going to private schools. That’s all this is.

Sure, it’s not really “private” schools but when a board can determine which kids get to go and which kids don’t get to go, you may as well call it private.

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

October 11th, 2012
9:10 am

Robert Reich sums up the Romney campaign nicely:

The fundamental question is whether we’re still all in it together – whether as American citizens we continue to have obligations to one another to assure equal opportunity and help for those who need it – or we’re on our own, without a common bond or a common good. Romney and Ryan represent the latter view, a view utterly at odds with what we have accomplished as a nation.
salon.com

teacher&mom

October 11th, 2012
9:10 am

“Finally, we’re supposed to believe all this consternation on the part of the status quoists, whose fine, fine work to date has left Georgia mired near the bottom of national educational rankings, is all about the kids.”

I guess Kyle missed these press releases.

GA ranks 7th in the nation on the 2011 Education Week “Quality Counts” report.

GA ranks 13th in the percentage of students scoring a 3, 4, or 5 on Advanced Placement exams.

GA ranks 2nd in the percentage of African-American students scoring a 3 or higher on the AP exams.

Georgia’s SAT score for its top 10% percent of students is 1,820 compared to the national average of 1,500.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:10 am

Sounds like Finn’s saying we need MORE charter schools, what with all the demand for them.

HadIt

October 11th, 2012
9:10 am

To Metro Coach

Yes they will be public schools–public schools in the basements of Baptist churches teaching against evolution and the other scientific principles that don’t adhere to the fundamentalist dogma. With no control over content, that will be the result. The ultimate goal of all this is the elimination of public schools in favor of state sponsored religious schools. As for being ignorant, there is nothing more ignorant than a bible thumper, which I bet you are.

J

October 11th, 2012
9:11 am

Lil Barry- My wife is a teacher so I get a little annoyed when I think someone is making a blanket statement. I also get tired of the teacher bashing that I hear sometimes (not saying you are but in general). There are alot of good teachers out there that are trying to make a difference in kids lives but they are working with limited resources and no support from parents and the administrations that run schools.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:14 am

“The fundamental question is whether we’re still all in it together”
——————-

What does the government have to do with that?

Everything, if you’re a liberal fascist.

Speed Racer

October 11th, 2012
9:16 am

Why not create an alternative education system? Our current system does not work, does it? People keep saying just vote out the school board if you don’t like it, but the problem is new people will fill the seats of the same old machine that does not work. How about we eliminate public education, period. It’s not the govt’s job to educate our children anyway.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:16 am

I completely understand and agree, J. There are certainly some excellent, caring teachers in public schools. They do get lumped in with the others, and with their so-called “leadership” in the associations, unions, and administration.

jconservative

October 11th, 2012
9:21 am

“…more free-market approach to education…”

I agree. Private schools are the answer. Private schools.
If government is involved it is not free market. And charter schools are government schools.

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

October 11th, 2012
9:23 am

After his modest showing of empathy, Lil Barry will be back at lumping all teachers together and thumping our public education system in 3….2…..1.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:23 am

Charter schools are a “compromise” between a free-market approach and the entrenched, greedy, education establishment.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:25 am

I’ve got the day off, Finn, so get used to it.

dc

October 11th, 2012
9:31 am

Sometimes overturning “local govt control” is absolutely necessary, for the good of the few individuals that are suffering due to the decisions made by the local govt. In this case, it’s the students who are stuck in failing schools, surrounded by thugs who not only don’t want to improve themselves, but don’t want others to as well, w/out an option for another learning environment.

And if you don’t buy the “sometimes local govt has to be overruled” argument….just think civil rights.

JDW

October 11th, 2012
9:41 am

@LBB…”liberal fascist”

There you go again… :roll:

Get your wings straight…Left Wing Liberals are Socialists…Right Wing Nuts are Fascists

Aquagirl

October 11th, 2012
9:42 am

(In fact, the most important local control in educational matters belongs to parents, who need more choices to ensure their children get a quality education.)

Kyle, if those children are using tax dollars then it’s not the parent’s sole choice of what type of public education is offered.

I’ll be blunt: I don’t have kids in school. I pay school taxes willingly because I have a vested interest in the education of ALL children. When I am 70, I want doctors available to fix whatever parts of my body have broken down. I want educated citizens who can make more than minimum wage. In short, I want a functioning society because anarchy is tough when you’re 70.

If everyone pays taxes, everyone gets a say in the final product whether it’s bridges (remember your advice for T-SPLOST?) airports, or education. The individual has to live with the choices made by their ELECTED officials.

People who want to take the tax ball (which belongs to everyone) and go home are not small government patriots. They’re immature, whining sore losers who don’t like living in a democratic republic.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:43 am

Fascism is just a means to an end for the liberals…hence “liberal fascists”.

You really should try to think outside your preconceived notions and talking points.

JDW

October 11th, 2012
9:44 am

Lots of people seem to be falling into the role of Charter’s are bad vs Charter’s are good.

They are neither. Well run Charters (my child is in one) do a great job while poorly run ones do not. The question is who should approve and oversee them…the state…or the local school board.

I believe it should be the local school board therefore the amendment in not needed and should not be passed.

JDW

October 11th, 2012
9:45 am

@LBB…”Fascism is just a means to an end for the liberals”

Only means to and end that Fascism provides liberals is when the are…”terminated” by the Fascists

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:47 am

When I’m 70, I want the BEST-EDUCATED doctors available, not the ones who were failed by a greedy government/union education establishment more interested in their pensions and retiree health care than teaching our children.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 11th, 2012
9:50 am

JDW: Well run Charters (my child is in one) do a great job while poorly run ones do not. The question is who should approve and oversee them…the state…or the local school board.
——————

When the education funding follows the child, and parents have multiple charters to choose from, what happens to charters that don’t produce strong results? They disappear and are replaced by charters that perform better.

The free market is the answer.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 11th, 2012
9:54 am

I’ve got the day off, Finn, so get used to it.

The teacher work day when the kids are out of school is next Monday, LBB is truant again.

Kyle Wingfield

October 11th, 2012
10:07 am

Aquagirl: In this amendment, we are talking about choices among public schools. And let me suggest that, if you want good doctors, etc. when you are 70, you damn sure want a better education system than the one we have now.

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

October 11th, 2012
10:08 am

A prime example of the conservative meme to privatize everything:

According to an investigation from Bloomberg Markets magazine released Thursday, the growing privatization of food inspection has led to severe failures in oversight and has caused millions of Americans to fall sick.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-11/food-sickens-millions-as-industry-paid-inspectors-find-it-safe.html

Dave

October 11th, 2012
10:10 am

I haven’t made up my mind on this yet; but, why do we need a state agency involved at all? I thought conservatives thought local is better. Federal = terrible. State = bad. Local = we the people good. We don’t want the feds messing with our kids, why do we want state officials having a say?