Tackling some more false claims about the charter school amendment

(Note: The Rev. Joseph Lowery isn’t the only person making dubious claims about the charter schools amendment. I wrote about some other misleading and/or false claims in my Thursday column in the AJC’s print edition. While we’ve covered some of these items in previous comment threads, I almost always try to post my print columns here.)

Georgia offers few election surprises this year. Mitt Romney will take our electoral votes, there are no races for U.S. senator or any of the state’s constitutional officers, and just one U.S. House race — Georgia’s 12th District, where incumbent Democrat John Barrow is trying to fend off Republican Lee Anderson — is competitive.

The only exception is the charter-schools amendment referendum.

There’s been little public-opinion polling about the amendment, which if passed would affirm the state’s role in creating charter schools. But the polling we have suggests a tight race.

How to account for this tightness, given the amendment won the backing of two-thirds of the Legislature and the governor, and addresses a public-education system that Georgians have long considered sub-par? Based on responses I’ve received to columns and blog posts I’ve written about the amendment, I believe the race is so tight because opponents have fed Georgians some misleading, even patently false, notions.

Today, I’m tackling some of the worst of them.

Claim 1: State charter schools are private schools.

This is patently false. Charter schools require government approval and receive public funding.

Claim 2: Unlike traditional public schools, state charter schools can select their students.

False. State law requires charter schools to admit all applicants unless there are too many applicants. In that case, the students must be chosen at random: through a lottery, for example. Neither Amendment One nor its accompanying legislation, HB 797, changes this.

Claim 3: State charter schools don’t have to give the same standardized tests as public schools.

False. State law says charter schools must annually report “state academic accountability data, such as standardized test scores and adequate yearly progress.” If anything, charter schools may be held to a higher standard as a condition of the increased flexibility they receive. Again, HB 797 does not change this.

Claim 4: State charter schools do not perform better than traditional public schools.

While we don’t have a long history of results for making such a comparison, the data we do have indicate this is false. As I reported in a previous column, tThe Governor’s Office of Student Achievement found that, in the most recent year available, 75 percent of state charter schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Law. Only 67 percent of traditional public schools in the same districts — the most relevant comparison — made AYP.

Claims 5 and 6: This amendment a) is redundant and b) would expand government.

These contradictory claims are both wrong. The redundancy claim rests on the argument that, because the state school board can authorize charter schools, we don’t need a state commission to do so. But the reasoning in the 2011 Supreme Court ruling, which threw out the old state commission and prompted this amendment, leaves no room for the state to approve charter schools. This state school board power relies on the good will of the same local districts that sued to overturn the old state commission and are opposing this amendment; I doubt such good will exists. The amendment is needed to affirm this state authority.

If you do buy the idea the state school board could continue to authorize charter schools despite the court ruling, you can’t very well argue the re-created state commission would represent an expansion of government.

Claim 7: Allowing the state to authorize charter schools would represent a centralization of power.

The opposite is true. Local districts would still have the power to create charter schools. This would grant the state the same power. That’s less concentration of power. That’s decentralization.

Claim 8: All we need is an appeals process.

Essentially, that’s all we’d get. HB 797 says the state can create charter schools to serve the entire state (think online learning) or to serve a specific district. In the latter case, the law says the state can act only after the locals have already declined a charter application. That is an appeals process.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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121 comments Add your comment

commoncents

November 2nd, 2012
1:20 pm

First!

And vote “yes”

carlosgvv

November 2nd, 2012
1:38 pm

Claim 9 – The Koch brothers are pouring money into this battle in hopes of getting the Charter ammendment passed. They, and other extreme right conservatives want Georgia filled with school boards made up of fundamentalist parents who will demand the teaching of creationism and the denouncing of science.

True

Matz

November 2nd, 2012
1:39 pm

Claim 10: After a decade of cutting the education budget year after year, demanding that teachers do more and more with less and less, the Republicans who run this state woke up one day last year and suddenly realized they give a darn about educating our children.

Sure they did. It’s totally plausible. Just like the Grinch, whose heart grew three sizes in one shining epiphany, they realized that an educated populace is preferable to an ignorant, republican-voting populace, and turned from the error of their ways. Happens all the time. Really!

Aquagirl

November 2nd, 2012
1:44 pm

This would grant the state the same power. That’s less concentration of power. That’s decentralization.

Nothing like a little humor to break the pre-election tension.

Matz

November 2nd, 2012
1:49 pm

How does an appointed board that answers to no voter = “less concentration of power?” I mean, in a world where we’re NOT all gullible rubes, that is?

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
1:49 pm

Those evil Koch brothers actually expressing their rights to freely give to a cause they support….the humanity of that. Don’t they know carlos is going to blow a gasket over this.

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
1:51 pm

watergirl:

Do you really enjoy hanging out on Kyle’s blog waiting for a new topic to pontificate upon?

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
1:52 pm

Barack is the best…..that is rich. Tell us more.

Mr_B

November 2nd, 2012
1:53 pm

Claim 2: Unlike traditional public schools, state charter schools can select their students.

But they can (and do) deselect those students who prove difficult and need more intensive instruction.

Claim 3: State charter schools don’t have to give the same standardized tests as public schools.

But no statement about which standardized test. Ga EOCTs? CRCTs? GaHSGTW?
And they “may”be held to any standard, I’d like to know which one before I made a choice.

“Claim 4: State charter schools do not perform better than traditional public schools.
While we don’t have a long history of results for making such a comparison”

No, we in Georgia don’t, but the data from other states doesn’t show any better performance for charter vs. traditional schools.
,

Mr_B

November 2nd, 2012
1:55 pm

Kyle, do you own stock in any of the out-of-state for profit education companies that are bankrolling this monstrosity

Whatever

November 2nd, 2012
1:55 pm

This is a joke. I’m against this amendment because I have a way to have charter schools now….locally. It’s called the board of education. If I don’t like the way they vote I can vote them out. I cannot vote out this “appointed” board at the state.

No thanks!

Aquagirl

November 2nd, 2012
2:02 pm

Do you really enjoy hanging out on Kyle’s blog waiting for a new topic to pontificate upon?

Actually I was gone for quite a while after irritating someone enough to namejack me. So the answer is “no.” I don’t seem to have the same emotional investment as some folks.

BTW I don’t mind being called watergirl or whatever but Kyle makes a frowny face at mangling names. I think some of the regulars here freaked out about it so last I heard it’s a rather non-intuitive house rule, which is posted (appropriately) on the right.

Also, if you’re posting every two minutes I’m not sure you should imply anyone else is “hanging around” here too much.

Matz

November 2nd, 2012
2:03 pm

Claim 11: Those Koch brothers are actually expressing their rights to freely give to a cause they support — OUT OF THE GOODNESS OF THEIR HEARTS, because even though they don’t live here or have children in public schools here, THEY CARE DEEPLY about the poor kids in rural Georgia, and are pouring cash into this cause EXPECTING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING IN RETURN.

Sure they are. Despite “charter school prodcuts” becoming a profitable commodity on Wall Street, there is no profit motive for those donating out-of-state cash to pay the telemarketers calling your house. If you live on “bloo-sheet mountain,” this is totally true. If you live in Georgia… ehhhh… not so much.

Vote Yes

November 2nd, 2012
2:06 pm

SANDERSON,FREDERICK C SUPERINTENDENT $259,805.57
JONES,PHYLLIS A PRINCIPAL $142,992.62 $0.00
DUNNIGAN,DONALD E PERSONNEL/HUMAN RESO $134,449.46
JONES,JUDITH A DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTA $134,449.46
WHITT,JACQUELYN PRINCIPAL $134,387.25
ADDISON,JACK M FINANCE/BUSINESS SER $132,596.83
THOMAS,PATRICIA L PRINCIPAL $131,129.42
RAGSDALE,CHRISTOPHER G DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTA $127,409.42
MILLS,JOAN C PRINCIPAL $126,666.11
POOR,TERRY HICKS PRINCIPAL $124,451.79
STOUDER,ALICE W DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTA $123,080.94
GREEN,DONNA S INSTRUCTIONAL SUPERV $121,757.70
SHEPARD,DOUGLAS E DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTA $119,562.46
BELLAIR,ELISE J INSTRUCTIONAL SUPERV $117,837.75
MARTIN,PEGGY L PRINCIPAL $115,209.50
CARTER,JAMES D DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTA $114,606.78
DAVIDSON,U S DIRECTOR OF CURRICUL $114,068.10
MULLIS,MICHAEL A FINANCE/BUSINESS SER $113,687.87
STOWERS,CHARLOTTE PRINCIPAL $112,899.98
GADDIS,DALE E DEPUTY/ASSOC/ASSISTA $112,679.04
etc, etc, etc
—————————–
This is why educators and administrators are scared of this!

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

November 2nd, 2012
2:07 pm

Sorry, this is off topic but what on earth are you Cons up to now?

George W. Bush gave the keynote address at an “investment conference” in the Cayman Islands on Thursday night. But we don’t know what he said, reports NBC News, because Bush’s own team required a complete “blackout” on any details about the speech.
The keynote speech by the former president was “totally closed to all journalists,” and conference organizers were banned from discussing any aspect of it even in general terms, spokesman Dan Kneipp said.

salon.com

Conservatives are the sleazeballs of the earth.

roswell mom

November 2nd, 2012
2:11 pm

Having multiple government agencies being able to create charter schools sounds inefficient at best. Let’s have state and local building permits – if you can’t get a permit from your local government, you can ask the state. We could have state and local agencies for putting up traffic lights and stop signs. If your local governent won’t put up that sign you want, you can go ask the state and see if they’ll do it. Along this same logic, let’s have the Federal government replicate things the state does – it’s just “decentralization” of government. If I can’t get a state of Georgia drivers license or voter registration card, I’ll just go to the Feds. The more governments, the better – right?

These Lying Eyes!!!

November 2nd, 2012
2:13 pm

Kyle,
Why not push the idea that if you are unhappy with your local school, MAN UP and find a way to pay to send your kids to teh Private School of your choice!!! This amendment is just a ruse to get the masses to pay for the choices of the few.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:22 pm

Lying @ 2:13: Thanks for another outstanding example of a false claim about the amendment.

In Georgia, the average charter school spends less per pupil than the average traditional public school does. Remind us how this is about pumping the masses for more money?

Hillbilly D

November 2nd, 2012
2:27 pm

I’m still ag’in it. I’m for local control.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:28 pm

Note that carlosgvv and Matz have no evidence to back up their wild claims. No teaching of religious fundamentalism in our existing state charter schools, no Koch Bros. schools here or in other states.

When you got nothing, you resort to smears and innuendo. Which is why you see so much smearing and innuendo from the anti-amendment folks.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:30 pm

Barack @ 1:21: This is hilarious, actually. Here I am supporting a solution — an amendment to allow the state to create more charter schools — and answering groundless criticisms of that solution. And your only resort is to criticize without a solution, and accuse me of doing the same.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:31 pm

Matz @ 1:49: Do you understand what the word “concentration” means? And do you understand what this amendment would do? I hate to sound insulting, but your comment suggests you’d have to answer “no” to each question.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:37 pm

Mr_B @ 1:53: Regarding your first point: How does a school that has to accept any applicant “deselect” anyone? Can you point to an instance where this happened?

Second point: The law doesn’t specify the standardized test to be given, for either charter schools or traditional public schools, because then the Legislature would have to change the law if the test were to be changed. Every charter school in this state gives the same standardized tests as the traditional public schools do, as one can easily determine by searching the AYP reports on the state Education Dept.’s website. If there were one that didn’t, you’d name it rather than merely implying otherwise.

Third point: Not every state has the same policies for charter schools. The comparisons aren’t necessarily valid.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:37 pm

And no, I don’t own stock in any EMOs.

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
2:39 pm

Finn:

Give it a rest….are you going to slit your wrists after Tuesday’s results come in and zero bamma has been retired to the scrap heap of history?

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:39 pm

Whatever @ 1:55: How many board seats do you get to vote on where you live? I live in Atlanta, and I don’t get to vote for all of them, or even a majority of them. What’s more, the demand for alternatives isn’t uniform within any given school district, because the quality of schools isn’t uniform. So a minority group of students and parents may be unable to obtain relief by petitioning their board or at the ballot box.

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
2:41 pm

Vote Yes:

Looks like you posted the salaries and travel schedule from the Dept of Audits. If only more people would view the report for their local BOE (county or city) then maybe someone would see why such dissatisfaction exist with local school boards and the non teaching salaries.

mountain man

November 2nd, 2012
2:41 pm

“Claim 10: After a decade of cutting the education budget year after year, demanding that teachers do more and more with less and less, the Republicans who run this state woke up one day last year and suddenly realized they give a darn about educating our children.”

Whoa, you are mixing up two separate ideas. You are ASSUMING that cutting spending automatically means that leaders don’t care about education. I am sure that is not the case. They just think that pouring in money does not automatically improve education (or the convers, that removing money does not automatically reduce performance). Money is only part of the solution. What does money have to do with improving discipline? You can’t remove a discipline problem without cash? What about attendance? Does it take more money to call the poilice and enforce our truancy laws? What about social promotion? (The STate could help there by eliminating the stupid state law requiring social promotion after one year.) There are clear problems with education that can be addressed with POLICIES, not money.

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
2:43 pm

Dare say who is bankrolling the vote no on this ammendment, Mrs. B?

Hillbilly D

November 2nd, 2012
2:46 pm

How many board seats do you get to vote on where you live?

That’s a good question and an interesting point. In my county, they all run county wide.

ITP

November 2nd, 2012
2:46 pm

Whatever, Try for some local control in Dekalb county if you live in the Brookhaven area and see how far you get with that. At least we now have our own city and do not have to support the leeches down on Memorial Drive

Aquagirl

November 2nd, 2012
2:47 pm

a minority group of students and parents may be unable to obtain relief by petitioning their board or at the ballot box.

That will happen in one-half of the races on Tuesday, the minority’s candidate will lose. If Mitt Romney wins I doubt folks here will support an unelected federal board’s “relief” for Obama voters.

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
2:49 pm

Really, Hillbilly? I don’t recall any counties having that system in place when I previously performed local BOE audits for the GA Dept of Audits. Things may have changed as I have been out of it a while but please share with us what county elects all board members county wide because I think this is superior.

Rush

November 2nd, 2012
2:51 pm

Excellent point, Mountain. Money does not solve all the social ills of our public education. How is it SD spends less per pupil than GA but receives better results?

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
2:52 pm

Aquagirl @ 2:47: I expected someone to make that point. But unless your ballot doesn’t include the presidential candidates on it, you can’t very well say you didn’t get to vote in that race…

Hillbilly D

November 2nd, 2012
2:53 pm

Rush

For privacy reasons, I’m not going to tell what county I live in (Kyle knows where I live) but it’s not that unusual in rural counties up here. Both our school board and our county commission have districts but the whole county votes on each district. The drawback to that, though it hasn’t happend to my knowledge, is that conceivably, a candidate could receive a minority of votes in his/her district and still get elected by the rest of the county. Nothing is perfect.

mountain man

November 2nd, 2012
2:53 pm

“How is it SD spends less per pupil than GA but receives better results?”

Better students and parents

Vote Yes

November 2nd, 2012
2:57 pm

I’ve never understood why public school salaries don’t fluctuate like the value of my home. It would solve so many budget issues. Do we live in an up-only society?

Aquagirl

November 2nd, 2012
3:08 pm

unless your ballot doesn’t include the presidential candidates on it, you can’t very well say you didn’t get to vote in that race…

Are you saying disaffected parents can’t vote for someone to represent them? Their issue seems to be “my candidate was overruled at the ballot box, I should have some other method of getting what I want.”

Seriously, If I don’t vote for Nathan Deal and he wins I’m not gonna ignore the Highway Patrol. It’s a department carrying out policies guided by a person I didn’t vote for and I live with that. As long as they operate within the law, that’s the government I get.

I don’t pitch a tantrum and decide I’ll only acknowledge federal law enforcement officers. Anyone who does that and gets tazed does not have my sympathy.

Zinc

November 2nd, 2012
3:13 pm

Kyle-I generally enjoy your columns though I rarely support you views. But this a hack piece. You are no better than those sending out misleading facts. You cherry picked claims, tried to make this a black and white (not race) issue. And it isn’t event close to being that simple.

Your first 4 points illustrate my claim. All four of these issues fall into a grey area when the implementation occurs. But you act like it is an either \ or issue.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
3:14 pm

Aquagirl @ 3:08: My point is, it’s not as simple as “vote out the school board.” There are inherent reasons this is more difficult than the average election. Among them: these tend to be even lower-information than most elections; many voters have had earlier experiences with the school system (better or worse) that may make them disinclined to listen to the complaints of current parents; many voters don’t have children and may not pay much attention to the race; roughly a third of a child’s elementary/secondary education occurs between elections.

On the whole, I think a locally elected school board serves an important role. But I’m not at all prepared to believe it’s a perfect system, and I think an appeals process at the state level — which is what this amendment guarantees, for all intents and purposes — is perfectly valid.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
3:17 pm

Zinc @ 3:13: I picked claims that I have heard or read often enough to think they have reached a lot of voters. And I’m sorry, but there’s nothing gray about Nos. 1-3 — these are the facts. Btw, the only way in which No. 4 is somewhat gray is that the track record isn’t long and broad enough (though it never will be, if this amendment fails).

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

November 2nd, 2012
3:22 pm

Welcome to the great Theocratic State of Georgia.

Out with Evolution. In with Adam and Eve.

They are already doing it in Louisiana.

Georgia is next.

And also forgive me if Kyle and others say …but but that wont happen here.

Im sorry but it will. They have been trying to get prayer back in schools in Georgia for a long time now.

This is another step in doing just that.

carlosgvv

November 2nd, 2012
3:28 pm

Kyle – 2:28

The Koch brothers are pouring millions into Georgia in order to get this ammendment passed so FUTURE Charter Schools can be established.

You know I was’t talking about current Schools. Also, fundamentalism is as strong here in Georgia as anywhere else so, don’t try to blow smoke here about current schools not being influenced by right-wing parents.

carlosgvv

November 2nd, 2012
3:29 pm

I demand – 3:22

Kyle doesn’t want to hear that and will reply with a non sequitur, hoping you won’t notice.

Aquagirl

November 2nd, 2012
3:36 pm

There are inherent reasons this is more difficult than the average election.

So, the obvious conservative solution is an unelected state board (which will magically be more responsive) allowing a select few to escape a system with inadequate and unresponsive representation.

And this will be decided by a poorly understood and confusingly-worded constitutional amendment voted on by the same people who vote for school boards.

Riiiight.

http://failblog.cheezburger.com/thereifixedit/

roswell mom

November 2nd, 2012
3:37 pm

Kyle – when you claim that charter schools spend less per pupil than the average traditional public school, what costs are you putting in the numerator? The charter schools I’ve seen have their own finance staff and development staff (fund raisers) and other positions that an individual public school does not have. I wonder how the overhead required by all schools (not going to argue whether its bloated) and building costs are allocated to the per pupil spend for charters vs. public. Not saying you’re wrong – just saying it doesn’t make sense that charters save money. It sounds more like a talking point created by clever finance people.

Kyle Wingfield

November 2nd, 2012
3:40 pm

Cheesy: You have nothing to sell but fear. And you’ve never let the facts get in your way of doing that.

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

November 2nd, 2012
3:40 pm

I realize that.

He will give us assurances that something like that wont happen in a progressive state like Georgia.

Please !!!!

They can and will change the curriculum at these schools to better align with their understanding of the world.

Here is ONE example of what children are taught in Louisiana WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS at Charter schools.

“Bible-believing Christians cannot accept any evolutionary interpretation. Dinosaurs and humans were definitely on the earth at the same time and may have even lived side by side within the past few thousand years.”

Of course they would never teach that point of view in Georgia. LOL.

Some of us aren’t so gullible.

Misleading

November 2nd, 2012
3:41 pm

Claim 1: Correct, they aren’t. Just a bridge to start using taxpayer dollars for private schools. Hence the quote about the unintended consequence of charter is causing private schools to go out of business. Comment was easy fix – approve vouchers. But it isn’t about private – just anyone who wants to getting a dip in public funds.

Claim 2: They select through accessibility. No matter how many kids they let in – if they can’t get there (i.e. afford or have parents willing to transport), they aren’t included. See AJC article about all bricks and mortar charter schools having a lower percentage of Free and Reduced lunch population than the county they are in.

Claim 4: It is early. However, they should – see comment about lower % of free and reduced – whether you think so or not, these kids are selected, it just may be indirectly through other factors. In any case, I’m pretty sure you have this stat in reverse, traditional had a higher AYP percentage. Back out the fact that one school had a 30% free and reduced popution compared to the system being 90%, and that is sad that it is that close.

6. It expands that department. Once again, noone asks where the money will come from when every other department at the state level has been massively cut. It’s one total pot of money. Just because charter schools are approved and added, doesn’t make the total pot go up. It comes from somewhere else. Keep telling public schools they are failing while cutting a billion dollars a year.

7. That is the worse definition of decentralization I have ever read. You asked someone if they asked what it meant – you are way off. You now effectively having one small body at the State level to have the power to create a school and use taxpayer funds anywhere in the State – which no responsibility to taxpayers since they are appointed.

Overall – it’s only about 2 things. Representation closest to the taxpayer and money. Where in the world does the money come from with every other department massively cut. Does it come from Higher Ed – leading to tuition increases. Does it come from public ed – add to the billion and tell teacher’s they are failing? Where?