Archive for the ‘Charter Schools’ Category

One message minority voters already sent Georgia’s GOP

The GOP’s post-election listening tour comes to Atlanta today, with a twist.

Reince Preibus, the recently re-elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, is scheduled to meet this afternoon with a couple of dozen black Republicans in an “engagement and listening session” aimed at widening the GOP’s appeal. It’s an imperative bit of outreach for Georgia Republicans — the like of which the state party, despite undeniable demographic trends away from its nearly all-white voting base, has done dangerously little.

No doubt, any number of ideas will be discussed during this session. But there’s one policy that is a color-blindingly obvious necessity for any serious attempt to win over minority voters: school choice.

Just a week ago, hundreds of students and their parents and teachers braved the cold for the annual school-choice rally on the Capitol steps. As is the case every year, the majority of these students were not white.

And almost all of them will be eligible to …

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Charter schools amendment points the way for Georgia GOP

Republicans are doing some soul-searching after losing the presidential election and some winnable U.S. Senate contests. The Georgia GOP should be similarly self-reflective after delivering the second-smallest margin among states won by Mitt Romney.

The same demographic trends Romney failed to overcome are increasingly apparent in Georgia. Republicans here must learn to win over voters they typically haven’t attracted. Fortunately for them, Tuesday also offered a template for doing so: the successful charter schools amendment.

The referendum to affirm a state role in creating these public schools was passed in a Republican-dominated Legislature with crucial, but limited, Democratic support; was endorsed by our Republican governor; was opposed by the state Democratic Party; drew much-scrutinized financial support from wealthy Republicans outside Georgia; and was slammed in a radio ad by a civil-rights icon, the Rev. Joseph Lowery, as a precursor to resegregation.

Yet in …

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Amendment One: A chance at a choice for students who today have neither

No one among us, if faced with a persistent disease and a physician who’d failed to cure it, would be content to continue consulting only that doctor — and, especially, to be told we could not seek a second opinion.

None of us believe we could live in a place with only one grocery store, selling only junk food, and be expected to maintain good health.

Nobody I know would want to learn a trade but have the opportunity to work for only one employer.

And I’m certain no American would stand for living in a country where just one name, the same name, appeared on the ballot year after year.

Yet that’s exactly the situation we expect thousands of students, parents and even teachers in Georgia to accept. We can take one small but important step toward changing that by approving Amendment One and increasing their educational choices.

This amendment, which would affirm the state’s role in creating public charter schools, is neither a magic potion nor an indictment of all traditional …

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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 …

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Award for Ivy Prep shows just how wrong Lowery and others crying ‘resegregation’ are

Dear Rev. Joseph Lowery: Before you agree to record another advertisement decrying state charter schools as a maneuver to reinstate segregation in Georgia, perhaps you should check out the news about Ivy Preparatory Academy.

Ivy Prep, to which the Gwinnett County school board refused to grant a charter, and which as a result had to resort to the state’s chartering process, was named one the state’s highest-performers among schools with a high proportion of low-income students.

This news ought to be of interest to Gwinnett voters, given that their school system has fought tooth and nail to prevent the state from having a process to approve charter schools in general, and Ivy Prep specifically. The Gwinnett system was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that resulted in the old State Charter Schools Commission’s being declared unconstitutional, and about 20 percent of all the money donated to the anti-amendment campaign has come from administrators in the Gwinnett system …

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Poll: Young voters, young parents back charter schools amendment

Mark Rountree of the locally based Landmark Communications has a new poll for Channel 2 Action News that shows two results you might have expected: Mitt Romney is almost certain to win Georgia, and the charter schools amendment is heading for a very close finish.

There are a number of interesting numbers within the poll, however, and the one I find most intriguing is this one about the charter schools amendment (as posted at Peach Pundit):

There is a stark difference in levels of support based on the age of the voter. Younger voters are strongly supportive of the Amendment (57-32% among those aged 18-35), while older voters slightly oppose the Amendment (40-41% in opposition among those over age 64).

People aged 18-35, of course, largely represent two groups: Those who are most recently graduated from high school, and those with young children either already in school or about to enter school. (For instance, this newly minted 34-year-old — my birthday was Saturday; and, yes, …

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Follow the money for anti-charter amendment campaign, too

There’s a logical explanation for the bitter opposition to the charter-schools amendment. Just ask Edward Lindsey, the Buckhead Republican who serves as House majority whip.

“This isn’t about ideology,” Lindsey says. “It’s about turf. It’s about those folks who have a vested interest, no matter how mediocre the present may be, in not changing.”

The turf in question is the power to approve charter schools — and thus how some public education funds are spent. Amendment One would empower the state to create charter schools in two instances. The first is for statewide charters; think virtual schools that teach online courses.

The other is when a local school board denies a charter application. The state could then conduct its own review and decide whether to approve and fund the school.

Who considers those powers an invasion of their own turf? Follow the money.

After its latest report, filed Tuesday, the anti-amendment group Vote SMART! had a donor base comprising 146 people and …

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Charter school parents explain why we need Amendment One

“How can I in good conscience send my child to a school that didn’t even cheat right?”

The question from Shelby McDonald has surely been asked by many an Atlanta parent since rampant cheating on standardized tests was uncovered in the city’s public schools. Only rhetorically, of course, because the answer is: You can’t.

Unlike many of those parents, however, McDonald found a way out: a public charter school approved in 2009 by a state commission. That commission closed after a 2011 court ruling declared it unconstitutional, but it would be re-created if voters approve Amendment One in next month’s election.

“I did everything right. I looked at every [school’s] test score between here and what was driveable,” says McDonald, a widowed mother of one whose parents had pledged to drive her daughter as far as Macon each day if that’s what it took. She tried one charter-school lottery and lost. As a single mother, private school was out of the question.

“I did what I was supposed to …

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Spend more money on traditional schools? We tried that

Opponents of the charter-school amendment on next month’s ballot offer a simple alternative idea: Spend more money.

That’s about all the educational establishment can conjure as a means of improving Georgia’s below-average results. State schools superintendent John Barge got to the point quickly when he came out against the amendment back in August.

Barge estimated the state would spend an extra $430 million on new charter schools over a five-year period. He said the state shouldn’t spend that money until existing schools are fully staffed with fully paid teachers for full school years the lack of which he attributed to state budget cuts averaging almost $1.2 billion in recent years.

So, there you have it, fiscal conservatives wary of the amendment. Barge and his fellow travelers don’t want to spend another $430 million over the next five years. They want to spend an additional $6 billion during those years about 14 times as much.

Whereas charter schools would at least …

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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, …

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