Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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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An early message to the Class of 2013

Dear Class of 2013:

Next spring, much ink will be spilled with advice for you: to work hard, but not too hard; to laugh but also to cry; to love; and, perhaps most practically, to wear sunscreen.

I am not jumping the gun in writing to you now. If anything, I worry I’m too late.

In fact, if you are in the collegiate Class of 2013, I am too late. This message is for high school seniors. And that message is: Don’t wind up like Katie Brotherton.

Brotherton is a young woman from Cincinnati who last month wrote in her local newspaper that she’s overly indebted and rather hopeless, because she made bad decisions about her education.

OK, she didn’t write that last part. In her telling, she met “societal expectations” by earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees. But now she owes nearly $190,000, lives in her parents’ basement and “want[s] answers.”

She has a point, sort of. When she was in your place seven years ago, there might not have been anyone warning her against attending such …

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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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The real statistics for Georgia’s charter schools

Of all the worthless statistics that get thrown around in the charter-schools debate, perhaps the least important is the comparison between all charter schools and all traditional public schools statewide.

It’s a favorite figure among opponents of the constitutional amendment on this November’s ballot, which would affirm the state’s ability to create public charter schools. Among those who have trotted it out is state schools superintendent John Barge.

Here’s the statistic: In the 2010-11 school year, 73 percent of all Georgia public schools met the federally mandated adequate yearly progress, or AYP, while only 70 percent of all charter schools did.

With results like that, why bother with charter schools? Right?

While Barge and his fellow travelers in the educational establishment are correct about this figure, it is entirely meaningless in the current debate.

Utterly, wholly, completely meaningless. Irrelevant. Misleading, in fact.

For starters, that 73-to-70 comparison does …

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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 …

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