Get ready for that Tuesday night miracle

Prepare for a miracle next week. And we’re not talking about the transportation sales tax. Not exactly.

At midnight, as Tuesday turns to Wednesday, a layer of fairy dust will fall across Georgia, and your state government will suddenly become a model of competency and efficiency.

That’s because the contest for the transportation sales tax – win or lose – will come to an end that day. In its place, a new, November ballot campaign will rise up, aimed at restoring the state Capitol’s authority to compel local systems to accept public charter schools.

Georgia Republicans have been looking forward to this new fight. The TSPLOST argument has been uncomfortable, splitting two crucial GOP constituencies – its business wing and its anti-tax base. Little else unites the GOP, on a state or national level, like the belief that our educational bureaucracy is a Gordian knot that requires a swift, sharp sword.

You think that, 24 hours after the last vote on the transportation sales tax is cast, Nathan Deal might be crying in his beer? No, next Wednesday night, the governor will be at Bones restaurant in Buckhead, happily raising cash at $1,000-a-head for the charter school campaign. Special honors will go to those who donate $5,000 or $10,000.

It will be an expensive campaign, only in part because the largest part of the state’s educational establishment – school boards, superintendents and PTA chapters in 180 systems – have lined up against it.

Much of the money raised will be required to adjust philosophies that have been hardened during the debate over the transportation sales tax and the $8 billion it would raise statewide. And fairy dust is expensive.

Transportation tax opponents who have been arguing that state government can’t be trusted to tie its own shoes, and that the sovereignty of local governments must be protected at all costs, will have to suddenly believe that Atlanta knows best after all.

As with the TSPLOST issue, look for an argument over the wording of the ballot question. In November, voters will be asked: “Should the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

It is the word “or” that rankles opponents of the charter school question. Those of you who diagrammed sentences in elementary school know that you can remove that word “or” and one of its partner words, and the slightly altered sentence still stands, like this: “To allow state approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities.”

State officials say local school systems wouldn’t be financially penalized should the state assign them a charter school. But dwindling cash will be, in fact, at the root of this campaign.

My Journal-Constitution colleague Wayne Washington has mined one of the most important stats likely to be bandied about in the charter school fight. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, local local school systems across the nation are paying a higher share of the cost of public education than state governments for the first time in 16 years.

In 2010, Georgia’s public primary and secondary schools received 38 percent of their funding from the state. Local school systems were responsible for 48 percent. Federal and private sources made up the rest, according to the census bureau.

Thirty-eight percent is a shaky, minority perch from which to make demands.

Now, the state has its own numbers that can be used to argue it remains the big dog in school funding. According to Department of Education statistics, the state last year picked up 48 percent of the cost of education, compared to 41 percent put up by local systems. But these DOE figures omit capital costs – money spent on the physical upkeep of old buildings, the constructions of new ones and such.

Cedric Johnson, an educational analyst with the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, called the census bureau numbers — which spotlight the shrinking state role — “reliable and useful.”
So did Alvin Wilbanks, who since 1996 has been the superintendent for the Gwinnett County school system, one of the largest in the state.

“If you take the total budget for this current year – we’ll spend about 47 percent local, about 45 percent state, and there’s about 8 percent federal,” Wilbanks said.

“Since they’ve started the austerity reductions – that’s what they call budget cuts – that has really changed the dynamics of school funding,” he said. “The percentage the state’s putting in is the lowest since I’ve been in this business.”

The ebb and flow of the charter school fight could be eerily similar to the transportation sales tax campaign. Rural Georgia, where education money is tightest, is considered hostile territory. Any margin of victory will come from metro Atlanta.

And like the campaign for the transportation sales tax, some public officials will try to stay out of its way. Asked whether he would campaign for the charter school question, state School Superintendent John Barge expressed a fondness for charter schools in an email, but added this: “We will, of course, respect the will of the citizens of Georgia regarding how charter schools are authorized.”

But Barge offered the possibility that money might quiet the coming argument. “I hope that the coming budget cycle will see some restoration of the past 10 years of austerity reductions to local school systems [that] are struggling to meet the very basic educational needs of students,” he wrote.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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55 comments Add your comment

td

July 25th, 2012
6:41 pm

This conservative is not for charter schools. Charter schools in my opinion are nothing more then a way for the parents that care about education to not have to deal with real reform. It is easier for the 15 to 20% of the parents that actually care about their children’s education to put them in one school and have all like minded people working together to improve it then to have to work hard for reform and changes needed in all schools in a county to make a difference. If you people think schools are not worth working for then send your kids to private school or work for vouchers for all children.

GaBlue

July 25th, 2012
7:00 pm

The devil will be in the details. The details will enable Georgia’s wealthy, if they so wish, to create more tax shelters for themselves, and even to double dip by buying the land for these schools (with no need for permission from or accountability to local school boards), and then lease it back to themselves as “the school.”

The end result: even more de-funding of public education in our state, and a handful of somewhat better schools available to fewer children. Gov. Shady never pushes anything unless there’s something in it for him or his friends. Don’t kid yourselves. This isn’t about education at all; it’s about creative new tax loopholes for the special people.

GeorgiaBoy

July 25th, 2012
7:18 pm

The state could always threaten to withhold funding if the locals do not comply with their wishes. :roll:

Capitol Idea

July 25th, 2012
7:23 pm

Dear Mr. Galloway,

I looked back through my prior posts and found one where I picked on you about drones patrolling your lawn for dandelions and I apologize for my post. After reviewing it, I realized that it was not a nice thing for me to say. I meant no harm when I posted it.

Attack Dog

July 25th, 2012
7:25 pm

1. When charter schools fail, who do conservatives blame? 2. I guess most Dixiecrat legislators are against public education, because they went to public schools and they are unsuccessful.

Mr. Thomas Anthony 'The Taxman' Jones, SR

July 25th, 2012
8:03 pm

The Republicans are trying to destroy Public Schools.

Mac

July 25th, 2012
8:24 pm

Enter your comments here

Mac

July 25th, 2012
8:26 pm

When only Republicans can afford education, the restg will be enslaved, unable to afford good bribes.

The Ghost of Lester Maddox

July 25th, 2012
8:28 pm

All of this just goes to prove that Thomas Jefferson was wrong, and that’s the basic issue here.

“Free” public “education” for all assumes that the “all” will be more reliable and more reasonable than they will ever be.

Yeah, it would be a drastic overhaul, but if education because a privilege instead of a right, and schools and teachers competed with each other like private businesses do, then schools would be the leading and shining examples of excellence and teachers at the best schools would be incredibly well paid and rewarded.

Jefferson assumed that his fellow citizens would be better than they are ever really likely to be in the real world, so we’ll keep racing toward a US society where those who can scrape together the money send their kids to private schools, and those who can’t won’t, and Obama-Crats will whine and gnash their teeth over how horribly unfair it all is and how only higher taxes can ever solve it.

td

July 25th, 2012
8:41 pm

Mr. Thomas Anthony ‘The Taxman’ Jones, SR

July 25th, 2012
8:03 pm

You do realize that Charter schools are also a huge part of the Obama administrations Race to the Top program and it is a huge part of the Gates foundation programs.

Get Educated

July 25th, 2012
8:49 pm

phil

July 25th, 2012
8:55 pm

Can’t wait for November to vote no on charter schools.

honested

July 25th, 2012
8:58 pm

So many things will come to an end.
Endless pavement to the exurbs (didn’t people realize it was a long way to anything when they moved there?).
An end to the IRON FIST MOVEMENT in the PSC.
An end to the pointless, blind municipalization movement.

It will allow us to concentrate on putting an end to the ‘public/private charter school’ nonsense in November!

Auntie Christ

July 25th, 2012
9:01 pm

From what I can determine from the research I have done, the charter school concept is neither inherently bad nor good, but each school is dependent upon the participation of the community it serves and funding from its benefactors, i.e. the school system and the school’s sponsors. A public school suffers or benefits the same way, but a charter school can more or less compel parental participation or have them face the possibility that their child will not be allowed to return the next term. Likewise students with disciplinary problems are more easily dismissed.

So in effect we will end up with two different school systems in every locality, a charter school system that, as I see it, will get more and more of the funding as time goes on, and a public system comprised of students with learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and those with parents who don’t parent. These will be nothing more than training academies for Riedsville and our county work farms. God help any kid who has no alternative but the public system.

And finally, it should be noted, charter schools, since they are not public schools per se, are non NEA schools. In a a state like Ga with its history of hostility to unions, I can’t help but think this is a factor in this push for charter schools, tho not the primary one.

It just seems to me the bureaucrats and politicians don’t won’t to or it’s just beyond their abilities, to come up with ideas to take our school systems into the 21st century, They are falling back on this ‘easy’ solution because devising a system that serves all students,the special needs ones, the neglected ones, those with social problems, and the exceptional ones, requires more effort and money than our bureaucrats are willing to demand.

Kris

July 25th, 2012
9:18 pm

And does anyone believe that DIRTY DOUBLE DEAL is going to do any for the normal citizens of GA.. (poor folk that is…WE can VOTE)
#1 in political corruption
#1 in foreclosures.
#1 in Bank closers.
DEAD LAST IN EDUCATION
DEAL hope your proud..

Vote NO tsp-LOST

Kris

July 25th, 2012
9:20 pm

My bad …Wonder how this going pan out to for DEAL to line his pockets…

Vote NO tsp-LOST

td

July 25th, 2012
9:22 pm

Kris

July 25th, 2012
9:18 pm

Considering that this initiative is part of the RTTT grant to the state then I guess the Obama administration believes it is for the poor folks as well. That is unless you believe Obama is not watching out for the poor folks.

Kris

July 25th, 2012
9:32 pm

@td…IF DEAL is behind it. Probably not in the best interest for citizens of GA.

VOTE NO tsp_LOST

Re-elect President OBAMA 2012

Moon Mullins

July 25th, 2012
9:58 pm

Georia Republican/Tea Party politicians couldn’t find their butts with both hands.

Mr. KnowitAll

July 25th, 2012
10:10 pm

…..And moon, you can’t spell–with two hands.

WOW

July 25th, 2012
10:16 pm

TD:

Your opposition to charter schools may be the most interesting part of your ideology you have ever shared on this blog. I almost fell out of my chair when I read your comment.

However, once again you try to blame Obama for something with it. It has been the decision of the states to use Charter schools to increase their chances at winning the grants. This is definitely a flaw in the Legislation, but it certainly can’t be blamed on the President. If he were to mandate that they not use the Charter schools, I could only imagine the reaction from the Right.

hiram

July 25th, 2012
10:28 pm

Don’t forget Brother Deal’s anti science constituents, who will be teaching little junior that the earth is a couple of thousand years old, and the moon is made of cheese. The bright side is that Georgians won’t have to worry about traffic, when were all riding in horse drawn buggies.

Better Choices

July 25th, 2012
10:30 pm

Get better educated on the issue: http://www.bettergaschools.org

td

July 25th, 2012
10:39 pm

WOW

July 25th, 2012
10:16 pm

I am not blaming Obama. I was just pointing out the fact that this concept is not just a conservative effort but also coming from the left as well as the Gates foundation.

I believe in giving everyone the opportunity to receive a quality education and that will not be done unless you change the attitudes of parents. If charter schools pop up in every county or city then the parents that care will just take there kids to these schools and any hope of internal pressure from the local community for change will be lost. The parents that care will make sure their kids get to charter schools and the parents that do not will allow the local schools to frankly go to h3ll.

td

July 25th, 2012
10:42 pm

hiram

July 25th, 2012
10:28 pm

This is a serious issue that needs real intellectual debate so coming on and being a SA and adding nothing to the conversation is a waste of time and energy. Add something intelligent or just do not post on this issue.

td

July 25th, 2012
10:44 pm

Better Choices

July 25th, 2012
10:30 pm

Tell us how having charter schools that strip out the most caring parents and bringing them to one location is going to improve the entire county school system and better educate all children?

Bernie

July 25th, 2012
11:13 pm

Charter schools are nothing but the NEW SEGREGATION. Sacrifice the many for the few! An exclusive club developed for and by the members and supporters of the LUCKY GENE POOL CLUB!

Just like MR.T-SPLOST, this too will fail………

We All succeed when we ALL are included……Georgia has been down this road before without success. The only difference now is, its more cleverly disguised.

native

July 25th, 2012
11:17 pm

Thank you, td. Education is too important as an enablement for poor people (and all people) in order to produce some modicum of meritocracy to allow it to be stolen. Public education is an essential part of our national heritage and must be protected.

I put three children through APS. All are now in college. Public schools can and do work.

td

July 25th, 2012
11:25 pm

Bernie

July 25th, 2012
11:13 pm

Charter schools are nothing but the NEW SEGREGATION. Sacrifice the many for the few! An exclusive club developed for and by the members and supporters of the LUCKY GENE POOL CLUB!

Your statement is not true. The so called “Lucky gene pool club” (rich) are already segregated into there own communities and have their own schools.

This is an issue about the parents that care and value education and wanting to “segregate” themselves from the parents that do not care and value education.

I hope the issue is voted down but why should the parents that do not care (or better put do not want to parent their children) care and become enthusiastic about voting this issue down?

hiram

July 25th, 2012
11:28 pm

td
July 25th, 2012
10:42 pm

“Add something intelligent or just do not post on this issue.”

td, I will try to break this to you gently – your predictable and junvenile posts, that exclusively link all things bad to libs, socialists, secularists, poor people, et.al, and the black boogie man himself, Obama, are the least substanative posts on the blog. BTW, where is your intellectual equal – did he get kicked off again? again?

yuzeyurbrane

July 25th, 2012
11:30 pm

td, I can’t believe that I partially agree with you on something. But then again I was won over to oppose T-Splost! Maybe there is room for some common ground in concerns about corruption and misspent public funds.

td

July 25th, 2012
11:33 pm

native

July 25th, 2012
11:17 pm

I am a firm believer that there really are no bad schools but instead that are more bad parents in some communities. You are an example of a good parent and your children reaping the benefits of your efforts. Most teachers are know their information and will give it to the children that want to receive it and there are currently enough good parents in every school that prepare their children to receive and take advantage of the information the teachers are putting out. The problem with charter schools is that all the good parents in poorer preforming schools will send their children to one school and leave only the children that do not care and there will be no learning happening in those schools at all.

Bernie

July 25th, 2012
11:37 pm

td @11:25 pm – Your are betrayed by your own words. “Parents wanting to SEGREGATE from those parents that do not care and value education!” The majority of the parents DO CARE! However, the slots for the MANY who care suddenly diminishes with this proposed plan. If they fail to get one of those Oh so important and special slots, they are then left with a sub-standard education for their children as well along with the others that supposedly Do not CARE!

Again, State INSTITUTED SEGREGATION was a FAILURE then and it still remains so, TODAY!

hiram

July 25th, 2012
11:51 pm

@ bernie
You can extrapolate from the legislation introduced in Georgia that, the charter schools’ curriculum will likely include creationism, and global warming denial, etc. So, the kids going to the public schools may very well receive the better education,(or as td would say, learning).

td

July 26th, 2012
12:08 am

Bernie

July 25th, 2012
11:37 pm

“The majority of the parents DO CARE! ”

Do not believe you. I live in a 80% white school district and have been to everyone of my children’s conferences and belong to the PTA. Every year I ask the teacher what is their response rate for conferences and it is less then 50% (past the third grade). The participation rate in PTA is about 10 to 20% of the parents.

You may be right about not enough slots but that is not because all of those parents care about their children and will put in the effort to work with their children but instead they will think it is a easy way out for them to have to work.

Bernie

July 26th, 2012
12:20 am

So STATE INSTITUTED SEGREGATION is a more viable solution? Let me know how that works out for you in the years to come. Charter Schools have already been proven Its success is marginal at best. This State wide suicide plan will only further exacerbate an already bad situation. Just wait until we are faced with issues of separation of church and State with state issued funds! You think Birth control coverage was an issue…this one will be tied up in the courts for years!

S

July 26th, 2012
1:22 am

Charter schools, just another way the Religious are trying to instill their Religious Teachings into our Educational system, in other words dumbing down the Georgia Education system. Also another way to have the poor and middle class paying for those that can afford private school the most and want the rest of us to pay for it. If they had to except and keep every child that beckoned their doors then it might be a different story. As it is they get to pick and choose who they allow to come in and kick out if they wish.
It is a big huge NO VOTE for me and my family. This allowing Charters schools in this state would only take from the already desperate and in need Public Schools. This is just another boondoggle the Republicans have put us in with their failed Republican Policy’s. Have these self serving Republicans in this state ever done the right thing for the people of this state,you just have to ask yourself this? Vote them all out, and keep voting them out and until they’re all gone. Same goes for the National election in November.. Get registered, and vote, you can’t complain if you don’t vote, someone once told me this, and I’ve voted in every election since.

Free Home

July 26th, 2012
1:59 am

If Chip Rogers goes down so will 1162

sheepdawg

July 26th, 2012
6:09 am

yet another gop play to divide the haves and have nots

seabeau

July 26th, 2012
6:50 am

Public Schools are a failure! Eliminate Property Taxes to support this failure!!

Get Educated

July 26th, 2012
7:05 am

Bottom line: an expansion of state government. A commission accountable to no one would be appointed by Deal, Rogers, etc and use your taxes to pay for this dual school system. Vote no!

Don Abernethy

July 26th, 2012
8:28 am

Is a formal educations necessary when there are not many jobs available after graduation from high school or college? Seems like trade schools would be a better way to ensure that our children get a job and are able to support themselves. I graduated from college years ago with a AB degree and about the only thing my diploma has done for me is to open doors because the job required a degree I can not see where the courses I took in high school and college have helped me very much.

Sideline Dude

July 26th, 2012
8:41 am

NO NEW TAX. Vote no on TSPLOST. I already have.

A real conservative

July 26th, 2012
9:01 am

Support for this vote to change the GA Constitution to “allow” charter schools and competition is becoming more confusing daily. Everyone needs to stop talking about this striping money away from public schools and stop talking about this being better for the children and say what is really happening here. Republicans, and I am voting Republican, are talking out of two sides of their mouth. This change to the constitution will grow government in ways that are not accountable to the voting, tax-paying public. This “body” of people that will be authorizing these schools will not be elected but appointed to a created state agency. Locals will have no say in who these people are and what kind of schools they are locating in their counties and cities. This is the real issue. We need to stop allowing our legislators (of both parties) to tell us what is good for the state and our communities. The voters need to vote no on this. If competition is what is needed to make our schools better let the market place decide that without the hands of government mucking things up. Isn’t this what we scream and yell at the federal government about daily?

J Throckmorton Malcontent

July 26th, 2012
9:22 am

The only way to meaningfully reform the public school system is to compel everyone, especially the priviledged, to participate in it: ban all private schooling. You would’t even rtecognize the public schools in a few years, they would almost be Euro quality.

Concerned Public School Parent

July 26th, 2012
9:27 am

The public schools my kids attend cannot take anymore budget cuts. Why would a state keep cutting funds to public schools when they say they want to improve education?? Actions speak louder than words.

Over 95% of Georgia’s students attend public schools. We need to fund those schools and provide quality education for all our students – not just a chosen few “special” schools.

dd

July 26th, 2012
9:32 am

it would be great to be able to “hide” the folks who post contentless partisan BS on these blogs, and just be able to read the folks who actually contribute to the discussion. The amount of vitriol and hate some folks have is incredible. Wondering if there is a “content reader” out there that could filter out such crap.

jd

July 26th, 2012
9:33 am

A picture of the North Fulton Charter School faculty (Teachers imported from Turkey) will doom charters — they are just a means of outsourcing education to third world educators.

Capitol Hack

July 26th, 2012
9:38 am

The point that most of you are missing is that this is not just about whether we support charter schools or not. Georgia ALREADY allows charter schools. Many of them are good, and some of them are worse than the public schools they are supposed to “compete” with.

The real issue here is state control. If you vote “Yes” on the constitutional amendment, you are voting to give the state government the right to overide the wishes of local school boards by setting up state charter schools anywhere they want. So much for “smaller government” and “local control”! That is the point of Jim’s blog. Some of the people who are against the TSPLOST on the basis that the state can’t be trusted are the same ones asking you to trust the state to usurp local control over your schools. Don’t be fooled (again) by the intentionally deceptive wording on the ballot.

WOW

July 26th, 2012
9:41 am

The public schools my kids attend cannot take anymore budget cuts. Why would a state keep cutting funds to public schools when they say they want to improve education?

You hit the nail on the head. I for one am not necessarily against Charter Schools, if the public schools we have are funded first. How we go about it is up for debate and hopefully one can be had. The future of our children is too important for partisan bickering, but hoping for that may just be a little too much. Don’t know how the Governor expects to pass this while he has consistently cut the Education budget every year he has been in office.