Charter school fight makes a jumble of Georgia politics

Hyper-partisanship, the curse of Washington, is an infectious thing.

Yet even here, in the reddest of red states, you and I are catching a strong whiff of something different. For the second time in 100 days, a statewide campaign has made a massive jumble of Georgia’s traditional political alliances.

The fight over the Nov. 6 ballot issue on charter schools has fractured every demographic – men, women, black, white, Democrat, and Republican. Even tea partyers.

Proponents and opponents of the measure, which would allow the state to create public charter schools over the objections of local school systems, are each attempting to create a patchwork alliance – bipartisan and biracial – to breach the 50 percent mark.

A Journal-Constitution poll released over the weekend indicates the vote could be a near thing, and will stand independent of the race for president. Mitt Romney voters are split 44 to 44 percent on the charter school measure. Supporters of President Barack Obama are divided 43 to 42 percent.

In a close race, any one group becomes essential to the outcome. But in the charter schools contest, no group may be more essential to both sides than African-American Democrats. Who, quite ironically, may be reduced to irrelevance in the Republican-driven state Capitol after next month’s vote.

Competition has been fierce. Forums in African-American churches in metro Atlanta have been held nearly nonstop this month.

Many traditional black leaders are rallying voters in opposition. The Rev. Joe Lowery, the aging civil rights leader, was one of the first, with a speech to Georgia delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Decatur, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, has joined state School Superintendent John Barge, a Republican, in opposition to the charter school measure – but in terms that Barge is unlikely to endorse.

Jones has declared that enhancing the state’s power to create charter schools would result in a return to the white-only “segregation academies” that flourished in Georgia during the ‘50s and ‘60s, especially in rural portions of the state.

“It’s done intentionally. That’s the plan,” Jones, 53, said. Barriers to black children – a lack of transportation to and from classes, for instance – would be used to keep black students in traditional public schools.

On the opposite side of the issue is 33-year-old state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, an African-American from Cobb County and a charter school advocate who finds Jones’ attitude dated and offensive.

“It bothers me to hear my colleagues, people who represent civil rights organizations, make such a careless allegation,” said Morgan, whose husband David is a Cobb school board member and a professional lobbyist for a school choice organization.

“There’s a place to be concerned about segregated academies, perhaps outside of the metro Atlanta area,” she said. “But for those of us who are parents, who have to make decisions right now about where and how our kids will be educated, I think it is a tremendous distraction from the real issues in public education.”

Curt Thompson is a white Democratic state senator, but his north metro Atlanta district includes the original campus of Ivy Prep, a public charter school with a large African-American population.

Like Morgan, Thompson has allied himself with Gov. Nathan Deal, in favor of the charter school measure. And he thinks that those who tie race to the ballot issue are doing so in exactly the wrong way.

“The idea of local control has never really been the progressive argument. Proper oversight – to make sure that people aren’t being arbitrary and capricious with the rights of others – has essentially been the broader argument,” Thompson said. State administration is necessary to make sure that charter schools happen in the right way, he said.

“The locals are always the most resistant and most likely to trample on the rights of the few,” Thompson said.

The state Democratic party has placed itself in opposition to the charter school initiative. Michael Thurmond, a former vice-chairman of the party and state labor commissioner, is toeing the party line – but on non-racial grounds.

“If we can’t finance the existing public school system, it makes absolutely no sense to think we may be able to finance two systems,” said Thurmond, who is African-American.

But he recognizes that something different is afoot. During this summer’s campaign for the transportation sales tax, biracial and bipartisan teams confronted each other. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and other black leaders joined with pro-business Republicans in support of the tax, while many other African-Americans created alliances with tea party conservatives and lined up against it.

“The TSPLOST may have been a one-night stand. Now you have to consider that this might be a long-term cohabitation,” Thurmond said.

A redrawing of legislative districts by Republicans could very well give the GOP a two-thirds majority in both chambers of the Legislature. If nothing else, Thurmond said, this year’s campaigns for the TSPLOST and charter schools should assuage any worries that Republicans will be able to pass constitutional amendments at will.

“You still have to get a majority of the popular vote,” he said. And that’s getting more and more complicated.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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70 comments Add your comment

td

October 17th, 2012
6:16 pm

I am opposed to the Charter school Amendment on conservative philosophical grounds. I think it take away the ability of the local school boards to make the wisest decisions for the local community.

Vote no to Amendment 1

CHARTER MOM

October 17th, 2012
6:37 pm

My daughter attends a Charter School in Cherokee County. This is the most diverse school she has been in. Her best friends are black, Asian and middle eastern.

Charters have been presented to the school board in Cherokee County for years and years only to be denied EVERY time. Local control wants to keep their control and are not open to new ideas. That was totally true until the state did approve Cherokee Charter Academy. Then suddenly the BOE implemented the “Academies” which parents can choose to send their children to.

My Child, My Choice. Public School, Charter School, Private School, Home School.

VOTE YES TO AMENDMENT 1

Mitch

October 17th, 2012
6:42 pm

Hey td, this doesn’t take away anything from local school districts.

Local MOM

October 17th, 2012
7:03 pm

For those who think this does not affect local school funding DREAM on. State leaders have been trashing school funding for years. Voting yes just gives them consent to GUT the K-12 state budget. If you have 2 authorizers in place now, why do we need an APPOINTED UNACCOUNTABLE committee?

VOTE NO if you actually believe every kid should get a fair shot.

Charter schools are an important choice – but not by a committee of the campaing donors.

Get Educated

October 17th, 2012
7:15 pm

Amendment 1 changes the constitution to expand state government and duplicate existing services (both local and state school boards can – and do – already review and approve charter school applications). GA has more than 200 charter schools and more in the pipeline. What amendment 1 gives us is 7 people appointed by the Gov to make the decisions. Didn’t want the politicians fixing our transportation mess? That was child’s play compared to what they’ll do to kids’ schools. We won’t have more charter schools…just the ones 7 politically appointed people choose among the for profit companies clamoring to come to GA and make big bucks on taxpayers’ backs. Insanity. Vote no.

VOTE NO

October 17th, 2012
7:45 pm

jezel

October 17th, 2012
7:47 pm

Well said Get Educated. Why not just rub snake oil on every student? Would be a lot cheaper and probably just as effective. This amendment does not ring true.

VOTE NO

October 17th, 2012
7:48 pm

@Charter Mom- it will no longer be your choice, it will be the state choice

detritusUSA

October 17th, 2012
8:02 pm

I’ve no problem with charter schools. One of my grandsons attends one and it is an excellent learning environment. I voted no on the amendment because it takes away local control from my county school board, as well as my control through my vote for school board members. I’m also greatly concerned about all the out of state contributions of money in support of this amendment. No one spends money without expecting something in return. I ask, what is it that they want? I voted no, I urge others to vote no also.

Romney fan

October 17th, 2012
9:29 pm

We don’t need more government. Vote No.

Andy

October 17th, 2012
9:33 pm

Everything the pro – charter school advocates is already in place, or maybe not. Any charter school who is denied its application at the local level can appeal that decision at the State Board of Education ( A body which the Governor appoints).

However, a new charter school application process, eliminates the more rigorous consideration that local boards imposed. With few exceptions, most conservatives agree that we do not need to create a new layer of bureaucracy.

So why the push? Always follow the money…. A new charter commission would allow private industry to ramrod for profit companies take money out of the public education sector.

Finally, if you really want perceived added value 1. move to a better school or 2. send your child to a private school. But please do not ask the public to foot the bill of your move or decision to remove taxpayer money from the best thing we have going a free public education.

DanBuckO

October 17th, 2012
10:38 pm

Im not sure which way is best since both political parties are so infested in greed and media glaomour anymore. You are not sure about anything anymore because everyone wants a piece of the pie irregardless what is good for the children. One thing I would do if I was a parent in Atlanta Metro area. The same thing my parents did, get my kids as far away from the metro area, social networking and interstate system as I could. The modern day politicians and the groups involved in this issue are cancers to the American life we once had.

oldfart

October 17th, 2012
11:55 pm

I don’t see how one can profess to be a conservative and vote to add yet another layer of bureaucracy to suck up tax dollars. Especially when this extra bureaucracy’s role is a furtherance of nanny state control over the wishes of locally elected officials. If you don’t like the actions of your local school board the remedy is quite clear. Vote them out. There is no like recourse for this proposed commission.

yuzeyurbrane

October 18th, 2012
12:11 am

I agree with td on this one for many of the same reasons. Vote NO.

an observer

October 18th, 2012
12:18 am

I am going to join the majority of opinions in this blog and vote No on the Charter amendment. I think local school boards are approving charter schools that make sense and there are a number of them out there. Most of the times a local school board denies a charter school, the state board would deny the charter also. There are only a few instances when the state board would override the local school board decision to deny a charter, and those are not worth amending the state constitution. I do not see this as a big problem, or as a big game changer in Georgia Public Education. I believe the at Charter schools denied by the local school boards should simply make their case by opening as private schools. No one stops them from doing that.

Jack

October 18th, 2012
5:25 am

I’m a Republican and I’m going to vote NO. My grandchild is in a county public school and doing extremely well and I don’t want that changed. Maybe state control wouldn’t change that, but I don’t want to take a chance.

why not

October 18th, 2012
5:58 am

Vote No! Why is the Republican leadership against local control. This is was also reflected in T splost. I’m worried about this trend. A true conservative would not vote for additional state
government control of anything. I’m worried about the leadership and the trend we see this year. Continue to Vote No like the T splost and maybe the message will become clear for all of those in leadership.

Buckhead Boy

October 18th, 2012
6:25 am

Good ground for bi-partisanship always exists in any suggestion of looting government.

Fed Up

October 18th, 2012
6:56 am

My local (Cobb County) school board has decided that they are not interested in fixing the schools in the southernmost districts. So too bad for me, right?

Bob

October 18th, 2012
7:52 am

The Rev. Joe Lowery is against so that means I am for it. Lowery is ancient and so is his thinking. Why not, why should taxpayers keep the status quo, look at the games APS plays with test cheating and attendance manipulation. Now we have a guy in Davis that played more games at North Atlanta, screw them and their public schools, they do not own education.

[...] Charter schools bringing atypical alliances like TSPLOST.  “The TSPLOST may have been a one-night stand. Now you have to consider that this might be a long-term cohabitation,” Thurmond said.  Translation: a ho is being turned into a lady.  Oh c’mon – it’s funny. [...]

jd

October 18th, 2012
8:20 am

I believe the Charter School Amendment, like T-Splost, is just another objective of Agenda 21. Vote NO on Amendment 1.

GaBlue

October 18th, 2012
8:21 am

It’s a boondoggle.

VOTE NO.

South Georgia Retired Educator

October 18th, 2012
8:23 am

I do oppose the Amendment because it truly does threaten public education, and I’m working hard to defeat it in South Georgia. I’ve found that the biggest threat is voter ignorance; numerous voters have told me they’re glad I’ve helped to clarify the issues because they did not understand what it was all about. This ignorance, combined with the outside money and push from the governor are hard to overcome, but I’m hopeful the “No” vote will win. We need to support and improve our public schools and give them the money and tools to create their own special offerings within each district. Handing out tax money to for-profit companies is a disgusting idea.

Road Scholar

October 18th, 2012
8:43 am

Fed up and Bob: You do have three alternatives: Send your kids to private school, unelect your school board members, or get involved with your kids and their school they now attend. I agree with most of the NO statements above except for the racism.

What amazes me is that one requirement of charter schools is for the parents to get involved with the kids and their school. What? Shouldn’t that be a responsibility for all parents/students/schools? What? You drop little Bobby or Mary off at school (most kids do not ride buses) and you speed away leaving learning, discipline, and nurturing to the teachers/school? You are the parent! Get involved. Know your kids! Give them a little respect.
It is YOUR responsibility to not only lay a solid base for the kids to learn, but to nurture them to achieve more. Parents get off your A$$ and do your job. I realize many parents already do and are reaping the benefits for themselves and the child. For those who do not have caring parents, perhaps retirees and other sponsors can be found to council the kids.

In today’s world, there needs to be someone to tell them to turn off the tv and put the video games down to get their education. An unelected state panel is not it!

Whirled Peas

October 18th, 2012
8:44 am

It is indeed strange that blacks are fighting charter schools. No one, absolutely no one, is more damaged by being held prisoner in government run monopoly schools. No one would be better served by the ability to send their kids to the best school of their choice. A big YES to a future with choice of good charter schools.

Ostrich Racer

October 18th, 2012
8:54 am

As always, if you want to figure it out, just follow the money — and make no mistake, it’s all about money. The amendment is a mechanism for allowing the governor’s flunkies/sycophants/donors to decide where the money goes. Bad, bad idea. Vote no.

Eddie Hall

October 18th, 2012
9:08 am

@why not– Because those republicians are ALL former dems! The only philosophy they subscribe to is the dollar! Vote NO!

curious

October 18th, 2012
9:09 am

The publically funded charter school, Lake Oconee Academy, in Greene County is 80+% white, while the public schools are 80+% black.

Wonder why.

Are we back to paying for segregated schools?

Barry in Canton

October 18th, 2012
9:09 am

My take on this is the black leaders and the school superintendents care nothing about the kids and only looking out for their own control.

Why would any parent that gives a crap, want their kid in the public school system?

I paid the price and sent my kids to private schools, I only wish my parents could have afforded to send me to a private school and THEN maybe I would be half as smart, as my kids are.

Lynn43

October 18th, 2012
9:45 am

The “pro” people keep up their spin that with the local boards it is about power and money. I ask, “What power and what money”? As I receive no compensation or benefits to serve as a Board member, what dollar motive do I have? Also, what power? We are only a policy making group with one employee-the superintendent. The money and the power needs to be assigned to the people who are pushing this amendment. They are the ones who have something to gain. For profit management companies will make billions. Out of country billionaires can get visas for investing in these schools. Real estate companies will have tax payer money oozing from their bank accounts. Legislators’ campaign funds or whatever will be filled. Etc, etc. The only money involved will be that which those pushing this amendment will receive.

Shar

October 18th, 2012
9:46 am

@Whirled, this is not about “a future with choice of good charter schools.”

This is about allowing a handful of hand-picked yes-men, regardless of their lack of education background, to sell our tax investment in public education and our children’s futures to for-profit political donors.

The real estate people who want to sell some piece of land. The construction interests who want to build it. The ideologues who want to twist what goes into our children’s heads. The “education management companies” who want a guarantee of $1 million per-school right off the top. The provision companies. The out-of-state overseers. The teachers who report not to parents or a local board but some corporation in Texas or California.

Years of research has shown repeatedly that, while some charter schools are gems, on average charters post weaker academic records than do traditional schools. That is a fact. The preamble that Gov. Deal wrote for the ballot, that children will have better school options, is a lie. The ballot proposition itself is written to be purposefully misleading, just to the trembling edge of outright fraud. Why do you think this is necessary?

Because this proposition cannot stand on its own merits, but Deal, Rogers and the rest of the hoodlums behind the looting of our kids’ futures desperately want another big pile of money to spread around to donors and the favored few. Particularly with the demise of the T-SPLOST, the budget for local schools is the best option for their graft and corruption. The Georgia Supreme Court shot down their legislative attempt to get their hands in it, so they have constructed this end run around the constitution.

Chip is being paid by ALEC to ram this through, and he doesn’t care how many kids are hurt, how many layers of bureaucracy he adds, how much money is wasted or how the public education budget is drained. He wants THE MONEY and he wants it NOW. So does Deal, he who crawled out of the Congress literally hours before the House Ethics Committee was to issue a report recommending censure due to his crooked monopoly and misuse of office.

Your local Board of Education may be a bunch of idiots – mine certainly is, in APS – but they are miles better than an unelected bunch of people who care far more about who gets the contracts than the quality of a school their kids will never attend and they themselves will never work in or pay for. Once those schools go in, there is zero chance that local parents, teachers or taxpayers will ever get rid of them, or successfully challenge their stewardship of public dollars or children.

I understand your frustration with the state of public education. I feel it too, particularly after both of my daughters were targeted by other students for rape (the elder) and a ceremonial death (the younger) and I had to pay for private school to keep them safe. However, with all the mess of our current system, it is far, far better than having some out-of-state company paying off Chip Rogers to turn our schools into profit centers for ideological indoctrination.

Vote no, no, no.

Ostrich Racer

October 18th, 2012
9:50 am

What Shar said.

Lynn43

October 18th, 2012
10:21 am

Thank you, Shar.

ANGRY AS HELL

October 18th, 2012
11:06 am

td, I never thought I’d ever agree with you on anything, but, alas, I do on this Charter School Amendment nonsense. No one has provided one bit of evidence that Charter schools are a better option than traditional, public schools. There is a lot of anecdotal commentary on the subject, but no study that I am aware of that categorically proves they are better. Any model of education will provide better results when parents are actively involved in supporting the educational goals for their children. Being married for more than 35 years to an incredibly hard-working and dedicated educator at a Title 1 school, I witness just how hard she has to work both in class and the 3 to sometimes 5 additional hours each and every night (including weekends) to provide quality instruction to her kids. Over the years, she has gone back to school at our cost to get both a Masters and Educational Specialist degrees to better equip herself with new models of instruction. Yet, she like other public school teachers are told by those who haven’t got a clue how bad and lazy they are, and how they cost the state and local systems too much money. There are few people I know who are willing to work essentially 12 to 14 hours everyday to meet curricula standards for kids who come to school daily from homes that have 3 televisions and not one book; homes where often times there is drug and alcohol use, but no food; physical and emotional abuse; homes where these precious children are exposed to every conceivable form of perverted behavior on the part of the adults in these homes. So, the answer is to create charter schools and further cut local school budgets to fund them, again, at the expense of local systems? Is the solution to turn education in the this country intro a profit-making industry where there is no evidence to sustain a belief that such a model will assure better results? I, for one, think not. VOTE NO ON CHARTER SCHOOLS !!

Road Scholar

October 18th, 2012
11:09 am

Good work Shar. Remember you can vote on who is elected to your school board. Under the Charter amendment, you do not get a vote.

Make parents responsible…no matter which school/system you elect to send your kids to. For those kids whose parents are not engaged, why not ask other parents/retirees to mentor those kids? And while you’re at it ; stop the violence.

Baron DeKalb

October 18th, 2012
11:16 am

Never let it be said that I cannot admit when TD is on the right side of the issue. I’m also voting no, guess we’ve got another “come to Jesus” moment on our hands for the blog regulars.

ANGRY AS HELL

October 18th, 2012
11:18 am

One of the best and time-tested rules of determining whose political and financial interests are being taken care of “just follow the money.”

GaBlue

October 18th, 2012
11:30 am

Baron DeKalb,

In the interest of truth and harmony, I will also concede that td got this one right. Choosing to amend the Constitution so that citizens give their power away is not a bright thing to do, no matter what your political leanings.

Rickie

October 18th, 2012
11:32 am

I take John Barge at his word, that this may not be the best time to take this project on, as it will likely distract from a huge mission, currently being undertaken. I have known him for over 20 years; he is an honest, wise and a hard working man, and kind as can be.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

October 18th, 2012
11:37 am

One of the best and time-tested rules of determining whose political and financial interests are being taken care of “just follow the money.”

As in foreign investors willing to put up $500K to start a business and get a green card for doing so. Guess what business is hot for these guys now. If you answered charter schools you are correct. What could be worse than taking away local control from locally elected school boards and giving it to a non-elected Governor appointed committee? Yielding control of education to foreign interests all the while assuring them of a 6-8 percent profit courtesy of your local property taxes.

Mary Elizabeth

October 18th, 2012
11:58 am

I keep repeating that this constitutional amendment is unnecessary. Citizens right now, and in the future, can form state charter schools outside of the jurisdiction of their local Board of Education through the state Board of Education. A state Commission on Charter Schools is, therefore, not needed and, as a result, I believe that this Constitutional Amendment is more political than educational.

As Alexis Scott stated on “The Georgia Gang’s” broadcast last Sunday, this issue is not about a segregation of schools by race, but by class. Many black students and their parents are from middle and upper class backgrounds. Moreover, those students who are from lower class backgrounds, in which their parents or guardians do not have the resources to form a charter school, will be segregated from the middle/upper class students – whatever their race might be – when others pull out of traditional public schools, leaving them behind. That kind of segregation – by class status rather than by race – is as possible in the metro Atlanta area as it is in south Georgia.

Oh, that some of the present leaders in Georgia’s General Assembly had the wisdom of Rev. Joseph Lowery.

Phil

October 18th, 2012
12:07 pm

I want to chime in and add my two cents. For the record, I am a consultant. I help people start and operate charter schools effectively and efficiently. I also tend to be rather libertarian. My view on government is ‘less is better’. I voted against T-SPLOST.

As for charter schools in general, they are not and can not become ’segregation academies’. The example given earlier of Lake Oconee Academy is an interesting one because it was approved by the Greene County School System – so passing this Amendment would have no bearing on that situation. Furthermore, Greene County Schools strongly supported that charter school when it came up for final approval at the State Board of Education (a body 100% appointed by the Governor). At that State Board meeting there were a lot of questions and some real serious digging by State Board members about the probable racial makeup of the school. The school’s founders and Greene County Schools had to work very hard to convince the State Board members that the school was not being set up to serve as an exclusive school for the white middle class. I was at that meeting just as an observer, not representing anyone.

As for the for profit management companies issue, those entities already exist in Georgia and manage a number of charter schools that have been approved by local school districts. This amendment will not open the door to their involvement in Georgia, they are already here. It is also important to remember that school districts also hire out of state for profit companies and use taxpayer dollars to pay them. Aramark is just one example. That is a Philadelphia company that had over 13 billion in sales last year, has over 10 billion in assets, and had an operating profit of over 700 million. Those numbers are all right there on the investor relations page of their web site. For the record, the vast majority of ‘for profit’ management companies are not making a profit running charter schools. They are mostly losing money hand over fist.

Also, for the opponents this is not about local control of schools. The State Board of Education has been approving state chartered schools for over a decade and there has not been a peep from the education establishment. Only when a new entity was created with a new funding system that would cut into the funding going to local districts by having that money follow the student to the Commission approved charter did the education establishment suddenly become concerned about a state level, appointed body approving charter schools (again, that had been going on for almost a decade at the time the Commission was formed). The possibility of local tax dollars following local students to the public school of their choice was unacceptable to them.

On that point, the proposed Amendment actually represents a concession, no education money will be redirected from a local system if students in their jurisdiction go to a commission approved school. A separate pot of money will be used, one that has actually already been created and is in place this year.

The bottom line is that local school districts – by and large – make pretty poor charter school authorizers. That is not only my opinion, it is supported by a lot of research by national organizations whose main focus is on making sure charter schools that get approved are of high quality. They (local school systems) are not well equipped to deal with one or more free standing schools that operate differently and largely independently. As much as we might not like it, a state body that has as its sole purpose to approve, oversee, and hold accountable charter schools makes a much better chartering entity that is more likely to approve higher quality charter schools. Again, that is a research based conclusion not just my opinion.

Now, is the wording of the referendum bias? Yes. When have you ever seen one that wasn’t? However, T-SPLOST was defeated despite biased language which renewed my faith a bit in the voting public to see through that. I hope you will not base your for vote – for or against – on the langauge on the ballot but on the fact that a monopoly on public education has not worked. For the most part, you get good schools where you expect to get them and bad schools in most other areas. That is not universally true, but if you look at the history of monopolized public education in America, it has not done well in a post-industrial society. I am voting YES to help create competition and options for all Georgians, not just the ones who can afford private schools.

Frankly, if it weren’t for the long list of bad experiences in my more than 12 years dealing with local school systems on charter school approval issues and if the local school districts were doing a better job of educating all students in Georgia, I would be voting no. This Amendment will help Georgia move forward.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

October 18th, 2012
12:33 pm

For the record, the vast majority of ‘for profit’ management companies are not making a profit running charter schools. They are mostly losing money hand over fist.

So how does a for profit company losing money hand over fist benefit the education of our children? When for profit companies do not make a profit on a venture, what do they do?
a) cut expenses as in teachers and school supplies
b) split the business into parts and sell them
c) declare bankruptcy & reorganize, something in this case which would involve a taxpayer bailout
d) shut the business unit down and take the write off against earnings from profitable units
e) both a & b
f) both a & c
g) go to the capital markets and raise capital or borrow money, then use most of that money to pay executive bonuses, then back to a-f

Mary Elizabeth

October 18th, 2012
12:59 pm

This below video, produced by students who are against the Constitutional Amendment, is much more succinct in its points and presentation than are some of those posted by adults. I recommend that all listen to it. I lifted the video from Maureen Downey’s latest thread on her “Get Schooled” blog.

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/10/18/student-produced-video-questions-push-for-charter-schools-amendment/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog

Phil

October 18th, 2012
1:07 pm

@Mary Elizabeth. I have read your comments to several stories and opinion pieces on this issue and appreciate the level of thought that you put into them. However, your position here is based on bad information. First, it is true that the State Board can approve state chartered schools currently. However, if this Amendment fails, they will lose that ability. As I noted a moment ago, the State Board has been authorizing charter schools under the exact same Constitutional provision that the Supreme Court ruled the Commission could not use for creating charter schools. That is, the ability to create ’state special schools’. The Supreme Court based their ruling on the term “special” and said that word refers only to students with very special needs or who need a very specialized curriculum that it would be unreasonable to ask local school systems to provide (i.e. school for the blind and school for the deaf).

The only reason the Supreme Court did not strike down the ability of the State Board of Ed to create schools for regular ed students is because it was not asked to. They can only rule on the question before them. Now, if the Amendment fails, it will be no more than a few weeks or months at most that the education establishment files a lawsuit to stop the State Board from authorizing charter schools except those approved by local school districts. That case is a slam dunk. They will file their Motion for Summary Judgement at the same time as the complaint. If I was the judge, I would have to rule in their favor. That is how easy of a case it is. When that happens, the local systems go back to a strict monopoly and very few charters will be approved. I’ve been there before and it is not pleasant if you are trying to provide better and different options for kids.

On the second point, Alexis Scott is completely wrong. That statement would be true for private schools. Middle income and wealthy families already have that choice and have been utilizing it for years to escape bad public schools. Leaving behind only the most dedicated to public education and those who can not afford a choice. The majority of charter schools in Georgia – especially in metro Atlanta – are serving those students who have been left behind in low performing district run schools. I urge you to go visit some charter schools in Atlanta. Most of them are in very distressed neighborhoods and serve populations that are nearly 100% students of color and over 90% low income. They are getting some great results. Atlanta Public Schools recently released the results of their value added assessment of each school in their system. This assessment was designed to determine how far individual students advanced in a given year, relative to how far they are expected to advance by state and national standards. Most of the schools at the top of the list in terms of helping students advance by more than one year’s worth of knowledge in a single school year were charter schools. Most of the charter schools at the top of that list are the ones I just described serving large percentages of low income students of color.

Drew, Kindezi, any of the KIPP schools and several others are prime examples of what I am talking about. Please drop one or more of those schools. They are very welcoming and you will be able to see what is actually happening in charter schools. Charter schools are providing choices for students who can’t afford private schools much more than they are creating additional options for middle and upper income families.

Mary Elizabeth

October 18th, 2012
1:25 pm

Phil, 1:07 pm

“First, it is true that the State Board can approve state chartered schools currently. However, if this Amendment fails, they will lose that ability.”
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You are wrong on this. I had called the State Board of Education and had spoken with a high level administrative assistant a few weeks ago. I asked, specifically, if the State Board of Education would be able to continue approving state charter schools whatever the results of the vote regarding the Constitutional Amendment. I was told – most definitively – that the State Board of Education would be able to continue approving state charter schools whatever the results of the vote on the Constitutional Amendment. I repeated my question several times to make absolutely certain that I had communicated my question correctly and that I had understood the response given me correctly. I received the same answer each time. The State Board of Education did not take a position – simply gave me the facts.

Mary Elizabeth

October 18th, 2012
1:33 pm

Phil, 1:07 pm

Moreover, your idea of the word “special” is not consistent with how that word was defined for me (as used by Georgia’s legislation in this regard) by the State Board of Education. I was informed that the word “special,” as written by Georgia’s legislators, was not intended to represent “special ed” students. All public schools, public charters or tradtional, are required by law to serve all students, I was informed.

East Cobb RINO, Inc. (LLC)

October 18th, 2012
1:37 pm

As someone who makes his living as a consultant to the charter school industry, Phil knows which side of his bread is buttered.

Mary Elizabeth

October 18th, 2012
1:45 pm

Phil, 1:07 pm

“On the second point, Alexis Scott is completely wrong.”
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No, as usual, Alexis Scott was not wrong. She was, in fact, “spot on.” It takes a certain kind of sensitivity to understand why she was correct in her assessment.