The tea party rift over Amendment One, the ballot issue on charter schools, has broken into the open.
To counter an appearance last week at an opposition rally by a member of Atlanta Tea Party Patriots, a top leader in FreedomWorks – a financier of the tea party movement – over the weekend endorsed the measure, which would reaffirm the state’s authority to create a charter schools over local opposition.
From Brendan Steinhauser, director of federal and state campaigns for the organization:
According to the Associated Press, petitioners of a charter school can already appeal to the state Board of Education under current law. All the ballot amendment does is clarify the law and allow for the creation of a separate state commission to approve charter schools.
This morning, Atlanta Tea Party Patriots responded with an emailed explanation of its qualms – first from Julianne Thompson, who insists that the organization has meant to stay neutral in the matter, and offers Gov. Nathan Deal a shout-out:
So private schools are now supposed to compete with less expensive home-schooling, free public regular schools, and free public charter (or contract) schools. Our tax money should follow our child or be given in a tax credit to us in full, not go to into funding a choice between two forms of public education that offer the same, identical common core curriculum as mandated by the federal government.
I realize this is a very difficult subject, and there are wonderful people on both sides of this issue. It is not a litmus test for conservatism, nor should it be an issue of division. I truly believe our elected officials wanted only the best when writing this legislation, and I applaud them for their effort.
I also want to specifically thank Governor Nathan Deal. He is a good man and Governor, who is working hard on behalf of Georgia. I know he supports this amendment, and sometimes friends do not agree on everything, but I thank him for his leadership for Georgia.
Then came remarks from Debbie Dooley, who appeared at the state Capitol press conference last week with opponents of the charter school measure:
A government solution is NOT a free market solution. It is also not fiscally responsible. Many public school systems have cut back on school days, and teacher work days. The public schools in the school systems will still receive the same amount of local money but the state money follows the student so you could see public schools struggling financially.
I don’t believe school systems will absorb the loss of state money for the non-charter schools in their districts and in many districts will end up increasing the property tax to make up for the shortfall. State charter schools receive more state dollars than traditional public schools do under HB 797. School Superintendent John Barge has estimated the cost to be over $430 million dollars in new state funding required over 5 years.
Where is the money going to come from when the state already has had to cut departments and services? States like California that jumped early on the charter school bandwagon are already introducing legislation that put caps on the number of new charter schools per year because they saw such an explosion of new charter schools and the state cannot afford it.
For those of you still undecided, Channel 2 Action News offers a video recap of the arguments, posted above.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider