Tea party rift shows up in charter school fight

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

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46 comments Add your comment

Mitch

November 5th, 2012
3:25 pm

Let’s see, the Tea Party is all twisted up in knots about this. It must be good. I’m voting yes.

Angus

November 5th, 2012
3:43 pm

There’s rifts in all parties – and reasonably so.

Way too many do not understand the amendment or charter schools.

Even if you do understand what the amendment does and what charter schools can be, it’s still a tough decision.

cc

November 5th, 2012
3:45 pm

I’ve already voted YES on Amendment 1.

Debbie Dooley does not rule the TEA Party or the universe.

DAWG POUND

November 5th, 2012
3:47 pm

“because they saw such an explosion of new charter schools and the state cannot afford it.”

My sister took her children out of public school in San Diego and placed them in charter school because the teachers largely taught their classes in Spanish and her kids can only speak casual phrases in Spanish.

When the public school officials suggested her children have learning disabilities she balked and now they are both making straight A’s in an charter school which teaches subjects in English.

Amazing how that works, LOL!

DAWG POUND

November 5th, 2012
3:47 pm

“because they saw such an explosion of new charter schools and the state cannot afford it.”

My sister took her children out of public school in San Diego and placed them in charter school because the teachers largely taught their classes in Spanish and her kids can only speak casual phrases in Spanish.

When the public school officials suggested her children have learning disabilities she balked and now they are both making straight A’s in an charter school which teaches subjects in English.

Amazing how that works, LOL!

MANGLER

November 5th, 2012
3:47 pm

1) School is not “free”. Everyone pays for it through taxes.
2) Public schools are operated in the public eye and answer to a public school board which is overseen by the State and watched very carefully by the public.
3) Charter schools answer to shareholders and are not bound by oversight, just test scores.
4) Why are all of the for profit companies only now rushing in to run these schools? Is it because they care about students or because they get to make money off of them while being appointed by unelected State representatives that have nothing to do with education?
5) We already have local charter schools.
6) Parents alread have choice, between charter schools or private schools.
7) See #5 again please.
8) You didn’t want the State to have control over your tax dollars to expand MARTA or highways, but it’s OK to let the State assume control over decisions on schools?

Rod

November 5th, 2012
3:59 pm

I didn’t just vote no. I voted HNO!! Why do we need another system when the one in place is fine.

Rod

November 5th, 2012
4:05 pm

Oh yeah I am tired of seeing that little black girls face on tv and hearing her speech. I know full well if they have a face like mine on commercials in GA for this issue then it is not good. Let the parents and the local people decide what is best. No more state sanctioned nonsense since we know the for profit people can’t wait to get their hands on our tax dollars and decide what is best. Local control is best and majority rule. That is the american way. Besides this charter push is a way to start your own school instead of fixing the one you have next door. Then we have all the poor kids in one school and the others in charter. No pay for private if you want private. I don’t have kids and I have to pay for these d–mn schools so you need to also.

deegee

November 5th, 2012
4:07 pm

I voted No. The local charter schools are just fine. Parents have a choice. They can either get involved with their children’s education or they can sit on the sidelines. When the parents are involved the student is successful and the school is successful. No need for another money grab for those well connected Georgians.

Voter

November 5th, 2012
4:21 pm

Help me here. Exactly what is this Charter vote for?

What is this charter vote for?

November 5th, 2012
4:33 pm

GA already has more than 200 charter schools and like public schools, some good and some not. Local school boards AND the state board of education can – and do – approve charter school applications and will continue to do so whether the amendment passes or fails.

Amendment 1 permanently changes the constitution to allow the Gov to appoint 7 people to ALSO make decisions and circumvent local communities…and taxpayers will pay for it. Expand state government, duplicate existing services? NO! Who’s really in favor? A whole lot of for profit companies just itching to come make money in GA. Wonder if they also made campaign contributions to the Gov?

Big Hat

November 5th, 2012
4:55 pm

Charter schools today, no public schools tomorrow, education only for the 1% forever.

Wonder if they also made campaign contributions to the Gov?

November 5th, 2012
4:58 pm

I’m sure they did indeed. That’s the only way things get done!

BBQ MAN

November 5th, 2012
5:01 pm

big part of the problem is charter is NOT available in most of the state, due in part to the strong teacher’s union lobbying against them. they don’t want competition

sheepdawg

November 5th, 2012
5:01 pm

if the ga gop is for it, i’m voting against it. somebody will get rich and the poor middle class will get screwed when the thieves support anything

No Longer Republican

November 5th, 2012
5:09 pm

This amendment is NOT about Georgia’s kids and their education. It is not about teacher’s unions or any of that crap. It is about MONEY and PROFIT for companies who would run these charter schools. That is why millions of dollars are coming into this campaign. Georgia’s schools need help but giving state tax money to for profit companies IS NOT THE ANSWER!!!!!!

Don Abernethy

November 5th, 2012
5:17 pm

I am for anything that will help us get God back in the schools. If you want to eliminate the mandate to teach the lie of evolution the parents can do so. Many parents have to pay for private schools so their children can be taught what they want taught and at the same time pay taxes for public schools. Charter schools my involve profit for companies but if that is what it takes so be it. I am voting YES.

Opposition

November 5th, 2012
5:24 pm

You nailed it, No Longer Republican.

And BBQ Man, you better hope the Gov appoints 7 people from your area or you’re out of luck. FYI GA doesn’t have teacher unions.

Anybody who votes for this better like expanding government and padding the for profit companies’ investors pockets. Of course some of them are being investigated by the FBI for playoffs to government officials in other states. Think this is about education? Seriously? Not a chance.

Eddie Hall

November 5th, 2012
5:44 pm

Among other things a yes vote is a vote to raise local property taxes. I will be voting NO!

Hiram

November 5th, 2012
6:00 pm

For those who tie charter schools to religion, the guy who will be appointing the board to oversee them, claims that he was unaware that the guy he sold his daughter’s failed business to distributes porn, and has a chain of peep shows. You would have to be crazy to give this guy authority over anything else.

Don Coyote

November 5th, 2012
6:08 pm

This is not an amendment to vote “for” charter schools. It is simply voting for who gets the cheese. Unelected bureaucrats or your locally elected school board.

It is beyond comprehension how someone could consider themselves a “conservative” and vote for adding more bureaucracy to siphon off more tax dollars to add literally a “nanny state” commission to override locally elected and already constitutional school boards. If you don’t get your charter school through the 2 methods already available there is still a third one. You VOTE THEM OUT. There is no such recourse for this proposed commission.

Given the recent evidence of appointments doled out by Guvna’ Let’s Make A Deal, I don’t even see how voting for this boondoggle is even a consideration. Ditto for amendment 2. I don’t want any administration saddling the state with 20 year leases, especially this one.

Dunwoody

November 5th, 2012
6:18 pm

Coyote – you’re absolutely right. With more than $2 million frome out-of-state, for-profit “education” companies supporting the passage of this amendment, it is clearly about the money, not the kids.

thinkthru

November 5th, 2012
6:25 pm

Great idea – we can apply the charter concept to any state service the “local community requests”. We can have charter state parks, charter departments of labor offices, charter offices of community health, charter tax collection, charter state courts, charter water service, charter fire department, etc. Every local community group can create their own little cluster of state services that all tax payers pay for at an increased rate. This competition would greatly increase the efficiency of government would it not?

Miss Understood

November 5th, 2012
7:20 pm

Our tax money should follow our child or be given in a tax credit to us in full,

If that’s the case then I want my tax dollars BACK because i don’t have a child. OR can i pick the child I want it to “follow”?

Uh huh. Thought not……….

Hiram

November 5th, 2012
7:53 pm

@ thinkthru
There’s more of this going on than you know. The government treasuries, whether it be the citys’, countys’, state’s or countrys’, attract cons like honey attracts flies.

Have you observed all of the empty industrial parks scattered up and down the interstates? Cons have found that some of the easiest money around is the taxpayers’ money, that is controlled by local brain dead hog farming county commissioners and mayors, and they don’t have to work very hard to get it.

This is true on every level – rural towns to Washington – they constantly brainstorm with on the take, corrupt politicians, to get their hands on the taxpayers’ money, and charter schools are just one of many of their scams.

double

November 5th, 2012
8:58 pm

Hiram have a heart.The Gov.running out of positions to appoint his cronies to.So we got to change the constitution to create a place he can appoint within.All this under the name of choice.Which it will be.A choice for the state to award the charter contracts.I just wonder how the decisions will be determined.$$$$$.

Debbie Dooley

November 5th, 2012
9:05 pm

@Don Abernathy, Religion cannot be taught at charter schools. Charter schools will have to follow the same guidelines in regard to curriculum as public schools.

Debbie Dooley

November 5th, 2012
9:05 pm

@Don Abernathy, Religion cannot be taught at charter schools. Charter schools will have to follow the same guidelines in regard to curriculum as public schools.

Mary Elizabeth

November 5th, 2012
10:46 pm

It is problematic to me that two of Georgia’s state representatives, who are both on the House Education Committee and who sponsored the charter school resolution (HR 1162) which became the Constitutional Amendment, are members of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). ALEC has worked with corporate CEOs and state legislators in many, especially, Republican controlled states for the relatively stealthy ideological agenda of privatizing much of America’s public institutions and programs, such as public education, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Privatization invariably translates to “for-profit.”

I do not wish to see public education transformed – over the years – to a “for-profit” industry. If smaller school settings are the main appeal of the charter school movement, then those smaller school settings can be accomplished through traditional public school districts working with local charter schools, that they have approved, to that smaller school setting end. The state Commission for Charter Schools, which would be authorized through this Constitutional Amendment, is therefore not needed.

Vote NO to Amendment One.

Sylvia

November 5th, 2012
10:58 pm

Enter your comments here

Sylvia

November 5th, 2012
11:03 pm

So now the rest of the world knows… Debbie Dooley was the “FreedomWorks” person for Georgia before they kicked her out.

Guess even they realized she was clinging to an old Karen Hendel grudge.

As long as Dooley is in charge, who cares what the Georgia Tea Party thinks.

ODD OWL

November 6th, 2012
1:30 am

The tea party clowns are the mentally enslaved tools of Bain Cutthroat Capital, Koch Brothers and other rich, elite, extreme right wing neo-con Republicans, hell bent on dumming down American Children so they can’t qualify for American jobs… Then Bain Capital, Koch Bros. and other corporate bosses can justify outsourcing all American jobs to China, India and other foreign countries… The state of Georgia must discard this Republican inspired character school B.S. … Funnel all the charter school money into the public school system and then triple the amount of money that the state is spending on the public school budget… problem solved… The stupid Republicans who are attempting to dismantle the public school system are the ones who have an intellectual problem, not the Children in the public school system…

[...] has this amendment the potential to send the Tea Party adrift? (AJC-Galloway) [...]

Buckhead Boy

November 6th, 2012
3:51 am

“Our tax money should follow our child or be given in a tax credit to us in full … .” Are you sure that isn’t a statement from the Me Party?

Marlboro Man

November 6th, 2012
4:17 am

The GA tea reps define the word stupid.

Independent voter

November 6th, 2012
6:32 am

if you pay taxes.. love the USA.. or have kids/grandkids.. please vote ROMNEY !!!

...

November 6th, 2012
6:46 am

vote for ROMNEY and yes for charter schools.

honested

November 6th, 2012
7:41 am

So now that the ‘tea party’ has the bandage yanked off, can we accept they are two distinct groups:

The wealthy extremists who funded them into existence and promoted their faux ‘grass roots’ appeal.

The ‘volunteers’ who speak for nobody and should be careful lest they run afoul of the funders.

Rafe Hollister

November 6th, 2012
8:47 am

Ms Dooley seems to be saying that charters work, but we can’t afford them. So, we put more money into things that do not work? I agree that the money should follow the child and let the parents decide, what school their child attends, but we do not have the votes to do that yet, so Charters will save a few more kids in the mean time. I am voting yes.

Get Your Facts Straight

November 6th, 2012
8:59 am

Sylvia – Dooley was NOT kicked out of FreedomWorks. She left because she was offered a position on the National Board for Tea Party Patriots, a competing organization, which she accepted. She maintains an excellent working relationship with Steinhauser, Kibbe, and all at FreedomWorks. Call them and ask. They just disagreed on this issue. Nice try with the lies, though. Do I detect a little bit of jealousy? That is usually the force behind an attempt at political assassination, even if it is a poor one by a petty man.

RS

November 6th, 2012
9:04 am

If you’re confused (and it’s hard not to be when people will say anything to win), just follow the money! This is a way to take money away from cash strapped local schools and give it to the politically connected. Vote NO!

Dirty Dawg

November 6th, 2012
9:13 am

From my perspective it’s just another means of getting the camels nose under the tent and into the public treasury – a Trojan Horse as it were – along with adding another layer/bureau of government, stocked with Deal appointees. I say no…and since the ‘motive’ for the ‘long-term lease’ one was so the ‘for profit’ charter school operators – from someplace other than here – could increase their profits with cheaper rents, I’m agin’ that one too.

Bob Loblaw

November 6th, 2012
9:43 am

And let the rift continue! Debbie! Are you gagging listening to your Juliann kissing the Gov’s butt?

This is what happens to movements that spread themselves too thin. Especially when you cross your conservative values by getting in bed with the liberal education establishment. This is nothing new to Debbie, though. She’s running with the wrong crowd on several issues.

Where’s the T-SPLOST constitutional challenge? Still waiting on you, you strict constitutionalist, you…

BoogerFling

November 6th, 2012
11:36 am

@ ODD OWL…

“Funnel all the charter school money into the public school system and then triple the amount of money that the state is spending on the public school budget… problem solved…”

Seriously? Why? Throwing more money at something doesn’t fix anything. Our schools need reforming. Our teachers need to do their jobs and stop expecting the parents to pick up their slack at home. Parents should be involved in the education of their children, but there’s a serious problem when kids come home with homework they can’t do because the teacher hasn’t put forth the effort in the classroom. Why put more money in these useless teacher’s pockets? Reform the system and make these teachers accountable. Stop giving them a free check!

Hoodwinked in Marietta

November 6th, 2012
11:53 am

I voted early, and I was confused by the wording of the ballot measure.
Now that I understand the issue, I wish I had voted NO.
I support charter schools, better education and school choice, but I I would never support such a Socialist policy that seems designed to line the pockets of the governor’s friends.
What can I do????