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Vote 'no' on charter schools amendment

Posted: September 30, 2012 - 12:00am

Editor:

When you go to the polls Nov. 6, you will be asked to vote on this question: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow local or state approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”.

The Charter Schools Amendment should read: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the creation of a commission of seven persons recommended by the governor, president of the Senate and speaker of the House for appointment to this commission, who may approve public charter schools upon the request of persons from a Georgia community?”

Also beware of the preamble. This amendment has absolutely nothing to do with improving student achievement or parental involvement. The preamble was crafted by the same three Georgia leaders mentioned above, worded in such a way to get your “yes” vote. Educate yourself on this amendment by reading State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge’s press release on the State Department of Education’s Web site, www.doe.k12.ga.us

Remember, The State Department of Education and local school boards are led by elected officials directly responsible to the taxpayers and voters of the local communities and the state of Georgia. The new state commission of seven appointed persons created by the amendment will not be directly responsible to the taxpayers and voters.

The amendment would create a new, costly and duplicate bureaucracy.

The people of the Augusta area have already encountered the power of an appointed state board. Approval of this constitutional amendment will mean even more local control and input in the area of education will be given up to the state, further silencing the voice and diminishing the power of taxpayers and voters.

Please vote “no” on this amendment.

Jeanne Turner

Harlem

(Jeane Turner is a member of the Columbia County Retired Educators Association.)

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Comments (6)

Kids First

Vote Yes

Jeane, I understand that many educators are being told to fear this amendment when in fact they should embrace it. If passed, the Columbia County Board of Education has the authority to approve or deny any petitions just like today. And remember that all petitions must show 'proof' of community interest or they will be denied for sure. Columbia may be one of the boards that will truly look at the proposal and make a decision on what best serves their students but unfortunately, we're seeing many systems that rubber stamp 'no' and move to the next agenda item. The commission is a court of appeal.

Remember too, that if a charter is approved by the commission, that your traditional schools lose zero funding. They will be funded at an average of the 5 lowest funded systems in GA (in other words, only 2 systems will have lower funding than a state approved charter school). They'll actually have more money to spend on the students who stay in the traditional school....hopefully that would go towards instruction and not more overhead at the BOE.

Finally, last week Attorney General Sam Olens told Superintendent Barge to remove his personal decision to not support this amendment from the DOE website. He was illegally using tax payer money and platform to advance his personal belief. It was wrong of him and should make us all question his decisions especially in 2014 should he run again.

Barry Paschal

Kids First supplies misleading information

Kids First, your information is misleading - especially in regard to funding. Georgia's public schools are not being fully funded now, resulting in furloughs and shortened calendars. Where will the state magically produce new money to fund a parallel system of state-enabled charter schools? Every dime of tax money that would go to these schools comes from the same pot of state money and would then be unavailable to fully fund the state's public schools.

In addition, the new agency set up to approve these schools would be appointed by state elected officials, taking accountability for these schools another step away from local citizens elected by their peers, who live in and pay taxes in those communities.

And, of course, the big prize for all the outside interests pumping money into the pro-amendment campaign is the hope of dipping into this new revenue stream - with, of course, handsome rewards for the campaign coffers of the very politicians setting it up, and no doubt punishment for the rare official like Dr. John Barge who has the courage to speak out against this massive fraud - as you ominously warn in your comments.

"Kids First"? Baloney.

Kids First

David vs. Goliath

Right now the parents, grandparents and voters who care about the kids, not the establishment, are leaning towards voting yes. The last state wide poll said 58% of GA voters were in favor of the charter school amendment. Even 46% on the democrats straw poll back on July 31st, though worded fairly negatively, stood in favor. Most people outside the 'machine' are in favor of giving charter schools a chance.

Now to respond to some of what you state:

1. Funding has certainly been an issue the last 10 years in GA but our place in US education rankings has changed little. In fact, you should go to open.georgia.gov to see how many of our superintendents took raises while sending teachers to furlough days (remember it was the charter schools in Chicago that stayed open during the strike and most of those teachers were making less to begin with). We have superintendents in Georgia that make more per year than the president of the United States but he furloughs his teachers and doesn't give raises.

2. The commission will be appointed by elected officials. Just as the Board of Regents and other commissions that rely on expertise to do work for the state. The State Board of Education is also appointed by elected officials. The Forestry Commission. Professional Standards Commission (for teachers). Here they all are: http://sos.georgia.gov/elections/boards_gov.htm. All appointed by elected officials. All spending Georgia money.

3. Finally, I'm not sure what you mean by outside interests. Each charter school is led by a non-profit governing board. Many opponents of the amendment have been scaring voters about 'for profit monsters' out to make money on their kids. These non-profit boards may contract with a company to fulfill a service but can cancel that contract if they believe it's in the best interest of the kids/school. We've seen 2 or 3 in Georgia let those companies go and they have continued to serve their students. We see others using the service of a management company with great success.

The voters of Georgia will go to the polls and make this decision. They're going to be told by superintendents, many politicians, boards, school leaders, PTA and everyone else protecting the status quo to vote no but they know better....those groups have left the kids out of the equation.

Barry Paschal

Nice try, "Kids First"

Nice try, "Kids First," including the straw man Chicago argument. Why don't you stop hiding behind an alias and tell everyone how you hope to profit from passage of the amendment - which would never pass with those parents and grandparents if they knew the damage it will cause.

Funny you would feign unfamiliarity with the concept of "outside interests" attempting to buy passage of this amendment. Why not tell us where all the money is coming from to promote it? What's the incentive for all those out-of-state companies to be promoting passage of an election question in Georgia?

Oh, wait - don't tell me: It's because they suddenly woke up one morning and decided Georgia needed to put its "kids first."

Kids First

Vote Yes

I thought Benita Dodd of the GA Public Policy Foundation had a great article yesterday:

" "To be profitable, a company must offer a product that attracts enough consumers then keep them satisfied or lose them. Or it must monopolize the market and keep out any competitors that could build a better widget. That may explain why Georgia’s education monopoly bureaucracy is reluctant to allow competitors to enter the marketplace of ideas."

http://georgiapolicy.org/choice-charters-and-the-children/.

I hope anyone reading our thread will continue to educate themselves on this amendment. If Richmond and Columbia County are thinking about their students first than they certainly wouldn't deny a good petition. If, in fact, they aren't thinking of the kids first, that petitioner has a place to appeal. Remember the first commission only approved 16 out of nearly 60 in over 2 years. They only want to see good schools in Georgia too.

Barry Paschal

Profitability

A company also can be quite profitable by finding favor with those who hold government purse strings. Solyndra did quite well until the government money ran out, despite failing to produce a usable product.

Again, why do you continue to hide behind a pseudonym?

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