Correcting errors of charter school foes

Please, stop all the “push granny off the cliff” rhetoric about Georgia public schools that are chartered by the state.

The Georgia Supreme Court, in a May 2011 4-3 split decision, ruled that the state Constitution authorizes the state government to approve only special charter schools (typically, for deaf and blind students). Approving K-12 charters was effectively ruled the sole purview of local Boards of Education (BOEs).

The Nov. 6 ballot measure responds to that ruling by amending a paragraph in the state’s Constitution to allow the state to continuing chartering K-12 public schools (as it had been doing for 11 years).

Many of Georgia’s 152 school districts have boards of education that operate excellent schools, but others are seriously failing their children — Clayton County and the Atlanta Public Schools, for example.

With little evidence they’ll change for the better, those parents who cannot afford private school tuition (most all of them) have no effective recourse or avenue for appeal.

Between 2004 and 2011, the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) only approved about 11 of the 162 schools chartered in Georgia. That’s it — local boards of education approved the rest. And the state certainly didn’t run them, they only approved the charters that parents and non-profit community organizations wrote and submitted.

In Georgia, all charter schools are operated by their own boards with members selected according to the charter the parents helped write. They are not operated by the state of Georgia. Control remains at an even more local level than local school boards — with the parents.

The DOE already has a staff that oversees and ensures that all charter schools adhere to the contract/charter that parents wrote and agreed to, and will continue to do so regardless of how this vote turns out; we won’t be creating some massive new government bureaucracy.

If the amendment is approved, the DOE will create a seven-member commission to review state charters. By law, the commission members will only be compensated for mileage and per diem expenses — no salaries.

The DOE hasn’t exempted state charter schools from all Georgia education guidelines. It has approved parent-written charters that allow some adjustments to certain standards in exchange for tighter accountability.

Education in Georgia is funded on a roughly 50/50 basis by state tax dollars and local tax dollars (it varies slightly from district to district). When a parent chooses to send their child to a charter school, the state dollars for that child follow him/her to the charter school to fund their education.

The local school dollars (E-SPLOST and property taxes) previously allocated for that child’s education remain with the local BOE even though it no longer has the obligation to educate that child.

Charter schools certainly do not violate the U.S. Constitution, as opponent Sue Ella Deadwyler proclaims, and have absolutely nothing to do with “taxation without representation” (another erroneous sloganeering point from Deadwyler’s presentation).

Yes, there are some other education topics that are a cause for concern, such as Georgia’s adoption of federal Common Core Standards, but that invasion of states’ rights will run its course irrespective of a response to the Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling on state-chartered schools.

Finally, ask yourself how well the current system has been working across Georgia, not just here in Fayette where our schools are among the best in the state.

Wishing and hoping for poorly performing boards to “do better” is not a strategy or solution, it’s simply more unproductive wishing and hoping against entrenched bureaucrats and special interests — and kids suffer.

Allowing the state to charter schools isn’t a complete solution to Georgia’s low national standing, but it’s certainly a useful part of a solution.

The vast majority of Georgia charter schools are in poorly performing school districts. State-chartered schools provide students in those areas with an alternative that they are literally standing in line for.

Are you going to deny them the choice for a better education at a reduced cost?

Vote “Yes” on Nov. 6 for Amendment 1.

Bob Ross

Co-Founder, Fayette County Issues Tea Party

Peachtree City, Ga.

Larry Sussberg
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Charter School Amendment-Lawsuit Filed

I guess there are others who find the wording of Amendment 1 misleading too.

See lawsuit filed today:

http://bettergeorgia.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/PCharterSchoolCompla...

PTC Observer
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Mr. Sussberg - And

what if it fails to be passed?

Will all elections be decided in the courts?

This country is messed up beyond belief.

Larry Sussberg
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PTCObserver

Charter schools are a great option for parents. Amendment 1 is about power, control, bad government and Special Interests!

However, Amendment 1, the way it is written, is designed to "deceive". I'm glad someone stood up and filed a lawsuit!

Amendment 1 is written by SPECIAL INTERESTS (aka Lobbyists), to create yet another government agency by taking away local control and assigning that control to non-elected officials.

That's why Amendment 1 was written this way.

This country is messed up - when you can't trust your elected officials to be sure any ballot item involving a constitutional amendment is written for deception!

Sad

Peter Pfeifer
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Ross = Neither

Bob Ross is neither a simpleton nor a Benedict Arnold. He simply disagrees with you, Stranger. I disagree with you also. And, another thing Bob and I share is we sign our names when we make state opinions.

stranger than f...
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Exposing the hypocrite

Mr. Pfeifer,

Whether Mr. Ross agrees or disagrees with me is superfluous. This man self-identifies as a leader in the tea party, a group which considers itself to be ultra-conservative and issues based. The tea party in Georgia revels in their power to replace any elected official who deviates even a centimeter from their anti-government litmus tests.

Co-founder Ross takes a public position on amending the state Constitution to add an appointed government agency to circumvent a locally elected school board. Anyone with an IQ north of the village idiot's recognizes this is anathema to the tea party charter on myriad grounds. (Just read the other posts on this blog.)

I am merely exposing Mr. Ross for the hypocrite that he is.

yada yada yada
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Bob Ross

Bob Ross is with the local issues tea party. This is not a real tea party group. Just look at the founder, Boss Hogg. This group is radical and not conservative at all. They are all about POWER. They want to control every aspect of this county. BEWARE.

PTC Observer
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Bob Ross - Yada

is an honorable man. We have so few in our community.

Quallacherokee
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Charter Schools = No need for Local BOE

(Sent to me by an involved with children Fayette County Tea Party Member, and posted WITH permission (oh and I agree)

It is interesting that the proponents of this amendment don't ever talk about what this amendment is REALLY all about. Even the language on the ballot is misleading. This amendment IS NOT about school choice, better schools, or student achievement. This amendment is about giving the general assembly the power to create a THIRD authorizer - not accountable to taxpayers - for approving charter school petitions.

What the proponents of this amendment don't want you to know: Currently our local school boards CAN approve charter schools. Any charters that are declined CAN be appealed to the State BOE. This process was not changed with the Supreme Court decision. Creating a third authorizer to duplicate the work of the State BOE certainly doesn't fit into the smaller government vision of the tea party or constitutional conservatives.

So, this amendment is ONLY about deciding WHO we want to be the decision maker about our local schools - the elected members of our local school boards or our State BOE (should appeals come before this board), OR a 7-member charter commission appointed by the Georgia legislature and the governor. A board that we can't "fire" through elections if they turn out to be a board not serving our needs. Or worse, they are found to be unethical and corrupt. NOT that we in Georgia should ever be worried about ethics violations or corruption of our elected officials or any appointees, especially since our legislature decided that ethics legislation just wasn't necessary due to not having any ethics problems within our state government (tongue in cheek).

Please read the enabling legislation, HB 797, which will be enacted if this amendment is passed. You will discover that this charter commission has far more duties than just reviewing charter school appeals. Their monitoring role AFTER a state charter school is established is massive for just a 7-member "volunteer" board. They may be unpaid for their services - other than per diem (which can NEVER be abused again now that State Senator Balfour has paid his $5,000 fine for abusing per diem) - but the oversight mandated in HB 797 is massive and who knows how large a staff this commission will require to assist them in fulfilling this oversight, and how much this will cost taxpayers... estimates are up to $1 million/year. Again, not the smaller government direction we should be going towards.

Granted the previous charter commission only approved 7 charters per year, but since this bill doesn't put any cap on the number of state charter schools which can be established in a year, this office could become a massive bureaucracy of unelected people as the charter petitioners start rushing into our state for a part of this national trillion dollar a year business.... funded by taxpayers. And, without a cap on charter schools which, thanks to this amendment, can be placed into school districts AGAINST the will of the citizens, (don't believe me.... read HB 797) how can school districts plan their budgets for future expansion needs without knowing how many students will be siphoned off into the charter system?

The Chinese government is currently "investing" millions of dollars ($30 million this past year and expected to be double that next year) into Florida's charter schools using the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This EB-5 visa program provides such investors and their family permanent U.S. residency, whether they live in the U.S. or abroad. Do you think it is possible that there could possibly be individuals of a charter commission who could be influenced with this much money to start approving unlimited numbers of charter schools in our state as they are experiencing in Florida? Do you want your schools owned and operated by individuals being influenced by the Chinese government, the Turkish Gulen Movement (an Islamic Muslim group infiltrating charters already in our state), or any other foreign investor?

Passing an amendment to our constitution is much more serious than simple legislation. Amendments MUST BE PERFECT because repealing an amendment is a difficult and costly endeavor. The various unintended consequences of this amendment passage are many including the potential for litigation when "special curriculum" charter schools (as described in HB 797) are declined by the local school board, the State BOE, and the charter commission. Litigation that isn't a danger now, but according to Florida constitutional attorney, Kris Ann Hall, "When you vote YES to pass this Constitutional Amendment you are creating a constitutionally protected RIGHT to establish a charter school and includes the appropriate protections and assignments. Constitutionally protected rights must be provided under equal access of the law to all citizens of the state, without discrimination." Do certain special interest groups relish in creating havoc using the nondiscrimination laws? Is the Ku Klux Klan currently suing our state Department of Transportation because they wouldn't approve this group to adopt a highway? - Answers: yes.

As far as charter schools being unconstitutional: In 1994 when the first charter schools legislation was passed, the leaders of the general assembly ADMITTED at the time that it was unconstitutional, but that was "okay because we pass unconstitutional laws all the time." Additionally, Georgia's attorney general, at the time - Michael Bowers - also stated that the charter schools legislation would more than likely be found unconstitutional should it ever be challenged in court. Why are charter schools unconstitutional? Because local school boards CANNOT relinquish their authority to govern schools and manage taxpayer funds to a charter school board of appointed board members who aren't accountable to the taxpayers. This IS the definition of "taxation without representation."

Additional "taxation without representation": This appointed - not elected - charter commission will also be unaccountable to taxpayers yet will be making decisions about how to use taxpayer funds. I would argue that we should also make the State BOE elected - not appointed - positions!

Opponents to this amendment are NOT satisfied with the "status quo" as the proponents claim. This amendment is a distraction to the real problems that need to be addressed because it will not fix the "status quo." All this money, time, and effort would have been better spent pushing our legislature and governor to rescind the Common Core national standards (the federal takeover of our local schools, curriculum, teaching methods, testing/assessments, and teacher qualifications), and push for legislation to "just say NO" to all future federal education funding which has always come with strings attached.

stranger than f...
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Is Bob Ross a simpleton or another Benedict Arnold?

Does anyone know this guy, Bob Ross? How can he identify himself with the Tea Party while advocating increased and unelected government bureaucracy? Is he merely a simpleton, or is there something more sinister in his rejection of the conservative agenda? Perhaps he is the 21st Century Benedict Arnold to the Tea Party cause.

johenry
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Come on Larry

If you were really against more government and loss of local control then why on earth did you support the T-SPLOST thing?

Larry Sussberg
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Johenry & ESPLOST

Hi Johenry

To answer your question, the reason to support the ESPOST is because the State of GA has been cutting its funding to the local school boards over the past 5 years. FCBOE has lost $75 million in state funding.

The State cuts to education is impacting all school boards which is why every school board except 6 in the State of GA now have ESPLOSTS.

ESPLOST is a local tax to fund our local school system. It is not a new tax for Fayette, but a renewal. The State of GA is counting on the ESPOST so they continue to make state cuts.

Coweta has had one for 10 years, ours is in its 4th year. Fulton and Clayton have them too. When you shop in those counties you support their ESPLOST and when they shop in Fayette they sypport ours.

The TSPLOST was a horrible NEW TAX, ill conceived where Fayette clearly was a donor county receiving very little in return.

Our ESPLOST and the vote to RENEW is local and remains local and is sorely needed as the State of Georgia continues it cuts to education.

Thanks for asking.

Larry Sussberg
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Charter School Amendment 1

Amendment 1 creates more government at the State level and takes away local control.

If citizens want Charter Schools they need to speak up and stand up at a local level.

-Why are we creating more government at the state level?

-Why are we allowing SPECIAL INTERESTS from outside the State of Georgia control this debate?

-Why are we allowing a misleading and a deceitfully crafted amendment, to fool most people who read it, on our state ballot?

-Why are we allowing the funding of a new state agency in a time of declining revenues to the state where they can't properly funds the schools we have? We already have a State Department of Education?

-Why are we allowing 7 "politcal appointees" to this new agency?

Charter Schools are a great option. Families should have choices but Amendment 1 is so wrong in many ways as outlined above. This amendment is all about out of state SPECIAL INTERESTS, bigger state government, and less local control.

insearchofanswers
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Correcting errors of charter school foes

It is interesting that the proponents of this amendment don't ever talk about what this amendment is REALLY all about. Even the language on the ballot is misleading. This amendment IS NOT about school choice, better schools, or student achievement. This amendment is about giving the general assembly the power to create a THIRD authorizer - not accountable to taxpayers - for approving charter school petitions.

What the proponents of this amendment don't want you to know: Currently our local school boards CAN approve charter schools. Any charters that are declined CAN be appealed to the State BOE. This process was not changed with the Supreme Court decision. Creating a third authorizer to duplicate the work of the State BOE certainly doesn't fit into the smaller government vision of the tea party or constitutional conservatives.

So, this amendment is ONLY about deciding WHO we want to be the decision maker about our local schools - the elected members of our local school boards or our State BOE (should appeals come before this board), OR a 7-member charter commission appointed by the Georgia legislature and the governor. A board that we can't "fire" through elections if they turn out to be a board not serving our needs. Or worse, they are found to be unethical and corrupt. NOT that we in Georgia should ever be worried about ethics violations or corruption of our elected officials or any appointees, especially since our legislature decided that ethics legislation just wasn't necessary due to not having any ethics problems within our state government (tongue in cheek).

Please read the enabling legislation, HB 797, which will be enacted if this amendment is passed. You will discover that this charter commission has far more duties than just reviewing charter school appeals. Their monitoring role AFTER a state charter school is established is massive for just a 7-member "volunteer" board. They may be unpaid for their services - other than per diem (which can NEVER be abused again now that State Senator Balfour has paid his $5,000 fine for abusing per diem) - but the oversight mandated in HB 797 is massive and who knows how large a staff this commission will require to assist them in fulfilling this oversight, and how much this will cost taxpayers... estimates are up to $1 million/year. Again, not the smaller government direction we should be going towards.

Granted the previous charter commission only approved 7 charters per year, but since this bill doesn't put any cap on the number of state charter schools which can be established in a year, this office could become a massive bureaucracy of unelected people as the charter petitioners start rushing into our state for a part of this national trillion dollar a year business.... funded by taxpayers. And, without a cap on charter schools which, thanks to this amendment, can be placed into school districts AGAINST the will of the citizens, (don't believe me.... read HB 797) how can school districts plan their budgets for future expansion needs without knowing how many students will be siphoned off into the charter system?

The Chinese government is currently "investing" millions of dollars ($30 million this past year and expected to be double that next year) into Florida's charter schools using the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program. This EB-5 visa program provides such investors and their family permanent U.S. residency, whether they live in the U.S. or abroad. Do you think it is possible that there could possibly be individuals of a charter commission who could be influenced with this much money to start approving unlimited numbers of charter schools in our state as they are experiencing in Florida? Do you want your schools owned and operated by individuals being influenced by the Chinese government, the Turkish Gulen Movement (an Islamic Muslim group infiltrating charters already in our state), or any other foreign investor?

Passing an amendment to our constitution is much more serious than simple legislation. Amendments MUST BE PERFECT because repealing an amendment is a difficult and costly endeavor. The various unintended consequences of this amendment passage are many including the potential for litigation when "special curriculum" charter schools (as described in HB 797) are declined by the local school board, the State BOE, and the charter commission. Litigation that isn't a danger now, but according to Florida constitutional attorney, Kris Ann Hall, "When you vote YES to pass this Constitutional Amendment you are creating a constitutionally protected RIGHT to establish a charter school and includes the appropriate protections and assignments. Constitutionally protected rights must be provided under equal access of the law to all citizens of the state, without discrimination." Do certain special interest groups relish in creating havoc using the nondiscrimination laws? Is the Ku Klux Klan currently suing our state Department of Transportation because they wouldn't approve this group to adopt a highway? - Answers: yes.

As far as charter schools being unconstitutional: In 1994 when the first charter schools legislation was passed, the leaders of the general assembly ADMITTED at the time that it was unconstitutional, but that was "okay because we pass unconstitutional laws all the time." Additionally, Georgia's attorney general, at the time - Michael Bowers - also stated that the charter schools legislation would more than likely be found unconstitutional should it ever be challenged in court. Why are charter schools unconstitutional? Because local school boards CANNOT relinquish their authority to govern schools and manage taxpayer funds to a charter school board of appointed board members who aren't accountable to the taxpayers. This IS the definition of "taxation without representation."

Additional "taxation without representation": This appointed - not elected - charter commission will also be unaccountable to taxpayers yet will be making decisions about how to use taxpayer funds. I would argue that we should also make the State BOE elected - not appointed - positions!

Opponents to this amendment are NOT satisfied with the "status quo" as the proponents claim. This amendment is a distraction to the real problems that need to be addressed because it will not fix the "status quo." All this money, time, and effort would have been better spent pushing our legislature and governor to rescind the Common Core national standards (the federal takeover of our local schools, curriculum, teaching methods, testing/assessments, and teacher qualifications), and push for legislation to "just say NO" to all future federal education funding which has always come with strings attached.

hutch866
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What a crock...

Kids who want to do well in school, do well. The fact that they go to a charter school doesn't make them do better. They would do as well regardless. If the kids, or the parents, don't care, the fact that they attend a "charter school" will make no difference.

Husband and Fat...
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Hutch

While the most energetic student can perform well in any situation, a lot of students cannot. This can be due to shyness, peer pressure, ect..

Classroom sizes are much larger now, we have more mainstreaming of students, and therefore, teaching is a bigger challenge.

Try teaching 5 excellent students, 10 above average students, 10 average, and 5 troublemakers, all in the same class. Those 5 trobulemakers, take up so much time, that the other students suffer.

Its not fair to the others, who want to learn but are distracting by those 5 whose parents don't care about thier kid, let alone yours.

A charter school provides the others a chance to learn without the distractions.

Davids mom
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The Truth IMO

Kids do better in classrooms with dedicated, well prepared teachers who feel supported by the parents, the administration and the community. Because some charter schools have a specific focus and the ability to select their teachers, etc. - students do better in charter schools than the students who live in the same neighborhoods and attend a regular public school that is not producing. That a parent wants to send their child to the charter school shows a parent interest in the students education. In many urban areas - charter schools are more successful with students (higher graduation rates, grades, college acceptance) One of the reasons that charter schools are successful, according to research, is their freedom from a stifling bureaucracy. (My question - why can't we organize all of our schools as charter schools: outstanding teachers; mandated meaningful parent participation; established goals/focus; etc.., etc., ) Fayette County has good schools that fit this criteria - the reason that many who can afford it - move here. I know, you can't MANDATE meaningful parent participation - but it makes a difference in a child's progress in the school situation. (Meaningful parent education may help!)

stranger than f...
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Hypocrisy at its finest!

So now the Tea Party is advocating the creation of a government bureaucracy of appointed (not elected) members in the state capital to duplicate services and to circumvent locally elected school boards. How many more new government agencies do we need? Maybe you should change your name to the "Big Government Tea Party," or the "End Around Locally Elected Officials Tea Party." Truth is stranger than fiction.

G35 Dude
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Stranger-????
Quote:

So now the Tea Party is advocating the creation of a government bureaucracy of appointed (not elected) members in the state capital to duplicate services and to circumvent locally elected school boards. How many more new government agencies do we need? Maybe you should change your name to the "Big Government Tea Party," or the "End Around Locally Elected Officials Tea Party." Truth is stranger than fiction.

Charter schools can run with only a board of 7 non paid people vs what we need to operate public schools and you want to deny them the chance? Seems to me if you're really concerned about government bureaucracy you'd be for charters?

stranger than f...
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The Tea Party is abandoning their principles

The issue here is NOT charter schools. Charter schools are allowable in every county in Georgia with the consent of locally ELECTED officials who can be replaced if they undermine the will of the electorate. The Tea Party constantly rails against government intrusion into our lives, and now supports the creation of an additional government bureaucracy that will not answer to the electorate. This is a very slippery slope and demonstrates that the local Tea party easily abandons their principles when they want a particular outcome.

Remember that Sam Adams and his cohorts dumped tea into the Boston Harbor to protest being controlled by a distant king and Parliament who were unanswerable to their citizens in the colonies. Now the history-challenged tea party advocates establishing just such a distant authority answerable to no one in order to circumvent locally elected leaders.

To paraphrase Ben Franklin, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary outcome deserve neither liberty nor that outcome."

AtHomeGym
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STF & Charter Schools

I don't consider Bob Ross' statement an official Tea Party endorsement of the proposed Constitutional Amendment. Seems to me if the State only approved 11 out of the many charters operating that the local COEs must be doing OK--why strip them of their authority ^& responsibility. I am generally anti-constitutional amendment and in this case have already voted 'no'.

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