Panelists debate charter school amendment

Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012 9:57 PM
Last updated Friday, Oct. 26, 2012 1:35 AM
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When debating the merit of House Resolution 1162, a constitutional amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot affecting charter schools, panelists at the Richmond County Council of PTAs forum agreed on one idea Thursday.

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Karen Hallacy (left), of Georgia PTA, listens as Laney High School Principal Tonia Mason speaks during the Richmond County Council of PTAs forum on a charter school amendment.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Karen Hallacy (left), of Georgia PTA, listens as Laney High School Principal Tonia Mason speaks during the Richmond County Council of PTAs forum on a charter school amendment.

Educators on both sides of the issue support the concept of charter schools.

The point of debate comes with who should be able to establish charter schools in a district, whether it’s the local school board or a committee in Atlanta.

“It’s not about charter schools,” said Tonia Mason, the principal of Lucy C. Laney Comprehensive High School and a panelist opposed to the amendment. “It’s about who chooses to approve those applications.”

About 50 parents, educators and community members heard arguments from both sides of the debate at the forum Thursday. The opposition said creating a state committee to establish charter schools against the wishes of local school boards would divert money from struggling school systems and duplicate existing charter school efforts.

Proponents argued the state-appointed schools will ease the process for establishing charter schools, which give more options for families.

One issue of contention was how Georgia would pay for the charter schools.

Karen Hallacy, the legislative chairwoman for Georgia PTA and an opposition panelist, said it will take $430 million over the next five years to establish seven state charter schools.

She said the schools would be another hand reaching into the pool of money that is allocated to traditional public schools across Georgia, which have seen $5 billion in cuts since 2003.

Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young argued that adding schools would not mean reduced allocations for other schools.

“There is no state money that will be lost by this school district or any other,” Young said. “They will continue to receive all the state funds, and they will continue to receive all the local property tax money … Nobody can arbitrarily or administratively change that.”

Rep. Quincy Murphey, an opposition panelist, raised concerns about how a state charter committee in Atlanta could represent the interests of individual cities.

The passage of HR 1162 would create a seven-person panel that could approve charter school applications even if they are denied by the local and state school boards.

“Some of my colleagues might even call it a privatized education because you’re limiting the amount of persons responsible,” Murphey said.
Not all governing bodies are elected by the people, Young said. There are local planning boards and state representatives appointed by a higher body but still represent the public’s interest.

Mason argued that the public school system already offers families options. Public schools offer magnet programs and support for special-needs students, which charter schools might not design their curriculum around.
Mason said she feared state charter schools would filter out the special-needs students, creating almost a dual education system.

That is prevented, she said, with the approval process already in place to establish charter schools through local and state boards.

Parent JoRae Jenkins, who removed her daughter from the Richmond County School System and enrolled her in a private school in Augusta, said the debate brings out a larger issue for the community. She said if state charter schools are not the answer, the public system must work together to address the needs of students in another way.

“If we’re not going to vote yes and the amendment is not going to pass, what is Richmond County prepared to do, and what type of solutions are there to get nontraditional learning in the classroom?” she said. “Because everybody is not a test child. We need something here now if you don’t want the charter school option.”



• Former Augusta Mayor Bob Young

• Educational consultant Glee Smith


• Lucy C. Laney High School Principal Tonia Mason

• Georgia PTA legislative chairwoman Karen Hallacy

• Georgia Rep. Quincy Murphey

Comments (12) Add comment
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nocnoc 10/26/12 - 08:23 am
Why is every Liberal, Teachers & Board of Education group so

Worried about Charter Schools?

It is not money, because Public Schools get their funds from local tax dollars and charter schools are not funded with local tax dollars. But from State and Federal funds

It is not discrimination, because Charter schools must adhere to the same laws and regulations as public schools regarding enrollment.
Therefore, there is no NAACP issues.

Is it power?
Is it control?
Is it someone having a alternative solution they can't get their fingers into?
Is it the back to basics approach to education and undoing 30 years of Politically Correct training that is getting us nowhere?

Is it they just don't know how to tell the truth and have to stand their political party ground that Government knows best, not parents?

Insider Information
Insider Information 10/26/12 - 08:32 am
It comes down to one question...

Should parents decide where their children go to school or should a bureaucrat?

KidsFirst 10/26/12 - 08:39 am
Current Options

Principal Mason says there are already options. What if your child isn't a special needs case and has no huge interest in the arts? I wish the school systems would see these schools as a compliment to their offerings rather than a threat.

What if a charter middle school opens that teaches math and science in single gender classrooms. One mom has seen her daughter grow shy around boys and doesn't participate in a subject she used to love. Another mom has seen her daughter flourish. She loves debating the boys and working on projects with them. Has the traditional school failed the first child? No. Will she get through ok? Probably. Could she shine in the charter school? That should be the decision of her and her family.

I will vote yes. We have 180 school systems in Georgia and only 9 have school boards that have approved a start up charter school in the last 11 years. This is something we can do now as citizens of GA to help families all over the state.

seenitB4 10/26/12 - 08:40 am

Give the parents a choice.....say yes to charter schools.

curly123053 10/26/12 - 09:15 am
Approve Charter Schools By Voting Yes

Charter schools have worked well in most places they have been approved. Why would they not wok for Ga? This measure could only help education as a whole if it is passed.

MamaB 10/26/12 - 09:29 am
Yes, give a panel of

Yes, give a panel of political appointees in Atlanta the authority to approve the creation of schools. That's worked sooooo well for the university system recently. If you do not see the possibility of schools created by real estate developers and approved by their cronies, you're not looking deeply enough.

browngirl103 10/26/12 - 12:12 pm
37% of charter schools are worse than traditional public schools

Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO), Stanford University: Charter school performance in 16 states (2009). The study evaluated approximately 2500 (elementary – high school) charter schools across the country. Only 17% did better. If you look at the charts in the study, the improvements were only seen in the population of students that fell under the minority/poverty subclasses. In addition, the improvements didn’t mean that the students were meeting the standards; their scores were still substandard.

Evaluation of the Public Charter Schools Program: Final Report - Department of Education study (2004) of the federally funded program found that charter schools in five states were less likely than public schools to meet state performance standards.

Mathematica Policy Research: Charter school study shows no significant overall impacts on achievement (2010). This study evaluated 36 charter middle schools across 15 states.

I’m a liberal and having moved here from states in which the public school systems were actually quite good, I’m disheartened at the quality of education my children are receiving.

I have no problem investing in alternate education structures if they can be shown to work. However, I don’t see the point in putting our money (regardless of whether the funding comes from local, state or federal, it’s still taxpayer money) in a system which hasn’t been shown to be a significant improvement. The hype behind this amendment is just a ruse. It’s to fool the public into believing that things will change when in reality, we’ll just more of the same in a slightly different flavor.

HenryWalker3rd 10/26/12 - 12:51 pm
If CC says no, then RC should

If CC says no, then RC should follow....CC is a "better" school district...right???

Tullie 10/26/12 - 01:41 pm

A statewide committee was formed to approve charter schools in 2008 to act as an “appeal” process after local school boards were rejecting charter school proposals out of hand. In 2007, out of 27 proposed charter schools statewide, only two had been approved.

Even after the state committee was formed, out of 80 requests, only 9 or 10 were approved – which means the state committee wasn’t simply acting as a rubber stamp, Nix said.

However, the committee was challenged by the state Superintendent Association and the state Supreme Court sided with the superintendents that the committee was unconstitutional.

“The Supreme Court said the local school board had ‘exclusive responsibility’ for the education of its children,” Nix said. The ruling was worrisome, since the state constitution says its the primary responsibility of the state to provide adequate education for children, he said.

The proposed constitutional amendment is an attempt by the state legislature to preserve the state constitution, Nix said.

“That ruling makes this a broader issue than just charter schools,” he said. “That could apply to state standards and salaries, discipline procedures and textbooks. If the amendment is defeated, school systems could wind up in litigation over almost everything. It makes the state’s role very questionable.”

“I think that creates an unhealthy relationship between the state and the local school boards,” Nix said.

Charter schools themselves would be public schools, but would not receive money from local school boards and would be completely funded by the state at about 60 percent of the cost of a regular school budget. Nix said that’s because the charter schools wouldn’t have some of the services of a regular school, like transportation and some extracurricular activities.

“The idea that this would drain the local school system’s budget doesn’t make sense,” he said.

OpenCurtain 10/26/12 - 02:14 pm
browngirl103 you discuss figures

Please provide the URL's and PDF locations to back them up.

There is too much junk science being used that comes from the Internet.

I myself recently mistakenly used a a well known, frequently used and noted professional source, that turned out to have a Private agenda after closer examination.

CobaltGeorge 10/26/12 - 02:18 pm
Facts Spoken

....CC is a "better" school district...right??? Right for once.

browngirl103 10/26/12 - 02:25 pm

I've provided the names and dates of the studies. You should be able to find them quite easily using Google. Yes, there are studies which support charter schools, including some from particular researcher at Harvard. However, her studies have also been criticized for being quite flawed.

I tried to find studies from groups that seemed relatively unbiased. If you don't like them because they don't fit your view of reality, that's your prerogative.

browngirl103 10/26/12 - 02:28 pm
by the way

One of those studies was from the Department of Education. During the Bush Administration.

HenryWalker3rd 10/26/12 - 03:23 pm
Cobalt - "right for

Cobalt - "right for once"?.....yea, ok lol

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