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Georgia Legislative Caucus to join lawsuit against Gov. Nathan Deal over charter school amendment

Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012 5:42 PM
Last updated Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 2:12 AM
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Georgia voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that will allow a state committee to authorize charter schools, but some legislators and educators are not dropping their fight to stop it.

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus will join a lawsuit an Atlanta pastor filed against Gov. Nathan Deal on Oct. 29, which argues that the wording on the Nov. 6 ballot misrepresented the nature of the amendment, according to state Sen. Emanuel Jones, the chairman of the caucus.

“People did not know what they were voting for,” Jones said. “Nowhere does it mention forming a committee approved by the governor, lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House to approve charter schools.”

The preamble to the ballot question stated that the amendment “provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.”

The ballot question read: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

The amendment will allow the state to form a seven-member committee to approve charter school applications over the objections of local school districts, which Jones said was not communicated on the ballot.

In the past, charter schools could present an application to a local school board for approval. If the local board denied it, the charter group could appeal to the Georgia Department of Education for consideration.

Opponents say this new government body will drain money from local districts and take power away from school boards for the type of public schools they want in their communities.

Local educators who opposed the amendment said they are disappointed with Tuesday’s results but must now work harder to improve public education options and address the frustrations that might have led to the creation of the amendment.

“I have to accept what the people of Richmond County said they wanted,” said Monique Braswell, the president of the Richmond County Council of PTAs, which opposed the amendment. “We have to blame that on the people in charge because the parents are so frustrated and sick of the system not working for the children.”

Braswell also said the ballot wording was misleading but said it appealed to voters who were desperate for alternatives to the public schools that are struggling financially and academically.

She said those public schools now are charged with improving the education offered to students so parents keep their children in the system and out of competing schools.

The amendment passed in Georgia with 59 percent of voters in favor. It passed with 55 percent in favor in Richmond and Columbia counties but was voted down in rural areas, including Burke, Wilkes and McDuffie counties.

Rep. Quincy Murphy said he hopes the lawsuit will ultimately block the constitution from being amended. He said the seven-member committee in Atlanta cannot understand what kind of schools would fit best in a given county and said the wording on the ballot was “misleading in a major way.”

“You’re talking about 9.7 million citizens in this state, and you’re allowing seven people to dictate and determine what charter schools should be established,” Murphy said. “This actually could become a political thing. If you support certain people then we’ll reward you with having your own charter school. It’s really dangerous.”

Richmond County Board of Education member Jack Padgett said the issue was never about charter schools in general. Many local educators support charter schools but disagree with the new state committee being formed to approve applications.

Padgett said with the state continuing to cut millions in funding from local districts, he cannot see how the Legislature can allocate money to new schools that will be using public funds.

Padgett agreed the wording of the preamble might have misled voters, but is not sure litigation can reverse the vote.

“It was probably one of the better marketing campaigns I’ve seen done,” Padgett said, pointing out the millions of dollars of out-of-state donations used to promote the amendment. “But it is what it is, and I think we’re going to have to live with it.”

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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/11/12 - 11:33 pm
3
0
1) Sen. Emanuel Jones: People

1) Sen. Emanuel Jones: People are too dumb to understand what they voted for.

2) Rep. Quincy Murphy: Democracy? We don't need no stinkin' democracy. We will fight the will of the voters in court.

3) Jack Padgett: If we repeat the lie enough, people will actually believe that charter schools take money away from "public" schools. (hint: charter schools are public schools)

galaxygrl
1269
Points
galaxygrl 11/11/12 - 11:58 pm
1
2
State Control

A state commitee should not legislate local government. Think about how Deal and the Board of Regents took over Medical College of Georgia and Augusta State University. That hasn't worked for Augusta and it was decided by a state commitee. What will be next? Did everyone just punch the box they were told to punch? Ulitmately this will in some way support the state but the county will to come up with the revenue.

Little Lamb
46918
Points
Little Lamb 11/12/12 - 12:57 am
6
0
Ballot Wording

If you think this ballot wording was bad, you should have seen the ballot wording for the TSPLOST last July. The word "tax" was nowhere in the wording.

scoopdedoop64
2425
Points
scoopdedoop64 11/12/12 - 01:42 am
4
0
WAIT JUST A MINUTE

The real problem was the choice for president. The wording was all wrong. Everybody meant to vote for Romney! :)

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 11/12/12 - 06:06 am
0
0
GRUA the will of the people!
Unpublished

GRUA the will of the people!

Tullie
2930
Points
Tullie 11/12/12 - 07:27 am
7
0
So, you sue now

You don't get the outcome in the votes that you want so you sue. And you say that the "people" were too stupid to know what they were voting on because it did not spell out every little thing on the ballot.

If that is the case, how do we know that maybe the "people" that voted for Obama did not realize what they were doing?

seenitB4
90784
Points
seenitB4 11/12/12 - 07:31 am
4
0
They said this

The Georgia Legislative Black Caucus will join a lawsuit an Atlanta pastor filed against Gov. Nathan Deal on Oct. 29, which argues that the wording on the Nov. 6 ballot misrepresented the nature of the amendment
^^^^
WRONG ...people want a choice & that is how they voted....they got it.

Riverman1
86906
Points
Riverman1 11/12/12 - 07:49 am
5
0
Anything is Better Than Some BOE's

Goodness, anything is better than having the Richmond Cty BOE tell you how to run schools. Look at their results. There has to be a way around them and THIS is it. If a parent of a kid at Laney, Josey or Glenn Hills doesn't jump at a chance to put their kid in a charter school, he/she doesn't care about their education.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 11/12/12 - 08:41 am
1
1
"People are too dumb to

"People are too dumb to understand what they voted for."
I don't know about that but, some people are evidently too dumb to understand they write the amendments to favor passage and they're usually a give away to special interests.

"Should all taxpayers in Ga. receive a tax break......bunch of legalese..... if they own a blueberry farm."

Bulldog
1333
Points
Bulldog 11/12/12 - 09:45 am
3
0
Rep. Quincy Murphy

This guy obviously wants to continue to see our children fail. With leadership like this we can be sure that our welfare roles will continue to grow. Is he too stupid to see that local control of education has been taken over by people who have and are failing every single day? The very fact that "educrats" want something is reason enough to go in the other direction! People want choice and they will have it! People like Murphy need to educate themselves!

dichotomy
34405
Points
dichotomy 11/12/12 - 10:33 am
5
0
I always love it when a group

I always love it when a group of our legislators insult their constituents by saying that the people they represent are too stupid to read a ballot and vote after the issue has been discussed in the print media and advertised on TV and radio for months with each side drilling the people to vote YES or NO on Amendment 1.

Call your Georgia Legislative Black Caucus member and tell them that you knew EXACTLY what you were voting for.......YOUR KIDS.

grinder48
2015
Points
grinder48 11/12/12 - 10:57 am
0
0
Major Problem
Unpublished

I have a MAJOR problem with the way amendment preambles are written. This one said, "Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options". This makes the voter feel if they vote "No" they're voting against improving parental involvement and student achiecement! Rightly or wrongly, many voters aren't that familiar with amendment details, read the preamble, think "that sounds good", then vote. The pre-amble of the T-SPLOST amendment on the previous ballot said something like, "This amendent will provide jobs and improve transportation". The uninformed voter read and thinks, "Sure, I'm for creating jobs" so votes "Yes" w/o knowing full details, tax consequences, sending my $ to other areas, etc. Who the heck get's to write these preambles and how do we get it changes so they're written from a neutral position? I'm glad to see this lawsuit.

allhans
24008
Points
allhans 11/12/12 - 10:57 am
3
0
How could anything be worse

How could anything be worse than what we now have...

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/12/12 - 11:14 am
1
0
Kids can't vote and don't

Kids can't vote and don't have the money to "contribute" to politicians, so we get comments like we have here from Quincy Murphy and Emanuel Jones.

GaStang22
910
Points
GaStang22 11/12/12 - 11:16 am
0
0
Still waiting on anyone to tell me specifics.
Unpublished

Exactly what is it that you have control of in the charter school that you don't in public. Be SPECIFIC! And since when is lottery admission fair to anyone?? Do you charter supporters even really know what you are defending?? PROVE IT

loblolly
469
Points
loblolly 11/12/12 - 11:43 am
0
0
The problem is
Unpublished

African Americans overwhelmingly voted for this amendment, and it was supported by President Obama. Reverend Lowrey has had his time, but no longer has any influence. African Americans can think and vote on their own. To say they did not know what they were voting for is like the right-wing saying Obama won because of people's ignorance about the issues.

noxiousfumes
468
Points
noxiousfumes 11/12/12 - 12:06 pm
2
0
I always follow the money.

I always follow the money. The problem I have is not with charter schools (which are public schools) because I believe the competition will make all schools better; the problem I have is taxpayer money going to for-profit schools. In Florida, especially in the Boca Roton area in south Florida, there are several for-profit charter schools that are doing very well with student achievement. I'm not sure how schools are funded in Florida, but these same schools that make millions of dollars a year are the same ones who purchased the ads pushing this amendment. Again, I'm not against for-profit charter schools, either; I just do not think taxpayer money should be used to help them make a profit while non profit public schools suffer. That is the part that most voters did not understand. That's just like having part of the money set aside for public colleges taken away and given to for-profit colleges like Virginia College, University of Phoenix, and Strayer. Nothing is wrong with these schools but taxpayer money should not be used to fund them. That's the issue!

noxiousfumes
468
Points
noxiousfumes 11/12/12 - 12:04 pm
1
1
Up until this point,

Up until this point, for-profit charter schools have not been able to come to Georgia. This amendment not only sets up yet another separate commission (like we really need more state government) but it will be at the discretion of the governor (i.e. vote for me and I'll let your charter school be established) to make the appointments. It just sets up more bureaucracy and opens the floodgates to those for-profit corporations who have been chomping at the bit to get into Georgia where they can get free taxpayer money to start their schools and begin collecting the profits.

nanowerx
1334
Points
nanowerx 11/12/12 - 12:04 pm
3
0
Hmmm

I knew as soon as I saw the charter school question that it was going to pass...simply because of how it was worded. It sounded too good and spoke nothing of an appointed committee. It was worded to make people assume they were voting for "better education," when it is none of the sort.

If we are going to redo any vote, let's make it the TSPLOST vote, it was even more misleading the way it was worded. People I talked to assumed any money collected would fix potholes and other road projects not on the approved list. I had to explain to many dissappointed folks that they voted for a tax hike that doesn't have too many great projects on it. Columbia county is especially getting the shaft on TSPLOST.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/12/12 - 12:13 pm
2
0
Clearing up the confusion

1) True "local control" means that parents decide where their kids go to school. "Local control" is not letting anyone (local school board or state committee) decide where your kids go to school.

2) Charter schools actually INCREASE the per pupil funding of traditional public schools. How? Charter schools take the state-issued per pupil funding from traditional schools, but the traditional schools are left with less students AND get to keep all local school funding. That results in a net financial gain for traditional public schools.

thauch12
6857
Points
thauch12 11/12/12 - 12:31 pm
3
0
A step in the right direction

Charter schools are most definitely a step in the right direction, but more than anything this vote underscores the fundamental problems in our public education system. It has become a contest for who can get the most money. What is that money used for? All of it certainly doesn't go to making the students' education better. It goes towards constructing new school buildings and paying teachers even more on top of their already inflated salaries (there is no reason a public school teacher with a bachelor's degree should be making $60K for working 40 hours a week, 9 months of the year).

How do they get away with this? Local, ineffective schoolboards have brainwashed people into thinking they know what is best for the students. Guess what, they don't and it is the students that suffer at the end of this. Add to the mix groups like the congressional black caucus who want to turn everything into a pointless discussion about race, and the problems are compounded.

There is no reason why a school like Josey or Laney can receive an average of $12000 PER student in government funding and still do such a terrible job of educating people. Compare this to local area private schools like Aquinas or Augusta Christian which do a better job of educating students on roughly 3/4 of that amount (none of which comes from the government). Locally administered charter schools may be the first step in fixing the problem that we call Richmond County public schools...

Darby
26922
Points
Darby 11/12/12 - 12:48 pm
1
0
Can the concept of a "for profit" charter...

... school getting a little tax money in return for providing a good education (something our current schools aren't doing) be any worse than all the existingt giveaway programs that constantly drain the treasury with absolutely no return to the public good. For example, free cell phones to buy votes from millions of people who already have cell phones etc. Yes, I said millions….

CobaltGeorge
164589
Points
CobaltGeorge 11/12/12 - 02:42 pm
0
0
There Is Only One Way

under today's communistic controlled schools that your children will ever receive the education they so dearly need....Private Schools.

Public schools are no longer a place to provide education, ..to many..it is a place to get them away from you for 12 years, and provide the training that was your responsible before they started school.

That is the real issue that is taking place between Public schools and Charters. Some don't want other children smarter than theirs.

Waymore
103
Points
Waymore 11/12/12 - 02:56 pm
1
3
40 hour weeks?

thauch12, do you really think that teachers work 40 hour weeks? And this $60K salary that you speak of, how long does it take a teacher with a Bachelors degree to make that much money? Does a teacher with a Bachelor degree even make that much money? Where do you gather this information from?

I have many friends who are teachers, and many work more than 40 hours...WAY more! They also spend their own money to buy things that budget cuts force them to do without, as well as coming out-of-pocket to insure that those "less fortunate" students have the same opportunities to participate in class activities even if their parents cannot afford to, or refuse to, send items to school.

My problem with the charter school concept is accountability. Who answers to the tax-payers? A board APPOINTED by the governor? Just look at the arrogance of the Board of Regents. I have issues with more government bureaucracy. To me, this is the same as passing more inane laws, when the ones on the books should be enforced. We have school boards and regulations in place. Fix those, and fix the problems we already have with the schools. We need less government, not more.

However, this was put to the voters and it passed. I don't agree with it, but that's the way it goes. How many of the voters that were confused by the question actually RESEARCHED the issue BEFORE they went and voted? If you didn't ask questions before, that's too bad. Research. Do you homework. Make informed decision based on your logic and knowledge. Don't blame others because you didn't research the issue!

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 11/12/12 - 03:07 pm
1
0
Accountability?

Where's the accountability? Simple.

If parents aren't happy with a charter school, parents pull their kids out.

If parents aren't happy with a traditional school (and aren't rich), they sit back and watch their children and children's future get flushed down the commode.

Our public schools are nothing more than a form of modern day slavery.

noxiousfumes
468
Points
noxiousfumes 11/12/12 - 04:51 pm
2
1
thauch12

I have a masters degree in education and worked as a teacher for 11 years in Richmond County and only made $48,000; beginning teachers with a bachelor's degree make a little over $30,000. And believe me, I've worked "regular" 40 hours a week corporate jobs with 2 weeks vacation; nothing prepared me for the amount of work that I did in the classroom. Those "vacations" that we got were necessary to maintain our sanity, give us time to plan for the next year, and attend workshops/conferences to stay at the top of our game. So unless you've been in the trenches, you don't really understand.

woodymeister
312
Points
woodymeister 11/12/12 - 05:09 pm
0
0
Re: Insider Information

Accountability you ask?

Your answer is that if you are not happy with the education at a charter school, you should pull then out and place them back in a "public school".

I would contend that before being admitted back to a school from which they left, some level of testing should be performed to ensure that the student does not negatively impact other students by needing to catch up. That, my friend, would be accountability.

And no matter where a student is in school, parents have a right and a responsibility to not sit by and watch their future get flushed down the commode. And the slavery comment was completely out of bounds. We all have a choice....make a decision and go forward and quit blaming everyone else! Teach your kids another lesson...in responsibility.

thauch12
6857
Points
thauch12 11/12/12 - 05:38 pm
2
1
Excuse me, I was actually

Excuse me, I was actually rounding down. When you have stories like this, claiming the AVERAGE salary for teachers in certain parts of the country is $76,000, it is really hard to feel bad for teachers claiming to be underpaid. (http://chronicle.augusta.com/opinion/editorials/2012-09-10/more-not-option).

@noxiousfumes, $30K for a job with a bachelor's degree from a regional university is about what one should expect. Factor in the fact that this is only for 9 months, and the argument could be made that teachers make $40K starting salary, before you throw in benefits like healthcare and retirement...not a bad return on an ASU degree.

Every job is "hard." There is no reason to continue paying these ridiculously inflated salaries, especially if these people cannot achieve results. But then you start the "blame game"...

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