Healthy competition

Charter schools shouldn't have to beg at the feet of public boards

  • Follow Editorials

Not a big surprise. But a huge disappointment.

The public school bureaucracy is in full throat now, opposing to its last breath the proposed freedom to form charter schools in Georgia.

They don’t even want to give you the freedom to vote on it.

Public school officials in Richmond and Columbia counties have added their voices to the establishment chorus against a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow charter school supporters, with state approval, to form schools over the objections of local school boards. Currently, parents and supporters who want to form public charter schools must go on bended knee to local school boards that quite often oppose them. A Georgia law providing charter school supporters a second chance at the state level was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court. This amendment would fix that.

But notice the arguments that opponents of the amendment make: Allowing charter schools to pop up against the wishes of the local school board will undermine that board. It will “take kids away from our schools,” and “that’s less money for us.”

One Augusta school official, reported a Wednesday Chronicle story, “said the amendment could drain funds by diverting Richmond County students to schools where the district has no jurisdiction.”

Notice it’s all about the impact on the bureaucracy and its “jurisdiction.” Not about what’s best for kids.

If kids would be better off in a charter school, that’s apparently secondary to what’s best for the public education bureaucracy.

Beyond all the establishment’s sky-will-fall rhetoric are a few important truths.

First, the amendment must be approved by Georgia voters. Second, all it would do is set up a way for determined citizens to appeal local school boards’ refusal to allow a charter school; the school would still have to be approved by the state.

Most importantly, it’s time we took the shackles off disadvantaged children. Their more well-to-do peers already have school choice. It’s the poor kids who are told where to go, sometimes to schools that are failing them. Sadly, graduation rates often show it.

The beauty of charter schools is that the creators and parents can fashion a public school around challenging, often specialized, curricula and avoid many of the one-size-fits-all rules, regulations and approaches of a district. In such cases, lights are shined on both the schools and the students, and accountability can be greatly enhanced on all parts.

How can that be seen, except from a bureaucrat’s viewpoint, as a bad thing? Undermine the district? Absolutely – in the same way Hardee’s “undermines” McDonald’s.

How can we tell our kids that competition is healthy in athletics, but that when it comes to academics, competition “undermines” the status quo?

What kind of lesson is that?

Comments (9) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
corgimom 02/19/12 - 08:28 am
"The beauty of charter

"The beauty of charter schools is that the creators and parents can fashion a public school around challenging, often specialized, curricula and avoid many of the one-size-fits-all rules, regulations and approaches of a district."

The PROBLEM of charter schools are that the well-meaning creators and parents, none of whom have experience in writing curriculum- and it's much harder than you think- have lofty expectations which then collide with reality. It's becoming increasingly clear that there isn't a whole lot of difference in charter schools. A few are great, most are average, some are poor.

How do you have a public school with no oversight from any Board?

How do you have a public school where the citizens of the county cannot elect anyone to represent them to oversee that school?

How is that Constitutional, since people are taxed to pay for it, without representation?

If the citizens of RC would band together and elect Board members that were truly interested in educating kids, instead of enabling childrens' and adults' dysfunctional and criminal behavior, there wouldn't be a need for charter schools.

Riverman1 02/19/12 - 08:53 am
I believe one of the big

I believe one of the big advantages of charter schools is that they get the community involved with a sense of empowerment. These schools are often given substantial funds from private citizens and companies to make them work in addition to their government funding. Some companies also provide instructors and mentors in this all out effort to circumvent the bureaucracy of school system administrators.

avidreader 02/19/12 - 09:03 am
Some questions:

Some questions: Transportation for the children? Will these schools provide competivite salaries and benefits for teachers? Will they be able to deny registration to students who do not "test in", or those with consistent discipline problems? Will the Board-run schools end up with the least motivated students?

I'm all for a competitive school system. I am not against Charter Schools; however, I do not know much about them. My advice to the public is, wait for more information before judging the matter. I would love to work in an environment where all children are challenged equally. Eventually, the BOE would have to shut down some schools (like National Hills Elementary), and trim its personel through attrition. What's so bad about that?

Why doesn't the state offer a detailed look at the concepts of Charter Schools and allow local newspapers to post the information? There are so many questions that need to be answered.

Riverman1 02/19/12 - 09:07 am
By the way, I was surprised

By the way, I was surprised that Columbia County politicians Mike Sleeper and Ben Harbin actively opposed the charter school concept. From the article it appears Superintendent Charles Nagle was also involved in the opposition from the comments. I suggest Sleeper and Nagle stick to their jobs of running the current system and not worry about changes the legislature makes in the attempt to improve the education of our young people. They would be better served at simply praising their close friend Harbin as Sleeper did.

Iwannakno 02/19/12 - 11:10 am
I agree with corgi. If you

I agree with corgi. If you would teach the kids that want to learn and quit letting the punks and thugs dictate the rules there would be no need for charter schools.

allhans 02/19/12 - 12:30 pm
I am not familiar with the

I am not familiar with the concept but hasn't the local charter school proven to have higher scores than those of regular schools?

harley_52 02/19/12 - 04:05 pm
Great post, dichotomy, as

Great post, dichotomy, as usual.

Something worth discussing is your comment "I do not know how reasonably intelligent citizens ever let themselves be conned into a system that basically says "We have unfettered power to take your tax money in the name of educating your children but you have no say in how that is done, what are the measures of quality of our work, how much money we will take, what are our salaries and benefits. And if we fail, there is nothing you can do about it.""

I think reasonably intelligent citizens were conned into accepting (and perpetuating) the current public education system by accepting the notion that the Federal government should help pay for their children's schooling and, THEREBY, gain the right to design it and manage it.

Abolish the Federal Department of Education and get control back in the hands of local citizens. A voucher system would be an alternative, but it will NEVER happen as long as the Federal government is in charge.

socks99 02/19/12 - 08:50 pm
State lawmakers ought to

State lawmakers ought to consider, too, an Amendment to the GA Constitution which would allow communities to decide how they choose school board representatives. Presently, ALL counties and cities are forced to hold elections; some say this process introduces a lot of politics into the schools and sometimes allows 'pirates' to take-over school systems and turn them into political patronage jobs for the 'victors.'

Back to Top
Search Augusta jobs
Top headlines
FBI takes new look at Clinton emails
The FBI says it will investigate whether there is classified information in newly discovered emails that appear to be related to its probe of Hillary Clinton's email practices.