Saving Our Children

Charter schools provide choice and freedom

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There was a “Save Our Schools” rally Saturday in Hephzibah to oppose state-approved charter schools.

Save our schools? From what? Other schools? And why? Because today’s schools are doing so well?

“I think we ought to be talking about Saving Our Children,” says Dr. Tony Roberts, president and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

Absolutely. And that’s what the Georgia General Assembly had in mind when it approved House Resolution 1162 this year. The proposed constitutional amendment, which must be approved by voters in November, would grant the state explicit authority to approve and fund public charter schools when local districts refuse to do so.

You would think the state already had that authority, being in charge of education in the state and all. Indeed, the state did approve some 15 charter schools that had been blocked by local school districts. But in a ruling last year, the Georgia Supreme Court said that authority wasn’t there. So, HR 1162 seeks to overcome that ruling.

We hope voters approve the amendment in November. It’s about school choice for parents and basic freedoms for all.

School districts have been able to approve charter schools for years now, but often block supporters from creating them. The state, and the proposed amendment, would simply provide charter school supporters an appeal process through which the state could approve them over the objections of local school districts.

Opponents cry that that will take money away from local public schools and hurt teachers.

The latter is sheer nonsense. Charter schools employ teachers, and their formation doesn’t put anyone out of work.

As for taking money from the other public schools: Not via taxes. State-approved charters will be operated separate and apart from current education funding. And local taxes won’t go to state-approved charters.

The only way that state-approved charters would “take” money from other public schools is by luring students to them – in other words, by competing.

If opponents are saying ordinary public schools can’t compete with charters, that would be a sad indictment indeed. But more importantly, what’s to fear from competition and innovation? Is a school that can’t compete something that should even be saved? And isn’t education the first place where innovation and competition should be welcome?

Certainly this will be a lively, revealing, healthy debate. But the focus should be on what’s best for kids, not bureaucracies.

With any luck, should the amendment pass and give parents more power to create charter schools, perhaps local school districts will be more amenable to cooperation and partnering with them. If charters are created through local school districts, the local board of education has some say in their operation. The local board loses that authority if it refuses to approve the charter and the state sees fit to.

Also, most charters post admirable standardized test results – which a local district should be more than happy to add into its overall student performance.

If student achievement is the goal, Richmond County should be the first to take a bite from a bigger charter school apple: Its previous advertised graduation rate of 80.7 percent is really 54.6 percent, under a new formula being adopted nationwide.

The old formula compared the number of graduates to the number of students in the senior class; the new formula looks at how many of those who started ninth grade end up graduating, minus transfers and such. This is a much more honest system, and the change is revealing: With the change in formula, Butler High’s graduation rate, for instance, dropped from 88.7 to 47.3.

The district’s true graduation rates are nothing short of abysmal. So why the aversion to change?

Notably, Davidson Fine Arts magnet school’s graduation rate was unchanged: 100 percent under both formulas. The move to magnet schools didn’t collapse the system, but only added three jewels to the district’s crown.

A few charters won’t collapse anything either, and might put a little sparkle on the schools.

How many charters should there/would there be? Roberts may hold the answer:

Only as many as the customers want.

Comments (23) Add comment
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Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 04/22/12 - 05:20 am
8
1
Exactly, but be prepared for

Exactly, but be prepared for the wrath of those who have their hands in the power jar that controls most of a county's tax money. They want to maintain their control of the purse strings, no matter the consequences to the education of the children. The education bureaucrats from school administrators to superintendents will also threaten and cajole teachers to keep the status quo although I suspect many teachers would be pleased to teach in charter schools.

The purpose of the school board is to facilitate the education of the children in the best way possible, not to become involved in the politics against initiatives such as charter schools.

Locally, the educrats have jumped in with Lightpole Ben Harbin leading their battle to keep the public from having the option to even CONSIDER charter schools. BOE members fear a loss of power and administrators fear charter schools will make them change their often ineffective style of leadership present in many government run schools. The educatocracy lobby has tenacles everywhere and is powerful.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 04/22/12 - 05:52 am
4
6
I'm sure the AC will now back

I'm sure the AC will now back the additional taxes that will soon be required to build additional school buildings, have additional staff, and additional incidentals such as utility bills, transportation, etc. Say you currently have 10 schools, now thanks to the GOP, you can have 10 groups screaming to open 10 charter schools. You've just added 10 more principlals (and Lord knows how many additional assistant principals), office staff, building costs, upkeep costs, electricity for lights/heating/cooling, water/sewer costs, gas for buses to take students to 10 additional locations, and so on. Do you allow classes that now have 30 students to have only 15 per class? Gosh, now all these charter scools want their own stadiums for sports. Will all be accepted (studies have shown that there is no increase in performance, and sometimes even a decrease if this is the case), or will you cherry pick students, such as the magnet schools now do, further weakening (on paper) the performance of the existing public schools? How about special ed students? Will the charter schools be required to have the same percentage as public schools do now? They're trying to sell the public a pig in a poke. What the GOP really wants is to use public money to go to private schools where our tax dollars can pay for little Johnny to be instructed in religious doctrine or go to all of the segregation academies that miraculously sprung up after the schools were desegragated.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 04/22/12 - 06:45 am
6
2
No new school buildings are

No new school buildings are built. No new staff is necessarily hired. Black and white students are accepted. The schools are open to all. But you knew all that.

Chartermom
0
Points
Chartermom 04/22/12 - 07:20 am
1
0
I live in DeKalb County, and

I live in DeKalb County, and the school system here makes available the buildings of schools that have been closed for charter schools. This is a great practice, since neighborhoods homes typically decrease in value once a school shuts its doors. This isjust one more way that charter schools can revitalize neighborhoods that need it most.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 04/22/12 - 07:22 am
2
4
So they meet in imaginary

So they meet in imaginary buildings, you pull 10 students out of a class of 30, no new staff is hired so they have an imaginary teacher who's overseen by an imaginary principal. I get it now.

Truth Matters
6984
Points
Truth Matters 04/22/12 - 07:41 am
1
0
Real school success requires

Real school success requires a multi-dimensional approach.
Parents, educators who truly want to teach, and who are adequately trained to teach (and not those who are being popped out of these institutions without having ever student taught and seemingly not having any knowledge of child growth and development), motivated students (intrinsically- and extrinsically-so) and a community that is vested in young people's success, I believe, are ALL key elements.

Hucklebuck
43
Points
Hucklebuck 04/22/12 - 07:47 am
4
1
I am all for trying anything

I am all for trying anything new. Its obvious that the status quo isn't working. really what do we have to lose? Our educational system is always in the bottom 3 and our dropout rate is high. But yet go to any school and walk into the teacher's parking lot. You will see more luxury vehicles than in a rap video.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 04/22/12 - 07:57 am
1
1
Yes, a starting salary of

Yes, a starting salary of $34,442 for a job requiring a 4 year degree. I'm sure they have car elevators too.

seenitB4
88077
Points
seenitB4 04/22/12 - 07:58 am
1
0
Our graduation rate is

Our graduation rate is dismal.....the kids aren't learning in public schools.......unruly students rule the roost....but yet some want to do away with charter schools...
Let me see now....what else can the government mess up for us.....

The Asians seem to get it right.......copy them...why doncha.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 04/22/12 - 07:59 am
2
2
How about a charter school

How about a charter school that ONLY accepts the lowest performing students and disciplinary problems?

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 04/22/12 - 08:29 am
0
0
Charleston has a public

Charleston has a public military magnet school.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 04/22/12 - 08:35 am
2
0
Columbia County has teachers

Columbia County has teachers making over $70,000 a year. Principals over $100,000. When cost of living is factored in, Georgia teachers are some of the highest paid in the nation. In the top 25% even without cost of living factored in.

What's to say an existing school can't be changed to a charter school?

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 04/22/12 - 12:13 pm
1
0
"the average Georgia

"the average Georgia teacher’s annual compensation was $72,393. The average years of experience for Georgia of 12.9 was slightly below the national average of 14.6." Politifact. Hardly the $120k+ figure mentioned above. Considering that a large percentage have a master's degree, plus almost 13 years experience, that's not outrageous. Principals are highly paid, not teachers. BTW: Georgia is a right to work (right to fire actually) state. Teachers have no collective bargaining rights.

Riverman1
84889
Points
Riverman1 04/22/12 - 12:24 pm
2
0
There are many applicants for

There are many applicants for every open teaching position in Columbia County. In a free market that tells me adequate compensation is being provided for salaries. I'm not sure about the number of applicants for positions in Richmond County schools.

There is a bigger issue here. It could very well be Columbia County doesn't need a charter school. There is one weak performing school and maybe it would work there, but that could be decided later.

All the law does is give the state and community the option of deciding for themselves if they want a charter school. Vote against the law as Lightpole Ben Harbin champions and the community can't even consider such a change. He is playing to the educrats and BOE members who control the money and jobs now.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 04/22/12 - 12:49 pm
1
0
GAPubEd, generally, and the

GAPubEd, generally, and the RCSS, specifically, have failed to provide most poor and minority students schools whose climates facilitate the development of Richmond County kids' academic, vocational, civic and social skills.

Now, I'd never argue that many teachers, administrators, board attorneys and other educrats don't do very well under the present system of publicly funded education. Unfortunately, the purpose of our public school system is not for adults to do well by it. Rather, its purpose is to do do good for our kids- the ones who always get lost in the scramble for money, power, image and status by the "adults" who only "talk the talk" of "world class" education for our poor and minority kids.

Truth Matters
6984
Points
Truth Matters 04/22/12 - 01:42 pm
0
0
Hucklebuck: What those luxury

Hucklebuck:
What those luxury cars can not tell you is how many of them were purchased with money from part time jobs. I know teachers who sell Avon, cosmetics, mow lawns, work the Masters and perform many other jobs to get the things they WANT. Some choose to not hire a maid, own a lake home or condo/timeshare at the beach or go on vacation so they can make big ticket purchases.

If they are not robbing a bank or getting goods through illegal means, it's really none of the rest of our business what they drive.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/22/12 - 02:39 pm
2
0
Stop funding schools and

Stop funding schools and start funding education.

Why are people afraid of empowering parents to choose where their children go to school? What is the fear?

Money should follow the student. Where the child goes to school, the money should follow.

Techfan, you are mistaken how charter schools operate. The charter organization provides the buildings and the staff. The two existing charters in RC are pseudo-charter schools because they are public schools who received a state waiver to operate as charters.

Little Lamb
46367
Points
Little Lamb 04/22/12 - 03:07 pm
2
0
The opponents talk about

The opponents talk about charter schools pulling money out of the zoned schools, but they never talk about the students pulled out of the schools. With fewer students to educate, the zoned schools can save money by needing less staff, fewer facilities, and maybe, just maybe, lower salaries for administrators, since the system size is lower. It's a win-win for students, parents, and taxpayers.

socks99
250
Points
socks99 04/22/12 - 07:12 pm
0
0
Public funding for schools is

Public funding for schools is now set on course for years of decline. The correct course for public schools is effective fiscal management; this ought to be made much easier due to the fact that they have squandered so much money.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 04/22/12 - 08:26 pm
0
0
My first instinct when union

My first instinct when union employees tell me the four magic words that tell me they're lying, "It's for the children," are uttered is to put my hand to my wallet as it's about to be raided.

moonwaxing
16
Points
moonwaxing 05/08/12 - 11:56 pm
0
0
Charter School Demographics per Wikipedia

The U.S. Department of Education's 1997 First Year Report, part of a four-year national study on charters, is based on interviews of 225 charter schools in 10 states. Charters tend to be small (fewer than 200 students) and represent primarily new schools, though some schools had converted to charter status. Charter schools often tend to exist in urban locations, rather than rural. This study found enormous variation among states. Charter schools tended to be somewhat more racially diverse, and to enroll slightly fewer students with special needs or limited English proficiency than the average schools in their state.[22]
In 2007, the annual survey produced by the Center for Education Reform, a pro-charter school group, found that 54% of charter school students qualified for free or reduced lunches. This qualification is a common proxy for determining how many low-income students a given school enrolls. The same survey found that half of all charter school students fall into categories that are classified as “at risk.”[23] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_schools#Public_opinion

moonwaxing
16
Points
moonwaxing 05/09/12 - 12:00 am
0
0
charter schools attract low income, minority, and low performing

Early critics feared that charter schools would lure the highest performing and most gifted students from centrally administered public schools. Instead, charter schools have tended to attract low income, minority, and low performing students.[32] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_schools#Public_opinion

moonwaxing
16
Points
moonwaxing 05/09/12 - 12:05 am
0
0
neighborhood vs charter

Our neighborhood school does okay with regular ed kids, but if your child has special needs of any sort--dyslexia, Aspergers, etc--then they fail. This is not the fault of the special ed staff. It's the fault of the school culture.

In contrast, our charter school (rejected by the county, state-issued in 2010) meets the needs of these kids.

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