Don't deny school choice

Amendment gives parents more control over their kids' schools

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It is appalling, and quite possibly illegal, how the public education establishment has fought to prevent Georgians from having more educational choices for their children.

The Nov. 6 election includes a constitutional amendment allowing the state to approve charter schools – which are public schools that are given special freedoms from the public education bureaucracy, including an ability to offer specialized curricula.

Charter schools are a beautiful public-private partnership that drives the public education bureaucracy crazy. In fact, that’s precisely why the amendment is needed: When parents and educators want to form charter schools, local school boards often block them. They simply don’t want to lose control over your child’s education.

As a result, it’s alleged that local school boards, their state association, teachers and even Parent-Teacher Associations have campaigned against the amendment. They don’t want parents and students freed from the public education monopoly.

Indeed, the Richmond County Board of Education approved an anti-charter resolution last February, and might have again this week – except that Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens last week warned school officials statewide not to use public resources to campaign for or against the amendment.

“Local school boards do not have the legal authority to expend funds or other resources to advocate or oppose the ratification of a constitutional amendment by the voters,” Olens wrote them in a letter. “They may not do this directly or indirectly through associations to which they may belong ...”

How sad that educators would be so virulently anti-school choice, particularly since it’s mostly middle- and lower-income citizens who are denied such freedom. Rich folks already have school choice. We’re just trying to free the rest.

Don’t believe the scare tactics. School choice is a good thing, increasingly called America’s “civil rights movement of the 21st century.”

Moreover, the Richmond County board’s resolution of February was wholly disingenuous when it referred to “the lack of support for public education” by those in favor of state-run charters. Charter schools are public schools!

We urge you to vote for freedom by voting “yes” on the amendment, listed as Amendment 1 on your ballot.

In the meantime, it’s illegal for school officials to be using taxpayer resources to oppose the amendment.

We think it’s unconscionable that the educational bureaucracy would try to deny Georgians school choice – or use your tax money to do it.

It should tell you all you need to know about how to vote on the amendment.

Comments (35) Add comment
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notme
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notme 10/12/12 - 11:05 pm
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notme is correct on all

notme is correct on all counts....period!

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/12/12 - 11:46 pm
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Supreme Court

Sorry, notme, but you missed the supreme court ruling:

Charter Schools

The supreme court ruled that the state charter schools commission was unconstitutional. That is why we have the present constitutional amendment referendum. We need more choice – not more coercion.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 10/12/12 - 11:52 pm
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@ notme

The state commission proposed by the constitutional amendment is not intended to run the charter schools. It is intended only to review applications and to approve or deny them. Once the schools are approved, they will be run by the board of trustees, and will be subject to the terms of their charters. These charter schools will be run by parents, not state bureaucrats.

Young Fred
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Young Fred 10/13/12 - 02:47 am
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What is the real problem?

When reading through the comments, I'm seeing a common theme amongst those that are against parents having a choice.

That theme seems to be “a for profit company is super scary”.

Apparently, with the status quo supporters, actually holding an intrenched government unit responsible for anything is blasphemy.

And GASP, the oversight board in charge of local charter schools, would be, in a large part made up of…. are you ready for this, (THIS OUTRAGE), parents. Why, we can't have this! Everyone knows that most parents weren't run through the reconditioning, political correctness conditioning, and debriefing mill of today's most excellent requirements for an education certification. (In short essay form, list the 5 worse results of a capitalistic society, and the offsetting methods of State that would reverse these euro-centric outrages).

OK, enough with the sarcasm, what do the supporters of the status quo really, deep down inside, fear?
Substandard schools with inadequate oversight? For profit companies that will suck up funds needed by the traditional public school system? Under-qualified instructors? Change?

I believe most of these concerns have been addressed. I've yet to see an adequate counter argument. Are we to just blindly accept your arguments? Or, are we to question, examine, and seriously consider this matter? This is the basic goal of education, is it not?

bertisdowns
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bertisdowns 10/13/12 - 05:59 am
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hey Freddy, Youngster

maybe you didn't see my comment a few back-- so maybe this will help-- how are you with analogies?
http://wapo.st/i645tp
and while we're at it, maybe everybody should get a pony!
see also Luckovich: http://bit.ly/SYKDXH

bertisdowns
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bertisdowns 10/13/12 - 06:32 am
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some instructional reading for Fred the Younger

Re: corporate charters, diminished overall quality and potential for boondoggles-- check out the real-life experiences of neighbor to the south:

http://bit.ly/RVfbXu
http://hrld.us/SRLNlM
bit.ly/OAkCKQ
http://bit.ly/wxEK99

for a further example of this phenomenon, check out the experience in MI:

http://onforb.es/q2TSqA

and although Charter Or Not is not on the Ballot-- creating expensive new redundant state commission is, even if not palpable from the deceptive wording-- these are some interesting real-life stories to know about from time to time-- compiled by a teacher in her spare time to show people like Young Fred why "choice" ain't exactly what it is cracked up to be:

http://charterschoolscandals.blogspot.com/

remember, if it seems to be good to be true . . . . it probably is!

Little Lamb
46022
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Little Lamb 10/13/12 - 10:55 am
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Cracked up to be?

The charter school provides a choice. If a parent likes the results, he can keep his child in the charter school. If he doesn't like the results, he can leave the charter school and go back to the zoned school. What is so terrible about that?

Young Fred
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Young Fred 10/14/12 - 01:07 am
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bertisdowns, your Washington

bertisdowns, your Washington Post column was an apple to oranges comparison, backed up by specious arguments.

As for your “real-life experiences”, you have got to be kidding me. If that was the criteria for choosing the type of school systems we want, the public school system would have been booted decades ago. I mean, really, you've got some gall to make that argument and not apply the same standard to that which you support.

bertisdowns, have you seen the movie “Waiting For Superman”? I wonder if your blogging public school teacher has seen the move? If you haven't seen it as of yet, you should give it a shot, you might find yourself enlightened.

This movie makes the argument that our failing, sub-standard schools can be fixed. We all know it could be fixed, unfortunately there are too many entrenched bureaucrats and people like your teacher-blogger that actively resist reform.

How about a little honesty? What is it that you people really fear if parents have just a little more choice?

Young Fred
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Young Fred 10/14/12 - 01:18 am
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Bertisdowns, you seem like

Bertisdowns, you seem like the type of guy/gal that respects the NY Times, here's a link to the movie I mentioned.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/24/movies/24waiting.html?_r=0&pagewanted=1

bertisdowns
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bertisdowns 10/14/12 - 10:28 am
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Fredster, maybe this will help you understand better

http://bit.ly/RXttHg or this: http://www.thenation.com/article/restoring-our-schools. And as for your favorite movie, consider this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUgrpjMjsyY. That movie had $2 mm spent just to promote it for an Oscar and didn't even get a nomination- mainly due to its lack of veracity which is a real problem for a "documentary" http://bit.ly/cbpssN Late for church-- gotta go. Read up and have a good Sunday.

Young Fred
17460
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Young Fred 10/14/12 - 11:41 am
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bertisdowns, Quite the style

bertisdowns,

Quite the style you have, post multiple links (“The Nation”, LMAO), wait for a reply, ignore the points raised, post even more links. Do you have any thoughts of your own?

I have but two questions for you.

Why does parental choice cause such fear for the champions of the status quo?

Why do you refuse to hold the public school system accountable?

bertisdowns
13
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bertisdowns 10/14/12 - 05:27 pm
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For Fred but really for anyone else who might read the links

won't spend much time on this but before you dismiss that Nation link, please know it was written by a very smart person on all this, Linda Darling-Hammond of Stanford with the best book out on these interl;ocking issues-- The Flat World And Education. As for my own thoughts, it really comes down to a pretty simple concept-- good schools for all kids. A couple of days ago I posted some of my own thoughts on this (comments in the mid-twenties back on page 1) but here are a few more. Don't worry not just for you-- from a column I wrote for some papers in south Georgia:

Support Local Schools: No on the Charter Amendment Referendum

There is no question that the quality of education in existing public schools in Georgia could be improved or that current school systems could operate more efficiently. My problem with the proposed constitutional amendment creating an appointed statewide commission to authorize new charter schools is simply that it fails to provide the right plan to fix our educational deficiencies.
There is no evidence that charter schools run by “for-profit” management companies will produce superior results compared to traditional public schools. And, as research and experience has shown time and again, charter schools often get worse results.
With budget cuts affecting every school in Georgia, this is clearly not the time to create a new and expensive state bureaucracy, especially an unnecessary one since Georgia already allows appeals for quality charter school applicants denied by a local school board.
I view the state’s continuing cuts in funding for traditional public schools-- a staggering $1.1billion in austerity cuts since 2002-- as clear evidence that something else is at play in the proposed constitutional amendment, something that has nothing to do with the best interests of kids. The proposed amendment creating a charter-school commission will pave the way for out-of-state “for-profit” management companies to replicate themselves anywhere in the state. It will lead to a parallel system of schools that has a lot more to do with money, power and influence than it does with the education of Georgia’s school children. This brand of education policy has not worked in places a little farther down the “reform” road than Georgia—places like Florida, Louisiana and Pennsylvania. How will this sort of “vision” benefit Georgia’s kids? It won’t.
I think most everyone would agree on what makes a school good: skilled and experienced teachers who emphasize instruction and experiences that give children opportunities to learn, a safe and healthy learning environment including adequate facilities, a critical mass of involved parents and community support, all of which results in a school community as a center of learning. But, instead of working to ensure that all of Georgia public schools share those fundamental qualities, the state’s political leadership seems intent on developing a new, costly, parallel system of corporately-managed charter schools. Simply put, the state cannot afford a duplication of efforts. Wouldn’t we rather see our limited funds devoted to making our existing public schools better-- for all kids?
The hard work of improving and transforming our public schools must be done day by day, with caring, concern and attention to detail, and it must include teachers, administrators, students, parents, and the greater community. Thank goodness many of our Georgia’s education leaders recognize this and are speaking out against this insidious amendment that would drain resources and attention away from the majority of kids – those in our traditional public schools.

When it comes to the education of the next generation of Georgia school children, we really cannot afford to give up on Georgia’s local public schools. I urge voters to reject this amendment by saying no to the politics of business as usual.

-Bertis Downs, parent and advocate for good schools for all children, lives in Athens, GA.

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