Amendment not about charters

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In November, voters of Georgia will be faced with a controversial issue and a confusing ballot question over state vs. local control of charter schools.

The question on the ballot has great potential to be misunderstood. In fact, the language is different from the straw poll on July’s Democratic ballot and does not clearly communicate that the question is asking voters to approve a constitutional change – a change that would create a state commission to approve and fund new state charter schools.

RICHMOND COUNTY’S retired educators join the Richmond County Board of Education, the Georgia Retired Educators Association, the Professional Association of Educators, the Georgia Parent-Teacher Association, the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders and the Augusta Branch and Georgia Chapter of the NAACP in opposing the amendment.

Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the state constitution prevents this commission from usurping the power of local communities. Supporters of the commission now propose amending the constitution to allow what the court has ruled was illegal. When the plan was debated in the General Assembly, legislators who supported the amendment never addressed critical questions regarding how the state can afford to create and fund new state charter schools considering the multibillion-dollar state austerity reduction that continues to hurt existing schools.

This reduction hurts students and educators, and causes increased class sizes, shorter school years and elimination of important programs such as art, music and physical education. The ongoing budget cuts also have caused teacher furloughs and layoffs and increases in local property taxes, and have pushed several local school districts to the brink of bankruptcy.

Passage of the amendment will mean more state funds are diverted from local school districts, causing harm to students and educators at traditional public schools, local charter schools and charter school systems.

DISCONCERTINGLY, the constitutional amendment is being pushed by national for-profit charter management companies that stand to gain from its passage. These companies are neither accountable for student achievement nor transparent with their use of taxpayer resources in the same manner as public schools. The charter schools with which the companies affiliate can waive state laws and regulations like class sizes caps and teacher certification and pay.

Be clear. This issue is not about charter schools. Charter schools have a place in education but only when the local school boards have a say in how the money is used! Voters will see this proposed amendment on general election ballots: “Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.” … “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?” These statements are misleading and do not get to the heart of the question.

OUR RECORD as retired educators who have devoted our lives to the improvement of education for all children should remove any doubt about why we oppose the proposed constitutional change. My colleagues in the Richmond County Retired Educators Association and I urge you to work to educate other Georgians about the dangers of the House Resolution 1162 amendment. Vote “no” on the charter school amendment.

(The writer is president of the Richmond County Retired Educators Association.)

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Retired Army
Retired Army 10/28/12 - 06:50 am
Keep the control of our tax

Keep the control of our tax cash here in the community! Those who want better for their children should step up to the plate and elect better administrators locally or put their money where their mouth is and send their children to private for profit schools of their choosing.

Vote NO on this amendment!

wayne2410 10/28/12 - 06:57 am
Real Americans are tired of

Real Americans are tired of paying for the entitlement democrat supporters childrens education when most of them don't care one bit about being educated. It don't take but so much education to know how to sling the crack rock so it really is wasted on them. Let us send our kids who actually want to learn and be somebody someday to charter schools and let that other crowd pay for their own useless schools, useless because many of those kids are not even trying. They are nothing more but another strain on the good people of the country, which are the conservatives for the most part

Retired Army
Retired Army 10/28/12 - 10:15 am

Poor try at "code" language . White kids smoke crack too. Would you consider them "Real" Americans?

avidreader 10/28/12 - 10:27 am
To Wayne

Wayne, you are such a cool dude! Your exploration of such a complex topic is amazing. Why not take a stab at politics and run for a vacant BOE seat. With your guidance and wisdom we could open up some prison schools for those who sling crack rocks. For those who do not fit into the charter school mode. For those who refuse to read a book. For those who would rather sleep than participate in formative and summative assessments. The teachers can keep these students amused with a full series of Rocky movies, and the dining halls could remain open all day long in case one requires a mid-morning snack or a slice of pizza after school to relieve the pangs of a hard day's viewing.

Standardized tests could be given orally to all students, and it would be mandated that the proctors provide open hints as to the answers available. School attendance would soar, and these misfits would surely benefit from our good will.

Sign me up; I will vote for you.

Insider Information
Insider Information 10/28/12 - 10:51 am
Just two questions...

1) If a kid drops out of high school, Richmond County loses just as much money as if a kid goes to a charter school. Why won't Richmond County fight just as hard against kids dropping out as kids going to charter schools?

2) How many true charter schools has Richmond County approved in the past 1,000 years?

Insider Information
Insider Information 10/28/12 - 04:13 pm
I always laugh when I get a

I always laugh when I get a "thumbs down" for asking questions.

School officials would prefer parents not to ask questions, but instead to just shut up and keep giving them money.

Fiat_Lux 10/28/12 - 06:21 pm
As usual,

Dichotomy gets it and renders it understandable for the thick.

"All children" is code too, RA, in case you didn't realize it. And it means wasting millions in tax money on kids who disrupt and attack and undermine the educational efforts and process in public schools. The term does not really include the motivated and industrious, the well-behaved and those determined to achieve an education. That shrinking group is increasingly left to shift for themselves, and to defend themselves against the predators mistakenly included in that worn out term "all children". And it is "all the children" who chew up (read: waste) the vast majority of the teachers' time trying to maintain order and impart information to minds focused elsewhere.

We should have lots of charter schools that the local school board can't touch, schools that would rival Davidson and Augusta Prep and the like, with competitive application and highly selective acceptance.

There are dozens of retirees, both former educators and professionals, who very likely would make themselves available to teach young people who really want to learn and are willing to work hard at it. Those same people would never bother to put themselves in the same acre of space as the "all the children" who use their school as a business venue for the drug dealing, or whose respect for other people is determined by the size of the threat someone can credibly project.

If all the children knew anything about how to behave in a public setting without imposing themselves on others or generally disrupting their classes, if all the children could simply sit quietly even if they were bored to death, if all the children's parents were interested in their own children's growing into decent, productive adults who make a positive contribution to the world, then this issue would never have arisen.

KidsFirst 10/28/12 - 08:14 pm
The Georgia Charter Schools

The Georgia Charter Schools Commission had 7 volunteer Commissioners and 5 paid staffers when it was operational. Its budget was about $650k. That $650k was paid by the charters from operational funds (and they'd have to pay this even if they were locally approved). The Commission, at the time, oversaw 15,000 students.

COMPARE: There are 21 districts in our state with a general administration budget of $650k or less. Added together these districts serve 24,000 students. Combined, their general administration expenditures was over 11 MILLION.

I will vote yes. Give parents choice, see better results, and use less tax payer money doing it.

rebellious 10/28/12 - 10:56 pm
Torn on this issue

I have researched this issue and remain divided, although I must admit I have already voted.

But for the sake of discussion:

Pros for this amendment
I recognize competition as the motivator for success. Today, public school has virtually no competition when you consider the double costs of sending your children to private school, i.e. you still have to pay school tax and you pay tuition. This amendment creates competition for the public school system which may wake them from their beauracratic malaise.

Passage will offer those educators frustrated with the failing public school system an alternative. If that alternative is a local charter school, they win and the kids in the charter school win. It is no secret we have incompetent educators and then we have those teachers who care, so I see this as a means to keep the latter local.

I very rarely vote for control of my tax money to move further away from me. This appears to do so.

I look sideways at this "commission" and who will pick them. In light of Augusta's "redheaded stepchild" status, I ain't really feeling like anyone will be including us in that discussion.

I have never heard of a charter school application applied for in Augusta being denied. There may be some, I just haven't read it in the papers or heard it on the news. So...what is the issue?

This is where I would normally make a decision, but in this case I reveal how I voted.

I am confident we have a system in place to approve and oversee Charter Schools in Augusta Richmond County.
I have confidence our School Board members would be fair and objective in such assesment before approval or rejection.
I prefer local control over state appointed control.

I voted against this Constitutional amendment, and encourage you to do so also.

Worst can happen from a no vote from the electorate is they bring it back in 2 years.
Worst that can happen from a yes vote is an amendment which would never be repealed.

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