Georgia's Amendment 1 reforming enemies of change

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One of the more irrational arguments against Amendment 1 – the charter school amendment and the re-establishment of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission – is the argument that the Charter Commission is a duplication of what the Georgia State Board of Education already can do.

On its face, the argument sounds legitimate. But upon additional research, the argument falls apart dramatically for two substantial reasons: first, the purpose of establishing a single-purpose authorizer is to allow stronger authorization and oversight of charter public schools; second, Georgia is at jeopardy of losing any type of “shared” responsibility over K-12 unless a constitutional amendment is passed Nov. 6.

THE PURPOSE of a state charter commission is to provide high-quality objectivity to the charter application process; oversight of operating charter schools; and renewal or closure of said charters. This single-minded purpose toward quality charter authorization is not new to Georgia, but is common across the nation, with 76 percent of all chartering states allowing for some type of alternative authorizer. Of those states with an alternative authorizer, 30 percent have a state commission similar to the one Georgia is attempting to re-establish.

Minnesota – which not only has the oldest charter school law in the nation, but arguably the strongest – allows for multiple alternative authorizers.

In 2010, Minnesota submitted its application to the U.S. Department of Education in an attempt to receive a federal competitive grant for quality chartering practices. In its application, Minnesota eloquently explained, “Minnesota’s charter school law has long provided for ‘multiple authorizers’, including traditional and intermediate school districts, charitable nonprofit organizations and higher education institutions. The extensive legislative reforms enacted in 2009 added a new category of authorizer to the state’s portfolio of eligible organizations – single-purpose authorizers. Single-purpose authorizers, whose sole purpose is to charter schools, were established to help ensure authorizer quality and charter school accountability.”

THE ACTIONS taken by Minnesota to ensure charter schools, and the process by which charter schools are authorized is of the highest quality, is exactly what leaders in Georgia are attempting to accomplish with Amendment 1.

But the efforts to establish a high-quality, single-purpose authorizer of charter schools will be in vain if Amendment 1 fails. Amendment 1 also is about the state affirming, now and forever, that K-12 education is a shared responsibility between state and local boards of education. Neither should be granted absolute authority.

On May 16, 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission’s ability to authorize charter schools. In the contentious 4-3 decision, the majority not only struck down the Charter Commission as “unconstitutional” but went further and, for the first time in Georgia’s history, declared public K-12 education the “exclusive control” of 180 local boards of education.

IN HIS DISSENTING opinion, Georgia Supreme Court Justice David Nahmias recognized the dangerous unintended consequences of the majority’s decision, stripping all authority away from the state when he noted that “in both law and practice local school systems do not have exclusive authority over K-12 public education. To hold otherwise, as the Court now does expressly, is a sea change in Georgia’s education law of proportions so great that they render overstatement impossible.”

With exclusive authority over public education in the hands of 180 local boards of education, the state is powerless to be the oversight body with regard to areas such as the conduct of local boards and superintendents; licenses of teachers; and providing uniform laws for all school attendance and conduct by students. And those are just three simple examples.

Opponents of Amendment 1 would have you believe there is a monster hiding behind Amendment 1.

They have done a magnificent job of scaring teachers, parents and the people of Georgia.

BUT THE REAL monster we face in Georgia is a 62.7 percent graduation rate and an education establishment that scorns one additional tool in the education tool belt simply because it does not fall under their exclusive control.

Robert F. Kennedy said during the 1960s civil rights era: “Progress is a good word, but change is its motivator and change has its enemies.”

Come Nov. 6, Georgians will have the opportunity to tell the enemies of change: Progress is coming to K-12 education in Georgia. Even if Amendment 1 passes, far more progress will need to be made if Georgia is to provide a quality educational environment for all 1.7 million public school students.

(The writer is executive vice president of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, and served the U.S. Department of Education as one of 14 national expert reviewers of competitive state charter grants under the Obama administration.)

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Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 10/28/12 - 06:31 am
4
2
Vote NO

Keep control of our tax dollars here at home! Vote NO on this proposition.

We've all seen recently with the fiasco at our local university what happens when we allow folks outside our community to make decisions for us.

FlaTony
4
Points
FlaTony 10/28/12 - 06:38 am
2
2
On being irrational

The charter supporters have no true claims to improving student achievement. It is something they tout, but the evidence is quite lacking. While Georgia should improve its charter school laws and approval processes, amendment one is not the way to go.

Our state has not been able to fund public education at proper levels for many years now. It is quite disturbing to think that our state leaders would shirk this responsibility for 95% of Georgia's children. Instead they are attempting to get voters to create a special funding stream that gives preferential treatment to only 5% of the state's students.

Let's talk about the facts related to student achievement. There are multiple studies from independent researchers that compare the student learning results across charter and public schools. The evidence is clear that charters do no better than traditional public schools. In some cases, they do much worse.

Recently, financial scandals within charter schools are coming to light. In Florida there have been multiple events. Here in Georgia there are some, too. One of the problems Florida is discovering is how difficult it is to get information from the charter management organizations. If our charter school laws are not well thought out, we will be in the same predicament.

We do not need amendment one in order to approve charter schools in our state and the author of this post knows it. What we need is leadership from our state that provides resources for all students to have access to a good education. Voting no for amendment one is a vote for the children of Georgia.

Techfan
6461
Points
Techfan 10/28/12 - 07:51 am
3
2
Cherry pick the "A" students

Cherry pick the "A" students from all around the county, place them in a charter school, and miraculously the charter school produces all "A" students. Amazing how that works isn't it?

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 10/28/12 - 08:45 am
3
1
"reforming enemies of

"reforming enemies of change"

remember who else was a big proponent of change.

if it aint broke dont fix it. if it is broke then for gods sake don't duplicate it

avidreader
2988
Points
avidreader 10/28/12 - 08:59 am
2
2
I'm Torn!

I am torn between two principles of thought. One, it scares me that seven political appointees will have control over these charters and private, for-profit entrepreneurs will be involved.

On the other hand, I do not have a lot of faith in our local school board to implement successful charter schools without strict guidance from the state BOE. Too much political wrangling. Our two current charter schools are questionable as to building a solid foundation for our future as a first-class school system.

Educational methods and philosophies are changing rapidly, and I fear that charter schools will revive the antequated "tracking" method where the economically disadvantaged kids are isolated from the involved-parent motivated kids. Maybe this is a good thing; maybe not. However, this is an issue in which all of Augusta's citizens should pay close attention.

KidsFirst
13
Points
KidsFirst 10/28/12 - 09:31 am
2
2
School Systems Don't Want Change

Vote Yes. The system people and their supporters absolutely want all control/money of every child in Georgia. They fought the right to homeschool and they've even fought dual enrollment (wanting to keep every child on campus taking AP classes rather than let some begin earning college credit). The superintendent of Gwinnett County recently said during a debate that choice is overplayed. That says a lot about the attitude of 'the system'.

alpharetta mom
3
Points
alpharetta mom 10/28/12 - 10:00 am
1
2
More Misleading Statements

Speaking of irrational - why quote the minority opinion? The former commission did not have the constitutional authority to authorize charter schools. The State BOE does have the constitutional authority to authorize a charter school petition that a local board has denied and they do a fine job. End of story. Mr. Lewis wants you, the voter, to correct what he sees as the Supreme Court's error. It was not an error in my opinion to give the elected (not appointed) local school boards the most authority when it comes to spending my tax dollars in education. He wants a faster means to give all the out-of-state "for-profit" charter school companies who are spending big bucks on this campaign the ability to get approval from an independent commission. Independent actually means they do not have to seek or listen to local input. They can put schools anywhere - needed or not. Also - the nerve to quote Minnesota charter school law. That state requires that teachers and parents serve on a school governing board. The law you will get if you vote "yes" - HB 797 - does not. The person requesting the charter doesn't even have to live in the community where the school could be located. What a joke. Minnesota has a law which promotes innovation and protects the taxpayer. HB 797 is an engraved invitation for charter operators to do whatever they want with my tax dollars. It is poorly written legislation even if Georgia actually did need another charter authorizer - which we do not because the State BOE is doing the job! Please vote NO on Amendment 1.

Military Veteran
7
Points
Military Veteran 10/28/12 - 10:23 am
2
1
MisINFORMED

As I read the comments in regards to the GA Amendment I must say that many of you are so misinformed about this Amendment. This issue is about providing parents with a choice as to how they educate their children. As a parent in Gwinnett County, I have seen both sides as I have two children both were in the public school. I have a daughter (10) who is gifted and a part of the FOCUS Program for gifted students, and a son (17) who is on average a B student, both with no disciplinary issues, well rounded, athletes, etc.. After exiting the Army (both my husband and I), we moved our family to GA from Alaska. As service members we have seen educational systems all over the US and other countries as well. I grew up in the Chicago Public school system and my husband in the New Jersey Public school system and coming the GA, I was very disturbed about what I saw when it came to education. Understand that my husband and I are considered middle class, both work, and both take time to spend in both of our children's classrooms and always took the time to volunteer at their schools.
In Gwinnett County, the amount of funding given to schools in your area is based on the home prices, which cluster has the better averages, and to the more affluent areas. Let me note again, many of the schools in my area are underfunded, and overcrowded, and the population in the area is 76% minority. The classrooms were overcrowded (kids in trailers behind the schools), many teachers did not have control, discipline was definitely a problem, and the lack of security in the schools did not help. We are in the South Gwinnett cluster and the dropout rates are extremely high. As parents we did everything we could do to offer our children more and keep them focused on education, and out of trouble. We ended up moving our son to a private school for high school as South Gwinnett High School was not an option for us, then later after Georgia Assembly passed HB251, we were able to move him to a brand new high school in a neighboring city, but still in Gwinnett county which had space availability and smaller classrooms (we were ready and willing to provide the transportation to ensure success).
A little about my daughter: My daughter is a gifted student, and attends one of only two all-girls charter schools in GA. She maintains straight A's, plays soccer, and demonstrates all of the goals to be successful. In the first grade I had to fight to get my daughter tested in order to move her to a grade above her level, although she was apparently gifted. Once in the gifted program at her home school, the set-up of the their "gifted program" only allowed her a few classes a day of gifted education (part time only), then it was back to "Gen Pop" with a class FULL of students with behavioral problems and a teacher who was clearly overwhelmed with 30 students and no help. Even with parental involvement (my husband and I volunteered) this was still a chaotic environment. My husband and I decided to transfer to school (outside of our district area), but still in Gwinnett county, where she was able to be placed in a full time gifted program and surrounded by other gifted students like herself which yielded less distractions! She EXCELLED! Last year she graduated from the 5th grade and I was told that I would need to return to my home district school. Thankfully the charter school was an option and she was accepted! This charter school does not use books (cost reduction) but handouts, offers a longer day of education (2 math classes and 2 English classes to bridge the education gap and foster higher achievement in areas where our country is failing), offers Saturday education classes to help those that require additional assistance, and focuses on the importance of discipline, EDUCATION, goal setting, priorities, and the importance of becoming a productive member of society. Parents are REQUIRED to participate in education and volunteer. Many of the girls that attend commute over 20 miles to get there!
Why are we fighting competition? Why is it must we make it so hard for parents who want to educate and give their children successful opportunities to advance be held back? Look at the drop-out rates in the local schools? If the public schools were doing their jobs we would not be in this predicament where our children are suffering. Our teachers are not being paid appropriately, and they still have to go into their own pockets to fund the things their children need in the classrooms. Look at the scandals in the Atlanta PS schools and what it has done to the students. You have educators cheating students out of an education just to boost funds flowing to their schools. You have teachers that are being instructed to only teach the CRCT standardized test materials and our children are suffering! Come on people we have to not make this about politics and more about the welfare of our children and our country. We are so far behind when it comes to education it sickens me. I work in HR and see the need for highly skilled people to fill positions and not being able to find them….
I encourage you to read a little more before you just write this off as a political agenda, and learn what is really at stake. As a veteran that comes from a family of vets (2 brothers, husband, 18 cousins, 5 uncles, etc.) I ask that you think long and hard about right to education we often take for granted.

Military Veteran
7
Points
Military Veteran 10/28/12 - 10:26 am
1
1
What is Amendment 1?

What is Amendment 1?
Commonly called the “charter school amendment” Amendment 1 is the result of the Georgia General Assembly’s passage of House Resolution 1162. If approved by voters, Amendment 1 would give a state-appointed commission the power to authorize state-run charter schools. These staterun charter schools would be funded at a different level than locally approved charter schools.

How does the amendment read on the ballot?
The ballot includes both a preamble and the actual question. They read as follows: Preamble: “Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options (HR1162)” Question: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?” Yes or No

Please review this link: http://int.ivyprepacademy.org/why-ivy-prep/

crkgrdn
2287
Points
crkgrdn 10/28/12 - 01:34 pm
1
1
With a dismal high school graduation rate

Georgia has so many opportunities, but her schools' graduation rate can put those opportunities out of reach. With an abundance of land and other resources, Georgia is indeed in a bright spot. Business wants to come to Georgia and those businesses will need human resources. If Georgia cannot provide the necessary human resources, companies will bring people from out of state leaving many Georgians in the lurch.

Recently I retired after 35 years as a public school teacher. I fought the good fight for quality education. That fight was always against the entrenched system, and, my, was it exhausting.

Now I am teaching in the university system and am not surprised at how poorly prepared students are. And, it is NOT the students' fault.
Such a shame on Georgia's educational system. I encourage these students, provide tips for studying, reading and note-taking.

Yes, my students are high school graduates, but what does their diploma truly represent?

Georgia is wasting its human resources. The Charter Schools Amendment will not completely solve the problem, but it will provide competition for an entrenched bureacracy.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 10/28/12 - 08:35 pm
0
1
Be truthful

FACT: The Charter School amendment HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LOCAL Taxes, money or funding. It takes NOTHING from the local BOE Budget.

FACT: The Local BOE will not lose 1 cent in State or Federal $$$ funds. Charter Schools are separately funded.

FACT: A little outside competition is always produces a better product.

FACT: Charter Schools follow the same laws as public schools.

FACT: if student moves to a charter school, it frees up seats in the public school, improving the student teacher ratios.

FACT: Local BOE resources are NOT used (Buses, buildings and etc.)

OPINION: The push to vote against it is all about the fear of loss of Total Control and power by the Local BOE.

rebellious
20174
Points
rebellious 10/28/12 - 11:11 pm
1
0
Curtain

You said:
FACT: The Charter School amendment HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LOCAL Taxes, money or funding. It takes NOTHING from the local BOE Budget.

FACT: The Local BOE will not lose 1 cent in State or Federal $$$ funds. Charter Schools are separately funded.

Come on now......No money at all will be diverted? Come on, be honest or "Open" with us. Or at the very least, tell me where this new money comes from? Outlandish, I know, but if 100% of public school students in ARC went to charter schools, do you really mean to tell me the BOE budget would not drop one dime? One dime, not one dollar!

I am listening!

notme
40
Points
notme 10/29/12 - 06:14 pm
0
0
Vote No on this dual school

Vote No on this dual school system run by the state. Some of you say it ain't so. This commission is appointed by state officials and if they do not do what their appointees expect them to do, they will be fired. Thus controlled by the state Obama style. The state can already approve charter schools if it is turned down by the local school boards and the state is cutting more funds this year from our local schools. GUESS what! Local school boards will have to make up these funds eventually and that is what those in Atlanta want to see and then blame taxes on the locals. Give us a break. I'm as conservative as most of you. It took me awhile to realize this.

Young Fred
15724
Points
Young Fred 10/31/12 - 09:36 am
0
0
Let’s be honest with

Let’s be honest with ourselves for the sake of the children. Our public school system is a joke. I’m sure many can make resonable arguments as to why it’s a joke, but the time for arguing is over, because it’s been a joke for quite sometime.

Many people don’t like change, that’s just human nature. It’s time to shake things up.

If anything, this amendment doesn’t go far enough.

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