Georgia Superintendent John Barge Comes Out Against Charter Schools Amendment

The AJC is reporting that state Superintendent John Barge has publicly announced his opposition to the charter schools amendment.  Superintendent would be the first high-ranking Republican official to announce opposition to the measure.  He called Governor Nathan Deal as well as legislative leaders informing them of his position.  Barge had not expressed an opinion one way or the other, but that position changed today:

“I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education,” Barge said in a prepared statement. “What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).”

Barge said the passage of the amendment, the restoration of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and state funding for the charter schools it approves would be too costly for the state.

25 comments

  1. bgsmallz says:

    “I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts…”

    Hmmm….I assume most that are for charter schools would quibble with two points (1) the idea that school districts with student populations larger than any city in the county and that cover literally hundreds of square miles are truly local and (2) that charters are being formed where there is good work being done by the ‘local’ district.

    Easy fix that has been ignored so far…remove the stupid limitation that ‘local’ means ‘county’ because it most certainly does not.

    Allowing municipalities or townships or whatever local entity that is constitutionally acceptable to have local control over their own school system would not ‘duplicate the ‘good’ work’, it wouldn’t create a new state bureaucracy, and it wouldn’t direct taxpayer dollars out of state. It would, on the other hand, create direct competition for county school boards while putting curriculum, staffing, and other decisions in the hands of those with the most at stake…the local parents.

  2. John Konop says:

    ……….“I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education,” Barge said in a prepared statement. “What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).”……

    Interesting point!

  3. Three Jack says:

    Good for Barge! This state charter thing is not fiscally responsible or conservative for that matter. He should get with legislative leaders to design a real reform package with the focus being school choice across government, quasi-government and private schools.

    • John Konop says:

      Bart,

      We have it in place it is just not coordinated well in high schools. We have a program called joint enrolment that allows kids in high school to take classes from vocational schools to 4 year colleges. The problem is a combination of No Child left Behind testing, scheduling and non-core class requirements.

      That is why I have been advocating for a public/home school option that would allow students flexibility for joint enrolment as well as internships/co-op. Also the state should let the higher education school that the student gets the degree from set the requirements for the certificate, college credits………. This could be used for private, public, home school………At the end of the day no matter if they go private, public……..the real win is student leaving school with skills for a job and or being prepared for a college experience. By moving high school education toward an expanded joint enrolment options combined with on line learning, not only are we created more choice, but it is targeted toward skills and or higher education.

      • Three Jack says:

        John,

        We may have a government run program like the one you describe, but I’m all talking about keeping the money in the hands of the parents. Let them decide which school to attend, then pay for it out of pocket after government reforms the system so that we aren’t funneling money through the alimentary canal of a bloated bureaucracy.

        • John Konop says:

          …. We may have a government run program like the one you describe, but I’m all talking about keeping the money in the hands of the parents…

          You obviously do not understand the concept. The way joint enrolment works, the parents and or student can pick the program if they can get accepted into the higher learning institution. Home school, charter school, public school, private…. students all are eligible for the program if they can get in. The real issue is making the state requirements and access to education private, public……..more flexible for the program. This is school choice, but we are using colleges, vo-tech schools…….infrastructure that is already in place.

          • mpierce says:

            “You obviously do not understand the concept. The way joint enrolment works, the parents and or student can pick the program if they can get accepted into the higher learning institution.”

            John, how does that help those who can’t get into a higher learning institution? The vast majority of students cannot get accepted. My daughter will be entering Kindergarten next year. What college can she get into? I don’t want her going to her assigned school. I am currently unemployed and don’t know if I will be able to afford private school.

            The county is happy to send her to attend that government assigned school at a cost of $10000 per year. I can find private schools which I would be happy with and which cost less! We need real reform which allows choice for more than a select few.

  4. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    What I really want: A constitutional amendment that would authorize counties, by referendum, to eliminate their school board in favor of a charter or other specified form of governance.

    That way school boards that are functioning could continue in place whereas boards that are not (as in DeKalb) could be abolished by the voters.

    • Charlie says:

      While I appreciate the sentement, what is the difference between a board currently elected by voters as opposed to a “charter” board elected by voters?

      • Happy Face says:

        I’d be curious to see what percentage of school board members quit to go on to other political offices. It’d be nice to have mostly board members who are truly focued on education rather than how to best use the position as a springboard to the next higher office.

      • bgsmallz says:

        Good question, Charlie.

        My assumption is that the intent is to remove the ‘political process’ from the election of the school board…i.e. in DeKalb, to keep people from voting the same idiots into positions to do the same thing like spending $34M over a budget that you didn’t have the money for in the first place. http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/school-system-spends-34-1499470.html

        Of course, this would basically being saying to south DeKalb ‘you can’t vote the right people so we are going to take away everyone’s right to vote on this’…it’s an ugly business in my county no matter how you slice it.

        That’s why I go back to eliminating the prohibition on cities or townships to create school boards and a local district. You take away the biggest sword the ‘big’ district and top down folks have. They can’t claim you want to take money away from local, public schools when all you are doing is forming a local, public school district.

  5. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    A constitutional amendment would be required to allow new independent school systems – and it still wouldn’t help me since I am divided from Brookhaven by I-85.

    I am not certain of what governance structure would or could take the place of school boards in counties opting to boot them but I would trust Fran Millar to work something out along this line.

    • bgsmallz says:

      Agree on the amendment. I ‘lobbied’ Buzz (ok…I mentioned in the comments) back when the idea of a charter school constitutional amendment was floated to ‘correct’ the courts ruling that they should include a removal of the independent school language.

      In fact, my mediocre support of this amendment is based on the lack of that item being included. Funny about Brookhaven…first, if city schools were on the table, it would have passed 90-10 like the other city votes. Second, same tactic that was used against Brookhaven is being used against this amendment…no more government. That’s called chickens coming home to roost…the lack of any vision but one of “less government” is going to paralyze the current legislature from doing anything good.

      Final note…I’m just hoping the language on independent school districts wasn’t kept out because it might hurt the unicorn that is Milton Co. Local control over schools will be huge in swaying folks to leave Fulton and/or Dekalb. That might not be as big a political winner if that was fixed by allowing N Fulton and N Dekalb cities to run their own schools w/o forming a new county.

  6. Dave Bearse says:

    Of course it helps that I agree with Barge that the amendment should be rejected when I write that Barge’s handling seems to be evidence of leadership

    Barge has taken a position at a very appropriate time, and on one of the few issues within the GOP where there seems to be significant division. The magnitude and direction of the way GOP winds will blow are unknown, though amendment opposition seems to be distinctively the minority position within the party. There’s special risk in that that the success of Barge’s position is contingent on likely and significant Democratic opposition joining in the rejection of the amendment.

  7. DeKalb Wonkette says:

    Whatever Barge’s motivation, it seems like an odd time for him to go off-the-reservation on something that the state GOP leadership wants. The right time to weigh in – and avoid a lot of embarrassment for all of them – would have been back in the 2012 session. Barge never did so, at least not publicly.

    That said, to the extent the CA could eventually starve my county school board out of existence, I will vote for it. Even though I lean Democratic and even though I cringe at the thought of for-profit interests in charge of public schools. Sigh……

    • Calypso says:

      “…I lean Democratic…”

      hmmm…aren’t the majority of your Dekalb County school board members Democratic?

      • Charlie says:

        Republicans need to look to folks that say things like “I lean Democratic” and figure out who our voters are going to be in 10-20-30 years.

        Young folks don’t eat a steady diet of social conservative activism. They want to understand where exactly Republicans stand on the environment. And it would be nice if we could demonstrate more than we want to destroy government at all levels.

        Folks like DW would likely lean Republican if we could articulate more what we expect a “limited government” to do, and how we would make it do those limited things better (while extricating ourselves from those other government things we shouldn’t do and/or aren’t doing well).

        Public schools have strong support across partisan ideologies. If Republicans could articulate how we plan to make public schools/education work, we would have a lot more folks who currently “lean Democratic” ready for the next generation of voters. Even ones that live in DeKalb county.

        • Calypso says:

          Without going into a treatise about it, my Reader’s Digest version for the plan to accomplish your stated goals is: Get the religious zealots in the Republican party tucked away in a back room with some coloring books and revoke all their TV camera/microphone time.

          Or better yet, get them out of the party altogether. Tell them to go be religious in a religious venue.

          • Lea Thrace says:

            I long for that day. But I fear I will be longing until my death bed…

            (And please note that this is coming from someone who is a Christian with a strong PERSONAL relationship with God. I just so happen to take that whole not judging others thing very seriously.)

        • DeKalb Wonkette says:

          Charlie: It may be that I am an outlier case. I am very intentional about seeking out opposing points of view and consider myself bilingual along the conservative-liberal philospohical continuum.

          What I admire most is intellectual honesty and as we all know, that is usually the first thing to go in political discourse. Which would explain why I can’t commit to either political party.

          The worst thing about GA GOP is the tendency to go tin-foily and/or be self-serving. (See: MicroChip and the other Chip, Will-the-Winner).

          • Charlie says:

            I would posit that those are problems with political parties in general, specifically those in majority positions.

            My economic views are conservative. My social views are generally conservative, though I often disagree with “conservatives” on what role the government has with those views.

            There are many like you however who decide to think for themselves and try to vote accordingly, as opposed to let party label decide. Both parties would appreciate it if you would quit doing that.

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