Walmart Heiress Has Interest in Georgia’s Charter School Amendment?

Hmm.  Who can help me piece together why 62yo heiress from Arkansas Alice Walton has a vested interest in Georgia’s Charter School Amendment?

A large amount of out-of-state money is funneling into the campaign for a proposed state amendment for charter schools.

If approved in November, the amendment would allow for the creation of a state body to approve charter schools over the objection of local school districts.

According to campaign disclosure forms, out-of-state donations make up most of the nearly 500-thousand dollars raised to support the amendment. Nearly half came from Walmart heiress Alice Walton. Tens of thousands of additional dollars came from several charter school management companies.

Admittedly, I wasn’t overly interested in charter schools until the last few weeks, but I’ve been trying to get up to speed on the issue and form an opinion.  I’m for it.  I’d ultimately like vouchers, but hey – baby steps.  If the public school system isn’t getting it done, I should have other choices than quitting my job and homeschooling.

I think it’s cool that Georgia is getting national attention for something more that Honey Boo Boo:

Peevy also says outside money is pouring in because Georgia has become a national focal point for the school choice movement.

“There is a set of national eyes that are on the campaign. It has some national significance as far as opening up public school options.”

Supporters say the amendment is needed to ensure the state can create new charter schools without a legal challenge and schools that are denied by local school boards have another avenue to gain approval.


  1. rrrrr says:

    It’s an underground attempt by Wal-Mart to expand its school supply business.
    Why just supply them when you could RUN one or hundred? Oh the synergies…

    • Bridget says:

      Exxxxcellent, Smithers.

      Let’s own the best schools and require all attending students to buy everything from school supplies to school uniforms to school furnishings only from Wal-mart.

      • I Miss the 90s says:

        Private education companies have been lining up to get in on the charter school action.

        Get ready for the public schoolp system to turn into University of Phoenix style degree mills.

        Tired of failing schools, starting spending more money. Public schools in most states perform above global averages, does it surprise you that those states with the lowest funding levels tend to under perform?

        Charter schools are not the answer and vouchers are just a method to get the state involved in funding religious schools.

        Do the research. Charter schools do no better, and often worse, than neighbouring public schools.

        Rather than trying to sell these dead horses try something new. Here is one: pay salaries that will attract high quality educators. Guess what the real difference between elite private schools and the average Ga public school really is: pay. My daughter in-law started at $90k/yr at her school. What do public schools in Ga offer? Less than $32k/yr.

        You people are getting what you pay for: the bottom of the graduating class. Own it.

        • Three Jack says:

          More $$$$, always the answer, just throw $$$$ at the situation.

          First Georgia teachers are the highest paid on average in the country if you factor in cost of living according to a 2009 study by the John Locke Foundation. So the non-sense about teachers in this state being underpaid is simply not true.

          Second, Georgia spends about 55% of its annual budget on education…something around $12B this past year if I remember correctly proving again that money is not the solution.

          Georgia needs school choice and charter is the first step in a long, incremental process to get there. I for one wish the legislature would go for it by passing a major reform, but it looks like we are stuck with political incrementalism on this issue like so many others.

        • John Konop says:

          The biggest issue I see is the No Child Left Behind, one size fit all 4 year college bound teach to the test system. My biggest hesitation with Chater Schools is that many in the same group behind NCLB now support this new concept with the same lack of thought out plan. It is not that accountability is bad it is how you implement it ie NCLB. It is not that competition is bad but once again implementation is key ie charter schools.

          The real focus should be on the following before we create another mess:

          1) Vocational/tech options for non 4 year college bound students. This alone would be a major factor in lowering the drop out rate and helping to fill the 4 million jobs that are open via a lack of training.

          2) Stop the teach to the test system high stakes system. The best countries in the world test way less than us. This would lower adminstrative, counsulting…..overhead while improving quality.

          3) Replace gym class requirement with a school sport. This would increased class time, elimante overhead, create more study time……

          4) Create a homeschool/ public school option and allow students mix match schedules as well as participate in extra curricular activities. This would open up flexibility for internships, co-op jobs,lower drop out rate……….

          5) Promote and expand joint enrollment opportunities and allow the requirements flow from the higher education schools rather than a size fit all requirement from the state and read ie NCLB……lower drop out rate, creature prepare students for life better……..

          Can we not first focus on cleaning up the original mess our officeholders created, before they create another mess?

          • John Konop says:

            Once again you are comparing apples to oranges. In the top paces in the world they have a multi track system for students based on aptitude not a one size fit all NCLB. The truth is our top 20 percent do just as well as any place else.

            • mpierce says:

              The report uses “15-year-olds” as shorthand for the PISA target population. PISA covers students who are aged between 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months at the time of assessment and who have completed at least 6 years of formal schooling, regardless of the type of institution in which they are enrolled and of whether they are in full-time or parttime education, whether they attend academic or vocational programmes, and whether they attend public or private schools or foreign schools within the country.

     (page 7)

                • John Konop says:

                  It is in your own study read it. The numbers were based on mean scores. Do you know what mean score is? If you took statistics you would know that with numbers that close, especially using “mean ” we are in the margin of error. If you are in the margin of error logic would tell you that it could not be that much diferent. In fact in one of link they has a paragraph about the various group issues via the numbers.

                  • mpierce says:

                    Where does it back up your claim:“The truth is our top 20 percent do just as well as any place else.”

                    1) “Mean” is not the same as “top 20%”. Again where is the supporting evidence for your claim?
                    2) For science and reading we are “Not statistically significantly different from the OECD average”
                    3) For math we are “Statistically significantly below the OECD average”
                    4) We are 2nd in K-12 spending.

                  • mpierce says:

                    Relative shares of top-performing students
                    The United States has, at 10%, an above-average share of students who perform at Level 5 or above (average 8%). However, in Shanghai-China (19.5%), New Zealand and Singapore (15.7%), Finland (14.5%) and Japan (13.4%) the corresponding percentages are higher.

                    Ten per cent of students in the United States reach the PISA mathematics Level 5, compared with 13% on average across OECD countries. In Shanghai-China, half of the students reach Level 5, in Singapore and Hong Kong-China over 30% do, and in Chinese Taipei, Korea, Switzerland, Finland, Japan and Belgium over 20% do.

                    Nine per cent of students in the United States reach this level, which again corresponds to the OECD average. In Shanghai-China, 24.3%
                    of students do, in Singapore 19.9%, in Finland 18.7%, in New Zealand 17.6% and in Japan, Hong Kong-China, Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and Canada, between 12.1% and 16.6% of students reach this level.

                    • John Konop says:

                      In all due respect once again you do not understand the word mean and statisics. In China they do not educate and test 100 percent of the kids . The first clue is the high number in China, trust me if you took stats and or research methods you could tell the variable issues by just looking at the numbers.

                      This is simular to the SAT issue in Georgia. We on a macro have low score via using a mean number. Yet if you study the issue and understand statisics, you would know that is a flawed study. Because we have way more kids taking the SAT than most states. Do you get the concept? The more kids you add via a bell curve of students obviously you would get a lower score. In places like China they put kids on tracks and testing is based on track not one size fit all like in NCLB.

                    • mpierce says:

                      I understand the term “mean” just fine. PISA scores include the various tracks as stated above. Thus, comparing our academic track against their academic and vocational track, we still don’t compare very well.

                      I guess you want to compare our students again those working in the fields or sweat shops who don’t even go to school to get a favorable comparison?

                      I am still waiting for your evidence to support your claim!

                • John Konop says:

                  One more example ie sports:

                  Would you call the coach of Kentucky loaded with the best talent in the country for the last few years the best coach in the country via his record and championship or the VMI coach how took his team to to the dance with way less talent?

                  You understands the key is understanding all the variables and a mean average does not take that into conservation. That is why you need to look at mean grouping. Do you get it?

                  You would compare a team with like talent to compare with Kentucky.

        • mpierce says:

          “Rather than trying to sell these dead horses try something new. Here is one: pay salaries that will attract high quality educators. Guess what the real difference between elite private schools and the average Ga public school really is: pay.”

          Teachers’ salaries

          Average (’07-’08) (Table 79):
          Public – $53,230
          Private – $39,690

          • John Konop says:

            In all due respect it close to 20k a year for tuition for a good private school in metro Atlanta ie Walker, Lovit………..Something does not add up in your study.

              • mpierce says:

                Salary Info

                Walker: “tuition range for 2011-12 is $10,420 – $18,630”

                NCES which produced the average salary information above is part of the U.S Dept of Education. Do you think they have some incentive to underestimate private school salaries? If you have better information please provide. Thanks.

                • I Miss the 90s says:

                  I doubt they have any incentive to underestimate private school salaries, but averages are not a good measure of such things.

                  Not all private schools are good schools. Many are pretty awful, but many parents find it appealing to disadvantage their children by denying them a decent science education by sending them to christian schools (these students are usually two years behind in science when they enter college).

                  What is the average teacher pay at Woodward, Lovett, and Pace? I know at Woodward the average is about $65k, and at Pace in 2008 it was $54k (so it is probably between $65k and $70k now).

                  It is not throwing money at the problem when a problem is identified and the solution is pay. Now, I would not advocate increasing salaries across the board…but anyone that has paid attention to economics in the past 40 years (so none of you) would understand the concept of selection effects.

                  Going back to my original post, what kind of person takes a job at a public school starting at less than $35k per year? They can not do any better. The brightest educators are not hired by public schools (by and large). They are hired by Mattel, Fisher Price, elite private schools (not garbage private schools) and other toy companies and children’s book publishers. Why do they take those jobs? Because they pay more than public schools!

                  This is what I mean by a selection effect. Those selecting into public school teaching positions are probably not talented enough to do any better.

                  • mpierce says:

                    averages are not a good measure of such things.

                    If you have a better measure please provide it.

                    Not all private schools are good schools. Many are pretty awful

                    Certainly true of public schools. Any bet on whether public or private have more awful schools?

                    christian schools (these students are usually two years behind in science when they enter college)


                    anyone that has paid attention to economics in the past 40 years (so none of you) would understand the concept of selection effects.

                    So Chicago teachers must be some of the best in the country with avg pay of $76,000.

                    Why do they take those jobs? Because they pay more than public schools!

                    Working conditions might also have something to do with it.

                    Routine duties and paperwork interfere with my job of teaching:
                    69% Public teachers agree
                    42% Private teachers agree

                    I sometimes feel it is a waste of time to try to do my best as a
                    17% Public teachers agree
                    9% Private teachers agree

                    • I Miss the 90s says:

                      Look it up yourself. It is not my job to educate you. I retired from my professorship 15 years ago…and, as it just so happens, because not even private universities can pay enough to keep to brightest in the field anymore.

                    • I Miss the 90s says:

                      As far as teacher pay is concerned it would be better to see average starting pay, and average pay given the field in which they teach and the number of years working in the school/school system.

                      Average teacher pay includes part time teachers, teachers that quit or get fired in the middle of the school year, etc. The measure needs to be broken down into units that are substantively comparible.

                    • mpierce says:

                      Look it up yourself. It is not my job to educate you.

                      In other words, you have no evidence to back up your claims.

                      8th grade science 2011 NAEP scores
                      Public – 151
                      All Private – 163
                      Catholic – 162

                      12th grade science 2009 NAEP scores
                      Public – 150
                      All Private – 166
                      Religious – 160

                    • I Miss the 90s says:

                      I am not sure if this will post down below, but it is to mpierce.

                      Again, the numbers are not disaggregated enough. Catholic schools do a better job than most evangelical schools (and tend to be better funded as well). I am not going to double check your numbers, because standardized test do not assess outcomes and I doubt you faked the numbers. I can provide anecdotal evidence, which is just as bad…but I am not going to spend time polling doctors about where they whether they went to public school, private school, and what type of private school.

                      I can say that after 30 years of working in epidemiology and virology (at Cal Tech, Oxford, CDC, Genentech, and now at my own company) that I have still not met a researcher in my field that went to a private evangelical christian school (I have met two that went to catholic school though). Like I said, it is anecdotal…but I have a theory as to why this might be the case and it revolves around the teaching of evolution and biological sciences (which are largely absent from the curricula of such schools). Theoretically those students can make up for what they were denied in college, but they are at a disadvantage.

                      There questions are not answered by test scores, they are answered by doing research (and no a google search is not research). If you still have a hard on about it then hire a firm to conduct a poll of medical doctors to see where they received their primary and secondary education. I know there will be a disproportionate number that went to private school, and you might even find many MDs (aka, not good enough for a PhD in the medical field) that went to non-catholic christian schools.

                    • mpierce says:

                      Your claim:
                      “christian schools (these students are usually two years behind in science when they enter college)

                      Your support:
                      “I have still not met a researcher in my field that went to a private evangelical christian school (I have met two that went to catholic school though)”

                      “hire a firm to conduct a poll of medical doctors to see where they received their primary and secondary education.”

                      Really? You find that to be on the same level as actual testing of 12th graders?

  2. oldman45 says:

    Don’t fool yourself…this is all about money…not about the kids. I still don’t want the folks in Atlanta with all their corrupt politics telling my county we have to have a charter school. We already have one, by the way! You let a state charter commission choose the winners and losers in the charter school battle…it’s just one more layer of corruption.

    • I Miss the 90s says:

      People like you are always so ready to bring up corruption.arguments. That is capitalism, bud.

      Love it or leave it.

      • Charlie says:

        And people like you are always willing to scream “more money”. Own it then.

        Please quantify, specifically, how much is “enough”. “More” is not an acceptable answer. Specifically, a number, how much is the right amount to dump into the current system to fix it?

        • Are you pretending that it’s not easy to quantify? We spend $10,740 per capita here.

          National average is $12,306. The *STATE* spends $4,058 per student. That ranks #41 in the nation. Our counties and cities spend $5,117 – 21st in the nation. The national average for state spending is $5,352 – if the just did it’s part compared to the average, that would move us up to the same level as such liberal powerhouses as Louisiana, Michigan and Virginia.

          Connecticut, which has excellent schools spend $17k, NJ (which demographically is a little more like Ga) spends $18k.

          I am absolutely, 100% confident that increasing our per capita spending to NJ or CT levels or even Maine or NH levels ($14k) would do worlds more than passing this charter school amendment.

          • mpierce says:

            NCES Education Digest 2011:
            Spending per pupil 07-08 (Table 191)
            1) DC – 20,066
            2) NJ – 18,971
            3) NY – 18,073
            4) WY – 17,478
            5) AK – 17,299
            6) CT – 16,530
            23) GA – 11,498
            49) ID – 8,525
            50) OK – 8,372
            51) UT – 7,756

            K-12 Acheivement
            DC – 51
            NJ – 2
            NY – 24
            WY – 27
            AK – 43
            CT – 16
            GA – 22
            ID – 18
            OK – 38
            UT – 32

            Perhaps you can show a strong correlation between spending and achievement before you make your conclusion?

          • Charlie says:

            Now please tell me with some kind of metric what improvement we can expect to see for this increase in spending.

            Because, though you like to continue to ignore the fact, we did this during the Miller administration. We still pay our teachers more than any other when adjusted for cost of living. Performance didn’t budge.

            So please tell us specifically what we will get for this increase, and for bonus points, please confirm that this new spending figure you propose would constitute “enough”.

            • I Miss the 90s says:

              The cost of living is not that outrageously different…fore one.

              How much better would we do? For one, we would have to wait for attrition to weed out teachers hired under the old system. Other than that…it is hard to say. School systems with better starting pay perform better than GA.

              I can say this rather definitively, charter schools have proven to perform no better on average than the neighboring private schools. Care to guess why? Lotteries.

              Come on Chuck, I know I have read that you went to grad school (but it also sounds like you probably didn’t finish). What does it mean for a lottery to select students into a charter school? It means that all students are equally likely to be selected for admission…in other words, the charter schools will, on average, have students of the same talent as the neighboring public schools. It will be representative of the district.

              Would you care to explain how having the same students in a different building that is funded the same as a public school and basically has the same hiring procedures and pay (minus much of the administrative and support staff) will perform better?

              Theoretically, it will not (and this has been empirically demonstrated).

              I will again reiterate, selection effects (see above). Teachers that are willing to start out at GA’s pay are not the types of people who are talented enough to land jobs with education companies and elite private schools. Just like many other states, our public schools are hiring from the bottom of the barrel.

              • Charlie says:

                Misdirections aside, I have a masters degree.

                And then, to the point you want to make with subjective arguments, I repeat.

                We tried “more money”. We raised Georgia’s teachers salaries to the highest in the Southeast in absolute terms, and the highest in the nation based on cost of living. Funny that you like to use numbers when you think they suit you and then say “the cost of living isn’t outrageously different” when they don’t.

                The fact is we’ve tried what you want. We paid our teachers the most. We waited for attrition. That’s a generation of Georgia’s students that have waited for your solution to work. A generation of K-12 public students later, we still pay the highest in the country based on cost of living, and there’s still folks like yourself who can only offer “more” as the solution to this problem while we remain last.

                So you want us, AGAIN, to put in more and wait. I think we can try some other solutions instead of making sure teachers get a huge raise while we “wait” for something to change.

                • I Miss the 90s says:

                  I am not advocating raising teacher salaries. I am advocating raising starting.teacher salaries…and not by a measly few grand like Miller did. Try something more like $60-80k per year. I know, you and every other conservative does not believe that education is that valuable.

                  The charter school thing has been tried elsewhere many times and the results comport with existing statistical theory. Which means our education woes probably stem from someplace other than just the schools.

                  I think teachers are by and large unqualified for the positions they hold given our expectations…but you get what you pay for. The charter school thing does not work because nothing fundamentally changes. At best poor people opt out of admissions when their children win the lottery because of transportation costs and the student body is biased…which raises a whole list of other issues.

                  That being said, this whole issue is just another dead horse.

                  My apologies about my comment regarding your education. In what field did you earn your masters degree? Business?

                  • Charlie says:

                    Teachers are unqualified for their positions, so we should more than double the starting salaries (which would significantly increase all teacher pay because of pay scales), we should then wait for attrition, and then hope for different results.

                    And you want to question my education?

                    • I Miss the 90s says:

                      I think my post was deleted, but I do question your education a little. What, did you go to business school or seminary (or University of Phoenix)? I have a hard time buying the idea that someone with academic training does not understand selection bias and its corrective method.

                      Starting teacher pay does not equal all teacher pay. The issue is not that all teachers are underpaid…many are probably overpaid (because they are unqualified to perform at the levels we want them to). You do not attract talent by offering big pay in 20 years, you get it by offering good pay at the start (as well as good benefits, etc).

                      How different do you think the pool of job candidates would be if you offered $100k starting pay for teachers?

                      This is a matter of competition. Public schools do not offer competitive compensation. Their compensation may be comparable to some private schools, but not to educators as a population. Publishing companies, toy companies, educational television programming studios, etc. pay more.

                      I have mentioned it before, my daughter in-law started teaching at $90k per year (it would have been $60k plus a house, but she already had a house in commuting distance). Why? For one, she did not get a degree in education. She earned a PhD in her field (American history). Who would you rather have teaching American history to your child? The person willing to accept $30k/yr with an education degree in social studies from some directional state university, or the person who is literally an expert in the field who will not settle for less than $70k/yr because they are a hot commodity in the job market.

                      It is a no brainer.

                      All in all, I am not posting on this topic anymore. If the GOP was not on board with the charter school/school choice rhetoric none of you would care. In fact, if Obama was pro-charter school and you found out you would probably change your opinion on the issue (he is neither pro nor anti charter school, Race to the Top actually considers charter schools a worthy experiment).

                    • I Miss the 90s says:

                      Phillips Exeter Academy starting pay: $54k + housing.
                      Assistant Professor starting pay in GA ~ $65-70k.
                      Educational psychologists (from BLS) average around $75k.
                      Average pay for professors at Wellesley college is $142k ($around $73k starting).

                      Why do these people make so much more than public school teachers and why does it matter?

                      These people are the cream of the crop, it matters because a measly $30k a year is not enough to attract that talent. If the earning potential was there I may have even entered public school teaching. I doubt it, but counter-factuals are not straightforward.

                    • John Konop says:


                      I lived in South Dakota and California and on a cost of living basis the SD money is about the same ie housing, taxes………. With that said it is not all about money, as I have stated numerous times on this blog.

        • I Miss the 90s says:

          I do not believe we have found one. I would argue, however, that no other economic system incentivizes corruption like market capitalism does.

          • Harry says:

            Your argument would be incorrect. Every socialist system incentivizes and rewards corruption – at least as much as in a market economy.

            Part of the attraction of charter schools is the potential for reducing unresponsive, top-heavy administration in school systems like Gwinnett.

            • John Konop says:


              I agree, about the adminstrative issue, but No Child Left Behind is the biggest driver behind the increase in adminstrative cost. Why not fix this problem? The private companies have made a bundle on NCLB ie books, consulting, testing companies…. Now we have private companies again wanting to take money out of the system….. This deals smells like crony capitalism. With that said we do have Charters run well without it being the bargain of the year for private companies. Why can we not have proper rules in place first so this does not become another NCLB fiasco.

              • Harry says:

                Maybe we have to pass the constitutional amendment to see what’s in it. With some competition, maybe the public school administrators would push harder to get rid of the needless red tape such as NCLB.

  3. Bob Loblaw says:

    Makes sense to me. Kids of Wal-Mart employees doubtfully have parents that can pay for private school so she’s seen a whole lot of parents with one educational option. If she cares about school choice in a place where edukation sucks, then she’s investing, so to speak, in school choice.

  4. Mize1970 says:

    Admittedly, the mere fact that so many in my local county school bureaucracy are so dead-set against it, makes me think it may be a good thing.

  5. Tiberius says:

    I thought Galloway’s implication was pretty on target: GA is the national test case. Win here and it is easier in the next state and the next, etc. Legislators in other states will appreciate not being 1st when they put forward this idea.

  6. Ken says:

    The real problems?

    We don’t accurately define what we seek to achieve in public education.
    We do not define our education goals properly.
    We do not anticipate changes in what will be required of our children when they become adults.
    We still treat children as an interchangeable product to be assembled in our education factories.
    We expect too little from our children.

  7. Jackster says:

    Feeling manipulated? i sure as he11 am.

    So.. up for grabs are two laws which: 1) re-create the charter school board and then 2) Specify alternate (non QBE) funding levels for state charter schools.

    What is not up for grabs…
    1) Vouchers (using county tax $ to fund state charters & private schools)
    2) A specified increase or decrease in charter school funding and approval (There is only so much $$ to go around – and Gov. Deal has other priorities he must fund, like healthcare & transportation).. (But not ethics – let’s be clear)
    3) Increase school choices

    So, to me, I support candidates who support the charter school amendment, because it would give the DOE more man power to evaluate charter school apps thoroughly.

    JUST LIKE I’d be for a candidate who supports fully funding the state ethics commission & providing appeal options for complaints.

    It’s in our best interest to have great schools, since that’s what provides security for our families, defines communities, and enables our children. It’s not in our best interest to spend our time debating about what the national issue groups (PTA, NEA, national charter school lobby & ALEC legislation) want the messaging to be.

  8. wicker says:

    It is funny. When liberal wealthy people financially support liberal causes the way that Bill Gates (and practically everyone in Silicon Valley), the Ford Foundation, George Soros, Warren Buffett, Ted Turner, and the Hollywood types do, they are unselfish citizen statesmen looking out for the public good. But when wealthy conservatives like the Waltons, the Cathys, and the Koch brothers do the same for conservative causes, everyone wants to break out the conspiracy theories and talk about the evils of the top 1% influencing public policy. Hypocrisy much?

    Also, the folks who oppose school choice have only themselves to blame. The current school choice movement is only a reaction to decades of failed education reforms, including such things as social promotion, outcome-based education, and the increased use of public schools as places to provide social welfare (beginning with school lunches but exploding into a full range of social services from there) and perform social engineering (again with desegregation as a jumping off point). It reached the point where in many systems (including New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Baltimore/DC and Chicago) a person merely needed to show up half the time to get socially promoted (and receive plenty of social services for his or her trouble) until receiving a high school diploma, then could move on to a college with an open admissions program (where again success was a function of occasional attendance) and from there a union-protected government job, complete with very generous pensions and other benefits. For all its many faults, No Child Left Behind, with its standardized testing and promotion of various school choice schemes including charter schools, was the only way to break the education reform (which the reformers never admitted to be failures)/social promotion/government job cycle and scam, because they were politically locked out of the urban school districts where this nonsense was being practiced, and in many cases had become a self-perpetuating political machine that rivaled Tammany Hall.
    1. Get socially promoted through K-12 and pretty much the same through locally run colleges with open admissions programs.
    2. With your high school “diploma” and college “degree”, get a government job (including but not limited to as a public school teacher, or some other job with the public school system or bureaucracy) and public sector employee union membership.
    3. Vote to keep the people who made 1. and 2. possible year after year, decade after decade so that can keep your job, and your children and grandchildren can inherit them too.

    Naturally, folks who actually work for a living are going to opt towards any reform movement, whether school choice, the TEA Party, etc. that claims to be willing and able to put a stop to all this. Which is why the folks who claim that the school choice folks are trying to destroy public education can’t convince anyone with that argument, because most folks feel that the social promotion/social welfare model has effectivelydestroyed public education already.

    • John Konop says:


      The two biggest issues that have hurt education is when we stop tracking kids by aptitude and promoted equal results over equal access. No Child Left Behind put this concept on steroids. The other major mistake was killing vocational based education, rather ironic when we have 4 million job openings in that category. BTW both parties have their hands all over this mess.

      • wicker says:

        Nope. NCLB (and the measures prior to it, such as One Florida by Jeb Bush) were primarily to stop social promotion and other “Marxist college of education Ph.D. theory” reforms that had failed for decades but many school systems refused to abandon for ideological reasons. (Or they would simply keep going from one reform scheme to another.) There really was no way to get them to stop because they had no incentive to. For example, it is easy to say “we need to return to tracking”, but how to you get an urban school system to put it back in? You can’t. NCLB was done as a way to end social promotion and the other education reform nonsense from the federal level. On one hand it pretty much worked, but it can also be said that the cure was worse than the disease.

        As far as the vocational thing goes, the problem is that no one wants their kid to be the one to get vocational training. Every parent wants college to be an option for their child. And the decline of the agriculture and manufacturing sectors of the economy makes it even more so. No suburban school system is going to spend a dime on teaching affluent kids welding and air conditioner repair, and if you were to put it in the urban schools, the response would be that it is some plot to keep the suburban kids from having to compete with the suburban ones. So, the result is that we pretend to offer college prep to everyone while only 20%-30% actually wind up going.

        • benevolus says:

          Which is my perspective through this whole thing. We have cultural problems here that prevent us from making significant progress. Yes you can probably take some selected areas and a measured amount of students and find some positive results. But that won’t work system-wide.
          Until we are willing to tell parents that they have to feel committed to their kids education, and stop telling them that everything the government does is screwed up, we will not get better. You only have to look at other countries whose education results we look up to, to see that vocational ed does not bother them, that spending more money can help if it is spent well, and a culture that actually values education instead of resists it is essential.

          The other part that bothers me is that school boards seem to be considered entry level politics. I am not convinced- seeing what goes on in Clayton , Dekalb, and Fulton counties, that school boards are qualified to hire superintendents and establish viable procedures. Not sure how to change that, and I’m glad I don’t have kids.

        • John Konop says:

          How can you set a one size fit all “proficient” standard that does not create one size fit all system? My mechanic, hair dresser should not have the same standard as my doctor. My lawyer should not have the same standard as my accountant. This is a classic example of thought that promotes equal results over equal access. BTW this started before NCLB………….. BTW even in the highest education certification ie CPA, medical, lawyers…….Not only are the test deferent, it is based on passing not a mean score.

          ……..The main goal of NCLB is for all students to test at the proficient level by the 2013-2014 school year……….

          • mpierce says:

            I would hope your lawyer and accountant both have a basic proficiency in math, reading, and writing. NCLB is about minimum levels. Not all college programs accept students at those minimums and their college educations should go well beyond them and tailor them to what is needed in their respective fields.

            FYI – I don’t support NCLB.

  9. I Miss the 90s says:

    Blogs are a funny thing. When we engage the blogging experience we, all of us, tend to get tunnel-vision and often end the dialogue to go off on our own monologues. I am not different in this regard.

    What is the number determinant of a child going to college? Their is a correct answer: whether their parents went to college. This empirical finding has been replicated time and time again. Private vs. Public vs Charter does not seem to really matter when you take into consideration the educational attainment of a child’s parent. And this causal relationship is intuitively appealing: education begins in the home.

    The school choice rhetoric is not a solution. You can already send your child to a different public school or send them to private school if you can afford to (and no, vouchers probably will not make private school tuition more affordable). I am not worried about your children, and I do not think any of you should be either. If you are concerned enough about education policy and will spend the time to blog about it I expect that you show an interest in your child’s education. It is unlikely that GA’s education problems are caused by your children. Our education statistics tend to be driven down by urban and rural students (and yes, stats are important, but if you are not correctly trained in statistical methodology you are not likely to understand their limitations and what information is actually contained in a statistic).

    Charter schools and vouchers are an old suggestion. Rather than recycling old suggestions that have not succeeded (or succeeded because of extenuating circumstances) we should really focus on coming up with new ideas. It isn’t easy. But in the words of JFK, “we do not do these thing because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

    How can the government legitimately (which is a fancy way of saying it has public opinion on its side) encourage the involvement of parents in the education of their children (especially when so many parents treat schools as day-care centers)?

    Personally, I think it would be a useful exercise in democratic deliberation if the PP editor made a thread about such a question for all of us to offer ideas. There are enough GA elected officials that read PP or have staff who read PP that such a discussion could offer future policy options. Maybe we set a goal of ensuring broadband internet for all students and their families so schools can use on-line education environments like WebCT or Blackboard to keep parents on top of their child’s progress in real time as well as facilitating an inexpensive communications tool for teacher’s to contact parents and vice versa.

    I don’t know, but maybe one of us (or the crowd sourcing effect) will.

    • wicker says:

      “What is the number determinant of a child going to college? Their is a correct answer: whether their parents went to college. This empirical finding has been replicated time and time again. Private vs. Public vs Charter does not seem to really matter when you take into consideration the educational attainment of a child’s parent. And this causal relationship is intuitively appealing: education begins in the home.”

      I am weary of this bait and switch. The reason is because public education advocates only use it when the issue is school choice, i.e. vouchers and charter schools. Once the threat of school choice is removed from the equation, public school advocates go right back to their Great Society rhetoric, where public education can be used to fix poverty, racism, sexism and any number of other social ills if only class sizes were small enough, teacher pay was high enough, if enough specialists and counselors were hired, and we created enough programs to address societal problems. And it isn’t just me. Everyone else is too. That is why no one buys it when the response to school choice is determinism (kids go to college if their parents went to college) and personal responsibility conservatism (education begins in the home), but the response to everything else is varying degrees of Marxist economic and social theory.

      If you truly believed that educational achievement was determined by parental education and involvement, then the correct position should be to make deep cuts in education spending, because the extra spending on things like competitive teacher pay, low class sizes, and the social services that get funneled through public schools aren’t going to do any good anyway. Just go with a bare bones college preparatory model for the children of college-educated parents (because that is all they need) and vocational education for everybody else. We could do just fine by going back to the public education model of the 40s and 50s (de jure Jim Crow excepted, but de facto segregation is just fine, because according to your own claims, this whole desegregation stuff isn’t going to work anyway … the children of the black and Hispanic parents who went to college will do just fine, and the children of those who didn’t can’t be helped anyway no matter what we do, right?).

      “Maybe we set a goal of ensuring broadband internet for all students and their families so schools can use on-line education environments like WebCT or Blackboard to keep parents on top of their child’s progress in real time as well as facilitating an inexpensive communications tool for teacher’s to contact parents and vice versa.”

      Why bother? The kids whose parents went to college are going to go to college anyway, and the kids whose parents didn’t go to college won’t benefit. Right?

  10. debbie0040 says:

    I still have not decided how I am going to vote on the Charter School Amendment. Tea party activists are split on it. Some support it, some oppose it.

    I see both sides have valid arguments…

    • Harry says:

      John, as I recall the education slice of the budget is first up for ZBB review in the upcoming legislative session. If the amendment passes, hopefully a bill will surface to provide additional control. Charter schools don’t necessarily have to be an unregulated insider pork barrel. With parents being involved, the regulatory evolution will be watched more closely than with any other.

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