Dick Yarbrough, who’s never met a Legislator he could tolerate, provides us with today’s charter amendment opponent misinformation:
Write this down in indelible ink: The state can already approve charter schools. This weasel-worded amendment isn’t about reaffirming that approval. It is about setting up a redundant bureaucracy and allowing legislators to get their hands on the big money that for-profit charter school management companies can donate to their campaign coffers in return for political influence to operate charter schools.
Wow. Let’s deal with the misinformation in that paragraph one by one:
1) “The state can already approve charter schools.”
In declaring HB881 unconstitutional, Chief Justice Hunstein said:
“Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits.” Art. VIII, Sec. V, Par. I of the 1983 Georgia Constitution. This language continues the line of constitutional authority, unbroken since it was originally memorialized in the 1877 Constitution of Georgia, granting local boards of education the exclusive right to establish and maintain, i.e., the exclusive control over, general K-12 public education.
I’ll have more to say about the inaccuracies in the Gwinnett v Cox ruling at a later date.
However, if the State previously had the authority to approve charter schools the ruling makes it clear they don’t anymore. What the State Board of Education is doing today, giving commission charter schools funding, will most certainly generate a lawsuit should the proposed amendment fail this November. The BoE, as I understand it, is declaring those schools “special schools” which the State does have the authority to approve. However based on the language in Gwinnett v Cox, the Court will most likely rule against the BoE and cut off funding for those schools. In Gwinnett v Cox the School Boards argued that “special schools” only referred to schools for the blind etc… not schools geared toward the general student population.
2) “It is about setting up a redundant bureaucracy…”
No it’s not. The proposed amendment will recreate the Charter School Commission which existed under HB881. The members of the Commission have no salary and govern no bureaucracy. The State DoE oversees charter schools currently. Search the DOE website for more on this.
3) “…and allowing legislators to get their hands on the big money that for-profit charter school management companies can donate to their campaign coffers in return for political influence to operate charter schools.”
If Legislators who accept donations from charter school management companies are in the hip pockets of those companies can’t we also say that Legislators who accept donations from the Georgia Association of Educators are in the hip pocket of the GAE? This is a silly argument. I’ll refer the readers to a post I made in July about a study showing corporate political donations don’t have the impact the donor seeks.
As I posted several times on this website, HB797 the enabling Legislation for the charter amendment, will encourage schools that hire management companies to hire Georgia owned company:
200 (2) Give preference in contracting and purchasing of services and materials to businesses
201 incorporated under the laws of this state or qualified to do business within this state and
202 having a regularly maintained and established place of business within this state, so long
203 as such businesses are otherwise similarly situated and qualified as compared to a
204 business from out of state.
In addition, the Charter School Commission will be under the authority of the State Board of Education. Legislators will not be approving charter schools and will not be appointing members to the Charter School Commission. More from HB797:
45 (a) The State Charter Schools Commission is established as a state-level authorizing entity
46 working in collaboration with the Department of Education under the authority of the State
47 Board of Education.
51 (b) The commission shall be appointed by the State Board of Education and shall be
52 composed of a total of seven members and made up of three appointees recommended by
53 the Governor, two appointees recommended by the President of the Senate, and two
54 appointees recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Governor,
55 the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall each
56 recommend a list of no fewer than two nominees for each appointment to the commission.
As Mr. Yarborough says, the fight over the proposed charter amendment is a nasty one. I’m shocked on a daily basis by the smokescreen – and sometime outright falsehoods – opponents throw out there. As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own set of facts. I hope the voters cut through the smoke and noise and make an informed decision on this issue. If they do I think they’ll vote yes.
Other posts on the proposed charter amendment:
Taxpayers Not Left Holding The Bag When Charter Schools Close
Gwinnett Chamber Moves To Neutral, PTA Revises Position In Charter Debate
As The School Year Begins A Lesson Is Needed On The Difference Between An Apple And An Orange
More On The Flawed Logic Of Banning State Charter Schools