Barge On Why He Opposes The Charter Amendment

As you all know, I support the proposed charter school amendment. I’ve explained my reasons and will continue to do so in the days leading up to the November 6 vote. However, this is a thread for opponents to have a field day with. Link the amendment to disgust of the General Assembly, Agenda 21, Common Core Educational Standards as a vehicle for Obama to take over our schools, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Math123, Public/Private Partnerships (PPP), the worldwide Gulen Movement or whatever else rocks your world. Have fun!

Here is a short statement by Georgia School Superintendent John Barge as published in the email newsletter “Gwinnett Forum.”

Editor, the Forum:

Here’s why I’m voting NO to constitutional amendment on charter schools. I fully support the continued creation of high-quality charter schools for Georgia’s students.

But after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia’s students, I am opposing the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds.

That’s what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).

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.

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).

I trust our local school districts will continue do their important work – which includes approving only high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students. This is the way it should be.

— Dr. John Barge, state school superintendent

Here are three documents sent to me by Debbie Dooley:
Austerity Cuts
Georgia Public K-12 Education By The Numbers
CA Facts For Press FINAL.doc



  1. John Konop says:

    The following are the protections I am asking for to support the amendment:

    No board members should be able to be a consultant, owner and or work for vendors, charter management contracts…..Full disclosure if they had any prior affiliation. No board member should be able to be on the board if they revived any form compensation in the last 2 years from any material vendor.

    Full disclosure of any office holder and or relatives with any affiliation with vendors providing services for the school.

    No board member and or officeholder should have any interest in the property the school uses
    Full disclosure of any officeholder relatives employed by the charter school

    Board meeting should be listed 30 days in advance on a set day after 7 pm, not at 10 am on random days with short notice….

    Any school, with more than 750 students with a private management company should be required to put up bonding to make sure that the school fulfills the school year

    Full disclosure on ownership of property the school uses ie detailed list with names of the people with any affiliation to the school and or officeholders

    If the property has any ownership affiliation with the private management company it should be put up as security to pay back the government for any free tax payer dollars ie grants and management fees or expenses against the district eats via placing the kids back into school via failure.

    Full disclosure of the contract between the private management company and the charter school. Once again a list of any cross affiliations….

    Is this really asking too much, for protecting tax payers ?

    This what happens when you do not have proper controls!

    …New Hampshire Approves Moratorium on Charter Schools…

    …New Hampshire’s state board of education has taken the highly unusual step of placing a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools, arguing that the legislature has not adequately funded them and that their costs are poised to balloon in the years ahead…..

    • Pinocchio says:

      Our friends at ALEC have been very busy…. are they behind the Charter School Amendment?
      So says this particular individual after a routine announcement for a Dunwoody Charter School discussion:

      (H/T Councilman John Heneghan)

      Hire_A_Veteran said…

      A couple days ago I watched Bill Moyers and Company on PBS. The show was about ALEC. If you haven’t heard of ALEC, or haven’t seen this show, I encourage you watch it. Here’s the link:

      I was a public school teacher for 18 years, 16 years in California. At that time, California schools were rated above 5th in the nation. Now they are somewhere near the bottom. In the 90s the state legislature spent more on prisons than it did on schools. Around the time I was leaving the school system to become a minister, business entered the field of education. The public was told that business could run schools better than the public system. Privatization of education had begun.

      On the show this past weekend, Bill Moyers exposed ALEC which are businesses and mostly Republican state legislators subverting the lobbying system. Business interests provide suggested business friendly legislation to be introduced in the various states which the state legislators (who have been wined and dined by those business interests) take back to their states and present as their own legislation to be passed. Privatization of Education has been one of the objectives of ALEC during the past 20 years or so and public dollars to education have been reduced and reduced and reduced.

      One of the states where ALEC has been able to get the appropriate legislation, (Bill Moyers talked about it on the show, I don’t recall which one) public dollars for education where given to business interest for education purposes.

      This may not seem like a big deal, after all, aren’t these businesses educating kids? Consider this, if business takes over the majority of education, it will mean the business has a right to refuse service to anyone it doesn’t want to serve, or require something from its patrons, as well as payment.

      I taught in a low-wealth district. The private school kids usually outscored our kids. As public school teachers we used to complain that our test scores weren’t higher because we had to educate everyone. Kids with problems are not less intelligent. They are dealing with more issues outside of the classroom. We couldn’t refuse these students as private schools could. I now see that as a blessing.

      This change to Georgia’s constitution sounds a lot like ALEC legislation and if it passes, business will be more fully involved in education in Georgia. Just take a look at who’s for the change – Wal-Mart, Multinational Conglomerate Koch Industries, 10 big-dollar out-of-state donors, Gov. Nathan Deal, Don Balfour, Chip Rogers.

      Please take a few minutes and watch the video. The show is an hour long, but the ALEC portion is about 30-40 minutes. No one had really heard about ALEC until the Treyvon Martin case hit the news. The connection is in the video piece.

      I don’t usually get involved in politics. I don’t think I’ve ever written anything like this. But I have been appalled with what has been going on with public education recently. I’ve told any number of people that it’s been the politicians who have messed up education…little did I know.

  2. ryanhawk says:

    Two points John Barge:

    First, charter schools are not “duplicating” the existing system. Charter schools are different, better, and less expensive.

    Second, you purposefully conflate the cost of funding charters schools with the cost of the bureaucracy. This is dishonest and should be beneath you. Sadly it is not.

    • John Konop says:

      …….. First, charter schools are not “duplicating” the existing system. Charter schools are different, better, and less expensive….

      I am not sure your numbers are correct. One of the big mistakes I have seen in looking at the numbers is the lack of understanding how you treat capital expenditures. You understand you cannot compare renting with ownership? One you own it one day and you have asset of value, also you eventually have no payment. Two in a fast growing district the money is being spent on schools that have no one attending them yet. This would be like comparing to pizza shop owners financials and one is expanding to a second location and you put that expense in when you compared the performance of the 2 stores.

      Also public schools have different cost via transportation, special needs by %, high school cost more than elementary school.

  3. rrrrr says:

    Is really too much to ask where state will pull an additional 430 million (increasing as time goes on) and get THAT in the sister legislation first, since there are NO claimed budget cuts ANYWHERE?

    • Let’s use Barge’s numbers and assume they are correct. $430 million over 5 years is $86 million per year. $86 million is 1.2% of the $7.1 billion Dr Barge has asked for schools next year and 0.045% of the $19 billion State budget.

      Somehow that small number in the grand scheme of things is supposed to completely destroy traditional public schools and as my Superintendent says, damage the foundations of American greatness.

      There are indeed budget cuts proposed for next year, $530 million of them. None from the QBE formula., just ask Governor Deal.

      I’ll give you another number worth looking at: $800 million. That’s the amount of money the GPPF says we could save every year if we spent the same dollars per student on school construction that North Carolina does. We’ll take some of that money for charter school then give the rest to the Superintendents. Sound good?

      • Doug Deal says:

        Scoundrels report money saved/spent in terms of multiple years to inflate their effect. I have seen the $430 million dollar number in a lot of opponent literature, but never have they said over 5 years. This is because their opposition is composed primary of half truths. Perhaps they should make it over 20 years and claim $1.7 billion. It sure does sound like a lot more.

      • eliz says:

        We can argue over the money all day long – no ones talking so it’s all a moot point. My concern is this – all of the non-profits backing this want one outcome; privatization of public education. That means charters schools run by EMO’s like Charter Schools USA, it means vouchers above and beyond the current $51 M Student Scholarship Tax credit program that will ramp up each year for students to attend private, primarily religious, schools; it means virtual schools. Why are we beating around the bush? Did voters have any say in the SSO legislation which by passes the state constitution prohibiting public dollars from flowing directly or indirectly to religious schools? If vouchers are introduced next session, who is looking at the effect they will have on traditional public schools 5 – 10 years from now? How many charter schools will be enough for those who want to privatize public education? Georgia has no cap as you know. What concerns many taxpayers is the complete lack of concern shown by those who sponsored this legislation and those who back it for the big picture. Dr. Barge is the ONLY one who is looking out for all students, who is raising the red flag and encouraging people to ask alot of questions. What is the long term strategy for education for the state, please show us the thought process and tell us where it is written. I am asking seriously.

  4. Jackster says:

    So Barge’s argument against the charter school amendment is you should fully fund QBE? Okay, so if htat’s the case, then if your district’s enrollment drops by 500 due to a new charter school, then you no longer that get QBE money… but your county tax dollars are now divided among fewer students?

  5. DeKalb Teacher says:

    John and I have come to completely agree on these protections (John Konop @ 10:23). Traditional public schools and public charter schools need to implement these protections. We cannot support either until they are implemented.

  6. Scott65 says:

    Ok, can someone answer these questions? Is there not a mechanism in place now at the local level to create/approve charter schools? If there is, why do we need this amendment? Why do we need to create a whole new State bureaucracy that duplicates the one at the local level? The amount in question ($) might not be huge, but when you have the state archives being closed to the public, it seems as though its worthy of an answer where the extra money is coming from

    • Doug Deal says:

      Because a number of local school boards have proven themselves to be hostile to the creation of any charter schools. Your question is like saying “Why have an appeals court if all of that guilt was decided at the local level? Isn’t that just duplicating the trial court?”

      Competition is something that most people have very little exposure to in education. It will do us a lot of good to have more, particularly in the worst school districts.

      • benevolus says:

        Local school boards are often hostile to charter schools because they are considering the potentially detrimental effects a charter school would probably have on the rest of the public school system.
        A commission set up expressly to approve charter schools rejected by local boards will not consider it’s effect on the public system.

        There is competition.

        • Nick says:

          Where are these hostile Boards located? My math is a little fuzzy but there are 180 school districts across the state. My district has not rejected a charter application.

          • benevolus says:

            “Hostile” is a relative term in this case I guess. A school board would see that a school might lose, say, 5 kids to a charter, and therefore 5 kids worth of money. But they still need the same number of teachers and staff and air conditioning and mops and brooms. That’s not really “hostile”, it’s just considering a bigger picture.

            I suspect a charter school commission appointed by avowed charter school proponents isn’t going to look at it like that.

            • Doug Deal says:

              Please come back and defend school boards when one bans Harry Potter or puts anti-evolution stickers in biology books. School boards, outside of maybe tax commissioner or clerk of courts is the least responsive level of government. Voter fatigue, apathy or whatever means no one really cares about who is on the ballot, except motivated special interest groups.

              • Scott65 says:

                …and who is to say a charter school wouldn’t do the same thing…I still dont know why the state (which is a step removed from the process) needs to be the first line of approval…sounds likecorruption at the state level (like we’ve never seen that before) waiting to happen

                • Doug Deal says:

                  It is not the first step, where did you get that? The local board has 60 days to take action and if they take none or reject, the applicants can appeal to the state, who may take the objections of the local board into consideration.

                  It is a second chance to be freed from local bureaucracy.

                  • Scott65 says:

                    Maybe I have it wrong, but doesn’t this amendment let charter school bypass the local board and go straight to the state (who are 1 step removed from the local boards)?

                    • Doug Deal says:

                      From my understanding they apply to both and the local board has 60 days to approve or deny. Failure to act is a denial and then the state will approve or deny the charter. If the local school board approves it, it is not considered by the state.

      • Scott65 says:

        except that unlike your example, if a school board rejects a charter school they currently have a process of appeal. So taking your example instead of questioning why we have an appeals court, what you are advocating is to just skip the local court and go straight to the appeals court. I support charter schools…I dont support the state micromanaging yet another aspect of something they have no business doing…like they can even handle what they have

        • Doug Deal says:

          The appeal process can be short circuited by never getting a response back from the local board. Also, the funding is cut to the point where running the school is not feasible.

          • Scott65 says:

            Then why do you need to amend to state constitution? Why not just fix those 2 items instead of a whole new bureaucracy with a new amendment?

          • bowersville says:

            the funding is cut to the point where running the school is not feasible.

            Some things my county is facing. We have one public high school, one public middle school and three public elementary schools. The high school has been expanded with recent new construction and two newer elementary schools built. All with outstanding school construction bonds. As can be imagined with a population of about 30,000 we have all we can afford. The surrounding counties aren’t all that different with the exception of Habersham which has the largest population but they too have newer construction in the lower grades and a new high school. The local BOE collects the largest portion of property tax payed by property owners in my county.

            The funding formula for public schools hasn’t been touched by the State. The local BOE will receive the same money from the State and the Fed. If passed, the state chartered schools will receive less money per student than funding received per student from BOE approved charters. So far so good right?

            But what about counties that become cash strapped. The motivation to turn down charter applications will increase and pass the cost to the State. If that happens the State which according Representative Brockway’s remarks is currently planning for $530 million in cuts will need to ID money for the new State authorized charter schools.

            Rep. Brockway mentions $86 million and the over all cost of the education in GA. We also know that on the Fed level we are facing 10% across the board cuts. Those cuts include education. How long will the State be able to keep the funding formula the same?

            Plus what happens when local education money runs low? The BOE is forced to raise property taxes and we go into action and vote the local BOE out. But the cost shifts are still there. What a conundrum.

  7. bowersville says:

    Voter fatigue, apathy or whatever means no one really cares about who is on the ballot, except motivated special interest groups.

    So we finally get to it. There is no hope at the ballot box. So now you need a bigger government solution.

    Comparing an appellate court appeal to an appeal to a politically appointed board is laughable. In one you expect a ruling governed by law. The other you would expect the potential for a politically motivated decision.

    • Doug Deal says:

      That’s ridiculous. You are jaded by your own bias against it. Giving desperate parents an alternative to a singular governmental board is not imposing a police state.

      Perhaps if you guys stopped using hysterics and instead tried to use logical arguments you would have a little credibility.

      (Sure, use that as your queue to talk about the “USUPRING of local control” and for you to overstate the costs by quoting Barge’s over five years estimate.)

        • Doug Deal says:

          For the most part they look to be good provisions, but I am not one to let perfect be the enemy of the good, or at least the better. Enacting legislation can be fixed, nit picking a general constitutional amendment that doesn’t address these issues is a waste of time.

      • bowersville says:

        You use the term “desperate parents” and for safe measure you throw in “police state” and I’m the one jaded and biased, hysterical and illogical? Besides who is you guys?

        We are talking about amending the GA constitution. Something I’ve never taken lightly nor emotionally. But something to be carefully considered. After all, once amended it’s for keeps. Forever. John Konop brings up valid points. Most I agree with and I believe Konop has the best interests of taxpayers at heart. Proponents of the Amendment believe they do too.

        Voters have good cause to be skeptical, ask questions and give careful consideration. Me included.

        • John Konop says:

          This is one of the essay I wrote on this topic. You will see I lump in a local tax payer funded aquatic park into the debate. You can see the control issue goes way beyond charter and public schools in my opinion. As you pointed out on a different thread it seems some people support controls if they disagree with the issue, and are fine with a lack of controls if they agree with the issue. This type of logic from both parties have put us so far in the red!

          …We need to demand that our elected officials treat taxpayer money in a fiscally conservative manner before they approve any future publicly funded projects, including charter schools, recycling plants, aquatic parks or golf courses.

          Let’s agree on fiscally rational financial requirements of these projects before we debate the politics behind them….

          • bowersville says:

            …We need to demand that our elected officials treat taxpayer money in a fiscally conservative manner before they approve any future publicly funded projects, including charter schools, recycling plants, aquatic parks or golf courses.

            It’s too late even though I know and remember you presented your ideas in an attempt to have this debate prior to the current debate on the Amendment. There was a tin ear then and there’s definitely a tin ear now. The lines have been drawn. Anyone voicing what they believe could improve the taxpayer situation is body slammed as an opponent to Charter Schools. It’s too emotional to break through.

            But there is one voice that is yet to be heard or considered and it’s not the local BOE. It’s not John Barge, it’s not you or me. The voice yet to be heard is in every community, every city and every town and in all 159 counties around the State.

            That voice is the class room teacher. That classroom teacher knows how hard they work. They know the education system is top heavy with bureaucrats, top heavy with administrative costs and they know government created the bureaucracy. They know you can’t drive a square peg into a round hole. They know every child is not college material. They know QBE and NCLB drive them in a vain attempt to drive that square peg into a round hole or they’re fired. They know they have been demonized. They know every time the BOE is forced to raise property taxes that QBE has never been fully funded. They are educators, they will educate and if nobody is listening they’ll find somebody who will.

        • Doug Deal says:

          The “police state” reference was me responding to the hystrical nature of those who have been pushing the “usurping local control” meme. Usurping means to steal power by force, this is hardly even remotely a resonable description of this amendment or the enacting legislation.

          As for “desperate parents”, that is pretty much the state that one gets to when you set about the task of opening a charter school. If they were not, they would work with the current school board.

  8. John Konop says:


    We tax payers have been burned by deals like this in the past……Charter school,national failure rate is 12 percent. Also when Florida made it easier the failure rate doubled. And New Hempshire now has financial issues via not fully thinking this out.

    I have been a consistent voice on issues like this, calling for fiscal controls over emotional support. We need, improvement with schools, alternative energy, recycling……But when emotion rules over proper fiscal controls, it usually is a formula that leaves tax payers holding the bag…….

  9. saltycracker says:

    Where are the 73 bankrupt school districts ? must have been missing some headlines

    Dalton Citizen
    September 28, 2012

    Board: 73 Georgia schools bankrupt, millage rate to save county
    By Christopher Smith

    At the final Whitfield County Board of Education public hearing Thursday night to discuss increasing the system’s property tax rate almost 34 percent, Emitt Tate had a grim prediction.
    “So far 73 school systems in the state have gone bankrupt, Superintendent Danny Hayes said.”

  10. sahinyavuzturk says:

    The Gulen Movement is not an organization to manage charter schools. You can get more information about Gulen movement at http:\\

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