Charter School Amendment Thread

We haven’t had a post for a while about Amendment 1, the charter school amendment, so here’s your chance to sound off.

The Savannah Tea Party has launched a radio ad in support of the amendment. I was forwarded a copy and am posting it for your listening pleasure.

Savannah Tea Party Ad

Also, Herman Cain has announced his support for amendment 1. His press release is below the fold.

Finally, you might want to check out this Tumblr. It has tons of nifty charts showing how education dollars are spent here in Georgia. While it’s true there have been cuts recently, education spending has still risen dramatically over time.

Discuss.

For Immediate Release
October 18, 2012

(ATLANTA) Former GOP Presidential candidate, radio talk show host and corporate CEO Herman Cain today announced his support of Amendment One – the Georgia charter schools amendment on the state ballot Nov. 6.

Cain, who as part of his Presidential campaign supported the creation of as many public charter schools as possible, said the amendment would help put “kids first” and create more competition for school districts that don’t want children to have educational options.

“I’m sorry but Georgia’s professional education establishment just isn’t cutting it for a lot of kids, so we need to give parents and children as many choices as possible,” said Cain. “Charter schools are a great option for families who want another public school choice.”

Cain said he supported the charter amendment because local school boards continue to resist the creation of charter schools to give enough families options.

I’m a businessman and I know, when you have a monopoly, you aren’t comfortable letting competition into your neighborhood,” said Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. “That’s exactly what these superintendents, school boards and others are doing in resisting this amendment. They are putting their own interests before what’s best for children.”

The charter amendment would allow the creation of a state commission to create more public charter schools, something parents and others have said are sorely needed in a state where so many school boards resist the creation of charter schools.

Charter schools are public schools that are often started and run by parents or community groups that are free from many of the bureaucratic regulations found in traditional public schools. In exchange for a “charter” or contract, those who start the school must meet certain performance standards.

“Charter schools are the best of what you see in the private sector,” said Cain. “They must provide a quality product or they are closed. However, that’s not happening with traditional public schools. No wonder the education establishment doesn’t want more charter schools. It creates a stark contrast.”

For More Information:
Kathy Hoekstra, Director of Media Relations
[email protected]

127 comments

  1. Tom Taylor says:

    Keep up the good work Buzz! Information, whether you are for or against this, is the key. There is a lot of FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) being spread by the entrenched folks in the system.

    Thanks for being a beacon of truth in this.

  2. debbie0040 says:

    The majority of tea parties oppose the amendment and there is also FUD being spread by the supporters of the amendment and mis-leading information being put out.

    • Charlie says:

      And like clockwork, Debbie who is “neutral”, comes out with cold water to throw on the efforts of someone else who has a supporting view. This time it’s a TEA Party, so instead of the customary “the TEA Party is neutral, but…” statement we have a more direct “the majority of tea parties oppose the amendment.”

      Debbie, you’re neutrality continues in an unremarkable fashion and you would do yourself and your own organization if you would quit trying to play this both ways.

      • ryanhawk says:

        Debbie’s done some good things, and is capable of much more, but this is her low point as a “leader” in the Tea Party movement. She claims neutrality, yet constantly and consistently spreads negative information about the Charter Amendment that is false and misleading. Then she hides behind her supposed neutrality to avoid a substantive discussion and says she’s just passing on information she has heard. I’m sure the German’s have a word that means “opposite of leadership” and that is exactly what is on display here.

        • Charlie says:

          I consider Debbie a friend and I’m not trying to attack her. I am trying to impress on her that you can be “political activist Debbie Dooley” or you can be “Atlanta TEA Party co-founder/spokesperson Debbie Dooley”, but trying to move between the two isn’t easy nor understood by most people, including press.

        • John Konop says:

          Ryan,

          Debbie and I have debated many issues over the years on this blog. And like T-Splost she has at times won the debate, and I changed my opinion. Even if we do disagree on issues I like and respect Debbie and consider her a friend. I also think she has grown tremendously on educating herself on issues if I agree or not. No reason to get personal just because you disagree on a issue on call into question her leadership skills. Agree with her or not, she has done a great job organizing a large following of people via the Tea Party. I may not always agree with her on issues as demonstrated on this blog, put nothing you say or I can take away what she did!

  3. Nick Chester says:

    After months of hearing both sides of the issue I have come to the conclusion that our state does not have a real plan for education. We have doom and gloom (if the amendment passes) vs. Trust us (we will tell you the details later).

    Generally folks in education complain about any type of reform, so its hard to tell what is actually bad for education versus and improvement. On the other hand, you have got to be nuts to trust the legislature to have a well thought out plan of action that will not have unintended consequences.

    • Charlie says:

      I would normally argue you can’t go wrong just saying no. In this case, however, you have actual performance and statistics from when the state handled this prior to the Supreme Court ruling. It was an appeals process, not a “start here and ignore your local BOE” end run. It rejected more schools than it approved. And there are great success stories where approved schools show higher test scores and/or graduation rates than the district they’re in.

      I will agree this isn’t a “plan” to fix education. But it is a good solution to return things to the way they were – one of the few that was working – prior to a court ruling.

      • Lea Thrace says:

        I do not think that the GA legislature understands that this is not a solid plan. I have this overwhelming feeling that if this passes, they are going to throw thier hands up and say “See, we fixed it.” And then nothing else will be done to repair the rest of the education system. I also think that if Ammendent 1 fails, there won’t be much else done as far as education goes. I think things will go right back to status quo.

        And though I am for charter schools, I do not see how this does not take money away from traditional public schools. Particularly in rural/poorer counties. The math just doesnt add up to me.

        I think there will be a lot of collateral damage and unintended consequences as a result of Ammendment 1 passing.

        My 1.234 cents. Take it for what it’s worth. 😀

        • Nick Chester says:

          I have to agree with you Lea. I think charters will pop up around Metro Atlanta but rural/poorer counties will not have them. There are reasons that industries don’t pop up in some areas. I know that some school districts would love competition from charters but they won’t get them for the same reasons the small town banks and feed stores dont have competition.

          • UpHere says:

            Nick: Charter schools would not just pop up on every street corner! 11 were approved under the Charter Commission in three years and some were in rural Georgia.

        • ryanhawk says:

          Lea — How does the math not add up? The average Charter school student will be funded at 62% of the level for a traditional public school student. And while charter students are funded at a lower level, all of the funds come from the state. This will be especially helpful in poor rural areas where the property tax base is challenged to keep up. You seem to be coming at this from a liberal perspective, and I’m not sure why you would have a problem with the state providing options, and fully funding, quality charter schools in poor rural areas.

            • ryanhawk says:

              How horrible of me. Now back to your assumptions about the charter amendment which don’t exactly make sense…

          • John Konop says:

            Ryan,

            ……..The average Charter school student will be funded at 62% of the level for a traditional public school student……..

            That is an extremely miss-leading number. The truth is in growing areas like Cherokee when you normalize for extra services (transportation, special needs…) the cost is less for public schools. In counties going the opposite way the cost is higher via having to provide extra services without the population to support it. This is why the lack of controls in the charter plan we have in Georgia will end like New Hampshire hurting rural communities. That is why Massachusetts, put in proper controls that Georgia should follow so we do not end up with the same issues in Florida and New Hampshire. You liberal spending private/public guys never learn. That is why we are so far in the red……………..

            ………. The State posts a breakdown of expenditures by school district using this standardized process at the following link. You can view one school district, or all 180 districts in Georgia and even sort them by category. Just choose the district and then select “Expenditure Report.” Beneath the table, you will see a breakdown of how the costs are determined. The most recent year available online is 2011: http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form?p_fiscal_year=2011
            As you can see, the total per student expenditure for Cherokee County School District for 2011 was $7,917 (which ranked 141st out of 180 districts, putting CCSD in the bottom quartile for spending). The State average was $8,593 (note: the National average, according to most recent U.S. Census data, was $10,615).
            In the current budget year (2012-13), CCSD expenditures are significantly lower than two years ago, despite serving 500 additional students; and thus, the per pupil spending for this current school year drops to $7,072 using this standard calculation. The initial calculation in the 2012-13 budget summary was $7,116, based on an initial enrollment projection that has since been exceeded by more than 200 students.
            As noted on the linked expenditures page of the DOE website, this same information for State and Commission Charter Schools is not provided. The current budget for Cherokee Charter Academy, a State approved “special school,” can be accessed at the following web address: http://www.cherokeecharter.org/governance/Budget%20Summary%20CHER%20June%2027.pdf
            Using the same accounting standards and removing the same non-operational expenditure categories, the total expenditures for Cherokee Charter Academy are budgeted at $7,381,905 to educate 995 students, resulting in a cost per child of $7,419.
            The CCSD calculation also includes transportation costs at about $395 per student, whereas the charter school does not provide any transportation.
            Thus, CCSD is spending $347 less per child while providing more services.

            Other CCSD vs. CCA fee comparisons
            After School Program
            CCSD $6 per day, parents can enroll 1-5 days a week, no registration fee
            CCA $8 per day, charged in advance (must enroll by the month), $25 registration fee
            School Lunch Program
            CCSD $1.80 lunch ES, breakfast $1.10; $2.05 lunch MS, breakfast $1.10
            CCA $2.85 lunch, $1.50 breakfast, paid in advance (by the month).
            CCA also charges fees for required school uniforms and P.E. attire, school agendas and returned checks………..

            • mpierce says:

              Using the same accounting standards and removing the same non-operational expenditure categories.

              You are excluding capital outlay, facilities acquisition, and construction for CCSD, but including rent and capital expenses for CCA.

              • John Konop says:

                M,

                That is because the public owns the property…….with a public school and when it is paid off we no longer have a payment. Charter USA the private management company getting close to a million dollars a year in tax payers fees is related to the owners of the school property and the rent goes to them for the life of the school even after they payoff the property with tay payers money. Do you understand?

                • mpierce says:

                  with a public school and when it is paid off we no longer have a payment.

                  Really? Have you checked the CCSD facility project list?

                  More capital outlays in the 2012-13 budget:
                  Athletic track resurfacing $600,000
                  Miscellaneous Renovations $10,318,616
                  Technology $11,739,348

                  Also excluded was:
                  debt service $15,030,000
                  enterprise operations ?

                  • John Konop says:

                    Now you are confusing services provided by a public school verse a charter school. Cherokee charter does not have out door facilties for track, football…..for a high school team. If your view is to elimante sports you should just tell the public. But you cannot compare one school with sports with another school that does not have variety sports. It is the same concept when you compare a public school with AP classes and the charter school that does not. Cherokee has one of the best AP programs in the state, should we end that?

                    That is why I have told you for a while you cannot compare schools based on cost unless you look at side by side what they offer. Unless you think we should end services, and than you should be honest and say you think we should end transportation for kids, special needs programs, AP………

                    • mpierce says:

                      I’m not confusing them at all. The cost comparison is absolutely comparable. Some parents may prefer to have a school which puts its funds toward education, while others may prefer a school which splits its funding between sports and academics. Let the parents decide.

                      Do we really want to create charters which are no different than traditional public schools? Or is it better to offer real choices for parents so they can choose what is best for their individual child?

                      We both agree that we need more vocational options. Do you believe a vocational program must offer the same AP classes as a college preparatory program?

                    • John Konop says:

                      M,

                      ……..We both agree that we need more vocational options. Do you believe a vocational program must offer the same AP classes as a college preparatory program?……

                      What I proposed for years is to combine resources with vocational colleges via facilities, administration………to increase quality and save money. The option should be open for private, public, home and charter. We all ready have the frame work in place with joint enrollment programs. We only need corporation, organization and waivers for No Child Left Behind college prep classes.

                      …….Some parents may prefer to have a school which puts its funds toward education, while others may prefer a school which splits its funding between sports and academics. Let the parents decide……..

                      It is not that simple. As a kid had a speech problem so bad that I could not say a full sentence you could understand till about 5th grade. I also had dyslexia but back than we did not understand the issue, did not have services……Had not my public school had services for speech therapy I would have been put at a major handicap for life…………You hit the debate on the nail. I happen to think if we do not pay for the services for kids with special needs issue it will cost way more in the long run………….The Libertarian view is if your kid has issue and you do not have the money for proper special needs than you are just out of luck. Or if your kid needs AP classes and you cannot afford it why offer it. Or why offer any athletics, music, drama, band unless you have the cash…….. Just so you know even in public schools the booster fees are making cost prohibitive for many kids even with the small subsidies. In Cherokee we voted as a community to spend extra money on athletic facility up grades. The bigger question is do we go to a school model in which we leave kids behind in the long run that need the services, and parents cannot afford it? That is why I have proposed combining services as much as possible so we could afford the above. And yes I may have a different view than you, because I can relate to the problems being a kid who had special needs………………

                    • mpierce says:

                      It is one heck of a leap going from:
                      (me)
                      “Some parents may prefer to have a school which puts its funds toward education, while others may prefer a school which splits its funding between sports and academics. Let the parents decide. “

                      to:
                      (you)
                      “you do not have the money for proper special needs than you are just out of luck.

                      In all the threads we have had on PP regarding charter schools can you find anyone who has suggested eliminating special needs programs unless they can pay for it themselves?

                      We have charter schools now (both from state and local). How many special needs programs have been dismantled as a result?

                      You failed to address the issue of parental choice by throwing out a red herring.

                    • John Konop says:

                      Obviously if you leave the math out of the cost of providing the services when comparing public with charter as a cornerstone debate, than one can only conclude you are not for providing it. I have heard numerous times from strong supporters of charter school, why should we pay for services we do not use. Let’s all get real about what the debate is about for many people. It is clear many feel that if their kids do not need extra services they should not be forced to pay for other kids problems.

                      This is the difference between Adam Smith and Ayn Rand via capitalism. Adam Smith was a moral philosopher who was an abolishanist and our Bill of Righte were coined after his philosophy. Ayn Rand was an outspoken proud atheist that supported a extreme Darwin view of ecomoics and thought the concept of us being our ” Brothers Keeper” was an immature intellectual concept. Adam Smith believed public education and training was a cornerstone to maintaining and building a capitalist society.

                      You have the God given to support Ayn Rand philosophy but at least be straight about your agenda.

                    • mpierce says:

                      First you falsely claim I am working for CharterUSA. Then you go off about eliminating special ed. Now supposedly I am pushing Ayn Rand. I think your losing it.

                      For the record I have never even read an Ayn Rand book. Back to my questions which you refuse to answer:

                      Why shouldn’t a parent be able to choose a school which focuses its resources on education instead of splitting them with school sports teams?

                      In all the threads we have had on PP regarding charter schools can you find anyone who has suggested eliminating special needs programs unless they can pay for it themselves?

                    • John Konop says:

                      M,

                      Danny Dukes has openly turned parents away via not providing the services at the charter school. And we all know they do not hav AP classes, transportation………….

                      It is a legitimate debate if you think tax payers should not provide and or subsidize the special need services, AP, any extras like sports, band………But let’s get real about the issue.

                      I happen to think special needs, AP, sports,band…….is part of an eduction that we should support as tax payers. Obviously it should be ranked by core needs with special needs and AP way ahead of sports…..but I do think it should be part of the budget and you don’t.

                    • mpierce says:

                      And we all know they do not hav AP classes, transportation………….

                      Both of us have adjusted for transportation in our cost comparisons, but you continually act like it is a significant difference in the numbers.

                      As far as AP classes, CCA is K-8. How many AP classes does CCSD have in its elementary and middle schools?

                      I happen to think special needs, AP, sports,band…….is part of an eduction that we should support as tax payers.

                      They are supported (and should be), but unlike you I think parents should have the option of choosing between a school which focuses its funding on education and one that splits it funding with sports teams.

                      Again:
                      Why shouldn’t a parent be able to choose a school which focuses its resources on education instead of splitting them with school sports teams?

                      In all the threads we have had on PP regarding charter schools can you find anyone who has suggested eliminating special needs programs unless they can pay for it themselves?

                      Where was special ed removed from the budget?

                • mpierce says:

                  School Lunch Program
                  CCSD $1.80 lunch ES, breakfast $1.10; $2.05 lunch MS, breakfast $1.10
                  CCA $2.85 lunch, $1.50 breakfast, paid in advance (by the month).

                  CCSD fees don’t cover the entire cost for food

                  Revenue:
                  Local & Other Revenue $7,426,926
                  State Revenue $290,000
                  Federal Revenue $8,020,779

                  Expenditure: $16,234,533

                  That cost was also excluded from your CCSD cost figures.

      • griftdrift says:

        ” In this case, however, you have actual performance and statistics from when the state handled this prior to the Supreme Court ruling”

        This is a critical point. And frankly, classic conservative thinking.

  4. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    Debbie, please share the specific FUD being spread by supporters. I’d like to see if in fact it is misleading and/or untrue. I’ll be glad to debunk any myths in it, and I’ll even notify the folks at the Georgia Charter Schools Association and the Better Georgia Education Coalition and ask them to make sure it is corrected.

    So let’s hear it.

  5. Tom Taylor says:

    Amen Dr. Henson.

    Debbie, the ball is in your court. Convince the good folks on this thread with a lucid, logical, well thought out and factual argument. Here is your opportunity to shine.

  6. Nick Chester says:

    Dr. Henson,

    Maybe you can answer questions for the rest of us as well. For the 165 other (non-urban) school districts that don’t have charter schools, have not seen a charter application, can you definitevly say that this legislation will not impact us?

    The new charter commission, per the enablign legislation, will enact best practices and standards, etc. Are they definitely going to adopt the exact same rules as last time?

    QBE will be adjusted next year. Will State funding of charters not impact the State share of funding at all?

    • UpHere says:

      It is in the enabling legislation:

      317 (c) No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is
      318 otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence
      319 of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the
      320 geographical area of the local school system.

  7. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    The word from the Governor’s office is that state-chartered schools’ funding will continue to be drawn from a separate pot of money than the state education budget, which currently funds district schools and locally authorized charter schools.

    I’m not sure which “exact same rules” you mean about the Charter Commission. The Commission will not have the authority to redirect local funds to state-authorized charter schools (which is the reason for the lawsuit that went to the Supreme Court), and charter schools will still have to apply locally first and be declined, is my understanding, unless the school serves a multi-district geographic region.

    I’ll double-check with Mark Peevy (former Commission executive director) and post a correction if my understanding is not correct.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Has the state ever fully funded QBE?

      I thought state statutes that guide education funding can be changed by the General Assembly at will, subject to Gov approval or by over-riding a veto.

      It’s my understanding that state education funding is determined annually by a General Assembly appropriation from general revenue. What is the source of revenue and legislative authority for the Governor’s “separate pot of money”.

      It’s well-established that the Georgia state government’s commitment to a “pot of money” lasts only until legislation is enacted. (tire disposal fee; court fee; sucker, er special license plate fee; et. al.)

      Then there’s the “go along to get along” problem in the General Assembly (“common knowledge” Glenn Richardson, “I’ll been doing this 20 years” Balfour etc), and the Governor’s cronyism (most recently the Lottery CEO) to consider.

      Pass the amendment, then trust a General Assembly that can’t raise taxes for any reason to protect traditional schools funding, and trust charter school decisions to an unaccountable charter school board of political appointees to protect taxpayer’s interests. Yeah, works for me.

      By the way, I’m all for considering the development of an appeals process when a local school board turns down a charter school, but this amendment doesn’t make the grade. As I’ve stated before, the fact that what is being presented to voters on the ballot is intentionally deceptive, and says zero about charter school funding which is one of the things at at core of the debate, is all a voter needs to know to vote no.

  8. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    Spelling is excused. I’m a former English teacher (and Mark was in my first class of high school sophomores I ever taught, by the way), and I’m quite forgiving of blog posts that err in spelling–but not in representing the facts! 🙂

  9. Trey A. says:

    After the court ruling, is this policy no longer in place?

    http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions-for-New-Petitioners.aspx

    Barge says it doesn’t. It duplicates the work the state board of education is already doing. And for the life of me, I cannot understand how my friend Charlie would oppose amendment 2 because of ethics issues stemming from appointed boards and poor supporting legislation, yet give this amendment a pass on both counts.

    Ethically challenged state government getting more power + appointed board + poorly thought-out enabling legislation + excess bureacracy = No on Amendment 1.

    Also, when clicking through the pretty Tumblr graphs Buzz linked to, I notices that Wisconsin has the nation’s lowest dropout rate and some of the best schools. do they have stat charter commission? No. do they have charter schools? Yes–but about 100 less than we currently have in Georgia.

    I like charters. I don’t like bad laws.

    • Calypso says:

      “Ethically challenged state government getting more power + appointed board + poorly thought-out enabling legislation + excess bureacracy = No on Amendment 1.”

      I concur.

        • We also allow local boards to create charter schools. We want to do what many other States do which is allow an appeals process for charter applicants. Groups as diverse as the NEA and AFP support this concept.

          • John Konop says:

            Buzz,

            Local or state I would rather see strict guidelines to make sure we tax payers do not end up holding the bag.

            • School board members are forbidden from being a consultant, owner, or employee of the charter school management company or its vendors within the past two years. They must provide full disclosure of any such prior affiliations.
            • Officeholders that vote on public or charter school legislation and/or funding must fully disclosure any affiliations with any charter school and/or vendors providing services to charter schools. They must also disclose any relatives that are affiliated with charter schools and/or vendors.
            • No charter or public school board member and/or officeholder may have any interest in the real estate underlying any charter or public school.
            • Charter school board meetings must be publically listed 30 days in advance and must be held after 7 pm (note: short-term notice, unannounced date changes, and inconvenient meeting times have been used to reduce public participation and oversight).
            • Every privately managed charter school with over 750 students must secure a bond that compensates the school district if the charter school closes before the end of a school year.
            • If a charter school’s private owners/management company owns an interest in the real estate underlying the school, that property must be put up as security to repay any free taxpayer money the school received (e.g. grants or loans) in the event the school fails.
            • The contract between the private management company and the charter school must be fully disclosed.

            With real enforcement that has teeth.

            • What the state BoE is doing is declaring the commission schools “special” schools and funding them. If the amendment fails, there will be a lawsuit and , using the Supreme Court ruling , the State BoE will be told those schools are not special schools and they will be shut down.

              This is a neat trick being used by opponents: ” vote no because the State can already create charter schools but allowing the State to over rule local boards of education will destroy public education.”

              • John Konop says:

                Buzz,

                I heard a rumor that you guys had a work around with legislation if it fails is that true?

                I also heard that you guys are going to put legislation to make the State School Super an appointed job to end John Barge, is that true?

                • I haven’t heard those rumors.

                  I don’t think the is a “workaround” if this fails. The Supreme Court ruling is pretty clear: the State cannot create schools. The amendment is the workaround.

                  Governor Perdue however, proposed making Barge’s position as well as several others appointed rather than elected but I have not heard of anyone wanting to bring that up again because of Barge’s opposition to the amendment.

                  • Trey A. says:

                    If the current State BoE appeals process is vulnerable to a lawsuit, why aren’t local systems suing now? Why is the process still in place? And why does Barge say creating the “workaround” (a.k.a. unelected state bureaucracy with pretty far reaching powers) with a constitutional amendment is redundant? Is he being dishonest?

  10. AMB says:

    No appointed board should have any say over tax spending. On anything.
    No taxation without representation.

  11. Bloodhound says:

    My knowledge and understanding of this issue does not go very deep into the weeds. My State Senator explained to me that the most important aspect of this CA is that it will streamline and make easier the process of creating Charter Schools. He pointed out the high failure rate experienced by applicants in recent years.

    Perhaps there have been some folks putting together the application/Charter that haven’t been very capable at putting together the Charter, so we are aiming at dumbing down the process?

    Again, I am far afield from the process and perhaps not that well informed but my hunch is that if this one passes the term “Charter School” will soon be devalued.

    I took advantage of early voting this morning and voted “NO”.

  12. Three Jack says:

    Why vote NO to Amendment 1:

    1. Lack of trust in those who will be responsible for appointing board members.
    2. Parents have local control right now by being able to decide who will be on the local, elected school board. If we are to have a state level board to decide this local issue because a few politicians got pissed at a few local school officials, will the next step be to setup a state level zoning board to police property decisions?
    3. Legislators will have an excuse to avoid addressing real reform of education just like they have done with taxes after passing the special interests tax ‘reform’ bill this year
    4. Borrowing a line from Charlie in another thread, “It has been made clear and is the stated policy of Governor Deal that independence on boards is not tolerated. Boards are now just for show.” Guess who gets to appoint 3 members to this unelected board of review?
    5. Finally we don’t need another bureaucracy even if it promises to only have a ‘few staff members’ and low compensation for appointed members. These things take on a life of their own and this one will eventually be as powerful, costly and onerous as so many other politically charged boards.

    The better solution would be to wait for the legislature in a non-election year (2013) to negotiate, pass then ratify comprehensive education reform with all facets geared toward making sure parents have choice in where their kids will be educated. Doing this piecemeal will not get the job done.

      • Trey A. says:

        I agree… except for the piecemeal part. I think you can get stuff done piecemeal–if it’s actually sound, well-thought out policy. One and 4 are pretty much the same point, but important nonetheless. That our resident champion of ethics can suspend disbelief and claim that the good old boys will suddenly walk the straight and narrow “just this once” is beyond comprehension.

        And has anyone really read the supporting legislation? This absolutely establishes an added layer of costly bureaucracy with no legitimate checks to its expansion.

        Arguing against this seems to be futile… The language on the ballot is designed to make voters feel like idiots for voting no.

  13. Tom Taylor says:

    Still waiting for the Debbie Dooley lucid and logical response……………………..

    Crickets, chirp, chip, chirp

  14. troberts says:

    Someone earlier said Wisconsin does not have a Charter Commission. Correct. But they DO have authorizers other than local school districts. Wisconsin gave authority for three branches of the University of Milwaukee system to approve schools in the city. Wisconsin knew the Milwaukee School District would not welcome new charter schools and made this alternate provision.

        • John Konop says:

          Buzz,

          I do think combining resources with Universities, community colleges and vocational schools is the key part of the puzzle. And this should be open for public, private, home, charter……….We must focus on making the system more efficient without cutting back on services, and that can only be achieved by leveraging resources better.

  15. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    I think that partnerships with colleges and universities can be great–however, most higher education institutions that prepare teachers are in bed politically with the NEA and the AFT. They are emphatically against being held accountable for how well their graduates actually teach once they go out into the working world, and they have resisted pressure from the USDOE to be accountable or risk losing federal funds. Kennesaw State University’s Bagwell College of Education is a notable exception.

    I have seen situations in other states where universities banded together with local school districts to oppose independent charter schools. In North Carolina, universities are permitted by state law to authorize charters; however, to my knowledge, there is not a single university charter school in the state.

  16. debbie0040 says:

    I fully support school choice and charter schools with the right controls in place. Let’s face facts, true choice would be a voucher or education savings account system. I agree with where we need to go but am not sure if this is the right vehicle to get us there. When I vote on a constitutional amendment, I want to be sure. We are talking about amending the Georgia Constitution – not just supporting legislation. We all need to fully investigate the facts and ramifications before we cast our vote.

    1. The charter school board does not have total control. There are mandates they must follow in regard to curriculum and testing because state/federal money is involved and strings are always attached. The students at charter schools will be taught the same curriculum and have to take the same tests. It is like one person going to McDonalds and ordering a Big Mac as it comes standard and one person orders a Big MAC without lettuce and pickles. They are both eating the same meat but the dressing is different.

    2. The chain of oversight is: charter school board – state charter commision – state board of education. (HB 797, 20-2-2082 (a) )

    Under HB 797 Attendance zones ;

    (1) ‘Attendance zone’ means all or a portion of a local school system, one or more local

    school systems or portions thereof, or all local school systems in this state.

    Note: A charter school designates the attendance zone on their application.
    It could be a state attendance zone, county attendance zone or even a specific
    area attendance zone that does not have to be an attendance zone for a public
    school. For example, large sub-divisions could be designated as an
    attendance zone. Of course, they would have to go through the approval process
    of their county school board, then the state charter commission, then the state
    board of education.

    3. The chain of approval for a charter school serving a non statewide attendance zone is: local school board (they have 60 days to act on request of charter school) and if the local school board denies the request it is appealed to the state charter commission to either deny the appeal or approve the charter. The state board of education then has 60 days to review the decision of the charter school commission and decide whether or not to agree with the decision of the state charter commission. The ultimate authority on whether or not to approve the application of charter schools rests with the state board of education. (HB797, 20-2-2083 (a) )

    4. The chain of approval for charter schools that claim to have a statewide attendance zone is as follows: State charter school commission then the state board of education.

    The state board of education can hear appeals now and under HB 797 they are the ultimate authority in oversight and and approval of charter applications. Why add another level of government with the charter school commission? Why not just cut to the chase and
    allow the appeals to go directly to the state board of education? What justification is there for adding another level of government? Don’t conservatives believe in limited government? If you do want to add another level of government shouldn’t it be on the local county level and not duplicate the level that already exists on the state level?

    5. Membership of the state charter commission is as follows per HB 797 20-2-2082 :

    (a) The State Charter Schools Commission is established as a state-level authorizing entity
    working in collaboration with the Department of Education under the authority of the State
    Board of Education. Start-up funds necessary to establish and operate the commission may
    be received by the State Board of Education in addition to such other funds as may be
    appropriated by the General Assembly. The department shall assist in securing federal and
    other institutional grant funds to establish the commission.

    (b) The commission shall be appointed by the State Board of Education and shall be
    composed of a total of seven members and made up of three appointees recommended by
    the Governor, two appointees recommended by the President of the Senate, and two
    appointees recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    6. Membership of the State Board of Education are appointed by Congressional District by the
    Governor per the Georgia Constitution.

    7. Duties of the state charter commission per HB 797 20-2-2083 are much more extensive than to just hear appeals from charter schools denied at the local level. How can anyone claim it is not creating another level of government/bureaucracy? (Section 20-2-2082 (d) gives the charter commission discretion in determining how they review the charter applications. They can use existing Department of Education staff or hire their own. ):

    20-2-2083.

    (a) The commission shall have the power to:
    (1) Approve or deny petitions for state charter schools and renew, nonrenew, or
    terminate state charter school petitions in accordance with rules and regulations
    established pursuant to this article. At its discretion, the commission may preliminarily
    approve a petition for a state charter school before the petitioner has secured space,
    equipment, or personnel, if the petitioner indicates such preliminary approval is necessary
    for it to raise working capital. The State Board of Education shall review and may
    overrule the approval or renewal of a state charter school by the commission within 60
    days of such decision by the commission upon a majority vote of the members of the state
    board; and

    (2) Conduct facility and curriculum reviews of state charter schools.

    (b) The commission shall have the following duties:

    (1) Review petitions for state charter schools and assist in the establishment of state
    charter schools throughout this state. The commission shall ensure that all charters for
    state charter schools are consistent with state education goals;

    (2) Develop, promote, and disseminate best practices for state charter schools in order
    to ensure that high-quality schools are developed and encouraged. At a minimum, the
    best practices shall encourage the development and replication of academically and
    financially proven state charter school programs;

    (3) Develop, promote, and require high standards of accountability for state charter
    schools. The commission shall ensure that each state charter school participates in the
    state’s education accountability system. If a state charter school falls short of
    performance measures included in the approved charter, the commission shall report such
    shortcomings to the Department of Education;

    (4) Monitor and annually review and evaluate the academic and financial performance,
    including revenues and expenditures, of state charter schools and hold the schools
    accountable for their performance pursuant to the charter and to the provisions of this
    article. The commission shall also review the citizenship and immigration status of each
    individual that works at a state charter school and aggregate the information by school
    on an annual basis. The commission’s duties to monitor the state charter school shall not
    constitute the basis for a private cause of action;

    (5) Direct state charter schools and persons seeking to establish state charter schools to
    sources of private funding and support;

    (6) Actively seek, with the assistance of the department, supplemental revenue from
    federal grant funds, institutional grant funds, and philanthropic organizations. The
    commission may receive and expend gifts, grants, and donations of any kind from any
    public or private entity to carry out the purposes of this article;

    (7) Review and recommend to the General Assembly any necessary revisions to statutory
    requirements regarding standards and accountability for state charter schools;

    (8) Act as liaison for state charter schools in cooperating with local boards of education
    that may choose to allow state charter schools to utilize excess space within school
    facilities;

    (9) Encourage collaboration with municipalities, counties, consolidated governments,
    universities or colleges of the board of regents, technical institutions of the Technical
    College System of Georgia, and regional educational service agencies;

    (10) Meet the needs of state charter schools and local school systems by uniformly
    administering high-quality state charter schools, thereby removing administrative burdens
    from the local school systems;

    (11) Assist state charter schools in negotiating and contracting with local boards of
    education that choose to provide certain administrative or transportation services to the
    state charter schools on a contractual basis; and

    (12) Provide for annual training, as determined by the commission, for members of state
    charter school governing boards. The training shall include, but not be limited to, best
    practices on school governance, the constitutional and statutory requirements relating to
    public records and meetings, and the requirements of applicable statutes and rules and
    regulations.

    (c)(1) The commission shall establish rules and regulations requiring each state charter
    school to provide adequate notice of its enrollment procedures, including any provision
    for the use of a random selection process where all applicants have an equal chance of
    being admitted in the event that the number of applications to enroll in the school exceeds
    the capacity of the program, grade, or school.

    (2) The commission shall provide adequate notice to local boards of education and to the
    public regarding meetings to be held by the commission. Such notice shall include the
    charter petitions to be discussed and acted upon. Such notice shall be provided in
    accordance with Chapter 14 of Title 50, relating to open and public meetings.

    • Three Jack says:

      No way that becomes a bureaucracy…and I have an exclusive, one-of-a-kind autographed picture of Beth Merkleson to sell you.

    • mpierce says:

      “Let’s face facts, true choice would be a voucher or education savings account system. I agree with where we need to go but am not sure if this is the right vehicle to get us there.”

      I would certainly prefer a voucher system and agree this doesn’t get us there. But saying no to this amendment doesn’t get us there either. I think we are better off with the amendment than without it.

    • mpierce says:

      We are talking about amending the Georgia Constitution

      Just to be clear we are voting on HR1162 (which does not create a charter commission). HB 797 (which creates the charter commission) is not a constitutional amendment.

      The state charter commission was given far more powers

      What powers does HB797 grant the commission that HB 881 did not? Was there some giant bureaucracy created from HB881?

      It is like one person going to McDonalds and ordering a Big Mac as it comes standard and one person orders a Big MAC without lettuce and pickles.

      Some people may find pickles disagreeable. But you feel they must eat them because the majority of their neighbors like pickles.

  17. bowersville says:

    President Ronald Reagan on government bureaucracy:

    No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth!

    Thanks Debbie. Your post makes it clear. Another layer of government bureaucracy instead of education reform.

  18. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    Debbie, the only inaccuracy I see in the information you posted most recently is this:

    ” The chain of approval for charter schools that claim to have a statewide attendance zone is as follows: State charter school commission then the state board of education.”

    State-chartered special schools that have a statewide attendance zone, unless they apply to the Charter Schools Commission, will continue to answer directly to the state board of education.

    My specific question to you remains unanswered, however. What is the misinformation that has been disseminated by the supporters of the amendment?

    • John Konop says:

      Dr Henson, the budget numbers comparing public schools to charter schools have been way off when you compare services provided. Also using statewide numbers to compare local school districts is not right as I posted above. I will say both side comparing performance of charter vs public is way off as well. As i said they should only compare the students entering a charter school verse how they did in the future.

        • xdog says:

          We’re not buying ordnance. I wouldn’t object to paying a premium if it went towards instruction instead of administration or planning costs.

          • John Konop says:

            Xdog,

            The dollars I am talking about is instructional services. Finally we need to leverage off administration currently in place not create more……. That leverage should be combining resources with colleges, JC….with high schools ie public, charter, home school …….

  19. debbie0040 says:

    Aren’t conservatives supposed to be against expanding centralized power? Is it ok for Republicans to expand centralized power if they support the reason it is being expanded but it is not ok for the democrats to do the same thing? I am just trying to understand the reasoning..

    • mpierce says:

      It expands individual power by giving more people choices with regards to education.

      Can you show me how voting no would give me more control over my daughter’s education?

      • debbie0040 says:

        Mpierce, are you saying it is ok to expand centralized government ins some case but not ok in other cases?

        • mpierce says:

          No that’s not what I am saying (although I do agree with that).

          I don’t think it expands state power, because I believe they have already been given that power. Georgia Constitution: Article VIII, Section I – “The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.”

          This amendment will reaffirm the state’s ability to transfer power from local government to the people.

          Are you saying you would oppose “a voucher or education savings account system” if an amendment were needed to achieve it because you don’t want to expand the state power?

          • debbie0040 says:

            It transfers power to the Board of Education as the ultimate deciding authority so why create another government entity and expand government? Why not have the appeals go straight to the Board of Education?

            I think the intent is to eventually create a parallel un-elected state-wide school system. I think the plan is to eventually move the charter commission out from under the Board of Education and form a completely separate entity. They knew the voters would never go for that right off the bat, so they are willing to take incremental steps.

            • Dr. Monica Henson says:

              I’m not automatically against expanding centralized power, or anything else, in a knee-jerk fashion. That’s not thoughtful conservatism, or thoughtful anything, for that matter.

              The amendment doesn’t transfer power to the SBOE–I agree with mpierce’s assessment, that it affirms the ability of the state to transfer power from local government to the people.

              I still would like to know what specific misinformation is being spread by the amendment supporters. Can you please offer substantiation of your earlier allegation, Debbie?

              • debbie0040 says:

                Hypocritical conservatism is to blast President Obama and the Democrats for expanding centralized government for things they believe in but supporting expanded centralized government for things you believe in.

                Some supporters of the charter amendment are saying that if the amenndment fails, charter schools that are currently open will lose their charter/state money and have to close. that is a lie

                • So the Savannah Tea Party, the Georgia Tea Party, Americans For Prosperity, and other conservatives who support the amendment are hypocrites and not true conservatives?

                  Also, Debbie when the school systems sue and the Courts instruct the State BoE to stop funding the State special charter school based on the Gwinnett v Cox ruling will you still say we are liars?

                    • Not at all.

                      Article VIII of the State Constitution says “the provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.” Thus when the State says “let’s provide for an appeals process for charter schools rejected by local school board” the State is not increasing it’s power, it’s exercising power it already has. Amendment 1 on this year’s ballot is necessary because the State Supreme Court’s ruling in Gwinnett v Cox undermined article VIII and gave to local school boards power they were never given by the State Constitution.

                      So am I not a conservative?

                  • debbie0040 says:

                    Not all groups have blasted the Democrats for expanding centralized government. they have blasted them for other things. I have and Atlanta Tea Party has condemned Obama and the Democrats for expanding centralized government. I have to be consistent. If it is wrong for the Democrats to expand government then it is equally wrong for the Republicans to. If I and Atlanta Tea party are not consistent, then it would give the Democrats an opening to attack us for being hypocritical and try to weaken us.

                    • debbie0040 says:

                      Buzz, HB 797 provides for much more than an appeals process and assigns other duties tot he charter commission. If the state board of education is the ultimate authority over over sight and appeals under HB 797, what was the reasoning for adding the charter commission in the mix as a middle man?

                • Dr. Monica Henson says:

                  Sifting through this thread, so far this is the only misinformation I have seen offered up:

                  “Some supporters of the charter amendment are saying that if the amenndment fails, charter schools that are currently open will lose their charter/state money and have to close. that is a lie”

                  It is not true that if the amendment fails that charter schools currently operating would automatically lose funding and have to close as a result of the vote.

                  What could happen is that local BOEs could sue the state to enforce the language in the majority opinion by the GA Supremes that suggests that the state does not have the authority to charter any school other than a school for deaf or blind. If that were to happen, it is entirely possible that state-chartered schools could be forced to apply to local BOEs for charters or face closure.

              • debbie0040 says:

                HB 797 gives the ultimate power to the SBOE. The amendment and HB 797 are tied to each other because if the amendment passes, then all of the provisions of HB 797 will take effect. If the amendment fails, then only some provisions will take effect.

                If the intent is to create a parallel school system, then why don’t you guys just be up front and honest with voters and not try to hide it?

                • Debbie,

                  Prior to the passage of HB881, the Legislature formed a study committee and looked how other States authorized charter schools. 32 other States allow alternate authorizers of charter schools, many at the State level and many use independent commissions. They are not “middle men” but an alternate authorizer for charter schools rejected by local school boards.

                  Very few local school systems in Georgia will approve charter schools targeted to general population students. They’ll approve STEM schools or Chinese Language schools like Gwinnett has but they won’t approve schools that would appeal to the students who don’t thrive in a traditional public school. The amendment is needed so that those types of charter schools get a fair hearing.

                  • debbie0040 says:

                    You have not answered my question. Under HB 797, the State Board of Education is the ultimate authority in hearing appeals and over sight of charter schools then why add the charter commission in the mix and expand government by creating another bureaucracy? Why not just allow the appeals go directly to the state board of education? What is the motive for adding the charter school commission as a middle man?

          • benevolus says:

            “This amendment will reaffirm the state’s ability to transfer power from local government to the people.”

            Who are you referring to as “the people” here? Can I take that to mean the board that would run the new charter school? If so, how are they more “the people” than the people on the local school board we elected from among ourselves?

            • mpierce says:

              Can I take that to mean the board that would run the new charter school?

              No you can take it to mean the people who would gain the option of choosing a different school for their children.

              how are they more “the people” than the people on the local school board we elected from among ourselves?

              Does this still need answering?

  20. bowersville says:

    Are you saying you would oppose “a voucher or education savings account system” if an amendment were needed to achieve it because you don’t want to expand the state power?

    So you are saying we would need to create a separate government bureaucracy to handle vouchers and education savings accounts? Or could the Department of Education handle that?

    • mpierce says:

      So you are saying we would need to create a separate government bureaucracy to handle vouchers and education savings accounts?

      No, I am asking a philosophical questions to better understand Debbie’s position.

  21. bowersville says:

    I would certainly prefer a voucher system and agree this doesn’t get us there. But saying no to this amendment doesn’t get us there either. I think we are better off with the amendment than without it.

    Georgia has had charter schools since 1995. Washington state, on the other hand, has rejected charter schools three times since 1996 and has no charters. Despite having charter schools for 17 years, students in Georgia are not performing as well as their counterparts in Washington in a number of areas, a review of national statistics shows.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/charter-school-fight-in-washington-has-parallels-t/nSjdT/

    Why do Georgians have to settle on this amendment that doesn’t get us there? Education reform is in order not an Amendment that doesn’t get us there.

      • bowersville says:

        FYI – Georgia has been in the Charter School business for 17 years and we’re still ranked 47th in the nation. John Konop has steadfastly offered his ideas on education reform. Wicker has a post in this mornings daily reads on education reform. For someone who has admitted that Charter Schools doesn’t get us there, I wish you would take time to read those comments on education reform.

        The charter school amendment does nothing on education reform but instead offers a carrot on a stick coupled with a hope and prayer. IF/when the amendment passes the General Assembly has given Georgia the carrot on the stick, school choice. The hope that a charter school is approved in your district and the prayer that your child is chosen in the attendance lottery.

        None of that brings about what is sorely needed which is education reform. Instead of being told we are better off than Mississippi I had rather witness someone’s vision on how we achieve the education level of Massachusetts which Governor Romney pointed out as the best in the nation without rebuttal.

        • mpierce says:

          we’re still ranked 47th in the nation.

          According to who?

          John Konop has steadfastly offered his ideas on education reform.

          While I agree with advancing dual enrollment options, they aren’t going to help elementary or middle students. They can also be put into place regardless of the outcome of this amendment.

          The hope that a charter school is approved in your district and the prayer that your child is chosen in the attendance lottery.

          A hope and a prayer that is less likely to come true if amendment 1 fails. Do you believe that our legislators have the intestinal fortitude to push wickers call to focus less of low end students in favor of those on the high end? When do you expect that to happen? How would passing this amendment prevent it from happening?

          I had rather witness someone’s vision on how we achieve the education level of Massachusetts which Governor Romney pointed out as the best in the nation without rebuttal.

          You mean the same Massachusetts that instituted charter schools in 1993!

        • mpierce says:

          By the way the Massachusetts charters “operate independent of local school districts and local government and are overseen by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE).”

        • mpierce says:

          Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is an appointed board on the state level which approves charter schools.

          • debbie0040 says:

            Georgia has a state Board of Education that is given the final authority by HB 797 in hearing appeals of charter schools denied locally. The state charter commission was given far more powers than hearing appeals and the powers are overseen by the state board of education. What was the rationale for adding the state charter commission in the mix as a middle man ?

  22. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    We need a Charter Schools Commission to authorize and oversee state-chartered schools for the same reason that we need the Professional Standards Commission to authorize teacher certificates and oversee renewals: it is simply unwieldy and impractical for GaDOE to do this on a significantly larger scale than it currently does. The Charter Schools Division acts as the administrative arm of the State Board of Education, which is the final arbiter of any charter authorized by a local district (or the Commission, if revived).

    The state legislature saw fit years ago to create a separate, independent body to take on the process of teacher certification years ago. Anyone who became a Georgia certified teacher prior to the existence of the PSC, as I did, can attest to the fact that it is a vastly more efficient process now than it used to be when GaDOE handled it in-house. I predict the same will happen for charter school authorization if/when the Commission is revived.

    • debbie0040 says:

      Don’t you think the ELECTED Superindent of Schools should be the one to decide if the department is over loaded?

      Again, the bottom line is the Board of Education has the final authority so why add another bureaucracy in the mix? Aren’t conservatives supposed to believe in streamlined government?

      If you are going to create a bureaucracy, shouldn’t it be geared toward local control and not increase the powers of the state government?

      I was all on board with the amendment 6 weeks ago until I started getting emails and phone calls advising me to take a closer look..

  23. Blog Goliard says:

    I don’t believe I’ve yet seen someone on the “No” side directly address the claim that we’ve already had the system proposed by the Amendment and enabling legislation, and that it worked well.

    Is this in dispute? Do the “No” people believe that it didn’t work well (and they therefore cheered Gwinnett v. Cox)?

    Or does the “No” side contend that we shouldn’t expect to get the same results in future…and if so, why not?

  24. Dr. Monica Henson says:

    I think that Andrew Broy, former associate superintendent for charter schools and policy at GaDOE, says it best: “With a few notable exceptions, authorizing quality in Georgia is uneven, inconsistent, and often maddening. Georgia is not unique in this problem. Charter authorizing across the country suffers from a lack of professionalism and consistent standards. That is why there is an emerging national consensus that establishing independent, single-purpose charter boards like the commission is the right way to create new authorizers. Abundant recent research suggests that there is a direct link between the quality of charter authorizing and the caliber of the state’s charter sector. So if Georgia wants charter schools, I think we can all agree they should be quality schools. If that is what we want, a professional commission will help us get there.”

    To continue with the present system, we will have the wildly varying quality of authorization by local boards of education, not to mention the incredibly lax oversight that sometimes occurs when a school district authorizes a charter school locally (Fulton Science Academy, anyone?). We need to free up the Charter Schools Division at GaDOE to handle policy and recommendations to the State Board of Education, and a separate, single-purpose authorizer to provide authorization and oversight according to national standards.

Comments are closed.