Guest Post: The Charter School Amendment, Debunking the Oppositions’ Hysteria

November 1, 2012 14:00 pm

by Buzz Brockway · 61 comments

A guest post State Rep. Edward Lindsey (R-Atlanta).

I like to call the week before elections the Silly Season in Politics. That is when you hear the craziest allegations from campaigns. Unfortunately, we are seeing the opponents to the Charter School Amendment descend down this path of falsehoods and hysteria. Let’s take a look at ten of their favorite claims:

1. It is better for local systems to have exclusive authority in approving charter schools.

Wrong. Local school systems should have primary responsibility over local schools but no governmental entity should ever have unfettered unchecked authority over anything – especially education. When the Gwinnett School System sued the state over the creation of the charter commission in 2009, the local trial judge ruled against it. What did the school system do? It appealed to the State Supreme Court – and won in a narrow 4-3 decision – which is why this proposed amendment is now before the voters. Proponents of the amendment believe that parents and children who feel they have been treated unfairly at the local level should also have a similar right of appeal to create a charter school. If this right of appeal is good enough for education bureaucrats, it should be good enough for Georgia’s parents and students.

2. The Charter School Amendment is unnecessary because the State School Board can hear appeals of denial of charters by local systems.

False. This argument is a bit contradictory because opponents are also arguing that the state should have no role in the creation of charter schools. (See #1 above.) Nevertheless, it is also inaccurate. In the case of Gwinnett County Schools v. Cox, our Georgia Supreme Court in 2011 found:

“[The Georgia Constitution] sets forth the sole delegation of authority in our constitution regarding the establishment and maintenance of general primary and secondary public schools. No other constitutional provision authorizes any other governmental entity to compete with or duplicate the efforts of local boards of education in establishing and maintaining general K–12 schools.”

It was the plain language of this Georgia Supreme Court decision that casts into extreme doubt the authority of the state to act as an appeal body to provide the check and balance sought by the Charter School Amendment, and this is why this amendment is so vital to the future of education reform in our state.

3. Passage of the Charter School Amendment will lead to the re segregation of our schools.

False. This allegation is not only insulting and inflammatory, it is also inaccurate. Charter schools are public schools. Charter school students are public school students. Charter school teachers are public school teachers. Admission is by lottery with no tuition and all students have an equal right to attend. In fact, most charter school students in Georgia come from low income households.

4. This amendment is an attempt by a radical right wing element in Georgia which is outside of the mainstream of American public education.

Wrong. Over 30 states — red and blue – allow for some kind of alternative charter school authorizer other than a local school system. It is supported by the National PTA. In addition to strong support from Republican legislators in the Georgia General Assembly, it was also supported by progressive Democrats such as Rahn Mayo, Kathy Ashe, Alisha Morgan, Margaret Kaiser, Curt Thompson, Elena Parent, Scott Holcomb, Stacy Evans, Sheila Jones and others who represent areas that desperately need greater school choice to help their constituents. This is not about ideology or party. It is about opportunity for children.

5. Allowing a state commission to create charter schools will financially decimate local school systems.

Wrong. The Georgia State Charter School Commission operated for over three years before it was ruled unconstitutional in 2011. Two-thirds of applicants were turned down by the state commission. No economic calamity befell local systems as a result of its work. Using the dollar cost claimed by opponents of the amendment if it passes, it would still only equal between 1 to 1.5% of what the state sends to local school systems.

6. Students at a State Charter School will receive greater funding than students at traditional public schools.

This is also false. Excluding federal dollars which go to both charter and traditional public schools, students at local traditional schools receive funding from both the local school board and the state. Students at a state charter school receive only funds from the state. The amount of funding these charter school students will receive is pegged to the amount of funding spent by the two lowest spending school systems in the state. On average, this means that these state charter school students will receive only 70 to 75% of what students in a traditional public school will receive. How then can the state charter school survive? Simple. They have less overhead cost.

7. The ballot question on the Charter School Amendment is misleading.

Wrong again. The official ballot text reads as follows:

Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options. House Resolution No. 1162 Ga. L. 2012, p. 1364

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?

An informed voter needs to know what we are trying to accomplish or how charter schools’ creation will work if the amendment passes. The ballot wording does both. The preamble sets out that we are seeking to expand the availability of charter schools in Georgia in order to improve student achievement. The ballot question tells the voter how the process will work if the Charter School Amendment passes – a charter school will be able to be created by either a local or state entity.

This is not deception but simple honest information – unlike what the opponents are saying as set forth herein.

8. If the Charter School Amendment passes, for profit schools will take over our education system.

Not true. The governing board of each charter school must be non profit and composed of individuals from the community who have no financial interest in the operation of the school or with any entity that does business with the school.

9. The Charter School bill is an exact duplicate of a proposal from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

False. This allegation is clearly being argued by opponents who have never read the Georgia bill (HB797) or the ALEC model legislation. Let’s compare the two on several critical issues. ALEC advocates for each state to have dozens of alternative charter school authorizers while Georgia only allows for a single appeal process to a state commission. ALEC does not require local board input while Georgia requires charter applicants drawing students from a single school district to also apply to the local district. ALEC requires that locally raised school taxes be used to support state chartered schools while the Georgia plan specifically bars the use of locally raised tax dollars. ALEC does not prohibit individuals doing business with a charter school from sitting on the school’s governing board but the Georgia bill has such a prohibition.

10. State Charter Schools will not perform any better than traditional public schools.

Not true. According to the Georgia Office of Student Achievement, schools chartered by the state, before the Supreme Court decision, were outperforming their counterpart traditional schools. That does not mean, however, that all charter schools will succeed. Some may not live up to their charter and be closed. That is the beauty of charter schools. They have to succeed in order to stay in operation. When was the last time a low performing traditional school closed?

In conclusion, the Charter School Amendment accomplishes one simple thing. It provides greater opportunity to Georgia students and their parents. So please brush aside the silliness, focus seriously on Georgia’s future, and vote Yes on November 6.

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm

I differ with Lindsey on the need to amend our constitution, but I am not hysterical.

However, I do seem to detect a bit of desperation coming from the pro-amendment side with such a rancorous post as this one.

Three Jack November 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Agreed Calypso. The proponents (suburban GOP legislators) are out in full force hitting all the social media sites trying to eke out a victory for more bureaucracy.

bgsmallz November 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm

While the opponents are supporting or turning a blind eye to ads entitled “Plessy” and “Ferguson”?

The lack of substance in your response makes me smile.

Three Jack November 1, 2012 at 3:27 pm

bg, We have argued this issue on so many threads, there is plenty of opposition substance if you look. No need to rehash all the reasons here because some desperate politician decides to add his thoughts on the dying amendment.

bgsmallz November 1, 2012 at 6:11 pm

…but there sure is a need to rehash one line pot-shots like ‘desperate politician’ and ignore those terrible ads? Riiiight.

Trey A. November 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Give it a rest, Buzz. You and Rep. Lindsey are dead wrong on number two and that’s the only one that really matters (he’s wrong on #7, too, but that’s a minor point). It was all spelled out in plain English in the comments thread here, yesterday:

Changing the Constitution to pre-empt potential lawsuits goes against the absolute core of conservative governance.

bgsmallz November 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm

The point of the matter is that the DOE’s ‘authority’ to act as an appeal board is granted by statute. Statutes are governed by…the constitution.

“No other constitutional provision authorizes any other governmental entity to compete with or duplicate the efforts of local boards of education in establishing and maintaining general K–12 schools.”

If the court is saying the constitution doesn’t allow it, amending the constitution isn’t some sort of pre-dawn raid on lawsuits, it is a necessary by-product of the court’s decision.

By the way, history tells us that constitutional amendments are often made to pre-empt possible conflicts in the future…in fact, the argument could be made that the Bill of Rights was a pre-emptive assumption that the constitution would not restrict the federal government’s powers to the extent set forth in the BOR. Your reading of ‘conservative’ in relation to the use of constitutional amendments is in error and is a red herring to the issue at hand.

Trey A. November 2, 2012 at 10:38 am

Our GOP State School Superintendent is against this ballot measure. He insists that an appeals process is already in place for charter applicants that are unjustly denied valid applications by local school boards. While John Barge’s advocacy against the amendment has come down from the State Department of Education website, the appeals process he describes is still up and functioning in practice:

Buzz confirmed in precious threads that Barge is not lying or being misleading. But Buzz also believes that the Gwinnett decision makes this appeals process vulnerable to potential future legal challenges.

Say that voters reject this ballot measure. Then, let’s ASSUME that the lawsuit supporters insist “is coming” actually comes. And let’s ASSUME the judges rule against the State DOE appeals process. And we’re going to need to ASSUME that the judges not only strike down the process, but also fail to grandfather in the 15 or so current state charter schools operating with only state funding. And we need to further ASSUME that these schools will not have the ability to obtain other sources of funding until the law can be changed (from pro-charter deep-pocketed good samaritans like Mrs. Walton of Arkansas and Mrs. Fisher of California). Then, and only then, will we need to appeal to voters to approve a ballot measure to “prevent all (15) state-only charters from getting closed down.”

What amendment one does at its core is pre-empt potential lawsuits challenging the current DOE petition process. The enabling legislation also happens to establish a largely unchecked new bureaucracy. How you can convince yourself that either of these actions is “conservative” is beyond me.

bgsmallz November 2, 2012 at 11:46 am

Ambiguity. It is undeniable in this circumstance unless you are willing to deny logic and reason.

First point…There is not a ‘new’, ‘unchecked’ bureucracy. There was a committee created by bi-partisan statute in 2008 that was ruled unconstitutional by the GA Supreme Court. Period. So it is by definition, not ‘new’ and by definition, not unchecked since it is governed by statute.

At the core of every lawsuit is ambiguity…ambiguity between the statute and its interpretation, between the facts and how they apply, etc. etc. There is absolutely no way to look at the plain language of the decision of the court and the statute granting the DOE the right to hear appeals and not see the ambiguity between that decision and the state of the law. Zero.

Addressing ambiguity left by court decisions and their effect on statutory law has been the role of constitutional amendments in this country for over 200 years. There is nothing ‘un-conservative’ about constitutional amendments. In fact, I would say the opposite is true in that the role and controls of the different branches of government will only be checked when the people step in to do so…often exercising their supreme power over all three branches.

Whether that is not ‘conservative’ enough for you…well, I’ll leave you with the words of one Thomas Jefferson…

“Nothing is more likely than that [the] enumeration of powers is defective. This is the ordinary case of all human works. Let us then go on perfecting it by adding by way of amendment to the Constitution those powers which time and trial show are still wanting.” –Thomas Jefferson

Simple concept that doesn’t need to be dragged through the rhetorical mud. The question is one of policy not politic…Should the elected legislature be allowed to create the commission by statute as they did in 2008 by large majority? I say, yes.

Trey A. November 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm

“Should the elected legislature be allowed to create the commission by statute as they did in 2008 by large majority? I say, yes.” So you disagree with the Georgia Supreme Court. That’s not a sufficient reason to vote for this boondoggle.

While you claim the new board–and it is new because it established a second, redundant state appeals process that is not currently in place–is not “unchecked” it is certainly unchecked by voters. And by law it is required to hold the charters it approves accountable. Under HB881, we had 15 “state-only” charters. With 15, it didn’t cost too much to run the commission. But there’s no cap on how many the new board can approve or what they can spend in terms of resources and personnel to keep tabs on all of those that they do approve, as mandated by the enabling legislation.

You can quote Jefferson all you want (that quote was pre-Marbury v. Madison, by the way), but it doesn’t change the fact that amending a state constitution to pre-empt potential lawsuits that may or may not ever get filed is the antithesis of conservative governance. You can support it, call it “the right approach” and vote for it, but you simply cannot claim it as “conservative.” This is another example of Deal and company leaning left (like prison reform and tuition reform–two Deal initiatives I support).

Trey A. November 3, 2012 at 12:02 am

Also, it is important to note that the reason we only had 15 state charters under HB881 is because the state charter authority was under legal challenges from day one. We really don’t know if “it worked” or not. Most state charter applicants stayed on the sidelines until the legal challenges were sorted out (or worked with charter-friendly local school boards like APS and Fulton County). There is no precedent for a state authorizing board explicitly protected by the state constitution, so this new board is certainly “new” in that sense. I imagine they’ll be overseeing a lot more than 15 schools three years from now.

bgsmallz November 5, 2012 at 9:56 am

“So you disagree with the Georgia Supreme Court. That’s not a sufficient reason to vote for this boondoggle.”

Uhhh…actually it is. We are the only check against the power of the court. Where in the name of conservative values does it say that the power of the court should go unchecked?

Also, wrong answer on the history of the Jefferson quote. That quote is from Sept 7, 1803 in a letter where Jefferson was advocating to amend the constitution in order to pre-empt the action of Congress and the Courts on the issue of the Louisiana Purchase. (

Marbury v. Madison was decided on 2/24/1803.

Again, this is my point…your hijacking the definition of conservative on this issue is based upon your opinion of the law. It is not based upon what it has historically meant to be conservative in this country. It is a red herring to the matter of charter schools.

I’m confident that the legislature got it right in 2008 and that the court got it wrong. That’s why I’m voting Yes.

SallyForth November 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Here! Here! Calypso and Trey, I agree with you both. Carry on.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm

Trey, et al
The sanctity of the Georgia Constitution … this is what you are going to hide behind? I’m guessing there are other reasons you don’t want the state to create chartered schools because the sanctity of the constitution is weak.

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

No, I’m against this amendment because it’s a crappy excuse of a bone to throw at the state of public education in Georgia.

For the umpteenth time, this charter school business will affect a miniscule number of the 1,639,077 students in public K-12 schools. The vast majority of students continuing in traditional public schools will be a mere afterthought–if thought of at all–if this passes.

If this passes, the legislature will feel smug and self-righteous in thier efforts of pushing it through, deeming themselves the savior of public education in the state of Georgia. They will then feel complacent about their role and responsibility in public education and will be off to tackle the latest hot-button social issue to gin up votes and agitate the shallow.

That is why I am against this amendment. If Lindsey calls me hysterical, then so be it. And I have a few things I could call him, but discretion is the better part of valor.

Ed Lindsey, bless his heart.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm

I agree, this amendment isn’t the cure all for Georgia education. But 1,639,077 children and their parents sure could use it.

How many children does it have to affect before this bone is acceptable?

I can see you’re not a big fan of our esteemed legislature. I just hope you’re not taking the vitriol you feel for the legislature out on the children.

Jackster November 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm

So I voted for this amendment for a few simple reasons:

1) If a school system is failing enough students to piss off and unite that many parents, then there is a gap which needs to be addressed. The opponents tell me, “If you don’t like the school board’s ruling – run for BoE”. Well, that doesn’t make much sense for a group of parents. They need an appeals process, and they need a constructive way to provide for their children. Just because the school system does not recognize the gap, doesn’t mean there isn’t one.

2) There won’t be that many charter schools approved, so there’s not a ton of $$ to be spread around. If the argument is cronyism, then we would be looking at loosely defined contracts. From the contracts I’ve seen, they are very clearly written.

3) My kids will enter school in the next 2-5 years. I’d like to think that my community can react to gaps in education and leadership in that time span, so I know what to avoid / advocate when I’m up.

TO all you other people, I only ask why you think it’s acceptable for a school board to ignore disparities in achievement, discipline, job skills, truancy, and parental involvement. That to me is exactly what this seeks to address by allowing parents and the community to address education. WHich is the definition of local control.

bowersville November 1, 2012 at 3:58 pm

There are 3 things I’m weary with. No there are 4.

Number 1. Bronco Obama
Number 2. Mitt Romney
Number 3. Honey Boo Boo &
Number 4. Charter School debate on Peach Pundit.
Wait there’s another.
Number 5. Education reform brought to you by the same folks that brought you TSPLOST.

girl with a gun November 1, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Just wait, the state wide E-SPLOST will be next to pay for all the new schools. :)

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Number 5. Excellent, excellent.

ryanhawk November 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I’m sick of the stupid comparisons between TSPLOST and Amendment 1.

Edward Lindsey November 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Bless his/her heart, Calypso raises an interesting concern that needs to be addressed, and that is whether by passing this amendment the General Assembly will then simply sit back and pat ourselves on the back and do nothing more. My answer is certainly not.
It should be emphasized that this amendment is only one single tool in the reform tool box. Much more needs to be done including tougher curriculum standards in pre-school, closely tracking students’ reading progress in the critical K-3 grades, recognizing and rewarding good teachers and weeding out poor ones, strengthening our technical school programs for kids uninterested in college, giving teachers greater say so in school governance, and demanding that local systems spend more money in the classrooms and less in the central office. I am sure this group can come up with others as well. The bottom line is that just because a reform does not fix everything is no reason to not fix that which we can and then move on to the next education challenge.

We are here because a supreme court decision has forced our hand and we must now address it. To that end, I am also mystified by Trey’s pronouncement that we should not try and settle the constitutional problems created by Gwinnett School System v. Cox. If we do not, we cast doubt on any charter school funded by the state given the express language from the decision I have quoted in my op ed piece. I would think a good conservative view would be to settle the question, provide students and their parents with certainty, and devote the taxpayer money saved in attorney’s fees to better uses.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Giving teachers greater say so? I read somewhere a group of teachers are putting together their own charter petition. That’s giving teachers the ultimate say so! Who doesn’t want that?? I sure hope that charter comes to fruition … I would move there just for that.

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 5:01 pm

“…Calypso raises an interesting concern that needs to be addressed, and that is whether by passing this amendment the General Assembly will then simply sit back and pat ourselves on the back and do nothing more. My answer is certainly not.”

As you can well imagine, there will be folks following the actions of the legislature and calling you guys out if you don’t hold true to your word. This is my biggest problem with the constitutional amendment. Why is this amendment, which will impact such a miniscule number of students, the leading educational reform being proposed? Why not do something that will benefit all 1.6M+ students?

And yes, ryanhawk, this can rightfully be compared to TSPLOST, though in a 180 degree way. The legislature abdicated their responsibility pertaining to a state-wide transportation plan, its funding mechanism and its implementation. They passed the proverbial buck in the way of an extremely complex TSPLOST ballot question onto an ill-informed public.

In this constitutional amendment, they are usurping the powers of the citizens. The citizens who elect local school board members, and moving that authorizing power to an appointed state committee. It is infinitely easier to vote out a local school board member at the next election than to try and remove an appointed state committee, particularly considering the crony appointments our governor has been making.

I am not adverse to public charter schools, though I don’t think this is the best way to institute them, as it negates local control and allows an appointed state committee to be their authorizing agency.

Three Jack November 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Well said Calypso. This is not reform by any reasonable definition…this is putting a very small butterfly bandaid on a festering wound.

bgsmallz November 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

“they are usurping the powers of the citizens”….

How is putting a question to the citizens of this state to amend the constitution a ‘usurpation’ of power? I would tend to think that it is the exact opposite.

And this tired line that it is easier to change a school board than an unelected commission? (Have you ever been to DeKalb?) The commission and, in fact, the whole law could be repealed by the legislature as easily as it was created. This amendment isn’t constitutionally guaranteeing the existence of a state committee, it is merely allowing the legislature, as chosen by we the people, to create this committee via statute, as it already has by a vote of 119-48 in the house and 30-21 in the Senate back in 2008.

I want the legislature to go farther, specifically by allowing municipalities such as Dunwoody, Chamblee, Sandy Springs, etc. to form their own school districts. However, I’ve come around to voting for the amendment regardless of whether it is ‘reform’ or not…why? b/c I think the decision of the court was wrong and a constitutional amendment is the only check in the system to correct that wrong.

bgsmallz November 2, 2012 at 8:46 am


dorian November 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm

It’s curious. If I were an elected official, I don’t believe I would mock voters who disagreed with me on an issue, but then again, I’m not a republican in the Georgia Legislature.

cheapseats November 1, 2012 at 4:53 pm

Voted no today on both amendments – 99% of the reason is that I don’t trust the people who will pick the people (whom I probably won’t trust either) to throw taxpayer dollars at their private enterprise.

Public school – yes, I understand that part.

Managed as a profit-making enterprise by hiring a private company to manage it for the benefit of the investors – yep, I get that part too.

I’m all in favor of free enterprise and capitalism – just don’t use public dollars to enter the market. Because, when you do that, it’s no longer free enterprise or capitalism. It’s just another form of cronyism where the government picks the winners and losers.

SallyForth November 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Good on you, cheapseats. I’ll be voting no on both also, but I plan to vote on the actual Election Day and enjoy the short lines gratis all the frenzy of early voting.

I do hope enough people will carefully consider Amendment 1 and vote NO also. Anytime you are asked to amend the Constitution bears careful consideration. And keep one hand on your wallet while you are doing your considering.

This is a complete transformation of our education system. Study it well. Don’t just read the poppycock that is the ballot language – read the actual piece of legislation that will take effect if enough people don’t vote this madness down.

DeKalb Inside Out November 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Generally speaking, your points were debunked long ago. Let me know if you have any thoughts about my comments. Thanks.

I don’t trust the people who will pick the people – The top brass appoints A LOT of people … an unqualified commission should be the least of your worries.

I probably won’t trust [the commission] either – The commission ran for 3 years before it was shut down. Check out the people that were on it. Good chance the same type of people will be on it again.

throw taxpayer dollars at their private enterprise.
What private enterprises are you talking about?
How does the Governor get his “private enterprises” into a charter run by the local community?

Managed as a profit-making enterprise
* All state chartered schools are run by non profit boards.
* Most state chartered schools are not managed by “profit-making” enterprise.
* Ultimately, who cares? Just as long as they are providing a superior education (and doing it for less).

free enterprise and capitalism – We are already in the market. Traditional schools are currently monopolies run with public money. Monopoly and uniformity have replaced competition and diversity. Consumers of schooling have little to say. Control by producers has replaced control by consumers.

state charters are just another form of cronyism I don’t understand. We have had state chartered schools around for years … please give examples of what you are referring to.

cheapseats November 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

Yep – and just look at the outstanding “qualifications” of so many of their choices…rest my case on that one.

Maybe the previous commission was good people but there wasn’t a lot of money to throw around at them before.

Sorry, mis-typed or mis-stated: didn’t mean it would be the enterprise of Kim Jong Deal personally; just his bigger campaign donors and lots of out-of-state and out-of-country hands out for some of that “Deal money”
And, run by the local community? We’re not talking about the same schools, I think or we’re not talking about the same kind of “run”.

Saying a school system is a monopoly is like saying that law-making or the judicial system is a monopoly – ain’t got nothing in common.

Bottom line is the moving of the decisions to Atlanta rather than keeping it here close to home where I know my local school board members well. Cronyism can exist locally but it’s easier to suss out and easier to defeat. I ain’t got the time to drive 2 1/2 hours to Atlanta to have a say in my local schools system.

Nice try but, no sale. Argue with me if you want but, we’ve all had our time with Sonny-ism and Deal-ism and we don’t want want no more of what those guys are selling.

Edward Lindsey November 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Dorian: My opening comment was meant as humor but as my father once told me, “it is not funny unless everyone laughs.” Therefore, I apologize. I trust anyone who is familiar with my blog entries here knows that I have great respect for everyone on this blog — that is why I choose to come on using my real name and participate in your conversations and take a few shots.

We all have 5 days of campaigning left. Even if we disagree today, let’s remember that our opponent on an issue today could be your ally tomorrow. One way or the other, the sun is coming up next Wednesday.

dorian November 2, 2012 at 7:36 am

No harm done. I’m not one of your constituents. 😛

I Miss the 90s November 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Once again, Buzz proves his misogynism with the use of the word hyteria.

Nevertheless, item number 7 is patently false. The wording of the Amendment proposal is misleading:

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

What does one immediately think when reading this sentence…that local governments are not allowed to create charter schools. Fact is, Georgia law allows local schools to create charter schools already. This wording was intentionally designed to dupe supporters of local control who do not already know the law (so most of them). When this amendment passes, the State will be able to step in and open these privately run, for-profit charter schools at the expense of the local taxpayer.

We all know what is at issue here. A few localities decided they were not going to risk their education systems for charter schools…and they said no to opening new charter schools. That is not a good enough answer for those in the GAGOP who could care less about student achievement and local control. This amendment is about the State forcing counties to pay for charter schools they have already rejected. Like in Cherokee county.

c_murrayiii November 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm

If you read closely, you’d have noticed the post was not Buzz’s words.

benevolus November 1, 2012 at 6:42 pm

My 2 cents:
1. 1. It is better for local systems to have exclusive authority in approving charter schools.
If the amendment just re-authorized the existing Boards authority then this would make sense, but it makes changes not necessary in an amendment.
2. The Charter School Amendment is unnecessary because the State School Board can hear appeals of denial of charters by local systems.
See above.

3. Passage of the Charter School Amendment will lead to the re segregation of our schools.
I don’t know about re-segregation in a racial sense, but I don’t think it can be denied that it will segregate by families with resources and motivation and those without, which is good on the one hand, but what about the others? Where is the amendment addressing the rest of the community?
Public schools still have to teach the rest of the kids whose parents don’t care or can’t drive across town at 7AM.

5. Allowing a state commission to create charter schools will financially decimate local school systems.
Perhaps the existing Board denied so many charter requests because they recognized the financial impact to the rest of the system. A special board set up for the express purpose of approving these charters is less likely to consider the financial implications to the rest of the system.

7. The ballot question on the Charter School Amendment is misleading.
I Miss commented on this effectively above.

8. If the Charter School Amendment passes, for profit schools will take over our education system.
“Not true. The governing board of each charter school must be non profit and composed of individuals from the community who have no financial interest in the operation of the school or with any entity that does business with the school.”
But the governing board can hire a for-profit company to run the school.

10. State Charter Schools will not perform any better than traditional public schools.
Given that these schools automatically select for students with motivated parents who also have transportation resources, they better perform better!

Calypso November 1, 2012 at 8:53 pm

Po, what you’ve said is worth more than 2 cents. Thanks.

girl with a gun November 2, 2012 at 7:20 am

I want to give all of you a brief overview of Gainesville’s school demographics. The system is a charter system and parents have school choice to an extent when it comes to the five elementary schools; there is only one middle and high school. Take what you want from this.

Gainesville System is
•54% Hispanic
•20% African American
•21% Causian
• 2% Asian
• 3% Other Ethnicities

The five lower schools break down like this
•38% Hispanic
•13%African American
•40% Causian

•40% Hispanic
•20% African American
•34% Causian

•69% Hispanic
•24% African American
•4% Causian

Gainesville Elem
•74% Hispanic
•13% African American
•6% Causian

New Holland
•68% Hispanic
•23% African American
•8% Causian

Gainesville schools provide transportation to every shool so getting there is not a problem.

bowersville November 2, 2012 at 8:17 am

I checked the DOE website that Buzz Brockway provided on another thread. The DOE website provided two categories of schools and identified them as High Performing and High Progress. None of these Charter Schools were listed in either category. The two Hall County Schools that were listed were in the High Progress category. They were South Hall Middle School and East Hall Middle School.

Blog Goliard November 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I’ve asked this question repeatedly, in multiple forums, and never gotten a straightforward answer from the “No” people:

We had a state authority before, for three years. I’m frequently told it worked well. That (plus the fact that I find Alvin Wilbanks to be an extremely persuasive advocate for the side he’s NOT on) will probably persuade me to vote “Yes” on Tuesday, unless you have a solid, fact-based argument to offer that:

a) The previous state charter authority didn’t actually work well.


b) We can’t expect a revived state charter authority to work as well as the old one did.

Well? Which is it?

benevolus November 2, 2012 at 5:07 pm

If the previous authority worked well they should just re-authorize it instead of changing it.

I think it’s the changes that are disturbing.

Trey A. November 2, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Blog Goliard,

HB797, which will go into effect if we approve the ballot measure, is pretty similar to HB881. There are a few exceptions–for instance, unlike 881, 797 now mandates that the commission verifies the immigration and citizenship status of every employee of every state charter school (Reason #78 to ignore the “this isn’t a new bureaucracy” argument.)

But the biggest difference is that if the amendment passes, the board enabled by HB797 will be protected by the state constitution. HB881’s board was susceptible to legal challenges from day one. The law was passed in 2008 and a local school board first filed suit in 2009–eventually merging with a another suit to become Cox v. Gwinnett. Most potential state charter applicants held off while the legal challenges were being sorted out.

While you may have been “frequently told it worked well,” the truth is that the board formed by HB881 never really got off the ground. We don’t know if it was truly effective or not and we certainly don’t know if a new, similar board will be effective on a widespread scale. If the amendment passes, HB797’s board will be overseeing dozens, if not hundreds of schools within a few years–not 15. You can count on that.

The Last Democrat in Georgia November 2, 2012 at 7:32 pm

“In addition to strong support from Republican legislators in the Georgia General Assembly, (the Charter Schools Amendment) was also supported by progressive Democrats such as Rahn Mayo, Kathy Ashe, Alisha Morgan, Margaret Kaiser, Curt Thompson, Elena Parent, Scott Holcomb, Stacy Evans, Sheila Jones (,etc).”

An educational initiative that is supported by both Republican legislators (read: liberal wolves dressed in conservative sheep’s clothing) and progressive Democrats (read: avowed socialists)?

An educational initiative supported by both the left AND the far left?

An educational initiative supported by both big government “conservatives” and even bigger government socialists alike? (You know, the very SAME people who brought us the very same mess that we have with public education right now?)

…Well that does it for me, count me IN!

benevolus November 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm

In theory, opponents shouldn’t be worried, because the CSC members are only nominated by lesgislators. The state BoE still has to approve them. And the BoE has to approve all their decisions too.

debbie0040 November 3, 2012 at 8:19 am

Rep. Lindsey, I know you guys pushing this c harter amendment really believe the charter amendment is one solution to our education issues in Georgia. I have questions I would like for you to answer if you could.

1. Could you please answer why the state charter school commission is even in the middle? HB 797 clearly states that the state board of education has the ultimate authority in hearing appeals of charter schools denied on the local level.

2. Why did you not streamline the process and just allow appeals to go straight to the state board of education?

3. Also, why did you guys assign far more duties to the state charter commission than to just hear appeals?

4. In reading HB7, the state charter commission members are volunteers but can hire staff to carry out their mandates. Is this ture or am I areading it wrong?

5. In reading HB797, I am confused about the 3% that is taken off the top from charter school funding for administrative costs. Can you explain what funds are exempt from this as it was not clear?

6. Do you support a charter school system controlled by the state ?
“The legislation to amend the state constitution would allow the Peach State to create its own parallel K-12 system to local boards, drawing on the same limited pool of Georgia’s taxpayer funds — a decision that the Georgia Supreme Court said was illegal just one year ago.

“In the education reform battle often times things boil down to a turf battle, and that’s what we have here. We have some local school systems that are worried that by virtue of having state charter schools that some of their turf is getting interfered. But it’s about the children and the choice,” said state Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta. “It’s a control issue, and it always has been.”

benevolus November 3, 2012 at 1:43 pm

These are good questions Debbie. This really gets to the heart of the motivation behind how this is structured.

John Konop November 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Good job Debbie, keep it up!

Calypso November 3, 2012 at 2:23 pm

Here you go Mr. Lindsey, helping to ‘debunk’ your bunk-filled retort to #3 statement above.

Edward Lindsey November 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Calypso: The key part of the article was unfortunately buried at the end where it was explained that the state charter commission was particularly sensitive to low income areas. According to the Georgia Department of Education records on state chartered schools (the article focused on local charter schools) created in Georgia between 2008 and 2011 by the commission, 59% of the students come from low income households and 56% of the students are from racial minorities.

Debbie: I believe other blogggers have demonstrated how the chartr commission operates under the authority of the State Board of Education. They will not be hiring employees independent of the GDOE. The fact of the matter is that we had a 3 year track record in which the commission acted very efficiently and was very conservative in creating charter schools. Only about a third of the applications were approved.

This amendment will in no way create a parallel school system. It is designed to be a pressure relief valve and not open up a flood gate for charter schools. One example, charter applicants can receive more money from a local school system than they can under the state formula. (See above explanation of formula.) This was put in the law to encourage applicants to do everything they can with the local school system before looking to the state for relief.

debbie0040 November 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Rep. Lindsey , HB797 does give the state charter commission discretion in whether or not they use the resources of the Department of Education or hire their own, correct?

Are you saying that this amendment in no way would allow a parallel charter school system to be set up and run by the state?

You did not answer my question about why put the state charter school commission in the mix at all? Why not just streamline the process and allow appeals to go straight to the state board of education since they have the final approval?

mpierce November 4, 2012 at 12:39 am
debbie0040 November 4, 2012 at 1:36 am

The commission shall determine the manner in which it reviews state charter school petitions

debbie0040 November 4, 2012 at 1:39 am

Why are they getting 3% for administrative overhead from the charter school funding?

If I am not mistaken there will be a new line item in the state budget if the amendment passes….

mpierce November 4, 2012 at 10:07 am

(b) The department may withhold up to 3 percent of the amount determined pursuant to subsection (a) of this Code section for each state charter school for use in administering the duties required pursuant to Code Section 20-2-2083; provided, however, that any amount withheld pursuant to this subsection shall be spent solely on expenses incurred by the commission in performing the duties required by this article.

It looks like the 3% comes out of the charter school funding (determined through QBE) in order to pay expenses. I didn’t see anywhere they were allowed to hire employees. Even if they were able to, that money would come from money already allotted to the state charter schools. Since those schools will have less funding than traditional schools, I doubt that would create some bloated bureaucracy.

John Konop November 4, 2012 at 4:23 pm

Once again we are heading on the wrong direction, we need to consolidate expenses not create more overhead……..

Edward Lindsey November 3, 2012 at 9:30 pm

I excluded fro the AJC article the following:

“Charter proponents say the amendment will offer more parents — particularly the poor — a choice, while forcing competition on traditional public schools.

Mark Peevy ran the state commission that authorized the Museum School before the Georgia Supreme Court ruled the agency lacked authority under the state constitution, triggering the current amendment fight. He observed that most of the handful of schools the commission approved in metro Atlanta had higher poverty rates than charter schools established by local school boards. The commission was sympathetic with parents in poor neighborhoods, he said.

“Those parents were not happy with the schools they were in,” Peevy said. “The schools were struggling, and that’s why the parents wanted different options.””

girl with a gun November 4, 2012 at 6:23 am

Why wasn’t this amendment about allowing state money to follow the child instead of charters? That would allow parents to have REAL choice between public, private and charter schools. I have two children with Tourette’s and this year I have taking them both out of a Charter school system due to bullying and over-crowding. One is being home-schooled until January and the other is now in a small private school which is very expensive so I will have to cut my budget to the bone to cover the cost but I can not and will not have my children treated so poorly and hating school. Every private school I looked into would not take kids with Tourette’s or any issues that required accommodations and since we live in the city we can’t go to any county schools, even though the county kids can come to our schools. My only real choice was a very small private school that caters to children with learning and /or social issues, even though both my kids are in advanced placement they do have social issues stemming from Tourette’s.
I am voting no because this does nothing for kids today or in the near future. It can take years to start a new school and I feel we are in a crisis, have been for a long time. We need change that will help all the schools better serve their kids and we need change that can help parents pay for an alternative when the local school does not fit their child’s needs.
All I see coming from this ammendment is another layer of government.
That’s this mom’s two cents. :)

Edward Lindsey November 4, 2012 at 7:42 am


The state school board is a broad policy making board. It does not deal with administrative details. That is why you have a commission. The 3% you are concerned about was actually put in place as a limitation. Compare this to the administrative cost of school systems which range from 30 to over 50%. (Atlanta Public School is 52%.)

In regards to you concern over whether we are setting up a parallel school district, I have already discussed how the funding of state vs. local charters deters this move. In addition, the unpaid volunteer nature of the commission members and the limited money that can go toward administrative costs further demonstrates that we are simply setting up a pressure releif valve system to assist parents and students that seek an appeal process if they are not being treated at the local level.

Girl with a Gun:

You present a different education concern that is not addressed by this amendment. I helped pass SB 10 a few years which was meant to help families like yours so that money does follow a child with special needs. Obviously, from what you are telling us it has not worked for you. That is a legitimate concern and I hope you will contact my office to see what we can do in the future to assist families like yours in futue legislation. We may disagree on the charter amendment but hopefully we can see if there is anything we can do legislatively to assist children like yours. My office number is 404-656-5024 and legislative e mail is [email protected].


As I have stated repeatedly, the charter amendment is not a silver bullet — there are no silver bullets. It is simply one of many reforms we need to enact. I think we are all pretty much settled in on our opinions on Amendment 1. So be it. Let’s vote on Tuesday and hopefully come together on Wednesday on other education reforms. This is simply one battle in the struggle toward creating more opportunity for our children.

I hope you will now forgive me if I move on from this blog. I have my own election to focus on in two days and, therefore, have many folks to talk to and hands to shake before I rest at 7:01 pm on Tuesday.

Take care and vote. Decisions are made by those that show up.


girl with a gun November 4, 2012 at 8:21 am

I believe SB 10 allows money to follow a child with an IEP but since my kids don’t have a learning disability and don’t require special education, they don’t have an IEP (Individual Education Plan). Instead, they have a 504 Plan, which allows accommodations. I have argued with their school in the past about giving them an IEP because Tourette’s actually falls under “other health impairment” but they refused to change it even though they really need more than accommodations, they need some services due to their anxiety and organizational problems. If you have any suggestions I’d be most grateful to hear them.
Thank you.

bowersville November 4, 2012 at 7:50 am

I am voting no because this does nothing for kids today or in the near future. It can take years to start a new school and I feel we are in a crisis, have been for a long time. We need change that will help all the schools better serve their kids and we need change that can help parents pay for an alternative when the local school does not fit their child’s needs.

That statement is one of the reasons I’ve already voted no! The Charter Amendment does nothing for children left in public school. Georgia has left it’s school children behind with few alternatives and many alternatives that have shown improvements, choice that leaves one size fits all behind, have been pointed out on this blog and else where and all we get is a tin ear.

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