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Better Georgia Weighs in on Charter Schools Amendment

Better Georgia is a progressive advocacy organization working on a variety of issues that concern Georgians.

By Bryan Long, director of Better Georgia

Charter schools are often a great choice for students.

But like most Georgians, we believe that decisions on how local education dollars should be spent ought to be made by parents in the communities where those students live and by the school boards they elect.

On Nov. 6, you will be asked to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ for an amendment to Georgia’s constitution.

You are not voting for or against charter schools.

Instead, you are voting for or against the creation of a new, costly, and unnecessary state bureaucracy.

Vote ‘No’ to stop the creation of the new government agency.

Over the past decade, our state government has cut more than $1 billion from the state budget in money that is sent to local school boards for K-12 education.

Now, the state government wants to change our constitution to take away your right to elect those who decide how scarce education tax dollars are spent.

In fact, if the bureaucrats get their way, we’ll have a new, state-level, Atlanta-based agency to tell you and your neighbors how to spend your education tax dollars.

You won’t elect these people. You won’t be able to fire these people. You may never see these people set foot in your community. But the members of this unnecessary government agency may stand to profit from their decisions.

Better Georgia believes this is wrong.

And we’re not alone.

Here’s who else wants you to vote ‘No’ on Amendment 1:

And, that’s not all. Who else wants you to vote ‘No’ on Amendment 1? These school boards, educators and professionals:

In fact, 69 percent of Georgia voters we asked said they are opposed to granting the state more control over education tax dollars raised by local city and county school boards.

Who wants you to vote ‘Yes’ on Amendment 1?

  • Wal-Mart
  • Multinational Conglomerate Koch Industries
  • 10 big-dollar out-of-state donors
  • Gov. Nathan Deal, and legislators Don Balfour and Chip Rogers

More than 92 percent of money contributed to the ‘Yes’ campaign comes from donors outside of Georgia. And that’s just the money they’re telling us about!

It seems that the only people who support Amendment 1 are state government bureaucrats, lawmakers who want a new way to spend your tax dollars and out-of-state corporations who are hovering like vultures, eager to make a profit off Georgia’s children.

That's money that will come straight out of your pocket.

Please join Better Georgia as we fight to keep Georgia’s lawmakers from increasing the size of government bureaucracy while shrinking the budget for local schools.

Sign our pledge to Vote ‘No’ on Amendment 1. 

Join us on Facebook: Better Georgia Schools.

We don’t need another government agency to tell us how to educate our children or how to spend our tax dollars.

A ‘No’ vote on Amendment 1 will keep the control over schools in your community with your community leaders.

Related articles:

Barrow election guide 2012

Feeling Manipulated About Charter Schools? There's a Reason for That

Improving Education is Truly a Bi-Partisan Issue

MP October 03, 2012 at 01:16 PM
I would like Better Georgia to qualify some of their statements that I believe to be FALSE. 1. They say that "...like most Georgians, we believe that decisions on how local education dollars should be spent ought to be made by parents in the communities where those students live and by the school boards they elect." How do you respond to the fact the the Commission (state) will only authorize and oversee the schools and LOCAL parents, community members and teachers will serve on boards that control them. Most charters elect their boards, and these board members serve a very specific constituency. 2. How to you respond to the fact that in 15 years, over 180 districts, we have only 55 locally approved independent charter schools. Let's do the math....55 schools divided by 15 years is on average, 3.7 schools per year being authorized locally. Now, divide that by 180 districts, and ON AVERAGE, districts are approving .02 schools per year. Voting no on this amendment IS voting against charter schools, because without an alternative authorizer to appeal to, the charters have 2 hundredths of a percent of a chance of ever opening in their local communities. The Commission will drive the districts to have more integrity in their processes. ...to be continued...
MP October 03, 2012 at 01:20 PM
3. How do you respond to the fact that 87 superintendents in these "tough" financial times where teachers are being furloughed and school days are being cut have taken raises? How do you respond to the "retreats" at the Ritz Carlton and Callaway Gardens where tens of thousands of dollars are being spent? How do you respond to the fact that that 38 districts out of 180 earn (even with cuts) more than $10,000 per pupil, and the majority of these districts have the majority of their schools in needs improvement status and have graduation rates floating in the 50% range? 4. How do you respond to the fact that the districts are SUDDENLY "ok" with the current State Board hearing appeals, even though the state board, like the Commission is APPOINTED. How do you respond to the campaign slogan "Vote no to STATE CONTROLLED SCHOOLS?" And what do you say about the Supreme Court decision that gave districts EXCLUSIVE control - what does EXCLUSIVE mean to you? I will anxiously await your enlightened response.
Kids First October 03, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Actions do speak louder than words don't they. So every time they say, 'this isn't about charter schools but', it really is! I will vote YES.
MP October 03, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Kids First, I think they are right. This fight is NOT about charter schools. It's about... * Ensuring EVERY CHILD has a choice for the most appropriate and effective place to be schooled * Ensuring we close the achievement gap for children, particularly minority and economically disadvantaged children. * Breaking the cycle of poverty, particularly in urban and rural areas. * Giving parents a choice and a voice. * Holding boards accountable to taxpayers and parents for strong academic outcomes and good fiscal stewardship. * Improving our pipeline of kids that are college and work force ready. * Improving our state and local economies. What is is NOT about is: * Local school district power and control * Local school district's "ownership" of money for kids they don't serve * The fringe organizations (PAGE, GAE, PTA) who make their membership dues off of the school system alliance
Elizabeth Hooper October 03, 2012 at 03:25 PM
MP Here's what the legislation actually says: HB 797 Lines 103 - 106 The commission shall have the following duties: 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. No mention of closing the achievement gap, no mention of breaking the cycle of poverty in urban areas, no mention of improving anything, no mention of helping minority or economically disadvantaged children, read further , very little mention of holding anyone accountable for good fiscal stewardship - please quote those specific lines in HB 797. This legislation is so wide open and nebulous you could drive multiple "for-profit" companies thru it in no time - ALARMING comes to mind. Oh - and if you think the PTA is a "fringe" organization I "cringe" to think what mainstream means to you.
Kids First October 03, 2012 at 03:43 PM
So let me get this straight Ms. Hooper. The legislation says the money for a state charter school will be pulled from the general state fund not the education fund but you have no problem telling everyone that that means their schools, their children will suffer if this amendment is approved. BUT, you can't believe it's possible the commission will be looking for achievement, improvement, community support, fiscal stewardship. You need those things spelled out but have no problem 'speculating' where the funding might come from for these schools. Very strange indeed. I prefer to 'speculate' that the commission will in the future look to approving quality schools as it did in the past.
MP October 03, 2012 at 07:41 PM
Ms. Hooper, You only quoted 3 lines of an entire section....and you evidently missed the section before. Let me assist you with your selective reading: Lines 23-25 reads: "It is the intent of the General Assembly that there be established a state-level commission under the authority of the State Board of Education WHOSE PRIMARY FOCUS is the development and support of state charter schools IN ORDER TO BETTER MEET THE GROWING AND DIVERSE NEEDS OF STUDENTS IN THIS STTAE AND TO FURTHER ENSURE THAT STATE CHARTER SCHOLS OF TEH HIGHEST ACADEMIC QUALITY are approved and supported throughout the state in an efficient manner." Lines 103-106 discusses dissemination of best practices....of ACADEMICALLY and FINANCIALLY proven charter schol programs. Lines 7-11 Discusses their role as assuring high standards of accountability and ensuring the charters participate and performs according to the state's accountability system. Lines 112-118 Discusses monitoring and evaluating ACADEMIC and FINANCIAL performance and their "duties to monitor." Lines 119-124 Talks about helping the schools find sources of private funding or grants to supplement state funds. Lines 125-126 Addresses their responsibility to recommend statuary revisions. Lines 127-129 Discusses acting as a liaison with local boards. Lines 130-132 Talks about collaborating with municipalities, counties, higher ed. etc.
MP October 03, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Cont. Lines 133 - 135 Addresses meeting administrative needs and REMOVING ADMINISTRATIVE BURDENS OF DISTRICTS. Lines 136-138 Addresses assisting with negotiations with LOCAL DISTRICTS. Lines 140-143 Talks about Providing annual training of governance boards and the requirements of this training. Lines 144-148 Discusses Ensuring appropriate enrollment procedures to ensure equal access for students. Lines 149-152 DiscussesNotice to the public about Commission meetings. And THOSE, Mrs. Hooper, are the Commissions' full duties and responsibilities (along with their statutory mandate through the Charter Schools Act to support the charters to raise student achievement. A BIG part of their job is ensuring quality. As for PTA - the parents at the school level PTA are hard working, concerned parents. The leadership of Georgia's PTA is, yes, on the "fringe" of the educational establishing, ensuring they play the right politics to stay part of that fringe. They violate the trust of every PTA parent in this state with the miscommunication they are passing down.
MP October 03, 2012 at 07:45 PM
What is most alarming is that you are sharing erroneous information and clearly have not read the whole statute or you would have seen for yourself that both academic AND financial accountability are repeated over and over and over.
Ed Uktr October 04, 2012 at 02:02 AM
The above article is a free advertisement from the teachers' union AND the Duluth Patch editor—against parental choice. According to polls, 58 PERCENT of Georgia voters will be voting IN FAVOR OF Amendment 1. Our traditional public school system is broken, and more charter schools are the answer. Right now teachers' unions and liberals are able to tie up charter school applications in red tape. Amendment 1 restores state power to override the anti-choice crowd—and give parents and kids more choices. Vote "YES" on Amendment 1.
Erin B October 04, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Why wouldn't the development and improvement of charter schools fall under the Department of Education that is already in existance? Why do we need to pay more state employees to do the same things we are already paying the others for? Can't we just replace the ones we have and improve public schools along with charter schools?

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