GA PTA Under Pressure Over Charters
The National Parent Teacher Association wants the Georgia chapter to remain neutral in the state's charter school debate.
With nearly two months to go before Georgians vote on a controversial amendment that could restore the state's authority to approve and fund charter schools, the Georgia PTA is under pressure from its parent organization to rescind its opposition to the measure.
Last month, the state chapter made its position clear: Vote no when you go to the polls in November.
While the Georgia PTA supports charter schools approved by local school boards, "we reject the state power grab from local communities in the education of their children, the financial inequities, and the overt attention being given to those who intend to profit from the education of children," Sally FitzGerald, the group's educational policy specialist, wrote in the July 1 position statement.
Since then, according to an article in Education Week, the National PTA has revised its policy on charter schools and extended its support to charters approved by all authorizing bodies—not just local school boards.
And the national organization wants its chapters to support the change. For the Georgia chapter, that means taking a neutral stance in the debate over the state's proposed charter school amendment, according to Education Week.
Emails to FitzGerald and the Georgia PTA executive committee have not been returned, but the Georgia Charter Schools Association today praised the National PTA's policy shift.
"We applaud the recognition by National PTA that just as one size doesn't fit all in educating our students, a single charter authorizer doesn't fit all either," Georgia Charter Schools Association President & CEO Tony Roberts said in a statement. "High-quality authorizers such as the Georgia Charter Schools Commission give parents and students a needed appeals process when a school board refuses to fairly consider a charter application. The entire charter community here in our state is asking Georgia PTA to follow their national organization and end their opposition to the November vote on the charter amendment."
The Georgia PTA isn't the only opponent of the charter amendment making headlines. In a move that came as a surprise to his Republican colleagues, State Superintendent John Barge earlier this month announced his opposition to the measure.
"Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts," he said.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who signed the amendment's enabling legislation at Cherokee Charter Academy in May, said local districts wouldn't lose money.
"In fact, under the formula in the legislation, they are getting the very lowest level of funding of any public school," he said at the time.