Charter Amendment HR 1162 - Governor Deal - Did You Read It?

Will HR1162 address failing schools or are the voters being misled?


Now that we're into September the big guns will be rolled out to get you to vote "YES" on HR 1162. This innocent sounding amendment to our state constitution will ask the following question:

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

First of all let's clarify what type of public charter school we're talking about. Pro-school choice advocates want more independent, "start-up" charter schools. These schools could be authorized by an appointed State Charter Commission if denied by a local board of education. They would not be governed by a local board of education or by the state, but by an autonomous non-profit board of directors. Parental representation on this governing board is not required. They can contract with a "for-profit" education management company if they want to. Tuition is free, paid by state tax dollars primarily, thus the designation "public" applies.

In Alpharetta, for example, Amana Academy is and Fulton Science Academy MS was, a "start-up" charter. They were authorized by the local board of education. Fulton County Schools has converted to a "charter system" - that is not what HR 1162/HB 797 is about - all Fulton County Schools will have increased flexibility and parental involvement, but governance and the operation of all schools will remain with the Fulton County BOE. 

Governor Deal is for HR 1162. He has started making the rounds saying things like, "In many parts of our state, students are stuck in schools that are failing...in schools that are not making adequate yearly progress," - remarks to the Gwinnett Chamber on August 23rd. I'm not really sure if Gov. Deal has actually read HR 1162 and the legislation you will get, HB 797, if you vote for it. He signed HB 797 into law on May 3, 2012. I'm hoping he hasn't read the bills because then he can claim, "he didn't know." 

Here's the bottom line - anyone who states or insinuates that HR 1162/HB 797 will improve Georgia's low graduation rate or help kids in failing schools is  MISLEADING YOU! How do I know? Because I read the darn legislation!

I challenge you to find any of the following words or phrases. Email back on this blog and tell me precisely where any of the following words are mentioned in either HR 1162 or HB 797:

Ready? Here are the key words or phrases: improve, failing school, "at-risk", succeed, drop out, adequate yearly progress, disadvantaged, achievement gap, special needs, learning, innovative, low-performing, professional, English language learners, or graduation rate. HB 797 is only 13 pages and pages 8 - 13 are all about money. The only valid bill must match the final versions located on the Georgia Legislature's website or here; http://1.usa.gov/PFwngj, http://1.usa.gov/ThnBZE

Guess what - if those words are not written down, charter schools which actually address any of those issues aren't necessarily going to be started. To all of you who have trusted your legislators to write a bill that was concise and targeted to actually improve failing schools or foster innovation in education, you have been misled.

The State of Maine is rated #1 by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools by virtue of its charter school law http://bit.ly/TVGq1S. Here is the paragraph describing the type of state charter school the Charter Commission in Maine is supposed to be looking for;

"Charter schools may be established as public schools pursuant to this chapter to improve pupil learning by creating more high-quality schools with high standards for pupil performance; to close achievement gaps between high-performing and low-performing groups of public schools students; to increase high-quality educational opportunities within the public education system; to provide alternative learning environments for students who are not thriving in traditional school settings; to create new professional opportunities for teachers and other school personnel; to encourage the use of different, high-quality models of teaching and other aspects of schooling; and to provide students, parents, community members and local entities with expanded opportunities for involvement in the public education system."

Here is Georgia's Charter Commission mission statement from HB 797;

"State charter schools do not supplant public schools operated by local boards of education but provide options to enhance public educational opportunities... 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." 

INSPIRATIONAL right? Sounds more like a clinical trial to encourage the growth of a virus!

Here are the key words in HB 797; enhance, high quality, replicate, efficient, financially proven.

Reason #4 to vote "NO" on HR 1162: it's an engraved invitation to "for-profit" education management companies to replicate in Georgia.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Me September 09, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Elizabeth, You KNOW Governor Deal hasn't read this - he has "people" to do that and tell him their interpretation of it! (Well, his people and lobbyists from groups funded by all those out-of-state donors supporting the law... http://onlineathens.com/local-news/2012-08-31/out-state-donors-funding-charter-school-push)
Athens Mama September 10, 2012 at 04:30 AM
As much as communities have the power to elect their local BOEs, the incumbents continue to get voted in because either no one else runs or people don't consider that change should occur. The truth is, this is a very complex issue. BOEs are saddled with the job of doing what is best for all the children in a community. This is very complex, because trying to serve the masses almost always means watering down what is served, especially if there is a tight budget. So, why would a local BOE want to further water down (spread less around to the masses they serve) with a charter school that will drain funds and parents of more academically successful children (because they are the ones paying closest attention to raising children and their educations)? The answer is, in an era of shrinking budgets, they won't. This leaves us with a system where schools are zoned by real estate boundaries. This creates a feudal system in which each Principal is the feudal lord and the educators are the nobles. Their power is quite large, when you think about it. Educators in many districts get tenure after a certain number of years. There is a good reason for this - to protect their years of valuable service and to protect them in case an unfair administrator tries to threaten their jobs. The problem with this is that takes nearly a criminal act to remove a teacher with tenure, even if it is clear that they hate children, or certain types of children. If there are choices, the feudal
Athens Mama September 10, 2012 at 04:37 AM
lords must work harder to please parents. They will not treat my child poorly just because my child has a different last name than I do, and they consider that they can get away with it because I am a "poor single mother." The charter and the local schools will be competing for their customers, because they both want the highest performing, best behaved students. The teachers who treat children poorly will affect their schools, because people will choose charters over schools that harbor educators with bad attitudes that are harmful to children. The argument is that the charter will give less resources to students because they want to make a profit - but the truth is (and they know this) that they cannot make a profit unless they attract families. Attracting families is important - and they might not only attract families with high performing students. Their test scores may not be much higher than the local schools, but who the heck cares, if the families and students are happy? In my family, there is a high performance test taker, and a medium performance test taker. I don't really care if they grow up to be doctors or parks and recreation workers, as long as they work steadily, like what they do, and make a living that allows them to support their families. In order to get there, they must both engage in school, graduate, and pursue some type of post-secondary education. Charter or local, I don't care, just love them and engage them!!
Athens Mama September 10, 2012 at 04:46 AM
We need choices = charters. The governor is trying to get charters to the public school districts in the only way that is going to be effective across the state. He knows that as the money dries up, local BOEs will be less able to do their jobs (serving all the students of their districts) with limited resources - AND preserve choices and quality within their districts. They are also very unlikely to approve a charter, when the risk of the charter not producing higher test scores is a factor. The thing is, I'll say it again, test scores are indicative of academic achievement, but they are not always the best litmus test for indicating how well a school is doing its job. True, test scores should rise with higher quality education, but when parents have a school struggling to meet AYP and a charter that does not have much higher test scores but does deliver a MUCH HIGHER QUALITY SCHOOL CULTURE - the the choice is a no brainer for the parents. Parents want their children - PARTICULARLY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN - in schools where their love of learning is nurtured, where they feel safe, secure, and cared for. Some kids don't become great test takers until they are a little older and their brains have had more time to develop, or their energy has become a little more focused. You know what? As a parent - I don't give a flip if my kid doesn't exceed in many areas of the CRCT as a third grader but then does exceed in several areas as a fifth grader. Be nice either way!
Lynn McIntyre October 18, 2012 at 09:06 AM
http://lanierteapartypatriots.org/article.asp?id=83 Tea Party says Vote NO too...


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