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

Don't be fooled by outside interests looking to hijack the Charter school amendment. You will get upset, and then apply that anger towards other important issues. And that's exactly what they want.

Up for grabs is one constitutional amendment which basically brings two bills into action:

  1. Authorize the state to approve new charter school charters (and not just appeals).
  2. Specify alternate (non QBE) funding levels for state charter schools.


That's it.  

What is not up for grabs…

  1. Vouchers (using county tax $ to fund state charters & private schools)
    • Lots of $$ and forces well trenched on both sides of this argument.
  2. A specified increase or decrease in charter school funding and approval.
    • Sometimes billed as a "blank check for new charters", but the reality is that here is only so much $$ to go around – and Gov. Deal has other priorities he must fund, like healthcare & transportation).. (But not ethics – let’s be clear)
  3. Increase school performance measures, parental involvement, technical alternatives to college, or other meaningful changes.


Now, most of the vitriol and baggage comes from two events:

  1. A Supreme Court ruling saying the State doesn't have the authority to approve new charter school applications.  (They can only weigh in on appeals.)  That should be left to the "level of government closest and most responsive to the taxpayers"
  2. A cut of 12.5 percent in state funding of K-12 Schools between FY09 and FY12. 


So, to me, I do not consider the charter school amendment an election issue, because then you lose sight of how the BOE spends its money on such items as lobbying, technology, business development, central office expenses, all of which lead to more furlough days, shorter school years, and group think.

This amendment would give the DOE the authority to evaluate new charter school charters, and it would put pressure on the local school boards to incorporate charter schools into their capacity planning, curriculum planning, discipline measures, and data to measure their performance against. Also, there are already protections for only Georgia based not for profit management companies, so the bigger conspiracy is still only with those manipulating the issue.

We really need to be focusing on the BOE races, rather be distracted by this issue which has been perverted by non-Georgian interests.

On a side note, I wouldn't have had the point of view that I have if there weren't people like Elizabeth Hooper championing the voice of the "little guy" and trying to cut through the spin, hype, and agendas.  Although I think we've reached different conclusions, my hat is off to you.

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.

Mark Peevy September 17, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Jack.....good article. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew September 17, 2012 at 10:22 PM
@ Jack it would seem to enforce your article's position...
Annette Rogers September 18, 2012 at 11:03 AM
Is the charter amendment an election issue when I vote for GBOE? Hmmm.... for me yes, and no. I think I have few single "deal breaker" issues. I vote more for how I hope the candidate will meet my overall expectations during their term. However, this amendment IS education related so I do expect my elected and potential school board members to have a personal understanding of the issue and be responsive to constituents. There is a meeting at Christ the King church next week I believe where Mary Kay Murphy and Alvin Wilbanks will speak. I am interested in the charter issue and want to learn things like, How much money has GCPS spent on lobbyists and lawyers on the charter school issue? Why? What are GCPS policies for reviewing and approving charter schools? Why GMST and not Ivy Prep? With the size and scope of GCPS, is there any plan to give more true "local" control to individual schools and communities? If anyone on Patch has heard an answer to any of these or other questions from our (elected) school board or (hired) superintendent, please let me know.
Taxpaying Mom September 18, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Jack you are right about this issue - but if taxpayers would educate themselves on just the facts - NOT the spin - the charter amendment issue would pale in comparison to what the School Board has been doing to this county for years. In fact, it would not surprise me that Wilbanks is leading the charge 'to' charter issue to lead us taxpayers 'away' from the issues of GA Commerce funds, contracts given to only 'insiders', and the IE- squared contract that gives them the ultimate power over all of our students. It doesn't surprise me that MKM or her supporters are not participating in 'open' forums like this - then they would have to actually answer our questions - MKM has not done that in decades! So please fellow taxpayers, don't be fooled into putting all of your energy into one issue - we have a so many immediate critical issues in Gwinnett County that need to be solved!
John B September 18, 2012 at 04:29 PM
Can someone explain to me how a charter school will prevent a kid from dropping out of school? It appears that if 1/3 of the population drops out you have parents who aren't parenting not teachers who aren't teaching. Who lets their kids drop out of school?....
C.J. September 18, 2012 at 04:37 PM
RE: "I'm not sure you can call it privatizing the school system, since these charter schools operate with public funds and public contracts,..." With respect, diverting taxpayer funds from existing public institutions to private entities is the very definition of privatization. Given the state of QBE funding in Georgia, this is exactly what the state seeks to do via the charter school amendment. Of course, I'm not saying that local schools boards are not infallible. But given the fact that state-wide, they are dramatically underfunded leading to deteriorating school facilities, fewer teachers, larger classes, shorter school days, and shorter school years, you can't exactly blame the public school system. In other words, you can't underfund public school systems, and then reasonably blame them when they can't succeed. Charter schools are saying, "Give us money, and we'll have clean, well-maintained school buildings and amenities like good libraries, smaller classes, longer school days, and longer school years." Instead, why not give our existing public schools the money they need to have clean, well-maintained school buildings and amenities like good libraries, smaller classes, longer school days, and longer school years? Why not fight with the same passion for all schools? Why not fight with the same passion for all students? Again, the silence on the Georgia's refusal to fully fund all of Georgia's schools, as required by QBE, is deafening.
Steve R. September 18, 2012 at 04:42 PM
" It appears that if 1/3 of the population drops out" Where does the 1/3 statistic come from? Just curious. That seems very high. That may very well explain why I see so many kids walking around on my lunch break, during a school day.
Sabrina Smith September 18, 2012 at 04:57 PM
The drop out rate should be a cause for concern for everyone in Gwinnett County, whether they have children or not, and whether they support the charter school amendment or not. Having one third of our public school students failing to finish school has an impact on the local economy, crime, taxes, etc. http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/under-new-formula-georgia-graduation-rate-reset-to/nQSwk/ "Neighboring South Carolina and North Carolina went to the new formula several years ago and have 73.56 percent and 77.9 percent grad rates, respectively."
Sabrina Smith September 18, 2012 at 05:00 PM
The majority of metro-Atlanta counties have a higher graduation rate than Gwinnett County. These statistics are from the Georgia Department of Education. Atlanta Metro System Percentages: Forsyth County 86.27, Fayette County 78.23, Paulding County 76.0, Coweta County 74.85, Cherokee County 74.82, Cobb County 73.35, Henry County 72.35, Douglas County 70.98, Fulton County 70.05, Gwinnett County 67.56, Bartow County 66.22, Rockdale County 66.20, DeKalb County 58.65, Atlanta City 51.96, Clayton County 51.48.
Sabrina Smith September 18, 2012 at 05:03 PM
If you would like to know which other Georgia counties outside of metro-Atlanta have a higher graduation rate than Gwinnett County, you can find those counties listed here: Districts Above 90 Percent: Chickamauga City 97.44, Bremen City 93.18, Oconee County 91.57, Rabun County 90.4. Districts 80-to-90 Percent: Union County 88.69, Decatur City 88.40, Towns County 88.37, Wheeler County 87.5, White County 86.45, Forsyth County 86.27, Morgan County 86.09, Clinch County 85.53, Pike County 84.65, Pierce County 84.23, Commerce City 83.96, Hancock County 83.51, Miller County 83.33, Gilmer County 82.39, Fannin County 82.18, Stephens County 81.99, Screven County 81.94, Gordon County 81.76, Pickens County 80.74, Dalton City 80.57, Glascock County 80.0.
Jack McClure September 18, 2012 at 09:33 PM
There's an error in my article, which I need to further clarify: The state cannot approve charter schools - I make it seem like they can approve ones which have appealed. The state can approve "special" schools - some charters which are denied by local BoEs can then be approved as special schools under the current constitutional authority. The amendment at hand expands the state's constitutional authority to approve appealed charter school charters. That is, where a local BoE doesn't want to share their revenue or other dubious motives, the applicants (representing lots of parents and students who are not satisfied with local public or private schools) then have an appeal process. That is all.
TashaKitty Gordon September 18, 2012 at 11:37 PM
guess what i pay taxes and so does everyone else so guess what i have the right and so do others to choose how our kids go to school and where, charter schools are great and wonderful alternatives to failing schools, so open your eyes to the truth of it all and realize this is about every child not just yours, and rights we are all entitled to, charter schools and home schools and public schools work differently for each child and a parent who cares about their child will tell you more options the better, stop judging this on how you grew up and what you liked and what worked for you cause it doesnt work that way for all others.............
TashaKitty Gordon September 18, 2012 at 11:38 PM
OMG.........people please grow up and think for yourselves, first off we all cant do the same job some of us just have those skills, we all dont go to the same grocery store we dont all shop at the same darn stores so why the heck does all our children be forced to go to the same darn schools we dont send them to the same college do we no we dont, there are schools options for a reason, i am a single mom of three kids and two of those are special needs and let me just tell you not all public school systems are equal or equipped to deal with certain types od kids, and our children have the right to be in a learning enviroment that they learn best in, I am a college student going to school to get a degree in education, they are putting children all grouped in one classroom no matter their levels or special needs with a teacher not well qualified to handle the vast majority and diversity in her classroom, charter, virtual, public, and private are all options our children are all entitled to and to say public school has more merit and is a better option than any other is just dumb and crazy, not all kids can learn in a public school enviroment some need the home school enviroment, some need the online charter public enviroment.
Global Warming September 19, 2012 at 12:09 AM
And we certainly want our children to grow up and write better than this. Was that just one period? I need some aspirin.
Athens Mama September 19, 2012 at 12:12 AM
So true, Tasha. So true. Similar story here as well - I'm in education and I have seen things that would fry the hair of some. I started paying a whole lot more to my kids' education once I started seeing things in certain schools on a day to day basis.
John B September 19, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Don't forget to share the waterboarding stories with Tasha. You're in education? I would have never guessed.
Jack McClure September 19, 2012 at 01:33 AM
@Athens mama - so then is the charter school amendment a factor for you when you choose your BoE, or is perhaps incumbancy, how many furlough days you have this year, etc?
Jack McClure September 19, 2012 at 01:37 AM
@Tasha - Wow - you must be so mad you could spit. Sincerely, thanks for taking the time to vent on our humble blog, between college classes, three kids, and god knows what. On that note - So is the charter school amendment #1 on your issues for a BoE candidate? Is curriculum? School counselor / special ed (parapros funding) / redistricting / apportionment? Using tax dollars to fund chamber of commerce activities?
Jack McClure September 19, 2012 at 01:39 AM
Sabrina, thanks for posting those figures - I couldn't really find them in a good format. So if GCPS has a high school graduation rate of 67% - do you think they will re-hire their graduation coaches? Or perhaps they will create a charter school for anyone who's not going to graduate to transfer to...
Amanda Helmstetter September 19, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Interesting perspective that it shouldn't be an election issue at all. Unfortunatley (if I'm understanding you correctly) that train has left the station and it IS an election issue. This issue is complex and it is hard for me to wrap my brain around as an observer.... But I am having a hard time understanding why providing for choice in public schools is a bad thing - especially since it is not negatively impacting the public school budget. I have to wonder why the GCPS board doesn't support the existence of some charter schools (Ivy Prep) - going so far as to file a lawsuit with public funds that should be spent on putting teachers in classrooms - while supporting other charter schools (specifically the Math and Science school). I don't understand why "thinking out of the box" and "changing the way things are done" is being argued about. Charter schools are trying to offer an alternative to parents when their current school doesn't meet their child's needs. The charters will be observed and have to report results (which is more than private schools have to do and no one is advocating we get rid of them) and are not diluting public school funding. If our kids benefit, if graduation rates go up, if Georgia rises in the ranks to "world class" public education.... Isn't that the point?
TashaKitty Gordon September 19, 2012 at 03:39 AM
LOL, you all have to understand i just started this year as a newby to online public charter school and its great for my kids, yet at the same time finally getting a system that works for my kids i am learning what is needed to continue those school options and choices for my kids may easily be taken away and im sorry that turned me into an advocate, also im in school to be a teacher that doesnt mean by any means im perfect and this is a response so I write how i feel and i can care less the mistakes as long as the truth comes out, i just want people to see that all of it is so very important and after i saw this on my friends facebook page i had to see why it had them so confused and mad, but i do believe all those involved fromlocal to federal government whether a vote to board members all should be considered and looked at, i just hate it how some people think about themselves and their child and not others and that can burn me up, i have 3 kids and a slammed life but i would never take away anothers rights if they are in the right and deserving that is just decent humanity to me
Global Warming September 19, 2012 at 11:29 AM
Good God! All that and not one single period! Education is certainly something to be taken seriously.
John B September 19, 2012 at 11:54 AM
TKG, you and AM will make quite the pair in this blog. I look forward to the free entertainment. BTW, she's an educator (so she says) but I wouldn't recommend her as a proctor.
C.J. September 19, 2012 at 02:32 PM
RE: "But I am having a hard time understanding why providing for choice in public schools is a bad thing - especially since it is not negatively impacting the public school budget." This amendment IS negatively impacting the school budget. The state is withholding funds from public schools while simultaneously seeking to divert those funds to charter schools. Complaints about our public school boards while remaining silent on the fact that the state isn't fully funding our schools as required by the Quality Basic Education (QBE) law is like sawing a leg off of a chair and then complaining about the company that made the chair. "...state-approved charter schools will get more money per pupil under the proposed amendment than traditional public schools. " http://www.politifact.com/georgia/statements/2012/sep/11/herb-garrett/charter-school-funding-claim-hits-close-mark/ Again, this charter school amendment is nothing more than an attempt, at the state level, to divert taxpayer money from publicly-operated schools to privately-operated schools. In short, the phrase "school choice" is a back door to "privatization." It's that simple. If you support that, then fine. But nobody should operate under the false impression that this is about school choice, when the real goal is to shut down the public schools and replace them with a privatized system.
Athens Mama September 20, 2012 at 01:28 AM
John B - you are both uncouth and hold fast and true to your "intimidator" style. Keep on straying from the topics....the personal attacks fit right in with your style...
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew September 20, 2012 at 03:53 AM
I too wonder why our school system had to be party to a lawsuit to stop the state leaders from overstepping their station in creating a program that violated the State Constitution... Now those same state leaders are back, telling us that this amendment will result in or restore freedom of choice. But I can't quite trust their statements as much as I might care to because they define real life tax increases as "tax cuts" as late as 2012. These same folks haven't had a great record funding education as it stands now but found funds for the Go Fish! center and many other items from somewhere ... You can be for school choice, you can even be for privatization of the system, but this amendment may not be best vehicle to achieve that goal. The fiscal controls to ensure counties/cities get what they are forced to pay for aren't there yet (call it taxpayer protection plan after the sale). We are told they will come AFTER the amendment passes... We always hear a little is better than none, but that thinking has put us where we are now. We have a hard enough time getting county school leaders to explain funding to the chamber with county tax dollars. Just imagine getting that information from a state board with NO elected officials involved, a quote from the movie Taken comes to mind, "GOOD LUCK" click, static, nothing...
Marne M September 20, 2012 at 11:09 AM
This was a really difficult issue for me. On the one hand, I strongly support school choice. I want all parents and children to be able to have a range of options, so that they can decide (in conjunction with teachers and administrators) what is the best learning environment and style for their child. If that means that Charter schools are competing for funds, so be it. On the other hand, I also believe very adamantly in keeping local decisions local. If Charter schools are the best option for Barrow County, then we empower our school board to make that decision. If we don't like the decisions the local school board is making, then we replace the members of the board. In this case, I'm favoring local control. I think that it is up to me and the other parents in Barrow County to decide what is best for our children, and for our school board to decide how to allocate the funds, as they are elected to do. If I think they aren't doing their job, then I'll advocate against them in the next election. I don't believe that any state-level official is going to have the same understanding and grasp of those issues unique to Barrow County (or whatever County in which you happen to live) that a local official would have, and there is a better chance of my voice being heard at the smaller level of government.
John B September 20, 2012 at 12:40 PM
AM...just a couple of days ago I responded to a post by George Wilson, subsequently I was subjected to an unsolicited attack by you. Unlike you, I didn't whine or cry. What I have done is sent it right back up your tailpipe and true to your liberal form you now claim to be victimized by the Patch bully. You have very few advocates here and it's not because you have liberal views. It's more about your rants, accusations, and lack of credibility. Go back and read some of your posts and reflect.
Larry Reid September 20, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Cha Ching! Shake it up!
Athens Mama September 21, 2012 at 01:18 AM
@John B - I went back and read through those posts listed under your moniker. ?? I couldn't find that to which you refer, unless it was about Monica Lewinsky. We disagreed about Herman Cain and Clinton, but I didn't see any malice from me. I can get very opinionated about education, but that's because I need people to listen to my perspective, not always believe or embrace it.


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