DeKalb Neighbor Newspaper forwarded to DeKalb School Watch a self-serving article written by Gene Walker, in opposition to the Charter School Amendment to the Georgia Constitution. Read it here: [http://neighbornewspapers.com/view/full_story/20271392/article-Column–Keep-public-schools-in-hands-of-local-taxpayers?instance=dekalb] Meanwhile, here’s the truth to set the record straight.
Ironically, Walker’s article begins, “While most of us are going about our daily lives in our normal routines, there are a handful of folks at the state capitol who have been up to no good.” This would be really amusing if the damage to our children’s education and their futures by the apparently corrupt and clearly ignorant Walker and the Gang of Five wasn’t so tragic.
Walker declares, “Keep public schools in the hands of local taxpayers.” And he is right. There is nothing more local and more directly accountable to stakeholders than a charter school. The reality is that many of DeKalb County’s schools would have been shut down, already, if they were charter schools.
Thanks to Walker and the Gang of Five, the North DeKalb taxpayers who are shouldering the largest tax burden for public schools in DeKalb County are completely shut out of any decision-making. These taxpayers are continually denied meaningful representation, yet for the most part, these are people who are well-educated, professionally successful, financially secure and have spent their lives making prudent decisions – unlike most of the people on the current school board.
Quite frankly, we would rather take our chances with people who are committed to the concept of charter schools than with the convicted felons, the scoundrels, the corrupt, the morally bankrupt and the uneducated who make up the voting majority on the DeKalb County Schools Board of Education.
Walker erroneously states, “Charter schools can pick and choose.” Not true! Not true at all and Walker knows it. Charter schools cannot have entrance/admissions requirements. As public schools, charter schools are required to admit all students, up to the maximum of their capacity – and sometimes even beyond that capacity. When there are more students wanting to enroll in a particular school than available seats, a lottery for the seats must be held.
Tax dollars (with the exception of Title 1 funding) follow the students through per-pupil funding, whether they go to a traditional public school or a public charter school. Traditional public schools that are performing well have nothing to fear from public charter schools. On the other hand, a school system and/or schools that are corrupt and that are simply a way to funnel tax dollars to adults – a school system like, say, DeKalb County Schools – will fight tooth-and-nail to maintain status quo.
Walker (“I see color.” ) goes on to play the race card by irresponsibly suggesting that the charter school amendment to Georgia’s Constitution will lead to pre-1954 segregation in public schools. Laughably – and with no documentation – Walker says this charter school amendment is the “end of universal free public education,” completely ignoring Georgia’s constitutional requirement to provide free public education for all K-12 children. This amendment will not affect Georgia’s constitutional requirement to provide a free K-12 public education. This amendment will merely make it possible to get approval for charter schools through the State when school systems like DeKalb are unreasonable. And there is plenty of history of DeKalb’s recalcitrance concerning charter schools.
The only thing that Walker gets right in his article of innuendo and outright lies is that DeKalb County Schools is “a once-great school system.” This charter school amendment gives stakeholders an unprecedented opportunity to begin to take back our schools – school by school — provide close scrutiny and make them great, again.
Again, we say that we would rather take our chances with people who are committed to the concept of charter schools than with the convicted felons, the scoundrels, the corrupt, the morally bankrupt and the uneducated who make up the voting majority on the DeKalb County Schools Board of Education.
 “I am a very, very race-conscious person. I will never ever try to lead you to believe that I am race-neutral. I see color. I appreciate color. I celebrate color and I love color.” DeKalb County school board member Eugene Walker, discussing race-based contracting and a subsequent decision to pay an extra $1 million to get a firm headed by a black female. DeKalb’s legal expenses are higher than the combined total of legal expenses for school systems in Cobb, Gwinnett and Fulton counties.
 State of Georgia Constitution ARTICLE VIII. EDUCATION SECTION I. PUBLIC EDUCATION
Paragraph I. Public education; free public education prior to college or
postsecondary level; support by taxation . The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia. Public education for the citizens prior to the college or postsecondary level shall be free and shall be provided for by taxation.