Charter Schools Amendment: Commentary by Nancy Jester

[Reprinted from Nancy Jester’s October 11, 2012 email newsletter, “Nancy’s News”.]

I just posted a new blog: It’s Called a Balance Sheet. Click on the title to read and comment. If you haven’t already read my last blog on the subject, please check out The Myth of Local Control.

For all the hyperbole out there about charter schools, here’s my top five facts to remember:

1. Charter Schools are public schools that must admit students using a blind lottery (if there are more students than spaces). They can’t pick and choose.

2. Charter Schools are run by a local group of parents and community members. Charter schools are NOT run by “outside corporations”. A board can choose “a la carte” to purchase goods and services (curriculum, financial management, texbooks, etc.) from companies. This is exactly how all districts work. School districts across the state purchase goods and services everyday from a variety of vendors.

3. Charter schools that fail to meet their metrics (academically or financially), are shut down. Failing schools in our school districts can exist in perpetuity. There is no mechanism that automatically shuts down a failing traditional school. If a district doesn’t manage your tax dollars well, the district isn’t shut down either. In fact, the district can raise your taxes. When districts are failing, the footprint of their failure is much larger than that of one charter school.

4. Competition creates innovations. Even the threat of competition from charter schools can incentivize local districts to create a better, more responsive product. If school districts compete for the business of parents who might choose a charter school, there will be no need for one to open.

5. This argument isn’t about money. It’s about control. The current establishment has produced an abysmal rate of return on your taxes spent on education. Because they can’t “run on their record”, they are attempting to distract the public.

A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? This one is worth 162.5 pieces of Candy Corn. Here’s how the dollars stack up – we’re talking 1/2 of a Candy Corn!:

State Education Funding

The state’s total FY2012 appropriations: $15.9 billion.

Appropriations for Education: $9.97 billion
(62% of all appropriations for the state.)

Amount of money spent on charters commissioned by the state: $56.1 million
(0.56% of total amount spent on education in Georgia.)

___
Please note….
Regarding all of the hullabaloo about advocacy and public officials: I support everyone’s right to speak out about the amendment and advocate their viewpoint. I do not think it is appropriate to use taxpayer funded distribution methods or assets owned by the public. My website, email list and social media channels, are all owned and maintained by me privately.

–Nancy

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52 Responses to Charter Schools Amendment: Commentary by Nancy Jester

  1. The Deal says:

    Whether you agree with Nancy or not, you have to hand it to her for communicating with her constituents (and other members’ constituents) on relevant topics. The silence from other board members is deafening.

  2. howdy1942 says:

    I respect Nancy Jester’s commentary and also agree with @The Deal. I live in Tucker which some label as being a part of Central Dekalb. Our children attended Dekalb public schools for all 12 years, both graduated from good colleges, and both have PhDs, one from Yale University. The public school system in Dekalb County at that time was superb and we were pleased.

    We have been deeply concerned at what has happened. Much of our decline can, in my opinion, be attributed to the poor management of the System by the school board. Over the years we have had the Crawford Lewis/Pat Pope criminal indictments; we have been embarrassed by one school board member who threatened a TV reporter; we have had numerous SACS inquiries and now face another; we have had a very mishandled Superintendent search that included leaked information that caused other candidates to withdraw that was certainly embarrassing to them; we have had a school board that promised to get the the bottom of those leaks and, after more than a year, has failed to deliver on its commitment; we have clearly had fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement; we are all facing declining property values greater than those of surrounding communities because of the school board’s management of the school system. In short, the public school system in Dekalb County has become something in which we are forced to support by our taxes but is also something that we don’t want our children to experience if there is another alternative.

    I wish that we could see what the school board of seven members would look like before the charter school vote. As it stands now, there is a voting majority of five whose decisions have raised alarm with a very substantial portion of our County. We want much better management and more input – we want to be heard and not ignored as this board has done. For whatever reason, this voting majority remains intact and in office, but change doesn’t seem to be in the offering. The issue is whether they will accept the status quo and the answer is a clear “no”.

    Change is coming in Dekalb County. People are willing to take their chances with state administrations through a charter school system rather than continuing to put up with the local control we have now. I’m sure that Nancy Jester wants to bring about a better system that would provide quality education for all of our children. So do I and so do many others. I don’t want to abandon our public school system but I also want the children in our neighborhood to have better – much better – than what they now have. And I want our tax dollars to be money well-spent – and I now strongly feel that more is wasted than spend wisely.

  3. d says:

    Amendment 1 is not about charters. It is about control. We have over 100 charters already in Georgia, and I support the idea of good charter schools. I cannot, however, support Amendment 1. I don’t know how any tax paying American can support the creation of a government agency in which we have NO control, no recourse, no say in telling us how they are going to spend our taxpayer dollars…. even if it is only 0.56% of state spending. If the commission was elected by the voters, that would be one thing, but filling a board with political cronies is no better than Friends and Family and we have seen how well that works in DeKalb. I ask people to vote NO on Amendment 1 and make the General Assembly fix it before asking us again.

  4. @d: We agree. The amendment is about control. The GSBA (Georgia School Board Association), local boards and school superintendents want 100% control. We just happen to think that some portion of our tax dollars for schools could be better handled by people (taxPAYERS) who wish to use their school tax dollars to educate their own children their own way (within the confines of expected curricula and testing and with regular evaluation.) This amendment simply pokes holes in the umbrella of absolute power currently held by our state and local school boards who don’t want even one drop of rain to fall on their parade.

  5. Ned says:

    I’d give you 100 thumbs up if I could Howdy:
    “In short, the public school system in Dekalb County has become something which we are forced to support by our taxes but is also something that we don’t want our children to experience if there is another alternative.”
    “We want much better management and more input – we want to be heard and not ignored as this board has done.”
    I’ve never seen it summarized better

  6. BTW, a hundred schools may seem like a lot until you realize that Georgia has over 2,200 schools. (And, we actually already have 212 charters, hosting 137,423 students.)

    Total Number of Schools: 2,288 (2010-11) 2,289 (2011-12)

    Click here for more GA School Information.

  7. d says:

    DSW, I think you missed my point. It seems you are just fine giving your tax dollars to an unelected, unaccountable board of political appointees. That is un-American. Please explain how this helps fix education when they give money to their friends and there is nothing you can do.

  8. @d: No, it’s not “Un-American.” In fact, it’s very American to allow the most local of control over our children’s schools. To use the argument that there is no accountability and people will just give away tax dollars is misguided. Many (successful) states already have charter school commissions to approve and monitor charter schools. We listed some earlier. There is no way that this charter school commission could, as a group, simply randomly give away money to their “friends.” However, if their “friends” have plausible programs that can function as a charter school, attract and maintain hundreds of students and continue to operate that school marking good results, then certainly they should be given that opportunity. There is no way that people can just take money and run off with it — they have to operate a school — a successful school — and they have to operate it on LESS money per student in total than traditional public schools in the district. (It is important to note, here, that DeKalb County Schools has set a precedent of providing additional funding to “favored” charter schools.) They must have hundreds of “customers” and they have to keep those customers happy or they will leave (something you are hard-pressed to do in our current public schools with attendance zones or admission requirements for lotteries for magnet programs.)

    If you want to talk “take the money and run” you need look no further than the DeKalb County School System and its board. At best they are clueless. At worst they are crminal. Because of the lack of transparency, we are leaning toward calling their actions criminal. Let us count a few of the ways (in no particular order):
    1. Something very strange happened with Boulevard Cold Storage. When DSW pointed out that they were not authorized to do business in Georgia, DCSS, seeking approval for a $150,000 contract for food storage, was forced to remove them from the action agenda earlier this year. They were back about 7 months or so later and the contract cost had gone up to $175,000. Meanwhile, we were still asking why this cold storage was needed at all because unused cold storage was available in multiple vacant schools. And, yes, the electricity is still on in these schools. Questions about the increase in cost brought NO satisfactory answers.
    2. DSW requested a list of fleet vehicles (not including school buses) and who the fleet cars are assigned to, as well as a print out of the same gas usage document we were provided for the superintendent’s former car (before she demanded and got a tricked-out 2013 SUV). From a cost management standpoint, this is information that should exist and should be a quick print-out with a few keyboard strokes. Atkinson said that it would take 25 days to assemble that information and it could be ours for an up-front payment of $4,500.
    3. DSW requested a copy of all 1099 forms provided, going back to 2005, along with related information stating the reason for the payment. This would really tell us how much money was being re-directed to Friends-and-Family. From a cost management standpoint, this is information that should exist and should be a quick print-out with a few keyboard strokes. Atkinson said that it would take 200 days to assemble that information and it could be ours for an up-front payment of $6,200.

    There are many more examples of DCSS playing fast and loose with our money — with our tax dollars. Frankly, we believe the best solution is to break up the pear-shaped county of DeKalb into 3 smaller school systems: North DeKalb, Southwest DeKalb and Southeast DeKalb. But, until then, we are will to take our chances with a Charter School Commission (codified in the Georgia Constitution as required by the Georgia Supreme Court) than with the known corruption and incompetence, not to mention the spendthrifts, in DeKalb County Schools.

  9. Mom of 3 says:

    Don’t be scared of change. It has to start somewhere. The sign has to be sent that taxpayers and parents are standing up for the children in public schools. Nothing in this world is perfect. If the amendment passes, it will not be perfect. But this is a big step in what could be the new and improved public school system. As bad as the system is now, I can’t see how it could get much worse.

  10. guest says:

    DSW, if a local BOE can engage in so much trickery and deception while they are under the control of the citizens (if we would only use it, and I believe we are starting to do just that), why on earth do you say that a state commission that the citizens have NO say in removing, a commission that has NO fear of losing their jobs through recalls or elections, via a constitutional amendment, won’t provide the same opportunities to their friends and fellow businesses to profit off of our tax dollars. Builders, text book, supply, and curriculum companies, school management, tech and maintenance companies will all profit whether the school succeeds or not. Think Haliburton, Iraq, and electrocuting showers. These people will not be answerable to the citizens, only to the governor, and Nathan Deal nor many of the other current crop of Republicans from Georgia is going to go up against their campaign backers and cash.
    The FACT that this amendment is supported by big money from outside of the state, by for profit charter companies, by Alice Walton and by ALEC, FACTS that have been shown here time and time again, should give everyone enough pause to vote NO.
    Do the hard work of getting your own charters together and apply to the county. Don’t let a bunch of prepackaged educational mills come to our town.

  11. Dr. DeKalb says:

    From a prior blog that for some reason has the comments closed: “Currently well over half of Dunwoody’s middle school and high-school-aged children do not attend DeKalb County schools.”
    Q: Then where do they attend? Are you suggesting private schools? Is there any indication that these parents want to leave their choice of a private school education to take a chance on a charter school run for a fraction of the cost of their current school? Are they going to be the ones to start a new charter? If so, where are these people? Why are we not hearing from them?

    “DeKalb collects millions of tax dollars in this part of the county, but serves less than half of its eligible population.” Again, were are the stats to back this up? Are you counting the numbers of your children who attend magnets and other programs in other parts of the county? If so, where did you find this data. We would be curious to see it. Please give us your sources.

    “A charter school with support from the community would be a success in Dunwoody.” Then go start a charter school! What’s stopping you?

    “But this charter amendment is but the first step for a city like Dunwoody.” Q: First step toward what??

    “If a majority of state residents approve the charter school amendment, it shows the General Assembly that we the voters are not satisfied with the current system.” Do we really need to go to this length to show them that any of us are not happy? Haven’t we all made that pretty clear time and time again? Seems like you should be able to get that done with a letter writing campaign, not a actual change to the constitution. Did you read the Supreme Court Justice opinion? Do you understand what you are asking for? Sounds like someone here wants to just take all their toys and go home. But, that’s not very nice and it isn’t very fair to the kids without as many toys who deserve a chance to play, too.

    “The next step is an amendment to allow new school districts to be established in Georgia, disassembling the mega-sized districts. Cities like Dunwoody, Milton, Johns Creek, Brookhaven, and Sandy Springs can keep those millions of dollars local and establish their own school districts (with charter schools as an option in these new districts).” And, the rest of us can be screwed over? Nice. By the way, did you read the charter school ammendment? It says that we agree to let the state COMBINE districts, not break us up into smaller ones. Good luck with that. It does not sound like these two things go hand in hand at all, unless you are making some kind of under the table deal with someone. Be honest about your motivations. The people here are tired of being lied to and tricked.

    “You want real local control? Vote yes for the charter school amendment.” How, exactly, do I have local control when a small group of people start a charter and hire an out of state firm to handle the management, hire the teachers, pay for the curriculum, supplies, etc. and that ends up removing money from the overall system that is used to fund my neighborhood school? You cannot tell me that fewer children in the “regular” schools will not result in those schools closing. It has nothing to do with whether or not they are failing schools, or good schools. We’ve seen how arbitrarily those decisions are made here. Livsey and Brockett have been on the chopping block and they make AYP every year.

  12. d says:

    @dsw the only thing local about this is the fact that the commission will likely meet in Atlanta. How is that local, for say Lowdens County? This is not local control in any way shape, fashion, or form. Let us vote on this commission, and my tone will be very different. At least, in the mean time, if Melvin Johnson does something stupid, we have a chance of voting him out…. It was done with Womack, it can be done elsewhere in DeKalb.

  13. another comment says:

    The amendment that should have been put forth was to get rid of the arbitrary number of school districts that are set in the Ga.Constitution. We all diserve to have local Control of our Schools like Decatur, Marietta, and Buford to name a few do. School districts should be no larger than 1 or 2 high schools high to ensure local control and eliminate layers of overhead bloat.

    The Black Mafia that is running the Dekalb, Atlanta, Clayton Co, Schools, Dekalb County, Clayton Country and the City of Atlanta is just as bad as Gov. Deals Good Olde Boys and their mistrees/wives appointments to every board and 6 figure job. I am not being faticious, remember Shirley Franklin’s Son-in-law was an admitted member of the Black Maffia, her Daughter was also involved.The son-in law is in prison, her daughter is on probation. Remember her ex-husband has all sorts of Airport contracts.Right along with the Jackson Widow,and daughter Brook. Kasim is so filthy with is $1000 per ton of gravel to his campaign donor during the ice storm, contracts at the Airport. An election stolen from Mary Norwood by 700 votes with address of missing demolished public housing. But then the Fulton County election director has a substance abuse issue, he can’t even meet the terms of his probation by going to driving school and community service ( dah!)

    Either split up the districts or give everyone a voucher that is at least $8,000 a year with COLA’s to use at the School of their choice. Transportation only goes to the school they are zoned for. But Private schools, could collect students from these zoned schools, and the students could pay a transportation charge either with their voucher or in addition to their voucher. For Exampe Woodward has numerous collection spots all over town, they charge about $2,000 per year per student for the bus. Many pay it, others car pool, or hire drivers, some teens take Marta down to college park.

  14. concernedmom30329 says:

    I think you presume that new board members in DeKalb are different than the ones they replace. Or rather, that the outcomes are different. Without sounding too pessimistic, you are wrong. In the last two decades, we have had probably 2 dozen board members. Board members retire, die in office, and are defeated, but the outcome really doesn’t change. DCSS continues to languish.
    I am friendly with a board member in another system in GA. From the outside, all metrics make it appear to be one of the most successful systems in the state and with some of the top high schools in the region. She is in her first term and won’t be running again. She says that being a board member, even in her well run system, is far more frustrating than most can imagine. It is very hard to make a difference.
    I don’t know what the answer is. If you look at the Commission that existed before the GA supreme court threw the law out, they approved very few schools. And the bar was very high, Hard to know what the future holds.
    But for pockets of DeKalb, those “corporate” charter schools may offer the only hope for the students. Certainly DCSS doesn’t.

  15. nellynada says:

    Here is the skinny on the Education Task Force at ALEC: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Education_Task_Force
    You will recognizae a lot of the names, I’m sure.

    Here are the model education bills: http://www.alecexposed.org/wiki/Bills_Affecting_Americans%27_Rights_to_a_Public_Education

    Here’s a bill written by ALEC that has similiar goals as the charter bill here: http://alecexposed.org/w/images/5/57/2D4-Next_Generation_Charter_Schools_Act_Exposed.pdf

    and another one: http://alecexposed.org/w/images/5/57/2D4-Next_Generation_Charter_Schools_Act_Exposed.pdf

    So, who is on their Education Committee? A Republican from Gwinnett, a rep. from K12 and one from Connections Academy. All of them sound familiar, right? So, they chair the committee that has many other notable Georgia legitlators on it as well. So, how are they fairing so far? Well, a lawsuit in Va., investigation in Florida, outrage in New Mexico… take your pick.

    Read what K12 is up to here: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/K12
    K12 has been accused of trying to maximize profits by raising enrollment at the expense of both teachers and students. The schools allegedly make little effort to filter out students that may not be well suited to their program, resulting in many students performing very poorly. According to a study conducted by the National Education Policy Center, only one third of K12’s schools achieved adequate yearly progress as defined by No Child Left Behind. And at K12’s Agora Cyber Charter School, which produces more than 10% of the company’s revenue, nearly 60% of students are behind grade level in math, nearly 50% are behind in reading, and a third do not graduate on time. In addition, withdrawal rates at K12 schools are persistently very high. For example, in 2009-2010 the Agora school had 2,688 students withdraw.[4]

    Some K12 teachers claim that they have been encouraged by K12 to pass failing students so that the company can receive more reimbursement from the states in which they operate. The grading policy stipulates that students who do no turn in an assignment are given a score of “50” instead of “0,” and failing students are told that late work can be made up without any penalty. K12 receives an average of between $5,500 and $6,000 for every student on its rosters. Much of K12’s profits are spent on advertising targeted at increasing enrollment rather than on investments in improving quality. In 2010, it is estimated that K12 spent $26.5 million on advertising.[4]

    Teachers at K12 schools are often overwhelmed by a very demanding workload and are paid relatively low wages. According to the Pennsylvania State Education Association, some teachers were required to take on additional students at the rate of $1 per student. Some teachers are forced to manage more than 250 students and work at least 60 hours a week. This means that some teachers have to cut curriculum in order to have enough time to spend on all their students.[4]

  16. Mad Dad says:

    I am concerned when a member of a local board is urging the voters to take power and money away from the board she is on. Can an elected official actually volunteer to give away the control he/she has been given by voters. Zoning officials on our county commission don’t want to get involved in zoning matters. School board members want to handle cell service? What the hell is going on here?

  17. @nellynada: Please use one screen name. We will push your future comments to the trash if you continue to post under the variety of screen names that you have been using.

  18. Just a thought … why don’t you familiarize yourself with the topic you are addressing BEFORE making comments? Do your own research. For example, check the Official Code of Georgia Annotated to answer your question about elected officials. Also, are you aware that school boards will be given the opportunity to review and approve charter school applications — the first right of refusal, so to speak? Or are you just parroting what you hear? The charter school commission, to be put in place simply to meet the requirements of the Georgia Supreme Court, will consider charter school applications that have been turned down for frivolous and spurious reasons by the local school board, primarily because the local school board wants to continue their iron grip on the monopoly — and the resulting gravy train — that is public education.

  19. We have asked before — please provide us with side-by-side evidence that the charter school amendment to the Georgia Constitution was copied from templates provided by ALEC.

  20. Regarding your comment on k12:

    K12 has been accused of trying to maximize profits by raising enrollment at the expense of both teachers and students. The schools allegedly make little effort to filter out students that may not be well suited to their program, resulting in many students performing very poorly.

    Are you aware that the state of Georgia already uses k12 for its virtual school? Click here.

    Are you aware that charter schools are not allowed to ‘filter’ students? (Charters are not the same as magnets – or choice – or theme – like we have in DeKalb.)

    Are you aware that our school system already has maximized profits (the ability to pay for so much overhead that they employ a couple thousand more other people than teachers) – this is the reason we have such enormous class sizes now. (Well, at least in our ‘regular’ schools – not so bad in some of the magnet/theme/choice schools.)

  21. d says:

    Monopoly: when a specific person or enterprise is the ONLY provider of a specific good or service. Although DCSD is by far the largest provider of K12 education in its jurisdiction, they are not the ONLY. Please use the term correctly. Parents have private and parochial options in DeKalb, or they may home school. If an elected Board of education wants to deny a charter, that is their right, and it is their responsibility to be the stewards of the tax dollars entrusted to them. I know the Board hasn’t done that well, but it is OUR responsibility to hold the board accountable and we have failed to do that via the ballot box. I will not vote to give that responsibility away as Ms. Jester and the moderator advocates. I think those who are concerned about the actions of the DeKalb Board of Education should help actively campaign in all districts for effective board members. Just one example, in 2010, 15 people were running for 5 seats on the board. The best candidate of the 15 happened to be running against Jay….. And he came in a distant third in that race. Where was the help from all parts of the county to help in this race? That is what is wrong here.

  22. We said “the local school board wants to continue their iron grip on the monopoly — and the resulting gravy train — that is public education.” And we were entirely correct in our usage. See the definition below from InvestorWords:

    “A situation in which a single company owns all or nearly all of the market for a given type of product or service. This would happen in the case that there is a barrier to entry into the industry that allows the single company to operate without competition (for example, vast economies of scale, barriers to entry, or governmental regulation). In such an industry structure, the producer will often produce a volume that is less than the amount which would maximize social welfare.”

  23. d says:

    Again, you said single company. DCSD is without doubt the largest and yes operates withered economies to scale, and frankly, since our children are so precious, regulations are necessary. The key word here continues to be single. DCSD is not your only option, even without the amendment. You already have choice, even without the amendment. DCSD, therefore, by definition, is not a monopoly.

  24. Michael Sanders says:

    @d. Your comments are very naive. another comment, earlier, got it right. Look at the history of the Jackson family, which has gone from an esteemed newspaper publisher to the first black mayor, to a generation that lives off of corruption at the public trough. Black leadership has failed miserably in Atlanta, and blacks are rapidly losing the enormous gains made in the civil-rights era to a new wave of resegregation that is marked by political and economic decline. Look at south DeKalb and south Fulton, which are becoming one vast suburban slum with bad infrastructure, little to no jobs base, wretched schools that offer poor prospects for upward social mobility, etc. Property values will never recover there, and I, for one, am tired of seeing my property taxes used to finance something that is so profoundly broken. You are right that Nooks was the superior candidate. Unfortunately, these types of people do not fit into the race-based political system that dominates the majority black areas of the metro. In short, they are too “white.” Studies are now revealing just how much ground blacks have lost due more to poor education than to “racism.” We are tired of footing the bill for an operation that offers no return on investment to those who need it most. Bring on the charters. That’s the first step to breaking up these systems dominated by the Black Mafia. Once the demographic transformation picks up again in the core metro area, the political system will also see some changes. I, for one, remain unconvinced that Mary really did lose that last election.

  25. d says:

    Just as a follow up. I majored in economics in undergrad. I just consulted all of my textbooks that I still have at my house (the rest are at work, as I never sold any back). Not one allows for a monopoly to have even the slightest amount of competition, therefore the “nearly all” would not be correct. That being said, one of them, “The Economic Way of Thinking” by Paul Heyne even went as far and said if there were only one provider, that provider still wouldn’t be a true monopoly because you always have a choice…. In this case, if there were no private, parochial, or home school options in DeKalb, you have the choice to relocate. If you are not happy with DeKalb schools, there is the option of, for example, Cherokee, or to a further extreme, schools in North Dakota which frequently have the highest SAT scores in the country. But, since we have options now, I don’t think anyone will resort to that extreme.

    I will just say again, as I have said many many times…. If the Charter Commission were an elected body, accountable to me as a voter and taxpayer, I would be singing a different tune here. As it stands, I will vote no and encourage everyone else to vote no to amendment 1.

  26. “Single company” is not the operative word concerning monopoly. Monopoly refers to market ownership and the ability to operate in the market without competition. And we are talking about the public education market which, by definition, excludes private and parochial (religious) schools. Are you deliberately being obtuse? Or are your responses a function of ignorance and an inability to employ critical thinking?

  27. d says:

    @dsw, insults aside (not very professional of a blog moderator), if you are going to be, as economists say, myopic and focus on public education, you fail to see that there are options. Heck, in DeKalb, we have lots of options in the system – magnets, themes, etc…. But, education is not solely the public system. The government does have competition from the private market. If there was truly a governmental monopoly in education, private schools would be banned by law. Charters not operated (note, I did not say approved) by the government would be banned by law, no parent would be permitted to home school. No one forces you to use the services of the DCSD and since your children have to be educated, you choose to entrust them to the district or you choose to entrust them to a different educational entity or you choose to home school them. Since, however, you have choice, we don’t have a monopoly in the education market.

    I will never say DCSD is perfect. I have plenty of gripes with them, but they are not a monopoly.

  28. September says:

    I am not supporting the amendment. If we want true local control, we should not settle for half a solution. This amendment provides for the creation of charter schools and will provide local control of schools for some families. The operative word here is some. Charter schools will open and those families who have the most resources will be able to take advantage of them. That means knowing how and when to sign up, being able to provide or secure transportation, and in the case of some schools, being able to complete the parent responsibilities that go along with having a child enrolled in the school.

    Instead of accepting a constitutional amendment that really doesn’t get DeKalb families the solution that they desperately need, I think we should vote this amendment down. Then, ask the State of Georgia and all of the other organizations supporting this charter school amendment to write an amendment that specifically allows for smaller school systems and allows for the creation of charter schools. This is a political process and we should get what we really want and need. We should not settle for a bandaid solution.

  29. DSW is not myopic. The focus of this blog is — and has always been — public education in DeKalb County, Georgia. We make no secret of that.

    DeKalb County Schools is a monopoly. A poorly performing monopoly run by incompetent and corrupt educrats. DeKalb County Schools has a monopoly on public education in DeKalb County.

    It is unacceptable that, just because DeKalb County Schools has an iron-fisted monopoly on public education, DeKalb County residents would have to choose between poorly performing public schools supported by their tax dollars or homeschooling their children or moving to another county or private schools — just to ensure a decent education for their children.

  30. Meanwhile, what do you say to the children? “Stop! Don’t grow any older in the next 2 – 4 years!”

    These children are real, live human beings. They are not a science experiment or a sociology study. Two-to-four years in educational loss is time they will NEVER be able to regain. We must take the charter school amendment to Georgia’s Constitution and make the best of it while we continue to press our legislators to make it possible to divide DeKalb County — Georgia’s most diverse county — into three separate, smaller, more transparent, more accountable school systems, closer to the consumer.

    To wait on the time it will take to remove that 8-word sentence in Georgia’s Constitution limiting the number of school systems in Georgia — or wait two years until another election (with no guarantees that the same board members will not be returned) — or wait on the time it takes to have board members recalled is foolhardy. To do so is to consign a number of children to a lifetime of poverty.

  31. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Oh, I doubt any of you who have written today are teachers. Who cares about the definition of monopoly when we are trying to keep our heads above water with all nonsense and trying to figure out wht and how to teach, not to mention when. This ship is sinking fast and you are worrying about where to place the deck furniture. We need to figure out how to get our leaders to start doing things that make sense.
    As for the amendment, I am too busy surviving my job to research it. The only “official” I respect right now is Jester so I will take her recommendation.

  32. Dr. DeKalb says:

    DSW, you are arguing two separate things, a charter amendment and the creation of smaller districts. Sounds to me like you think one goes with the other. Is this wishful thinking, or do you have some kind of a plan, or perhaps a handshake deal? You have let your emotion show your true motivation and that is for Dunwoody, obviously where you must reside, to create a charter via the state instead of the county so you can prove that you can operate on your own, outside of DeKalb County. Good for you. But, guess what? We don’t all live in Dunwoody, so don’t insult those of us who don’t agree with you. If your intent is to bully people into voting a particular way then you are not really behaving any better than the school board you protest to loathe so much. Maybe you need a break. Please ask Cerebration to come back and guest moderate until after the election. You are going to drive a very devoted audience away. And then where will we be?

  33. September says:

    DSW. I submit that you will get that eight word sentence removed from the state constitution faster, if our legislators have a reason to do so. Do you actually believe that a new charter school can be planned, approved, staffed, and have students enrolled in under two years? Four years, maybe three, is a better expectation. Of course, I could be wrong. Do you have any examples?

    As a parent who paid for private school, I don’t think any child should have to wait even one year for a quality education. Unfortunately, we still don’t have specifics about how this board will operate. Will they consider all applications or only those that have been rejected by the local school system? Don’t kid yourself, the charter school amendment is not a quick fix for the problems we are experiencing in DeKalb.

  34. Mad Dad says:

    I can tell you that the sponsor in the Senate of the charter bill is Chip Rodgers. Chip Rogers is a Republican member of the Georgia State Senate and is the Majority Leader in 2011. He serves on the following committees: Administrative Affairs, Appropriations – Ex-Officio, Assignments, Banking and Financial Institutions, Economic Development, Finance – Secretary, Insurance and Labor, Reapportionment and Redistricting and Rules – Ex-Officio.

    Ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council: Rogers is also a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He is the Georgia State Chairman for ALEC,– in August 2011 he received ALEC’s State Chair of the Year Award– as well as on the ALEC Board of Directors, as of July 2011.

    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Chip_Rogers

  35. Nope. Don’t live in Dunwoody. Guess again.

  36. @September: Do you or does anyone else have a suggestion for a ‘quick’ fix? Or even a better fix? So far, we’ve heard suggestions to leave things as they are and hope they improve after we (hopefully) elect a mostly new board in two years. Any other ideas?

  37. guest says:

    DSW, we must elect people to our state government that will reinstate state funding for public schools rather than the cuts we have suffered for years under the current and recent governments. Elect people that will invest MORE money in our public school children rather than choke off funding until it is all but impossible to do our jobs and then step in when things start to go bad, with this nationwide plan to privatize public education in order to profit off of our children.
    I am at a loss as to why such savvy people such as those that run this blog and Nancy Jester are pushing so hard for Yes votes on this bill unless that was the plan all along, and that is a thing I don’t want to believe.

  38. Mad Dad says:

    I would consider a yes for a voucher program if you really wanted competition for the public system that allowed all income brackets to escape poor performing schools and take their money with them.

    Another consideration would be to allow everyone in DeKalb to vote for all school board members. You don’t show to vote, your district rep. gets elected by a majority of those who do, countywide.

  39. Charter schools are public schools – they are not private schools. They, by law cannot pick and choose students and in fact, cannot have an attendance zone at all (as opposed to DCSS, which has several specialty magnet schools with application processes and many good schools with specific neighborhood attendance zones, rendering them inaccessible to most of the county). If more students apply to the public charter than there are seats, a lottery must be held. All employees of a charter are public school system/state employees. The only thing that’s private are some of the management companies, or curricula companies, however, as it is today, DCSS and many other public schools use private, for-profit companies like Pearson for their textbooks, curricula and supplies. (Have you ever listened as the board approved millions upon millions of dollars to these for-profit providers?)

    ps – stop with the conspiracy theories please. We never had any kind of charter or split agenda with this blog from the beginning. Our only goal is to keep an eye on misspending and corruption and find ways to get better results for students. We have formulated our opinions after years of participation and observation of this very bloated, corrupt, mostly ineffective system. These are only our opinions. You are entitled to yours. We each get one vote. But in the interim, please stop these bizarre accusations.

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