Below is a message sent to constituents via email by Dee Dawkins-Haigler and a response from Nina Gilbert, Executive Director of Ivy Prep Academy: (copied & pasted exactly as written)
From: Dee Dawkins-Haigler <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 25, 2012 1:31 PM
Subject: Please Vote No on Amendment 1 – HR1162
It is voting season and many of you have already voted, however I implore you to VOTE NO on the consitutuitional Amendment 1 – HR 1162. If you have already voted please forward this email to someone else.
I am a major supporter of charter schools but this amendment is straight trickery on the part of Republicans and Governor Deal. The ballot question for the amendment was written in a deceptive and confusing way. Currently in the state of Georgia local school boards have the ability to approve or create charter schools. This amendment gives the state the right to set up a commission to create schools that usurps the power of local school boards. This is dangerous because these schools can be set up and ran like private schools in which minority children may not be able to attend. It will also take money away from local school systems that are currently struggling. The Georgia PTA, State Superintendent, Georgia School Board Association, all local school boards, Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, NAACP, Georgia Association of Educators and the list goes on all oppose this horrible amendment. Please take your time and research this amendment carefully. At first glance most people would vote yes for the amendment because of the way the ballot question is worded. The Republicans did this on purpose because they know everyone wants to help children have a quality education and wouldn’t have the background info to know this bill would give a major blow to public school education. If you have more questions please contact me.
AMENDMENT 1: Allows the state to set up a special commission to approve charter schools not approved by local school boards.
BALLOT QUESTION: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?
Summary: In 2010, the state adopted legislation to allow a State Charter Commission to approve charter schools denied by local school boards. Several school systems sued the state, and the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the provision allowing the state to authorize “special schools” beyond a limited scope, including the alternate authorization of charter schools.
If passed, the amendment would establish the State Charter Schools Commission, which would be a 7-person commission with 3 appointments from the Governor, 2 appointments from the President of the Senate and 2 appointments from the Speaker of the House. This commission would have the sole authority to approve special charter schools not authorized by local school boards.
Appeals from the State Charter Schools Commission would be decided by the State School Board, which is also an appointed body.
Con: Current law allows for the creation of charter schools by local school boards, and more than 100 charter schools have been authorized. By creating this parallel system, the state will be able to circumvent local input on the creation of charter schools without any direct recourse for citizens. The authorizing legislation (HB 797) significantly alters the funding formula for charter schools, and this change would reduce the funding available to traditional public schools
From: Nina Gilbert <email@example.com>
Date: October 30, 2012 5:22:38 PM EDT
Subject: Urgent – Caucus Support Needed For Minority Children
I was compelled to write you after I was forwarded an email from a constituent of yours, who found your message to be contradictory and hypocritical. The person who forwarded it happened to be in the audience when you were the guest speaker at Ivy’s New Scholars Ceremony in 2011. You were recommended by Rep. Morgan to be our speaker that year, because she believed that you would inspire our parents and girls. When I met you, I was in complete agreement with her. Your message to our families was powerful and relevant. You stated that you were in awe of the work we were doing, and you appeared to be visibly moved as nearly 200 girls of color, many from poor and underserved communities filed into the auditorium to begin their journey to college.
You engaged them during your speech, embraced and congratulated them after the ceremony, and promised to stay in touch and visit the school. Yet you make the following comment in your email: “This (amendment) is dangerous because these schools can be set up and ran like private schools in which minority children may not be able to attend.” You say in your email that this amendment is “a major blow to public education.” Actually, it is the status-quo that has dealt the most fatal blow to public education, because it places systems and tradition before children.
Parents, teachers and scholars, many of whom are in your district, remember you well, and know that your message today conflicts with your message from 2011 when you you spoke at a charter school that was started by a minority and that serves a 99% minority population. My email to you is not intended to inform you on the merits of our work, because you should know it well. However, I do want to challenge you to respect the choices that parents and teachers in your community make when they decide to start, work at or attend a charter school, regardless of who approves it.
Should it matter if a free, public school is “run like a private school” or would you prefer that schools continue to run like they always have been, which has yielded some of the nation’s lowest graduation rates? I would love for you to survey members of your caucus, members of school boards and teachers associations to see what types of schools their own children attend. I assure you they wouldn’t give up their great public, private, magnet or theme schools because they were supported by another party.
Your final statement in your email invited those who have questions to contact you. My question for you and members of all of the groups who are so vehemently opposed to the reform that will possibly result from the amendment is, — Where have you been? Where were you as the graduation rates, drop out rates and achievement rates for “minority children” plummeted. Why no press conferences and marketing campaigns for the increasing violence, pregnancy, and expulsion rates in the schools our minority children attend? No one seems to be opposed to the additional alternative schools being opened for expelled students, or the overpopulated prisons that will house too many of our under-educated minority children.
Lastly, if the amendment fails, what is the plan to “fix public schools first”, or will the caucus reveal that plan on Nov. 7th? If there is no plan, please let me know if and how we can work together to help save the children who are literally “dying” to get out of schools you wouldn’t send your own children to. Please let me know if you have questions.
Ivy Preparatory Academy, Inc