On Nov. 6, voters will be asked, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”
The above preamble and question will appear on the Nov 2012 statewide ballot. Voters will check “yes” or “no.” Here are some pro and con aspects for you to consider, when voting on this amendment.
Considerations for a YES vote:
- Creates a third avenue for startup charter petitioners to be evaluated – an appointed state charter commission.
- Charter applicants can propose attendance zones which include more than one school district or even statewide.
- Charter applicants have only one appointed body of seven members to convince of the viability of their petition.
- The state funding of commission chartered school students is higher than students in a traditional school.
- Funding formula can be changed with a simple majority of the legislature.
- Charter applicants have more flexibility in where they might locate.
- State charters must teach the same standards and administer the same state tests as all other public schools.
- A few parents will have another choice for their student paid for with taxes.
- Charters may use non certified teachers with little or no experience.
- Charter schools may be operated by non-educators.
- Parents are the ultimate in local control.
Considerations for a NO vote:
- Creates another state agency
- Creates and funds a dual school system.
- 180 elected school boards and a state board of education already exist as avenues for charter applicants. No commission needed.
- Local boards of education will spend hours and hours reviewing frivolous petitions, because a denial is preferred.
- Attendance zones for charters are determined by local school boards and/or the state school board and can be multi-district if all boards agree, or statewide if the state school board agrees.
- Charters approved by local school boards are funded as other schools within the district with the same grades or programs.
- State charter students get more state funding than students in either traditional or local charter schools.
- State charter governing boards are not required to adopt the state code of ethics or maintain accreditation.
- State charters are almost always managed by out of state for-profit corporations.
- Parents of enrolled students are not required to be represented on a charter governing board. Local school councils in traditional schools must include parents of enrolled students.
- Schools under local boards of education are suffering a $1.15 Billion annual shortage in the state funding formula. Funding for additional state charter schools will exacerbate this shortage. State revenues are not keeping up with needs.
- Choice is not the issue. Parents may already choose public or private schools, or home schooling, may choose which school district by living there, may enroll in any school within the local school system or any school in another school system, if room available. Another charter school or two will not significantly increase choice options.
- Neither parental involvement nor student achievement improvement is mentioned in this legislation as a prerequisite for a state charter. The ballot language is misleading.
(Submitted by Irene Barton, East Cobb County Council of PTAs, Communications Chair)