State Charter Schools: Follow the Moneyby Diane Sandifer 2 Comments November 1, 2012
As a lifelong advocate for public education and a local board of education member in Georgia for ten years, I hold strong convictions when it comes to charter schools. I totally support charter schools when approved by a local board of education. But, what about state charter schools?
We already have more than 200 charter schools in Georgia. More are in the pipeline. Like all schools, some are good, some need improvement. According to the Georgia Department of Education’s Charter Schools Annual Report, charter school children do not exceed other public school children’s performance:
“Over the past five years, the overall performance of charter schools compared to traditional public schools has been mixed but both groups have traditionally demonstrated the same general performance trends.”
What are state charter schools really all about?
- Accountable: to whom?
Rather than local school boards’ accountability to us, a very small (seven people) state appointed group in Atlanta will be able to create a separate system of schools if we pass amendment 1 on November 6. They will use our tax dollars to pay for them but this little group isn’t elected; if you don’t like what they do, too bad. You can’t vote them out of office. A huge amount of power will be in their hands to decide how and where schools operate. There’s nothing, not one word, in the law that provides for parental involvement or improving student achievement. Nothing.
- Our tax dollars: It gets worse.
They can siphon off our tax money that goes to public schools to pay for this group’s “new schools” and – surprise – to pay for for-profit companies that will actually manage those schools. Corporate profits are the overriding goal, not education or student achievement or parental involvement. Rest assured, many of these companies contributed to state legislators’ campaigns. Many are behind campaigns for state charter schools. No wonder some of our politicians are in favor of this. I for one can’t afford a dual school system that answers to no one or stand by and watch scarce state money be spent by a small group making decisions in Atlanta.
- Expansion of state government?
We in Georgia recently voted for or against a penny sales tax to fund transportation. In many regions, it failed. The main reason given? Distrust of government. If you distrust government to build or improve roads, do you want to really want to expand its power with unchecked authority over schools?
The push to pass this amendment in our Georgia state election means expanding state government, no accountability for using our tax dollars, budget cuts to public schools (how else is the state going to pay for these new beings?), larger classes, shortened school years, teacher furloughs and layoffs. Locally, our school system is one of our largest employers in Harris County; the same is true with our neighbors in Columbus/Muscogee. None of us wants to see this kind of jobless economic impact.
As the old adage goes, follow the money. Those who favor expanded state government, lack of accountability and a separate, unequal, dual school system are spending millions promoting state charter schools. Don’t be deceived.
Categories: Accountability, TransparencyTags: charter, charterschools, deception, leadership, local, schools, state, transparency