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Improving Education Is Truly A Bi-partisan Issue

Republican Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Alisha Thomas Morgan, a leading Democratic voice in the House on education, co-authored an column on the bipartisan effort to improve education in Georgia.

Between now and November, hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising will be spent telling us all the differences between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

They will disagree on nearly every issue, but one area where they have found common ground is the need for more public charter schools. We feel the same way in the Georgia House of Representatives.

While there are many issues that our constituents expect us to draw a hard line in the sand and oppose much of what the opposition party supports, education reform is frankly too important to let our differences in political parties get in the way.

As the Republican Speaker Pro Tem and a leading Democratic voice on education, we are together asking voters to support the charter school amendment on the November ballot. The amendment does something very simple but very profound  it will allow the state to create a commission to hear appeals when charter applications are denied by some school boards and superintendents.

Some school systems in Georgia have embraced the charter concept, while others have been more obstinate. Many are unfortunately worried more about who has the authority and power in education decision-making rather than what is best for our kids.

True local control should begin with giving parents the option to make more decisions and to get more involved in their children’s education. Charter schools are public schools that are free from many of the onerous mandates that schools are under these days.

They may separate boys and girls into different classes or schools, or have a more specific curriculum focus on science or math. They may be a virtual school with no building. These types of options are not right for every student, but for some they offer the kind of opportunitythat can literally be life-changing.

Some school systems are going to tell you that public charter schools take money away from other public schools, but that’s just simply not the case. Any school approved by the state charter commission will operate with no local contribution – only state funds will be available. Those local dollars are kept by the school systems and used as they see fit, actually increasing the amount of money per student enrolled they have to spend.

We’ve tried the “one size fits all” approach to education for decades, and we’ve had too many students fall through the cracks. Let’s increase the educational options for parents, students and teachers by voting “Yes” for public charters on Nov. 6.

 

Jan Jones is Speaker Pro Tem
of the Georgia House of Representatives and Alisha Thomas Morgan is a
Democratic member of the Georgia House.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Daniel H. September 24, 2012 at 09:19 PM
In 2010, Georgia’s public schools got around 38 percent of their funding from the state, with local government paying about 48 percent and the rest coming from federal and private sources. The state used to pay around 55 % but due to the souring of the economy they decreased that amount. State funded Charter schools will further drain those state funds and eventually reduce even further what the state can afford for public schools. This is why state superintendent John Barge is going against his party and saying that he is not in favor of the Charter bill. Let's not destroy the base that we have, Instead let's use those funds that would go to charters to improve what we already have, which includes MANY charter schools that were approved locally. The local BOEs are being scrutinized like never before by the people that elect them. This will have a positive effect on our schools, and along with more support from the state and attentive parents and parent/school councils we should be able to solve our public school problems including ridding our schools of any onerous mandates. Please think hard before you vote for this bill. Think about who might be interested in profiting off of education dollars and whether your child's education will be their main concern. Find out who is pushing for it and research the points that they put forth.
Daniel H. September 24, 2012 at 10:25 PM
A top contributor to Alisha Thomas Morgan's 2010 campaign was American Federation for Children, an organization dedicated to publicly funded PRIVATELY OWNED schools and vouchers. http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php?title=Alisha_Thomas_Morgan&redirect=no

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