Senate Dems Criticize Latest Charter Schools Maneuvering

Senate Democratic Caucus Takes Aim at Charter Schools Amendment.

Henson says amendment preamble biased, inaccurate



Senate Democrats criticized the latest move by proponents of a November charter schools ballot amendment today, calling a new ballot preamble "biased, inaccurate and electioneering at its worst."

"As it was written in March, the charter schools question on the November ballot was misleading. The addition of a preamble to the ballot question heightens the inaccuracy," said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson of Tucker. "The preamble language adds to the bias and subjectivity of what citizens will be voting on. The language intends to mislead voters in an effort to ensure a specific outcome. This is not democracy."

The November charter schools ballot preamble reads: Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.

The charter schools controversy arose during the 2012 Georgia legislative session in the wake of a court decision to overturn a local school board's decision to approve a charter school. The GOP-led Senate and House voted to put the matter to voters. Democrats assailed the ballot language concerned it would mislead voters into thinking local boards did not have the power already to make educational decisions.

"The charter schools ballot question is a thinly veiled attempt to confuse voters into thinking they do not have local control over education. In fact, the opposite is true," said Sen. Valencia Seay. "Passage of the charter schools amendment will allow the state to take precious resources and funds from our public school districts to support what is essentially a parallel school system, further cutting our ability to provide a quality education to our young people."

Seay said that at a time when Georgia is furloughing teachers, cutting the amount of instructional time for struggling students, and enlarging class sizes, creating yet another distraction is the worst solution.

"Georgia has diverted $50 million dollars away from public education toward private school tuitions. Only a handful of charter schools will be affected by the November ballot amendment. Our conversation and our energy should be focused on what is in the best interest of our children," Seay said.

Senate Democrats noted the charter school movement in Georgia is flourishing under the current system.

Henson said claims of charter schools out performing public schools is nonsense. National studies show performance of public schools and charter schools to be nearly equal. He said the charter schools movement has been co-opted by special interest and out of state money.

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Smyrnan October 02, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Leo Smith you are not looking out for the school children of Georgia. I believe you have something to gain from this and have become a propogandist for the ALEC written and supported Amendment 1. The # 1 argument supporters of the Amendment are told to use is that this is in the best interest of the children. Your agruments against public schools also apply to charter schools. I can also provide statistics to back that up. So your arguments hold no weight.
C.J. October 02, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Re: "Are they afraid folks will leave the their system and become self empowered?" "What really calls into question the idea that parents...seek schools for their children that maximize their academic achievement is what happens when the authorities try to close schools with abysmal student performance. The theory holds that, with sufficient choice available to parents and students, good schools will drive out bad ones as parents, informed about the academic records of the available schools, select good ones...But communities across the country rise up in anger when an administration proposes to shut down its poor-performing schools and those who are angriest are the parents of the students currently in those schools. That is because most parents...look for teachers who seem to care about their kids, places where their children are comfortable and where people know them. They want a school with a friendly staff and a principal who will solve problems...when they have all this in a school that is close to home and seems safe, they will take that any day over another school that might have higher test scores...Education reformers may want parents to make choices on the basis of student test scores, but they don't. And that blows a giant hole in the theory." http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/top_performers/2012/09/choice_and_markets_theory_and_practice.html http://marietta.patch.com/articles/cobb-school-board-votes-4-3-to-close-mableton-charter-school-29502505
George Wilson October 02, 2012 at 08:12 PM
One of the objectives of radical Republicans is to do away with public education and replace it with charter and private schools. That is why that over the last five years five billion dollars has been cut from the Georgia public education budget by Republicans. In other words to save the village, we first have to destroy it, to use an old expression from the Vietnam War era. This philosophy of choice was developed by conservative Milton Friedman from the University of Chicago. After Nixon had the elected government of Chile destroyed and replaced by a dictatorship, Friedman and a group went down and put this philosophy for schools in practice and it has been a disaster. Think about it, the purveyors of limited government are espousing another bureaucracy to dole out approval of charter schools and taking local control away. The most radical Conservative Policy has been to give corporate tax breaks for undermining public education In both New Hampshire and North Carolina, there are efforts underway to cut or eliminate the state tax bills of corporations who give money to scholarship funds for private schools. A similar law passed in Georgia in 2008 by Republican radicals has funneled $350 million from public schools to private schools this year alone and at least some of the money has been used to “to attract star football players, expand the payrolls of the nonprofit scholarship groups and spread the theology of creationism". Georgia cannot continue to go backwards. No!
Leo Smith October 02, 2012 at 08:34 PM
Smyrnan: What I say is of less importance than what legislators hear from voters like you. I hope you can show up and be counted on Thursday night. I'll get to meet you, you me, and you can see how I dole out propaganda for an organization that you know more about than I. :-)
Leo Smith October 02, 2012 at 08:57 PM
I hear you George. When you consider APS, Clayton, Dekalb, school systems, just how do you break broken? And since it seems we may have left the discussion of the Charter School referendum; if schools got increased money in the above systems, what would you do differently and how would it make a difference in student learning? Mr. Wilson: Do you agree or disagree that traditional systems struggled to reach academic needs of blacks and the poor prior to the decrease in funding? Is the decrease in funding simply part of the slow economy? (i.e. less household earnings and home ownership = smaller state and county general funds) I'd appreciate your answering each question and I will stop and just listen. In fact, I think I will use responses to each of these questions (only if each is answered) to present to the Legislative Panel in Smyrna on Thursday night. I'll await your responses.
George Wilson October 02, 2012 at 09:57 PM
@David This amendment is not constructive change.Georgia schools have always been underfunded especially in the rural areas.
George Wilson October 02, 2012 at 10:00 PM
@all Here is the direction and consequence of education in Georgia if the amendment passes. One has to only look at Chile to see what the extreme Republican right wing in Georgia and other parts of the nation have in store for public education in Georgia. If public education was virtually abolished under Pinochet in the ’80s, his right wing successors have done nothing to bring it back. This educational program was set up in Chile with the encouragement of Milton Friedman and the Nixon administration. Just 40 percent of Chilean children receive a free secondary-school education, in underfinanced public schools; the rest attend partly subsidized charter or private schools. To finance their university educations, most students take out bank loans, which saddle them and their families with years of debt. Sound familiar. Entrepreneurs have speculated and grown wealthy off the dreams and expectations of thousands of young people and Chilean families. Instead of families financing between 80 and 100 percent of education as some Republicans seem to want why not the state — through taxes on large corporations, a reduction in financing for the military at the national level and a true progressive income tax in Georgia?
George Wilson October 02, 2012 at 10:17 PM
@David Republican right Wing Agenda for the State of Georgia 1.Shifting the responsibility for public education to the local level and providing tax credits for contributions to private school via scholarship funds 2.Increasing college tuition and fees, putting the burden of funding the state university system on students and their families 3.Eliminating the state Earned Income Tax Credit 4.Politicizing the judicial system 5.Empowering insurance companies to manage the state’s social service programs
George Wilson October 02, 2012 at 10:33 PM
@All Here is what is happening in Chile: At the heart of student riots are dueling visions of Chilean education that emerged during the 1973-1990 dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. The country’s schools previously had been free to all students, but the regime pushed a free market-based approach and cleared the way for more private universities, as well as an eventual voucher system that directs billions of dollars in public funds to privately run high schools. As the student protesters have pointed out, the vouchers fail to cover an estimated 20 percent of school costs, and many families must pitch in to fill the gap. Student leaders have denounced the system as a cornerstone of social inequality in a country with one of the widest income gaps in Latin America, and they are demanding a return to the old system of free public universities. That would mean raising taxes on the rich to subsidize widespread free education, the students say. Perhaps the biggest losers in the battle are the public high schools, routinely of poor quality because their government funding does not begin to meet their needs, the protesters say.Remeber these ideas came from Milton Friedman and other conservatives.
C.J. October 02, 2012 at 10:57 PM
Re: ". It seems to be your approach for tax payers to pay for education all the way through college. Start the kids off right, huh? Give them a hand-out right away." If your position is that education is a handout, what is your approach? Eliminate all taxpayer-financed education? Only children with parents who can afford to pay for an education, or with a parent who can afford to stay home to home-school, should have access to an education? Is that your proposal, David? You parents have no money...no education for you?
Chris October 02, 2012 at 11:04 PM
David, I take offense to the way you addressed George as if he is liable for his comments. Have you no feelings sir? Just wait until you turn 78 and see how well you quote history after a few belts of cheap whiskey. David, I ask you sir to take a look inside your heart and find a soft spot for people like George. It's bad enough that he know not what he type, the guy hasn't a clue where his diapers are kept. Thank you for your understanding.
Leo Smith October 02, 2012 at 11:06 PM
Mr Wilson: I asked you some very direct questions regarding solutions for Georgia education and instead of answering them you jumped into a political analysis of Chile. I'll leave it at that. Thursday - I'll pose those questions to the Panel and Audience and I am certain some folks who'd like to talk solutions for children rather than political propaganda and party politics will respond. Thanks for the conversation. If you'd like to answer the questions, and want me to see the answer, I'm headed back to the Smyrna Vinings Patch Blog. You can also answer at http://www.facebook.com/groups/238949116231162/ . Sorry, we won't be discussing Chile.
George Wilson October 03, 2012 at 02:08 AM
@All I used Chile as an example of what happens when these ideas on charter and private schools are actually put into practice. That should be self evident; instead all I get is your typical ad hominum attacks .Truly pathetic. Try looking at Finland and to see how they have built the best educational system in the world.
30080 October 03, 2012 at 02:11 AM
David and Chris. Smart people don't think other people are stupid. Leo, David, and Chris. George Wilson made a good point. It's your loss for not being able to discern that.
Sportsfan October 03, 2012 at 02:52 AM
THANK GOD for someone who knows the facts about smart people. I have been waiting for such a prophet all of my days. Okay... so you say "Smart people don't think other people are stupid" Holy Jesus let there be light. And let this light be spread amongst the stupid and smart alike. Gump.. I mean 30080, you have got to be the most intelligent one to post here in quite some time. What do we have for the winner Johnny?
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew October 03, 2012 at 03:47 AM
Voting NO! And now that the three of us agree, there's an earthquake in the world somewhere...
Larry Reid October 03, 2012 at 03:49 AM
It's Larry, I am sitting in for Johnny tonight as he earlier called in smart.. I mean sick. For the winner, we have a set of steak knives and a Yo Yo minus one steak knife as I used it to stab myself in the head after reading the "Smart people don't think other people are stupid" post by 30080. No worries. I have since used the yo yo string to make a tourniquet around my neck to stop the... bl.... eed..............................................................
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew October 03, 2012 at 04:07 AM
Why Sport, its a NEW HOT lane from STRA! That's right! a lane that you ALREADY paid to build and now you get a chance to pay a variable rate just to utilize it! Why its just like paying thousands of dollars for a seat at the new Falcon Stadium and then getting the privilege of paying thousands more to get an actual season ticket that lets YOU really see the game! The GA DOT, bringing commuters together for over 40 years with such classics as "Dodge that Barrel!" and "Guess where that road cone was SUPPOSED to be", now moves into the 21 century with fees to lighten your wallet - thus SAVING you energy everywhere you drive. Go GREEN now! (Cause you won't have any left on hand later) And the next revenue raiser will be a Baggie/ Baggage fee... 100 dollars per incident book-bag, luggage case, backpack, grocery bag etc.
Michael Wakefield October 03, 2012 at 11:52 AM
You keep ignoring the facts. Charter schools are no better on average than public schools. There are already lots of charter schools. You complain about "others" using your tax dollars; state chartered schools will be exactly that -- taking local money and using it for charter schools elsewhere.
Michael Wakefield October 03, 2012 at 11:55 AM
Athens Mama, So, you want to tear down the entire public school system and build an entire new system so that there will be more smiles. Wow. What a great use of time and money. How about getting more involved in your own system and pushing for change.
George Wilson October 03, 2012 at 06:25 PM
For all their support and cultural cachet, the majority of the 5,000 or so charter schools nationwide appear to be no better, and in many cases worse, than local public schools when measured by achievement on standardized tests, according to experts citing years of research. In 2009 one of the most comprehensive studies, by researchers from Stanford University, found that less than one-fifth of charter schools nationally offered a better education than comparable local school; almost half offered an equivalent education and more than a third, 37 percent, were “significantly worse.” Although “charter schools have become a rallying cry for education reformers,” the report, by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes, warned, “this study reveals in unmistakable terms that, in the aggregate, charter students are not faring as well” as students in traditional schools. The Republicans have cut state funding to education since they achieved power at the capitol. Why?
Tom Doolittle October 03, 2012 at 06:36 PM
Understand that all of the "pro's" and "cons" of charter advantages/disadvantages and profit-making being the driver in this thread PERTAIN TO THE PROPOSED CONST AMENDMENT to expand the current charter system here. We have them already--both privately run and in-system charter schools (like DeKalb's Chamblee and P'tree Middle). Since we have them already and they are expanding slowly, but surely, the question on the table is do we want to "speed the process" and expand the system without control locally--and do we want them funded with both state and local funds? The answer is no and no on the unregulated, undefined and unelected proliferation of a system that we already have in moderation and accountability. The fact is, even if this vote doesn't pass, local school boards will get the message to be a bit more liberal with their approvals--and the legislature and governor's office will find ways to pressure them to do so.
Frank Jones October 03, 2012 at 06:48 PM
Can you say...Republican Self-Interest? Many of our legislators send their children to private schools and little by little, they're attempting to move public education towards voucher or semi-private charter schools in order to save themselves a few bucks. Republicans in general don't believe in any public social programs including public schools. They're cutting funding with the intent that schools fail, people become unsatisfied with public education. and demand change...It's working! Republicans walk hand in hand with big business and their lobbyists while hoping to get campaign contributions for their re-election. Republicans want to re-segregate schools and re-implement religion in schools. One way to do this is to expand charter schools and voucher programs...one small step at a time. Republicans want to re-write history to match their ideology. One way to do that it to control public education via charters and private schools.
Sportsfan October 03, 2012 at 06:49 PM
"The Republicans have cut state funding to education since they achieved power at the capitol. Why?" Probably because Republicans know that throwing more money at a continuing problem will never make things better. I agree that we shouldn't give tax payer money to private organizations that haven't proven to be any better than what we have. I also feel that we have a system in place now that is failing. More money does absolutely nothing for the students. Remember the students? The purpose for the schools to begin with? Perfect example? Chicago. If your boy Obama was running Georgia, he would be wasting federal dollars to promote unions in the GA. school system. Why?
MA Evans October 03, 2012 at 06:59 PM
The Republican party hates government. Their goal is to dismantle it program by program. Charter schools is a way for them to take money from public schools. The performance or costs of the charter schools isn't the issue. They just want to get them established and keep them going. And that forum tonight isn't unbiased. It's to give out information in support of the amendment. I hope those attending are aware of that.
Chris October 03, 2012 at 07:11 PM
MA Evans, where did you get your Doctorate degree? You say "The Republican party hates government". Are you a mind reader or do you just live inside the minds of every republican? Hate is a very strong term and should never be used frivolously by one with intellect. It's probably okay though for you to exploit its meaning. I would LOVE to hear from you exactly why it is that you believe that Public Schools are working so well for our future America. Please abstain from the word HATE if at all possible. Oh, and don't let athens baby momma know that you feel this way. She's a lib.
North Georgia Weather October 03, 2012 at 08:22 PM
You know Frank, I consider myself a Republican and it's funny, but I don't think any of those things. It's also funny how you THINK you know what I think. You're gonna pop something if you don't chillax and little bit. And as far as I'm concerned, this was never a political issue for me, it's all about being good stewards of the taxpayers money and doing what's right for the kids. The government subsidizing private companies to operate schools while taking money from under-funded public schools, is not right at all. It's robbing from Peter to pay Paul, and I'm very much against it.
George Wilson October 03, 2012 at 09:02 PM
@all I have a problem with a few of the premises being assumed in this thread (as well the larger educational ideologies they belong to). The first is that schools are getting considerably worse. When we talk about "failing schools" in the US, we are really talking about schools in demographic areas of low socio-economic status. There's an excellent site that uses Google maps to show relative test scores in cities across America. Unsurprisingly, educational quality fits poverty rates like a glove. The site is http://schoolperformancemaps.com/
George Wilson October 03, 2012 at 09:14 PM
@all Ms Diane Ravitch: author of "The Death and Life of the Great American School System" Google her bio. she was in the Bush adm. "Charter schools have been oversold as panaceas. On average, charter schools do not have better results than regular public schools. On national tests, charter students have never outperformed those in regular public schools. But the media loves a story about a school that produces miraculous transformations. Their favorite is the story about a school that opens in a blighted neighborhood, enrolls poor and minority students who were doomed to fail, and then sends all of them to college. There may be some such charter schools, but they are not typical of the charter movement. And some of these "miracle" schools achieve better results by taking a smaller proportion of the hardest to educate students: those who have limited-English proficiency, those with disabilities, and immigrant children. Some of the highest-performing charters have a high attrition rate; those who leave are usually the lowest-performing or most difficult students, whose exit helps to sustain the "miracle".
Frank Jones October 03, 2012 at 09:22 PM
North Georgia Weather...I was referring to the Republican party establishment in Georgia (Chip Rogers et al) not individuals. There are many Dem/Rep against the charter amendment. There are many Dem/Rep for the amendment. David..."Inflammatory Lies" - not so: My voucher & semi-private charter school argument is based upon the fact that while the legislature was cutting funding for public schools it implement the SSO legislation to allow $50+ million per year of state tax revenues go to private schools w/ no account'g of who rec'd scholarships (ie Politician kids?) Charters require either contributions or volunteer hours by the parents. TN Reps want approval of a charter that "requests" parents pay $1,500+ per year. My "Republican want schools to fail" is based upon the fact that they "want" success but aren't providing funding and resources to make it happen. The easy way to get the amendment passed is to generate outrage towards TPS. If they wanted APS, Dekalb and other failing systems to excel, them they would target those districts. CSUSA has donated over $300,000 to Republicans legislators in Florida that I've been able to document. Countless more on dinners, trips & speaking engagements. Segregate schools-Take a look at the income and racial make-up of charter schools in GA compared to district demographics. Religion - Take a look at Louisianna's charter/voucher program. Rewrite of History - Take a look at Texas' textbook changes.


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