In your Sunday editorial against the Charter School Amendment you told us: “But amendment opponents ... say the amendment takes power from local school boards that usually listen to parental desires and gives it to unelected political appointees in Atlanta that have no accountability to voters.”
Of course it takes power away from the education establishment. It is a “court of appeals” from decisions made by those who are threatened by charter schools.
You said “They note while the appeals process to the state has been ruled unconstitutional, dissatisfied parents still have a remedy at the ballot box for school board members that deny a local charter application.”
Cobb voters know how well this has worked for getting the calendar set to a reasonable schedule. How long does it take to turn over the majority of a school board?
You said “As for pro-amendment arguments that charters are better academically and that public schools are failing, they respond that in 2010-11 more Georgia public schools than charters met AYP. Public school supporters also are quick to note that charter schools do not have the same restrictions on maximum class sizes and that they are not even required to hire certified teachers.”
Of the charter schools set up by the state, a higher percentage has met adequate yearly progress than the state’s public schools. A higher percentage of Charter students graduate.
You said “State school Superintendent John Barge has said the new state charter school agency that would be set up if this passes would cost taxpayers at least $1 million a year, and against a backdrop of school systems across the state — including Cobb — beset by severe budget problems thanks to deep cutbacks in state funding in recent years. Those cutbacks have resulted in layoffs, furloughs, larger class sizes and shorter school years”
Yes Barge did misuse his office and take a political stand on this issue, but to his points — did the state reduce bureaucracy by a million dollars when the court found the procedure of creating charter schools on a state level unconstitutional? Of course not. So why should restoring the procedure previously in place cost $1 million?
You said “Amendment advocates like to say the new state charter schools would not cost local taxpayers because they would be funded primarily by the state, unlike local school systems, which are funded primarily by property tax dollars. But unless the state is sitting on a huge new source of income that it has yet to tell the public about, it would be funding those new charters out of its existing education budget. There’s no way to do that without cutting spending elsewhere — most likely from the amount being spent on traditional public schools.”
Since charter schools educate children for much less, just the state portion of current per pupil expenses, there is more money available per pupil for the public schools that the charter students left.
The truth is the educational establishment is threatened by the idea of competition not under their control. Charter schools give us a laboratory where we can learn what works to improving education. Doing the same things in the same way with the same people with increasingly more money has not improved education. We need to find better, less costly ways. That is what charters CAN do. Vote yes on the Charter School Amendment.