I am voting No on amendment #1 in the upcoming Georgia general election. This amendment has to do with State-licensed charter schools (as opposed to locally-licensed). Before I tell you why I’m voting no, here are the facts as I understand them1:
- Charter schools are legal in Georgia today and all decisions regarding them are made at the local school district level
- Voting yes will empanel an appointed commission who will set rules and make decisions regarding State-licensed charter schools
- The commission will be appointed by the Governor (3 members), the President of the State Senate (2 members), and the Speaker of the State House (2 members)
- The commission will only act if a petition to have a charter school is denied at the local level
- Funding for the new schools will come from another pot of money and from the standard formula
- Funding for the old schools will, by the standard formula, decrease due to a loss of student enrollment
Here are the opinions as I understand them. You’re more than welcome to surf the web for the various opinion pieces.2 Warning: there’s no real information in any of those.
- Charter schools approved at the state level are tantamount to stabbing your children in the neck with a blunt straw and sucking out their life juices
- Charter schools are the only thing saving our decrepit republic from the onslaught of socialism (Yes, I’ve heard people screaming about socialism while advocating for more public-schooling. I’m not sure they understand what they’re talking about)
- Charter schools as designed by this legislation (HB 797, by the way) will be controlled by an unelected body who will eat your babies after being appointed for life terms
- Charter schools cannot be effectively administered by the blinkered, shortsighted locals who don’t know their ass from a toboggan
Other tidbits of note, which I tried hard to not let sway my opinion:
- This legislation is being pushed hard by the Republicans
- This legislation is supported by the Tea Party
As almost everyone is power in Georgia is a Republican of one stripe or another, and at the local level I tend to support our Republican candidates,3 I’ve let that first one slide. However, having the Tea Party jump on the bandwagon was a huge blow against it in my opinion.
As I said, I’m voting No. And here is why:
- Is there a problem? Nowhere in the noise and furor has anyone identified an actual problem. Is having charter schools denied at the local level an issue? Who’s being harmed here? What’s the issue? Without a clearly identified problem, what’s the point of a modification to existing law?
- Who’s paying for this? As I said above, it seems that funding will go down for local schools if a State-licensed charter school appears. That seems a fatal flaw to me.
- Too much opinion, no real substance. In contrast to the Transportation Referendum fight of last summer, this is all noise and no information. When that sort of thing happens, I’m going to vote on principle against a change in law.
Reason why I might have decided Yes:
- I support more educational controls at the state level. I understand the need for local controls of schools, but that allows for nut jobbiness like Cobb County’s anti-evolution stickers of 2004. At the state level, things would be more open to scrutiny.
- Huge caveat: I am not an educational expert. I’ve derived these facts from [gasp] reading the legislation and the constitutional amendment text. [↩]
- I haven’t posted links anywhere here because I’m sending this in via email this from a remote undisclosed location and in the past, links in those posts have broken [↩]
- At least the ones who aren’t insane and screaming about Agenda 21 [↩]