Charter schools fighting plan to fund pensions
by The Associated Press
December 28, 2013 12:00 AM | 2491 views | 7 7 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ATLANTA — Georgia charter schools are fighting a proposal that would require the independent public schools to contribute money toward pension debt for the traditional public education system.

The idea may have a hard time in the Georgia General Assembly, where many lawmakers support charter schools as publicly financed alternatives to traditional schools. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that charter backers want to make sure they kill the bill after lawmakers convene Jan. 13.

Georgia Charter Schools Association executive Tony Roberts notes charter school teachers won’t ever receive public pension benefits. So, he argues, charters shouldn’t have to reserve part of their budgets for the retirement system.

“It’s so important to stop an additional takeaway for those pensions because it could move a good deal of those charter schools toward closure,” Roberts said. “Their teachers never got any advantage from it whatsoever, and now they’re being asked to help shoulder the bill. It just doesn’t seem right.”

Atlanta school officials argue that charter schools are part of the entire public education system and should share in all of its costs. The Atlanta school district has $500 million in pension obligations. Last fiscal year, the system spent about $13,000 per student, compared to $10,000 per student spent by charter schools. The difference comes largely from administration, pension and transportation costs.

“Atlanta Public Schools is strongly advocating for the passage of (House Bill) 680,” Associate Superintendent Steve Smith wrote in a memo outlining legislative priorities. The newspaper obtained the document, dated Nov. 4, through a public records request.

“This bill would legally allow the district to share its financial liabilities proportionately with all schools,” Smith continued.

APS declined further comment to the newspaper.

The bill would involve rewriting the portion of education law that the Georgia Supreme Court relied on in September to rule that taxpayer money designated for charter campuses can’t be used to pay for system-wide expenses.

Signaling the uphill climb for the bill’s backers, one local representative has abandoned the effort after initially agreeing to sponsor the plan.

“Charter schools should not get favorable treatment,” Rep. Margaret Kaiser, D-Atlanta, told the newspaper. “But I don’t think you should be able to go back retroactively and hold them responsible for a debt they weren’t part of incurring.”

Kaiser is a member of the House Education Committee. That panel’s chairman, Republican Brooks Coleman of Duluth, has promised that House Bill 680 will get a hearing.

Comments
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Put up or shut up
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January 02, 2014
Oh I found the 11 out of 15, just not the 11 out of 12 as the most recent numbers. I also noticed that the top 23 states in the country have far less than 70% of their students tested to come up with the data. You see my googling is not the problem it's your reading comprehension.

Let me guess.... you are educated by a charter school right?

I was just asking the question for clarity. I thought someone who is making statements would look at the most recent data. I guess not. No reason to get snarky but then again no surpirse noting which side you are on.

You guys are known for misrepresenting the data.
It figures
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December 30, 2013
Put up, just google 'commonwealth foundation sat scores by state'

It figures a District supporter has trouble with a simple google search.
Putting up
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December 30, 2013
The '11th of 12' ranking was for 2011. It's pretty easy to find GA's ranking among states that test 70% or more of their students.

For 2012, GA "improved" to 10th of 14 states.

http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog/detail/sat-scores-by-state-2012

but in 2013, we slid back to 11th of the 15 states that test more than 70%.

http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/policyblog/detail/sat-scores-by-state-2013

It's embarrassing failure no matter how you try to deny it.

Acme Fence Co.
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December 31, 2013
Go ahead and ridicule "traditional public schools" based on one single measure. Look at the new CCRPI comprehensive index. Start-up charter schools are failing to match state and their district averages at an alarming rate. The state charter guy had to send out an email yesterday to calm everybody down after that AJC headline! Cherokee Charter Academy has a population of gifted kids 50% higher than the local schools, less than half the rate of low income kids, zero kids who can't speak English, 20% fewer special needs kids.... And guess what? The charter school still can't beat the local school district. Its middle school program didn't even meet the state average. Their advanced "Cambridge" kids FAILED the math end of course test. Now that is truly embarrassing. Cream of the crop, dream demographics and you can't get these kids to excel? And, with administrative costs HIGHER than Atlanta Public Schools! What a waste of tax dollars!
Acme Clueless
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December 31, 2013
I don't separate the charter kids from the failed traditional public-school-educated kids and neither do SAT metrics.

GA children rank near the bottom of whatever rankings one can find, no matter how much the District worshipers continue to deny. District lovers enjoy pointing at a few CCSD schools that test above-average but blatantly ignore the poorer areas of Cherokee County whose test scores resemble any American inner city.

I don't blame them though. I'd be embarrassed of it too.
It figures
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December 29, 2013
It figures that the "traditional public school system" wants to take money from the charter schools without providing anything in return to the charter school teachers. The "traditional public schools" have been taking taxpayer $$$ for years without giving much in return, as evidenced by our state's woeful test scores. Even in states that test 70% of their students with the SAT, GA ranked 11th of 12. By every measure, traditional public schools are failing students in GA but this does not stop their Entitlement Mentality.

Anyone reading this will surely take note of how similar this idea of Entitlement by the traditional public schools resembles the thuglike union behavior seen in hellholes like Chicago and the Northeast.

Make no mistake about it: Most in the traditional public schools feel just as entitled to your public tax $$$ as do union members in Wisconsin, Chicago, and elsewhere. The voting public needs to continue to make sure we keep Georgia a Right To Work state and keep unions out.
Put up or shut up
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December 30, 2013
Even in states that test 70% of their students with the SAT, GA ranked 11th of 12.

Can you please provide documentation that corroborates this statement?
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