Ten questions — Ask them before you vote on Charter School Amendment
by Roger Hines
Columnist
November 04, 2012 12:25 AM | 1148 views | 4 4 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Charter School Amendment vote on Tuesday should not be taken lightly. Proof of its significance is the vigorous campaign that both its supporters and opponents have waged for several months. It’s always wise to ask questions about things that relate to voting; therefore, I pose the following questions about charter schools generally and the charter school amendment specifically.

One: How many charter schools have metal detectors? I cannot give an authoritative answer for this, but I would bet my house that the answer is None. Countless regular schools do have metal detectors, but charter schools don’t need them. Charter schools are smaller, more manageable, and more easily supervised. Serious mischief is not in the air at charter schools. Ask their teachers, parents, and administrators.

Two: Do crowded halls in charter schools render teachers unable to supervise students during class changes? This is a definite No. Many charter schools don’t even have halls. They are allowed to do things a bit differently, remember, and don’t necessarily have bells ringing all day long. They are allowed to innovate and experiment with different class structures. Halls are the chief source — the headquarters, actually — for half the mischief that regular schools are resigned to putting up with: drug deals, profanity, loving couples, etc. Even when teachers or administrators see these things going on in regular schools, crowded halls prevent them from getting to the culprits.

Three: Are charter schools plagued with violence? No. That’s why they don’t need metal detectors.

Four: Are charter schools for everybody? This is a definite No. Charter schools don’t necessarily have the multiple agendas that regular schools have: the academic agenda, the social-psychological agenda, the extra-curricular agenda, and the sports agenda. When they do, the non-academic agendas don’t wag the dog. Charter schools are for students and parents who desire focus and who don’t need the therapy centers (the social-psychological agenda) that so many schools have become. I’m not referring to special needs programs, but to the ubiquitous psychologizing that marks education today. Charters focus on science, math, English, history, computer science, geography, social skills, etc. A very fresh concept.

Five: Why do charter schools place more emphasis on dress and appearance? For the same reason that regular schools once did before they gave up. Appearance still matters. The first thing that all of us judge others by (especially if we are a prospective employer) is appearance; the second thing is language. Charters are known for instilling personal pride, for believing still that learning environment and moral tone matter. Most charters even require the guys to pull their pants up and cover their posteriors. Another fresh, exciting concept.

Six: Do charter schools emphasize the typical quasi-political “celebrations” such as Earth Day that are void of intellectual content? Since each charter school is governed by its own distinct charter, that would be up to the school, though I doubt that most charter school parents care too much about injecting socio-political trendiness into their children’s education.

Seven: How many local school boards are excited about the charter school amendment? The answer is not many, if any. The amendment would absolutely affect their authority, granting it, though, not to another government entity, but to parents who are footing the bill in the first place.

Eight: Are state legislators supporting the amendment in order to receive campaign contributions from for-profit charter school management companies? Not the legislators I know, and that’s a bunch. Probably the most eloquent General Assembly supporter of the amendment is state Representative Ed Setzler of Acworth. If anybody thinks Ed Setzler can be bought, they have never met him.

Nine: If the charter school amendment passes, would the Charter Commission it sets up be the first or only appointed body that makes educational decisions for Georgia? No. Georgia public schools are already governed by an appointive body called the State Board of Education. Members of the state board are all appointed by one person, the governor, whereas the Charter Commission, with half the membership of the state Board, would be appointed by three people: the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the speaker of the House.

Ten: Will the amendment destroy public schools? The answer to this is “Oh, please.” Charter schools are public schools, but they are indeed an effort to substantively improve public education.

In his best-selling book, Real Education, sociologist Charles Murray raises the question, “Why do so many politicians still oppose school choice for poor people but exercise it for their own children?” His question was directed to members of Congress.

In Georgia it’s the other way around. It’s our state representatives and state senators who are leading the charge for choice. I say we should join them.



Roger Hines of Kennesaw is a retired high school teacher and former state legislator.

Comments
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Senior Voter
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November 05, 2012
raharkne, Georgia leaders aren't letting you decide.. They are letting the lobbyist and big donors decide. If they were truly leaving it up to the communities then this amendment wouldn't be on the ballot. This bill is only a power grab created by the most unethical legislature in the nation to reward corporate donors to their campaigns. IT is a shame that so many people blindly follow their "leaders."
raharkne
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November 05, 2012
These are reasons why I voted yes. Charter schools may not be the best choice for every child, but as a parent, I value added choices. Thanks to the Georgia leaders for letting us decide.
Vote No on One
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November 04, 2012
This is the most asinine list of reasons I’ve ever seen given to vote for something in my life. First, CHARTER SCHOOLS ALREADY HAVE TWO METHODS OF BEING APPROVED IN THIS STATE. We don’t need another one. But, point by point, briefly, here we go: 1) I’ve never seen metal detectors in any public school I’ve been in. As we have tragically seen, all it takes is one disturbed student to create a tragedy. 2) That’s because charters simply turn down applicants when they are full. Public schools don’t do that. Let’s fully fund public schools according to QBE and see what happens. 3) Not yet. See point 1. 4) Public schools are all about academics as well. Go visit and see. 5) Public schools can encourage, but not mandate, uniforms. That’s the law. But they do have a dress code. Public schools require guys to cover their undergarments too. 6) Maybe the kids plant some trees on Earth Day as part of a science unit, but at the charters they are loading them on buses and dragging them to the gold dome to be pawns in the political frenzy. I’d rather my child plant the tree. 7) Parents AREN’T footing the bill. It costs approximately $9000 a year to educate a child in Georgia. . When was the last time you paid $9000 in taxes to the state? Probably never. And if you have more than one child? It’s NOT “your” money. 8) Uh, yeah they are. Follow the money. 9) See yesterday’s story on Deal’s friend getting a cozy job for $150 K. Do we really need more of this? No, thank you. 10) Have you forgotten that HB 797 is tied to this ridiculous amendment? It will fund charters at 2.5 times the rate of the public schools. That has been CONFIRMED. And this commission that will be created if 1 passes will earn a cozy 3% commission for each charter opened. Conflict of interest, anyone? Vote NO on amendment 1!
Cherokee Home Owner
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November 04, 2012
Let me tell you 10 things Mr. Hines you should consider before voting:

1. Why is another unelected, costly commission needed to do a job that is ALREADY being done?

2. Do you honestly trust Gov. Deal to appoint qualified people to this board or will he continue try and reward his friends like he has been doing?

3. What happens to the existing school districts when this onslaught of For-profit charter schools descend on Georgia? Where is the money going to come from?

4. When is the last time you have set foot in a traditional public school and saw some of the great achievements coming out of them?

5. How many charter schools have failed in Ohio or Florida? Where did those kids go after their school abruptly closed due to mismanagement of funds?

6. Are there charter schools who are beating the traditional public schools scores?

7. Why is another commission needed if we already have over 200 Charter Schools in Georgia? Isn’t there a system already set in place or isn’t that quick enough for the Charter Lobby?

8. Why are the For-profit charters schools now focusing on mostly high performing school districts?

9. Why should Charter Schools get 2.5 times the funding as traditional students?

10. And finally, what have you done Mr. Hines to help the traditional public schools against the assault of an unethical legislature which has cut the budgets of traditional public schools while enjoying lining their pockets with the money from the Charter Lobbyists.

Mr. Hines I am disappointed in you trying to use fear to promote your cause. That is beneath the majority of Georgia citizens and you know it. Any logical thinking person would just have to shake their head in disbelief at your editorial.

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