PTA Supports Public Charter Schools but Opposes Amendment 1 in Georgia

The Parent Teacher Association supports public school choice and recognizes that public charter schools are an important component in providing a variety of education opportunities in our state. PTA supports multiple choices for education, including charter schools, provided the creation of the charter schools doesn’t adversely affect existing public education. Unfortunately, Amendment 1 isn’t about school choice or charter schools or student achievement. It is about money and power and it will adversely affect public education. PTA strongly opposes Amendment 1 and urges a “NO” vote on Nov. 6.

PTA has major concerns about the negative impact Amendment 1 will have on Georgia’s 1.67 million public school students. This amendment will create a favored class of student who will receive more state funds based solely on the school the student attends, not on the student’s needs. Students who attend a state commissioned charter school will receive more funds from the state than the same student would receive attending a traditional public school, a conversion charter school or a locally authorized charter school. That’s not equitable.

These state commissioned charter schools will result in reduced funding for local public schools. Public schools have already experienced over $6 billion in austerity cuts since 2003 that have resulted in larger classes, teacher furloughs, program eliminations and fewer days spent in the classroom. None of those cuts help student achievement. According to State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge, over $430 million will be needed to fund these new state authorized charter schools over the next five years. That’s assuming the commission only authorizes seven a year, but it has a financial incentive to approve as many as possible since it earns 3 percent on each one approved. Given Georgia’s difficult economic times and the fact that the state budget will not provide increased funding for education (in fact most areas of the budget will be cut by an additional 3 percent), that $430 million will likely come from existing education funds used now to support local public schools.

The state commission charter schools will receive their funding from money diverted from local public schools which will negatively impact those local schools. The local school systems may need to raise property taxes to offset the state funding cuts.

Study after study has shown that parent involvement leads to student achievement. Nothing in Amendment 1 supports parent involvement, contrary to what the preamble states. Parents in locally authorized charter schools must have representation on the governance board of the school but in the state commission, charter schools parents aren’t guaranteed a voice at the table.

The bill’s author did not include a requirement for parents of enrolled students to be assured a voice on the governing board, even after being asked. PTA is a strong proponent of parent involvement.

Further, the bill does not require that state charter school board members sign the ethics code required of local school board members, nor take any of the training required. This suggests that the state charter school operators are not required to be fiduciaries of our children’s education. Commission members are appointed not elected and accountable to no one. There appears to be a lack of accountability all the way around.

PTA’s focus has been and will continue to be what is best for every child. We cannot support this constitutional amendment which will create an inequity in funding, siphon funds from local public schools where over 94 percent of the students in Georgia receive their education and deny parents meaningful engagement. Vote “NO” on Nov. 6.

PTA supports public charter schools but opposes Amendment 1 | Opinion |

One Response to PTA Supports Public Charter Schools but Opposes Amendment 1 in Georgia

  1. PFSadsmin says:

    The cons of a charter school amendment – 3 reasons to vote against the charter school amendment, according to opponents.

    1. The amendment will take away power from local school boards — and local voters — and place that power in the hands of state officials.

    “This amendment runs counter to Georgia’s long tradition of local control,” said Georgia School Superintendents Association Executive Director Herb Garrett.

    2. The proposal would take money away money from Georgia public schools, already hobbled by a decade of budget cuts. Should the amendment pass, the new commission envisioned in the amendment can authorize just seven new schools per year over its first five years. The cumulative cost in school funding could reach more than $400 million annually, according to state Superintendent of Schools John Barge.

    “If voters approve this amendment, the new state charter schools will compete with local schools for resources,” according to Vote Smart Georgia, a group that opposes the amendment.

    3. It would create one more state agency, with no new powers that other local and state government agencies don’t already have. Local boards of education already have the power to authorize charter schools. If a local board says no, the charter school’s organizers can appeal to the state board of education.

    “I want you to know that there is already a process of approving and funding public charter schools throughout Georgia,” said Tim Page, president of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE), in an open letter.

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