There have been numerous columns written in support of and against the proposed constitutional amendment on charter schools.
Sen. Jason Carter is correct when he says the language of this particular amendment is confusing. However, he knows that under Democratic and Republican leadership, the wording on most constitutional amendments typically lack clarity.
As you make your decision on the constitutional amendment, here are some facts for your consideration:
• First, charter schools are public schools.
• Second, there are different types of charter schools. For example, in DeKalb County, Chesnut, Kingsley and Peachtree Middle are examples of converted charter schools from traditional public schools.
• Third, the charter school amendment primarily deals with charter schools created by the state after a local school board turns down the application. The exception is a school with a statewide attendance zone like the virtual charter school, which goes directly to the state.
• Fourth, the academic performance of the state-created charter schools by the former commission is as good or better as the schools in the district where the state-created charter schools are domiciled. This data comes from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.
• Fifth, parental involvement is a key component of a charter school because in many cases, a parent must sign a contract of involvement in a child’s education.
• Sixth, the current state-created charter schools that are brick-and-mortar facilities receive about 85 percent of the funding that traditional public schools receive. The difference is due to the fact that the state-created charter schools do not receive local tax dollars.
• Seventh, it is true that the state can currently create charter schools. However, based on the Supreme Court ruling, it is very likely that any lawsuit challenging this right will be successful. The reason I say this is because, in the Supreme Court ruling that the state could not compel the locals to contribute to a state-created charter school, the court also said the following: State special schools are not schools that enroll the same types of K-12 students who attend general K-12 public schools or that teach the same subjects that may be taught at general K-12 public schools. As a layman, to me this means that the state special school (state-created charter school) would not be an option except for special circumstances such as for the deaf and the blind.
• Eighth, there are areas of this state where local school boards will not approve any charter school. Everyone can’t move or send their child to a private school. Maybe this is why 44 percent of voters in the Democratic primary said “Yes” to this amendment.
• Ninth, if a state-created charter school does not meet its objectives, then it can be shut down. When was the last time a traditional public school was closed due to poor academic performance?
• Tenth, for-profit companies can make money by running these schools. Why do we care if this means we increase academic performance?
Bottom line, if we can increase academic performance by injecting competition into a system with mediocre results and increase parental involvement, then I will vote YES! YES! YES!
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