Letter to the Editor--Charter School Advocate Says No to Amendment 1

Mom says the question on the ballot is misleading.


Dear Editor,

Georgia is in the midst of an intense debate over a proposed charter school amendment that will be on the ballot in November. Whatever your position, you need to read my story.

The polls predict this amendment will pass with flying colors, thanks to a misleading ballot question and a majority of funding from outside the state. If this amendment passes, politics and corporations will shape our schools. Charter groups with multi-faceted objectives are lining up to grab their market share. If a state-controlled charter school comes to your town, you will have no recourse if there is a problem. 

Why Local Control is Critical

The problems I encountered at Fulton Science Academy Charter School, in Alpharetta, were not anticipated by our local and state board of education or by educators across the country. Charter schools are new territory and bring new challenges.

The Charter School Amendment is weak. It does not address the current problems we have in our state and it invites new problems. 

My son attended Fulton Science Academy charter school, for three years, when I found out about problems that also led to my learning that the school was being operated by followers of the influential and controversial Turkish Imam, Fethullah Gulen.

Fulton Science Academy’s problems were serious and later validated by an external audit that was commissioned by the local school board. My concerns left me fearful to speak up because the Gulen movement is a powerful international organization and because of the federal investigation into the school. Details can be found in this article about Fulton Science Academy in the New York Times, by Stephanie Saul. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/us/audits-for-3- georgia-charter-schools-tied-to-gulen-movement.html)

Turns out the Gulen movement was the least of my worries.

The real problem? Legislators with tunnel vision, hoping to open the Georgia education frontier to more charter groups at any cost. My legislators demonstrated that they will look the other way, as long as a school has high test scores. 

Local School Board Takes Action

Ultimately, the local school board held Fulton Science Academy accountable and did not renew its charter. The local school board did the right thing even after politicians pressed for the board to reverse their decision.  My experience is a critical example of why local control is necessary. The local school board took action and politicians would not help. 

I understand that the landscape of education is changing and with that rules and regulations need to be adapted. However, it is irresponsible of the Governor and our legislators to lobby for a constitutional amendment that does not stop the known problematic consequences of charter schools.

Vote No

This is not a partisan issue. It is about keeping your voice on education in your community.  If you vote no, charter schools will be continue to be approved at the local and state level, we just won't be adding an additional state politically appointed charter committee. Amending the constitution is serious business. Don't vote for an Amendment to the Georgia Constitution that contains weak legislation and does not address current problems we face in our state.

Details, including the letter I sent to the North Fulton Delegation can be found at:



Dana Teegardin


Athens Mama October 26, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Jim Geiser is a local charter schools advocate who advocates to vote YES. If not with this amendment, then what will be the bridge for more needed charted schools in Georgia? Time's a' wastin' folks. Vote YES on the charter schools amendment. I agree that the wording on the amendment is not fair to those who are opposed, but we need more CHOICES in Georgia NOW,
A Parent October 26, 2012 at 02:57 AM
I think the purpose of the people who are labeling successful charter schools as Gulen Charter Schools is to defame Fethullah Gulen and successful charter schools. As it was mentioned on CBS's 60 Minutes that nationwide Newsweek Magazine listed some of those two successful charter schools as miracle schools of the nation. They're combining those schools as Gulen Charter Schools, because they're successful. Those people who are actually against good and goodness picking Fethullah Gulen's name as a person to mention with those successful charter schools. Whoever they are, they don't like Fethullah Gulen because of his teachings and positive contribution to humanity in 21st century. In the other hand Turkish oriented people are not the only people operating charter schools. Why are those people picking only charter schools operated by Turkish origin professionals? After reading all blogs written about Gulen Charter Schools Myth, in my opinion, those bloggers have a different political view so they don't like all Charter schools, not only FSA. http://so-calledgulencharterschools.blogspot.com/ http://gulenschools.org/ http://fethullahgulenhizmetmovement.blogspot.com/ http://gulen4universalpeace.blogspot.com/
Tim Johnson October 26, 2012 at 04:57 PM
Contrary to what it says on the ballot, the constitutional amendment is not about whether we should have charter schools, but the process for having them. Currently, local school boards can approve them and, if rejected, the Georgia DoE can approve them. The amendment would create a third option, a politically appointed Georgia Charter Schools Commission. Stanford University (which likes charters) gathered nationwide data on 2043 charters: 17% of charters perform better than traditionals, 46% the same, and 37% significantly worse. In states where the local school board and state DoE are the only two with approval power, charters are more successful than states with a third entity. The researchers comment, "it appears that charter school operators are able to identify and choose the more permissive entity." Politically appointed entities lack the expertise to recognize poor quality and are far more likely to be persuaded by campaign contributions to the same politicians who appointed them to the Commission because of their own political connection. That would explain why the pro-amendment forces are funded almost entirely by out-of-state interests, specifically companies that stand to make lots of money from this. If the sponsors of this really believed in it, why is there absolutely nothing in the language on the ballot that says what it actually does? Just vote no. And support quality public schools for ALL students.
Tim Johnson October 26, 2012 at 05:32 PM
These high school students get it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LxOnNLdfdkE
Athens Mama October 29, 2012 at 11:52 PM
Tim, I wish you could have it both ways, it is what I have always wanted as well. My whole goal in life is for a more harmonious society and for more that uplifts the public good. In general, I would say that this is true. However, there are not enough safety nets in place to protect the children from those who are milking the system and are burnt out. If you believe me or not, it's true.


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