Recently, Matt Jones, a public school teacher in Toombs County Georgia, was provided space in the Athen’s Patch to offer . The opinion editorial would have better classified as fiction, with just enough facts to deceive and mislead a reader.
In his creative writing essay, Mr. Jones argues vigorously against public charter schools and the proposed charter amendment suggesting everything from public charter schools “require students to go through an application process” to suggesting “charter schools are a front to privatizing public education”.
While outlandish, the mixture of facts and fiction make for a dangerous brew intended to sway public opinion on the November 6 ballot question; “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities.”
Rather than taking apart Mr. Jones’ creative writing essay line by line, I have included the federal definition of a charter school to allow readers to determine facts from fiction. Please take note of sections 1(B), (1)(F), 1(H) and 1(L).
Shame on you Mr. Jones! You have used allowed your personal biases towards public charter schools and this amendment issue to attempt to manipulate public opinion.
SEC. 5210. DEFINITIONS.
(1) CHARTER SCHOOL- The term charter school' means a public school that —
(A) in accordance with a specific State statute authorizing the granting of charters to schools, is exempt from significant State or local rules that inhibit the flexible operation and management of public schools, but not from any rules relating to the other requirements of this paragraph;
(B) is created by a developer as a public school, or is adapted by a developer from an existing public school, and is operated under public supervision and direction;
(C) operates in pursuit of a specific set of educational objectives determined by the school's developer and agreed to by the authorized public chartering agency;
(D) provides a program of elementary or secondary education, or both;
(E) is nonsectarian in its programs, admissions policies, employment practices, and all other operations, and is not affiliated with a sectarian school or religious institution;
(F) does not charge tuition;
(G) complies with the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;
(H) is a school to which parents choose to send their children, and that admits students on the basis of a lottery, if more students apply for admission than can be accommodated;
(I) agrees to comply with the same Federal and State audit requirements as do other elementary schools and secondary schools in the State, unless such requirements are specifically waived for the purpose of this program;
(J) meets all applicable Federal, State, and local health and safety requirements;
(K) operates in accordance with State law; and
(L) has a written performance contract with the authorized public chartering agency in the State that includes a description of how student performance will be measured in charter schools pursuant to State assessments that are required of other schools and pursuant to any other assessments mutually agreeable to the authorized public chartering agency and the charter school.
(2) DEVELOPER- The term developer' means an individual or group of individuals (including a public or private nonprofit organization), which may include teachers, administrators and other school staff, parents, or other members of the local community in which a charter school project will be carried out.
(3) ELIGIBLE APPLICANT- The term eligible applicant' means a developer that has —
(A) applied to an authorized public chartering authority to operate a charter school; and
(B) provided adequate and timely notice to that authority under section 5203(d)(3).
(4) AUTHORIZED PUBLIC CHARTERING AGENCY- The term authorized public chartering agency' means a State educational agency, local educational agency, or other public entity that has the authority pursuant to State law and approved by the Secretary to authorize or approve a charter school.
Andrew Lewis serves as Executive Vice President for Georgia Charter Schools Association and taught middle schools social studies in the DeKalb County Public Schools System.