To the teachers...

Thoughts on why teachers should consider voting YES on Amendment 1.

To the teachers… I know traditional public school teachers who will quietly vote YES on Amendment 1. For those who are considering voting NO I would like to offer some thoughts that you may or may not find compelling.

I understand the feeling that Charter Schools are not needed if you work in a high performing district. It is easy to stop at the thought that these children are doing well in a good system and you feel the comfort of an optimistic future. It is not the same in all school districts. Even though the state authorized charter schools form a tiny fraction of Georgia’s public school system, they are the most immediate hope for some parents in low performing systems or systems that have substituted cheating for teaching. Do you believe that limiting a parent’s choice to the four year election cycle empowers them in a meaningful way to help their child? Would you endure four years of your child languishing in a dysfunctional district? Consider these parents in the balance when you make your decision.

For the education bureaucrats, it is about power. Defeating Amendment 1 consolidates exclusive power within their domains. I believe ensuring state authority as a second authorizer is a balanced way of providing protection against the negative effects of absolute power. It ensures parental choice, promotes innovation, and sets up a natural comparison between state charter and traditional schools that encourage both to improve and to refine their priorities.  It diffuses the potential for a radical pendulum swing that could lead to more disruptive reforms.  The Public Charter School Amendment is the most balanced and effective way to pursue improvement in Georgia’s schools.

Cherokee County School District teachers are enduring 8 furlough days this year. There were no furlough days at Cherokee Charter Academy. It seems the first place the central office looks to cut spending is with the teacher. This serves the dual purposes of meeting budget and aligning the teachers’ interest with the administration. Have you ever heard an administrator threaten to cut central office spending to make their point? A lean system empowers the school principal and focuses money and energy in the classroom. State Authorized Charter Schools bring renewed focus on the financial priorities of the local districts. This is good. Teachers should not be fodder in a bureaucratic fight. Renewed focus on financial priorities would make teachers the last item, not the first, to be cut.

Your vote is between you, God, and the voting machine. The Public Charter Schools Amendment provides many benefits, tangible and not, to the parents, teachers, and children of Georgia. Amendment 1 is a threat to the bureaucrats, not to the teachers. Please consider these thoughts as you cast your vote.

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Elizabeth Hooper October 31, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Please Thomas, have we reached a new low - bringing God into the charter school debate - pray tell - what political office are you warming up for? Children should not be fodder in this political fight, teachers can make up their own mind. We have charter schools and we have an appeals process for those that are denied at the local level. The only thing this amendment does is to create a faster way for state charter schools - most likely run by "for-profit" operators like Cherokee County Academy - to replicate - needed or not. Why not tell the teachers you are appealing to that these state charter schools will be unaccountable to them and everyone else who is paying for them. Doesn't sound so good does it. No one should be throwing their elected voice away with such flimsy evidence of future success. I will be voting NO.
Kids First October 31, 2012 at 08:40 PM
A publication that came out yesterday from the Center for an Educated Georgia is awesome. Dr. Danielle LeSure highlights three innovative practices taking place in Public Charter Schools that other schools could use! http://www.educatedgeorgia.org/news/press-release-successful-innovations-fuel-state-charter-school-success/ These three schools, their teachers, and students exist only because of the state commission approving them after their own districts denied the petitions. They're doing some interesting things that traditional schools may be able to replicate. I hope amendment one passes so we continue to see more innovation in education. And as for the evil for profit companies Ms. Hooper loves to talk about. If the school's nonprofit board chooses to sign a contract with a management company, they must work together to attract and retain the students. No students, no money. If the board decides to terminate the partnership, they can. It's been done several times in Georgia. There are also schools that have renegotiated their contracts to remove or add services. The partnerships between private and public have been around as long as public schools have been around. Vote Yes!
Thomas Hart November 01, 2012 at 01:23 AM
Thank you for your response, Elizabeth.


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