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Thoughts on the Charter Amendment

In the wake of the charter schools controversy, this local voice hopes that both sides of the issue can resolve their differences and work towards a better future for our children.

Dear Editor,

With election season finally at its end, I’d like to share my take on what has been one of the most heated debates locally and statewide: the charter amendment. From my perspective, and I know some may disagree, this was solely a vote to give parents more options than they have now regarding their children’s education.  That’s it.  Nothing more. 

I am familiar with all of the arguments for and against it, and both sides had some very valid things to say.  But when all of the arguments were made, for me, it boiled down to just one issue: will my vote give parents more choices or less?  I voted for what I believe to be more.

I know some believe that it is not possible to support the charter amendment and also support public schools.  I have never bought into that and I do not today.  During my campaign, I clearly said I support all educational options, including charter and traditional public schools. What I said was this, “I don’t subscribe to the argument that you have to be in one or the other groups. Standing for parental empowerment and standing in support of traditional public schools are not mutually exclusive concepts. And it is time we recognize the good in each option.”

And so now it is time to show that our community can move beyond the polarization.  I would like to call upon those in the charter amendment movement that I have supported to join me in saying to our elected representatives that 8 furlough days is unacceptable in our traditional public schools.  Tell them that building a football stadium with tax dollars while we have an incomplete school calendar is unacceptable. Tell them that if they voted to fund “Go-Fish” but they can’t find the funding to eliminate furlough days then they shouldn’t be making any more votes because their priorities are messed up.

Each side has claimed to be supporting “all of the kids” during the last year.  Let’s all come together now and prove what we said.  We have some serious issues standing before us in education, and I know we can move beyond the rancor of the last year and begin to work together to solve them.  Will you join me?  Will you fight for my kids the way I fought for yours?  If so, let our elected officials hear from you.

-Scot Turner, Member of the Board of Directors for the Cherokee County GOP

Debbie Pascoe November 08, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Well said! The constant barrage the teachers are getting about the evils of charters and the ridiculous claims that their furlough days cannot be helped -- or that the blame belongs somewhere (ANYWHERE) else than square in the laps of the people who make the money decisions -- must stop! How do we, the parents, stand up for our teachers? Letters? Petitions?
Chris Knowles November 08, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Scot, glad to see that you have been able to gather additional information since our discussions a few months ago. I am in support of your proposition with one slight modification, I would challenge the CCBOE and Superintendent a) produce a viable, audit-confirmed number on the actual cost of a furlough day and b) that they take half of the burden by finding real (non-teacher, sports, or school) savings and at the same time, challenge our delegation to fund the other half. The only thing I would tell you is that whatever we try to do, there are 179 other school districts who will want the same (or more) ... Good idea and glad to see that you are engaging. I look forward to partnering with you as we push to make Cherokee County a model for the "new normal" in education.
Jessie November 08, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Scot...creative writing assignment for a class at Kennesaw?
adrian smith November 08, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Thank you Scot for a balanced article on this issue. As a parent of children in Cherokee county, I was bombarded with emails and letters on this issue from people at the schools and parents. These emails were supposedly educational in nature to "help" us decide how to vote. It was obvious this "information" was nothing more than propaganda to further their cause. I also agree that furlough days are unacceptable and there is certainly money out there - it is just not being spent in the way it should be. As an example, the new schools being built are amazing but I firmly believe that they could be just slightly less amazing so as to save money that can be put toward paying teachers properly. To me (and this is a very unpopular thing to say), charter schools, private schools, and other educational means would not be needed if the public schools were meeting the needs of its students. In our current economic situation, many people cannot afford private school tuition and they should have a choice other than public schools that is affordable for their family.
A B Alcott November 10, 2012 at 11:15 PM
While your attempt to reach out to those that opposed the amendment does seem to be a good thing, and something that is definitely needed in a divided community, you can probably expect many people to be skeptical as to why you are doing this. Is this a political move? I hope not. I believe this is something that must happen. I believe that if this is something that we want, then we have to prove it to those that opposed. You can't expect people that did not want this Amendment to suddenly just say, okay, lets work together. It's not going to happen. Look at how most Republicans are acting here in Georgia to the Presidential election. We are already looking for ways to bring Obama down, instead of working to achieve success in our country. We've got to prove to those that opposed the amendment that we truly want the best for all students. To gain their trust we cannot challenge them, as Mr. Knowles suggests above. We must back them up, and help them get the funding they need. The reason that most of them opposed the amendment was because they fear that the state delegation was not on their side, and that they will continue to get more austerity cuts even though state revenue has increased over the last year. You can't expect our public schools to accept austerity cuts when we are fully funding charter schools. We must fight for full funding the same way we fought for choice. Are you willing to do this? Or are we going to continue attacking the public schools instead?

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