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Georgia PTA 'Cannot Support' Charter School Amendment

It "has major concerns with the ... impact it will have on Georgia’s 1.67 million public school students," according to a statement from the group.

Under pressure from its national organization to rescind its opposition to , the Georgia Parent Teacher Association reaffirmed its stance.

"We cannot support this constitutional amendment which will create an inequity in funding, siphon funds from local public schools where the great majority of the students in Georgia receive their education and deny parents meaningful engagement," the group said in a statement released late Friday. "Georgia PTA strongly opposes this constitutional amendment."

In July, the state chapter made its position clear: Vote no when you go to the polls in November.

While the Georgia PTA supports charter schools approved by local school boards, "we reject the state power grab from local communities in the education of their children, the financial inequities, and the overt attention being given to those who intend to profit from the education of children," Sally FitzGerald, the group's educational policy specialist, wrote in the July 1 position statement.

Since then, according to an article in Education Week, the National PTA has revised its policy on charter schools and extended its support to charters approved by all authorizing bodies—not just local school boards.

The national organization wanted its chapters to support the change. For the Georgia chapter, that meant taking a neutral stance in the debate over the state's proposed charter school amendment, according to Education Week.

The , and group president Tony Roberts called on the "Georgia PTA to follow their national organization and end their opposition to the November vote on the charter amendment."

But in the new statement, the Georgia PTA said it "has major concerns with the proposed constitutional amendment and the impact it will have on Georgia’s 1.67 million public school students."

It's not clear what action the National PTA will take as a result of the Georgia chapter's stance. Spokesman James Martinez was not ready to make a statement on the group's behalf this afternoon.

Full Text of the Georgia Parent Teacher Association's Statement

August 31, 2012    

Georgia PTA's Position on Public Charter Schools and the Constitutional Amendment

Like National PTA, Georgia PTA supports public school choice and recognizes that public charter schools are an important component in providing a variety of education opportunities in our state. Georgia PTA supports multiple choices for education, including charter schools, provided the creation of the charter schools doesn’t adversely affect existing public education. 

National PTA’s recently revised position states that it supports public charters as long as they are ‘supported by specifically allocated public funds in amounts that do not exceed and do not divert funding from non-charter public schools’. Georgia PTA has major concerns with the proposed constitutional amendment and the impact it will have on Georgia’s 1.67 million public school students of Georgia. Georgia PTA believes this constitutional amendment will create a favored class of student who will receive more state funds based solely on the school a student attends, not on a student’s needs. Students who attend a state commissioned charter school will receive more funds from the state than the same student would earn attending a traditional public school, a conversion charter school or a locally authorized charter school.

These state authorized charter schools will also result in reduced funding for local public schools.  Public schools have already experienced over $5 billion in austerity cuts that resulted in larger classes, teacher furloughs, program eliminations and fewer days spent in the classroom. According to State School Superintendent, Dr. John Barge, over $430 million will be needed to fund these new state authorized charter schools over the next five years. Given Georgia’s difficult economic times and the fact that the state budget will not provide increased funding for education (in fact most areas of the budget will be cut by an additional 3%), that $430 million will likely come from existing education funds used now to support education in local public schools. The state authorized commission charter schools will receive their funding from money diverted from local public schools which will negatively impact those local schools.

National PTA’s revised statement also says the public charter schools must have at least one parent on the charter school board, have meaningful parent engagement and shared decision making. This amendment omits parent involvement completely. Unlike local charter schools, there is no requirement for state authorized charter schools to include parents in any decision making process and when asked to have parent engagement included as a requirement, it was specifically denied.

Georgia PTA's focus has been and will continue to be what is best for every child. We cannot support this constitutional amendment which will create an inequity in funding, siphon funds from local public schools where the great majority of the students in Georgia receive their education and deny parents meaningful engagement. Georgia PTA strongly opposes this constitutional amendment.

 

FAST FACTS

  • On Nov. 6, voters will be asked, "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?" Voters will check "yes" or "no."
  • Cherokee school board members voted 4-2 during its April 19 meeting to endorse a , which they fear will take away from local districts.

Related content

Mitch September 05, 2012 at 01:02 PM
Sounds like the NEA (National Teachers Association) is in bed with the PTA. We need to improve Georgia schools and give our kids every opportunity to succeed. If Charter Schools can give our kids a better education, I am all for it. If our schools were not failing, we wouldn't need Charter Schools.
Dean Sheridan September 05, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Like you're shocked. Oh my - Lions - Tigers & Bears. Does anyone really think they want their their cronies to lose any power, ever? Even if it meant a better education for some children? No we can't have that. This is the way it's been done since Moby Dick was a minnow so God bless it; eat dirt you do good-er's! The PTA is standing by the Georgia Adequate Standards because that's good enough and your not patriotic enough to pay more for it. So there.
Lisa Huber September 05, 2012 at 02:41 PM
This is just another example of the rampant selfishness that seems to be overtaking all. Apparently the PTA wants all funding to go to their kids, and the heck with anyone else's. Not all parents want to sleepwalk their kids onto the altar of total government control.
Valerie Testman September 05, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I agree Mitch, if the schools were serving their communities well parents would not be looking for other options. It doesn't sound like Georgia PTA made its decision based on the best needs of the students in those communities where parents want charters. Unfortunately all local boards do not fairly view charter schools, hence they may not be handled fairly.
Andrea Young September 05, 2012 at 03:37 PM
My experience is that GA PTA supports the teachers not student learning. Maybe we need an organization that is more student centered.
Longtime PS Resident September 06, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Yes, lets give politicians at the state level more control over our charter schools. The local school boards, made of parents, teachers and local businessmen have no idea how the local schools should be run. I mean, the state legislature has such a stellar track record of making great decisions, how could they possibly screw up charter schools?
Rae Harkness September 10, 2012 at 01:51 AM
The state legislature will not be running charter school. The charter commission only has the power to approve them. If they do not perform, charters will not be renewed. I only wish that were the case with my neighborhood schools.
Longtime PS Resident September 10, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Once you give politicians control over something they tend to extend and cement their control...it would be a safe bet that if state-level bureaucrats are allowed to approve or deny them today, they'll be issuing directives about how they're to be run tomorrow. Parents could improve their own schools if they just expended a little effort..take an interest in what your kids are studying, look over their homework, show up for parent-teacher conferences, go to PTSA meeting nights, volunteer to help at school events, etc.
Jim Beam September 10, 2012 at 08:22 PM
Right, because local boards always do such an awesome job! Like in Bibb County, Dekalb County, and APS! 1162 gives no state level control over charter schools. Rather it provides an appeal process when short-sighted, local boards turn down charter renewal in order to shovel more property tax $$$ to their mediocre traditional public schools and fat-cat superintendents. Local school boards statewide have made their priorities crystal clear: 1. Funding for Superintendents & Admins 2. Funding for Teachers 3. ??? 4. Education of taxpayers' children YES on 1162 provides a chance for concerned parents to appeal the failure of local school boards.
Me September 10, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Way to go, Georgia PTA! The National office needs to recognize that you better than they understand the circumstances of the situation in Georgia and accede to the depth of your knowledge. Of those of you posting without actually reading the PTA statement, since your minds are set and you just take every opportunity possible to promote a new bureaucracy, I ask: 1) How much time have you given to your local schools, as Longtime asks and 2) How many educational policy meetings (NOT rallies, school board protests, etc.) have you attended? I can tell you that Sally FitzGerald is the grand dame of education legislation and policy, relative to parents and students, in Georgia. This woman has been around a LONG time and has forgotten more than you've ever known about the history and politics of Georgia education. (And she hasn't forgotten much, so...) I've been to various ed policy meetings over the past 15 years, and she is there, absorbing more knowledge and asking questions to reinforce her wisdom. This is a very succinct, factual presentation of the reasons that this separate charter commission should be defeated in November. I invite you to spend 3 minutes actually considering the points made and contrasting them with what you've been TOLD, or want to believe, about this amendment. Now I'll pull out my PTA card and e-mail the National PTA.
Johnny Bowe September 18, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Georgia ranked 48th out of 50 in SAT scores last year. Why mess with success like that? It doesn't require attending endless policy meetings to recognize that Georgia's educational system stinks! Nothing will change until this state collapses it's self serving teachers union who's primary goal is to squash any meaningful reform.
Frank Jones September 18, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Johnny...The 48th out of 50 in SAT scores is a dead, non-existent issue. The ranking has more to do with the proportion of students taking the SAT than of the educational system. The "top" states had the fewest number of students taking the SAT. The "worst" states had the greatest. Guess what? Georgia had the 5th highest participation rate at 80%...essentially, we had a lot of students taking the test who are not college bound or college caliber students. This alone skews the results!
Frank Jones September 18, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Steely...As you point out, HB 1162 doesn't give the state any control over the operation of charter schools. As you'll probably agree, HB 1162 in it's simplest allows the state to approve, reject and terminate charter schools. Since the state doesn't have any control, what HB 1162 essentially does is that it turns over $10s of millions, $100s of millions of taxpayer money to for-profit entities with very limited strings attached. And if a charter fail to do its job, quit mid-year, siphons the money, or spends it poorly...Oh Well -- I guess the traditional school will pick up the pieces. Anytime a governmental unit hands over taxpayer money to a business, there must be active oversight by the government to ensure there isn't waste, fraud or abuse. Can you say...Jimmy Bobo? Can you say...Solyndra? But hey...Give me $10 mil and I'll set up a school. I'll do a great job....TRUST ME.
Kids First September 30, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Each charter school, local or state approved, submits an audit to their authorizor each year. That authorizor knows what the books look like. The charter schools division at the GaDOE will review them regularly and keep the commission or local authorizor informed on their performance. Finally, and Frank you really need to stop posting this on every GA Patch in the state, the schools are not blindly run by 'for profit management companies'. Geez. How many times do you need to be told, shown, drawn pictures of, that the schools are run by non-profit governing boards. These boards may choose to contract with a company to help with their school but they may also terminate that contract. We've seen two or three do that over the years. It happens so stop telling people all charter schools are 'for profit entities'. You know you're lying and trying to scare people.

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