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GA PTA Under Pressure Over Charters

The National Parent Teacher Association wants the Georgia chapter to remain neutral in the state's charter school debate.

With nearly two months to go before , the Georgia PTA is under pressure from its parent organization to rescind its opposition to the measure.

Last month, 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.

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

Emails to FitzGerald and the Georgia PTA executive committee have not been returned, but the Georgia Charter Schools Association today praised the National PTA's policy shift.

"We applaud the recognition by National PTA that just as one size doesn't fit all in educating our students, a single charter authorizer doesn't fit all either," Georgia Charter Schools Association President & CEO Tony Roberts said in a statement. "High-quality authorizers such as the give parents and students a needed appeals process when a school board refuses to fairly consider a charter application. The entire charter community here in our state is asking Georgia PTA to follow their national organization and end their opposition to the November vote on the charter amendment."

The Georgia PTA isn't the only opponent of the charter amendment making headlines. In a move that came as a surprise to his Republican colleagues, State Superintendent John Barge earlier this month announced his opposition to the measure.

"Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts," he said.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who , said local districts wouldn't lose money.

"In fact, under the formula in the legislation, they are getting the very lowest level of funding of any public school," he said at the time.

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.

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DonnaM August 29, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Breaking news? Really Patch? The National PTA statement was a positioning statement that was a blanket statement. To infere that Georgia PTA should change what its delegates have voted and agreed upon is wrong and misleading. National PTA, who does not have a dog in this fight, should not get involved. But more importantly the voting delegates in Georgia have crafted their own statement to its members in Georgia, and voted upon it per their bylaws. Publishing this as a Breaking News is misleading and feeds the craziness. I question your journalistic integrity Patch. You appear to be pro-charter and anti anything the Cherokee County School Board does, says, or tries to accomplish.
Rodney Thrash August 29, 2012 at 05:20 PM
DonnaM: We're not pro- or anti-anything. Folks in Cherokee, whether they are for charters or not, care about the issue of school choice. We're merely reporting a development in the matter. That's all. Have you even seen our stories and/or announcements about Cherokee Charter Academy and the Cherokee County School District? Just last week, we reported how CCSD recorded the highest ACT scores in the district's story. Don't recall seeing a comment from you on that story. http://canton-ga.patch.com/topics/cherokee-county-school-district
Listening August 29, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Rodney, you really ought to be chuckling. You're normally accused of being anti charter. This should feel like a nice change of pace.
Rodney Thrash August 29, 2012 at 06:01 PM
LOL, Listening. You are so right!
Charles Childers August 29, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Anyone who says that the the money for State sponsored Charter Schools is not coming out of the local school systems pockets is either lying or ignorant. When the State of Georgia has had to cut funding to our schools how can they say it wont affect our schools. If there is any extra money in the General Fund than they need to use it to fully fund the schools they already have. It reminds me of the movie Terms of Endearment when Debra Winger can't afford her groceries and the kids want some of the candy bars next to the register. She gives them to the cashier who tells her "You can't afford them". Then John Lithgow pays for them for her. Who is going to pay for our candy bars (State Sponsored Charter Schools)? The Federal Government darn sure can't do it. We are going to have to put some groceries back, people, if we want some candy bars. I don't have anything against Charter Schools. I wish every student could have the best education possible . I believe the all schools should be able to implement the lastest and greates educational tools available to them. I have 3 children in or have gone through the Cherokee County School System. They have all received a top notch education and I credit the involvement of parent, teacher and school. The Local School Boards is not the last chance for Charter Schools. they have an appeals process to the State School Board already in place.
nick August 29, 2012 at 07:13 PM
Charles, you are wrong on two points. 1. State charters DO NOT take away from local schools - as a matter of fact, my daughter goes to a charter, and her local school still gets money as if she were attending there - so they are actually taking away from the charter. 2. The charters WILL NOT have an appeals process if this amendment fails - that's why it's so important. If the amendment passes, it will create a method for locally-denied charters (which is currently 100% in Cherokee) to appeal.
No More Bullies August 29, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Nick, Charles is talking about the state budget, he never mentioned local property tax dollars. The state has been cutting its share of funding to local school districts for years, even violating state law (funding of QBE) to do so. To divert additional funds away from an already shrinking pool of state dollars, someone has to lose. Until the legislators create a unique funding stream for charter schools, they cannot accurately say the state share of a school district's funding will not suffer. It mathematically has to, unless the state raises additional revenue. The State Board is approving and denying charter appeals already. This is how Cherokee Charter was approved, and how Fulton Science Academy was denied. By the State.
Charles Childers August 29, 2012 at 09:43 PM
Thank you NMB. You are correct. I am so tired of politicians that lie. Nathan Deal is a hipocrite. He runs as a Republican than starts pushing all this Big Government garbage. Then there is our local State Legislators who tried to strong arm our School Board and gerrymander the district. I like how that back fired on them. Now I hear Governor Deal and some other Legislators have put the arm on the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. From the AJC: memo sent out by Gwinnett Chamber CEO Jim Maran to the organization’s board of directors and other parties (emphasis is mine): We have had recent conversations with members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Gwinnett’s Legislative Delegation regarding state-controlled charter schools and the related constitutional amendment referendum. With respect to all parties engaged in the issue, the Executive Committee of the Board has decided the Chamber shall remain neutral on this subject. As such, the September 5 event has been cancelled. The Sept. 5 event was a fund-raiser for opponents of the measure. Gov. Nathan Deal addressed the Gwinnett Chamber only last week. Do not persuade yourself that this is a coincidence. We’re told that some members of the legislative delegation threatened to withhold funds for Gwinnett Tech and Georgia Gwinnett College if the chamber didn’t back off.
Frank Jones August 30, 2012 at 02:38 AM
People need to look at the trends to get an understanding of how some want education to be delivered in a few years: 1. The state wants to fund private schools and has allowed taxpayers to fund Student Scholarship Organizations with tax dollars. Over $50 million of state tax funds are going to un-supervised SSOs each year. 2. The state set up a voucher program whereby a certain SPED students with IEPs could receive vouchers to attend private schools. Some have pushed to expand this program to include: any child of military family, any foster child, and any child that attends/will attend a HS with grad rate<60%. No need for an IEP. Others want to expand the program to include any student with any of the following: hard of hearing, emotional/behaviour disorder, orthopedic impairment, "other health impairment" (diabetes), visual impairment (glasses), speech impairment (stutters), and more. Most students could fall into one of these categories. 3. One southern state has implemented a full voucher system that allows students to attend schools that teach creationism. 4. Texas wants to eliminate "critical thinking" and other programs that would challenge a student's beliefs or parental authority (i.e. can't teach evolution if student believes in creationism). 5. Texas wants to re-write the importance of many of the founding fathers. The ultimate goal is to dismantle public education in favor of for-profit, private and church schools. The dumbing down of education.
Mike payne August 30, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Frank, giving people a choice is never dumbing down. This debate is so simple, anti-choice groups are only concerned about the money, parents such as myself only want what we think is the best for our kids and I choose the Charter School. State money, local money those are just words for a shell game. I am interested in PRINCIPLE and that is simple, let my tax dollars follow my kid. Listening to parents who live in Bradshaw Farms sing the blues about less money for their schools is proof that once uncle scam gets you on his tit God help the reformers who want to shake things up.
Dean Sheridan August 30, 2012 at 01:20 PM
@Charles : Your funny and painfully factually challenged. For starters because of Government intervention and or the School Board; Debra Winger in the movie would be prohibited from buying a candy bar for her child in today's world and putting them in a lunch box - among other views your wonderful system advocates. Secondly if it wasn't for Charter Schools we would have no STEM or MAGNET schools. Thirdly if the Board would stop the spending or be more like Charter they would be able to fund your named short falls. We pay 59% of our taxes representing the largest line item in the State. The value State wide we get does not measure up, that's why Choice of Charter is an answer. How is it possible I ask that a Charter operates on about 70% for the same essential services that public does, if I'm wrong?
Dean Sheridan August 30, 2012 at 01:37 PM
@Rodney : When have did we get to the point where exceeding "The Georgia adequate standards" ( like those on the Board boast on) providing choice and better education is a controversial amendment? To me and many of my colleges the only thing controversial is the Georgia PTA unwillingness to provide what's in the best interest of the child and parent. Sounds to me this is really about several other issues that most Journalists will not write about. Why don't you try that approach? Maybe that would be to controversial?
Greer Thompson August 30, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Okay, I know this may be a dumb question, but why does the national pta want the georgia chapter to remain neutral. What is the angle?
Renee Gable August 30, 2012 at 02:47 PM
I'm voting YES!
Frank Jones August 30, 2012 at 03:11 PM
@Mike...my dumbing of education was a specific reference to the trend that is occuring where state & local tax money is being used to teach creationism and not challenging students to test, defend and expand their beliefs/knowledge using critical thinking skills. My Pro-Traditional stance is that a move to for-profit charter schools is the wrong approach. My Pro-Traditional stance is that a move to centralized state control over education is the wrong approach. My Pro-Traditional stance is that charter "freedoms" should be allowed in a traditional environment. My Pro-Traditional stance is that charters should be locally approved and accountable to the local district. My Pro-Traditional stance is that if the pro-Choice folks spent as much time and effort fighting for "choice" that the entire school system for ALL students could be greatly improved and legislators held accountable. Instead, Chipster and friends are avoiding accountability as the heat, anger, and rhetoric has been shifted to all us. Lastly, if you want "your" tax dollars to follow your child, keep in mind that your tax dollars are only a small fraction of the tax dollars you want to follow you child. Unless you pay $5,700 in local school taxes PER CHILD, you're actually asking for other people's money to follow your child.
Jim Beam August 30, 2012 at 03:17 PM
And Americans agree with you. in huge #s. America, as a whole, is well aware of the failure of the liberal ideology that Trad. Public Schools (TPS) have been force-feeding our children since the late 70s. America as a whole knows that "teaching the 3 Rs" (with a heavy dose of science and IT) is a far superior approach than the Elevation of Child's Self Esteem that is the hallmark of a liberal educational ideology that has helped to slide America down in the global rankings these past 3 decades. Can any 50 yr old adult say that public schools today are better than the ones we attended? Only 5% of America believes public schools give our children an 'excellent education' and America as a whole rates Traditional Public Schools as the WORST possible place to educate your children. Yet, TPS advocates insist that if we just shovel more billions to them and them alone, all will be fixed. The gig is up. The liberal ed. experiment has been a failure. America wants More Choice. Voting YES for 1162 ensures they will. http://cnsnews.com/news/article/gallup-americans-rate-public-schools-worst-place-educate-children
Jim Beam August 30, 2012 at 03:23 PM
If the PTA is a 501(c)(3) organization, it can lose its tax-exempt status if it advocates for legislation or specific candidates. http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Exemption-Requirements---Section-501(c)(3)-Organizations "i.e., it may not attempt to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."
No More Bullies August 30, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Key word, "substantial." PTAs advocate for and against legislation every year, but it is not the reason for their existence.
Stevie Nicks August 30, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Frank...great points especially about "your" tax dollars. What if a household has multiple children..school taxes are not paid on a per child basis. People...this is NOT about school choice or charter schools. School choice/charter schools are here to stay and competition is a good thing. This ammendment changes the consitution so that if a charter is denied by a local BOE, it can go before a charter commission for possible approval. GA Supreme Court rule that unconstitutional. The process to appeal is already in place...take the application to the State BOE for possible approval. If approved by the state, it gets state funds that match the missing local funds. Where does that money come from??? the big piece of the education pie just got smaller...less for TPS. I like how it also says "local communities." What is the definition of a local community? the entire county, or a small group of parents or a management company from outside the community? I am also surprised that the GOP is backing this becasue it creates BIGGER government...another government agency is ususally not a GOP favorite idea. As far as the GA PTA resolution, they voted on that prior to National PTA CHANGING their stance. National PTA is being swayed by lobbyists in Washington and can not afford to anger anyone as PTA membership roles and relevance is diminishing. Look at the history of the PTA, they have always been and advocacy group.
Sue Taylor August 30, 2012 at 06:00 PM
On the contrary. The dumbing down can be found in the public schools. My kids have been in 3 different private schools.. all have been excellent. The past 3 years at the public high school has been fair at best. Dismantle away. Whats with your issue about creationism and evolution? Let's not go there shall we. Remember, this means we have a choice where our kids are educated.
Greer Thompson August 30, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Ok so is the PTA a liberal organization?
Jim Beam August 30, 2012 at 07:53 PM
At the national level, the causes the national PTA espouse are definitely liberal. They generally walk lockstep with teachers, and in many states this means they're walking in lockstep with teacher unions. They've received grant money from the union-loving Dept. of Labor, they've repeatedly campaigned against vouchers and charters (both of which are favored by conservatives), and repeatedly back social causes that lean left. I suspect their insistence on neutrality here is due to a fear of losing their tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. (as usual, it's about $$$$, not education!)
Greer Thompson August 30, 2012 at 09:13 PM
Very interesting that I had no idea I was apart of this type of organization. I thought being a member of the PTA meant I was supporting my school! I didn't know they have an agenda.
Stevie Nicks August 30, 2012 at 09:18 PM
PTA is a nonpartisan 501c3 organization who follows the IRS guidelines regarding legislative activities. They can't support or oppose political parties but may engage in nonpartisan issues that affect the work of the PTA. Mission is. To make every child's potential a reality by engaging and empowering families and communities to,advocate for all children. PTA rarely takes a stance but some things they have advocated for are kindergarten, school lunches, polio vaccines, anti drug and smoking messages, car seats, anabolic steroids, child abuse, driver's Ed, non partisan school board elections, PE, posting of minor's photos, child prostitution and a host of other issues related to children's safety and education. Does that make them liberal? I am pretty sure there are places in the country where they work WITH teacher unions but not here in GA because there are NO UNIONS in GA.

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