0

Wilbanks: Amendment could hurt public education

In this file photo, Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, speaks to a group.

In this file photo, Alvin Wilbanks, superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, speaks to a group.

DULUTH -- During one of his most public annual appearances, the superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools warned of the repercussions to a proposed constitutional amendment that would guarantee the state's authority to charter independent public schools.

"I am very concerned that one of the pillars of America's greatness is being shaken, and if we're not careful it could be damaged," Wilbanks said. "What I see is a national agenda to privatize, defund and dismantle public education as we know it."

The district's highest ranked non-elected official spoke during the September luncheon of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. It was the business community's yearly briefing on the state of education in Gwinnett. Part of Wilbanks' speech, which lasted about 30 minutes, was directed at the Nov. 6 ballot question, which asks voters to decide whether the state can establish public charter schools.

As a prop, Wilbanks brought a poster board with the wording of the ballot question. He stepped aside and asked an associate to read the text: "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?"

Wilbanks stepped back in front of the microphone: "Folks, we can already do that. It happens every day across the state. That is what I say to the voters ... really look at what you're doing here."

Upon hearing of Wilbanks' speech to the chamber, a spokesman for the campaign advocating the amendment voiced his opinion.

"The real question here is whether or not you believe true local control should reside in the hands of parents, students and teachers or with central office administrators like (Superintendent) Wilbanks," said Bert Brantley, with Families for Better Public Schools.

"Public charter schools such as Ivy Prep in Norcross spend less per student while outperforming schools in their district. Opponents should be less worried about who 'controls' schools and more worried about embracing educational models that work and save taxpayer dollars," Brantley said.

As Wilbanks wrapped up his talk, he was greeted with a standing ovation from many in the room.

Wanda Weegar, an attendee at Wednesday's luncheon, said she enjoyed the speech and agreed with much of what Wilbanks had to say. "I think public charter schools are just fine with control from the local level, but not at the state level," she said.

In August, local leaders adopted a resolution during a board of education meeting stating the district's stance in opposition to the constitutional amendment.

Gwinnett County Public School board leaders aren't alone in their opposition.

On Aug. 14, State School Superintendent John Barge announced publicly his opposition to the constitutional amendment.

Barge informed fellow Republicans, Gov. Nathan Deal and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, of his position. All three were elected in 2010, as Republicans swept statewide offices and solidified control of the General Assembly. Deal personally lobbied lawmakers on the amendment and is urging Georgia voters to support it in November.

The General Assembly endorsed the amendment after the Georgia Supreme Court struck down an earlier law that allowed the state to create the publicly financed, but privately operated schools.

The court ruled that the existing Georgia Constitution gives local boards control over K-12 education, including issuing independent charters. Advocates for charter schools argued that local officials were dragging their feet in approving charter applications. The constitutional change and a separate statute would restore a state commission that would issue charters to private operators.

--The Associated Press contributed to this article

Comments

Mack711 1 year, 7 months ago

What he is saying that funds would be taken from the Gwinnett County school system and put into a private system. That would mean that the BOE and Chamber would have less funds. Most all know that private business can co a better job in some most cases. Are you happy with the garbage service for example. If this is done properly with the State monitoring this program what is the difference?

2

NorcrossDot 1 year, 7 months ago

Agree Mack, Wilbanks and his cronies have contributed more to the downfall of public schools than anyone. Oh, yeah the graduating students can take a test but once you past the test on a job you then have to perform.

After 24 years of dealing with Gwinnett Co Schools I can attest that even currently your graduates can not spell. Thanks to phonics.

2

Oliver 1 year, 7 months ago

Dot,

"Agree Mack, Wilbanks and his cronies have contributed more to the downfall of public schools than anyone. Oh, yeah the graduating students can take a test but once you past the test on a job you then have to perform.

After 24 years of dealing with Gwinnett Co Schools I can attest that even currently your graduates can not spell. Thanks to phonics."

You might want to edit your post and check your spelling.

2

mugsy 1 year, 7 months ago

"What I see is a national agenda to privatize, defund and dismantle public education as we know it." Absolutely. The model has broken but all of the public educrats tell us the cure is for them to have control of more money. Public education, "as we know it" is failing our children and most of the blame is foisted on the parents and the children themselves. The entrenched education bureaucracy reminds me of the quote from Governor Lester Maddox on prison reform. "We are doing the best we can, and before we do much better, we have to get a better grade of prisoner."

2

ssilover1 1 year, 7 months ago

Those of us who put out children in Gwinnett schools better be careful how we vote on this. Do we really want our tax dollars going to a charter such has Ivy Prep which has high administrative costs and whose students do NOT out perform those of their peers in THIS county? And that is just one example. BE careful, folks, how you vote. Don't vote for this to spite your face.

0

Ashley 1 year, 7 months ago

ssilover1 is Alvin Wilbanks

1

ssilover1 1 year, 7 months ago

Just decided. Blogs are worth the trouble. Good luck, folks.

0

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

Please don't let some ridiculous attempt to insult discourage you from posting comments. We don't have enough people responding that take time to think or check facts. It has become quite apparent that the less facts someone has, the more lame the insults that they use. I just hope that most people, when faced with the undeniable facts, will understand how this will hurt education while increasing educational expenses.

0

JohninSuwanee 1 year, 7 months ago

I would ignore the ridiculous responses that are simply intended to degrade and add no value. HOWEVER, you must also know that if you are going to post an opinion publically, there will most certainly be others who disagree and will openly state that they do. These blogs are certainly no "love-feast", so post with the understanding that others will criticize you...that's just the way it is.

0

Jan 1 year, 7 months ago

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein We have 20 years of data. The average charter school has poorer performance than the average public school in the same area. By what logic can we expect this to change? Some charter schools are a part of the public school system. Gwinnett Board of Education is operating 5 charter schools. The top performing charter school in the state is run by a public school system. When the local BOE is required to support additional charter schools, the funds must either be taken away from other, typically better performing, schools, or taxes must be raised. I could not find the latest test scored for Ivy Prep but we do know that Gwinnett refused to renew their charter because they failed to meet the standards for Gwinnett County schools. If Ivy Prep is doing so great, why are their scores not being made easily available? To pass a constitutional amendment is very short sighted. It will become a means of state bureaucracy rewarding friends with charter school contracts. Among all the under performing charter schools, have you ever found one that the state removed their right to exist? It is easier to pass an amendment than to get it removed. Ashley, do you think that everyone that makes an intelligent statement regarding charter schools must be Alvin Wilbanks? That is an insult to people that research and think instead of making irrational statements based on emotions and preconceived ideas.

0

NorcrossDot 1 year, 7 months ago

"I am very concerned that one of the pillars of America's greatness is being shaken, and if we're not careful it could be damaged," Wilbanks said. "What I see is a national agenda to privatize, defund and dismantle public education as we know it." Alvin Wilbanks.

The pillars of America's Education system has consistently fallen since the Federal government got involved so the damage is already done.

2

toby 1 year, 7 months ago

The pillar was shaken the day jimmy carter created the department of education. I'm sure this boils down to money. Everything does. If charter schools are bad, why are there families waiting to get into them? Thank God my kids are out of school and I will say that a kid who wants to learn and their parents make sure they want to learn, will learn. Money does not make a kid smart. It makes tiny people feel powerful. Take away the control of money, and they become a little person again.

1

jack 1 year, 7 months ago

"During one of his most public annual appearances,......the September luncheon of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce."

One would think his most public appearances should be with the public.

3

WantingFacts 1 year, 7 months ago

The Gwinnett Chamber website said the public could attend for $55. It is pay to play for the public. Oh wait. The public already pays to play with the Gwinnett Chamber.

2

notblind 1 year, 7 months ago

Wilbanks is an example of a category of public figure that is even more powerful than an elected official. This category is BUREAUCRAT . They have lots of power, make a lot of money, will get a honey of a pension and are almost impossible to get rid of. Job #1 for them is protecting their turf. Actually doing their job is probably not even second on the list.

3

JohninSuwanee 1 year, 7 months ago

Of course Wilbanks is opposed to charter schools or any other form of "competition" to his fiefdom. I find it interesting that he states that "one of the pillars of America's greatness is being shaken, and if we're not careful it could be damaged." More correctly, that "pillar" has already been shaken and needs to change in order to keep up with the rest of the world. Perhaps charter schools could introduce new thinking and ideas into a system that is burdened with old ways and ineffective methods.

Unfortunately, I believe that Wilbanks represents a broken, out-of-date, and ineffective establishment. Say what you will about how great public education is in the US, but the fact is that we are falling way behind other modernized countries in education. It's time to explore new options. For that to happen, we need new leaders who can embrace change rather than oppose it.

1

BuzzG 1 year, 7 months ago

Do you want to know why Mr. Wilbanks does not comprehend the value of charter schools?

“It is remarkably difficult to make a man understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.“ Upton Sinclaire

2

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

Are you serious? This statement has great application to Bert Brantley but very little for Alvin Wilbanks. Even if the rate of private charter school growth were to double, They would not take a significant number of students away from Gwinnett public schools before Mr. Wilbanks retires and are unlikely to have any effect on his salary. He is trying to continue the improvement of Gwinnett schools that has been obvious to anyone looking at performance.

0

KeepItLocal 1 year, 7 months ago

Here is the problem with this amendment: it allows the state to override the decisions of the local schools. There is already a process to approve charter schools, and many successful charter schools have been created. But poor charter school or ones that don't use their money wisely have been denied. This amendment will give a seven person panel at the state department the ability to create and fund charter schools that have already been denied by local school systems. Not only will public funds go to these new schools, but we will also have to pay for this board and their oversight!

1

kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

Is it any wonder that the superintendent of the GCPS would tell us to "say no to charter amendment?" He has no choice but to protect his job and influence. The problem with the present system is that the local government keeps dragging its feet in allowing Charter schools. Again, no surprise when unions control every leader in our system. Just look at the actual and/or test results from students over the past 20 years. We still have public school teaching problems in Gwinnett system, mainly because of unions controlling seniority and from poor teachers that no one wants to get rid of because of their jobs. Like I said before, I'll take Charter schools anyway I can get them. Everyone I know and talk to are saying "yes" to this amendment. It is time for real change in moving forward with the public school system in this country. Taxpayers will get much more for much less. Just try dividing the annual school budget by the number of students in Gwinnett and you get over $10,000 per student. Just look at what we turn out for that money. Read today's "Perspective" page by Ms. Ester Cepeda and you will see for yourself why today's public school system has been failing for a long time. This failure is not limited to just Gwinnett County but to this whole country. So what if the public school budget shrinks. It should because it is based on the number of head counts. This is why they round everyone up on the streets each year in order to get the highest number of students sitting in chairs on a given day. After that, some disappear from the classroom for good but the money stiil flows to the system for fraudulent reasons. We will get more educated students and our tax money will be well spent using privatization.

0

JohninSuwanee 1 year, 7 months ago

Although I agree that Wilbanks is protecting his job and influence, I don't quite understand your point about unions. There are no unions in education in the state of Georgia.

0

CD 1 year, 7 months ago

Although I do belive the Gwinnett County BOE can do more AND do it with less, I have been reading up on the charter schools in FL and the largest corporation that runs them. It makes for an interesting read. I hope the citizens at least do some homework before voting.

There is a very large undercurrent here that everyone should at least be mindful of.

1

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

Kevin: Okay. If you are so sure that teacher unions are the problem, please name the union that you think is causing the problem and point out something that they have actually done. Don't waste too much time trying to find this THERE ARE NO TEACHER UNIONS IN GEORGIA Georgia law does not allow teachers to unionize. I believe this is against the federal constitution but, so far, this has not been challenged in the courts. The law would not extend to private charter schools so, should they become prevalent as some here desire, they will probably be unionized at some point. You have a lot more misinformation which you continue to spout. Why don't you research before echoing what you have heard from bias sources?

One thing all seem to be ignoring is the convenience of school buses which transport most students to school. Charters are not obligated to provide such transportation and most do not. In fact, I could not find any that did. A vote for Charter Schools is a vote against free school bus transportation.

Even without this foolish amendment, the state can, and has, approve funding for private charter schools. The only difference the amendment makes is allowing the state to force local school systems to give funds to the private charter schools without having any control over the quality of education.

0

rco1847 1 year, 7 months ago

Well it's always good to hear from the Gwinnett Republican Aristocracy . Camie has again leaned to the right on the issure as her masters pull her mind-strings and she finds an obsecure poll, of mostly like-minded idoits, to support her class warfare. Her goal isn't to advanced art, science, language or geography. Her goal is to advance social engineering by conservative mind-programing and thought control over everyones children.

I knew many Catholic Schools where I grew up - they paid for the schools on their own and still paid property tax for public schools. The choice was thiers and so was the expense. If Cammie wants her child in a private school let her pay for it. This whole thing is powered by a class-minded, racial biggotry.

As for privatizing; In Pennsylvania two Juvenile Court Judges were sentenced for taking bribes from a privately run Juvenile Detention Center. The Judges sentenced presumed offenders to harsh detention terms so more state money would go to the operators One innocent child committed suicide and one was subjected to sexual abuse. There were many other victims. Privatizing does not improve the nature of people - it merely aids the incentive for greed.

1

kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

The printed paper version of Wilbanks speech says it all."I think public charter schools are just fine with control from the local level, but not at the state level." Come on commish! Which side of the fence do you want to be on? Here he states he is for Charter schools, BUT, he wants the control, along with their union, to decide how many to give us. Isn't this just the most stupid quote he could have said? We want to state to get control now because this system is too controlled by unions, which are destroying this country. They might have been needed at one time in history, but that time is way past. They are breaking our government's backs. Since when should public servants have control over the people they take money from. Public service jobs always paid less than private jobs mostly because of all the fantastic benefits they receive for nothing- leave time and pensions.

0

JohninSuwanee 1 year, 7 months ago

Again, there are no unions in education in the state of Georgia. I believe that unionization in public education is illegal in Georgia.

0

NewsReader 1 year, 7 months ago

Kevin, I don't agree with much of what Say_that_again says. But this drivel about teacher unions you keep regurgitating? That's BS! There are no, and never have been, any teacher unions in Georgia. Period! End of Story! Stop stirring the pot with this incorrect BS!

0

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

Are you totally unable to read? When you continue to insist that teacher unions control the system, you are only proving that you prefer to ignore facts. This is easy to check and yet you use it for your main talking point. Wilbanks clearly states which side he is on. He is trying to explain on an elementary school level that the charter school charter amendment is designed to take away local oversight of charter schools. This means an under performing charter school can be closed by the local board and gives more incintive for them to succeed. Note that after winning the court case, GCBOE picked up the expense of Ivy Prep to give them one more year to bring up their performance. They failed, that is why they lost funding. Then we see the charter school association not caring that they are below standard, just want it to stay because it is a charter school that they can continue to make money from it.

0

rco1847 1 year, 7 months ago

It's just another form of forfeiture of our public institution to an organization that is without local authority or accountability and is chummy with Republican lawmakers. More campaign money for the Red State and more State run schools without any local involvement. You won't like what you're getting and it will be far worse that what we have.

0

NewsReader 1 year, 7 months ago

As for your argument over local control, I submit to you that the reason for the amendment in the first place is because of a LACK of local control. The local community wants a charter school, and for whatever reason, the least of which is alignment of the planets, the local school board refuses to comply with their wishes. As I have said repeatedly, control of the money resides with the child – period, end of story! If you don't like that, nobody cares.

You can quote all kinds of biased crap you want on the planet. It doesn't change the fact we are 25th in the industrialized world when it comes to education. In short, you aren't getting it done, and I'll be damned if the American people are going to sit idly by and continue to pump good money after bad and support it.

The Governor supports this constitutional amendment. The Gwinnett Chamber no longer opposes it, which is odd considering they and the BOE make good bed fellows. The Georgia PTA doesn't support it in spite of the fact it is supported by the National PTA and contradicts their charter of a top down approach on legislative agenda. The Georgia PTA has had an unorthodox approach of "...Please note, if PTA has an established position, a local unit cannot take an opposing position..." And yes, I have that in writing from the Georgia PTA as arrogant as that may be.

Bottom line? If the local governing authority would spend more time insuring our children received the best possible outcome for their education and less on the money and power they hold, we wouldn't be having this conversation, let alone amendment. As for the mind numbing dumb masses that continue to oppose it, what can I say? You are an entitlement driven, irresponsible, hypocritical lot that has a personal agenda of which you are the beneficiary, and aren't the least bit concerned about the educational opportunity, or lack thereof as the case may be it presents for our future generations. Go sit with the bussed in squatters that left Wisconsin to support their sorry, fat, lazy, worthless, Chicago counterparts. You know, in a “birds of a feather flock together” kind of way.

1

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

When you are behind in education, then you should exam what those are doing that have better education, not go and do something that is designed to transfer education money into the hands of corporations and has been proven for 20 years to not be successful. I have not found a single country with better education than ours that depend on charter schools to educate their people nor one that has total private school system.

0

R 1 year, 7 months ago

"As for your argument over local control, I submit to you that the reason for the amendment in the first place is because of a LACK of local control"

Actually the reason for the “amendment” was the ORIGINAL overreach by lawmakers per the state constitution as determined by a judge. Brought to us by school systems entering into a lawsuit AGAINST the state to get relief.

We are all told that this amendment will NOT reduce local school resources and yet most GA schools have been underfunded by the state from its own formula for a while now … (Hence nonstop ESPLOSTs) So where is the money coming from? While I wish a certain local School Board would be more forth coming with its OWN spending explanations, clean hands seem in short supply on all sides right now…

Is the Go Fish center for sale yet?

Are charter schools an option? YES

Is the possible privatization of a segment of schools a future option, maybe…

Is this amendment text the best way to get there RIGHT now?

Maybe not so much. This isn’t a NOW or NEVER issue.

Remember the TSPLOST? Just had to pass or transportation would “dead for a decade” … So what’s with extending the HOT lanes up 85 to Braselton and electronic speed signs on 285 that can switch from 55 to 65 based on congestion?
Not bad, quite a leap of spending being lined up right quick for no Plan B.

http://www.miamiherald.com/charterschools/

How some states rein in charter school abuses. BY KATHLEEN McGRORY AND SCOTT HIAASEN The Miami Herald

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/12/10/2541157/how-some-states-rein-in-charter.html

Nationally, about 12 percent of all charter schools that have opened in the past two decades have shut down, according to the National Resource Center on Charter School Finance & Governance. In Florida, the failure rate is double, state records show. “Miron said, the agencies charged with oversight were underfunded.” GEE this sounds eerily like our own Gold Dome right now doesn’t it?

Who needs ethics? That’s the rein of democrats and fools …

If we are really going to do this for the children, let’s do it right the first time. Promises of financial oversight that will be set up and take place AFTER this amendment passes just doesn’t sit well.

Sorry, but what I learned in one area, I applied in the next one.

1

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you! It is refreshing to find someone actually do some research and respond intelligently.

1

kevin 1 year, 7 months ago

There was a PBS special about the new Charter schools in New Orleans after Katrina. They have all worked well and it is being expanded to the point the Gov is considering vouchers for those kids that can't make it into the few Charter schools there. Kids need to make the choice of where they want to go, not politicians. As for the union remarks, I finally got a hold of my source and they stand corrected. Sorry for the unions in Ga. However, I do blame them for much of the education system issues wherever they are in this country.

0

Say_that_again 1 year, 7 months ago

I appreciate your finally admitting your mistake. Now I suggest you compare states with unions vs states without unions. In total opposition to your views, you will find that the states with unions are out performing those without unions. Further examination of the data will even show a correlation between higher percentage of teachers that are union members and better school performance.

0

publicschooleducator 1 year, 7 months ago

The GA Dept of Education makes available all standardized test data for all public schools in the state. You may view specific data and manipulate the results on the excel spreadsheets provided. Upon review of the data, Ivy Prep performance has declined and is actually some of the worst scores in Gwinnett, especially in Science and Social Studies. Check the data since "beliefs" are not as accurate as the facts.

1

Sign in to comment