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MORGAN/JONES: Why you should vote 'yes' on charter school amendment

Vote yes on charter schools

Between now and November, hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising will be spent telling us all the differences between President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

They will disagree on nearly every issue, but one area where they have found common ground is the need for more public charter schools. We feel the same way in the Georgia House of Representatives.

While there are many issues on which our constituents expect us to draw a hard line in the sand and oppose much of what the opposition party supports, education reform is frankly too important to let our differences in political parties get in the way.

As the Republican Speaker Pro Tem and a leading Democratic voice on education, we are together asking voters to support the charter school amendment on the November ballot. The amendment does something very simple but very profound it will allow the state to create a commission to hear appeals when charter applications are denied by some school boards and superintendents.

Some school systems in Georgia have embraced the charter concept, while others have been more obstinate. Many are unfortunately worried more about who has the authority and power in education decision-making rather than what is best for our kids.

True local control should begin with giving parents the option to make more decisions and to get more involved in their children's education. Charter schools are public schools that are free from many of the onerous mandates that schools are under these days.

They may separate boys and girls into different classes or schools, or have a more specific curriculum focus on science or math. They may be a virtual school with no building. These types of options are not right for every student, but for some they offer the kind of opportunity that can literally be life-changing.

Some school systems are going to tell you that public charter schools take money away from other public schools, but that's just simply not the case. Any school approved by the state charter commission will operate with no local contribution -- only state funds will be available. Those local dollars are kept by the school systems and used as they see fit, actually increasing the amount of money per student enrolled they have to spend.

We've tried the "one-size-fits-all" approach to education for decades, and we've had too many students fall through the cracks. Let's increase the educational options for parents, students and teachers by voting "Yes" for public charters on Nov. 6.

Jan Jones is Speaker Pro Tem of the Georgia House of Representatives and Alisha Thomas Morgan is a Democratic member of the Georgia House.

Comments

Jan 1 year, 6 months ago

Your assumption that being for the flexibility of charter schools and pro amendment is false! This amendment is not a vote for or against the concept and continued use of charter schools, it is only about being able to force the local system to finance them without having any oversight authority. The state can now authorize charter schools from the state level and do as long as all funding comes from the state. Please stick to facts in your arguments in the future. The biggest problem with education is under funding. Numerous studies show smaller class size improves education but, with a tight budget, class size was increased. Charter schools have not proven do any better so why force local systems to fund for profit charters? Once the amendment is in place, it will be difficult to undo.

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pcjohn 1 year, 6 months ago

Jan, you sound like a teacher or some other part of the GCPS system. I disagree with your assumption that "the biggest problem with education is under funding". There is plenty of money around but the obscene salaries of "administrators", especially Wilbanks, takes it away from classroom dollars. Look at the disgusting practice of Wjlbanks dispensing tax money to his friends at other Agencies. You teachers should be howling bloody murder at that but every one I speak with is silent on the subject. I see the problem in education as poor teachers, poor parenting and school principals who do not force and maintain discipline in their classrooms.

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Jan 1 year, 6 months ago

pcjohn: You sound like someone that does not like facts. If you have an argument that supports the idea that for profit charter schools are better, then present some facts. If you have an argument for forcing local school systems to use local monies to fund for profit charter schools, then present some facts. Mr Wilbank's salary is not a reason to have for profit charter schools. The school boards decision that the investment in the Chamber of Commerce is worth the extra business support from Gwinnett businesses is not an argument for for profit charter schools. Since you seem so concerned with the superintendents salary, let me point out that he is the CEO of the largest single employer in the county but there are many much smaller employers with CEO's with salaries several times his. Are you in favor of capping CEO pay or do you think public servants should be paid much less for harder jobs? If you think it is poor teachers, then you would encourage more pay to attract better teachers. Across the USA, studies have shown high correlation with teacher pay and student performance. To put it simply, this means paying teachers more produces better educated students. For full disclosure, I am a retired teacher. Having been in education, I have more knowledge on what works and what doesn't and only want what is best for the students and my retirement will not be affected by the outcome of this vote.

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pcjohn 1 year, 6 months ago

I do like facts, Jan. A fact that you seem to have missed is that I never entered this argument stating that charter schools are better than any other. Thus your opening challenge becomes moot, doesn't it?

Wilbanks' salary and the concept of charter schools are mutually exclusive topics. I brought it up only to demonstrate the waste inherent in a system that has taxing authority to do whatever the heck they want. I live close to the mini Taj Majal called Norcross High School where more land and money seem to have been dedicated to athletics than scholarship. I have also watched over 30 years how teacher salaries, and particularly benefits, have skyrocketed while average SAT scores have not. Based upon that fact I would attempt to negate your argument that teacher pay results in better student performance. Student performance is more likely based on the income level of the parents. Higher income families are more likely to have parents who demand their children excel in school and do homework ( and help them as necessary) rather than sitting down with a beer in front of the TV watching inane programming. Even in the face of poor teachers good students from good families will still learn if their parents require it.

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Say_that_again 1 year, 6 months ago

If you are going to criticize Wilbank's salary, then you should do a fair comparison of administrative salaries among the for profit charter schools. National stats show that for profit charter school teachers, on average, are paid 8% less than public school teachers. Where is that other 8% going, profit for share holders or exorbitant salaries for charter school organizers? I have not found salaries for the charter school organizations personnel - they must not want you to know.

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pcjohn 1 year, 6 months ago

Well, you suggest doing the comparison so do it for us, will you? Oh, I see, according to your last sentence you couldn't do it. Now there's a wild goose chase I won't enter.

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gwinnettresident1 1 year, 6 months ago

They will never force discipline as long as there is a bonus attached to attendance. Cant suspend little Jose because the bonus would be gone for that day.....

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Jan 1 year, 6 months ago

As a retired teacher, I can tell you that suspension is the worse punishment method ever invented. First, most that are suspended take it as an extra vacation day, not punishment. Second, it puts the child that probably is already behind, further behind and makes him a bigger problem requiring extra attention to help him catch up and a greater disciplinary problem since he it is more difficult to motivate him. The second worse is in school suspension, he/she doesn't get a vacation day but rarely are able to keep up with the lessons they must perform while missing the teachers instructions. Their are much better disciplinary choices available. These are much more effective when the parents get to know the teacher and support the teachers efforts.

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NewsReader 1 year, 6 months ago

"As a retired teacher..." doesn't mean squat to us other than you were once a part of the problem, and now you are just a nuisance. Your mastery of the English Language with "...Their are much better disciplinary choices..." is indicative of what is wrong with publik[sic] school. But I agree with you on suspension and ISS. They don't work which is why I'm more inclined to utilize a Joe Clark solution. When we adopt a policy of education is for those that are interested in learning and not for those that are intent on disrupting the educational process, then perhaps we can come up with some meaningful solutions to the problem.

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Jan 1 year, 6 months ago

Thank you for pointing out my error. I wrote that in a hurry and didn't properly proof read it. I used a spell check to catch typos and but not a grammar check. No, I did not teach English. I am amazed to find you can agree with me on something. How can teachers be the problem? Without teachers, you cannot have schools. Not even charter schools can operate without teachers.

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NewsReader 1 year, 6 months ago

Shall I go back and point out your other instances of the misuse of "their", "there", and "they're"? Once is a typo. Repeatedly is ignorance of proper use of grammar. Or maybe it is simply you don't get that repeating the same thing over and over and over again yielding a different result is not forthcoming ~ take your pick. Oh, and I didn't say that "teachers" were the problem. So to clarify for you, I want to make it perfectly clear. You, sir, are the problem! Perhaps you didn't learn how to comprehend what you read either.

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Elbonian 1 year, 6 months ago

Jan: I'm with you. I'm voting NO because I don't want the state to be able to force local taxpayers (i.e., me) to fund charter schools with no local control. Local control has been the touchstone of the USA's educational system since the founding. I do not want either Washington or Atlanta mandating what happens to my tax money!

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dentaldawg83 1 year, 6 months ago

Morgan/Jones both candidates support the Patriot Act and NDAA as well...

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BuzzG 1 year, 6 months ago

The education industry hates innovation or competition. They want monopoly control over the money we give the government for our children's education. They will fight this thing to the end. Our children be damned.

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

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JohnQSucker 1 year, 6 months ago

Since I learned GCPS is using tax money for non-direct educational purposes (giving our tax dollars to the Chamber of Commerce), I don't trust them anymore.

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NewsReader 1 year, 6 months ago

Why don't we just let the two foremost experts on this subject, Jan and Say_that_again, take control and charge of this thing, so that when it does come time to flush this thing down the toilet, we wash away all of the useless waste in our educational system? Oh, that's right. It is because we actually do 'care' about our children's education and future!

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Sthrnldy 1 year, 6 months ago

You are so right NewsReader! Bless their hearts, both Jan and Know_It_All seem to be fascinated with the word FACT. We should all just bow down and listen to them and let them take over the subject matter!

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Don 1 year, 6 months ago

This concept is just like CID's, no oversight and funds can be used as the directors feel. IF there was some type of school board direction then maybe (remote) I would consider voting yes.

As it stand currently I will not let a group that just does not like the way the local public school district operates steal my money. If you do not like the public schools offering then send your kids to a private school on your money not mine!

Oh, before you blast me on the thoughts I did attend a private school in the area that my parents paid for and did not steal taxpayers money.

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MaBea 1 year, 6 months ago

We just this morning called the charter school here in Athens regarding enrollment and were told that one must live in the school zone of the charter school in order to attend. So where is the fairness?

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NewsReader 1 year, 6 months ago

That doesn't seem to be a prerequisite for GCPS. I can go pick a student right out of the local middle school here, and prove that not only are they a resident in an adjacent county, but they don't have any parent working for the school system either which would allow them to attend. When I am in the carpool line, I can count at least 30% of the vehicles with license plates other than Gwinnett.

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kevin 1 year, 6 months ago

Because it will be the only way to make the locals start building Charter schools. We will take them anyway we can get them!! Vote yes.

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