MURPHY: Why you should vote 'no' on charter school amendment

Why you should vote no

I am a successful metro Atlanta business entrepreneur. My political preferences are irrelevant because Amendment 1 on the Nov. 6 ballot is opposed by people in all parties.

As a businessman and a parent, I oppose Amendment 1 -- the school issue -- because despite what the charter school association and the "families" for schools tell you, the reality is that Amendment 1 is about trust and truth.

The ballot question should ask whether you want your local school board, for whom you can vote, to make decisions about your schools; or do you want a small group of appointed people accountable to no one to make those decisions? There is not one thing in the enabling legislation that requires parental involvement so there is nothing local about it, particularly when you see all the out of state corporations paying to persuade you to vote yes.

Folks, this is not about charter schools. It is not about choice. We already have both. This is about truth and trust.

There's a lot of misinformation -- and misunderstanding -- about this Nov. 6 ballot amendment, the T-SPLOST of Education.

Georgia has more than 200 charter schools. More are in the pipeline. Like all schools, some are good, some need improvement. According to the Georgia Department of Education's Charter Schools Annual Report, charter school children do not exceed other public school children's performance. Said their report: "Over the past five years, the overall performance of charter schools compared to traditional public schools has been mixed, but both groups have traditionally demonstrated the same general performance trends."

If the amendment isn't about charter schools, what then are the issues?

Accountability, your tax dollars, and expansion of state government. Trust and truth.

Accountability: Rather than local school boards' accountability to the voter, a state appointed group of seven people will be empowered to create a separate system of schools. Although they will use your tax dollars for funding, they are not elected; if you don't like what they do, you can't vote them out. Unchecked power will be in the hands of this small, politically appointed group that will decide how and where schools operate.

Your tax dollars: Taxpayer dollars -- yours -- allocated to public schools will be siphoned off to pay for these "new schools" and the for-profit companies that manage them. In other states -- look no farther than Florida corporate profits are the overriding goal, not education. Some in Florida have been indicted. Others pay no property taxes. But rest assured, they contribute heavily to state legislators' campaigns. None of us can afford a dual school system answering to no one. Even state school Superintendent John Barge said we can't afford it.

Expansion of state government: We recently voted for or against a penny sales tax to fund transportation. In many regions, it failed. The main reason given? Distrust of government. If you distrust government to build or improve roads, do you want to expand its power with unchecked authority over schools?

The Ballot Question: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?

Sounds logical, but unless we vote no, here's the reality check: budget cuts to our schools, larger classes, shortened school years, teacher furloughs and layoffs. In most counties, schools are our largest employer. This is a serious economic impact in our communities.

Know the facts before you vote:

-- This is not about charter schools or choice. It is about who chooses and who approves applications.

-- Parents already have choices - magnet, public, private, home and charter schools.

Is the amendment even needed?

As the old adage goes, follow the money. Those who favor expanded state government, lack of accountability and a separate, unequal, dual school system are spending millions for your yes vote. They call themselves Families for Better Schools or Parents for School Choice. Don't be deceived. Several out-of-state political action committees are behind this. Visit www.votesmartgeorgia.com to understand the real "families" and the real issues.

Truth and trust. Get the facts before you vote on Nov. 6.

Sean Murphy is a Duluth resident and father of four children enrolled in Gwinnett County Public Schools. He is co-founder of Canvas Systems, which was sold to Avnet in January.


NewsReader 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm convinced Sean! Really, I am!


dentaldawg83 2 years, 10 months ago

truth nowadays is our state leaders will be pounding us with these liberty stealing concepts over and over and over until they get some of this AGENDA approved. We must be steadfast and participate to not let that happen.


HonestIngine 2 years, 10 months ago

The Rest of the Story... Thank you for bringing it out.... Voting 'No' on November 6th and spreading the word....


mp 2 years, 10 months ago

I think it would have been nice to see this disclosure......

Sean Murphy serves as a trustee on the board of the Gwinnett County Public Schools Foundation. He also wrote a pro-ESPLOST piece that ran here last year. He didn’t disclose his association with GCPS Foundation in that piece either.

If I remember correctly, the GCPS Foundation has a really sweet deal where they have been provided with offices located AT the central office for GCPS.


WorldClass 2 years, 9 months ago

Mr. Murphy, you said, and I quote: "Parents already have choices - magnet, public, private, home and charter schools." Can you please tell where there is a magnet school in Gwinnett County? I've advocated for one since the 1980's, and GCPS has ignored the need for such a long-awaited and needed school for our brightest students. As for choice, I don't think charter schools are a choice since enrollment is based on a lottery system and the seat capacity is limited. The choices are limited from my point of view!!!!


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