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Charter School Amendment - Privatization of Georgia's Public Schools

This Amendment will send Georgia down an expedited path of privatization of public K-12 education.

Now that Nov. 6th is right around the corner, it's time to talk about the elephant in the room - the privatization of public education. The "pro" Amendment 1 side all feel that private corporations, in this case "for-profit" charter operators, can provide a more efficient way to educate your children compared to the current system managed by locally elected school boards, superintendents and the State Board of Education.

They feel so strongly in the superiority of the "free-enterprise" system that they are willing to remove any obstacle from the path of privatization, including your elected voice, and I guess their own if they happen to live in Georgia. A "yes" vote on Amedment 1 will trigger a 7 person appointed commission who's sole duty will be to review charter petitions faster and more efficiently than the current State BOE apparently is capable or interested in doing. Your input or your locally elected school board's input on these decisions, will not be required.

If privatization is such a great idea, why not include it in the preamble or ballot?

To see who the players are in this privatization scenario all you have to do is follow the money. The "pro" campaign amendment committee, Families for Better Public Schools (FBPS), has raised $1.789 M as of 10/26 - 94% of which has been contributed by 8 individuals or entities, 7 of which are out of state.

If you want to know what a group is thinking about, check out their conventions! A big one for leaders in "for-profit" education is the Education Industry Investment Forum. Here are some topics covered; "Enhancing Value in National Education through Innovation in Capital Deployment," Building Opportunities for Low-Cost, High-Quality Education from K-12 to Post Secondary," "Entrepreneurs and Business Paving the Way for Investment Return and Growth in Scale and Quality."  http://bit.ly/RsWVoG

Not exactly the warm and fuzzy HOPE being fed to you by the "pro" amendment ads is it?

John Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA (contributed $50k so far to FBPS) and J.C. Huizenga, CEO of National Heritage Academies, (contributed $75K so far), are considered leaders in the "for-profit" education industry and prominent participants in this forum and previous ones.

 Huizenga is from Grand Rapids, MI. also home to the DeVos family, co-founders of Amway. Betsy DeVos is chair of the American Federation for Children - major backer of "pro-school choice" political campaigns in Georgia and school choice legislation, mainly vouchers; Barbara Gaby from Duluth GA, (husband contributed $100k to FBPS) is the youngest daughter of Amway co-founder Van Andel. The Gabys are also a founder of the Georgia Family Council, backers of this amendment; this group takes credit for the SSO program which legalized a state tax credit deduction for private school tuition - religious and secular. A flow chart would have been helpful.

The billionaire contributors, Alice Walton, $600K, Doris Fischer, $250K and Bernie Marcus, $250k all believe that private entreprenuers, like themselves (or their fathers in Alice's case), should have a seat at this table and they're willing to pay for it. Michelle Rhee, StudentsFirst ($250K) is laundering money for the billionaires in an attempt to build her own "education empire."

If Amendment 1 passes the billionaires will be pleased - they may feel like they are doing a good deed - and our legislators will have successfully delivered on their promise to them to amend the constitution so "for-profit" operators can replicate efficiently without ever having to worry about another lawsuit.

So what's the problem? Here are a couple to ponder;

1) I don't like being lied to. This is a non-partisan voter requirement that most politicians have not yet grasped. The preamble should say; "Provides for increasing the number of public/private partnerships through more public charter school options." rather than a lie; "Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options."

2) Billionaires and corporations sneaking around in the shadows purchasing  legislation to fit their personal economic theories or profit objectives could not be considered the "free market."

3) What do any of these people know about education.

Reasons Number 9 and 10 to vote NO on Amendment 1: the privatization of education is not "free" and will most likely result in people getting rich off of our kids rather than saving us any money or improving education.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Kids First November 06, 2012 at 01:11 PM
@Bonnie it sounds like your mind is made up but I'll respond anyway. If you moved from APS you know better than anyone some great people live there. Some aren't even 'stuck' but rather want to live there but also want a good education. There are some tremendous charter schools in APS and by following the code of conduct set forth by the system, they keep discipline in check. If your question is whether a charter school could open in Cumming and draw from APS, it's not likely. There is a school in south Georgia that draws from 5 counties but it's rural and makes sense. The commission heard from one petitioner who wanted to pull from Fulton, Douglas, and maybe Fayette County but that one was denied because they couldn't 'prove' local support. The petitioners must show that residents are interested. The opponents keep saying 'they' can put in a school the community didn't ask for which is just not true. I think you should vote yes for all the families In Georgia. If a school opens in your area that practices single gender math and science classes, you may think that your child could do better there. He or she may be making low Bs or Cs, which isn't failing but you want to try something different. The option would be there. Forsyth County would get the first chance to approve that school. If they deny it, the petitioners could appeal to the charter commission. That's it.
Bonnie olson November 06, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Thank you Kids first. I now understand a little better.
Athens Mama November 06, 2012 at 10:44 PM
@Angela Bean: I would be happy to meet with you for coffee/tea and discuss possibilities. For many months, the things I have witnessed have kept me awake at night.
Athens Mama November 06, 2012 at 10:45 PM
@Monty: High performance - i.e. higher test scores - are not all by which schools should be measured.
Athens Mama November 06, 2012 at 10:48 PM
@Bonnie: Charters have the option to expel kids - even if they have IEPS. This translates to the fact that federal law protects students who have special education needs that are emotional/behavioral. They cannot be denied education services by a public school district. Charters would have more control over this.

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