This Georgia parent warns other parents and families to vote against the ALEC-inspired constitutional amendment that would allow the governor to open an unlimited number of charter schools. The governor would be authorized to appoint a commission that could veto the decisions of local school boards. Charters, like the one her child attended, would be deregulated.
Here is her story:
Georgia Charter School Amendment. Vote No!
Georgia is in the midst of an intense debate over a proposed charter school amendment that will be on the ballot in November.
The state charter school amendment will allow charter schools to open without local approval. State approval will come from a seven member, politically appointed commission. Georgia already has two routes for charter applications and they will continue to approve charter applications.
The polls predict this amendment will pass with flying colors, thanks to a misleading ballot question and a majority of funding from outside the state. If this amendment passes, politics and corporations will shape our schools. If you have a problem at a state controlled charter school, you will have no recourse.
Why Local Control is Critical
I have fought for two years to get my legislator and amendment author, Jan Jones, to meet with me about a local charter school, Fulton Science Academy. My son attended Fulton Science Academy charter school, in Georgia, for three years when I found out about problems that also led to my learning that the school was being operated by followers of the influential and controversial Turkish Imam, Fethullah Gulen.
Fulton Science Academy’s problems were serious and later validated, by an external audit, commissioned by the local school board. My concerns left me fearful to speak up and included a visit from two FBI agents, to my house, to interview me and my son, about the school. (I did not call the FBI.)
Details can be found in this article about Fulton Science Academy in the New York Times, by Stephanie Saul. (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/us/audits-for-3-georgia-charter-schools-tied-to-gulen-movement.html)
Turns out the Gulen movement was the least of my worries.
The real problem? Legislators with tunnel vision, hoping to open the Georgia education frontier to more charter groups with multi-faceted objectives at any cost. My legislators demonstrated that they will look the other way, as long as, a school has high test scores. If the school has received a National Blue Ribbon Award, as did this particular charter school? Well, it is untouchable.
Ultimately, the local school board held Fulton Science Academy accountable and did not renew its charter. The local school board did the right thing, which equaled political suicide. The politicians condemned the local school board’s decision, continue to vilify the board in public and have put legal pressure on the board to reverse their decision.
I understand that the landscape of education is changing and with that rules and regulations need to be adapted. However, it is irresponsible of the Governor and our legislators to lobby for a constitutional amendment that does not stop the known problematic consequences of charter schools.
Keep the vote on education local. Vote no!