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Charter School Advocate will Vote No

Amending the constitution is serious business. Don't vote for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that contains weak legislation and does not address current problems we face in our state.

Charter School Advocate and Mom Will 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. Whatever your position, you need to read my story.

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. Charter groups with multi-faceted objectives are lining up to grab their market share. If a state-controlled charter school comes to your town, you will have little recourse if there is a problem.

Why Local Control is Critical
Proponents of the amendment declare that if a charter school is performing, it will remain open and if it is not performing, it will close. It's not that simple when a charter group is willing to break the rules.

The problems I encountered at Fulton Science Academy Charter School in Alpharetta could not have been anticipated by our local and state board of education or by educators across the country. The proper charter school board protocol did not work because the group running the school was not transparent. I asked for help from the local school board and from my legislator, Jan Jones, who also crafted the charter school amendment. It was the local school board that took action.

It is irresponsible of Gov. Nathan Deal, Jan Jones and our legislators to lobby for a constitutional amendment that does not stop the known problematic consequences of charter schools.

Problem? My son attended Fulton Science Academy charter school 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 Turkish imam, Fethullah Gulen.

Fulton Science Academy’s problems were serious and later validated, by an external audit, commissioned by the local school board. Details can be found in this New York Times article, Audits for 3 Georgia Charter Schools Tied to Gulen Movement, by Stephanie Saul: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/06/us/audits-for-3-georgia-charter-schools-tied-to-gulen-movement.html?_r=0

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 at any cost. My legislators demonstrated that they will look the other way as long as a school has high test scores. The legislators were willing to ignore financial mismanagement and reported federal investigations.

Local School Board Takes Action
It was the local school board that held Fulton Science Academy accountable and did not renew its charter. The local school board did the right thing even after politicians pressed for the board to reverse their decision. My experience is a critical example of why local control is necessary. The local school board took action and politicians would not help.

Vote No
Amending the constitution is serious business. Don't vote for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that contains weak legislation and does not address current problems we face in our state.

Details about Fulton Science Academy, including the letter I sent to the governor and legislators asking for help, can be found at www.georgiacharterschooldisgrace.com.

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.

J Bart October 30, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Thank you for sharing your nightmare with us. I agree. We are talking about an amendment to our Constitution, a very serious undertaking. We should NEVER amend the GA Constitution unless there is a strong, limited and compelling reason to do so. We already have an effective method in place to approve charter schools. There are already 200 in GA. We do NOT need an amendment and a duplication of APPOINTED board members to form yet another level of crony appointments unaccountable to taxpayers. This amendment and its associated legislation, HB 797, do not put a cap on the number of taxpayer-funded charter schools approved each year. The legislation also does not base approval of charter schools based on NEED. These schools will NOT necessarily go to the most deserving communities. In fact, it is highly likely that new charter schools will go to richer communities where students can provide their own transportation. Currently charter schools do not provide buses and other transportation. Out-of-state and some foreign management companies are lining up in large numbers for a piece of our multi-billion dollar taxpayer-funded education money. Many of our legislators have received large campaign donations from the same companies. Do you think that might influence their decisions? How many of these schools will be approved each year? How much will our taxes increase to pay for them? There are too many unknowns. I am voting NO and I hope more of you will do the same.
John A Delves November 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Its amazing that you article starts of by citing problems in the school. Were they accused of Cheating and fixing test scores? Were they found to have altered the answers on hundreds of underperforming students? Were they found guilty of ripping of the public trust and funds like some schools (public) ? It seems your article left one important issue out. What kind of education were they providing for your son? You left him him there for three years, surely to the good lord he was doing really good in his studies for a concerned mom like you to have kept him in the system? Is the problem only in who was ultimately governing the school? This Inman? Are ther a lot of very good charrter schools that are in place and doing well? Yes. Are there some that have failed and should have been more closely monitored, of course. Biggest problem it seems to me is that the public schools have not measured up and parents are willing to fork out large chunks of change to send their children, seeking a more thourough education, to a school in which they have more faith. When it becomes against the rules to say the pledge of allegiance and to recite the lords prayer at school functions, we have to do something.

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