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Debunking Charter Amendment Myths

I just wanted to debunk some of the common misconceptions surrounding the Charter Amendment.

If Amendment 1 passes the money would follow the child. The percentage of the FTE money depends on who approves the charter. If the local BOE approves a charter then all of the FTE money goes with that child. If the local BOE denies the charter and the charter gets approved by the charter commission (state) then the local BOE keeps 38% of the FTE money. The charter must operate on about 62% of the normal FTE spend. Right now the average FTE spend in Georgia is $9000 per student and the average charter FTE spend is $5500 per student. The difference between the $9000 & the $5500 is the 38% local property tax money that State approved charters do not receive. Many of these charters are doing just as well or better even with 40% less funding. The real question people should be asking is how are charter schools performing equal or better to traditional schools with 40% less money.

Local BOE's are denying charters in some cases without really studying them simply to keep the 38%(local property tax dollars). The commission was established to simply serve as an appeal board. This was working well actually until the Georgia Supreme Court said it was Unconstitutional. This is why Amendment 1 is needed to allow the commission to hear appeals again. One interesting point is that it’s actually better for a school system if a student leaves for a charter school because the system keeps 38% of the FTE money. If that same student goes from Bartow County to Cartersville they lose all of the FTE money. Local systems would keep 38% of the FTE for NOT educating the student that left. A study actually concluded that systems would in fact net more money on a student leaving for a charter.  Systems keep almost 40% of the money but don’t have the “cost” of educating that student.

The great thing about this process is that parents will be able to come together and create a charter school that meets the needs of their children. The parents create the charter/board of directors (local control) & then contract with a private entity in some cases to run the day-to-day operations of the school. The private company works FOR the parents and if they are not meeting the terms of the contract they can be replaced. This is no different that the Bartow Career Academy except that the local BOE is in control of that proposed charter school. You can't be in favor of the Bartow Career Academy and against Amendment 1. It is just not being intellectually honest with yourself and probably a bit hypocritical too.

There is a lot of bad information on this and I am trying to get the word out. We need this option to have a robust, innovative and flexible educational system in Georgia. Educators are taught that the best way to meet the needs of children is to differentiate instruction. This is taking that concept and leveraging it at a system and state level. Teachers in this state have to get past this protectionist mentality and be willing to try new approaches or we will keep getting the same results. Charters may fail and this whole thing may not work but Atlanta and some local systems have had 20+ years to fix the problem with mixed results at best. Kids deserve an option if they happen to live in an area that requires them to attend a failing school. Kids also need options if they live in an area with a good school that just may not be meeting their individual needs.

What is the educational establishment so scared of? Is it that some of these schools might actually get results faster than their traditional counterparts? We should be focusing on what is best for all children and not drawing lines in the sand because the teachers association, school boards and the DOE don't want to share the credit.

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.

Matt Shultz October 26, 2012 at 02:35 PM
The Charter Commission is not new or untested. Here are the results from 2008-2011: http://buford.patch.com/articles/former-members-of-the-georgia-charter-commission-speak-out-3fd55f08
Matt Shultz November 03, 2012 at 12:31 AM
WBHF Debate... http://www.mattshultz.org/?p=1287

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