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The Charter Schools Commission Amendment: John Barge Speaks Out

The State Superintendent speaks about why the charter schools amendment is a bad idea for public education in Georgia. His full remarks are attached to this article.

This was part of a press release issued last month. In it, Dr. Barge says:

I fully support the continued creation of high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, but after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia’s students, I have decided to take a position in opposition to the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.  

Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).  

I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education. 

What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).   

I trust our local school districts will continue to approve only high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, and I am committed to working with all of our school districts to ensure that high quality applicants are not denied locally – including mediating between high quality charter school applicants and any local districts that are reluctant to approve them, as provided by existing Georgia law.

David Hennessey September 25, 2012 at 12:52 PM
The public school system works as long as the kids fit into a carefully designed box. Unfortunately, every child is different and doesn't necessarily fit within their version of "the box." Charter schools serve students that the public schools have failed by being flexible, allowing the students to learn at their pace, and focusing on the kids' strengths and interests. While Georgia has been struggling, and in many cases, failing, to provide effective public school options the charter schools have been successfully serving the kids that have been left behind. I fully support the Charter School Amendment.
"B" September 25, 2012 at 12:59 PM
I'm trying to educate myself on the pros and cons of voting for this Amendment. Are taxes going to increase should this amendment pass? Where is the $430M coming from? Will Charter schools be allowed more student discipline than public schools?
Sharon Swanepoel September 25, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Bonnie, there are two very strong opinions on either side of this issue and I've been trying to run as much as I can on both sides. I will see if I can find the answer to those questions for you. If anyone else has this information, please respond here. I'm sure there are many who would like to know.
Nina Rubin September 25, 2012 at 04:28 PM
For another POV visit www.brightergeorgia.org
Paul Patel October 02, 2012 at 10:45 AM
Why is Barge smiling? There are thousands of children in Georgia who are in failing schools. He, like so many other educrats, believe that more money will fix the problem. I would think he would want to support any effort to help the children. Instead, he has sided with his Superintendent buddies he thinks got him elected. I don't think he will be smiling at the next election when his office is up for grabs. He cannot be trusted. And he puts money and power before the children. Actions speak louder than words John Barge.

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