Walker: State Charter Commission 'End of Universal, Free Public Education'

DeKalb County Board of Education chair and District 9 member Gene Walker said this week the proposed Georgia Charter Commission will lead to an unequal and economically segregated school system.

The creation of a Georgia Charter Commission would lead to an erosion of local tax dollars and an inequality of education in DeKalb County and other local school districts, DeKalb County Board of Education member Gene Walker said this week.

In a column published in Neighbor Newspapers, the board chair and District 9 representative said a charter school commission run by the state would siphon $430 million from local school districts and cherry pick the best students in each system, leaving the poorest and most troubled students to the leadership of under-funded school districts.

A revival of such a commission will be on the ballot on Election Day. The referendum seeks to ammend the Georgia Constitution to allow the state government to share oversight of local education.

From the column:

It goes without saying that in our current economy, local school systems cannot take a $430 million hit from the get-go, and be able to continue to provide a quality education for all students. The children of the rich will always be able to afford to go to any lengths to attend the best schools. Children of lesser means will be trapped into the underfunded remains of a once-great school system. This referendum places us back on the path to separate and very unequal educational system. No, children won’t be divided on the pure basis of race, but on the basis of economic class.

Read the column in Neighbor Newspapers for the rest.

Walker, however, said he does support the system's existing charter schools, which are funded through the school system.

Walker's superdistrict includes the North Druid Hills area, including nearby communities such as Oak Grove.

If you're unfamiliar with the debate over the charter schools ammendment, check out this story in CrossRoads News published last week. From the story: 

Here’s the bottom line:

Local school systems already are the approval body for charter schools. So there’s nothing new there.

What’s in question is whether the Georgia Charter Schools Commission should be revived as an “alternate authorizer” of charter schools and be allowed to override local school boards’ denials of charter school petitions with charters of its own.

What do you think about Walker's column? Do you support a state charter commission? How will you vote Nov. 6? Tell us in the comments section below.

Tom Doolittle October 01, 2012 at 06:36 PM
The Gulan outfit that was audited by Fulton County: the point of "engagement" was how they handled bond financing and contracting to expand facilities--that's where everybody gets paid and city schools get started. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57433131/u.s-charter-schools-tied-to-powerful-turkish-imam/?pageNum=2&tag=contentMain;contentBody
Leo Smith October 03, 2012 at 10:23 AM
Mr. Walker states: "Children of lesser means will be trapped into the underfunded remains of a once-great school system." It is clear to most by example and critique that children of lesser means are not being well served by the Dekalb, APS and many other traditional systems. Children and parents are trapped. With the charter referendum local parents and associations will be able to rally together with caring teaching professionals and create schools with more of their own governance. HB 797 does not allow funding to traditional schools to decrease. Mr Doolittle: If the traditional public schools become empty because parents choose to escape the trap for the sake of their children why is that a problem? Wouldn't the children remaining benefit from the now smaller classroom size and more focused attention? Isn't the ultimate goals improving outcomes for the children v/s protecting the status quo system? http://smyrna.patch.com/blog_posts/misleading-forums-and-mistrust-of-parent-boards-rampant-in-anti-charter-school-propaganda#comments
Tom Doolittle October 03, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Hi Leo: Answering the question about all parents evacuating schools (remember--the kids don't make the decisions, so this is the parents' bill): What you have with an independent unaccountable commission is a blank check to open as many schools as there is desired by a community that finds a profit-seeker. That means you have a "hot lane" for education--except the parents are actually paid by tax dollars to get into the lane. In fact, you have several Hot Lanes and they can proliferate, leaving no Cold Lanes. Worse, in the transition period while we're trying to project how many cars (parents) will shift to Hot Lanes, we'll build more instead of having tolls put on more and more of the exiting non-toll lanes. In addition to the destabiliation in communities (we've already done this once when we introduced low income apartments to estavlished single-family neigborhoods without account for a slower transition)--and schools that changed race from 85% white to 90% black that are now in Phase II losing their student base--the only people who win here are the onces that sell land, bond the new facitilites and build them--and of course the mobile classrrom vendore who will be needed when the charter schools run out of room until more charters are built. Pretty cfrenetic and chaotic ain't it?
Tom Doolittle October 03, 2012 at 01:51 PM
I've asked there are no estimates for what the demand will be for new schools or the number of schools in a given area. There are no plans for lotteries if thwe # of schools aren't enuf. There are no limits on the number that will be built or spaces leased. The only winners here will be property owners, bond merchants, contractors and mobile classroom vendors. Instead, what we have now is what is percieved to be recalcitrance by local school boartds, but in reality is they test the efficacy of charters and slowly and methodically approve others--funding them to the level needed based on lower expenses and more manageable demand (about half of what the new commission will fund). I'll take order in the ranks and neighborhoods thanks.
Cheryl Miller October 15, 2012 at 03:40 PM
The only schools that can exist on the state-only portion of funds are virtual schools. That is what this is really about.


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