Thursday, July 26, 2012

Charter Schools & Legislation

Given my support of charter schools (especially since my kids attend one), I have to speak out against HB 797 (which has already passed, but is pursuant to the constitutional amendment for charter schools being passed) and HR 1162. I'm not sure that those that support the bill have thoroughly read it through or thought about the implications.

"(b) The commission shall be appointed by the State Board of Education and shall be composed of a total of seven members and made up of three appointees recommended by the Governor, two appointees recommended by the President of the Senate, and two appointees recommended by the Speaker of the House of Representatives."

If I'm going to have a commission that oversees part my child's education, I want them elected, not appointed. It's too easy for posts to be given as a political favor, or for it to be divided on political lines. We live in a democracy which has too much bad bureaucracy already. Adding in this is not a good idea. We are having enough issues with making sure our kids are properly educated without having to worry about a commission that doesn't have to be transparent or be held accountable by their constituents.

I'm all for charter schools and would love to see more created. There has to be, though, a point where the people in a district have a voice in when/where/what for their schools. What most don't realize, though, is that the state ALREADY has the right to create 'special charter schools'. There is no need for a constitutional amendment to create a charter commission. --

Ga. Const. Art. VIII, § V, Para. VII

PARAGRAPH VII. Special schools

(a) The General Assembly may provide by law for the creation of special schools in such areas as may require them and may provide for the participation of local boards of education in the establishment of such schools under such terms and conditions as it may provide; but no bonded indebtedness may be incurred nor a school tax levied for the support of special schools without the approval of a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each of the systems affected. Any special schools shall be operated in conformity with regulations of the State Board of Education pursuant to provisions of law. The state is authorized to expend funds for the support and maintenance of special schools in such amount and manner as may be provided by law.

(b) Nothing contained herein shall be construed to affect the authority of local boards of education or of the state to support and maintain special schools created prior to June 30, 1983.

So, why is it that we need a commission to handle what's already there? So, in effect, HR1162 is just proposing a change to something that doesn't need to be changed.

Then there's always the question of finance. The economy is bad, we all know that. Just look at DeKalb and what they're going through because of bad management of money. I could wish there were an easy way to settle that issue, but there's not. In the mean time, we don't need to fix something that isn't necessarily broken. It just needs to be utilized appropriately.

So, I won't be voting to change the constitution of our state. I'd hope that you'd consider the above, as well as fully read both HB 797 and HR1162 before you vote next week on the democratic straw poll. Vote on the amendment is in November.
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