by Tony Roberts
By Tony Roberts
Thursday, February 9, 2012 — The score in Georgia on Wednesday was 110-62, but nobody won. No, I’m not talking about a ball game, but the single most important piece of legislation (HR1162) our state has ever seen to continue the growth of high quality charter schools.
The measure, HR1162, would have allowed Georgia voters to decide about a Constitutional Amendment that would restore the ability of the State to authorize charter schools. The amendment responds to a Supreme Court decision that struck down our state’s effective alternate charter school authorizer—the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.
Readers of this blog certainly don’t need to be persuaded about the value of an alternative authorizer for charter schools. So even though I am “preaching to the choir,” let me share some observations and rants about the “sinners” who are doing their darn best to stop this charter movement in Georgia.
Wednesday’s nuisance was hearing all the opposing legislators start their speeches with: “Now I support charter schools…” Charter grammar lesson number 1; this phrase must always be followed with the conjunction “but.”
We heard it over and over from the House well. One representative who used the line, then referred to every study ever known to mankind that has trash-canned charter schools. He even referred to some studies that have never been done! This rep “supports charter schools” even though he thinks they are the worst development in the history of public education and believes they should be burned to the ground (good thing we don’t have funding for facilities in Georgia). Suggested response to him and others like him: “if you support charter schools, you must support HR1162 to prevent the 15,000 existing charter school students from losing their school of choice. Plus, the pipeline for new charter schools in places they are really needed and wanted will be shut off.” This is NOT partisan rhetoric.
Another big nuisance to those of us on the front lines: “friendly” fire. You know, getting shot in the back by those who should be with you. It’s the worst opposition of all. Consider the Georgia PTA. I thought their mission was to facilitate greater communication between parents and teachers for the children’s sake. Are they no longer about chili suppers, school festival days, bake sales, and apples for teachers? When did they become one of the loudest voices AGAINST charter schools? Did they poll parents and teachers to get this position? Are they now the Professional Teachers Association?
Other “friendly” fire here has come from Georgia School Boards Association, Georgia Superintendents Association, PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators).
But there are also bright spots. Most gratifying has been the development of a broad-based and growing coalition to fight for choice and for children. With eleven current members, we are pushing for the growth of quality charter schools. Check out our coalition website
Naturally, we are expecting an opposition website www.wesupportcharterschools.but…
The good news is, the game isn’t over. There has been a delay in the game. Our bill, HR1162, will return to the House after 10-15 more representatives realize this issue is about children—not job security. And note to the representatives who wonder if they should vote for HR1162. We have now commissioned two statewide polls and both have shown that 70% or more of the people are more likely to vote for you if you vote for HR1162.