This UPPCA called September 24 meeting had a large audience; the vast majority of attendees appeared to be parents of charter school Ivy Prep who wore white T-shirts with "Choose Charter" on the front or the students themselves in their green and plaid uniforms.
Hostess Gay Shook announced that no public questions would be answered, due to having to leave the building by 9 p.m. (The meeting was held at Christ the King Church.) Instead, she instructed everyone to write their question a card and give to one of the speakers who would email or phone you later with a private answer.
Gay introduced District 3 school board member Dr. Mary Kay Murphy who gave school updates. They were that GCPS was awarded the honor of the" best urban school system in the nation" and received $1 million for this. She then acknowledged the presence of students and parents of charter school Ivy Prep in attendance. (No mention was made of the upcoming school board election.)
Three speakers talked for 5 minutes each: Alphonsa Forward, head of charter school New Life Academy of Excellence; Christopher Ray of charter school Gwinnett Online Campus and Will Bishop, Norcross High School principal. A representative from Ivey Prep, the latest charter school in Peachtree Corners, apparently was not invited to speak.
Jan Jones, Ga Rep, spoke in favor of the amendment, After a short history of public schools since 1931, she began with the fact that only 67% of Gwinnett County students graduate in four years. She is in favor of the amendment because:
(1) 32 other states already allow this
(2) the National PTA has just come in in favor, although the Georgia PTA is still against it
(3) it places local control with parents instead of having to appeal to the 5 school board members
(4) the state chartered schools will get no local funding
(5) all school teachers in public schools including charter schools are paid by the state so all are treated the same way and
(6) this amendment will really help schools in poor counties such as Putnam which has no other way to improve its school system. She also talked about how little money would be required for funding as a part of Georgia's total education budget.
Against the amendment, Alvin Wilbanks started by saying that he was speaking as a parent and grandparent, by saying "I am not here as superintendent for Gwinnett County Public Schools."
Wilkins key points were:
(1) "Why do we need a dual school system?"
(2) "The amendment is not needed because we can already do what the amendment says"
(3) "this amendment is not about charter schools" rather it is about "privatizing, defunding and dismantling public education" (Because legislators have been given campaign contributions by an out of state group supporting a yes vote. )
(4) He then compared the Georgia School System, if the amendment passes, to the 'separate but equal" system Georgia used to have and said we do not want to go back to that
(5) all funding for schools under this amendment will come from local taxpayers because "where else would it come from?"
The meeting then ended at 8:30 p.m. Time for questions, but none allowed.