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Have You Heard About HB 123 Parent/Teacher Empowerment Act?

The bill will allow a simple majority of parents and/or teachers at ANY public school to petition a local board to convert a school to a charter school.

Does anyone remember the constitutional amendment battle last year? The battle where our Republican leadership wanted us to pass an amendment which expanded the role of government in Georgia and removed local control by giving it to an appointed State Charter Commission?

We bought that one hook, line and sinker. Republicans convinced Republicans - some, not all - to forget about the other part of the party platform that talks about limited government and local control.

The same group is back at it in the legislature trying to pass more bills which will eventually destroy our open public schools (vs. closed charter public schools – try moving here in January and getting into one). 

Why? Because promoting charter schools and vouchers is also part of the Republican Party Platform. That must supersede the part that is for limited government, local control or common sense in my opinion.

Hey – I voted for Romney but that doesn’t mean I’m in favor of legislation that doesn’t make any sense.

So here’s what’s going on under the Gold Dome. Some powerful legislators are pushing HB 123 – the Parent/Teacher Empowerment Act – commonly known as the Parent Trigger. The bill will allow a simple majority of parents and/or teachers at ANY public school to petition a local board to convert the school to a charter school.

Why? The only logical explanation is that the sponsors of the bill are convinced that charter schools are better than open public schools. Let’s convert them all as quickly as possible.  Parents and, apparently, legislators surely know how to run any school even though they have no professional qualifications to do so. Huh?

The second part of this bill allows a simple majority of parents and/or teachers to impose one of six turnaround models on a low-achieving public school. The turnaround models in the bill are taken straight out of the wildly unsuccessful No Child Left Behind federal legislation forced on the country in 2001.

Here’s a little synopsis of this failed strategy written in 2005 after it was apparent that it wasn’t working:

“Corrective action and school redesign cannot be done on the cheap. We know from first generation accountability systems that merely mandating new programs, subjecting a school to “zero-based staffing” (code for firing everyone) as in reconstitution, pairing it up with external consultants or passing it on to new management will not be sufficient for those persistently low-performing schools that have high needs and low capacity to begin with.”    UCLA, 2005 (parentheses mine)  

So why pass a bill with a turnaround model that was proven 8 years ago to NOT WORK? Oh, please – this is education reform. Reading and research doesn’t apply.

Then you may hear – “Just look at the mess in DeKalb County – we have to pass this bill even though the only result in any state that has passed this copycat legislation has been a lawsuit!” They may not actually say the second part but, again, logic is over rated when it comes to education reform.  My advice – want to fix DeKalb County schools? Move there.

Fast forward ten years – taxpayers and parents wake up and ask; “Hey, whatever happened to our open public schools?”

Our government; “We sold them.”

What do you think of this proposed law? Good, bad or unnecessary? Please tell us in the comments.

Editor's note: The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Peachtree Corners Patch.

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