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Georgia School Superintendent Speaks Out Against Charter School Amendment

John Barge explains why the charter schools amendment is a bad idea for public education in Georgia. His full remarks are attached to this article.

This was part of a press release issued last month. The statement, orginally posted on the Department of Education's website has been removed.

I fully support the continued creation of high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, but after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia’s students, I have decided to take a position in opposition to the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.  

Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).  

I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education. 

What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).   

I trust our local school districts will continue to approve only high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, and I am committed to working with all of our school districts to ensure that high quality applicants are not denied locally – including mediating between high quality charter school applicants and any local districts that are reluctant to approve them, as provided by existing Georgia law.

Dr. John Barge, Georgia School Superintendent

Josh Austin September 29, 2012 at 04:47 PM
It's not really surprising that this guy has decided to take a stand against something that would take money and power away from the organization he is in charge of. Of course he wants us to know that he carefully considered it before reaching his conclusion. Dr. Barge can't really be blamed for acting this way, it's how his incentives are aligned. Embarrassingly for him, he is backed into a corner where his logic against the charter school amendment is: we can do a better job, and until we do a better job you shouldn't take away our power or influence. Nice. Also, he must think we are idiots to believe we have anything remotely resembling "local control" of our schools. The entire point is that the education system is an unresponsive bureaucracy that does not respond to individual parents. How much more local can you get than individual parents deciding where their children will and will not go to school. His stance that a "local" board knows what is best for each child is ridiculous. Parents know what's best for their own children.
Donna Riviere September 30, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Our public schools are failing to teach or else the need and desire for charter schools which seem to provide better quality plus choice for students and parents wouldn't exist

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