Georgia 'Has Become Our Opponent' in Education Says GCPS's Superintendent

Wilbanks' statement on Charter School Amendment cites 'efforts by some to ... dismantle public education.'

Gwinnett Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks has issued a statement expressing disappointment that Georgia voters passed the Charter Schools Amendment on Tuesday (November 6).

The state's voters, by a strong majority, approved Amendment One, which allows for state officials to approve publicly funded charter schools, without the permission of local school boards.

Wilbanks' statement said the amendment "is not in the best interest of students and public education in this state."

 "We are disappointed that with the passage of Amendment 1 the state, rather than being our partner, has become our opponent in the all-important work of educating the state’s children," the statement read.

The Gwinnett system, which is the state's largest with almost 165,000 students, has four charter schools within its ranks. New Life Academy of Excellence, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Maxwell School of Technology and the Gwinnett Online Campus are set up by GCPS according to charter school rules.

However, the recent controversy over Peachtree Corners-based Ivy Prep Academy, an all-girls charter school, shows the controversial nature of the just-passed amendment.

Ivy Prep operated under GCPS control from mid-2011 until January 2012. It continues to operate as a State Charter Special School, according to the Georgia DOE website.

Wilbanks' statement added: "The intentionally misleading ballot language, the massive amounts of money that poured in from out of state companies to promote the amendment, and the brazen attempts to silence the opposing voices were too much for our significantly less-well-funded grassroots campaign to overcome."

"I do need to thank those many Georgians who with their “no” votes rejected the efforts by some to privatize, defund, and dismantle public education."

Already, one lawsuit has been filed against the amendment, and ballot language is cited. (See link below.)

----How do you feel about the Charter Schools Amendment passing? Do you feel the Gwinnett system should remain the sole authority for charter schools in this county? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

For Wilbanks' complete statement, visit the Gwinnett schools' website.

This article originated on Suwanee Patch.

Read more on the Charter School Amendment:

  • Governor Supports Charter Schools Amendment
  • Understanding the Charter Schools Amendment
  • Voters Sue Gov. Deal Over 'Misleading" Charter School Ballot Language



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jim ponsoldt November 08, 2012 at 05:18 PM
wilbanks is correct. the charter school amendment is a scam, designed for two purposes: to put taxpayer money into the pockets of private management companies, and to further separate our children by class and race. an unintended "victim" of the amendment, interestingly, might be modestly funded private schools, who over time will lose enrollment to these new "public" charter schools.
Amanda Helmstetter November 08, 2012 at 05:46 PM
The wonderful thing that just happened on Tuesday of this week is that the PEOPLE spoke. We made a decision, we didn't have to take anyone else's word on the status of the public educational system - we decided that status quo was not sufficient for every child in the State of Ga. If you don't want a charter school in your county, then simply don't make it necessary for even one child to need an alternative. Instead of making the State your opponent on this issue - you should take a long hard look at your own house and make sure you are doing everything you need to to take care of the kids in Gwinnett county. If you do that, then you simply won't have to worry about a charter school you don't approve of in your county. Please stop spending my taxpayer money on lawsuits to try to get your way and stop whining about the wording on the ballot. Just focus your efforts on creating a world class educational system for ALL kids in the Gwinnett County Public School system - and then you won't have to worry about this.
Robert Hartman November 08, 2012 at 05:47 PM
The public schools in GA are terrible... and nothing much has changed in the past several decades. Do you just want to do the "status quo" for our kids? I think charter schools will shake things up a little and they will do a much better job... they have elsewhere.
Amanda Helmstetter November 08, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Amen, Robert!
AMyers November 09, 2012 at 02:59 AM
Gwinnett is worried about funding being cut if a charter school is opened.... cut the 410 thousand dollar salary of Wilbanks and put that funding back into the classroom where the hard working teachers are busting their butts to make sure everyone passes the CRCT!!! And not to mention no pay raise for the teachers in several years!!! But Wilbanks saw a pay increase!!!
Lauren Azoulai November 09, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Charter schools give voice to their teachers, parents, administrators and even the children. We don't need cookie cutter schools that are just passing. We should want children to be excited about learning, and we need to do more to engage parents in the schools. Charter schools can do that. My children all went to public schools in Georgia. But the big neighborhood high school was a terrible fit for my youngest child and the only other option I had was to put him in a private school that could meet his needs. I was able to do it financially, and it was the best money I ever spent on him. But most families are not in a position to do that. I believe in having more than one school to choose from. I work in a ten year old start-up charter school in DeKalb County. We are all about diversity in every way you can imagine and we are a Title One School. Charter schools will help all kinds of children from all walks of socio-economic life. I have seen parents begging us to take their child when there is no room left - begging because their local school was not doing its job. What a wonderful thing happened for Georgia's children on Nov. 6th.
Ground Chuck November 09, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Mr. Will banks is misinformed or just a "control freak." Perhaps he and others do not want to acknowledge the fact that Georgia schools rank in the bottom five nationally which is a travesty, especially since this has been the case for decades. Parents want choice and deserve choice. Let 'em sue, the Charter School system will grow and thrive for all students including minorities. It is well-funded and backed by a lot of powerful people and groups.
Ground Chuck November 09, 2012 at 03:18 AM
P.S. awaiting the left-wingers and other fringe groups to pipe in with their "discrimination" accusations and decreased funding for the financially wasteful status quo school system (wasteful in everything but teacher salaries). Oh wait...they can't because the Charter Schools are loaded with minorities! LOL!
PTC Concerns November 09, 2012 at 09:00 PM
Near my house is Ivy Prepatory Academy. I paid little attention to the school until this Charter Amendment came to light. I saw girls (it's and all girls school) out in the parking lot sometimes, in uniform, mostly minority (although I am not sure who is a minority these days). I saw them again at recent debate over the amendment where Wilbanks spoke (babbled) against it. I talked with a few parents who sent their girls to Ivy Prep. They were worried they would loose their school because GCPS is dead set against it and without the amendment they might have to send their kids back to Summerhour (a district iii middle school that feeds norcross high). The parent said she was sick of summerhour because it was overcrowded, there were gangs, disruptive kids bringing down the whole class, parents who weren't involved etc. (You can NCLB schools all day long and it won't solve those problems - it isn't the teachers fault). Based on my local knowledge of our schools, our school board, how I might be impacted, etc I voted yes to the amendment because I didnt want these girls to go back to an underperforming school just as much as their parents didn't want them to go back. Charter schools hav not affected my life up to this point and I don't see that changing in the future.
PTC Concerns November 09, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Some other points you may find interesting Ivy Prep, the school GCPS Board was against was recently honored for academic performance.See the article here http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2012/oct/31/state-honors-local-schools-for-performance/ I read this somewhere else and will try to relate it - the local public school should see a net increase in funds per student if a charter schools draws some of their students away. Currently public schools get money from the county and the state. So when the state money follows the child to the charter school, the county money will stay in the public school equaling a net increase in $'s per student. also, looks like the attorney general of the state doesn't like that money GCPS's was funneling to the Gwinnett chamber see here... http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/attorney-general-to-review-gwinnett-schools-contri/nS2xq/


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