The Georgia educrat edition of ‘Scary Movie’

Do these people look spooooooooky to you? (Screen shot from Georgia PTA video)

Do these people look spooooooooky to you? (Screen shot from Georgia PTA video)

Holidays seem to arrive earlier every year, don’t they? Thanks to the Georgia PTA, we now have Halloween in August. I just can’t tell if they’re going for “really scary” or “laughable caricature.”

I refer to the group’s video opposing the Opportunity School District, a proposed constitutional amendment that will appear on the November ballot. The measure would allow the state to make wholesale changes in perennially failing schools, such as converting them into charter schools.

The Georgia PTA finds this possibility scary. Frightening, even. Terrifying enough to warrant a horror film à la the original “Blair Witch Project,” with almost as much grounding in reality.

The video tries to spook viewers into thinking Gov. Nathan Deal and other state leaders are trying to cannibalize these schools and let rich donors feast on their remains. But Georgians expecting some evidence for these claims might as well sit up all night waiting for the Great Pumpkin.

There are a couple of ghost stories about “for-profit businesses tak(ing) full control of your school” and “your tax dollars (equaling) their profit.” In reality, Georgia law requires charter schools to be run by non-profit boards. Can those boards hire private companies to perform administrative and back-office functions? Sure — just as every traditional public school today spends at least some of its money with for-profit companies, from textbook publishers to janitorial services.

There’s an eerie moan about “economic segregation,” which is so vague as to mean anything. But it’s worth noting the schools subject to OSD takeover (because they’ve failed for at least three consecutive years) are already concentrated in poor communities, both urban and rural.

Next, we have a warning about “no accountability.” Seriously? Exactly what kind of accountability exists today for schools that have been producing more dropouts than graduates? For something truly scary, consider that many students in Atlanta, Macon, Savannah and elsewhere in Georgia will go several years, if not their entire k-12 careers, attending only failing schools. The mere specter of OSD has prompted some of those schools, though not all, to try something new.

If you weren’t afraid yet, the video ominously warns “your community is in danger.” From what? An attempt to stop the school-to-prison pipeline that actually has endangered many communities? Quite the opposite.

Above all, the video wants you to believe “they” — those formless boogeymen your high school teachers advised you not to invoke — “are misleading you again.” And despite all the competition for this title from the video, this claim might be the most hypocritical.

“Misleading” is precisely what opponents of education reform have been doing for years and years in this state. Remember the 2012 constitutional amendment to allow state charter schools? That was alleged to open the doors to “for-profit businesses” ravaging the state after an explosion of new school openings. Four years later, the re-authorized state commission still has approved only two dozen schools across all of Georgia — half of which predated the 2012 vote. No more than five have opened in a single year.

“They” are misleading you again, all right. But “they” are the educrats who deny that the status quo is what’s truly scary.

Reader Comments 0

99 comments
AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Kyle,

Please look up salaries and vendor payments for the State Commission charter schools and tell me where to find it. Is it OK with you that they can hide this financial information from the public? If so is it OK if real public schools stop reporting this data?

anguslee
anguslee

So if these are non-profit public schools, isn't that at the least anti-capitalist? Is there possibly, somewhere a comparison between paychecks across the system of public, non-profit (that would be socialism so can't even show up in this blog) charters and the public schools? Including salaries (or contributions) to the members of the Charter Commission, since they include venture capitalists, accountants, and litigators. Why, oh why would a public charter commission need a litigator? And janitors. And part time employees. Plus how many receive health care. That would seem to be a normal process, you know, taking responsibility.

jezel
jezel

Who is the author of the proposed amendment ? Who wrote the words that will appear on the ballot ?

jezel
jezel

I see...Rep. Butch Miller..R...Gainesville....and the legislature refused to change the wording. Wow...this whole thing stinks.

L_D
L_D

From a conservative viewpoint:  how do you justify creating another government bureaucracy which can withhold up to 3% of each schools funds (and shuffle the remaining 97% of funds among all the schools in the OSD, meaning my local tax dollars may not be staying in my system) when there is ALREADY a law which grants the state the same intervention options?  OCGA 20-14-41 allows for removal of personnel, implementation of a state charter, reconstitution of the school (hiring all new staff), giving parents an option to relocate students to another school within the system (with transportation for students in Title 1 schools), mandate a manager (paid for by the district), or mandate a complete restructuring of the school's organization.


For me, the largest issue around this amendment is not what can happen to the schools - because it is ALREADY allowed by Georgia law.  I am more concerned about diminishing the power of my vote and the lack of accountability to me, the tax payer.  I am concerned about the confiscation of the locally owned (i.e. - taxpayer funded) buildings and materials by the OSD.  


You have stated that the threat of takeover has spurred systems into action.  While that may be true, I do not think there is any other aspect of government in which you would support the growing of a government bureaucracy which can take local property, redistribute locally generated funds to other districts, AND withhold 3% to fund itself.  For example, there are hospitals in Georgia with failing ratings - thus endangering the health and welfare of Georgia citizens.  Would you support a similar model which would allow an appointee of the executive branch of the Federal government to come in to "turnaround" these hospitals - taking of the facility, taking of the Georgia funds allocated to those patients and hospitals (with no guarantee the funds stay in Georgia), and with no recourse for the community or elected legislature?  I can't imagine you would support this (in fact, I think you would be one of the loudest voices against it).


To fall back to a "this is best for the children" defense does not answer the question of how do you justify the precedence this amendment would set?  This amendment is an issue of governance, not education.

itsbrokeletsfixit
itsbrokeletsfixit

So, a comment on the substance: I don't disagree that many of our public schools are in trouble. However, the idea that converting them to charter schools is "trying something new" is mendacious. Vouchers, and charter schools have been around in the school reform agenda for about 20 years now. These solutions for troubled public schools, dispite all the spin they are given by the corporate reformers and free enterprise idealogues are now, with few exceptions, demonstrated not to work. Worse, standardized tests have seized control of public education, demoralized teachers and students  (because these tests are one dimensional, measure the wrong things, and parasitize precious funding and time needed for the classroom.) The "takeover of public schools" solution has now been tried in states and cities throughout the nation and, regardless of serious support from wealthy benefactors, HAS NOT WORKED. The miniscule progress results hailed by the reformists are illusory and based on standardized test results, or occasionally on a small increase in graduation rates. 

By attacking and distrusting teachers; by forcing standards (Common Core) into the classroom from the national level; by cutting funding and increasing class sizes we are driving good teachers out of the profession and destroying public education in America.

OSD has not worked in Tennessee, New Jersy, Chicago, New Orleans, and other places. Why should Georgia voters consider it to be a solution here???

We do need some fresh ideas to fix public education. But the state takeover isn't one. 




itsbrokeletsfixit
itsbrokeletsfixit

This opinion article appeared Sunday, but I checked several times( that day) it was not possible to make comments and the article did not appear on Kyle's blog- at least for much of the day. Yet, today is Tuesday and many of the comments indicate they were posted 2 days ago. How does that work??????

anguslee
anguslee

From Ga. Standards.org:

"School systems and teachers are free to use these models as is; modify them to better serve classroom needs; or create their own curriculum maps, units and tasks."

That means they can teach anything they damn well please and defend it by their charter. 

jezel
jezel

And with trillions of dollars appropriated annually for public education.....I have a hard time believing that gaining control of this money...is for altruistic reasons.

jezel
jezel

Frankly I do not understand why privatizing public education is not a violation of the 10th amendment. For those who are strict constructionist of the constitution....today's conservatives ?...how do you justify turning over public money to private entities to conduct business for a profit ?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@jezel

That's precious, bringing in the Tenth Amendment.  Perhaps you can explain where in Our Constitution the federal government is delegated any power over education.

historydawg
historydawg

It is interesting conservatives, such as Mr. Wingfield, are not interested in conserving civic responsibility. Our founders implemented a safeguard to our Republic by writing public education into state constitutions across the nation. Education of everyone's children was a state and local community responsibility. It is a great irony that those pushing the "failing schools" paradigm in order to push charters, vouchers, etc., such as Mr Wingfield, are now accusing teachers and parents to alerting the public to the deception found in this amendment. The amendment and the partnered legislation would open the door for the state to take over local schools from local people, allowing the legislature to change the criteria for school takeover at their discretion. Maybe Mr Wingfield should read a history book to see that his arguments sound so very similar to those pushed for decades by those who wanted to discard neighborly responsibilities to community. The "schools are failing" always means that "we don't want to invest in our neighbors' kids." Those sorry public schools, they said, caused the Soviets to launch Sputnik and now they are undermining progress, against change, etc. Those "misleading" teachers who get up every day to help themselves and never want to change...Mr. Wingfield et al would get a new line, but the narrative of failure (no matter the reality), the scare tactics, the air of objectivity (now with the tests to back it up), etc. have worked so well. If this deception tricks Georgians as these amendments did in 2012, it will be a sad day for our democracy as local governments will no longer make local decisions, parents, teachers, local boards of education will no longer be able to create education for their own community.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

If you could make any education "reform" you like, short of increasing aggregate education spending in the state, what would you change?

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Lil_Barry_Bailout Let the money provided by the county and the state go to the school the child and its parents prefer to attend.  Being required to attend the school your zipcode directs you to, is about as dumb as putting classified information on a home brew server.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

Thanks Rafe. I thought I wasn't going to get a single answer. Once you tell a leftist they can't spend more money, they've got nothing.

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

I'm with you on that, of course. Free market competition makes pretty much every product better and higher value. Your proposal would also go far in eliminating funding disparities among the state's many school systems.

historydawg
historydawg

@RafeHollister @Lil_Barry_Bailout This makes no economic sense. We are better when we pool our resources. This is how you have a road to drive on and a park to visit. If money only funded what individuals used, you probably could not get to work, as your taxes alone could accomplish very little. If you read a little history, you will find that public schools were designed to make communities better, and Americans used to have a civic responsibility that deemed investment in their neighbors' kids a worthy goal, one worthy of their tax dollars. 

itsbrokeletsfixit
itsbrokeletsfixit

@Lil_Barry_Bailout "Free Market competition makes every product better..." makes no sense for public schools. Our children are not nameless, faceless products or commodities. They are individuals, each and every one; each with individual talents, weaknesses, dreams and aspirations. Using the scores on standardized tests (one size fits all tests) as THE measure of success/failure has led our nation into some really nonsensical directions and is destroying public education. 


lvg
lvg

Good article on why charter schools are failing:

w:ww.slate.com/blogs/schooled/2015/12/17/for_profit_charter_schools_are_failing_and_fading_here_s_why.html

Scary stuff.



Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Kyle_Wingfield @lvg Do you know what private school costs? I don't know how you can say "the market can work just fine in education" when, unless you're a high earner (north of $250k annually, at least), or have rich parents, private school is basically unaffordable.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Eye wonder @lvg We don't have a true market in education, because in a true market you don't have to pay for one choice (via taxes) and then pay more if you want to take advantage of a different option (via private tuition). So of course the vast majority of people take the option they've already paid for, which is why private-school tuition tends to skew high, although that isn't uniformly true by a longshot; see, among others:

http://kylewingfield.blog.myajc.com/2015/11/16/an-old-school-way-to-approach-education-for-the-future/

http://kylewingfield.blog.myajc.com/2015/09/14/pay-for-high-school-or-pay-for-college-why-not-both/

http://kylewingfield.blog.myajc.com/2015/08/31/school-for-low-income-kids-strikes-a-work-study-balance/ 

Of course, when some of us suggest allowing people to use the education funding allotted for them at private schools in order to make it more affordable, we're told taxpayer dollars shouldn't be spent that way.

You can't have it both ways.

hnbc
hnbc

And what those of us who don't have and never had children utilizing public education? Why should we pay for private school, especially for those parents who can well afford private school tuition? I'll gladly support public education but not private school education.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@hnbc Honest question: If you are willing to contribute financially toward a child's education, why would you care where it is delivered as long as it's a high-quality education?

Conversely, are you OK with contributing toward sub-par educations simply because they're being delivered in a public school?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@lvg Your article doesn't say "charter schools" are failing. It says "for-profit charter schools" are failing. And it doesn't say they're "failing" in the sense of the word we use for public schools, but in the market sense of the word: Students and parents are leaving them, many states are no longer approving them, and they are disappearing.

In other words, your article is a perfect illustration that the market can work just fine in education. It's the public sector of education, not subject to market forces, that demonstrates a persistent inability to fix itself.

Thanks for sharing!

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

"Educrat," Kyle? I've always thought better than you, but now you resort to jingoism?

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

@Wascatlady

Oh please.  It's just a little shorthand.

And I love your modesty about thinking "better than" Kyle.  ;-)

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

  In reality, Georgia law requires charter schools to be run by non-profit boards. Can those boards hire private companies to perform administrative and back-office functions? Sure


Then why not just call them for profits and be honest about it. Those back offices are going to be LLC's where all the money is going to wind up anyway.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar Also, it's funny how this is always "going to" happen. Charter schools have been around in Georgia for more than a decade. By now, the opponents should be able to put up some evidence their scare stories have been coming true ... right? Right? Bueller? 

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

In public schools, teachers profit. Administrators profit. Cafeteria lady profits. You OK with that, or does that frighten you too?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@anguslee @Hedley_Lammar No difference in the extent to which they're "for-profit."

That said, if a management company could educate my child better than the alternatives and still turn a profit, I wouldn't begrudge them the money. Would you really prefer your child be in the lower-performing but profit-free school?

anguslee
anguslee

@Kyle_Wingfield @anguslee @Hedley_Lammar the management company has other interests than education. And if the parents don't want to know say, that the climate is changing dramatically, or that fear of science is to be expected and not promoted, and dinosaurs mated with Noah, then that's what will happen. Like Drump U, the standards can change at will, hypocritically, without oversight. You find the American federal government unable to teach your kiddie, and the State of Georgia likewise, and so look who you choose; a corporation that can file for bankruptcy after having harvested the cash. Naw, that aint whut I want.

anguslee
anguslee

@Kyle_Wingfield @anguslee @Hedley_Lammar One because the Constitution of the USA. 

2. Because there is no oversight, those people will teach what they damn well please. You have examples of state and federal standards not being taught and some regulator came in and forced the Charter school to comply? Anything  the parents wanted taught and were stopped? 

If they cared about the educations, would they care if they made profits. Profits for who? Why do you let LBB post the most noxious, unctuous, racist, anti-American drivel imaginable? 

3. I ain no Christian and anyone who only reads the Old Testament aint either. 

4. Why not?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@anguslee @Hedley_Lammar One more time: Point to even a single case of an LLC related to charter schools stealing money (it wouldn't be a charter school itself, since in Georgia charter schools must be established as non-profits).

That is my point: You're talking about what could happen. But we have years of experience with charter schools; if this is a rampant problem, or even a likely problem, surely you can point to an example or two of it happening?

Instead, you just want to throw a bunch of accusations around.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@anguslee @Hedley_Lammar This is nonsensical. Charter schools are public schools, overseen by local boards of education or the state charter schools commission, and they must abide by the same rules regarding teaching religion that traditional public schools must follow. You haven't even bothered to learn what you're railing against.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Kyle_Wingfield @anguslee @Hedley_Lammar  it wouldn't be a charter school itself, since in Georgia charter schools must be established as non-profits


Jesus this again.


They are NOT non profits if they are just taking the money out of one pocket and putting it in another. 


That is like saying Wal Mart stores are non profits. All the money is with the back office folks in Arkansas.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar In other words, you have your own feverish imagination but no proof anyone's actually doing as you claim.

anguslee
anguslee

@Hedley_Lammar Nice. It's a nice way to funnel $'s to family, friends, RNC's, slush funds, and non profits that fight for right wing fascism. I'm sure it's okay to used that language, LBB uses it alla time.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar @anguslee "They are NOT non profits if they are just taking the money out of one pocket and putting it in another. "

Good, glad we agree they are non-profits since they aren't doing that. And you can't point to any examples where they are.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@anguslee @Hedley_Lammar Were you here in 2012? That's when that was on the ballot. It passed with more than 60% of the vote. The county where it got the highest share of the vote was Clayton.

anguslee
anguslee

@Kyle_Wingfield @anguslee @Hedley_Lammar sadly I was elsewhere then. The commission was directly elected or the idea of a commission was passed and someone or another appointed the members. Has there been another election since then? Are there a lot of evangelical voters in Clayton?

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@anguslee @Hedley_Lammar The commission was approved. The members are appointed. There are a lot of voters in Clayton who are tired of failing schools. Your continual references to religion show you don't even know what we're talking about.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@Hedley_Lammar Is a traditional public school a "for profit" because it has some contracts with for-profit companies? There's no difference.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar Well more public school officials are in jail than charter school operators.  Chicago, Atlanta, DeKalb.  Big districts with lots of "oversight."

Lil_Barry_Bailout
Lil_Barry_Bailout

"Doggie Dumpling"--that's actually pretty funny. Thanks for putting a smile on my face!

historydawg
historydawg

@Kyle_Wingfield @Hedley_Lammar There is a big difference. With this amendment, local boards of education and their constituents would no longer have the power to make these contracts happen. The fact that you can say this is entirely misleading. The grounds at our school were much better taken care of by school employees (them gov-ment workers and educates, as you say) than private companies.

historydawg
historydawg

@Kyle_Wingfield @anguslee @Hedley_Lammar what about the millions owed to local school districts by the state legislative. this theft is ok? i think i understand your reasoning: starve the public schools by withholding funds while increasing regulations that destroy learning for students AND give charters more money, flexibility, and allow them to deny students they  deem unworthy. check out greene county, if you need an example.

anguslee
anguslee

@Kyle_Wingfield @anguslee @Hedley_Lammar Do go on about how conservatives don't care about religion. Who appointed the members? Any of them in the business of school for profit? As to "failing schools" see historydawg.