The Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) supports public education, charter schools (public and private) and all those involved in educating children of Georgia.
This fall, an important vote is to occur November 6th that will impact the future of education in Georgia. On the ballot in the general election is a proposed amendment to the Georgia Constitution that, if it passes, will make things significantly worse for school children and teachers in Georgia.
The proposed Constitutional Amendment will ask Georgia citizens to vote yes or no to a deceitfully worded amendment that sounds like it would be good for public education but the words are grossly misleading. I ask you to be a part of a state-wide effort to defeat this amendment.
The wording of the Charter School Amendment asks:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities.”
Sounds good to the uninformed but what it is asking in reality:
“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to create a state charter school commission, independent of local school boards to approve charter school applications and disperse funds directly, without local approval, to those approved schools, and then establish an oversight agency to monitor the state charter schools?”
I want you to know that there is already a process of approving and funding public charter schools throughout Georgia. There are more than 200 charter schools already approved and operating in Georgia, with many more applications currently being evaluated by LOCAL school boards across the state.
If approved, the amendment would set up a new commission of politically appointed members at the STATE level whose task will be to review and approve charter applications AND disperse funding at the state level – with no local control of funding.
It will pull money from the education budget that would have gone to local school districts state-wide with locally elected school board members allocating tax money. The short version of the amendment:
- A seven member commission of politically appointed individuals will have the power to approve charter schools at the state level, bypassing locally elected school boards. Non-elected, politically appointees would then dispense money. Locally elected school board members should be the only people allowed to approve and dispense tax money for education.
- A new agency will be created to approve, manage, and monitor the STATE CHARTER schools, at a time when Gov. Deal is asking all state agencies to cut another 3 – 5% from their budgets.
- Schools will get less funds, making worse the budget cuts over the last 10 years. Students will attend larger classes than now when money is diverted to the state approved and funded charter schools.
- Education is a local issue, not state.
A question I often hear is “What am I allowed to do?” When we became teachers and public employees, we did not give up our rights as citizens to voice and act on our concerns regarding elections, policy issues, and prospective legislation.
When we are not at school, outside of school hours, we can do anything that anyone can do. However, be careful not to use any school equipment (computers, copiers, etc) at any time. We also cannot tell people how to vote during school times.
We CAN inform others at any time, presenting facts about an issue to educate from which the others can use to decide how they want to vote.
We must all educate ourselves, our family members, friends and neighbors about to this proposed amendment, so that everyone is making an informed decision this November. Pass the word to as many friends, neighbors, relatives, and educators everywhere.
There are many organizations in Georgia that each have a role/concern for education in Georgia that have come together to form an unprecedented coalition to inform voters about this Constitutional amendment. The coalition is Vote Smart Georgia.
The website is www.votesmartgeorgia.com. I ask you to become a part of this grassroots effort to educate voters and defeat the “Charter School Amendment.” The proponents attempting to get the “Charter School Amendment” approved are well funded. There are large contributions being made to influence people’s vote.
Large sums of money are coming from out of state sources, which concerns me. Why would they be donating to a proposed constitutional amendment in Georgia unless they are going to benefit somehow (open private charter schools approved by the non-elected commission)?
Please consider doing the following:
1. Go to www.votesmartgeorgia.com and look at the coalition members that are a part of this grassroots effort. PAGE, GAE, GSSB, GSBA, GPTA, GAEL, GMEA, GREA, SEF.
2. Go to the facts “Myths/Facts” and “Facts” tabs to educate yourself.
3. “Like” the website to your Facebook, Twitter, or other social media with a comment from you to your network encouraging them to check out the website and spread the word to their networks.
4. Register and sign up for the newsletter.
5. Contribute. The proponents are collecting millions from special interests that want this amendment to pass. The coalition needs funds to counter some of their advertising. $25, $50, $100, or more will be appreciated.
6. Talk up what this amendment is really about at ball games, church, at parties, and visiting friends. This needs to be a grassroots, state-wide effort.
7. Search “John Barge facts charter school amendment” for detailed facts about what this amendment will mean to public schools. Our own Georgia State School Superintendent is against this amendment and has been giving an abundance of facts to explain his opposition to the amendment. SHARE his information!
8. Share this letter with your friends, families, and networks so they can become informed and involved.