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Vote YES for more parental control

We are both proud products of Fayette County public schools. We also both now have young children attending Fayette County public schools.

There is absolutely nothing more important to us than the quality of public education for the children of Fayette County and for all of Georgia. We both understand and profoundly believe in the power of a quality education to transform lives and give the youth of this state, through hard work, the opportunity to strive for and achieve their hopes and dreams.

Unfortunately, in many parts of Georgia, there are entire communities of children whose parents’ only choice is to send their child to a chronically failing public school.

In this regard, we strongly support Amendment One which will give Georgia voters an opportunity to move the education policy needle in Georgia toward greater parental control in their children’s education and away from a government-controlled status quo that has seen Georgia’s K-12 educational system mired near the bottom of national rankings for decades.

Last year in a surprising and controversial 4-3 vote by the Georgia Supreme Court, the liberal bloc of justices held that the state could not approve “general k-12 education” charter applications.

Prior to this ruling, from 2008-2011 both the state and local school boards had the authority to approve charter applications and it worked well.

The state approval mechanism was exercised very judiciously (less than 15 charter applications were approved by the state over this time period) and it served as a protection for local charter applicants against school boards arbitrarily denying a legally compliant application.

In simple and clear terms, all Amendment 1 does is provide local groups a mechanism to appeal a school board’s denial of a charter application.

We trust parents over government officials (regardless of what level on which they serve) any day of the week and the Supreme Court, by removing this check on government control, has effectively given the very school boards that have failed parents and children year after year in these chronically poor performing systems the last and only say over whether a group of parents and community members can band together and seek to provide an alternative education option for their child.

This simply belies common sense and Georgia parents and taxpayers deserve better.

The erroneous claims made by the opponents of this measure are too many to address in this column. They have attempted to paint this as an effort to erode “local control” in education by setting up “state run schools.”

This could not be further from the truth and fundamentally misrepresents the legal and administrative realities of charter schools.

Charter schools (whether approved by the state or a local board) are not run by the state, but rather by an individual non-profit organization located in the school’s community, which is generally comprised of parents, teachers and civic leaders.

Charter schools operate pursuant to the terms of a contract that transparently sets out the manner in which it will operate, including its financial plan and student achievement benchmarks.

If a charter school fails to meet the terms of the charter or if not enough parents elect to send their child to that school, then the school will close, which makes these schools much more accountable to its consumers (i.e., the parents and students) than traditional public schools.

Amendment 1 provides the purest and most direct form of local control by giving each individual parent in districts that have charter schools the ability to have a choice in what type of educational environment best fits their child.

Amendment opponents have also claimed that charter school applicants already can appeal to the state Department of Education and this amendment is unnecessary.

While we wish this amendment was not necessary, this claim by opponents is patently untrue. The Supreme Court’s ruling that is being addressed by this amendment found that the state no longer may approve charter schools that provide “general k-12 education.”

The result of this holding is that a constitutional amendment is the only mechanism available to reestablish this common-sense ability to appeal the denial of a charter school application.

In addition, despite what the education establishment is suggesting, not one dollar of local property tax dollars is used to fund state-authorized charter schools.

Since roughly half of each Georgia student’s education is funded by local property tax dollars, charter schools must deliver results to the parents and children that choose that option with significantly less tax dollars per-capita than the traditional local schools.

At the end of the day, regardless of whether a charter school is approved by a local board or the state, a charter school only succeeds if enough parents elect to send their children to that school.

It is beyond us why anyone would want to prevent parents (the very people paying taxes to fund their child’s education) from having more choice in finding the educational environment best suited to their child.

We are fortunate to live in one of the top performing school systems in the state. As parents, like most of the parents in this community, we are very satisfied with the quality of our own children’s traditional public school education. For this reason, this amendment will likely make little to no difference in our community.

However, it will potentially give parents in low performing school districts like Clayton County or the City of Atlanta a real opportunity to find a better educational opportunity for their children.

It is in the best interests of Fayette County citizens and all Georgians to support efforts to improve the quality of all school systems in the state.

Over the last several decades Georgia has put more and more tax dollars per-capita into our current educational system (K-12 now comprises roughly 50 percent of our state budget) and we simply haven’t seen the results that taxpayers deserve.

Our children deserve something better and different; and we believe moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach by providing more educational options for parents and their children is a good place to start.

We urge voters to put their trust in parents over the government and Vote YES on Nov. 6 to Amendment 1.

Ronnie Chance

Senator, District 16

Tyrone, Ga.

Matt Ramsey

Representative, District 72

Peachtree City, Ga.



TheRealityCheck's picture

I voted YES today! I agree that gives the parents a choice - which gives them control. If the public school is performing poorly - we should have the choice to send our children to a charter school.

Wow, I don't mean to be rude, but from what you've said leads me to believe you think you need Government to offer you a choice...
Hint, You have had a CHOICE ever since you decided to procreate as to the quality of your offspring's education..All without having to have the government "give it to you"
Even after this Horrible (y'all are going to be very sorry) Amendment passes
you will still have choice NOT given to you by government but given to you by simply being born.

RealityCheck, you are so very magnanimous! You are willing to trade your right to elect leaders who must answer to their electorate for the whims of some parents who desire an unproven educational plan approved by appointed (not elected) commissioners. You will also spend your and my additional tax dollars so that these parents can do as they please.

In the future, be very consistent and don't post anything resembling conservative ideology. When you check your reality at the door, critical thinking is so elusive.

How interesting that Sen. Chance and Rep. Ramsey are shilling for circumvention of locally elected officials in favor of an all-knowing appointed (not elected) government commission to approve charter schools throughout the state of Georgia. Their rhetoric feigns deep concern for parents who are being deprived of educational choices from out-of-state entrepreneurs who line the coffers of legislative re-election campaigns and saturate the airways ($2,000,000 to date).

What about the rights of us taxpayers who foot the bills for these boondoggles? How are the needs of these deprived parents so enormous that they eclipse our rights to elect leaders to make decisions that affect our pocketbooks? By this reasoning, Chance and Ramsey will surely support Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of 15 experts tasked with cutting Medicare payments to doctors and other hospitals. We all know that locally elected officials cannot be trusted with truly important decisions; we need appointed commissions answerable to no one.

Let’s cut to the chase. Both Chance and Ramsey are lapdogs for Governor Deal and Speaker Ralston. Neither would ever venture a thought without vetting it with the Republican leadership. They admit that the amendment is superfluous in Fayette County, nevertheless they support usurping elected leaders for appointed ones. See them for what they are: obsequious fawners willing to sell their souls to be patted on the head by the Governor or the Speaker.

Once again, truth is stranger than fiction.

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