There is a lot of misinformation on the Charter School Amendment. I want to try and set the record straight.
First, charter schools are public schools.
Second, there are different types of charter schools. In DeKalb County, Chestnut, Kingsley and Peachtree Middle are examples of converted charter schools from traditional public schools.
Third, the charter school amendment primarily deals with charter schools created by the state after a local school board turns down the application. The exception is a school with a statewide attendance zone like the virtual charter school which goes directly to the state.
Fourth, the academic performance of the state-created charter schools by the former commission is as good or better than the schools in the district where the state created charter schools are domiciled. This data comes from the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.
Fifth, parental involvement is a key component of a charter school because in many cases a parent must sign a contract of involvement in their child’s education.
Sixth, the current state created charter schools that are brick and mortar facilities receive about 85 percent of the funding that traditional public schools receive. The difference is due to the fact that the state-created charter schools do not receive local tax dollars.
Seventh, it is true that the state can currently create charter schools. However, based on the Supreme Court ruling it is very likely that any lawsuit challenging this right will be successful. The reason I say this is because in the Supreme Court opinion ruling that the state could not compel the locals to contribute to a state created charter school, the court also said the following: state special schools are not schools that enroll the same types of K-12 students who attend general K-12 public schools or that teaches the same subjects that may be taught at general K-12 public schools. As a layman, this means to me that the state special school (state-created charter school) would not be an option except for special circumstances such as for the deaf and the blind.
Eighth, there are areas of this state where local school boards will not approve any charter school. Everyone can’t move or send their child to a private school. Maybe this is why 44 percent of voters in the Democratic Party said Yes to this amendment.
Ninth, if a state created charter school does not meet its objectives, then it can be shut down. When was the last time a traditional public school was closed due to poor academic performance?
Tenth, for-profit companies can make money by running these schools. Why do we care if this means we increase academic performance?
Bottom line, if we can increase academic performance by injecting competition into a system with mediocre results and increase parental involvement, then I will vote YES! YES! YES!
District 40 State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.