State school Chief John Barge is correct that the charter school amendment threatens local control and state financial support of traditional public schools. Georgia charter schools, though under State Board of Education control, may waive state and local education laws, rules, policies and regulations but they cannot waive federal laws, policies, rules and regulations. So, ultimate control of charter schools rests in the federal government. This is unconstitutional because the Constitution of the United States left education to the states, not the federal government. The Constitution of the State of Georgia puts public schools under the management and control of the district’s locally elected board of education.
Another issue is the constitutional change and separate statute that would restore a state commission that would issue charters to private operators. This could become a lucrative business. Even non-U.S. citizens are creating public charter schools in Georgia, as well as other states. Since these schools would not be accountable to local governance and local tax money would go to these schools, isn’t this taxation without representation?
If we go back to 1991 when G.H.W. Bush’s America 2000 created the New American Schools Development Corporation we would see that the government was asking for “radical break-the-mold” schools. Bill Clinton changed the name to Goals 2000; Bush #2 called it No Child Left Behind, now it is Race to the Top. Whatever the name, it is charter schools! It restructures community governance, redefines school time, duties of teachers and staff and changes the focus of education.
NASDC’s immediate goal was one “break the mold” school in each congressional district, putting government and business in a public-private partnership for public education. This would change the focus of education from academics to workforce training. We can see this in H.B. 731 that passed this year in Georgia. This bill requires the K-12 curriculum to focus on 16 career paths.
Let’s not play partisan politics with our representative form of government or the quality of education for our children. Charter schools are a Trojan horse in the deliberate attempt to bypass local control and implement workforce training.