Setzler: We must have healthy competition with charter schools
by Geoff Folsom
October 24, 2012 12:32 AM | 4570 views | 25 25 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
, current school board member Alison Bartlett and Georgia PTA Legislative Chair Karen Hallacy listen as Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) speaks about Charter Schools on Tuesday evening. (MDJ Staff / Todd Hull)
, current school board member Alison Bartlett and Georgia PTA Legislative Chair Karen Hallacy listen as Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) speaks about Charter Schools on Tuesday evening. (MDJ Staff / Todd Hull)
slideshow
Bartlett answers questions from the audience. <br> (MDJ Staff / Todd Hull)
Bartlett answers questions from the audience.
(MDJ Staff / Todd Hull)
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WEST COBB — One side at a Tuesday evening forum said passing the charter schools constitutional amendment on Nov. 6 to create a new state agency for charter schools would give parents more choice in their children’s education, while others called it a money grab for out-of-state interests.

The amendment would allow a revived State Charter School Commission to hear appeals of charter school applications that are rejected by a local board. The Georgia Supreme Curt ruled that the commission was unconstitutional last year.

State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) told the 20 audience members at Hillgrove High School that the system in place allows local school boards to have “absolute power” on who their competition would be. He compares it to a mayor who owns the three McDonalds in a town refusing to let Wendy’s or Burger King move in.

“We would righteously rebel, and that’s fast food — and this is our children,” Setzler said. “If we’re going to meet our potential in education, we have got to put everything on the table. Without healthy competition, we’re kidding ourselves that we want to be all we can be.”

But Post 7 school board member Alison Bartlett, who is in a re-election campaign against retired teacher Brad Wheeler, pointed to schools like the Smyrna Academy of Excellence. The Cobb school board voted down the school’s application earlier this year. Bartlett said the school had a good academic plan, but lacked financial backing, something only large companies would have for charter schools.

“I do not agree that this is about choice,” she said. “This is about for-profit groups, under the guise of choice, trying to make money off our schools.”

Karen Hallacy, the Georgia PTA’s legislative chair, said the seven-member commission the amendment would create would have the ability to override local control of schools, while serving only those who can afford to get there because charter schools aren’t required to provide busing. She added that they would allow uncertified teachers to be hired.

“They don’t have to educate special needs,” she said. “They don’t have to educate someone who can’t provide transportation for themselves there.”

Setzler responded that, on average, charter schools currently in Georgia are made up of a higher percentage of minorities than their surrounding communities. He added that a planned charter school in Bartow County would be exclusively for special-needs students.

In addition, Setzler asked audience members if there was any public school in the state they wouldn’t want to send their kids to.

“If there is any school you don’t want to send your children to, you’ve got to support school choice,” he said. “Because one parent is going to draw the short straw.”

Hallacy said the new commission would cost millions, with members chosen by the governor, lieutenant governor and House speaker.

“It’s a costly duplication of services provided by the state,” she said. “We already have a state Board of Education that can authorize charter schools.”

But Setzler said the charter schools commission would be “laser-focused” on the issue, something the state board, which is appointed exclusively by the governor, wouldn’t have time for.

“The state board does so many different things,” he said. “The charter commission was really created as an auxiliary of the state board.”

Along with the charter school amendment, the forum was intended to inform voters on the Post 7 race, but Wheeler didn’t attend. It was moderated by Kennesaw State University political science professor Kerwin Swint, who read questions from cards submitted by the audience.

The Cobb County Association of Educators, a staunch opponent of the charter schools amendment, will host another forum on the subject at 6:30 tonight, also at Hillgrove, 4165 Luther Road Ward.

“We’re going to try to present it fairly unbiased, but, as an organization, we are very against Amendment 1 because it is not about local control, it is about money,” association President Connie Jackson said.

Do you support the charter school amemdment?


Comments
(25)
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Bruce Kendall
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October 24, 2012
Competition is not about doing what is right for a Child's Education it is about WINNING! That means someone is a looser. Schools regardless of type should be about doing what is right for every student, creating Win-Win results.
Harrison Parent
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October 24, 2012
It was nice to have Brad Wheeler knock on my door and spend 10 minutes with me answering my questions. Most of my neighbors were very impressed with this grassroots efforts. It is time to elect people who care enough to speak with voters directly.
necobbmom
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October 25, 2012
Brad Wheeler has NO idea about the issues facing CCSD, that is why he refuses to attend any forums with Alison Bartlett. He is way out of his league and he knows it. People, vote the person NOT the party. Alison is far more experienced. Wheeler is on the Banks railroad, and we do not need another Banks.
necobbmom
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October 24, 2012
Take a look at the disclosure forms for the politicians who are in favor of this Charter ammendment to pass. They have been financed by David Morgan's for profit Charter Schools business. I smell lots of fish.
Local Parent
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October 24, 2012
This amendment, if passed, has the potential to take control of our schools away from the neighborhoods in which they exist and put it into the hands of corporations.

We already have local-grown charter schools. Heck, Marietta City Schools is a charter school district in its entirety. But that's not what this amendment is about. Look to see who is pushing the legislators to get it passed......they (or their bosses) don't live in Georgia.

Please vote NO on the Charter School Amendment ballot Initiative. Franchised fast food is bad enough.....let's not turn our children's education into the same slimy mush with corporate education.
Charter Student Mom
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October 24, 2012
I live in a great Cobb Co. School district. Yet I CHOOSE charter because it is/was a better fit for my children.

It saddens me to read un-informed people misrepresenting charters.

Charter schools do not as rule hire uncertified teachers - exception foreign language such as Chinese. Charter schools as a public school choice must serve all children - special needs included. And yes, our school had a gifted program as well.

In the comments, someone referenced Walton High School as a sign of charter school's tendency toward segregation. Walton High School is a COBB COUNTY CONVERSION Charter school in East Cobb not an independent. Independents tend to locate where there is a need and generally a parent led initiative. Charter Schools are a choice so the school really has no control over who chooses to go there. The school is required to enroll any child who applies to fill all seats allowed/limited by the charter. The school my youngest child goes to is 90% African American and 80% free and reduced lunch.

Both of my children have attended a charter school. The oldest is now in a Magnet High School and the younger will surely follow. My children had/have amazing CERTIFIED HIGH QUALIFIED teachers who left the traditional ACTUALLY TEACH. Because of the teacher's freedom to teach using the means she/he felt best and not bound by a county curriculum, she/he could reach every child in the classroom, not just the highest or lowest.

The blogger who wrote "we will have charter schools either way" - Don't be too sure. Cobb County School District is not a fan of Charter Schools and has set about systematically killing the existing ones off one by one. Cobb COunty is not alone, Fulton County killed the top Middle School which happened to be a charter.

To the State Funded blogger - not sure where you got the idea that a charter school will be funded at a higher rate. If a Charter School is state approved, it will not receive the local funding which is almost half of what they would get if locally approved. Even a locally approved charter school gets less as the local school district skims off an "Administraive Fee" without providing much for that fee.

As to why an entity other than the local district should be able to approve a charter school - isn't allowing the local school district to be sole authorizer a conflict of interest? Cobb County School District and the Superintendent have already shown a dislike for charter schools and the competition they bring. Most other states have alternate authorizers such as universities or a separate commission.

Are charter schools perfect? No. There is a steep learning curve involved. Believe me, the local school district is no help and constantly playing "gotcha" along the way. In spite of the road blocks the district constantly puts in place, our charter school was able to make AYP in all years of its short operation. Not something the school district can claim.

It makes me furious as a parent to have Mrs. Bartlett and her fellow Board members tell me they know better what is best for my children. Our family has had the opportunity to make a choice, it concerns me that other might not have that same privilege.

Finally, KUDOS to the Georgia Educator who says "YES" to the charter amendment rather than walking the CCEA party line. Cannot thank you enough for making your opinion known.
Absentee Wheeler
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October 24, 2012
Where IS Brad Wheeler?

Wheeler has been 'instructed' to stay far away from Bartlett; his response when invited to attend forums or a debate with his opponent.

Wheeler: "My campaign team, has put together a very aggressive calendar which has us working 7 days a week until election day. Whereas, we have been able to contact thousands of voters through this effort, We have logically made this the focus of our voter contact.

Having said this, I am more than willing to speak with you individually about the issues. However due to the start of early voting and the short amount of time left in the race, I really do not want to abandon our scheduled meet and greets, walking efforts, and phone bank work in order to meet a few voters in the last few days. I do know there were only 8 - 10 or so adults at Osborne High School recently. This leads me to believe voters would much rather be contacted personally than attend a stiff public forum which does not allow for the back and forth exchange which our walking effort, meet and greets, and phone banks have allowed."

This dude is scared to death. Is this who you want to replace Bartlett, just because he has an "R" by his name? Those legislators, like Setzler, redrew the lines to make Post 7 62% Republican to squeeze Bartlett out.

Dirty politics.
travesty
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October 24, 2012
Yep..it sure is dirty politics, and sad that the kids and teachers in Cobb have to put up with it at its worst. Please voters, vote the candidate, do your homework, it shouldn't be about who spends the most to get elected, or has the most signs.
Priorities????
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October 24, 2012
Mr. Wheeler makes an effort to attend school board forums in "East" Cobb with Scott Sweeney. Why can't he make it a PRIORITY to attend candidate forums in WEST Cobb? Guess we don't matter to him or he is counting on West Cobb to vote a straight party ticket. Well, I have more faith in our Republican voters. School Board elections are really a non-partisan seat where party affiliation doesn't mean anything, just look at how some of our "republican" school board representatives vote, hardly "Fiscal Conservatives".
Priorities
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October 24, 2012
There were 20 people in attendance at Hillgrove according to the article. The candidates can meet many more people in two hours of walking a neighborhood and knocking on doors. Ms. Bartlett hasn't yet knocked on my door to ask for my vote.
Devlin Adams
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October 24, 2012
Hey, Sitzler. Since it is "absolutely" the education of OUR children, "absolutely" our school district, and "abolsutely" our money, give me one good reason we should not have "absolute" control.

BTW, it is insidious of you and the rest of the backers of this travesty to try to [ortray this as an issue of whether we have charter schools or not. It most certainly is not. We will have charter schools either way.
VOTE YES
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October 24, 2012
Because the parents of public school children are more likely to know what is best. Most public school boards today are comprised of politicians out of touch with the needs.
Devlin Adams
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October 24, 2012
Hey, Vote Yes, you are a little mixed up. First you say that parents of public school children should know what is best, then you say vote for the amendment which will take that decision out of their hands. yu say the ocal schol boardas are full of politicians. Just who do you think is going to comprise the committee that this amendment will set up at the state level.

Sounds to me like you need to restudy this issue,
CobbEducator
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October 24, 2012
The teachers' unions, represented locally by the Cobb County Association of Educators, are steadfastly against education reform and parental choice.

If the amendment passes, the union strategy of fielding phony “Republicans” in local school board races to doom all charter school applications --will ultimately prove less fruitful.

Rent the film WAITING FOR SUPERMAN to learn more.

Then do a Google search on "NEA" and "donations" and you'll see that the National Education Association, CCAE's parent union, is also a cash-cow for Democrats -- and for every liberal-left

pressure group in the news.

Finally, vote "YES" on the Charter School Amendment ballot Initiative!

anonymous
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October 24, 2012
Enjoy working at a charter school for less than you are paid now, with longer hours, and with other teachers who may or not be certified. See what has happened in Florida.

What is so hard about looking at Florida where there they have had to share doll
anonymous
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October 24, 2012
Gotta love Setzler's "on average" comment about minorities attendance at charter schools.

Attendance is as local as it gets...

Charter schools should reflect the local area demographic, yet they frequently fail to do so.

Walton HS is a conversion charter with 73% white students enrolled. That percentage is pretty indicative of the Walton area.

However, take Baconton Community Charter School in Mitchell County. The white enrollment is 80%, yet the area is 50% white.

In rural areas of Georgia, the later example is common with charter schools.

In Mitchell County, 77% of students are eligible for "Free/Reduced" meals, yet within the Baconton Community Charter School, just 41% are eligible for "Free/Reduced" meals.

Charter schools in rural Georgia are more segregated than their local community populations.

Ask Setzler why he supports delivering 1.5 times the state funding to state commission approved charter schools as the state will to local public schools.

Ask Setzler how the state will deliver greater funding to state commission approved charter schools without affecting the funding of local public schools? Presume the pie is only so big and some schools are funded at a premium over other schools. You get less state funding if you are not a state commission approved charter school.

Ask Setzler why he supports an unelected, unaccountable commission having a say in what schools open in your neighborhood?

Ask Setzler why he would abdicate local control to a state agency?

Ask Setzler why more than one-half million dollars from out-of-state charter school management companies is being spent supporting the amendment's passage. The easy answer - the management companies recognize a cash cow for their enterprise.

Ask Setzler about charter school performance. Few charter schools are better than their local school counterparts.

Amendment 1 is a bad choice - Vote NO!

A Parent
|
October 24, 2012
You don't need to "ask Setzler" for the answer to any of your questions. Anyone can answer these questions:

1. Why more state funding to state charters than to district schools? STATE CHARTERS RECEIVE NO LOCAL FUNDS. The local taxes that district schools receive more than make up for the difference in state funds. Charters can and do educate kids for less than traditional public schools, but only so much less or it wouldn't be feasible to do so.

2. Why an appointed State Charter Commission vs. an elected body? HELLO? Those who will review locally rejected charter applications will need to be very knowledgeable about how schools, especially charter schools, should be run. I personally don't trust the voting public to elect qualified individuals at just about any level of government. No offense to those who work tirelessly and make huge sacrifices to represent their communities, but I'm pretty sure that there are many members of local school boards who really don't have the necessary knowledge to judge a charter application.

3.Why abdicate local control to a state agency? Well, we wouldn't have to if local boards were more receptive to charter schools. I'm not saying this is happening everywhere in Georgia, but there are many counties where the local boards are very anti-charter and are fine with keeping things the way they are. Opponents to Amendment 1 seem to forget that it's the local parents & community members who seek to establish the charter school in the community in the 1st place. The state commission will not be creating nor running schools. I know, opponents will say, well work to change the composition of the local school board. Vote in charter-friendly board members. That's a great goal but takes years and years. What about the kids? Kids need education that works for them now; they cannot wait years and years.

4.Why Amendment 1 support from out of state management companies? ...cash cow. Well, it's called free enterprise. They're in the business of managing schools, that's how they make money. If they are doing it successfully and ethically, what's wrong with that? If a high-tech company saw an opportunity to sell thousands or millions of tablets to a large school district that was contemplating whether or not to do away with paper books and have every student provided with a handheld device, do you think there wouldn't be some money spent lobbying the district to select them as the provider of the devices? Why is this so wrong for education? Yes, yes, money corrupts and these companies shouldn't be allowed to mess with taxpayer dollars, but as long as there are imperfect human beings running the show, it doesn't matter, public money, private money there's always the risk of misguided individuals messing stuff up. Change and growth does involve risk.

Finally, regarding charter school performance: if parents are not satisfied with a charter school's performance, they don't send their child to it. If no one whats the charter school in a local community, it won't open there. Who would open a school that no one would attend? Also, judging whether one school is "better" than another involves more than just test scores. Two schools with similar demographics may have similar standardized test results, but one of the schools could be a better fit for a particular child. It may be the charter school or it may be the district school. Thousands of parents of charter school students in Georgia have witnessed first hand what a positive impact their charter school has made upon their child. How in the world can that not be "better"? Oh, I forgot! As the opposition says, this is not about the children. Well, it should be.
Cobb Parent
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October 24, 2012
@ anonymous, thanks for the info. on charter schools. I simply cannot understand why taxpayers would choose to deliver their hard-earned tax dollars into the hands of private entities. Taxpayers will have less ovesight on their taxes and they will be looking at cronyism - politicans wil deliver the dollars into the hands of their buddies just as they do with defense contracts, transportation contracts, etc. I also fear that ultimately this will hurt those that are least advantaged and help those with more advantage. After all, aren;t they the ones pushing for this the most?
anonymous
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October 24, 2012
Where is Brad Wheeler? It would be nice if he'd show up on a stage somewhere so we could see how he'd act in public representing a community.



kkeir
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October 24, 2012
No kidding...if people vote for this guy over Alison Bartlett they are off their rockers... but unfortunately there are some people out there who are not informed.
westcobbparent
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October 24, 2012
Mr. Wheeler had a previously scheduled Meet and Greet Fundraiser in Powder Springs. It's on his FB page. He has a website with additional information.
Watcher...
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October 24, 2012
It is worth taking a chance on Brad Wheeler!
kooks
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October 24, 2012
The Kennesaw/Achworth Calendar Kooks Klub supports Wheeler, that's more than enough reason to not vote for him.
Old timer
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October 24, 2012
I have met Wheeler, talked to him and find him well informed and well versed. I think he will do a good job. I have NOT been impressed by Bartlet.
Harrison parent
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October 29, 2012
Where is he? Knocking on doors, talking with the community. And reaching more people than he would at poorly-attended forums.

And, he did attend the Meet & Greet last night at Harrison.
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