I’ll be heading back to dear old Athens town tonight to speak to the UGA Young Democrats about efforts to stop the Republicans from getting a 2/3rds majority in the General Assembly, stop the charter school amendment from passing, and the plan to move Georgia forward in 2014 and beyond.

I’ll be joined by two of my Southeastern Campaign Group colleagues, Joel Mendelson and Ansley Tuten, so please feel free to come out and join the Young Democrats of the University Georgia and Athens-Clarke County and the UGA chapter of Students for Barack Obama, tonight at 6:15 PM in Room 268 of the Miller Learning Center.  (Parking in the Tate Deck is free after 6:00 PM, or so I’m told.)


11 Responses to Back to Dear Old Athens Town

  1. We are a state-chartered special school–it is not feasible for us to be chartered locally as we serve the entire state. My concern, if the amendment isn’t passed, is that the Supreme Court decision leaves open the possibility that districts could sue to prevent any state charters to be granted, limiting chartering authority only to local boards of education. Many of them have proved conclusively that they will not charter a start-up school no matter how much the need exists, unless it’s their own idea to convert an existing district school . It’s like having the fox watch the henhouse. The state has chartered several schools that local boards turned down. Local boards know if they turn down a charter application, and the charter group appeals to the state, the charter loses any local funds they would have gotten had the local BOE approved it. It’s all about the power and the money for many local districts–NOT about what’s best for kids.

  2. The legislature has cut education budgets “through the bone” only if we continue to think of education budgets the same way we’ve always thought of them–a large physical plant, kids forced into age-based cohorts and required to spend 180 days in a given course of study regardless of how far above or below that particular set of skills they actually are, stationing one adult (or two, in the case of primary grades) with every 30 or so kids for 6.5 hours daily, spend huge sums to publishing companies for hardcopy textbooks designed to satisfy boards of education in California & Texas before being marketed nationwide, pay lots of non-instructional people government salaries & benefits to maintain the physical plant, serve government-supplied food prepared by government-employed workers, etc., etc.

    If that’s the only way to “do school,” then yes, the state funding is insufficient.

    But that’s not the only way to do school effectively. Keep an eye on Provost Academy Georgia and find out as the school year progresses. We are doing it on state & federal funding alone–and we believe that we can do it very well. Our academic achievement outcomes will determine that.

    • Trevor Southerland says:

      And the ability to have a charter school already exists… as is proof by you…

      I’m not against charter schools. I’m against creating an extra layer of bureaucracy so that state officials, influenced by contributions and such, can over ride the wishes of a local community.

  3. I am a Democrat who is a veteran of working in public school districts, and not just in Georgia. I am operating a public charter high school that leverages technology to create virtual and hybrid learning environments for kids, eliminating the need for spending huge sums on a physical plant and employing a lot of non-instructional personnel.

    Our employees (all public school district veteran teachers and administrators like me) are paid competitive salaries and have better fringe benefits than the state health insurance plan offers. We are all members of the Teachers Retirement System. We are working this year to create a compensation system that will allow us to pay our employees high salaries than they would earn in a traditional school district as our student population grows. That sounds like a good deal for teachers and other certified staff to me.

    Contracting out support services like custodial, food, and maintenance CREATES jobs for those companies that provide the services, enabling them to employ more people full-time and pay them benefits. It would prevent a local board of education from using the school system as an adult jobs program for people to get on the state salary & benefits gravy train.

    Are you a Democrat who thinks that local BOEs don’t practice patronage politics and load up the payroll with people who don’t add anything to increased student achievement, which is ostensibly the primary goal of a public school?

  4. “Until every student is in class for 180 days and every teacher is earning full pay, we should not hand pick where we will send ‘new’ money for education.”

    Why must we permit school districts to insist that an antiquated school calendar system remain in place? Why do we allow school boards and central offices to run the public school districts as a jobs program for adults–not just teachers, but support staff, custodians, maintenance workers, cafeteria workers, etc.–instead of as places focused like lasers on student learning? Many services could be contracted out for much less money and removing the need to pay costly benefits.

    There are a lot of ways to skin the financial cat than continuing to operate things the way they’ve always been operated and bemoaning the legislature’s unwillingness to keep funding a monolithic bureaucracy that is failing hundreds of thousands of children in this state.

    • Trevor Southerland says:

      So, you’re a Democrat who thinks:

      a) The Georgia General Assembly hasn’t cut education budgets through the bone


      b) We need more cheap jobs that don’t include any fancy things like benefits or anywhere near decent wages.


  5. Some Guy says:

    I too find your pro-local control and anti-privitization stances perplexing. Please justify your entry on this Interblog.

  6. I’m a Democrat for Education reform, veteran of the traditional district public schools, and now proud executive director (superintendent) of a statewide charter school LEA, Provost Academy Georgia. As a new reader of your blog, I’m curious to know why you oppose the constitutional amendment.

    • Trevor Southerland says:

      In the words of a Republican, Georgia State School Superintendent John Barge:

      “Local school districts and the state board of education are already empowered to authorize charter schools. So, rather than changing the constitution to include another authorizer – as the amendment would do if it passes – we should focus on fulfilling the constitutional obligation we have by funding our current schools, including existing charter schools. Until every student is in class for 180 days and every teacher is earning full pay, we should not hand pick where we will send “new” money for education.”

      In the words of the great Tom Crawford:

      “Since 2008, the number of students enrolled in public schools has increased by 37,438. The number of classroom teachers, however, has decreased by 4,280, as local school systems have scrambled to balance their budgets.

      Out of the state’s 180 public school districts, 121 of them have shortened their school calendar from the former requirement of 180 days because they don’t have enough money to keep the doors open for a full academic year.

      If the constitutional amendment is approved, it is estimated the state will divert another $430 million over the next five years from traditional public schools to the new “state charter schools.”

      In my words… charter schools already have a way to be authorized. Our public schools have been cut not only to the bone but through the bone so much so that many districts have reduced their school days a tremendous amount… if this amendment passes, it will divert ANOTHER $430 Million away from our already stretched public school system…

      This is not about charter schools. There is already a mechanism in place to have charter schools in Georgia. This is about the fact that if this amendment passes it will do tremendous damage to our public schools, and that we just can’t allow to happen.