Charter school bait and switch

Proponents of the state-forced charter school constitutional amendment Mr. Moneybags on the November ballot have a website that is full of bait and switch. Most of it is about what they claim are the benefits of charter schools. But that’s not what the referendum is about. Local school boards can already authorize charter schools, and many of them have. The referendum would change the Georgia Constitution to authorize an appointed state board to force charter schools on local elected school boards that don’t want them, granting more money per student than in public schools, with the difference to be made up from local property and sales taxes. The most substantive thing I have found on the proponents’ website says that last is not so, but unconvincingly.

Tony Roberts, President of Georgia Charter Schools Association wrote to All Charter School Leaders and Board Members 7 August 2012, Response to Letter from Herb Garrett of Georgia Superintendents Association,

Tony Roberts One final, but important point, local school superintendents and board members were adamantly against any local dollars going to charter schools that were denied by a local school board. The final version of HB 797 was negotiated to ensure that was the case — the language is written right there into the law. So, to recap, they insist on no local money going to state-approved charters, and then get upset about the state money going to charters.

Curiously, he doesn’t cite that purported language. The closest thing I can find in HB 797 is a paragraph I already quoted:

2A(5) No deduction shall be made to any state funding which a local school system is otherwise authorized to receive pursuant to this chapter as a direct result or consequence of the enrollment in a state charter school of a specific student or students who reside in the geographical area of the local school system.

Local sales taxes are not state funding. So your ESPLOST dollars that you voted on to go to local public education can be diverted to support a charter school dictated by a state-appointed board and run by a private company.

Now maybe I missed the magic wording that Tony Roberts couldn’t be bothered to quote from the bill. If so, somebody enlighten me.

Until then, I say this referendum is bait and switch: the bait is saying it’s about charter schools. The switch is it’s really about taking local sales taxes that were approved by local voters for local public education and funnelling them through an appointed state committee to private schools that the constitutional amendment would dub “public”. If you want your local tax dollars you approved for local public education to go to local public education, vote No on the charter school referendum in November.