The charter school amendment is about control —Dr. Troy Davis @ LCDP 2012-09-10

Lowndes County Schools Assistant Superintendent Troy Davis gave his personal opinion: “it’s about control”. The charter school amendment on the November ballot is not about charter schools, which any community in the state can create now. It’s about control by the state of local schools and resources.

Dr. Davis pointed out Georgia already has 350 charter schools, up from 160 three years ago. All but 19 were established and agreed upon by local communities. There’s a successful one in Berrien County, established by the Berrien County school board. The process to create more is in place in every community. If we wanted one in Lowndes County, all it would take would be for one of the two school systems (Lowndes or Valdosta) to approve one.

He suggested looking at the sources of funds for Families for Better Schools, which is backing the amendment. Top of the list is a Wal-Mart heir. (It’s Alice Walton. Dr. Davis deferred to Al Rowell for that information, and that’s also where I heard about Alice Walton. And as I discovered, the Walton Family Foundation put in much more than that last year.) He noted the bulk of the rest comes from for-profit school operators. (They include K12 Inc. of Virginia.)

He noted that the state of Georgia just passed this fiscal year the third largest budget in the history of Georgia, $19.1 billion. Yet the public schools have been cut $6.6 billion (apparently since 2002). And the Lowndes County school system lost nearly $8 million last year, and $43 million in the past 10 years. So he asked:

My question is that, if you want to see the public schools work, if you want them to work, why don’t you fully fund them, and then hold them accountable?

He noted that the public school funding scheme altered by HB 797 has never been fully funded, and in the last ten years has been severely underfunded.

So my question is: would you want to be evaluated, or would you want to be replaced by something, before you were given a full opportunity with a complete set of tools to make a difference? You wouldn’t want to be fired from… digging ditches if they didn’t give you a shovel, right?

He explained that it’s not even as if the public school systems had been asked to do the same job with less money: they have been asked to do more with less.

Since 2008 the number of public school students has increased by 37,438 children. But because of this loss of $6.6 billion, 4,280 teachers have lost their jobs.

He said that this referendum was supposedly about parental choice, but:

There’s 315 charter schools and over 500 private schools in the state of Georgia. How much choice do you need?

He addressed the proposition that charter schools are better at educating children.

Let’s talk about AYP…, No Child Left Behind….

  • 73% of the school systems of the public schools met AYP.
  • 70% of the charter schools met AYP.
  • 55% of the for-profit, those same people who are backing this financially, 55% of the for-profit charter schools met AYP.

Then there’s the question of where the money for charter schools would come from.

$430 million is what it will cost if this amendment passes. You know how much money is in the state budget for charter schools? …the third largest budget in the history of Georgia? None. Do you know where it’s going to come from? Public local school systems.

Dr. Davis spelled out that charter schools would get more money per pupil than public school students. And in detail how the difference would come from local taxpayers.

He emphasized that he just said the facts.

The fact is that this whole thing was brought up because a group of people were told no by the Supreme Court: you can’t do that, it’s unconstitutional. And two-thirds of your House and Senate, and your governor, our governor, voted and signed off on this bill for a constitutional amendment. To give the people a choice, when they already have 800 choices.

Have you ever been to a buffet? Does the plate run out after a while? It does, doesn’t it? You can only have so much food.

He also noted who would go to charter schools: probably not people who needed assisted lunches. So we’d be leaving behind the neediest.

Other points included that charter schools created this way wouldn’t have to follow any guidance. One questioner wanted to know how we could afford all this. I brought up ALEC. The camera didn’t always follow Dr. Davis or the questioners, but you can hear them pretty well.

One of the questioners noted that T-SPLOST was a similar kind of plan for centralization, and we just voted that down.

Dr. Davis said he hadn’t followed T-SPLOST closely, and he didn’t say how to vote on the charter school referendum, either. But if you listened to the facts he spelled out, I suspect you, like me, will vote No on the charter school referendum in November!

Here’s a video playlist:

The charter school amendment is about control —Dr. Troy Davis
Charter School Referendum,
Monthly Meeting, Lowndes County Democratic Party (LCDP),
Gretchen Quarterman (Chair), Dennis Marks (Vice-Chair / Elections), Lou McClendon (Vice-Chair / Membership), Laverne Gaskins (Vice-Chair / Qualifying), Joyce Gibson (Secretary), James J. Parker (Treasurer),
Video by John S. Quarterman for Lowndes County Democratic Party (LCDP), Valdosta, Lowndes County, Georgia, 10 July 2012.