The Columbia County News-Times of Sunday, September 16, published a letter to the editor from Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd in response to the publisher’s column on charter schools:
The Georgia Public Policy Foundation would like to congratulate the schools of the Columbia County school system for what publisher Barry L. Paschal describes as one of the “communities with the best schools” (column, Sept. 12). It’s commendable that your system’s faculty and staff are committed to providing students with an opportunity for academic excellence.
Unfortunately, in many of Georgia’s school districts, parents are dissatisfied with the quality of their local school – or it does not meet their child’s needs – yet they have no affordable alternative. A public charter school might be the answer. The Georgia Public Policy Foundation, having participated in the creation of a charter school at the school district level, has first-hand experience with the obstacles that local education bureaucrats can and will place in the way of charter applicants.
The charter school amendment on the ballot simply provides for the creation of an alternate authorizer to reconsider a rejected application, at the applicants’ request, if a school board rejects it.
It’s worth pointing out that the total funding per student for state charter schools would be lower than the average in all but two school systems in the state. And considering that this nation was founded on the principles of free enterprise, I find it amazing that the so-called “profit” motive of free enterprise in education has become a pejorative, especially when so many of Georgia’s children are clearly not profiting from their enrollment in traditional public education.
To remain in existence, any charter school must prove (through accountability) that its students, who parents choose to enroll in these schools, are the ones profiting from the arrangement through academic achievement.
We hope voters will educate themselves before deciding whether there is value in allowing a second opinion on the creation of charter schools in the state. …
(Benita Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.)
The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Initiative pushed the problems to the forefront, proposed practical solutions, brought in leaders from other states to share examples, and created this nonpartisan opportunity. (At the signing of the 2012 Criminal Justice Reform bill.)