Category: Charter Schools

By Morgan Worthy Davis Guggenheim begins his movie with an admission of his own guilt. The liberal filmmaker best known for his collaboration with Al Gore on “An Inconvenient Truth” notes that he drives by three crumbling public schools on the way to drop his kids off at private school. The families depicted in his 2010 documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” and many like them, cannot afford a private alternative to their failing neighborhood schools. The unlikely advocate for free market-based education reform goes on to make the case for the many policies traditionally part of conservatives’ education reform initiatives: school choice, high achievement expectations, increased teacher accountability, weaker teachers’ unions and merit pay, to name a few. While these policy… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd National Charter Schools Week, held May 12-18, is a worthwhile celebration: More than a quarter-century ago, the nation’s first charter school opened in Minnesota; more than 20 years ago, Georgia’s first start-up charter school was authorized. So how is it that so many Georgians remain unaware or, worse, are antipathetic, when it comes to this education option for nearly 75,000 Georgia students? Some parents are even unaware even that charter schools are, in fact, public schools, a failing that has led choice advocates to employ the term “public charter schools.” And when overburdened news reporters are spoon-fed by anti-choice advocates, this often perpetuates the myths that charter schools: steal the cream of the crop from… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd More than 40,000 activities and events around the nation will celebrate National School Choice Week 2019, held from January 20-26. (One is the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s annual event on Tuesday at the Sloppy Floyd Towers, opposite the State Capitol. Find out more here.) The events and activities underscore the need for choice in children’s education: No two children are alike. They learn in different ways, in different environments and at different paces, and their opportunity to achieve shouldn’t be limited by ZIP code or their parents’ paycheck. The events showcase the options. These include public charter schools, which contract with their district or state authorizing agency, promising better results in exchange for greater flexibility… View Article

What Goes Into Education Rankings Affects What Comes Out

By Benita M. Dodd In 2017, U.S. World and News Report’s ranking of the best states to live featured not a single Southern state in the top 10. Georgia, at No. 32 overall, finished at No. 31 in the education rankings; Massachusetts was No. 1 in education and No. 8 overall. When it comes to education, it’s nothing new for Georgia to end up in the bottom half of national rankings. But a new report by University of Texas researchers suggests it’s not education necessarily at fault in Georgia and other Southern states. It’s ranking systems that fail to make an “apples to apples” comparison between states. “Students arrive in class on the first day of school with different backgrounds,… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield A summertime surprise is roiling the Georgia GOP’s gubernatorial primary. A defeated candidate recently released a recording in which Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he supported a school-choice bill he deemed “bad policy,” merely to prevent a big campaign donation to a rival candidate. Now Cagle, who faces Secretary of State Brian Kemp in next month’s runoff, is on the defensive. Whatever one makes of the politics of it all, was this bill truly “bad” policy? Not in the least. House Bill 217 raised the cap on the state’s popular tuition tax-credit scholarship program to $100 million from $58 million. The program allows donors to non-profits awarding scholarships for private-school tuition to claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against… View Article
By Martha Nesbit May 7-11 is National Charter Schools Week. This commentary, celebrating Georgia’s first start-up public charter school and the 20th anniversary of the state’s 1998 legislation, is based on remarks by Martha Nesbit at the Georgia Charter Schools Association Annual Conference on March 7, 2018. The story I will tell you sounds like it could not possibly be true, but it is, because it happened to me! From 1974 to 1986 I was food editor of The Savannah Morning News. Then I gave up my wonderful job to become a stay-at-home mom for our two little boys. But we really needed money, so I agreed to teach preschool at the church less than a mile from our home… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield As students know all too well, spring isn’t just the time when baseball returns and flowers bloom. ‘Tis also the season for testing. It’s important to know if students are learning as they should, and to hold schools accountable if not. But since the No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002, ushering in an era of “high-stakes testing,” students and parents as well as teachers and administrators have wondered: Are these tests telling us anything accurate about student performance? The short answer is, yes – but it’s worth parsing the numbers to understand them better. Take the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, dubbed the “nation’s report card.” Between 2003 (the first year the… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article

Don’t Shortchange Public Charter Schools

By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Crossover Day, day 28 of Georgia’s legislative session, is the deadline by which legislation must pass out of one chamber into the next in order to have a chance at becoming law. The Georgia House ended its Crossover Day past the midnight hour Thursday. Among the casualties was legislation to establish education savings accounts. This mechanism would have allowed parents to spend their child’s state public education dollars on a menu of pre-approved education services, including private school and tutoring expenses. Not even an amendment to restrict the program to one quarter of 1 percent of the Georgia’s public school enrollment – fewer than 4,500 students – would sway opponents. The Department of Audits and Accounts… View Article

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Governor Roy Barnes more quotes