Many a proud mom or dad join the PTA to show support for schools. Ostensibly, the organization exists to allow cooperation between parents and educators in the education of students. However, in Georgia, a current position taken by the Georgia PTA is an attack on the wishes and concerns of many parents and the individualized needs of students in Georgia.
The Georgia PTA has issued an Action Alert Update on their website and on Facebook that encourages parents to contact their legislators and ask them to vote “No” on HR 1162. The proposed constitutional amendment would clarify the state’s power to approve charter schools. The vote before the House this past week resulted in a bipartisan vote of 110 in favor of the amendment, falling short of the required 120 votes or two-thirds majority needed for a constitutional amendment. However, the House then passed a motion to reconsider the vote, so it can be brought up again at any time.
In an attempt to mobilize supporters, the PTA has taken a position that is offensive to many parents who support charter schools, which are public schools. Charter schools hire many teachers and have generally proven that more freedom from the restrictive guidelines governing traditional public schools leads to success for students at public charter schools.
The Georgia PTA lists many reasons to oppose the constitutional amendment.
- “HR 1162 is NOT about charter schools.” Clearly, this proposed amendment is the direct result of local school boards refusing to approve petitions for charter schools or extensions for existing ones.
- “There is no appeals process, no referendum and no proof that a school was denied authorization or is even necessary.” Even necessary? This question is not a relevant one in approving a charter school even if the flimsy excuse is offered by local board members. One-sized education can never fit all students’ individualized needs. Education dollars are appropriated for the expenses of students, and tax dollars would still be spent to provide for the student’s education including classroom expenses and costs for hiring teachers, of course.
- “Such a broad amendment is not necessary.” To the contrary, as recent events have indicated, local school boards are irrationally denying charter schools on shaky technicalities while traditional schools that fail continue to operate.
Experience has illustrated that charter schools cannot expand if only local school boards are allowed to approve them. The problem that has compelled the legislature to act is the failure of local school boards to approve petitions for charter schools, including renewals of existing charters. When a school board arbitrarily rejects charters for nationally awarded, Blue Ribbon schools like Fulton Science Academy, the system is broken and is not responding to the wishes of parents. Despite outcry from the families of more than 500 students at Fulton Science Academy or the approximately 500 students at Ivy Prep in Gwinnett, many local school boards consistently appear defiant and resentful of public charter schools that are designed and supported by every day parents.
The oppositional stance of the Georgia PTA is outrageous in light of parents’ views as documented in polling conducted in January 2012. The poll by McLaughlin & Associates indicates strong support for the proposed constitutional amendment.
Among voters polled, 62-percent support the proposed Constitutional Amendment and would vote ‘yes’ if the election were held today, with another 17-percent undecided. This support is consistent across both political parties.