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The Case for Charter School Choice

Why voters statewide should vote for House Resolution 1162 — a constitutional amendment to allow a state-commissioned board the ability to approve charter schools when local boards refuse.

Dear Editor:

I am writing as both a parent of students who attend a charter school and a teacher who works at one. The school I speak of is Pataula Charter Academy (PCA) located in Edison, Ga. This is one of the controversial schools that was created by approval of a state commissioned board rather than the local school boards. Now we are in danger of having our doors closed unless an amendment to the constitution is approved in the November election stating that it is legal for a state commissioned board to approve charter schools when local boards refuse. 

I am urging everyone reading this to please vote yes to this amendment. PCA serves students in five counties. All five of the local school boards of the counties that we serve denied our application for approval when we asked to form a charter school, thus forcing us to go to the state commissioned board.

Prior to the creation of PCA, parents in our area had very few choices for their children’s education. One option was to send their children to sub-par public schools which were consistently on the needs improvement list due to the fact that they were not making adequate yearly progress as determined by the state. The other option was to send them to a private school which might not even be an option due to financial limitations or race.

PCA is a public school open to children of all races and economic status in five counties in our area. Since it is public, of course it is free. All of the parents who choose to send their children to PCA care about education and are actively involved in their children’s school life.

Perhaps the best thing about our school is that ALL children are made to feel loved, accepted, and proud. Many students at PCA have attended three or four schools prior to ending up here. They have not been successful anywhere else, and have previously hated school. Now, they love it! They came to our school very behind academically and with very low self-esteem. However, through nurturing, patience, and the fostering of a school culture based on tolerance,  these students are thriving. That is what touches my heart the most about PCA. 

Students come here from all walks of life. Children who have been bullied in their other schools now feel safe. Kids who have been the bullies in their others school have learned to be civil. This is due to the fact that our school focuses on school culture as much as academics. As a result, all students feel accepted.  Once you have a good culture, learning can take place. Perhaps this is why our test scores were so high last spring!

If the amendment to the constitution does not pass, then all of these children  will no longer have this school as an option.

Please hear me. This is not about money or anything else the opposition may want you to believe. This amendment is simply about these precious children.  Please come visit our school if you would like. I have been teaching for twenty years in four states, and I have never had the pleasure of working in an environment like this.

When you vote on Nov. 6, please vote with your heart. Vote yes for amendment one. You will be blessing our children!

Kathy Bantz,

Cuthbert, Georgia

Rae Harkness October 15, 2012 at 02:41 PM
I voted YES this morning.
Frank October 15, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Dear Ms. Brantz: So very glad you brought up the Pataula Charter Academy (PCA) located in Edison, GA as an example. You've allowed us to introduce a very important aspect of Charter Schools and their contribution to segregation. According to the Georgia Department of Education website, Patula Charter Academy's enrollment of white students is 75%, yet the white demographic in Edison is approximately 32%. Transportation, or lack thereof, largely determines a student's ability to attend, or not attend a charter school. If you can afford to transport your child to the school, there is an increased likelihood you might choose the charter school option. For many, transportation is unaffordable. It shows more clearly in the following example. PCA is located in Calhoun County, GA. 92% of Calhoun County students are Eligible for Free/Reduced Meals. Yet, at Patula Charter Academy just 54% are Eligible for Free/Reduced Meals. Hmmm.... Guess which group considers transportation more affordable! Coincidence???? Doubtful ! There are numerous similar examples throughout the state. Thank you for offering a charter school example that illustrates how charter schools can emulate private schools at public cost.
Kids First October 15, 2012 at 07:36 PM
So @Frank is saying the charter schools are better but since every child can't go to a charter school tomorrow, we should all stay behind. Voting Yes will lead to more schools in Georgia with more options. Once the amendment passes, maybe we'll see a few teachers from PCA take their successful model and open another charter school to serve even more students down the road. The question is, do you vote no and get rid of the state charter schools or do you vote yes and look forward to more opening to serve more students in Georgia. YES, please.
Frank October 15, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Nice try Kids First - never said "charter schools are better" Few are.. many are not. CREDO study, Stanford University revealed 17% of charter schools narrowly bested their counterparts. 37% were worse, 46% showed no statistical difference in their academic performance. Let's get back to Calhoun County School District and the Pataula Charter Academy (PCA). Total combined enrollment is roughly 850 students. About 235 of those attend PCA. State Avg. Quality Basic Education (QBE) for K12 students is: $4,290. Approx. 27% of the Calhoun County School District's QBE funding will instead go to PCA (i.e. roughly $1.0 million of $3.7 million). Fixed operating costs for the Calhoun County School District will thus cost more per student thereby placing an additional burden on families who can least afford the increase. Oh... here's the real kick in the pants... didn't yet mention that the state is also going to fund PCA at a higher rate per student at $6,392. That's 1.5 times the rate that the state will fund a student in the Calhoun County School District. So... more funding for those who can afford to transport themselves, less for those who don't along with being saddled with greater fixed expenses. A district's reaction time to this financial nightmare needs to be considered. Surprise - Guess what, we hear at the state just approved a state charter school - you have less than 6 months to figure out how to cope with a 30% budget cut! Toodles!
Frank October 15, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Meant to say... "here at the state"

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