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Charter School FAQ

A Hickory Flat parent discusses several key points facing the charter school debate.

Will district teachers lose jobs as a result of charter school approval?

 
No. District teachers are hired as a result of demand for their services. Demand is based on the number of students in each school. When this year’s district budget was approved, the number of teachers needed was determined. The budget already included the assumption that would be opened. Therefore, any teachers who were hired or are currently working in a district school should not be affected at all by the opening of the charter school. This was simply a scare tactic based in false information aimed at motivating teachers to come out against charter schools.

Is the charter school taking money from the district? Is the school district in financial trouble?

This is a frequently misrepresented issue when a new charter school opens. Tax payer money is allotted to each child in the district. The money follows the child to whichever public school he or she attends. If a child attends a public charter school, the money follows the child to that school. This underlines the inherent conflict of interest of a school district giving the authority to approve a charter school. It’s similar to a Burger King authorizing the opening of a McDonalds. Just as customers choose where to spend their money in that situation, opening a charter school allows parents to spend their money at the school of their choice.

As far as the school district being in financial trouble, according to a June 1 article on the front page of the Cherokee Ledger, Superintendent Petruzielo stated that the district was in better financial condition than previously thought and the 2012 budget cuts were not as deep as expected. He was fully aware of the charter school’s  995 applications before June 1. Dr. Petruzielo himself presented the district’s anticipated 2012 budget in a positive light even with the full knowledge of the charter school impact.

Do Charter Schools USA schools lag behind Georgia Schools in performance and meeting AYP?


When answering this question, it is crucial to compare apples to apples. In Florida schools, 39 percent of CSUSA schools met adequate yearly progress in 2009. That compares to only 23 percent of all public schools in Florida. CSUSA schools on average met 95 percent of the criteria for AYP versus only 72 percent  of public schools in Florida.  You can’t compare those numbers to similar statistics in Georgia because the standardized tests between the two states are not equal. According to the Report Card on Education from the American Legislative Exchange Council, Florida is ranked 3rd and Georgia is ranked 27th The reason Florida ranks high nationally for academic results, yet has relatively lower AYP scores than Georgia, is due to Florida’s more challenging standardized tests and requirements. The best indicator of performance is to compare peer-to-peer. Currently, that comparison is not possible in Georgia because AYP results have not been released for 2010. However, the Coweta Charter Academy which opened in 2010 and is operated by CSUSA, did average over 92 percent proficiency on its CRCT tests this year.   Once charter schools are established and all schools in question are being compared based on the same tests, those performance scores will be accurate. Until then, this is just a way to inflame and bend statistics for the purpose of attempting to discredit CSUSA. If all CSUSA schools were considered as one district, on average, the CSUSA district ranked an A according to Florida standard tests.

 

Are Cherokee Charter Academy teachers being hired without certifications from out-of-state?


No. All Cherokee Charter Academy teachers are required to have Georgia certification.

Was the GCEF and local governing council appointed by CSUSA?

No. This is a complete falsehood. The GCEF is an independent legal Georgia not-for-profit entity with members from Cherokee County and the local council includes parents, local business professionals and community advocates.  CSUSA answers to the GCEF, not the other way around. If CSUSA does not perform, GCEF can fire them.  Unlike traditional public schools, if a charter school doesn’t meet strict expectations, it closes.

Will the building be owned by Charter Schools USA? If so, what happens if the school closes?

The school is not owned in any part by Charter Schools USA. In light of the Supreme Court decision, there is currently no ownership or lease agreement active on the building. However, if the school is approved, Red Apple Development, an entity completely independent of Charter Schools USA, but owned by the same owner, will purchase or lease the building, then will lease it back to the Georgia Charter Education Foundation. The GCEF has complete control over the building. If they decide to fire CSUSA at some point in the future, they will continue their lease agreement with Red Apple Development. Red Apple will handle the bond financing to purchase the school.

Georgia Moderate June 23, 2011 at 03:13 PM
It should be noted that Larry Blase is a member of the governing council for CCA.
Southdem June 23, 2011 at 06:00 PM
Basically Mr. Blase, Senator Rogers, and the rest of the CCA advocates want to set up a private school with taxpayer funds. It was a nice try, guys, but we're on to you.
Hollyday June 23, 2011 at 06:04 PM
are you kidding me. if you think the schools are doing fine and you want to send your kids there then I am not telling you that you can't. What I am asking is that you not take away my choice to be able to send my children to a charter school. I pay taxes and would like the choice. Why is it that you are against parents and children having choice in public education?
Jessie Gable June 23, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Thanks for the comments, guys. Don't forget to come back tomorrow for the meeting coverage.
Georgia Moderate June 23, 2011 at 07:03 PM
What is this "choice" you're talking about, Hollyday? A choice for what? Government versus corporate schools?
Hollyday June 23, 2011 at 09:12 PM
The charter school will still have taxpayer funds coming to it so it will be what you call a government school but it is a different choice. What is so terrible about that? Why does that scare people? I like what I have heard about the charter schools and yes, I might be disappointed but why not try it. If it doesn't work it will not be in existence very long. But what if it proves successful? What if it actually allows more people to be a part of the public school arena that had chosen in the past to send their kids to private school? I'm not concerned about an outside entity running the school. They actually will be concerned about making sure they stick to a budget and running a successful company. That is okay with me. I don't believe my kids will suffer because I don't think education requires huge amounts of money or technology.
Rod Johnson June 24, 2011 at 12:17 AM
I agree, Hollyday. Not sure why so many people are so afraid of charter schools. All arguments against them ("Less $$ for teachers! More furloughs!",etc) have been debunked. And the whole "It's for profit!!" is laughable, considering that public school superintendent Dr. P makes about $200K/year. I'm guessing he's not donating all that to charity. Sounds like 'profit' to me. Every public school teacher that gets a salary (i.e. ALL of them) are "profiting" too. Fear leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. The ones suffering are many Cherokee County students being Left Behind, unable to attend the elitist Sixes and Liberty Elementary schools, which are stuffed full of wealthy Bridge Mill kids and their parents, who go out of their way to support their child's education (and good for them, btw). But that sadly isn't applicable to all of our county's children. Yet so many people want to keep these children under-educated and ignorant, rather than giving their parents the Choice of something better: Charter schooling. It's sad, to put it politely.
Georgia Moderate June 24, 2011 at 02:09 AM
Rod, your arguments have no merit. Kids in today's public schools in Cherokee are not "suffering," not "under-educated" and not "ignorant." I would challenge you to provide some hard facts to back up your statements. And while you're at it, provide us with a comprehensive analysis that shows that charter schools are "better" in any way. What will you talk about when the only "choice" is charter schools that have to cut and cut to insure more money lands in their "elitist" owners' hands?
AConcernedCitizen June 24, 2011 at 02:36 AM
"Elitist" "wealthy" and the use of exclamation marks – Why can we as Cherokee County citizens have a calm and rational conversation about this issue. The "us and them" mentality is out of control. The Cherokee County School District is one of the best in the state. Compare CCSD to other counties in the state - compare CCSD to other metro counties in the state and we compete on a higher level than the rest. That is a fact. If this is not true, please explain to me why it is not. I am willing to listen to the argument explaining what is so wrong with CCSD schools. (http://www.gadoe.org/ index.aspx – look up school or county reports) I believe that charter schools have their place in the national conversation on public schools. They can be developed in a manner that gives students a different way of looking at curriculum. The charter school can provide opportunities that some school districts cannot. I also understand that charter schools can be used in school districts that are not meeting the needs of their students.
AConcernedCitizen June 24, 2011 at 02:36 AM
I hear from supporters that that the charter would provide choice for parents who do not think their children are not getting the education they deserve. I have yet to hear what CCSD is not providing for their students that the new charter school will provide. I, like many of you that are concerned with this county issue, have read the petition (or at least the one that was corrected on CCSD website and I still have not found a charter for the charter school on their website). The charter school does provide some standout programs, though CCSD matches many of them. CCSD can try their best with a dress code though it won’t match a school uniform, which research says improves the learning of students (p.22 of the charter references some great articles, yet does not have a list of articles. Looking these up was hard, but the research was solid.)
AConcernedCitizen June 24, 2011 at 02:37 AM
From the supporters of the charter school who have children in the CCSD schools, I have not heard of many of them that volunteer at their school on a regular basis. By volunteering I don’t mean parents who show up for all the fun events or come in once a year to help out. I mean volunteer in a classroom, reading to kids, helping a teacher who needs it. Strong parent involvement leads to better performing schools. The charter school’s petition states (p. 20): “Programs designed with strong parent involvement produce students who perform better than otherwise identical programs that do not involve programs as thoroughly, or that do not involve them at all. Schools that relate well to their communities have student bodies that out-perform other schools. Children whose parents help them at home and stay in touch with the school score higher than children of similar aptitude and family background whose parents are not involved. Schools where children are failing improve dramatically when parents are called in to help.” The charter schools demands so many hours of volunteer work from their students’ parents. Our public schools would outperform any school if the public schools received just 10 hours of volunteer work from each parent. This is something I absolutely agree with the charter on. If people want change in their schools, especially their public schools, volunteer in those schools.

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