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Georgia PTA Under Pressure Over Charters

The National Parent Teacher Association wants the Georgia chapter to remain neutral in the state's charter school debate.

With nearly two months to go before , the Georgia PTA is under pressure from its parent organization to rescind its opposition to the measure.

Last month, the state chapter made its position clear: Vote no when you go to the polls in November.

While the Georgia PTA supports charter schools approved by local school boards, "we reject the state power grab from local communities in the education of their children, the financial inequities, and the overt attention being given to those who intend to profit from the education of children," Sally FitzGerald, the group's educational policy specialist, wrote in the July 1 position statement.

Since then, according to an article in Education Week, the National PTA has revised its policy on charter schools and extended its support to charters approved by all authorizing bodies—not just local school boards.

And the national organization wants its chapters to support the change. For the Georgia chapter, that means taking a neutral stance in the debate over the state's proposed charter school amendment, according to Education Week.

Emails to FitzGerald and the Georgia PTA executive committee have not been returned, but the Georgia Charter Schools Association today praised the National PTA's policy shift.

"We applaud the recognition by National PTA that just as one size doesn't fit all in educating our students, a single charter authorizer doesn't fit all either," Georgia Charter Schools Association President & CEO Tony Roberts said in a statement. "High-quality authorizers such as the give parents and students a needed appeals process when a school board refuses to fairly consider a charter application. The entire charter community here in our state is asking Georgia PTA to follow their national organization and end their opposition to the November vote on the charter amendment."

The Georgia PTA isn't the only opponent of the charter amendment making headlines. In a move that came as a surprise to his Republican colleagues, State Superintendent John Barge earlier this month announced his opposition to the measure.

"Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts," he said.

Gov. Nathan Deal, who , said local districts wouldn't lose money.

"In fact, under the formula in the legislation, they are getting the very lowest level of funding of any public school," he said at the time.

FAST FACTS

  • On Nov. 6, voters will be asked, "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?" Voters will check "yes" or "no."
  • Cherokee school board members voted 4-2 during its April 19 meeting to endorse a , which they fear will take away from local districts.

Related content

Rae Harkness September 01, 2012 at 01:49 AM
This is as it should be. Why would charter schools pay dues to an organization that wants to destroy them? National PTA is doing the right thing.
Elizabeth Hooper September 01, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Excuse me Rae, several of us feel that the opposite is true. For example did you know that under HB 797 parents are not required to be on a charter school governing board? Perhaps the PTA is rightly standing up for PARENTS rights for ALL public school children versus the needs of "for-profit" charter operators to invade the state or the needs of a few parents who are perfectly fine to take my vote away to get what they want. The National PTA will certainly support the GA PTA in their decision to continue to oppose HR 1162 - the press release is out.
Me September 03, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Once again, the Georgia PTA would be against creating a redundant government entity, unaccountable to anyone except the appointing official, when an appeal alternative already exists for applicants denied charters by local school boards. Does the national PTA not recognize that their state chapters should have the autonomy to evaluate their own situations and educate members on the potential outcomes of votes? When I served as a delegate for a professional organization, we always went "informed, not directed" to the national convention. This seems appropriate for National PTA to consider...

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