Fact Checking Yields Other Information
November 02, 2012 | 08:10 AM

Mr. Hurd,

I believe you have fallen hook, line and sinker for the rhetoric employed by the education establishment on this issue and or off point on a number of facts.

First, let me address the "arm twisting" during the legislative session. That's not exactly how it happened. As a bi-partisan effort, passage of the legislation on this matter required NEGOTIATING... those crafting the legislation went back to the drawing board a number of times to make sure it was acceptable to all parties. I know that's rather unheard of in the legislature, but believe it or not, lots of people under the Gold Dome realized that the schools in existence needed to be protected AND that the future improvement of public education was resting on the catalyst of the charter sector. We WANT our legislature to be bi-partisan, but when it finally is, all they get is accused of "arm twisting." How very sad that is, indeed.

This idea of costing $430 million is fraught with fallacy. First of all, Barge assumed that 7 times per year the districts would not be fair and schools would have to go to the state for approval - it seems to me that he doesn't even trust his own school districts to do what's right, which speaks to the need for an appeals process. Secondly, what he does not account for is that the districts KEEP all their local funds, lose the full expense of the students (which they claim is more than the state gives them anyway), and that these students cost less to educate. And finally, while he in one breath says we "already" have an appeals process, in the next, he fails to tell you that even without a Commission, the same amount of money would have to be spent if we truly "already have" a process with the state. Some may call that a lie of omission.

Let's discuss bureaucracy. It is difficult to believe that anyone could accuse the Georgia Charter Schools Commission of being a bureaucracy. This is a 7 member commission filled with volunteers willing to lend their expertise to ensure we have quality schools. Moreover, the staff is 5 people operating on a $650,000 budget that is paid for by the school's themselves from their operational funds. Let's just put this into perspective so you can understand where the REAL bureaucracy is...

Commission - 5 people, $650,000, will oversee 15,000 students.

We have 157 districts administrations and boards in the state of Georgia who oversee LESS than 15,0000. The AVERAGE cost of the general administration of these districts is $1,444,908 and the average number of students in these districts is 3964. The Charter Schools Commission is less than half the cost serving more than 5 times the kids.

Looking at it yet another way, all told, the smaller districts, each with its very own full general administration (bureaucracy) costs more than $11 million dollars to serve and oversee the same number of kids as the Commission will do for $650,000.

Dr. Benjamin Scafidy in his recent op-ed and report made clear that Georgia's spending on school district bureaucracies have more than doubled the growth of students.

We have an efficient and effective Commission that has the potential to REDUCE bureaucracy - serving more and costing less.

Mr. Hurd, rather than beat up on the scores of parents and community members trying to make a positive change in our education establishment, why don't you study the rampant waste and bloated bureaucracy in public education and try to influence changes where they really matter.... so that more dollars can make it into classrooms and to support the hard work of all public school teachers.

You're certainly barking up the wrong tree with "bureaucracy" with the charter sector.

Melanie Plame