Sally Fitzgerald - Why Won't You Speak Truth
November 03, 2012 | 12:25 PM

Ms. Fitzgerald,

It is quite disappointing to see the head of policy for PTA to completely mislead the public.

1. Charter schools have been denied for many, many reasons that have nothing to do with a sustainable business plan. Indeed, we have 3 schools that were locally denied, approved by the Commission, and later "adopted" or approved by the district. Same petition. Further, Clayton County was asked to produce, via Open Records, the rubric for review of a charter recently. There was only 1 of several rubrics even completed (and it recommended approval) - the others were BLANK.

2. You know full well that charter school teachers must meet the same definitions for highly qualified status as any other teacher. And although charter law does not require certification, the HQ requirement and Georgia's 3 year validity to remain highly qualified without a certificate makes the law moot. Charters and traditional school teachers have to meet the same bar.

3. Regarding district bloat, you do realize, I am sure, that state charter schools are their own LEAs, and thus, retain all of the responsibility a traditional district has (without some of the benefits). These charters do not have central offices. They wear many hats as well, but they do not pay bureaucrats to do what they can manage.

Case in point.... Pataula Charter Academy serves around 300 students in 1 school. Baker County serves around 350 students in 1 school. Pataula spends $0 on central administration. Baker spent $581,907 last year on their central office. Comparable student populations. Same responsibilities as LEAs. Baker County could have put that half million back into classrooms. And let me be crystal clear - I believe that central offices can and do serve a function - perhaps not for 350 kids - but they have a purpose for economy of scale; however, the data shows that our state has more than doubled student growth with its bureaucracy.

And by the way, your argument about benefits also doesn't hold water, as proportionately this should be the same across districts - what changes that amount is the number of staff you have in central administration taking those benefits. ALL benefits are NOT coded there, just central office staff.

Please explain to me how an education management company who has performed at higher levels and been able to run their schools at significantly less than the traditional districts is worse than paying millions and millions and millions to central offices that have duplicative services all over this state? You do realize that we have 77 out of 180 districts serving less than 3000 kids - and every one of those have full central offices and spend multiple millions that could be reduced by combining functions with other small districts. Every dime going to duplicative efforts comes out of classrooms.

As for "already have choice." Well, let's go through that. We have public charter schools in about 9 school districts around the state. We have 5000 students currently sitting on wait lists. How many parents can homeschool or send their children to private school, particularly given this economy? With districts who have magnet programs, children who don't "qualify" don't get that choice, even if they want it. Exactly how much choice do parents really have?

Kelly Cadman
Villa Rica