13 October 2010
Several public school districts in Georgia have filed a lawsuit that is now before the Georgia Supreme Court in an attempt to do away with independent charter schools. The lawsuit was filed based on funding for independent charter schools. The GWINNETT COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT was the originator of the suit with the ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS, the GRIFFIN-SPALDING COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, BULLOCH COUNTY SCHOOLS, the CANDLER COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, the DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM, and HENRY COUNTY SCHOOLS joining Gwinnett County.
Gwinnett County filed the lawsuit alleging the IVY PREPARATORY ACADEMY, an independent charter school in Norcross, Georgia, receives $850,000 from a state allocation to the Gwinnett County School System. However, Gwinnett public schools receive about $39,000,000 annually in state "equalization" funding since Gwinnett has a lower TAX DIGEST than many other school districts. The Gwinnett County School district maintains that the Georgia Charter School Commission is not acting legally in approving state funding of independent charter schools, and questions whether or not local school systems have sole authority to establish charter schools.
The Georgia Constitution allows funding for "special schools". These school systems are contending the Constitution did not refer to charter schools since they did not exist at the time. An interesting point here. The liberal left has gone far afield over the past fifty or so years to promote their agenda through the court system to bypass the will of the people, Congress, and the President, in other words, the Constitutional legislative process. The left contends the Constitution is "fluid" and a "living" document subject to interpretation according to the current times. Why don't they apply that here? If the U. S. Constitution is "fluid" and "living", then "special schools" should be defined according to today, not according to when the Georgia Constitution was written. But it's not convenient for them right now.
If the court rules against charter schools, more than 6,000 children could lose their schools according to an ARTICLE in the Atlanta Journal Constitution. That right there is the idea. These public school systems are attempting to force these children out of their schools and into the government school system. Why? Part of the funding for public schools is based on a daily enrollment and attendance count known as the FULL TIME EQUIVALENCY or FTE count. More students = more money. Do you think it's any coincidence this suit was filed now, during a depressed economy when tax collections are down? Another reason is that private schools, charter schools, and home schooled children are a continual embarrassment to the public school system in general. Children educated in these schools consistently test far ahead of their government school colleagues and are far better prepared for college and employment. The public school system is generally hostile to alternative education. The government school system should be in favor of students succeeding, regardless of whether or not a child gets their education in their system or an alternative. The child and the child's success should be the focus, but it's obviously not.
This entire lawsuit has no merit whatsoever and is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars. School systems are claiming to be broke, poorly funded, and come to taxpayers with their hand out nearly every year, yet they have the tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars to spare for this type of litigation.
ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 1, PARAGRAPH 1 of the Georgia Constitution states that the State of Georgia is primarily responsible for the education of its citizens, not the local school boards. No local funds are used for charter schools. Thomas Cox, who is representing the Atlanta and Dekalb County schools, made the statement to the Georgia Supreme Court justices yesterday that, "Local money may not follow the child to a Georgia state special school." Bad move. Justice David Nahmias then asked Cox, "So do any of the local tax dollars directly flow to charter schools?" Cox replied, "There is no direct flow." Checkmate.
(Late note: Near the end of my research for this post, I found a blog post on Maureen Downey's "Get Schooled" blog on the Atlanta Journal Constitution website. It was an op-ed by Tony Roberts, CEO of the GEORGIA CHARTER SCHOOLS ASSOCIATION. It's an excellent article. Click HERE to read.)