About Education: Essay #6, On Georgia’s Charter School Movement

The words below are from my post on the “Atlanta Forward” blog of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, entitled, “Debating charter school amendment,” February 27, 2012:

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“The charter school movement cannot be considered, with truth, in isolation from other ‘school choice’ options as touted by many Republican legislators, who have already proclaimed a ‘School Choice Week’ during Georgia’s current legislative session. Those other choices include private schools through vouchers using public funds, home schooling, online courses through technology, as well as creating an amendment to Georgia’s Constitution to allow for the creation of additional charter schools authorized by a state Commission which is removed from local, elected school board jurisdiction.

Clearly, the intent is to dismantle traditional public education, and that intent is also a national Republican ideological one. Only last week, Rick Santorum was declaring that neither the federal government nor the state government should have a place in the education of the nation’s young. Dismantling traditional public schools would certainly ‘starve the beast’ of government even more than has presently been accomplished, and doing so would certainly pave the way for private education, in which corporations would have another avenue for increasing their profit margins.

I find it quite ironic that now that Georgia’s DOE has the ability to send academic data to every public school teacher in Georgia and that that data can follow students as they transfer from one public school to another, and that public school teachers are now being trained in how to use this data to individualize for instruction, that many of Georgia’s legislators are attempting to dismantle traditional public schools by depleting the funding to traditional public schools for more funding to these other school choices. This sophisticated data base may not be readily available to these other school choice options – in the detail needed, nor with the continuity of transfer accessibility provided by traditional public schools – to improve the quality of education, not only for individual students in Georgia, but for Georgia’s educational quality and ranking, as a whole.

We must work to improve, and not to dismantle, traditional public education, and we must fund it. I am certain that, if we do, Thomas Jefferson would be pleased. Many of Georgia’s current Republican leaders are serving the self-interests of those outside of Georgia, in my opinion.”

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From my post entitled, “Competition vs. Cooperation,” which was posted on February 21, 2012, are these words regarding the charter school movement:

“Public charter schools are one possiblility that may help to improve traditional public schools, but not all charter schools will automatically do that. Some charter schools are inferior to public schools as test results have shown. Nevertheless, if public charter schools are carefully assigned and limited in number, and if they are encouraged to work in harmony with traditional public schools, this latest educational endeavor could become an opportunity that could benefit both public charter schools and traditional public schools. The key is working together, and not working in competition with one another. Moreover, that is a better model for students to observe and to emulate.”

“Perhaps the business world operates best through the threat of competition, but I believe that most educators, and perhaps most people, if inspired, have an intrinsic desire to excel. They achieve that excellence best in a nurturing, not a threatening, environment. Treating teachers with respect and care, while also educating them to more effective ways to increase student growth, enhances both teachers’ and students’ productivity and joy in the learning process. Look at the recent cheating debacles throughout the nation for examples of what has happened when unrealistic goals have been set for teachers in highly competitive, tense environments.”

“Perhaps, as citizens, we should begin to consider what degree of competition versus what degree of cooperation we wish to perpetuate within society. Perhaps, it is time to question whether the more ‘muscular’ concepts of power, dominance, winning, and wealth. . . are the values most to be sought within our nation, as opposed to the values of cooperation, egalitarianism, and intellectual and spiritual development.”

https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/21/competition-vs-cooperation/

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I posted the following words, regarding charter schools, on a local journalist’s educational blog on June 4, 2012:

“Public schools serve all of society’s children, paid for by public taxes (and they are not designed for profit). Public schools can be improved from within, and also through collaboration with public charter schools.

I recognize the value that some private schools may have to society, as well. I have no problem with parents choosing to send their children to private schools, as long as they pay for the cost of doing so from their own pocketbooks, and not through public taxes, via vouchers, which are meant to fund the education of all of society’s children through public education.

In terms of those public charter schools which may be created for an underlying purpose of supplanting traditional public schools in Georgia, my reasons for opposing them are evident from the content within my first two paragraphs, above. There is no need to supplant traditional public education. Public charter schools should work with, not against, traditional public education. It is better to help build and improve, than to destroy.”

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2 Responses to About Education: Essay #6, On Georgia’s Charter School Movement

  1. Lester Shepherd says:

    Wow. Your writing skills and compassion are over the top! I will be reading and commenting in the future.

    Thank you for the quote: “To love someone is to see the face of God.” Why are Christians so limited as to NOT understand these words. I happen to be a Christian Atheist, which is, of course, one step beyond the Deism.

    Got into a discussion with a “friend” yesterday about the state of this country and my belief in the Beatitudes and he said he believed in that too. “in a perfect world”, so, I assume Christian ethics are out the window since the world we live in can only be described as being as far from perfect as you can get. And it always will be.

    Thank you for your insights.

  2. Thank you for your very kind words, Lester. I am pleased to know that you will be following my blog. My father’s favorite song was “To Dream the Impossible Dream,” from the musical, “Man of La Mancha.” The abridged lyrics below, from that song, express why we must never stop reaching for the “perfect,” even in an imperfect world.

    “To dream … the impossible dream …
    To fight … the unbeatable foe …
    To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
    To run … where the brave dare not go …
    To right … the unrightable wrong …
    To love … pure and chaste from afar …
    To try … when your arms are too weary …
    To reach … the unreachable star …

    This is my quest, to follow that star …
    No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …

    And the world will be better for this:
    That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
    Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
    To reach … the unreachable star …”

    http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/bestofbroadway-americanmusical/theimpossibledream.htm
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    The Beatitudes, given by Jesus, from Matthew 5: 3-12:

    Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are they who mourn,
    for they shall be comforted.

    Blessed are the meek,
    for they shall possess the earth.

    Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for justice,
    for they shall be satisfied.

    Blessed are the merciful,
    for they shall obtain mercy.

    Blessed are the pure of heart,
    for they shall see God.

    Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they shall be called sons of God.

    Blessed are they who suffer persecution for justice sake,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

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