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Georgians Shocked at Charter Spending Bill

Per-pupil spending is one of the most important pieces of data we have for quantifying the efficacy of a district’s methods. It is also used by choicers to point out how much money is wasted by public systems. In Georgia, the tables are about to turn with regard to where its money goes.

According to an email sent by Herb Garrett, executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association, the state of Georgia’s Department of Education is planning on reallocating almost $27 million to special state charter schools, which is apparently 2.5 times more than being sent to traditional public schools. Needless to say, people in Garrett’s caste are incensed over HB797, which is up for referendum in November, but they seem taken off guard by this as well. Should they be so surprised?

Georgia isn’t new to the charter community. The Georgia Charter Schools Association has existed since 2001, and its sole stated purpose is that of “supporting and advancing Georgia‚Äôs charter school sector.” It’s also not as if the state itself is afraid of privatization: the charter school authorizing entity, the Georgia Charter Schools Commission (a state-run endeavor), had the habit of approving charter contracts after localities had already denied them. It took a Supreme Court ruling to shut GCSC down. Did we mention that the Governor, the House of Representatives, and the State Senate are all controlled by Republicans?

So, why are Georgians so aghast at this news?

It could be the amount of money. $27 million is no small sum, especially when the State of Georgia is currently budget-cutting everything from healthcare to higher education to state agencies. Education certainly won’t escape this. We all know how wasteful public education has been, and it appears that Governor Deal is no spring chicken. Georgia education will be asked to cut upwards of $553 million dollars over the next 2 years.

(Just a quick note: the way the bill is worded actually states that there is no way the charter schools could make more than the district schools. The message boards at this link are abuzz, and a few people have mentioned this)

Georgians could also misunderstand the nature of chartership. Granted, this is still about money (isn’t everything?), but much of the debate on charter schools in general starts with Democrats who are terrified of losing their constituents’ funding. The southeast United States for a long time was one of those political aberrations where party lines that were drawn in the 60s (good ole’ Barry) still existed in cahoots with current lines, i.e. urban and rural districts actually voted the same way because they have one thing in common: poverty. That was mainly because Southern Democrats didn’t fall in line with national Democratic social issues.

That’s not really the case anymore in Georgia, at least according to former Democrats who switched parties. Not that the rural votes would even matter that much. The Democrats representative of the Atlanta metro area are enough to cause trouble, just look at the latest House boundaries.

But with the House and Senate firmly in Republican control, it’s unlikely that Georgia’s charter school system can be delayed by urban Dems much longer. We’ll have to wait for November, when Georgia hopefully votes “Yes.”

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