Americus Times-Recorder, Americus, Georgia


March 31, 2012

Your Opinion: April 1, 2012

AMERICUS — PAGE spokesman responds

(Recently) in his column, Dick Yarbrough wrote about charter schools and their associations with for-profit operating and management companies. Tony Roberts, CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association followed up with a column meant as a rebuttal.

As spokesman for the 83,000 member Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE) I have some thoughts on what Mr. Roberts wrote and hope that you will share them with your readers in the interest of a full discussion of this important educational issue.

My reply to Mr. Roberts’ response:

Tony Roberts, CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, has responded to columnist Dick Yarbrough’s recent column on the downside of charters

You can read the entire response in a recent edition of this newspaper.

But a couple of passages are worth noting.

Last summer the Georgia Supreme Court ruled as unconstitutional the authorization of charter schools by a state charter school commission. Also ruled unconstitutional was the funneling of local taxpayer education dollars to charters that had not been approved locally. The legislation now in question, HR 1162, would put on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment which would permit the state to both authorize and fund charter schools that had not received local approval. Many groups and individuals are opposing this move as a usurpation of local school board control of local tax dollars and a siphoning of funds from already strapped local schools.

You would expect that Mr. Roberts would put the best gloss on his case, but he goes well beyond:

“For some reason, they do not want local voters to have the final say about whether the state should be able to approve public charter schools in addition to the local school district approval.”

The textbook definition for this kind of a statement is sophistry. In more common parlance it is called “weasel words.”

Regarding the involvement of for-profit companies with charter schools, he addresses the Yarbrough point directly:

“To answer his question in brief, no one is talking about for-profit charter schools because there is no such thing in Georgia.”

Yet just a few lines later, Roberts says:

Let’s be clear, non-profit, public charter schools in Georgia can hire a for-profit management company to operate either all or portions of a charter school in Georgia.”

The double-speak is clever, but not particularly skilled. Mr. Roberts may have a career in politics, but will have to get a little better at this.

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