Monday, March 21, 2011

Georgia Supreme Court To Decide If Your Kids Can Leave the Plantation

Sometimes it's hard deciding on what to post and this is one of those times. While it's true all politics is local and some events don't have much appeal beyond geographic boundaries, in some cases they also act as a canary in the coal mine type case, and I believe this is one of those cases.

The despicable behavior of the union-led teacher's revolt and, to a larger degree, the extent to which government teachers go to to indoctrinate the children entrusted to their tutelage, came to full light in the wake of the actions in Wisconsin by the teachers reversing their roles and acting like the juvenile delinquents.

In Georgia, there's a case that has been simmering--at times boiling over--and gaining attention only to recede from view while the judicial system continues to stew over the questions. The case revolves around charter schools and taxpayers dollars.

In Georgia. there are provisions in the law which allow tax dollars to follow the student and not the school. There has been a big growth in charter schools in the state fueled mostly by the realization from parents that the government-run schools just were not doing their job. The government schools have several lawsuits trying to stop this expansion for one simple reason: money.

The amounts are considerable. When a child goes to a charter school, that school is entitled to receive the tax dollars that would have normally gone into the coffers of the government school system. This is the money that the school systems count on to fund the exorbitant salaries of the administrators more then the teachers or for anything to fund any sort of teaching activity in the classroom.

The latest case is headed for the state Supreme Court and it's outcome could determine life or death for charter schools in the state.

If the court sides with the argument put forth by the government schools coalition then the charter schools will lose this money.

This is not about education. In fact, nowhere in the plaintiffs case do you see a mention of educational achievement being affected other then obtuse, nebulous terms. It is about being able to continue to live in the lifestyle to which these government bureaucrats have become accustomed to.

Since I began following this story, which I became acutely aware of after my child was out of school and the state mandated that on our property tax bills that the amount going to education be clearly identified, I realized what a huge ripoff the school system was running. I also became aware that it was not the teachers who were the drain on the system as much as it was the administrators. That is a distinction I want to make clear.

Within the government school system now you have two tiers. Administrators and teachers. Administrators encompass everything from guidance counselors to principals to those on the school board. I found it very hard to find any administrator who did not rake in a six figure income.

While teacher complaints of having to do more with less does have a certain amount of validity to it, it is quickly squelched by the revelation that academic achievement has not improved much since the days I was in school and we didn't have those marvelous high-tech gadgets which have become a must have in every classroom.

Introducing competition into the education market is the best way, in my opinion, to improve the quality of the end product and to ensure more parental involvement. I compare it to the way income taxes are taken out. Since it comes out of your paycheck each pay period you really don't notice it and have become conditioned to it; however, if no taxes were taken out and once a year or each quarter you were to write a check to the federal government for your income taxes, you would very quickly become interested in how that money was being spent. That is what happened in Georgia when they started itemizing the property tax bills.

Parents now want to get the best return on the money they are sending to the state and the education coalition simply cannot stand by and watch the little fiefdom they have built up through the years be torn apart by the barbarians.

I hope the charter schools prevail in this legal case, but most reports by analysts I have read do not give them very good odds, mostly based on the arguments being made by the government school lawyers that the institution is the only answer and why do you want to upset the apple cart. For a group that was firmly on board with the community organizer in charge's mantra of change, they sure are fighting it tooth and nail in their little corner of the world.


Brigadoon said...

You can not ask for a Benz when the school system only offers a Pinto. That's federal case law. However, a student need not fail before receiving remediation. Federal case law too. (And remediation by definition does not exclude "regular education material".) The argument for, that charter schools offer something better, will fail so they should offer something different. They do you say? The argument that they offer different structure or administration is moot (see above). Each charter school needs to individually offer different "regular education material" instruction than what has been adopted by the school system. There are many different speech, math, dyslexia, etc. methods out there. Choose one (even in just one of these subjects) and adopt a different, but equally effective, method from the school district. Education is based on the individual student, therefore, placement is an assessment made on the individual too.

Parents have equal input and federal right to "informed consent" on all placement matters including LEA or local school. (Again, student need not fail to receive remediation.) The winning legal issue is parental rights, and here that equates to free market choice for methodology has been equated to ideology (in strong district case law), and since federal case law notes parental rights do not end at the schoolhouse gates, then the school system can not force parents to the false choice of state sponsored belief vs homeschool; just as equally (federal case law states) that parents can not force the school district to adopt a particular method or methodology. What's good for the goose should be good for the gander. Smile

Brigadoon said...

Granted, the current education system is set up not for structural or policy change as a whole but for individuals to prevail, and this is a complete pain and the way the collective education industry wants it. No class action lawsuits so to speak. Therefore, you must "exhaust administrative remedies" first per federal case law to prevail. So you can win the argument that the funding follow the student but each parent seeking a charter placement will have a placement meeting. Most will prevail as it is not like it was even 5 years ago since more parents have and are going all the way, the full Monty, nuclear, etc. to a hearing officer, and knowing to reject the list of HOs offered on the school board payroll, and on to a judge etc. (Since federal case law allows a parent to represent themselves or their child without the financial demand for an lawyer, parents have learned the process is not so bad. And while it is daunting, a few can and have smoothed the path for those to follow.) In other words, if you want it, be the squeaky wheel that gets oiled. Any school system is most pleased to be rid of parents who demand face time. Fact. (Indeed, this is why school districts don't want parents to have a per-pupil funding choice because if they do, parents will demand accountability.) It will come down to parents getting the word out over the din of union media. Every state must have a "parent resource center" for assistance per IDEA, and this should be utilized as the parent or citizen community organizing (hehe) assault weapon to ensure school choice and per-pupil funding. As I always say, keep IDEA and scrap NCLB.

Again, you are not arguing for something arbitrarily better but acknowledging the universal fact that everyone learns differently, but all must equally have access to regular education material per federal case law. Some fine and proven examples would be Lindamood-Bell for reading, Orton-Gillingham for dyslexia, or Saxon Math vs Scott Foresman-Addison Wesley Mathematics or math textbooks by Harold Jacobs.

Brigadoon said...

Note: This, stacking the administrative education system so that only the individual can prevail in instruction or outcome change, is also why the current collective education system resists or does not impose, let's say, a national curriculum, despite the fact their totalitarian hearts want it, for the 'one size does not fit all' argument has prevailing precedent. (Oh, the irony in that this is what they have been radicalizing for!) A good example would be Core Knowledge.

Good luck!