Are there people out there just waiting to start charter schools but somehow cannot get them approved?
Are there really charter schools that can operate on only the state's portion of the funding?
Who are these people and what kind of schools are they wanting to open here?
Changing the state constitution is a big request. Before we vote on Nov. 6, let's make sure we know exactly what is at stake.
Here's one possible scenario:
"Gee, I wonder how we can start a charter school without a building or enough money to pay lots of teachers," says nonexistent person #1.
"Yeah, and the 13 other charter schools, dozen or so magnet and theme schools, IB program schools, technological schools and neighborhood schools are just not enough. By golly, I need another choice," says fictitious person #2.
"I have a solution," says slick dressed K-12 or "Connections Academy" or "Other New Online School" sales and marketing representative.
"Wow, you look really smart," responds bozo actor #1.
"That's because I am," says the K-12 associate with his General American dialect so as to not give any clue to the fact that he is from out of state, or even another country.
"Have you considered a virtual charter school? Here are some fancy pamphlets I just so happen to have on this high gloss, heavy weighted paper stock, so you know you can trust what is typeset onto its pages."
"Yeah, we thought about that," says well paid spokesmodel #2, "but our local board of education will never approve something like that. We tried and tried to get them to approve a school with a promise of less than 50% graduation rate and a high drop-out after less than a year attendance, but they didn't like that idea. And they have really low standards."
"We can appeal to the state board of education, but they keep telling us we are broke and need to close schools, not start new ones. I'm guessing they wouldn't overturn the decision."
"Looks like we're stuck with the multiple options to choose from that we already have now. Plus, all the church-based schools and community schools. We are in the Bible Belt, after all."
"Don't forget about the private schools, honey. And the home school options," says the Man #1.
"Oh yeah, that's right. We have those options, too. Plus a state run online school and a local cyber-academy."
"Awwwww.... that's too bad," says Mr. K-12 man. "I have an idea for a virtual charter school that I need to sell to someone stupid. I thought you might want to try convincing a bunch of parents who don't know any better and like the idea of free laptops to sign their kids up! Their moms or dads will likely be expected to stay home with them, of course."
"What makes your school better than others?"
"We were first."
"And we have better graduation rates than other online schools, but not as good as brick-and-mortar schools."
(Man #1 and Woman #2 start to walk away. But then..)
"Say, did I mention that we make millions and millions in profit? And we hardly cost the school district a thing?" says desperate salesman from K-12. "As long as I can keep signing the suckers, errr... I mean, kids....up, we can keep hiding the actual churn rate of our attendance and bragging about our annual enrollment increases. The more I sell, the more money for me and my bosses."
"Wow, you must be rich!"
"Yes, but don't worry about that. Besides, I have to watch out for some pesky lawsuits coming from New Mexico and Virginia. Oh, and Florida, too, I think."
"Awwww, you poor, misunderstood salesman. It's tough out there, isn't it? Here, let me count how much money you might have in that wallet for me and my friend here. We might be able to help you out," says greedy snake in the grass #1.
"What's your idea, Jim Bob?" says idiot actress #2.
"Well, the way I see it, we can help each other," says paid actor #1. "I have this friend who is in the state legislature. You know, the people who make the laws n' stuff. I will tell him the problems with the local school board and ask if he can help me start a virtual charter school."
"Once he hears about all the money, he'll surely say yes!" says doll face #2.
"Right! And then he can pass a law that says that some kind of a fake, made-up, overpaid board of people can approve our virtual school. Then we can hire Mr. K-12 here to run it for us and we won't have to worry about things like walls, ceilings, or teachers. We won't need libraries, or a football team or even books.
Think of how cheap this could be!"
"Then how will the kids learn?" says suddenly concerned accomplice #2.
"Who cares? Didn't you hear the man say he make lots of money?" says childless man #1.
"Yeah, but... I don't...."
"If we get the state to appoint a board and let them approve schools, then we can probably get a bunch of money, too!! You know, just like they promised the PTAs that kept quiet about the cell towers. Come to think of it, what ever happened with all that ... "
"But the kids..."
"Ma'am, don't worry about the kids. They will be fine. If they do not keep up, we have friends in the private prison industry who will be happy to take them in. They also make lots of money. Not your kids, of course. Other kids. Ones you won't even see because the school is online, remember??" says drooling K-12 representative as he gets out the contracts.
"Oh, I see. But, won't this take money away from the other schools?"
"Yes, some of it, but we will take a lot of the kids away, too. So, that local group of elected folks will actually have fewer kids to pretend to be educating, until ours start dropping out, of course, and returning to their local schools. But we will have the funds up front. That's all that really matters to us. See, It's a win, win!"
"Except for the kids...."
"Yeah, yeah, the kids," says the man #1 as he signs the contract. "There's always THAT, but ... think of all the money! As soon as the plan gets rolling, you will have enough to put your kids in any private school you want, so who cares what happens to the charter after that? We'll be long gone before anyone notices that the drop-out rates are alarming, some of the teachers aren't certified, some classes have as many as 400 students in them at once, the money goes out of state to help a business stay out of Chapter 11, the people can't threaten to vote for a new board since they were appointed, or that the kids are only using their computers to play games and cyber-bully their friends. And, if one gets lost, dropped or stolen, their parents have to reimburse us for 3X what it cost us. Remember, this is GEORGIA. We're #49th in the nation for education. There is no way the people here would ever think of all of the possible outcomes. They are all stupid."
"Wow, honey, you are a genius."
"Yeah, I went to community college for a year before I dropped out."
"Do you think the people in Georgia might vote NO to Amendment 1162 on Nov. 6?"
"Not a chance. Remember, Mr. K-12 is putting lots of money into the advertising. And people here will believe ANYTHING with a fancy slogan. Remember 'Untie Atlanta'? Oh wait... well, that was different... this will be different. It's for the kids."
"Okay, if you say so. Thank you Mr. K-12!"
"Don't thank me. Thank your legislators for joining The American Legislative Exchange Council, known as ALEC, so they can further the profit-generating ideas of big businesses like mine instead of protecting the rights of the people like they were elected to do. You can read about them here."
"And, we can thank our uninformed, easily misled or generally apathetic voters for not showing up at the polls even for a Presidential election," says smug man #1 counting his money.
"Yes, and thank you to K-12 and Connections Academy, T-mobile, ATT and all those sneaky little people behind the scenes who have quietly been laying the infrastructure to make this all possible while they thought we were not paying attention," says woman #2 as she books her plane ticket to Hawaii.
"Thanks are in order all the way around," says man in new leadership position of heading up a charter school for the kids #1. I can now say that I helped bring two great ideas together - profiting off the low achievement and lack of parental involvement in my community and a way to use technology to give the appearance of real education to an entirely new generation of families."
"And, by piggybacking off the national obsession with charter schools, we can use the good reputation of that phrase to trick voters into approving HR 1162 on Nov. 6. Funny how a country can be at war protecting freedom while at home they are willing to just give their rights away."
"Well, not funny ha-ha. More like funny / sad."