Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Myth of Local Control by DeKalb County School Board Member, Ms. Nancy Jester

By Nancy Jester

Let’s set the record straight about who controls education in Georgia.   Superintendents and their administrators do.  Local boards of education do hire the Superintendent but once in place, these educrats are in the driver’s seat.  The legal framework in our state reinforces the supremacy of the superintendent’s position relative to a board.

School system administrations choose who works in the system and what they do.  We often hear that the board and administration are a “governance team”.   Sadly, “the team” is dominated by board members with “Stockholm Syndrome” or they are accomplices in the abduction of local control.  All of this power comes with a hefty contract that insulates superintendents and gives them a golden parachute at taxpayer’s expense even if their tenure is marked by failure.  Make no mistake about it.  Local control is superintendent control.  If you agree with the superintendent and they are making good decisions for your particular community, you’re probably content.  But, if they are not, you are in a constant struggle with little to no redress.

The charter school amendment is perceived as an existential threat to the gravy train for educrats throughout the state.  That is what the fight is about.  The “local control” that is hailed by the current purveyors of the fine educational products in Georgia, is “educrat control”.  They push the buttons and pull the levers and try to make you believe that “stakeholders” have a say in it all.  Despite state legislation on school councils, parents don’t get a seat at the table when selecting a principal for their school.  In the struggle for power and control, the educrats have failed you and your children; all the while collecting fat paychecks and doling out six-figure jobs and lucrative contracts to more educrats.  If you realize that your voice as a citizen is so diminished within the current power structure of education, you will know that voting for the charter amendment is one of the solutions.

Parents deserve more choices.  Communities deserve more input into how their schoolhouses are run.  Charter schools are innovation incubators and are governed by a volunteer group of parents, teachers and community members.  That’s local control.  They get to choose the companies that provide services to their school.  If they do a bad job, they will lose their charter and parents will leave their school for a better product.  If they are responsible and create a valuable product for their community they will thrive and our children will get the education they deserve.  This responsiveness is completely missing in education today.  In fact, in DeKalb we have some schools that have been labeled “failing” for as long as a decade, yet remain open with no replacement of staff. All of the “turn around” plans, accountability measures and excuses brought to us courtesy of the “local control” we have today do nothing to rid our system of failure or make it more efficient, helpful and valuable for the students and community.  Please join me in supporting real local control.  Please join me in advocating for kids and taxpayers in DeKalb County and throughout our state.  Please join me by voting YES on the charter school amendment.



Hire_A_Veteran said...

A couple days ago I watched Bill Moyers and Company on PBS. The show was about ALEC. If you haven't heard of ALEC, or haven't seen this show, I encourage you watch it. Here's the link: http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-united-states-of-alec/

I was a public school teacher for 18 years, 16 years in California. At that time, California schools were rated above 5th in the nation. Now they are somewhere near the bottom. In the 90s the state legislature spent more on prisons than it did on schools. Around the time I was leaving the school system to become a minister, business entered the field of education. The public was told that business could run schools better than the public system. Privatization of education had begun.

On the show this past weekend, Bill Moyers exposed ALEC which are businesses and mostly Republican state legislators subverting the lobbying system. Business interests provide suggested business friendly legislation to be introduced in the various states which the state legislators (who have been wined and dined by those business interests) take back to their states and present as their own legislation to be passed. Privatization of Education has been one of the objectives of ALEC during the past 20 years or so and public dollars to education have been reduced and reduced and reduced.

One of the states where ALEC has been able to get the appropriate legislation, (Bill Moyers talked about it on the show, I don't recall which one) public dollars for education were given to business interest for education purposes.

This may not seem like a big deal, after all, aren't these businesses educating kids? Consider this, if business takes over the majority of education, it will mean the business has a right to refuse service to anyone it doesn't want to serve, or require something from its patrons, as well as payment.

I taught in a low-wealth district. The private school kids usually outscored our kids. As public school teachers we used to complain that our test scores weren't higher because we had to educate everyone. Kids with problems are not less intelligent. They are dealing with more issues outside of the classroom. We couldn't refuse these students as private schools could. I now see that as a blessing.

This change to Georgia's constitution sounds a lot like ALEC legislation and if it passes, business will be more fully involved in education in Georgia. Just take a look at who's for the change - Wal-Mart, Multinational Conglomerate Koch Industries, 10 big-dollar out-of-state donors, Gov. Nathan Deal, Don Balfour, Chip Rogers.

Please take a few minutes and watch the video. The show is an hour long, but the ALEC portion is about 30-40 minutes. No one had really heard about ALEC until the Treyvon Martin case hit the news. The connection is in the video piece.

Please join me by voting NO on the charter school amendment in order to keep big business and the right-wing agenda out of our public schools. Do you want a school system where intelligent design instruction is required, but evolution and global warming theories are banned, and scientific thought is continually denigrated? Of course not! Vote NO on the charter school amendment!

Tara(PoppySeed)Nagel said...

I agree totally with you, Hire A Veteran!

The effort by corporations, wealthy lobbyists, and the right-wing politicians that are in bed with them to shut down any opposition to Amendment-1 is appalling thuggery!

I'm now more than ever determined to let voters know the follow-the-money facts behind this and what it really means - it's certainly not about families, choice, or charter schools!

Vote NO on the charter school amendment!