PTA conducting summit about charter schools
by Megan Thornton
mthornton@cherokeetribune.com
October 05, 2012 12:44 AM | 2849 views | 5 5 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ACWORTH — The Georgia PTA is conducting an educational summit on the upcoming charter amendment at the new Clark Creek STEM Academy with a featured speaker who has made recent headlines for an incident at the state capitol.

Less than a month away from election day, the meeting will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the school located at 3219 Hunt Road in Acworth.

The summit will highlight Georgia PTA’s opposing stance to the constitutional amendment that would create a state-level commission to hear petitions from charter schools that have been denied by local school boards. Additionally, the commission would be charged with allocating state tax dollars to those schools it approves.

The guest speaker at the summit is Sally Fitzgerald, educational policy consultant for Georgia PTA, who was reportedly shoved at a recent anti-charter schools amendment news conference in Atlanta.

Fitzgerald and state Sen. Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur) filed a report with a state capitol police officer last Thursday morning and asked for battery charges against Georgia Charter Schools Association Executive Vice President Andrew Lewis, according to reports on television station WXIA.

In a statement, Lewis said he was attempting to stand between Fitzgerald and a parent, causing Fitzgerald to “lose (her) balance,” which he apologized for, WXIA reported.

At the summit, Fitzgerald said she will be discussing the opposition of the Georgia PTA to the constitutional amendment, which she said is “misleading in the language” and “takes power for the education of our children away from local school boards.”

Kimberly Carson, vice president of Chapman Intermediate School’s PTA and legislative chairwoman for Clark Creek’s PTA, said she and other district PTA leaders want to hold the summit to clear up what she feels is a lot of confusion about the upcoming vote.

“We want people to be informed voters and make knowledged decisions on (Nov. 6,)” Carson said. “Personally, what I’ve seen from parents is a lot of confusion. I think this is really going to help people understand the issue better.”

Carson said she is spreading the word of the meeting through PTA email blasts and will post street signs over the weekend.

“Truly, what I’ve seen is confusion, which is one of the main reasons I personally wanted to hold this,” Carson said. “What every parent wants is school choice, but sometimes they don’t understand the political things that will happen if things like this get passed.”

The Georgia PTA in July came out against the constitutional amendment, urging Georgians to vote no at the polls.

The statewide organization repeated its opposition to the amendment in a statement in August, claiming the amendment would turn charter school students into a “favored class” of student who would receive more funds from the state than those attending a traditional public school and would reduce funding for local public schools.

“We cannot support this constitutional amendment which will create an inequity in funding, siphon funds from local public schools where the great majority of the students in Georgia receive their education and deny parents meaningful engagement,” the group said in the Aug. 31 statement. “Georgia PTA strongly opposes this constitutional amendment.”

Georgia PTA joins many public school groups and leaders in its opposition, including the Cherokee County Board of Education, whose members voted 4-2 during the board’s April 19 meeting to approve a resolution urging voters to oppose the amendment.

However, backers of the amendment include many members of the local delegation as well as Gov. Nathan Deal, who selected Cherokee Charter Academy in May as the location to sign the bill’s enabling legislation, House Bill 797.

Comments
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Kids First
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October 08, 2012
How can this be 'informative' if only one side is speaking? Only one side that says in this article that they will be talking about why everyone should vote no. It seems if you want informed voters both sides should be invited to present.
Rae Anne
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October 05, 2012
Exactly. They operate like the mafia.
no it's not
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October 05, 2012
This is not what the AG was talking about...he ruled that school boards as a whole can not campaign for or against the issue. PTAs are 501 (3)(c) organizations and as such can not endorse a politcial party or campaign but are permitted to campaign and use funds on an issue. Any organization that uses the school facility can say what they want if it is in the confines of their meeting..that is why churches can meet at schools...that is why PTAs can hold a forum for one side or the other.

My questions is what can charter schools do? They have had children write letters in support of HR 1162, taken field trips to the Capitol to rally (during a school day) and the school in Cherokee held a reception when Deal was there signing HB 797.
Kara Martin
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October 05, 2012
This is exactly what the AG was referring to as illegal tactics used by the school, PTA, Local boards, etc. You can NOT tell the public to vote yes or no while on school property and while using email contacts from the school system. Breaking the law does not seem to be a concern of the PTA.
Terri Harris
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January 10, 2013
I have not read the AG opinion so I can not make any specific comments but I do want to clear up a few things. The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech especially political speech. If groups are allowed to meet at the school, they have the right to speak in favor or in opposition to any political issue. The fact that the meeting takes place at a school has no bearing on their right to free speech.
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