Georgia Republican’s just don’t get it. Or so it would seem, based on WSB Radio Commentator Erick Erickson’s comments Monday night. The issue was the blockage, in the Georgia State Senate, of a bill to allow a plebiscite on a constitutional amendment that would empower the State Department of Education to force the creation of local state sponsored charter schools. The blockage was motivated not by any concern for local or home rule principles, and was effected by the Senate Democratic Caucus, who desire to use the issue as a bargaining chip to allow consideration and passage of some other unrelated bill.
What is surprising is that Republicans seemed to be overwhelmingly in favor of the act, behavior which both confounds and informs us of the real nature of these legislators. We have now, for some ten years, heard nothing but repeated claims and polemic assertions that these Republican legislators are conservative. Since achieving a legislative majority, we have no evidence that Republicans are in fact and deed conservative, and Mr. Erickson’s rant on the subject further confuses any suspicion that they are conservatives. The popular editor of the net magazine “RED STATE” and a frequent CNN contributor, Mr .Erickson could also be called Mr Georgia Republican, and yet here he proposes and supports the notion that local ELECTED school boards should be forced to channel resources to satisfy a state mandate, regardless of the will of the local electorate as expressed in their election of the school board members. Here is evidence of the arrogance and hubris of the Republican management of Georgia State Government, here is “Central Planning,” here is the certainty that such politicians “know what’s best for you.”
And what of the size of our State Government, what has the Republican majority had to say about the size or organization of our state government? Nothing! Not one major department has been eliminated, and the constitutional constraint requiring a balanced budget has led to constraints on spending through downsizing of Departments, reorganization, RIF’s (Reduction In Force,) reduced employee hours and furloughs. No department’s responsibilities and work product that existed in 2002 has been eliminated, if altered, they have been reorganized or renamed. I would argue that Georgia’s government has increased its responsibilities, its footprint, and its influence and control over its citizens since Republicans were voted control by an uninformed and ill-educated electorate.
Republicans constantly espouse the notion (it would have to have substance to be an idea) that Government should be run like a business, or as we say, a “biddness.” That folly ignores the fact that Governments are not operated as for profit enterprises, and more importantly, it has no customers and no product to sell. As regarding the services it perform, it does so at the behest of its citizens.
Most importantly, no company organized as the State of Georgia is organized would survive even a year in a “free-market” environment, another Republican buzzword of great import. As the evidence below clearly illustrates, the notion that Republicans actually believe that State Government can be organized and managed as efficiently as a major corporation, say IBM or Lockheed Martin, is easily disproven. In fact, the Organization Charts linked to below are proof that they have made no substantial attempt to reorganize State Government, and a review of all legislation enacted since January 10, 2005, the date Republicans first controlled, in modern times, both houses of the General Assembly, will further serve to demonstrate that no legislation providing for systemic reform of Georgia Government has ever been seriously proposed, let alone put to vote. In point of fact, no systemic reform has ever been attempted by either party. Absent a constitutional convention, none can be proposed.
Consider the Organizational Chart of the State of Georgia:
Anyone reading this an MBA? Not your normal form for a successful business.
Or, even better, consider a more detailed Organizational Chart of the State of Georgia:
Now it may appear that I am off topic, but consider that these charts present the barest actual outline of State Government organization, and Republicans, and Mr. Republican Erick Erickson, think we need one more agency, in an already bloated State Department of Education. An agency that would have the authority to impose its will on a duly elected Local School Board. Grass roots support and local control of K-12 school systems is admittedly a cornerstone of education in Georgia. That control, that local citizen influence, that neighborhood involvement, was seriously dampened when, in 1990, voters approved an amendment to the State Constitution eliminating the direct election of local school superintendents, and “professionalizing” the administration of school districts. Since school district superintendents have had no need to be accountable to the local electorate, billions of tax dollars have been spent to “improve” education in Georgia, as measured by national metrics, but to no avail, with only minimal improvement, if any at all. Since 1991, the income and benefits of a dramatically larger pool of “professional administrators” has, however, dramatically increased, particularly in urban districts.
What we are left with, at this time, is yet another “special interest” legislative proposal to amend the State Constitution to further weaken local control of K-12 education, and further reward the disastrously unsuccessful “professional educators” at the State Department of Education by extending their hegemony over local school boards, regardless of the fact that those local boards are composed of local citizens who stand for election every four years. A final note of the imbecility of this proposal, and ignorance of those who champion it, just as the Head Start Entitlement Program has been empirically demonstrated to have no measurable effect on positive individual educational outcomes after third grade, so current and topical educational literature is filling with anecdotal and empirical evidence that Charter Schools offer no statistically significant improvement in favorable educational outcomes, despite the assertions of their proponents.
Research has demonstrated that several innovations associated with charter schools might well improve outcomes in public schools: gender separation, uniforms, longer school days, intensive instruction formats, personalized instruction, and greatly increased discipline and student personal accountability all have improved student outcomes, and teacher classroom innovation, curriculum supplements, reduced class sizes and more teaching aids have also been viewed as contributors to successful educational outcomes. Most importantly, parental involvement and influence has been the truest predictor of student achievement.
The Republican Party of Georgia, and Mr. Republican, Erick Erickson, are in error to support the proposed amendment, and further, by their failure to inform themselves, to review demonstrated outcomes, and to seek a more appropriate solution, and by their support of this proposal to seek to remove hegemony from duly elected school board members, and increase the size, scope and influence of the state government, they demonstrate they are in no way conservative. They are simply politicians, catering to the lobbyists, without care or concern for the consequences of their actions. In so many ways they are the “democrats” of this “democracy.” There are none heard in either Georgia political party that understand the notion of a “republic” nor the responsibilities of a “republican.”
Here’s a thought for Erick Erickson and his right wing democrats: Start with the parents, what do they want as an outcome for the child? Next, study the child, what does that child need to achieve the parent’s desired outcome? Evaluate the resources of the State; how can the State create an environment that educates and nurtures the child so that the desires of the parents are fulfilled? That, Mr. Erickson, is what a conservative State Government would be about; every child given an equal opportunity to achieve, to succeed, to fulfill the parent’s desires and the child’s ambitions.