Re-segregation of Georgia’s Public Schools

Re-segregation of Georgia’s Public Schools

Republican Lawmakers outdo Liberal Democrats!

Georgia Voters of every political, economic and educational persuasion, as well as those of varied racial identity are finding themselves united in opposition to Amendment One, the proposed Georgia Charter School Amendment, placed on the November 6, 2012 General Election Ballot, by vote of both chambers of the Georgia General Assembly. I am no stranger to this Constitutional Amendment, having reported on its impending legislative passage in a commentary posted March 15, 2012:

(http://www.bullsullivan.com/2012/03/15/georgia-republican-lawmakers-still-dont-get-it/)

In that commentary I criticized Georgia Republicans for their ham handed abandonment of the conservative principles of the Founders and the espoused, touted statements of the Tea Party regarding the proper role of a conservative government. I wrote then, and still believe today, the following excerpted summation of the Republican dominated  Georgia General Assembly’s philosophic cant toward progressive liberality and cultural socialism: “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.”

My comment in this article criticizes a different, more sinister and certain result of the possible passage, on November 6, 2012, of Amendment 1, the inevitable Re-segregation of many of Georgia’s Local Public School Systems. Last Monday, I listened again to Georgia’s Mr. Republican, Erick Erickson, proselytize the benefits of passage of this extraordinarily intrusive (on local elected school boards) amendment. On his new prime drive time soap box, WSB 750AM and 95.5 FM radio’s program, “Evening News from 5 to 7” Mr. Erickson used the entire two hours to bloviate vitriol against those who oppose the Constitutional Amendment’s passage, specifically, the State Superintendent of Schools John Barge, and the many local School Superintendents who have risen, almost unanimously, to voice opposition to the passage of Amendment One.

Here I must inject, parenthetically, my utter disbelief that the News Voice of the South, the venerable Atlanta radio station WSB, home of the most listened to morning news program in the South, winner of numerous journalism awards, home of the trusted and beloved host Scott Slade,  a welcome companion to tens of thousands of morning drive time motorists, would dare call Erick Erickson a newsman, or would insult my intelligence by even inferring he is a journalist, by naming this two hour talking head rant the “Evening News.”  Note to Cox and Company: Opinion is not News!

The crux of most proponents’ arguments, including Mr. Erickson, have been that opposition, by superintendents and locally elected school boards is entirely pecuniary in nature, that is, the opponents are worried about losing per pupil state funding, which as they assert, rightfully follows the student. The State’s funding derives from two primary sources, the (4%) four per cent state sales tax, paid by almost all Georgians on almost all retail purchases, and funding from the National Government, derived primarily from Federal income tax revenue.  As a result of deteriorating economic conditions, decreased local sales tax revenue and Federal income tax revenue and the malaise of stimulation of and growth in the National GDP ( Gross Domestic Product), fewer dollars follow each student, while both regulatory requirements, compliance costs and student populations continue to grow at a rate exceeding the growth of revenue. In fact, In Georgia, as in most other states, revenue growth has been negative, reflecting severe decreases in total available revenue. Overall per student funding has dropped dramatically in Georgia, both as a factor of decreased retail sales, and decreased property tax revenue as a result of substantial devaluation of property values. This situation is not unique to Georgia, but is pandemic through-out the Nation, and certainly, every superintendent, every school administrator, every school board would be derelict if they were not concerned with a pending further reduction of revenue, as surely would be the result of passage of Amendment 1.

Many of our Republican lawmakers, and certainly the majority of their strategists, including talking heads, such as Erick Erickson, correctly cite the Superintendent’s financial concern, but completely mis-characterize their opposition to Amendment 1. Any Superintendent who failed to be concerned with funding for all the students in the district would be grossly negligent, and any Superintendent who failed to be concerned about the academic environment and opportunity of each and every student would and should be charged with malfeasance. Georgia’s local school systems have cut their budgets in almost every possible way. Hiring freezes, reductions in force through attrition, deferred maintenance of facilities, restrictions in purchasing instruction materials, professional and hourly wage reductions, all have failed to fill gapping holes in annual budgets. Many school systems have seen their State funding slashed over twenty percent (20%) in just the past several years. The is little budgetary  “fat” left, and the sole alternatives remaining are increasing already high teacher pupil ratios, reducing the number of teaching aides, and raising the millage rate to increase property taxes on already over burdened property owners. Superintendents correctly see passage of Amendment 1, the Georgia Charter School Amendment, as an untoward usurpation of their Constitutional responsibilities and rights, and as a politically motivated “power grab” on the part of the General Assembly and Governor Deal, whose power of patronage, already abused by his cronyism, would be significantly increased.

Leaving those not inconsiderable concerns behind, the actions of both Governor Deal and a majority of the members of the Georgia General Assembly reek of the seemingly immutable intransigence of the “Separate but Equal” proponents who populated the General Assembly throughout the twentieth century. Even “Forced Integration” did little to stop the overt educational discrimination which existed then, and continues to exist today. The notion of racial superiority as a state promulgated practice may be dead, but the notion of educational segregation, first seen in the flight by whites to “Private Academies” and later “Private Christian Schools” remains a legacy of and remnant of the discriminatory practices of “Jim Crow Legislation.” I want to make clear my purpose in asserting this fact. In no way do I oppose the notion or realization of “private schools, or religious academies.” I am not so naïve as to think that racial biases and private, personal discrimination has ceased to exist, nor do I maintain that it should. But when the actions of a predominately “white” middle class “good ole boy” institution and an aging “white” ethically challenged Governor seek to reapply the notion that their should exist a “Separate but Equal” school system, removed from local voter control, subject to no checks and balances other than those deemed by them appropriate, then it is time to admit that “Jim Crow” lives in the form of a State administered “Charter School System.”

Consider for a moment, briefly, the current system of educating students in Georgia. We as a citizenry have spent more money annually per student than roughly half the other states, yet we consistently rank among the very lowest in student academic achievement, as measured by testing systems for which we have paid tens of millions of dollars. Any student in a public school system in Georgia may state factually to the General Assembly and Governor that “You could have done better.”  Any student in Public Schools in Georgia can reasonably assert we have spent quite a lot of money to no good effect. I posit that if our students could “leave” to attend better schools, they would.

Now, let us turn to the Professional Educators, the Administrators, the Superintendents, the Teachers, those who have the power to “vote with their feet.” Few leave. They are paid at or above the National median wage for the work they do. In fact, many from surrounding states seek employment opportunities in Georgia. They have a good thing going, and they are educated enough to recognize it. A disparity certainly exists between urban and rural public school systems, primarily in facilities and wages; best explained as a function of two factors, a much lower and financially capable property tax base, and the existence of numerous “Private Academies” and “Church Schools” primarily attended by the children of more “affluent” parents. In other words, by children who are “mostly” white and “mostly” financially capable. I note there are exceptions to this assertion as well.

The point I am making is this: Allowing The State of Georgia to create Charter Schools without the consent and support of local duly elected school board members is to willingly consent to the further re-segregation of public schools, and the re-institution of de facto “Jim Crow” “Separate but Equal” dual school systems. It ought to be illegal, it is most certainly immoral! It can not be argued that this is not the closely held belief of a majority of school system superintendents, and that they don’t realize the socioeconomic impact that passage of this Constitutional Amendment would have on hundreds of systems. It can be argued that they are educated enough to realize that calling a majority of our graying white good ole boy legislators “closet racists” would do their career no good.

Here is proof that what I assure will happen will lead to why I assert will surely occur. For an example, consider an idealized school district of 1000 students attending a “traditional” school system. Assume a normal distribution of intellect, family wealth, culture and parental involvement.  Assume a normal distribution of grades, test scores, and graduation rates. Now assume that the parents most interested in their children’s scholastic achievement and educational advancement are denied, for good cause, their request for a Charter School. They then petition the State of Georgia Department of Education for a “State Originated” Charter, and are granted their request. The parent’s who are most involved in their children’s educational needs, most active in the PTA, most interested in academic achievement and opportunity are the parents of the children who will no doubt attend that Charter School, and in fact, it may be a better choice for their children than the traditional school they would have attended (however, some current research posits that there may be no measurable increase in academic achievement in a majority of sampled charter schools).

I would ask the reader of this commentary to imagine that grades, test scores and graduation rate distribution chart of the remaining children, those attending the district’s traditional schools. What differences do you imagine you would see? Now again, imagine the distribution chart for those same students of intellect, family wealth, culture and parental involvement. How radically would it have changed?  Investigate the effects of Charter Schools as a whole on entire population of any district. Is it not a fact that there exists a demonstrable “Re-segregation” of student population based on cultural values which reflects, even mirrors, race and parental education and economic status?

Every value that American Public Schools have promulgated, to the enormous benefit of the Nation and the world, is under assault. America’s educational dilemma is not that the resources are unavailable, but that they have been directed to benefit every group who is a stakeholder in this vast economic engine but the one group that can effect change and that must be included and involved, by law if necessary, in any viable and sustainable solution. And that group, and it truly is a “group,” is each child and his or her family.

It ain’t a conundrum, people, it is so simple! If mom or mom and dad (even mom-mom or dad-dad) don’t care about “it”, it, what ever “it” is, won’t succeed.

 

Votes of Georgia General Assembly Senators, March 19th 2012:

General Assembly; state-wide education policy; clarify authority – CA

2011-2012 Regular Session
Senate Vote #646 (ADOPTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT)
Yea (Y): 40Nay (N): 16Not Voting (-): 0Excused (E): 0
  1. Y :ALBERS, 56TH
    Y :BALFOUR, 9TH
    Y :BETHEL, 54TH
    Y :BULLOCH, 11TH
    N :BUTLER, 55TH
    Y :CARTER, 1ST
    N :CARTER, 42ND
    Y :CHANCE, 16TH
    Y :COWSERT, 46TH
    Y :CRANE, 28TH
    Y :CROSBY, 13TH
    N :DAVENPORT, 44TH
    Y :DAVIS, 22ND
    N :FORT, 39TH
    Y :GINN, 47TH
    Y :GOGGANS, 7TH
    Y :GOLDEN, 8TH
    Y :GOOCH, 51ST
    Y :GRANT, 25TH
  2. Y :HAMRICK, 30TH
    N :HARBISON, 15TH
    Y :HEATH, 31ST
    N :HENSON, 41ST
    Y :HILL, 32ND
    Y :HILL, 4TH
    Y :HOOKS, 14TH
    Y :JACKSON, 24TH
    N :JACKSON, 2ND
    N :JAMES, 35TH
    Y :JEFFARES, 17TH
    N :JONES, 10TH
    Y :LIGON, JR., 3RD
    Y :LOUDERMILK, 52ND
    Y :MCKOON, 29TH
    Y :MILLAR, 40TH
    Y :MILLER, 49TH
    Y :MULLIS, 53RD
    Y :MURPHY, 27TH
  3. N :ORROCK, 36TH
    N :PARIS, 26TH
    N :RAMSEY, SR., 43RD
    Y :ROGERS, 21ST
    N :SEAY, 34TH
    Y :SHAFER, 48TH
    N :SIMS, 12TH
    Y :STATON, 18TH
    Y :STONE, 23RD
    N :STONER, 6TH
    N :TATE, 38TH
    Y :THOMPSON, 33RD
    Y :THOMPSON, 5TH
    Y :TIPPINS, 37TH
    Y :TOLLESON, 20TH
    Y :UNTERMAN, 45TH
    Y :WILKINSON, 50TH
    Y :WILLIAMS, 19TH

 

Votes of Georgia General Assembly Representatives, February 22, 2012

General Assembly; state-wide education policy; clarify authority – CA:  Amendment 1

2011-2012 Regular Session
House Vote #518 (ADOPT)
Yea (Y): 123Nay (N): 48Not Voting (-): 8Excused (E): 1
  1. N :ABDUL-SALAAM, 74TH
    N :ABRAMS, 84TH
    Y :ALLISON, 8TH
    Y :AMERSON, 9TH
    Y :ANDERSON, 117TH
    Y :ASHE, 56TH
    Y :ATWOOD, 179TH
    N :BAKER, 78TH
    Y :BATTLES, 15TH
    N :BEASLEY-TEAGUE, 65TH
    N :BELL, 58TH
    N :BENFIELD, 85TH
    Y :BENTON, 31ST
    N :BEVERLY, 139TH
    Y :BLACK, 174TH
    Y :BRADDOCK, 19TH
    Y :BROCKWAY, 101ST
    N :BROOKS, 63RD
    – :BRUCE, 64TH
    Y :BRYANT, 160TH
    N :BUCKNER, 130TH
    Y :BURNS, 157TH
    Y :BYRD, 20TH
    Y :CARSON, 43RD
    Y :CARTER, 175TH
    Y :CASAS, 103RD
    Y :CHANNELL, 116TH
    Y :CHEOKAS, 134TH
    Y :CLARK, 104TH
    Y :CLARK, 98TH
    Y :COLEMAN, 97TH
    Y :COLLINS, 27TH
    Y :COOKE, 18TH
    Y :COOMER, 14TH
    Y :COOPER, 41ST
    N :CRAWFORD, 16TH
    Y :DAVIS, 109TH
    – :DAWKINS-HAIGLER, 93RD
    Y :DEMPSEY, 13TH
    N :DICKERSON, 95TH
    Y :DICKEY, 136TH
    Y :DICKSON, 6TH
    Y :DOBBS, 53RD
    Y :DOLLAR, 45TH
    Y :DRENNER, 86TH
    Y :DUDGEON, 24TH
    N :DUKES, 150TH
    Y :DUNAHOO, 25TH
    Y :DUTTON, 166TH
    Y :EHRHART, 36TH
    Y :ENGLAND, 108TH
    N :EPPS, 128TH
    Y :EPPS, 140TH
    Y :EVANS, 40TH
    N :FLOYD, 99TH
    – :FLUDD, 66TH
    N :FRAZIER, 123RD
    Y :FULLERTON, 151ST
    N :GARDNER, 57TH
    Y :GEISINGER, 48TH
  2. Y :GOLICK, 34TH
    N :GORDON, 162ND
    Y :GREENE, 149TH
    Y :HAMILTON, 23RD
    Y :HANNER, 148TH
    N :HARBIN, 118TH
    Y :HARDEN, 147TH
    Y :HARDEN, 28TH
    Y :HARRELL, 106TH
    Y :HATCHETT, 143RD
    N :HATFIELD, 177TH
    N :HEARD, 114TH
    E :HECKSTALL, 62ND
    Y :HEMBREE, 67TH
    N :HENSON, 87TH
    Y :HIGHTOWER, 68TH
    Y :HILL, 21ST
    Y :HOLCOMB, 82ND
    N :HOLMES, 125TH
    Y :HOLT, 112TH
    Y :HORNE, 71ST
    Y :HOUSTON, 170TH
    N :HOWARD, 121ST
    Y :HUDSON, 124TH
    N :HUGLEY, 133RD
    N :JACKSON, 142ND
    Y :JACOBS, 80TH
    N :JAMES, 135TH
    Y :JASPERSE, 12TH
    Y :JERGUSON, 22ND
    N :JOHNSON, 37TH
    Y :JONES, 44TH
    Y :JONES, 46TH
    N :JORDAN, 77TH
    Y :KAISER, 59TH
    N :KENDRICK, 94TH
    Y :KIDD, 141ST
    Y :KNIGHT, 126TH
    Y :LANE, 167TH
    Y :LINDSEY, 54TH
    Y :LONG, 61ST
    Y :MADDOX, 127TH
    Y :MADDOX, 172ND
    Y :MANNING, 32ND
    N :MARIN, 96TH
    Y :MARTIN, 47TH
    Y :MAXWELL, 17TH
    Y :MAYO, 91ST
    Y :MCBRAYER, 153RD
    Y :MCCALL, 30TH
    Y :MCKILLIP, 115TH
    Y :MEADOWS, 5TH
    Y :MITCHELL, 88TH
    Y :MORGAN, 39TH
    Y :MORRIS, 155TH
    N :MOSBY, 90TH
    N :MURPHY, 120TH
    Y :NEAL, 1ST
    N :NEAL, 75TH
    N :NIMMER, 178TH
  3. Y :NIX, 69TH
    Y :O`NEAL, 146TH
    Y :OLIVER, 83RD
    Y :PAK, 102ND
    Y :PARENT, 81ST
    Y :PARRISH, 156TH
    Y :PARSONS, 42ND
    Y :PEAKE, 137TH
    Y :POWELL, 171ST
    Y :POWELL, 29TH
    Y :PRUETT, 144TH
    Y :PURCELL, 159TH
    – :RALSTON, 7TH
    Y :RAMSEY, 72ND
    N :RANDALL, 138TH
    N :REECE, 11TH
    Y :RICE, 51ST
    Y :RILEY, 50TH
    Y :ROBERTS, 154TH
    Y :ROGERS, 10TH
    Y :ROGERS, 26TH
    Y :RYNDERS, 152ND
    Y :SCOTT, 2ND
    N :SCOTT, 76TH
    Y :SETZLER, 35TH
    N :SHAW, 176TH
    Y :SHELDON, 105TH
    Y :SIMS, 119TH
    Y :SIMS, 169TH
    N :SMITH, 122ND
    N :SMITH, 129TH
    Y :SMITH, 131ST
    Y :SMITH, 168TH
    Y :SMITH, 70TH
    N :SMYRE, 132ND
    N :SPENCER, 180TH
    N :STEPHENS, 161ST
    – :STEPHENS, 164TH
    N :STEPHENSON, 92ND
    Y :TALTON, 145TH
    Y :TANKERSLEY, 158TH
    Y :TAYLOR, 173RD
    N :TAYLOR, 55TH
    Y :TAYLOR, 79TH
    Y :TEASLEY, 38TH
    Y :THOMAS, 100TH
    – :VACANT, 107TH
    – :WAITES, 60TH
    Y :WATSON, 163RD
    – :WELCH, 110TH
    Y :WELDON, 3RD
    N :WILKERSON, 33RD
    Y :WILKINSON, 52ND
    Y :WILLARD, 49TH
    Y :WILLIAMS, 113TH
    N :WILLIAMS, 165TH
    Y :WILLIAMS, 4TH
    N :WILLIAMS, 89TH
    Y :WILLIAMSON, 111TH
    Y :YATES, 73RD
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