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MEADORS: Voters deliver blow to charter opposition

In the crossfire of vitriol igniting the charter school debate allies and foes faced off, education officials and legislators parted ideological ways, and school boards approved and published anti-charter resolutions only to have removal forced upon them by the state attorney general.

All the while the Georgia School Boards Association clogged email pipelines with impassioned pleas to make it go away as if the lights were going out in Georgia.

But voters didn't buy the rub, refusing to dull the sting of a bi-partisan mandate enjoying support from both presidential candidates and Gov. Deal. Trumping resegregation howls akin to something out of The Deliverance the electorate delivered a chilling bi-partisan blow to charter opposition.

On the west coast Seattle voters fought government schools too, approving Initiative 1240 to become the 42nd state to ratify public charters.

Plagued by lagging global rankings of U.S. students in math and science, placing 25th among 34 industrialized nations, voters had grown weary.

More than 58 percent of Georgia voters cast resounding support for students locked in ZIP codes littered with failing public schools in a state historically gripped in the quagmire of average national education rankings.

Of 159 Georgia counties Clayton topped the list with the most voter support, 71.45 percent, with Newton County in second place at 69.08 percent where voters delivered mandates to local boards in a seeming indictment of some public schools.

Clayton and Newton surpassed even DeKalb's 63.9 percent as it wrangles with SACS. DeKalb was one of seven systems mounting court challenges in 2009 and 2010 to the 2008 Charter Schools Commission Act. But 63.9 percent of voters had enough.

Is the dramatic win commentary on all schools? Certainly not, but even some teachers, fed up with teleprompted lesson plans and intrusive reformers found safety in the privacy of the ballot.

As the money defense paled and the misery index rose, voters dealt a sucker punch to schools that have dominated Georgia media with sinister tales of embezzlement, testing scandals, criminal indictments, budget oversights, nepotism, opaque government and low accountability.

More money was not the answer. More money is never the answer unless it is more money well spent. At any rate the message came: we are no longer buying what you're selling. The federal budget for public education hovers at $77.4 billion.

Many charters surpass traditional school graduation rates. The Washington Informer reports average graduation rates of 76.7 percent, far above the state's target of 63 percent. Closer to home cohort graduation rates range from a low at Alcovy High (64.71 percent) to a high at Eastside (70.60 percent) with nearby Morgan County High, a charter, holding a current cohort rate of 86.1 percent.

As for now the bi-coastal message is clear: educational mediocrity has become constitutional change.

Yet litigious types won't rest, perpetuating dogma that the charter win was embedded in voter confusion and tricky ballot language leaving outside observers of the state to wonder if the devil really did go down to Georgia looking for common sense to steal.

Jeff Meadors represents District One on the Newton County Board of Education and may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com

Comments

Satan69 1 year, 10 months ago

I am the devil and have come to Georgia and I approve this message

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gsm7476 1 year, 10 months ago

NCSS needs to change the business Model they have been using. It is too top heavy it’s time to trim some on Newton DR not the class room less money is coming your way. It is time for new leadership with a fresh vision.

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gsm7476 1 year, 10 months ago

PS to the 4 BOE members. I don’t like it when someone tells me how to vote.

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Satan69 1 year, 10 months ago

GSM I agree. We need someone new Absolutely.

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Billy 1 year, 10 months ago

Anything that offers an alternative to the system and people that tried to squelch Meadors is good, good, good...

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