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Your PTSA Is Lying To You - By Joel Aaron

February 10, 2012 J

[img_assist|nid=22002|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=150]When I tell you that your PTSA is lying you, my hunch is you push back immediately. “I know these people! They are my friends! They mean well! You can’t be serious!” I can understand this response. Any time someone challenges me and the things with which I identify, my reaction is to defend myself; after all, part of my own identity is built around the organization’s with whom I associate. And PTSAs around Georgia are very well meaning. They do a lot of great things for parents and students. Unfortunately, North Fulton PTSA and many others are misleading their memberships about Georgia’s school choice House Resolution 1162. I want to clear up the confusion on behalf of the students caught in the middle of the debate.

North Fulton PTSA claims the following in an email to parents regarding charter schools. ?
“HR 1162 is a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to authorize charter schools that local school systems rejected and then, in effect seize your local property taxes to pay for them.”

The full email transcript can be read HERE.

The email uses purposely incendiary language. HR 1162 is “taxation without representation”, “state control of local schools”, a “blank check for the state”! Georgia PTA concludes by saying they “…strongly support charter schools and parent choice. Every parent has the right and responsibility to choose the best education environment that will meet the needs of their individual child. But PTA also believes in local control and the idea that the school board that you elect must be answerable to you on the way they spend the property tax dollars they raise from you. If HR 1162 is approved, the state could create their own state charter schools then use your local tax dollars to fund them.”

Let me suggest some alternative bullet points that reflect the facts, not the fiction, about HR 1162:

HR 1162 is “breaking up a money and power monopoly in education that IS taxation without representation”, it is “shared authority of local schools”, it is “added accountability for runaway status quo bureaucrats placing systems over students”.

Ask yourself this, “if PTA strongly supports charter schools and parent choice but there are few if any charter schools (or other forms of education) available to parents from which to choose in many parts of the State, does it matter whether parents have a choice?” Choice without options equals zero choice. And in far too many cases, the status quo educational bureaucracy that has reduced Georgia to a state where nearly 1/3 of our seniors become high school dropouts, giving us a 47th worst ranking nationwide, is not allowing the very choice they say they champion. Why? Because, rhetoric aside, their agenda has more to do with money, power and control than with student achievement and meeting the varied needs of a child where one size education does not fit all. Many of these bureaucracies are invested in protecting a “factory production” approach to education that is over a century old.

Ask yourself, “if PTA believes in local control and the idea that the school board that you elect must be answerable to you…”, then why do they ignore the most local control imaginable, the control of a parent in choices effecting their own child? Why do they ignore the simple fact that our lawmakers at the Capitol are also elected and answerable to you in the same way that your school board members are? And why do they ignore the danger of our current model where exclusive educational authority and control is in the hands of one entity and the dangers that come from having virtually NO accountability placed upon them?

Finally, ask yourself, why does PTA feel the need to patently mislead you and claim that “…HR 1162 [if approved], allows the state to create their own state charter schools and use your local tax dollars to fund them.” The fact is, the state has NO authority over your local tax dollars and cannot force you to fund anything with local tax dollars levied and collected in your school district. HR 1162 ONLY deals with the state portion of the dollars spent on education (nearly half of our annual state budget) and any charter they approve would come in response to an application submitted. Where do these applications come from? PARENTS in a district where the charter school will be set up!

In truth, local school boards have historically denied close to 95% of charter applications because they do not like the choice and competition that a charter brings to a district where it jeopardizes the “business monopoly” [albeit, to the overwhelming benefit of children] already in existence. In a state where 70% of likely voters say they support more school choice, “taxation without representation” equals maintaining the status quo education bureaucracy where parents and students are denied that choice by boards that hold a monopoly over the business of education, using your tax dollars to maintain the factory. That’s a far cry from liberty and justice for all! It’s time for We The People to have an educational system OF, BY and FOR the PEOPLE, not a bureaucracy OF, BY and FOR the SYSTEM. It’s time to call your legislator and ask them to support Georgia House Resolution 1162 and real educational choice.

Joel Aaron is State Communications Director for Americans For Prosperity Georgia. More information at www.JoelAaron.com.

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