Columbia Co. schools hold meeting on charter school debate, opponents call it 'propaganda'

By: Katie Beasley Email
By: Katie Beasley Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Oct. 22, 2012

EVANS, Ga. -- We're about two weeks from Election Day and a decision that has folks fired up on the Georgia charter school amendment. On Monday night, the Columbia County School System is holding an informational meeting about their stance on the amendment.

In 2008, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled local boards of education have exclusive authority of public education in Georgia. This amendment would change that. Really, it all comes down to how you view your child's education.

It's a polarizing issue: Should the state have the power to approve and regulate public charter schools?

"Under this amendment it would take the control completely out of the hands of the local authorities. This is nothing more than another segregation of education," said Columbia County Schools Superintendent Charles Nagle.

"This is an appeals process for an application that may have merit," argued former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, a board member for the Georgia Charter Education Foundation. "Even when this amendment passes, local school districts will still have the option of creating charter schools."

They're both passionate arguments in the name of education.

"We're in favor of additional choice for families when it comes to educating their children," Young said.

"This is all about education to me, this is very personal to me because it has a lot to do with the education of children," Nagle said.

And Monday, the Columbia County School System is holding an informational meeting for the PTO and community.

"We will try to present the facts as what it would mean for Columbia County and what it would mean for Georgia," Nagle said.

"It's one-sided information. I would call it a propaganda session tonight, it's not an informational meeting, it's propaganda coming from the local school district," Young said.

Two sides, that aren't going down without a fight.

"Do we put our faith in legislators and people who should be looking out for the best interest for all children rather than the elite few? I take issue with Bob Young or anybody else that feels that way," Nagle said.

"The people who are against this are happy with the status quo and I'm sorry that they feel that way and it's sad that they like the status quo," Young said.

"I'm not debating Bob Young. Bob Young has his opinion just as well. How long has Bob Young been in education?" Nagle asked.

We're not ignoring one of the biggest points of contention here ... money. Young calls the money issue a smoke screen, that the school districts will not lose any money, only students.

He says the charter schools will be funded by the education department budget. Nagle calls that frightening, since districts around the state continue to see budget cuts and furlough days, arguing public schools need to be funded first.

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