Richard M. Quartarone, the President of Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools (SEACS) sent out this stament regarding GA Senate Bill 167 which is currently under consideration. Quartarone makes a strong case that the bill should not be passed. Please read the whole thing and, if you agree, contact your State representatives.
Dear Representative Coleman and Ms. Hames:
Please accept this correspondence in opposition to Senate Bill 167 on behalf of the SEACS Board of Directors. Southeast Atlanta Communities for School (SEACS – pronounced “seeks”). SEACS is a non-profit volunteer organization founded in 2010 currently with almost 1000 active members that advocate for traditional and charter public schools in Atlanta.
SEACS and its membership are very concerned over the language of SB 167 which would allow and in some cases directly prohibits the adoption of nationally accredited and recognized testing standards. By Governor Deal’s May 15, 2013 Executive Order, the personal information of Georgia students and parents shall be protected from national reporting – a concern among many parents in this State. However, the Governor also has routinely championed local school districts as the decision makers on curriculum. In fact in June of 2013 in a statement before the West Cobb Business Association, Governor Deal stated that if the State of Georgia were to abandon Common Core after the time and money spent on its implementation, “We leave our children in the lurch.” In that same statement in June of 2013, Governor Deal stated the factual premise of SB 167 were “just factually incorrect.”
SB 167 is a perilous leap from protecting personal information and alleged local autonomy to enforcement of the author’s dogma against the Common Core standards and simply substituting one unforgiving master for another. The membership of SEACS is well aware of the enormous amounts of budgetary resources local school systems have already diverted from other programs in to Common Core compliance. SB 167 will make those investments meaningless and provides no funding for replacement curriculum. As such, many local school districts will be left with piecemeal curriculum and a State level mandate not to purchase or implement further Common Core standards. We agree with Governor Deal that an unfunded mandate to abandon Common Core at this point would “leave our children in the lurch.”
Finally, SB 167 will not dissuade the U.S. Department of Education from implementing Common Core. However, SB167 will give Georgia students a decided disadvantage in their ability to compete nationally for college admission and local schools to compete for federal funds. For instance, a broad (and entirely plausible reading) of SB 167 would not allow schools to alter their current curriculum to address changes in national collegiate admissions tests like the SAT or ACT.
SEACS and its membership implore Governor Deal and the members of the House Education Committee to again table SB 167 to allow further analysis and public involvement before a vote. Should a vote proceed and SB 167 pass the House of Representatives, we respectfully as Governor Deal stand by his convictions voiced in 2013 and put the school children of this State above election year politics.
SEACS is made up of parents, teachers, and residents of southeast Atlanta who are committed to improving the educational opportunities for children who attend both traditional and charter schools in the Maynard Jackson High School Cluster of the Atlanta Public School system. There are 10 elementary schools, 5 middle schools and 2 high schools in what is referred to as the Jackson Cluster. The geographical area of the Jackson Cluster includes neighborhoods such as Grant Park, Edgewood, Ormewood Park, Kirkwood, East Lake, Summerhill and others. The students, families and residents of the Jackson Cluster comprise one of the most demographically and educationally diverse communities in Atlanta. Jackson Cluster Schools include ANCS, Benteen Elementary, Burgess-Peterson Academy, Coan Middle, DH Stanton Elementary, Drew Academy, Dunbar Elementary, King Middle, Maynard Jackson High, Parkside Elementary, Toomer Elementary, Wesley International Academy, and Whitefoord Elementary. The Jackson Cluster is home to more Charter Schools than any other APS cluster.
Richard M. Quartarone
President, Southeast Atlanta Communities for Schools (SEACS)
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