Actions on Tuesday by the state legislature and the Georgia Board of Education demonstrate pretty vividly the schizophrenia we have about how to make our schools better.  We clearly zigzag between wanting to give lots of control to some local schools in hopes of making them excellent and holding on to control of the minutiae for most schools for fear we will not be equitable.

The Board’s Charter Schools Committee on Tuesday considered ways to handle appeals of the decisions of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.  Charter schools are designed to turn over control of many decisions that otherwise are written in stone.  We hope they are a vehicle to promote creativity and responsibility among parents, communities, and educators for improving student learning.  They are free to control class size and teacher credentials, focus on special curricula, broaden the school day, engage new partners, etc.  Seven schools were approved by the Charter Schools Commission but the decisions are being challenged by local boards or those whose applications were declined.

Likewise on Tuesday the Georgia Senate expanded the definition of a textbook and the House decided that a school could be defined as a middle school with only two of the three grades, 6, 7 and 8, that serve our early adolescents.  What?  Local schools can’t decide to spend their “textbook money” on items like kindles and computers that support student instruction?  Local boards can’t expect the state to fund children as “middle schoolers” regardless of what building they are in?  How can we unleash the creativity, energy, and common sense of our educational professionals when formulas are so prescriptive and definitions are so tight?

It must be frustrating for educators who want to aim for the stars, even the tree tops, but have to mess around in the weeds.  

Come to think of it, it may be just as frustrating for elected officials who run on platforms of hope and change and vision to spend their time micromanaging these decisions.

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