The War on Excellence: Charter School Threatened in Fulton County, Georgia UPDATE: Boortz Notices; More News UPDATE: Ruh-Roh — Islamophobia?
Posted on | November 22, 2011 | 60 Comments
Last night I got an e-mail from a friend down home:
Fulton Science Academy Middle School won a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School Award. That’s no mean feat. (Even Arne Duncan “congratulated the school”.) And, if I do say so myself, it’s no surprise. My sons attend the school and my wife and I are very proud of their progress and accomplishments there.
Currently, the school charter is up for renewal and the Fulton County Superintendent of Schools is on track to recommend against renewal! They give some lame excuses to justify this, but scuttlebutt from the department suggests that it’s because “all the good students go to FSA and that makes the test scores go down at the regular schools.”
The school website has a running status page of the renewal process (fsamiddle.org) and there’s an independent website that’s tracking things, too (savefsa.com)
I’ve written to and asked Congressman Tom Price to get involved. I also suggested that he could come to the FC Board of Education meeting when they vote on the charter.Who knows? Stranger things have happened.
Hopefully this will turn out well for us, but — keep your fingers crossed!
Keep my fingers crossed? Sir, I intend to raise holy unshirted hell!
This kind of bureaucratic attempt to shut down a quality school cannot be tolerated. There ought to be a nationwide crusade on behalf of Fulton Science Academy. This is from the parents organization web site:
At the moment, the charter renewal staff of the Fulton County School System are offering non-negotiable terms regarding the charter that would hurt FSA’s ability to improve its physical facilities and manage the standards and operations of the school.
As parents of happy, well-educated FSA students, we feel it would be a shame if the Fulton County School System shuts down one of Georgia’s 4 National Blue Ribbon Middle Schools.
We ask for your support to try to prevent this from happening.
Has anybody told Neal Boortz about this? Somebody call him or send him an e-mail. I’d imagine Neal could put some mighty intense heat on the Fulton County School Board.
And while I’m thinking about it: Herman Cain is from Georgia. I’m going to do my best to bring this story to Herman’s attention: “School board bureaucrats trying to shut down award-winning charter school” sounds like the kind of issue a Republican presidential candidate ought to be talking about, don’t you agree?
UPDATE: Linked by Neal Boortz — thanks!
UPDATE II: FSA’s situation was mentioned last week in an article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Parents of Fulton Science Academy Middle say their school is being denied the “blanket waiver” of full flexibility from state education mandates they have enjoyed for 10 years because of a board practice withdrawing the option for district charter schools. . . .
Fulton Science Academy, a school of 508, is Georgia’s first charter school to be named a national Blue Ribbon School for its success on state exams.
“Our school has always met or exceeded its [state exam] and charter goals,” said parent board member Angela Lasseter. “The intention for a charter school anywhere in the nation is to grant full flexibility and autonomy in return for better than average results.”
Wait a minute: 508 students? That’s got to be at least 500 parents. And I think 500 parents raising holy unshirted hell — writing letters to the newspaper, attending school board meetings, calling their state legislators, calling the governor’s office — would make life very uncomfortable for these school system bureaucrats.
Occupy Fulton County School Board!
UPDATE III: Click here to donate to Fulton Science Academy — it’s tax deductible.
UPDATE IV: Just spent 30 minutes on the phone with FSA spokeswoman Katy Dion and 15 minutes on the phone with John Trainor of the Save FSA parents group.
There’s still more reporting to be done, but certainly there seems good reason to suspect that the Fulton County Board of Education (FCBOE) isn’t doing right by FSA. This is a school that, since its founding 10 years ago, has already seen its alumni go on to such schools as Harvard, Princeton and West Point. More than 400 applicants are on the “wait list” to get into FSA, indicating that there is a high level of public demand for the kind and quality of education this school provides. Therefore, why the FCBOE would be trying to yank the school around on its charter-renewal process is somewhat mysterious.
At least one commenter has called attention to an issue that has not been raised directly by the FCBOE: Allegations that FSA is part of a “stealth Islam” sort of operation known as the Gulen (or Gulenist) movement. Longtime readers know I sure as hell am not going to ignore an angle like that, but Trainor assures me that there’s never been any hint of a pro-Islam influence at FSA, and Trainor is a conservative Catholic who is sensitive to such issues.
Nevertheless, I wonder if this angle doesn’t cut the other way, also. That is to say, perhaps FCBOE isn’t being entirely upfront about its own agenda in this matter. Can you say . . . “Islamophobia”?
Stay tuned. This story could get pretty interesting.