Charter Amendment Campaign:
Guide for Charter Schools

The Ballot Question
November 6, 2012 Election

“Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

The Goal

A simple majority vote FOR the constitutional amendment on the November 6, 2012 ballot.

Why the Amendment?

  • Negative Supreme Court ruling in May 2011
  • Georgia Charter Schools Commission ruled unconstitutional
  • Future of existing state-authorized schools is in peril
  • Authority of state to approve and fund additional charter schools questionable: possible legal challenge to HB797

Why Does This Matter to State-Authorized Charter Schools?

If the amendment does not pass—HB797 will be challenged

    • All existing state charter schools, including virtual schools, could be closed
    • If the schools could remain open, their funding could be drastically reduced
    • School systems would lose a “pipeline” of proven charters

Why Does This Matter to District Authorized Charter Schools?

Having only school systems as authorizers--

    • Leaves no alternative for initial and renewal charters other than the district
    • Gives no incentive to school systems to maintain high quality authorizing standards
    • Leads school systems to approve/renew fewer or no schools based on budgetary considerations alone

The Broader Stakes:
National Significance

  • No other state has had a positive outcome for a charter-positive ballot initiative
  • Passing the amendment sets a national precedent for other states
  • Sets a winning strategy for other states
  • Georgia could be the first—and bring a win for parents and students

Polling

Polls conducted in March and again in July 2012:

  • 58% would vote “yes”
  • 23% would vote “no”
  • 19% are undecided

There was no shift in the polling numbers between March and July.

Two-Pronged Campaign

  • Educational Effort led by Brighter Georgia Education Coalition (a program of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, a 501c3 entity)
  • Political Campaign led by Families for Better Schools (a 501c4 entity created to campaign for the amendment).

The Marketing Campaign (c3)

  • Brighter Georgia Coalition
  • Brighter Georgia website www.brightergeorgia.org
  • Professional video
  • Informational Brochures
  • Outdoor advertising campaign with actual students/parents
  • Speaker’s Bureau led by regional directors
  • Direct Mail
  • Virtual Town Hall Meetings
  • Social Media Advertising
  • Earned Media: op-eds, radio interviews, articles

Participation of Public Schools
Activities to Avoid

  • Cannot legally allow the use of taxpayer funds to advocate for a particular political position, candidate, or referendum votes.
  • Shall not use school communication channels such as school email, newsletters or phones to promote or advertise political positions, candidates, or referendum votes.
  • Shall not use staff time to participate in such activities during normal work hours.

Participation of Public Schools (2)
Permitted Activities

  • Parents are not restricted in their activities regarding either the educational or political campaign (within the other restrictions here).
  • Staff may participate on their own time, not using school funds, facilities, or communication streams.
  • Staff should use only personal email, personal phones, and personal time to participate.

The Cost

  • Large grassroots volunteer participation
  • $1.8 million—Base budget of the “vote for campaign. Approximately $550,000 raised*
  • $974,000—Base budget of the educational campaign. Approximately $438,000 raised*

* as of September 1, 2012

Ways School Leaders Can Help

  • Inform and engage your board and parent-teacher organization
  • Put a link to www.brightergeorgia.org prominently on your website
  • Distribute the Brighter Georgia informational brochure to all staff, board, and parents
  • Ask board, staff, and parents to contribute and volunteer as they can

Ways PTO and PTA Can Help

  • Monitor and respond to local publications and media for anti-charter and anti-amendment messaging.
  • Write responses to myths and to frame the issue properly--giving parents public school options.
  • Give and seek financial support for educational or “vote-for” effort. Even $5 contributions matter.
  • Distribute Brighter Georgia brochure at events such as local chambers, festivals, door-to-door. (Available now)
  • Distribute and place yard signs. (Not yet available)

Financial Support Needed!

  • Contributions to the “vote-for” campaign
  • These are NOT tax deductible
  • Must be personal or business contributions
  • These dollars essential for explicit campaigning and advertising the “vote-for” message
  • Those unable to contribute to C4 organizations may contribute to the C3 Educational Effort
  • These ARE tax deductible

To Volunteer, Give or More Information

Thank You Very Much

  • For supporting public charter schools
  • For supporting your public charter school
  • For supporting children and parents who need and choose public charter schools

  • Questions or Discussion?

We will email each of you a copy of this powerpoint for your use with board, staff, and parents. Please do not give out the ppt to members of the public because of information we don’t want our opponents to have.

charterschoolPPP.pptx - Google Slides