As voters head to the polls this week and next to cast early ballots in the general election, not only will they choose who will represent their districts in January, but they will also weigh in on statewide education.
Amendment 1 on the general election ballot asks voters to decide whether state or local approval is needed for local communities to create charter schools. Essentially, the amendment proposal asks voters to decide whether to allow privately run but publicly financed schools. If approved, the amendment gives the state Legislature the go-ahead to create special schools without prior approval by local boards of education.
The hotly contested issue has spawned a lot of controversy in recent weeks, and not surprisingly so. Education is one area of community concern that generates the most passion from residents of all ages.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is one of the proposed constitutional amendment’s backers.
Georgia legislators created a charter school commission in 2008 under House Bill 881, passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by Perdue in 2008. However, in a May 2011 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, the court ruled that the state’s involvement in the establishment of public charter schools was unconstitutional. That led Deal to push the amendment that would override the court, which voters will settle next month.
Those on the other side of the issue include Georgia Secretary of State John Barge, who recently stepped into the fray when he announced his opposition to the constitutional amendment. Barge has contended that the amendment duplicates existing authority of the state department and threatens to siphon money away from existing public schools.
Saturday, The Union-Recorder began a three-part series exploring the constitutional amendment. We began with a general overview of how the amendment developed and followed with insight from amendment supporters. Today’s article focuses on thoughts from amendment opponents. All of the stories, along with links to other resources with additional information both pro and con, are included under the Election 2012 tab on our website. Monday at 6 p.m., an informational session on the charter school amendment will be held at Digital Bridges. Everyone with a stake in local education — parents, teachers, retirees, business and community leaders — should read up on this amendment and make an informed decision on the issue.
Cast ballots wisely. What is at stake — the education of Georgia’s future workforce and the leaders of tomorrow — is worth the effort.