Ballot measure may save Georgia charter schools
by David Godow
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens's last-ditch effort to keep the state's charter schools open in the face of a devastating state Supreme Court ruling appears to have failed. The court's term ended on June 13 with a denial of Olens's motion to reconsider its May ruling that the state exceeded its authority by bypassing local school boards and establishing charter schools of its own. Still, it seems the fight isn't over, and the next round may be fought at the ballot box instead of a courtroom.
School choice proponents are now proposing placing a constitutional amendment on the November 2012 ballot. In Georgia, such amendments require the approval of two-thirds of both houses of the state legislature. Georgia House of Representatives Speaker pro tempore Jan Jones is expected to be one of the standard bearers of any ballot initiative; Jones saw the original Georgia Charter School Commission bill pass her chamber with 120 or 180 votes in 2008. Governor Nathan Deal has also expressed support.
It remains to be seen whether Republicans will be able to overcome the influence of teachers unions to refer an amendment to voters. Still, it's clear that the fight over Georgia's charter schools isn't over.