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Georgia Charter Schools, Amendment 1 (2012)

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Charter Schools Amendment
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Georgia Constitution
Referred by:Georgia Legislature
Topic:Education
Status:On the ballot
A Georgia Charter Schools Amendment will appear on the November 2012 ballot in Georgia as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure gives the state legislature the right to create special schools.[1][2]

The measure developed following a May 2011 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court. The court ruled that the state's involvement in the establishment of public charter schools - the Georgia Charter School Commission - was unconstitutional. Specifically, the court ruled that the commission was illegal because it approved and funded charter schools despite objection by local school boards. The ruling does not apply to charter schools that were not opposed by local boards. In total, the ruling is reported to have affected 16 schools.[3]

According to reports, in June 2011 the state Board of Education proceeded to approve applications for 11 charter schools following the ruling.[4]

The Georgia Charter School Commission was created in 2008 in reaction to local school boards rejecting charter petitions. According officials, petitions were rejected because "they didn't like the competition."[3]

Background

A bill enabling funding for state charter schools was signed into law on May 3, 2012, by Governor Nathan Deal. The bill, HB 797, will only have effect if the Georgia Charter Schools Amendment gains public approval in November.[5]

Support

  • Kyle Wingfield, a columnist for the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, wrote in support of the measure saying that the "key to improving the system, rather than merely pouring more money into it, is restoring the state’s ability to approve charter schools." He further argues that charter school allow for more innovation and accountability while increasing parents' options for education.[6]
  • Senator Mike Crane has spoken in support of the measure saying the school boards should not have full control of public education because the state provides about 50 - 80% of the school system's funding. Speaking at a town hall meeting he asked, "Should all the state dollars go to fund a system of education or should it go to the students?"[7]

Opposition

  • Gary Hobbs, superintendent for Walton County Public Schools, spoke out against the legislatively-proposed amendment saying, "It’s disappointing to me the legislative folks would try to go around a Supreme Court decision." He went further to criticize the state's push for taxpayer funded charter schools saying, "We don’t have funds to support the public schools we have now, much less start another system funded by taxpayer money."[8]

Path to the ballot

See also: How the Georgia Constitution is amended

The amendment requires approval on a two-thirds vote by both the State House and State Senate.

The first vote by the House in early February fell 10 votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed.[9] However, another vote was held on Wednesday, February 22, in which the measure, HR 1162, passed the House with a vote of 123-48.[10]

On Thursday February 23, 2012, the Education and Youth Committee passed the amendment 7-5, thus passing it to the the full state Senate.[11]

On Monday, March 19, 2012, the Georgia Senate passed the ballot proposal 40-16, placing the measure on the ballot for November.[2]

See also

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