If voters pass a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to override local school boards on charter decisions, schools with rejected bids like Smyrna Academy of Excellence could still become a reality.
Ever since a that approved 16 state-commissioned charter schools, proponents of school choice–– have worked to reverse the 4-3 ruling that left a number of charters scrambling to find ways to open their doors in time for the start of the 2011-12 school year.
The Families for Better Public Schools campaign behind the push for the amendment, referred to as HR 1162, says 58 percent of the 400 “likely general election voters” they polled are supportive of the amendment. This number matches the outcome of the same poll conducted by FBPS four months ago.
“Public charter school parents, teachers and students will be thrilled to learn that Georgians continue to overwhelmingly favor the November vote,” FBPS Executive Director Mark Peevy said in an Aug. 1 release. “The support is evident across the board, among all partisan, age, gender and racial lines.”
But the Associated Press reports that Georgia Education Superintendent John Barge is speaking out against the amendment backed widely by his Republican party.
Barge said Georgia schools are “in a dire situation” and the amendment would threaten local control of school districts and state funds for traditional schools.
"Putting this whole picture together, I could not stand by without voicing my opposition to sending any money anywhere else until our children are in schools 180 days and our teachers are at full pay," Barge announced on Tuesday morning.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who personally lobbied legislators on the amendment, responded to Barge’s announcement in a statement: "I stand with 2/3 of the General Assembly and will uphold the promises I made when I ran for office: Parents and students should have public school options; this is true local control."
According to an Associated Press report, Deal also pointed out that in 2010, Barge wrote that he agreed with the Georgia Charter Schools Association that local school boards, the state school board and the now defunct state Charter School Commission should all have power to “approve and monitor charter schools.”
Barge said the governor is confusing support for charter schools with support for this proposed amendment.
How will you vote on Nov. 6? Why do you support or oppose this amendment? Should the state be able to approve charter schools denied by local school boards?