There aren't a lot of statewide issues on the ballot Nov. 6, but one has the potential to affect school districts, parents and children throughout Georgia.
It's Amendment 1, and the ballot will say it "Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options."
The question voters will answer yes or no to is, "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?"
So what does a yes vote mean?
If the amendment passes, the state will create a commission that can approve charter schools in local communities, even if local school boards oppose them. Supporters of the amendment believe this is necessary to sidestep obstructionist local school boards that are failing to do their jobs. Opponents fear a loss of local control and a shift of resources from traditional public schools.
What does a no vote mean?
If the amendment fails, local school boards will still be able to approve new charter schools, but the state will not have clear authority to do so. (There's debate over whether the State Board of Education can still hear appeals from petitioners whose schools are rejected locally.)
What's a charter school, anyway?
In short, a charter school is a publicly funded school that's exempted from some state and local rules so it can try more innovative ways of educating kids. Some charter schools in Georgia are operating within local school board governance, and some are operating outside it. Amendment 1 would lead to more charter schools operating independently from local school boards.
So what do I have to decide?
Basically, your decision comes down to: Who do I trust more to make decisions about charter schools: local school boards, or the state of Georgia? If you think the state should have more authority, you probably want to vote yes. If you want the state to stay out if it, you're probably a no vote.
How do I learn more so I can make up my mind?
Follow these links, and look for more related articles on Patch.
Arguments for the charter schools amendment:
Local school boards need more accountability
The amendment empowers parents
The amendment is the epitome of small government
The amendment is another tool for improving Georgia education
Arguments against the charter schools amendment:
Local control is critical
The language of the amendment is misleading
The amendment will effectively privatize Georgia schools
Where are you learning about the charter schools amendment? Share links in the comments below.