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Understanding the Charter School Amendment

Tuesday's ballot includes a Georgia constitutional amendment to re-establish a state commission to approve charter schools. Your job is to decide if that's a good idea.

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.

Charlie Russell November 05, 2012 at 05:33 PM
You are exactly right on this. There are long standing and big reasons involved with this. Our schools are being privatized. Don't know about you, but everything that is privatized has not worked out quite so well for me.
Allison Lanning November 05, 2012 at 06:09 PM
Does anyone wonder why lobbyists are supporting the passage of this amendment?? Or should I end that statement with $$ Just some food for thought. Read the amendment carefully and you will see that a VOTE NO does not mean NO charter schools, it means NO THIRD PARTY making these decisions.
Charlie Russell November 05, 2012 at 06:35 PM
Regardless of the wording, this process was put into action years ago by the Bush family. Ms. Barbara Bush gave a donation to the Katrina victims with the caveat that the money be spent on Neil Bush's Ignite Learning company. This money went directly to Neil Bush in the form of a tax deduction for his parents. This vote by Georgians matters very little. The plan to dismantle American schools for everyone is a done deal. Forget about it. This more of the same. Privatization.
Charlie Russell November 05, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Sorry, Allison, I responded to your comment in the wrong place. Agree with you completely. This is the same old, "we don't trust government with our health care", but we really trust the insurance industry. Now we're to believe in those who have set up this private schooling to be paid for with vouchers. We don't trust our schools, our teachers or anyone involved in government. Perhaps we should become more involve in these institutions that Ben Franklin and Jefferson thought so necessary. Watch our Public Libraries vanish. Public everything is going, including fire and police departments. Wish I felt more optimistic about this.
BJ Van Gundy November 05, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Curious. What lobbyists are you referring to? I'm NOT a lobbyist. Haven't done ANY lobbying for ANYONE for 6 years... so I'm SURE you aren't referring to me... For the record. I've not made a PENNY on Charter School issues. In fact. As a former member of the previous Commission... a VOLUNTEER position for ALL of us on it... I spent ~$1,400 a year serving. I do this because my 4 children in Public schools are getting a good education and I want ALL students in Georgia to have the same opportunity my kids do. Right now. They don't.

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