September 19-- The Macon Telegraph is urging a "no" vote on the charter school amendment to the Georgia constitution which voters will see on the November ballot.
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities."
Aside from the other races for president and vice president, this seemingly benign constitutional amendment will also be on the ballot. It is not what it seems to be.
A little history. During the last legislative session, one of the most contentious fights was over charter schools. The state Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional the mechanism for establishing charter schools that bypassed local school boards. That should have been the end of it. After an initial reluctance by local boards to establish charter schools, more than 150 exist in the state today. In some cases, entire systems have adopted charter status. So why the need for a constitutional amendment? Follow the money.
There are several for-profit school management companies that would love to get their hands on some of Georgia's dwindling state pie for education, particularly in the metro Atlanta area. While the amendment is one short mom and apple pie paragraph, the bill behind it, House Resolution 1162 is much more detailed.
Basically, the measure would create a third educational bureaucracy that would have authority to establish charter schools without local or state board of education approval. Why vote against this travesty? Ask the state Superintendent of Schools John Barge who has risked the wrath of his party by opposing the measure as has every legitimate educational proponent in the state. The educational landscape is already bleak. The state has cut $5 billion out of K-12 education. Nowhere in the proposed legislation is a funding stream identified for this charter school effort. It would be easy to assume, with this measure coming from the most anti-public school Legislature in history, that money will be diverted from already strapped school systems of which 72 of the 180 in the state are in deficit spending already.
State allocations were also changed, further hampering, particularly rural school systems. More to come, but put this measure on your radar. Vote no.