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Georgia Charter Schools Amendment: What Will My Vote Mean?

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 Sandy Springs schools, 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.

Bruce Piefke November 05, 2012 at 02:30 PM
The state has been contibuting less and less to our public schools over the past four years, leaving local boards with the challenge of making up the difference. I do not believe giving more control to an appointed commision at the state level is a better solution. Having control in the hands of our own elected officials who are accountable to voters and parents/students is the smart way to operate not just Charter Schools but all public schools. The deceptive nature of the 'vote yes' campaign is enough of a reason for me to vote no but when you really look at the facts and motives of both sides, it is a very easy decision for me to vote 'NO' for a dozen reasons. I serve on the board of a charter school so I am very familiar with the current process for creating charter schools. The current system works and there is no reason to change it. The GA PTA, our elected State School Superintendent and the AJC edtorial board have all come out 'NO' on Amendment One. If you can look past the slick ads and mailers, find out the facts, you too will want to cast a 'No" vote.

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