Make no mistake — Amendment No. 1 (also known as HR 1162 and the Charter School Amendment) is definitely not about supporting charter schools in Georgia.
Currently, there are over 200 charter schools in Georgia, and the State Board of Education already has the legal authority to approve charters.
The November ballot has been carefully worded to convince voters that we are voting to support charter schools in Georgia. The harsh reality is that we are voting to create yet another state bureaucracy to approve charter schools, over the objections of the communities and locally elected school boards, a bureaucracy appointed by the governor that will operate independently with liberal funding, including $1 million start-up fund.
The state sends two-and-a-half times as much funding per student to charter schools as to students in our traditional public schools, and more charter schools will require more state funding.
As state Sen. Chip Rogers stated at a Town Hall meeting last winter when discussing the state budget, “There is only so much money in the pie.”
Approving these schools would leave no option other than pulling additional dollars from the pie (taking critically needed resources from local public school districts and redirecting these to the state-controlled charters) or raising taxes to provide funding for charters — neither of these is an option I can support.
To be clear, I personally support charter schools as an integral part of improving education in our nation by providing options for children trapped in failing communities.
Unfortunately, Amendment No. 1 is about providing an avenue to for-profit companies (often out-of-state corporations) to circumvent local communities’ wishes on education and gain our tax dollars for their profit.
Now is not the time to set up a new, separate tax-supported school system, with its own bureaucracy and additional expenses, and with no accountability to the voters or local school districts.
Of Georgia’s 186 school districts, 121 are operating on less than the required 180 days of school, and almost every district has had to furlough students and teachers because of dramatic cuts in state funding.
In spite of these funding limitations, Cherokee County continues to demonstrate excellence, including the recent recognition of the Class of 2012 for the highest SAT scores in Georgia, which are also significantly above the national average!
Make No Mistake: approval of Amendment No. 1 will either take money out of our local public schools or raise taxes, while making state government even bigger.
Please join me and Vote “NO” on Amendment No. 1 and send a clear message to our state Legislature (the same group who brought us the T-SPLOST) that we support our public schools in Georgia.