Although HR 1162 successfully passed the State Senate, I stand firm on my decision to oppose it. I was elected to serve the best interest of the greater good, and this bill clearly does not. Georgia State Senator Doug Stoner, District 6.
The Georgia Senate was able to persuade three democratic senators to support HR 1162, a bill that would change the state constitution and allow the state to create its own set of charter schools, without local school district approval or advice.
This is a big mistake.
The bill is a resolution proposing a change to the Georgia Constitution. The resolution as passed by the Georgia Senate reads as follows:
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Georgia so as to clarify the authority of the state to establish state-wide education policy; to restate the authority of the General Assembly to establish special schools; to provide that special schools include state charter schools; to provide for related matters; to provide for the submission of this amendment for ratification or rejection; and for other purposes.
Right now, charter schools in Georgia must be approved by local school district boards of education. This was determined by the Supreme Court of Georgia in the case Gwinnett County School District v. Cox in May, 2011.
The Republicans in the Georgia legislature were not pleased by the Supreme Court of Georgia’s decision to neuter the state commission on charters, and submitted legislation in this year’s legislative session to circumvent the court’s decision by making an amendment to the State’s constitution. That is what HR 1162 is all about. The Republicans were able to convince three democrats to vote with them to pass the bill. Now it will be on the Georgia Ballot in the November 2012 election.
Senator Doug Stoner, District 6, who voted against HR 1162, believes that the Charter schools amendment would set up a dangerous system. He wrote this in his newsletter:
To change the Constitution in order to create a charter school or any “special school” favored by current or future state bureaucrats, and forcing local school districts to accept such schools would set up a very dangerous system that clearly violates the concept of local control. I cannot support such a state government mandate, especially when the legislative majority has slashed local school funding by more than $1 billion in recent years.
Locally elected school board members across the state have spoken out against HR 1162, which comes as no surprise. It is certainly reasonable to ask why the state is creating a new funding stream for charter schools while reducing financial support for other schools, forcing reduced education calendars, elimination of programs and teacher furloughs.
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