When you cast your vote on Nov. 6 at the polls, you will be voting for the President and local candidates in various races to represent you in the General Assembly. While District 66 is a very important race in which to cast your vote, so is the referendum vote on special state-controlled charter schools.
The state-controlled charter school amendment will be listed on the ballot as Amendment 1. It is very important that voters read and understand the language of the amendment. It is even more important that we know how this will affect us and our community.
Most Georgians support improvements in education for our children but the language on the ballot for charter schools is unclear and misleading. Amendment 1, as it appears on the ballot, states: "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public schools upon the request of local communities?"
The truth is that the school board already has local approval. This amendment will remove the authority of the elected school board in our community to either approve these schools or to respond to parent complaints.
Amendment 1 allows any individual to request a special school, including a real estate developer who wants to have a school that only accepts children in a gated community. The decision to approve the school will be made by a seven-member board appointed by the Governor, from recommendations from the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate. This unelected board can only be over-ruled by the State Board of Education, which is also appointed. No citizen can vote to have a member added or removed.
I am against House Resolution 1162. If passed, the state will have the authority to establish schools without the community's input, while using tax dollars from the State’s public school system to fund these schools. Current funding for traditional public schools - which serve 99% of public school children - will be cut to support this dual-education system. Georgia has already cut over $4 billion in education funding in recent years, and more budget cuts will greatly impact the education of our children. Budget cuts to public schools means shortened school years, larger class sizes, more teacher furloughs and layoffs. Estimates put the cost at $430 million in the first 5 years, with possibly more to come. Taxation without representation at the expense of our kids? Georgia’s children deserve better.