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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 school districts, 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

Gwinnett County currently has four charter schools. Two of them are in Lawrenceville. They are  

Where are you learning about the charter schools amendment? Share links in the comments below.

LaVerne Cox November 05, 2012 at 12:38 PM
What about Ivy Prep? Isn't it a Gwinnett Charter? Also, speaking from experience with charter schools from my home state in NY and from my experience here in GA as a parent of New Life Academy students. I found that this local school board approved charter school was short changed in regards to funding and support for the care of its students. In NY, this was not the case. While there are still issues surrounding the fair formula for funding a charter in NY, I still believe that their existence and the equitable resources received gave parents and educators choices that were not available previously. For this reason I will eternally be grateful for their existence. While public schools cannot fix all the societal ills of the world that impact our children's ability to learn or succeed, giving parents, students, and educators greater accountability standards does place responsibility for success where it needs to be and not on the heads of our school board or elected officials. Therefore control needs to be shared proportionately to the impact that one will experience from the school's success and/or failure. That is not what I've experienced with local school board control.
yeadha france March 07, 2013 at 12:15 PM
I just move to lawrenceville. Me and my 2 girls and would love for my 8 year old to attend to this school. Yeashs is every excellent in science. Thank you please call me at 347 685 5479.

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