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More than 1,500 turn out for Atlanta school choice rally

Amendment is stalled in House

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ATLANTA — More than 1,500 students, teachers, parents and advocates of school choice stormed the Georgia Capitol on Wednesday, telling lawmakers that the state’s children deserve educational options.

Advocates hold a rally for school choice Wednesday in Atlanta as a proposed constitutional amendment to fix the state's charter school process appears stalled.  DAVID GOLDMAN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Advocates hold a rally for school choice Wednesday in Atlanta as a proposed constitutional amendment to fix the state's charter school process appears stalled.

Education was the focus at the Gold Dome as supporters marked National School Choice Week. Similar events were held across the country.

Rashaun Holliman, a former principal and activist for the Center for an Educated Georgia, told the crowd that while there are great public schools in Georgia, there are also great alternatives.

“We do not believe that a ZIP code or a family’s financial status should determine a student’s options,” Holliman said.

Among those gathered were supporters of scholarship private schools and home schooling, but the overwhelming majority of those who turned out were in favor of charter schools.

On Tuesday, state lawmakers filed a constitutional amendment to address a state Supreme Court ruling that disbanded the Georgia Charter Schools Commission last year.

The state’s highest court ruled in May that the charter schools commission, created by the legislature in 2008, was unconstitutional because it approved and gave local tax dollars to charter schools over the objection of local school boards.

The amendment, which has bipartisan support, will require at least two-thirds legislative approval in both the House and Senate before it goes to voters, likely in November.

Multiple education groups, including state associations for teachers, school boards and school superintendents, are expected to oppose the amendment.

At Wednesday’s rally, Sen­ate Majority Leader Chip Rogers told the crowd the state of Georgia must give its children every possible opportunity for the best education.

“Education is the great equalizer,” said Rogers, R-Woodstock. “If you have an education, you can succeed. School choice equals freedom.”

State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, said lawmakers have to consider educational futures, not their political fortunes, and that they have a responsibility to fight for more school choice.

“Real choice is not an indictment on traditional public education,” she said.

John Trainor, a father of three whose children attend a charter school in Fulton County, said having a choice made a difference in his sons’ educations.

“It’s the only thing we can truly give our kids for the rest of their life, and it’s important that we get it right,” he said. “Unlike every other political issue, school choice doesn’t see politics, it doesn’t see race, it doesn’t see gender. All it sees is the success of our children.”

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 01/26/12 - 03:43 am
Does anyone wonder why GAE,

Does anyone wonder why GAE, PAGE, GSBA and GSSA are expected to oppose the amendment? Could their opposition have anything to do with the amendment's effects on their income streams?

seenitB4 01/26/12 - 04:58 am
We need to get the government

We need to get the government out of education...imo

Money is the name of the game----teaching the kids has fallen by the sideline...
Some kids are just not college material & they need other skills--some kids just don't want to learn & they need to be removed from school---unruly kids shouldn't get 3rd & 4th chances----& if a kid ever hits a teacher .......they need to be bounced out of the ifs-no buts.

Techfan 01/26/12 - 05:22 am
There is school choice now.

There is school choice now. Pay to send your kids to whatever school you choose. Now for the rest of the story: "Center for an Educated Georgia' is a sunsidiary of 'Georgia Family Council" which is the Ga. affiliate of James Dobson's "Focus on the Family". THIS IS NOT ABOUT SCHOOL CHOICE. This is about the "christian" right defunding public schools and transferring tax dollars to private entities that spread their narrow minded theology and right wing talking points as part of the curriculum.

Techfan 01/26/12 - 05:27 am
Sorry for the typos. The site

Sorry for the typos. The site is not letting me edit.

InChristLove 01/26/12 - 07:20 am
Someone is being mighty

Someone is being mighty paranoid this morning.....secretly all 1500 individuals who took a stand outside the Georgia Capital are really Christian missionaries come to take over the state school system.

Bruno 01/26/12 - 09:17 am
This is about school choice

This is about school choice and the "pay to send your child to whatever school you choose" is specious. Why should someone be forced to pay taxes to support one school and then have to pay yet again to send them to a better school? Granted, IMO, if you send your child to any public school you kind of get what you deserve.

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