ATLANTA -- Opponents of a charter-school amendment to the state constitution picked up an ally Monday when the League of Women Voters of Georgia announced its stance.
The organization’s president, Elizabeth Poythress, said the leftward-leaning, civic-affairs group was urging its members to vote against the amendment on this fall’s general-election ballot.
If passed, the measure would restore the state’s power for an appointed board to grant operating charters to public schools started by parents over the objection of elected, local school boards.
When a handful of districts challenged the constitutionality of a state law that had created such a board, the state Supreme Court said the current wording of the constitution gives local boards the sole authority over all schools except those for the blind, deaf and students in juvenile detention.
“We believe it is bad public policy to create a duplicate school system that will, in the words of the Georgia Supreme Court, ‘compete with locally controlled schools for the same pool of students educated with the same limited pool of tax funds,’” she said.
The law the court tossed out allowed the state to divert appropriations meant for individual districts and instead send the money to state-chartered schools in that district equal to what those districts spent with local funds to educate each student. When the legislature sought to pass an amendment to restore the state’s power, Democrats refused to go along with the money diversion in the new version.
Under the new plan, if voters approve the amendment, the state-chartered schools will be funded entirely with state funds.
Opponents say that reduces what’s available for traditional schools since the legislature has shown no appetite in raising taxes to boost education spending.
Supporters of the amendment say it’s needed to give parents a choice of schools. They argue that school boards reject too many charter proposals because they are influenced by school administrators who see parent-run charter schools as a threat.