Sometimes voters send mixed messages. On Tuesday, for instance, they told pollsters the country was on the wrong track – and then voted to stay the course.
But the message on Georgia’s Amendment 1 was unequivocal: Georgians want more school choice.
By a vote of nearly 60 percent, the state’s voters approved the amendment allowing the state to once again create a commission to approve applications for charter schools that local school boards reject.
The legislature had previously set up such a commission in 2008, but the Georgia Supreme Court said it didn’t have that authority. Voters Tuesday gave the state the authority explicitly.
It’s noteworthy that voters did that – and by such a wide margin – in the face of a bitter, disingenuous and sometimes legally questionable campaign to scare voters into defeating the amendment.
The public school bureaucracy mobilized across the state to shrilly oppose the amendment – somehow even roping in the state PTAs, which we thought existed to advocate for kids and parents and teachers, not bureaucracies.
Indeed, even the national PTA approves of charter school commissions.
Opponents – including, sadly enough, several Augusta-area school officials who know better – tried to convince voters that the amendment was somehow in opposition to “public education.” They know doggone good and well that charter schools are public education.
Shame on them for trying to mislead the public.
The Georgia attorney general even had to warn public school officials that it’s illegal for them to use public resources to oppose ballot questions, which some may have done.
They also tried to portray the amendment as pushing local decisions to Atlanta. In truth, it gives local parents, students and teachers the right to seek charter school approval from the state when the local school board won’t allow it – and school boards have routinely disallowed the applications. Not because the schools would be bad for kids, but because they reduce the bureaucracy’s power over parents and students. Charter schools are granted unique freedom over rules and curricula in order
to bring more innovation to education.
We believe if everyone in Georgia understood that, the vote would have been closer to 80 or 90 percent in favor.
We also think it’s high time that the public education bureaucracy stopped fighting educational reform, choice and competition.
Americans are crying out for it – and, increasingly, are demanding it.
Says the pro-school-choice American Federation for Children: “Supporters of educational choice were victorious in hundreds of races across the country on Tuesday night, as voters in a diverse set of states cast ballots in large majorities in favor of pro-educational choice candidates, as well as to expand the number of quality options available in their states.”
The organization had endorsed 32 Georgia legislative candidates who won election Tuesday.
Opponents of educational choice made much of out-of-state money that fueled the amendment’s campaign. But they cannot argue with nearly six in 10 Georgians who voted for it.
And besides, if folks could be so easily swayed by out-of-state money, then surely they would have buckled to the amendment opponents’ ham-handed attempt to scare voters into voting no.
Again, it’s time for the public education bureaucracy to stop attacking and blocking parents, students and teachers who are clamoring for the right to offer more educational choices for our young. Stop blindly protecting your turf at the expense of our freedom and our future.
Parents should be compelled to send their kids to particular schools not by the heavy hand of the government, but by the enlightened choices of consumers looking for the best quality for their kids.