ATLANTA – November 7, 2012: Georgia voters overwhelmingly supported charter schools by approving Amendment One Tuesday by a 58.5-41.5 margin. The 17-point victory will now lead to the reconstitution of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission to serve as an alternative authorizer to hear appeals when a charter application is denied by a school district.
According to legislation passed during by the General Assembly, the State Board of Education must appoint the seven Commission members by its February 2013 meeting. The appointment will be based on recommendations made by Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House David Ralston.
“We are so thankful to the many supporters and volunteers who worked so hard to get out the positive messages about charter schools during this election,” said Tony Roberts, President and CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association. “We believe strongly in charter schools because it puts control of education in the hands of parents and teachers. This amendment will lead to better charter approval practices at both the local school district level and the state level as well.”
Unlike the funding formula passed in the 2008 law that first created the Charter Schools Commission, there is now a real financial incentive for charter applicants to receive approval from the school district. District approval means the charter will receive full state and local funding, while state approval only provides a charter school with state funding. Charter supporters believe this will lead to more locally approved charters, which is the best scenario for both schools and districts.
“While the margin of victory may give the appearance that this was an easy win, it certainly was not easy,” added Mark Peevy, executive director of Families for Better Public Schools, the campaign advocating for passage of the charter amendment. “The entire charter school community owes a big thank you to the people of Georgia for believing that more parents should have public school options for their children. We built a big, diverse coalition and asked them to move mountains – and they did.”
The campaign was supported by leaders from across the political spectrum. Tea party activists joined with Democratic education reform leaders to support the measure. Georgia’s elected leaders such as Governor Deal and many House and Senate members of both parties offered their continued support as well. State and local school board members and charter school teachers and parents wrote op-eds and letters to the editor, went door-to-door and stood in the cold and rain waving signs. All of those activities, in addition to an advertising campaign focused the story of a charter school student, led to the overwhelming victory on Tuesday.