As the Supreme Court reviews the motion of reconsideration briefs and State Sen. Fran Millar’s sub-committee meets, one of the state’s most prominent newspapers has come out in support of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission and against the four Supreme Court justices.
The Augusta Chronicle published an editorial titled “Emancipation Proclamation” on Tuesday, in which the publication’s editorial board took the Court to task over its decision to rule the Commission “unconstitutional,” thereby jeopardizing the future of the 16 charter schools approved by the Commission and the 15,000 students those schools serve.
Here is the piece in its entirety:
Georgia high court keeps parents prisoners of local school boards
It’s hard to believe it’s happening in 2011. In Georgia, of all places. And that the Georgia Supreme Court is OK with it.
But parents here are still expected to go on bended knee before the government — in the form of local school boards — to ask permission to school their children in the way they see fit.
What an intolerable act. Brought to you by the Georgia Supreme Court.
The General Assembly in 2008 passed a law creating a Charter Schools Commission, where citizens desiring to form a charter school could go — if their local school board wouldn’t cooperate.
Charter schools are public, but are given certain operational freedom not unlike private schools, in order to tailor the curriculum and other aspects of the educational experience to the community’s liking.
It’s beautiful, because it allows charter schools to get out from under a lot of the bureaucratic nonsense, while empowering faculty, staff and parents to take a larger role in a student’s schooling.
The thing is, until the charter commission came along, you had to go on bended knee to the local school board to obtain permission for a charter school. Often, they refuse to give up the power they have on public schools. The charter commission was a way for charter school supporters to go over the local board’s head.
But by a 4-3 vote, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the law and the charter commission — leaving some 16 existing “commission charter” schools in complete limbo.
More importantly, the ruling sharply reduces educational freedom in Georgia. And that’s sad. Hundreds of angry charter school families protested the ruling May 17 at the state Capitol.
It’s hard to believe that in the 21st century, Americans still have to fight tooth and nail for school choice and educational freedom. But nothing will stop this movement, certainly not a shaky 4-3 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court.
If the state legislature cannot allow and regulate charter schools, something is seriously wrong. The public school bureaucrats always say they want parents to be partners in their children’s education, but they fight any parent empowerment to the death.
Listen to this twisted logic from Supreme Court Justice Carol Hunstein: The state-level charter commission is unconstitutional because the state constitution “embodies the fundamental principle of exclusive local control of general primary and secondary (“K-12″) public education.”
What? What could possibly be more local than giving a school’s parents and staff more control than even the local school board? There could be nothing more constitutional, if the constitution requires local control of education, than putting parents and staff in charge.
Or maybe our esteemed chief justice sees only bureaucrats, not parents, as “embodying the fundamental principle of exclusive local control.”
This was a bureaucratic power play, and four members of the Georgia Supreme Court fell for it; it’s as simple as that. Government school barons couldn’t stand the thought of parents having more power than they do.
In a stinging dissent that we absolutely agree with, Justice David Nahmias notes that the General Assembly has every right under the state constitution to create “special schools.” It’s silly to think charter schools don’t rank among them.
“Special schools certainly may include schools for students with special needs, like the existing area schools for blind and deaf children, and schools that teach special subjects, like vocational trade schools,” Nahmias wrote. “But the Legislature’s authority is not limited to creating those two types of special schools.”
Furthermore, says a court summary of Nahmias’ dissent, “Local school boards have never had exclusive control over general K-12 public education …”
This ruling seeks to give it to them.
We’ve freed just about everybody else in this country. When are parents going to be emancipated?