The first meeting of the recently-created Special Education and Youth Sub-committee, also known as the Special Sub-committee on School Choice, was held Friday at the State Capitol.
Nearly 300 students, parents, teachers and administrators packed the meeting room and spilled outside into the lobby, all interested in how state lawmakers plan to address the May 16 Georgia Supreme Court ruling that declared the Georgia Charter School Commission — which had approved their schools — unconstitutional, thereby threatening the future existence of their schools.
Following the meeting, Georgia Charter Schools Association President/CEO Tony Roberts issued the following statement:
“We thank Sen. Fran Millar and the rest of the members of the Special Sub-committee on Education and Youth, composed of members from both the House and the Senate, for their time and concern. Their decision to come together and engage discussion on this topic shows great compassion and leadership, and we thank them for that, as well as their plans to continue focusing their attention on this issue, even to the point of possibly calling for a change to the Georgia Constitution.
“The fact that the committee room was packed with students, parents, teachers, students and administrators from the schools directly impacted by the wrongheaded decision of four Georgia Supreme Court justices is an indication of just how important an issue this is to the future of reforming education in Georgia. We thank all of those that came to the meeting to show their concern and encourage them to remain vigilant.
“As was noted in the meeting, we have encouraged all 16 Commission-approved charter schools to re-apply to their local district and almost all of them have. We urge those local school boards to take a serious and objective look at these schools. For the nine that are already open and functioning, look at the progress those students have made. Look at how much happier and fulfilled their parents feel now that they have a found a school – by choice, not coincidence – that fits their needs. And for the seven other schools that are on the brink of opening, look at the excitement of those students and parents as they prepare to attend a school they believe will bring out the best in the student. Not only should these schools be allowed to exist; they should be supported and embraced by the districts. We hope that they will.
“We believe that Gov. Nathan Deal, the leadership of the House and Senate, and State Schools Superintendant John Barge are all working to meet the challenges created by the Supreme Court’s ruling and and to ensure that students in Commission-authorized schools will have their school of choice come this fall.”
Here are several media accounts of the meeting followed by the two motions of reconsideration, filed by lawyers for the schools as well as Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, and four amicus briefs submitted to the Supreme Court, written in support of the Commission from Americans for Prosperity, the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools: