Educational consultant Russ Moore is helping the Dougherty County School System set up a new College and Career Academy charter school. A resolution that would allow the state to bypass local school boards failed by 10 votes Wednesday in the Georgia House.
ATLANTA — House Resolution 1162, the controversial proposed amendment to the state Constitution which would have empowered Georgia lawmakers to bypass local school boards to create charter schools, failed 110-62 on Wednesday.
It needed the support of two-thirds of lawmakers in the House of Representatives to pass, and fell just 10 votes shy of that mark.
The resolution, however, is not yet dead since a motion was made by House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey of Atlanta to reconsider immediately after voting ended.
The proposed constitutional amendment, sponsored by Republican Jan Jones of Milton, began to take root in May 2011 after the state Supreme Court rule the State Charter School Commission was unconstitutional.
The ruling did not affect charter schools that had been approved by local school boards.
The resolution was intended to allow the state to create charter schools in a school districts despite the lack of the approval of the local school board.
It contained language which asked: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended for the purpose of raising student achievement by allowing state and local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”
Opponents of the resolution said it would diminish the authority of locally elected school boards.
“We believe that education is responsibility of local school boards. The state should have a very limited role in creating schools,” Angela Palm, Director of Policy and Legislative Services, Georgia School Boards Association, said. “Georgia currently has laws that allow the creation of charter schools and we believe that is sufficient and that role does not need to be expanded.
“This resolution would have effectively created two school systems. The state can’t afford to fund the schools that exist now, so how would it afford an additional system?”
Prior to the vote, Jones issued a statement that read: “The problem with the state Supreme Court’s decision is that it explicitly stated that school boards have exclusive control over general k-12 public education. The decision calls into question whether state government has any meaningful role, except, perhaps, for putting a check in the mail,” Jones wrote. “The broad court decision deviated sharply from the state’s historically significant role in public education, including funding half its costs, establishing graduation standards and providing a teacher pay scale.”
Jerri Nims Rooker, director of the Center for an Educated Georgia at Georgia Family Council, railed against the Legislature.
“By failing to pass this amendment to protect public charter schools, Georgia’s representatives have failed our students who are stuck in low-performing schools due to their zip code or bank account,” Rooker said. “Today, many representatives chose to put the entrenched political interests of adults over the interests of children, blocking the state’s development of high quality charter schools that are inappropriately denied by their local school boards.
“Because of today’s vote, students will have less access to quality educational options, and the state will not be able to help them.”
Opponents, mainly local-level public school officials, said the state-funded charter schools would have taken money from traditional schools in their districts.