ALBANY, Ga. -- Georgia Association of Educators' President Calvine Rollins said Thursday passage of the controversial Amendment 1 in November would take money away from public schools and let out-of- state for profit corporations gain a foothold in the state.
Amendment 1 would allow the state to create charter schools without the approval of local school boards.
"The Georgia Association of Educators is not opposed to charter schools, but we are opposed to Amendment 1," Rollins said. "More than 170 school systems in the state are operating with deficits and this is an attempt by our legislators to spend taxpayers' money on schools that are not under local control but under the control of out-of-state for profit corporations."
The proposed amendment to the state Constitution reads:
"Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?"
Joining the GAE on the anti-amendment side are a group of heavyweights such as the Georgia Superintendent of Education John Barge, the Georgia School Board Association, the Georgia School Superintendents Association, the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the League of Women Voters, the Legislative Black Caucus, and the NAACP, among others.
"This is all about money, power and control," said Rollins, who is from Bainbridge but works in the metro Atlanta area. "If people are unhappy with their local schools, there is already a mechanism in place for the voters to change those dynamics. We don't need to rewrite the state constitution for it."
Getting to the money aspect, Rollins said the state has already set aside more than $440 million to distribute to charter schools if the amendment passes.
"Why doesn't the state take that money and give it to our existing schools which are already severely underfunded?" Rollins asked. "The state is constantly taking money out of our communities. What kind of results can we expect when they are constantly cutting funding?
"What we really need is to get back to a 180-day school calendar and fully funded public schools."
With more than 300 charter schools in Georgia, Rollins added that passage could have other unforeseen consequences.
"What we would see is a resegregation of our schools based on resources." she said. "As I said before there is no need to rewrite the state constitution."
Rollins then urged voters to educate themselves on the Amendment before voting.
"We are asking that the voters do their due diligence," she said. "Read the amendment and vote no. All we want is for all of our schools to be properly funded and allow local school boards to have control over local schools.
"Research has shown that charter schools perform no better than our pubic schools which educate everybody who walks through their doors."