Director of Education Reform
Georgia parents spoke loudly last night. They want more school choice.
By a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, Georgia voters approved a new constitutional amendment, granting the governor, lieutenant governor and the state House speaker the authority to appoint a board that will be in charge of approving new charter schools in the state.
This means that Georgia has finally joined states like Illinois in modernizing the process it uses to approve charter schools.
Previously, in Georgia, charter schools had to get the approval of local school boards – a misguided process that limited the number of charter schools in the state.
Think about it – does it make sense to have a law that requires Burger King to ask for McDonald's’ approval to build a new restaurant in town?
The charter school amendment was created in response to a decision by Georgia’s Supreme Court last year, which ruled that it was unconstitutional to establish a State Charter Commission separate from the State Board of Education.
Tuesday night, Georgia voters disagreed.
Opponents of the charter school amendment charged that the amendment’s language was intentionally misleading to voters, a new school board with unelected political appointees shouldn’t be trusted and that a few elected officials will have too much power to hand out state money.
The Illinois Policy Institute has shown that charter schools can improve student performance. Our latest report, which highlighted the fact that nine of the top 10 2012 ACT scores came from charter schools, reaffirms this point. Other research also shows that charter schools are routinely the best schools in Chicago neighborhoods.
Passage of the amendment in Georgia is a welcome win for the school choice movement. It shows that parents desire high-quality educational options for their children and that they can work together to defeat well-connected and well-funded public school teachers unions.