In a 58 to 42 percent vote, Georgians adopted a constitutional amendment tonight that will put the state back in the business of approving charter schools over the objections of local boards of education.
The amendment was always favored to win, in part because of the benign language of the ballot question put before voters: Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?
The assumption is that the Legislature will reconstitute the appointed commission that was in place before the state Supreme Court struck it down a year ago, setting the stage for this bitter amendment battle. (See my AJC colleague Jim Galloway’s column tomorrow on the political ramifications of this political fight, which pitted the Republican state school superintendent against the GOP governor and House leadership.)
One of the first responses to the amendment passage came from Nina Gilbert, executive director of Ivy Preparatory Schools.
In an email, Gilbert said:
“In the words of statesman Frederick Douglass ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress.’ We have been in the trenches fighting for the right for parents to choose their children’s schools for more than five years. I am so glad that the end of this fight is near and rests in the hands with the people of Georgia.
Our goal in the charter community has been and always will be to put children first and work to close the achievement gap. We do this by giving parents the option to choose schools with innovative programs, small class sizes and teachers who have the autonomy to make sure students learn at high levels. We offer alternatives for students assigned to low performing schools and students who want a new environment that challenges them. We have done our very best to serve our scholars, engage our parents and meet every requirement mandated by law.”
Also offering comment tonight was state Rep. Alisha Morgan of Austell who said, “This is what happens when you put politics aside and you bring black, white, young and old together and you just focus on the kids. This is the right thing. Kids won tonight.”
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog