Panelists differ on constitutional amendment

SNELLVILLE -- Should voters approve an amendment that would affirm the state's power to charter independent public schools?

Four panelists took a stab at answering the question during a charter school amendment roundtable discussion Tuesday evening.

Sponsored by two local state representatives, the gathering aimed to shed light on the proposed amendment, which seeks to create an appointed commission that supporters believe would serve as a neutral group.

Panelist Marc Pilgrim said that the amendment "sets up a process of review that's not currently in place. You need teeth behind the appeal process ... to say that this (commission) can have the ability to authorize charter schools."

Gwinnett County Board of Education Member and panelist Bob McClure said it would be a mistake to create the commission.

"If this passes, it would create a seven-member board of people not appointed by your community ... to decide whether or not you will have certain state schools in your community," McClure said. "And they will do that over the objections of your local leaders."

Added McClure: "If this passes, it will alter the longstanding partnership between the state and local boards of education. It will change (the state) from our partners to our opponents."

Gwen McCants-Allen, the parent of a student in a charter school, doesn't see it that way.

"I believe this amendment adequately addresses the situation," McCants-Allen said. "There are children who need different types of environments, different types of options, and charter schools provide so many options for students."

The merits of charter schools, said state Rep. Dar'shun Kendrick, is beside the point.

"(This amendment) gives too much discretion to the state," Kendrick said. "I see this as a stepping stone to something bigger politically ... I see this as the next step in messing with our traditional public education. Whether charter schools do a great service to the community is not the issue here."

The defunct Georgia Charter Schools Commission shut down operations in 2011 after the Supreme Court ruled that the existing state constitution already gave local boards control over K-12 education, including issuing independent charters.

A majority of the General Assembly and the governor have since endorsed the amendment in an effort to restore the state commission.


kevin 2 years, 10 months ago

I spoke to many teachers recently and the ones I spoke with said they are voting YES. Why? Their main reason was to give students a better choice and a way to get rid of poor teachers that the management in the public schools won't let happen. Period. I always thought that that was the real reason for private run schools. The good teachers will be leaving the public system to get hired by the Charter system. This is what the officials on the school board are trying to avoid. They all know this will happen if too many Charter schools get built. It will pass. When more Charter schools are built, you will see many young bright teachers leave the old public system that is controlled by a board with its own interests, not that of the students. Once this happens, the schools will see drops in test scores because the poor teachers were allowed to remain for their pensions, at any cost to the kids. The burden of the work fell on the good teachers who had no voice against the school board. Charter schools will allow kids and good teachers more choices. Charter schools will avoid Federal controls from Federal monies.


R 2 years, 10 months ago

PLEASE read the terms that GA agreed to to get FEDERAL funding in the Race to the Top. The amendment debate such as it stands is over our GA leaders attempt to SECURE those funds by promising MULTIPLE approvers...

( Isn't like we didn't or don't have multiples available as it stands right now pre-amendment because we do!)

This was mentioned clearly in the State court 84 page minority or dissent opinion.

"Charter schools will avoid Federal controls from Federal monies."

So the entire argument for this amendment as written has just been proven FALSE. Charters are a GOOD idea, but NOT executed under the current proposed amendment text with promised financial controls to be delivered "later".

One last point to be considered about the number of charters approved based on the number counties/systems in the state. HOW many counties are considered truly URBAN Metro at this point?

Because charters are feasible in dense urban markets per the supporters themselves, might that have some impact on the number proposed and approved throughout the state? Wondering yet?

This amendment is NOT vouchers and takes from many for just a few.


Karl 2 years, 10 months ago

It is painfully obvious kevin does not have the slightest idea what he's talking about.

The false and completely ignorant statements he makes in just this one post would take too long to rebut one by one.


CD 2 years, 10 months ago

If you believe "Watermelon Wine" Deal and the Gormandizing Gestapo care about you or your kids, by all means vote YES. But please read up on the largest charter school operator in Florida, connect the dots to campaign contributions, and hopefully understand this is nothing but a transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to corporations.

This is not about kids. This is about corporate profits and a source of campaign contributions.

Fix the issues with the existing, bloated, wasteful system we currently have.


Don 2 years, 10 months ago

Just ask yourself this question, "Why is most of the money for campaigning for a yes vote is coming from out of state?"

One issue that has not really been pointed out is what happens when a charter school is funded if this gets passed? The local county must give them the money and then they will look to replace the lost dollars with a tax increase. Yes we would pay more in taxes most likely if this passes.

Kevin, I do not see "good" teachers leaving public schools to go teach at a charter schools. The fact that most private charter schools pay far less than the public ones. The stats show that the only ones making more money are the administrators.

Your last sentence tells it all, no control by the government and that is what is scary. We already have private schools so why the need for charters? Oh, it is free money for some greedy folks.


Don_Coyote 2 years, 10 months ago

This amendment is not charter vs public schools, though its proponents are trying hard to make that seem what it concerns. It is whether we alter the state constitution to add another layer of bureaucracy that is beholding only to their good ole boy network and their "benefactors". Charter schools can already be approved by the local boards and if you don't like it if they are not you can vote them out. The cronyism already exhibited by the current administration ought to clue you in on how the appointments would proceed. For examples on how well appointed bureaucrats work at the capitol I submit the DOT board and their little niece SRTA.


Sign in to comment