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What You Need to Know about the Charter School Amendment

Polling places are open for early voting in Georgia and one of the most important decisions voters are being asked to make is on a charter school amendment. Voters are being asked to say yes or no to this ballot initiative that reads as follows: "Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options."

While the language is simple, the issue is much more complex. Here is a summary of what the charter school amendment is about, who is for it and against it and what the latest surveys show.

What the Bill is About

In a nutshell, the amendment gives the state authority to create charter schools without input or approval from local school boards of education. This would be implemented through a seven member state charter school commission appointed by the Board of Education, governor and state legislature as it has been done in the past. This board would be tasked with approving or rejecting charter school applications.

Who Supports It

Governor Nathan Deal is the amendment’s main supporter. He sees it as an option for parents and students stuck in failing schools to find better alternatives. Furthermore he points out that schools would not be created indiscriminately. One of the criteria for schools to get their charter is that the institution must solve a problem.

According to Ballotpedia Senator Buddy Carter also is a supporter. 

Who is Against it

A coalition of civil rights leader, black lawmakers are against it. Superintendent has personally come out against it too although recently the state board of education has taken a neutral stance. The opponents say funding to traditional public schools will suffer. Charter school students would receive more money per pupil than students in traditional schools. Also opponents say money will be funneled to the organizations or corporations that run the charter school.

What the Surveys Say

An Atlanta Journal Constitution poll shows the charter amendment vote is close with 45 percent of likely voters saying they are supporting it. By contrast, 42 percent of likely voters say they will vote against it. Meanwhile 13 percent were not aware of the issue at all or didn’t answer.