Thu., February 2, 2012 4:59pm (EST)

Committee OKs Charter School Bill
By Jeanne Bonner
Updated: 2 years ago

ATLANTA  —  
A state legislative committee approved a resolution Thursday that would allow Georgians to vote on whether the state can authorize charter schools.
A state legislative committee approved a resolution Thursday that would allow Georgians to vote on whether the state can authorize charter schools.
A state legislative committee approved a resolution Thursday that would allow Georgians to vote on whether the state can authorize charter schools.

The measure would overturn a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that banned the state’s charter school commission.

The bill would allow voters to change Georgia’s constitution to give the state the clear authority to open charter schools. It also would allow the state to redirect public funds from school districts to charter schools.

Supporters say it would restore the state’s charter school approach before the Georgia Supreme Court decision.

Rep. Ed Lindsey, an Atlanta Republican, says charter schools were performing well after lawmakers created the state charter commission in 2008.

“Charter schools have been invigorated," he said after the lengthy committee meeting. "Local systems have worked harder with charter schools whereas before they would simply slam the door. So I’m very pleased to see what’s happened today because it helps put us back on the right course that we started in 2008.”

The bill had bi-partisan support. But some Democrats oppose the bill, saying it would change the long-standing practice of giving local education boards control of schools.

Rep. Rashad Taylor is an Atlanta Democrat who says the resolution flies in the face of local control.

“The state has underfunded public education year after year after year," he said after the meeting. "Now we’re telling local governments, ‘We’re going to continue to under-fund schools and we’re also going to take money away from public schools and send them to charter schools that you yourselves have voted against'.”

The bill now heads to the full House for a vote where two-thirds of lawmakers would have to approve it before it would head to the state Senate.