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Monday, November 5, 2012 - 3:22am

Why Republicans May Support Charter Amendment

Recent polls show as many as a quarter of Georgia voters are undecided about the charter school amendment on Tuesday's ballot. One analyst says the issue may be scrambling normal partisan divisions.

Amendment One would give a state commission the authority to create and fund charter schools, even over the objections of local school boards.

Mercer University political scientist Chris Grant says this presents an ideological quandary for some voters, particularly Republicans. Local control of education is a bedrock GOP principle, he says, and yet polls show a majority of those Republican voters who have made up their minds are voting for the amendment.

"I think it has a lot to do with Republicans controlling the state apparatuses: the General Assembly, the state education board, the Governor’s mansion," Grant said. "And so if you’re a Republican, you may want to be able to ask for redress of grievances at the state level."

For his part, the man leading the campaign for Amendment One rejects that framing of the argument. Mark Peevy says the ultimate local control of education is in the home, and that giving parents another place in which to lobby for a charter school grants them more of it.

"Local boards, and we certainly have some in Georgia who are very friendly to these activities, have every opportunity to incorporate them and work with them, within their communities," Peevy said. "And so they have the first bite of the apple. Having a state commission in place at the state level simply allows for a fairer appeals process."

Still, Grant says both Republican and Democratic voters tend to try to focus power in whichever level or branch of government they control.

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