Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has signed House Bill 797 which would give the voters a power to decide on matters regarding the reestablishment of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission – an agency whose function is approving and funding new schools. If the amendment gets passed, the state is free to decide on its own in opening charter schools even without the local school board’s permission.
Last year, the Georgia Supreme court crushed the legislature’s hope of bypassing the Constitutional referendum with a law that would vest the state with charter approval authority. The Supreme Court also struck down the Georgia Charter Schools Commission last May in a 4-3 vote, announcing that the commission had no legal power to finance charter schools. A bill to make amendments was then made and signed by Nathan Deal. Though still new, the amendment has already got the opponents thinking of ways and resolutions on how to make sure this bill will not get through. The Cherokee Board of Education and two other districts in Georgia have already passed resolutions to oppose the bill.
Georgia politics revolves around the idea of school choice, characterized by the Charter School movement. When a board member voted to abolish the Cherokee Charter Academy application, she was asked to resign by her party leaders because of her decision being not in tuned with the republican philosophy – that parents should be the ones to make decisions regarding education, not the state government.
Deal is optimistic that voters would support his action even before he signed the bill. He believes that empowering citizens of a state would make them more responsive. The voters’ decision will be formally announced in November. The future of charter schools in Georgia, for now, remains in the hands of the residents.
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