By Tony Roberts, President of Georgia Charter Schools Association and resident of Alpharetta
Senator Vincent Fort, State Representative for Atlanta and East Point, has written an op-ed opposing HR1162 entitled: “.”
Sen. Fort says HR1162, which calls for a constitutional amendment, is not about charter schools and is not needed. He is half-right: it is not just about charter schools, but it is actually needed for the well being of ALL our public schools. He also creates the fear that if HR1162 passes, our public schools will suffer, taxes will increase—no good will come of it.
This reminds me of an early childhood experience when my grandfather made me afraid to leave the bed at night by telling me a bear was under the bed (he lived in the mountains and I was there for a weekend stay). If I uncovered myself and put my foot on the floor, that big, mean bear would reach out and grab my foot and have me for dinner. Well, it worked to keep me in bed. But it was not true.
The Supreme Court has actually written away the historical partnership between local school boards and the State of Georgia in the area of K-12 education (much more than charter schools). A constitutional amendment is vital to make sure that our local school boards and the State work in concert to see that our schools are properly managed, funded, and effective.
Our State Attorney General, three Supreme Court Justices, and many respected Constitutional attorneys are among those who insist there must be a Constitutional amendment to fix this very real problem. Just last week a super majority of the House, 123 members from all over Georgia, affirmed that we need a Constitutional amendment by their passage of HR1162. The bill is now under consideration by the Senate.
One more “bear under the bed” evoked by Sen. Fort is that HR1162 would have the state reaching into the pocketbook of local school districts and taking their money away. And, of course, the fictional conclusion he makes is that “taking” will lead to our public schools suffering and our taxes being raised to make up for the difference.
There is not a single reference to taking local money in this bill, except to say explicitly that local funds will NOT be taken. It could not be clearer than that.
Above all, therhetoric of all opposing politicians never mentions one of the most important features of this legislation: it allows the people of Georgia to vote on the matter in November. Why are they afraid to let the people decide? We, the citizens, are the only body that can change our Constitution and weshould have our chance.