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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Georgia charter schools amendment opposition ramps up

Voters will decide this November the states ability to create charter schools.
  • Joeff Davis/CL File
  • Voters will decide this November the state's ability to create charter schools.

Several groups today announced the formation of a coalition against Amendment 1 — a referendum on the Nov. 6 ballot that will determine the state's ability to create charter schools.

The coalition — comprised of educators, civil rights groups and lawmakers — expressed their opposition at the Georgia Capitol earlier today. The aligning parties included the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Rainbow Push Coalition, The People's Agenda, The Coalition of Black Women, Working Families of Georgia, and Georgia Federation of Teachers.

As the Nov. 6 election approaches, opposition to the charter schools amendment has slowly increased. The Georgia PTA rejected the amendment earlier in September — deviating from the PTA's national stance — while both the Democrats in the Georgia State Senate and the League of Women Voters of Georgia vocalized their displeasure with Amendment 1. Numerous school boards statewide have also declared their stance against the charter school referendum.

Meanwhile, Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge, Fulton County Schools Superintendent Robert Avossa, and Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis were accused last week of using taxpayer resources to illegally lobby against the proposed amendment.

Atlanta attorney Glenn Delk has asked the state Board of Education to convene for an emergency meeting after claiming that the three education officials violated state law. Delk believes that the Barge had asked his "taxpayer-paid staff to engage in political activity" by assisting him in creating a 29-point document that thoroughly describes his stance against the amendment.

"I do not value siphoning money from our schools to support state charter schools or to create a new and unnecessary state agency," Barge says in this document, titled 'Constitution Amendment Facts,' which can be viewed on the department of education's website. "I simply cannot support the charter school amendment."

Avossa told the AJC that Barge was trying to "clarify confusion," while Davis referred to the lawyer's claims as "baseless allegations."

With six weeks left until the ballot, there will undoubtedly be plenty more to come from both sides of the Georgia charter school amendment issue.

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