“To say we are very disappointed in its passage is an understatement,” said Calvine Rollins, president the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE), when asked about the passage of Amendment 1 by the smallest of margins on Nov. 6.
“We truly feel the proponents of the amendment have done a grave disservice to our citizens and our state’s 1.6 million school children who attend our public schools. By twisting the language on the ballot, they in essence ‘bought’ passage of the amendment. They didn’t have enough faith in our citizenry to be honest with them on exactly what its passage would do. What happened with this amendment shows the need to be even more deliberate and diligent in bringing details to light on matters impacting public education here in Georgia.”
Now, Rollins says, there is nothing to stop an unelected and unaccountable state-appointed committee, with no local representation, from invalidating the decisions of locally-elected and accountable school leaders.
“Now, there is nothing to stem the tide of money coming from outside the state and nation (foreign investors) to fund for-profit management companies that will use local tax monies to set up schools,” he asserted.
He believes that the passage of this amendment has set a precedent by allowing the state constitution to be changed to cater to the wants of select groups with specific agendas.
“Non-certified teachers will be allowed to teach in tax-payer funded public (charter) schools. And now, local public school systems will begin to see less funding in their already underfunded coffers to run their schools.” he said.
“We would have hoped that those who voted ‘yes’ realized that this had nothing to do with the existence of charter schools,” Rollins continued. “GAE realizes that the charter option has worked well in some areas, while in others it hasn’t. And the results are showing that while not a panacea for our public schools’ challenges, charters can serve to help certain student populations advance in accordance with their potential. But we still strongly believe that locally-elected school boards must continue to study and analyze the data coming from both successes and failures to help determine if first, their communities are a ‘best fit’ for the charter concept, and second, how many and of what type.”