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Georgia Charter Schools Amendment Appears to Pass

The constitutional amendment grants the state authority to approve charter schools, whether local school boards want them or not.

Georgia voters gave the state more authority over charter schools on Tuesday, passing a constitutional amendment empowering a commission to overrule local school districts that reject charter school petitions.

With all counties fully reporting, the hotly contested amendment had support of 58.5 percent of voters. See selected county results below.

It was an emotionally charged issue that in some ways united Georgians across political and demographic lines. A Peach Pundit poll from late October had found "no significant difference [in support] based on whether a voter is a Republican or a Democrat, a male or a female, or based on race."

Camille Cottrell, an Emory University instructor and card-carrying Democrat, is an example of the ambiguity many voters felt about the issue. Cottrell, who voted yes because she feels something needs to be done to turn around failing school systems, continued to waver even after casting her ballot.

"It was a very, very tough vote for me," Cottrell, a Berkeley Lake resident, told Peachtree Corners Patch. "I believe very much in the public school system... I'm voting against my basic beliefs."

Terrence Morrow, who has children at two charter schools run by the Gwinnett County school system -- New Life Academy and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology -- voted against the amendment.

"They could do more, but I think they should go through the same process," Morrow told Suwanee Patch.

Duluth resident Mark Bender, who spent his post-voting time at a Suwanee Starbucks, said he supported the proposal.

"If one child can come out the better for it, that's why I voted for it," Bender said.

Dana Gerard of Canton also voted yes, saying that "getting the state involved can only benefit the creation of more charter schools."

But in Athens, Beth Hall Thrasher voted no, because, she said, the amendment "wouldn't give everyone the same opportunities."

Opponents have filed a lawsuit to prevent the amendment from taking effect, arguing that the ballot language misled voters about the proposal's intentions.

Patch editors Steve Burns, Rebecca McCarthy, Judy Putnam and Justin Ove contributed to this story.

Below are results for the state of Georgia and selected counties. For full results, see the Georgia Secretary of State's website.


Voting Yes Voting No Precincts Counted Georgia total 2,162,283 1532,451 100 percent

Athens-Clarke

17,622
20,878
100 percent
Barrow 15,454
8,638
100 percent
Bartow 18,839
15,673
100 percent
Cherokee 56,090
38,646
100 percent
Cobb 190,168
106,964
100 percent
DeKalb 187,326
105,542
100 percent
Douglas 35,813
17,609
100 percent
Forsyth 51,982 26,734 100 percent Fulton 244,714
127,281
100 percent
Gwinnett 179,441 104,815
100 percent
Liberty 9,075 6,077
100 percent
Oconee 8,160 8,825 100 percent
Paulding 34,183
21,137
100 percent
Walton 22,235
13,554
100 percent

Note: Oconee County numbers were revised on Nov. 12.  They have been updated.

Jim Beam November 12, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I'm very surprised that folks who ask others to 'find out the facts' are themselves so misinformed about Amendment 1. Nowhere in Amendment 1 is approval for charter schools removed from the local boards. Rather, it provides an appeals process for when local boards deny charters. Local control isn't lost. In the scenario where a local board denies a charter petition that is subsequently approved by the new state charter commission, not a single dime of local $$$ would go towards the funding of that new school. Local money isn't lost. Such a school would not be overseen by a local board but why would the local board care, as it already denied the passage of the charter. Such a school would be filled with children of parents whose property tax $$$ still wouldn't be spent on education of their own child. The folks begging people to blindly vote NO are the ones mainly responsible for the educational mess we're in right now. Of course they want blind approval of the continuation of their squandering of billions of educational tax $$ each year. The greatest scoundrels cloak themselves as victims and wrap themselves in shrouds of mediocrity, all so that the flow of tax $$$ into a broken system will continue without accountability. The greatest of scoundrels decry such accountability - like roaches, they want to run & hide when the lights are turned on.
Marsi Thrash November 12, 2012 at 05:13 PM
I am astounded by the apathy and downright rejection of the educational system by non-parents. School systems have a direct correlation to property values. Not to mention the overall well-being of a community, county and state. It behooves economic development because communities can attract businesses to Georgia by having an attractive educational system. Georgia does not have educational system to envy by any stretch. It's time to come into the 21st century!
North Georgia Weather November 12, 2012 at 06:03 PM
Great post Martin and very true. And Dan... who is hiding what? You always talk about lack of accountability, you have no idea how little accountability these new charters will really have. and did you know that the old state charter commission itself declined 76 percent of applications that had previously been turned down by local districts for charter schools?
Mrs L November 12, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Well said Marsi!
Athens Mama November 12, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Well said, and said succinctly as well.
Mike payne November 12, 2012 at 10:50 PM
Steely Dan, We won they lost (and it was not even close), no need to waste your time arguing with the earth is flat crowd. It feels better to just feel sorry for them rather than debate them. All they have is emotion and scare tactics on their side and the election results proved nobody is buying what they are selling, anymore.
Roger That November 12, 2012 at 11:22 PM
Laptops for all!!
Debbie Pascoe November 13, 2012 at 01:12 AM
And -- To overturn a popular vote, you would have to get a vote of 2/3 of both the house and the senate and then get another popular vote to overturn the amendment. Too wide a margin for any hope of that.
Common Sense November 13, 2012 at 01:21 AM
Wow, Mike! Your post sounds like you really have ALL kids at heart. I can rest a little easier tonight knowing I've got such valiant educational warriors like you and Steely Dan looking out for my kid in traditional public school... NOT! 'We won, they lost!' What are you, 5 years old?
Sportsfan November 13, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Common Sense, what do you expect from adults these days? These are the same idiots that think ANYONE won after electing Obama again. This nation is screwed! Democrats spew hatred, racism and division and that is exactly how America is responding in every way. Heil Obama And Power To The Liberal!
Tom Doolittle November 13, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Earth is flat crowd. You can count the number of issues where conservatives are the progressives on one hand. On the other hand, I have friends that have NEVER sided (never, not once, would eat their left arm first) with Republicans--except on this. I'd like to chalk it up to bipartisanship, big tents and common sense, but their are too many legitimate arguments on both sides to explain it. Gotta be something else...like confusing the fact that several metro jurisdictions are so corrupt, it trumps any legitimate discussion about the proposed law.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:13 AM
Couldn't get to a poll? It ALWAYS amazes me when people vote for higher taxes and ever more layers of government rather than fixing the issues first... What this amendment costs us nothing? check back in 6-12 months.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:17 AM
If charter schools take all children why is Ivy Prep all GIRLS? Or has that changed now?
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Before those grapes get passed out , might want to wait through a budget cycle or 2.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Charters really aren't the issue, it's how the state will operate the new board that's front and center.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:27 AM
So lets NOT fix the main problem but ADD yet another layer of government to fund and let go just as far off the deep end... FORWARD HO!
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:28 AM
NOW THERE"S a Charter that makes sense - take all English as second lanuage students
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew November 13, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Its Obama money... QE forever!
Pete November 13, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Sorry, I'm a little late to the game, but why is there such fear mongering going on about charter schools? If the school district is doing their jobs, there would be no reason or need for alternative education institutions. Coming from 2 different states in areas that had the option, I saw a huge difference in quality of the education coming from a charter system, vs the public education in that given area, namely because of the core teaching curriculum and methods/philosophies. As a parent, I want the best education opportunities for my child, and judging from the vote tally, I am not alone. For those spouting doom and gloom, I suggest you educate yourselves about the charter system, because there are several. I also think you need to look past your own prejudices about what you "think" it is about, and look at the success of the program in area that have undergone the choice. Speak about corruption all you want but it is no different than what we already deal with in our current system, which seems to already ask for a dollar every chance they get.
Mike payne November 13, 2012 at 02:05 PM
Common sense, Maybe you should try looking out for your kid first, please do not count on other people to do that, unless you like being disappointed. I wanted options for my kids so I went out and found a charter school and it was the best thing for them. The people of Cherokee spoke loud and clear and we chose not to leave Janet Read and Dr. P as the gate keepers of how we educate our kids. And watching Mike Chapman kick and scream on his way out is icing on the cake.
Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 02:21 PM
This didn't take long--http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dunwoody-push-separate-school-district/nS9fX/ So why is this headline under an article for charter schools? The people who voted for uncontrolled, proliferated CharterGeddon have no idea what the unintended consequencws will be This is just one--I'll bet very few people considered this--nor any other seemingly unrelated issue.
MA Evans November 20, 2012 at 02:34 PM
This isn't the unintended consequence but the intended consequence. A lot of people considered this and that's why they wanted the amendment to pass. Let's just hope it's challenged in court and overturned.
Jim Beam November 20, 2012 at 02:41 PM
If I had a child in the miserable, thoroughly-corrupt, completely-inept Dekalb Cty School District, I'd want the hell out of there too! Good for these parents for caring enough to try to make a difference on their children's education. Anyone paying any attention to Dekalb County knows what a complete hellhole that district is. The near-2:1 margins of YES votes for A1 in Dekalb Cty (which went heavily pro Obama) prove beyond a doubt that Dekalb parents are well-aware of the disasters of GA public schools and that American taxpayers both D & R are fed up with the status quo. What kind of people want to stand in a parent's way of a better education? What kind of people want to keep children trapped in failing schools?
Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Every parent--every school zone--every neighborhood--every child? Heck--the Dunwoody schools were some of the most successful in the state. Also, this won't be a "public" system. I can see an accountability nightmare when the system is essentially privatized. When charter clusters were introduced by Dan Weber, everyone thought he was talking about managing the existing public schools. I'm willing to bet none of the existing schools will be operated with public employees. This will be the first "system" completely relegated to private interests. Very few people argue the need for charter schools in specialized circumstances, but obviously CharterGeddon is an unmanageable idea.
Jim Beam November 20, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Charter schools are the perfect answer to the unfolding disaster that is the Dekalb Cty School District. Only a complete fool would want their children in a district that generates headlines like these: http://www.ajc.com/news/news/dekalb-school-board-draws-scrutiny/nRPy8/ http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local/parents-stunned-as-dekalb-school-board-bars-public/nR4cw/ http://www.ajc.com/news/news/dekalb-board-gives-short-notice-on-vote-for-school/nSKm3/ http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/08/30/dekalb-schools-get-another-warning-why-so-many-second-chances/ These headlines are the epitome of GA public education though. It's why 2 million GA voters voted for a change to this joke of a system! Again, anyone who defends this system and heaps disdain onto parents wanting something better for their children's education is completely out of touch with reality and is only interested in protecting a clearly-failed status quo.
Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Yes Steely--you're correct. The vote was very inflluenced by news about DeKalb, Clayton and City of Atlanta. The rest of the state must have tired from all of the page space dedicated to five years of three-county coverage--or perhaps the press did a good enough job of spicing things up to keep people interested. How about you, Oconee and other Patches, want to weigh in on how the DeKalb news affected you?
Jim Beam November 20, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Actually Tom, I think the vote was very influenced by years and years of sub-standard education being received by the children of millions of GA voters. The NO crowd made 2 mistakes during the A1 debates: They wrongly assumed that people in GA were satisfied with the quality of GA public education and they wrongly assumed that people would blindly follow the electoral advice of the very people who'd help cause much of this sub-standard quality: Local & State superintendents - all of whom spent time campaigning against A1's passage. 2 million GA voters paid no attention to the advice of these contractors. Hopefully, these mandate, landslide numbers will make these superintendents do the job they're being contracted to, rather than wasting taxpayer $$ lobbying against measures that the public resoundingly is in favor of. They need to stick to being school superintendents, not political lobbyists. The people have spoken. The NO people who still think this will be overturned expose their ignorance to the process that would be required to pull that off. (See Ms Pascoe's description of that above) In hindsight, I think it's the NO crowd who didn't read the ballot's wording correctly, seeing how wrong they were on every single other aspect of the A1 debate and landslide victory.
North Georgia Weather November 20, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Maybe your school system is bad...
Pub Ed is Broken November 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Wow, I cant follow your logic Tom. Looks like this is the EXACT consequence we want from the new ammendment. How people continue to defend an outdated and corrupt school system is beyond me.
Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The original reference I made was about the new city of Dunwoody proposing its own (as in owning the Legislature) school system, which unless they simply re-hire public employees will be entirely made up of charter schools. No--that's not the EXACT consequence anyone ever envisioned with the new law--nor was it ever envisioned by the public when Dunwoody Senator Dan Weber proposed "charter clusters" (most people surely thought he meant existing public schools guided differently by community). In fact, I'm betting "charter clusters" made up entirely with privatized schools, will be seen as overreach (especially for a city that has only existed for two years) when one itemizes the implications--no time for that now and I'll wait until the article is done via Patch.

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