Crane supports vote on charter schools
It’s all about a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at restoring the state’s right to approve charter schools.
And that was the message brought by District 28 Sen. Mike Crane on Feb. 9 to a group of parents and employees at the Coweta Charter Academy at Senoia.
Crane was clearly in support of House Resolution 1162 that would restore the state’s ability to approve charter schools. The Georgia Senate followed suit earlier this week with Senate Resolution 853 that would accomplish the goal specified in HR 1162.
A 4-3 vote by Ga. Supreme Court in May 2011 determined that the legislation that created the Ga. Charter School Commission was unconstitutional. The commission subsequently ceased operation last June 30.
The House vote last week on HR 1162 came 10 votes short of the required two-thirds majority that would have put the measure before voters in the form of a constitutional amendment. Another vote on the resolution could come as early as Friday. Meantime, SR 853 was introduced this week with the idea of providing another way to put a constitutional amendment before Georgia voters.
Crane, R-Newnan, is an obvious supporter of the charter school movement in Georgia. Regardless how the House and Senate votes turn out, Crane left no room for imagination in his comments to parents and school employees. His position favors school choice and charter schools.
“Quality education should not be left to a single provider,” Crane said, adding that Georgia public schools have 60,000 drop-outs per year. “Education has become one-size-fits-all in many areas.”
Referencing the Supreme Court ruling last year, Crane said he believed that the measure in some form can be successfully addressed so that parents across the state can be provided school choice.
But such a reversal is not without its foes, Crane advised.
“There are great forces at work against competition,” Crane said of the move by public school systems across the state to thwart the move toward greater school choice. “In a one-size-fits-all approach we lowered the bar for everyone at a cost of $7 billion.”
The issue at hand, said Crane, is to press for a constitutional amendment that will give voters the opportunity to have their say at the ballot box.
“If there’s a time to be bold this is the time,” Crane said, bringing the topic back to money and power. “The big battle is over money. School systems are like individual empires and, like with all governments, they don’t want anyone taking their money or power away.”
That said, Crane made the point that to provide the availability of charter schools also provides a better educational opportunity for Georgia’s children.
For better or worse, school systems in local communities across Georgia and the nation are in the position of being able to levy taxes while often being the largest employer in the community. That combination is one that can potentially wield significant sway both with the electorate and with state and local legislators.
The rest of the story is that Georgia continues to rank near the bottom of the nation in education.