GA House Democratic Caucus Stands for Local Control, and AGAINST HR 1162

State House Democrats stand against  HR 1162 and  promote HR 1335, a Constitutional Amendment aimed at creating an alternate authorizer for charter schools without damaging Georgia’s public school system.

It is important that we stand together for local control and public education. This is the OFFICIAL position of the Georgia House Democratic Caucus.

We must encourage Georgia State House Representatives to vote NO on HR 1162 and promote HR 1335.

Please contact your State Representative today and ask them to vote NO on HR 1162.

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To find your State Representative, click here and enter your address.

Once you are given a list of your elected officials, click on the person(s) listed under “House of Representatives”. This will take you to your Representative’s contact information.

Please CALL and EMAIL your Representative TODAY and tell them to vote NO on HR 1162.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HR 1162 AND HR 1135

HISTORY
Last Wednesday, HR 1162 failed to gain the 2/3 majority (120 votes) necessary to pass a Constitutional Amendment. The vote was 110 to 62.

On Thursday, the House voted by a simple majority to reconsider this action, meaning that supporters of the resolution can ask for it to be voted on again at a later date. This second vote on HR 1162 may come at any time.

House Democrats oppose HR 1162 because the scope of the proposed Constitutional Amendment goes far beyond the stated purpose of allowing the state to create charter schools and fund them. HR 1335 is the proposed Democratic alternative to this resolution.

DETAILS ABOUT HR 1162 AND HR 1135

HR 1162 IS NOT ABOUT CHARTER SCHOOLS: The proposed amendment would enable political appointees to override the decisions of local school boards and local voters in order to re-direct tax funds to any “special school” the state creates or designates. Charter schools are only one type of special school, and there is a better way to solve the charter school issue without giving up local control or expanding the reach of government in education.

HR 1162 MAKES TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION CONSTITUTIONAL: HR 1162 enables the General Assembly to re-direct tax funds to any type of special school over the objections of local boards and local taxpayers. The funds would be spent by political appointees, who have no obligation to respect the wishes of voters. There is not an appeals process, no referendum and no proof that a school was denied authorization or is even necessary.

GIVES THE STATE UNPRECEDENTED, UNCHECKED POWER: HR 1162 would give the General Assembly unlimited power to identify what constitutes a “special school” under the Georgia Constitution. The amendment does not define or limit the term “special schools.” It also prohibits the Supreme Court from reviewing state use of these new powers by using such a broad term.

BALLOT QUESTION MISLEADS VOTERS: The ballot measure language mischaracterizes the current state of Georgia law: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”

Locally approved charter schools are currently constitutional and this amendment is not necessary to confirm their status. Voters may believe that they are deciding whether any local charter schools may continue to operate, rather than whether the state will be permitted to create its own competing system of local charter schools.

Despite the ballot language “upon the request of local communities,” the local community will have no say in the state creation of “special schools” including charter schools.

SUCH A BROAD AMENDMENT IS NOT NECESSARY: The Supreme Court expressly limited their decision to the constitutionality of the Charter Commission Act. Nothing in the Court’s opinion questioned the State’s power to set standards and regulations for K-12 education or conditions for local receipt of state financial assistance.

HR 1335 IS A BETTER OPTION: HR 1335 does not include the ambiguous term of “special schools” and focuses only on charter schools.

Clear: HR 1335 puts charter schools squarely in the Constitution, removing any doubt about the state’s support of this educational option. This will help the Race to the Top initiative and with foundations. It also reaffirms the state’s role in education policy.

Concise: The amendment directly addresses the goals of HB 881 and the Supreme Court decision by creating a method for the state to act as an alternative authorizer.

Fair: The amendment limits funding of state-created charter schools to state-provided funds. Removes the risk of a power-grab or financial grab from local taxpayers.

Honest: The ballot language is direct, simple and straightforward: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to authorize the state to create and fund state charter schools when such schools have been denied by a local board of education?”

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To find your State Representative, click here and enter your address.

Once you are given a list of your elected officials, click on the person(s) listed under “House of Representatives”. This will take you to your Representative’s contact information.

Please CALL and EMAIL your Representative TODAY and tell them to vote NO on HR 1162.