Last year, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down the Charter Schools Commission Act of 2008, which created the Georgia Charter Schools Commission; an entity that established schools for some 15,000 kids. The opinion, which is probably one of the worst issued by the court in the last several years, wasn’t motivated on grounds constitutional issues, rather policy.
The General Assembly has tried to correct this misguided court decision the HR 1162 (also known as the “charter schools amendment”). The House passed HR 1162, despite an earlier failure, by a vote of 123 to 48 after some issues Democrats had with the language were worked out.
While Senate Republicans have a substantial advantage in numbers, they still need some help from Democrats in order to pass a constitutional amendment.
Unfortunately, the Senate wasn’t able to take action on the charter schools amendment yesterday due to the lack of votes for passage.
From what I understand, two Democrats had pledged their support for the charter schools amendment, including State Sen. Hardie Davis (D-Augusta). However, Davis decided — apparently at the last minute — to pull his support.
It’s not like Davis wasn’t getting anything in return. He had worked out an agreement with Gov. Nathan Deal so that Senate Republicans could move the charter schools amendment forward to passage. While all of the details are not available, Davis is known to have ambitions to run for mayor of Augusta and wants to ensure that the city stays in minority hands. Davis is believed to have backed out because he wanted more from Gov. Deal and Republican leadership.
The charter schools amendment is by no means dead, but it’s certainly on the clock as we move closer to the end of the legislative session. It’s just sad that Sen. Davis doesn’t seem to have the courage to stand on principle and do what’s best for education policy in our state.