Today’s Charter Amendment Opposition Misinformation: They’re Trying To Create A Third Authorizer!

The Thomaston-Upson County Chamber of Commerce voted last night to oppose the charter school amendment on the November 6th ballot. They also voted to distribute a “fact sheet” that once again makes the claim that the State of Georgia can already approve charter schools and hear appeals from charter schools rejected by local Boards of Education.

Opponents of the proposed amendment who push this theory want to have their cake and eat it too. They won won their lawsuit and HB881 was declared unconstitutional. Now they want to claim the State all along could do what they fought tooth and nail against for two years.

The Thomaston-Upson County Chamber goes one step further declaring:

This amendment to the GA Constitution, if approved, will create a third authorizer, a politically-appointed State Charter School Commission not accountable to taxpayers or voters.

Of course the State BoE they tell us can already approve charter schools and overrule local school boards is also a politically appointed body. They seem to have no problem with that appointed board overruling a local school board.

Let’s assume opponents are correct and the State BoE can create charter schools and overturn decisions of local boards of education. Why are they fighting so hard to stop a third authorizer? Many States already have multiple charter school authorizers. Some States have dozens of authorizers. Last time I checked, having alternate authorizers for charter schools hasn’t shaken one of the pillars of American greatness.

This is an attempt by opponents to muddy the waters and trick you into believing something that isn’t true. As I posted on September 18th,

In declaring HB881 unconstitutional, Chief Justice Hunstein said:

“Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits.” Art. VIII, Sec. V, Par. I of the 1983 Georgia Constitution. This language continues the line of constitutional authority, unbroken since it was originally memorialized in the 1877 Constitution of Georgia, granting local boards of education the exclusive right to establish and maintain, i.e., the exclusive control over, general K-12 public education.


However, if the State previously had the authority to approve charter schools the ruling makes it clear they don’t anymore. What the State Board of Education is doing today, giving commission charter schools funding, will most certainly generate a lawsuit should the proposed amendment fail this November. The BoE, as I understand it, is declaring those schools “special schools” which the State does have the authority to approve. However based on the language in Gwinnett v Cox, the Court will most likely rule against the BoE and cut off funding for those schools. In Gwinnett v Cox the School Boards argued that “special schools” only referred to schools for the blind etc… not schools geared toward the general student population.

Once again, all this talk is meant to distract us from the real issue here which is student achievement. This isn’t about money, or power, or anything else. It’s about doing all we can as a State to give parents more control over their children’s education and improving student acheivement. By all means, get the facts about this amendment and I believe when you do you’ll vote yes.

Other posts on the proposed charter amendment:
Today’s Charter Amendment Opponent Misinformation: “Vote No To State Controlled Schools”
Today’s Charter Amendment Opponent Misinformation: No, We’re Not Using Taxpayer Funds To Oppose The Amendment, Why Would You Think That?
Today’s Charter Amendment Opponent Misinformation: The State Can Already Create New Charter Schools So Vote No!
Taxpayers Not Left Holding The Bag When Charter Schools Close
Gwinnett Chamber Moves To Neutral, PTA Revises Position In Charter Debate
As The School Year Begins A Lesson Is Needed On The Difference Between An Apple And An Orange
More On The Flawed Logic Of Banning State Charter Schools


  1. Harry says:

    It’s about doing all we can as a State to give parents more control over their children’s education and improving student acheivement.

    +1,655,792 (students in Georgia)

  2. John Konop says:

    A simple question:

    We have been sold gimmicks from Math 123, No Child Left Behind……..that would somehow change the bell curve on IQ. We know as a country at best around 30 percent of kids should go to a 4 year college. And on the macro our top 20 percent perform as well or better ( within the margin of error) as any other part of the world. Why do any of you think Charter schools will somehow magically change the IQ aptitude of about 70 percent of the population?

  3. LarryMajor says:

    The Thomaston-Upson County Chamber fact sheet is accurate and it’s disturbing that you wouldn’t know this.

    Previously, you said of the DOE, “They didn’t hear any appeals until the Supreme Court ruling.” This statement is simply is not true.

    Ivy Prep originally opened at a State Charter School before the first Commission ever existed. Just this year, Ivy Prep’s petition was denied by GCPS and they appealed to the DOE. Although the DOE initially denied the petition, after extensive changes, Ivy Prep was again approved as a State Charter School. All this happened right here in Gwinnett and it’s difficult to understand how you are unaware of all this.

    Also, your understanding of legal process involved with State Special Charter Schools is largely inaccurate. Check page five of the Supreme Court decision and read the footnotes. This provides an overview of which code sections were and were not involved.

    • Clearly you didn’t read my post. When a lawsuit pops up, which one most certainly will should the amendment fail, the State BoE will very likely be told to stop declaring schools like Ivy Prep “special” schools. Stopping the State from authorizing charter schools was the main point of the lawsuit filed by Gwinnett and other schools boards and as I referenced above, the Supreme Court made it very clear the State has no authority under our current Constitution to create schools, charter or otherwise, except under the very limited definition of a special school.

      • LarryMajor says:

        The lawsuit was filed because the Commission took state funding away from kids enrolled in GCPS and gave it to Ivy Prep. This isn’t an opinion and is listed on page 14 of the original complaint as a remedy:

        G. In the alternative to the injunctive relief described above, an injunction barring Defendants from funding Ivy Preparatory Academy at a disproportionate rate, and directing Defendants to restore to Plaintiff the difference between what Ivy Preparatory Academy currently receives from the state and what Ivy Preparatory Academy should have received under QBE formula earnings;

        If the Commission had simply agreed to stop taking state funding away from GCPS students, we wouldn’t be having this conversation because the legal action would have ended and the original Commission would still exist.

  4. DeKalb Teacher says:

    Have any new State Chartered Schools been commissioned since the 2011 ruling? When estimating the $430 million, Barge conservatively estimated 7 new state chartered schools every year. If the GaDOE can commission new state chartered schools, where are those 7 this year?

  5. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Isn’t it plausible that everybody is looking the other way so we can renew existing charter schools and not disrupt everybody and their dog until this is cleared up?

    To my knowledge we haven’t had any new “state chartered special schools” commissioned since that court ruling.

    O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2064.1 says
    Upon denial of a petition for a start-up charter school by a local board and upon application to the state board by the petitioner, the state board shall approve the charter of a start-up charter petitioner for a state chartered special school

    20-2-2064.1, as you know, was not thrown out in the 2011 decision. The 2011 decision also said that
    “State chartered special schools” established under the Charter Schools Act of 1998, OCGA § 20-2-2060 et seq., are not in issue in this appeal and we intimate no opinion as to their status under the 1983 Georgia Constitution.

    They are just saying the 2011 majority opinion’s definition of “State chartered special schools” can’t be used in other court cases. They are not saying their definition isn’t accurate.

    “State chartered special schools” have always and will always be special schools like schools for the blind. The 1877 Constitution of Georgia granted local boards of education the exclusive right to establish and maintain K-12 education.

    Please let me know if I am interpreting this incorrectly. Thanks!

    • LarryMajor says:

      I don’t have the entire list, but Ivy Prep had three schools approved by the state since the decision; the Gwinnett school was approved about five months ago and the two in DeKalb were approved some time after the Supreme Court decision.

      What caused the debate over the constitutional meaning of a special school were codes segments such as “A commission charter school shall exist as a public school within the state as a component of the delivery of public education within Georgia’s K-12 education system” and that Commission Schools were for “the purpose of providing the highest level of public education to all students.” (The operative word here is “all.”)

      The Court held that this code granted the Commission authority beyond the state’s constitutional authority to create special schools. It’s not that the same reasoning can’t be applied to other code sections in a future case, but that the arguments wouldn’t be relevant. Consider the wording in 20-2-2062:

      (16) “State chartered special school” means a charter school created as a special school that is operating under the terms of a charter between the charter petitioner and the state board.

      This code only creates a definition for state special schools that operate under a charter as opposed to some other type of legal agreement, and makes no attempt to define what constitutes a special school. This wording is viable under, quite literally, any definition of “special” school, so I seen nothing in the Supreme Court decision that would apply.

      • “This wording is viable under, quite literally, any definition of “special” school, so I seen nothing in the Supreme Court decision that would apply.”

        And if the amendment fails, a lawsuit will be filed to block the State BoE from authorizing special charter schools. The very people advancing the argument now that the State has a right to create any school it wants will flip back to their original position and say charter schools are not special enough.

        • DeKalb Inside Out says:

          Nevertheless, Amendment 1 will be authorizing a 3rd group to commission state chartered schools.

  6. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    It looks like those Ivy Prep schools existed in some form or fashion before the 2011 ruling. To minimize disruption, perhaps they are extending their charter until Amendment 1 clears things up.

    Are there any brand new spanking state charter schools commissioned since the 2011 supreme court decision?

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