In the list of casualties this session everyone has definitely heard about medical marijuana and the Autism coverage mandate. Unfortunately these two bills were put to the back burner to be used as a political tool so certain legislators could act like toddlers. Some folks are more interested in political posturing instead of decent policy that will improve the lives of the citizens of Georgia.
Another topic on the list of casualties is charter schools. HB 897, which was commonly referred to as the Title 20 cleanup bill, was a 48 page bill that touched a lot of aspects of education because it was cleaning up the title section by removing outdated language and adding clarification where needed. One of these sections where there was needed clarification had to do with charter schools.
In 2012 the people spoke overwhelmingly in favor of more charter schools by passing the charter school amendment to our constitution. HB 897 had several sections that would add further clarity and guidance on how charter schools are treated and behave within Georgia’s educational System.
Rep. Mike Dudgeon (R- John’s Creek) was the author of the bill and had put in quite a bit of time to craft the language. Education can often be considered a third rail in Georgia politics, but with the amount of effort that Rep. Dudgeon expended, the bill passed out of Rep. Brooks Coleman’s Education Committee without opposition.
Then it got to the Senate where Sen. Lindsey Tippins gutted the charter language in his Education Committee, with no thought in mind that the people clearly want more charter schools to address an inadequate educational system. Why would a Senator ignore the will and voice of the people? I’m not entirely sure but it may have to do with Sen. Tippins’ 12 years of service on the Cobb County School Board and his desire to keep the status quo for entrenched bureaucratic interests.
Because of Sen. Tippins staunch opposition to the will of the people, three other education bills also failed. The House was insistent on the people’s position for more charter schools and attempted to fix the problems Sen. Tippins caused three other bills to fail: one dealing with expressly allowing teachers and school workers to say traditional winter holiday greetings, one that would have established a “Georgians of Great Character” month, and a third that was the “America’s Founding Principles” bill.
The people want more charter schools for their children. Charters have already shown their potential for new and innovative teaching as well as better preparing students for specialized education. We’ve seen in New Orleans what sort of improvements are possible in a true charter school system. It’s unfortunate when the people speak and their voices are ignored.