GA Amendment: Second Time a Charm

Resolution Now Heads to Georgia Senate

February 23, 2011

In a second attempt, Georgia’s House of Representatives passed a constitutional amendment that would permit a state commission to create new charter schools. Wednesday’s revote came only a week after the amendment fell short of a needed two-thirds majority in the House.

Georgia Representative Jan Jones

Last week, the proposal received 110 votes in favor and 62 opposed – ten votes shy of a two-thirds majority. On Wednesday, however, there was a shift in favor of the amendment, with 123 votes cast in favor and 48 opposed – three votes above the minimum threshold for constitutional amendments.

House Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, who authored and championed the proposed amendment, expressed satisfaction with the outcome. “It was a good day, a good day for Georgia,” Jones said after Wednesday’s vote.

House Republicans were joined Wednesday by seventeen Democrats and one independent who voted in favor of the resolution. The amendment now heads to the Senate, where it also needs the assent of a two-thirds majority.

Although Republicans dominate Georgia's Senate, they still fall short of a two-thirds majority – which means they need to win over some Democratic votes. If enough Senate Democrats break ranks and the resolution passes, the constitutional  amendment will be decided this November in a statewide referendum, needing a simple majority.

The amendment was drafted in response to a 2011 Georgia high court ruling that revoked the state’s power to approve new charter schools or direct funding their way. In a close 4-3 decision, the court ruled that only local school boards should have that power.

The controversial ruling placed many of the state’s high-performing charter schools at risk of closing if they failed to win reauthorization from their respective local boards. One of those schools is the all-boys Fulton Leadership Academy, located in Atlanta’s south side. Another threatened charter is Ivy Preparatory Academy, a high-performing all-girls school just north of Atlanta. (Both schools were featured in ChoiceMedia.TV’s special video report, The Day the Lights Went Out in Georgia.)

“It’s important that we not only protect educational options for our children, but we provide our children with strong and diverse educational options,” said Betsy DeVos, who chairs the American Federation for Children. “We now call on the Senate to follow the House’s lead and pass this important resolution to help kids.”

©2012 ChoiceMedia.TV

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