Henson says amendment preamble biased, inaccurate
Senate Democrats criticized the latest move by proponents of a November charter schools ballot amendment today, calling a new ballot preamble "biased, inaccurate and electioneering at its worst."
"As it was written in March, the charter schools question on the November ballot was misleading. The addition of a preamble to the ballot question heightens the inaccuracy," said Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson of Tucker. "The preamble language adds to the bias and subjectivity of what citizens will be voting on. The language intends to mislead voters in an effort to ensure a specific outcome. This is not democracy."
The November charter schools ballot preamble reads: Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options.
The charter schools controversy arose during the 2012 Georgia legislative session in the wake of a court decision to overturn a local school board's decision to approve a charter school. The GOP-led Senate and House voted to put the matter to voters. Democrats assailed the ballot language concerned it would mislead voters into thinking local boards did not have the power already to make educational decisions.
"The charter schools ballot question is a thinly veiled attempt to confuse voters into thinking they do not have local control over education. In fact, the opposite is true," said Sen. Valencia Seay. "Passage of the charter schools amendment will allow the state to take precious resources and funds from our public school districts to support what is essentially a parallel school system, further cutting our ability to provide a quality education to our young people."
Seay said that at a time when Georgia is furloughing teachers, cutting the amount of instructional time for struggling students, and enlarging class sizes, creating yet another distraction is the worst solution.
"Georgia has diverted $50 million dollars away from public education toward private school tuitions. Only a handful of charter schools will be affected by the November ballot amendment. Our conversation and our energy should be focused on what is in the best interest of our children," Seay said.
Senate Democrats noted the charter school movement in Georgia is flourishing under the current system.
Henson said claims of charter schools out performing public schools is nonsense. National studies show performance of public schools and charter schools to be nearly equal. He said the charter schools movement has been co-opted by special interest and out of state money.