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'Parents Are the Ultimate Local Control'

Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 797 at Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton, where he was awarded the 2012 Champion for Charters Award from a national charter schools group.

With  students flanking him, Gov. Nathan Deal this morning signed a bill that he said will provide Georgia families with choices when it comes to public education.

"We have every confidence to believe that Georgians all across this state embrace the idea that parents should have more options and that parents should be more involved in the process of the education of their children," he said moments before he signed House Bill 797, which will restore the state charter schools commission if voters approve a corresponding constitutional amendment in November.

"Charter schools are, in my opinion, a key ingredient in the future educational success for the state of Georgia. We know that when you promote competition, innovation and creativity, which charter schools do, and when you encourage strong parental involvement, which charter schools by necessity must have, then you improve the overall climate in which learning takes place. Parents, quite frankly, are the ultimate local control."

Deal chose as his platform Cherokee's first charter school, which has been ground zero in the county's school choice debate ever since the , a decision that nearly derailed Cherokee Charter's plans to open during the 2011-12 school year.

The school, located along the Sixes Road corridor, eventually  its doors after the . 

"I could only pick one," Deal said of his decision to sign H.B. 797 at Cherokee Charter Academy. "This seemed to be a very good place to pick because it has been highly succeessful and I think the community response to so many parents wanting to have this option and wanting to come to this school is indicative that it is one of the more successful manifestations of the charter school."

In order for H.B. 797 to become effective, voters must approve a constitutional amendment that asks if the state should have full authority to approve and fund local charter schools. Cherokee school board members voted 4-2 during its April 19 meeting to endorse a , which they fear will take away from local districts.

Other local districts have taken a similar step.

While Deal said that "local school boards play a very important role in the establishment of public education all across this state ... there are certainly areas where the existing public school system is not working the way we would all like for it to do. I would hope that they would welcome the opportunity to improve the quality of public education in their communities.

"One of the things that improves all of us is competition. So if your school is performing to the level that you think is appropriate and which your parents are satisfied with, I think the likelihood that someone would want to establish a charter school in your community is probably very unlikely."

Deal, who received the 2012 Champion for Charters Award from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools after he signed H.B. 797 this morning, assured local districts that they won't lose money if a charter school is located in their communities.

"It is coming out of state revenue, which is one of the major funding sources for all public education," he said. "It will not, in effect, take away on a county by county basis, dollar for dollar money from a county that has a charter school located in it.

"Actually, if you look at the mechanism for funding, it actually puts it at the very lowest level of funding in our entire state. So (charters are) not getting a disproportionate share. In fact, under the formula in the legislation, they are getting the very lowest level of funding of any public school."

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Addie Price May 03, 2012 at 05:57 PM
So proud to be a mom of one of the representatives that got to "Skip Class" for this amazing opportunity!
Chris Knowles May 03, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Thank you for posting the last 3 paragraphs of this article. There have been many false statements made by people posting on the patch and in the Cherokee County press that the state-funded Charter Schools will take money away from local school districts. I believe the Governor did a great job of clearly articulating the state's position on this. Additionally, his statement about competition is completely valid. By the way, has anyone heard about another Charter School petition currently with the CCBOE that has the support of Mike Chapman??
Debbie May 03, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Well said Governor. What a great group of children and educators in place at Cherokee Charter Academy
Frank Jones May 03, 2012 at 09:36 PM
The politics amaze me... 1. Gov. Deal selected Cherokee Charter Academy because it has been "highly successful", and yet, has anyone seen their test score yet? How is he measuring their success? 2. As he stated, in communities where traditional schools are working, the probably of a charter school is very low. The bar that determines whether traditional schools are working must be set very, very low as our local traditional schools are tops in Georgia and in the nation. 3. He received an award from a charter school association after signing the law. 4. He picked the most contraversial charter school in the state to sign the bill. Competition and public school choices don't necessarily improve public education. What improves public education is freedom from too much regulation, adequate funding, parent involvement at home, and top-quality teachers. Charter schools aren't inherently better than traditional schools as their test scores show! As to the funding of charter schools and public schools, the wording of HR 1162 provides ample wiggle room such that the state can fund charter schools disproportionately. Just wait, you'll see!
Aww Now May 04, 2012 at 04:44 AM
Where does the state get money? Answer: local taxes & individuals. Our county sends $3 million to "the state" b/c we're a "richer county" compared to "poorer counties." You know probably those little podunk towns that kick our tails in football every year, whose students are given full rides to Div 1 NCAA schools. Nothing like equality & fairness! But now, we're trust the same group that said the Hwy 400 Toll would end in 2011, only to extend it 10 years - that only "the State" will pay. Hey, guess what, WE ARE THE STATE!
Maggie July 12, 2012 at 04:41 PM
you are oh so correct on this issue!!! oh so typical of the Republican controlled 'Dome' and their Chip(py) Rogers mouthpiece!! we do NOT need to be 'sharing' our tax dollars on charter schools!!!!

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