Responses are mixed after State Superintendent Dr. John Barge announced that he opposes an amendment that would allow the state the authority to grant charters to independent schools.
Gov. Nathan Deal, who , told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he was "discouraged that Superintendent Barge has changed his position since the campaign trail and no longer believes parents should have public school options for their children.
"His new position doesn’t change mine. I stand with 2/3 of the General Assembly and will uphold the promises I made when I ran for office: Parents and students should have public school options; this is the best form of local control."
The Georgia Association of Educators has
“We truly appreciate the state’s top education official standing up for Georgia’s 1.6 million kids and against the November 6 constitutional amendment on charter schools. Dr. Barge sees first-hand the impact this constitutional amendment would have on ensuring every child in Georgia has fair access to a quality education,” said GAE President Calvine Rollins in a press release.
Not surprisingly, charter school supporters are less than pleased.
Late Wednesday, 's Lyn Michaels-Carden issued this statement: "Obviously, we are very disappointed with Dr. Barge’s decision. We feel we have a very good working relationship with the Department of Education and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future."
“Charter schools are public schools,” said Rhonda Gatch, co-founder of Moms for School Choice. “It was kind of treated like we were the red-headed stepchild. We’re public schools just like traditional public schools. We wish that our Georgia state superintendent would represent all students and all teachers in their public schools instead of being so divisive.
At this time only local school boards can grant charters, however
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Barge opposes the amendment because it threatens local control, but also because of its potential financial impact.
"Putting this whole picture together, I could not stand by without voicing my opposition to sending any money anywhere else until our children are in schools 180 days and our teachers are at full pay," Barge said to the Associated Press.
But for Gatch, the amendment is about putting students’ futures ahead of finances.
“Ultimately we think that the money should follow the student,” she said. “Just like when a student moves out of the district, the district adjusts. So they can also adjust to a child wanting to move in to a charter school. Financially with their budget they can adjust to those changes. There’s room in their budget to do that.”
What do you think about the State Superintendent’s opposition to the amendment? Are you voting for or against the amendment in November? Tell us in the comments.