Georgians say No to Amendment 1, state takeover of “failing” public schools

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110125 Atlanta: Signs were everywhere Tuesday during the rally. Hundreds of parents and students attended the School Choice Celebration and Rally at the Georgia State Capitol Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011. The gathering rallied to push state lawmakers to expand educational options for Georgia families. The event joined together unlikely allies, public and private school leaders in a display of unity where they urged lawmakers to expand scholarship opportunities so parents can better afford to pick their children's schools. Private schools want the state to raise the $50 million cap on the tax-credit scholarship that has helped hundreds of public school students transfer to private schools. Charter school officials want the state to support the continued funding of their campuses, which faces a state Supreme Court challenge from a handful of Georgia public school systems. The rally comes as the country celebrates National School Choice Week. David Pusey, director of a Center for an Educated Georgia, said more metro Atlanta parents appear to be concerned about choice than ever before, especially with accreditation problems at Atlanta Public Schools. John Spink jspink@ajc.com

An amendment to Georgia’s constitution that would have empowered the state to take over so-called “failing” schools was rejected by a wide margin on election night. Unofficial results show that 60 percent of voters statewide voted down the measure with 64 percent saying no in DeKalb County.

DeKalb, one of the state’s largest districts, was cited as having 28 failing schools on the governor’s list—more than any school system in Georgia. Failing schools were defined by the governor as those that have scored below 60 on the state’s College and Career Performance Index for three consecutive years. CCRPI scores are based in part on students’ scores on Milestones and End of Course tests.

If the measure had been approved, schools deemed as failing would have been placed in an “opportunity school district” and converted into charter schools or closed. The OSD schools would be managed by the state.

Opponents have said the state needs to put more resources into public schools rather than taking funding away and giving that funding to governor appointees.

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