ATLANTA (March 20, 2011) – House Resolution 1162 passed the state Senate with a vote of 40 to 18 on Monday. Having received two-thirds majority vote, the Constitutional amendment will now be placed on the ballot for a vote by Georgia citizens. Leadership from the state Senate Majority Party including Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R- Woodstock), President Pro Tempore Tommie Williams (R-Lyons), Sen. Ronnie Chance (R-Tyrone), and Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), chairman of the Committee on Education and Youth, offered the following statements regarding the vote:
“This resolution is about doing what is right for students, families, and communities throughout Georgia,” said Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers. “Years from now, we will look back at the hurdles we have overcome in order to advance education reform in Georgia, and mark today as a milestone in our fight for educational freedom and choice.”
“Education reform is a bipartisan issue affecting all Georgians. That being said, I am proud of my colleagues for the leadership they displayed in passing this positive piece of legislation that will ultimately allow parents to make the best choices for their children regarding their education,” stated President Pro-Tempore Tommie Williams. “The steps we took will not only ensure educational freedom in Georgia, but also support our effective charter school system – both of which will significantly impact the future of our state.”
“We were successful in moving Georgia’s education system forward for our children. This measure will place the choice in the hands of parents, who should be the ultimate voice when it comes to their children’s education,” said Sen. Ronnie Chance, chairman of Economic Development Committee. “Education is the biggest economic driver for Georgia, and this resolution will ensure our students have the options that they need to better equip themselves for college and their future careers.”
“This is a huge step forward for school choice in Georgia,” said Sen. Fran Millar, chairman of the Senate Education and Youth committee. “Test scores do not lie – our state charter schools repeatedly reach high levels of achievement in core subjects of math, language arts and science. The Georgia Supreme Court’s decision could have singlehandedly derailed a successful learning program. I am pleased to see the Senate take action to allow the State Board of Education to be a partner alongside local school districts in the development and funding of charter schools.”
HR 1162 reasserts the state’s role in public education that was stripped by the Georgia Supreme Court in May of 2011 with a controversial 4-3 vote. This invalidated the General Assembly’s creation of an alternative authorizer for charter schools. HR 1162 defines a state charter school in the Georgia Constitution; providing that a state charter schools only be public, nonsectarian, nonreligious, and nonprofit, and regulates that the state is not allowed to lower extra funding to the local districts when a student leaves for a state charter school.