The long arm of Georgia???s law



Photo by WalknBoston

In a 4-3 decision this week, the Georgia Supreme
Court ruled to disband the Peach
State’s Charter School Commission
(which currently oversees sixteen growing charter schools) on the grounds that
the entity is “palpably unconstitutional.” Why? Because the charters operating
under its direction compete with local school districts for students and dollars.
In an opinion that could be used as precedent in other states, the justices ruled
that, under Georgia’s constitution, no other government entity can “compete
with or duplicate the efforts of local boards of education in establishing and
maintaining general K-12 schools.” Originally, these state-sanctioned charter
schools circumvented this provision by calling themselves “special schools”
(per Art. VIII, Sec. V, Par. VII (a) of the Georgia Constitution). This ruling
judged these commission charters to be “normal” K-12 schools, not “special
schools,” making them illegal. Many other states, of course, allow entities
other than local school boards to authorize charter schools; in at least four
of these states, charter opponents have filed similar judicial attacks (and in Florida, they’ve prevailed). But rulings
like Georgia’s
aren’t just a blow to the charter sector. They also have further implications
for other forms of state-based or state-wide schools (e.g. virtual schools like
Georgia Connections
Academy and Georgia Cyber
Academy). It’s no secret
that Gadfly is no admirer of today’s (i.e. yesterday’s) system of school
governance. It’s depressing that the courts are working to cement that
dysfunctional model of “local control” in place.

Click to play

Click to listen to commentary on the Georgia Supreme Court decision from the Education Gadfly Show podcast


news: Georgia Supreme Court strikes down Charter Schools Commission in 4-3 vote
by Maureen Downey, Atlanta
, May 16, 2011.

Georgia, Court Ruling Could Close Some Charter Schools
,” by Sam Dillon, New York Times, May 16, 2011.

Court Overturns Charter Schools Law
,” By The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2011.