The long arm of Georgia???s law
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 listen to commentary on the Georgia Supreme Court decision from the Education Gadfly Show podcast
“Breaking news: Georgia Supreme Court strikes down Charter Schools Commission in 4-3 vote,” by Maureen Downey, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 16, 2011.
“In Georgia, Court Ruling Could Close Some Charter Schools,” by Sam Dillon, New York Times, May 16, 2011.“Ga. Court Overturns Charter Schools Law,” By The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2011.
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