Letter from State Representative Jan Jones Regarding the Charter School AmendmentPosted by chris on Sep 24, 2012
Dear Fellow Republicans:
I want to provide you with information about a very important issue that rests in your hands this fall—the public charter school constitutional amendment vote that will occur on November 6.
During this past legislative session, every Republican state senator and 90% of Republican house members voted to put the amendment on the ballot for you to decide. Governor Deal championed the issue and supported the amendment strongly. Their actions to boost public charter schools are reflective of the position held by every major candidate for the Republican nomination for President, including Gov. Mitt Romney. Our Republican leadership supports the public charter school referendum because giving parents more decision-making in public education resonates with conservatives that value individual freedom and personal responsibility.
The proposed amendment shifts power away from government and puts it in the hands of the people. Our nation’s Founders were very worried about concentrated power. That’s why the U.S. Constitution establishes separation of powers, checks and balances, and enumerated powers, thus distributing all other power to the states or the people through the 10th Amendment. The Founders were concerned about the “tyranny of the majority,” which can happen in the education context when a minority of parents seek options for their children but are denied by the majority. Giving parents educational options for their children is a form of distributed power. State-authorized public charter schools put local control where it counts the most—with parents. Although most parents will continue to choose system-controlled schools with attendance lines, a robust array of optional public charter schools will allow parents to have a greater voice in their children’s education.
Optional public charter schools put meaningful decision-making in the hands of parents in public education. Public charter schools are first and foremost accountable to parents who can vote with their feet, or more accurately, their children’s feet. Parents choose whether or not their child attends a public charter school. If the school does not meet their child’s needs, then they can opt to enroll the child elsewhere. Public funding is more accountable in optional public charter schools than in system-controlled schools because parents know best if a school is serving their child’s needs or not. Additionally, public charter schools must meet strict performance standards contained within their contracts or they are forced to close. Now that is true accountability.
To set the record straight, the phrase “local control” has changed to mean something entirely different than in prior generations. In 1930, there were 127,531 school districts nationally and 21 million public school students. Today, there are 15,371 school districts and 49 million students. In Gwinnett County alone, parents have the opportunity to exercise elected influence on behalf of their children by voting for one of the five school board members once every four years along with the rest of the voters in a county of 800,000 people. What sort of elected influence is that?
By voting yes for public charter schools and passing the constitutional amendment in November, Georgians will give more parents the individual freedom to select a public charter school when they decide it best fits their child’s needs. That’s putting local control where it counts the most—with parents.
Representative Jan Jones (R-46)
Speaker Pro-Tempore, Georgia House of Representatives