Early returns: Georgia voters favor charter school amendment

ATLANTA — Early returns showed Georgia voters favoring an amendment to the state constitution that would give a state commission the power to authorize public charter schools upon the request of local communities.

Under the amendment, which nearly 57 percent of voters favored as of about 9:30 p.m., the State Charter Schools Commission would have the power to review charter school petitions and “ensure that charter schools are consistent with state educational goals,” according to Gov. Nathan Deal’s office.

The Georgia General Assembly voted earlier this year in favor of putting the amendment to voters. State legislators moved for an amendment after the Georgia Supreme Court in May 2011 ruled 4-3 in favor of seven school districts that challenged the constitutionality of a previous incarnation of a commission created through legislation.

Proponents of the amendment argued the measure gives parents more control over school choice and will help improve student performance. Opponents say it erodes local control over schools, ceding that power to the state commission.

Unlike many issues, opposition and support for the amendment didn’t break according to party lines. While Deal, a Republican, supported the charter school amendment, state schools Superintendent John Barge, also a Republican, opposed the measure.

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