Georgia PTA reiterates opposition to charter schools amendment

The Georgia PTA has reiterated its opposition to the hotly debated proposed constitutional amendment on charter schools.

The Georgia PTA’s statement of opposition comes less than a month after the National PTA adjusted its policy on charter schools to embrace having groups other than local school boards empowered to consider charter school applications. Currently, charter school applicants in Georgia must seek approval from a local school board. Applicants can seek approval from the state Board of Education if the local board rejects their application.

If the charter schools amendment is approved by voters this fall, a charter schools commission would be created to serve as another body that could approve charter school applications.

The Georgia PTA opposes the proposed amendment. Its officials argue that local school board members and not charter commission members should be entrusted with the task of considering charter school applications.

Donna Kosicki, president of the Georgia PTA, said the group’s opposition to the charter schools amendment — spelled out in a statement it released on Friday — does not place it at odds with the National PTA’s position statement.

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“We have gone over that statement,” Kosicki said. “We have reviewed it, and we believe that we’re in compliance with the revised statement.”

A spokesman for the National PTA said the group would respond to questions about its position on charter schools, but it did not.

Debate over the proposed charter schools amendment has been an intense political struggle pitting traditional public school backers against charter school advocates, Democrats against Republicans and Georgia Schools Superintendent John Barge against others in the GOP.

Opponents of the proposed amendment — the Georgia PTA, Barge, traditional public school groups and many Democrats — have said it would lead to the creation of more charter schools at a time when the state is struggling to fund schools that are already operating.

Backers of the proposed amendment, including Gov. Nathan Deal, have said the proposed amendment would protect the state’s ability to authorize and fund charter schools. They also argue that charter schools are an important alternative for parents whose children attend failing traditional public schools.

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