Choice rally draws charter parents, students to fight for options

More than 400 school-choice supporters rallied outside the Georgia Capitol Tuesday to save charter campuses authorized by the Georgia Charter Schools Commission from being shuttered by a court ruling.

Tony Roberts, CEO of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, called on parents, teachers and students of public charter schools to ask the Legislature to make things right.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court ruled that the law creating the commission as an alternative authorizer of public charter schools was unconstitutional. The high court said that authority only belongs to local public school districts. The commission has approved 16 schools, eight of which are currently open.

“We got a bad court decision, but we are not here to complain about that,” Roberts said. “Everybody ought to have an equal opportunity to a great education.”

Roberts gave a special homework assignment to students in the crowd: Call on your legislators.

“Ask them, ‘Do you know what is happening in my school? Can you help? If they say no, then tell your parents don’t vote for them again!’ ” Roberts told students.

House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, also addressed the crowd and encouraged them not to give up.

“The fight has only begun,” she said. “We will come back. I fully expect the Legislature to pass a Constitutional amendment. We are working diligently to try to come up with an interim solution. We want you next fall to be able to attend the school that best fits your needs.”