Outside money pours into Georgia for charter amendment fight

Out-of-state money is fueling the campaign of a group trying to convince Georgia voters to change the state constitution so more charter schools can be approved.

Families for Better Public Schools has raised $486,750, campaign disclosure forms show. About 96 percent of that money has come from donors outside of Georgia.

Donors include Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, politically well-connected law firms and for-profit companies that are operating charter schools in Georgia.

A coalition of groups opposing the amendment, Vote Smart, has raised $80,951, mostly from traditional school officials like teachers, principals and superintendents who say more charter schools and more state money for them would threaten the funding of already cash-strapped traditional public schools.

While Families for Better Public Schools reported having $414,373 on hand at the end of August, Vote Smart had spent nearly all of its money and had $4,758 on hand.

In Friday’s newspaper, the AJC looks at how this Georgia issue is drawing national interest. It’s a story you’ll only get by picking up a copy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution or logging on to the paper’s iPad app. Subscribe today.

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