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Georgia Charter Schools Amendment Appears to Pass

The constitutional amendment grants the state authority to approve charter schools, whether local school boards want them or not.

Georgia voters gave the state more authority over charter schools on Tuesday, passing a constitutional amendment empowering a commission to overrule local school districts that reject charter school petitions.

With all counties fully reporting, the hotly contested amendment had support of 58.5 percent of voters. See selected county results below.

It was an emotionally charged issue that in some ways united Georgians across political and demographic lines. A Peach Pundit poll from late October had found "no significant difference [in support] based on whether a voter is a Republican or a Democrat, a male or a female, or based on race."

Camille Cottrell, an Emory University instructor and card-carrying Democrat, is an example of the ambiguity many voters felt about the issue. Cottrell, who voted yes because she feels something needs to be done to turn around failing school systems, continued to waver even after casting her ballot.

"It was a very, very tough vote for me," Cottrell, a Berkeley Lake resident, told Peachtree Corners Patch. "I believe very much in the public school system... I'm voting against my basic beliefs."

Terrence Morrow, who has children at two charter schools run by the Gwinnett County school system -- New Life Academy and Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology -- voted against the amendment.

"They could do more, but I think they should go through the same process," Morrow told Suwanee Patch.

Duluth resident Mark Bender, who spent his post-voting time at a Suwanee Starbucks, said he supported the proposal.

"If one child can come out the better for it, that's why I voted for it," Bender said.

Dana Gerard of Canton also voted yes, saying that "getting the state involved can only benefit the creation of more charter schools."

But in Athens, Beth Hall Thrasher voted no, because, she said, the amendment "wouldn't give everyone the same opportunities."

Opponents have filed a lawsuit to prevent the amendment from taking effect, arguing that the ballot language misled voters about the proposal's intentions.

Patch editors Steve Burns, Rebecca McCarthy, Judy Putnam and Justin Ove contributed to this story.

Below are results for the state of Georgia and selected counties. For full results, see the Georgia Secretary of State's website.


Voting Yes Voting No Precincts Counted Georgia total 2,162,283 1532,451 100 percent

Athens-Clarke

17,622
20,878
100 percent
Barrow 15,454
8,638
100 percent
Bartow 18,839
15,673
100 percent
Cherokee 56,090
38,646
100 percent
Cobb 190,168
106,964
100 percent
DeKalb 187,326
105,542
100 percent
Douglas 35,813
17,609
100 percent
Forsyth 51,982 26,734 100 percent Fulton 244,714
127,281
100 percent
Gwinnett 179,441 104,815
100 percent
Liberty 9,075 6,077
100 percent
Oconee 8,160 8,825 100 percent
Paulding 34,183
21,137
100 percent
Walton 22,235
13,554
100 percent

Note: Oconee County numbers were revised on Nov. 12.  They have been updated.

Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 03:40 PM
Yes Steely--you're correct. The vote was very inflluenced by news about DeKalb, Clayton and City of Atlanta. The rest of the state must have tired from all of the page space dedicated to five years of three-county coverage--or perhaps the press did a good enough job of spicing things up to keep people interested. How about you, Oconee and other Patches, want to weigh in on how the DeKalb news affected you?
Jim Beam November 20, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Actually Tom, I think the vote was very influenced by years and years of sub-standard education being received by the children of millions of GA voters. The NO crowd made 2 mistakes during the A1 debates: They wrongly assumed that people in GA were satisfied with the quality of GA public education and they wrongly assumed that people would blindly follow the electoral advice of the very people who'd help cause much of this sub-standard quality: Local & State superintendents - all of whom spent time campaigning against A1's passage. 2 million GA voters paid no attention to the advice of these contractors. Hopefully, these mandate, landslide numbers will make these superintendents do the job they're being contracted to, rather than wasting taxpayer $$ lobbying against measures that the public resoundingly is in favor of. They need to stick to being school superintendents, not political lobbyists. The people have spoken. The NO people who still think this will be overturned expose their ignorance to the process that would be required to pull that off. (See Ms Pascoe's description of that above) In hindsight, I think it's the NO crowd who didn't read the ballot's wording correctly, seeing how wrong they were on every single other aspect of the A1 debate and landslide victory.
North Georgia Weather November 20, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Maybe your school system is bad...
Pub Ed is Broken November 20, 2012 at 08:36 PM
Wow, I cant follow your logic Tom. Looks like this is the EXACT consequence we want from the new ammendment. How people continue to defend an outdated and corrupt school system is beyond me.
Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM
The original reference I made was about the new city of Dunwoody proposing its own (as in owning the Legislature) school system, which unless they simply re-hire public employees will be entirely made up of charter schools. No--that's not the EXACT consequence anyone ever envisioned with the new law--nor was it ever envisioned by the public when Dunwoody Senator Dan Weber proposed "charter clusters" (most people surely thought he meant existing public schools guided differently by community). In fact, I'm betting "charter clusters" made up entirely with privatized schools, will be seen as overreach (especially for a city that has only existed for two years) when one itemizes the implications--no time for that now and I'll wait until the article is done via Patch.

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