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Georgia's Governor Draws Inspiration From Louisiana Charter School Model

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By Andrew Ujifusa. Cross posted from the State EdWatch blog.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican who's in a close election fight with Democrat Jason Carter, is making a plan to expand charter schools a major talking point as the campaign enters the final phase. And he's looking to another Deep South GOP governor for a bit of inspiration.

During remarks at a Republican Governors Association fundraising event in Atlanta on Sept. 11, Deal said that state lawmakers should draw inspiration from the work that Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has done to increase charter schools' footprint in his state. Deal said that the idea behind expanding charters in the Peach State is that they will help improve the state's public school system, and cited Louisiana's state-run Recovery School District as a system Georgia should examine closely. 

"We are faced with some of the similar situations that Louisiana is faced with," Deal said, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "We're continuing to put money into school systems that continue to fail. That is not the end result that we want."

According to information from their respective state education departments, Georgia actually has a higher number of charter schools (217) than Louisiana (117), although Georgia has more than double the public school enrollment of Louisiana, recent federal statistics show. Half of Louisiana's charters are in the Recovery School District. 

Jindal, in turn, said that his state's charter school model gives parents more educational options for their children. 

Georgia Senate Minority Leader Vincent Fort, a Democrat, said that Deal's vision is just a gimmick, and that the governor has damaged public schools by failing to provide them with adequate resources, the Journal-Constitution said. Carter has made increasing education funding a key part of his campaign. (I wrote about Democrats in the elections for Georgia governor and state superintendent back in July.)

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