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Ga. Voters Approve Statewide Authorizing for Charters

Charter advocates nationwide appear to have won a victory in the Peach State, where Georgia voters look to have approved an amendment to the state's constitution that would allow a state commission to approve charter schools.

This was a very controversial amendment. Georgia actually set up the commission, which would in practice make it easier for charter schools to expand in the state, in 2008, but the state Supreme Court abolished it in 2011, and then charter backers in the state legislature made sure it got on the ballot this year. State Superintendent John Barge, however, irritated fellow Republicans by opposing the commission, saying that it would drain funds away from public schools.

Gov. Nathan Deal, a fellow Republican, said he was "discouraged" by Barge's comments and explicitly accused him of not supporting school options for parents to choose from. Then, an attorney in the state basically told Barge to keep his mouth shut in terms of public comments, saying that the superintendent was legally prohibited from campaigning on these sorts of issues. Subsequently, the Georgia education department officially said it was neutral on the issue. So Deal and other GOP folks in the state who like charters have to like the result, and you have to wonder how Barge's career and political effectiveness will be altered going forward.

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