Someone has to pay for charter schools — not to be confused with private schools, which they aren’t — members of boards of education say. Who do they think that will be, the legislators who passed or supported the question on the ballot? Hardly. It will come from the state, which has already cut the amount of taxes it returns to counties to a grievously low amount. These reductions have forced school systems to lay off teachers, return to the years of larger class sizes and knock days off the school year.
But wait — school boards cannot weigh in on this issue, the governor and state attorney general’s office has warned. It is a political issue, and because it is, the men and women communities elect to oversee public school education and the budgets local systems depend on to function must keep their mouths shut, the state attorney general’s office has ruled.
Bunk. Why should school boards be muzzled while higher-ups in state office — coincidentally, those who believe Georgians should support the amendment — are allowed to continue to speak in favor of the ballot question?
Even if it is the law, it shouldn’t be. It flies in the face of the spirit of democracy. No one at home knows better than those serving on local school boards what shape the education budget is in, as well as why. If they see a train heading for their revenue supply, the taxpayers of this state and county expect them to holler Look out! so the community can get out of the way.
This is not like a Special Local Option Sales Tax for Education that a county school board is asking the community to pass. It’s not at all a local issue, save for its potential impact on the funds needed to pay for it. It’s a state issue created by the makers of state laws — the very people who should remain mum on this, if anyone.
It’s not like the defeat of this question would slam the door on charter schools. Charter schools are already an option in Georgia. Just look at the Golden Isles Career Academy in Brunswick — a school advocated by the school board and paid for by the sweat of local taxpayers.