Editorial Board weighs in on amendments 1 and 2

October 28, 2012 

Amendment 1: This amendment that would, in supporters eyes, give parents more choices than they have now when it comes to public education, is the most controversial since the unnecessary amendment to ban same sex marriages that were already illegal in the state. Amendment 1, however attempts to fix a problem that just does not exist. It purports to give the state the right to overrule local school board’s decisions when it comes to charter schools. The state already has that power and has used it. No amendment is necessary.

What Amendment 1, contrary to its purposely deceptive language and a preamble to help it pass, will create is a another bureaucracy of appointed, not elected, people who have the power to send state money to charter schools, not over the objections of local school boards and the state Board of Education, but bypassing them altogether.

Why would lawmakers want to do such a thing? Money. Private for-profit school management companies want to dip into Georgia and extract profits. And that’s exactly what will happen if Amendment 1 is approved. For all of its bluster, supporters can’t say where the money to run this alternate universe of public schools will come from. They don’t say because it will come straight out of the state money -- already cut more than $5 billion -- that goes to local school systems. There is a reason class sizes have gone up while instruction days have gone down. The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute says, “Over the past decade, state investment in public education declined significantly, undermining our ability to create and nurture the next generation of workers.

We can choose to ignore those warnings and further slash state support of public schools and we can buy into the rope-a-dope lawmakers are trying to pull on voters. That would be unwise. While the Amendment 1 question appears to be mom, apple pie and patriotism, it is actually a Trojan Horse. If we let it into our public school gates, like the residents of Troy, it will lead to our further undoing.

Vote No on Amendment 1.

Amendment 2: The state’s constitution bars government from entering into contracts for more than a year. This is a detriment when it comes to leasing the thousands of feet of office space the state needs to do our business.

The restriction costs taxpayers more because landlords are not going to give favorable rates to a tenant that can only sign a one-year lease. Nor are they willing to incur the build-out costs for a tenant that could be gone in 365 days -- even though the average length of time the state uses a facility is slightly more than 10 years.

Amendment 2 is a common sense measure that will help the state -- and its taxpayers -- save time and money.

Vote yes on Amendment 2.

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