That was apparent during last week’s panel discussion co-hosted by the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents’ Council and District 79 State Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, at the Dunwoody Public Library.
The hour-long affair featured at-times chippy dialogue and undertones as state officials representing both sides weighed in on the matter.
The amendment, a ballot issue in next month’s general election, calls for the creation of a state charter school commission whose members are appointed by the governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.
Only local school boards and the state school aboard currently have the power to greenlight charter schools. Georgia has 103 locally approved charter schools at present.
District 24 State Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Suwanee, called the proposed shift the means to “a different option for a different set of students who need it.”
Dudgeon was joined on the pro-amendment side by District 46 State Rep. and Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones, R-Milton.
The anti-amendment contingent included District 36 State Sen. Nan Orrock, D-Atlanta, and Sally Fitzgerald of the Georgia PTA.
Orrock urged the crowd to “not be blind to the realities” of the proposed modification.
“We have a process in place in Georgia … the system is not broken,” Orrock said. “This is an attempt to alter our constitution, to bypass what’s in place and a run-around to bring in large corporations looking to make a profit.”
Jones, who authored the legislation, countered with her own withering criticism of detractors of the campaign to bring the amendment to fruition.
“This isn’t about money … it’s about an entrenched educational establishment fighting desperately to preserve the status quo,” Jones said. “Do you want total, 100 percent government control or do you want to have the option — to seek other educational opportunities —when it would best meet the needs of your child?”
For her part, Fitzgerald stated the Georgia PTA opposes the amendment because it “disempowers the local school board.”
Last week’s panel discussion was well attended — the crowd on hand featuring a handful of political VIPs.
District 40 State Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, was joined by Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis and City Councilman Terry Nall. DeKalb School Board member Nancy Jester was also in attendance.