Charter Schools A Hot Topic for Parents and Locally Elected Officials

The charter school amendment election battle is gearing up and Cobb County is proving to be a battleground for the effort, with local school board members at odds with their Superintendent.  Two Cobb County school superintendents, Michel Hinojosa of the Cobb County School System and Marietta City Schools Superintendent Emily Lembeck, have made personal donations to Vote SMART, an organization advocating against the referendum and. “I don’t see why we need to create another state bureaucracy to do what’s already in place and available right now,” Superintendent Hinojosa said. “I just don’t see the need to spend more money on the state bureaucracy.”

Families for Better Public Schools have donated about $500,000 to the cause of creating a new state agency to approve charter schools, with many Cobb County residents and local teachers personally donating as well.  Many parents are in favor of this referendum as they feel it allows parents to have additional education options for their children. School board members from Cobb County have been vocal about this issue, with two Cobb County School Board Members announcing support for the amendment.  Marietta Schools Board Member Stuart Fleming expressed opinions against the amendment saying, “We currently have 180-plus (school boards) that determine how to best educate Georgia’s students. I’d prefer if we didn’t expand this with an additional body/layer of government that will not bear fruit in the years ahead.”

 Many teachers and school superintendents in Georgia are opposed to the charter school amendment including John Barge, the State School Superintendent.  Many parents, on the other hand, support the amendment.  An internal pro-charter amendment campaign memo describing polling information shows 58% are in favor of the amendment, 23% are opposed and 19% are undecided.    

According to public records, Families for Better Public Schools are far outpacing Vote SMART in donation with Families reporting donations of $486,750 and Vote SMART raising $80,951 as of the August 30th reporting period.