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GCPS Superintendent: Georgia 'Has Become Our Opponent' in Education

Wilbanks' statement on Charter School Amendment cites 'efforts by some to ... dismantle public education.'

UPDATED Nov. 9 at 12:50 p.m.*

Gwinnett Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks has issued a statement expressing disappointment that Georgia voters passed the Charter Schools Amendment on Tuesday (Nov. 6).

The state's voters, by a strong majority, approved Amendment One, which allows for state officials to approve publicly funded charter schools, without the permission of local school boards.

Wilbanks' statement said the amendment "is not in the best interest of students and public education in this state."

"We are disappointed that with the passage of Amendment 1 the state, rather than being our partner, has become our opponent in the all-important work of educating the state’s children," the statement read.

The Gwinnett system, which is the state's largest with more than 165,000 students, has four charter schools within its ranks: New Life Academy of Excellence, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, the Maxwell High School of Technology and the Gwinnett Online Campus.

However, the recent controversy over Peachtree Corners-based Ivy Prep Academy, an all-girls charter school, shows the controversial nature of the just-passed amendment.

Ivy Prep operated under GCPS control from mid-2011 until January 2012. It continues to operate as a State Charter Special School, according to the Georgia DOE website.

Wilbanks' statement added: "The intentionally misleading ballot language, the massive amounts of money that poured in from out of state companies to promote the amendment, and the brazen attempts to silence the opposing voices were too much for our significantly less-well-funded grassroots campaign to overcome."

"I do need to thank those many Georgians who with their “no” votes rejected the efforts by some to privatize, defund, and dismantle public education."

Already, one lawsuit has been filed against the amendment, and ballot language is cited. (See link below.)

Click here to read Wilbanks' complete statement.

Peachtree Corners Patch contributed to this article.

*This article was updated to reflect that GCPS operates four, not two, charter schools and that this year's enrollment stands at 165,000, no 162,000.

Sabrina Smith November 08, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Perhaps some of those who voted "yes" thought that GCPS has not been responsive to parents' concerns. Many parents have expressed concern that GCPS spent over $900,000 paying the salaries of chamber employees, when that money could have been spent on education. The Gwinnett Chamber/Partnership Gwinnett Report Card reported this: "Supported GCPS in their legal action involving constitutional local control of charter schools. May of 2011 Georgia Supreme Court rules in favor of the seven school districts bringing suit. GCOC 2012 Legislative Agenda continues to oppose any legislation that usurps the authority of the GCPS Board to govern Gwinnett's public schools."

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