MILTON, Ga. – Charter schools are the No. 1 one issue on this year’s ballot, said state Sen. Chip Rogers.
Rogers spoke Oct. 18 to the Milton Business Alliance at the Providence Bank on the corner of Windward Parkway and Ga. 9 at their monthly meeting. He gave a general update on the state of Georgia.
The issue on the ballot reestablishes a state-level commission that would hold appeals power over local school boards.
The Georgia Supreme Court overturned the state’s commission last year, saying it was unconstitutional.
“If there is anything this country needs, it’s competition in the education system,” Rogers said.
Georgia is first in the nation in its pre-K program, he said, because it uses a voucher system and pits schools against each other. Rogers said it only makes sense to bring that competition to more schools.
Charter schools typically operate outside education requirements, instead taking an “end justifies the means” approach to schooling. The organizers make a pledge to meet certain goals with their students. If they do not meet those goals, the school is shut down.
Rogers and fellow supporters claim charter schools force public schools to compete with them for funding, since charter schools are still public schools, receiving tax-generated funding.
“This is a critical issue and a good plan for Georgia,” he said.
To be locked into a school simply due to where a student lives is unfair to the student, he said.
“No child should be stuck in a school that doesn’t work for them,” he said.
Along with charter schools, Rogers said Georgia’s economy was slowly growing, which was good on many levels.
“When someone gets a private sector job, that solves two problems,” he said. “They contribute to the workforce, and they are not on unemployment.”
The HOPE scholarship, which was in dire straits in recent years, is looking better thanks to reforms, he said.
“We tackled the issue and their funding has stabilized,” he said.
The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax referendum, which was voted on earlier this year, would have implemented a 1 cent sales tax on the metro Atlanta region for 10 years to go toward transportation projects. It was defeated.
“The TSPLOST was a bad idea,” he said. “Other than being a regional tax, 50 percent of it was funding mass transit. Mass transit systems require a long-term subsidy in order to work.”
A tax that would expire after 10 years was not the long-term commitment he said would be necessary.
Rogers has spent 10 years in the General Assembly, four of which as the majority leader. He lives on the border of Milton, he said, even though his address is Woodstock.
Election day is Nov. 6. Early voting has begun in Fulton County.