GCPS: Charter School Amendment Pits State Against School Systems

Wilbanks' superintendent of GCPS statement on Charter School Amendment cites 'efforts by some to dismantle public education.' He said the state has become GCPS "opponent" in education.

Gwinnett Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks has issued a statement expressing disappointment that Georgia voters passed the Charter Schools Amendment on Tuesday (November 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 162,000 students, has two charter schools within its ranks. New Life Academy of Excellence and the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology are set up by GCPS according to charter school rules.

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.)

For Wilbanks' complete statement, visit the Gwinnett schools' website.

Peachtree Corners Patch contributed to this article.

You might also enjoy reading:

  • Georgia Charter Schools Amendment: What Will My Vote Mean?

-- How do you feel about the Charter Schools Amendment passing? Do you feel the Gwinnett system should remain the sole authority for charter schools in this county? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Sam Garvin November 09, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Mr. Wilbanks should be pressed with the question of why he has denied Ivy Prep during every single interview on this topic. He's a power-hungry, control-obsessed bureaucrat who talks endlessly about money and the adults in the system...and never talks about the most fundamental needs of students and parents. We need a new school board in Gwinnett County -- one that will send Mr. Wilbanks packing.
Rae Harkness November 10, 2012 at 03:14 AM
Amen to that!
A B Alcott November 10, 2012 at 09:20 PM
What we need is for our legislators to prove that they are for overall success in education. The amendment passed. People need to accept that, regardless if people knew what they were voting for or not. Even if the Amendment was not passed, there would still be a push toward change in how education is provided. All of the lawsuits are just silly. Suing the school districts, and now suing over the wording of the Amendment. If someone is going to file a lawsuit it should be about QBE. I've said it before, and I'll say it again- those of us that are for choice in education need to show that we are for all choices, regardless if it is for charters or district schools. Such divisiveness will only lead to failure. Failure that you cannot place on the school districts. This failure will belong to all Georgians. We voted to allow for choice, not just your choice, or my choice. Not just for charters, and not just for traditional schools. The charter folks were about choice, bringing children to the Capitol to rally for choice. If that is truly what you wanted, and you really cared about ALL kids in Georgia, we need to show those that were against the amendment that we sincerely meant a choice for ALL. Go do it again. Demand that our legislators fund all schools the way they should be. I voted yes because I believe that choice is part of living in America. Many of you said you thought this is the best for ALL kids. Did you really mean it? Or were you only mean it for your child?
June November 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Well, Mr. Wilbanks, I have been disappointed with a lot of your decisions also. You and a few of the DOE Board members have been there so long you're starting to take too much ownership and seem to have forgotten whose public school system this is! You work for the people and the people have said they want a choice. Even if its just for fewer students per classrooms, a charter school sounds good to our family.


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