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Wilbanks: Georgia 'Has Become Our Opponent' in Education

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

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the number of charter schools in the Gwinnett Public Schools system.

This article originated on Suwanee Patch

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."

-- 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.

"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 almost 165,000 students, has four charter schools within its ranks. New Life Academy of Excellence, the Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science and Technology, Maxwell School of Technology and the Gwinnett Online Campus 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.

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