Georgia voters soundly rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have let the state take over low-performing schools. Gov. Nathan Deal’s “Opportunity School District” proposal only earned about 40 percent of the vote.
Several Republicans, who gathered at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead to watch election returns Tuesday night, shied away from discussing how they voted on the proposal. But a few were willing to talk. Tiney Ray voted for the takeover because she’s not satisfied with Georgia schools.
“Privately, if they can’t do anything, somebody needs to do something,” she said.
But her friend Michelle Nelson voted against the plan because she says it would interfere with local control of schools.
"If I had a child, I would not want someone to dictate to me how that money was going to be allocated to the schools or not,” she said.
Recently, the plan seemed doomed, largely due to aggressive opposition campaigns, ranging from local school boards to ads funded by national teachers’ unions. William Perry, with Georgia Ethics Watchdogs, said that had an impact on voters.
“At the end of the day, they answered the question, ‘Do you trust your state government to do this job?’” Perry said. “And they overwhelmingly said, ‘No.’”
State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, supported the takeover plan. Now he’ll turn his attention to school choice legislation.
“If we can’t get this measure passed, then we should just give everybody the opportunity to have choice,” he said. “And that’s not a state takeover, that’s simply empowering parents to make decisions for their children.”
Deal’s only public statement Tuesday night was to congratulate Sen. Johnny Isakson on winning re-election. He didn’t address the takeover plan’s defeat.