On Monday, the Georgia Supreme Court released a 47-page opinion upholding the constitutionality of the law providing for the removal of local boards of education. I am thankful for the closure this opinion now provides the citizens and parents of DeKalb County. At every turn I opposed the proliferation of legal entanglements, including this case. As a matter of principle, I do not believe children and taxpayers are well served by spending more money on lawyers and political concerns.
While the Supreme Court’s ruling is one step down the path to improving education in DeKalb, it is just the beginning. Georgia must implement an effective and meaningful system of quality assurance for education. As the Georgia Supreme Court stated today, “(T) he State has a substantial interest in ensuring that those local boards function competently and in a manner that does not imperil the education or future prospects of the students enrolled in the school systems.” Every state that borders Georgia has a higher graduation rate and spends less per pupil. Georgia’s graduation rate stands at 67% and that number is proof we have imperiled the education and future prospects of too many of our children.
The Supreme Court further reminds us that, “The Constitution makes public education not only the business of local jurisdictions, but also the State as a whole.” We must demand more vigorous oversight at the state level. There must be consequences for districts that fail our children and fail to safeguard the public’s money. States like Virginia and Texas have strong state public accountability models and so should Georgia.
I am thankful and relieved the Supreme Court decision is now behind us. We have more work ahead. I hope that you’ll join me in this effort.