Atlanta, GA (January 18, 2012) – Charter school leaders from across Georgia are expressing widespread approval following the appointment of the members of the re-established Georgia Charter Schools Commission. The State Board of Education selected the appointees yesterday after nominations were submitted by Governor Nathan Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and House Speaker David Ralston. It is expected the Commission will name an executive director after its first meeting in the coming weeks.
The appointees include three previous commission members – Dr. Charles Knapp, former president of the University of Georgia; Jennifer Rippner, an attorney and one-time educational policy advisor to former Governor Sonny Perdue; and Tom Lewis, former Chief of Staff to Governor Joe Frank Harris and current senior advisor to the president at Georgia State University. New to the Commission are: Tony Lowden, an ordained minister who directs an after school enrichment program for at-risk children in Macon; Gwinnett County marketing executive Jose Perez, a former state board of education member; Paul Williams, a finance executive from Cordele, GA; and former DOE interim director for charter schools James E. Hogg.
Tony Roberts, CEO and President of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, was pleased with the new panel. ”The appointment of the Commission is another giant step toward fulfilling the wishes of Georgia’s citizens for more educational options for their children. The overwhelming passage of the Charter Amendment should be seen as a clarion call to these commissioners to insure that high-quality charter schools are made available throughout our state.”
Georgia Public Policy Association President and CEO Kelly McCutcheon, said, “The re-establishment of the Georgia Charter Schools Commission sends a strong message nationally that Georgia is back in the business of encouraging innovation and options for its 1.6 million public school students. We believe this strong new group of commissioners will continue the work of the former Commission Board in setting rigorous standards to ensure the approval of high-quality state charter schools.”
Dr. Otho Tucker, board Chairman of the Georgia Charter Schools Association and CEO of Lake Oconee Academy, a K-8 public charter school in Greene County, congratulated each of the appointees saying, “I look forward to working closely with the Commission to produce the very best education opportunities for all children throughout Georgia.”
Returning commissioner Tom Lewis said, “I am honored to be selected again to serve on the Georgia Charter Schools Commission. I will do my best as a board member to make sure we are a key partner in improving education opportunities in our state.”
Newly appointed commissioner Jose Perez, a Cuban-American, stated, “I am humbled by the immense trust of the appointment. Providing additional choice will grow success and lift all boats. I look forward to working with educational leaders to ensure success for our kids.”
Speaking from Macon, Tony Lowden expressed the hope that the Commission will give children in rural and urban areas better public school options. “A well-trained workforce is crucial to Georgia’s future. I know that parents in Macon, Augusta, Columbus, and our rural counties want high performing public schools that train their kids for the 21st century workplace. That’s our challenge,” he said.
The Georgia Charter Schools Commission has the power to review and authorize charter school petitions that have been denied by local school boards. It can also review petitions for charter schools with a statewide attendance zone.
The Georgia Charter Schools Association is the non-profit membership organization for Georgia’s public charter schools and petitioners. Its mission is to advance awareness of public charter schools, communicate charter school needs to state and local officials, support legislation to strengthen public charter schools in Georgia and build partnerships, collaborations and grassroots support for charter schools. GCSA also provides programs and services that advance student achievement, school accountability and professional learning for charter school leaders.