A majority of voters in metro Atlanta would approve of giving mayors or county commissions the power to take control of dysfunctional school systems, according to poll results posted at Blogging While Blue, the new Democratic blog started by former Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin.
Fifty-four percent of voters in the 10-county area would support the measure, while 30 percent would oppose it.
In Fulton County, which includes most of Atlanta and a school system that has been placed on probation by its accrediting agency, the margin for approval of school system takeovers rises to 60 percent.
While just posted, the survey is nearly two months old – conducted Feb. 2-4 by 20/20 Insight. That’s before Mayor Kasim Reed publicly raised the topic of a City Hall takeover, should the school system lose its accreditation this summer – and before legislation began moving that would extend such power to the governor.
But it was conducted after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools gave its warning to the Atlanta school system, and so should still be valid.
The poll sampled the opinions of 595 voters, and has a margin of error of 4 percent. See the crosstabs here.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed was at the state Capitol on Wednesday, and said he was satisfied with the amendment to SB 79, approved by the House Education Committee this week, which would give Gov. Nathan Deal the authority to replace members of the Atlanta school board should accreditation be lost. From the Associated Press:
[Reed] said the measure is the right step to protect the students and families in the school district, saying he believes the school board is moving at a “glacial” pace when it should be acting much more quickly. Reed explored taking over the school district but said it would take an amendment to the state’s constitution to allow that.
“There has to be some remedy for a lack of action on the part of the Atlanta school board,” Reed said.
You cannot stack irony more effectively than this. From my AJC colleague Kristina Torres:
Atlanta school board members will begin in early April to hold one-on-one meetings with professional mediators, as they try to mend internal disputes as cited by the system’s accrediting agency.
On a related note, members could not agree Wednesday about how to respond to a request by House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta for a written update on their progress.
That inaugural gala for Gov. Nathan Deal – iced out in January – has been rescheduled for May 2 at the Cobb Galleria. It’ll be a free event. Who foots the bill will be revealed only afterwards.
Sigh. Another revolution in Georgia’s indigent defense system is bubbling. From Errin Haines and the Associated Press:
Senate lawmakers are considering legislation that would replace the members of the council overseeing Georgia’s public defender system.
In a measure unveiled Wednesday at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, the 15 members who currently serve on the council would be ousted and replaced with nine people who either have experience in the criminal justice system or a commitment to providing adequate and effective counsel for indigent defendants. Five of the members would be appointed by the governor, and three of those appointments are required to be county commissioners.
The House Speaker and the lieutenant governor would each tap two members.
Supporters also attempted to attach an amendment to the bill that would give Fulton County the option of leaving the network. The amendment allows single judicial circuits or counties such as Fulton to create an alternate system under certain circumstances.
The committee approved the underlying bill, but did not act on the amendment.
If you’ve got a spare 10 minutes, here’s U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., on President Barack Obama and Libya, via PBS last night:
Just in case you wonder where she’d gotten to, 11Alive is reporting that former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney will be protesting U.S. action in Libya “in front of the Newseum, not far from the White House.” Muammar Qaddafi, she says, is a fine fellow who has given his people free health care.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider