Your morning jolt: Vote identifies arms to be twisted in charter school fight

If Wednesday’s House vote on charter schools was intended to smoke out the opposition, consider it done. Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment fell 10 votes short of the 120 needed for a two-thirds majority.

At the Georgia Report, Tom Crawford identified the defectors in an otherwise partisan affair:

[S]even Democrats voted with most of the GOP majority for HR 1162: Alisha Thomas Morgan, Rahn Mayo, Margaret Kaiser, Stacey Evans, Sheila Jones, Karla Drenner, and Ralph Long….
There were some defectors in the Republican ranks as well.

Lawmakers from rural districts, where it’s a struggle to keep public schools in operation, consider charter schools to be a metro Atlanta issue and are concerned that HR 1162 would harm their local schools.

There were nine Republicans from outside metro Atlanta who voted against HR 1162: Tommy Benton, Ben Harbin, Mark Hatfield, Susan Holmes, Tony McBrayer, Tom McCall, Ed Rynders, Kip Smith, and Jason Spencer.

Republicans Jason Shaw and Willie Talton were excused from the vote, but those non-votes had the same impact on HR 1162 as two no votes. Another Republican, Andy Welch, attended Wednesday’s House session but did not cast a vote – which is the same as a no vote where a constitutional amendment is concerned.

If any of the above lawmakers are spotted with an arm in a sling today, you’ll know why.

According to today’s Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, University of Georgia president Michael Adams told the UGA athletic board on Wednesday that he expects a four- or even eight-team football playoff system to be in place by 2014.

Last year, former Gov. Sonny Perdue was a national co-chairman for Newt Gingrich’s presidential run. Perdue dropped his support for the former House speaker last spring when top campaign aides and consultants walked out on the former U.S. House speaker. Now Perdue is just an informal designer of expectations for the Gingrich campaign:

“I think if he wants to continue he has got to win Georgia,” former Gov. Sonny Perdue told The Associated Press. “And I think he must win fairly decisively.”

You think only Republicans get to play in presidential politics in Georgia? Not hardly. The campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama on Wednesday quietly reminded reporters that Pete Petit, one of the members of the host committee for the Mitt Romney fundraiser in Atlanta, was the subject of a civil complaint from the Securities and Exchange Commission, for allegedly passing insider information to a friend in 2007.

Petit denies the allegations.

The National Republican Congressional Committee on Wednesday announced that three Republican candidates out to challenge U.S. Rep. John Barrow in east Georgia – Rick Allen, Lee Anderson and Wright McLeod — had earned its “on the radar” ranking by meeting a series of organizational and fundraising goals.

Missing from the list: Maria Sheffield, the former candidate for state insurance commissioner, who has moved into the 12th District from Cobb County for the contest.

One of the many reasons that so little legislation has been introduced in the General Assembly this year has been the turmoil in the state Senate. Sponsors are fearful that their bills will become pawns in the tug-of-war between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Senate President pro tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. We may have a case in point:

This week, a bipartisan crowd of senators introduced SB 401, legislation designed to encourage private investment in solar power and other sources of renewable energy. The lead sponsor is Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. Ronnie Chance, R-Tyrone, the governor’s floor leader, has the No. 2 position. Two Democrats have also signed on: Jason Carter of Decatur, and Doug Stoner of Smyrna.

But so have Williams and Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, R-Woodstock.

Ordinarily, the proper committee for the bill would have been the Senate committee on regulated industries, chaired by David Shafer, R-Duluth, who is a member of the ruling Committee on Assignments that performs many of the duties that once were the property of the lieutenant governor.

This week, Cagle assigned SB 401 to the Senate Natural Resources Committee chaired by Ross Tolleson, R-Perry. Backers of the bill are assuming that the unusual path is a sign that the measure has become a bargaining chip in a game they can’t see.

Ben Fry, spokesman for Cagle, said any worries about the bill’s situation are unfounded. “Ross Tolleson is the chamber’s leading expert on the environment and renewable energy,” Fry said.

Charlie Harper has more details on SB 401 over at Peach Pundit.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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18 comments Add your comment


February 9th, 2012
10:07 am

Stating the obvious: “I think if he wants to continue he has got to win Georgia,” former Gov. Sonny Perdue told The Associated Press. “And I think he must win fairly decisively.”

Daily attack a Republican here (not so quiet): “The campaign to re-elect President Barack Obama on Wednesday quietly reminded reporters that …”


February 9th, 2012
10:12 am

Sunlight is a natural resource… in fact, given all the deregulation of utilities — the only regulation left is that of competition for the utilities — and they get regulated to death! Go figure…


February 9th, 2012
10:15 am

Daily whine from a so-called “centrist” (not so quiet): Waaa, the liberal media hates us. Waaa, why me. Waaa I love playing the victim.

change we can only hope for

February 9th, 2012
10:18 am

Not sure why Alisha Morgans participation isn’t looked at closer. Her husband is a lobbyist for the Charter Schools as well as on the Cobb County BOE. Why that’s allowed is beyond me. It appears that it’s just another politician looking to line thier own pockets


February 9th, 2012
10:22 am

While Karen Handel deserved some criticism – I note this post from last night was accurate from:


February 8th, 2012
10:11 pm

Having read Mr. Galloway’s work for many years it has always been clear that he is a die-hard leftie, but at least usually his work is entertaining and often informative.


February 9th, 2012
10:38 am

Just to prove to all you libs on this board that I do not just go along with Republicans all everything. I am with the Dems on the issue of Charter schools. If you want private schools for your children then put them in a private school. We need to stop thinking that the schools or money is the problem in our education system and start addressing the real cause of failure (the parent).


February 9th, 2012
11:11 am

Let this stupid bill die quietly.

The entire concept was flawed in the beginning and will not improve with age.

If people want to open and fund private schools, there are ample opportunities.

Private schools funded with public money were declared unConstitutional for a very real and clear reason.


February 9th, 2012
11:13 am


Right on the MONEY!
Several of the Democratic defectors need hear from their constituents, as they should all know better than to support this fiasco.

Look before you leap...

February 9th, 2012
11:40 am


If people want to open and fund private schools, there are ample opportunities.

Private schools funded with public money were declared unConstitutional for a very real and clear reason.

Charter schools are not by definition, private. They are a publicly available tuition-free standard public schools. The jury is out on whether charter school students perform as well as their peers in public school in national standardized testing. Urban results seem to consistently support better performance while rural and suburban results are mixed.

I like the idea of an alternative in the school system. It creates competition and generally when there is fair and balanced access, this competition should create a better product.

Given that the charter schools operate with very little oversight and interference from the local school boards (which is where the REAL problem is with our schools), they have the ability to react and adjust more quickly to address issues and sub-par performance. In other words they can fire a bad teacher or administrator without jumping through 99 hoops.


February 9th, 2012
2:07 pm

Commenter Fail #1: Charter schools are public schools, approved in Georgia law in 1993, expanded in 1998 and many times since. This is not a new concept. They are open to all children as tuition-free schools.

Commenter Fail #2: While this is beside the charter school debate, public dollars to private schools is not unconstitutional. Quite the contrary in fact. The US Supreme Court deemed that these arrangements WERE constitutional in 2002 (Zelman v. Harris).

Semi-fail #3: Independent charter schools outperform traditional public schools routinely. Are there bad charters schools, sure. But those that are not phantom charter schools operated by a local board of education do better. The big national studies (including a Stanford one that opponents like to cite) haven’t recognized the distinction, though I believe that a reexamination by those same researchers is underway taking the independent v. system-operated charter school issue into account.


February 9th, 2012
2:58 pm


Look at a few special ‘charter’ areas around the state.
Reynolds Plantation comes to mind as the most egregious one that I looked at while participating in a charter rewrite for a charter school WITHIN A PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM. It was quite cleverly designed to keep ‘those people’ out.

If you use public funds, you should operate under the rules established by the school system to oversee those funds.

If you don’t want to do that, don’t solicit public funds.

Instead fund smaller class sizes, an option that really, really works.

carole hunt

February 9th, 2012
3:10 pm

Well, look at edication in GA. FIrst we git oursefs immune from no child left behind — we got some we doan mind leavin behind — the poor, those from non-english speaking homesj. Now we let our tax dollars go to “charter schools” that are just private schools with a new name, one the Repugnicans really like. What ever happened to making our public schools what they should be and we would not need private schools at public expense.

We ought to be ashamed and we are going to be sorry. Betty Boop


February 9th, 2012
4:59 pm

Charter should not be a partisan issue. What Cherokee is not telling you is that those “independent” charters are corporate run schools culling millions of public school fund into their bottom line.
I agree with the idea that if you want private school education, pay for it your self.
As for public school improvement, TD is right about that. How about some parent improvement.
How many parents work with their children on homework or projects? How many support the teacher when the child says the teachers too hard?
We need to spend the money on fighting truancy, the single biggest indicator of dropouts. Graduating high school is a security issue. Around 80% of all state prisoners didn’t graduate high school.


February 9th, 2012
5:02 pm

… And what is a “phantom” charter school? Ha

Ok I'll play along

February 9th, 2012
7:32 pm

@change way back at 10:18…not only that but David Morgan didn’t think it was a conflict of interest and reluctanly recused himself from further involvement.

DeKalb Ivy Parent

February 9th, 2012
10:26 pm

Great teachers, great curriculum, great results….Ivy Prep performs…yet Gwinnett finds vague reasons to turn down their charter. If a charter school is performing, the local BOE should use it as an example to improve other schools, not try to destroy it.

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February 10th, 2012
1:21 pm

To all those who voted against the charter school bill … Keep Up the Good Work!

Don’t let those who want the state to control any local school system or all local school systems get out of control. Let the local school system structure control the local schools.

If they’re not doing the job the folks in their community want, let them get rid of the board & put new people in charge. It’s time for all locals to get more involved in their school systems & work to clean up any messes that are made locally.

Again to those who voted against state control: Be Strong, Be Brave. Do what you know is right. Keep local control local!