Your daily jolt: How Obama pushed Georgia’s charter school measure to victory

I need to listen to more V-103.

This is in the way of a small confession. One of the few surprises in Georgia ballot tallies on Tuesday was the startling support given by African-American voters to Amendment One, the measure to permit the state to create a commission that will directly license charter schools.

This despite a very loud continent of black lawmakers, not to mention the state Democratic party and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who declared the proposed constitutional amendment would result in the resegregation of public schools.

What I didn’t know – and neglected to discover until Wednesday — was that these voices were being drowned out by the biggest name in black politics: President Barack Obama.

Two Democratic strategists – one of them Cabral Franklin, son of the former mayor of Atlanta – created this 60-second radio spot that aired exclusively on radio stations with African-American audiences:

The script:

Obama: “I call on states to reform their charter rules…When I passed a law to double the number of public charter schools…I called for a doubling of our investment in charter schools so that students and parents have choices.”

Woman No. 1: President Obama supports public charter schools.

Woman No. 2: Many Democrats in this state support public charter schools. But Amendment One shouldn’t be about Democrats or Republicans.

Woman No. 1: It shouldn’t be about local politicians trying to further their careers. It should be about providing every child with a real education opportunity. You should vote “yes” on Amendment One.

Woman No. 2: Too many of our children are trapped in schools struggling schools –

Woman No. 1: And don’t have quality school options. If you believe that education should come before petty politics —

Woman No. 2: Then you should vote “yes” on Amendment One. If you believe that every child deserves an opportunity for a quality education —

Woman No. 1: Then you should vote “yes” for Amendment One.

Woman No. 2: Vote “yes” for public charter schools.

Never mind the content, which opponents of the ballot issue might argue was off-base. Amendment One wasn’t about whether charter schools should exist — it was about who would be in charge of creating them.

Even so, the Obama radio ad was deemed crucial. Amendment One passed with 59 percent approval, earning nearly 100,000 more votes than Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

“The amendment was not passed by Romney voters. We built a new coalition to pass the charter amendment. It was suburban whites and urban blacks,” wrote Chris Carpenter, another of the Democratic heads behind the strategy. “Yes, the same coalition that the Atlanta T-SPLOST campaign was going for.”

Franklin and Carpenter worked with GOP strategists Heath Garrett, Chip Lake and Mitch Hunter for the well-funded Families for Better Public Schools, the lead organization behind Amendment One.
In early October, polls showed black support for the charter school measure slipping. A TV and radio ad, featuring a young African-American student at Ivy Prep was rolled out.

“We wanted to say, ‘This is who you’re voting against,’” Franklin said. Much of the opposition was pushed into the undecided column. The ad featuring strung-together comments that Obama has made on charter schools was used to turn black voters into supporters.

“The point of putting Obama up there is that I knew the other side would make it partisan,” Franklin said. The ad began running Oct. 29 – once an hour on every African-American radio station in Atlanta, and three times every two hours on stations throughout the rest of the state.

“We took the exact opposite approach that the T-SPLOST took,” Franklin said. With the transportation sales tax campaign, emphasis was placed on obtaining personal endorsements from black leaders – most prominently Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Who remained silent on Amendment One.

“What I’m most proud about this win is, was not only that we won the black vote 2-1 against the black establishment, but we did it without any endorsement at all,” Franklin said.

Republicans were impressed, including Bert Brantley, the former spokesman for Gov. Sonny Perdue – who assumed the same role in the TSPLOST and Amendment One campaigns. “Here’s what I know going forward,” Brantley said. “I’m going to try to be on the same side as Cabral and Chris Carpenter as often as possible in the future.”

Former AJCer Doug Blackmon, who supported Amendment One, tackles the topic of African-American support in a piece you can read here. A taste:

That level of support flatly contradicts one of the flimsiest canards used to criticize Amendment 1—and charter schools in general. That is: the idea that somehow charter schools end up hurting minority or poorer students while disproportionately helping white and middle class children. The actual performance of charter schools in Georgia has always defied such claims. African-American students and all children living in urban areas with failed conventional public schools, like Atlanta, have benefited far more from charters than any other groups.

To no one’s surprise, given the extraordinary gaffes in the Missouri and Indiana races, Republicans did not take control of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Saxby Chambliss will not be chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee in January.

There were some who wondered with this would cause Georgia’s senior senator to rethink his 2014 re-election bid. Via my AJC colleague Daniel Malloy in Washington, Chambliss sends word this morning that any Republican (or Democrat, for that matter) who wants his job will have to take it from him.

Said Chambliss:

“ The debt hasn’t gone away. The fiscal cliff is staring us in the face. Even if we get through the next 60 days, we’ve still got a number of issues to solve and I am excited about the next two years and my re-election and serving another six years.”

How about organization and fundraising? Said Chambliss:

“We’re in just about the same position we were two years out six years ago — fundraising wise. We’ve got a great organization around the state. I’ve had an awful lot of encouragement from folks just to make sure we’re going to run again, and that’s been humbling and very encouraging”

My friend Rahul Bali, a freelancer in Augusta, has crunched
some 12th District numbers. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney received 32,680 more votes than GOP congressional candidate Lee Anderson. Who lost to U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, by 19,170 votes.

In Anderson’s home county of Columbia, Romney received 5,332 more votes than the Republican congressional candidate. That’s telling.

Nate Silver, the New York Times statistician and blogger, isn’t the only one taking a bow this week. From Bloomberg News:

Two university-based pollsters joined Silver in correctly predicting Obama’s win, and one of them will be dead-on about the electoral vote tally.

Drew Linzer, an assistant professor of political science at Emory University in Atlanta and a former pollster based in California, predicted [Tuesday]morning on the website that Obama would end the race with 332 electoral votes and Romney 206….

Sam Wang, a Princeton University professor of neuroscience, posted his final prediction — that Obama would likely receive 303 electoral votes to Romney’s 235 — on the school’s election blog at 2 p.m. [Tuesday]. He reduced Obama’s total from 332 based on late polls.

Florida and its 29 electoral votes has yet to be called in the presidential contest. The outcome will determine whether Linzer and Silver, or Wang had the clearest crystal ball.

A disappointed Mitt Romney fan from Georgia has become all the rage. In Australia. From Down Under’s Courier-Mail:

Clearly disappointed with the election result, 18-year-old Georgia republican Kristen Neel joined the throngs of American Twitter users claiming they were moving to Australia to escape Obama’s presidency.

Unfortunately, she got a few facts wrong.

“I’m moving to Australia, because their president is a Christian and actually supports what he says,” she tweeted.
Neel’s tweet quickly went viral as bemused Aussies retweeted it more than 1400 times, many pointing out that Australia actually has an atheist, female Prime Minister.
“Our Prime Minister is a woman, an atheist who lives with a man she hasn’t married. I don’t think you’d like it here,” tweeted Ian Cuthbertson, TV editor at The Australian.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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29 comments Add your comment


November 8th, 2012
10:39 am

UGA Political Science Ph.D. Josh Putnam (blogger, creator of Frontloading HQ) predicted 332 for Obama. It’d be nice for you to give him a shout-out, especially since he has close GA ties, runs a nationally recognized political blog and it looks increasingly like FL will be called for Obama, meaning he’ll be spot-on (with Silver and Linzer).


November 8th, 2012
10:56 am

When I saw the nonsense that Lowery put out about One, I rounded up my entire family to go down and early-vote for it.The education monopoly tries to defend their whole rotten structure and they end up defending nothing. Change is on the way. The GAE better get ready.


November 8th, 2012
11:06 am

The main object is to keep the democrat goverment in charge of schools no matter what they want to call them. That way they teach the kids to vote democrat not knowing why. What some of the teachings my grandkids have been coming home saying the last couple of weeks is unreal. It had nothing to do with the 3 “R”


November 8th, 2012
11:07 am

Apparently Our President underestimates the graft present in our current “leadership” here in this state!


November 8th, 2012
11:09 am

And does anyone seriously think Saxby would give up this gig easily? Why, the ability to play golf and profit in DC is tremendous!


November 8th, 2012
11:39 am

The girl who tweeted about Australia is sad but true….

A television show in Australia titled, “The Chaser’s War on Everything” has become very popular poking fun at America’s ignorance of the rest of the world.

If you get a moment watch a couple clips on you tube. It obviously is very edited, and I cannot imagine all the folks interviewed were that dull, but does make for an entertaining look back at ourselves.

Old South

November 8th, 2012
11:48 am

Australia? Good Choice however, a hardcore conservative should look elsewhere. Iran is a start.


November 8th, 2012
11:59 am

I truly do wish to see children succeed and schools provide quality education. I just don’t trust private for-profit companies to take over public schooling. Especially when they are appointed by non elected State legislators who don’t have to answer to the same public scrutiny of public schools. The only think the charter schools must provide is graduation testing scores – and as we’ve seen, that can’t lead to cheating and manipulation scandals (and that was through a public system that is open to scrutiny). Imagine how much easier it would be for a business who is vested financially in test results to finesse more money out of the State. Or just look at private colleges and their tuition rates vs. graduation or more importantly job placement rates. When profit is the main motive behind education, the quality of the product seems to fall behind the amount of money made.


November 8th, 2012
12:27 pm

By the grace of God this charter school boondoggle (political pocket lining) will be stopped in the courts.

Charter schools might have their place but not to be run by the lobbyist that plants payoff money in the unethical arena in the gold dome.

Fix the system we have after all the politicians (GOP)created this problem ..

.I certainty hope the GOP learned a lesson this week ….If not there is another ELECTION in under 2 years..Just saying!
as well as the option to recall or impeach!


November 8th, 2012
12:30 pm

@ catlady “Apparently Our President underestimates the graft present in our current “leadership” here in this state!”

Yep he is still ROFLOL about the newt and pizza man…..

Local MOM

November 8th, 2012
1:27 pm

I hope the “I’ll do anything for money” team of Franklin and Carpenter were paid lots to lie and cheat. We’ve come to expect that from the likes of Bert Brantly, that’s his MO, he knows no other way to operate. There is a special place for people like them. As a parent, I know what the consequnce of this CA will be, and we wont be good for the vast majorit of kids in Georgia.

Don Coyote

November 8th, 2012
1:28 pm

All of those television and radio spots only cost $2 million?

[...] Galloway of the Atlanta Constitution Journal explains here how interesting it is that Georgia’s ballot measure to permit the state to create a committee [...]


November 8th, 2012
2:17 pm

catlady said:
“Apparently Our President underestimates the graft present in our current “leadership” here in this state!”

There may be graft in state government, but I assure one and all that it does not come from the governor and is not approved by him. This in spit of the continuing dumping on him by the AJC.


November 8th, 2012
2:34 pm

Hummmm… Fox news or Nate…..

Deal is working hard to out do his mentor, Sonny Perdue, the most corrupt governor in state history.

According to FOX Business the most corrupt state in the nation is:
1. Georgia
> Overall grade: F (49%)
> Public access to information: F
> Legislative accountability: F
> Political financing: F
> Ethics enforcement agencies: F
Georgia has the worst levels of corruption risk and lack of accountability of any state in the country.
Read more:


November 8th, 2012
2:34 pm

I absolutely disagree with Local MOM. There is a special place for Bert Brantley….but not where you think. I am a parent, also. It is time to give our kids a choice when their educational system is not working. A local legislator said that local Bds. of Education should make decisions on Charter Schools because they have a financial interest in the matter. That is EXACTLY why they should not make the decision. IT IS A CONFLICT OF INTEREST; that is if you are interested in fairness.


November 8th, 2012
2:37 pm

Why does that Romney supporter/die-hard Rebublican want to leave US? Oh, I see, 18 years old and thinks she knows everything. Has a lot to learn. Needs to shut up and study her world geography and political science better. But probably a product of the public school system, unfortunately.


November 8th, 2012
2:40 pm


If Georgia is so bad, why is it only you and a few select others seem to know it? If it really is, remember the old saying; “Delta is ready when you are.”

Local MOM

November 8th, 2012
3:03 pm

Hide-n-seek – your are clueless and clearly have not done any research – by your analysis niether should the members of the general assembly. They more than any Bd. of Ed. have a CONFLICT OF INTEREST. Have you seen their disclosures? Rep. Lindsey being the Chair of an interest group…that’s not a conflict? Dream on… These same people operate to exclude everyday parents from the process and only embrace those that share their ideas – for-profit management companies and vouchers. Look at states that have had this in place for while – they are all moving to put moratoruims in place. GA will wait till folks have gotten FAT off of public tax money then go oops. By the way we know who will pay the highest price…African-American families. The number of failing charter schools around the country is astounding but we will sit in denial here in Georgia just for a few people to get PAID. There is no denying some schools are not giving our kids a good education. This will not be the fix, but that wont be evident till years of abouse, mismangement and downright failer has occurred with this bunch that will have no accountability to parents. I only have a few more years to go with my child in public school. I’ll be getting out before it goes completly to hell-in-a-hand-basket in Georgia and then everyone will stand around and scratch their heads.

Local MOM

November 8th, 2012
3:09 pm

“It has been shown for 20 years that charters systematically underperform public schools and cause public schools to be more segregated than they would otherwise,” said Myron Orfield, executive director of the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. “There are always going to be a couple of good ones, but there are 10 times as many bad ones.”

Orfield has produced his own research that shows charter schools in the Twin Cities perform worse than traditional schools at every income level. He is specifically critical of “intentionally segregated” charters, schools that cater predominately to one race or ethnic group.

“They have really been a catastrophe,” Orfield said. “All the data shows it doesn’t work. Integration is the best way to reduce the achievement gap.”


November 8th, 2012
3:35 pm

It’s funny that Obama is being credited with helping a GOP controlled, conservative state vote to enshrine big government philosophy into it’s Constitution. I don’t listen to radio, so I didn’t hear those ads. Even if I had heard them, I still would have voted no.

The state should not be able to dictate local issues when there is already local control. If the people of a school district wants charter schools and the board denies their wishes, the board can always be replaced with people who will abide by the wishes of the people. When you allow the state to come in and override the wishes of the locals, you’re setting yourself up for big, big trouble.

As for Ms. Kristen Neel, she’s the perfect example of why we need to teach civics in school.

Local MOM

November 8th, 2012
3:47 pm

Look what Georgia has to look forwad to:
Figure 1. The graph shows the percentage of high school graduates meeting SAT/ACT College Readiness Criterion plotted against the concentration of poverty. Each disc is a high school; the red dots are charter schools, the grey are public schools. In general, charter schools simply to do not compare favorably to public schools, regardless of poverty concentration.


November 8th, 2012
3:48 pm

DCSS has been a catastrophe. Don’t need Obama or anyone else to tell me that. I don’t understand how the Dekalb board keeps getting re-elected, there is no reason for it. Voting for the Charter school amendment is NOT something I would normally care to vote for as I think it just opens up new ways for graft, cronyism and special interests to get their hands on my tax dollars, but considering the alternative is to continue funding DCSS and with that the implicit approval of their incompetence I felt there was no choice. I just wish I could take pride in my local schools – and that does NOT mean pride in the Taj Mahals they think are so important, that means pride in the local schools producing well educated members of our community. Hearing about the Fulton County election issues and the suggestion that the poll workers had not been trained properly brought back the old pre-Olympic uproar over the ‘Old Mexico, New Mexico’ issue when only US residents were being allowed to order tickets – for those with short memories, the person taking orders refused to believe that New Mexico was a part of the US. This is shameful and I do not think the situation is improving.


November 8th, 2012
3:59 pm

For the record, the above Jack at 10:39 ain’t me.


November 8th, 2012
5:55 pm

The top 5% of the money is on its way out of this country right now.The mass exodus of dollars will leave your social dumocrats with nothing to get,save your food stamps you will need them.

Mary Elizabeth

November 8th, 2012
6:24 pm

In the advertisement clip above, President Obama made a concentrated effort to emphasize the word “public,” in voicing his support for “public charter schools.” I do not believe that President Obama would be in support of the privatization of Georgia’s public schools. This constitutional amendment, according to some, could well become the impetus to usher in the “school choice movement” in Georgia that would ultimately dismantle traditional public schools in this state.

Only time will tell if public schools will become more privatized in Georgia, with an underlying profit motive. If traditional public schools become dismantled for private or quasi-private public schools, in the long run in Georgia, then all of the students of public schools (of all races) will not be well-served. Only the few (of all races) will be well-served.

Mary Elizabeth

November 8th, 2012
7:04 pm

Post Script: The penchant for looking after #1, rather than the common good, is not limited to any race or ethnic group.


November 8th, 2012
8:16 pm

I think these two guys (Cabral Franklin and Chris Carpenter)should be awarded the Josef Goebbels award for political advertising. If their idea of “forming coalitions” is by totally misreresenting an issue, then crowing about being able to flummox so many people, then they certainly deserve such an award.

This issue was about WHO would control the creation of charter schools, NOT whether or not charter schools should exist.

And I think I see why Doug Blackmon is a former AJCer. Nothing in his screed makes any sense. The state of Georgia isn’t Clayton County, or Fulton County or Dekalb county. Many areas of this state are quite successful in governing themselves, to the extent that offenders are removed from office by voters.

THat’s the way the system works, not by deceit and misrepresentation.


November 8th, 2012
9:09 pm

Not one word that came out of the Vote NO crowd was truth. Education mafia trying to protect their big paychecks. What a negative bunch.