Archive for the ‘Atlanta Public Schools’ Category

APS scandal as an argument for charter schools

Bob Bowdon, a filmmaker dedicated to charter school reform, has turned a six-minute video on the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal:

The clip appears on Choice Media, which defines itself thusly:

Choice Media is a non-profit education news service, devoted to covering all facets of K-12 education quality and reform. Our mission is to expose the scandal of America’s high-cost, low-performing schools, while highlighting successes where they occur and pointing the way to a more hopeful tomorrow.

The video makes the argument that charter schools, though not immune to cheating scandals, can respond more quickly when they occur. Kelly McCutchen of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation makes an appearance.

One suggestion: There were many African-Americans who were appalled by the APS scandal, and were essential in pushing an investigation through to the conclusion. We can provide e-mails and phone numbers if Bowdon intends to expand his piece.

- By Jim Galloway, Political …

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Your morning jolt: The ATL school board candidate with the booty-shaking Facebook page

Here’s a handy to-do list for would-be politicians embarking on a campaign:

1) Order business cards with campaign web site address;

2) File proper fund-raising paperwork;

3) Buy new wardrobe and dentures for adoring spouse;

4) Scrub the Facebook page of all videos showing booty-shaking women and rappers spouting foul language or inhaling cannabis.

So far as we know, Atlanta school board candidate Byron Amos did all right with Nos.1 and 2. We’re not sure that No. 3 applies. But Lori Geary of Channel 2 Action News says Amos, vice president of a rap music label called UGK Records, definitely failed to grasp the importance of No. 4:

Amos says he didn’t post the videos on his Facebook page, thanked Geary for bringing them to his attention, and promised to remove them.

But CBS Atlanta has also come across a YouTube clip “with Amos giving a birthday wish to a rapper.” The video includes a rap with misogynistic lyrics.

On the bright side, if Amos is elected, a teacher …

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Kasim Reed on Sunday sales bill: ‘I’ll sign it today’

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said this afternoon that he intends to sign the measure passed by City Council on Tuesday that would allow a November referendum on whether to permit the Sunday sale of alcohol in grocery and other retail outlets.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Said Reed:

“I’m going to sign it. What I’ve said all along regarding Sunday sales is that, though I am personally opposed to the measure, I’m going to respect the will of the Atlanta City Council.

“I have a great deal of respect for Council member Alex Wan. He is the author of this legislation that was passed overwhelmingly by council. I’m going to sign it today.”

The referendum will be on the Nov. 8 ballot, in conjunction with a vote to extend the penny sales tax by Atlanta Public Schools, and fill a vacant seat on the city school board.

As one of you below has already noted, if large crowds are drawn to the polls for the Sunday sales issue — that may not bode well for an …

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Your morning jolt: Nathan Deal to meet with metro GOP lawmakers on T-SPLOST

Gov. Nathan Deal will meet this morning with House Republicans from metro Atlanta to advocate the shift of next year’s regional transportation sales tax vote from the July primary to the November general election.

The 11 a.m. meeting was prompted by House Speaker pro tem Jan Jones of Alpharetta, the top-ranking leader among Atlanta area lawmakers.

“The governor thinks we should move it to November to allow as many people to vote,” said Brian Robinson, spokesman for the governor.

On Monday evening, Deal held a reception at the Governor’s Mansion for legislators, who began a special redistricting session that morning. Shifting the T-SPLOST vote was a topic of conversation.

A semi-final list of metro Atlanta projects that would be funded by a penny sales tax was completed Monday.

With today’s push, and his decision to make the T-SPLOST vote a topic for the special session, Deal is wading deeper into the metro Atlanta transportation issue than his Republican …

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A divide over prosecution in the APS cheating scandal

We may have a serious disagreement building between Attorney General Sam Olens and the two top investigators in the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal.

Last week, at a gathering of the Atlanta Press Club, Olens was asked whether he would involve himself in the prosecution of the scandal.

Olens made two points. First, he said that the granting of immunity to teachers, principals and some school administrators by state investigators would make it harder to chase down malefactors at the top.

The attorney general also said he would involve himself in prosecutions only if local district attorneys recused themselves – i.e., bowed out for a distinct cause, such as a conflict of interest.

Olens’ remarks prompted a call this morning from former DeKalb County district attorney Bob Wilson, who is in Albany investigating similar charges of altered test scores in the Dougherty County school system.

Wilson said Olens was wrong – or mistaken – on both counts.

First, let’s take …

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Your morning jolt: A Buckhead revolt over Democratic future?

You’re reading the blowback edition of the Morning Jolt.

In a Thursday column, we posited what we thought was a well-thought-out theory of why the Legislature, during the upcoming redistricting session, won’t make the Buckhead portion of Atlanta part of the 6th Congressional District of U.S. Rep. Tom Price, the Republican from Roswell:

[B]y allowing Buckhead to remain in the hands of a Democrat, every Republican member of Congress in the state will consider Georgia’s largest cache of wealthy voters to be fair game for campaign cash. Buckhead, in essence, would remain an open city for fund-raising.

This admittedly cynical assessment resonated poorly with state Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Atlanta, who represents what many in the GOP believe to be sacred ground. In an e-mail sent last night, he counseled his constituents to burn a few miles of telephone cable:

I have heard both political and policy reasons from many of you for putting Buckhead in a Republican Congressional District. …

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Report: Sam Olens says he’d look at prosecuting APS cheaters

Interesting note on ATLaw, the legal blog run by Ed Bean and the Fulton County Daily Report:

Attorney General Sam Olens told a meeting of the Atlanta Press Club today that he will consider using his office to “take the appropriate action” if local district attorneys choose not to bring charges stemming from the state’s investigation into altered test scores and cheating in Atlanta public schools.

Here’s the specific quote from Olens, via my AJC colleague Willoughby Mariano:

“Many of the individuals have been granted immunity in that report. So neither the D.A.’s nor me would have had opportunity, by the immunity granted, to try and go up higher on the food chain.

“With regard to issues where [a] district attorney chooses not to take such action, I would encourage you to request that that district attorney transfer the file over to our office and we would then take the appropriate action.

“But once again, under Georgia law, I am limited until the district attorney says, …

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Your morning jolt: Nathan Deal, Kasim Reed to reunite for Port of Savannah pitch

Think of it as a quick sign that Washington is quickly moving back to normal.

The successful lobbying team of Gov. Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday will make a hardcore, on-site sales pitch for federal assistance to dredge the Port of Savannah, when both will squire U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood through a tour of the coastal facility.

Think of it as an attempt to build on last month’s success. In July, following on a meeting with Deal and Reed, LaHood green-lighted a low-interest $270 million infrastructure loan for managed lanes up the I-75/I-575 corridor in metro Atlanta.

This session will be all about dredging. LaHood will be the first member of President Barack Obama’s cabinet to eyeball the situation. “This is a chance for [LaHood] to see first hand the fastest growing and fourth largest port in America,” said Robert Morris, spokesman for the Port Authority of Savannah. “As a member of the president’s cabinet, it’s a great …

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Your morning jolt: Pay no attention to those ‘blackmailing’ credit agencies, says Newt Gingrich

With a House Speaker John Boehner’s debt-ceiling plan thrown into limbo last night, Washington is – gulp! – looking at the very real possibility that the federal government’s AAA credit rating will slip.

But don’t look for worry lines on the face of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who spoke at a Thursday rally in Cobb County. From the Marietta Daily Journal:

“I am totally uninterested in satisfying Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s,” Gingrich replied. “They were totally wrong in 2008. They failed to do their job. They’re now overreaching in the opposite direction. There is zero reason to believe if you look at the Treasury Market that people around the world think we’re not a good risk,” Gingrich said.

And that was just the start of Gingrich’s long brief against the rating agencies:

“They’re so used to us bailing them out that they think that having stolen – I won’t say stolen, that’s too strong a word – having ‘absorbed’ hundreds of billions of dollars in …

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Your morning jolt: About the debt-ceiling crisis and unemployment checks

Five paragraphs into a piece on Georgia’s preparations for a drought of federal funds – if debt-ceiling talks in Washington collapse – Blake Aued of the Athens Banner-Herald has this calamitous line:

If the debt ceiling is not raised, unemployment checks could stop immediately….

But you can unwad that underwear. Brian Robinson, spokesman for Gov. Nathan Deal and the source cited for the above information, says it’s not going to happen.

“We’ve been given no reason to believe there will be funding disruptions. This is not a government shutdown,” Robinson said this morning. “We don’t think unemployment checks will stop immediately.”

Robinson said that the point he was trying to make is that programs that are jointly funded by federal and state governments – Medicaid and PeachCare, for instance – could be carried by the state for an extra two weeks in an emergency.

But unemployment checks, while administered by the state Department of Labor, are …

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