Archive for the ‘CRCT’ Category

A bill to reward informants — and sniff out government fraud in Georgia

The Most Intriguing Bill of the Day award goes to HB 822, a hand-crafted, bipartisan bill that would give informers a financial incentive to rat out government fraud, whether in the state Medicaid program or in your local city hall.

A quartet of names are on the bill: House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta; state Reps. Roger Lane, R-Darien; Alex Atwood, R-Brunswick; and Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur. The Office of Legislative Counsel indicates that its lawyers only did light editing, which means the bill is the personal handiwork of the four lawmakers.

The “Georgia Taxpayer Protection False Claims Act” would apply to any public board, municipality, county, school board, hospital authority or other political subdivision – including MARTA. Falsifying records would be included – so test-score cheating would apply.

Penalties would be “a civil penalty of not less than $5,500 and not more than $11,000 for each false statement or fraudulent claim, plus three times the …

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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: 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 predecessor.

Deal’s …

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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 up the …

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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, ‘I’m …

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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 opportunity to tell …

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Your morning jolt: Linking the APS cheating scandal to the transit tax vote

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal has produced one of those odd unions between Republican conservatives and Democratic liberals.

Members of both factions are calling for the head of Sam Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, one of many business leaders who supported ousted superintendent Beverly Hall throughout the investigation.

On Monday evening, state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) upped the ante with a protest in downtown Atlanta – to argue that Williams’ defense of Hall will reflect on next year’s regional penny sales tax for rail and road projects.

At one point, in an e-mail, a Chamber executive suggested that the findings of an early investigation should be “finessed” past then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.

Williams is also treasurer of Citizens for Transportation Mobility, and will have a major hand in fund-raising for the campaign.

Williams has been out there defending himself. He gave two TV interviews last Friday – one to Channel 2 Action News. Williams …

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Your morning jolt: Andrew Young says APS needs an honor code

Andrew Young, the former mayor and U.N. ambassador, thinks the Atlanta Public Schools system needs an honor code – and not just for students. From Mark Winne of Channel 2 Action News:

From the Channel 2 web site:

“The cheating speaks to the character, and that’s where the failure is,” Young says. “This is a time for us to decide what we want to do with our school system.”

Young told Winne he was casual friends with [former APS school superintendent Beverly] Hall, but never close to her. Young says Hall was too isolated in her position as superintendent, “but we’re the ones who isolated her.”

***
Early this week, Monica Pearson of Channel 2 Action News popped up on the island of Maui to interrupt former school superintendent Beverly Hall’s Hawaiian vacation. On Wednesday, it was the turn of 11Alive’s Karyn Greer. She didn’t get much, either. From the 11 Alive web site:

Greer: I want to ask you, people are very, very upset back home. People were saying that you absolutely had …

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Your morning jolt: Cut Paul Broun some slack, says Athens newspaper

The Athens Banner-Herald and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, a Republican from the same city, might often be mistaken for blood enemies.

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Athens. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

More often than not, one can often be seen or heard hyperventilating about the other. But not this weekend.

The Banner-Herald editoriaialists decided that Broun ought to be cut some slack over his handling of a town hall meeting last week, when an elderly constituent opened proceedings by asking “Who’s going to shoot Obama?”

Broun issued a strong rebuke of the question three days letter. At the meeting, the congressman said he was stunned by the comment and simply moved on as quickly as possible.

From the newspaper:

… Broun came in for his share of criticism on this newspaper’s website and elsewhere from people who suggested he should have forcefully rejected the man’s question as inappropriate. But, inappropriate as it was, the question did not come out of Broun’s mouth, and it seems a bit …

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More GOP wariness over move to make cheating on school tests a crime

We’re picking up more Republican wariness in the Legislature over Gov. Sonny Perdue’s proposal to make adult cheating on CRCT scores a criminal offense.

On Monday, it was Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers of Woodstock.

This morning, the two leading members of the House Education Committee, Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth) and Vice-Chairman Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), expressed doubts about the legislation – Millar more so than Coleman.

Coleman said he was ready to approach his Senate counterpart, Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody), about holding a House-Senate hearing on the test scandal, with testimony from the state Office of Professional Standards, the governor’s office, and state School Superintendent Kathy Cox.

“I’m very concerned about the cheating. I’m not sure what the punishment should be. They already lose their job,” Coleman said. The bills, HB 1111 and HB1121, sponsored by state Rep. Matt Ramsey (R-Peachtree City), the governor’s floor leader, would make altering test scores …

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