Archive for the ‘education’ Category

A woodshed season for John Barge

State Superintendent John Barge consults with a staffer following a hearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees. Jason Getz/

State Superintendent John Barge consults with a staffer following a hearing before a joint meeting of the House and Senate budget committees. Jason Getz/

A season of punishment has begun for state School Superintendent John Barge – payback for his opposition to last year’s ballot measure restoring the state’s power to create charter schools throughout Georgia.

But at the state Capitol, the first rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Those throwing the punches don’t want to appear vindictive. Those on the receiving end know that things could get ever so much worse.

This week, it was Barge’s duty to go before state lawmakers to explain educational spending in Gov. Nathan Deal’s $19.8 billion proposed budget for next year. Unless you had the document in front of you, you would never have known that Deal had shrunk Barge’s central office budget from $87 million to $27 million.

The governor had really, really liked that charter …

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Your daily jolt: A state Senate under new management

In the minutes surrounding the passage of Senate Bill 24, Gov. Nathan Deal’s solution to the “bed tax” dilemma, the sharp-eyed could – through the door leading to President pro tem David Shafer’s office – spot a giddy state Sen. Jeff Mullis dancing through the anteroom, arms in the air.

That’s how happy the new leaders of the state Senate were on Thursday, following passage of the Hospital Medicaid Financing Program Act. The bill, which now will receive the same railed treatment in the House, solves the sticky problem of legislative approval for a continued levy on hospitals by shoving the issue behind the executive curtain of the state Department of Community Health.

In fact, the contrast with Senate passage of the original “bed tax” in 2010 couldn’t be starker. Three years ago, GOP senators tortured themselves over the issue for three months. The caucus split, and two Republicans lost chairmanships when they refused to go along – despite furious …

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Joseph Lowery in radio ads: ‘Don’t let them resegregate our schools’

Opponents of Tuesday’s charter school ballot question this afternoon unveiled a series of four racially provocative, 60-second radio spots aimed at African-American audiences across the state.

Three of the radio ads include this plea from the 91-year-old Rev. Joseph Lowery, the legendary civil rights figure: “Don’t let them resegregate our schools.”

In case that message didn’t penetrate, the opposition group — Vote Smart! No to State-Controlled Schools — labeled one of the spots “Plessy” and another “Ferguson.” Plessy v. Ferguson was the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized segregated public facilities in the South and ushered in the Jim Crow era.

It’s important to note that the charter school measure, which would reaffirm state authority to create charter schools over the objections of local systems, has significant support among African-Americans, according to polls – who figure heavily in pro-Amendment One advertising.

Listen to “Plessy” …

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Foes of charter school issue say new poll shows 52% against

Polls by interested parties must always be taken with a grain of salt – but they are not always something to dismiss out of hand.

Last month, for example, proponents of the November ballot issue on charter schools unveiled a survey that showed the proposed constitutional amendment supported by a healthy 58 percent of likely voters.

But a more recent poll, backed by an opposing group called Georgians for Education Excellence, says support for the the charter school issue is leaking fast, and that opponents now have the upper hand by 52 percent.


Thirty-four percent say they’ll “definitely” vote against it, and another 18 percent say they’ll “probably” vote no.

Here’s a link to the poll memo, which includes these caveats:

Methodology. The poll of 1,216 likely voters was conducted October 4 and 5, 2012 by IVR/autocall. Recipients were randomly selected and dialed statewide. The data presented is not weighted to allow for personalized weighting.

The survey poll …

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Your morning jolt: Republican state senator says he’ll oppose charter measure

A Republican state Senator who voted to place the proposed constitutional amendment on charter schools on the November ballot now says he’ll vote against the measure.

Frank Ginn of Danielsville declared his opposition at an Athens forum last night – as did Regina Quick, who defeated state Rep. Doug McKillip, R-Athens, in the July primary. From the Banner-Herald:

Quick and Ginn, both Republicans, were panelists for the forum in Clarke Central’s Mell Auditorium Tuesday night.

Ginn, R-Danielsville, voted to place the amendment on the ballot so Georgia voters could decide, he said…

“I’m going to vote against the amendment,” he said. “I’m for the teacher. Bureaucracy, we see, is not helping.”

“There are portions of this bill that really bother me, as far as the charter school commission,” Quick said. “I’m against government run amok.”

A first hearing on a lawsuit filed by charter school proponents against Georgia’s 180 school districts, asking a …

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Lawsuit alleges ‘Education Empire’ conspiracy to defeat charter school measure

Atlanta attorney and charter school advocate Glenn Delk has finally filed that lawsuit against 180 school districts in Georgia, alleging that along with “the Education Empire,” they have been engaged in a “coordinated campaign and conspiracy” to defeat the November ballot question on charter schools.

Signing onto the lawsuit are Rae Anne Harkness, a charter school parent from DeKalb County; Rich Thompson, founder and CEO of 100Dads; Kelley O’Bryan Gary, chairman of the Jackson County GOP; Kara Martin; and Allen Hughes.

Read the lawsuit here. Some excerpts:

This case is brought by individual taxpayers and registered voters of Georgia who believe in the rule of law and the right of taxpayers to freely exercise their right to vote on the Amendment without Defendants and entities such as the teachers unions, the Georgia School Boards Association, the Georgia School Superintendents Association and others (collectively known as the “Education Empire”) using taxpayer …

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A private electronic memo outlines charter school campaign

The November campaign to re-establish state government’s authority to set up local charter schools in Georgia will look very much like this summer’s effort to pass a transportation sales tax.

But in a good way.

That’s according to a private PowerPoint outline that’s being passed to members and friends of the Georgia Charter Schools Association, and which has fallen into our hands. You can see it here.

The presentation describes a $2.7 million statewide campaign that will be divided into a $974,000 tax-free “educational” effort dubbed “Brighter Georgia,” controlled by the charter schools association, and a traditional get-out-the-vote campaign with a $1.8 million price tag called Families for Better Schools. That’s a page torn right from the T-SPLOST push.

The two organizations had raised a combined $988,000 as of Sept. 1, the memo said.

At the top of the organizational chart of the Families for Better Schools campaign — contained within the memo — is a …

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Your morning jolt: In Georgia, presidential contest could be 2008 redux

When Karl Rove recently shifted Georgia from “safe Romney” to “lean Romney,” he hinted that the adjustment was motivated by the lack of recent polling.

But Better Georgia, a Democratic-leaning group, is out today with an automated poll indicating that the 2012 presidential contest in Georgia could be a near-repeat of 2008, with Mitt Romney leading Barack Obama, 49 to 46 percent.

In 2008, Republican John McCain beat Obama, 52 to 47 percent.

Click here for more details.
The automated poll of 1,158 likely voters was conducted Aug. 15-18 and has an MOE of 2.9 percent.

The statewide poll also declares that 57 percent of likely voters support want the current Medicare program kept in place even if it means raising taxes. Thirty-one percent favor a voucher system.

The paragraph below, excerpted from an email sent by Scott Paradise, campaign manager for 12th District congressional candidate Rick Allen, is notable on many levels.

But look how quickly a certain Missouri …

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Reading other people’s mail: A postal debate over charter schools

State School Superintendent John Barge has found himself in a running email debate with state Rep. Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta, the House majority whip – over Barge’s decision last week to come out against the November referendum to re-establish the state’s authority to create charter schools.

Postal confrontations have a long and storied history in American politics. In part because, regardless of the topic, there’s always the thrill of reading someone else’s mail. To wit:

At 6:57 p.m. Tuesday, from Lindsey to Barge:


I read with interest – and surprise — your statement today opposing the Charter School Amendment. I also went back and reviewed your responses to the questionnaire you filled out when you ran for office in 2010, which can be found here, in which you stated that you “strongly” supported the State Charter School Commission and the creation of state charter schools.

If you were in court on cross examination the people of Georgia might enjoy …

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Your morning jolt: State’s share of Georgia school costs down to 38 percent

On Aug. 1, the day after the statewide vote on the transportation sales tax, you won’t find Gov. Nathan Deal crying in his beer.

You’ll find him at Bones restaurant in Buckhead, raising cash at $1,000 a head or more, for his campaign to re-assert the state’s authority to create charter schools in Georgia – even if local systems would rather not. Here’s the invite from

On that same note, my AJC colleague Wayne Washington has mined one of the most important stats likely to be bandied about in the fight over the November ballot issue, which pits much of the state’s education leadership against the core of the Republican political establishment:

For the first time in 16 years, local governments paid a higher share of the cost of public education that state governments, a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau showed….

Georgia’s public primary and secondary schools got about 38 percent of their funding from the state, with local government …

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