Archive for the ‘vouchers’ Category

Your morning jolt: Charter school support holds steady at 58 percent

The forces behind Georgia’s charter school amendment to the state constitution are out with a new poll this morning that shows voters still comfortably in favor of the measure.

Fifty-eight percent of voters are prepared to vote in favor of the amendment – unchanged since the previous poll in July. See the polling note from John McLaughlin and Rob Schmidt here.

The real purpose of the poll was to measure the effectiveness of arguments we’re likely to see put forward in coming weeks. Opponents have argued that giving a state agency the power to grant charter school licenses over the objections of local systems would sap education funding from traditional schools.

Here’s one test argument from the poll:

If approved, this amendment would not take a single dollar away from traditional public schools. This amendment simply provides for a fair appeals process for families that are not fortunate enough to have great public schools or enough resources to enroll in private …

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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 bipartisan team of …

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Pushback on charter schools: Gwinnett Chamber flips to neutral, Georgia PTA under pressure

One of the biggest opponents to the November ballot issue to re-establish state authority to license charter schools in local systems has been pushed into neutrality.

Another may quickly follow.

This afternoon, my AJC colleague Nancy Badertscher obtained the following memo sent out by Gwinnett Chamber CEO Jim Maran to the organization’s board of directors and other parties (emphasis is mine):

We have had recent conversations with members of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and Gwinnett’s Legislative Delegation regarding state-controlled charter schools and the related constitutional amendment referendum.

With respect to all parties engaged in the issue, the Executive Committee of the Board has decided the Chamber shall remain neutral on this subject. As such, the September 5 event has been cancelled.

The Sept. 5 event was a fund-raiser for opponents of the measure.

Gov. Nathan Deal addressed the Gwinnett Chamber only last week. Do not persuade yourself that this is a …

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Nathan Deal, Gwinnett Chamber lock horns over charter schools

My AJC colleague Nancy Badertscher has filed this:

Gov. Nathan Deal put in a plug for November’s charter school amendment Thursday, saying state-approved charter schools “have their place.”

“In many parts of our state, students are stuck in schools that are failing … in schools that are not making adequate yearly progress,” Deal told members of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce.

The success of the all-girls Ivy Prep is proving “that even in high performing systems such as Gwinnett, these state-approved charter schools have their place,” Deal said.

Now, a governor speaking up for his own cause is nothing unusual. But the venue was important. Earlier this month, Jim Maran, president and CEO of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, sent out invitations for a Sept. 5 fund-raiser – to build cash for a campaign in opposition to the charter school amendment.

From the invitation:

The Gwinnett Chamber holds the fundamental view that decisions about education should be made at the …

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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 watching you …

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Get ready for that Tuesday night miracle

Prepare for a miracle next week. And we’re not talking about the transportation sales tax. Not exactly.

At midnight, as Tuesday turns to Wednesday, a layer of fairy dust will fall across Georgia, and your state government will suddenly become a model of competency and efficiency.

That’s because the contest for the transportation sales tax – win or lose – will come to an end that day. In its place, a new, November ballot campaign will rise up, aimed at restoring the state Capitol’s authority to compel local systems to accept public charter schools.

Georgia Republicans have been looking forward to this new fight. The TSPLOST argument has been uncomfortable, splitting two crucial GOP constituencies – its business wing and its anti-tax base. Little else unites the GOP, on a state or national level, like the belief that our educational bureaucracy is a Gordian knot that requires a swift, sharp sword.

You think that, 24 hours after the last vote on the transportation sales tax is …

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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 paying about 48 …

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Your morning jolt: Johnny Isakson’s opposition kills Law of Sea treaty

U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson on Monday was one of three Republicans to add their names to the list of opponents to the controversial Law of the Sea treaty backed by President Barack Obama, depriving Senate Democrats of the super-majority needed to move the maritime pact toward ratification.

Read Isakson’s brief explanation here. He opposed it in 2007 as well.

The other two senators, Rob Portman of Ohio and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, have both been mentioned as running mates for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. In a joint letter, Portment and Ayotte expressed serious concerns about the breadth and ambiguity of the Law of the Sea treaty, according to the Associated Press:

The development was a blow to the Obama administration, military leaders and the business community led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who had argued that the treaty would improve national security and enhance U.S. standing in the world. They had pressed for ratification of the treaty, which was …

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Your morning jolt: House speaker calls gift cap ‘a gimmick,’ urges independent ethics panel

Advocates of a $100 cap on gifts from lobbyists to lawmakers will be at the state Capitol this morning to begin a 13-city bus tour pushing a “yes” vote on the July 31 Republican ballot question addressing the issue.

It will be led by state Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, who will also be attending a called meeting of the Senate Ethics Committee. Which may or may not be – the sessions are closed to press and public – considering a complaint lodged against Senate Rules Chairman Don Balfour, R-Snellville.

On the same topic, House Speaker David Ralston on Wednesday indicated that, rather than a cap on gifts, he’d rather see more secure funding for the panel formerly known as the State Ethics Commission. Ralston made his remarks on the last of a four-day swing through the state by House Republican leaders. According to Jon Gillooly and the Marietta Daily Journal, Ralston said:

”I am not opposed to real ethics reform. … I think the cap is a gimmick, frankly.

“I have said all along: I …

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Your morning jolt: Chip Rogers says he’ll vote ‘yes’ on casino gambling

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers and his Republican challenger, chamber executive Brandon Beach, met in a debate up in Milton last night, sponsored by the North Fulton & Friends Tea Party.

Yours truly served as one of two moderators. For the record, the time needed to drive the 40 miles from the state Capitol was one hour, 55 minutes. My partner was former secretary of state Karen Handel, who – should she ever give up on politics – will make a fine TV news anchor.

Topics included the transportation sales tax, ethics, and a new Milton County. Both men support the latter. But stark differences showed up when it came to education and gaming.

Atlanta developer Dan O’Leary wants to harness the Georgia Lottery as the engine to drive a vast entertainment and gaming complex in Gwinnett County. We asked the candidates what they thought about the idea. Said Rogers:

”If people earn money, and they want to spend it in a way that doesn’t violate anybody else’s rights, it’s none of my …

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