Archive for the ‘vouchers’ Category

Your morning jolt: About those tax credits for donors to private scholarships

From down in south Georgia, Sid Cottingham pointed us to this New York Times article, likely to become a topic of discussion during the upcoming charter school debate:

When the Georgia legislature passed a private school scholarship program in 2008, lawmakers promoted it as a way to give poor children the same education choices as the wealthy.

The program would be supported by donations to nonprofit scholarship groups, and Georgians who contributed would receive dollar-for-dollar tax credits, up to $2,500 a couple. The intent was that money otherwise due to the Georgia treasury — about $50 million a year — would be used instead to help needy students escape struggling public schools.

That was the idea, at least. But parents meeting at Gwinnett Christian Academy got a completely different story last year.

“A very small percentage of that money will be set aside for a needs-based scholarship fund,” Wyatt Bozeman, an administrator at the school near Atlanta, said during an …

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The Cherokee County charter school stew

How cool are you with your school?

If you live in Cherokee County, your answer to that question on July 31 will certainly determine who is the next chairman of your local school board.

But that same answer could also shake up the leadership of the state Senate, and, just maybe, offer a hint as to whether Georgia voters – in November – will embrace one of Gov. Nathan Deal’s top education priorities.

Call it the Cherokee County charter school stew.

Here’s the stripped-down back story: Thrice did a group of Cherokee parents petition their county school board to accept the Cherokee Charter Academy into the public school system. Thrice did the school board refuse, on a 4-3 vote. System officials declared that the charter school brought nothing new to the table – and would drain a system already strapped for cash.

But the charter school movement has considerable clout in the state Capitol.

A first effort by the state to force Cherokee County – and other school systems — to support …

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Why Democrats need a Barack Obama campaign in Georgia

Like a troop of doomed, out-numbered cavalry, 20 Democrats in the state Senate had gathered in a tight circle — a last-ditch attempt to stop a measure that could boost the standing of charter schools in Georgia.

President Barack Obama is greeted by during his arrival Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport this month in Atlanta. Greeters on the tarmac are from left to right, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Barack Obama is greeted by during his arrival Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport this month in Atlanta. Greeters on the tarmac are from left to right, Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., Rep. David Scott, D-Ga., Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

A two-thirds vote by the 56-member Senate was required for the proposed constitutional amendment to be placed on the November ballot. House Democrats had already folded.

Gov. Nathan Deal, playing the role of Sitting Bull, picked off four Democrats. Perhaps with a promise of a future appointment, or maybe a banking bill – or even an appeal on the merits of the issue. Stranger things have happened. But it will be a while before we know the …

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Senate Democrat: Deals for jobs, appointments, fueled passage of charter school measure

In the wake of passage of HR 1162, which will put a proposed constitutional amendment for state-ordered charter schools on the November ballot, state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, accused Republicans of engaging in “corruption” to get four of his Democratic colleagues to switch sides for the required two-thirds majority.

From the press release:

“Republicans will cripple our public school system, the future of our children, their constituencies and the future economy of this state in order to gain a title. Deals have been made for jobs, appointments, redistricting and more. What they have proven in the debate of HR 1162 is that the State Capitol is for sale. It is corruption in every sense of the word,” said Fort.

The senator offered no specifics. Nor did he out Democratic colleagues who allegedly took the favors.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter, or connect with me on Facebook.

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Obama at parity with three GOP candidates in Georgia

President Barack Obama is at parity in Georgia when matched with three of the four remaining GOP candidates, according to an automated poll conducted last night by 20/20 Insight for the progressive group Better Georgia.

Given the survey’s 3.5 MOE (773 registered – rather than likely — voters polled), any of these November general election match-ups would qualify as a toss-up:

– Mitt Romney, 46 percent; Obama, 45 percent;

– Newt Gingrich, 46 percent; Obama, 45 percent;

– Obama, 47 percent; Rick Santorum, 44 percent;

Click here to check all the top lines, methodology, and question content – all of which can have an impact on survey results. On other topics:

Drug testing: 64 percent of those polled support drug-testing for those who receive welfare and unemployment benefits. But 83 percent support drug-testing of state elected officials and senior government appointees. Slightly less popular (68 percent) is drug-testing for CEOs and senior executives with corporations that …

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Your morning jolt: House Dems signal an ‘OK’ on charter school vote

House Democratic leaders at the state Capitol cut loose their caucus members this morning, declaring lawmakers should vote their districts when it comes to HR 1162, the proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state to create charter schools over the objections of local school systems.

Early this month, a House vote on the constitutional amendment fell 10 votes shy of the required two-thirds majority to approve it.

Caucus Chairman Brian Thomas of Lilburn, cited Democratic changes to the legislation accepted by the measure’s primary sponsor, Speaker pro tem Jan Jones, R-Milton. From the press release:

“The House Democratic caucus fought to protect local control, and the new concessions are a step in the right direction. We negotiated to improve a fatally flawed bill that stripped funds from local schools and given a blank slate to political appointees creating new schools. Our caucus sought to protect local funds and local control, and we are pleased that this negotiation …

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Some payback in the Cherokee County charter school fight

Last year, the Cherokee County school board rejected – for a third time – Cherokee Charter Academy. The county’s Republican party called on the four GOP school board members who threw down the no votes to turn in their party IDs. Figuratively, anyway.

The real payback arrived this week. From the Cherokee Tribune:

CANTON — The much anticipated legislation to redraw the Cherokee County Board of Education posts was dropped in the hopper Wednesday by local state representatives and appears to effectively remove the county’s elected school board chair and vice chair from their positions by January 2013.

Under the provisions of House Bill 978, Cherokee County voters will vote by post for six school board members and choose a chair elected county-wide.

At present, the school board has seven representatives elected county-wide and members elect their own chair and vice chair.

School Board Chair Mike Chapman and Vice Chair Janet Read appear to be drawn out of their posts and into …

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Your morning jolt: Vote identifies arms to be twisted in charter school fight

If Wednesday’s House vote on charter schools was intended to smoke out the opposition, consider it done. Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment fell 10 votes short of the 120 needed for a two-thirds majority.

At the Georgia Report, Tom Crawford identified the defectors in an otherwise partisan affair:

[S]even Democrats voted with most of the GOP majority for HR 1162: Alisha Thomas Morgan, Rahn Mayo, Margaret Kaiser, Stacey Evans, Sheila Jones, Karla Drenner, and Ralph Long….
There were some defectors in the Republican ranks as well.

Lawmakers from rural districts, where it’s a struggle to keep public schools in operation, consider charter schools to be a metro Atlanta issue and are concerned that HR 1162 would harm their local schools.

There were nine Republicans from outside metro Atlanta who voted against HR 1162: Tommy Benton, Ben Harbin, Mark Hatfield, Susan Holmes, Tony McBrayer, Tom McCall, Ed Rynders, Kip Smith, and Jason Spencer.

Republicans Jason Shaw …

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Cherokee GOP wants a new litmus test: Charter schools

The past 30 years have seen the creation of a long list of litmus tests for Republicans.

A license to practice as an orthodox conservative in Georgia now mandates opposition to abortion and gay marriage, a firm belief in tax cuts as the driver of economic growth, and an antipathy toward federal regulation.

Two young girls take tour of Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton. The new charter K-7th grade school opens Monday, with just under 1,000 students, on the premises of a failed private school. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

Two young girls take tour of Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton. The new charter K-7th grade school opens Monday, with just under 1,000 students, on the premises of a failed private school. Brant Sanderlin, bsanderlin@ajc.com

But days ago, the Cherokee County GOP nominated still another test. It passed a resolution that demanded four county school board members reconsider their opposition to the local funding of charter schools or “renounce their affiliation with the Republican Party.”

School choice, the local party declared, is no longer a negotiable issue.

Pay attention to this. This clash between the philosophical and the practical could be headed the way of your school …

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Your morning jolt: Shift on charter schools or ‘renounce’ GOP, local party tells Cherokee school board

The Cherokee County GOP late Friday passed a resolution demanding that four county school board members reconsider their opposition to the funding of charter schools – or “renounce their affiliation with the Republican party.”

Parents in an overflow crowd watch through a door window from outside the Cherokee County school board meeting during a June debate over a local charter for the Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

Parents in an overflow crowd watch through a door window from outside the Cherokee County school board meeting during a June debate over a local charter for the Cherokee Charter Academy in Canton. Curtis Compton ccompton@ajc.com

The spat is an outgrowth of this spring’s decision by the Georgia Supreme Court, ruling that the state-issued licenses of 16 charter public schools were unconstitutional because they stepped on the prerogatives of local systems.

Among the 16 was Cherokee Charter Academy. Funding for the school was turned down three times by the local school board, whose members argued against what they said were added costs.

Casting votes against the school were board members Mike Chapman, Janet Read, Robert Wofford and Rick Steiner.

Gov. Nathan …

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