Monthly Archives: August 2013

John Barge sees a path to victory over fellow Republican Nathan Deal

Superintendent John Barge is unabashedly in the Republican primary against Gov. Nathan Deal, as we report over at myajc.com, with a message that the state should sharpen its focus on economic development and substantially increase funding for public education.

As he said in an interview today, he wants to make Gov. Nathan Deal work for a second term by forcing a runoff.

“I believe that something has to change. Georgia needs a leader who will govern and not play politics,” Barge said. “Whether we equal his war chest or not, I think what’s more important is what people will do when they go into the voting booth.”

How he intends to get those votes is the tough part. That’s where he sees Sonny Perdue as an example.

In 2002, the little-known Republican state senator ousted then-Gov. Roy Barnes thanks partly to a wave of teacher support. At the time, educator groups were infuriated with Barnes over his plan to end tenure for newly-hired teachers.

Barge’s takeaway: Don’t underestimate the teacher vote.

“We will need teachers to come out in support,” Barge told us. “I would hope that teachers are of the same mindset that I am – when it comes to education that, regardless of the party, they’re going to vote for the right person.”

Luring teachers will take more than determination and pluck. Educators in Georgia typically support Democratic causes, and Barge’s biggest challenge may be trying to convince them to shower him with support at the polls and money to fill his empty campaign treasury. But he hopes to pry away some support, particularly if no big-name Democrat jumps in the contest.

“We have so politicized education over the years and we’ve jerked our teachers around so much that most of our teachers just want to be left alone so they can teach,” Barge said.

Deal’s advantages are daunting. He has more than $1.1 million in his campaign coffers, the support of most establishment Republicans and a wary alliance with tea partiers. And Dalton Mayor David Pennington’s run could splinter the opposition and complicate Barge’s bid. As Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said, Barge will be scrapping with Pennington “for the 10 percent of the voters open to a challenger.”

Also something to note: Deal’s not likely to concede the teacher vote, either. With a state surplus topping $600 million, teachers could soon get a raise or other goodies just in time for election season.

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Filed under Georgia Education

Education group takes a whack at Alisha Morgan

By Jim Galloway at the AJC

State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, is contemplating a 2014 bid for state school superintendent.

But the educational community and a particular state senator from Atlanta don’t seem entirely sold on the idea. Below is a pair of emails now floating around the state Capitol. We’ve taken the liberty of also adding a response from Morgan sent to us this afternoon.

We begin with the email from Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, to state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, D-Lithonia, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus:

TO: Rep. Dee Haigler, Chair of the Georgia Black Caucus

The Georgia Federation of Teachers WILL NOT support Rep. Morgan for State School Superintendent. We are unaware of her career in teaching but labor leader teachers were told by her, that she is the education expert!

In reference to Senator Fort’s email (see below), we understand that Rep. Morgan may claim that she didn’t vote for such legislation that took “due process” and rights from teachers. If not, she failed to read the legislation that she voted for. Her actions have succeeded in helping to grossly under-fund our public schools and accelerate an agenda that leads to desegregation of schools by race and or socio-economic class.

School systems are running into trouble holding school for the entire week, special programs are being cut even deeper, professional veteran educators are being disrespected etc. etc.

Instead of fighting for the proper programs that we know work, or legislation that gives teachers voice to implement such and the funds needed to education ESOL, special needs children and a growing population…..some legislators spent overtime satisfying a special interest legislative agenda that amounted to defying the Supreme Court of GA and resulted in guaranteed billions of dollars for special interest groups. We can also share with your [the names of those] who helped to stage public forums with such legislators….

Other female black legislators actually jumped on the senator for his position. (read the email below). We fully support Senator Fort’s position as we have tried to reason with Rep. Morgan in the past in that we are professional , on-the-ground teachers and educators. In fact, during her early career labor helped elect her.

Valid research from various studies and Ivy School schools and practices were overlooked and particular legislators, for their own reasons, turned their backs on hundreds of thousands of our students and our teachers and are still advancing an “ill” education agenda!

We’ve witnessed the following tactics:

a) crying
b) courting new black legislators and elected officials over lunches and trips to special conferences
c) tightly knitting groups of younger minority lawmakers for legislation crafted by right-winged interest groups. (We can prove whose behind the funding for this type of legislation and what the $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ gains amount to).
d) constantly holding meetings that seem benign in order to generate support …while pushing for special interest legislation etc and political positions.
e) Referring to veteran educators as in-the-way, “status quo” people
f) Winning over traditional African American churches and organizations but still supporting special interest (right-winged) legislation while being (defiant) of what really works for schools…
g) playing the victim.

We ask the Black Caucus to withdraw support from this legislator’s agendas….

And about that email from Senator Fort to Representative Morgan — a reply to Morgan’s invitation to an educational event at the state Capitol she’s planned for Thursday:

Sent: Friday, August 23, 2013 5:18 PM

Subject: Re: Help me thank teachers!

Representative Morgan,

I can not in good [conscience] “help” you to thank teachers when you have, through your support of charter school and voucher legislation, worked to diminish the rights of teachers. In charter school and voucher legislation that you have voted for, grievance rights of teachers are almost completely eliminated. In addition, that same legislation has decreased the civil rights protections for students. I think as legislators we would do better by teachers if we did less symbolism and more of a concrete nature by voting in the voting for the best interests of teachers. Your collaboration with right-wing groups that attack teachers rather than cooperate with them is not something I agree with.

Sen. Vincent Fort

We’ll give the final word to Morgan, who sent us this note:

“It’s important to note that Thursday’s event is not political and non-partisan. It is simply a gathering of servants and leaders across Georgia’s education community to celebrate teachers and the invaluable contributions they make towards preparing our kids for success. That’s why groups like StudentsFirst and the Georgia Parent Action Network, Coalition for the People’s Agenda have signed on as partners, and also why we’re expecting a great turnout (over 350 RSVPs)and an enjoyable evening.

“As for endorsements, I’ve earned the support of House District 39 parents and teachers that I represent in the Georgia General Assembly since 2002. They know how hard I’ve fought to ensure that every Georgia child gets a quality education, and my work on behalf of public schools and public school teachers is why I received the Friend of Education Award from the Cobb Association of Educators, the Friend of Mathematics award from GCTM, and Legislative Leadership Award from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.”

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Filed under Alisha Morgan, Georgia State School Superintendent