The role of the State Charter School Commission in GA education

The role of the State Charter School Commission in GA education

By Jose Perez – Charter schools are public schools of choice, meaning that families choose them for their children. They operate with waivers from some of the regulations normally imposed upon district schools. Georgia voters by approving the constitutional amendment have turned public education into a two-sector system. One is a traditional school district, centrally managed. The other, charter schools, is independent, not owned by a central school board. Both are public, but they’re organized in different ways.  But, to be clear, charter school laws don’t create schools. It enables a process for we, the people to create charter schools that encourage innovation, that push new ways of teaching, that provide disruptive competition encouraging educational improvement in both sectors. The charter school concept was created in 1974 by a professor at the University of Massachusetts.  The model was then and remains today, a legally and financially autonomous public school that would operate free from many state laws and district regulations.  It would allow better focus on a less traditional curriculum, and more accountability for student outcomes rather than for processes. Georgia’s charter school law was enacted in 1994, and originally only allowed for the creation of conversion charter schools. In 1998 a law was passed allowing for the creation of start-up charter schools, and the first start-up charter school in the state opened in 2000. In 2008 the Georgia Charter Schools Commission was established as a state-level charter school authorizer. In 2011 however, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the commission’s existence violated the state constitution. However, on November 6, 2012 Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment that gave the Georgia State Legislature the right to create...
McConnell: ‘I don’t know’ how we get to 50 votes on health care bill

McConnell: ‘I don’t know’ how we get to 50 votes on health care bill

By Louis Nelson (Politico) – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday said the path forward for the legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare remains unclear, adding that he is unsure at the moment how such a measure will secure the requisite 50 votes from the GOP’s 52 senators. “I don’t know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment. But that’s the goal,” McConnell (R-Ky.) told Reuters in an interview. He said passing a repeal-and-replace measure, a campaign promise of GOP lawmakers for more than seven years and a key plank of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, remains a top priority. Work on repeal-and-replace legislation had already begun in the Senate well before the House managed to pass its own bill, dubbed the American Health Care Act. Multiple GOP senators have said that they do not intend to take up the House-passed measure but will instead work on approving their own...
Rand Paul to tee up vote on blocking Trump’s Saudi arms deal

Rand Paul to tee up vote on blocking Trump’s Saudi arms deal

By Elana Schor (Politico) – Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul is expected to offer legislation as soon as Wednesday that would block President Donald Trump’s $110 billion weapons sales to Saudi Arabia. Paul’s planned bill disapproving of the arms deal, confirmed by a Senate source familiar with the timeline, comes as Trump completes the first leg of an overseas trip that began with a warm welcome from the Saudi royal family in Riyadh. Paul recently joined three Democrats in proposing to make future arms sales contingent on reining in Saudi military involvement in Yemen’s civil war, and he is likely to take advantage of a 1976 law that allows any senator to force a vote on halting overseas arms sales. Read...
Gov. Deal willing to spend to grow port

Gov. Deal willing to spend to grow port

By Cosby Woodruff – Gov. Nathan Deal’s commitment to spending an additional $20 million in state money to deepen and expand the Port of Savannah is likely to spur additional visits to the port from the largest container ships in the world. Deal made his commitment to spending the money last week during a welcoming ceremony for the COSCO Development, the largest container ship ever to call at a port of the U.S. East Coast. When the work on Savannah’s port is complete, such visits could almost become routine. “I support whatever’s going to be necessary for us to complete this project in a timely fashion,” Deal said last week during the ship’s visit. “And if that’s what it takes, I think the citizens and the voters and the elected representatives in the General Assembly will be willing to do that extra part.” John Vaughan, a Deal spokesman, told Insider Advantage this week that it is more than just squeezing huge ships into the port. “To maximize efficiency, shipping lines choose ports with the maritime and landside infrastructure to accommodate not only the size of the ship, but also the massive exchanges of cargo they deliver,” he said. “A timely completion of the port deepening will ensure that more Neo-Panamax ships are able to navigate through our port more quickly, thereby moving a greater volume of goods through the state and benefiting all parties involved. “Once finished, the deeper harbor will help the Port of Savannah keep up with growing demand and maintain its position as the Southeast’s dominant gateway to global trade. We look forward to the federal...
Alabama Senate race ready to roll

Alabama Senate race ready to roll

By Hastings Wyman – Last week when the filing date had passed for this year’s special US Senate election in Alabama, the late entry of US Rep. Mo Brooks (R) created a new race. Incumbent Luther Strange (R), appointed by disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley (R), is under fire, or at least suspicion, that his appointment was designed to interrupt the investigation of Bentley by Strange as the state’s attorney general. The vacancy was created when Jeff Sessions (R) resigned to become Attorney General in President Trump’s administration. Brooks’ bailiwick since his election to Congress in 2010 is Alabama’s 5th District (Huntsville, etc.), which is tied economically to the Redstone Arsenal military base. Its voters include many engineers, technicians and military personnel, active and retired. Brooks’ committee assignments in the US House – Armed Services; Science, Space and Technology; and Foreign Affairs – reflect his constituents’ interests. He was reelected in 2016 with 65% of the vote. He is considered a staunch conservative. In addition to opposing sequestration of federal funding for defense, he has a conservative record on most social issues, including opposing abortion, funding for Planned Parenthood, and illegal immigration. He has, however, said that legalization of marijuana is a state issue and voted to allow the Veterans Health Administration to discuss medical marijuana with its patients. In 2014, he was criticized for saying in a radio interview that the Democratic Party’s racial strategy amounted to “a war on whites,” but he did not back down. He was recently named the 75th most conservative of the 435-member House. Brooks’ main problem in the Republican Primary, however, is...
Georgia Chamber opens South Georgia office

Georgia Chamber opens South Georgia office

While the Georgia Chamber of Commerce has served Peach State business interests for over 100 years, it’s easy to think of it as an Metro Atlanta institution.  After all their headquarters are downtown, their biggest members are in and around the city, and most of their advocacy goes on under the Gold Dome.  Well think again. On Monday the Georgia Chamber opened its first ever regional office in Tifton, a town of just 17,000 in South Georgia just east of Albany.  The Georgia Chamber Center for Rural Prosperity, as the new office is called, seeks to serve rural communities who face their own set of challenges that often differs from those up I-75 in Atlanta.  The Georgia legislature has taken steps to address some of those issues in recent sessions, and the Georgia Chamber is right behind them to help. “There are racial issues in some communities that need to be addressed,” said Chris Clark, president and CEO of the Georgia Chamber. “A growing income inequity in all of Georgia. The rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is nonexistent.” The office will also better allow the Chamber to interface with rural chambers of commerce and help meet their needs.  The Tifton-Tift County Chamber of Commerce played a big role in helping their parent chapter to set up shop in Tifton, and local businesses Lithonia Lighting, Beaulieu Flooring, Ashley’s Business Solutions, and Aaron’s, Inc. all pitched in with materials and labor to help get the new office operational. “We’ve set out on a mission to make a renewed commitment to all of rural Georgia,” said...