How Obama helped Georgia charter measure win

Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Constitution Journal explains here how interesting it is that Georgia’s ballot measure to permit the state to create a committee to approve charter schools passed with big support from African Americans — even though black lawmakers and other leaders in the state said it would lead to the resegregation of public schools.

In fact, the state superintendent of schools was against it, as was the Georgia PTA, as was the League of Women Voters, as was Georgia’s NAACP, just to name some of the opponents.

So what or who made the difference?

President Obama, Galloway says, thanks to a 60-minute radio spot that aired on African American radio stations. Obama doesn’t talk specifically about Georgia’s charter initiative but he is heard in the ad as supporting charter school expansion.

Here’s some of the transcript:

Obama: “I call on states to reform their charter rules…When I passed a law to double the number of public charter schools…I called for a doubling of our investment in charter schools so that students and parents have choices.”

 

Woman No. 1: President Obama supports public charter schools.

 

Woman No. 2: Many Democrats in this state support public charter schools. But Amendment One shouldn’t be about Democrats or Republicans.

 

A lot of out-of-state money fueled the pro-charter initiative, which amends the state constitution to create a panel that could approve charter schools over the opposition of local schools boards. (One of the donors was Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton, a Texan.)

Voters apparently weren’t persuaded by a report issued in February found that the more than 160 charter schools in the state were no better and sometimes less successful than traditional public schools.

 The new commissioner will actually be the second such state-wide panel with the authority to license charter schools. The first one was declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court last year.

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.

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Valerie Strauss · November 8, 2012

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