Archives for category: Georgia

Are you aware that PRIVATIZATION for PROFIT is well underway in schools, city governments, transportation, etc. in Georgia? People are being elected to office with these ends in mind, are financed by for-profit entities and are soft selling decisions to authorize this movement…

Are you aware of the dire effects of allowing the proliferation of this movement to continue to grow in capacity?



This feature-length documentary is a free screening and open to the public. No children please as space is limited.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019
7:00 pm – Film Screening
8:30 pm – Q&A Discussion


Porter Sanford Performing Arts & Community Center
3181 Rainbow Drive
Decatur, GA 30034

Join the Georgia Federation of Teachers, JEEPAC and the NAACP DeKalb Chapter for a screening of Backpack Full of Cash.
This documentary narrated by Matt Damon, a Cambridge, MA public school graduate, takes an urgently-needed look at how charter schools, vouchers and the privatization movement are threatening the nation’s public schools. In the wake of the 2016 presidential elections and the appointment of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, as well as the installation of a pro-charter majority of the Atlanta Public School Board, BACKPACK is timelier than ever. Filmed in Philadelphia, New Orleans, Nashville and other cities, BACKPACK takes viewers through the tumultuous 2013-14 school year, exposing the world of corporate-driven education “reform” where public education — starved of resources — hangs in the balance. Backpack puts a human face on complex social, racial and civic issues confronting educators, students, families, and our communities. Backpack serves as a tool to show how other communities are fighting back against an effort to privatize public education.

The documentary also showcases a model for improving schools – a well-resourced public school system in Union City, New Jersey, where poor kids are getting a high quality education without charters or vouchers. BACKPACK FULL OF CASH makes the case for public education as a basic civil right.

The film features genuine heroes like the principals, teachers, activists, parents and most hearteningly, students who are fighting for their education. Former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, writer David Kirp and policy expert Linda Darling Hammond are among the national thought leaders who provide analysis in the film.

This feature-length documentary is a free event and open to the public.

This is a story about a photograph taken at a small Ku Klux Klan rally in Georgia in 1992.

The photo shows a child in KKK regalia looking at his reflection in a shield held by a police officer, who is African-American. The officer is there to prevent violence. He is protecting the peace and protecting even the members of the KKK.

The photo has been adopted by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a pre-eminent CIvil Rights Organization.

Over the years, as you will read, people have debated what the photo says to them.

It reminded me of the song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific.” The title “You’ve Got to Be Taught to Hate.” The little boy dressed up as a Klansman didn’t hate the man holding the shield. But he will be taught to hate by those who dressed him.

Please watch this. Oprah speaks and rallies the crowd on behalf of Stacey Abrams. She is excellent.

Then she introduces Stacey, and they talk. I loved the conversation. I loved Stacey Abrams. She is wonderful. She loves to read (she names her favorite books), she loves to write, she loves to watch television (her favorite show is “The Good Place,” which I’m watching). She talked about the terrible condition of health care in Georgia. It has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation. Many counties don’t have a hospital. Nine counties don’t have a doctor. Many women who are pregnant don’t see a doctor until the day they give birth. She spoke eloquently about investing in education. Given the audience reaction, I would guess that many were teachers.

I know we are all disgusted with politicians. Watch this show and you will have hope again.

If you live in Georgia, please vote. Please vote for Stacey Abrams. She is inspiring.

I endorse Stacey Abrams for Governor of Georgia, with enthusiasm.

Abrams is running against a rightwing extremist who happens to be Secretary of State and in charge of elections. This guy Kemp is using his position to suppress the votes of African Americans, Hispanics, and other potential voters for Abrams. She has called on him to resign, but of course he won’t.

If you live in Georgia and you want your state to move forward, please vote for Stacey Abrams.

Rachel Aviv reports in The New Yorker about the scandalous segregated schools for students with disabilities in Georgia.

Georgia has a separate system of schools for children who act out, children whose teachers want to get rid of them. Federal law requires that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment, but Georgia ignores it. Children, especially black boys, are warehoused in buildings with ill-trained staff and meager instruction. The schools are part of the Georgia Network for Educational and Therapeutic Support (GNETS).

An excerpt:

“The first GNETS school, the Rutland Center, founded in 1970, was once housed in the former West Athens Colored School, whose principal promised to teach the “practical duties of life” to the “inferior race.” The concept for gnets was visionary. According to a report by researchers at the University of Georgia, the schools, then called psychoeducational centers, would rely on teachers trained in developmental psychology, ready to “face the assault of bizarre behavior.” They were taught that they might be the “only agent for change in the life of a disturbed child.” Mary Wood, a professor emerita at the University of Georgia, who developed the concept, said that she intended for each program to have a consulting psychiatrist, a social worker, a program evaluator, and a psychologist. But as the first generation of directors retired, in the nineties, “the pieces of the mosaic dropped out,” she said.

“In the two-thousands, funding was cut, and the psychologists who remained seemed to be given free rein. One mother learned that a school psychologist was planning to subject her daughter, who had post-traumatic stress disorder, to fifteen hours of “experiments” devised to provoke misbehavior. “If I go to a mechanic with my car and my car is not doing the problem that I brought it there for, the mechanic can’t diagnose it,” the psychologist explained, at an administrative trial in 2005. “That’s the same situation here.” Over the years, a few parents became so suspicious of the program that they sent their children to school wearing recording devices. On one tape, a teacher could be heard giving a child what someone in the room called a “be-quiet hit.” On another, teachers laughed about how they had put a student in a seclusion room because they needed a break. In 2004, a thirteen-year-old student hanged himself in a Time Out Room, an eight-by-eight concrete cell that could be locked from the outside.

“Leslie Lipson, a lawyer at the Georgia Advocacy Office, a state-funded agency that represents people with disabilities, said that she first learned of the gnets system in 2001, when a mother called to report that her son was put in a seclusion room nearly every day. “It’s all little black boys at this school,” the mother told her. Lipson researched the mother’s claims and then rushed into her boss’s office to tell him that she’d discovered an “insidious, shadow education system.” She said, “I thought I was Erin Brockovich. I was, like, ‘You are not going to believe this! There is an entire segregated system in Georgia! Can we shut this down immediately?’ I was talking a thousand miles a minute, and my boss waited for me to take a breath. He was, like, ‘Um, yeah, these schools have been around since before you were born.’ ”

“Lipson studied the history of the schools, some of which were established in buildings that had housed schools for black children during the Jim Crow era. At a time when there was an outcry against court-ordered integration, gnets became a mechanism for resegregating schools. “It became a way to filter out black boys, who at younger and younger ages are perceived to have behavioral disabilities,” she said.

“The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (idea) requires that students with disabilities learn in the “least restrictive environment,” a loose term that may mean different things depending on the race or the class of the student. Nirmala Erevelles, a professor of disability studies at the University of Alabama, told me that, “in general, when it comes to people of color—particularly poor people of color—we choose the most restrictive possibility,” sending students to “the most segregated and punitive spaces in the public-school system.” According to Beth Ferri, a disability scholar at Syracuse University, idea provided a kind of loophole to the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which outlawed racial segregation in schools. Now racial segregation continued “under the guise of ‘disability,’ ” she said. “You don’t need to talk about any race anymore. You can just say that the kid is a slow learner, or defiant, or disrespectful.” Ferri said that idea “treated disability as apolitical—a biological fact. It didn’t think about things like racial or cultural bias.”

“Data obtained through records requests reveal that the percentage of students in the gnets program who are black boys is double that of the public schools in the state. Most of the students in gnets are classified as having an “emotional and behavioral disorder,” a vague label that does not correspond to any particular medical diagnosis. A teacher who worked for five years at a gnets program called Coastal Academy, in Brunswick, told me, “We always had a sprinkling of middle-class white kids, maybe two or three, but they didn’t stay long. Everyone made sure they got out. It was the black students who were trapped there. They came in first grade and never left.” Coastal Academy occupies a lot that once held an all-black school, originally called the Freedman’s School, and the percentage of black males in the program is three times that of the districts that the school draws from. The teacher, who worried that she’d lose her job if she were identified, said that public schools in the area would “send the African-American kids to us for doing things like saying the word ‘shit’ in class or pushing a chair in really loudly. They would never, ever—never in a million years—attempt to come at a white parent with that.””

THe next Governor of Georgia must address this scandal and comply with federal law. The state’s obligation is to act in the best interests of the child.

Ivy Prep Gwinnett Charter School is not reopening. It was once held up as an example by Georgia Governor Nathan Deal as proof of the charter school success story. Charters come and go like day lilies.

“Ivy Preparatory Academy, a once-esteemed Gwinnett County charter school, will not reopen next year, and signs point to permanent closure.

“In a unanimous vote on August 16, 2018, the school board reluctantly decided to end all planning efforts to reopen,” says a statement from a spokesman.

“The decision was reached after “an exhaustive” review of the financial situation that led the charter school’s board to conclude that reopening next year, as a former director and the board had previously told parents would happen, is not “a viable option.”

“The decision marked a sharp turnaround from early in the decade, when the all-girl school became a symbol of the charter school movement. Girls, in their iconic green blazers, filled the halls of the state Capitol to lobby lawmakers.

“In 2012, Gov. Nathan Deal used the school in his argument for passage of a constitutional amendment for charter schools, writing in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that it was “a great example” of superior performance relative to traditional public schools.

“Voters were convinced, and that November they changed the constitution to create the State Charter Schools Commission.

“For a time, the future looked bright, as Ivy Prep expanded to DeKalb County, opening a second campus. Then, last year, the AJC revealed problems at the Gwinnett campus, where the academics were slipping, enrollment was plummeting and costs were outpacing revenue.”

The students were abandoned and left to find another choice.

If Stacy Abrams is elected Governor of Georgia, the school lobby is in big trouble. Not only would she be the first African-American Governor of Georgia, she would eliminate the state’s new voucher program. She might have help from rural Republicans, who are not thrilled to have vouchers in their communities where the public schools are the center of community life.

By Caitlin Emma

With help from Mel Leonor and Kimberly Hefling

GEORGIA SCHOOL CHOICE BACKERS WORRY ABOUT GOVERNOR’S RACE: School choice hasn’t played prominently in the competitive Georgia governor’s race, but advocates are quietly growing concerned about the fate of the state’s tax credit scholarship program that provides nearly 14,000 students with private school scholarships. I have the story here.

— Georgia is one of 18 states with such a program, which awards individuals and corporations with a tax credit in exchange for a donation to an organization that awards the scholarships. Democrat Stacey Abrams has proposed eliminating it while her Republican opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, has said he’ll preserve it.

— A poll earlier this month showed the two were virtually tied and an internal poll released by the Abrams campaign in the last week had her pulling ahead.

— Easier said than done? If Abrams wins, she’ll likely face a Republican-controlled state legislature that would block any effort to dismantle the program. But political analysts say that Abrams — a former state lawmaker who’s known as a skilled negotiator — could garner support from some Republicans who’ve raised concerns about school choice in the Peach State, making it a potential bargaining chip to push through her policy priorities. The Abrams campaign didn’t respond to follow-up questions about how she’d seek to eliminate the program.

— “There’s a general fear,” said Buzz Brockway, a former state legislator who’s now vice president of public policy for the Georgia Center for Opportunity, which advocates for school choice. “We’re hoping this is one of those things that’s said on the campaign trail and never materializes.”

— Republican support for Georgia’s school choice program isn’t universal. Rural Republicans in particular have questioned how it would benefit their constituents. “The fight always boils down to school officials feeling like it’s taking money out of their pocket,” Brockway said. He said he doesn’t believe that’s the case, but it’s “an argument that holds sway with a lot of Republicans, too.”

— The program just cleared a major hurdle last year after the state Supreme Court ruled that it doesn’t violate the state’s constitution. And state lawmakers, after a year of difficult negotiations, agreed in March to raise the cap on tax credits for donations from $58 million to $100 million in 2019. Kemp had originally proposed doubling the cap. Since the state legislature lifted the cap on tax credits to $100 million, his campaign said he’ll seek to preserve the cap.


‘It’s like a black and white thing’: How some elite charter schools exclude minorities

By Emmanuel Felton, The Hechinger Report
June 17, 2018

This story about school segregation was produced by the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education, and the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, a newsroom for independent journalists, in partnership with NBC Nightly News and

For more on this report, tune in tonight to “NBC Nightly News”.

GREENSBORO, Ga. — This clearly was no ordinary public school.

Parents of prospective students converged on Lake Oconee Academy for an open house on a bright but unseasonably cold March afternoon for northern Georgia. A driveway circling a landscaped pond led them to the school’s main hall. The tan building had the same luxury-lodge feel as the nearby Ritz-Carlton resort. Parents oohed and aahed as Jody Worth, the upper school director, ushered them through the campus.

Nestled among gated communities, golf courses and country clubs, the school felt like an oasis of opportunity in a county of haves and have-nots, where nearly half of all children live in poverty while others live in multimillion-dollar lakeside houses.

The school’s halls and classrooms are bright and airy, with high ceilings and oversize windows looking out across the lush landscape. There is even a terrace on which students can work on warm days. After a guide pointed out several science labs, the tour paused at the “piano lab.” The room holds 25 pianos, 10 of them donated by residents of the nearby exclusive communities. The guide also noted that starting in elementary school, all students take Spanish, art and music classes. The high school, which enrolls less than 200 students, offers 17 Advanced Placement courses.

Lake Oconee’s amenities are virtually unheard of in rural Georgia; and because it is a public school, they are all available at the unbeatable price of free.

Conspicuously absent from the open house were African-American parents. Of the dozen or so prospective families in attendance, all were white except for one South Asian couple. At Lake Oconee Academy, 73 percent of students are white. Down the road at Greene County’s other public schools, 12 percent of students are white and 68 percent are black; there isn’t a piano lab and there are far fewer AP courses.

Lake Oconee Academy is a charter school. Charters are public schools, ostensibly open to all. The idea behind charters was to loosen rules and regulations that might hinder innovation, allowing them to hire uncertified teachers for example. But dozens of charters have also used their greater flexibility to limit which kids make it through the schoolhouse doors — creating exclusive, disproportionately white schools.

They do this in a variety of ways: Some pick from preferred attendance zones. Some don’t offer school bus transportation. Others require expensive uniforms.

Lake Oconee Academy is one of 115 charters around the country at which the percentage of white students is at least 20 points higher than at any of the traditional public schools in the districts where they are located, according to an investigation by The Hechinger Report and the Investigative Fund, produced in collaboration with NBC News. The analysis used the most recent year of federal enrollment data, for the 2015-16 school year. The 20-percentage-point difference is often used to define schools as “racially identifiable.”

These 115 charters, which together enrolled nearly 48,000 children, were concentrated in just a handful of states. In 2016, California had 33 racially identifiable white charters, Texas was home to 19 and Michigan, 14. At nearly 63 points, the gap between the percentages of white students at Lake Oconee Academy and at the whitest traditional public school in the area was the fourth-widest in the country.

In all, there are at least 747 public charter schools around the country that enroll a higher percentage of white students than any of the traditional public schools in the school districts where they are located.

Read the full report on and watch more on “NBC Nightly News”

Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagney, the Republican candidate for Governor, admitted in a secret recording that he pushed a very bad voucher bill to passage, because if he didn’t, the Walton family would give $3 Million to his opponent in the Republican primary.

What a creep. He sold out public schools and the children of Georgia for fear of Walton money going to his rival.


Maureen Downey reports that Georgia’s first virtual charter high school will close. It enrolls some 2,000 at-risk students.

What shallow thinkers (the nicest term that comes to mind) concluded that students who were struggling needed to sit in front of computers, rather than getting the time and attention of a trained professional? Were they trying to cut costs? Surely, the deciders did not have the well-being of the students in mind.