Here’s a little bit of intrigue for you: what did an ALEC-affiliated, pro “school choice” group do with $86,000 in Georgia’s primary races?
The American Federation for Children is a group to watch and fear. They are a 501(c)(4) organization, tied to the (c)(3) non-profit Alliance for School Choice.
Both the The American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice fund ALEC activities and shape the organization’s pro-privatization, pro-corporate profits education agenda, with staff and resources bleeding between the two organizations.
Yes, these ALEC-affiliated, pro-school takeover organizations poured resources into Georgia’s primaries. This does not bode well for the upcoming fight against the school takeover ballot measure this November.
The AJC reports that:
“The American Federation for Children spent more than $86,000 supporting a variety of candidates, including Republican and Democratic incumbents. But the group, which advocates for school choice, was a major backer of [Kerstin] Liberty’s bid to unseat [Republican incumbent Howard] Maxwell in Paulding County.”
This is the race for the District 17 seat, which represents Dallas, Ga, a region that sits about halfway between Atlanta and the Alabama border. Liberty was ultimately unsuccessful. Maxwell did vote for the Opportunity School District legislation last year — Deal’s major school takeover package — which begs the question what more does this organization want?
They also put money behind the likes of Bill Cowsert, the powerful Senate Majority Caucus Chair, representing Athens, Ga. Cowsert was able to crush his Republican primary opponent — 76 percent to Patricia Daugherty’s 24 percent — and faces no Democratic opposition in the November general election. Cowsert is definitely a school takeover supporter, and voted for the Opportunity School District legislation.
Incumbent Scot Turner, a Republican State Representative representing Holly Springs, also got The American Federation for Children’s support. Tuner was also able to handily beat his primary challenger, Kevin Moore, as well, 66 percent to 34 percent. Turner voted against the general bill establishing the Opportunity School District, but voted for the enabling legislation to amend the constitution.
Mike Glanton, a Democrat representing the Jonesboro, Ga. area, also received support from The American Federation for Children. Glanton voted for the school take-over legislation.
In a bit of a surprise move, Democratic Senator Curt Thompson, representing the Tucker, Ga. area and facing no opposition also got the boost of a few thousand dollars spent on direct mailers. Thompson voted against Deal’s OSD legislation, but perhaps his tune on school takeovers will change next session.
Two candidates The American Federation for Children supported are going into run-offs: Democratic candidate Rhonda Burnough and Republican Matt Gurtler.
Burnough is up against Democratic incumbent Darryl Jordan for the Riverdale, Ga. seat, just south of Atlanta in Clayton county. There are a few failing schools in this district, that would be prime targets for school takeovers.
Jordan voted against Deal’s school takeover legislation.
Gurtler will be facing off against Kent Woerner for the Blairsville, Ga seat, to replace outgoing State Rep. Stephen Allison. Blairsville is tucked into Northern Georgia. In case Gurtler’s pro-school takeover stance isn’t enough of a concern, check out his blatantly anti-choice, pro-guns talking points.
Lastly, The American Federation for Children supported the unsuccessful campaign of Democrat Rafer Johnson, in his bid in a crowded Democratic primary to succeed outgoing Rep. LaDawn “LBJ” Blackett Jones.
The American Federation for Children and the Alliance for School Choice are advocates of “publicly-funded private school choice,” including school vouchers, virtual charter schools, and scholarship tax credits. All measures we’ve begun to see in the Georgia legislature.
These are the organizations shaping ALEC’s corporate profit driven education agenda, and trying to shape Georgia politics, as an independent committee able to channel unlimited funds into races — as long as it’s not directly to a candidate.
The battles are only going to get tougher, as more money from these independent committees pour into Georgia’s fight over Governor Deal’s school take-over agenda. This primary was just a taste.