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Georgia Group Launches Ad Aimed at Stopping ‘State School Takeover’

A Georgia group has launched its first TV ad educating voters about a November education referendum’s ballot language, which it calls “deceptive.”

Amendment 1, also known as the Opportunity School District, is an initiative championed by Gov. Nathan Deal that would allow the governor’s appointee to take over public schools it deems to be “failing.” Critics say the plan is unworkable and would siphon money and power away from locally run public schools—perhaps to private corporations.

Gaines Elementary in Athens is one of the schools that could fall under state control.

“The Amendment 1 ballot language is intentionally deceptive,” said Louis Elrod, a UGA graduate who is president of Young Democrats of America, political director of the Athens-based progressive group Better Georgia and managing the Keep Georgia Schools Local campaign. “That’s why we have to move quickly to educate voters about the pie-in-the-sky promises they’ll see at the polls. If you read the fine print, you’ll see that Amendment 1 will silence parents and teachers and hand over local control of our schools to an unelected, unaccountable political appointee who can close schools without public input and fire teachers without cause. We have to use our voices now to stop the state takeover.”

Here’s the ad:

Clarke County is among at least 16 Georgia school boards that have passed resolutions opposing the OSD, and Superintendent Philip Lanoue has criticized it as well.

Keep Georgia Schools Local is a mainly left-leaning coalition that includes Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia AFL-CIO, PAGE, Georgia Stand-Up, The Coalition for the People’s Agenda, Public Education Matters, Southern Education Foundation, Working America, Pro Georgia, Better Georgia, Georgia Federation of Teachers and Concerned Black Clergy of Metro Atlanta. 

But it’s bipartisan, at least locally. The Athens chapter is co-chaired by lawyer and education activist Bertis Downs, a Democrat, and insurance executive Dan Delamater, a Republican.

Keep Georgia Schools Local has made a $732,376 ad buy, according to Michelle Gilzenrat Davis, a former Flagpole editor who’s now a lawyer and doing PR for the anti-Amendment 1 effort.