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Greg BluesteinTamar Hallerman

The battle over Nathan Deal’s school takeover plan is about to heat up

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Gov. Nathan Deal. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM

Gov. Nathan Deal. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM


Until now, the battle over Gov. Nathan Deal’s school takeover plan has taken shape in backroom strategy sessions, PTA events, neighborhood meetings and school board gatherings. That’s about to change.

The Georgia Association of Educators is poised to launch a campaign this summer to urge voters to resist the Opportunity School District. The measure, which gives the state the power to take control of persistently failing schools, is up for a vote in a November referendum.

Staci Maiers, a spokeswoman for the National Education Association, said the campaign is “part of a large, broad-based coalition, which includes stakeholders from parents and teachers to community groups and others who support public education in Georgia.” She wouldn’t put a dollar figure on it, but Deal told a crowd of business leaders he expected it to amount to $1.5 million.

“The campaign will include traditional and new media as well as a large community engagement effort in all areas across the state,” she said.

Leading Democrats and some influential educators groups have staunchly opposed the plan, fearing it gives the governor’s office far too much power. But they haven’t yet put big cash up to prevent it from becoming law.

Deal, who casts his constitutional amendment as a moral imperative, has his own big-money campaign brewing. A pair of groups, Georgia Leads and Georgia Leads for Education, have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the constitutional amendment.

The plan, which passed both chambers by razor-thin margins, now hinges on a 24-word question that will be placed on ballots in November: “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?”

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That clicking you hear is the sound of Democrats downloading this picture.

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You could call it a consolation prize.

For months, state and city officials aimed to lure General Electric’s headquarters after the corporate giant decided to flee its Connecticut base. After GE chose Boston over Georgia, the city shifted its focus instead to a digital operations center that will bring 250 jobs and a $3 million investment around the Midtown area.

Company executives made clear that Gov. Nathan Deal’s “religious liberty” veto played an important factor. North Carolina, home of a controversial transgender law, was also briefly considered for a new GE beachhead until it was abandoned.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, one of the sharpest critics of the “religious liberty” measure, said GE’s move was another sign the decision paid off.

“GE is sending an important signal to other businesses that may be considering Atlanta or Georgia,” Reed said.

Read more about the deal here.

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The AJC overlords made us start one of these Facebook pages in the runup to the convention coverage. Do us a favor and like it. 

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Democrat Jim Barksdale, the candidate who hopes to knock off Johnny Isakson, is tacking pretty hard to his party’s left. At least in his campaign job descriptions.

berniecrat

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Take this as another sign that Bernie Sanders bid to transform the Democratic party’s platform at next month’s convention in Philadelphia is a long shot.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin was with Hillary Clinton Monday in Indianapolis for US Conference of Mayors. She’s a staunch Clinton supporter – and co-chair of platform committee.


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U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson’s effort to phase out the use of live animals in military medical training appears to have some momentum behind it on Capitol Hill.

The Lithonia Democrat’s legislation would require the Pentagon to put in place a plan to phase out the use of live animals such as goats and pigs in favor of high-tech human simulators for its training of combat medics.

Johnson’s office said the proposal has won the support of medical groups such as the American Osteopathic Association and National Medical Association. It was also the subject of a New York Times editorial over the weekend. That came days after a bipartisan group of several dozen lawmakers sent a letter to Defense Secretary Ash Carter asking for more information about the Pentagon’s program.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has been pushing hard on the Defense Department for years to end the practice. And while the Pentagon has started taking steps to phase out such training, top officials have resisted ruling out the use of animals entirely.