HB 91: Removing Barrier Of Graduation Tests-Heading To Governor’s Desk Today

HB 91, sponsored by House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman (R-HD 97), passed out of the Senate last Wednesday by a vote of 50-3. The bill is expected to be signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal at noon today according to a House press release.

The bill removes the barrier of the Graduation Test, a test that has not been used since 2012, for prospective graduates who were unable to graduate due to failing one part of the exam but passed other metrics. The bill would allow those former students to petition the local school board in which they were last enrolled to determine their eligibility to receive a high school diploma. From the House presser:

“I am proud of my colleagues in the House and Senate for passing this important piece of legislation,” said Rep. Coleman. “The Georgia High School Graduation Test is an outdated standard that is no longer used by the state Board of Education. Although the test has not been used as a graduation standard since 2012, it still remains a barrier for some who attended high school when graduation was partly contingent on passage of the exam. HB 91 will allow more than 8,000 citizens to obtain their high school diplomas, secure higher paying jobs, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes with a high school degree. I look forward to seeing Governor Deal sign it into law on Monday.”

Sponsored by Rep. Coleman, HB 91 allows students who met all other requirements for graduation to petition their local school board where they were last enrolled to obtain a degree from their high school. The legislation has received endorsements from the Atlanta Metro Chamber, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, Superintendent Association, and the Georgia School Board Association.

This looks to be a bill that helps Georgia confer more diplomas for folks who did meet standards but missed the mark of the no longer used graduation tests. Of course, it looks like it will be up to the local school boards to do the leg work to determine eligibility. Congratulations, Representative.

via HB 91: Removing Barrier Of Graduation Tests-Heading To Governor’s Desk Today – Peach Pundit — Peach Pundit.

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So Long, Harry

BY: Lachlan Markay

March 27, 2015 9:41 am

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) announced on Friday that he will not seek a sixth term in office.

The announcement came as Reid recovers from an injury sustained during a workout in January and as Democrats are attempting to plot a route back into the majority next year.

Possible replacements at the top of Senate Democratic leadership include Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), conference vice chair Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), and conference secretary Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

Reid’s seat provides a pickup opportunity for Republicans, who are already noting that every other statewide elected official in Nevada is a Republican.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R.) is the most talked-about potential Republican candidate, though attorney general Adam Laxalt’s name has also been floated.

Reid is expected to remain active in Democratic efforts to retake the upper chamber after Republicans swept into the majority in 2014. His Super PAC, Senate Majority PAC, is also expected to be a Democratic powerhouse during the 2016 cycle.

Allegations of cronyism have plagued Reid of late, as ethics watchdogs have criticized the Nevada powerbroker of steering subsidies and federal appointments to donors to his aides’ group.

He is also under scrutiny for expediting U.S. visas for a casino project in Las Vegas whose executives donated to his campaign and hired his son Rory to help them secure taxpayer financing.

via So Long, Harry | Washington Free Beacon.

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A Loud Monkey With Matches Is Still A Monkey

 Having recently joined the demographic that angrily tears up the solicitations from AARP arriving in our mailboxes, and having been a Republican voter, activist, party-member and consultant for my entire adult life, I can look back on 30 years of change in the GOP with a bit more perspective than your average talk show host. What I see is not encouraging.

I see a party beset by those willing not just to let the party burn, but to set it on fire and call out people like me for not throwing gasoline on the fire they’ve started.

These attacks are far too often bitter, personal and childish, but they’ve become the raw materials in the purity industry’s outrage factory, making cheap, gutter jokes of the practical struggles of governing in the real world that everyone else has to live in, and yes, I’m talking about Erick Erickson.

Erickson founded Peach Pundit and Red State. He’s been on TV, and currently hosts a radio show that plays during the evening rush hour in metro Atlanta. I’ve sat in traffic for the last ten weekdays or so, staring at a sea of brake lights in front of me, listening to Erickson disparage elected Republicans as tax-hiking liberals, sellouts, prostitutes and “flaming bags of dog poop.” It’s beyond irony that his mewling description of much-needed transportation funding as “a billion dollar tax hike” is interrupted most often by dismal traffic reports, played in cars carrying people who would like nothing more than a quicker way to get home to their families.

Erickson has made more than a few homophobic slurs against Georgia House Speaker David Ralston. He dismissed a mild rebuke from longtime conservative (and unwavering Republican) Dick Williams with “I thought he was dead.” The Freudians can analyze why so much of Erickson’s name-calling focuses on the genital and the scatological, but it needs to be said that he’s not doing any favors for the Christians, conservatives or Republicans he claims to be speaking for. But that’s not why he’s on the radio.

It’s easy to understand why celebrity commentators say outrageous things –they want listeners. Their business model requires an audience; outrage is the quickest way to build an audience, and the disaffected and angry people who most need confirmation of their fears and beliefs become the most enthusiastic listeners. But let’s at least be honest that a hodge-podge ideology of “conservative, Christian, small government and Liberty,” with a dash of “Constitution!” is a merely business model that profits Erickson at the expense of the Republican party and the conservative movement that made his schtick possible.

Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Republicans didn’t control every Georgia statewide office and hold majorities in both the House and the Senate and the Congressional delegation, Republicans had to work with the Democrats to get anything accomplished. It wasn’t easy. I once saw the Democratic chairman of the House Rules Committee use a hand-puppet to quiz a Republican asking for consideration of his bill. It was a humiliating and ultimately unsuccessful exercise for the State Representative whose only offense was being a member of the minority party.

It was in that environment that many of today’s Republicans –the ones being verbally abused on Erickson’s radio program- built the party’s structural majority that he would now destroy for the sake of ratings. The monkey is throwing his feces at the people who built his cage and gave him food. We may go to a zoo to watch a monkey, but having an audience doesn’t make the monkey wise. Amusing maybe, but still just a monkey.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) is nothing more than an overblown battle in the culture war. It’s been cast by Erickson and others who call themselves ‘conservative’ as the last and only protection for Christians who want to practice their faith in Georgia. Liberals, particularly those either active in or supportive of gay marriage and gender issues, would have you believe that if enacted into law, RFRA would permit the legal lynching of gays and lesbians.

Does anyone on either side really believe that? Or are they merely posturing to score ideological points with the basest elements of their respective bases? 2,000 years of Christianity will not be undone by the failure of Georgia to pass a law, and LGBT people will suffer the same discriminations against them they have always faced if Georgia succeeds in passing a law.

But neither side has allowed their opponents any room to negotiate. Erickson has used his audience as a club to beat legislators into submission with an attitude that is simultaneously sanctimonious and vulgar. At this point, RFRA’s legislative fate is unknown. There is a slim chance the bill, or a version of it, will pass. But if it does become law, it will be in spite of the efforts of Erick Erickson, and not because of them.

via A Loud Monkey With Matches Is Still A Monkey – Peach Pundit — Peach Pundit.

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Income Inequality Begins With Education Inequality

This week’s Courier Herald column:

For the second year in a row, the Washington Post was kind enough to call Atlanta the city that is the “most unequal” in the U.S. The paper is talking of income disparity, where they cite the top 2% of income earners make more than $288,000 per year but those in the 20th percentile of incomes earn just under $15,000. These are the findings from a report issued last week from the Brookings Institution.

These are stories that usually are tailored to fit a narrative, and when income inequality is discussed it is usually with the intention to “soak the rich”. If you prefer a less pejorative term, you can assume the point is to suggest wealth transfer. Especially when the Post ended with the usual refrain noting that the gap continues to get wider.

Let’s stipulate that the gap is a problem. What remains in disagreement is the proper way to solve it.

To do that, let’s assert who we are as a country. We are a country of opportunity. We are not, and cannot, be a country that guarantees outcome. To do so would negate the reward for risk taking, for hard work, for saving and investing. These have always been coupled with the American dream. The basis of this dream, however, has always been one of opportunity.

We are kidding ourselves if we believe – still in 2015 – that Georgia provides each of our children the same opportunity when it comes to education. We’ve tried many ways to provide a paper definition of equality in our schools. From desegregation to funding from a quarter century old “Quality Basic Education” funding formula, we can, at least legally, defend our schools as equal.

And yet, Georgia has many schools that are failing. We’ve had three entire systems run the risk of accreditation loss, with one system actually losing accreditation within the last decade. Other systems are generally fine, but have one or a small handful of schools that are constantly left behind.

Georgia spends a larger percentage of its total budget on K-12 education, 24%, than any of our neighboring states. The vast majority of this money is sent directly to local school systems. While locals control education, we all have a vested interest in making sure there is a positive return on this sizable investment.

The Governor has proposed a constitutional amendment that would give the state the ability – but not the obligation – to take over chronically failing schools. Other possible solutions are include the local governments enter into Memorandums of Understanding with an action plan for correction that would be acceptable to the state.

141 schools statewide have been identified as potential takeover targets. The Opportunity School District would be allowed to take no more than 20 schools per year, and not more than 100 at any one time. If the state takes over a school, they’ll be operating under a “you broke it, you bought it” political reality. They will have to demonstrate improvement, or acknowledge the problems were bigger than just local management.

As usual, many representatives of the educational establishment are raising questions and criticisms of the plan. During the recent trip to New Orleans to talk to those who have implemented a program, a blunt suggestion to this line of criticism was offered:

When you decide to deal with children’s problems first, the adult’s problems can settle themselves accordingly. This is about “children failure not being an option, and adult failure not being tolerated” according to one of the New Orleans’ experts.

To be clear, this isn’t about blaming educators. This is about finding the right resources to give to the classroom teachers – and removing the many obstacles they deal with – so that an expectation of learning may occur.

Couple that thought to the recent Atlanta cheating scandal, whose final trial is wrapping up now. Testimony offered included a teacher telling her students “You all just dumb. You can’t learn anything.” and another overhearing “I had to give your kids, or your students, the answers because they’re dumb as hell.”

There’s profanity in that statement. It is the absence of expectation by an entire school system that the kids they were charged with educating were incapable of learning. And as such, they were promoted through a system that was solely focused on adult problems. One that completely ignored the child problems.

Education is the first and most fundamental building block to a person’s income equality. If we’re truly concerned about the growing discrepancy between the have’s and the have nots, we need to make sure every child that enters a Georgia school comes out with the knowledge that enables them to have. Everything else is just an adult problem.

Charlie Harper is the Editor of PeachPundit.com, and is the Executive Director of PolicyBEST, a group which works on policy solutions for Education, Science & Medicine, and Transportation.

via Income Inequality Begins With Education Inequality – Peach Pundit — Peach Pundit.

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2015-2017 Executive Committee for PC Republican Party Announced Following County Convention

The following were elected to the Executive Committee for two year term: Chairman–Ron Thompson, VC Elected Officials and Candidates–Bart Connelly, VC Programs–Stephen Hall, VC Communications–Craig Stallings, VC Fundraising–Bill Horton, VC Membership–Wil Bell, VC Precinct Development–Carolyn Childers, Treasurer–Darren Satterfield, Recording Secretary–Tara Cannon, Corresponding Secretary–Larry Toney. Teb Bowman will continue on the Executive Committee as Past Chairman.

Delegates were elected as follows: 8 to the 9th District Convention in Jefferson, 2 from the 14th District Convention in Calhoun on April 18; 7 to State Convention on May 15-16 in Athens.

 

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National Boys & Girls Club Week is March 22-28, 2015 Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia wi celebrate local youth during the week.

3/18/2015 – On March 22 – 28, 2015, Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia joins more than 4,100 Boys & Girls Clubs across America and on BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations with its annual celebration of National Boys & Girls Club Week. The week-long celebration calls attention to the important role Boys & Girls Clubs play to enable nearly 4 million young people each year to achieve great futures.

This year’s theme – ‘Open the Door. Take the Tour’ – encourages communities, families, friends and supporters of its Club members to experience first-hand how Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia is making a difference in the lives of young people. Please call us at 706-253-2582 to schedule an appointment to stop by.

“Our youth are the heart of the community and it’s our responsibility to provide a place that will positively influence and guide them during critical out-of-school hours,” said Michele Brackin, Executive Director of Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia. “More than 11 million youth have no place to go after school and Boys & Girls Clubs offer a place where kids can learn, grow and be successful in school and life. Boys & Girls Club Week is a great time to see how we impact the lives of young people through programs aimed to promote academic success, a healthy lifestyle and good character and leaderships skills.”

For more information about Boys & Girls Clubs of North Georgia, visit our website at www.bgcng.org.

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▶ Rep. Tom Graves Questions IRS Commissioner on Fraud

▶ Rep. Tom Graves Questions IRS Commissioner on Fraud – YouTube.

We received the video of Congressman Tom Graves (R-GA-14) from his office where he is questioning IRS Commissioner John A. Koskinen during today’s House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services hearing on the IRS’ budget request for fiscal year 2016. You can view the exchange below:

A couple of comments from Congressman Graves regarding fraudulent tax returns being filed during the questioning:

Rep. Graves: “It strikes me rather odd – and I imagine the Committee and the American people – that the Internal Revenue Service would, without verification, sent out a refund just because they received a submission online through an online portal, without verification whatsoever, and deposit that money to an unverified account without being able to track it to an individual. But that’s what happens. And it’s $5.8 billion [in fraud] just in one year.”

Rep. Graves: “I believe that it (the IRS) is an agency that, without verification, sends out refunds very rapidly, very quickly, to folks who are criminals and have no verification whatsoever and deposits that money knowing that they will never get it back. And all the same knowing that $5.8 billion could go to defense, it could go to so many other needs within our country right now. It could go to lowering taxes on hard-working Americans. But instead criminals all across the country, if not across the world, are receiving these tax refunds.”

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Republican County Convention Held in Pickens County

The Pickens County Republican Convention was held on Saturday March 14th at Chattahoochee Tech in Jasper.

Congratulations to the new Pickens County Chairman Ronald Thompson.

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▶ A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America

▶ A Balanced Budget for a Stronger America – YouTube.

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2015 COUNTY CONVENTION AGENDA

MARCH 14, 2015
PICKENS COUNTY REPUBLICAN PARTY

AGENDA
10 AM—Chattahoochee Tech
• 10am Chairman Teb Bowman call Meeting to Order; review Agenda
• Invocation
• Pledge of Allegiance
• Presentation of the Georgia Republican Party Call
• Recognize VIPs, elected officials and dignitaries
• Credentials Chair report on the number of and seat Delegates to the Convention. Seat Alternates if necessary
• Convention Official Business begins; approve the Agenda
• Elect Convention Chair & Convention Secretary; Parliamentarian appointed
• Convention Chair will announce Convention Committees: Credentials, Nominating, Sergeant-at-Arms, Rules
• Announcement for nominations to Executive Committee and District/State Delegates and Alternates to designated location to allow report finalization; Convention recess
• Reconvene Convention for committee reports and elections
• Committees present their reports
i. Rules Committee—County Chairman report
ii. Nominating Committee—report on candidates for Executive Committee and District/State Delegates and Alternatives
• Call for any additional nominations from the floor for any position
• Convention votes for delegates and alternatives and for Executive Committee members
• Convention votes on county party rules
• Adjourn the Convention

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