Senator Fort Is Speculating. That’s The Nice Way Of Saying It.

July 15, 2014 12:18 pm

by Charlie · 10 comments

It’s kind of rude to say a State Senator is making crap up.  Worse to say he’s lying.  So let’s just say that Senator Fort is “speculating” on the future of State School Superintendent candidate Alisha Thomas Morgan.  From Creative Loafing:

“THOMAS MAY SWITCH TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!!!! A recent post has reminded me that there are many people who believe that Alisha Thomas Morgan may switch to the Republican Party if she wins. Think about it… She takes money from right-wing extremist Republicans who support the Confederate flag and restrictions on voting rights; she works with Republicans like Nathan Deal on pushing vouchers and for-profit charter schools; and helps to recruit opponents to run against Democrats. JUST SAY NO TO ALISHA THOMAS MORGAN ON JULY 22!!!”

“There are many people who believe” – nice passive voice to avoid any accountability for manufacturing this wild ass statement.  While Senator Carter and Michelle Nunn are bending over backwards to show they can be centrist or even center right, what upsets Fort and other establishment Dems about Morgan?  She’s for School Choice?  You know who else is?  Most of the Democratic base, that’s who.  Take Clayton County and DeKalb county, presumably two of the largest counties for Democratic votes next Tuesday.  They passed the State Charter School Amendment with 71 and 64 percent of the vote, respectively.

Senator Fort is anti-choice.  And he has no tolerance for anyone who is.  Thus his lashing out at Morgan, because a win for her is a loss for him. Period.

Despite this manufactured talking point, let’s look at the possibility of Morgan changing parties.  As State School Super, she would likely be the highest profile Democrat elected statewide, in a state that even Republicans begrudgingly admit is trending purple.  Why would she become a Republican when she would have a front row seat at shaping the Democratic Party that will be the future?  The fact is, she wouldn’t.  But Fort doesn’t want her in that seat, for that reason.

Democrats can win on the school choice issue, and this scares Fort and others that want to protect the status quo and lock children in failing schools.  Alisha Thomas Morgan wants none of that.  And thus, she has to be branded as something she isn’t, to protect the status quo for the current generation Dems.

George Chidi July 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm

I like Vincent Fort. He’s a fighter, and is (generally) an eloquent spokesman for arguments others refuse to make, in the same vein as Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders. He’s a signpost for real consensus on some issues, like the growing realization that no-knock warrants are a bad thing. He’s also reliably the surveying spike for the left in Georgia.

But I’m struggling with something here. In Fort’s full attack, he notes that Morgan has “either recruited, helped to recruit, or advised candidates to run against Georgia Legislative Black Caucus members. The two most prominent instances were in 2010 when she worked with Representative Coach Williams’ opponent. Also in 2010 she and her, then husband, David Morgan, met with Graham Balch, Sen. Vincent Fort’s Democrat-in-Republican-clothing opponent.”

Coach Williams’ only opponent in 2010 was Kenneth Samuel, an African-American pastor running in the Democratic primary, who is an outspoken progressive. The Georgia Voice said this about Samuel: “Samuel, pastor of Victory for the World Church, is a longtime, vocal supporter of LGBT equality. Williams puzzled some lawmakers when he argued against the anti-bullying bill when it was debated on the House floor in March, asking what would happen if two children picked up another child and “torpedoed” him into a fourth child.” Samuel campaigned on prisoner’s rights and funding for Grady — the crunchiest of progressive issues anyone is going to find.

As it happens, Williams represents my district now. I can see why he might be a bit miffed about Morgan talking with Fort’s opponent in 2010 … but what does it matter if she was working with Williams’ primary challenger? We have too few legislative primaries in this state, in my view. That’s left the party base sclerotic and broken. So what if she backed a challenger to a black caucus member … when the challenger is black and even more progressive than Williams?

That line feels like throwing spaghetti at the wall, and it smacks of hyperbole. It’s character assassination. You don’t like charter schools? Fine. But the whole “she’s a Republican!!” line is over the top.

Mrs. Adam Kornstein July 15, 2014 at 6:47 pm

George, I think the charge about recruitment is in reference to this years primaries. The school choice people’s hands were all over the campaigns of folks who ran against, Sen. Nan Orrock, Rep. David Wilkerson, Rep. Dee Haigler and Rep Simone Bell. Is she responsible for it, or was that her ex husband? That’s a different charge, and one Sen. Fort should think about unpacking before going any further.

That said, I sure hope that some of my Democratic friends haven’t burned any bridges with Ms. Thomas-Morgan. She’s tough, smart and a very hard worker. Sure many can disagree with her about school funding options and common core & testing but all her other positions-solidly Democratic. In fact some might say she’s a lefty.

Her debate performance was terrific on Sunday, and it was a master class in getting a message across.

George Chidi July 15, 2014 at 7:03 pm

On his own page, he specified the two instances of recruitment — Williams and his own campaign. But if he’s accusing her of looking for candidates to run on other Democrats … well, I’m still unconvinced that’s a big problem. I think the Democratic Party suffers from a lack of policy innovation. If there’s an internal competition for ideas, it’s not bleeding into political competition. The result is a party with 60 gerrymandered safe seats in the House and no political incentive to improve. The delegation is carrying some dead weight as a result (though I wouldn’t name any of the four you did in that group.)

Jon Lester July 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Hasn’t Fort embarrassed himself enough times this year already?

Salmo July 15, 2014 at 2:01 pm

This is like asking “hasn’t that fish had enough water this year already?”

Lea Thrace July 15, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Soooo he’s the male Debbie Dooley?

Decatur Red n Blue July 15, 2014 at 3:42 pm

At a time when the far extremes of our political spectrum caste falsehoods to confuse, anger, and do nothing to provide anything productive to the conversation, Senator Fort again proves he is in a class by himself. I think that makes him classless.

ryanhawk July 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Sounds like Fort with his “Just Say No” approach is the one channeling the Republican Party.

Dr. Monica Henson July 15, 2014 at 4:47 pm

The lashing that Alisha Morgan has taken over the years from the Georgia Democratic Party members who kowtow to the public education status quo defenders is shameful and a disgrace to those of us in the party who support school choice. It’s no surprise that Sen. Fort indulges in this ridiculousness at the eleventh hour.

What’s surprising to me is that the national school choice movement hasn’t put more resources at Alisha’s disposal than it has. They could bankroll a barnstorming tour of Atlanta and South Georgia by Deion Sanders and Lisa Leslie, for example, to rally the same voters who rejected the GA Dem opposition to the charter school amendment campaign. I’d like to see more substance, not just check-writing for ad campaigns. Alisha stood up for school choice when it cost her dearly in her own party. The school choice movement needs to stand up more for her now.

mpaynich July 15, 2014 at 11:54 pm

Education policy is my passion. In the North, we do not elect our state education official – it is usually appointed. Also being a political campaign junkie, a political campaign all about education would be the dream. When I first moved here I searched for the Democratic candidate running for State School Supt. This was in September 2013. Alisha T. Morgan was the ONLY democratic candidate at the time rumored to run. I wanted to jump in and get involved. While there had been some controversy over Alisha in Democratic circles (how else does change happen?) I decided I had to meet Alisha myself before making a decision to side with party politics or a person who I connected with on all my education ideas and that I know really cares about what our kids need, not adults to be successful.

I asked the party – who’s your candidate? If you want to convince me not to work with Alisha, tell me who your candidate is so i can make an informed decision. They couldn’t tell me. You know why? there wasn’t one. I was told flat out that the Democratic Party of GA would get no money from big unions if the party didn’t field a “union approved” candidate. And as the party is being rebuilt….they wanted cash – any cash they could get. That is the first step that is not in the best interest of kids, but in the best interest of politics.

Valarie Wilson got into this race at the 11th hour. She was asked to run right before the filing deadline. This is NOT the behavior of someone who earnestly wants this position. It’s the behavior of someone heading the expectations of – more adults. If Valarie really wanted to run for superintendent, surely she would have planned a little further in advance. It just doesn’t make any sense. Alisha has been planning to run for school supt since the summer of 2013 if not earlier.

To me, Valarie represents the Democratic party. traditionally speaking, Democrats have no solutions when it comes to education. All they want is more money, more money. Well, we have school districts like DC that spend 13K per student with terrible outcomes. Its not JUST about the money. But there is a faction of the Democratic party that believes in reforms. That believes in holding people accountable and trying to reverse the situation that unions have gotten us into – protecting bad teachers. Now, there is alot to this. We also haven’t been properly offering Professional development and evaluations that could actually have made teachers better. There is always endless nepotism. good teachers, bad teacher, good principals bad principals, good central adminsitration, bad central administration. We haven’t found a solution. But no one is really working to fix it either…..it’s all about self interest. If Unions were so good at advocating for their teachers, they would be advocating for better school discipline and more school counselors to handle some of the critical students needs. But all they do is protect teacher salaries…and fill their own pockets – more self interest of adults.

I just don’t have faith that the democratic party can actually fix education. And because democrats are such lame ducks about education, republicans won’t vote for us. because they know we are not doing the job. Granted Republicans may take things too far….but they are trying. They are doing something. They may be destroying public education – but their kids are getting a good education. Democrats are telling parents with kids in poor districts to “wait” and “give us more time” “Wait til we get more money”

I’ve also had a pretty lengthy conversation with Val back in June and I just wasnt impressed. Lots of traditional Democratic talking points. I was giving her a lot of good ideas she wasnt offering me any.

Alisha stands up for kids and parents. The controversy over the charter amendment boiled down to one charter school – Ivy Prep, which is actually a high performing charter. If that bill hadn’t passed, this high performing school wouldn’t be open today. And I worked with several Ivy Prep students during my work at the YMCA teen center on Memorial Drive and they are driven, focused and college bound – as middle school students. Alisha was not lining up for profit charters to come into GA. It was primarily about that one school.

Also, parents should have options. What would you say to a parent who tells you that her neighborhood school is a failing school and she can’t afford to move to a better one. The people in power never have to answer that to a direct parent. If we can get a high performing charter in a high needs area, parents deserve that choice. What we really need to be doing is taking some of the good ideas from charters and incorporating them into public schools. But public schools don’t even want to admit some charters work, let alone work together to make public schools better.

Alisha is a policy wonk. She knows education policy forwards and backwards. She’s been intimately involved in much of the teacher evaluation policy and common core standards and education budget as a state representative for 12 years. She has relationships in the state house that she can leverage to increase education spending. She told me that the current state school supt never goes to the state legislature to lobby for education funding or policy. It is really difficult to convince state wide legislators that education is important when the state education official is never there. Alisha will spend every day of the legislative session working her relationships and relentlessly advocating for STUDENTS not adults. in contrast, Valarie has only testified at legislative hearings before – which does not compare to Alisha’s relationships for 12 years and intimate knowledge of the legislative process, budget and policy.

Neither are educators. But I know that Alisha is willing to bring all the right people on board to help her make decisions and list to all stakeholders. It’s a leadership position and Alisha will show leadership by taking stands that represent student interest over adult self interest.

At the end of the day, I don’t feel like Valarie has a vision for how to fix our education system and I feel like Alisha is full of passion, vision, and relentless advocacy to do the right thing all the time.

Also, Unions have been helping Valarie by sending mail pieces that are full of lies about Alisha. She is NOT as far right as they are trying to claim her to be. But I guess it’s not illegal to lie about people in the media – it’s just untasteful, unethical, and represents the self interest of adults, not kids.

I hope you’ll consider voting for Alisha. http://www.alishaforgakids.com

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