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30 August 2013

Sen. Vincent Fort's Opposition to School Reforms Shows How Out of Touch He is with Black Voters

Someone wise once said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

For years, Georgia had an insane education policy. This policy included sinking more and more money into schools, and magically expecting those schools to morph into preparatory academies churning out legions of students bound for Ivy League universities. Sadly, these well-meaning education policies did not work. But that didn't stop certain people from doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

Then a bipartisan group of parents, teachers, lawmakers, and community leaders came together to try something new and innovative.

Charters schools --schools where local communities are given the opportunity to loosen government rules and regulations controlling the school's operation in exchange for a more laser-like focus on student achievement-- started emerging across Georgia and across the nation.

The success of charter schools, in contrast to outdated education policies that left every child behind, were noted by President Obama.

"These institutions give educators the freedom to cultivate new teaching models and develop creative methods to meet students' needs," Obama said. "This unique flexibility is matched by strong accountability and high standards, so underperforming charter schools can be closed, while those that consistently help students succeed can serve as models of reform for other public schools.

"Whether created by parents and teachers or community and civic leaders, charter schools serve as incubators of innovation in neighborhoods across our country."

In a bit of irony though, some of President Obama's biggest supporters were some of the biggest charter school opponents.

Georgia State Senator Vincent Fort (D - Atlanta), for example, is hardly shy about his love for Barack Obama. But when it came to backing public policy lauded by President Obama, Senator Fort said no.

"Charter schools tend to resegregate or reinforce segregation," Fort told the New York Times in a 2012 interview.

Senator Fort, in an op-ed piece written just yesterday, accused charter school supporters of being cut from the same cloth as those who "finance efforts to diminish African-American voting rights and worker protection."

Nevermind that when asked at the ballot box, "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?," large majorities of black voters said yes. Nevermind that the National Charter School Study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University found, "Charter schools benefit students from poor families, black students and Hispanic English-language learners more than their peers in other groups." State Senator Vincent Fort still says no to charter schools.

That, my friends, should show how woefully out of touch Vincent Fort is with black voters.