Supporters and Opponents of Charter School Amendment Go After African-American Voters

Nov 1, 2012

Those for and against the proposed charter school amendment are going after the African-American vote in the highly contested ballot contest. If approved, the amendment would reestablish a state commission to approve and create charter schools over the objection of local school boards. On Monday, opponents held a press conference with African American faith leaders. Thursday, supporters of the amendment held their own press conference with several African-American ministers and two members of the Georgia Black Caucus.

During a press conference at the state Capitol, Reverend Benford Stellmacher says the amendment will boost the achievement for many African-American students who are trapped in poor performing traditional public schools.

"More African Americans having a choice. That's what it's about, a choice for our kids."

But opponents say approving the ballot measure would lead to the resegregation of state schools. That’s a charge Macon youth minister Tony Lowden refutes.

"Every time there's an issue  that people disagree with they throw race into it. It's time for us to get past that. We have children in our state who can't spell Republican or Democrat."

On Monday members of the concerned black Clergy expressed their opposition. Reverend Timothy McDonald, who filed a lawsuit this week against the governor and other state officials, says the amendment’s ballot language is misleading.

"Our people have been mislead, deceived and plain out lied to."

Both campaigns are working to reach African-American voters through ads on predominantly black radio stations.

This pro amendment ad features Autumn, an African-American seventh grader. Meanwhile, opponents are airing ads featuring Reverend Joseph Lowery, a civil rights leader. Both campaigns say they’re targeting all voters, including African Americans. But a spokesman for the pro-amendment campaign says the African American voting segment is key because education is important to the black community and research they have shows 58 percent of the students in Georgia’s state approved charter schools are African American.