National teacher group pits money against Opportunity School District

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National teacher group pits money against Opportunity School District

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At the Capitol last year, Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation and begins the fight over a constitutional amendment for an Opportunity School District. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

The political battle is heating up over Georgia’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow the state to take over failing schools, with both sides piling up campaign cash.

Gov. Nathan Deal reportedly told a crowd of business leaders Monday that the National Education Association was preparing to spend $1.5 million on an ad campaign against his Opportunity School District proposal in advance of the November vote.

The leader of the teachers organization’s local affiliate confirmed that the national group would be putting “significant resources” into the fight, but he wouldn’t commit to a dollar amount.

“I can’t give you an exact number,” said Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators. “It could be higher or it could be lower.”

Chapman stressed that it wasn’t out-of-state money that would be influencing the campaign, at least not on his side. He said the local affiliate sends more than $4.5 million a year in member dues to the national group in Washington, D.C., and characterized the national group’s contribution to the state campaign as a “rebate” on those dues.

An NEA spokeswoman told the AJC that her group is part of a “large, broad-based coalition” against the legislation.

Deal’s got his own campaign brewing too, with a pair of groups, Georgia Leads and Georgia Leads for Education, piling up hundreds of thousands of dollars to support the constitutional amendment.

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