School choice, teacher groups opening checkbooks for Georgia elections

A national school choice group appears ready to go dollar-for-dollar with one of the state’s leading teacher groups in state elections this year.

The Washington D.C.-based American Federation for Children, a leading national advocate of charter and private schools, reported Tuesday that it had spent almost $100,000 in Georgia in the first half of the year. The group spent about $14,000 on direct mail pieces in the primary, $29,000 for a media buy, and contributed $2,500 to Gov. Nathan Deal, $2,500 to the Georgia House Republican Trust and $3,700 to Democratic Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, a charter school supporter running for Georgia school superintendent.

The group is not new to Georgia politics. It spent more than $250,000 in 2002 backing a proposed constitutional amendment that set up another pathway to create charter schools in Georgia.

Meanwhile, the Georgia Association of Educators, which has been less friendly to the charter school movement, reported having spent about $72,000 in the past three months, including $6,300 contributed to Valarie Wilson, a Democrat who is the group’s choice for state school superintendent. (Although the report misspelled her first name).

Wilson faces Morgan in the Democratic runoff this month.

GAE is affiliated with the National Association of Educators, a group that has traditionally been big donors to Democrats. However, GAE’s report showed $1,000 contributions to Republican House Speaker David Ralston and Republican House Education Chairman Brooks Coleman, along with donations to a few other GOP lawmakers.