Happy Independence Day
by Angela Palm on 7/2/2010

John Adams thought July 2nd would be the most celebrated day in America with parades and "illuminations" from one end of the continent to the other.  Would he ever be surprised!  We rarely remember what happened July 2, 1776.  But being lifelong learners, we will take a moment in this election season to remember.  

The war started in April 1775, and in June 1776, Richard Henry Lee of Virginia had had enough.  He made a motion in the Continental Congress that independence be declared.  He was voted down, but a committee of five was created to draft a Declaration of Independence for consideration.  Thomas Jefferson was asked to write the first draft.  July 2, 1776, Lee again offered his resolution and this time it was adopted.  Independence was declared.

The formal Declaration of Independence was presented to the Congress on July 3rd and like most legislation it got edited -- 86 times.  Today that would probably make it four times longer but they cut out about a fourth of Jefferson's version.  On July 4th they adopted the final version, and it was officially signed August 2nd. And of course July 4th came to be the day we celebrate independence, and Jefferson the one we associate with it.  

2010 Elections

Early voting for the July 20th Primary election of Democratic and Republican candidates has been going on for a while, but polls still show a number of voters undecided on major races.  This is an important election year for many reasons.  For public education, it is a critical one.  Check the candidates' websites for their stand on issues.  The gubernatorial candidate forums GSBA held last month are on our website.

There are massive philosophical differences among the gubernatorial candidates on school funding from taxation to vouchers and commission charter school funding.  They also differ in opinion on what needs to be fixed in education and how to fix it.  The Governor wields a lot of power over what happens in the classroom.  He not only gets the first and last say over the budget which gives him a lot of leverage over legislation, but also appoints the State Board and controls the Office of Student Achievement.  Recent federal programs,  such as the stabilization funds and Race to the Top, have been sent through the Governor's office rather than the state Department of Education.  Do all you can to make sure your community is informed on the issues.  

Candidates for State Superintendent differ about as much as the gubernatorial candidates.  The legislative elections are, of course, also important. There are a lot of challengers this year, at least on paper.  All candidates are listed on the Secretary of State's website, or you can use my cheat sheet

Georgia Senate

 Eleven incumbents chose not to run again.  Seven of them are running for a different office; the others decided they had served their time.

Twenty-five seats are unopposed, and ten more races will be decided after the primary.  The Republicans picked up one seat in qualifying.  Only a Republican qualified for Democratic Senator J. B. Powell's seat.  

Twenty-one seats will be decided in November -- and thirteen of those are currently held by the majority party.

Georgia House

Eighteen seats are open.  Sixteen chose to run for a different office.  

92 seats are unopposed -- 47 Republicans; 45 Democrats.  Thirty more seats will be determined after the primary, and those are evenly split between the two parties.

Fifty-seven seats are up for grabs in November; 43 of them are now held by the majority.  The final seat depends on whether Rusty Kidd gets the signatures to file as an Independent.  If he does, then 58 seats will be decided in November.  If he doesn't, the lone Democrat who qualified takes it.

2011 Budget

Thankfully, FY '10 is finally over.  The Governor had to take $14 million from the ARRA funds slated to be in the 2011 budget to get the June QBE funds out.  It will take a couple of weeks to close the books on 2010 and see where we really are starting off in 2011.  It will probably be mid to late July before we know what if anything the Governor will change this time.