Should education ties exclude legislators from voting on state takeover bill?

The president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers is questioning whether two Democratic legislators who voted for Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District Monday had a conflict of interest because of their educational ties.

The House Ed Committee allowed ex members to vote on a critical measure this week. Jason Getz / AJC

The House Ed Committee allowed ex members to vote on a critical measure this week. Jason Getz / AJC

In questioning Rep. Valencia Stovall, D-Lake City, Georgia Federation of Teachers President Verdaillia Turner attaches a portion of her bio that states:

Rep. Stovall’s philanthropic work includes serving as the Board Chair of Scholars Academy Special State Charter School which she restructured the organization through strategic planning, real estate acquisition and development, directed financial and legal negotiations, implemented growth capital programs, personnel restructuring and development, reengineered business processes, instilled urgency for financial discipline, and capitalized on growth opportunities with local community partners.

In challenging state Rep. Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro, Turner points to his position in a company that brings foreign teachers to Georgia. She attached an AJC investigation into the company’s practices.

Glanton is the chief operating officer of Global Teachers Research and Resources, a Jonesboro company that has been cited by the U.S. Labor Department for forcing teachers to pay fees the company should pay.

Here is what Turner sent to Stacey Abrams, Georgia Minority House Leader:

 Please enlighten us.  Is there a rule in the House…perhaps # 133 or another number that requires legislators to recuse themselves from a vote if they stand to profit?

I am not an attorney but we want to make sure that none of our elected officials are party to unethical behavior or have a conflict of interest per their vote.  Both of the following legislators voted YES to the OSD, Opportunity School District bill in the Education Committee on yesterday. Should not they have recused themselves?  Please see the attachments per Rep. Valencia Stovall and Rep. Mike Glanton. What is your opinion?

Additionally, there seems to be no need for a committee and a discussion of a bill per the public if at decision time legislators can walk into a committee meeting as Ex-Officio members and cast a vote. What’s the remedy?

Thank you for taking the time to read this email and review the attachments.

My own take: Other legislators on the House Education Committee have connections to charter schools, and many have ties to traditional public schools. There are present and former educators on the committee.

So, I don’t believe there was any conflict on the part of these two legislators on the state takeover bill.

As to former committee members being allowed to vote, a lot of people don’t think that is a good idea.

I was surprised to hear House Education Committee Chair Brooks Coleman, R-Duluth, instruct the clerk Monday to count the votes of ex officio members, a practice I thought was frowned upon by current House leadership.

(It was also odd given Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones’ reminder to the committee earlier in the hearing that the public wants clarity and transparency in what lawmakers do. She was addressing how legislation is written but voters also value clarity and transparency in how legislation is passed.)

Oddly, Coleman assured the standing-room-only crowd Monday: “Only those on the committee can vote.”

However, minutes later, when Coleman tallied a higher “Yes” count than the committee clerk,  he told her, “We have several ex officio members. They can vote.”

When the clerk did not count the vote of one of the former members on hand, Coleman again told her to count him, saying, “Yes, he’s a member. He’s ex-officio.”

 

Reader Comments 0

38 comments
Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Does the GFT head want teachers across the country to resign from their elected school board positions?  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Time for all participants to resign in shame.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady


Shame? Shame for what? Shame for doing what they think is the right thing for students in failing schools?Shame for bucking the education establishment that got us into this mess? I personally think that they should be proud for having the courage to stand up to the pressure to keep the failing status quo in place.

redweather
redweather

Farewell Get Schooled blog.  I find it nearly impossible to post here now that the website is just one big ad.  The only way the AJC will do something about this horrid website is if enough people cancel their subscriptions.  It's been fun.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@redweather 

I will miss you as an informed, witty poster who teaches in one of the local colleges. But I too have been intensely annoyed by the pop-up ads across the bottom of the blog-comments that cannot be deleted.The website in general seems to keep defaulting to ads--jumping off the news story to do so.


Bon voyage.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@redweather I see the blog the same way you do and I am not getting all those ads. I use Chrome to read the blog.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

Here is the response from House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams to the question of conflict raised by the GFT president:

House Rule 133 states in pertinent part, “When the question is put, every member within the chamber shall vote unless the member is immediately and particularly interested therein[…]” Neither Rep. Mike Glanton nor Rep. Valencia Stovall stands to receive any immediate benefit from the passage of SR 287 or its attendant enabling legislation. 

The legislative items create no immediate economic or other benefit for either,  nor do the legislative items convey power or privilege to individuals or companies represented by the legislators. To construe the educational ties of members as disqualifying is overly broad and inaccurate.

 I respectfully and firmly disagree with the assertion that either member violated the Rules of the House when casting votes related to this matter.

bu2
bu2

@MaureenDowney 

More of the DCSS type stuff from the blog a couple days ago.  If you don't agree with someone, try to discredit them, shut them up and take away their vote.  Sad.

jerryeads
jerryeads

I guess the real question is: How do we manage to not elect crooks from either party? Or do they all just become that once they get elected? Class80 raises a good question. It's certainly possible a profit motive having everything to do with personal gain and nothing to do with the good of the state could have operated in either direction.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jerryeads 


Jerry, please take a few moments to read my response to Class 80, on the previous thread, regarding the difference in the quality of educational delivery of a free market, profit-motive delivery model and of an educational enlightenment model, which traditional public education - at its best - can provide.  The focus of each type of educational delivery model will be quite different.

straker
straker

Georgia politicians don't do conflicts of interest. They consider themselves above and beyond any such rules and regulations.

class80olddog
class80olddog

It is interesting that they brought up the conflict of interest charge when a Democrat was supporting Deal.  What about the Democrats that were opposing the amendment?  Did any of THEM have a conflict of interest?  Or Republican who were against the amendment?


EdUktr
EdUktr

Kudos to Democratic representatives willing to stand up to teachers' union bullies and do what's right for Georgia families.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@EdUktr @Jefferson1776


You do realize that unions are responsible for bringing about major changes to this country. Here is a list of a few but there are many more....


1. Helping to secure the 40 hour work week

2. Helping to end child labor 

3. Weekends and holidays with paid vacation

4. Helping to gain the right to vote for women

5. Ensuring that we work in safe workplaces

6. Worker's Comp

7. Breaks during work

8.FMLA leave


Are you saying you would like to go back in time to reverse these things?


And you do realize that the school systems which, for the most part, do the best are those that are unionized and those that are at the bottom are generally the right to work states?



dcdcdc
dcdcdc

Why is it when the eduacracy can't win on their argument's merits, they resort to underhanded BS tactics like this?  Is that what they are teaching our young kids to do as well?  


I guess it's clear how APS slid so easily into cheating mode.  The ends must always justify the means in the minds of the "elite erudite ones".....  since after all, they obviously know so much better than us common folks.

Astropig
Astropig

@dcdcdc


In my county, every single member of the BOE is either:


1) A former teacher

2) A former principal

3) Married to a current teacher

4) Has derived most of their livlihood from education. 


The largest economic entity in my county is education.I suspect strongly that that is the case in a lot of jurisdictions in Georgia.These people see no problem at all or conflict in dispensing money,jobs and favors for people that they are cronies with.They flaunt it,actually.


So in answer to the question posed above,no, we should not exclude these legislators from voting on these issues. This is just political theatre.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@Astropig @dcdcdc


Legislators who have business ties that will gain financially (and very well) should not be allowed to vote. To state otherwise is ignorance at it's best.

Astropig
Astropig

@sneakpeakintoeducation @Astropig @dcdcdc


"Legislators who have business ties that will gain financially (and very well) should not be allowed to vote."


I agree with you-If you want to disenfranchise their constituents and establish taxation without representation. Otherwise,its an absurd idea.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@Astropig @sneakpeakintoeducation @dcdcdc


It's called a conflict of interest and already compromises our ethically challenged legislature. Not an absurd idea and to suggest that the constituents would be unrepresented it absurd in this instance. To excuse oneself from a vote when you have a financial interest in the outcome is not an unusual event and happens all the time, especially in other governments and workplaces where conflicts occur.


Astropig
Astropig

@sneakpeakintoeducation @Astropig @dcdcdc


Funny, I watched Amy Carter take part and vote in the committee yesterday,ask a few questions and generally try to understand the distinction of "chronically failing" as opposed to "failing". She's a former teacher. Should she not be allowed to vote? 

MD3
MD3

I agree that the conflict of interest argument is flimsy. We elect these folks to represent us, and if we the people believe that they are voting in their own best interest instead of our's, then it becomes our responsibility to vote them out and then elect someone better.

But the "ex-officio" stuff really seems like it borders on vote-rigging.

Maureen -- any chance you could get a statement from Brooks Coleman to explain his actions here?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@MD3 I have a request in for a comment. Will post if I get it. Surprised at Rep.Coleman on this one as he usually explains why he is doing something. But he did not explain this. The presence of the Speaker Pro Tem and her strong comments underscored the pressure on the ed committee to pass the two measures, but passage never seemed in doubt.



Starik
Starik

That's silly. Should lawyers be barred from voting on legislation involving laws?

Astropig
Astropig

@Starik


Agree completely. The concept of recusal is really more in keeping with the judicial function of government,where fairness to both sides of an issue is imperative.Lawmakers are elected because they stand for certain things,values,ideas,etc...Taken to a point of absurdity,avoiding conflicts of interests completely would even further paralyze our ability to get things done in government.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

To all: This is going to be my standard advisory every day this week:


Any comments off topic will be removed. You may notice a familiar name or two missing from comments this week. Those folks have been banned due to personal attacks and repeated irrelevant comments. Some other posters are on the verge of being banned as well. 

If you address the topic, your comment will stay. If you do not or if you cross into personal attacks on other posters, your comment will come down. And if you are a repeat offender, you will be banned.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

I don't see any conflict of interest with the two legislators.  Now as far as the "ex-officio" members, that seems fishy to me and I think Coleman must explain himself.