Alisha Thomas Morgan and Erin Hames take their clout on education issues to schools

Two high-profile government officials who shaped state education policy are moving into new positions.

Former state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan, D-Austell, who staged an unsuccessful run for state school superintendent last year, is now taking charge of a charter school network she long supported.

Policy adviser Erin Hames is leaving the Governor’s Office where she helped design the Opportunity School District to become an education consultant. Atlanta Public Schools voted last night to retain her services.

From Ivy Preparatory Academies:

Alisha Thomas Morgan, the state legislator who co-sponsored a Constitutional Amendment expanding school choice in Georgia, will continue her advocacy in public education as the new head of Georgia’s first single-gender charter schools network.

Former Cobb State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan will head a local charter school network.

Former Democratic State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan of Austell will head a local charter school network.

Morgan was recently named as executive director of Ivy Preparatory Academies, which serves more than 1,300 students in three metro Atlanta public charter schools. She was appointed by the Board of Directors of IPA to lead the charter network after a national search for a new executive director picked Morgan as a top contender among 100 applicants.

“Ms. Morgan has been very involved with public education in the state of Georgia, especially within the charter school movement,” said Christopher Kunney, chair of IPA’s governing board.  “She is very passionate about providing students with a quality education. Her commitment to kids will resonate well with our teachers and the community that we serve. Under her leadership, we will build Ivy Preparatory Academies into a national model for single-gender education.”

“I am extremely excited that the board selected Ms. Morgan as Ivy Prep’s new Executive Director,” said Dr. Nina Gilbert, founder of IPA. “Locally, many only know Ms. Morgan as a politician. However, I also know her as passionate and bold leader who understands what it takes to improve student achievement. In addition to her work as a legislator who fought tirelessly for the children she now serves, she is also a Broad Fellow and is among an elite group of individuals who lead some of the nation’s largest urban districts and charter school networks. She has great plans for Ivy, and I have complete confidence in her ability to advance the mission and vision of our schools.”

“I remember my floor speech about the ‘Little Girls In the Green Jackets’ who, like all Georgia students, deserved quality public schools that met their needs,” Morgan said. “After advocating for Ivy Prep as a state legislator for many years, it feels like coming home to now serve as their leader. My work as a public servant and education reformer has prepared me for this moment. I am looking forward to partnering with parents, the community, and our stakeholders as we make Ivy Prep a proof point for what is possible in public education.

“We need to lead the nation in innovation and producing scholars who are critical thinkers for the 21st century,” Morgan added. “With the support of the board, I’m excited to lead the organization to the next level. We will work together, leveraging every resource that we have, to achieve that vision.”

Erin Hames will go from advising the governor to advising APS.

Erin Hames will go from advising the governor to advising APS.

And from the Governor’s Office comes news that longtime adviser Erin Hames, a teacher-turned-attorney who worked for both Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal, is leaving to become an education consultant.

The AJC reports:

The architect of Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District legislation, which could allow state takeover of low-performing schools, will advise one of the legislation’s chief targets on how to avoid state takeover. On Monday evening, the Atlanta Public Schools board voted 7-2 to hire Erin Hames, Deal’s departing deputy chief of staff for policy and legislative affairs, on a no-bid, $96,000 consulting contract. Hames is leaving Deal’s office at the end of the month to go into private consulting practice.

Board members Steven Lee and Byron Amos cast the dissenting votes.

The governor’s Opportunity School District legislation, which requires voter approval next year, would give the state the power to seize control of failing schools, convert them into charters or shut them down.

There are 27 Atlanta schools eligible for state takeover. Hames is “offering to consult” with APS on “matters of policy, legislation, and political strategy, ” according to the school board agenda.

It states APS would be hiring an entity called “Reform Ed.” APS spokesman James Malone confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Hames was the principal of that entity.

The topics Hames will consult on would include “developing strategies for chronically low performing schools in the district, to include those schools presently on the OSD-eligibility list,” according to her draft contract.

When Hames announced she was leaving the governor’s office, Deal said she was “the right person at the right time for my administration” and that she played a key role in developing his agenda the past five years.

“This move will allow her to focus her full attention on improving classroom outcomes so that every child has access to a great education, and it will allow organizations that share her vision to also benefit from her talents,” Deal said.

Hames often told skeptical lawmakers who peppered her with questions about Opportunity School District legislation that the ultimate goal was to improve struggling schools so there was no need for the district.

Hames is a former middle school teacher who joined Gov. Sonny Perdue’s staff as education policy adviser after graduating from law school.

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Reader Comments 0

39 comments
Dismuke
Dismuke

I happened to see the thing about Hames in the paper, and it struck me as classic GOP:  Use govt. position to create problem for others, then move to the private sector to make big bucks counseling others on how to deal with the problem you just created for them.


Disgusting.

newsphile
newsphile

The only "Opportunity" Hames created is a big fat paycheck for herself.  It's sad that we keep honoring such people with big paychecks.

class80olddog
class80olddog

I say again, I don't believe that Ms, Hames was brought in to improve sdhools, she is just there to help fend off the takeover of the failing schools. By whatever means necessary

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

Like boiling a frog to death by continually turning up the heat from a starting water temperature comfortable to the frog so as to make the frog a participant in its own demise, consider that Deal’s OSD amounts to being the next comfort-inducing temperature rise following APS superintendent Meria Carstarphen’s comfort-inducing temperature rise that resulted in making APS stakeholders be participants in deciding to turn Atlanta public schools into a Charter System.  Only after APS stakeholders made that decision, was it reported that all along it had been Carstarphen’s game plan to turn APS into a Charter System.

Consider, too, that the great test cheating scandal that Beverly Hall caused her “urban school reform” regime to spawn may have shocked many APS stakeholders into states of denial that allow them to now be even more comfortable as participants in destroying their own public education system.

Make no mistake, Carstarphen is but a more polished and friendly and accessible practicing behaviorist than was Beverly Hall.  However, I bet Hall knew she was a behaviorist but Carstarphen may not be aware she is, too.  Carstarphen’s behavioristic drive is her Harvard “school turnaround” training that included some instruction by Beverly Hall.

In any case, Carstarphen, like Hall, is out to make education for mostly “Black” children be education as behavioristic training for “college and career,” just as the APS mission statement extols, and to get “Black” folk in Atlanta be comfortable with doing that to their own children.  In contrast, the many “Hispanic” folk in Austin TX were quick enough to come to reject what Carstarphen was trying to do to their children, so they took steps to get rid of her.

Have great empathy for all Carstarphen says and believes.  I certainly do and, gosh, I really feel for her.  Nonetheless, ODS is a heinous monster of a trap.  It is a lose-lose proposition.  The more energy APS feeds the monster, as via Erwin Hames, the more energy the monster will demand.  Carstarphen has lead APS to give up the moral high-ground, the only bargaining position it had in the face of OSD.  But then Carstarphen’s push to turn APS into a Charter System eased the way to OSD.  Thus to try now to fight or “ward off” OSD boarders on the absurd.


As for Alisha Thomas Morgan, newly graduated from the non-accredited Eli Broad Superintendents Academy, well, expect to see her become a principal OSD propagandist to especially “Black” folk. 

class80olddog
class80olddog

@EdJohnson "deciding to turn Atlanta public schools into a Charter System. "

So will they now be the "enemy" of those opposing charters?

As I have always said - there are charters and there are charters.  So will APS poor record now reflect on all charter schools?

And I HATE the term "college and career ready" - it SHOULD read "college OR career ready"  NOT EVERYONE HAS TO GO TO COLLEGE (excuse my shouting).

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@EdJohnson


Why does anyone give credit to a private, non-accredited "Academy" and put these people in positions that they cannot handle and usually end up making things worse. It is happening all over the country. These face superintendents go in and ruin the schools, get a nice pay off and move off to another adventure that involves privatizing our public schools. What makes them qualified?


Broad Academy alumin-Arne Duncan, John White, John Deasy


Here is a link with some more and some of the awful things they have done to our public schools. Shame on them


http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/15/meet-the-broad-superintendents/

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig @EdJohnson 

Nothing misogynistic was posted by Ed Johnson.  The educators Johnson mentioned just happened to be females, that is all.  You may disagree with his assertions but to claim that Ed Johnson's assertions are misogynistic is unfair and devious.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings @Astropig @EdJohnson


You people are shabby hypocrites. These accomplished,dedicated women are trying to improve kids lives and you're attacking them because you don't like their politics.It is as simple as that.



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Astropig 

Have you even taken the time to read my comments on this thread?  I have "attacked" no one.  I have wished both Ms. Thomas Morgan and Ms. Hames well.

You have assumed my perceptions through the stereotypes evidently running rampart in your head without even reading, or at least without comprehending, my words, here.


Refine your thinking processes, please.

Mandella88
Mandella88

@Astropig @EdJohnson

While you're just "a problem," Mr. keyboard commando.  Maybe your Mommy will bring down a PB & J to her basement for your snack and you can let the grown people talk for a while....

MD3
MD3

So, someone with minimal experience in education can somehow swing a no-bid contract for almost $100k by proclaiming herself some kind of expert? I guess if we lived in a state that had any sort of reputation for having ethical leadership this would seem outrageous. But, because ethics don't exist in Georgia, it generates little more than a yawn. We get the leadership we deserve, I suppose...

class80olddog
class80olddog

@MD3 So what is this woman going to tell them about improving their schools that they should not already know?  Actually, I think they hired her to find out any loopholes that will keep them from takeovers.

Astropig
Astropig

@MD3 @Astropig


I'd put her record up against yours any day. She's walked the walk. You just talk the talk.

MD3
MD3

@Astropig @MD3 She's walked the walk??? Please. She's played the game. BIG difference. And I never said I was an expert. But at the same time I'm not trying to extort $100k from taxpayers either. If you want to pay someone as an expert consultant, it wouldn't be me, but it also wouldn't be this woman. I'd start with someone who put a little more time into education than 3 years. But that's just me... As I said, it doesn't matter what anyone thinks because it's just business as usual here in Georgia. It's good to know that you approve of the fraud and unethical shenanigans that go on here...

Astropig
Astropig

@MD3 @Astropig


She's not extorting anything. The APS board voted to hire her. Did you "extort" your last paycheck from your employer?

Astropig
Astropig

@Lynn43 @Astropig @MD3


"  Neither one has educational experience.'


Not true. I just posted the link above to Ms. Hames LI profile. She was a classroom teacher.Ms. Morgan was a staunch education advocate in the state house for over a decade. 


You obviously can't deal with successful females that have drive and ambition. 

MD3
MD3

@class80olddog @MD3 I think you're probably right. They are paying her for her connections, because when it comes to education, that's about all she has to offer.

MD3
MD3

@Astropig @MD3 I see 3 years as a teacher (not sure that I'd call any 3rd year teacher an expert...) and a whole bunch of political climbing. I don't see anything that makes me believe she's qualified to be an educational consultant who's going to the bank with $100k of taxpayer money, other than the fact that this is Georgia and the whole political system is crooked.

Lynn43
Lynn43

@Astropig @MD3 And just how do you know these peoples' records.  You have no idea who you are talking to.  We know who Morgan and Hames are, and we know their record.  Neither one has educational experience.  Would you want a surgeon who had only the experience these two have. You write a lot on this blog about education, but your view indicate you actually know very little.

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

Ivy Prep just got a terrific new head.   Congrats to Alisha and wish her and Ivy Prep continued success!

class80olddog
class80olddog

Good luck to Ms. Hames in her goal of improving APS schools to the point where a takeover is not necessary.  I can point out problem areas: Discipline, Attendance, and Social Promotion.  Add in parental and student apathy.  I don't even charge for that opinion.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

I wish both Alisha Thomas Morgan and Erin Hames well in their new educational positions.  They both have talent. 

My only suggestion to both of these educational leaders is for each to make a concentrated effort to remove politics, as much as is humanly possible, from the substantive goal of educating all of Georgia's, and America's, children and young adults well.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Wascatlady 

Everyone deserves a chance to prove herself or himself without preconceived, negative judgments from others, before she or he has had an opportunity to try to make a positive difference.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Wascatlady 

You are right about that, Wascatlady, in that both of these women do have pasts which speak of their past political involvement in educational matters. 

I just will never give up in a belief that the consciences of most educators will prevail in their doing what is right for all children, free of politics, ultimately. We shall see how these two women approach public education for all students in the future.  I hope. . . .

Astropig
Astropig

Hooray!


The OSD is over a year away from being voted on, but the very threat of precipitate action has lit a fire under APS.


The "impossible" is now possible.


As for Ms. Morgan- Democrats lost their best chance to elect a school superintendent last year and have a voice in matters of debate when they nominated that educrat queen wannabe (I'm sorry, her name escapes me because she was such a non-entity) as their superintendent candidate. Ms. Morgan will do a fine job.

Gwinnetting
Gwinnetting

Democrats and their anti-choice, teachers' union allies will now be a little less confident taking the black vote for granted.

AJCkrtk
AJCkrtk

Can anyone find ANYTHING out about this company that Erin Hames is supposedly the principal of? We thought it was Reform-Ed out of Vanderbilt, but it is not. Just what company, if any, is it? Did she start her own company? The Secretary of State didn't seem to know. @AJCGetSchooled do you know?