David Morgan Describes His Job
David Morgan Describes His Job
Morgans campaign for school choice
Mar 06, 2012 | 21 21 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend
AUSTELL...
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by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
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Morgans campaign for school choice
by Lindsay Field
lfield@mdjonline.com
March 06, 2012 01:12 AM | 7187 views | 21 21 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
David Morgan Describes His Job
David Morgan Describes His Job
David Morgan on Lobbying for Charter Schools
David Morgan on Lobbying for Charter Schools
David Morgan on Goals for 2012
David Morgan on Goals for 2012
State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan celebrates with her husband, Cobb County School Board member David Morgan, as they see that she won against opponent Betty Gray for the District 39th seat in 2010. <br> File photo
State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan celebrates with her husband, Cobb County School Board member David Morgan, as they see that she won against opponent Betty Gray for the District 39th seat in 2010.
File photo
slideshow
AUSTELL — Two elected Democrats in Austell who say they share a passion for education also share an address.

But who are David and Alisha Thomas Morgan? Alisha, a state representative, and David, a member of the Cobb school board, will both be up for re-election this year.

Alisha Morgan was first elected to the state House in 2002, when she was just 23 years old, becoming the first black politician elected to represent Cobb in the General Assembly. She married David Morgan in 2003, the same year she began serving in the House.

The Miami native made national headlines in 2005 after breaking out in song on the House floor. She had been speaking against voter ID legislation and her time was up, and House Speaker Glenn Richardson began banging the gavel, trying to quiet her. Instead, she started singing the civil rights-era song, “I ain’t gonna let nobody turn me ’round, turn me ’round.”

It’s not clear what her newest goals or plans are, or even her current occupation outside of the Legislature, as she did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But she’s previously said she was an organizer for the Young Elected Officials Network, a program of the liberal People for the American Way Foundation, and her photo and information remains on the YEO network’s website.

Now 33, Alisha is the mother of a young daughter, Lailah, and stepmother to David’s teenage son, Rashaan.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart (R-Powder Springs) said that although he and Alisha Morgan differ philosophically on 90 percent of the issues, they share a passion for children and school choice. The Republican said his Democrat colleague “spends a lot of time promoting school choice.”

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her and found her to be a person of her word and a real family-oriented legislator,” he said. “I like that she is who she is … not wishy-washy.”

Another Republican, state Rep. Sharon Cooper of east Cobb, shared a similar sentiment regarding Alisha Morgan.

“She came when she was very young, and she certainly has matured into a very effective lawmaker,” Cooper said. “From what I hear, she does great constituent services. She has learned to compromise on many of the issues when she has philosophical differences, just like on the charter schools.”

Alisha Morgan voted in favor of the charter school amendment both times it was before the House this year.

David Morgan, meanwhile, is in his first four-year term on the school board and this year was elected as the board’s vice chair. But he’s been criticized during his term for showing up late to board meetings and playing games on his computer during meetings.

His day job also provides an interesting contrast to his elected work. He is a registered lobbyist for the pro-school-choice group American Federation for Children, which was previously named All Children Matter.

According to the AFC’s website, the group “is a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs.”

Public education proponents often argue that vouchers hurt public schools by taking money and resources from the local school system, which is arguably the opposite of what most would consider the role of a school board member.

Morgan does not believe his job creates a conflict with his elected responsibilities and points out that he voted against two separate petitions for charter renewals.

“What it shows is that I look at information for its merits and not for any other reason,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding, in terms of how you vote.”

He also said he keeps the two separate by not talking about his lobbying activities at school board meetings or vice versa.

“I talk about it if someone brings it up, but outside of that, I don’t. I don’t want to cross that line … When I’m doing school board, I’m fully present,” he said. “I’m fully locked into the Cobb County School District. If you do that over time, you’ll see that lines are not fudged.”

But during the day, and especially while the General Assembly is in session, he — like his wife — can be found under the Gold Dome. David Morgan said he does not prefer any one school model, but advocates for any delivery model that provides a quality education.

“I lobby on the issue of school choice,” he said. “I’m an advocate for the best charter schools — and charter schools are public schools. … Ultimately, when you talk about local control, the best local controls are parents, not politicians, because (parents) know what’s in the best interest for their (child) than me.”

But John Adams, executive director of the new Educators First advocacy group, isn’t buying that.

“He’s wearing two hats there, and although you may change hats from time to time, it doesn’t change what’s underneath the hat,” Adams said. “The fact that he’s a lobbyist for charter schools, that can’t help but affect the decisions he makes from the school board dais.”

Adams added that Morgan’s support for Teach For America also bothers teachers who belong to Adams’ group.

“A lot of what’s implicit in Mr. Morgan’s wanting to do Teach For America, for example, is he is essentially saying teachers just aren’t good enough,” Adams said. “He’s being viewed more and more as a critic of teachers, particularly those in south Cobb.”

David Morgan previously had what could be described as a tumultuous career in education. After the Decatur native graduated from Grambling State University in Louisiana in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in political science, his first job was as a teaching assistant with the federally funded Head Start pre-K program in south Fulton.

In 1996, he took a job teaching at Decatur High School in the alternative program called Crossroads, for students who had been kicked out of school but were trying to return.

“I’ve always had an appetite for children in situations that they are underdogs,” he said. “They are children who need more exposure, who need more opportunities. I sought that out.”

In 1999, he started a nonprofit mentoring and tutoring program called I Am, Inc. The after-school program served students of all grades in DeKalb County and Decatur City schools.

“We picked kids up from school, helped them with their homework. On the weekends we did field trips, community-service projects, hosted teen summits where teens would come in and we’d talk about issues,” Morgan said. “I started it from scratch … bought my head more times that I care to admit. We had a lot of heart and a lot of hustle, but there’s a lot that goes into it. I’m proud that I did it, though.”

In 2003, he closed the nonprofit and went to work at a KIPP Academy in Atlanta as a fifth-grade teacher. The school, which enrolled about 320 students in fifth through eighth grades, operated under a charter from Atlanta Public Schools and changed locations during each of its four years.

In 2006, KIPP — which stands for Knowledge Is Power Program, and is a national group — pulled its name and licensing agreement, citing problems with money and management at the school. Morgan was then named principal, and ran the school during its final year. It ultimately closed, he said, because of a “huge, titanic battle with the school district.”

“Sometimes when you’re trying to do something different, people shun it for no other reason other than it’s different,” he said. “A lot of friction and ultimately, the Atlanta Public Schools rescinded our charter after the fourth year … out of a five-year charter.”

As for accusations that he mismanaged finances at KIPP, his teachers were not certified and that the school environment wasn’t stable, he blamed his predecessor, who he said “basically ran the school into the ground.”

“I gave every ounce of energy that I had. One of the things that I’m most proud of is that now, if you look at those kids, those kids are seniors. They are going to some really good schools. I’m proud of how we had a resilient spirit and the amount of families we were able to serve while we were open,” he said.

In fall 2007, David Morgan was hired at Lindley Middle School in south Cobb, teaching seventh-grade reading.

“I had a provisional (teaching certificate) when I was teaching at Lindley,” he said.

But he taught at Lindley less than a year. He quit in early March 2008 to take the lobbying job.

“Teaching was great, but the period of time that I was there, there were some major challenges at Lindley in terms of overall direction of the school,” he said. “But I put my best foot forward every day. I left because a better opportunity presented itself and that’s when I got into what I do now, which is lobbying.”

As for his school board work, David Morgan said he is running for re-election and expects to be challenged.

“(I’ve learned to) keep the main thing the main thing — student achievement,” he said. “It’s important to be relentless about what you’re most passionate about. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into a political bubble, because the average parent in our school district, they are not consumed by our meetings, what the latest thing was to be approved. They are concerned about their child going to school, is their child safe, do they have really good teachers, do they feel good about this school. That helps me to keep perspective.”
Comments
(21)
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Vote him out!
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March 07, 2012
David Morgan has his own agenda and it is not looking out for the children of South Cobb. He and his wife are trying to make money by getting their own school opened, to the detriment of the Cobb County Public Schools and already existing charter schools. Prudent voters will send him packing ASAP.
SOUTHCOBBteacher
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April 10, 2012
according to Morgan, South Cobb teachers are jaded, don't care about the children there and the reason the kids don't succeed there is because the TEACHERS don't do anything.

HOW DARE YOU!?!?! Why don't you walk a day in our shoes, and find out about the battles with not only unplugged parents and students, but the CONSTANT outside influences that affect our job on a DAILY BASIS.

Speak about what you know, David Morgan!! I can't wait to vote you out, and SOON.
Concerned Parent
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March 07, 2012
I really like this sentence:

As for accusations that he mismanaged finances at KIPP, his teachers were not certified and that the school environment wasn’t stable, he blamed his predecessor, who he said “basically ran the school into the ground.”

However, when it came to the vote for the Mableton Charter school he constantly noted his reasons for voting against the school was based on the original charter. How is it okay for him to place blame on the predecessors at the school that he ran that eventually closed but could not consider that for Imagine Mableton which had begun to progress academically as well as stability. Make up your mind Mr. Morgan!!!

Furthermore, if you are supportive of charter schools, then why did not listen to the parents at IIAM since their voices "supposedly" matters? True, the students at IIAM will go on and do great things; however, you have taken away the choice for parents to allow their students to attend a school where "Believers Are Achievers." Bottom line, you took away a choice to push your own self interest in another charter school...now, the parents do not have a choice at all...No Imagine and No Stem. How does that work for you????
School Choice-huh?
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March 07, 2012
The article states:

Morgan does not believe his job creates a conflict with his elected responsibilities and points out that he voted against two separate petitions for charter renewals.

“What it shows is that I look at information for its merits and not for any other reason,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding, in terms of how you vote.”

Mr. Morgan does not seem to know what a conflict of interest is. He votes against both charter schools up for renewal in Cobb and at the same time paves the way for District resources to be used to help his wife and her group obtain Race to the Top Funds to establish their own charter school..guess where?, yep it was slated for South Cobb. But he claims he can keep his many hats separate without blurring the lines??? He is up for re-election..please vote your conscience.
Forget it
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March 08, 2012
David Morgan will be re-elected because no one else will step up to run. You are stuck with the

Morgans; both of them.
TC PITS
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March 07, 2012
School choice = microwave teachers with NO experience, no counselors, no speech therapy, no special education, no music, no art, no technology. All the things that are in public schools that cannot be afforded in ANY brand new school. Stop throwing the baby out with the bath water. Educate parents to support schools by participating (what they will do in a charter and WON'T do in public) and they will be better places to learn.
Concerned Parent
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March 07, 2012
Before you make a judgement call on the qualifications of school choice, you may want to do your homework. School of choice schools do have certified, highly qualified teachers, counselors, speech therapist, special education, music,art and technology. Even if they did not, sometimes the students are getting a better education than what is being offered at the public school. It bothers me that parents who support public schools think that one school fits all students. If the public schools were doing such a great job, then there will not be a such thing as School of Choice, which includes private schools, online schools, homeschools and yes, charter schools. Many successful students have come out of the school of choice programs just like public schools. As always, stop taking away parents' choice just because you like the public schools.
Campbell HS
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March 06, 2012
Mr and Mrs Morgan, why don't you figure out how to control the kids in your district and stop blaming poor education on the schools and teachers. Campbell had a riot the other day because the administration put the hammer down on rules. The students didn't like the rules so they started food fights. Police had to be called in. These GREAT students at Campbell should NOT have the right to disrupt others education. FIgure that out before you spew your garbage!
Get It Right
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March 07, 2012
First of all, please do your own homework. Neither David nor Alisha Morgan serve the area where Campbell is located. Figure THAT out before you spew YOUR garbage.

Secondly, LISTEN to the students before dismissing them. That's the reason the Cobb BOE can act like they do and feel they don't have to listen to constituents because it happens everywhere else. Is this the message to send to the next generation? Get it together, @Campbell HS.
Blake Walker
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March 06, 2012
I respect him for standing by what he believes. Sounds like he knows what that is. One thing he does have right and his wife too, having the right to choose whats best for your children. I'm a school choice advocate and charter school advocate and I've been in part involved with a charter school that is having problems being authorized. There are certain counties that want them and certain counties that are against them. If you live in a county that is against having a charter school but you need better options for your child what are you to do? Thats why local control is not fair.
anonymous
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March 07, 2012
Once the state takes it away you won't get it back the lobbist will own it all!!
pay attention
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March 07, 2012
If you mean he believes in a charter school that he proposes, as opposed to the charter school that he voted to shut down, yeah I guess that he does stand for what he believes in, his own self interest.
COBBCSI
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March 06, 2012
This bill will be for the rich and well connected to get their own charter schools all over the state and cram the charter school down a local school boards throat. A panel of well healed appointees will be picking the schools for your area. Sounds like top down government to me; why should the locals have control they don’t need the funds for public schools.
Big Betty
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March 06, 2012
Morgan was fired from Lindley for breach of confidentiality. He was discovered discussing one of his student's behavior problems on a radio talk show.

The central office staff found out and he was let go. He later had his certificate deactivated so that no one would no the real reason why he left so abruptly. If he had he stayed with Lindley the rumor was that his contract would have been nonrenewed by Landon Brown and John McCrary, who were principles of 6th and 7th and 8th grade academies at that time.

Morgan should have never been elected to the school board if other board members besides Holly Cash knew the private information about Morgan.

anonymous
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March 06, 2012
You can see that Mr. Morgan has a strong dedication to work since there are at least 5 different jobs in 15 years. Always looking for that angle to move to the next place with less responsibility. I guess I missed the background when he ran for his Board position
anonymous
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March 06, 2012
school choice is the way!
S. Cobb Constituent
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March 06, 2012
As a constituent in Mr. Morgan's district I am very pleased with everything he has done since he has been in office.It's unfortunate that his CCSD colleagues do not always fully support the efforts that he promotes for the improvement of not only S. Cobb but the district as a whole.Nevertheless, I am appreciative of his relentless efforts.Not only is he an advocate for our area, but through his actions he has inspired others to become more vocal advocates for the children as well, and that's something we can never have enough of in S. Cobb.I look forward to supporting him in the upcoming election cycle.
another S Cobb Const
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March 06, 2012
I too am a constituent of the Morgans, and my experience with both is not positive. With an eye on their own bottom line, constituent service is nonexistent if you disagree.
School Choice?
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March 07, 2012
The article states:

Morgan does not believe his job creates a conflict with his elected responsibilities and points out that he voted against two separate petitions for charter renewals.

“What it shows is that I look at information for its merits and not for any other reason,” he said. “The proof is in the pudding, in terms of how you vote.”

Mr. Morgan does not seem to know what a conflict of interest is. He votes against both charter schools up for renewal in Cobb and at the same time paves the way for District resources to be used to help his wife and her group obtain Race to the Top Funds to establish their own charter school..guess where?, yep it was slated for South Cobb. But he claims he can keep his many hats separate without blurring the lines??? He is up for re-election..please vote your conscience.
Vorant
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March 06, 2012
Why must we suffer with 3rd rate representation be it the Morgans, Thompson or the less than intelligent, spineless corporate stooge Tim lee? Its no wonder this county is sliding into oblivion, especially South Cobb.....
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