Friday, August 31, 2007

All of What Porter Said

Below is Dubose Porter's unedited press release in response to Sonny and company applying GOP funny math to SAT scores. If there argument were applied to, say, tax revenue, then if Georgia took in less money, but other states took in even less, thus maintaining our comparative ranking, that would be cause for celebration. Its' one thing to disagree about policy, but these guys are spinning so hard, who can trust them anymore? How can you make the case that a decline in SAT scores is a good thing???? Here's what Porter had to say:

I think I may have hit a truth nerve. I think this because our Governor responded to my comments regarding his massive public relations campaign concerning SAT scores by releasing one of the finest public relations pieces to ever come out of his office. Since I also called on the people to become more engaged in deciphering the truth from this spin regarding education, I thought when I responded I would do so by highlighting a few of the tactics used in his latest press release as a primer.

1. Always, always crucify the messenger first.
The Governor's release- "For more than 130 years, Democrats like DuBose Porter and his pessimistic friends presided over an educational system..."

Only in the deepest world of "Spinning P.R." would you call someone a name that would also apply to yourself. You all did know our Governor was a part of the 130 year legacy he is bashing? Does he? Of course, but he didn't think anyone would be fed up enough to take the heat that comes from speaking truth to power.

2. Misconstrue while making it look like the messenger insulted someone (preferably a large group.)
The Governor's release- "Representative Porter's comments yesterday were disrespectful and insulting to Georgia teachers, administrators, parents, and most of all, our high school students, who have worked hard to improve their SAT scores over the last four years."

What I said had nothing to do with the ability of the teachers, administrators, parents or the students. What I said had to do with the cuts the Governor made that took away the tools to teach. The greatest lumberjack in the world can't cut down a tree with a hundred dollar bill when they need a chainsaw.

3. When facts fail call the messenger names.
The Governor's release- "…his comment 'I'm not surprised. This is exactly the result I was expecting…' is indicative of his bigotry of low expectations"
What exactly does that mean? When he cut tools to teach, learning suffered. Did he mean I am a bigot of instructional money???? Who knows, but it sure did sound bad.

4. Say something that can't be researched.
The Governor's release- "and a culture of negativity among Democrats."

Where was that poll taken and was that before or after the Governor was a Democrat?

5. Be willing to link unrelated ideas if necessary.
The Governor's release- "His reference to a 'massive public relations campaign' minimizes the hours, weeks and months of hard work and effort that Georgia teachers, students and parents have put forth to result in closing the gap with the national average."

My calling attention to the massive public relations campaign glossing over the negative results of cuts to education minimizes the work of teachers, students, and parents exactly how? I think they are doing amazingly well with 1.3 billion dollars less in the state's education budget.

6. Be willing to distort the heck out of the statistics.
The Governor's release- "Today, four and a half years after I was elected, Georgia is steadily closing the gap on the SAT national average. Since 2003 the gap between Georgia and the national average has shrunk by one-third, from a 42 point gap to only 28 points."

Overall, the nation's graduating class of 2007 averaged the lowest math and reading SAT scores since 1999 and Georgia's average dropped 5 points from last year. Everybody does worse, but the gap narrows and in the world of massive P.R. this is turned into a positive.

7. If something good does happen use it even if you worked to cripple its effects.
The Governor's release, "Georgia's minority students are even outpacing their counterparts around the nation with higher scores in most areas of the test."

That's great. But this same governor backed and implemented a criteria change for grade eligibility designed to prevent a large number of these same minority students from receiving the H.O.P.E. scholarship. It went into effect this fall and also cuts out a large number of our majority students from H.O.P.E. scholarship money. Lottery funds are at all time high.

8. Show a fact that looks good and means nothing.
The Governor's release- "In terms of participation rates, Georgia public schools beat the national average by 20 percentage points. Approximately 66 percent of public school students in Georgia take the SAT while an average of only 42 percent of public school students nationwide take the SAT."

If more people are taking it, it has just as much a possibility of going up as down. (Unless you have maybe- "bigotry of lower expectations"???) Regardless, we went down 5 points from our own score last year.

9. Half-truths are always effective.
The Governor's release- "Georgia teachers continue to be the highest paid in the Southeast."

Because of the Governor's changes to the State Health Benefit Plan, teacher's health insurance takes up a larger amount of their salary. The net effect is that in many cases the take home pay is actually less than before.

10. If need be, take credit for things that haven't even happened.
The Governor's release- "Thanks to our high school and middle school graduation coaches, our graduation rates have increased by almost eight points."

I also support graduation coaches, but it is just too soon to calculate its actual effect. If you have to be 16 to drop out and the program has only been in place for one year, how can you take credit for students not dropping out when they couldn't have dropped out yet, even if they had wanted.

11. When all else fails just say something positive and run.
The governor's release- "As I said yesterday, despite all our gains, I will not be satisfied with Georgia's SAT scores or ranking until these indicators become a true reflection of the quality of education that is being provided to students in our state every day."

… despite all our gains? Our Governor oversaw cuts in the state education budget of 1.3 billion, cuts of eligibility to H.O.P.E by almost a third, cuts to teacher's take home pay, cuts in score results… and these are gains? No, what that is, is a massive public relations campaign.

If enough light is focused on education, we can begin to see real improvement. While I would not have cut education at a time when our students have to compete in a global market, there are many positive solutions that don't require more money. However, they will only work if the public is allowed to see the truth instead of the spin. Reducing paperwork for teachers and therefore giving them more time to teach, making more effective use of our technology to speed learning, shifting the focus of learning methods to reading in the early grades and allowing stronger discipline are just a few of the changes that would move our state forward, without raising taxes- but this won't happen until we quit sugar coating reality and start dealing with it.


Open+Transparent said...

Seriously, what has DuBose Porter done to improve education in GA as an elected official?

Does he even have a signature piece of legislation after years at the Dome?

Easy to throw stones from the sidelines. He comes across as petty and small. If he's the best the party has to run for guvna in '08, that's pathetic. He will turn off every single voter under 40 in the stae, and deservedly so.

Amy Morton said...



Amy Morton said...

I have not researches Porter's voting record but did appreciate his leadership on PeachCare and Payday Lending last session. And, I am glad someone is standing up to call BS on a governor who is trying to convince Georgians that a drop in SAT scores is actually a good thing. I could say that apparently Sonny learned math in Georgia's public schools, but that would be rude.

Open+Transparent said...

Leadership on payday lending? Didn't a number of Dem's cross over on that one? Anyone who crossed over on that should have been made to pay a price.

Maybe he stood up for Peachcare, but I don't remember that. There are a few issues where whomever the alpha dog GA Dem is, that person needs to draw a line in the sand. Peachcare is definitely one of those.

And if DuB is the big dog, he should push out the dead weight bringing things down, i.e. Ron Sailor.

Open+Transparent said...

This is how you do it the right way, short, simple, to the point, and with f-ing conviction:

State Sen. David Adelman, D-Atlanta, called the hearing on the myth of global warming "the continued Alabamization of Georgia."

Vic said...

geeze, it's Alabamatization, not Alabamization. i know cause i got kinfolk over there.

Conjugate it both ways:
I Alabamatize
you Alabamatize
he/she/it Alabamatizes
we Alabamatize
you Alabamatize
They Alabamatize

I Alabamize,
you get the point
but i agree, Senator Adelman has a pair... of clear glasses, thanks for bringing his brain to our attention:

CL quote:
"Adelman says he thinks this was a pre-emptive move by opponents of renewable energy standards. He plans to introduce a bill this spring that would mandate 15 percent of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by the year 2020 – a policy known as a renewable portfolio standard. It's the same measure that was adopted by the coalition of Western states and that has already been approved on a national level by the U.S. House."

Trackboy, are you pre-announcing Adelman's 2010 Gubenatorial Candidacy?

Open+Transparent said...

Adelman is shrewd and meticulously plans in advance. I think he knows that the GA GOP has the 2010 guvnaship in the bag. Maybe 2014. Seems a long way away, but maybe the DPG has a heart beat by then, with all of the dinosaurs involved in it now, keeping the same old terrible stauts quo going, will hopefully have been pushed aside by then.

Amy Morton said...

You guys have been busy. I love David and Caroline Adelman, and especially love David'd ability to turn a phrase. I appreciated his leadership on stem cell research and other issues as well. They are both bright lights on the Democratic landscape in Georgia.

Unfortunately, when you are the minority leader, of the house or senate, you just don't have much of a whip to crack. There are no committee chairmanships to pass out or take away, not a lot of money pouring into the coffers. I believe that the caucus still has debt that Porter and Company inherited from Terry Coleman's days. So, while I completely agree with you about threshold issues like payday lending and PeachCare, I am curious about how the leader-regardless of who it is, is supposed to pull, say, a Mike Jacobs into line when there is nothing to threaten him with and nothing to offer. I'm not so much defending Porter here as asking for your thoughts about how you would do that if you were the leader?

As far as the party is concerned, it takes time and will to turn a battleship around. I do think that we have taken some positive steps. I like the fact that Drew Westen is working with the Party on some issues. I like the Grassroots Georgia program. I'm glad that the State Committee has become more diverse on all levels and that more younger dems are involved. I like the new voter file.

One thing is clear to me, though. While we are the party of ideas, not money, money is necessary to commuicate those ideas to people-voters. We need to retire the caucus debt so that we go into the 2008 elections unhampered. We need to give as we can, and our elected leaders need to do a better job of fundraising. Some who are unopposed do raise and give to other candidates and the caucus; some do not.

Just some of my thoughts...

Open+Transparent said...

Will take my awhile to answer some of those questions. And I want to run a "Vote for Amy" pick the office.

Amy Morton said...

Well, that's a awfully nice thing for you to say, Track. You never know, one day I just might take you up on it.

Open+Transparent said...

Then again, to run for state rep or state senator, you might have to leave your ethics, connection to real working people and common sense behind...