Friday Facts: January 23, 2015

It’s Friday!

It’s National School Choice Week January 25-31, with 11,000 events scheduled! Find one near you at

If you missed our School Choice Week event, “School Choice: The Next Frontier,” with Dr. Ben Scafidi, view it on our YouTube channel at Find photographs on Facebook here

This week’s Friday Facts has a special focus: school choice! Tweet your views on the Foundation’s Twitter page @gppf with hashtag #scw and #gppf.


February 18: “Transportation Money Matters,” is the topic of the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast, featuring a panel discussion by Kelly McCutchen and Baruch Feigenbaum of the Reason Foundation tackling Georgia transportation and funding solutions. $30. Register online by Monday, February 18, here.

March 18: “Federalism, The Rule of Law and Regulatory Excess,” is the topic of the Foundation’s Leadership Breakfast with Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. $30. Register online by Monday, March 16, here.

Quotes of Note

“When I can look at your ZIP Code and tell whether or not you’re going to get a good education, something is really wrong. And we are sacrificing not the kids who can – whose parents can send them to private schools or the kids whose parents send them to Palo Alto High School, where I live, but the kids who are most dependent on the public schools that are failing them to give them a way out.” – Condoleezza Rice

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

“The people have to bear their own responsibilities. There is no method by which that burden can be shifted to the government. It is not the enactment, but the observance of laws, that creates the character of a nation.” – Calvin Coolidge


A $treetcar named higher (costs): AT&T is the first utility to file suit seeking $5.8 million reimbursement for relocating equipment to make way for the Atlanta Streetcar, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The last cost estimate for the Streetcar was in 2013 – $98 million – and that preceded numerous delays. As we predicted, costs could climb for Atlanta and MARTA: There were 15 utilities affected by the construction.

Criminal justice

Policing for profit: The Foundation has campaigned tirelessly against civil asset forfeiture in Georgia, so Attorney General Eric Holder’s surprise move ending the Justice Department’s sharing of forfeiture proceeds with local law enforcement is welcomed. Now, for greater accountability on Georgia’s reporting site….


Better outcomes: Georgia natives Rich Thompson and Allen West co-wrote an op-ed marking National School Choice Week for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It points out: “Since 2010, there have been at least 16 academic studies on charter school performance. Fifteen studies found students in charter schools perform better than their peers in traditional public schools. Of the 12 empirical studies on private programs, 11 found school choice improves student outcomes.”

Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon and Foundation President Kelly McCutchen wear their National School Choice Week "woobie" at the Foundation's annual event on January 21.
Georgia State Sen. Josh McKoon and Foundation President Kelly McCutchen wear their National School Choice Week “woobies” at the Foundation’s annual event on January 21.

The case for choice: Chicago closed 50 public schools in 2013, amid union outrage, affecting 11,000 students. While 93 percent ended up in better schools, some families selected schools based on proximity instead of performance. Unfortunately, there are limited top-tier schools in the predominantly poor, black neighborhoods where most of the closed schools were located,   . Source: Chicago Sun-Times

Overwhelmingly choosing choice: Georgia’s tuition tax credit scholarship program was capped at $58 million in donations last year and this year. The donation cap was reached January 21 in 2014; in 2015, that cap was reached on January 1. Pledges totaled $91 million, meaning contributions will have to be prorated, according to Foundation Senior Fellow Ben Scafidi.

Five Reasons To Increase Georgia’s Tuition Tax Credit Cap:

  1. Student Achievement: Eleven of 12 random assignment studies (the gold standard in research) show school choice improves academic outcomes of participants; no study found a negative impact. Of 23 studies, 22 found school choice improves outcomes at public schools. Source: The Heritage Foundation
  2. Parental Satisfaction: A survey by Georgia’s largest student scholarship organization found 98.6 percent of parents “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their decision to send their children to a private school. Source: Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program
  3. Public School Budget Benefits: The average scholarship ($3,388) is nearly $8,000 lower than total revenues per student ($11,345) in Georgia public schools and more than $1,000 lower than state revenue per student ($4,488). More scholarships equals more savings for Georgia taxpayers and/or more funding for public school students. Source: Georgia Public Policy Foundation
  4. Popularity across Party Lines: Majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians support the program and support raising the cap. Seventy percent of Georgians support the tuition tax credit scholarship program; 62 percent support increasing the cap to $100 million. Source: Georgia College 
  5. Popularity with Taxpayers: The annual limit on contributions – $58 million – was reached within the first 21 days of 2014 and in one day – January 1 – this year. (For comparison, Florida’s cap is $447 million.) Source: Georgia Department of Revenue

Friday Flashback

This month in the archives: In January 2005, the Foundation published, “Confusion Takes Its Toll on Transportation Solutions.” We noted, “Confusion about whether, when, where and how the state should allow toll roads or HOT lanes threatens to undermine this state’s ability to utilize an increasingly popular and vital transportation tool.” The debate continues, but the state is making progress.


Web site of the week: The Georgia Center for Opportunity, at, “works to break through the barriers that keep Georgia children and families from thriving.”

Social media: Please “like” us (Facebook), join us ( and share us (Friday Facts)!

Visit to read the latest commentary, “Georgia School Choice Creeps Forward,” by Benita M. Dodd.

Have a great weekend! 

Kelly McCutchen and Benita Dodd  

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