Next Tuesday, Georgia voters will decide who will lead the direction for education across the state and the funding behind it. Otha Thornton is running for Georgia’s School Superintendent, against GOP incumbent Richard Woods. We talked about what’s on the line in next week’s election for Georgia students and how he aligns with Stacey Abrams vision for public education. He highlighted 3 key areas: wraparound services, safety and student scholarship organizations (SSOs).

Here’s a quick breakdown of why each area is important for you to know as you make your way to the polls.

Wraparound services – Thornton shared that Georgia students have been deprived of $9 billion in wraparound services for the last 16 years. That means money hasn’t been made available to students and their families for on-site access to important services like financial planning and developmental courses aimed at success for children and their families. When wraparound services are present, Georgia’s students could get something similar to the Harlem Children’s Zone.

Safety – Keep guns out of the classroom. Some school boards in Georgia have already approved the arming of teachers. That mixed with the fact the Black children are disproportionately and more severely punished in the school system is a recipe for disaster for your young students. 

Student scholarship organizations (SSOs) Georgians have the option to donate SSOs and allow participating private schools to issue out scholarships from the donation pool. In return, donors can claim a dollar-for-dollar tax credit under The Georgia Private School Tax Credit law. Earlier this year, sitting governor Nathan Deal approved legislation that raised the donation cap from $58 million to a whopping $100 million dollars.

This program faces much scrutiny and has already been contested in court more than once. Why? Some don't find it wise that the money is being diverted away from public education into private, poorly monitored institutions. Likewise, since some participating schools don't have strong reporting for who is receiving these scholarships, the lack of oversight means some schools can easily discriminate on who gets admitted.

Stacey Abrams addressed Georgia’s SSOs during her debate against Brian Kemp. Both she and Thornton are aligned about rolling back the donation cap and finding real solutions for providing quality education to students.

Even if you don't have children of your own, your vote is still a direct line to what we can do for the adults of the future. If you can vote in Georgia (check your registration here), or any midterm election for that matter, be sure you're at the polls November 6th.