James.qxp May June 2019 web - Page 43



teacher pay is an important step toward professionalizing teaching and ensuring our state is competitively
positioned to recruit, prepare, and retain high quality
teachers now and in the future.
Of all the the legislative measures we anticipated seeing, ESA/voucher bills— which we saw come out of the
House (HB 301) and Senate (SB 173)— were among the
most controversial. Virtually identical, HB 301 and SB 173
proposed expanding school choice by giving state tax dollars earmarked for public education to Georgia families
looking to subsidize a private school or homeschool education. Although HB 301 didn’t gain much traction, SB 173
did and appeared primed to crossover to the House before
being narrowly defeated 28 to 25 in a floor vote. If the outcome of the floor vote came as a surprise to supporters of
the bill, the bill’s opponents were certainly not shocked
when language from SB 173 resurfaced in HB 68, an education measure restricting certain entities from operating
as Student Scholarship Organizations. In another unexpected twist, however, the Senate Rules Committee
removed all SB 173-related language from HB 68 before
voting on the measure and passing it back to the House.
Opponents of ESAs point to their redundancy in a
state that is already home to a special needs scholarship
42
JAMES
M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 9
and two tax credit scholarship programs, as well as the
fiscal burden of administrating ESA programs and the
ethical dilemma of diverting taxpayer dollars to private
institutions. Proponents, on the other hand, contend
that ESAs are an important tool to ensure students have
access to the resources they need to make the best educational choice and aren’t trapped in low-performing
schools because of their family’s socioeconomic status.
Although the push for ESAs stalled this year, the fervor
around this topic suggests it will likely resurface as a
legislative measure next year.
As to what may be on the legislative horizon in 2020,
we can only speculate. Whatever is in store, however, it
remains clear that Georgia needs strong leaders with a
clear vision for a public education system that empowers
state and local leaders as well as parents and students to
make decisions that best support the educational needs
of all the state’s citizens. Georgians deserve as much and
must continue to demand that the most pressing education issues in the state be top priority for our leaders.
Please be on the lookout for our next Top Ten Issues
to Watch report at the top of 2020.
Dr. Steve Dolinger is the president of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence
in Education.
mong other definitions, the
word “great” is defined in
Webster’s Dictionary as:
1) predominant; 2) remarkable in
magnitude, degree or effectiveness;
3) eminent, distinguished; 4) chief or
preeminent over others; 5) remarkably skilled and 6) markedly superior
in character or quality.
On April 21, 2001 we gathered at
Vineville Methodist Church in Macon
to say good-bye to a great Georgian, a
great American and a great man—
Denmark Groover, Jr.. He was better known to
thousands of Georgians as simply “Denny.” Denny left
us that day but in our hearts and memories this remarkable, skilled, distinguished and superior human being
will never leave us.
Except for his God, family and country, Denny loved
Georgia and the Georgia House of Representatives more
than anything in his life. It was in the House of
Representatives where I best knew him. Denny served
there in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s— and during
much of that time I was the Majority Leader and he was
the Majority Whip. We sat by each other. We should have
changed seats and jobs for he was vastly superior in all
respects. In fact, in my 32 years in the legislature, he was
without a doubt the best lawmaker. He was first to the
Capitol and the last to leave. Reading and understanding
every bill. And great oratorical skills. When Denny talked,
everyone listened. Predominant. Effective. Superior.
Remarkably skilled. On a scale of 1 to 10— 10 being the
best— Denny was a “10.”
Denny was a lawyer’s lawyer. I once teased him by
saying that down in Perry when we heard that someone
had hired Denmark Groover as his or her attorney, we
knew he or she “must be guilty.” Otherwise, why would
they pay his big fee to get the best?
Denny was a legislator’s legislator. He would help a
member perfect his or her bill even though he was
opposed to it. In fact, he might perfect the amendment
and then fight it on the floor of the House.
Usually, he was equally adept at arguing either side of the issue. Denny
was a man’s man. Once, when introducing him, I used that line only to
be rebuked when he spoke—
informing me that he wasn’t a
“man’s man” but that he was a
“ladies’ man!” He did exude
strength, confidence, courage, standing and presence. He was a war
hero— a Black Sheep Squadron pilot in
the Pacific during World War II. He was a
man’s man. He was my friend. continued on page 44
RAY S. S M IT H, III
A James Magazine
“Most Inuential” Attorney
404.760.6006
RSMITH@SMITHLISS.COM
SMITH
&
LISS, LLC
BUSINESS, REAL ESTATE, GOVERNMENT
& FIDUCIARY LITIGATION
U NO
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W W W. S M I T H L IMSAYS/ J.C
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