ATLANTA – Gwinnett legislators and a coalition of advocacy groups held a press conference today responding to recent partisan attempts to sneak through legislation that would gerrymander the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners and allow politicians to meddle with the Gwinnett County Board of Education by inserting their own political agendas on Gwinnett classrooms.
“This attempt at redistricting and diluting the power of minority groups that are in control of the most diverse county in the State of Georgia is unfathomable,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “Before now, in 2012, it [the Gwinnett Boards] was all white. No changes were asked for then. So why the change now that people of color are in control?”
“If these maps pass, it will be proof that the Georgia GOP is perfectly fine with breaking their own rules and norms to allow one, white member to restructure an entire local government without any input or support from communities – essentially overnight,” said Gwinnett County Public School Student, Alex Ames, “It is not an emergency for a community where 70% of residents and 80% of students are nonwhite to have Black and brown leaders elected to represent them.”
Hiba Rizvi, Gwinnett County Public School Student said:
“For once, Gwinnett County residents like myself are proud to have representatives that share the same values around safety, justice, and ensuring that our students have the ability to thrive regardless of their zip code. I believe in masks, vaccines, and in Science…and I appreciate that my school board does too.”
“This attempted school takeover by the Republican party is a slap in the face to Asian American students, families and voters across the country,” said Vyanti Joseph, Organizing Director, Asian American Advocacy Fund. “We were loud and clear and voted in the representation in its current form. We made our choice at the ballot. The Republican attempt to make the school board a non-partisan entity, takes our voice and our choice away. This only serves the interests of those who are unable to retain their own representation in a growing and diverse seat. Furthermore, the blatantly racist attempt at gerrymandering and adding seats to the Gwinnett County commission, furthers our stance that Republicans care more about political gain than the rights of Georgia voters.”
“We demand fully funded schools. We demand equitable distribution of materials and resources for our children. We demand that teachers and staff be equipped to do their jobs,” said Penny Poole, President of the Gwinnett NAACP. ”This previous majority (now minority) has been displaced because the constituency has made their voices loud and clear.”
“Responsible public education policy is about fully and adequately funding our public schools,” said Carolyn Woods of Public Education Matters, Georgia. “In the past 20 years, our legislature has cut $20 billion from public education. They have cut budgets to public education in 18 of the last 20 years. Since 2000, the state of Georgia has gained 250,000 new students within our public schools. Our legislature has not given one additional dollar to public school transportation.”
Isabel Otero, Georgia Policy Director, SPLC Action said:
“Georgia must do better. We can’t allow Republicans to once again play politics, spread disinformation and conspiracy theories to undermine our elected administration and our students’ education.”
“As someone who attended Gwinnett County Public Schools from K through 12, this is personal. Gwinnett County has shown over and over again that they want their voices heard,” said Hillary Holley, Organizing Director for Fair Fight Action. ”Brian Kemp cut public education by $950 million. If you care, show up and put your money where your mouth is and don’t allow our students to be victimized because you’re scared of next year.”
Part of the Progress Now network, Progress Georgia is a political digital and communications hub for the progressive movement in Georgia. Progress Georgia works to uplift the values and voices of the progressive movement across the state by keeping politicians accountable and elevating the issues that matter most to our communities. Learn more at https://progressga.org/.