Georgia Candidate Comparison

Stacey Abrams (D)

Lawyer and Former Minority Leader of the Georgia State House of Representatives

Brian Kemp (R)

Current Secretary of State and Former State Senator of Georgia

Education Record/History Education Record/History
2018: Proposed HOPE 2.0 to expand access to the HOPE scholarship and restore tuition-free programs  2006: Supported SB 390 requiring local school systems to increase direct classroom expenditures to 65 percent of their total operating budget
2018: Proposed Bold Start scholarship to expand access to early childhood education   2005: Sponsored SB 98 offering insurance benefits to members of local school boards 
2017: Opposed College Campus Weapons Carry  2005: Sponsored SB 179  removing capital outlay projects from inclusion in the education lottery funds 
2015: Opposed the creation of the Opportunity School District 2005: Sponsored SB 440 prohibiting the use of lottery funds to train teachers in technology   
2012: Opposed the establishment of a State Charter School Commission  2004: Sponsored SB 216 providing funding for the creation and expansion of charter school facilities   
Education Platform Education Platform
School Funding: Supports fully funding and updating the current school funding formula to better meet the needs of low-income students and students of color School Funding: Supports updating the education funding formula to strengthen local schools 
School Choice: Opposes private school tax credits and school vouchers School Choice: Supports doubling Student Scholarship Organizations tax credits and expanding charter school funding 
Pre-K: Supports fully funding universal Pre-K Pre-K: Supports funding for Georgia Pre-K and private childcare centers 
Community Schools: Supports wraparound services and other community-based services to increase academic achievement Wraparound Services: Supports working with non-profit organizations to offer afterschool workforce preparation services 
Teachers: Supports increasing diverse teacher recruitment, reducing high-stakes testing, protecting the existing pay schedule, and providing teacher mentorship Teachers: Supports removing government mandates to provide more autonomy for teachers 
Higher Education: Supports increasing need-based aid for low-income students, increasing funding for HBCUs, and improving access to the HOPE scholarship  Local Control: Supports removing state government mandates and offering more local control to school boards  
Rural Education: Supports investing in teacher recruitment, student transportation, and afterschool initiatives.   Rural Education: Supports expanding virtual learning by investing in high-speed internet in rural Georgia 
  School Safety: Supports allowing local school boards to decide whether to arm teachers or not, and supports allowing open carry on college campuses 


Education Funding Candidate Comparison: Kemp vs. Abrams 

Secretary of State and Republican nominee for Governor Brian Kemp was vocal about school funding throughout the primary season. In interviews, he stated his desire to reform the outdated and inequitable formula with the help of the state superintendent. However, he has not disclosed how he would change the student funding formula or address funding inequities. In a 2018 interview with the Marietta Daily Journal, he admitted K-12 funding was a difficult issue, but he “wouldn’t want to speak about the specifics [he] would want to change” (Marietta Daily Journal, 2018).  Kemp has also not offered solutions to the rising transportations costs school districts absorb in his gubernatorial platform.   

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee, has provided suggestions to update the student funding formula. In a similar interview with the Marietta Daily Journal, she said, “any formula that we have has to increase the amount of investment we make [for] children who are low income, rural children, children who speak English as a second language, (and) children who have special needs…” (Marietta Daily Journal, 2018).  Abrams also proposes increasing state spending on public education and ending auxiliary cuts. The proposed revenue needed to increase school spending and student transportation would come from either lowering or removing the tax credits many corporations currently have in Georgia.


Candidate Comparison 

A. Charters, Tax-Credits and School Vouchers  


Kemp supports increased school choice options for all of Georgia’s students as shown in his past legislative actions and current gubernatorial education platform. As a state senator in 2004, he co-sponsored SB 216, which sought to increase charter school autonomy and funding. As Secretary of State, Kemp has advocated for state school vouchers and was supportive of the lieutenant governor’s efforts to pass HB 217, a tax credit scholarships bill (Kemp, 2018).  

HB 217 increases statewide caps on tax credit scholarships from $58 to $100 million. Expanding access to charters and increasing tax-credits for school vouchers are Kemp’s key education policy priorities (Kemp, 2018).  



Abrams’s refers to herself as the "Public Education Governor." She voted against the Opportunity School District, a state proposed turnaround school model. She opposed the establishment of the State Charter School Commission as well as the use of tax credit scholarships and private school vouchers. She has gone on the record opposing public funds for access to private schools. 


B. Universal Pre-K/ Early Learning 


Kemp's early childhood platform is based on “supporting parent choice in early childhood education” and moving “more Georgia Pre-K classes to the private sector.” Kemp believes that those who operate private childcare facilities are “burdened by regulations, lack representation on the state level, and are constantly hindered by red tape and government bureaucracy.” Kemp seeks to empower private childcare providers through the creation of a Commission on Early Childhood Learning that would engage in regulatory reform (Kemp, 2018). Private childcare providers are not regulated at the same level as public facilities, leaving families unsure of the safety and the quality of private early childcare providers.  



Abrams’ Pre-K early childhood education plans include calls to “extend access to high-quality child care programs, ensure affordable options for children ages 0-3, [and] increase access to pre-K." Her campaign platform proposes the creation of a Bold Start Scholarship “that would provide funds for families to afford high-quality early care and learning beginning at birth (Abrams, 2018).”  Abrams intends to fund her early childcare proposals by closing tax loopholes and eliminating Georgia’s tax-credit scholarship program.  


C. Wraparound Services or Community Schools 


Kemp's campaign platform states that “we must work with non-profit organizations to fund after school programs that teach soft skills and prepare tomorrow’s workforce (Kemp, 2018).” Particularly, Kemp’s campaign platform has a strong focus on rural Georgia and workforce preparation. For these schools, Kemp advocates for innovations such as virtual learning and tele-learning.  



Abrams’ campaign platform states that as Governor she will “expand and deepen wraparound supports that facilitate learning for children, including access to public benefits, mental health supports, ESL assistance for children and parents, and health services (Abrams, 2018).” Her campaign platform states that there are already promising examples of Community Schools in Georgia and that these models could be expanded.


D. Increase In Teacher/School Leader Pay or Professional Development 


Kemp's campaign statement pledges to “take a chainsaw to the rules and regulations that hinder progress (Kemp, 2018).” Kemp’s platform speaks negatively of paperwork, standardized testing, unpaid duties, and unfunded mandates. Particularly, Kemp argues against “standardized solutions to local issues.” The elimination of these regulations, Kemp argues, will make the job of teaching more attractive for teachers.  



Abrams seeks to support educators through reducing class sizes in the state and also reducing high-stakes testing. Abrams also pledges to support educators through competitive salaries and benefits. She states that she will prioritize educators in the budget process and also increase pay for Education Support Professionals (ESPs) who, her platform states, earn poverty wages in some areas of the state.


E. Investment in Higher Education 


Kemp’s platform proposes the creation of an Education Savings Account (ESA) program with a pilot for military families. While ESAs primarily allow parents to apply their child’s funding to private K-12 services, dollars can also be applied to postsecondary tuition and fees in many states. The Kemp campaign has yet to offer additional higher education proposals.  



Abrams platform rests on four central pillars. The first is Graduating Without DebtThis portion of the platform adds a need-based component to the HOPE Scholarship, introducing interventions to help students maintain or regain their HOPE scholarships and the creation of a higher education savings account for children at birth.  

The second pillar is a call to Strengthen Access to Post-High School Opportunities. This pillar states that Abrams “will support policies and programs to support underserved student such as students of color, students with disabilities, first-generation college students, DREAMers, veterans, military families, and more (Abrams, 2018)." This pillar notably calls for increased support of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  

The third pillar focuses on Safe, Healthy, Inclusive Campuses. This pillar highlights the need to provide protections and supports to victims of sexual assault, the need to repeal campus carry, and the expansion of mental health supports.  

The final pillar calls to Help Students Prepare to Excel, Graduate and SucceedThis pillar calls for free SAT/ACT testing statewide, supporting to initiatives to reduce “summer melt” before college, and increased data-sharing between state institutions.   


F. Focus on Students of Color/Low-Income Students 


Kemp’s education platform strongly advocates for students in rural Georgia. He promotes virtual learning for these students and also seeks to promote teaching in rural areas.  



Abrams’ platform pledges to “develop a comprehensive education funding formula that directly addresses the correlation between poverty and educational outcomes (Abrams, 2018).” The platform also acknowledges that some communities are able to supplement their funding formula with external resources while others are not. Abrams also advocates for diversifying the teacher workforce so that it reflects Georgia’s evolving student population. Additionally, Abrams’ platform includes a general imperative to keep English Language Learners, students of color, students with disabilities, and low-income students at the center of the discussion around education in Georgia.


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