A Georgia state representative that switched parties from Democrat to Republican told Fox News Digital that Democratic leadership was not making the necessary moves to give children a variety of alternatives to being educated.
After being a Democrat her “entire life,” Mesha Mainor who represents District 56 in the Georgia House since January 2021, announced on July 11th the decision to switch her party registration to Republican.
“My entire family are Democrats. I am a Democrat. I was a Democrat. That’s all I knew. And it wasn’t until getting into office–I’m in school getting my doctorate, and so I’m used to reading a lot. And as a policymaker, you must read every single line, because one line can change everything,” Mainor told Fox News Digital.
“And so it was not until I became a policymaker in reading every single line of the legislation that I realized we are doing so many things that are not benefiting people of color, people from low socioeconomic backgrounds, although we’re promoting that we are,” she continued. “There’s a lot of propaganda.”
Mainor, who ran her campaign on the issue of school choice, stated that wasn’t the only reason why she left the Democratic Party. It was also the party’s stance on “defund the police.” However, she stressed the importance school choice had in her decision.
“I had the most charter schools in my district than any other district in the state of Georgia. So people in my community are crying for options because no one wants to send their child to a school that’s failing,” she said. “School choice is important to me because I am that child that it supports. I grew up in an area of the west side of Atlanta where right now the schools–in some of them–97% of the kids can’t read, perform simple math.”
She added, “It’s dismal. It’s bleak. It’s high unemployment. It’s low life expectancy, low graduation rates, you name it. It is marginalized. And so this community was the same way it was when I was a little girl.”
School choice, or providing all families with alternatives to the public schools they’re zoned for, can be expanded through multiple avenues at the state level, including school voucher programs, tax-credit scholarship programs, individual tuition tax credit programs and deductions, and education savings accounts (ESAs).
Charter schools, magnet schools, and homeschooling are also forms of school choice programs.
Mainor said that when she was a young girl, she had to use someone else’s address to be able to qualify for the school district that the address is zoned for. She added that people are still using others’ addresses, however, the process is illegal.
The lawmaker wants to remove the zip code limits on school districts.
“Especially when the people that are running the schools have the capacity to change the curriculum,” she said.
“They have the capacity to change the times of the school. They have the capacity to change the management of the schools,” she continued. “They have the capacity to give the teachers more opportunities to not be so handcuffed to the system. Leadership is not doing that. That leadership is Democrat leadership, and education is just too important of a value for us to let it go on without being focused on a moment longer.”
Earlier this year, amid criticism from her Democrat counterparts in the state legislature, Mainor supported a school choice bill that would have expanded opportunities for students who attend Georgia’s lowest-rated schools.
“Everyone was told if you don’t vote with the party on this caucus line, you will be ostracized. You will be on the island by yourself. I did not agree with that. And so the other people, in my opinion, I don’t know, but I feel like they were pressured into voting a caucus decision instead of voting for their communities,” Mainor said.
Georgia Senate Bill 233 would have created $6,500 vouchers for students at schools performing in the bottom 25% in the state to help pay for private school tuition and homeschooling expenses if they were inclined. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp pushed for it, and it appeared to have the votes to pass under the Republican-controlled Golden Dome, until 16 House Republicans voted it down.
Mainor’s decision to switch political parties while in office, which extends the Republican majority in the House, comes after former Georgia state Rep. Vernon Jones made the same move in 2021.
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Fox News’ Kyle Morris contributed to this report.