- Associated Press - Thursday, November 3, 2016

ATLANTA (AP) - GeorgiaGov. Nathan Deal says he made a mistake in using the phrase “colored people” during a speech last month, but he’s standing by his argument that civil rights groups should support a constitutional amendment allowing the state to take over low-performing schools.

WAGA-TV (http://bit.ly/2epZIkh ) reported Deal’s remarks on Wednesday. In video obtained by the station, Deal defends the proposal against critics during an Oct. 3 speech to technical college educators in Savannah.

“The irony of some of the groups who are opposing doing something to help these minority children is beyond my logic,” Deal said. “If you want to advance the state of colored people, start with their children.”

In a later interview with the station, Deal said he was referring to the NAACP, which has joined teacher organizations and others urging people to vote against the amendment. The organization’s full name is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but “colored” has become a derogatory term in the decades since the NAACP’s founding in 1909.

Deal, a Republican in his final term, told the station that he “misspoke, in that I did not use the entire name of the organization. But I don’t think I misspoke in terms of where I think they should be on this issue.”

Georgia voters will decide Tuesday whether the proposal, identified on ballots as Amendment 1, is approved. Schools could be taken over by the state after three years of scoring below 60 on an index for measuring student performance and growth.

Nearly all schools meeting the criteria this year serve high percentages of minority students, and race has been a key factor in the competing campaigns to sway voters.

The station’s report also included video of Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Gretchen Corbin apparently following Deal at the October event. Corbin says the governor asked her to tell the audience that he intended to refer to the NAACP and to “send his regrets for not stating the full statement of his thoughts.”

“I did not mean to insult anyone. But I was upset,” Deal said in the interview with WAGA-TV.

Deal’s proposal has inspired fierce opposition from teacher groups and others, who have spent nearly $4.5 million according to data from media tracking firm Kantar Media/CMAG and analyzed by the Center for Public Integrity. The analysis showed Deal’s allies have spent more than $3 million to persuade people to cast a ‘yes’ vote.

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Information from: WAGA-TV, http://www.myfoxatlanta.com

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