Frankly, nothing is more important to vote on – nothing is more worth your time – than choosing your school board representative. The future of your children – and the value of what is probably your largest single investment: your home – depends on you making an informed choice, making the best choice of the options presented and voting on Tuesday, July 31 between 7:00 AM and 7:00 PM.
Help get out the vote in your neighborhood. How? Simply call a neighbor and offer a ride to the polls. This will be especially welcomed by an elderly neighbor who might not want to “trouble” anyone for a ride to the polls.
Advance voting opportunity continues at these DeKalb County locations through July 27. You also may go to the DeKalb County Voter Registration and Elections website for sample ballots and other information to be a fully informed voter.
Now back to the candidates …
Here’s what DeKalb School Watch was listening for during the debates – a candidate who:
- admitted, upfront, that an individual school board member is powerless to make a difference.
- articulated a plan for developing consensus among board members – a plan other than caving in to the current Block of Five and making nice with the bullies on the board.
- will insist that the board’s only employee, the superintendent, will provide the final agenda and related supporting information at least one week prior to any board meeting, with no last-minute surprises and agenda changes.
- will stand up to SACS and say, “I’m going to ask for all the information I need from school system employees – using Georgia’s Open Records Act, if necessary – until I have enough information and am knowledgeable enough to make informed decisions affecting DCSS.
- has specific demands for transparency which include (1) an online check register, (2) online bank statements, (3) online P-card statements and (4) videotaping and broadcasting/streaming every board meeting – full board as well as committee meetings.
- will take his/her case directly to the people, providing all information allowed by law instead of trying to cut backroom deals. No more “if you knew what we know …”
Here’s what DeKalb School Watch heard during the debates that portends problems ahead:
District 2 –
McChesney: “… we have raised achievement on the CRCT.”
Orson: “I have the EduKalb endorsement and that is really saying something.”
District 4 –
Gilbert: “I knew Womack in high school … and he was in that Bully Group.” Wait. News flash – alert the media! “It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.”
Kinney: “You have, what? 2000 students in school here? [referring to Arabia Mountain High School] What, more like 1300? Okay, Okay.”
McMahan: “…best case scenario [is] we’re great but worst case is that we’re still friends.”
Womack: “… if you thought this year was bad, next year will be worse.”
District 6 –
Johnson: “Experience counts. I know all the roles.”
McGill: “Every child has potential to become that gifted student.”
Rivers-Cannon: “Blast off the change with Cannon.”
Walker: “I advocate for the rights of children in DeKalb. Take my ethics.”
District 8 –
Speaks: “Experience counts.”
Clark: No show.
Here are the characteristics DeKalb School Watch is looking for in school board members – Someone who:
- is a fearless, experienced leader – not a bully.
- has extensive experience – and has been successful – as a DCSS parent volunteer.
- has not broken the law or been convicted of a crime.
- has a plan for bringing the board together, in consensus, for good.
- is articulate and communicates effectively with stakeholders using 21st Century tools.
- is not afraid of SACS’s bullying tactics and will call their bluff.
- has backbone and does not apologize for, act embarrassed about or back down from asking the tough questions of DCSS’s overpaid Palace administrators.
- understands that the bullies on the current school board don’t respect “nice”; bullies respect only strength.
- opens and responds to all e-mail from stakeholders; returns telephone calls from stakeholders.
- is open-minded and curious – willing to seek out, connect with and learn from successful school systems outside of Georgia.
- reads widely, including this blog, to understand the grassroots, education-related issues and concerns of DeKalb stakeholders.
All that said, after a lot of internal discussion, our voting recommendations for the DeKalb County School System school board elections are:
District 2: Don McChesney
District 4: Jim McMahan
District 6: Denise McGill
District 8 (At-Large District): Pam Speaks
The easiest way to remember which candidate we recommend when you go to the polls to vote on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 is to vote for the candidate in your district whose last name begins with “Mc”: McChesney, McMahan, or McGill. If you also live in At-large District #8 (one-half of DeKalb County), vote for the person who “Speaks” for you: Pam Speaks.
We encourage you to do a search on the DSW blog (old and new) and search the Internet to read more about the candidates and the issues and educate yourself. If you don’t have the time to do that, please take our recommendations. All of DeKalb School Watch’s editors are voting in this election and we have vetted the candidates.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE!
The AJC Voter’s Guide to all races in the Tuesday, July 31 election, prepared by the League of Women Voters is available online, with unedited information from the candidates themselves: