Nancy Jester enters race for state superintendent!

From the Reporter News:

Former DeKalb school board member Nancy Jester announced Nov. 11 that she will run for Georgia state school superintendent.

Jester, who represented District 1 for the DeKalb County Board of Education, said she is running to reform education in Georgia. She made her campaign announcement at Brook Run Park in Dunwoody.

“More classroom, less bureaucracy. That’s what Georgians deserve and that’s what they’ll get from me,” Jester said.

Jester said she would like for Georgia to spend less money on administration. She said Georgia spends more per pupil than many neighboring states, such as Mississippi, Texas and Arkansas, yet has a lower high school graduation rate.

“That has to stop,” Jester said. “Bureaucrats do not teach children.”

Jester left the DeKalb school board in March after she and four other school board members were suspended by Gov. Nathan Deal. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placed the DeKalb County School System on accreditation probation and claimed the school board was interfering with day-to- day school operations.

Jester says it was her own investigation of the system’s budgeting practices that led to the accreditation agency’s involvement.

“I’m really proud of my record,” Jester said. “I uncovered financial malfeasance in DeKalb.”

She said she was willing to sacrifice her seat on the school board because, “it wasn’t about me.”

“It demonstrates my commitment to telling the truth to taxpayers,” Jester said.

Since leaving the school board, Jester has maintained an education blog and hosts regular education-based meetings in the metro Atlanta area.

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37 Responses to Nancy Jester enters race for state superintendent!

  1. No hiding it here — we are thrilled!!!

  2. Chloe says:

    So glad she is running! She has my vote!

  3. concerned citizen says:

    Nancy, we knew you would come back to help. I will do anything and everything to help you get elected. We need your wisdom and courage. Brilliant lady, you are needed and valued.

  4. Another comment says:

    I will be voting for Nancy as wll. Alicia Morgan and her husband Cobb County board member David Morgan have so many conflicts of interest.

  5. TracyW says:

    Yay!!!! Someone who knows something about the office they are seeking!!!

  6. politiMom says:

    I was so pleased to hear about Nancy but she is going to need all our help. She is already being flamed for being part of the dekalb school board debacle and not having an education background. People who haven’t been following the details of what went on here have no idea how capable she is and what she was able to uncover here in dekalb. Her ideas are outside the box and people in power are threatened by that. Everyone who follows this blog please help her in any way you can.

  7. howdy1942 says:

    Best wishes to you, Nancy. Our loss in Dekalb will be the State’s gain. For one, I sincerely appreciate your courage and stamina to stand up to the likes of Eugene Walker, Jay Cunningham, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Zepora Roberts, Tom Bowen, etc. I wish that you could have had more support. Finally, I am just so sorry that you had to be among this crew that was suspended – I’ve never seen anyone in my lifetime to receive the fate that you received for being so right. If that law giving the Governor such broad powers is to be retained, it also needs to have some way of focusing in on those who caused the situation and not those who have done nothing to deserve such a fate. It doesn’t make any sense to destroy the house to get a few bad apples when there are innocents in it.

  8. dsw2contributor says:

    I doubt I will be voting for Nancy – sorry!

  9. formerdekalbparent says:

    as a former DeKalb county resident, happy that she is running in a race I can support! Go Nancy!

  10. Insider says:

    I want the Dramamine concession down at the DOE offices. Nancy’s going to rock their boat so much there’s a whole lot of people down there that are going to get sea sick.

  11. Lunaville says:

    It does not behoove us to compare our spending per pupil to Mississippi when trying to justify cost cuts. We may spend more per pupil than Mississippi, however, many of our students can read. Some of them can add. That is money well spent. Anyone who thinks that is not, is welcome to relocate to Mississippi.

  12. @Lunaville: IF you would like to compare some data state to state, visit the NAEP site and plug in parameters:

    I plugged in GA vs MS in 2013 for 8th grade – reading scores for students on F&R lunch – GA students scored 255, MS students scored 246. Math scores – GA students scored 267, MS scored 263.

    If you include all students, not just F&R lunch, then reading scores for all resulted in – GA students scored 265, MS students scored 253. Math scores – GA students scored 279, MS scored 271.

  13. howdy1942 says:

    Wow – there are some folks on this blog that don’t like Nancy Jester! Just look at the number of “downs”. Go Nancy, go! Bring that breath of fresh air into schools statewide – focus on the classrooms instead of administration and watch our students take off!!

  14. dsw2contributor says:

    DSW said “Math scores – GA students scored 267, MS scored 263.”

    And for the same group and demographics, Virginia has a 288, Pennsylvania has a 290 and Massachusetts has a 301. The State Superintendent needs a plan to bring GA up to those levels. Complaining that GA spends slightly more than the other states at the bottom is pointless.

  15. Ella says:

    I like Nancy. She has many good ideas. However, I am concerned that she is not an educator.
    I am one who believes that a school superintendent should have spent some time in the classroom and it helps that they have spend some time in public education administration. I believe they should have a degree in Educational Leadership also or have experience at the state department.

    I will be interested to see how many educators support her. It honestly is too early for me to make a decision as to how I will vote.

    Again, I like her. I like many of her ideas. But I suspect this may hurt her if someone runs with a great deal of experience in education or at the state department of education.

  16. concerned citizen says:

    Ella, thank you for being open: Nancy is a person I have gotten to know. She has three children in DeKalb, and she and her husband Stan have had to fight so hard to maintain the schools(s) they attend and all the rest. She has asked pointed questions about many schools. She knows what is going on in many schools. She could choose to get into administration but why? Can you name even a few outstanding “administrators”? She is a fighter for DeKalb Schools! That is what you see on the rate this negative. She fought GW tooth-and-nail. She fought hiring Thurmond. We need somebody with her intelligence and nerves of steel. Her tolerance is open; yet, she draws the line between right and wrong. I am an educator, have been for 49 years. Can we please have a board member, state superintendent, with a glimmer of intelligence?

  17. @dsw2contributor: We agree! States like Massachusetts should be our barometer. We should not reinvent the wheel, we should just ask for help and guidance from states that do things right. The comparisons are only to show that Georgia spends GOBS of money – with no more to show for the results – even when compared to states at the bottom. Results do not correlate to spending. Hard work and streamlined, focused effort will improve results. Georgia just has to remove a lot of baggage, waste and bloat in order to allow the spending to flow toward proven educational programs and curricula that work. We have good teachers and we have smart kids. We just need to directly support what goes on in their classrooms to the best of our ability.

  18. Ella says:

    Concerned citizen, I totally understand.
    I know Nancy and like her very much. I absolutely am not indicating I will not vote for her. However, I do think she may have an uphill battle. If you look at the history you will see most of the time an educator is elected to the position by the voters in the state.


  19. Ella – maybe it’s time for a change in the way it’s done in Georgia!!

    Personally, we think we need a money expert in the job. Someone who can dig down through the biggest budget in the state and watch the money like a dog – ensuring that each and every dollar goes to the classrooms and the teachers – in full support of their professional ability to do their job! The state super does not need to tell teachers how to teach, the state super needs to have a solid ability to make sound fiscal decisions, find and use the best curricula and data mining available and lead with integrity. That’s Nancy!

  20. howdy1942 says:

    I’m very impressed by Nancy Jester. In the numerous school board meetings that I have observed, she was prepared, knowledgeable, respectful, and asked searching questions. More often than not, neither the Board nor the administration could answer her questions. She is “one of us” and not “one of the inside crowd”. She is very plain – a mom with a calculator with three kids in the public school system who is very concerned about their education. Is it not possible that someone who has invested the time and effort to educate herself as to what is really happening in the DCSS schools may know more about the issues and the classroom than some of the PhDs parked in administration who have chosen not to be close to the classroom – as has Nancy? In those school board meetings, it occurred to me that not only did some of those administrators not know the answers to Nancy’s questions, there had never even thought of the questions. While I know the disaster that the Dekalb County School System has become (why else is it on probation if that is not true?), I sense that the broader school systems in Georgia have been nothing to write home about. I think that Nancy will get very involved, will do her homework, will continue to ask the searching questions, will continue to expect answers, and will continue to make our classrooms better laboratories for our kids.

    As a disclaimer, I do not know Nancy personally nor any of her family. What I know is based on my observations of her. For one, I want to give her a chance.

  21. In addition, Nancy has a degree in economics and is an actuary. She completed doctoral work on an economics degree. Actuaries understand systems – and can look through budgets to find where systems can be improved. That’s the kind of work that needs done in Georgia. PLUS we need someone who fully supports the teachers in the classroom and encourages the use of every available technical tool known to the education world. It’s the 21st Century and it’s high time Georgia schools join it!

    Nancy has three children in public school – she puts her ‘money’ where her mouth is. Her own children are on the line in her quest to improve educational outcomes in Georgia!

  22. Bucky Rogers says:

    I am afraid that Nancy will not be able to impact the change she imagines in the State Superintendent’s seat. As many state superintendents have discovered, their will is only as effective as the sitting governor wishes it to be. The enmity between Kathy Cox (R) and Sonny Perdue (R) was legend, and it’s worth noting that our current state superintendent, John Barge (R), is mounting a gubernatorial campaign against Nathan Deal (R) because of his frustration with the state’s educational management. I note the party affiliation just to point out that this is not partisan politics as usual– this is a profound split between people who care about education deeply and people who don’t.

  23. You are quite correct, Ella.

    “If you look at the history you will see most of the time an educator is elected to the position [State Superintendent of Schools] by the voters in the state.”

    And where has that gotten us?

    Well, by any measure, Georgia is at the bottom of the national educational barrel. Still. And, as far back as we can remember, our state school superintendents have been educators. As far as we can see, they have spent Georgia’s educational dollars to hire more educrats, more clones of themselves.

    It’s time for Nancy Jester, with her unquestioned integrity; her clear-eyed commitment to Georgia’s students and only to Georgia’s students; her determination to put teachers, students and classrooms first in funding; her critical thinking skills coupled with a willingness to color outside the lines; and her professional knowledge of budgets and money management to head up and direct the multi-billion-dollar enterprise that is the Georgia Department of Education. It is time for Nancy Jester.

  24. ShooShee says:

    Interesting logic, Bucky. You don’t think that change is possible in the state of Georgia therefore you won’t support someone who wants to make some changes. hmmmm.

  25. Bucky Rogers says:

    At no point did I say that I would not support Nancy, ShooShee. Interesting extrapolation. I think Nancy Jester cares about education very deeply, but unless we begin to elect people into other offices who care about education as well, we will cut her off at the knees.

  26. Ned says:

    In all honesty Nancy, I hope you have something better to run on than “I uncovered financial malfeasance in DeKalb.” Cere, Kim, and many others did that well before you came on the scene (so please stop taking sole credit for SACS’s interest) and in any event discovering financial malfeasance in DeKalb is like discovering snow in Antarctica. My dog could do it. And she’s dead.

    YOU HAVE MY VOTE but especially if you actually get into office you’ll need more than platitudes like “bureaucrats don’t teach children” to get something done.

  27. concerned citizen says:

    Bucky, why don’t we trust in her stamina? She won’t be cut off at the knees; she is just not made that way! You are awesome, Nancy. Thank you for trying to help all of GA.

  28. d says:

    Bucky is right – the Governor appoints the state Board of Education – and that is where the real power lies, not in the office of the Superintendent.

  29. dsw2contributor says:

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

  30. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    dsw2…Kind of like Obamacare. Kill everyones health insurance, so we can insure the 15 million, who Gallup says the majority of, never wanted insurance in the first place!

  31. Cedar says:

    Less bureaucracy! No kidding. Let’s start with getting rid of the Department of Education. The more bureaucracy the dumber this Nation has become.

  32. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Atlanta Media Guy

    Obamacare is not a good analogy for me. I have a child who has a pre existing condition since a young age. Never has been able to buy insurance. Luckily I could insure my child, pay for extremely expensive COBRA, and then make sure she was educated with a graduate degree that she had no problem getting a job in – lucky she’s also gifted. And there are millions like her that have the pre existing conditions but not the financial resources we had. It can happen to anyone. Try telling them they don’t want healthcare.

    DeKalb Schools is run by highly paid, politically connected individuals extending into the local government and the statehouse. It’s all about relationships and never about competence. At this point, I would liken DCSS to a once very successful corporation that has abandoned its core mission of producing a quality product. Management is busy getting as much financial gain as possible while hanging on to power by any possible means.

  33. Dekalbmomof3 says:

    I have no doubt that Nancy will serve the students, teachers, parents, and other citizens of Georgia exceedingly well if the voters give her the opportunity to do so. I’ve never met anyone with her combination of intelligence, tenacity, work ethic, fearlessness, and drive to improve education for all of our children. Nancy’s announcement is the best news I’ve heard in months!

  34. concerned citizen says:

    Thank you, Dekalbmomof3: you always hit the up-note with me!!! She is almost too good to be true, and I trust her with the students, teachers, and parents. There is not one single person at the Palace I could say that about, and unfortunately I know them all. Nancy would scare the pants off them by just walking into a room! Magic!!

  35. Jestme says:

    Please check your facts. Nancy Jester was never an actuarist. Nancy Jester never finished her doctoral work for her Economics degree. If this were true she would have her masters which is what she attempted to complete but was unsuccessful. @ConceredCitizen. Maybe she is too good to be true. Does anyone truly feel they know her? Has anyone agreed to disagree with her. I would like to hear that Nancy respects an opinion that is not shared by her. I promise she is not the person you want to represent our children.

  36. @Jestme: I promise you she is the person she appears to be and she definitely would represent our children very well. She is an actuarial consultant and worked as one in Texas. She completed coursework toward a PhD. I have personally disagreed with her and we have had a lively, respectful conversation. She even came around to my perspective. She does not anger or judge or say different things to different people. She is exactly who she appears to be.

    As far as her education goes, I think what you are referring to is this statement in my previous comment, “In addition, Nancy has a degree in economics and is an actuary. She completed doctoral work on an economics degree.” Which is true. She did the doctoral work at Emory I believe. But no, she did not do the dissertation, etc. I’ll have to check as to why, but I think the program changed.

    In the meantime, here’s the link to her “About” page:

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