After serving 15 years on the Richmond County Board of Education, Marion Barnes is facing a challenge this November from Brian Green.
The two are vying for the District 1 seat.
“My candidacy is built on reputation,” Barnes said. “That reputation includes my time as a parent, teacher and member of this board. I worked 38 years as a teacher and administrator, and I’m very proud of that experience.”
Green is a 10-year veteran of the Marines with two decades of experience as a volunteer coach for local children. He’s also volunteered at the Youth Detention Center and is a 1980 graduate of Lucy C. Laney High School.
“I know what’s going on with our kids,” Green said. “I’m around them all the time, and many simply know me as Coach Green. Right now, we’re on the verge of a collapse due to test scores and student conduct, and it’s time that someone
steps up and corrects these issues.”
Barnes said he’s against using the term “failing schools” but admits that some in Richmond County are doing better than others. When it comes to education, Barnes compares struggling schools to challenges in our society.
“In society, not all businesses are excelling,” said Barnes, a 1950 graduate of Laney High. “But that doesn’t mean we close them down. That doesn’t mean we give up on them.”
Green said one of his primary goals is to restructure every failing school in Richmond County.
“Failing students need to have a structured curriculum that allows them to focus on four classes,” he said. “They need to put all their energy toward math, science, English and social studies, and not be allowed to take part in extracurricular activities. No athletics, band or chorus until grades improve. My goal is to get
every failing school off that list.”
Green said he opposes the Opportunity School District, but he also made it clear that the Richmond County school system needs to be held responsible for struggling schools. According to the Governor’s Office, the Opportunity School District is designed to turn around struggling schools in Georgia. The bill is based on similar initiatives in Louisiana and Tennessee and would authorize the state to temporarily step in to operate chronically failing public schools.
“After 20 years of failing schools, it’s obvious that what we’re doing isn’t working,” Green said. “I don’t want this election to be about sentiments or memories – it needs to be about fixing our schools. We need to get things right, and
that’s what I intend to accomplish.”
Barnes also opposes the Opportunity School District, which will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“This bill hasn’t worked in New Orleans and there’s no reason to believe it’ll work here,” Barnes said. “We need to give our school system a chance to prove itself. We need local control.”