The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and the Georgia School Boards Association offer the half-day sessions and lunch for free. They were in Macon and Savannah last week. Next they go to Cartersville and then Athens on Wednesday.
Monday’s session in Atlanta included 52 candidates, mostly for legislative and school board seats. They heard about funding, graduation rates and government policies.
“It stands to reason that state legislators should become aware of the intricacies of public education,” said Zenda Bowie of the School Boards Association.
She also offered some advice.
“If anyone is getting on the school board to get rid of the superintendent or the basketball coach or do something about cheerleading, you need to talk to someone on your school board about that,” she said.
She sparked controversy when she noted that the association opposes a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would empower the state to grant charters to schools over the objection of local boards. Andrew Lewis, the executive vice president of the Georgia Charter Schools Association which supports the amendment, interrupted from his seat in the audience.
“I take great offense to the partisan commentary,” he said.
Bowie apologized and said anyone who wanted to know more on that could contact her. Later, however, she added, “The school board members are advocates for public education, and they must tell the story.”
Steve Dolinger, the executive director of the Partnership for Excellence, offered his own warning.
“If you’re running for school board, there are plenty of groups that say, ‘I’ve got just the answer for you,’” he said.