Originally created 09/17/06

First step for better schools: Vote for Alex Howard on Tuesday



While there are various reasons folks pull up stakes and move, it's quite often the schools. Nothing is more important to parents than their children's education.

Consider the state of Augusta public schools: There are 11 schools in all of Georgia that have been on the federal "needs improvement" list all seven years of the No Child Left Behind era. Three of those 11 schools, 27 percent, are right here in Augusta: Glenn Hills, Morgan Road and Tubman middle schools.

And all 10 of Richmond County's middle schools are currently on the needs improvement list.

It doesn't have to be that way; Augusta also is home to some of the best schools in the state, including Davidson Fine Arts Magnet school.

But this begs the question: Why is our school board content to just enjoy each other's company once or twice a month while something radical needs to be done to fix our schools and stop the exodus out of Richmond County?

We believe several new school board members have brought new vitality and hope to the Richmond County Board of Education. Now we're hoping for another one this week: Alex Howard.

A financial consultant with Georgia Bank and Trust, the 35-year-old father of three is running in Tuesday's special election for the District 3 Board of Education seat. It was vacated by John Seitz earlier this year.

Due to the unfortunate and inconsiderate timing of Seitz's resignation, we not only need to fill out the remaining few months of his term with Tuesday's election, but we will have to turn right around and fill the seat again in November.

The good news is, that gives District 3 two opportunities instead of one to cast votes for Alex Howard.

As a concerned parent, his motivations are the best. As a financial consultant, he will bring some number-crunching savvy to the board.

Most important, Howard recognizes the need for radical solutions to the city's ailing schools - such as expanding the successful magnet school concept county wide. That might make both the district and the parents more accountable.

Mr. Howard also sees the big picture: that the state of Richmond County schools will have much to say about the city's efforts to bring new business and industry to the area. And he already has several relationships at City Hall that would facilitate a mutually beneficial partnership between the school district and the city government in helping improve Augusta's schools.

Reforming Augusta's schools is a huge undertaking. But the longest journey begins with a single step.

The first step in this journey is for District 3 voters to elect Alex Howard on Tuesday to the Richmond County Board of Education.

(Richmond County Board of Education District 3 runs roughly from Fort Gordon at the Columbia County line through the middle of Richmond County to Walton Way. To inquire about this or polling place locations, call the Elections Office at 706-821-2340.)