ALBANY -- Augusta native and Democrat Beth Farokhi visited the Albany area Monday for the first time since announcing her candidacy in July for the state superintendent of education post.
After spending more than 30 years in education, the 61-year-old Farokhi said she felt "compelled" to serve in an elected position. Farokhi, who now lives in Marietta, said she had served with multiple nonprofit organizations over the years on local, state and national levels.
Farokhi is seeking the position currently held by Kathy Cox, who was first elected to the state's highest education post in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. The primary election is July 20.
"When I retired from Georgia State University (as an administrator in 2005), I decided I had too much knowledge, experience and leadership ability to not step up," said Farokhi, who's married to Morris Brown College political science professor N.R. Farokhi and has three grown children. "As an eighth-generation Georgian, I'm compelled to give back to the state. I truly believe in public service."
Farokhi earned her bachelor's degree from LaGrange College, her master's from Emory University and her doctorate from the University of Georgia. She taught mainly fourth-graders for six years at Cobb County's Riverside Elementary School. She later worked 24 years in administration at Georgia State, where she was the school's liaison for the Board of Regents and the State Department of Education.
Three of Farokhi's main objectives for the superintendent position are helping teachers, cutting back on "excessive" student testing and making a more balanced curriculum.
"What we need is quality, effective teachers in all our classrooms, and we need to look at how we recruit and retain teachers," said Farokhi, who spent her childhood summers at her grandmother's Americus farm. "There's an excessive amount of testing. We've gotten to an environment of testing instead of learning. And the tests we are using are not testing the students' growth over a nine-month period.
"(We need) to make a balanced curriculum for the whole child," she continued. "That's making sure we don't just focus on the academics, but the physical, emotional and creative (aspects) of the whole child. We need to be educating not for a job, but for a whole life."
State Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, D-Albany, joined Farokhi during her visit to the area, which included attending the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration event at the Albany Civic Center Monday night. Farokhi plans to continue her Southwest Georgia visit today with individual appointments.
"Immediately talking to her, she has the care and concern that we've needed for years, especially in state education. Her dedication that she's given over the years speaks to that," said Sims, a former educator.