The Dougherty County Board of Education needs new direction.
A large step in changing the course of the Dougherty County School System and improving the future prospects of the approximately 16,000 students who are dependent on it to provide them with a good education would be the election of Lane Price to the at-large seat that will be decided in the Democratic Primary election on Tuesday.
“I know our situation is complicated and our problems are significant,” Price said. “I want to bring a fresh perspective, an innovative approach and wisdom born of a lifetime of experience to the Dougherty County School Board.”
Price is challenging incumbent Anita Williams-Brown for the post. In her lone term on the School Board, Williams-Brown’s performance and accountability to the public have been disappointing. In an interview with The Editorial Board, Williams-Brown graded the School Board’s performance, which has been directed by a four-member voting bloc that includes her, as having earned a “C.” That’s a generous grade. We would mark it a failure.
“We are not meeting the ethics policy goals,” she said, acknowledging that board members are “coming from different directions.”
In fact, the board is deeply divided and listing for leadership. When it takes a lawsuit being filed just to get the board to follow state Sunshine Laws in hiring a superintendent, it’s clear that the direction being pursued is not one that will elevate the education process.
Meanwhile, every day there seems to be a new revelation — a School Board member arrested and removed from office by the governor pending the resolution of her case; refusing to listen to concerned citizens; questions about the authorization of contracts and spending of Title I money that has $11 million being held up by the state until it gets answers; personnel issues, and the ever-hanging specter of the 2009 CRCT investigation.
There has to be a change in direction before the system is driven off a cliff. What’s being done now is not working, and continuing to do the same thing while expecting different results is madness.
The election of Price would do a number of positive things.
First, we believe she has the best interests of the students at heart. Dougherty’s graduation rate has to improve. Attendance of students has to be addressed. Ways have to be found for parents and guardians to become involved in their children’s education. How critical is it? A 2010 Dougherty County Jail study by Project SHIELD surveyed 100 inmates. Ninety-nine of them — all but one — had a history of truancy. A high school diploma greatly improves a person’s prospects and dramatically cuts down on the chances of entering the revolving door of the prison system.
Second, it would change the dynamics of the board. School Board members would actually have to work together, arrive at a meeting of the minds. Right now, the board is so divided and dysfunctional that it makes Congress look cohesive and effective by comparison.
Voters in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary have two distinct choices. They can vote to continue down this same disastrous highway, or they can alter the course toward a better one for tomorrow’s leaders. We urge voters to choose a better future by electing Lane Price to the at-large seat on the School Board.