In this day of career politicians it is refreshing to have a candidate for public office who transcends partisan politics. Dr. Barbara Christmas, who is seeking the office of state school superintendent, is such a candidate.
It has been my pleasure to have been professionally associated with Christmas since the middle 1970s when we were early members of the newly formed Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). I have seen firsthand her many contributions to the public schools at the local, district, state and national levels.
Her dedication to public education is unquestionable. Her knowledge and leadership ability in all areas of public education has been demonstrated through her many years as a successful professional educator and as executive vice president of the states largest teacher organization, PAGE, which currently has 54,000 members.
Christmas' experience as a parent, classroom teacher, principal, system curriculum director and local school board member gives her a firsthand understanding of the challenges that parents, teachers, administrators and local boards face. In her leadership capacity with PAGE, she has served on several national educational advisory committees and counseled, in a nonpartisan manner, with governors and other state and national elected officials on educational issues. (PAGE does not endorse political parties or their candidates). She has the trust and respect of Republican and Democratic members of the Georgia General Assembly and she possesses the statesmanship to work in a professional and cooperative manner with all elected officials, from the governors office to local boards of education.
Georgias next state superintendent of schools will have to deal with the following crucial issues:
1.SAT scores that are nationally ranked at the bottom of all 50 states.
2. Local schools saddled with a flawed education reform program that is vague, disjointed and more of a hindrance than a help.
3. Classroom teachers that have been stripped of their professional authority and integrity, destroying their morale.
4. Local school boards that are floundering because of a lack of direction and support from an ineffective state Department of Education.
5. Four years of political infighting between the governor, state superintendent of schools and state Board of Education.
Christmas' platform addresses all of these issues with workable and realistic solutions that are based on sound educational practice, reliable research and common sense. Her ability to communicate in a straightforward manner with professional authority and without the use of political rhetoric or educational jargon gives her the creditability needed to work with the next governor, General Assembly and state Board of Education to get our schools moving in a positive direction.
The first step in solving the problems of Georgias public schools is to elect a strong and effective leader to the office of State Superintendent of Schools. Dr. Barbara Christmas not only has the qualifications and experience of a proven leader, she is the only candidate that possesses all of the qualities that will be needed to lead Georgias schools out of the current political abyss.
It is time for Georgias voters to put our children first by setting aside partisan politics and electing Dr. Barbara Christmas as Georgias next state superintendent of schools.
(Don Thornhill of Grovetown served as superintendent of Columbia County schools from 1980-1982, and is retired from the Georgia Department of Education.)
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