Georgia School Watch staff attend the recent forum of state school superintendent candidates. Overall, the group seemed nice, but Jester was the only candidate that knows her stuff and can do the job. We heard the usual pat answers from most of the candidates about helping children and all that stuff. Most of them seemed confused about what the top job in education is all about. That became clear with a question from someone from Cherokee County.
The question asked if the candidates thought we should include the GED in graduation rates. We first heard from Kira Willis who said she agreed that we should count a GED. Then she started talking about how she liked the letter grade “D”. Not sure what that was all about.
Next, Matt Shultz told us that the graduation rate thing drives him crazy and that it’s measured different ways across the country.
Then we heard from Fitz Johnson who had mentioned in his introduction about how much money he’d loaned himself to run because he cares. He told the crowd that he thought the GED should be counted. He went on say that he gets frustrated with hearing about graduation rates because he said that different states calculate the rate differently. He said we can’t compare because it isn’t apples to apples.
After that we heard from Nancy Jester who had been bringing up graduations rates during the forum. She told the crowd that she was surprised by the other responses about grad rates. Jester said that it was an apples to apples comparison because we switched to a standard for this a few years back. She called out the others for not knowing this and being excuse makers for the poor performance. Jester went on to say that the grad rate for Georgia is lower than all our border states and we spend more money per pupil.
Georgia School Watch is pretty familiar with education policy stuff. We remember this story in the AJC when Georgia changed over to the new federally mandated measure. Here is a quote from that story:
“Under the new federally mandated formula, Georgia’s 2011 graduation rate has been reset at 67.4 percent. That’s well-below the 80 percent graduation rate that the old formula produced — an accomplishment politicians have pointed to as a bright spot in the state’s academic record and a reason for companies to do business in Georgia.”
There you have it folks. Jester is the only candidate who knew this. It was a big change for Georgia. Is this any way to pick the leader for education in our state? It is scary to think that only one candidate knows this stuff.