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Groups offer policy forum for BOE, legislative candidates

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

The ongoing furor surrounding the Clayton County Board of Education has prompted the Georgia School Board Association (GSBA), and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE), to select the county as a site for one of 12 education policy forums which will be held in June.

Officials from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) have accused members of Clayton County's school board of being dysfunctional, unethical, and incapable of following some of their own policies. As a result, the school system is facing a Sept. 1 deadline to show improvement or lose accreditation.

The problems plaguing the Clayton County school board have become an example the GSBA and GPEE can use to teach candidates the importance of understanding policies and other education issues in this election year.

"There's a lot going on in Clayton County, so we wanted to go down there and make it convenient for the candidates to attend this forum," said Bill Maddox, a spokesman for the GPEE. "Certainly, with some of the issues that have been going on in Clayton County, it has illustrated the need for candidates to understand what their duties and roles would be, if they are elected."

The two organizations will hold one of their 12 forums on June 4, from 12:30 p.m., to 4:45 p.m., in Room 222 of the Technology Building at Clayton State University's campus in Morrow. The forums have been held every election year since 2002. School board, and legislative candidates from Clayton, Henry and Fayette counties are invited to participate.

Officials from the GSBA and the GPEE will lead the forum, where education experts will discuss the issues of governance; policy making; school leadership; school choice; education finance; standards and assessments; accountability; student achievement, and teachers. Each candidate participating in the forum will receive an education primer which provides in-depth coverage of each issue.

"It is critical to all legislative and governmental decision makers to have an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a school board, and to have a working knowledge of how school systems are governed and operated," said Jeannie M. Henry, GSBA's executive director. "Not only are school systems usually one of the largest employers in a county, but in teaching our children, schools systems have a direct effect on the future of our country."

Maddox said candidates for other elected positions are invited to attend as well, if they want to gain a deeper understanding of education-related issues. Candidates can register for the forum by logging on to www.gpee.org, or www.gsba.com.

The sites for the other 11 forums are Clarksville (June 3); Dalton (June 6); Columbus (June 9); Albany (June 10); Valdosta (June 11); Macon (June 12); Acworth (June 23); Athens (June 24); Sandersville (June 25); Savannah (June 26), and Dublin (June 27).

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On the net:

Georgia School Boards Association: http://www.gsba.com

Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education: http://www.gpee.org