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Letter to the Editor - March 31, 2009

Why overlook what we have here?

To the Editor:

I think the school board did the right thing by firing Dr. (John) Thompson. Had some members of the previous school board listened to SACS, he should have never been hired in the first place. The current school board's decision to fire him shows its determination to clean up the "mess" created by some members of the previous, dysfunctional board. It shows unity and that the board members appear to be on the same page.

I believe the next step this board should take is to discontinue a nationwide search for a superintendent and look at the talent right here at home. The previous nationwide searches have proven to be a big waste of time and money.

Why do we continue to think that an outsider is better qualified than someone who has worked for this school system for years and has done a good job? What did these people (outsiders) have or bring to Clayton County that we did not already have right here, other than their friends and relatives?

As a retired educator from Clayton County, I know we have always had very talented people right here in our community, who have lived here, worked here and remained here even after retirement. These people brought in from outside the state have no investment in this community and no ties to this community. Once these people have left the system, they go back to the community from whence they came (unless, of course, they cannot sell their home here due to the state of our school system). They do not know the community and the people in the community like our local people do. They all bring in "their own people," like there are none here qualified or competent enough to do the job.

I have always felt that we should promote from within whenever possible. This helps to build employee morale and serves as an incentive for people to be more productive when they know that they may have an opportunity to move up in the system, rather than to be overlooked and/ or not even considered for promotions. We have lost some excellent people to other counties in the past because of this kind of thinking.

I feel that it is an insult to the people we have working here when we say to them that none of you are qualified, therefore, we have to go outside the community/state to find someone who is. What kind of message does this send to the long-time, dedicated people working here? They know this community and they have an inside track to some of the problems that the system must deal with.

Some of our problems today have been created by some of those who were brought into this community by past superintendents. Positions were created for "friends" and "family" members of these people.

I do not know our new interim superintendent, Valya Lee, personally, but I know people who do know her, and they all speak very highly of her. She has an outstanding reputation within our system. I believe that she should be given an opportunity to "move up the ladder." What a great example for our students and faculty to know that our superintendent once attended Clayton County schools and because of her hard work, she has moved to the top.

This says to our students that "you can do it too, if you get a good education, apply yourself and work hard."

I think it is fine to "look" outside for someone, but exactly what are we looking for that we cannot find right here?

JIM CARTER

Retired Educator

Clayton County School System