By Curt Yeomans
Local residents will soon have a chance to hear from, and address, a member of Georgia's State Board of Education in person, about public-education issues in the state.
According to officials from the Georgia Department of Education, Mary Sue Murray is scheduled to come to Jonesboro on Dec. 16, to hold a forum and get public input on state education policies and performance, from residents of Georgia's 13th Congressional District.
Murray represents the congressional district -- which includes portions of Clayton, Henry, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, and Fulton counties -- on the State Board of Education. Her term lasts through 2016, according to the Georgia Department of Education's web site.
Department of Education Spokesman Matt Cardoza said members of the state board are required to hold, at least, one public forum per year in their districts.
"It's the board members' duty to hold public forums in their districts, to talk to the public about education policies in the state, and to update them on what's being done to improve the quality of education provided to students," Cardoza said. "It's also an opportunity for the public to make comments and inquiries, about the education their children are receiving."
The forum hosted by Murray is scheduled to take place on Dec. 16, from 7 p.m., to 8 p.m., in the Clayton County Board of Education meeting room, at the Clayton County Public Schools Central Administration Complex, at 1058 Fifth Ave., in Jonesboro.
The forum comes at the end of a year that saw plenty of big issues crop up that continue to affect education in Georgia. Those issues include state budget cuts that reduced funding for education; the state's $400 million "Race To The Top" grant competition prize; passage of legislation designed to reform local school boards; State Board of Education decisions to adopt the Common Core Curriculum, and to phase out the Georgia High School Graduation Test, and investigations into possible cheating on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests.
Murray's biography, on the state board's web site, shows that she has experience in several areas of public education, working previously in the areas of staff development, personnel, curriculum and language arts for schools in Georgia.
She also has experience in the area of accreditation, having worked since 1999 as a Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) consultant for several schools in Georgia. Accreditation is an issue that is particularly significant to Clayton County Public Schools, as the district remains on SACS probation, following it's loss of accreditation in 2008.
Diane Burrell, another Georgia Department of Education spokesperson, said in a written statement that all stakeholders in Murray's district are encouraged to not only attend the public forum, but to provide input as well.
"Whether you're a teacher, parent, student, or simply a concerned citizen -- you are encouraged to take part in this important event," Burrell wrote in the announcement for the public hearing. "Your feedback is critical as the State Board of Education, and the State Superintendent of Schools, work together to ensure that all Georgia students are receiving an excellent education."
People who would like to speak during the forum will have to sign in upon their arrival -- before it begins, according to the announcement for the meeting.
Anyone who would like more information, or who have a disability and needs assistance, or an auxiliary aid, to participate in the forum, should contact the State Board of Education's secretary, Jackie Clarke Dodd, at (404) 657-7410.