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EDITORIAL: It's the adults, not the kids

Here we go again.

Clayton County Public Schools is under the microscope of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. 

When SACS revoked Clayton County Public Schools accreditation Aug. 28, 2008, it was just the third school district in the entire nation to lose accreditation since 1969.

SACS accreditation is a valuable component of quality public education and the vast majority of all schools in all counties in all 11 states never even come close to jeopardizing this important credential.

If you read the letter sent from SACS to the school system (that was first made available to the general public on the Clayton News Daily website), it is largely the Board of Education that is in the cross hairs. 

So, children suffer because adults can’t get along. 

Yes, children do suffer because the entire local educational system is once again under a cloud, school administrators on edge, teacher morale is likely on the decline and quality educators could not be blamed if they begin looking for employment with a credible school system. 

Furthermore, students will forever have the stigma of the being the product of the embattled school system. 

These students should never be ashamed.

The adults at the center of the controversies should.

For one school member to throw another under the bus, blaming a fellow elected official for all the problems is not productive of any good and not a solution to the problem. 

SACS did not base its action on the actions and antics of one board member.

In fact, the blame game is one of the reasons the Board of Education has once again found itself in this position. 

Pointing fingers is not leadership.

By the same token, rattling chains just to rattle chains is not productive of any good either. 

SACS describes its school system accreditation as “quality assurance developed more than 100 years ago by American universities and secondary schools, and designed primarily to distinguish schools adhering to a set of educational standards. The accreditation process is also known in terms of its ability to effectively drive student performance and continuous improvement in education.”

The key word is that description is “standards.”

In public education, we have standards for students, standards for teachers, standards for testing and standards for the entire educational process.

What kind of standards do board members hold for themselves? 

SACS claims that its accreditation process considers “the whole institution — the programs, the cultural context, the community of stakeholders — to determine how well the parts work together to meet the needs of students.”

When board members squabble, get involved in little turf wars and behave more like children than adults, where is the concern for the “needs of students?”

SACS asks school systems to evaluate vision, strategies, priorities, leadership, programs and resources.

Our local schools are blessed with quality teachers in the classroom who care about the success of their students.   

It is leadership that is once again called into question and that needs to be evaluated.

Who is putting “students first?”

While students may come first in the classroom, it is obvious they are not first in the board room. 

Citizens of Clayton County also need to accept responsibility.

Why do you vote the way you vote? 

As a community, why do we elect the people we elect to office? 

There’s a pattern here.

— Editor Jim Zachary