I attended a Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce luncheon Wednesday; in fact I paid $55 for the opportunity to hear what the Gwinnett school board had to say to the chamber. The Superintendent told the chamber that the current 2011 graduation rate for Gwinnett County is 84 percent.
If you follow this blog regularly, you know that our graduation rate changed this year due to a new national reporting standard. The graduation rate went from 84 percent to 67 percent. I fully understand that this is a difficult transition, but it is also reality. If we are to be a “world class” school system, we have to compare ourselves fairly against other districts nationally. Every district has some students who don’t graduate on time. The standard for graduation rates now is on-time graduation. We can’t improve if we don’t get an accurate benchmark and set some realistic goals.
It brings me no joy to say it, but the school board – including the District III incumbent – is out of touch. She continues to tout the 2010 Broad Prize, rather than tell her constituents about a report that was released just Wednesday while community leaders were enjoying their cheesecake. The highly-respected Schott Foundation measures graduation rates for African-American male students. In 2010, the same year we won the Broad Prize, the graduation rate for African American young men was 41%. We trailed behind Fulton (47%), Atlanta (42%), Cobb (52%) and DeKalb (46%). Gwinnett’s national ranking plummeted from 5 to 30.
National rankings like this report are going to be coming fast and furious now that we are using the Common Core standards. We may not be so pleased that our district continues to compare itself to Georgia when it should compare itself to some of the finest districts in the nation.
When will the board recognize that this county has had enough of politics? Grandstanding is totally inappropriate, especially in light of recent media attention. We need answers and we need leaders. My opponent has neglected to lead. After 1,000 votes, she offers no response on important questions and consistently votes in lockstep with her fellow board members.
I am not a politician. I am a mother, a concerned citizen and a businesswoman. My kids only recently graduated through the Duluth cluster. I know what it’s like to be in the trenches wading through bureaucracy to make sure that kids get what they need to be successful. I understand the challenges that students and parents face. When the clock is ticking, you don’t want interesting programs that will be rolled out eventually. You want to know what you can do for your children right now.
I believe the role of the board is to facilitate choices, to best educate all children, and to be a wise and judicious steward of precious tax dollars. When I am elected, you won’t find me at the Chamber of Commerce, but you can bet I will be in the schools, listening and sharing.