Admittedly, schools were not amazingly high on my list of priorities when I bought our current house. We had confidence that the Gwinnett County Public Schools (GCPS) were better than average, so that was enough to check it off the list.
But now that I'm actually thinking in terms of what and how will my family will use these services (and how much they cost), I realized that there's more to it than just GCPS furloughing teachers to make ends meet.
Enter this year's election for Board of Education (BoE). Here is an opportunity for us to get to know the candidates, issues, and most importantly, contribute to a debate on them. I didn't know that there was an "establishment" for the school system, much the same way there is an "establishment" of politicians on the left and right. I also didn't know GCPS was as complex as it is.
With that, I'd like to introduce the two candidates for GCPS BoE District 3: (I've listed the incumbent last, since they already get a bump for being the incumbent)
Initial Impression: Website is chalk full of information, she brings charter school experience to the table, and a focus on children and parents.
After email conversations: Questions were answered directly and completely, and the tone was one of empowerment and education.
What to watch for: Stated positions on recent GCPS issues, more great information for becoming an expert on School Issues, and a new vision for GCPS.
Initial Impression: She's got a PhD, served for 16 years, and seems like a nice lady.
After speaking on the Phone: Less impressed - her answers seemed very rehearsed, and she could not give specifics answers to my questions. However, she did take the time to have a very nice phone call with me. I left feeling like she tried to play me and spin my questions.
What to watch for: Specific ideas and positions on Charter Schools, GCPS funding for Lobbyists and Chamber staff, and articulating how new programs will help GCPS.
I didn't know how the current BoE spent our tax dollars, which "investments" earned priority from the BoE, and more importantly, how my neighbors and friends viewed the GCPS. The issues up for grabs this go around are immense, and the candidates couldn't agree less on how to best use the tax dollars, provide parents flexibility and choices, and partnering with other groups to build GCPS.
I encourage you to go to Jen Falk's website to check out all the wonderful resources she has posted about Charter Schools, the GCPS Budget, and her vision for GCPS.
I also encourage you to call Mary Kay Murphy and visit her website to get her take on some of the issues affecting you and your children, as well as her vision for GCPS.