One day this week, I sat at my computer, perusing the local news and catching up on local activities, when an article caught my attention: “Wake-Up Call: Cobb County School Board Vote to Change School Calendar Reveals Stealthy Political Forces at Work.”
As a parent of two children in Cobb County, I read the article with a sense of dread. After all, so far I have not seen anything reassuring from the new school board members; so I sat thinking, “Now what?”
“What?” is a elegantly crafted article exposing that our new board members have ties to Georgians Need Summers, which is supported and potentially sponsored by a Texas special interest group. Texas??? I thought these people represented East Cobb???
No, they don’t represent us -- they represent Tina Bruno and her desire to have shorter school years and longer summers. They represent a minority, special interest group from another state, and they do not care what their own constituents think. They lied during their campaigns, they lied during the school board meetings, and they lied to the Grand Jury. They called us names, act rude to the people of Cobb County, and refuse to answer simple questions.
All four board members made promises to listen to us. If you look at Scott Sweeney, Tim Stultz, and Kathleen Angelucci’s current websites, they all say that they will collaborate with the public, form a partnership with the community to help make Cobb schools better, spend our money wisely, and promote accountability and transparency within the school board.
And all of these promises, these statements of intent, are lies.
Nowhere on these websites do any of them mention changing the current school calendar. Nowhere that I found do they say they want to get rid of the balanced calendar, or that they support the traditional calendar. I wonder, did these people purposely without their views from the Internet, to limit opposition on that point?
As for accountability, none of them has a single factual reason to support the traditional calendar. It costs more money to run a traditional calendar. It promotes student and teacher absenteeism. It lowers scores on standardized testing. It reduces student and teacher morale. So why are we using the traditional calendar?
The public opinion poll in February turned out to be a lie. Stultz and Sweeney insisted that we have a public opinion poll on the choice of school calendar - they insisted over the objections of David Banks and Lynnda Crowder-Eagle. But when the poll showed support for the balanced calendar, Stultz called the poll “flawed.” Does he really think we don’t know what’s going on? It was never about getting the community’s opinion - it was about them trying to justify a decision that they already made.
But what bothers me the most is that Allison Bartlett, Sweeney, Angelucci, and Stultz have all come out with supposed “reasons” that they voted for the traditional calendar. It’s better for the students. It’s better for the economy. It’s better for Six Flags and White Water. It’s cheaper. It raises test scores. It’s too expensive to cool the schools in August. The kids will dehydrate on the bus ride home.
But all of those reasons were also lies.
So what do we do now? I don’t know.
Bartlett will be out this fall, but we are stuck with Sweeney, Angelucci, and Stultz for the next three years. I know that it is theoretically possible to recall a board member. I looked into the process. You only need 100 signatures to start a recall, but you need one third of the people who voted for a candidate to sign a recall petition. For Bartlett, that puts the recall number over 10,000 people. The recall process sets the bar quite high, and there has never been a successful recall.
Until then, we need to spread the word to other counties in the area, and hopefully prevent another school board turning into a long-distance, special interest political empire.