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21 January 2014

Gubernatorial Candidate Jason Carter Did Not Offer Leadership in the DeKalb Schools Crisis

Today is a good day for DeKalb County Schools.

After a year of being on accreditation probation, the metro Atlanta school system learned that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) elevated the system's status to "accredited warned" [Sawicki, Beth (21 January 2014). DeKalb County Schools taken off probation. WXIA-TV Atlanta. Retrieved on 21/ January 2014.].

Across the political spectrum the news was cheered, and Governor Nathan Deal was on hand to receive it.

Less than twelve months ago, DeKalb County Schools was on the brink of becoming the second Georgia school system to lose its accreditation within the past decade. DeKalb County Schools was in crisis. The problem, however, did not lie with the parents, students, and teachers of DeKalb. It was the politicians that were causing the trouble.

In December 2012, SACS CEO Mark Elgart, told WABE-FM "the condition of the district is one of 'conflict and chaos,' mainly because board members interfered with day-to-day operations of the school system" [Dalton, Martha (17 December 2012). Accrediting Agency Places DeKalb Schools on Probation. WABE-FM Atlanta. Retrieved on 21 January 2014.].

Governor Deal, not wanting to risk the futures of thousands of DeKalb County students, did what leaders do. He led.

Georgia's Governor took the drastic step of suspending six of the nine problem politicians from the DeKalb County School Board.

"We don't want anything to occur that will jeopardize what a diploma from a DeKalb County high school might mean, so everything that can be done to facilitate and bring this all to some logical conclusion serves us all," Deal told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution shortly before he made the announcement [WSB-TV (25 February 2013). DeKalb school board's future delayed by federal judge. WSB-TV Atlanta. Retrieved on 21 January 2014.].

The day Deal announced the suspension of the DeKalb County Six, a bipartisan group of DeKalb legislators stood behind the Governor, in support of his decision. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter was nowhere to be found.

(Pictured from left to right: Rep. Stacey Abrams, Rep. Scott Holcomb, Sen. Emanuel Jones, Sen. Fran Millar, Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, Gov. Nathan Deal, Rep. Tom Taylor, and Rep, Mike Jacobs. SOURCE: 11Alive article - Gov. Deal signing order removing 6 DeKalb school board members)

House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams gave a strong endorsement of Governor Deal's actions.

"On Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal suspended six members of the DeKalb County School Board, in accordance with the unanimous recommendation of the State School Board," Abrams wrote. "I stood with Governor Deal and a number of colleagues in the General Assembly, supporting his action. Gov. Deal made the tough choice to speak up for our children, and I am not willing to do less" [Abrams, Stacey (26 February 2013). House Minority Leader: Gov. Deal was right to suspend DeKalb board members for sake of children. AJC Get Schooled. Retrieved on 21 January 2014.].

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, by comparison, gave us a mealy-mouthed bowl of mush.

"There are options other than removal," Democratic Sen. Jason Carter of Decatur said. "Otherwise, the problem he faces is that there's fallout in both directions. If he doesn't remove the board, there's criticism from people who want them removed. And if he does, you're removing people who are duly elected" [WSB-TV (25 February 2013). DeKalb school board's future delayed by federal judge. WSB-TV Atlanta. Retrieved on 21 January 2014.].

One year later, Jason Carter is now seeking to reap the harvest from the seeds Governor Deal sowed.

Today, Carter released a statement "lauding" the decision of SACS to remove DeKalb Schools from probation. Once again, that old saying --success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan-- rings true.

If DeKalb County Schools lost its accreditation or spent another year on probation, Jason Carter would have blasted Governor Deal to kingdom come with press releases condemning his actions. But Deal's leadership worked, and Carter is trying his best to take some of the credit.

Thankfully, we have the internet to keep Carter and his pals honest.