Last week, the stars were out. Linda and Nancy are out now.
Linda Schrenko, Georgia's former state superintendent of schools, has exited the squalor of a Florida prison, landing for now in a halfway house. The one-time Georgia superstar and first woman elected to statewide office, dolled up in fur and on trial, funneled roughly $600K in taxpayer dollars into her failed 2002 campaign for governor.
Nancy Jester was one of the DeKalb six. Jester resigned rather than collude in continued confiscation of taxpayer dollars through litigation most foul, eking out more damage to children. On Feb. 1, Nancy voted "no" on hiring an attorney to fight the governor.
An actuary and charter proponent, Jester was one of the good ones whose actuarial knowledge became deluged by the narcissism surrounding her, conceit far removed from the matters at hand -- the children of DeKalb County, the faceless 99,000 upstaged by a party of six, with one invoking God as the grip gave way on the power surge of elected office.
In Jester's last goodbye, she argued, "We invest in failure all the time. All we do is give more money. All that does, with that extra dollar, is you just bought more failure. I support the portability of state funding to other public options, whether it's an independent charter or another district."
Proclaiming local control of schools to be farcical, Jester continued, "And I think it's insane that school districts aren't required to have more reserves and that they're allowed to build giant deficits."
We will see more of Nancy Jester, I hope.
School districts pine for the loss of Quality Basic Education dollars from the state since around 2003. Ten years later, those dollars are not coming home and taxpayers resent being asked to foot the bill to assuage the beggars.
Districts must sweat more at the planning table, possibly zero-basing budgets, to rebuild trust following a decade littered with indictments, incarcerations, embezzlement, cheating, affairs, nepotism and face lifts.
And if that's too hard, then districts may have to settle for additional legislative action designed to steer public dollars away from public education into parent triggers, student scholarship organizations, tax credits and charter commissions, as well as tolerate reductions of power. Georgia state Reps. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper, and Allen Peake, R-Macon, seek ultimate passage of two pieces of legislation next year, HR 550 and HB 519, giving voters the ability to elect local school superintendents, relegating school boards to the sidelines in the search process.
According to the Macon Telegraph, Peake confesses his support of the bill is unrelated to the recent buyout of controversial Bibb County Superintendent Romain Dallemand, but added that "there has been a track record of trouble with the last few superintendents. I think it's worth debate."
Georgians deserve strong school leaders who rebuild trust, support classroom teachers and offer choices for students desperate for well-managed schools.
For as Condoleezza Rice reminded us last fall, "The crisis in K-12 education is a grave threat to who we are."
Jeff Meadors is the District 1 representative on the Newton County Board of Education. Readers may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.