DeKalb County School Watch stopped by the school system's headquarters this week for its forum with three finalists for our next superintendent.
Here's an excerpt:
I just returned from the long meeting at the board of education where each of the candidates was given 20 questions selected from those submitted by audience members before the meeting began. Personally, I was very impressed with all three candidates and it gave me great hope for the future of our school system. Overall, the candidates each expressed dedication to students first and foremost, teacher and principal training and fiscal responsibility.
I've been a fan of DeKalb County School Watch ever since I began reporting on education in this county in 2008. It's come a pretty long way. I can remember asking school board member H. Paul Womack once about a controversial issue that had been discussed in one of its entries and he dismissed it, saying something like, "I don't read blogs, and I'm not going to address anything that's on them."
I remembered the entry had attracted more than 100 comments, most of which were probably written by people in some way served by the school system Womack helps oversee.
Then, during one of the early court proceedings in the ongoing Crawford Lewis trial, one of the defense attorneys asked the judge to change the trial's venue. Why? Negative press coverage that might influence a jury. They brought up the School Watch blog specifically.
I couldn't help but laugh from the press box. And this was a blog school board members refused to consider?
It's not a cuddly blog. In fact, it can be downright caustic toward the board and the school system in ways the straight press–hemmed in by a traditional and necessary commitment to decorum and objectivity–never could be. But, to me, it's the closest thing this county has to a public barometer for schools issues. And they ask a heck of a lot of good questions–questions that should be addressed and answered by school board members or system officials.
As former federal Judge Murray Gurfein once said, "A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the right of the people to know."