Posted: 12:47 pm Monday, February 24th, 2014

Michael Thurmond passes on race for state school superintendent 

By Jim Galloway

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Michael Thurmond, the Dekalb County school superintendent, listens to parents at Fernbank Elementary School during a presentation earlier this month. Kent D. Johnson, kdjohnson@ajc.com

Michael Thurmond, the Dekalb County school superintendent credited with calming a volatile educational system, on Monday said he intends to pass on the chance to run as a Democratic candidate for state school superintendent.

Thurmond cited the fragility of his school system’s progress, a burgeoning, racially divisive fight over school board redistricting that needs to be headed off, and the declining influence of the statewide post.

Said Thurmond in a telephone interview:

“I’m not going to run, and let me tell you why. Real change and progress, if it is to exist in public education, will have to come at the local level.

“No disrespect to the current school superintendent or the person who will succeed him, but that job and its influence has been diminished over the years – budgetarily and otherwise.

“If I am interested in improving the quality of public education in Georgia, the individuals who will play the most critical role in this are local school superintendents. Not state superintendents.

“I miss state politics. I really miss it. I was in state politics for 20 years, in one form or another. And this election cycle provides a great political opportunity. But some things are more important than politics.”

Qualifying for the race is only a week away. While several Republicans have announced campaigns to replace state School Superintendent John Barge, who is running for governor, Thurmond’s decision leaves state Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan of Austell as the only Democrat.

Thurmond, a former state labor commissioner, was in a private law practice last year when he was appointed to the DeKalb job last year — part of an upheaval caused when the school system’s accreditation firm placed it on probation. Six of nine school board members were ousted and replaced by Gov. Nathan Deal.

At a meeting of the DeKalb County legislative delegation at the state Capitol this afternoon, Thurmond said he intended to ask the delegation to put off, for this election year, an effort to shrink the school board from nine to seven members, and redraw district lines.

“There’s a huge controversy brewing over the reapportionment of the school district lines in DeKalb. As always, it’s north versus south, black versus white. That’s the context of all of this,” Thurmond said.

The school superintendent wants the legislation sponsored by state Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven, delayed at least until 2015. But he’s worried that the delegation is riven by the same racial polarization that threatens the school system.

“Unless more rational minds intervene, unless we can get some adults in the room, we’re going to return and regress to the same racially charged, confrontational environment that existed a year ago. We’re going to lose all the progress that we’ve gained, and could very well end up on probation again,” Thurmond said.

On the school board and in the county as a whole, he said, the crux of the problem is “the inability or unwillingness to share power in this county.”

“I’ll sacrifice my political agenda,” Thurmond said just before he met with state lawmakers. “But they’re going to have to help me.”

One more thing: When Thurmond’s name was floated earlier this month, there was talk that he would skip the race, because it would mean a pay cut. Larger school systems commonly pay their CEOs more than the head of the state educational bureaucracy. But Thurmond said a pay cut didn’t enter into his decision. He’d already taken one last year, when he took his DeKalb job.

39 comments
Bernie31
Bernie31

Bravo MIKEY! Smart Move....you certainly would have ended up in the BRIAR PATCH for sure. Whoever the Knucklehead DEMOCRACT who suggested it, should be given his/her walking papers from Party Leadership. This was a GOOBER Mover fer sure!

uh...huh.

chizzo
chizzo

At least the outlook in Georgia is better than it is in my home state of Florida.  When he first came into office, the legislature and the governor (Rick Scott) cut almost a billion dollars from the education budget.  A year later, the governor increased the budget request for half a billion. He said that he increased funding for education as governor.


In less than two years, there have been three education commissioners (appointed by the Gov. Scott). The second he hired was forced to resign for changing the outcome of an evaluation of a Christian charter school while education commissioner in Indiana.


Corruption - What happens in Florida make the politicians in Chicago look like choir boys.  Right now, the governor is pushing for a light rail to be  built by the company his chief of staff use to work for.    Ratepayers have paid over $1 billion to Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy) in Florida for a nuclear plant that will not be built and we are still paying for it.  When our legislature passed the law covering this, Duke Energy does not have to refund any money back even thought we won't get 1 kw of power from this mythical plant.


Shall I go on?   Be thankful that you're not in Florida - the most corrupt politicians in the country.

chizzo
chizzo

At least the outlook in Georgia is better than it is in my home state of Florida.  When he first came into office, the legislature and the governor (Rick Scott) cut almost a billion dollars from the education budget.  A year later, the governor increased the budget request for half a billion. He said that he increased funding for education as governor.


In less than two years, there have been three education commissioners (appointed by the Gov. Scott). The second he hired was forced to resign for changing the outcome of an evaluation of a Christian charter school while education commissioner in Indiana.


Corruption - What happens in Florida make the politicians in Chicago look like choir boys.  Right now, the governor is pushing for a light rail to be  built by the company his chief of staff use to work for.    Ratepayers have paid over $1 billion to Duke Energy (formerly Progress Energy) in Florida for a nuclear plant that will not be built and we are still paying for it.  When our legislature passed the law covering this, Duke Energy does not have to refund any money back even thought we won't get 1 kw of power from this mythical plant.


Shall I go on?   Be thankful that you're not in Florida - the most corrupt politicians in the country.

Lynn43
Lynn43

Every name I have heard mentioned for this position would be the death of public education.  Everyone is more interested in power than the students of this state.  Considering that over 90% of Georgia's students attend PUBLIC SCHOOL, we need someone who loves children and wants what is best for them-not a power hungry politician. 

notagain
notagain

some things are more important than politics......Hear that Puggies?

BurntGrassroot
BurntGrassroot

When Mr. Thurmond plays the race card, it's an ace. Ethnicity should be neither an advantage nor an excuse to the educational (and national) discourse; acknowledging diversity is respecting, addressing and utilizing it to identify and solve social problems. However, he's an excellent model to all ethnicities and a source of distinction for black people for what humble beginnings, determination, intelligence and compassion can and should produce. How dare this attorney, author, academic, historian and public servant be reduced to a balance sheet? Michael Thurmond is currently on leave as an attorney at Butler, Wooten & Fryhofer, a nationally known civil trial practice firm that has four times set the record civil jury verdict in the State of Georgia and also obtained for its client the largest collected judgment in U.S. history. Let's focus on candidates' records as an precursor of their eligibility and success, and not just fling bon mots.




atlmom
atlmom

and I have seen a whole lot of people in every part of the SES - not care about education.  Plenty of people are happy to just drop their kid off at the school and hope for the best.

atlmom
atlmom

His explanation makes a lot of sense, given the reasons that Barge is giving for running for governor.

Point
Point

Those of you stating "Blacks don't care as much about education as Whites"...are you African American? I doubt it, just going with the easy stereotypical response. Truthfully, it is a socioeconomic problem across all races.

FirstDerivative
FirstDerivative

It is unfortunate the Thurmond has to break it down as "north versus south, black versus white," but it is a fact.


The white perspective on education and the black one are very different. White people are horrified if they believe their children are not getting a good education, black people don't really care. They drop out by the hundreds of thousands.


So, whites find it imperative to "come out from among them." Can you really blame them or draw out the race card?

dadoftwo
dadoftwo

Kira Willis is the answer!  Elect an educator to make a difference for all stakeholders.  Our children's future is worth it!  www.kirawillis.com

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Considering his dismal performance the last time he ran for a statewide office, he's wise to stay where he is.

honested
honested

Georgia's loss.


Now we will have a 'throw all the money to charter schools' republican running against a 'throw all the money at charter schools' democrat.


Unfortunately, nobody will be focusing on smaller class sizes for the students.

Boxtradamus
Boxtradamus

I remember once Alisha Thomas Morgan attending a SCV (Sons of Confederate Veterans) meeting in Austell. Gawd that was funny when she got up and walked out with then TV news cameras following her. She is nothing but a piece of trash! Maybe running for this position gets her permanently out of the State House cause she will never ever win a statewide election. So now she has an ex husband? I "ain't" surprised that no man would stay with her very long. Time to do some raining on her parade.

anothercomment
anothercomment

He is never going to win! He has shown to be only a publicity dog! Who let the friends and family operate with impunity. Alisha Morgan is a joke as well as she is aligned with the charter movement and her ex husband who throws parties parties in clubs calling women derogatory terms while sitting on the Cobb board. Things that would get a teacher fired.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Crowded field where he had no chance of getting into a runoff.

td1234
td1234

Why would he want to run for a job that is half the pay and has very little power since Deal has moved all the power to his office? 

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@BurntGrassroot Yes, let's focus on his record. The last time he ran statewide (2010), he polled 39% against Johnny Isakson's 58.3% His poll numbers were the lowest of any Democrat running statewide.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Mr. Thurmond may be everything you credit him with, but he if foremost a politician.  Maybe that is all we will get as State Superintendents, but I hope not.  Whoever is elected, it is likely to be from the Republican party, and that is the biggest reason Mr. Thurmond never had a chance even if he wanted the job.

Boxtradamus
Boxtradamus

@Point no not African American, neither rare YOU!


You are an African NON-American

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Harsh.

Parents of all SES levels regardless of race want what is best for their kids - some just put a lot more effort into it.  Having children placed in schools where higher standards are met is the easiest way to help their children.  The white vs black thing is more about cultural differences and attitudes/ efforts toward encouraging education of offspring.  It is more expected in white communities than black ones, and expectations have a large impact.  The lack of black leadership attempting to change the culture and attitudes is what is lacking most.

Kamchak
Kamchak

... black people don't really care.


Got proof?

Please show your work.

AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@dadoftwo   I took your advice and went to her web site. This is what I found:

Georgians need to continue to protect and defend their Constitutional rights. …. It is not the federal government’s role to mandate curriculum. The Common Core Curriculum (CCC) is a federal standard that some states have unwisely adopted

A lie right from the pit of hell.  Common Core is not now, nor never has been a 'federal standard.'  And, even if it were, what does it have to do with our "Constitutional Rights," such that they need defending. Where in the entire Constitution is the educational system addressed?  Maybe she should actually read the Constitution instead of parroting a bunch of teatard crap. 

But wait, there's more!

No child should be forced to attend a failing school. ..  Well, duh. So much for stating the obvious. Now what's your solution?  It is this:

Greater competition among public, charter, and private schools for our students boosts the quality of education through open market competition that embodies freedom and liberty, two qualities that make America so great. 

So if we just use the Apple v Microsoft model, all will be wonderful. If we just take money from public schools and put them in charter schools, where there is no mandate to allow for slower students, the handicapped, the emotionally immature, and all other impediments to learning that the public schools are mandated to accommodate, we'll have a wonderful system, education utopia. And, let's further starve the public system by supporting private schools, through what means she doesn't say, but you can bet it will benefit elite private academies at the expense of public schools. This isn't the Apple v Microsoft model, it's Apple v Joe's Used Computers and Bait Shop, 5th and Main Streets.

It's not enough that the teatards have ground good government to a halt, they want to do the same to education.


AuntieChrist
AuntieChrist

@SPaulT She has a parole hearing soon, maybe she'll be out in time to be nominated again by her repuppy cronies

NWGAL
NWGAL

@Boxtradamus  why would anyone admit to attending a Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting? it's like going to Sons of Nazi Veterans meeting. 

atlmom
atlmom

@The_Centrist
???  the article stated there is only ONE other democrat running.  The L's haven't said who is running for them yet - maybe no one.  What runoff?

honested
honested

@BurroughstonBroch @BurntGrassroot 

....After voluntarily retiring from a long career and running in the election of 'accidental teatard hysteria', an election where some of our most stellar political errors were minted.

atlmom
atlmom

@The_Centrist @dadoftwoshe is awesome.  And no, I am not related to her in any way.  she got more votes 4 years ago than any other candidate running as an L - which is an interesting statistic.



honested
honested

@atlmom @honested 

He has at least a record of success in dealing with a school system administration.

The remaining candidates only have large bottles of 'snake oil systems' to sell.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Republican one - predict between Johnson and Jester.  I think your candidate Willis will come in third.

Point
Point

He proves my point regarding stereotypes by jumping to the conclusion that I am African American. I am 2nd generation American from Scotland, which makes me Caucasian.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist  

Giving the office to Morgan, who despite being an effective Democratic legislator, has a distorted (and profit driven) agenda.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

I don't think she will make the Republican runoff.  My prediction is a runoff between Johnson and Jester.