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State superintendent tours Long schools

POSTED: November 22, 2007 5:00 a.m.
Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox addressed a crowd who attended the First District Georgia Association of Elementary School Principals this past Wednesday hosted by Smiley Elementary School in Ludowici.
Cox praised the school and Principal Sandy Jones, and spoke to the group of educators, administrators and parents about how important it was to have a good principal in a school.
She also praised the elementary schools statewide and said, “More than 97 percent of the elementary schools in Georgia made adequate yearly progress this year, and of those schools, more than 80 percent received the Title One distinction.”
“What is even more impressive about what you are doing in this area, is that many of you have to deal with poverty and a transient population, and you still are doing the job as well or better than schools in more affluent areas,” Cox said. “Show me a successful school and I will show you a great principal.”
Cox urged the principals to continue working hard and challenged them to look beyond their students passing the CRCT or simply moving onto the next grade. Principals need to envision their elementary students moving into middle schools, high schools and then onto graduation, she said.  
“The high schools are feeling a little beat up, with all the focus on the graduation rate. But it’s not just a high school issue. It’s a K-through-12 issue. It’s a parent issue, a community issue. It’s a culture issue,” Cox said.
“You do a wonderful job at the elementary school level, and I know you are laying the foundation for the kids to get that cap and gown one day, and earn a meaningful high school diploma.”
After addressing the crowd, Cox was asked about her view on “No Child Left Behind.”
“I am working with other administrators across the country to make uniform changes with NCLB,” she said. “We need more individual instruction and more off-grade level testing.”
She noted, “We need more training for educators and more flexibility without consequences to make the AYP more accurate.
“But let me say this, I supported the NCLB initiative. We needed to stop making excuses and we needed more accountability. There just needs to be a little more flexibility with it.”
Cox also was asked if she is supporting a presidential candidate.
“I’ve endorsed Guliani. None of the candidates are talking about education as much as I would like them to and that’s disheartening. But I believe he has a proven track record of success, an effective leadership style and I think he will be able to do the same at the national level.”
Cox was also asked if she had any plans to run for any other office in the future.
“Right now I am working to stay focused on doing my job in education, so no I have no other plans,” she said.
Others in attendance were District 178 Rep. Mark Williams, District 157 Rep. Jon Burns and 4th Dist. Sen. Jack Hill.
On Thursday, Cox visited Walker Middle School and Long County High School.
During her visit to the schools, she observed the high school band, the health occupation class, the honors English class, a science and a math class.
She then met up with teachers who were on their planning period to field a few questions.
One question asked was what she thought about the HR 900 bill in Atlanta.
“I’m concerned about it. So much you do is from local dollars — band programs, debate teams, just about all the fine arts areas come from local money.”
She noted, “Parents expect so much from the schools, and they are willing to be taxed to pay for these programs. Also a sales tax will often hurt the poor, so, yes, I’m very concerned about the issue.”
Afterward, Long County Superintendent Dr. Edwin Pope said, “For Superintendent Cox to visit all four of our schools, I think it enhances what we are trying to do. She is very supportive of our goals with performance standards and I’m very appreciative of her coming.”
 

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