Opinion: A Conversation on Improvement

The logo on front of a Cobb County School District facilityCobb County School District sign (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

by Becky Sayler, Candidate for Cobb County School Board Post 2

Yesterday’s “Special Called” Cobb County School Board meeting was surprising for a number of reasons. Our school district’s accreditation is not in jeopardy, which is both good news and in contrast with the Special Review Cognia conducted in 2021.

Dr. Mark Elgart, CEO of Cognia, presented a new letter that replaced the findings of the Special Review committee.  Interestingly, he said board members have adequate access to policy and procedure information before meetings.  The letter he was referring to was in some board members’ hands for the first time as he was speaking, and the meeting had been called one business day in advance.  The evidence before me suggested otherwise.

Dr. Elgart also said that the Special Review report was designed to be a conversation on improvement, but then essentially dismissed all concerns, ending the conversation. He somehow both stressed the good work Cognia does as an accreditation body and also that this review was primarily done by volunteers and reviewed insufficiently, resulting in mistakes. 

Which is it?

This new interaction with Cognia reinforces my reasons for running as a candidate for Cobb County School Board Post 2:

Every child deserves a competitive education that nurtures their creativity, compassion, and curiosity.

“Pockets of struggling students” means we are failing some students, and that is not acceptable.

Every parent deserves clear and consistent communication from their school district.  Holding a meeting at the last minute at the exact time we are dismissing students for a half day limits parent involvement in what their school board is doing. 

We should be encouraging more involvement, not less.

Every teacher and staff member deserves to be treated like professionals.  How can we expect this if the board does not model it?

A first step towards cooperation among the board would be to rescind the policy which requires a consensus of four board members to put items on the agenda and to reinstate board member comment.

The Special Review noted that removing those practices marked a significant shift in board member interactions.  Changing that is entirely up to the majority members of the board.  If they don’t change it, the voters might change who comprises the majority during the 2022 election. 

Lack of accountability will make it even harder to hold our district accountable for questionable financial decisions, uneven student performance, and the way the board interacts.

The 2022 election is our chance to hold the school board accountable. 

Cobb residents can change the dynamics of the board by voting in Catherine Pozniak for Post 4 and maintaining the Democratic-held seats in Posts 2 and 6.  Flip the board, and let the conversations and actions around improvement begin.