State Superintendent Candidate Alisha Thomas Searcy Defends Her Record

Alisha Thomas Searcy

My name is Alisha Thomas Searcy, candidate for state school superintendent in Georgia’s general election Nov. 8. This rebuttal gives the voters of Athens-Clarke County—and the voters of Georgia—the facts on Commissioner Russell Edwards’ opinion piece, which I believe is devoid of facts. As voters, you have the right to know.

I am a former state legislator of 12 years, a former superintendent and a mom of three school-age children. I am running for state school superintendent because I have the background, experience and sense of urgency to move our schools in the right direction. I am running because students, parents and educators deserve to have a state school superintendent who will tackle issues such as school safety, teacher burnout and our antiquated funding formula.

I am proud to have the support of parents, school board members and educators across Georgia of both parties and across racial lines. I have a track record of working across the aisle on behalf of children. As a Democrat, I believe that giving parents options in the public school system helps to level the playing field and provides students with an opportunity to attend a school that meets their individual needs. For me, this choice within the public school system includes intradistrict transfers, magnets, single gender schools and public charters. I am not the only one who supports public school choice. In fact, 70% of Georgians do.

While facts about Georgia’s charter schools—which are public schools—may not be widely known, they are provided at the Department of Education’s website.

As a legislator, I supported the Georgia Charter School Commission Act in 2008 because I support parents and communities using their right to create public charter schools. Unfortunately, charters have been politicized causing division between boards of education and communities. Only children lose when adults engage in politically divisive fights.

I co-sponsored the Parent and Teacher Empowerment Act that would have allowed parents and teachers at a failing school to come together to petition their school board to make changes to the school. These changes included a change in leadership up to changing over to a charter school. I believe parents and teachers are the most powerful stakeholders in education and should be empowered to take action if decision-makers aren’t moving fast enough.

I left the Georgia legislature in 2014. The Opportunity School District constitutional amendment was introduced in 2015. I was not involved in this legislation. Clearly, I could not have voted for it. Any claims that I supported or voted for this measure are simply untrue.

My track record at Ivy Prep is one of accomplishment and turnaround. A full timeline of my work and tough decisions made at Ivy Prep can be found online. Commissioner Edwards’ article completely misrepresents and distorts that record.

Under my leadership, the elementary CCRPI score rose from a 43 to an 85, middle school from 65 to 81, and teacher retention increased from 25% to 75%. My team and I

achieved renewals for the Kirkwood campuses (elementary and middle schools) as well as the Gwinnett campus. I also obtained an unprecedented “gap year” for the Gwinnett campus because of our track record of success.

To minimize my legislative history to charters undermines more than a decade of public service that includes bringing more than 1,000 students from the public schools to the Capitol to expose them to the legislative process. Two Saturdays per month, I ran a leadership development program for students in my district. This is in addition to hosting annual principals breakfasts, hearing from school leaders who helped inform my legislative work. The legislation I sponsored focused on closing the achievement gap, teacher and leader evaluation, and dual certification for students who speak a second language. My track record clearly demonstrates supporting and advocating for all

public schools and public education. I know this, my constituents of District 39 know this, the students and educators I have served know this, and clearly, Georgia voters know this. The majority of voters in all 159 counties in the Georgia Democratic primary, including Athens-Clarke County, gave me their vote of confidence.

My website outlines my platform and where I stand on issues, contrary to what was stated in the article. Our fight and our focus should be children—the 1.7 million who attend Georgia public schools, and the three school-aged children in my household. It is critical that we operate from facts for that fight.