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Posted: 9:33 p.m. Thursday, May 15, 2014

State school superintendent candidate Mike Buck: Experience and commitment 

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Mike Buck
GOP state school chief candidate Mike Buck

By Maureen Downey

I asked the candidates for state school superintendent to share their visions for the state.

Republican candidate Mike Buck shares his today, (You can learn more at his website.)

By Mike Buck

Hello, my name is Mike Buck, and I want to be your next state school superintendent. 

The first question most people ask me when they hear I am running for this position is why are you running?  The answer quite simply is that I am running for our children!  As I was recovering in the hospital from several broken ribs and other complications from injuries I received in an ice skating mishap, I had quite a bit of time on my hands.  I discovered that I really do not enjoy daytime television, but I did have time to start researching the announced candidates for the office. 

I heard much about what people were running against, but almost nothing about running for children in this race.  After prayerful consideration and deep discussions with my wife, who is also my best friend, I made the decision to enter the race.  I pledge to be a champion for our children, their parents, our educators, and our communities.

 Voters rightfully want to know my platform.  I like to discuss the three Cs of my candidacy.  The first C stands for character - my personal character and the character we must develop and nurture in our young people.  While we must be successful with our academic curriculum, I believe what I refer to as the curriculum of life is vitally important.  Do the young people we work with become the type of young people we want living in our neighborhoods, caring for us as we grow older, dating our sons and daughters?  Business and industry leaders are clamoring for employees who come to them with the soft skills required for success in virtually every procession. 

The second C represents my credentials.  I want you all to be informed voters.  I have thirty-one years of real experience in education at every level.  I have received four degrees including my doctorate in education from the University of Georgia.  I have served as a teacher, coach, elementary principal, high school principal, assistant superintendent and as the chief of staff and chief academic officer at the Georgia Department of Education.  I have firsthand knowledge about how decisions made at the state level impact our educators in the field. 

The final C represents my commitment.  I am not a politician seeking to build a political resume. I am a seasoned educator who has dedicated his entire adult life to serving public school students and their parents.  I believe in servant leadership, and I am passionate about giving our young people roots and a solid foundation to grow from and wings to help them soar to new and uncharted heights.

 I am so competitive it hurts.  I want Georgia to lead the nation in student achievement.  I want to graduate every student prepared for college and career.  How do we accomplish these lofty goals? 

We must do everything in our power to attract and retain the best possible teachers and administrators.  We must restore pride in the profession, and we must provide our educators with the professional learning, the resources, and the support they need to be effective.  We must view education as an investment and not an expense.  Our boys and girls should be provided world-class instruction for the full 180 days prescribed by law.

 As educational leaders, we need to create positive school cultures, safe learning environments, and atmospheres of success for students and teachers.  We must view our relationships with parents as partnerships with the goal of helping every student maximize his or her potential.

 We must improve our graduation rate.  We have made significant strides in making education relevant for our students.  By partnering with business and industry leaders, the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia, we have developed over 200 new courses and 17 career clusters.  By helping our young people discover their passion, we greatly improve their chances for graduation and success in college and career.

 I believe the single best predictor of future success is past performance.  I have a proven track record of success at every level of education.  I hope that you will carefully examine the true qualifications of each candidate.  During my tenure as the chief academic officer for the Georgia Department of Education, our graduation rates have increased and our test scores on national assessments have improved.  In fact, in 2012, Georgia was the only state in the country to improve on the SAT, the ACT, the National Assessment of Educational Progress on reading, math and science, and on advanced placement tests.  No, we have not arrived, but we are heading in the correct direction. 

Other candidates can wax eloquently about what they think they may be able to do if elected.  I point to the body of work that has been accomplished under my leadership.  I would ask that you consider voting for an experienced educator and a proven leader, not an aspiring politician.

 With your support, we can continue to move forward as we build on past success, learn from past mistakes, and strive to lead the nation in student achievement.  I promise that the litmus test for every decision I make will be: is it good for boys and girls?  Thank you for your support.

Maureen Downey

About Maureen Downey

Maureen Downey is a longtime reporter for the AJC where she has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy for 12 years.

Connect with Maureen Downey on:FacebookTwitter

Send Maureen Downey an email.

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