Today, Dougherty County students start a whole new academic year. For parents, this time of year is usually marked with spending money on new school clothes, new book bags and other supplies, and getting schedules adjusted back to the Monday through Friday routine.
For parents in Dougherty County, it means something more this time around. Less than a week earlier, we saw a shift in the make-up of the Dougherty County Board of Education when Anita Williams-Brown was unseated by Lane Price last Tuesday. For many in Albany, this is a momentous occasion. The “Failed Four” are no more. Price will join fellow incoming school board member Robert Youngblood who is replacing David Maschke.
This happens at the same time that Velvet Riggins is staring down the barrel of a criminal case that could have her permanently removed from the board (she’s currently just suspended).
Price won her seat outright. To win it, a large number of black voters had to decide to vote for Price, a white woman, over Anita Williams-Brown. This give lie to the idea that only a black person can win elected office in Albany. There was little evidence of anything but a colorblind voter this past Tuesday. That is something many in Albany didn’t believe was possible.
With Price on the board, the majority that has held the schools in this county in a stranglehold is dead. Even if Riggins beats the indictment she’s currently looking at, it won’t matter.
Now, the remnants of the “Failed Four” are going to be forced to work with the other members of the board or else risk accomplishing nothing. Members like Daryl Ealum and Carol Tharin have clearly shown their ability to be colorblind when voting and simply make a decision that they feel is best for the school system. Do I always agree with them? Not necessarily. However, I generally feel they are motivated by noble intentions though.
Now, Price and Youngblood will sit on that board and will hopefully help bring our schools back into solid footing. Hopefully they will be able to do something about the Title I money that we are currently being denied by the State of Georgia, hopefully by making sure we recoup what was paid out.
Maybe we can now get rid of the joke on Pine Avenue called Joshua Murfree. I use that term with full understanding of how some may perceive it. However, I also use it with full understanding that it correct. Only a joke would hire a motivational speaker to speak to children when teachers are being furloughed. Only a joke would permit the system to pay the bond on a student arrested by its own police department.
Will this happen? Only time will tell. It’s possible that the board will simply let his contract expire without renewing it. Either way, there’s a good chance that Murfree, without his connections on the board, will become a new unemployment statistic. Here’s hoping anyways.
Either way, it’s a brand new day in Albany…and it sure looks bright.