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Searcy headed to General Election against Woods for Georgia School Superintendent


Former Georgia State Representative Alisha Thomas Searcy took on incumbent Richard Woods for state school superintendent last Tuesday for the November general election.

Searcy was chosen by Democrats over other candidates who lagged far behind her including Clayton County teacher James Morrow Jr., Cobb County school board member and dentist Jaha Howard, and Atlanta lawyer Currey Hitchens. Sercey earned enough of the vote count to avoid a run-off and heads straight to the General Election in November. 

Sercey, who lived in Austell and represented South Cobb in the General Assembly, ran a small charter school network after leaving the Gold Dome. The Spelman College graduate enhanced her credentials when she became the Superintendent of Schools at Ivy Preparatory Academies, a network of all-girls public schools of excellence. While serving as superintendent, she designed and spearheaded the turnaround of the network’s operations, academic achievements, and financial strength. Searcy is now an educational consultant. 

For Incumbent Woods, he earned nearly three votes for every one cast for his Republican challenger, John Barge. Barge was state school superintendent eight years ago. He left the position and chose to run for governor. After losing the gubernatorial primary, the Republican made the unusual decision to endorse Woods’ Democratic opponent. The feud between the two continued over the next eight years. Barge ran unsuccessfully to get his job back in 2018 and then again this year when he lost by an even wider margin.

Woods is a former teacher and school administrator from rural Georgia. He says he wants to recruit more teachers and increase graduation rates by giving students more options than a purely academic path, for instance by offering more “career pathway” programs that allow a focus on job-related skills. 

Woods is mired in racial controversy. In response to Governor Brian Kemp’s letter urging the board to keep Critical Race Theory out of Georgia’s curriculums, Woods led the Georgia Department of Education in a 12 – 2 vote to pass a resolution, joining several states and school systems looking to ban teaching on race. This decision received immediate  condemnation from parents, teachers, and others around the state. His handling of this will be an issue as he campaigns and tries to convince voters he deserves to be re-elected.

The state school superintendent serves as the executive to a policymaking board appointed by governors. The person in this role leads the Georgia Department of Education, and is responsible for monitoring schools and distributing state and federal funding to them while also ensuring that they follow state law and policy. 


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