A tidbit to back up those whispers about George Israel

Education leaders say they’re hearing more and more whispers that retiring Georgia Chamber of Commerce President George Israel will be Gov. Sonny Perdue’s choice for state school superintendent – and an independent campaign aimed at the November ballot.

Georgia chamber president George Israel

Georgia chamber president George Israel

And suddenly there’s evidence to support that talk.

On Monday, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce – out of the blue – posted on its website a full-throated endorsement of Perdue’s pursuit of a federal grant built around school reform – called “Race to the Top.” It was composed by Israel.

Wrote the former mayor of Macon:

“Georgia’s roadmap for implementing reforms in [Race to the Top's] four assurance areas — standards and assessments, data systems to support instruction, great teachers and leaders, and school turnarounds — is clear and comprehensive, and will allow us to both achieve and sustain those goals.”

Not stirring stuff. But it might be written more for U.S. Department of Education bureaucrats than for Georgia voters. The message: Despite the June 30 departure of Kathy Cox and her staff, the state intends to continue its pursuit of the cash.

Why an independent run? Because the two Republican candidates in the race have raised questions about the wisdom of seeking more federal funding, and about the reforms Perdue is pursuing.

Why might an Israel candidacy make sense? Because it would cost a significant amount of money, and the Chamber would provide a substantial fund-raising base.

So far, Israel has sloughed off any talk of his candidacy. But he may have an itch that’s been neglected for more than 20 years.

Following his second term as mayor of Macon, Israel gave serious consideration to a run for governor in 1988 – ultimately deciding against it.

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29 comments Add your comment

Raquel Morris

June 9th, 2010
1:00 pm

Next thing you know pro-choice, pro gay rights Karen Handel will run as an Independent.

[...] My colleague Jim Galloway who knows all on the political front says that George Israel could be Gov. Sonny Perdue’s choice for school superintendent in the wake of Kathy Cox’s surprise decision to leave the state and the race for a think tank job in Washington, creating the prospect of the governor backing an independent for the top DOE job. [...]

Nan

June 9th, 2010
1:05 pm

….and what qualifies a Chamber of Commerce exec to run public education in Georgia?

Raquel Morris

June 9th, 2010
1:10 pm

@Nan-

He’s the best candidate to complete the Republican destruction of our public schools in favor of a voucher financed, get-in-where-you-fit-in system.

Why so scared jim?

June 9th, 2010
1:15 pm

Why so scared to talk about the story on your front page jim? Why so scared to talk about the E-Rate scandal? Did EDU-Pac give you marching orders not to talk about it?

UGAdog

June 9th, 2010
1:16 pm

This would be an excellent chance for Perdue to show is above all the partisan BS and appoint the best qualified person. Hope he won’t look at partisan labels for education jobs but it’s looking like he will.

Barnes, Too

June 9th, 2010
1:16 pm

Barnes will run as an independent after losing the Demo nomination. Power brokers at work.

Fedup

June 9th, 2010
1:59 pm

Mark Twain once said that the worst thing about schools was school boards…he was pointing out the fact that the people who knew the least about operating schools were the decision makers….wouldn’t he shake his head with this announcement?? Another reason the rest of this nation chuckles and yucks it up regarding the condition of education in Georgia.

Road Scholar

June 9th, 2010
2:02 pm

But won’t Race to the Top funding raise the deficit and put the debt on the back of the children? Selective whining and fiscal conservation on the conservative’s part again!

Really

June 9th, 2010
2:04 pm

If he runs as an independent, it means he has to get a lot of signatures fast. Highly unlikely.

Hendu

June 9th, 2010
2:18 pm

An educated person is too smart to run. Chamber of Commerce running our school system. Politicians don’t want to deport illegals cause’ then our jails would have room for them.

Yep

June 9th, 2010
2:22 pm

Since when has the AJC dealt in reality?

Cheap Money

June 9th, 2010
2:34 pm

Israeli is no fan of school vouchers and emancipating children. More of the same buying into the system and protecting education establishment. Headed for Obama’s printing presses and the cash that goes with it.

Bama Bill

June 9th, 2010
2:54 pm

Another nutty idea of Perdue’s with no substance and thought ! Perdue just needs to move on down to Bonair and keep quite, like the last 7 years, and draw his state pension.

Teacher

June 9th, 2010
3:29 pm

Best Candidate for School Sup.- Richard Woods. I have been in his classroom he knows how to teach all types of students. What a novel idea, have a quality teacher lead the schools.

td

June 9th, 2010
3:37 pm

Teacher, I think Dr. John Barge is the best candidate not only because he is a great teacher but also is against RTTT, would eliminate the current math 1,2,3,4 curriculum and reinstate the vocational track in high school.

I will agree with you that both candidates are better than our current super and are more qualified than any super this state has ever had.

http://www.electjohnbarge.com/

School Administrator

June 9th, 2010
3:46 pm

Harley Bickman is the most qualified to run the office. He has certainly been our choice from day 1 and knows the system well.

Macon Mom

June 9th, 2010
3:53 pm

I certainly agree that from all I have seen Bickman is the only logical choice and will do a very fine job.

speak the truth

June 9th, 2010
4:30 pm

Boy, lotta support for George on this blog! He was “encouraged” to leave the Chamber and while education is a strong tenant of Chamber priorities, he’s hardly qualified to be school super.

Jackson Eldridge

June 9th, 2010
4:31 pm

I appreciate the fact people are speaking out for Dr. Bickman. He is intelligent and has had many leadership roles that uniquely qualify him for school superintendent.

Bibb Co. Banker

June 9th, 2010
4:44 pm

While I consider George to be a great politician and a fine individual, I must support Harley because I feel he brings more to the table and will more ablely lead the office of school superintendent. I have school age children and must set aside personalities and select the better man.

Plain and simple truth

June 9th, 2010
4:53 pm

Great…openly brags that he’ll knee-walk to Washington and beg for money. Typical of what this state thinks is a Republican.

James E. Jarrell

June 9th, 2010
4:53 pm

I know Dr Bickman personally and worked along side him for several years. I cannot think of a better candidate based on work ethic and unquestioned integrity alone. He has my vote.

out of the box

June 9th, 2010
5:18 pm

Time to consider a new option – Kira Willis. http://www.willisforstatesuper.com. A teacher, fully experienced, who is forthright and has a spine. Time to get the DOE back to educators who have been in the classroom recently and can address the impact of all this insane testing firsthand.

Robert Lilly

June 9th, 2010
6:41 pm

“He’s the best candidate to complete the Republican destruction of our public schools in favor of a voucher financed, get-in-where-you-fit-in system.”

No government official can ruin a school. That is left to the parents and kids.

Libby Libertarian

June 9th, 2010
6:51 pm

This “Race to the Top” thing has boiled my blood from the start. Why should I have to pay for state employees to “compete” for my money in the first place. Just another way to take control further away from the taxpayer: first the state gets to say how my district educates our children, now the feds get to have even more control by requiring us to conform to their ideas in exchange for our own $$$$. I have to take my blood pressure medicine now….

[...] My colleague Jim Galloway who knows all on the political front says that George Israel could be Gov. Sonny Perdue’s choice for school superintendent in the wake of Kathy Cox’s surprise decision to leave the state and the race for a think tank job in Washington, creating the prospect of the governor backing an independent for the top DOE job. [...]

Sara

June 10th, 2010
11:07 am

Has George Israel ever been responsible for teaching in a classroom with 35 students for six periods a day? His professional background includes : 1)Underwriter for the life, health and accident insurance industry, 2)Macon City Councilman, 3) Mayor of Macon, 4)President and CEO of a European venture capital firm; 5) CEO of a real estate company, 6) CEO of a privately-held Secure Health Plans of Georgia, and 7)chairman and CEO of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce in 2002.
Education Background: He attended Middle Georgia College in Cochran and the University of Georgia in Athens. However he never graduated and holds no degree.
If Sonny names Israel , he should also use his political power to have a professional educator hired to run the Georgia Chamber.

Libby Libertarian

June 10th, 2010
12:42 pm

This “Race to the Top” thing has boiled my blood from the start. Why should I have to pay for state employees to “compete” for my money in the first place. Just another way to take control further away from the taxpayer: first the state gets to say how my district educates our children, now the feds get to have even more control by requiring us to conform to their ideas in exchange for or own $$$$. I have to take my blood pressure medicine now. ….