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.
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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