Question your dog closely today. There’s every chance that he has declared a truce with the neighborhood cat.
Should you have a tattooed teenager in the house, check the trash. If the garbage can has made it to the street without your usual pleading, nagging or threats, do not summon police.
Whether the result of sunspots or a virus, strange experiences are being reported all over the state. Unfathomable marvels, in fact. This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta even documented a case in which fully grown adults on the public payroll were caught doing the right thing — possibly for the right reason.
Again, there is no reason to panic. We have drugs for everything now, and surely this, too, will pass.
The most recent outbreak of good judgment occurred in and around the state Capitol. The event quickly caught the eye of epidemiologists, like a green blade of grass springing up in the Gobi desert.
By way of background: On Tuesday, the outfit in charge of accrediting school operations across the nation put the Atlanta Public Schools system on probation. It has eight months to clean up its act, or risk losing its accreditation — a kind of Good Housekeeping seal of approval that tells colleges that a school system’s diplomas are worth something.
You may have heard of the Atlanta school system’s problems. It is in the midst of a cheating scandal involving test scores. The GBI is investigating, as are the feds. The school superintendent has given her notice. So for the sake of the kids, the nine members of the Atlanta Board of Education decided to address these crises with a long and loud legal squabble over who would be board chairman.
In the process, they violated their own by-laws. So said their lawyers.
The Atlanta school board, it seems, has an acquired immunity to sunspots and all sorts of judgment-related viruses.
We have been here before. The 50,000-student Clayton County school system was stripped of its accreditation in 2008. After the fact, Gov. Sonny Perdue stepped in, removing misbehaving school board members. Provisional accreditation has since been restored.
But Clayton County is not Atlanta. Atlanta is a brand name, recognized worldwide. If the Atlanta Public Schools were certified as something less than acceptable, the whole region would suffer.
Corporate recruitment would dry up. Our job drought would go on and on and on.
So last week, as soon as Atlanta’s problems went public, Gov. Nathan Deal picked up the phone and reached out to Mayor Kasim Reed. The white Republican governor then called for a meeting of all state lawmakers from Atlanta — who are mostly African-American and Democratic — for the next day. In his offices.
Deal met one-on-one with House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams of Atlanta and asked her to serve as one of two liaisons between the Atlanta school board and himself. It was their first face-to-face meeting.
“We must do everything possible to stop an embarrassing situation from snowballing into a destructive situation,” the governor would later say in a news release.
Deal’s group meeting with Atlanta lawmakers did not go perfectly. One and all were stunned by the governor’s choice of the second liaison to the Atlanta school board — Republican Beth Beskin, an Atlanta lawyer who just finished an unsuccessful November challenge to state Sen. Horacena Tate. Who sat in the room and fumed.
Even so, the unprecedented nature of the event left most participants optimistic. State Sen. Vincent Fort, who has ascribed racial motives to the accreditation agency involved, admitted he was impressed by the governor’s willingness to discuss the situation — before taking any action.
It was something Deal’s predecessor never did, Fort said.
The fate of the Atlanta school board now is largely in the hands of those two go-betweens for the governor.
Beskin declined comment. But Abrams, also showing signs of succumbing to this plague of common sense, said her “surprising” appointment — and Deal’s meeting with local lawmakers — was “a nod to the citizens of Atlanta that he’s not attempting anything nefarious.”
The House minority leader said she and Beskin over the next few months would attend all meetings of the Atlanta Board of Education, acting as hall monitors. Her words. (If you are a high school student, you now have permission to snicker.)
“We’ll be looking at what people say, looking at how they say it, looking at how they’re heard. This isn’t simply about how they vote. It’s about their engagement with the community,” said Abrams. The two will keep the governor apprised through the summer.
If suggestions come from the state Capitol, the Atlanta school board is obliged to listen. The Legislature and governor hold the school system’s charter in their hands.
Already, there is talk about changes headed the school board’s way — possibly putting it under the control of the mayor. Or merging it with other nearby systems.
“Every possibility of governance has to be on the table,” said state Rep. Kathy Ashe, D-Atlanta.
The leader of Ashe’s caucus does not agree. “Systemic changes should happen only when there’s proof of systemic failure. And that does not exist,” Abrams said.
There’s no need to inflame the situation.
“I think the major task for [the school board] is to prove that they’ve learned their lesson to [the accrediting agency's] satisfaction. And that they are willing to work together. This doesn’t require unanimity. It simply requires collaboration,” Abrams said.
The Democratic leader noted that both she and the Republican governor agreed things could be worse. “You had actual public malfeasance with Clayton County. You have, I think, incivility and some legitimate concerns about process with [the Atlanta school board]. No one’s accusing the board of doing anything but violating the rules in the game. And I think this is something that Governor Deal recognizes.”
Over the weekend, physicians were called to the bedsides of both Deal and Abrams. All of metro Atlanta, perhaps all of Georgia, is praying that they do not recover.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider