On Thursday, January 31, the Bibb County Board of Education will hold a called meeting of the eight-member School Board and its Superintendent, Romain Dallemand.
The meeting had been originally scheduled for last Thursday, January 24, but was abruptly canceled.
Why was the meeting called in the first place?
Central Georgia’s largest television station, Macon’s WMAZ-TV had reported that Superintendent Romain Dallemand offered to resign if the board would buy out his contract based upon statements by two Bibb Board of Education members who were not named.
Dallemand has an opportunity to show perseverance and reaffirm his commitment to Bibb County Schools at the scheduled January 31 called board meeting.
This is not the time to bend to pressure from conservatives, but an opportunity to publicly fight for his Macon Miracle plan and encourage the local community supporters to fight for it as well.
Dallemand should be held accountable, but be allowed to do his job.
Nearly two years ago, the Bibb Superintendent had said the following:
“We have a moral imperative to change the course of education in this county and this country. This is not the nice thing to do. We do it because it is the right thing to do.”
“Fewer than half of our children are graduating, and I don’t want a system where only half of our kids have a chance for success. We cannot lose any more kids; too many kids dying, physically and emotionally. If we’re not the ones to save them, who will step up to the plate and do the job?”
Dallemand can’t do this alone, and the African-American community in particular will need to be actively engaged –not cynical and apathetic– by helping to give this Macon Miracle a chance to be fully implemented along with supporting board members who validate the plan through their words and actions.
The Promise Neighborhoods initiative is a federal program which was born shortly after President Obama assumed office in 2009 and has been a source of conservative criticism from local media because it targets poverty-stricken neighborhoods and the children who attend nearby public schools in those affected areas.
The question is posed of whether allocating money is worth it. The short answer is yes.
Obama won Bibb County twice in 2008 and 2012, but we must have local leaders in place to help implement those programs which can help our community. However, voting in school board and even in upcoming city commission races is just as important.
Right now, local Republicans want to practice what MLK ,Jr. once said in his famous 1963 speech: “interposition and nullification”.
The consolidation effort will reduce the electoral impact of African-Americans in a majority-black county and city and now pressure is being put on Dallemand to tap out and give Republicans increased control of the public school system.
One can easily surmise that the two Bibb School Board members who ran to WMAZ-TV were the same people who had protested Dallemand and his Macon Miracle plan from the very beginning.
,,,” those same two board members say it appears unlikely that the board would immediately approve a buyout. In their opinion, the board appears deadlocked, 4-4….”
Last March, the Bibb County School Board voted by a majority vote of 5 to 3 and passed Dallemand’s ‘Macon Miracle’ strategic plan despite dissent from North Macon/Bibb conservatives.
The supporters of Dallemand’s plan were the same ones who had voted to hire him : Board Chairman Tommy Barnes, Wanda West, Susan Middleton, Tom Hudson and Ella Carter.
The detractors of Dallemand’s plan were the same ones who had voted not to hire the Superintendent: Gary Bechtel, Lynn Farmer and Susan Sipe.
Due to term limits, Susan Middleton, Gary Betchel and Tommy Barnes left the board. Subsequently, on November 6, Republican Lester Miller–a lawyer– won Middleton’s seat and Jason Downey–another lawyer– ascended to Gary Betchel’s seat.
What has changed? With Middleton gone, Lester Miller the new representative from western Bibb County and Lizella has become the new dissenting voice against Dallemand and the “Macon Miracle” plan.
Susan Sipe, a registered Democrat who is white, has supported fellow Republicans on the School Board throughout Dallemand’s tenure and was able to quietly sneak through a July 31 Democratic primary.
Sipe’s district is a majority-black, Democrat-leaning district that supported Obama, but this is an example in which voter apathy left the door open for an obstructionist who sides with Republicans to sit on the board.
Instead of 5 -3 majority in support of Dallemand and the Macon Miracle, it is now apparently deadlocked 4-4.
In October 2011, Superintendent Romain Dallemand wrote about “Moving Forward Together”.
Dallemand has taken on a very tough job of attempting to turn around the Bibb County Public Schools System but despite Dallemand’s sincere efforts to change the culture and the school system for the better, there will not be a 100 percent consensus on everything he proposes.
Barack Obama tried to work with Republicans when he was first elected in 2008 and assumed office in 2009, but the Republicans’ objective was to make him a ‘one-term’ president.
Stepping down shouldn’t be an option, but stepping up and taking on the challenge in much the same way President Barack Obama has fought Republicans despite their own obstructionism in Congress is the only way the Macon Miracle will be fulfilled.
Dallemand will need to re-introduce himself to his supporters and continue to fight for his Macon Miracle Plan.