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Leaders needed to support schools
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The state of Georgia has instituted a new, more accurate method for measuring graduation rates and the results aren't pretty for school systems across the state.

Prior to the change, Georgia's graduation rate was 85 percent, and Newton County's rate was 84.1 percent. The new method of calculating graduation rates actually puts the state at 67.45 percent, while Newton County's rate of graduation is 64.1 percent.

We appreciate the fact that taxpayers are going to be able to see the real numbers of our graduating seniors in the state and these new numbers certainly explain why Georgia is ranked near the bottom in academic success in the U.S.

The fact that 35 percent of the students in Newton County don't graduate is completely unacceptable.

There is a major push here to attract large industries to our county, and several people and organizations are working toward that goal.

We're sure these folks are promoting our county by talking up our quality of life, the beauty of our landscape and our proximity to major transportation corridors, but what do we say when the subject of education comes up? How do you explain a 64.15 percent graduation rate?

While we believe Superintendent Gary Mathews and his staff are doing their best to change this culture of failure, we have our doubts that the chair of our current school board is providing any benefit.

In order to attract quality business and industry, Newton County must have a quality workforce and that begins with education. We encourage quality candidates to consider becoming a public servant, and we hope every voter of this county takes a hard look at the choices before him or her and votes to put someone in office who will be an asset to the current school administration, not an impediment.