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Candidates stop by Progressive Club
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Education and the justice system were the topics of the night as guest speakers and candidates for several offices stopped by the Progressive Club’s meeting on Sept. 12. 

Guests included Judge David Irwin, Rockdale County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Samuel King, attorney Robert Mumford, who is running for Rockdale Superior Court Judge, and school board chairman Wales Barksdale, who announced he is running for reelection in 2012.

“I have decided I am going to run for school board for another term and continue to make decisions in the best interests of all our students,” said Barksdale.

Irwin, who is not up for election next year, commented that the three most important institutions to support to in a community were public schools, public libraries, and public parks. 

King also stressed the importance of the school system to the community. “The county cannot live apart from the public school systems,” he said. 

The goal of the school system was to see all students heading to either college, vocational school, or to work with an industry-level certification. He said currently all students are being assessed for work-ready certification before they graduate, with more than 80 percent certified as “work ready.” 

With college entrance tests, the goal of the school system would be to have students take at least one AP or advanced level class in addition to SAT/ACT preparation classes before taking the SAT or ACT, said King. 

When Progressive Club president Aldren Sadler asked what members could do to support the education system, King urged that they continue to be involved in the schools and with the kids.

Progressive Club member and pastor of Double Springs Baptist Church DeLand Shorter said he had tried to go to high schools to start mentorship programs only to be told that “there’s no time for you.” 

King said, “Time has to be strategically planned… The struggle is to not take students away from their core classes.” 

Member Stan Williams also said to club members, “We’re going to have to have advocates for public education. There’s a mean spirit in Rockdale. They’re trying to make us believe that it’s otherwise. The State has taken millions of dollars away. The money has to come from somewhere.”

“We’ve got to stop them from dictating the conversation,” he said.