Buckhead resident Tom Tidwell announced on June 20 that he will challenge Atlanta Board of Education Chairman Reuben McDaniel for the school board’s at-large District 8 seat.
The election is Nov. 5.
McDaniel’s recent actions as school board member have angered many Buckhead residents. McDaniel’s inquiry into alleged institutional racism at North Atlanta High came shortly before Atlanta Public School officials removed the popular leadership team there. While APS said the removal of the school’s academy leaders was about academic performance, many Buckhead parents saw it as a consequence of McDaniel’s actions.
The husband of a former teacher at North Atlanta filed an ethics complaint against McDaniel and the BOE’s Ethics Commission later dismissed that complaint.
Tidwell didn’t reference the North Atlanta High controversy in his announcement, but made other criticisms about McDaniel’s performance as a member of the BOE.
“The two most important things the board does is select a superintendent and pass a budget,” Tidwell said in a press release announcing his candidacy. “Under McDaniel’s leadership, the board failed on both accounts. McDaniel oversaw two huge budget deficits – $16 million in 2012 and $60 million in 2013. As chairman, McDaniel actively delayed finding a new superintendent. APS is at a crossroads. Finding the next superintendent will be the most important decision the board makes. It will shape the future of public education in Atlanta for the next generation of children.”
Tidwell is a board member of the West Paces Northside Neighborhood Association and the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods where he serves as education liaison.
Here is Tidwell’s full press release:
Local attorney Tom Tidwell has announced that he will run for the At-Large Seat #8 on the Atlanta Board of Education. The seat is currently held by Reuben McDaniel. Tidwell, a lifelong Atlanta resident, cited wasteful spending, rising class sizes, and shrinking graduation rates as his motivation for seeking a position on the Board.
“As a parent with two children in the Atlanta Public School system,” said Tidwell, “I feel like I owe it to my daughters and to the children of Atlanta to get involved and bring leadership, fiscal responsibility, hard work, and a vision for the future to the Board.”
“Following the cheating scandal, we’ve seen some alarming trends in Atlanta’s public schools,” said Tidwell. “There have been some huge increases in administrative salaries downtown, but teacher salaries have been frozen. At the same time, class sizes have increased and graduation rates have declined.”
When asked what he saw as the most pressing concerns for Atlanta’s schools, Tidwell quickly pointed to getting control of the budget process and improving early education programs. “Our children need to be able to read by the time they graduate third grade. Unfortunately, the children that need help the most are being left behind before they even have a chance,” Tidwell said. “We have to improve our early education programs so that these children can learn basic skills that provide them with a fighting chance to succeed in school and later on in life. To do this, we need to get control of the budget process so that limited resources are spent more effectively. This starts by learning where money is being spent and then redirecting it into the classroom, not administrative salaries downtown.”
Tidwell also touched on how important he believes public education is not just for parents but for the city of Atlanta as a whole.
“A floundering education system hinders our entire city. Strong schools support strong communities, and strong communities support economic development, both locally and city-wide. A strong school system makes Atlanta a more attractive place for businesses to relocate, which brings more jobs to the city.”
Tidwell also pointed to a lack of leadership within the Board since McDaniel became chairman at the beginning of 2012.
“The two most important things the Board does is select a superintendent and pass a budget. Under McDaniel’s leadership, the Board failed on both accounts. McDaniel oversaw two huge budget deficits – $16 million in 2012 and $60 million in 2013. As chairman, McDaniel actively delayed finding a new superintendent. APS is at a crossroads. Finding the next superintendent will be the most important decision the Board makes. It will shape the future of public education in Atlanta for the next generation of children.”
Tidwell earned an economics degree from Georgia State University in 1989. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, cum laude, in 1992. He and his wife of 20 years have two daughters who attend Atlanta Public Schools. Tidwell has served as a member of the Morris Brandon school council task force. He is a Trustee of Northside Methodist Church and also serves on the church’s Sports and Recreation Board. Tidwell is Vice-Chairman of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and serves as a board member of the West Paces Northside Neighborhood Association.
More information on Tidwell and his campaign can be found at ElectTidwell.com