Our lame duck Gov. Sonny Perdue has done another really good thing. He named former DeKalb School Board Chairman Brad Bryant as the new State School Superintendent.
Bryant, who resigned as 4th district representative on the State Board of Education, will replace Kathy Cox who left to head an educational think tank in the nation’s capital. Bryant took office July 1 and will run for election in November as an independent.
The governor has made an excellent choice in tapping Bryant for the post. Did I say the governor made an excellent choice? Yes, and it bears repeating. While I certainly haven’t agreed with most of the governor’s actions or lack thereof–cuts in education funding for most of his tenure, voter ID law, fighting health care reform, lack of meaningful transit funding to name a few–the Bryant selection is a great, very sensible choice.
Bryant has a solid knowledge base in matters of education. He has a deep reservoir of experience from which to draw in his new capacity as the state’s school chief, having served at nearly every level of educational governance in the state and nation. He has represented the 4th district on the board since 2003 and is the past president of the National Association of State Boards of Education. He served admirably on the DeKalb Board of Education for 12 years, including seven as its chair. Clayton and Warren counties owe him a debt of gratitude for helping them regain their accreditation. His record of service is exemplary, including being past president of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and president of the National School Boards Association Southern Region. Additionally, he currently sits on the Georgia Drivers Education Commission. Bryant has also served on the Governor’s Office of Education Accountability Report Card Committee, The Georgia Closing the Gap Commission and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.
One also has to be impressed with Brad Bryant’s leadership qualities. He is very thoughtful and deliberate in his approach to solving issues. He takes a collaborate approach and is willing to listen to divergent points of view. An attorney by trade, he demonstrates a sense of balance and justice and does not have an air of entitlement even though his roots in Georgia are deep. He enjoys immediate respect and credibility in the professional arena that also extends to his personal life.
I can relate to Bryant and wife’s Kay’s service as co-presidents of Henderson Mill Elementary School PTA back when their now adult children were young. It is hard work at a level where it is most needed but that yields rewards that last a lifetime. Their children are the true testament of their service. Benjamin is an associate with the prestigious law firm Alston and Bird. Their daughter Katherine is a recent double masters’ graduate in Natural Resources and Sustainability and in International Relations from the American University in Washington, D.C.
Yes, Brad Bryant is an excellent choice to build on the great track record of former state schools chief Kathy Cox. He can take us to the next level with his zeal for providing children with the best education possible and the belief that every child can achieve. So, as the “Sonny” sets, on this appointment at least, he has cast a bright light on the horizon. Education in Georgia could be headed to a brighter day if we keep this in mind come November when Bryant will be up for election.
Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Milies at Steen@dekalbchamp.com.