While the other three candidates said they support the initiative, Stultz said he’s opposed to what the program has become.
Stultz, an engineer, faces mortgage banker Jeff Abel and education consultant Susan Thayer in the May 20 Republican primary for the Smyrna/Mableton area School Board seat. The winner will face Democrat Kenya Pierre, an attorney, in the November general election.
The four were asked about Common Core, which critics refer to as “Obamacore,” during a forum put on by the Mableton Improvement Coalition inside the South Cobb Community Center. About 70 people attended.
Abel said he embraces Common Core, a controversial set of education standards adopted by 45 states.
Thayer said school board members don’t have a say in Common Core implementation, but also cited confusion over what Common Core is as a major reason for its controversy.
Pierre said she’s moved around a lot throughout her life and the centralized standards will help in today’s mobile society.
While Stultz said he supports Common Core as a concept, he said in practice it has gotten off course.
“I think there have been a lot of unintended consequences since the state started implementing Common Core,” he said.
“I think they are teaching too much toward the test and not teaching what needs to be taught. What it has created is unintended consequences. I don’t support what has become of the initiative.”
Earlier this year, the Georgia Senate passed a bill authored by Sen. William Ligon (R-Brunswick) which would have created a pathway for Georgia to withdraw from Common Core. Critics complain Common Core is a push to federalize education and reduce local control. But after the bill passed out of the Senate, it was stopped in the House Education Committee chaired by Rep. Brooks Coleman (R-Duluth), a former Gwinnett County assistant superintendent.
State Rep. Alisha Thomas Morgan (D-Austell), a member of the education committee running for state school superintendent, said at the time the division between those who support and oppose Common Core was clear.
“It’s very apparent that those who are opposed tended to be very right-leaning groups,” Morgan said.
Mableton Improvement Coalition board members Joel Cope and Broderick Santiago took turns asking questions of the candidates.
School board candidates also were asked their thoughts on charter schools.
Stultz again offered a different take on the question than his opponents.
Pierre, Abel and Thayer all support charter schools, but Stultz added he supports the entire Cobb County School District becoming a charter school district.
Marietta City Schools became a charter system several years ago.
“I believe one size does not fit all,” Stultz said.
Thayer pointed out she helped write the charter for the International Academy of Smyrna, a charter school in the district. Abel said charter schools are a good idea as long as they are done correctly, and Pierre also was in favor of charters as long as they produce results.
“I’m for good schools,” Pierre said.
The first question asked of the school board candidates was about their support for rebuilding Mableton’s Harmony-Leland Elementary, which is tied for the second oldest school in the county, and combining it with nearby Clay Elementary.
Pierre said she believes the school should have been rebuilt ahead of two others set for a rebuild in east Cobb.
“Our resources are not equitable,” she said.
Stultz said he worked to get Harmony-Leland set as the next rebuild after Brumby and Mountain View elementary schools. He also said the sale of the land from the old schools will help raise money for the Harmony-Leland rebuild.
Abel agreed the school needs to be rebuilt and said he will vote for schools in Post 2 first. Thayer also said Harmony-Leland needs a rebuild and added east Cobb projects often get a higher priority than other areas.
Candidates from other races were given the chance to speak as well, including in the race for a Cobb Superior Court judgeship and several Georgia Senate and House seats.
Candidates hoping to replace retiring Cobb Superior Court Judge James Bodiford are Cobb Senior Assistant District Attorney Ann Harris, Cobb Juvenile Court Judge Juanita Stedman and Marietta Associate Municipal Court Judge Nathan Wade.
After speaking about their credentials, candidates for the judgeship were asked what can be done to support young, black men.
Harris talked about her experience as an assistant district attorney.
“You’re never too old to change. You’re never too old to make a choice,” she said. Harris recalled telling those she comes in contact with through trials that they can change for the better and make choices will improve their lives.
Wade said young black men are in need of good role models, and noted he would provide such a role model if elected to the judgeship.
“They don’t care what you have to say until they know you care about them,” he said.
Stedman said people from all communities and all walks of life need guidance and support and said communities must do their part to help.