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Candidate says there’s too much emphasis on testing

Beth Farokhi, a candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent, said there’s a lack of leadership in Atlanta when it comes to education.

Farokhi, who was accompanied by a friend, Paula Chambers of Bainbridge, came by The Post-Searchlight’s newsroom for a short interview Monday.

The Democratic candidate said even with all the economic woes being felt throughout the country, that Georgia is one of two states where teachers are being forced to take furlough days.

“That tells you there’s a lack of leadership,” said Farokhi, who is a career educator, both with the Cobb County school system as a public school teacher and as an administrator with the Georgia State University College of Education.

Forcing teachers to take unpaid time off in order to make up budget shortfalls doesn’t jive well with Farokhi.

She said lawmakers and officials with the State School Superintendent’s office have been cut the state’s share of education dollars so drastically, “that our local school systems have had to make up the difference.”

She said there’s a lack of collection on the part of some revenues, and a lot of businesses have been given tax breaks to the detriment of the state.

Adding, “Education is one area you just don’t touch.”

Farokhi said the state’s testing component to the national No Child Left Behind law has made teachers teach a test rather than teach critical thinking and life skills.

“When schools do pep rallies for a test, something is out of kilter there,” Farokhi said. “It’s become a real negative, punitive process. … We’re become a system that values testing instead of learning.”

She said Georgia needs to look to North Carolina for a “growth component” of the testing mandate of the national law.

“What needs to happen everyday in our classrooms is the component of learning, not testing,” Farokhi said.

Farokhi said she’s running because, “I just want someone to yell ‘stop,’ and no one is yelling ‘stop.'”

Farokhi will face Democratic candidates Sandra Cannon Scott and Brian Westlake in the July 20 primary.