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Beware pundits blaring mandates, especially in the state school superintendent's race

I am suspicious of election night pontificating that sees “mandates" in the outcomes.

Posters on this blog have suggested the election of Republican Richard Woods as state school superintendent would represent a mandate to rid Georgia of Common Core State Standards since Woods opposes Common Core.

At this point, we don't know whether Woods or Democrat Valarie Wilson will triumph.

Even when we get the results later tonight, I don't think we can offer any definitive summations – at least not immediately -- on why voters chose Wilson or Woods.

I still find many voters don't understand the role of the state school superintendent. And I think voters have only a glancing awareness of Common Core.

I talked to two voters today who confused the state superintendent with their county superintendent. One asked why J. Alvin Wilbanks didn’t run again. (Wilbanks is the longtime leader of Gwinnett Schools.)

A twenty-something asked if Phyllis Edwards, the City Schools of Decatur superintendent, was retiring since he didn't see her name as one of the choices on his ballot.

It is understandable Georgians without school-age children may not care about who leads the state Department of Education, no matter that leader's role in setting the direction of Georgia's schools.  Their solution in the polling booth may be to either skip the race or vote their party.

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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.