ATLANTA — Democrat Valarie Wilson got a warmer reception Thursday from school administrators attending a state-sponsored education conference than did her Republican opponent for state superintendent of schools, Richard Woods.
“We have some of the best educators in this country,” she said as they clapped. “I want to continue to be your advocate to ensure your voice is heard.”
Each spoke separately for eight minutes, but only Wilson was interrupted by applause. After she finished, attendees lined up to speak to her, give her hugs and ask her to pose for photos. In contrast, Woods was standing by himself during a break as attendees walked past.
In his brief address, he didn’t bring up the key issues dividing their support, political party and the multi-state Common Core school standards. He’s opposed to Georgia’s continued use of them four years in, and she favors them.
Despite the fact that he’s spent most of his career in education and she’s never been a teacher, those attending the conference politely listened to him but nodded and smiled as she spoke.
Wilson vowed to push to increase taxpayer funds for public schools and promised to be a cheerleader for those who work in them.
“You have been the scapegoats for everything that is wrong with education,” she told them.
Woods stressed his experience in small business, pledging to conduct an audit of the Department of Education and to establish purchasing procedures that would save taxpayers.
“From an operational standpoint, make sure we’re moving money into the area that we need to look at,” he said. “To just keep saying, ‘We need more money, more money, more money,’ but I think it’s even more critical to make sure it’s going to places that will benefit education across the board.”
Wilson may have been the darling of the conference, but a poll released this week by SurveyUSA for WXIA-TV showed slightly more of the likely voters support him, 47 percent to her 43 percent. The poll of 558 likely voters has a 4 percent margin of error. Of his supporters, 71 percent object to Common Core while 61 percent of her supporters like it.