I was first introduced to the idea of running for the school board when the parent of a tutoring student, then DeKalb County Commissioner Judy Yates, suggested it based on my enthusiasm for teaching. As time went by and I was exposed to the school system as a parent, I began to realize that my physics and math background provided the analytical skills that seemed lacking in the decision process.
The ongoing and current budget crisis, the egregious ethics violations in the central office, the cover-up of a known pedophile in the schools all were the final points that made it clear a change in leadership was required. The apparent focus on education being replaced with a totalitarian focus on discipline first is not productive of an healthy educational environment.
The last straw came at my son's honor awards ceremony at Tucker Middle School. None of the students were smiling at all as they approached and shook hands with the principal and assistant principal. Then assistant principal called out by name two students who had a history of discipline issues and proceeded to publicly humiliate them by discussing how bad they had been in the past. Many parents were appalled at the total lack of student information privacy and the humiliation was painful to watch.
We can do better than this. We have to do better than this. This generation of school children is supposed to fund out the retirement process.
I am a Georgia native who grew up in Rome, Ga. I am a public school graduate from East Rome High in 1980.
I moved to Atlanta area permanently in 1983. Attended various schools in the area from Georgia Tech to Georgia State University and DeKalb College studying fields from chemical engineering and chemistry, business and accounting, biology and pre-med, and finally physics and math.
I met my future wife at DeKalb College in 1988 and we married in 1989. My first child to attend DeKalb County Schools was born in 1990 and was two years old when I went back to school at Georgia State to finish my BS in Physics with a minor in Math.
I continued at Georgia State to complete my MS in Physics in 1997 with the research project "Surface Analysis of Poly-Crystaline Diamond." I joined Emory University Department of Physics after graduation as the undergraduate physics lab coordinator where I taught physics, wrote lab manuals, wrote classroom software and mentored students until I left to join a tech start-up in 2000.
After the implosion of the tech bubble, I started and ran a technology consulting practice which provided support, programming and design solutions for small to mid-sized business.
In 2006 I was the technical architect of a highly successful school technology project for Atlanta Public Schools. I leveraged my extensive knowledge of RedHat Linux and educational technology to provide Linux-based thin client computing for seven schools in a pilot project that was the largest of its kind in North America. A deployed 2:1 ratio of students to computers in the classroom benefited 4000 students academically and the teachers were thrilled.
I left private practice in 2008 and joined Google. I have since worked at Cox Communications, Georgia Tech Research Institute and am presently at IBM Security Solutions where I am a Linux Systems Engineer.
Jim Kinney is the husband of Patch contributing writer Ginny Mauldin-Kinney.
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