About a year ago, after watching incumbent David Morgan in his first term as the Cobb Board of Education’s Post 3 representative, Bobby Allen said he decided to run for the seat.
Allen said Morgan came to his house before the 2008 elections and asked for his support.
“So I watched him over those four years, and I never saw that effort to do what he promised to do,” the 45-year-old Powder Springs resident said. “So for the last couple years, I’ve said to myself: ‘Someone needs to run against him because he’s not doing a good job. He’s not representing the people.’”
Allen’s comments came before he spoke to roughly two dozen residents about his campaign at the in Powder Springs Tuesday evening.
He will square off against Morgan and Karyn Harrison of Mableton in the July 31 Democratic primary for the seat. No Republicans signed up during , so it appears that whichever Democrat takes the primary will take the seat.
Post 3 currently includes South Cobb, Pebblebrook and , high schools, but reapportionment is likely to push McEachern into Post 7.
Currently, Allen is an adjunct business professor at Shorter University, an instructional coach with Atlanta Public Schools, a member of the Imagine International Academy of Mableton's Board of Directors, and a co-founder of the nonprofit mentoring organization Reach 2 Empower.
Allen said there isn’t any specific action Morgan took that made him want to run, but rather “a lack of action from him.”
“Even if he had tried to do the right thing for the children of South Cobb,” he said before the meeting, “I would have supported him. But it did not appear that he even tried.”
In front of the crowd, Allen questioned the board member’s accessibility. He said Morgan “only talks to a few of his constituents—people that he knows personally and perhaps people who have the uncanny ability to persuade.”
“And while he’s in Post 3, he represents all of us, not just a few of us. So why not be accessible to all of us?” he asked, adding that he would be accessible to “every single individual.”
“This area has too much to improve upon to have a representative to sit idly by and put forth nothing into the conversation,” Allen said.
He told the crowd that, if elected, he will work toward getting businesses and parents involved in the schools.
“It is my belief that for many years, parents have been pushed out of the school systems, disenfranchised,” he said. “Their voice has been taken away.”
Allen said he is an “advocate for school choice,” including charter schools.
“I don’t see a problem with a charter school coming in—or several—if they can educate our students better than what we’re doing in the public school system,” he said. “When it all boils down, it’s the student that matters.”
He said that while he “appreciates Teach for America,” he doesn’t agree with for South Cobb while there are .
“In South Cobb, we have several capable, certified, experience teachers … that we can hang on to in lieu of letting them go,” he said.
The school board hopeful said he would work on the area’s achievement gap, which is going to “take something huge to make a change.”
Allen got his start in education after completing eight-plus years in the Army Corps of Engineers. He got his teaching certification from West Georgia College and worked at High Point Elementary in Fulton County for eight years as a fifth grade teacher, then moved on to be an assistant principal for an alternative school in Fulton.
He originally didn’t think he could be a teacher “because when I was in high school, my counselor suggested that I join the military. In fact, she said: ‘Don’t waste your parents money going to college or trying to go to college.’”
But a music teacher encouraged him to apply, and he went to Tougaloo College on a singing scholarship. He completed his undergraduate work there, and now has a master’s of public administration from Troy State and doctorate of educational leadership from Argosy University.
He has three children, one who graduated from South Cobb, one who graduated from McEachern, and one who currently attends McEachern.
He joked that he hasn’t slept much “since 1985.”
Do you agree with Allen? Has Morgan been inaccessible? What do you want most from your school board representative? Tell us below in the comments.