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Candidate Q&A – DeKalb County School Board member Marshall Orson

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Candidate Q&A – DeKalb County School Board member Marshall Orson

Marshall Orson

In advance of the May 22 primary election, Decaturish is publishing Q&As with the candidates. To see your sample ballot, click here.

Marshall Orson, DeKalb County Board of Education District 2 (Incumbent) 

Marshall Orson

Why are you running for this position? 

I am proud to have helped guide the turnaround of DeKalb Schools. During my time on the Board of Education we have obtained full accreditation, established a $120 million dollar surplus, re-instituted pay raises and eliminated furlough days, achieved rising test scores and an increased graduation rate, and hired an outstanding Superintendent. Dr. R. Stephen Green. I am running for re-election to ensure DeKalb’s progress continues.

What are your qualifications for this office? 

I have lived in DeKalb for 32 years and my two children, now a senior and sophomore at Druid Hills High School, have always attended DeKalb public schools. I am the incumbent school board member and have served for five years on the DeKalb County Board of Education. I started as an involved parent working as a volunteer at my children’s schools before serving as chair of two school councils, co-president of the Emory-LaVista Parent Council, and as a member of the SPLOST Oversight Committee. I also spent six years on the Board of the Public Education Network which was a national advocacy group for primarily urban school districts.  I led the DeKalb initiative to rejoin the Council of Urban Boards of Education.  I co-sponsored the effort to have all DeKalb high schools accredited by the Georgia Accreditation Commission. My colleagues view me as a consensus builder and they recently elected me unanimously as the Vice Chair of the DeKalb School Board.

What kind of work do you do? 

I am a media and business development consultant and an attorney.

What are two or three things you’d like to do if you’re elected? 

1.     Continue to defend DeKalb County Schools’ tax base from being diverted to Atlanta and, potentially, Decatur through annexations.

2.     Ensure equitable access to technology, capital investments (including for our long-underserved immigrant community), and a high quality education for all children in a safe and secure environment.

3.     Continue improvement in the graduation rate while preparing all students for post-graduation, whether college, career or the military.


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Why should voters choose you over your opponent? 

DeKalb faces significant risks and challenges. I am committed to protecting the students of DeKalb County and the schools that serve them. There are efforts to privatize public education by diverting public dollars to private schools through vouchers and similar programs. There are efforts to diminish the role of local school systems (and local control) by investing state money in state authorized schools at levels greater than local schools receive from the state. And, there are continuing efforts to divert resources from the children of DeKalb to Atlanta, and possibly Decatur, through annexations (DeKalb already will suffer a loss of $2.5 million per year to Atlanta resulting from the Emory annexation.)  My opponent is on the wrong side of each of the foregoing–she supports vouchers, she supports funding state chartered schools at a level greater than local schools, and the leader of the Atlanta Board of Education has promoted her candidacy because APS knows I am leading the fight to protect DeKalb’s children from the diversion of resources to Atlanta. We cannot allow the well-being of, and educational opportunities for, the children of DeKalb to be sacrificed for these other agendas.

If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner? 

Yes.  To accomplish this, and as I have done during my five years on the Board, I will:

  1. Always be accessible to the community.
  2. Be clear regarding my positions on issues and the reasons for those positions.
  3. Fully disclose all financial and other information required of elected officials and candidates so the public can make informed decisions about their elected officials.

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