Just about everybody knows that Georgia’s current Republican state school superintendent, Kath Cox, wanted to gut science education of anything that might upset bible thumpers. She not only eliminated the term “evolution,” she also took out references to the “long” age of the earth, and she removed about 70% of the material covering evolutionary biology.
The woman she replaced, Linda Schrenko, was even worse. Schrenko, the first woman elected to a state wide office, was once the darling of the Republican Party and the Christian Coalition. In 1996 Schrenko asked the state attorney general if creationism could be taught in public classrooms. Apparently Linda never heard of Edwards v Aguillard. Undeterred, she continued to insist that it was a local issue and encouraged teachers to decide for themselves how they were going to teach biology. (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.)
However, she was so bad at her job that one conservative political commentator has referred to her as the worst politician in the history of the state. She politicized her job to such an extent that she couldn’t do it. She refused to meet with anyone who didn’t donate to her campaign. She appointed friends to lucrative positions in the state department of education, including her pastor and his wife. She spent much time in Washington hobnobbing with the Republican elite. (She was with Bush when he signed NCLB). She never attended meetings of governing board of Georgia Public Broadcasting even though she was an ex-officio director. She fought continuously with the governor and the board of education. She stopped attending state board meetings, despite the fact that it was part of her job description. By the end of her term she simply stopped coming to work and left her staff to run the department without her. She spent her time traveling across the state on the taxpayer’s money to campaign for governor.
I remember watching Schrenko on CSPAN arguing for NCLB saying that Washington needs to act to improve schools. I saw her as saying “I’m lazy and ineffectual, please do my job for me.” Perhaps the pain-killers she is rumored to be addicted to are to blame.
She is still making headlines. Last week she was indicted for embezzling federal education funds to finance her campaign for governor and a face lift.
Schrenko allegedly directed the state Department of Education to issue more than $500,000 in checks on the same day July 24, 2002 to companies created by Botes purportedly for computer services for the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, the Georgia School for the Deaf and the Gov.’s Honors Program, Yates said.
The checks were issued in amounts just under $50,000 each, as that is the maximum amount that Schrenko could issue in her position as superintendent, Yates added.
About $250,000 of the roughly $614,000 was funneled from the companies to Schrenko and Temple and to Schrenko’s campaign through cash payments, wire transfers to an account in Bermuda and other disguised transactions, Yates said.