Mumbi Anderson BOE Courtesy

Mumbi Anderson, a candidate for the District 6 seat on the Clarke County Board of Education, has a passion for early childhood education. (Photo Courtesy/Jason Thrasher)

For Mumbi Anderson, equity work should start before a child enters kindergarten.

Maybe it’s because the University of Georgia College of Public Health professor’s two youngest children are 2 years old and 8 months old, but she hopes to bring her passion for early childhood education onto the Clarke County Board of Education.

“There’s not a whole lot of robust policy about early childhood education,” Anderson said. “I want to make sure funding reaches everyone.”

Anderson is running unopposed to replace District 6 member Charles Worthy, who has been on the board for 16 years.

In addition to his time on the board, Worthy spent more than three decades as an educator in the district and felt like it was time to retire so he could spend more time with his grandson.

Worthy was the principal of Cedar Shoals High School when Anderson was a student. She said she has a lot of respect for the long-time Clarke County educator and called him to talk about running.

“I think she’ll be a good board member,” Worthy said. “I admire her for calling me up.”

Anderson has three children, two who are too young for the school system and a 15-year-old who attends Clarke Central High School.

A good foundation in early childhood education will affect a student down the line, Anderson said. By focusing on children before they’re 5 years old, she said the school board can address the racial achievement gap and high school dropout rate.

“We can’t pretend issues of education equity don’t exist in this community,” Anderson said.

A $10 million renovation to the West Broad Street property is set to include an early learning center and include student and community services, which Anderson looks forward to. However, she said the controversy surrounding the property overshadowed the purpose of the rehabilitation.

Anderson jumped into the race because of the disconnect between board members and with the community.

Though Anderson said she usually agrees with the policy approved by the board, she thinks social media conversations and the fallout after former Superintendent Demond Means was placed on administrative leave in December 2019 may have contributed to some of the board’s problems.

Instead of having conversations about the problems, Anderson decided she could help bring the board to a positive direction by running for the District 6 seat.

In addition to her passion about early learning, she hopes to see more preparation programs for students graduating from high school and entering either the workforce or higher education.

“You can’t talk about bridging some of the issues with economic disparity in Athens at the community level without talking about K-12 education,” Anderson said.

Anderson wants to see more tutoring and college-or trade-readiness programs to supplement the already existing tracks, which include dual enrollment and the Athens Career Academy.

She also thinks more extracurricular programs such as sports and community involvement organizations should have funding for students to have productive ways to spend their time outside of the classroom.

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