WASHINGTON – Speaking at the National Press Club, Bibb County School Superintendent Curtis Jones Jr. said Thursday that the nearly three-week partial federal government shutdown is affecting local communities and makes it harder to teach children in those communities.

Jones Jr. is one of four finalists to become 2019 National Superintendent of the Year. The winner will be selected in February by AASA – the School Superintendents Association.

During a discussion at the National Press Club, he and the other three finalists, Brian Woods of Northside Independent School District in Texas, Mary Ann Ranells of West Ada Joint School District 2 in Idaho and Jeff Butts of the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township in Indiana were questioned by Education Week’s Denisa Superville about the shutdown, school shootings, teacher protests and accessibility to higher education.

“The stresses that the government shutdown places on our communities has a particular impact on our children. It makes it that much harder to educate our children and the sooner it’s over, the better,” said Jones Jr.

All four finalists addressed school shootings by challenging the notion that teachers should carry guns.

“Safety and security are two different things. I wish the education community could come together so that children don’t have to worry about who is coming through the door,” said Jones.

The Indiana finalist, Butts, agreed.

“The greatest thing to do for school safety is to create a space in which kids feel comfortable enough to tell a staff member if they see something. Schools have a ton of access points so complete security is extremely difficult,” he said.

AASA praised the finalists for their leadership as educators tackling the difficult issues in education today.

“Our motto this year is that leaders matter. I don’t think we could have a better representation that leaders matter than our four finalists this year,” said Daniel Domenech, executive director of The School Superintendents Association.

Jones also received praise from Georgia’s top educator.

“Dr. Jones and the other superintendents represent the best of the best. I’ve known Dr. Jones for the past four years. He’s a man of integrity,” said Georgia State School Superintendent Richard Woods in a telephone interview. ”He’s a proven leader, innovative, and not afraid to take on a challenge.”

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