On Saturday, July 12, Tom Hudson, a member of the Bibb County School Board, appeared on WMAZ-TV and its weekly public affairs program -- CLOSE-UP-- and discussed a wide array of topics such as former Superintendent Romain Dallemand along with the Promise Neighborhoods Initiative.
Hudson has served on the Bibb County School Board for nearly a decade and had recently won another term in office after running unopposed in the May 20 primary.
The progressive Democrat represents District 5 which encompasses Hartley Elementary, Riley Elementary, Ballard-Hudson Middle and Southwest High School and is currently chairman of the board's Policies and Rules Committee.
However, the political pressure mainly from local conservatives against the Macon Miracle and negative media attention on programs such as the introduction of Mandarin Chineese in the school system and the Promise Neighborhoods initiative became a big issue.
Hudson told WMAZ-TV Close-Up moderator Randall Savage that the Macon Miracle was an inclusive and transparent program. However, it needed more time to develop.
Additionally, Hudson stated that Dallemand had been hired in November 2010 not to just 'fix' the system, but to 'change' the public school system for the better.
When Dallemand was introducing the Macon Miracle, he had said the following:
We have a moral imperative to change the course of education in this county and this country. This is not the nice thing to do. We do it because it is the right thing to do.
"Fewer than half of our children are graduating, and I don't want a system where only half of our kids have a chance for success. We cannot lose any more kids; too many kids dying, physically and emotionally. If we're not the ones to save them, who will step up to the plate and do the job?"
Dallemand faced opposition from fellow board members of the school board from the very beginning.
The supporters of Dallemand's plan were the same ones who had voted to hire him : (former) Board Chairman Tommy Barnes, Wanda West, Susan Middleton, Tom Hudson and Ella Carter.
The detractors of Dallemand's plan were the same ones who had voted not to hire the Superintendent: Gary Bechtel, Lynn Farmer and Susan Sipe.
Dallemand's tenure ended in February 2013 due to resignation, but the former Superintendent was embroiled in a controversy over the Promise Neighborhoods program.
Hudson stated that a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Board of Education in regard to Promise Neighborhood initiative by the elected board members who were there at the time in 2012.
The Promise Neighborhoods initiative is a federal program which originated shortly after President Obama assumed office in January 2009 and has been a source of conservative criticism from local media because it targets poverty-stricken neighborhoods and the children who attend nearby public schools in those affected areas.
Macon Promise Neighborhoods project was designed to provide support for children and their families who live in the Unionville and Tindall Heights neighborhoods in Macon.
The long-term goal of Macon Promise Neighborhood is to end generational poverty, improve children’s achievement in school, and provide children and their parents the same choices and opportunities typically associated with neighborhoods with greater resources.