Former Atlanta mayor to Arne Duncan: Media assaults and political agendas could destabilize APS

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is seeking Arne Duncan's guidance in the controversies around APS CRCT results

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is seeking Arne Duncan's guidance in the controversies around APS CRCT results

Here is the letter that former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin is sending to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan to ask his advice in steering APS through the crisis in confidence resulting from the CRCT probe and in dealing with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. She is concerned that the system is being battered by political agendas and the AJC coverage:

Dear Secretary Duncan,

Thank you for the tremendous energy and leadership you have shown on behalf of American public education.  I am grateful for President Obama’s strong commitment to public education as demonstrated by increased federal funding and an unprecedented call for innovation to states and school districts alike.

I am writing to advise you of continuing questions raised by the Georgia Governor’s Office of Student Achievement (GOSA) and the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) on Atlanta Public Schools’ testing results and other indicators of student performance.  I am concerned because the continuing media assaults could destabilize the school system and negatively impact nearly 50,000 students.  While I was Mayor, a broad segment of the community worked tirelessly to bring stability to the APS. As a former school superintendent you are acutely aware of how external factors even false accusations can influence the well being of students.

Most recently, the local newspaper raised questions about the accuracy of APS’s high school graduate rates and also questioned the validity of the National Assessment of Education Program (NAEP) results.

This all began with the newspaper conducting its own statistical analysis of testing gains by APS on the State’s Curriculum Criteria Reference Tests (CRCTs).  This then led to GOSA conducting wrong-to-right erasure analysis of all 2009 CRCT results.  From this analysis, GOSA flagged 58 APS schools for potential cheating.  APS then called for an independent investigation. Business and civic leaders formed a Blue Ribbon Commission under the auspices of the Atlanta Education Fund (AEF) to investigate the allegations.   The findings from this Commission were released to the public and given to the Atlanta School Board on August 2. Dr. Hall, the Atlanta superintendent, has taken action and will continue to ferret out the problems. A  copy of the Commission report can be found on the Atlanta Education Foundation website, http://www.atlef.org/crct/report/report.html.

This community needs the expertise and guidance of the Department of Education to mediate the growing tension between the school district and the state agency. Raising the questions the AJC has is certainly appropriate, I am concerned though because the newspaper has a tendency to sensationalize local issues and to promote solutions that suit the story line rather than promote sustainable best practice options.

Most of us who have lead major organizational turnarounds appreciate the delicate balance needed to successfully implement organizational changes while maintaining ongoing operations. The APS of 2010 is vastly improved since 2000 and this progress should not be jeopardized by reckless claims and competing political agendas.

Though I am  private citizen now, I write seeking your advice and counsel.

Sincerely,

Shirley Franklin

207 comments Add your comment

A teacher

August 17th, 2010
6:10 pm

Just what we need… more politicians in education!

chillywilly

August 17th, 2010
6:29 pm

Shirley Franklin is about as corrupt as Beverly Hall, in my opinion. Wasn’t Franklin’s daughter married to a big time drug dealer? Wasn’t Franklin’s ex-husband implicated in some wrong doing at the airport?

I’ve never cared for Shirley Franklin and think she was a terrible mayor. There are numerous pictures of her on APS website all cozy with Beverly Hall. Shirley Franklin, you were a failed mayor and Beverly Hall is a failed superintendent. Both of you need to pack your bags and disappear from Atlanta, NOW!

Scarecrow

August 17th, 2010
6:36 pm

“YOU PEOPLE” are so cynical in your thought process — what does Shirley Franklin’s daughters corrupt husband has to do with her petition to the Secretary of Education? Your grandfather could have been a “Klansman” — but you may be OK now! AND to the TEACHER, I would think that you would applaud her letter to the Secretary of Education. WOW!!! all of you are NUTS!

Proud Black Man

August 17th, 2010
6:39 pm

Now presenting the usual assortment of tea (insert the name that cannot be mentioned), rethuglicans, and jethros’ like jackals to carrion.

jennifer

August 17th, 2010
6:44 pm

What grammar! This poorly-written letter itself is a perfect metaphor for the state of Atlanta’s public school system.

former APS teacher

August 17th, 2010
6:46 pm

The AJC and political agendas may “destablize the school system” – is Franklin serious? What about the fact that APS graduates seem to be unable to read, write or do math proficiently enough to succeed in college without substantial remdial efforts? What about the unacceptable drop-out rate? What about the teacher turnover and polticial cronyism within the system itself? As far as “destablization” is concerned, I think the horse has already left the barn and the AJC or Georgia lawmakers have nothing to do with it – if anything Franklin should be apologizing herself for not asking questions about Hall while Franklin was still in office. This whole spectacle stinks – it makes me embarrassed to live in Atlanta and only confirms the worst suspicions about the South that all my friends in other states have.

Scarecrow

August 17th, 2010
6:46 pm

Jennifer — what’s wrong with the letter? what would you have said — NOTHING!!! why do you care — you probably send your little “darlings” to private school where THEY teach the test!!!

NWGA teacher

August 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

So she wants — what? For the feds to come to Atlanta, slap the State and muzzle the media?

APS Parent SMH

August 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

And we’re supposed to believe that this open letter contains facts not already known by Duncan??? Puhleeeese. My head is still spinning from attending the meeting last night. Now this….all of a sudden our former Los Angeles School District is starting to look normal.

Ha, Ha

August 17th, 2010
6:49 pm

This would be funny if it didn’t involve our children. Shirley Franklin should quickly and quietly back out this discussion and offer an apology to the State and the AJC. In fact, the AJC is the only reason the wide spread corruption has been uncovered. I hope the state rides to the rescue, just as it did in Clayton County to save this city from its “leadership.” Wow, this is just unbelievable!

jennifer

August 17th, 2010
6:51 pm

If you cannot spot the errors of grammar and syntax in this letter, you probably attended from a Beverly Hall school.

Why do I care? Because the imbeciles getting turned out by the Atlanta school system are responsible for much of the crime and poverty that are dragging down this city. You see, with a proper education, people can rise above that and the community becomes a better place for us all. So that’s why I care.

elroy

August 17th, 2010
6:53 pm

So Shirley Franklin is not happy that the AJC reported stats about APS & after investigation cheating was found. City of Atlanta is full cheaters & corrupt people. This includes the recent past(Bill Campbell, Shirley Franklin…) It seems most politicians or people w/ power are real dirt bags & cheat the city of it’s integrity & eventually credibility & money. Shirley, go away & stay away.

chillywilly

August 17th, 2010
6:57 pm

@scarecrow,

Shirley Franklin & Beverly Hall are the REAL scarecrows. They both scare the hell out of me. And you defending them doesn’t say very much about your character. You can leave with them as far as I care. Just leave!!

catlady

August 17th, 2010
7:05 pm

Scarecrow: private schools don’t have to give the test.

This wasn’t so much a request for help as another part of the ongoing PR effort to sanitize B. Hall. Really, really shabby work.

First, she sucks up to him using words like tremendous energy and leadership, I am grateful for President Obama’s strong commitment to public education as demonstrated by increased federal funding and an unprecedented call for innovation to states and school districts alike.

Look at the loaded words: reckless, political agendas, sensationalize. She’s working hard to make the investigation look bad.

She also has some convenient amnesia: the BOE was ORDERED to investigate; APS didn’t call for the committee. In addition, she left out the numerous false statements and attempts to make this a racially motivated investigation (you can almost hear the unwritten word, “lynching.”)

IF APS has been destabilized, it is BECAUSE of the repeated actions of B. Hall and her crew. Making her out to be the victim is incredible. Shame on Shirley Franklin! Is Mr. Duncan bright enough and honest enough to see through it and call her on it?

Meidzo in Decatur

August 17th, 2010
7:09 pm

Dear Jennifer (from probably a district outside Atlanta Public Schools),

The syntax in your comment:

“If you cannot spot the errors of grammar and syntax in this letter, you probably attended from a Beverly Hall school.”

is horrible!!!

Did you mean probably “graduated from” instead of “attended from”?

You also would have been better served to say: “a Beverly Hall run/led school”

The mistakes in that simple yet scathing paragraph would earn you an “imbecile” level rating in grammar in my circles.

What you say you made a typo? Good thing you are the only one allowed!!!

Native Atlantan

August 17th, 2010
7:12 pm

Thanks Mayor Franklin! The children and parents of Atlanta have a need to feel secure about APS. Kids will never perform well if they and those genuinely teaching continue to face this intense scrutiny of their abilities. It’s time to move on. (By the way, cheating wasn’t invented in an APS classroom during the 2009 school year. And how many times did the GOSA reps or the AJC writers use the delete or backspace keys when they were writing?)

Dee Dee

August 17th, 2010
7:13 pm

Yikes! The current mayor shows up at the school board meeting and attempts to frighten four of the board members into maintaining the status quo. The Chamber of Commerce wants to “save” Beverly Hall….and now former mayor Franklin wants to keep the media and state from exposing Atlanta’s school woes. Something is not clean in the milk. The Chamber, both mayors, and certain board members are happy with things as they are with the Atlanta Public Schools. It’s all political and involves tax payer’s money. Parents: continue to step it up. They do NOT care about your children. They don’t care if cheating took place or not. At this point they are simply covering their behinds and wishing that concerned parents will go away. Don’t do it!!!!

Heiffer

August 17th, 2010
7:14 pm

Oh MY gracious! The grammar and syntax in Ms. Franklin’s letter are so poor — just dreadful. This is an embarrassment. She tried to defend the indefensible and has, I fear, made City of Atlanta Schools, and perhaps all of Georgia, look like stooges.

I always thought that she was a smart-ish lady. Sigh.

oldtimer

August 17th, 2010
7:17 pm

Catlady…You nailed it. Makes my former CC school system seem not quite so bad. Grad I have been gone 4 tears though.

Rob Vinson

August 17th, 2010
7:17 pm

The City of Atlanta and the Atlanta Public School system is a cess pool, run by imbeciles. I applaud the AJC for bringing this information to light so that people can be apprised of the situation. Had they not, those idiots may have swept this under the rug and gotten away with it. The money that is spent on each child in the City of Atlanta per year is staggering to say the least and if the students can’t pass, then they can’t pass. Also, the money that Dr. Hall and the rest of her APS cronies earn is staggering too. I hope the State of GA comes in there and cleans house like they did in Clayton County and like they are going to do down in Warren County. I can’t believe those dolts actually thought that they could erase and change those answers and not get caught. What type of message does that send to the students and people in the City of Atlanta….that it’s okay to cheat, to get ahead and around the rules? Maybe, just maybe, the State can straighten this mess out. Shirley girl ought to ride off in the sunset down there off Cascade Road and cash those pension checks and keep her nose out of it. She is a has been and she needs to remember that.

Stop generalizing!

August 17th, 2010
7:18 pm

Let’s not defame all of APS when it has many excellent and high achieving schools that were NOT on the list. As a matter of fact, I teach at an APS school that was 0.0 % on the erasure report. My school is an amazing place to teach and I would send my child there before any other school in metro Atlanta.

oldtimer

August 17th, 2010
7:19 pm

Dee Dee you are right, also. And ole Arne from DC is gonna fix it???

SilverFox

August 17th, 2010
7:29 pm

Amazing how political spinmakers try to make roses out of cow droppings.It is what it is and now all of those responsible for the state of affairs on their watch are doing nothing more than patronizing folks. Each and everyone of them in good faith, need to just go away.

middle school teacher

August 17th, 2010
7:32 pm

Maureen, how do you feel now about your efforts to be fair and forgiving to APS and Beverly Hall? Do you think this letter is fair to you and others at the ajc for the work that you have done in bringing these issues before the public? How do you feel about being accused of sensationalizing the problems in APS?

?

confussedd

August 17th, 2010
7:34 pm

The Atlanta Public Schools director is a data manipulating fraud and it is not a crisis it is a crime. Arne Duncan was in charge of Chicago schools which is a model for fraud, crime and failure so he cannot help out. The only reason he is in the position he is now is “political appointment” .

a lesser teacher

August 17th, 2010
7:35 pm

AJC: No god deed goes unpublished. While you have treated APS with kid gloves for the corruption there while trying to destabilize DeKalb County schools every chance you get. And does our once fine (and twice crazy) mayor repay you? She claims you are treating APS poorly. Treat APS just like you do DeKalb and perhaps the sunshine with clear out the roaches and allow us to have better schools all around.

Ga Mom

August 17th, 2010
7:35 pm

Well, the link Shirley had in her letter is a dud. How will Sec. Duncan read the report? Out of curiosity, I would like to glance at the report, but I can guess at what the results are. I think a couple of folks will loose their jobs. A few more will get a slap on the wrist. Then everything will be back as it was. Think, people! Look at the people running these agencies. What more has to be said? The majority of these ‘leaders’ are unethical, unprofessional, and inept. Results prove that. But in their defense, look at what they have to work with? It is a sad environment, which is not going to improve until the culture does.

.

August 17th, 2010
7:39 pm

Someone asked: Wasn’t Franklin’s daughter married to a big time drug dealer?

The answer is yes, and Shirley Franklin had him living within her home. With her.

Someone asked: Wasn’t Franklin’s ex-husband implicated in some wrong doing at the airport?

The answer is YES, as in: He failed to pay so many taxes that the feds showed up and seized the entire store, shut it down, and claimed it as their property.

Someone should ask: Aren’t Ex-Mayor Shirley Franklin and Dr. Beverly Hall friends?

Of course. EXTREMELY close buddies, both of them dirty together.

Someone should ask: Is this why SF is writing this so-called plea for “help,” to deflect blame away from Dr. Hall and onto those beneath her, and to state that the AJC “sensationalize(s)” local issues and “promote(s) solutions that suit the story line…”?

Yes.

Luckily for the families of Atlanta and for the AJC, Shirley Franklin is now (finally) irrelevant.

.

August 17th, 2010
7:41 pm

Writing to Arne Duncan, the most corrupt of all Chicago frauds……..What a joke! Easy for her, though – She knows he would never address corruption!

Come on aboard Shirley

August 17th, 2010
7:50 pm

It’s not a secret that Shirley has made her presence felt on AJC blogs. Come on Shirley tell us, specifically and in detail, where the AJC has been wrong in its investigations?

How you feel now AJC?

August 17th, 2010
7:52 pm

All the years Julia Wallace and crew gave cover to Shirley; how’s it feel to get stabbed in the back by Shirley less than a year out of office?

How you feel now AJC?

August 17th, 2010
8:04 pm

Maureen now that you see Shirley Franklin say it, throwing the AJC under the bus while she’s at it, do you not see, in retrospect how foolish it looked when you called for Hall to stay so “the system wouldn’t fall into chaos”?

Good for Kids

August 17th, 2010
8:04 pm

Wow, what a crock. It is so disappointing but not surprising to see the higher-ups sending more signals. I believe this signal is meant not just for those “above” Franklin, but also for the APS community. She is saying, “We are under attack and we must stick together. Don’t believe that cheating happened. We have been falsely accused. Stay with the team. Don’t believe THEM.”
Meanwhile, the kids and their unknowing caregivers will ultimately pay the price. I am certain there are a few good schools in APS (as well as great and good teachers in not-so-good schools). I am also certain that most of APS is unwilling and therefore unable to make the changes that will truly allow young children (who eventually become the statistics mentioned in earlier blog entries today) to flourish. I have worked with Pre-K and K and 1st children in a few APS schools. Of course they can achieve. But they have to be provided with learning conditions and life conditions that permit them that opportunity. Instead, adults cheated. The statistics presented by AJC really can not lie. The numbers are so outrageous that a “conspiracy theory” approach (as just put forth by Franklin) is the only defense they have. Lord knows it will work. That and the lethargy and apathy of the tax-paying public.

Lee

August 17th, 2010
8:08 pm

ROFLMAO. I know I shouldn’t take pleasure in watching the politically correct devour each other, but I can’t help myself.

Chris Murphy, Atlanta, GA

August 17th, 2010
8:08 pm

Shirley is not, and was not, a crook; her failing was refusing to admit mistakes in her appointed offices, and then backing up those people despite any evidence to the contrary. That said, she’s out of line defending the APS administration: once again, (a possibly personal) loyalty has blinded her to the facts.

(Shirley’s personal life has not been all that pleasant: she couldn’t stand her ex-, and she’s had to take care of her daughter’s kids; she ain’t happy about that, either. I don’t see any of that as bearing on the job she did. I do think her taking the kids is a mark in her favor.)

Our zoned high school is Jackson. Looking at the freshman numbers from Oct. ‘06, to the senior numbers in March ‘10, they lost over 35% of the students. With them claiming a 70% “graduation rate” (this seemingly consists of the % of those that show up that Oct. that graduate), their true graduation (4 yr.) rate is closer to 45%: just where it was when Bev started. All the education-jargon named programs have been a dog-and-pony show. I have no faith that the state has the expertise or the resources to ‘help’ Atlanta (we’ve ‘enjoyed’ the lack of services a low-tax state brings to the table forever), but they do provide a needed level of oversight, and enforcement. They can get answers the AJC could only dream of.

The natives are restless

August 17th, 2010
8:12 pm

(By the way, cheating wasn’t invented in an APS classroom during the 2009 school year. And how many times did the GOSA reps or the AJC writers use the delete or backspace keys when they were writing?)

Just to be clear Native, you are saying that an administrator erasing a child’s answers on the CRCT after the child has turned in the test is the same as someone using the backspace key?

No denial there.

Jase

August 17th, 2010
8:13 pm

What are the political agendas?

Where's Sonny?

August 17th, 2010
8:14 pm

Sonny Perdue, are you going to take this attack on the Ga DOE lying down? ‘Bout time you waded back into the fray. Maureen, can you fire off a request for Bert Brantley to respond?

Springdale Park Elementary Parent

August 17th, 2010
8:18 pm

Shirley Franklin absolutely checked out as Atlanta mayor with a full two years left in her term because she got tired of fighting the admittedly often-moronic City Council (I’m sorry; that’s part of the job) and because she was p**ssed off that the media (including the AJC) wouldn’t give her family members complete immunity from negative publicity.

Now she gets a chance to take a cheap shot at the AJC, and, to no one’s surprise, she takes it.

Shirley Franklin also presided over the cop furloughs that, without a doubt, comprised the worst public policy move ever made by an Atlanta mayor in the last 50 years, and that includes all the crap Bill Campbell pulled…. AND she can’t even write a good sentence. Why do we care what she writes to Arne Duncan?

Any credibility; any standing she once might have had was erased by her own hand (just as Bev Hall erased her own initial “A” performance with a recent string of “D’s.”

(Did you see what I did there, with the word “erased”?)

The parallel is inescapable. Both ladies: good start, VERY weak finish.

Many posters here feel the AJC is not doing ENOUGH to rid us of the current administration. If both sides think you’re wrong, you’ve probably got it pretty close to right. AJC, keep on keepin’ on….

KenFromCalifornia

August 17th, 2010
8:18 pm

oh yeah, and p.s.
…while you’re at it, mr. secretary, please find out all the people in atlanta who conspired with cisco systems to help defraud the e-rate program of millions of dollars of inappropriate (and expensive) equipment that to this day has never been used by the students of our schools.
for, the parents will never feel confident that our district administrators have the smallest inkling of what they are doing if the criminal acts of their e-rate thievery are not investigated and prosecuted fully.

Karma

August 17th, 2010
8:18 pm

I used to really like Shirley Franklin. Who knew she was a liar, and such a horrible writer?

So the ajc is – what’d she say – being reckless? The ajc is quite on the mousey side in my opinion.

What is Arne Duncan going to do anyway? Come down here and give B.S. Hall another award or certificate or something? We can do that. I’ll make her a big trophy awarded to the superintendent most likely to go to prison (after Clew of course).

atlmom

August 17th, 2010
8:20 pm

She is grateful for president obama’s commitment to public education? how has he shown that? His kids have never set foot in a public school.

E Pluribus Unum

August 17th, 2010
8:22 pm

Using grammar correctly is important, but it should
not keep a person from critiquing the content of a
letter. The first thought that came to my mind was
whether the former mayor was intervening to help
the state’s chances in Race To The Top ( I’m
speculating that the former mayor realized that
the reality, or perception of cheating would damage
the application of the state ,and cost APS needed
funds.). Honest people will have different opinions
about the former mayor,and APS, but attacking the
intelligence of the individuals based on a letter is
out of bounds. Some of the most educated individuals
developed, and approved Math 1,2 & 3 . There is
a difference between knowledge and making wise
choices (Hopefully, APS will start to make wiser choices
and the district can turn things around.).

KenFromCalifornia

August 17th, 2010
8:23 pm

hey, if you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’

sincerely,
bill belichick

Come on aboard Shirley

August 17th, 2010
8:28 pm

Come on aboard Shirley; we know you love the AJC blogs. You aren’t afraid of getting schooled are you?

Julie

August 17th, 2010
8:31 pm

The current Mayor and the former Mayor are joined at the hip, right? So, we can assume that this is Kasim’s position as well, right?

This is a first, the Mayor of Atlanta is asking the federal government to come down, slap the State, muzzle the media and wrest away local control of education. All in the form of thinly-veiled race-baiting.

As a Black woman and APS parent, I am sick of being told to stick with so-called leaders who don’t care about me or my children.

Shaquandralishanickra

August 17th, 2010
8:32 pm

Letz kut to da chaz. Wez jus diffrent to da man and wez tes diffrently. Wez dunt care whut whitey thincx or sayz. It all gud. Da man kant handul or cept owr culture. Dis iz da way it iz cuz we runnin da sho! No whut iz sayin?

GA Teacher

August 17th, 2010
8:33 pm

Maybe the FBI can come to Atlanta and do some investigating. Atlantans definitely want to get the Feds involved because none of the teachers or administrators in the APS would ever think of doing anything wrong or unethical.

fed up taxpayer

August 17th, 2010
8:35 pm

No amount of money can turn this situation around.

trytothink

August 17th, 2010
8:36 pm

Scarecrow. wow. So basically you are implying that we don’t have enough educated adults in Georgia to solve this problem. We need to learn how to call it when our leaders are wrong and have failed the mission. Furthermore,Former Mayor Franklin is posturing for her own personal gain (a job in D.C.)