I have admired the quick response of APS parents to the SACS probation of the system. They have organized and shown up in force to remind board members of what’s at stake.
One fledgling parent group, Step up or Step Down, sent this informational packet to the Atlanta school board, which reflects how serious the community is taking the probation,
Who we are: We are a 10-day-old movement of parents, students, teachers and business-owners from neighborhoods across Atlanta who found each other with the common cause of preserving the accreditation of APS public high schools. With 740 members, 62,500 hits on our Facebook page and an additional 50+ citizens writing our e-mail address in the first week, we are engaging the community in a solution-oriented manner that will keep our School Board accountable.
Maintain accreditation of APS high schools to protect the future of our children. Ensure good governance and representation of public school interests by our elected officials. Obtain concrete evidence of Atlanta School Board’s ongoing compliance with SACS’ required actions by the end of February 2011. Restore confidence in Atlanta’s public school system. Energize every Atlanta neighborhood to advocate for the continuous improvement of our public schools.
Step Up or Step Down Requires the APS Board to:
Engage the public
Aggressively seek constructive input and engagement from stakeholders in every Atlanta neighborhood in an effort to expedite and enhance the Superintendent search, rebuild community trust, and guide the future of Atlanta’s public schools. (NOTE: This action embraces steps 1 and 5 of the SACS Report, which require public engagement).
Close the loopholes in Board policy.
Take immediate action to revise the bylaws to require a 2/3-majority vote for major decisions such as hiring of a Superintendent, the election or removal of Board officers and approval of contracts (those brought by the Board) in excess of $10,000. Upon approval of this bylaw change, current officers should be re-elected by a 2/3 vote. (NOTE: This action embraces steps 3, 4 and 6 of the SACS Report, which address ethics and policy improvement).
Seek expert executive guidance.
Adhere to the actions approved at the 1/24 Board meeting to work earnestly and transparently with an executive facilitator to improve Board effectiveness, and with a respected and experienced search firm to recruit and vet our new Superintendent. (NOTE: This action embraces steps 2 and 5 of the SACS Report, which address these processes).
Statement from the Organizers of Step Up or Step Down
Statement from the Organizers of Step Up or Step Down on last week’s board meeting:
As our community movement reaches its one-week anniversary, the organizers of Step Up or Step Down wish to applaud all 9 of our School Board members who demonstrated on Monday evening that they are willing to Step Up. We especially appreciate the 700+ parents, students, teachers, business leaders and property owners (from every neighborhood in Atlanta) who have joined our movement. Together, we are holding the Board accountable!
-On Monday night, it was clear that the Board heard your voices. They voted unanimously to a) accept the SACS report and work as a full board to accomplish the six steps outlined to maintain accreditation; b) to elect a new superintendent and/or an interim superintendent by a super majority vote (7-2) vs. a simple majority vote (5-4) and c) to meet every Monday night at 7pm at least until May (public is invited).
-Step Up or Step Down is encouraged by the board members’ actions this week, but know that there is a long road ahead requiring transparency, accountability and the voice of the public. That’s why we’re here! Tell your friends and invite them to the discussion.
-SACS has given verbal assurance that if, in a worst-case scenario, the probation is not lifted in September as expected, next year’s senior class (current juniors) will not be affected by the Board’s inability to meet the SACS guidelines. Our group has asked SACS for written assurance of this. We will post it here once we have it confirmed.
- Our fondest hope is that our group can become major fans of this School Board, but we remain true to our purpose and continue to insist upon better governance. Any Board member who impedes the progress to secure our accreditation will be singled out and asked to Step Down.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog