APS redistricting plans face strong resistance from some affected communities

The first citywide redistricting in Atlanta Public Schools in nearly 10 years is meeting with strong resistance from some affected communities.

More than 600 parents and community members attended a hearing on Monday night, many voicing concerns about the travel time to their children’s possible new schools, racial diversity and split neighborhoods, according to the AJC.

As many Kirkwood parents commented on this blog over the weekend, one of the latest proposals divides their neighborhood. A Kirkwood parent at the meeting said, “I don’t see a lot of other neighborhoods that are split up into thirds, and I think that’s because some neighborhoods get more respect.”

The proposed new scenarios reflect changes made after more than 8,200 comments and 800 e-mails to APS. There are more community meetings planned  –  tonight at Young Middle, Wednesday at North Atlanta High and Thursday at Price Middle. All meetings begin at 6:30 p.m.

I received this statement from the Old Fourth community of Atlanta, which is unhappy with the proposals:

Old Fourth Ward residents have roundly rejected both new scenarios proposing comprehensive redistricting of Atlanta Public Schools. Alarmed that the most recent plans proposed by APS demographers perpetuate a long pattern of racial and socio-economic segregation of children living in the middle of the Northeast sector, residents are pushing back.

In an official position statement to APS, Fourth Ward Neighbors, Inc. neighborhood civic association outlines its opposition to new maps that carve out a gerrymandered district excluding Old Fourth Ward children from the rest of the Northeast sector. (see official statement attached) Residents are demanding that APS reject the new proposals, and instead fully integrate O4W students into the sector which incorporates Hope-Hill Elementary School, Inman Middle School and Grady High School.

Hailed by the New York Times as “a cradle of culinary and artistic innovation and a symbol of gentrification,” and dubbed “The Best Bet for the Next Hot Hood” in 2010 by Creative Loafing, Old Fourth Ward is one of Atlanta’s fastest growing intown communities. It boasts an eclectic mix of history with the up-and-coming, seniors with hipsters and historic shotgun houses in close proximity to bold, modern homes. People come from near and far to enjoy the trendy restaurants, hot clubs, arts galleries and tourists attractions that make O4W a unique cultural experience.

With a sprawling new park, expansion of the Atlanta Beltline, transformation of the former Sears building to City Ponce Market, and a trolley line connecting it to Centennial Park, Old Fourth Ward is experiencing a renaissance of confidence. Education remains the one element that falls short of the community’s ideal. An influx of young, middle class residents who are starting their families and now considering their children’s educational opportunities, is bringing the community together to resolve the longstanding educational shortcomings.

Along with the OFW position statement, residents offer a number of possible solutions, including the sale of the old Walden Middle School to fund renovation of the David T. Howard to address middle school overcrowding.

And here is the neighborhood association’s letter to APS school chief Erroll B. Davis and the school board:

When first presented with the choices provided by the initial maps released in early December 2011, Old Fourth Ward was elated that it appeared that Atlanta Public Schools finally had the courage to end the racial and economic segregation in the northeast sector (Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park, Candler Park, Lake Claire, Druid Hills, Poncey Highland, Virginia Highland, Morningside, Morningside/Lenox Park, Midtown, Ansley Park and Sherwood Forest). Given the direction of the second set of maps it is clear that you have not demonstrated that courage.

The Old Fourth Ward deserves and requests full inclusion of our community and schools within the Northeast sector at the K-12 levels via Hope-Hill Elementary, Inman Middle, and Grady High School.

The new maps as submitted by the demographers are astonishing in their scope of racial and socio-economic segregation of the Old Fourth Ward population from their immediate northeast neighbors and the extent to which they violate a large majority of the Priority One guiding principles.

Herein are the guiding principles that the latest options violate with respect to the Old Fourth Ward:

1. Attempt to assign students to schools located closer to their homes

● Violation: In Option B, students living in the furthest part of Old Fourth Ward will travel 2.5 miles to Inman Middle School, while students in the furthest part of Kirkwood will travel 7.1 miles to Inman via surface streets. In addition, some students in the Old Fourth Ward would travel less than a mile to Inman via the Beltline or on surface streets.

2. Attempt to maximize/keep the school feeder concept intact. No more split feeders. Clusters only.

● Violation: Both options create a split feeder at the middle school level.

3. Ensure student safety and transportation efficiency by using major highway corridors and geographic features as zone boundaries. Give weight to traffic patterns, energy efficiency, etc.

● Violation: The Old Fourth Ward community attendance of King and Coan Middle School requires the crossing of a major interstate and/or major railway corridor.

4. Minimize impact on areas that have been redistricted within the last three years.

● Violation: C.W. Hill students were redistricted when they were sent to John Hope Elementary in the 2009-2010 school year.

5. Attempt to avoid splitting neighborhoods.

● Violation: Option B currently presents a split Kirkwood neighborhood, choosing to select a whiter portion of Kirkwood to go to Inman Middle School, forcing out the Old Fourth Ward.

6. Retain ES splitting as a planning tool

● Violation: This planning tool was used in 3 of the 4 Round One options and has since been discarded for Hope-Hill, while this planning tool was kept as a valid tool for a Mary Lin/Toomer merger.

7. Consider SPLOST funded school expansion as a planning tool

● Violation: Old Fourth Ward holds a significant portion of dormant APS sites that could be used for expansion for our NE cluster.

If you accept either of the proposed Options, you, as board members:

1. Admit that it is acceptable to racially gerrymander lower income, minority students out of the Northeast sector at the elementary and middle school levels so that their largely more affluent, non-minority counterparts in close proximity may attend schools without them;

2. Accept that it is a preferable objective to racially segregate children from kindergarten to the 8th grade in the northeast sector;

3. Accept that, as educators, you have decided that in the northeast sector, lower income children are the only student population appropriate to send to middle schools that act as split feeders while a body of largely high income, non-minority students are not sent to split feeder schools;

4. Accept that, as educators, it appears that you have only allowed the low-income minority children of the Old Fourth Ward to attend Grady High School for the sole purpose of retaining Grady High School’s Title I money/subsidies;

5. Accept that, as residents of the City of Atlanta, you have chosen to hyper-segregate the population of students surrounding Dr. Martin Luther King’s home in the Old Fourth Ward to an overwhelmingly lower income, minority school population;

6. Admit there is a perception that your demographers have been heavily influenced by the seemingly segregationist arguments of some within the largely more affluent, non-minority neighborhoods in the northeast sector (based on the comparison of round one and round two maps);

7. Accept that busing non-minority students from the far away neighborhoods of Lake Claire, Kirkwood and Candler Park into Inman Middle School is an acceptable practice even though minority students in the Old Fourth Ward reside within a largely walkable distance to Inman Middle School and should rightfully attend that school;

8. Accept that racially gerrymandering the largely more affluent, majority white neighborhood of Inman Park into the Mary Lin Elementary attendance zone is an acceptable practice even though its walking-distance proximity to Hope-Hill Elementary should have demanded that it is part of the Hope-Hill attendance zone;

9. Accept that you as a board and superintendent have been complicit in the historic and systematic discrimination against poor minority students from the Old Fourth Ward for decades by excluding them regularly from attending elementary and middle schools with the student populations from Inman Park, Poncey Highland, Candler Park, Lake Claire, Virginia Highland, Sherwood Forest Morningside/Lenox Park, Midtown, and Ansley Park;

10. Recognize that it appears your demographers were heavily influenced by supporters of Mary Lin Elementary, Springdale Park Elementary and Morningside Elementary to the complete and total exclusion of the Old Fourth Ward interests that were clearly communicated via the same feedback process;

11. Admit that you have chosen to repeatedly and systematically devote financial resources to majority white neighborhoods in the northeast sector through the construction of new schools and additional classroom space that maintain and support historic racial segregation.

12. Accept that you created an academic and social disadvantage for segregated students’ ability to successfully integrate at the high school level.

13. Accept that as a board, the capacity issues in the northeast sector remain unresolved; that you refuse to allow Hope-Hill’s excess capacity to assist in relieving overcrowding at Springdale Park or Mary Lin Elementary schools; and that you did this in order to satisfy non-minority neighborhoods’ desire to exclude Hope-Hill at the elementary and middle school levels; and that you in turn propose new plans/maps to fill Hope-Hill beyond capacity with lower income minority students as an alternative;

14. Accept that Priority One guiding principles were selectively applied to favor certain communities.

We respectfully request that you immediately reject the revised maps as they pertain to the Old Fourth Ward. We look forward to an immediate revision of these maps that better integrate all communities in the Northeast sector.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

310 comments Add your comment

Intown parent

January 31st, 2012
7:13 am

The old fourth ward is spot-on. The new options are more of the same segregationist gerrymandering the Old Fourth Ward has been faced with for decades. APS is abandoning the neighborhood and leaving its rotting buildings behind. They already have two empty school buildings and are facing the abandonment of a third.

Wonder

January 31st, 2012
8:06 am

Busing, for whatever reason, is wrong. I hope that all new construction and allocation of resources were to accommodate growth and not racially motivated. That also seems to be the driving factor in the redistricting. How can O4W residents claim that their students are only included in Grady’s district so that they receive Title I money, but the same money is unimportant at the middle and elementary school level? I do know that Spark, Morningside, and Mary Lin PTO/PTA’s are extremely organized. The squeaky wheel does get the grease. Ultimately, a compromise will be made that will make no one happy. That is a sign of a good policy.

Former APS Teacher

January 31st, 2012
8:08 am

APS has a vested interest in keeping affluent white students enrolled in their schools. The only way to make this happen is to create insulated schools with only small proportions of low income students. Greater integration would simply mean more white students from Va-Hi, Morningside, et al would leave APS for private schools. And APS doesn’t want the plummeting test scores that will result.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
8:16 am

I predicted in an earlier blog on this subject that the issue would get more contentious. It has an is just beginning. I think the opinion of the O4W representative is spot on. Both versions of the plan clearly seek to protect a particular interest. Furthermore, its evident to me the Eastern rim of the district (particularly the SE quadrant) would endure the most change in this plan and given that this collective houses the some of the most vocal advocates within the APS community expect that this will be a bloody battle.

It will be interesting to see how the Board Chair (who represents a significant portion of the SE quad to be impacted) weighs in on these changes. Something tells me this vote will result in some board seats changing hands in the next election.

I got my popcorn ready !!!

APS parent#1 of many

January 31st, 2012
8:16 am

At least someone will call out this racist crap. It smells like the same racial kowtow’ing that TopSchool has been railing about with North Atlanta. Is the same “Step Up Step Down” crew at work here too to assure the Morningside/Spark/Inman/Grady outcome that a core cabal is determined to orchestrate come inferno or flood?

Parent

January 31st, 2012
8:18 am

if the Lin/Toomer split happens, next year I will have four children in 4 different schools (Lin, Inman, Toomer, and one in a private school for learning needs) plus a PreK’er that I will have to place. Staggered dismissal times will have to be in place for many parents if this happens. Mornings, afternoons, and active involvement will be very challenging

carlosgvv

January 31st, 2012
8:20 am

It’s really funny to see these people protesting at these hearings. They actually believe these politicians will listen and act on what they are saying.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
8:20 am

@Wonder – Title 1 funds may actually matter abit more at the HS level given the economics of what it takes to operate a school at that level by comparision to the lower levels.

@Former APS Teacher – I concur with your observation. Also factor in that its there is a fair amount of quality public charter options that have sprung up on the eastern edge of the district that continues to bring concern to the district as it puts increasing pressure on APS to really transform schools at every level in order to keep pace and keep families committed to the districts traditional institutions.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
8:22 am

@carlosgvv 01/31/12 8:20 – I concur with your observation. I contend the APS as already developed a de-facto consensus as to what direction they are going in and these hearings are nothing more than an opportunity for them to figure out how best to spin the choice based on teh pulse of opposition they ferret out via these hearings.

Intown Educational Disparity

January 31st, 2012
8:27 am

APS needs to provide a quality education to all students through great teaching, principal leadership, sound curriculum, adequate resourcing and adequate physical space. It has not historically done this.

Mr. Davis’ guiding principles recognize this. The only thing his guiding principles and the current round of demographic studies provide for is the closing and/or consolidation of schools in the poorest neighborhoods which have lost students. His guiding principles do not provide any flexibilty to relieve overcrowding in the schools which are high performing because he protects them from movement by saying their children deserve a different tier of redistricting treatment altogether.

The only place to house the high performers are in the NAHS cluster or the Grady cluster. APS is building sufficient space for the NAHS cluster high-performers but not the GHS cluster high-performers. How can anyone say the demographers have done the job when Grady, Inman and SPARK all start out above the capacity range, if not at or above capacity, set forth by APS?

Rebrand APS for what it is

January 31st, 2012
8:30 am

APS needs to be rebranded. They gave us 2 lousy options, so here are 2 lousy options for them:
Option A: APS: Apartheid Public Schools
Option B: APS: Affluent People Served

Maureen Downey

January 31st, 2012
8:31 am

@C, My experiences as a reporter covering redistrictings in New Jersey, Florida and Georgia showed me that organized opposition by parents with means pays off. I have found that districts opt for the plans with the least resistance and that impact the families with the least means.
Maureen

John F

January 31st, 2012
8:35 am

@Wonder: I disagree that bussing is wrong. I was approved for bussing to a HS outside of my district because my local HS didn’t have the classes offered by the school I attended. It was an extremely positive educational experience for me.

But, assuming you really feel that bussing is wrong, how can you support sending kids from the northern section of Old Fourth Ward all the way to Coan middle school when Inman middle is within easy walking distance?

I really don’t buy into the idea that “neighborhoods shouldn’t be split”. There’s going to be a split somewhere. Whether or not that split occurs on or within some imaginary neighborhood boundary should be pretty irrelevant. The demographers should use real barriers, like freeways, and distance to determine school zones, not mortgage payments and income.

Sharon Pitts Must Go

January 31st, 2012
8:35 am

yes I agree with Maureen…organized and loud parents will trump common sense or student needs.

APS Parent

January 31st, 2012
8:41 am

Redistricting within APS needs to happen and no matter what map gets voted on in April there are going to be those unhappy with the vote. For me personally, these two new map options are better than the original four and indicate that the team reworking the zones tried to listen to community response but looking over the maps as a whole, neither of the two new options really seems like a workable solution across the entire APS system. I will continue to support the current schools my children attend, participate in the community response to the maps, hope for the best in terms of the final decision and live with whatever decision is made. Change is not always desired, but change is needed. I can only hope that the final redistricting results in a more even education for all students in the APS system.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
8:42 am

@Maureen – I must too concur with your observation. Organized effective advocacy ALWAYS wins the day (regardless of economic status although those of greater means tend to have more to protect as well as greater will to protect it). As sobering as it may be for many, I expect the same to manifest itself in this instance.

The fact that its so obvious which interest is getting served puts the APS board in an incomfortable position to defend a series of plans that don’t hide the obvious bias. Predict the end result of this will be a combination of greater flight to private and public charter institutions (particularly in the eastern edge of the district).

East Lake by GM

January 31st, 2012
8:46 am

I was touched by the comments from an East Lake mother’s comments last night. She doesn’t want to lose her East Lake school for several reasons but one of which just made me tearful. She is afraid that if they put her kids on the bus and send them to another school — that her child would not be accepted at that new school because clearly the receiving school parenst do not want East Lake students bussed into their school.

So imagine being a kid and having absolutely no power or influence. You, as a child, clearly have no part in the decision to where you go to school, the parents you were dealt or the circumstances in which you live and you get off the bus at your “new” school and you are taunted and teased about being one of the “East Lake kids” or the “transfer kids.” It’s heartbreaking.

It’s another reason we shouldn’t move Lin kids to Toomer. South Kirkwood residents (and rightly so) do not want to leave their Toomer school to make room for what they are calling the “Lin annex.” THey resent (and rightly so) being zoned out of their school in option B in order to make room for Lin kids. So if Lin students are sent to Toomer, I can see a lot of resentment there from parents and labeling those kids as “those Lin transfer kids who took over our school.”

This is such a tragedy for all involved. The Board wasted money and now we are all suffering.

What I want to see is APS keep the closed schools and not sell the properties. They could be turned into community centers or used as city office space, anything to keep the building and land intact and preserved and ready for the time, in ten years, when the population shifts and we need that property again. If we had the property of Bass High School and the Horizon theatre in Inman Park now (it was sold as lofts and as a theatre) — if we had those properties now all this pain would not be present. We could simply turn the properties into another middle school to solve Inman Middle’s overcrowding and Grady’s overcrowding.

When APS is not only corrupt, it is also short-sighted.

All communities with a school that is closed or will be closed — fight to keep the property in the system to be used later. You will need it.

GM

Intown Educational Disparity

January 31st, 2012
8:49 am

Thank you Ms. Downey. Please add the APS redistricting to your case files.

Mr. Davis recognizes there is an achievement gap in APS between blacks and whites (with no mention of what he plans to do with the Hispanic population). He has stated he wants to close it.

I would say that he has an opportunity to work toward this goal if he wisely redistricts APS in a way that eliminates historical school boundary lines which were crafted after desegregation and white flight to the suburbs in the ’60s & ’70s.

If APS puts on a blinder to race and economics, puts on earmuffs so as not to be deafened by clamoring parents who know how to work the media and political world to get everything they want, and honestly do what a redistricting is designed to do – balance capacity – then Mr. Davis will have the students assigned to buildings in which he can build a quality learning environment.

A quality learning environment is not bricks & sticks. It is teaching & school leadership, adequate & equitable resources, meaningful curriculum & high expectations from all learners. Dr. Hall ignored these things and her regime is responsible for a lack of quality schools that Mr. Davis can shift students into.

If Mr. Davis continues Dr. Hall’s thread of leadership, then he will have taken her mantle of robbing another generation of Atlanta’s students of an education.

Ms. Downey, please make another note for the history books, that this socio-economic plunder of the education of the primarily African-American population occurred at the hands of their own race. Mr. Davis, APS’ and the ABOE’s educational enslavement will not occur at the hands of Southern whites unless Ms. Cecily Harsh-Kinnane who serves the Grady cluster and Ms. Nancy Meister who serves the North Atlanta cluster vote for either option map on the table.

Who has the courage of character on this ABOE or in APS to do the right thing for all of the children in the city of Atlanta regardless of the color of their skin and the amount of money their parents have in savings?

bob

January 31st, 2012
8:49 am

Someone stopped by the house asking me to sign a petition to stop the re disticting. I was told that one side of my street would have to leave Sarah Smith and go to Garden Hills. That would be reason enough to put the kids in a private. It is pathetic that an American kid loses teacher time because said teacher has to slow everything down to the level of non english speaking students.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
8:56 am

@East Lake by GM – APS holds a vast array of underutilized / vacant properties and would only add to that rotting inventory with this effort. To-date save those buildings they have either rented or sold to public charter schools most sit empty rotting to the core and becoming a blight on the communities where they sit. APS has in recent years shown little interest in partnering with communities to assist in the redevelopment of these properties for some greater community interest. Don’t hold your breath waiting for APS to the do the right thing on that front.

Unfortunately, as referenced by APS Parent there does need to be some degree of re-districting to manage the demographic shifts across the district. Schools like East Lake that sit on the fringe of the district under populated become unfortunate causalities. It’s hard to justify keeping East Lake open when every elementary school in its quadrant (some of which have greater capacity by comparison like Toomer) also is under populated.

APS Parent #2

January 31st, 2012
8:58 am

Hey Bob,

This is America and we are the land of immigrants. (With a name like Bob, I doubt you can claim a Native-American heritage, but if you can, my apologies for the generalization.)

Everyone who migrated to the US out Europe (not Great Britain or its English-speaking colonies) had a native tongue other than English.

If you feel this way about Hispanics, then how do you feel children with learning needs? Oh and what happens if your kid isn’t the smartest one in the class and other parents wish you’d enroll your child in another school?

Not all parents belong in public school because public schools serve the public. If you want to choose your child’s classmates, then apply to private. Or, weren’t you smart enough to have enough money in the bank to pay for private school?

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
9:02 am

@Intown 01/31/12 08:49am – As you speak to “Who has the courage of character on this ABOE”, I again can’t help but think to myself where is the Board Chair, Ms. Muhammad in all this? The APS district she represents is very much in the thick of this fight along with those of the other board members you referenced (Harsh-Kinnane & Meister).

The plans in and of themselves as submitted in both rounds fully protect the interest of Ms. Meister’s constituency. The votes of both Ms. Muhammad and Ms. Harsh-Kinnane will be interesting to witness.

Maureen Downey

January 31st, 2012
9:03 am

@C Jae, It is too bad that APS would not consider East Lake for a charter school location — it is in a prime location for an interdistrict charter that would admit kids from the DeKalb, Atlanta and Decatur systems. If you put a high achievers magnet there — in the Kittredge mold — you would have parents lined up from all three districts to attend. Or an arts charter or a math/science charter. I do think we should consider blurring district lines to come up creative options for kids. All three of those districts, DeKalb, APS and Decatur, have higher-than-average student spending so the three would face an easier time creating a co-school.
Maureen

Toomer parent

January 31st, 2012
9:04 am

Kirkwood parent here. Whether we get East Lake kids or Mary Lin kids joining our school, you and your children will be welcomed. Toomer is a diamond in the rough and I encourage you to learn more about the amazing transformation well underway there before dismissing it.
Also, on a personal note, when I was a third grader in Fulton Co. schools, a neighboring elementary school was closed and merged into my school. The two groups of students and parents merged seamlessly into a strong community and many close friendships were forged. I remember being excited about all my new friends. There was never any hold-over of “oh they’re from that other school”.

MES to Private School

January 31st, 2012
9:05 am

For those of you living south of Ponce, you all assume that those living in Morningside and Springdale Park will send their children to an overcrowded schools for Inman and Grady. Many of them have applications into private school because unlike Lin, they have gone through overcrowded schools since most of their children entered APS.

Their board member Cecily Harsh-Kinnane has been with them every step of the way. Her lack of advocacy and planning for their needs by getting ahead of the overcrowding at each and every step of the way only confirms to them how she will handle this current issue. Incompetently.

Is she really going to listen to her Roadhouse Cabinet who no longer have or soon will not have any children in Grady High School? She needs to be listening to her constituents who HAVE KIDS IN THE SYSTEM STILL.

Grady and Inman are overcrowded and this redistricting plan provides no relief. What was the point of this entire exercise.

Intentionally Intown

January 31st, 2012
9:07 am

Many good points have been raised by the O4W community– here are two to consider further:

1) Why is it that major investments that have potential economic potential including Ponce City Market (City Hall East), the Beltline, Old Fourth Ward Park, and the Streetcar are not being considered in the plans. APS may feel as if they should not consider these developments, but as an entity depending on taxpayer money from property taxes, it seems short-sighted for APS and for the overall health of the City of Atlanta to create maps that not only fail to use this infrastructure for moving kids and parents, but will stifle the development and investments that have already occurred or are in the planning stages. O4W has great economic potential and the ability to grow faster and further than any other area in the NE area, that growth will greatly benefit the NE quadrant, but poor schools will set that economic growth back at least a decade.

2)The great mistake that seems to have been made with these maps as stated last night by the demographers was the combination of “disrupt as little as possible” and “allow temporary overcrowding”. Allowing Mary Lin and Inman to remain overcrowded restrains good long-term solutions and HURTS THE KIDS THOSE NEIGHBORHOODS PURPORT TO PROTECT. APS should in fact- as a requirement, direct the immediate relief of overcrowding at Inman, SPARK and Mary Lin and state that “change is inevitable”- that way all neighborhoods will get to work on acceptable and creative solutions instead of fighting for the status quo in ways that inevitably lead to exclusion of some, and overcrowding for others.

bu2

January 31st, 2012
9:08 am

These maps, like the 1st set of DCSS maps don’t seem to recognize freeways and RR tracks as barriers. Dekalb Avenue coupled with MARTA, the rail line and in places, College Street, as well, is a significant barrier, just like a freeway, between Kirkwood and Lake Claire/Candler Park. Similarly, I-20 & I-75 seem to get ignored. But, at least what AJC is reporting, is that all the controversy with this set of maps is in the northeast.

Not all solutions that make everyone unhappy are good solutions. Split elementary schools are a good example of that. You make everyone travel further, inconvenience parents and reduce neighborhood cohesion which greatly aids the success of local schools.

To John F by GM

January 31st, 2012
9:10 am

You say “I really don’t buy into the idea that “neighborhoods shouldn’t be split”. There’s going to be a split somewhere. Whether or not that split occurs on or within some imaginary neighborhood boundary should be pretty irrelevant. The demographers should use real barriers, like freeways, and distance to determine school zones, not mortgage payments and income.”

Mortgage payments and income don’t determine intown neighborhood boundaries. Real barriers do.

As an example in SRT3: What is the difference between Kirkwood and Lake Claire? A physical boundary — a big one — a marta line, an industrial road (Dekalb ave) and a railroad.

What is the difference between Candler Park and Edgewood? A physical boundary — a big one — a marta line, an industrial road (Dekalb ave) and a railroad.

What is the difference between Inman Park and Candler Park? A physical boundary, a big one, Moreland avenue.

Intown Atlanta neighborhoods are defined by physical boundaries and not incomes and mortgages. You can easily find affluent, educated, families in Kirkwood and Edgewood, Candler Park, Inman Park and Lake Claire.

Your comment that all of these plans are about mortgage payments and incomes is just incorrect. If Dekalb avenue, the marta line and the railroad tracks were farther south, then all those residents and homes north of the tracks/avenue/line would be part of candler Park, Lake Claire and Inman Park.

Face it, you’re assumptions are wrong and you likely have an agenda to stir up classism to support your own desires.

Wonder

January 31st, 2012
9:10 am

@John F- Where did you get that I “support sending kids from the northern section of Old Fourth Ward all the way to Coan middle school when Inman middle is within easy walking distance”?

I am glad that you had a good experience being bused while you were in school. You may be the exception though. The data has generally shown those being bused and schools receiving bused students do not want it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desegregation_busing_in_the_United_States

Not only that, but educational leaders supporting that policy are typically voted out of office.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
9:11 am

@Maureen – Your thought process with respect to the of an inter-district charter for East Lake Elementary mirrors my own. Alas that would be too much like right for the families who suffer the jagged line that seperates DCSS & APS along the eastern edge of the city of Atlanta.

Heretofore both districts have been so hell bent to fight againest the very exisitance of public charter institutions to consider the merits of the idea you propose.

Personally I would rather try approach you mention (which would likely allow it to grow its population to number sufficient to justify its existance) than close it and watch it rot.

skipper

January 31st, 2012
9:14 am

So much political correctness…..nobody will say what it is! I’ve never seen folks using all kinds of jargon, etc, when in actuality it “is what it is.” Folks are slowly looking towards the public schools again. However, except for a precious few, nobody wants to send their kids to the hood….period! Hard words for sure, but deep down inside thats the way it is. Some folks, on the other hand, want their kids OUT of the hood train-wrecks and into a better place with a better opportunity. This makes for one helluva situation and one that there is no easy (or unfortunately reasonable) solution for. Folks who are in nice neighborhoods and that have done well financially just do not see the need to bus their kids to a perceived unsafe and underperforming school to achieve some “balance” to which they have no desire to participate. Those in bad neighborhoods (often crime-ridden; I said it) have a few, not all but a few families that don’t care if their kid is bussed 100 miles if it means a better opportunity. I do not envy any participants in this debate to which there is NOT a happy ending for many!

Sabrina from 04W

January 31st, 2012
9:16 am

Why not just feed Hope Elementary & Cook Elementary into Inman Middle and then send Mary Lin to Coan Middle. That puts the children from all three schools into the closest middle school, shortens their travel distance substantially and leaves Inman & Coan with almost the same student population levels as the two current options.

It makes no sense to bus children from Lake Claire and Candler Park all the way over to Inman when Coan is so much closer to them, and don’t tell me that anyone is crossing Moreland and Ponce de Leon to walk from Candler Park or Lake Claire to Inman. Yet it seems perfectly okay to bus children from Cook & Hope all the way over to Coan in Dekalb County.

frustrated APS mom

January 31st, 2012
9:17 am

@ C Jae: where did you get the idea that both options fully protect Ms. Meister’s constituency? That is simply NOT true. They are throwing a new middle school at most of us that will take years to get IB status, which will break the k-12 IB status that makes our cluster so special. They are threatening to put Bolton, Garden Hills, Rivers, Centennial Place, and Brandon all together in the non-IB certified school. Many, many Brandon parents will flee, so you look at what will be left. They are setting that school up for failure. How in the world is this fair for anyone except for Jackson and Smith parents?

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
9:23 am

@Skipper 01/31/12 09:14am – I don’t think any of the frequent commenter’s on this blog have been shy about pointing out that fact.

But for the record there you’ve said it ! Now lets deal with it, cause for those living these recently gentrified neighborhoods it aint no mystery.

Furthermore to the essence of your point, gentrification around both Toomer & Coan is fast approaching (only slowed down by the real estate bust) ! As result there has been renewed commitment in both institutions as alluded to by an earlier comment in this thread. East Lake & Whiteford are the two institutions that appear to me to be caught in the squeeze in that quadrant.

O4Wparent

January 31st, 2012
9:23 am

Thank you Maureen for putting this issue and the words of some of the smaller communities in the forefront. The original maps looked at overcrowding, and fiscal responsibility. The demographers had 4 “guidelines” and parameters to plan toward. This set of maps had 16 “guidelines” that contradicted and pigeonholed the demographers. ( I spoke at length last night to a demographer to get that information). APS would like to use the demographers as scapegoats but we won’t allow them to. Ultimately, it is their responsibility to make choices for the betterment of all the children in the APS system and anything less should be unacceptable to all of us.

@Wonder- We do not feel that Title I monies are unimportant at lower levels and we never stated that, we are well aware that Inman is precariously close to losing it’s MacLab as a result of losing it’s Title I money however when looking at the maps, it seems as if one of the main reasons we were allowed to continue at Grady for those funds.

To Toomer Parent by GM

January 31st, 2012
9:24 am

Toomer Parent you say “Kirkwood parent here. Whether we get East Lake kids or Mary Lin kids joining our school, you and your children will be welcomed.”

Did you attend the SRT3 meeting last night? Many Toomer parents do not feel as you do. They do not want to be pushed out of Toomer to make room for what more than one Toomer parent angrily called the “mary lin annex.” The comments were loud and clear. If you weren’t at the meeting you wouldn’t know but if you were there and you had a kid at Lin slated to go to Toomer, you’d be concerned and rightly so.

GM

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
9:29 am

@frustrated APS mom 01/31/12 9:17 am – I’m looking at the long range objective achieved. Your point with regard to timing aside, the net of the two new plans on the table is a new middle school & a new high school in Ms. Meister’s district am I not correct? Given that final outcome how can it not be looked upon as a long-term win in the interest of her constituency?

I realize there may be some short to mid term pains to get there but honestly is unavoidable given the degree of overcrowding already present. It would seem that Ms. Meister’s constituency has in large part already fed the powers that be their long range objectives which bear themselves out in the plan.

If I’m completely off base, I submit to the correction.

JohnK

January 31st, 2012
9:30 am

Maureen, a correction please: Option A actually keeps the Kirkwood neighborhood together. Your article states that the latest proposals split up Kirkwood. That is false, Option A keeps Kirkwood together. Thank you.

bob

January 31st, 2012
9:31 am

APS parent, you seem to miss the point. We should not cater to illegals by forcing Americans to learn in their language. When a teacher stops class time to repeat things because half the class does not understand, the kids that understand are put on hold. You can joke about having the money for privates but I own in the neighborhood and pay about $9,600 in prop tax, I should have an option better than Spanish emersion. And don’t all children have learning needs ? If you mean learning disability then lets look at that. The kid with special needs gets special treatment, that is fine but don’t hold the entire class back because the special needs kids learn at half the rate. That is what happens when one group has to wait for a teacher to spend extra time with another group.

GKM

January 31st, 2012
9:31 am

As Intentionally Intown stated above, last night the demographers said that, for round 2 of redistricting, they were directed to do as little “shuffling” of school populations as possible. So, by this directive, they shouldn’t propose that a school/neighborhood that currently and traditionally feeds into Inman MS be pulled out in order to make room for a school/neighborhood that does not currently feed into Inman (Hope-Hill/O4W) to be added in. And they have gone against this directive, in the case of Inman, when, in Option B, they pull out Centennial and add in part of Kirkwood. But obviously this was done to relieve the crowding at Lyn, with the ripple effect being that it doesn’t help the overcrowding at Inman.

frustrated APS mom

January 31st, 2012
9:37 am

I do think you are off base. Our community supported the concept of a 6th grade center at the current Sutton campus and a 7/8 school at the current North Atlanta campus. The focus groups and the surveys reflected that and we were ignored. We were instead given a new school (and we all know that just because it is new doesn’t mean it is better) for middle and they upped our new high school from 1800 to 2400 students and pulled from midtown out of our cluster to help fill it up. 2400. That is HUGE.

C Jae of EAV

January 31st, 2012
9:41 am

@frustrated APS mom 01/31/12 9:17 am – Looking aback at the proposed maps I do see some error in the understanding that guided some moment of my earlier statement. However after examining the maps again, I’m still struck by the fact that Ms. Meister’s district seems to be overall the lesser impacted by comparison to the others particularly those to the east of her district.

This in my view seems to speak to the interests of the constituency in question largely protected if not shielded from the greater impact to be endured by others across the district.

SPARKY

January 31st, 2012
9:43 am

” I should have an option better than Spanish emersion.” – Bob.

Good stuff.

bu2

January 31st, 2012
9:44 am

@frustrated mom
Who cares whether an elementary or middle school is certified IB or not if it is teaching the IB curriculum? That certification doesn’t make a bit of difference to any student. That comment is simply another way of saying, “I don’t want any change.” And there is a lot of resistance to any change in Atlanta.

And Skipper, you said it. If Mary Lin families got paired with Hope-Hill, it would solve the overcrowding at Inman. All of those parents who could, would move or send their kids to private school rather than have their children going to school on Boulevard where all the idle young males wander up and down the street at all times of the day.

skipper

January 31st, 2012
9:50 am

bu2;
Again, this is the big elephant in the room….many will live under a bridge somewhere else before they send their kids to the “Boulevard”! Of course, this will spark racial/civil outrage, but some of the same folks who will blog first SECRETELY don’t want their kids in those kinds of places…….

Common Sense Gone

January 31st, 2012
9:52 am

Taking children away from schools they could walk to and putting them on busses that go over major highways (I75) and are really nowhere near the neighborhood is insane. Only Consultants (called demographers in this case) could say with a straight face this is a viable option and makes the most sense.

It’s frightening to see the inability of the APS Board to have coherent thoughts and put together a workable, comprehensive plan using boundaries that make sense.

To sabrina from 04wd by GM

January 31st, 2012
9:52 am

Sabrina, you asked “Why not just feed Hope Elementary & Cook Elementary into Inman Middle and then send Mary Lin to Coan Middle.”

Mary Lin does not want to go to Coan. Hope Elementary does not want to go to Coan. Cook does not want to go t Coan. Even Coan doesn’t want to go to Coan.

There is a reason no ones wants to go to Coan. It was the bottom of the barrel in performance. We’re talking the lowest scores in Georgia and Georgia’s education barrel is already on the bottom.

Then Coan became one of the very worst scandal-plagued schools. The CRCT test erasures analysis came back as on the most severe list. Only one or two schools in GA were worse.

So even with a physical barrier removed — if there was a beautiful express lane for COAN only students and a velvet lined limo to carry all the students to COAN Middle School — no one would want to go to COAN.

I repeat — even COAN doesn’t want to go to COAN. The teachers cannot teach and they shamed all of us by cheating and lying and they robbed the kids of an education.

When cheating and lying is compared to a physical disease, Toomer has a tumor but Coan has the plague.

JB

January 31st, 2012
9:58 am

The demographers stated they had no data on race or income when they drew the maps. They merely looked at the best way to combine schools to keep tight-knit communities together and achieve an occupancy ratio which achieves the highest amount of funding for the smallest population.

To the people comparing Atlanta redistricting to Apartheid – Apartheid blacks did not get to choose where they live. At this time we may not get to choose our public schools, but in Atlanta everyone gets to choose their community. I chose Atlanta over surrounding burbs because I felt that my values and political views were more similar to the people of Atlanta.

However, I also chose to live in a neighborhood where it was clear that families were highly active in the community and were capable of achieving results. If you choose to buy cheap housing next to the projects, then your community will consist of primarily low-income, poorly educated folks. Essentially we segregate ourselves based on factors other than race and the school population merely reflects that.

It struck me that almost all people from under-performing districts demanded that APS fix their schools (or in some cases their neighborhoods). APS does not, and cannot fix schools – parents do. APS did not “fix” Lin, SPARK, Morningside and Inman. In fact, these schools receive less money and less support from APS than other low-performing schools. The parents in these communities supported these schools in multiple ways for many years and the schools have improved accordingly. So stop expecting the government or other people to do for you and do it yourself.

Parent

January 31st, 2012
9:58 am

@Maureen – East Lake already has Drew Charter school, which has resulted in East Lake Elementary being underutilized.

BS aplenty

January 31st, 2012
10:03 am

Maureen,

while some statements may be worth reporting, you may also entertain the notion of actually doing your job and ask some critical questions.

Here are some examples:

1. Excluding private schools, for which I could not find data, the participation of eligible elementary school kids in Hope-Hill Elementary is 54%. As a comparison, Spark is 94%. Why?

2. Many in the O4W choose to send their children to Intown Academy, a charter school. This does not seem to be a racial preference issue, since the population by race in the two schools is almost identical. According to official data, there is a total of 4 (four) white students between the two schools (two per school, to be exact). If O4W cannot support their own neighborhood school, why should somebody else?

3. The schools and communities mentioned as “segregationist” do have, in fact, the most diverse population in APS. This is contrary to O4W’s own public schools. How does this false labeling of communities help the overall cause of quality public education, or O4W’s own plight?

4. If O4W is such a thriving and successful neighborhood, why can’t they roll-up their sleeves and fix their own elementary school? Which is which?

5. There is a two-way cause-and-effect between a school’s performance and demand for attendance at that school. That is why we have increasing overcrowding at some schools and increasing overcapacity at other schools. What are the factors that can improve school performance in the O4W without driving lower performance at successful schools? Can we work on those? Or is it just simpler to invoke the good old “racist conspiracy” battle cry?

I could go on. And by the way, this is not to say that the O4W statements do not make some very good arguments. The point is, Maureen, you have failed all of us with just giving voice to one-sided PR communications. I sure hope you can do better than this.