Power to the people: Three APS schools stay open but how do we make them better?

More than 500 parents attended the APS board meeting Tuesday night. (AJC photo/Hyosub Shin)

More than 500 people attended the APS board meeting Tuesday night. (AJC photo/Hyosub Shin)

The decision to close fewer Atlanta schools than had been recommended reflects the pressure on school board members by the community.  Vocal community opposition fueled the decision to keep D.H. Stanton, Towns and F.L. Stanton elementary schools open.

Here is the challenge: How do you shore up academics in those three schools, none of which is a high performer based on annual test scores. The three clearly serve as community focal points, which has merit, but is not something measured or valued under the current accountability modes. Maybe, it should be.

But the question of academic performance has to be considered.

Despite a decade of reform efforts, APS has one of the lowest high school grad rates in the metro area, and I wonder if the system is doing enough that is radically different to change that.

Often lost in the discussion about the APS cheating scandal is that the system had a lot of the key factors in place to foster true reform: The system had stability, having one school chief in place for more than a decade, which is almost unheard of among urban districts. Atlanta had grant money pouring in, and the support of all the major national education players. It had professional development that even jaded teachers said was vastly better than what they used to get. It had a new generation of young, well-prepared teachers. It had — from all appearances — the momentum and resources necessary to spur real improvement.

Instead, much of the improvement was an illusion as the AJC test score investigation first revealed in 2008. And too many schools now remain where they always were  — far behind the national average. (To be clear, there are some very high performing APS schools, but they tend to be in the neighborhoods with the highest numbers of college grads. The children from those areas would do well in almost any school setting.)

Given all Atlanta had in its favor, the system should have become a national model of how to revitalize urban schools. Instead, it became a cautionary tale.

According to the AJC:

More than 500 people, some carrying signs and chanting in protest, packed the school board meeting to dissuade board members from closing schools. Originally, 10 schools were slated for closure, but the board decided to close Parks and Kennedy middle schools and Capitol View, White, Cook, East Lake and Herndon elementary schools.

The goal of what could be the largest redistricting in almost a decade is to make better use of Atlanta Public Schools’ funding by eliminating empty seats, said Superintendent Erroll Davis, who presented the plan. APS has enough seats to serve 60,000 students but has roughly 47,000 enrolled in traditional schools. Consolidating schools, Davis said, would allow the district to devote more resources to students.

But several community members voiced concern about how closures would impact communities. Parents and students who opposed the plan waved signs and chanted “NO SCHOOLS CLOSE!” The meeting had to be stopped twice because of outbursts from the audience. One man was thrown out of the meeting, and then tackled by Atlanta Police officers as he ran on stage approaching the school board from behind.

“We don’t want you to leave our communities in a situation where our property [values] go down more, and then we have nothing to offer for people to move into our neighborhood,” said Stacy Merkerson, a parent and grandparent of students at Towns Elementary, which was slated to close under the original proposal.

Several parents raised concerns about last-minute changes to the plan – two elementary schools, D.H. Stanton and Towns were placed on the closure list March 31, when students were on spring break. The board decided to keep those schools and F.L. Stanton Elementary open after a groundswell of support from the community.

“Towns was put on at the end and it was wrong to put it on at the end,” said Pastor Kenneth Augustus Walker. “But I want to give the board credit, because it was a tough decision. They did the right thing.”

At-large board member Courtney English said it was important for the district to have a plan for how these closed schools would be used, and what proposed academic enhancements would look like.

A committee has been formed to come up with ideas to reuse empty schools. But English said the district has reneged on promises to repurpose buildings before. APS has 14 empty school buildings, some of which closed in the 1970s.

“Asking people to trust us, considering what APS has been through… is a long stretch,” English said. “We can’t just leave this out there for someone to pick up five, six, seven years from now. Let’s do it and do it right.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

160 comments Add your comment

frustrated APS mom

April 11th, 2012
8:19 am

In the 2 PM meeting yesterday when they were discussing the potential closings, they said that Stanton (not sure which Stanton but I believe they were referring to the one put on the list at the end) is used by less than 50% of the kids zoned for it. Sounds like the Coan situation. I can’t believe they caved to the pressure. I sure hope we see a HUGE swell of support for these schools from the people that insisted on keeping them open. They had better be putting their kids there ASAP, or this decision is going to be a very bad one.

RJ

April 11th, 2012
8:27 am

I really wish the public could get a glimpse of an actual school day in any APS school. Not the horse and pony shows that we put on when company comes, but reality. Many of the students come to school not only ill-prepared, but with no desire to really learn. Yesterday two kindergartners broke into a fight in front of two adults. They didn’t just hit one another, they were throwing fists. Kindergartners! I spend much of my day handling discipline. You have to constantly stop teaching to prevent fists from being thrown over the most silly things. He talked about my mama, he keeps looking at me, she won’t stop talking about me. It’s never ending. Their parents tell them they’d better hit back. It’s exhausting. Yet, I come to work everyday trying to educate the ones that want to learn.

Improving student achievement will be difficult. I witness teachers teaching every day. They work hard. They plan well. This boils down to the fact that the playing field will never be level. It can’t be. At my school kids are pulled during the day for extra help, they get tutoring after school, exploratory teachers are forced to go into the classrooms and tutor during the day. Kids are moving but not by leaps and bounds. It’s a slow, steady increase. That’s how it should be done. The public doesn’t want slow and steady, they want “right now”. That’s not reality.

Rick in Grayson

April 11th, 2012
8:33 am

What were the objectives/reasons the school board wanted to close these 10 schools? How did the mob crowd invalidate any of their decisions? We need managers that will have concrete reasons for making decisions. Only if someone exposes a flaw in their reasoning should the mob prevail.

If these schools were being closed for financial reasons, they should still be closed or taxpayers will have to merrily sign up for payment of higher taxes.

Chris Murphy

April 11th, 2012
8:34 am

The “support” many of these schools get has been limited to the hearings over possible closures. Maybe that support will carry over, but that is a darn big ‘maybe,’ given past parental practices.

Rick in Grayson

April 11th, 2012
8:36 am

Unfortunately, here in the US, the welfare/freebie state is out of control. People want something they are not willing to pay for, someone else…the “rich” guy should pick up the tab for freeloaders.

It's a Cultural Thing

April 11th, 2012
8:38 am

RJ is right about “Their parents tell them they’d better hit back.”
It’s a cultural thing. My black friends tell me their parents taught them to defeend themselves. One friend, a college graduate, a black woman, said she lost a fight. She came home beat up and her mother was mad that she lost the fight. Her mother showed her how to fight and threatened to spank her if she ever lost a fight again.
My parents me not to fight. They are white. They had the reverse mantra. If I hit back, I would be punished at home. “Turn the other cheek,” my mother would say and “kill them with kindness.”
It’s a cultural difference.
It’s beginnings are likely easy to guess but in the here and now beating each other up instead of “using your words” doesn’t solve anything. It creates havoc in the classroom and prevents learning.

carlosgvv

April 11th, 2012
8:39 am

I don’t think all those angry people walking out of that meeting were reflecting any “power to the people”.

Tony

April 11th, 2012
8:40 am

There are two big issues about these discussions that hit home with me. If parents were as enthusiastic about having their children prepared for school, ready to learn, and showed support for teachers in the same manner they were clammoring to keep their schools open, then they would not be in this situation to begin with. Second, these discussions provide a perfect example of how people expect schools to be able to do limitless things without regard for budget constraints.

Chris Murphy is Right

April 11th, 2012
8:41 am

Cm says “The “support” many of these schools get has been limited to the hearings over possible closures. Maybe that support will carry over, but that is a darn big ‘maybe,’ given past parental practices.”
The proof is in next year.
Will parents do homework with their children?
Will they volunteer at the school?
Will they read to their kids?
Will the teachers be honest?
Will the teachers show up to class and not take unecessary days off for fun?
Will everyone be on board or will everyone involved expect someone else or some other neighborhood to “fix” the school for them?

MARTA Rida

April 11th, 2012
8:42 am

To Rick in Grayson
We are not talking about Gwinnett County schools so please do not comment on APS if you do not live in the City of Atlanta. In the City of Atlanta we have a proud history of strong neighborhood organizations, NPU’s. This makes the city really listen to its citizens. Its one of the best and strongest neighborhood organizations in the nation. It has stopped freeway construction and holds our elected officials more accountable than those corrupt Gwinnett County officials.

Why??

April 11th, 2012
8:44 am

Why is it that everyone expects schools to solve all of these social problems and inequities? RJ, I feel your pain. Continue to do the best you can do and then go home and live a happy life.

bu2

April 11th, 2012
8:48 am

They really should have at least deferred the two schools that were added at the last minute. In each case a couple of neighboring schools got to make their case and they were thrown in to replace them. In DCSS they totally caved the 1st year and left all 4 open that were slated to close. South Central Dekalb parents were claiming they were being discriminated against, but when they re-did it the next year, they closed even more schools in that area. And they probably aren’t done there.

bu2

April 11th, 2012
8:51 am

@MARTA Rida
You are right about the NPUs. But I have a different viewpoint on their impact. They freeze things the way they are when a city needs to change to thrive.

frustrated APS mom

April 11th, 2012
8:56 am

If you read the comments from the meeting last night, over and over there were people saying “you can find the money” and “it shouldn’t be about the money, it should be about the kids” etc. Not once did I read anything about someone offering up a way to help fund the expense of keeping these under-enrolled, under-performing schools running.

Contrast this with our North Atlanta elementary school with a healthy PTA budget and an annual fund that is made up almost entirely of donations by parents and takes care of everything from family events to instructional support, cultural arts programs, teacher allotments, staff development and more. Take a look at the 50 + committees made up of parent volunteers and the countless volunteer hours that are spent in the school every week. Our residents to the South complain of the resources going to the schools in the North. These are not resources we get from APS. We roll up our sleeves and get it done ourselves. Now let’s see if they are willing to do the same.

A Conservative Voice

April 11th, 2012
8:57 am

Should’ve closed ‘em all…..except “Mary Lin”……I have very fond memories of my 1st school year. Seriously, APS should be shut down until a workable plan is put in place to actually educate those who want to be educated. No more games, no more violence……just a good learning experience. Of course, we have to do away with the USDOE first…..

Interesting...

April 11th, 2012
9:00 am

As a Coan supporter, I understand that the hard work isn’t over – now it really begins for us.

@ Frustrated APS mom, I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way you do. Please realize that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Also, please know that the Coan community activists’ children are mostly elementary school age or younger. You won’t see my kid in Coan next year or even five years from now….because she’s two years old right now.

By rebuilding Coan, we are investing in the future. The enrollment numbers might not be great next year but take the long-view with us and you’ll see.

frustrated APS mom

April 11th, 2012
9:14 am

@ Interesting – I like your attitude. It can totally be done if the people commit to it. Look at Bolton. That small handful of committed parents has grown significantly in just a few short years and that community takes pride in a school that nobody wanted anything to do with 5 years ago. Good luck!

Happy Kine and The Mirth Makers

April 11th, 2012
9:16 am

This is all smoke and mirrors. The parents dont care about anything other than getting they welfare checks and food stamps. The cycle of lunacy continues.

CHC

April 11th, 2012
9:19 am

@RJ, you are right on! Keep working and praying for some parental relief. @Why?? You are right but many of those parents on the southside (refer to RJ’s comment) do not have the know-how or savy (also resources) to do this type of fundraising. Not to mention, many of the older southside parents (the 80s and before) who possessed the savy are not parents but grand parents. Most of the students in some of the middle class community schools are bused in and pollute the efforts of the original community people. This is why so many in those communities (SW Atlanta) are sending students to private schools and alternative settings. The dynamics is the south are much more complicated.

Greg

April 11th, 2012
9:25 am

Mob rule! The board caved into an angry mob that did not offer constructive ideas for moving forward. The children are suffering and will continue to be short changed so that the APS could provide a community center for a neighborhood, how ridiculous. APS’s job is to provide a quality education for the children, not a center for the adults. We’ve seen this over and over with MARTA, Grady Hospital etc.

My question: where was the Mayor? He was very visible in bullying the Board to keep Beverly Hall in place and his cronies in a leadship position. However, his silence on a tough political issue speaks volumes about his agenda.

Shame on the BOE, shame on the Mayor but most of all, shame on the Mob that intimidated the cowards on the BOE into sentencing the children to years of a subpar education at underpopulated, underfunded community centers!

MARTA Rida

April 11th, 2012
9:28 am

I am with Interesting, as one who fought for Coan to remain open we have an uphill battle. APS has seen what Kirkwood did with Toomer in a short amount of time, so they know we can improve Coan and eventually move to Jackson and work with Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Reynoldstowns, East Lake, Edgewood, and Cabbagetown to create a 2nd destination high school within APS.

Happy Kine and The Mirth Makers

April 11th, 2012
9:29 am

Greg, all these psuedo protestors know is to scream like crows. They accomplish much of nothing. When the camera is rolling they scream, curse, make invalid points etc. Power to the People? Really?

Kevin Lynch

April 11th, 2012
9:30 am

DH Stanton’s current enrollment issues have more to do with attendance boundaries that don’t make sense. For instance, I live 2 blocks from the school but am currently zoned to another APS elementary school that is 1 1/2 miles away and across an interstate. Households in Grant Park that are currently zoned for DH Stanton [some further than 1 1/2 miles from Stanton] have understandably been selecting other schools, such as their local neighborhood elementary school or their neighborhood charter school. APS has promised sensible attendance zones that follow neighborhood lines and encourage broader community investment in schools. The investment in DH Stanton that you are just now learning about as an outsider didn’t start 11 days ago when we were first suggested for closure. It’s not news when neighbors meet in the school library, in living rooms and in the church meeting hall to get work done.

Enemas for Easter

April 11th, 2012
9:36 am

Humans are stupid.

It is my understanding that these closures are related to finances, that is not enough money in the budget to keep all the APS open. To fix this, the city increases the property taxes…..You know that won’t happen. How is it people are so dumb they thin that they should pay less taxes and get more service?

I think the human race has defied evolution.

Karma

April 11th, 2012
9:39 am

I suggest to have EVERY parent at these 3 schools sign a CONTRACT with APS for PARENTAL ENGAGEMENT! Look at http://www.agassiprep.com, that’s right, Andre Agassi has opened a charter school in Las Vegas! Click on the top left tab, “About the School” and then click on “Commitment to Excellence”. There are 3 types of accountability, 1 for teachers, 1 for parents and 1 for students. You don’t follow the rules then you’re OUT!
This is what every parent in all public schools should agree to and especially these non-engaged parents in many schools in our country!
Check it out and let me know what you think.
Karma

Tonya C.

April 11th, 2012
9:46 am

This is nothing more than a stopgap. I understood the Coan decision, because in the long-term it makes sense. But these other schools will go back to the status quo shortly, and this issue will need to be re-addressed in the near future minus the emotions.

As far as not having know how or resources, I call BS. These same people have fish frys and bbqs to raise money for everything else, how hard is it to do the same for your local school? How hard is it to pay the measly $5 fee to join the PTA? As a black person, I’m sick of the excuses. You don’t don’t need to be college educated to be resourceful.

CHC

April 11th, 2012
9:48 am

Sorry for grammatical errors but trying to type fast (not very good at it). I just simply meant that the dynamics on the southside are a bit more complicated. You do not have the stay at home moms who stay in the building helping out all day, especially not now. I am speaking from experience as a former APS student, southwest resident and now teacher. My parents were extremely active and pushed me to do my best. They attended meetings, and helped teachers to help me. My parents’ generation, most community residents are grands now. The newbies are sending their children out to be educated.
School systems must be aware of there varying community needs. The south side needs more support from the system and communities. I am actually happy to see the parents fight because maybe this will bring about some enlightenment and ecouragement for activism in the schools which is positive.

Stephen K

April 11th, 2012
9:49 am

Greg – Were you at the meeting? It wasn’t “an angry” mob. Many of the concerned communities put together a comprehensive plans in hours (not months/weeks) and presented those plans to the BOE and Mr. Davis. That is definitely why they stayed open. 5.5 million saved isn’t much on a 600 million dollar budget. The BOE realized this. School closures are a temporary solution. BOE might be cowards but you hide behind a keyboard. They sat in front of “an angry” mob.

C Jae of EAV

April 11th, 2012
9:53 am

Its not shocking to me that the APS BOE’s vote took the turn that it did with respect to the recommended action. For all the community rallying there are some simple facts that still sit on the table unresolved dispite all the discourse engaged around this action:

#1. APS suffers from a shrinking tax digest and dwindling population, which combined with State level cuts in public education funding will mean large bugetary shortfalls in the immediate future.

#2. Issues with facility utilization, which have real budgetary impacts, remains un-addressed. Essentially we’ve just kicked the can down the road and this conversation will be brought to the table again within the next 1-3 years.

It will be interesting to see if Board seats change hands in this election cycle. There is alot hard work that remains to improve the academic quality of the majority institutions in the district in the wake of the CRCT scandal, the new Grad Rate metric, and the as of yet undetermined impact of the NCLB waiver obtained by the state.

ELMom

April 11th, 2012
9:59 am

@It’s a Cultural Thing what you said is disgusting and inaccurate. Black culture in NOT to fight. My parents (both black) taught me NOT to fight. Growing up, I can’t think of a single black child in my acquaintance who’s parents encouraged them to fight. We would all have been punished if a teacher EVER called our parents to complain about our behavior. I never had so much as a dentition. Fighting is not a part of black culture!

frustrated APS mom

April 11th, 2012
10:01 am

One interesting thing that came about last night that nobody is talking about is the decision to open enrollment up for the single gender academies. I know next to nothing about these schools and actually didn’t even know they existed until recently. It seems like a smart move to make them available to all city residents. Are they good schools? Will there be a demand for them? Does anyone know?

glw

April 11th, 2012
10:01 am

Well seems pretty obvious that the APS caved to community pressure. While it was a highly charged debate, the APS didnt help themselves adding Towns at the last minute. I still wander what was the reasoning behind closing Towns, at first it was suggested that it would be Fain over Towns and they changed. I suspect it had something to do with trying to balance the Mays and Douglass cluster.

Beverly Fraud

April 11th, 2012
10:02 am

From Maureen,

Often lost in the discussion about the APS cheating scandal is that the system had a lot of the key factors in place to foster true reform:

No, it had factors in place to foster PSEUDO reform, and all it will EVER be is pseudo reform, because it doesn’t have the following:

1) Administrative and SYSTEMIC support of teachers in matters of discipline
2) Polices with real teeth, to protect teachers from administrative RETALIATION

And they STILL don’t have them. In other words, “Other than THAT, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”

Tonya C.

April 11th, 2012
10:03 am

C Jae of EAV:

Exactly! One of two things will end up happening:

1) Schools WILL BE closed. Maybe not next year, but dwindling enrollment numbers will not be going away anytime soon.

2) APS will need to fold into Fulton and Dekalb. I’m not sure having a separate city school system makes fiscal sense any longer.

CHC

April 11th, 2012
10:03 am

@Tonya C., maybe this is where the people with the understanding you just presented step in to explain this to those parents…If we are fed up, we must act. I know we are tired of the excuses from the parents but overall people are different. Not to mention, many parents in our African-American communities are overwhelmed with other socio-economic needs (and yes perceived needs). These parents are trying to survive, and the possible closing of their community schools woke some up. Remember, African-Americans learned of their political power from a few people who were obviously fed up during the Civil Rights movement. They trained communities endlessly how to boycott along with the power of unity. Remember, America thought African-Americans were okay with being marginalized but they were not. They did not understand their power. I speak to parents every other day about their rights and obligations as parents. This should/could be apart of the goals for our local SCLC and NAACP. Mobilize the communities! Let’s not lose our hope! Thank you B.Killebrew.

suga

April 11th, 2012
10:09 am

Parents really need to get on board and do the right thing. In some of those communities nothing but older people live there, No kids or grandkids. People have move away, Nothing to draw new famlies in our communitites, Our communities need to upgrade, we don’t have anything nice. Messes store’s, old apartments that need to be torn down, men & women hanging all day on the coners,trash all over the place. It just sad…We need to step up, yes fight for what’s right but also relize we a lot of famlies that have moved away, because some of our communities are run down with nothing but mess. I know we need schools, I know a lot of you are mad about change, but if you want to keep your schools in your communities then start by fighting for your communities. It is a total diffrent between THE WESTSIDE AND SOUTHSIDE VS. MIDTOWN & HIGHLANDS area just take a good look at those areas, they work for their communities put money out for where they live and yes their COUNSELMAN Support them and their communities. We could do the same thing to, I suggest we learn how to support our own communities and then we could rep the harvest also.

ELMom

April 11th, 2012
10:11 am

@Happy Kine and The Mirth Makers, Many of these parents work 2 jobs. Perhaps they do receive public assistance in the form of EBT but I guess you would prefer that their children starve and that they are homeless so that they can instead spend their time baking cookies for the PTA bake sale.Many of these parents work very hard to scratch out a living. Perhaps they are not as educated as some of us but does that make their children any less deserving of quality schools where their teachers actually have a command of the subjects that they are teaching and books to take home?

Let’s just assume that the parents don’t care. What do we as a society do about it. Do we help the child anyway or do we do as you suggest and turn or backs on them until they are in the criminal justice system? We can pay a little bit more to help these children now or we can kick the can down the road and keep building prisons, slowly bankrupting our society. If you are thinking ROI my money is on spending more money to help these children now. We have models in this city that have proven that the lives of these children can be turned around. Sadly we are all to selfish to look at those models and implement them in communities in need.

Beverly Fraud

April 11th, 2012
10:15 am

It had — from all appearances — the momentum and resources necessary to spur real improvement.

That’s all it had; appearances. Which was enough to fool the ignorant and uninformed and those who made the conscious decision to be WILLFULLY ignorant and uninformed for well close to a decade. (Remember-though plenty choose NOT to-Paul Donsky of THIS VERY PAPER exposed the shell game for what it was back in 2001; at least Jay Bookman had the integrity to express buyer’s remorse)

2001-An ERASE Odyssey

Bonus points if you can guess who played the part of HAL.

tasman

April 11th, 2012
10:16 am

I think most of you do not fully understand why the parents who do not fully support their schools by preparing their children for school, were shouting to keep their schools open. It wasn’t because of their “passion” for the school or “saving” the community, the teachers told the children to tell their parents to make as much noise as possible because they want to keep their jobs and the only way they will keep their jobs is to make sure their school is kept open. Some of the teachers will move to other schools but most of them will not and the auxillary staff will all be out of a job. The parents who were there shouting save our schools will not be there to support the school at the next PTA meeting. I am willing to bet on that. The school board should have did the right thing and close all the schools that were on the list.

Tonya C.

April 11th, 2012
10:16 am

CHC:

I applaud your efforts and hope it works out. After working in APS for two years and now living in Gwinnet and our daughter attending a Title 1 school…I’ll pass. The apathy I see in our communities leaves me sometimes wondering if their ever WAS a civil rights movement. We have faced the very same issues many of those lower socioeconomic parents have faced, and have a son with autism to boot. But we never let the importance of an education cease to be emphasized or not be an active participant in the education of our kids. So I can’t see where they are coming from at all. We are moving after next school year, and will most likely end up in a cluster resembling Lin/Inman ( but in Gwinnett).

I don’t mess with the SCLC, NAN, or NAACP because I don’t think they truly give a crap about addressing the REAL issues that plague the black community (out-of-wedlock births, men not parenting their children, marriage not being a building block of the community, the importance of education both short- and long-term).

Beverly Fraud

April 11th, 2012
10:22 am

“Instead, much of the improvement was an illusion as the AJC test score investigation first revealed in 2008.”

Wrong! The illusion was FIRST revealed, in a way that was apparent to ANY RATIONAL THINKING PERSON as far back as 2001 with Paul Donsky’s groundbreaking work.

Maybe the AJC editorial board and the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce didn’t get copies of the newspaper that weekend.

At least Bookman had the integrity to PUBLICLY express buyer’s remorse.

glw

April 11th, 2012
10:27 am

frustrated APS mom,

the single gender schools have been open for a few years now. They started with middle school and adding a grade each year. I think they will add an 11th grade next year. They essentially serve the old West Fulton High area of NW Atlanta which had been going to Douglass High for the most part. Most recently the kids in those areas were zoned to the school, but they had the option of attending Douglass if they didnt wan to participate, but now those kids will be originally assigned to Douglass, but they (along with all APS kids) have the option to “opt in” and attend the school if they desire. The schools seem to be getting positive response from most parents and definitely gives kids a viable option other than the more traditional high school model

C Jae of EAV

April 11th, 2012
10:32 am

@Rick In Grayson & @Chris Murphy – Your collective comments have some merit. Historical precedence suggests the ground swell we’ve seen will cool and stat quo will prevail. The fiscal and demographic realities remain unsolved and will have to be addressed at some point. Its regrettable that APS has engaged decades of mal-investment, mis-management of district resources and limited success with reform plans. Hope springs eternal that the community action we’ve seen of late will galvanize into a sustained community advocacy that generate lasting change.

@MARTA Rida – Its okay to take off the rose colored glasses now. Granted there are some strong neighborhood organizations relative to the operation of APS and its execution of public policy. However there are many weak neighborhood organizations enough for me to question the impact of the majority of these organizations on how APS operates. Generally the district proactively engages these groups to the extent they have demontrated effective political advocacy.

@Interesting – I applaude your efforts on behalf of Coan and I think the district can only hope to gain from building it into a stronger institution. However the fact remains unless there is a significant spike in population growth projected or an expansion of its enrollment boundry, Coan will likely continue to be woefully under utilized as a facility. At some point this fact may well have to be addressed again in the face of what’s sure to be continue budgetary contraints district wide.

MARTA Rida

April 11th, 2012
10:47 am

@ C Jae of EAV in response to the Coan comment.
Creating the ‘New Coan’ is to attract those that attend Charter Schools in Coan’s boundaries back to Coan. That is how the population at Coan will increase by keeping kids at Coan instead of attending charters.

Tonya C.

April 11th, 2012
10:50 am

Marta Rida:

That is how many HOPE the population will increase. There is no gurantee of that. Let’s keep in mind many people choose charter schools for varying reasons, and if they are happy where they are they are far more likely to put future children there as well. Just some food for thought.

frustrated APS mom

April 11th, 2012
10:54 am

Thanks for the info, glw. I think APS needs to get some publicity out for CSK and BEST. It could be a very attractive option for many people that might otherwise choose charters.

skipper

April 11th, 2012
10:54 am

The truth hurts. Until the core philosophy of the folks whose kids attend APS (not all, but many) changes, all will be the same. Parents who do not really care for school other than using it as daycare, and students who have no real “home training” as it were will continue to contribute to the problem. Rail against me if you like, but check back on APS in ten years, then post something. The whole APS is a cluster of bad demographics and lack of life skills (again, not all but many.) This is the “elephant” in the room!!!!!!

Maude

April 11th, 2012
10:58 am

RJ Thank you! Thank you! I am a teacher and RJ could be any teacher I know!! Why can’t we have a blog about your comments. Yes, just like RJ most teachers go to work daily with a prayer, “Dear God, Please let me teach to receptive students today. I do not want to use my engery and time with discipline! Please no fights today (yes in kindergarten which I teach), give clamness to the disruptive students (yes more than one) who runs around the room distrubing others, it would be so nice to have one day at school without a student telling me NO! Please touch the parents so that they will look in their childs folder every night, help their child with homework, get their child clean and in bed on time and make sure they eat at home or get to school in time for the free breakfast. Dear God, please let me touch the lives of these children in a positive way today!” This is the way most teachers feel, but from the AJC and the blogs it appears that the public thinks all teachers are sorry low case people. YES, THERE ARE BAD TEACHERS! THE REALLY GREAT TEACHERS FAR OUT WEIGHT THE BAD! AJC please do some articles focusing on the problems teachers face daily in the classroom and still come to school daily with a love and passion for their job. I remember when I could come to school without that prayer! Parents and children valued education, teachers were not bashed, a teacher was required to move a child one year of learning for a year of teaching (not 2 or 3 years because they come to you below grade level). I used to love my job. Teaching is all I ever wanted to do from my youngest memories. However, each year the stress gets worse, children learn less because I teach less because of the time I have to deal with discipline, when I do teach I have to reteach many times because so many students are not focusing. Parents are no help, they do not help their child with homework and it is never their childs fault if they are not working as required or misbehaving. I sorry if there are grammar and spelling mistakes. I am typing this during my 20 minute lunch break. Yes, the state gives me 30 minutes but that in not a fact in the real world.

Shar

April 11th, 2012
11:05 am

It’s so good to read these posts. After a tumultuous, hotly-contested process like this re-districting, to have so many of those concerned come out of it with positive, thought-provoking things to say is a ray of hope for the system as a whole. Thanks to all for sharing.

I was not at the meeting last night, and I don’t know the reasoning behind keeping the three additional schools open. When I read of the decisions this morning, I was disappointed for several reasons:
- The evidence of the demographers and the people throughout the system who have been working and commenting for months seems to have been swept away by the vocal protests of a comparative few;
- The Board hired Davis to turn the system around without regard to the entrenched interests that have brought it to its knees. He ran this re-districting process rationally and well, and made these recommendations as a primary foundation to his plans. I am concerned that his recommendations were not honored.
- From the quoted comments, it appears that the main reason to retain the three schools is community development rather than quality of education. Investing in community centers and improving community appeal is a function of the City and Fulton County, not the Atlanta Public Schools. The taxes paid to APS are to educate the children of Atlanta, not to make community centers. Retaining schools that were identified as unnecessary will drain money away from funds available to the rest of the system, and given the upcoming budget crisis it means that students across APS will suffer so those communities can have their buildings partially filled. If, as @Interesting feels about Coan, that investment energizes the community and does deliver more “destination schools”, it is money well-spent. If, as @C Jae of EAV notes, “precedence suggests the ground swell we’ve seen will cool and stat quo will prevail”, it will contribute to APS’ already massive waste.

I think ultimately what we are seeing is a Board that is already discredited in the public’s eye for its part in covering the cheating scandal and for allowing its dysfunction to teeter the system on the brink of losing accreditation simply unable to swallow the totality of Davis’ recommendation. He himself has written that the issue of Inman and Grady overcrowding will have to be addressed shortly, and I would guess that the three retained schools will be re-evaluated at that time, with a budget crisis adding impetus to making decisions regarding closure.

Solutions

April 11th, 2012
11:06 am

I have been reading about the education problem for a while now, and I have reached some conclusions. The one size fits all education model no longer works, the high IQ people are not challenged, the low IQ people cannot keep up, and the average IQ people are caught in the middle, either bored to death, or lost in the subject matter. Why not just test the children and group them by IQ, so they will be in classes with similar people, and the pace the class can be adjusted to their needs? This is not as outrageous as it sounds, the college sorting machine has been doing this sort of ranking by IQ for over 50 years now, with the top 1% IQ folks going to the Elite schools, the next five percent going to the top schools that are not yet Elite, and the remainder distributed among colleges and universities according to their abilities.