APS school chief opposes addition of a high school at Drew Charter school

APS school chief Erroll Davis is not recommending that APS approve the addition of a high school at the Charles R. Drew Charter school.

Drew is an APS charter school in Atlanta’s East Lake community. (It connects with the East Lake Family YMCA.)

The news has disappointed Drew parents, some of whom saw their children zoned out of Grady High School — just ranked among the state’s best high schools by US News — to the less successful Jackson High. One reason those parents did not fight the reassignment was that they were expecting the charter school to add the high school. So, this news is bound to upset them.

I asked APS for a statement from Davis, who responded: “I am not supporting Charles R. Drew Charter School’s request to amend their charter to add high school grades at this time, because there is already an over supply of empty seats in the area for 9th through 12th grade students.  From a strategic standpoint, we have committed approximately $40 million to renovating Maynard Jackson High School, along with academic enhancements and new leadership.  Six of the district’s 14 charter schools are already located in the area. Thus expanding the number of student seats in the same area at a time when we are embarking on a workforce reduction in the face of vacant student stations doesn’t coincide with the district’s strategic direction for that area.”

Opened in 2000, Drew was the city’s first charter school. It remains one of Atlanta’s most successful charters and probably the one with the greatest corporate support. Drew now serves 850 students ages 3 to eighth grade.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

77 comments Add your comment

mountain man

May 8th, 2012
7:35 pm

That’s right, don’t allow any competition, since you want to keep it a monopoly. Don’t ask about the QUALITY of the education, just your number of empty seats.

Teacher Reader

May 8th, 2012
8:10 pm

The superintendent doesn’t want competition. If Drew is already doing a fine job educating K-8th graders, why not let them take a shot at high school. Schools should be about what is best for the kids and not the number of empty seats it will create and jobs lost. Until our schools focus on what is best for the children and where they will receive the best education, our kids are the ones that are losing out.

parental unit

May 8th, 2012
8:16 pm

Did you miss the part where he said there are already a half-dozen charters in the immediate area, including a charter high?

B. Killebrew

May 8th, 2012
8:29 pm

Smart decision.

Ed Johnson

May 8th, 2012
8:31 pm

Bravo for Davis.

mom-of-4-APS-kids

May 8th, 2012
8:56 pm

What if Drew HS co-located at Maynard Jackson HS like charters often do in NYC? Seems like a win-win. Half-full Jackson would become a vibrant, full (or nearly full) school. I realize this would require a bit of a commute for Drew kids- but, for most, Jackson is their zoned school. The Kindezi School and KIPP Collegiate are both APS charter schools that co-locate at the old Turner Middle School. With Davis’s corporate background, why is Davis discouraging healthy competition?-especially when the competition proves kids can succeed academically despite the demographic into which they are born.

JR Garcia

May 8th, 2012
9:04 pm

@Maureen – Can you find out which 6 charter schools Supt. Davis is referring too, please? The Intown Academy in the Old Fourth Ward is ‘intown’, but not in the Jackson High Cluster, it’s in the Grady High Cluster.

Also, he must be including Tech High, which is a city-wide zoned school, but technically located in the Jackson High Cluster. I don’t agree with his argument of bringing up charter schools, there must be a reason why charter schools have done well in Southeast Atlanta. I’m up for APS stepping up their game, but it’s about the students, not APS jobs.

jw

May 8th, 2012
9:38 pm

The only charter high close to that area is Tech High. http://www.techhighschool.org/
KIPP Collegiate just opened in NW Atlanta. http://kippmetroatlanta.org/KIPP-Atlanta-Collegiate

Charter high schools are few and far between in Georgia in general. It’s hard to run a HS on the limited charter funds and meet student/parent expectations for a full HS program, not to mention accreditation standards for HS. However, my bet is the Drew team could pull it off. Too bad they won’t be given the chance by APS.

Has anyone even heard that...?

May 8th, 2012
9:39 pm

Is anyone aware that all teachers at the small schools (Washington, Therrell, Carver, & South Atlanta) must interview today & tomorrow in an effort to keep their jobs even though they already have signed contracts?

If they are chosen by one of the small schools listed above, then they get to keep their jobs. If they are not chosen, then they must return on Saturday to compete with teachers from outside the district. If they are not chosen Saturday, then they are out of a job.

The reason originally given for this was that there would be a reduction-in-force necessitated by the closing of the small schools. When APS decided to not close the small schools, they said that the teachers must still interview because there would be a drop in enrollment.

There seem to be several laws/policies in queston:

1) According to Georgia state law & APS policy, a reduction-in-force is a SYSTEM-WIDE personnel action which must follow a UNIFORM criteria. I believe that these rules are in place to prevent a system from doing exactly what’s being done: placing employee “A” in jeopardy of losing their job while employee “B” (with an identical contract) is safe. This means that a 25 year veteran working at a small school could lose her job while a first year teacher at another school is safe.

2) According to APS policy, the Superintendent must submit a reduction-in-force plan to the BOE for approval explaining how it will be implemented. To my knowledge, this plan of a job fair has not been submitted or approved. Furthermore, I don’t believe that the BOE would approve of this plan.

3) The news I found most frustrating was given to us yesterday. An administrator relayed to us that even if less teachers show up than there are positions for them to fill, they can still be rejected (leaving an unfilled vacancy and an unemployed teacher WITH A CONTRACT). The positions can then be given to applicants from outside the district. I thought that the only way a person with a contract could be denied a job was if there were not enough jobs. I don’t see how anyone can propose to do this without thinking that there might be problems later.

In the end, I assume that almost all of the teachers will land jobs. However, I am frightened by the thought of school districts not being more careful about due process.

Wondering Allowed

May 9th, 2012
7:47 am

@mom-of-4-APS-kids – What a fantastic idea. It saves Drew from having to find/build a location and could help Jackson with enrollment numbers and performance. Have you passed this along to anyone at APS? There doesn’t seem to be a down side on your suggestion.

Inside APS

May 9th, 2012
8:39 am

Most of the students @ Drew already live in the Jackson attendance area, so I don’t think establishing a Drew HS @ Jackson would not increase enrollment or support the district’s plan for strong high schools in all parts of the city.

Inside APS

May 9th, 2012
8:41 am

Oops – double negative! Should read:
“…so I don’t think establishing a Drew HS @ Jackson would increase enrollment or support the district’s plan…”

enm

May 9th, 2012
8:46 am

How about the parents go into the existing schools and rally for change? Then all the children gain. We can lie to ourselves and say money doesn’t matter when educating children, but it does. Be honest.

The Phantom

May 9th, 2012
8:58 am

And so it begins…

Of course APS opposes a Drew High school. Why would they want to allow one of the most successful schools to expand? It’s not in their best interest for them to allow another entity to take the same student population and get better results.

One thing is for certain: APS doesn’t care about what’s best for children’s education. They are more concerned about having warm bodies to put into empty seats; Davis pretty much says that in his statement.

Inside APS

May 9th, 2012
9:00 am

Isn’t Drew one of the schools with high erasures on the 2011 CRCT?

C Jae of EAV

May 9th, 2012
9:10 am

First, it must be understood that the governing board running Drew Charter is considering expanding to the high school level in large part due very strong support from the community in which it serves.

Second, few would debate that Drew’s academic and operational track record as a charter institution is very strong. If ever there was a charter from which APS could / should collaborate with to share best practices its Drew. Yet APS seem more apt to shun the success Drew has achieved.

Third, there is a reason for the high number of charter institutions on the SE sector of APS. The communities there WANT THEM ! In addition to Drew you have also have Atlanta Neighborhood Charter (which was 2 schools which have recently combined into one K-8 institution with two campuses), KIPP Vision (which seeks to operate as a middle schools serving 5-8, but I believe has only been opened for about 2 years), Wesley International Academy (another K-8 which was formerly run by Imagine until the parent kicked Imagine out for shoddy mgmt) & Tech High. By(which has only been opened I believe about 2 years). I dare say the charter community in this section of APS has and continues to recieve VERY strong support from the communities where they reside.

Fourth, if there is to be a loser in this equation its likely not Southside/Jackson it would Tech High Charter School, which would be much vunerable to Drew expanding to include high school grades since its enjoyed a some degree of support from matriculating Drew students throughout its existance.

Bottom line, before Dr. Davis rejects the idea out of hand purhaps (if he hasn’t already) he needs to take a good hard look at what Drew has produced and evaluate the degree to which it can partner/collaborate with Drew to strengthen the high school program overall. Obviously Drew has something going for it as its consistantly been one of the top performing schools in APS for several years.

C Jae of EAV

May 9th, 2012
9:13 am

@Inside APS – To the contrary, it was the majority of the schools that feed into Coan as well as Coan (which all more or less surround Drew in that section of APS) that were implicated in the CRCT scandal.

Wondering Allowed

May 9th, 2012
9:21 am

@Inside APS – So many things to correct. I’ve never seen Drew Charter listed among schools that had CRCT erasure issues. If you have information to the contrary, please provide. Also, Drew gives preference to kids in the 30317 zip code, but has enrollment from throughout the city. Presently, the majority of Drew students from East Lake and Kirkwood are zoned for Grady. How many of those kids will continue to enroll in APS with the rezoning to Jackson is unknown. It would make sense that until Jackson improves, those parents will examine other options. If Drew were to establish a program at Jackson, kids from outside the Jackson Cluster would likely enroll in the Charter School, which would improve the Jackson enrollment numbers and, likely, achievement numbers.

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
9:27 am

@ Inside APS No, Drew was not a school with erasures. Drew was NOT flaged under any investigation. Currenlty there are only 45 Drew students at Jackson.

According to Davis’ statement he wants to fill a school that HE decided to put $40million into. During redzoning he told the Mary Lin community that is something is working then he will not fight it. Well Drew is working. He also said that he will not take students from a high performing school and move them to a low performing school in order to fill seats. Drew is a high performing school but Davis took East Lake and Kirkwood out of Grady to fill Jackson and now that Drew (a high performing school) wants to continue that education path for the East Lake community he wants to say no. I see a double standard.

Fact: Drew’s demographics mirror APS
Fact: Drew has a 77.7% poverty rate
Fact: Drew is ranked 93rd of 1176 elementary schools state wide
Fact: Drew is ranked 98th of 479 middle schools state wide
Fact: Marynard Jackson is ranked 375th of 399 high school state wide
Fact: Maynard Jackson has a 50% graduation rate (of all freshmen who enter only 50% graduate on time)

Fact: The Atlanta Public School System has the lowest graduation rates amongst African American males in Georgia at 34%, which is 13% lower than the national average and 9% lower than the state average

Knowing these facts why would a school that has a 10 year track record of improving the outcome of disadvantaged students not be allowed to continue educationg them? For Davis this is about buts in seats and money that he and the board voted to spend during difficult fiscal times. It is not about improving the outcome of children in poverty.

cc

May 9th, 2012
9:31 am

@inside APS – Drew was not among the high erasure schools in the area, so please make sure you check your facts before repeating them.

Drew has been very successful in our neighborhood and given that our kids are being yanked from a high performing high school (Grady) and being dropped into a low performing one (Jackson), having an additional option (likely to be a very good one) would make a lot of sense. Many of us are dubious about the supposed changes coming to Jackson. Will it be better or just have a renovated building? Do we sacrifice the children who happen to be school age in the next 5-6 years to find out?

Erica Long

May 9th, 2012
9:56 am

It looks like APS will attempt to improve high school performance by forcing involved parents to stay at their neighborhood schools. Good luck with that one. I would hate for the best public school families to vote with their feet, but it seems likely if they have no other options.

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
10:03 am

@ Eric Long The ironic thing is that a large majority of the students at Drew have parents who are not heavily involved either because they work 2-3 jobs or just aren’t involved. SO he is pushing children into Jackson who NEED the additional support that Drew provides. If a 600 seat high school is going to destroy Maynard Jackson then we have a bigger problem. If Jackson is supposed to be “The new Grady” then APS and parents will be thanksful for the Drew H.S. release valve. Drew parents will simply just put their efforts into Tech High.

Neutral on Charters

May 9th, 2012
10:07 am

@ Wondering Allowed (and others): The 2011 Erasure Report is here: gaosa.org. You say you’ve never seen Drew on the list. Did you actually look at the list? Or are you just assuming because the school hasn’t told you it’s on the list, the AJC hasn’t told you it’s on the list, and your friends haven’t told you it’s on the list, that it’s not on the list?

I am conflicted on the issue of charter schools (I see pros and cons), neutral on Drew, including whether it should expand, and suspicious, both of claims to miraculous academic improvements, and of the governor’s, the AJC’s, and public’s pitchfork attitudes (that any unusual data = unequivocal establishment of cheating).

But I can read a report, and if you’ll take the time to do so, you can too. I didn’t go looking for this data on Drew. I actually went to the report when someone in an earlier Get Schooled blog comment mentioned that Mary Lin was on this year’s list, and I saw Drew there too.

Drew is on the 2011 erasure list. As in 2009, there are three categories of concern: minimal, moderate, and severe. Drew made the moderate concern list, with 12.5% of classrooms flagged for unusually high % of erasures. I believe Drew had the second highest number of classrooms flagged (% of total) of any APS school (after Parks Middle).

Does that mean Drew cheated? I don’t know. Mary Lin had almost as many classroom flagged (% of total). Either a lot of schools are getting flagged and stigmatized by nets cast too wide and public opinion that turns on a dime before adequate inquiry can be made … or perhaps the AJC is right and there is very widespread cheating going on all over the nation.

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
10:09 am

Alternative educational choices can save lives. This is just one story: http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/drew-charter-school-steers-611861.html

Maureen Downey

May 9th, 2012
10:15 am

@El mom, Why hasn’t Tech High taken off? I have been to this charter high school several times and the staff is dedicated, but the scores in its specialty area are disappointing. According to GOSA, 69 percent of the students failed the EOCT in Math I and Math II in 2010-2011.
In comparison, only 43 percent of Grady students failed in Math I and II.
But 84 percent of Jackson students failed in each of those EOCTs.
http://reportcard2011.gaosa.org/%28S%28ddgamv45b1cyykjohebc0d45%29%29/k12/reports.aspx?TestType=QCC&ID=761:205&OrgId=45326
In addition, the Tech High enrollment is still low, 200 students in the four grades.
I am unsure why this school — which has tremendous corporate support — has failed to catch fire with APS students.
Any explanations?
Maureen

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
10:25 am

Maureen, Honestly a lot of parents are just finding out about Tech High school this year. When you drive by and look at the building it is not clear that a functiong school resides within. Parents are now aware of the school. Also there just aren’t a lot of High school aged students in the immediate area. There is a baby bubble beginning with the current kindergarten class. The parents in this bubble are now well aware of Tech High. In the past parents in our area opted for Private schools, paid for City of Decatur schools or moved. A great deal moved.

C Jae of EAV

May 9th, 2012
10:31 am

@ELMom – Given the public position Dr. Davis is taking with regard to Drew’s expansion, Tech High Charter’s continued survival is questionable as it will be due for a Charter renewal in a year. If you read deeper into Dr. Davis’ statement it would seem he is offering families the false choice of Southside/Jackson or nothing (because of his public policy position to stamp out any other alternatives). Its this sort of posture that gives rise to the constitutional admendment on the ballot in Nov.

What I don’t think Dr. Davis quite realizes at this stage is that there is a charter HS cluster/feeder pattern is virtualy already in place to more than justify the existance of a Drew HS & Tech High operating along side of Southside/Jackson. The SE corner of APS at one point had 2-3 high schools so a return to that as such would not be such an outragous proposition.

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
10:41 am

@C Jae of EAV you are right. The SE of Atlanta could support more than one QUALITY high school. It was not long ago that we had 2 high schools in the SE which APS.

@Neutral on Charters what I intended to say was the Drew was cleared of any cheating. A flag was a flag of a high number of erasure marks. Those flags prompted further investigation and Drew was cleared as were Mary Lin & Morningside

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
11:12 am

@Wondering Allowed If Drew were to locate their High School at Maynard Jackson (As schools do in NYC) then 2 seperate schools would exist in the same building. Drew H.S. student population numbers and test scores would not reflect on Jackson or vice versa.

C Jae of EAV

May 9th, 2012
11:26 am

@Maureen – Tech High appears to be an unfortunately casulaty in the ongoing battle that is the charter school movement in GA. Bear in mind the school has been open since the 04/05 academic year and had its charter renewed by APS once already. To this day it remains one of the few start-up charter high schools operating in GA. While APS has allowed it to exsist, the district’s relationship toward the school (as is the case with all charters not run by KIPP) is still largely an adverisarial one.

I don’t believe Tech High has done the best job in marketing itself and quite frankly as hinted to by @El Mom, the archaic building it operates out of is a turn-off for many. I believe the institution still holds some promise but given its low enrollment it has to be fiscally challenging for the institution to put forth the type of well rounded high school program that many families would expect (i.e. sports teams and other extra curricular offerings ).

I do believe that Drew has stronger corporate support compared to Tech High courtsey of its ties to Tom Cousin related business interests, but I think there is a strong argument to be made that Drew and Tech High could potentially combine forces and develop Tech High into into a strong HS program. At present it would appear Tech High has want Drew wants (an active HS charter) and Drew has what Tech High needs (stronger corporate support & a proven approach to instruction that generates consistant high level results).

Neutral on Charters

May 9th, 2012
11:31 am

@ELMom: Thanks. Can you point me to information (actual government reports, or media descriptions, either one) about the investigation and clearing you’re talking about? From GOSA’s web site, it appears that these erasure reports were released on around April 5, 2012. Has there really been an investigation completed, only one month later? I didn’t see any mention of being on the list, or being cleared, on Drew’s web site. The principal of Mary Lin mentions on his blog that the school was flagged (”minimal concern” category – so was Inman Middle School, by the way). Morningside Elementary wasn’t flagged, since the % of classrooms flagged was below the “minimal” concern threshold, I believe.

Are you sure that we’re talking about the same report – the governor’s 2011 erasure report?

Maureen, any insight?

2011 Erasure report

May 9th, 2012
12:10 pm

Drew charter has been flagged by the DOE for investigation on the 2011 CRCT.
http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/education/2012-04-06/erasure-marks-crct-answer-sheets-drop-richmond-county-schools
http://aug-cdn.com/sites/default/files/2011_WTR_by%20School%20and%20District_FINAL.pdf
ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOls
CHARLES R DREw
72 = Total classes
9 = classes flagged
12.5% = % of classroonms flagged for erasures!

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
1:02 pm

@Neutral on Charters I was refering to 2009 & 2010. You are right. I don’t think that a 2011 investigation has been done yet.

2011 Erasure report

May 9th, 2012
1:20 pm

Also – check me if I’m wrong, but the former (fired) principal from Boyd Elementary, which had 56% of classrooms flagged on the 2009 erasure report came from Drew, where she held an administrative position over the lower school. Cherea Foreman, Primary Academy Director, Drew Charter
I think Davis is being more than prudent. Keeping students at neighborhood schools is what is best for all. Parents who want good schools must help build strong communities!

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
1:29 pm

@2011 Erasure report Perhaps the principal of Boyd did come from Drew (I don’t know). The fact is he isn’t there anymore and hasn’t been there for YEARS. Perhaps there is a reason for that. Drew had the good sense to get rid of him but APS picked him up. Cherea Foreman is not in charge of the primary academy at Drew. I don’t see your point. Is your point that APS for some reason hires people that Drew has issues with simply because “Drew Charter” is on their resume?

Competition

May 9th, 2012
1:31 pm

I’m all for School Choice and a breakdown of the current Public School model. But each area has a unique story, in this case SE Atlanta, and ELMom is part of the problem. There are more than enough involved families in the Jackson Cluster to turn around Coan & Jackson. But everyone wants to complain instead of working together to improve the schools. Take all that effort to build a Drew High and work within your cluster to improve the public schools regardless of where you send your children and we all can win. If Drew is so great then why not drop your child off there and head another half a mile to participate in the Coan PTSA and share the Drew wisdom? The Drew crowd is starting to resmeble the Mary Lin crowd…ugh. And BTW take a look to see who is on your board of Directors at Drew…look familiar?

ELMom

May 9th, 2012
1:46 pm

@Competition We have been working on these schools for YEARS. Yes we complain. We complain because APS is not listening. I personally have been working (trying to work) with APS for 5 years. Other parents for over 15 years. What did we get? A cheating scandal, ignored, and according to our school board rep “a decision to no longer invest in East Lake elementary” (she said this at a public meeting).

BTW I do drop my child off at Drew and work with my other local schools. I have worked VERY HARD for Coan. Many Drew parents DO volunteer (and write checks) at Coan and with the students of Coan. We do so quietly because people like you lash out at us for being charter parents and not “supporting local schools”. I work closely with Coan’s partners and DO share what I have experienced at Drew. There has been resistance from APS.

I don’t see your point about the Drew Board. Are your referring to Dr. Kulhman who worked with Centennial Place Elementary in the beginning? BTW Centennial is another great model. One size does not fit all. You don’t know the needs of every child let’s keep cramming into your little “education factories” that all look the same. That’s the way to promote innovation in this country.

DrewMom

May 9th, 2012
2:00 pm

All, please see Drew’s website: http://www.drewcharterschool.org/news/in-the-news.html
There is an open-ness to Drew that you seem to be missing.

In all fairness I should say I have two children at Drew, my oldest for three years. We are extremely happy. And yes, I completely support a new high school.

It’s all well and good to say you think we parents should “be more involved” and “fix Coan and Jackson”, but I AM involved and I will not let my kids suffer the consequenses of a bad high school so Atlanta can pull up their abyssmal record. If the Drew HS doesn’t happen we will explore other options that do not include Maynard. My children are not an experiment.

Perhaps we can experiment with the Mary Lin kids? Who is on board with that? They are closer to Coan and Maynard Jackson than they are to Inman Middle and Grady afterall. Why not include them in this little project? Bet there is deafening silence to that suggestion.

To be honest with the way Eroll Davis is acting it’s probably time he is replaced. Clearly the children involved in his plotting are not his main concern.

Ed Johnson

May 9th, 2012
2:09 pm

@Has anyone heard that…?

Carefully reading the policy GBKA for what it says, instead of what one might wish it to say, reveals only a RIF must constitute an APS-wide personnel action. For anything else, as with the school closings and small schools transformation, the policy affords the superintendent free reign and requires the superintendent only to submit a plan to the school board for approval.

However, because the superintendent has called it a RIF, although it obviously does not constitute an APS-wide personnel action, the superintendent necessarily has obligated himself to execute APS-wide. If he doesn’t, then he stands to violate school board policy.

The Phantom

May 9th, 2012
2:21 pm

@ Competition: the Drew Board (and parents) decide they want to continue their cradle-to-grave education method and have a high school. How is this keeping others in the Jackson-Coan cluster from improving their local schools again?

You must be a SEACS member. Probably also one of those people from BPA who called for a 10-year block on charter schools? Do you show this much animosity at Wesley and ANCS, or just Drew?

We get it. You don’t like charters (or at least not Drew). We do. We like the one we have, and want to add-on to it. How does that hurt you? Why does school choice bother you so much? Not “social justice” enough for you?

carla roqs

May 9th, 2012
2:38 pm

@has anyone heard? no…and not liking it as i read it right now.

Robert Ryshke

May 9th, 2012
2:50 pm

I don’t understand why Davis would be against an extremely successful school in East Lake that serves preK-8 grade students wanting to build out its educational program to preK-12. Drew Charter School is one of the most successful schools in the APS system. They serve a population of students who have traditionally been under served by our system. However, they have a strong academic program, excellent faculty, a supportive administration, parents who care, and a community that is involved. These are the ingredients that make for a good school. It seems totally unreasonable for Davis to not support their desires to replicate the experience through high school. Aren’t we interested in quality education? Aren’t we interested in serving our students first? If Davis doesn’t make this into a political situation, then he should see the light and support Drew Charter’s desires to amend their charter to include K-12 education. This would be a good move for East Lake, a good move for APS, and a good move for Atlanta. Quality should come first. I hope the East Lake community and Atlanta show Davis the way towards better schools for students.

Bob Ryshke
Mableton, GA

Center for Teaching
The Westminster Schools

Intowner

May 9th, 2012
2:56 pm

@Competition: Just curious – what’s your issue with the “Mary Lin crowd?” It seems they have done exactly as you prescribe: work hard to improve the schools in their cluster.

carla roqs

May 9th, 2012
3:07 pm

@robert, davis does not appear to be supportive of any inner city academic endeavors

Robert Ryshke

May 9th, 2012
3:09 pm

With regard to being flagged as part of the erasure scandal at APS, I hope everyone remembers their elementary school careers. When you put a pencil in the hands of an elementary school student, it is very likely they will erase. Just because 12% of classrooms were flagged, by the way out of 50 classrooms that is only about 5, does not mean Drew Charter School was involved in the cheating situation we know so much about. Students do erase their answers, especially students who are engaged in what they are doing and are perfectionists about their work. Let’s not jump the gun on 12% of classrooms being flagged. Being flagged is not being “convicted.”

Visit Drew Charter School! You will see the excitement and success on the faces of children. Can you see this in other Atlanta area schools? Of course! I would just caution us not to label schools from afar.

When is the last time Davis visited Drew Charter School? Does he know the school well enough to be able to support his position? I wonder.

Bob Ryshke
Mableton, GA

Center for Teaching
The Westminster Schools
http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2012/05/08/aps-school-chief-opposes-addition-of-a-high-school-at-drew-charter-school/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog

Competition

May 9th, 2012
3:27 pm

Once again I’m all for School Choice, I hope the State Board gets the power to financially support any group that is rejected by local school boards. But if you look closely at this decision by Errol Davis it is a good decision. Atlanta has one good High School, Grady. There is a huge population boom intown right now, specifically in the Jackson Cluster. A ton of parents of 2 year olds running around afraid of these traditionally bad schools. There are not enough good charter and private schools in the immediate area to support this massive growth. Thus the re-investment in Jackson High School. But you have groups that are rejecting sending there kids to these schools because they are lesser performing schools than Grady, Drew, ANCS, etc… (reference to Mary Lin inflexibility here)

By making this decision, Errol Davis is eliminating an obstacle for turning Jackson High school around. In a perfect world they would give Jackson High School to the Drew Administration and the whole cluster wins. But I cannot get behind a solution that only works for a handful of students. Drew will have a wait list like ANCS and the rest of the kids suffer. We have a resonsibility in society to do what is right for everyone as well as ourselves. In this case it happens to be delaying the building of a Charter School when there is an enourmous interest in turning around Coan and Jackson. Stop whining and start helping.

Funny, I’ve never seen any Drew parents at the Coan events. I work with a great group of people commited to helping Coan and Jackson, mostly from Kirkwood. We will make these schools great and need all the help we can get.

APS Parent #2

May 9th, 2012
3:54 pm

Bravo Mr. Davis!!

Those same great Drew Charter students and families will lend a welcomed hand to building Jackson HS into a superb high school experience.

The reason the Grady Cluster has worked so well is that for most of the cluster’s history, the only choice was to pay for private school. The parents on the economic fringe decided to buy-into public school with their blood, sweat and tears and built their sweat-equity into APS’ highest performing high school.

The Jackson Cluster would have been further down the road in building their own high performing public school K-12 cluster IF their parents had held APS’ feet to the fire and made them provide high quality principals, teachers and resources in their traditional public schools like the Grady Cluster did. But, they didn’t.

As a result, there really isn’t a “choice” yet since their APS traditional model schools need revamping. APS is working on this with a very small motivated group of TRADITIONAL public school K-12 parents. SEACS and the charter school parents won’t ever truly get what they have done to the cluster by opting out K-8 and taking their very talented pool of parents that could have created amazing public schools that would have been overflowing by now.

Choice is great. Only having a viable charter school K-12 track though isn’t choice. That is a monopoly.

Bravo, bravo, bravo Mr. Davis. You got this one right.

APS Parent #2

May 9th, 2012
3:58 pm

Least you think I am anti-charter, I am not.

There is room for charter schools as an option in APS. Not, though, because the traditional K-12 stream of public schools aren’t functioning, but because you want a different curriculum (IB, STEM), model (K-8 or K-12) or something that your district isn’t offering. The reasons for many of the charters in the Jackson cluster were not for that reason, but for the reason of providing a quality education which APS should have been doing since it was able to do so in the Grady, Mayes, Carver and North Atlanta cluster.

APS will deliver if parents ask for the product to be delivered. It won’t come in the mail though unless ordered by someone.

mom-of-4-APS-kids

May 9th, 2012
4:22 pm

I still say co-locate Drew (and Tech High?) HS with Jackson at Jackson. They’d fit at Coan during Jackson’s renov, btw. APS’s goal of redistricting was supposed to increase utilization of facilities in order to save money. According to one of the tables on the Demographic Study link on APS’s site, Jackson would max at 75% during the 2021-2022 school year. Ideal capacity is 80%, from what I remember in the focus groups. And, if APS does not get serious about improving education at Jackson, Jackson will never reach 75% utilization. The contrast in education betw the charters and traditional (especially IB) would hopefully spur some healthy competition that resulting in pulling Jackson up. Why not co-locate Drew, and Tech High?, at Jackson?

Also, Drew has proved that children can succeed academically regardless of the demographic into which they are born. This should be celebrated and replicated throughout APS- not squashed.

Ed Johnson

May 9th, 2012
4:28 pm

If there were ever an exemplar oxymoron, “healthy competition” is it.