Intown charter supporters await APS action today on Drew high school

The Atlanta school board meets at 6 today to debate whether the high achieving Drew Charter School can expand to a high school.

APS superintendent Erroll B. Davis opposes the expansion, contending that Atlanta cannot afford to open a new high school when it has 6,200 empty seats in its existing schools and a depleted budget.  As Davis notes, some of those unfilled seats are just down the road from the proposed Drew site at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High.

Drew Charter now ends at eighth grade. Many parents are eager for their young Drew students to have another option besides Jackson, which does not have a strong record of academic achievement.

Drew has some very influential supporters. I would not be surprised to see the board go against the school chief and approve this school.

According to the AJC:

The proposed high school, which would open in 2013 with 100 freshmen, has strong corporate and community backing, including support from former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin.But the idea has one key opponent: APS Superintendent Erroll Davis.

The superintendent opposes adding a high school because the district has what he described as “an over supply of empty seats in the area for 9th through 12th grade students.” The district also is spending $40 million to renovate nearby Maynard Jackson High. And like other districts in metro Atlanta, APS is looking to shrink its workforce.

“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,” Davis told the AJC in May.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

34 comments Add your comment

living in an outdated ed system

July 9th, 2012
2:17 pm

It’s not going to happen. It’ll be the “shock heard round the world” if the school boards goes against Davis. Davis will make Drew the “poster child” of the constitutional amendment campaign and strengthen the position of the supporters of the amendment.

It’s a sad day in public education when a local school board denies an application for a school that is one of the highest performing schools in the city.

I hope I’m wrong, and then I would be happy to eat crow….

B. Killebrew

July 9th, 2012
2:18 pm

Stay strong Erroll. You know what you are doing in this regard.

Eagle

July 9th, 2012
3:31 pm

Support education not a politcal cause. I know it is a hard thing to even Phathom this day and age that we consider the children before our own politcal agenda!! These kids deserve the right to keep attending the same school that they have grown to love when the funds are in place to build the school. Maybe APS should learn something from Drew!!!

B. McNair

July 9th, 2012
3:33 pm

It would be a shame to deny so many children the chance at an amazing education. This effort is an example of how education should work. Jackson High School has sat ignored and untouched for 20+ years while Drew built something strong. The momentum needs to keep going. It would be nice for a Georgia school to be an example of an excellent education as opposed to the bad examples we usually see.

Jane W.

July 9th, 2012
3:38 pm

Meanwhile, public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%—and academic results have stagnated.

see: http://goo.gl/QTEbF

Solutions

July 9th, 2012
3:45 pm

Money is no object as long as it comes out of some else’s pocket! No new schools until the existing ones are fully utilized! I don’t care if the existing schools are “failing.” You government clowns have robbed the taxpayers for far too long.

The Phantom

July 9th, 2012
3:45 pm

Stay Strong Erroll? How about Stay Strong Atlanta Children? They are the ones who keep getting the dirty end of the stick. Between (some) of their parents who can’t be bothered to get involved in their education, the dysfunctional BOE, the parents who keep re-electing those BOE members, the broken monster that APS has been for years, horrible graduation rates, and huge discrepancies in high schools by zip code, and it’s a wonder they have any hope of future success at all.

Yes, by all means: Let’s not let one of the bright spots in the Atlanta education system expand their reach to improve education. Can’t give up control of the status quo, can we?

The Phantom

July 9th, 2012
3:48 pm

@Solutions, Drew is paying for their own construction costs on the proposed high school. APS is using SPLOST funds to re-do Jackson. Just wanted to clarify…

The Phantom

July 9th, 2012
3:52 pm

And the hilarious thing in this whole scenario? The Jackson capacity isn’t the real issue. The real issue is certain neighborhoods are worried about elementary/middle school capacity and are putting pressure on their board member, because they are concerned about redistricting in a few years (since it wasn’t adequately handled in this last go-around).

If you are going to publicly denounce something, you should at least be honest for what you are really worried about.

I’m off to the meeting, have fun in your usual blogging positions.

C Jae of EAV

July 9th, 2012
4:00 pm

With the announcement within the last week that Tech High Charter School is closing, purhaps there will be abit more willingness for the APS board to allow the Drew operating team a chance to show what they can do on the High School level as they could simply step into the void left by another institution shuttering that was already serving approximate 200-250 students.

Tracy G.

July 9th, 2012
4:02 pm

Drew has proven it knows how to educate children successfully. Why not build on this success rather than default to the lowest common denominator? It is sad that Jackson isn’t a better school and I sincerely hope that one day it will be – especially with all the new resources coming its way. In the meantime, APS should reward and encourage what is working and encourage the same at all schools rather than deny students this wonderful opportunity.

living in an outdated ed system

July 9th, 2012
4:19 pm

@Phantom is 100% right.

living in an outdated ed system

July 9th, 2012
4:22 pm

And I hope that the national press picks up on what I expect will be a foolhardy decision by APS to deny the application. We’ll look like the laughingstocks of the country again. First the cheating scandal, then the $33M RTTT money, and now the likely rejection of a school that has a gradation rate more than 20 percentage points higher than APS.

Shameful.

Frustrated Taxpayer

July 9th, 2012
4:28 pm

These ‘all or nothing’ battles go nowhere.

Why can’t the Drew charter proponents work with APS administrators to make Jackson a better high school? APS has spent the past two years dealing with an expensive and embarrassing scandal. Now they are trying to cut waste, including bloat from the ridiculous small schools model, and taxpayers are yelling at them for nixing a charter high school that would pull resources away from the district. (Even if Drew has the money to build, APS loses money for each student enrolled.)

I truly don’t understand. If my child attends Drew and is in line for Jackson, I get my butt over to Jackson and work on making it better.

What am I missing here?

Jane W.

July 9th, 2012
4:37 pm

@Frustrated: Perhaps what you’re missing is that 1) those parents want choices beyond the failing traditional public schools, and 2) charter schools ARE public schools.

jd

July 9th, 2012
4:38 pm

Frustrated taxpayer is right — take the Drew methods and employ them at Jackson — we don’t have the money to support a second high school in the same area…

Scotland

July 9th, 2012
4:47 pm

Drew currently has about 100 students per grade. Their proposal is to add a 600 student high school plus 50 students per grade K-8 over several years. Considering that all of the neighboring elementary schools and Coan Middle are under-enrolled, the proposed addition of 450 K-8 students to Drew could be devastating to traditional APS schools in the area. Drew does a phenomenal job educating its students, but APS also has to consider the students who aren’t lucky enough to get in.

Eagle

July 9th, 2012
4:56 pm

They don’t want to employ proven methods at APS because it wasn’t their idea!!! Just saying! That is politics if it wasn’t their idea they don’t want to use it. Even if it works especially if someone else is using it in their own back yard. We should ask the kids at Drew what they would like!

TrishaDishaWarEagle

July 9th, 2012
5:04 pm

Only an IDIOT would send their child to APS schools. Go ahead and rationalize all you want, the damage has been done in the eyes of higher educators and employers..APS =CLAYTON=FAIL

Formerteacher

July 9th, 2012
5:34 pm

I don’t really have a dog in this particular fight, but as an overarching charter issue- why can’t the methods at these successful charters be used in the traditional schools? This is my position on charters vs. traditional. Why not allow more flexibility across the board? Why not empower each school to write its own charter, get it approved, and implement it? AND hold each school accountable for the results. Costs not one dime extra to taxpayers, allows each school to meet the needs of its particular community, and allows for the most local control-the staff and parents of that school. It seems so simple. As Frustrated Taxpayer asked, “What am I missing here?”

krar

July 9th, 2012
5:45 pm

Why not turn Jackson over to Drew’s management, is Drew is doing so well?

Public School Teacher

July 9th, 2012
6:08 pm

All schools would be more successful if we funded more alternative schools for the unrulely students. These alternative schools need to be well funded with personnel to help these students learn to simply get along with other people.Ask any teacher. If you placed @ 5% of the student body in an alternative environment for their own good the whole school system would be better.Now let the name calling begin.

Ed Johnson

July 9th, 2012
6:43 pm

@Frustrated Taxpayer,

You asked: “What am I missing here?”

See if this speaks to your question…

http://eastatlanta.patch.com/blog_posts/the-case-against-a-senior-academy-at-drew-charter

The Phantom

July 9th, 2012
6:58 pm

Yeah, read about how Ed hates on charter schools. Because the same APS that wouldn’t even listen to Deming (the man treated as a god in Japan, since he helped initiate their post-war miracle, one of the gurus of quality improvement), is just going to magically improve the status quo doing the same ol’ same ol’…

Proud Teacher

July 9th, 2012
8:35 pm

Why can’t the charter school rules apply to the regular public schools? Why can’t the alternative schools address the problems of the at-risk? Why must the right side of the aisle work so hard on privatizing public schools? Why?

Let's See the Charter

July 9th, 2012
8:38 pm

The Drew Method-Put out any student that is not academically performing or has a behavior issue and send them to a traditional APS school. If traditional APS schools could do the same, I think there would be dramatic increased in graduation rates and academic outcomes.

Intowner

July 9th, 2012
8:43 pm

Coan Middle will close within three years, as it should if the families in Coan’s neighborhoods won’t send their kids there. KWD/EL does not need capacity for 2,000 middle school students. So Coan must be closed – and that’s fine, let’s not get emotional. Those that are a little closer to King Middle will go there, those closer to Drew Middle will go there. Jackson will be a little under-capacity, but no big deal (they’ll pick up some Tech High kids).

Wondering Allowed

July 9th, 2012
9:17 pm

@Intowner – Coan was kept open because of the influx expected in more than three years. In addition, the overcrowding at Inman can only be solved by moving Mary Lin students to Coan. Everyone knows that, and APS’s lack of movement on doing anything about the Inman overcrowding makes it clear that is the plan.

Cecily tried to slow down the lower grade Drew expansion tonight, but the rest of the board voted her down. Cecily mentioned the impact on other schools. The responses to her concerns was that APS would not be building and that there would be redistricting to ease overcrowding.

Face it – given the choice of building an expensive school farther from Midtown/Morningside/SPARK/Ansley or moving Lin to Coan, the people in those more expensive areas are going to choose to have their kids spend less time on a bus and going to school closer to home over having their kids ride buses to a far away school we cannot afford just to keep Lin in the cluster. Ain’t gonna happen.

Wondering Allowed

July 9th, 2012
9:20 pm

In voting Cecily down tonight, the board made it clear that they weren’t behind the demands of her constituents. The votes just aren’t there to spend money on building space that isn’t needed when a simple redistricting will solve the problem for free.

Roger K.

July 9th, 2012
10:18 pm

I read your article last week, Ed, and to sum it up, you made no valid points whatsoever. The only thing you succeeded in was an unhealthy number of comma splices and an overuse of words like “systemically,” “thus” and “indeed.”

Your article can be boiled down to one phrase: No one wins unless everyone wins. I can appreciate the sentiment, but that’s impossible. At some point, the boat leaves the dock and life goes on.

According to your argument, the entire world should stand on the dock and wait for everyone to get on the same page. It was nothing but a stubborn opinion that ignored most of the facts, and completely idealistic in nature. In other words, kinda like APS, but you don’t seem to have the balls to take them to task for some reason.

NTLB

July 9th, 2012
11:39 pm

Well, I had the pleasure of attending this board session, but after waiting and listening to four hours of deliberation, I left before a final vote was made. Mr. Davis recognized the success rate of Drew Charter School and does support its expansion, but he has his reservations that there has been a continuous decline of low income students enrolled since Drew first opened over ten years ago–from 83% to 63%. Mr. Davis reteriated several times that his main concern was that this charter school has been deviating and will continue deviating from its original plan to “break the generational poverty cycle” of its low income students.

Intowner

July 10th, 2012
10:19 am

Wondering, that ship has sailed – we just had a redistricting. Everyone realizes that the cluster boundaries are defined and set in stone for a long period of time. And that’s a good thing, as that realization avoids wasteful divisive energy. I get the sense that folks APS wide are getting about the business of improving the schools in their respective clusters.

C Jae of EAV

July 10th, 2012
3:56 pm

@NTLB – What people fail the realize is that a big factor in the decline of “low income students” within the Drew population from when they initally opened goes back to how public housing policy has changed the demographic of East Lake as a community within that same period of time.

You can’t blame Drew for the shortage of affordable housing for “low income” families within their primary attendance zone at this stage as compared to what the community landscape was ten years ago. Study the US Census numbers within 30316 over the same span of time, they tell an interesting tale.

Intowner

July 10th, 2012
9:26 pm

^ Then shouldn’t the priority attendance zone be modified or abolished altogether? Why not a lottery for all? Why should there be a preferential attendance zone at all if there is a lack of low income folks in the zone?