APS school chief: “Atlanta is poised to succeed.”

 Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Erroll B. Davis Jr.

Here is an essay by APS Superintendent Erroll B. Davis, Jr., on the progress that the district has made in reforming and reinventing itself:

The theme of this year’s annual State of the Schools in Atlanta event was “Children expect the world of us.” It was an occasion for the community and APS educators and administrators to come together at The Carter Center to focus on the importance of education in the lives of our children. The feeling conveyed was equivalent to what we as parents and grandparents feel when we look into the eyes of our own children and grandchildren and commit to doing all in our power to provide them with more than we had.

As APS emerges from what some have described as ‘The Perfect Storm’ of issues, it is important that we maintain the focus on our students and do all that we can to nurture and educate them so that they can become viable 21st Century citizens of the world.

The challenges we have overcome during the past year have been numerous and major, including eliminating a threat to the accreditation of our high schools, fixing a major budget gap, managing the repercussions of what was arguably the worst test cheating scandal in the nation, a 10-year redistricting and effectively transitioning new leadership in most of our schools and in the district’s administration, especially within the Curriculum and Instruction Division.

Over the coming year, we will focus on the wide differentials in our student academic achievement based on the results of the 2012 Criterion-Referenced Competency Test. For example, on the science test, our top three elementary schools averaged 97 percent of students meeting or exceeding standards, while the average of the lowest three schools was 36 percent meeting or exceeding standards. These results reveal a tale of two separate and distinct school systems within APS. Good organizations do not allow these kinds of variances to exist. Good organizations find isolated pockets of excellence unacceptable.

Looking ahead, we will be focusing on excellence, equity, ethics and engagement. Former basketball coach Pat Riley put it this way: “Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to be better.” For APS to truly embrace excellence, we need to ensure that academic achievement is not dependent on where our students reside or what schools they attend. It must be infused throughout the system. The only true excellence is systemic excellence.

The redistricting process resulted in the closing of seven schools and redrawing attendance boundaries for approximately two-thirds of our schools. Over 70 percent of our schools were affected, either by closures or redrawn attendance lines. This effort was not about saving money; it focused on reallocating resources to fully staff and provide more support, opportunity and equity to the schools that remain open. This includes assistant principals in every school, along with guidance counselors, instructional coaches and nurses. It also includes art, band, chorus and orchestra in every middle and high school and accelerated math in every middle school.

Following the cheating scandal, APS now has a zero tolerance policy for unethical behavior. Of the approximately 170 employees named in the special state investigation report, 135 are no longer with the district. And only about two dozen employees still await dismissal hearings, and none remain on the district payroll. Mandatory annual ethics training is in place for all employees. And I have stressed that the consequences for unethical behavior will always be much more severe than those associated with failing to meet organizational goals and targets.

Lastly, we as an organization will never get to where we need to be on behalf of our students without the continued support of our parents and the larger community. This renewed engagement will be nurtured through more effective communications and community outreach. We are focusing on excellent customer service at all of our schools, as well as at the central office. We want our schools and facilities to be welcoming places for everyone.

APS is poised to succeed. The infrastructure for our success is being implemented. It remains only for effective leadership to execute the transformation necessary to make it happen. And, I believe we are slowly but surely putting that in place.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

74 comments Add your comment

Pride and Joy

August 25th, 2012
7:44 am

I like this ” And I have stressed that the consequences for unethical behavior will always be much more severe than those associated with failing to meet organizational goals and targets.”

What I think he means is that his administration pledges not to encourage teachers to cheat. Punishments for cheating will exceed punishments for not meeting district’s goals.

Those are good words but they are only words. The proof is yet to come.

Whirled Peas

August 25th, 2012
8:04 am

As long as it remains a government run monopoly, APS will be prone to the status quo at best, and a destructive force in our children’s lives at worst. The only thing that will save our education system is competition. Let private business compete for our children’s education business via a voucher system. Let the education money flow to the student’s families and let them make the decision where to spend the money. The education establishment hates the concept. They don’t want to compete. They have it cushy where they are now.

catlady

August 25th, 2012
8:09 am

Seems like the folks who oversaw/encouraged/enabled the cheating atmosphere should be long gone from the CO, but apparently they are getting a “second chance?”

Eric

August 25th, 2012
8:17 am

I’m glad to see the turn-around at APS. Yet, why is the vision of education always about “success” and “excellence”? Couldn’t it also be about caring, neighborliness, and quality of life, rather than feeling stressed-out over having to do better than we ever have, etc.

Parent Teacher

August 25th, 2012
8:27 am

All the schools deserve the same resources and high quality teachers. It must be said that you can’t adequately compare the top 3 schools with the bottom 3 schools by using scores alone. These schools have completly different student bodies. The students play a bigger role in the success of a school than do the resources. If all things that the school can control are equal the bottom 3 schools are still going to face challenges with students, parents, families that will not be issues in the top 3 schools. Until these issues are addressed APS and other schools systems will continue to have issues and students will still struggle.

mountain man

August 25th, 2012
8:38 am

He says “Children expect the world of us” and then they give them whatever they want – no punishment for attendance, for discipline – the only punishment is reserved for teachers. They might as well say the same thing about parents – we will not make a parent angry, even if their child is an unholy terror.

“APS now has a zero tolerance policy for unethical behavior” but we have a high tolerance for not attending school, being late, being discipline problems, for refusing to learn – all of these things are not important.

We will make sure our teachers do not cheat – but we will not address any issues that caused teachers and ADMINISTRATORS to cheat in the first place.

In other words, Errol Davis, it is business as usual at APS.

mountain man

August 25th, 2012
8:43 am

“I’m glad to see the turn-around at APS.”

What turn-around? If there is a turn-around, let us see some statistics like that of Smokey Road Middle (but more, please). What is the percentage of absenteeism before and after this “turn-around”? How are we dealing with discipline problems? What percentage of children are passed along to the next grade to be a BURDEN on the next teacher, when they have not mastered the skills of the preceding grade?

Answer THOSE questions, Errol Davis?

Turn-around, crap!

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

August 25th, 2012
8:48 am

The definition of excellence in academic world under Common Core was laid out by John Goodlad years ago in an NSSE yearbook. NSSE is a subsidiary of AdvancED that owns SACS and several other accreditors. It has to do with desired attitudes, values, and beliefs appropriate to John Dewey’s Social Reconstruction view of education. It has nothing to do with academic knowledge and skills which is why you can close the achievement gap. As both UNESCO and the OECD have noted when you make education about social interaction and psychological and emotional engagement All Students can learn because they all have feelings and emotions.

http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/further-confirmation-of-the-planned-dominance-of-social-and-emotional-learning/ was a piece I wrote a few months ago after recognizing that APS was using CASEL materials to train its teachers. Lovely.

I read an 2010 essay from Bev Hall this week from a book I used to think . . .And now I think that laid out her vision for APS. The one Errol Davis is continuing to follow and SACS wants because the Reconstructionist vision is at the core of what another subsidiary North Central has always pushed. Going back to the 8 Year Study in the 30s.

The difference now is that the CRCT is going away to be replaced by non-objective formative assessments and portfolios and projects. And the Georgia legislature essentially gave SACS absolute power to cram Social Reconstruction down Georgia’s throat.

With Fulton’s duplicitous charter and the history of the shenanigans that went on in Charlotte-Meck and Hinojosa is Cobb after pushing Transitional OBE in Dallas, everything is finally in place to push the APS/ Beverly Hall Social Reconstruction vision metro-wide and state-wide.

She really is getting this last laugh on top of keeping those enormous paycheck.

But the full story will come out.

Pride and Joy

August 25th, 2012
9:00 am

Eric, you said “Couldn’t it also be about caring, neighborliness, and quality of life, rather than feeling stressed-out over having to do better than we ever have, etc.”

I think your concerns are valid for schools that are already teaching chldren well. But listen to what Davis says about the bottom performing schools — 36 percent can’t pass the basic science test. For those children, friendliness and neighborliness won’t get them a job or get them into college. All kids need a real education and for many in APS, they are getting it. We have to focus on the basics in the school until our schools are teaching well
…and…
wouldn’t you consider neighborliness a skill we need to learn from our parents and neighbors?

Pride and Joy

August 25th, 2012
9:03 am

I agree with Mountain Man when he says “what turnaround?”
We haven’t seen any progress. The proof is yet to come.
We have to wait and see if there is any progress.

NullOp

August 25th, 2012
9:21 am

Another school super with BS catch-phrase leadership skills. Who woulda thought…

Shar

August 25th, 2012
9:48 am

I have to hand it to Erroll Davis – he came in during a complete meltdown, took on a seething pile of corruption and huge tasks and has somehow steered the system through it and is at least standing on firmer ground. Given that he is only there temporarily and had no experience with K12, I think he has done a remarkable job thus far.

That is not to say that there is not a huge, huge job to do outside of the crisis management he has demonstrated to date. Actually improving student outcomes requires very different skills than navigating in a hurricane, and I’m not convinced that Davis has those skills. To date, no one in the country has found a way to compensate for socioeconomic factors and family disengagement with education.

It cannot all come from teachers and administrators. Davis’ essay says nothing about parental engagement, and I believe that is absolutely crucial to student improvement. There should be a concerted effort on the CO’s part to structure means by which parents can participate, and motivation for them to do so. If he needs a model, he need look no farther than those top 3 schools, all of which have active parent outreach and a structure in place to find slots for parents of all backgrounds to participate.

Being in the school, forming a relationship with a child’s teacher that is not restricted to confrontations over performance or behavior, seeing first hand how one’s own child compares to his or her peers and becoming invested, even just a little, in the school can change a parent’s view of how a school operates and demonstrate to a child the importance a parent places on education.

This is untried ground from a top-down perspective, but it is the foundation of excellence in those schools that have implemented it bottom-up. I sincerely hope that Davis looks at this third leg of the three-legged stool – parent, student and school – and remedies the lack of attention that has been paid to date.

Digger

August 25th, 2012
9:52 am

We’re gonna do this and we’re gonna do that. Remember, those that can’t do, talk. And teach…

Attentive Parent/Invisible Serfs Collar

August 25th, 2012
10:16 am

One more point on using the word “succeed”. It was all over Fulton parent orientations too along with engagement and the new 3 R’s: Relationships, Rigor (Dewey’s indeterminate situation, not an academic meaning), and Relevant (must be concrete and real world: no more Medieval castles or discussing what led to the Fall of the Roman Empire.

Outcomes Based education when it was first introduced came in through what was called the High Success Network. After OBE became controversial it was going to change it’s name to the Partnership for Quality Learning but a parent had made their way onto the distribution list and duly alerted concerned communities. After the tragedy at Columbine which had been piloting Transformational OBE, people stopped using the name but the practices remained.

The co-founder of High Success Network, William Spady, took a lot of the ire and seems to have spent a great deal of time in South Africa and Australia pushing the same ideas on those countries. The less well-known co-founder, Spence Rogers, seems to have taken over the summer leadership program. He has renamed it Performance Excellence for All Kids or PEAK.

It was used by Charlotte-Meck and Avossa brought it with him to Fulton. I certainly do not find it appropriate training to be pushing on Fulton students and teachers. Or anything Fulton taxpayers should be paying for.

I think the Insurrectionists is a good term for those who want to use the schools, including higher ed, to transform minds from the inside out so they will tolerate a planned remake of the US politically, economically, and socially. I wish they would take a field trip to Cuba to get a first hand look at the consequences of what they are pushing and leave our kids alone. Quit trying to prevent any Georgia school child from having an Axemaker Mind.

This is not going to be good for this state especially when it links up with the Lumina oriented remake of USG. We are going to end up with Two Americas after all. The states that still push the transmission of knowledge and those trying to use education for Social Reconstruction. That has been the APS vision for many years. It is described in Gary Oldfield’s book Dismantling Desegregation.

William Casey

August 25th, 2012
10:26 am

As The Who once put it: “We Won’t Be Fooled Again.” Or, will we?

Chris Murphy

August 25th, 2012
10:36 am

@Shar- I agree with your opinion of Davis’ work so far, but you seem to have missed a paragraph: “Lastly, we as an organization will never get to where we need to be on behalf of our students without the continued support of our parents and the larger community. …..”

As a parent at Jackson HS, I have to say that the changes there- and from what I hear, King MS- have been significant, welcome and timely. There are still people in positions that shouldn’t be there, but most are doing a good job, and staff have the feeling now that requests and needs have a chance of being met- and are being met.

The level that the kids are now educationally is terrible, and a draft is being discussed to meet their needs. It’s going to be a very tough year, but at least there is support from the top for the hard work that is needed.

Jerry Eads

August 25th, 2012
10:37 am

I’ll stand up for Errol, folks. How long’s he been there? How long was the hole being dug? It’ll take years to turn around the enormous sickness that was created. I’d say he’s made a pretty good start.

You guys seem to think turning this around is no harder than grounding your kid for a week. How naive. A school district is a very big ship, and as such it’s a LOT easier to sink one (done SO thoroughly by the previous supt) than to bring it back up. And THEN change course when all you have is an oar.

I got to watch the guy a bit while he ran USG. Very smart, very tough, very caring. My guess is he’ll take APS a good piece in the right direction – a lot more than we can say for his predecessors.

Trim my Fat

August 25th, 2012
10:58 am

LOL……u gotta be kiddin me…..poised to be taken over by the state is more like it. , as should Fulton, Dekalb AND Clayton county school districts……yes I went there. YES u can read between the lines.

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
11:46 am

@ William

I’m betting we will be.

with respect to Jerry, he was Chancellor while Tricoli spent GPC into oblivion and while other presidents like Adams spent like roman emperors on a wide variety of non educational critical crap (sorry, not other polite word fits)

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
11:49 am

I’m also curious what criteria he has established for success.
with APS, not getting caught again would be success. having a graduation rate increase of 2% would be a success.

devils lurk in details.

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
12:28 pm

This is the same APS Superintendent, Erroll B. Davis, Jr who told the Many Parents and school children of Atlanta, that lived within a mile of their school that they would no longer have school BUS service To and FROM school.

The Parents and thousands of Atlanta’s Children, were told they would have to daily and twice a day cross the (9th) Ninth most Dangerous City streets in ALL of America for Pedestrian fatalities. ( this statistic is according to a recent AJC article this past week!) These fatalities are all because of speeding and reckless drivers that flow in and out of their many communities. These many Children were forced to face the daily twice a day trip to include the daunting TASK of making sure they avoid the many registered Sex Offenders and the untold number of the unknown and undiscovered Offenders. As they walk through, pass,around,in front of, in back of all the many abandoned homes and blighted structures.

Sir, Some how your theme of “Children expect the world of us.” has “FAILED” to reach your Mind and understanding and those of the Dysfunctional Members of the APS School Board, to allow such a decision to be put forth and implemented even for (1) One DAY!

To make this matter even worse there were not any level of City Government Leaders, Mayor, Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Police who stepped forward to address this issue Publically. This too… will BE REMEMBERED, by the many Parents and concerned citizens during the coming ELECTIONS for Mayor & City Council, you can count on that! Other than a few very out spoken and mostly despised by many of the elites in Atlanta. These community Leaders, through their untiring efforts and in conjunction with many affected parents insisted and demanded the attention of this matter to the many concerned residents of Atlanta. They were ultimately SUCCESSFUL in overturning this very DANGEROUS decision for OUR children, The most defenseless members of OUR GREAT City.

Also Most surprising of ALL, I found and was disappointed in was the AJC and YOU…Maureen DOWD! The writer of all articles that address the many Educational
” GET SCHOOLED” needs and requirements of all the Children in Georgia.
You….. who Live and work in the metro area of ATLANTA. Your intentional and purposeful silence, was what I thought was uncharacteristic and offensive on an issue that was clearly a CLEAR & PRESENT DANGER to and for ALL of the children who were subject to such a thoughtless, and uncaring decision. Any comment offered even now, is no excuse for such a failure in your journalistic duty.

Unfortunately, such Broad and thoughtful proclamations are still Left to being considered based on financial decisions. As it was concerning the much needed and required School Bus service for the Many children of this GREAT CITY. If the many Children and the Parents were to GRADE your performance at this point, you would be given a FAILING Grade of “F”.

Despite of the occurrence of that foolhardy decision, even NOW, in this article. Mr.Davis, failed to accept responsibility by offering at least an official “APOLOGY” to the Parents and children, who were faced with such an alarming and emotional infliction of DISTRESS on the very FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL of the NEW school YEAR!

There is not a LOT of Confidence, I find that is inspiring from someone who is in such an important Educational Leadership Role for the Children of the City of Atlanta……..for sure!

OUR PARENTS and CHILDREN…. DESERVE & EXPECT BETTER LEADERSHIP.

We as Citizens of Atlanta ( the city to BIG to Hate?) must DO MORE to Protect and care for them.

B. Killebrew

August 25th, 2012
12:29 pm

B. Killebrew

August 25th, 2012
12:29 pm

Guest

August 25th, 2012
12:44 pm

“The only thing that will save our education system is competition. Let private business compete for our children’s education business via a voucher system.”

Yes, because for-profit colleges like Phoenix, Kaplan, and Strayer have done such a wonderful job of educating their students. I’m sure commercial elementary and high schools would be similarly successful.

Maureen Downey

August 25th, 2012
12:46 pm

@Bernie, The Georgia Department of Education specifies that students living within 1 1/2 miles of an elementary or middle school are ineligible for school bus subsidies. In many metro Atlanta districts, school bus transportation is not provided for students living within the 1 1/2-mile distance from the school.
Atlanta had been providing service to many of those kids out of its pocket, as have some other districts. Faced with deep cuts in state funding, the district stopped the service this year but has since reversed that decision because of parent complaints.
I was at hearing on this issue in DeKalb a few years ago when the system was considering not providing buses to magnets; the issue is whether funds that could go to classrooms should be diverted to non instructional issues, including bus transportation for student who live within the 1.5 mile range. Parents there also opposed the cuts.
If you research this issue, you will find that Atlanta was not the only district that stopped offering bus service to kids within the 1.5 mile due to severe budget cuts. This is happening statewide as districts choose between bus service and classroom needs.
You can blast the decision but it is important to recognize the rationale behind it; the state does not fund transportation for kids who live that close to schools. In better financial times, districts assumed that cost. Now, they can’t afford it and taxpayers don’t seem willing to pay higher taxes to make up the difference.
Maureen

Ed Johnson

August 25th, 2012
12:59 pm

Yes, stand up for Davis on this but also ask why would he want to continue and sustain the Beverly Hall kind of ethos implicit in his saying:

“And I have stressed that the consequences for unethical behavior will always be much more severe than those associated with failing to meet organizational goals and targets.”

Davis must rid APS of this particular Beverly Hall kind of fear-generating ethos if he is to advance into leading APS rather than merely managing it, albeit managing it far better than Hall possibly could have.

The effect from his sustaining a Beverly Hall kind of ethos will be to keep arbitrary limits on learning to improve APS, and to undermine and reduce to mere words his belief that “[t]he only true excellence is systemic excellence.”

Just think of the 170 opportunities Davis had to learn to improve APS. Instead, he opted to invest in a process to throw out those 170 learning opportunities, no matter how wasteful the costs with no saving value to gain in return.

Consequently, “APS now has a zero tolerance policy for unethical behavior” and “[m]andatory annual ethics training is in place for all employees.”

Well, perhaps counterintuitively, APS also now has more limited opportunities to learn to improve.

APS needs leadership, not “targets.” Moreover, the setting of targets to substitute for leadership of APS constitutes unethical behavior in itself.

So, continued unethical behavior with “targets” from the top, continued unethical behavior at the bottom to meet those “targets.”

Why would anyone, other than Beverly Hall and hopefully not Erroll Davis, expect it to play out otherwise?

Shar

August 25th, 2012
1:08 pm

@Bernie: That is just ridiculous. From K-5 I walked to my public elementary school in New York City – Greenwich Village, as a matter of fact, right past a huge House of Detention, across major avenues while weaving through all of the lunatic fringe that gathered in my neighborhood in the ’60’s. I walked twice back and forth every day, as I walked home for lunch rather than eating the school food, and the New York weather was far less forgiving than Atlanta’s. The school was about 3/4 of a mile away, giving me about 3 miles per day of walking.

What’s more, we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic. Kids are far too sedentary, and they have lost their recess and PE time. Walking is good for them. If they cannot walk, they can take a city bus or figure out carpools, although for the distance of a mile this seems silly.

Your complaint is misplaced. Taxpayers would be far better off directing funding to the classroom, not to busing when a reasonable, state-approved walking distance would benefit the health of the students. If you want door-to-door service, you pay for your own taxi.

Double Zero Eight

August 25th, 2012
1:20 pm

“Talk is cheap”.
Nothing will change until discipline is
restored in the classrooms, and principals
with backbones and common sence are put
in place.

Double Zero Eight

August 25th, 2012
1:21 pm

Spelled “sense” incorrectly on my prior post.

Once Again

August 25th, 2012
1:24 pm

Government education is a failure. You cannot “reform” a system that is inherently dysfunctional from its foundation up. Central planning doesn’t work. Every positive innovation, creative advancement and other consumer-oriented successes we see in everything from cell phones to televisions to so many other segments of the consumer market are all a result of the greatness of the free market. Socialist educational structures can NEVER see those advancements because the system is based on an economic structure without a defined system of values, a complete disconnect between consumer payment and business accountability, and a financing structure (theft) that does not require voluntary payment by the customer or the inherent loss of payments for poor service.

The only thing government schooling is poised for is more failure. Get your kids out while there is still time and they still have a chance to benefit from a better alternative.

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
1:29 pm

Maureen Downey @ 12:46 pm – You are most certainly correct in your comments. However, it did not prevent your expressing an obvious harm and danger to be inflicted upon these children of our community. Your opinions and writings NOW carry a very influential force in the metro area and state wide. I commend your work and attention it has provided to and on Behalf of ALL the children of Georgia.

You are NO longer just a reporter and journalist to sit quietly removed,ignore, or be un-involved with subjects that revolve around the educational needs of our children. You can blame that on the SUCCESS of Your “GET SCHOOLED column and the many very important writings you present, voicing those needs to the community at Large.

With that being said, your input and even the reporting of such a decision, could have easily provided a reasonable ear and common sense approach in Mr.Davis’s obviously misguided decision. That act alone could and would have gotten the political and business Leaders of Atlanta more involved from the onset. In conjunction with the parents whom are the most poorest among us and affected communities in voicing of a vocal complaint or outrage of such a harmful decision. These are OUR CHILDREN in OUR many communities, we are speaking of. They are not commodities or made of stone…but LITTLE CHILDREN! If, we are unable to stand up and protect them…then who are we to STAND UP for?

Your voice or written word was not silent or mute, at ALL when it came to the expressing of complaints by the parents of Cobb county in the ASO’s decision pertaining to the change of choir selection. can you not, see and feel ……the hypocrisy and or the perception of it?

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
1:36 pm

Shar @ 1:08 pm – Your well intended comments are appreciated but wrong. We are not talking about New YORK! which such considerations cannot be ignored and are not the same. I suggest you take the time to learn the many complexities and issues of Atlanta, the state of Georgia and the south. They are far different from those of NY and with far different cultural and socio – economic dynamics at play. Issues you are obviously unaware and informed of at this time.

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
1:47 pm

Shar @ 1:08 pm Also it seems that for whatever reason, you appear to be enamored with the great leadership and support of Mr.Davis and the safety of ATlanta’s children. So, your opinion seems to be a bit biased from the start. Mr.Davis is Great and he can do no wrong..is the same mentality we have had with Atlanta’s political culture for years and it TOO, has failed us greatly.
If this was a good and fantastic decision….why was there a reverse of it…I ask of you?

As for mine, I am ONLY thinking and expressing the support of the needs and REAL SAFETY of the children of the community. Your attention seems to want to provide coverage for a failed and misguided decision of a newly selected School OFFICIAL.

jd

August 25th, 2012
1:55 pm

I see the Brotherhood of the Naysayers, and their chief priests, who have no experience in managing large organizations, and no experience managing public organizations, and no evidence to back up their arguments, are spraying their ignorance.

Jerry Eads

August 25th, 2012
2:03 pm

Same respect, Bootney (I mean it), but folks are looking for an all powerful god to fix APS in a few weeks. Ain’t gonna happen.

The university ssytem is not the military (nor is APS — even though schools are WAY too much like the military), and the chancellor – as do all those in leadership positions – has limits to his/her authority. I’m sure we ALL disagreed with some of his actions – and inactions.

We’ll do the same here. I do feel very comfortable arguing these: The guy’s not a sweet pleaser, no doubt, but he’s as honest as the day’s long and will do to the best of his ability (considerable) everything he can – even though you may disagree with many things – for those kids. That’s a far, far, far, far cry from his predecessor – both in motivations and capacity.

Jerry Eads

August 25th, 2012
2:21 pm

jd, valid point, but the issues the folks are raising are neverthless for the most part reasonable ones.

That said, it ALWAYS looks easier to do something when on the outside looking in. Just ’cause I learned how to fly a 150 doesn’t mean I have a clue what to do with a 747.

I’ve run enough things in my career(s) to know I’m not very good at it :-) .

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
2:41 pm

@ Jerry,

I hope ED is more effective dealing with the issues APS is facing than her was with
GPC and the USG. I hope he’ll have more lattiude to remove and restructure than
he did for us.

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
2:44 pm

@ Bernie

since you are so motivated to protect the children of Atlantas worst communities, is it safe for us to assume youi’re donating both time and money to form a neighborhood watch to escort these kids from point to point?

talk is cheap. actions…?

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
2:48 pm

bootney farnsworth @ 2:44 pm – comments from the usual sniper who is without wisdom or comment to add or improve the subject of discussion at hand. Welcome! your presence was expected as it is always present. Like an empty wagon! void of any usable contents.

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
3:11 pm

there is a lot of revealing information in Bernie’s comments:

we are failing Atlanta’s children, yet he wants us to be responsible for their safe passage.

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
3:15 pm

harsh reality: we are not responsible, and we can’t be, for the safety of children walking to or from school. crime, violence, and its related impacts. these are issues for the community to resolve.

every neighborhood in the US is as safe or as dangerous as its residents want it to be.

its our job to educate kids. not be a one stop fix it shop for society’s problems

bu2

August 25th, 2012
3:16 pm

“Good organizations find isolated pockets of excellence unacceptable.”

Those should be really disturbing words for those at the 3 top schools (Sarah Smith, Brandon, Jackson?) and the next tier (Morningside, etc.). Its something we hear in Dekalb all the time that anything good is bad when bad also exists. There’s a zero sum mentality.

The right approach is to build everyone up to excellence. Davis’s tone is very negative about those “pockets of excellence.” In fact, its those isolated pockets of excellence that encourage improvement in areas around them, if for no other reason than the increase in home values that move some people into the adjacent neighborhoods. There’s lots of indications that Bolton, E. Rivers, Mary Lin and others are improving and many of the people moving in are choosing those areas as they are more affordable than nearby “pockets of excellence.”

bootney farnsworth

August 25th, 2012
3:20 pm

@ bu2

not seeing your point. while all orgs have its strongest and weakest links, orgs which have major differences between the two are not functioning well.

while I agree a rising tide lifts all boats, I don’t see the two concepts being in conflict

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
3:30 pm

bootney farnsworth @ 3:20 pm – Your comments, have verified my POINT!

Pride and Joy

August 25th, 2012
3:39 pm

Shar, you claimed you lived in NY and walked in blighted areas and came out unscathed….but surely you know of the little boy who walked alone home from school in NY and was picked up by a pedophile who raped and killed him.
Just because you were lucky enough to walk a dangerous path and survive does NOT mean others will too.
Look at the Duggard little girl. At age eleven while walking to school a pedophile and his creepy wife used a taser gun to stun her and then raped her and kept her captive for most of her life. She was lucky to be alive. Kids are raped and kidnapped while on their way to school and back.
You are ridiculous for assuming that kids are safe walking back and forth to school.
I drove my kids to school even though the bus stop was on the corner of my street. Yet, I am a lucky one, I own a car can afford the gas and have a client who allows me to come to work after the school bell rings. Many mothers are at work by 6 a.m. at the grocery store and cannot take theri kids to scho.
Again, Shar, your use of your experience as proof taht kids are safe is not only silly, it’s dangerous.

sissyuga

August 25th, 2012
3:39 pm

Schools are only as good as the kids being sent.

Jerry Eads

August 25th, 2012
4:17 pm

Amen, bootney.
Jer

Shar

August 25th, 2012
4:29 pm

@Bernie and Pride: Walking to school is not inherently dangerous, and can be made less so if a parent walks along, as my father did until I was in second grade. This is entirely practical – I see parents walking with their children to the elementary school nearest me every morning, and parent volunteers man the crosswalk in front of Inman most mornings and afternoons.

There are a handful of cases, like Etan Paitz, where a child is snatched and harmed. Far, far, far more children are harmed by a lack of physical activity, and the removal of recess from the classroom schedule only adds to the problem. Just yesterday the AJC ran a piece on a small increase nationally in people who take walks, and stressed the health benefits that can be realized.

Assuming that monsters lurk on every corner is absurd. New York particularly in the 60’s, was full of extremely odd, and frequently antisocial, people and pedophiles were certainly among those present. I had a run in with a particularly aggressive one myself, after my father stopped walking with me. The weather in Atlanta is much more conducive to year-round walking and parents can ask their local precincts to send police to the walking areas during the times the kids are passing through.

If parents want the best option for their children, they will organize within the neighborhood like the parents I’ve seen do and walk with the kids or cover the crossings so there are always helping hands and watching eyes available. However, getting those kids moving and directing every dollar available into the classroom is far and away in the best interest of all the kids. Parents being too lazy to organize and walk themselves, expecting taxpayers to pick up the job they don’t want to do, is not a good enough reason to take the benefits away from the kids.

catlady

August 25th, 2012
4:52 pm

Bernie, wait till you hear this one: We have kids who live within the 1 1/2 mile limit to our school, so they are not afforded bus transportation. BUT, their high school and middle school siblings are picked up and dropped off at the same houses that do not get service to the elementary school! (The high school and middle school for the county is not within the 1 1/2 miles.) It would not be so bad if we had crossing guards, but we don’t, just a police officer who directs traffic most of the time. We also don’t have sidewalks everywhere. (It just so happens that the majority of kids this affects are Latino.)

Our principal is fighting this tooth and nail. It looks like the buses could do a central pick up on each street so these little ones and their parents don’t risk life and limb. Will keep you informed as to whether she succeeds.

Bernie

August 25th, 2012
5:15 pm

Shar @ 4:29 pm – Your point is well taken and has “some” validity. However, Mr. Davis in his actions, in this specific situation was done on Very SHORT NOTICE, without any prior notice or planning nor previous warning of a change in Bus Service. A service on which many and most Parents and children have come to rely upon for years without question. There in lies the crux of the real Problem.

Parents rely on the schools Leadership to Plan ahead and prepare for such changes
long term. This was not a normal process of decision making the Parents and the children of Atlanta have come to expect or become accustomed too even historically. So the failure of that decision, rests solely with Mr. Davis if in fact
he is the APS Superintendent.

It seems it was Mr.Davis who was the only one who was aware of this need and change in policy at that time. May I remind you, this was a time of returning students from their summer break. With those stated known variables, it was enough in its self to lend to a monumental failure to occur. Even You, could have predicted its outcome, knowing that. OUTRAGE and CONFUSION was given to bear fruit and it did!

It was a policy in Bad planning and even worse in its implementation. So Try as you may, to provide an excusable cover for this failure of leadership in regards to this specific decision making will cause an extra sense of scrutiny, for all that will certainly follow in the years to come. Its only a natural and human response. That is why I say and still say that an Apology is still needed and desired to put such harsh feelings aside. We are ALL human and prone to make mistakes. There are none here who have not made many. What is so wrong to say ” I am sorry, forgive ME.
I will try to do better. Is this not what we teach and expect for our very same kids we are rearing? So why not the same expectancy from Mr.Davis. Such a move would be STUNNING, I would say in admission. In no way, does it lower his position or respect. But it will show to the Parents and the Kids. that He too is very much like them. HUMAN and prone to mistakes. But who Am I, to say or suggest what a PHD leader and manager should do? Think about it…….Most of the Kids and Their Parents would just say…Thanks! and OK! then smile. :)

It is now a closed matter and it has been resolved. The Bus service has been restored and the kids are getting to school safely. However, in his self adorning statement of great leadership to overlook such a matter, was a slap in the face to all the parents of what just occurred as result of HIS decision.
This is my final comment on the matter.