Did Atlanta superintendent overhaul North Atlanta High and upset community without reason or true data?

In his explanation for the administrative purge at North Atlanta High School 12 days ago, APS Superintendent Erroll B. Davis cited poor academic performance.  A forensic accountant from Midtown decided to research that statement and found a much different picture than what Davis presented.

“He seemed to imply that North Atlanta High School should be held to a higher standard than other APS schools because of the neighborhood’s wealth,” said Jarod Apperson, who writes the Grading Atlanta blog.

“While the neighborhood includes wealthy residents who attend private schools, NAHS itself actually serves a fairly high-needs population. It is the only high school in Atlanta serving a sizable number of Hispanics.  Also, those coming into NAHS through the admin transfer process are grossly under-prepared,” says Apperson.

Here is Apperson’s analysis and conclusions: (Please note that this entire piece is from Jarod Apperson. None of the comments, including those at the end, are mine. I am adding this note as apparently people are getting confused because of the weird font changes but that is a reflection of the chart challenges. Maureen)

According to Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Erroll Davis, a recent shakeup at North Atlanta High School was motivated by poor performance. After analyzing the school’s performance in closer detail, Mr. Davis’ claims of poor performance don’t appear to hold water.

Who Attends North Atlanta High School?

Several of Mr. Davis’ comments imply that he perceives North Atlanta to be a school serving affluent students.  During a recent meeting with parents, he spoke of the “resources” in the community, and stated that he has different expectations for different schools, implying that North Atlanta is held to a higher standard due to the type of students who attend.

While those living in the neighborhoods surrounding North Atlanta are indeed privileged, the students actually attending North Atlanta High School are anything but. More than half of the students qualify for free or reduced lunch.  See the attached racial/ethnic profile of the freshman cohort of 2008.  This cohort was scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2012, and these students should be the cohort referenced in the most recent graduation data available to APS.
chart1

Using CensusViewer, I cross referenced this data with information on race & ethnicity by census block.  I comment on my observations below.

White students aged 15-17 are spread throughout Buckhead.  The majority live in the residential neighborhoods west of Peachtree Street and east of the Chatahoochee. Typical homes in these neighborhoods are priced from $700,000 to $10,000,000.  Therefore it is reasonable to assume that most white students living in Buckhead come from wealthy families.  Though these students make up the majority of the area’s population, the vast majority do not attend North Atlanta high school.  If all (or even most) of these students chose to attend North Atlanta High school, the school would be overwhelmingly white.  Instead, the 2008 cohort was only 13% white (see the attached map).

chart2

For Hispanics aged 15-17, I observed that virtually none lived in residential Buckhead. Instead, these students are concentrated in a few apartment complexes.  We can safely disregard the notion that Hispanics attending North Atlanta are a group of wealthy, privileged immigrants. Instead, they are more likely first generation immigrants who arrive at APS with high needs.  It is also worth recognizing that as apartment dwellers, this community may experience higher levels of turnover than other communities residing in single-family homes (see the attached map).

No other high school within APS serves a significant number of Hispanic students.  In fact, the Hispanics served by North Atlanta represent more than half of the high-school aged Hispanics in the whole of APS.

chart3

A small minority of Blacks aged 15-17 live in residential Buckhead.  It is probably safe to assume that these students come from very wealthy families.  The majority of Blacks, however, live either in apartments or in Bolton, an area where real estate is significantly less expensive (see the attached map).

chart 4

In addition to students zoned for North Atlanta, approximately 20% of North Atlanta’s students arrive through an admin-transfer process.  Most of these students are zoned to schools which are majority black and majority low income.  It is worth noting that admin-transfers at Sutton Middle school are much lower.  As such, most of the students arriving at North Atlanta through the admin transfer process are unlikely to have attended Sutton.  Should disparities exist between the preparation received by students attending Sutton and those arriving through admin transfers, North Atlanta would be tasked with bridging that gap.

In fact, incredibly large disparities do exist between the preparation of students attending Sutton and those attending other APS middle schools.The attached table is startling.  When compared to all schools in the state, Inman’s students average in the 97th percentile, and Sutton’s average in the 82nd percentile on 2012 CRCT tests. After that, a huge drop occurs before we get to Young Middle, where students are in the 22nd percentile state wide. Things only get worse from there.

chart 5

Based upon this information, the only reasonable conclusion to draw is that North Atlanta serves a high needs population. Despite the school’s proximity to wealthy neighborhoods, most of the students attending North Atlanta do not live in the wealthy parts of Buckhead. Students attending North Atlanta through the admin transfer process arrive at the school having attended middle schools ranked in the bottom quartile state wide.  They are then expected to integrate themselves with students from Sutton, a school ranked in the top quartile.

Now that we have a better picture of what the school faces when a cohort enters 9th grade, we can approach performance data with an appropriate level of context.

Are fewer students graduating from North Atlanta than expected?

Sixty-two percent of North Atlanta’s freshman cohort graduated within four years.  While it is disappointing that any students would fail a grade or choose to drop out of high school, it is not a fact uncommon to APS schools or schools throughout the country.  The median graduation rate at APS high schools is 63%, roughly equal to North Atlanta’s.  There are two important factors which likely reduce North Atlanta’s graduation rate.  First, North Atlanta has a high Hispanic population.  Second, the admin transfer process may result in “mismatch.”

According to the U.S. government, as of October 2009, approximately 18% of Hispanics aged 16 through 24 dropped out of high school.  Approximately 9% of Blacks dropped out, and 5% of whites dropped out.  Nationally, Hispanics drop out of high school at a rate twice that of Blacks and almost quadruple that of whites.  If Mr. Davis wants to hold different schools to different standards, the fact that North Atlanta is the only APS school serving a significant number of Hispanics cannot be ignored.

By coming into North Atlanta less prepared than students from Sutton, admin transfers may experience what researchers term “mismatch.” Recent research discussed in The Atlantic has shown that when students are placed in classes where they are less prepared than their peers, they are more likely to become discouraged and drop out.

The time to integrate students is at a young age when gaps can be overcome.  Expecting students to arrive at North Atlanta in 9th grade grossly underprepared and succeed in classes with Sutton’s students does a disservice to the students the admin-transfer process is intended to help.

If APS as a whole is unable to properly educate its kids in grades K-8, how can it expect North Atlanta to work miracles in the one/two years before students are eligible to drop out?

How does North Atlanta’s SAT performance compare to other schools?

Black, White, and Hispanic students at North Atlanta all exceed APS averages on SAT tests.  Both Blacks and Whites also exceed national averages.  See the attached table reflecting 2011 scores by race/ethnicity.

chart 6

Black students score approximately 38 points higher than the APS average and 29 points higher than the national average.  White students graduating from North Atlanta score higher than all but two schools in the Atlanta metro.

What mistakes did APS make in the shakeup?

The mistakes made by APS reflect faults of both substance and form.

Mr. Davis claims to have based his decisions on a detailed review of data, but it appears that his review ignored the context within which that data should be considered.  North Atlanta is, by and large, not made up of privileged, wealthy students.  It is unreasonable to hold the school to a standard based upon the “resources” of the area when wealthy kids and their resources go to private schools.

The form of the dismissals was unnecessarily dramatic. I understand Mr. Davis’ goal of providing the incoming principal a fresh slate. However, the exit of current administration didn’t need to be so eventful.  Administrators could have been told they would be reassigned on October 29 and given a few weeks to prepare.  Alternatively, the incoming principal could have been given some time to decide which administrators he wanted to keep and which he felt needed to be replaced.

What should North Atlanta parents do?

APS is undergoing dramatic changes.  Enrollment has steadily declined for over 10 years. The only areas which have seen increasing enrollment are the Grady, North Atlanta and Jackson clusters where middle-class and upper-class families have purchased homes.

Also, in Buckhead, more white students are choosing to stay in the public education system.  Ten years ago, only about 25% of white students in Buckhead stuck with APS from first grade through transitioning to Sutton in sixth. Respect for Sutton has grown and this past year, over 50% of students made the transition.  That is a significant increase in just 10 years.

One reason that schools in these areas are succeeding is that they have active parent associations.  It’s time for these parents to take on roles in the Board of Education.  Parents interested in an improved APS should consider running for at large posts on the Board of Education.  Elections will be held in the fall of 2013.  Without a majority of competent board members, we will continue to see this type of mismanagement.

Overall, I think Mr. Davis is genuine and intelligent.  In many ways, he has done a good job of managing APS, but missteps like this one undo much of the good he has achieved.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

142 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Mom

October 17th, 2012
6:48 pm

As I mentioned on a previous blog, the only reason I can think for this sudden upheaval is Mr. Davis wanting to let the parents of NAHS know who is in charge. I’m sure he was shocked this spring when the BOE approved a principal for NAHS who was rejected by the parents. He wasn’t about to have that happen again.

JustShockedOrNOT

October 17th, 2012
6:48 pm

It’s funny, but the majority in the state of GA support Mitt Romney, who is from the business world; but when you get a Superintendent who runs a school system in the exact same manner, he gets complaints.

A CEO of a large organization could come in with his own team and get rid of anyone he sees fit; the majority in this state would support him.

Mr. Davis is a business man who is just doing business; I wonder how much support he would get if his name was Mr. Romney.

Top School

October 17th, 2012
6:54 pm

As stated above “While those living in the neighborhoods surrounding North Atlanta are indeed privileged, the students actually attending North Atlanta High School are anything but.”

The segregation of the students into clusters of high performing to low performing creates an atmosphere of elitism. A cast system of labeling lower performing students with the lower ranking of teachers, too.

The teachers can’t speak for fear of losing their jobs. Parents don’t speak about the problems for fear of the backlash against their children.

While I don’t believe the method by which the administrators were transferred is by any means professional…( very similar to the way I was removed midyear for filing a grievance in APS under the Hall Administration ) I do understand the politics of this.

Superintendent Davis needs to lay out the facts.
The upper involved Black Hispanic and White parents make sure their children are managed by the best Northside has to offer.

The students on the lower achieving end of the spectrum ( Black White and Hispanic ) are considered the left over 47% that are only needed to keep the doors open in this NORTHSIDE APS SCHOOL.

Interview the students…they can tell you how the grouping game works. They will tell you which students and teachers are ignored in the process of educating those on the lower end.

The teachers knowing the truth …won’t speak for fear of losing their job.
The students and parents on the upper end ( mostly White…some Black and some Hispanic ) won’t speak the truth for fear of the retaliation they will suffer.

There is a serious hidden problem at these Northside APS schools.
Davis may have not handled it in a gracious manner…but I can applaud him for taking the bullet to say…SOMETHING AIN’T RIGHT…the numbers are askew…What is or has been going on needs to be properly exposed and dealt with.

Fritz Neumeister

October 17th, 2012
6:55 pm

@JustShockedOrNOT

Davis is hardly is a businessman……and his decisions to terminate an interim principals 4 weeks early…..while claiming low test scores……and then touting the mediocre replacement……is all laughable.

Fritz Neumeister

October 17th, 2012
6:57 pm

I literally laugh as a graduate of NAHS who subsequently dropped out of college. These “educators” are all affirmative action heros, and when tasked with a real job they fail.

ChartersStarter, Too

October 17th, 2012
6:59 pm

@ JustShocked – From what I am reading in commentary and hearing on the street is that the issue for parents and community members is not that the new team shouldn’t be able to come in or that the new principal shouldn’t be able to enjoy a “clean slate.” The main issue is the lack of common decency and respect to those displaced AND the students and their parents that is missing in the whole process. It is exactly this type of nonsense that destroys the culture and morale of a business AND of a school and system. Nobody appreciates a tyrant, which is precisely what Errol positioned himself as by conducting the process in this manner. The same ends could have been accomplished by providing adequate notice to staff, parents, and students, communicating transparently, and by providing a transition plan that would benefit all.

Top School

October 17th, 2012
7:07 pm

Yes, Nobody likes a Tryant…
We observed that in the HALL Administration…and there are a few leftovers still roaming around the schools.

Why are my comments censored?

Chris Murphy

October 17th, 2012
7:21 pm

This was a great analysis- APS couldn’t have found someone it could pay to do that study (and get lesser results), and this guy did it for free.

I also appreciate his last paragraph, mirrors what I think.

Prof

October 17th, 2012
7:24 pm

Never mind the strategic methods of Superintendent Davis (”upheaval,” power play, firing tactics, etc.). Look at the remarkable data here about the reality of North Atlanta High School! The problems of the actual students on the school! The significant racial/ethnic majority that has nothing to do with African American children, but with HISPANIC children!

And on all the earlier blogs about this situation with the resentful, defensive, angry posts from black and white parents, I can’t recall any posts by self-identified Hispanic parents. (Although if most live in apartments, they may not read computer blogs much.)

Why have they been overlooked by Superintendent Davis and by the Atlanta School Board when considering this mess?

KIM

October 17th, 2012
7:30 pm

Why doesn’t the community ask for an indepedent investigation? Or at the least, someone should have the guts to get to the bottom of this rancid mess. Does the BOE just sit there and let things like this happen without investigating? Clearly the HR department or nor the superintendent have no credibility. Is this a SACS issue?

KIM

October 17th, 2012
7:32 pm

any credibility

another comment

October 17th, 2012
7:33 pm

It is clear that Davis and McDaniel should both do the business thing and resign for Personal reason just like the pair at Citi Bank!

Atlanta Mom

October 17th, 2012
7:37 pm

This statement confuses me “as of October 2009, approximately 18% of Hispanics aged 16 through 24 dropped out of high school. Approximately 9% of Blacks dropped out, and 5% of whites dropped out.”
I clicked on the link, but it took me to a passworded site. I thought the drop out rate was 30% nationwide, so the above rates don’t make sense to me.

yagottabekiddingme

October 17th, 2012
7:46 pm

Finally, a voice of reason with data to back it up. Mr. Apperson, would you like to consider the Superintendent position at APS?

Chris Murphy

October 17th, 2012
8:01 pm

One other thing: MyGrant was a big part of the reason that parents in Buckhead stayed with APS at Sutton. No matter what went on with other personnel (and I doubt it was anything much), Mark MyGrant deserved respectful treatment at NAHS.

Jack

October 17th, 2012
8:04 pm

Davis’s “overhall” of the NAHS was clumsy and uncalled for; it smacks of racism.

abc

October 17th, 2012
8:23 pm

I “get” this analysis. My thought is — shouldn’t NAHS reflect the community it serves and not 20% admin transfers. If the school performed better the demographics would change. Maybe that is a chicken and egg statement.

APS Parent

October 17th, 2012
8:25 pm

Let’s go here with individuals that Mark Mygrant hired to staff NAHS and make it a stellar school, where does net working versus favortism cross the line? As new college graduates in a dismal job market, young adults are encouraged to network! Yeah to Mygrant for hiring excellent staff. HR in APS is not effective in processing new hires.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

October 17th, 2012
8:26 pm

OMG, how many stories are ya’ll going to do on this Maureen?

nahsparent06

October 17th, 2012
8:46 pm

The analysis is spot on. There is still the question about the accuracy of the graduation rate. The DOE, recognizing that the data may be incomplete, allowed for corrections to be made to the cohorts. Mr. MyGrant submitted corrections. Are the creations reflected in the data? The DOE contact stated they don’t expect to have accurate data until January 2013. Was Mr MyGrant and his admin team judged fairly? I think not. If not for Mr. MyGrant the community would not have gone to NAHS.

nahsparent06

October 17th, 2012
8:47 pm

“corrections”

Top School

October 17th, 2012
8:49 pm

Maureen, consider turning the censor off and let the Northside responses uncover the deep rooted problem.

Prof

October 17th, 2012
8:54 pm

@ Mrs. Norman Maine. This is an unfolding story where we’re still finding out what’s really going on, with significant ramifications: rights of the individual teacher, possible libel suit against APS, micromanaging by the Atlanta School Board (and the Deputy Superintendent) which could get APS in trouble with SACS again, reverse discrimination in APS teachers’ hiring, false cry of “racism” that causes firing…. This is a lot more than just a local story.

regarding Mrs. Norman

October 17th, 2012
8:57 pm

Mrs. Norman….as many as it takes!

Here we go again

October 17th, 2012
8:58 pm

The analysis is lacking one important fact: Mygrant is white and Davis and Karen Waldon are black. That is the reason for the firings.

Mom of 3

October 17th, 2012
9:01 pm

Excellent analysis!!!

catlady

October 17th, 2012
9:06 pm

I am sure APS would have a position for “institutional research” or whatever it is called at the K-12 level, to be done by someone like Mr. Apperson. Of course, if he is unwilling to “massage” the data the way the muckity mucks (a true description) want it to turn out, he would not last long.

Point/Counterpoint

October 17th, 2012
9:11 pm

@ prof Who got fired?

John Riley

October 17th, 2012
9:13 pm

Great analysis– Davis owes an explanation, and the Board needs to realize that renewing his contract would be a major misstep.

catlady

October 17th, 2012
9:13 pm

I had a prof, head of the area of study, who was known to have a position, and then hunt data to “prove it.” When I was studying for prelims, I was reading some of his work aloud to my very astute 15 year old daughter. I stopped, perplexed, and asked her, “What does this say?” Her answer, “It’s bull****, Mom, pure bull****.” That is the kind of work that APS toadies would expect out of someone like Mr. Apperson.

Andrea Shelton

October 17th, 2012
9:14 pm

Maureen, I certainly hope the AJC will make this front page news! At last, we have a thorough analysis of North Atlanta. Davis’ rationale continues to not add up.

Marty

October 17th, 2012
9:19 pm

Best explanation yet. I am a NAHS parent and feel that Mr. Davis’ actions were out of line. Mr. My grant was one of the reasons my children went to Sutton and NAHS. The staff isn’t perfect but I have always felt comfortable with our choice. While it is true that these type of dismissals may happen in the corporate world there is no place for them, unless it is a dangerous situation, in the school. Anger and bitterness are not helpful but we can surely hold Mr. Davis and APS accountable for their poor judgment. It’s time that demand the whole school system be held to a higher standard than this and Mr. Davis be forthright in his explanation

APS Parent

October 17th, 2012
9:30 pm

Maureen, what a enlightening article. Thank you!

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:36 pm

did Erroll jump the gun and destroy careers for the thinnest of alleged reasons?

ah, yes.

Roz McClure

October 17th, 2012
9:37 pm

Finally! A fair analysis of the facts. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am a north atlanta high school parent who has worked so hard along with a small army to get our community to support this high school for the last ten years, there were others before me who have worked for the last fifteen years! I was appalled at mr Davis’s audacity to come in and bash out school on bogus facts!!!

Prof

October 17th, 2012
9:43 pm

@ Point/Counterpoint. Good catch. “…false cry of racism that prevents teacher offered a job from getting the job contract.” Though the end result was the same as being fired.

This is Mrs. Norman Maine

October 17th, 2012
9:44 pm

@Prof, not only is this story local but interest is confined to only a few locals. If the AJC would stop hyping it, the story would die tomorrow. People get fired all the time.

Top School

October 17th, 2012
9:44 pm

Why don’t the affluent White, Black and Hispanic families that attend Northside Christian Churches do something in their own community public school to help the lower achieving struggling students at NORTH ATLANTA HIGH and the MIDDLE SCHOOL?

Fine affluent members of northside churches will board a plane to travel all over the world to help OTHERS under a disguise of Christian Missionary work… yet when there are similar problems in their own back yard …they have a totally different point of view. The bigoted comments on this blog expose the race issues that continue to challenge us in educating our children equally from north to south APS.

Find common ground…and look for a solution.
This problem exists…it is time to deal with it.

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:48 pm

the fact this story is only of interest to a few locals is a bigger indictment of citizens than it is of the scandal.

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:49 pm

after burning thru the article a second time, seems Erroll is playing the Obama card of haves vs have nots, too.

bootney farnsworth

October 17th, 2012
9:51 pm

can’t help but wonder if Erroll isn’t cozying up to his sugar daddy the mayor.
Kasim had no trouble playing race against Mary Norwood

vh3

October 17th, 2012
10:00 pm

I implore the AJC (and Maureen) to keep on this story – and NOT let it disappear – until the truth is fully known. This action at NAHS has potential implications for high schools across APS. If the AJC weren’t digging into this, we would never get any real information. Look at the nonsense Davis is trying to sell to people. The parents and students at NAHS and across APS deserve real answers about what happened here and what the real motivations are behind Davis’s behavior and what role the board played in all this. I am grateful for the attention this story is getting and for the AJC’s attempts to shine a light on this situation. Please keep on this.

Top School

October 17th, 2012
10:05 pm

@Vh3 The AJC has to be careful…the roots of this problem are deep ( as with the problem involving Hall —as the business community was totally involved ) .

The AJC appears to selectively peel back the layers…not to damage those closest to the AJC. Laughable situation that it is… there is a political thread that runs through what they will disclose.

To Mrs Norman Maine

October 17th, 2012
10:06 pm

Yes, people get fired all the time. I’ve helped fire a couple in my day, and fought their unemployment claims to boot til we won.
You play with 52% of my jacked up property taxes for this kind of abject foolishness, which i witness firsthand at my APS high school, it needs to be flogged until there is nothing left of the rancid horse.
One would surmise you don’t have children in APS as you seem unable to comprehend the magnitude of the issue.
You don’t like it, read something else.

Nahs dad

October 17th, 2012
10:21 pm

In a Cuban election Fidel castro would win reelection with something like 97% of the vote. The people, however fled Cuba on rafts in droves. The people speak with their feet.

What are the people doing in the North Atlanta cluster? The junior class has 275 students. The freshmen class has 575 students – 40 % of the student body! The people are speaking with their feet.

Considering the true academic numbers, and the growth numbers, it is still puzzling why mr. Davis didn’t come to North Atlanta to celebrate a public education success story.

It appears Mr. Davis and Mr. Mcdaniels will be on the hot seat for some time to come.

lahopital

October 17th, 2012
10:24 pm

You do not send a security team to escort the current staff off the premises because of school performance, which, apparently was better than average. The explanation offered by Mr. Davis does not pass the common sense test. I cannot imagine working in an environment where decisions are made based on incorrect data and personnel decisions made without adequate justification. Add to that using a method of removal usually reserved for criminal malfeasance, it appears there is a dysfunctional system at the APS headquarters.

exteacher

October 17th, 2012
10:27 pm

The numbers do not lie. Still waiting for the real reason. Bet you twenty bucks it is about race.

2 Decades in APS

October 17th, 2012
10:35 pm

Thank you, Maureen. You’ve used the resources available to you as a journalist to prove what we at NAHS have known all along: we’re not perfect, but we try hard to do the best we can, and we do it better than most. You’ve also demonstrated that there is no rational explanation for Supt. Davis’ actions. Therefore, we are forced to look deeper for the “irrational” explanation. I hope you and your colleagues will keep digging until you uncover the ugly underbelly of this whole sorry affair. I think it will become apparent who the real racists are.

@Mrs. Norman Maine: This story should strike fear into the heart of every parent of an APS student, every teacher, every administrator, and even every taxpayer. Can’t you hear the theme from “Jaws” running in the background? Just when you thought it was safe to go back to school . . . . If we don’t get to the bottom of this, your school could be next. Or, even worse, a school that needs a housecleaning (unlike NAHS) might be allowed to sink further into failure.

The Hammer

October 17th, 2012
10:51 pm

In an earlier blog post, I specifically pointed out Hispanics as the leading indicator this school was failing. Or, is it that the Hispanics from three years ago aren’t the same as the Hispanics in the school zone today? What I mean is that three years ago, when Hispanic scores were noticeably higher, it could have been a *different set* of Hispanics, eg, more Mexicans. Three years later, those Mexicans, who were more apt to come from higher-skilled families, with better resources, have moved to Gwinnett, and been replaced by El Salvadorans, who are lower-skilled, with lessor English proficiency, etc. So, it’s not that the teachers have gotten worse in three years, but the Hispanic population has changed. Unfortunately, the gringos think all Hispanics are alike, when, in reality, they are quite different.

RAMZAD

October 17th, 2012
10:51 pm

Some reports are that North Atlanta High School was a collection of cabals.

Academic cabals. Administrative cabals. Guidance counselor cabals. In groups and out groups. Groups understood to be stupid. Groups understood to be privileged. Groups understood to be whatever……..

Of course, no one is going to talk about these realities now- if they existed. If they existed Davis was right to go up there and disinfect the place. Buckhead is not special…Rich, but not special.

Davis has earned his reputation, and has been a person of irreproachable integrity, and that is why the Atlanta school board pulled for him after the Beverly Hall catastrophe.

I am not going to condemn him just because he went up to Buckhead and cut them a new one- if these little factories of preference existed….in the interest of a decent public education for every student in Atlanta.