Archive for October, 2012

Guest column: Put even more limits on power of school boards

Mpaza S. Kapembwa is a student at Williams College, studying on a Gates Millennium Scholarship, among other scholarships. A 2011 graduate of DeKalb County’s Cross Keys High school, Mpaza has written two essays for the Get Schooled blog, which you can read here and here.

Here is his third:

By Mpaza S. Kapembwa

While opponents of the charter school amendment say it takes away control from local school boards, I argue the state hasn’t gone far enough in limiting that control.

The debate has been wrongfully focused on local versus state control, parent choice and whether or not the amendment will create publicly funded “private” schools. These issues have made both sides forget that they are all fighting for the same thing: A better system.

Creating more charter schools might give parents a new option, and they need that choice because they are the major stakeholders in the system, but choice alone won’t do much. The fact that no student is guaranteed a spot in a …

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Does APS board delay in extending Davis’ contract signal a lasting estrangement?

I am unsure about Erroll Davis’ future as leader of APS after tonight’s decision by the Atlanta school board to hold off on extending his contract. The board met behind closed doors for three hours to discuss Davis and his contract.

Davis is still dealing with the fallout from his decision to remove six administrators from North Atlanta High, including principal Mark MyGrant. I continue to hear from North Atlanta parents who insist that Davis misled the public on why he removed the school administrators.

Those parents contend that Davis was both callous and careless in failing to consider the impact of his actions on the school community. They also feel he denigrated the school to justify his leadership purge.

School board member Nancy Meister, who represents North Atlanta, made a public appeal to delay action on the contract, sharing  a letter to the board chair with her constituents.

In her letter to APS board Chairman Reuben McDaniel, she wrote:

We owe it to the …

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State Sen. Jason Carter on charter schools amendment: Shifts power from local elected officials to state bureaucrats

State Sen. Jason Carter opposes the charter schools amendment and says language is meant to deceive.

State Sen. Jason Carter opposes the charter schools amendment and says language is meant to deceive.

Earlier today, we heard from a Republican state senator from DeKalb on the charter schools amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot.  State Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody wrote a column on why he supports it.

Now, here is the other side from state Sen. Jason Carter, D-Atlanta. Carter is from the 42nd District, representing DeKalb.

By Jason Carter

This year, Georgia voters will be confronted with two proposed amendments to the state constitution. Regardless of their substance, the system for approving amendments is broken, and this threatens the principle that our Constitution draws its power directly from the people.

Proposed constitutional amendments appear on the ballot in the form of a question, drafted by the legislature. The ballot question is also “introduced” with a statement drafted by a committee of three: the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the …

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State Sen. Fran Millar on charter schools amendment: Inject competition into system with mediocre results

I remain surprised at the keen interest in the charter schools amendment, although a metro school board member told me that the issue is not as high profile in rural Georgia where there are few charters and little momentum for or against them.

At an event in south Georgia earlier this month, she discovered that most people knew little about the amendment controversy. I asked a charter school researcher about that lack of interest, and she explained that charter schools are still located primarily in urban/suburban areas and likely will stay that way.

But the issue remains on the minds of metro Atlanta voters.

I was part of an Atlanta Press Club and Georgia Public Broadcasting program Sunday featuring state Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, and Kelly McCutchen, founder of the now closed Tech High Charter School, speaking in favor the amendment.  Representing the opposition were J Alvin Wilbanks, CEO and superintendent of Gwinnett County Public Schools, and Valarie Wilson, president …

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College Board: Rise in students in AP classes accompanied by rise in performance

Earlier this month, I linked to a controversial essay in the Atlantic by a former college professor and high school teacher criticizing Advanced Placement courses.

I introduced the issue by noting that there’s a push under way in Georgia to get more high schools students into AP classes. There is also a debate over whether students fare better taking AP classes at their high schools or taking intro classes at local colleges through dual enrollment

Among the 126 respondents to the entry was Trevor Packer, senior vice president, Advanced Placement and SpringBoard Programs, the College Board.

Because Packer’s comments came late in our discussion, I am pulling them out here for those of you who might have missed them:

By Trevor Packer

The Advanced Placement Program® invites AP® teachers and students to examine multiple sides of an issue — thinking critically, examining evidence, and then arguing with precision and accuracy — and this invitation extends to their views of …

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DeKalb’s Eugene Walker: Keep schools in local hands. “No” on charter schools amendment

DeKalb school board Chairman Eugene Walker opposes the charter schools amendment. Here’s why:

For an opposing view, read DeKalb board member Nancy Jester’s piece.

By Dr. Eugene Walker

While most of us are going about our daily lives in our normal routines, there are a handful of folks at the State Capitol who have been up to no good. With our economy still in tatters and our home values still at historic lows, these lawmakers approved a referendum which will appear on the November ballot which would have devastating effects on the DeKalb County School District and the children we are charged with educating.

If passed in November, a governing organization would be created, called the Georgia Charter Commission. Although the words “Georgia Charter Commission” won’t appear anywhere on your ballot, this seemingly well-intended and well-worded question would put the State of Georgia in the local school business and created a new bureaucratic umbrella. Local residents would …

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DeKalb’s Nancy Jester: Parents deserve more choices. “Yes” on charter schools amendment.

DeKalb school board member Nancy Jester supports the charter schools amendment. Here is why:

For an opposing view, read DeKalb board member Eugene Walker’s piece.

By Nancy Jester

Let’s set the record straight about who controls education in Georgia. Superintendents and their administrators do. Local boards of education do hire the Superintendent but once in place, these educrats are in the driver’s seat. The legal framework in our state reinforces the supremacy of the superintendent’s position relative to a board.

School system administrations choose who works in the system and what they do. We often hear that the board and administration are a “governance team”. Sadly, “the team” is dominated by board members with “Stockholm Syndrome” or they are accomplices in the abduction of local control. All of this power comes with a hefty contract that insulates superintendents and gives them a golden parachute at taxpayer’s expense even if their tenure is …

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An invitation from the AJC editor to a pre-k forum Thursday. It’s a great panel. Hope to see you there.

downeyart (Medium)On behalf of Kevin Riley, the editor of the AJC:

Dear Friends:

• Georgia’s Pre-K early childhood education program has been a national model in its 20 years of existence.

• “Where does it go from here?” is a question many are pondering today.

To help answer that question, the AJC is inviting metro Atlantans to an Atlanta Forward community forum on Pre-K sponsored by PNC Bank. Attendance and parking are free, but registration’s required.

PRE-K TURNS 20: WHAT’S NEXT?” takes place Thursday, Oct. 25, from 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios in Midtown. Please join us there.

I’ll be moderating a panel discussion by local and national experts who will discuss in-depth the issues around early childhood learning in this state. For more information and to register, please click here.

This is Maureen again. I just want to add that we have a fantastic panel assembled, including Bright from the Start commissioner Bobby Cagle, noted …

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A child with autism shines with Katy Perry’s help

My AJC colleague Jay Bookman ends the week with a music video. I want to follow his example today as I think this music video also delivers a message about the power of education to improve kids’ lives. (And it also speaks to the character of singer Katy Perry.)

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An email from principals asks charter school teachers/staff to sign onto the amendment battle. Is that legal?

In a ruling a few weeks ago, the Georgia Attorney General said that school systems could not use public resources/funds to either oppose or support the charter schools amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The decision came in response to complaints from attorney and voucher advocate Glenn Delk that school superintendents and boards were speaking out against the amendment on public time and money.

Attorney General Sam Olens notified the state DOE to alert local school boards that they “do not have the legal authority to expend funds or other resources to advocate or oppose the ratification of a constitutional amendment by the voters. They may not do this directly or indirectly through associations to which they may belong.”

Then, in a court ruling last week, a Fulton County Superior Court judge said school systems could post straightforward information about the amendment on their websites. And school board members could answer questions from constituents.

So where does this …

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