Archive for the ‘Atlanta Public Schools’ Category

Do we put students first when we promote them when they aren’t ready?

A retired APS teacher sent me this note in response to my entry a few ago on Michelle Rhee’s state report cards. I thought it was worth sharing as it addresses a problem that I hear about all the time — the promotion of kids who are not ready or prepared for the next grade:

I am a retired teacher from an APS middle school. I have tried to get someone to listen to what I consider a big problem in APS schools.

The article “Students first? really touched me. So many students in APS will never graduate from high school because they can’t read, write, or pass the CRT. It’s not their fault or their parents’ fault.

In the last 10 years of my teaching career, I saw so many students struggle because they were always put up to the next grade level even when they could not pass the grade they were in.

My last two years of teaching were in the sixth grade, and I had students who read on the third, fourth and fifth grade level but were “passed on.”

What does that mean? They did not pass …

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APS: Change in pay schedule appears to leave staff a paycheck short for 2012. CFO explains why.

Updated at 2:11 p.m: Here is a very detailed response from APS board member Courtney English. Much thanks, Maureen

Hope all is well. Below is an explanation of the pay day change. We have received many questions on this issue and our CFO explains it as follows:

The change in pay dates does not cause an employee to lose an entire pay period. Historically, pay was received five days after the close of a pay period, with two exceptions. First, if the pay date (fifth day) was on a Saturday, Sunday or holiday, we moved the pay date forward to the work day preceding the scheduled pay date. Second, because the holiday work schedule for Winter Break abuts the scheduled pay date of January 5th, we moved the pay date for the December 16-31 pay period forward so it is distributed prior to the close of the calendar year.

With the transition in pay dates that began in August, we now are scheduled to receive our pay 15 days after the close of the pay period. As was the case …

Continue reading APS: Change in pay schedule appears to leave staff a paycheck short for 2012. CFO explains why. »

APS watchdog delves into charter school chain with history of problems. Yet, APS board considers renewal.

You’ve probably heard the expression that there are two things you don’t want to see being made: Sausages and laws.

As a longtime reporter, I’ve been surprised at how elected officials approve legislation or make critical decisions with very little information or with a complete disregard for the facts. I once attended a three-hour meeting of the House Judiciary Committee where 18 witnesses — including a national expert flown in by the committee — testified in opposition to the bill under discussion. The witnesses provided convincing and overwhelming evidence that the law would be a nightmare to enforce and would only worsen the problem it was supposed to solve. Not a single person spoke in favor it the law except the sponsors.

But the committee passed the bill anyway. And the state has been at the losing end of legal challenges ever since.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Atlanta school board’s debate over renewing the charter for Atlanta Preparatory Academy. Several of you …

Continue reading APS watchdog delves into charter school chain with history of problems. Yet, APS board considers renewal. »

After much debate and failed motions, Atlanta board keeps school chief Erroll Davis at helm through 2014

A divided Atlanta school board extended superintendent Erroll Davis’ contract by 18 months after protracted public and closed-door debates Monday.

The board, which began its deliberations in the afternoon, voted six hours later to add 18 months to Davis’ contract, which now goes through June.  The contract contains two trigger clauses that allow the school board to fire Davis with 90 days’ notice.

The Atlanta school board had been considering offering Davis a contract that added two years to his tenure but settled on 18 months after several rounds of convoluted and terse discussions punctuated by closed door sessions.

A thread throughout the debate was that Davis was originally brought  on board as an interim to steady Atlanta schools and was never meant to be their long-term leader. At one point, board member Brenda Muhammad asked Davis, “But I want to know if anyone has ever asked if you were interested in the permanent position?”

“No one has asked me,” said Davis. …

Continue reading After much debate and failed motions, Atlanta board keeps school chief Erroll Davis at helm through 2014 »

A divided APS school board decides today whether to dump embattled school chief Erroll Davis

 Should Erroll B. Davis Jr. stay or go?

Should Erroll B. Davis Jr. stay or go?

DeKalb is not the only metro school district with a consequential decision pending today.

While the DeKalb school board will vote on a controversial five year plan that includes school closings and redistricting, the Atlanta Board of Education will take up superintendent Erroll B. Davis’ contract extension today,

And the stage is set for a close vote.

At a meeting last week, the nine-member APS board changed its policy, now requiring a super majority of seven votes to extend the school chief’s contract rather than a majority of five votes. At that Dec. 3  session, the board delayed a decision on Davis’ contract for a second time, reflective of the residual anger over his abrupt leadership changes at North Atlanta High School in October.

There are two petitions at Change.org, one for Davis and one against:

The one in favor of keeping Davis — which has 241 supporters this morning — states:

Erroll Davis is the best person to serve as …

Continue reading A divided APS school board decides today whether to dump embattled school chief Erroll Davis »

APS school chief: Is Davis a goner? How much of a role did North Atlanta High play in his fall from grace??

The Atlanta School Board delayed again a vote on whether to renew the contract of Superintendent Erroll Davis Monday night, a clear result of the clumsy way he handled the removal of top administrators at North Atlanta High School two months ago.

Along with exposing rifts on the school board, the delay in the Davis vote also speaks to the power of organized, angry and determined parents.

The suddenness of the purge at North Atlanta left many parents and students frustrated and upset. And energized to oust Davis from the APS superintendency.

Whether the change in top management at the high school was warranted is still being debated, but there is consensus even among Davis fans that he underestimated the backlash his decision would cause and created unnecessary grief for himself and the district.

And that was evident Monday in the board maneuvers resulting in a postponement of a vote to extend Davis’ contract.

The AJC has a story this morning that quotes parents who oppose and …

Continue reading APS school chief: Is Davis a goner? How much of a role did North Atlanta High play in his fall from grace?? »

A charter school renewal discussion today by Atlanta school board shows that breaking up is hard to do

In the charter schools discussion of late, I’ve mentioned that charter schools don’t necessarily close when they fail to meet their contractual academic goals.

And we had an example of that today when the Atlanta school board took up the renewal of Atlanta Preparatory Academy, which has fallen far short of its academic goals and is among the city’s lowest performing schools.

On top of that, the charter school owes its management company $800,000, according to the board discussion.

Despite the school’s financial challenges and poor performance — it ranks in the bottom 20 percent in academic performance statewide — the Atlanta school board didn’t act on a staff recommendation to deny Atlanta Prep’s charter renewal and even discussed extending the school a five-year contract.

Last month, Atlanta released new data showing how many months of learning students averaged at each of its school in a year’s time. In a year of school, Atlanta Prep only added 6.9 months of learning, one of …

Continue reading A charter school renewal discussion today by Atlanta school board shows that breaking up is hard to do »

APS carbon monoxide leak: Glad to hear that students and most staff at Finch Elementary are fine

Updated Monday at 10:34 p.m. with news that Finch will be closed tomorrow and students directed to another campus:

It appears Atlanta Public Schools handled the crisis well today at Finch Elementary where a faulty boiler is suspected of causing a carbon monoxide leak that sent students and staff to the hospital.

Forty-three students were taken to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Hughes Spalding. A spokesperson for Grady Memorial Hospital said 10 adults were brought in for evaluation. No serious injuries were reported, though two adults may be kept overnight for observation at Grady.

Finch will be closed on Tuesday. Students are to report to Kennedy Elementary, according to APS spokesman Stephen Alford.

According to the AJC:

Superintendent Erroll Davis applauded Finch principal Carol Evans’ swift response in the wake of the incident, but acknowledged the district could improve.

“In all emergency situations, one of the things you find is that the calling trees are …

Continue reading APS carbon monoxide leak: Glad to hear that students and most staff at Finch Elementary are fine »

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed backs APS school chief. Does Erroll Davis need Reed’s help to keep his job?

Mayor Kasim Reed supports a contract extension for APS school chief Erroll Davis. (AJC photo)

Mayor Kasim Reed supports a contract extension for APS school chief Erroll Davis. (AJC photo)

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed made a public declaration of support for APS school chief Erroll B. Davis last week, raising the question of whether Davis was in need of allies to retain his job.

“I happen to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead us for the next two years,” said Reed during a Commerce Club luncheon speech.

In October, the Atlanta school board deferred its decision whether to extend the contract of Davis, who has come under attack for his sudden purge of top administrators at North Atlanta High School. The vote is now expected next month.

APS board Chairman Reuben McDaniel  said the decision to delay the vote  “is a process we are going through to make sure all the parties are heard.”

As the AJC’s Jeffry Scott reported:

According to Davis’ contract, the board has to make a decision by December whether to renew his contract, which expires next June. The former …

Continue reading Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed backs APS school chief. Does Erroll Davis need Reed’s help to keep his job? »

Atlanta lawmaker to push parent trigger bill in January. Cites North Atlanta High as an example of why it’s needed.

In a break from the charter school debate, here is something coming your way in January — a push for a parent trigger law in Georgia by Atlanta state Rep. Edward Lindsey. (See earlier blog on parent trigger laws.)

The trigger law allows parents to take over a failing school and reopen it as an independent charter if they collect signatures from the majority of families. Only a few states have a parent trigger law.  The first was enacted in California in 2010 and adopted since in some fashion in Connecticut, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

But 20 other states, including Georgia, have seen unsuccessful efforts to pass parent trigger laws. The film “Won’t Back Down” was a fictional account of a school takeover over a parent trigger law.

This is the official release:

State Representative Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta,  the Georgia House Majority Whip, announced today his intention to push for passage of a Parent Trigger Bill during next year’s legislative session of the …

Continue reading Atlanta lawmaker to push parent trigger bill in January. Cites North Atlanta High as an example of why it’s needed. »