UPDATED at 9:55 p.m.: Khaatim Sherrer El has indeed agreed to step down as chairman of the Atlanta school board. I don’t know why this decision, described by El and fellow board member Yolanda Johnson as “coercion,” would be viewed as progress from a governance standpoint, but then I didn’t understand why a series of 5-4 board splits was grounds for probation of APS’s accreditation and would overshadow the system’s larger, very real problems.
11 Alive News is reporting that the Atlanta Public Schools board has decided to change its chairman and vice chairman to settle an internal leadership dispute. Either Brenda Muhammad or Reuben McDaniel will be the new chair and the other one will be the new vice chair, with current chairman Khaatim Sherrer El consequently on the way out.
If true, this would end an eight-month-long political fight on the board that has distracted its members and APS’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, from the much, much larger problems the system faces: a cheating scandal, a still-unresolved investigation into that scandal, and the apparently still-poor performance of APS students which the pervasive cheating was meant to mask and which has been neglected compared to the intense focus on the board’s divisiveness.
Perhaps now the grandees at SACS and our politicians will wake up to the fact that the cheating scandal has been unresolved for twice as long as the entire school-board politics episode lasted — and perhaps now they will focus their energies on the problem that’s truly crippling the school system and threatening students’ educations.
– By Kyle Wingfield