Over the last several weeks as I have met with many BOE candidates – including some incumbents – I have asked what I thought would be a simple question:
What does the Atlanta Public School system do really well?
I was surprised at how difficult the candidates and incumbents found this question to be. While they tend to be focused on what is wrong, knowing what is working in APS is also extremely important.
Ultimately, one of the major functions of the BOE is to determine how to allocate scarce resources. If you know what is working, then additional resources do not have to be driven to that area and resources can be directed to areas of greater need. Additionally, if APS is performing a function very well, then the organization can begin considering how to leverage the strength and extend it into others areas of the organization.
When I asked the question above to one candidate, after much thought, the candidate indicated that APS does an excellent job of selecting which charter schools to approve and then monitoring their performance once the schools are running. My sense is that the performance metrics for ongoing charter schools in the system bears this out.
If this is the case, then APS should take steps to leverage this capability of selecting and monitoring charter schools and work to further extend the charter schools in the system.
What else does APS do very well?
It is a question that BOE candidates should consider carefully as it will help them make better decisions later if elected to the BOE.