At Large 8 Board of Education candidate closing statements

Tom Tidwell

My name is Tom Tidwell and I am running for SEAT #8, Atlanta Board of Education. I am very excited about serving as your elected board representative. No one had to recruit me or talk me into running. I want to serve on your behalf. I believe in the power of education. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” To harness this power, however, we must first change the culture of APS. I am a “can do” person, and I will work tirelessly to change APS from a “you can’t” system to one where we can actually get things done.

We need someone who will take a leadership role on the Board and its committees, not someone who says “a school board can’t do this . . . this is a part-time civic work commitment.” A part-time effort leads to a 51% graduation rate.

I have two young children in public schools, a 4th grader at Brandon and a 6th grader at Sutton, so I am personally invested in our schools. You will always get 100% of my effort towards improving our public education.

Every candidate says they want to improve education, but I am the only one with a clear vision. We need to move beyond political platitudes such as “revolutionize our neighborhood schools” and “give every child everything they need to succeed.”

Please visit my website,, and compare my positions on specific issues with other candidates.

A vote for Tom Tidwell, SEAT #8, is a vote for hard work and common sense leadership. To improve education, we need to lower class sizes and put an effective teacher in every classroom. To accomplish this, we need to dismantle the bloated bureaucracy created while Riley was on the board. We need to cut the administrative expenses per student in half and lower the admin/student ratio from 16.7 per thousand students to the national average of 4-5 per thousand. These changes will save approximately $20 million annually, allowing us to eliminate teacher furlough days and hire enough teachers to lower maximum class sizes.

Riley and McDaniel have been on the Board for a combined 12 years, and they accomplished NONE of the things they are campaigning on. We need a fresh start and a change of leadership. We cannot move forward and make positive change if we continue to re-elect politicians of the past rather than parents for the future. PLEASE VOTE FOR TOM TIDWELL, SEAT #8. 

Mark B. Riley

We are at a crossroads for Atlanta Public Schools. At a minimum, nearly half of the school board elected next Tuesday will be new. The first order of business facing that board will be hiring a new superintendent—probably the most important decision a school board makes. Together, the new board and superintendent will set the direction for our schools for the next decade. By electing a reform minded school board we will greatly increase our ability to recruit a high quality, reform minded superintendent.

I am a parent of two APS graduates and a small business owner. I also run a charitable foundation focused on improving and expanding educational opportunities for children in the Atlanta area. Through that work I have been exposed to innovative educational reforms that are sweeping the country. In addition, I previously served on the School Board from 2002-2009. I know the job and will not require any on the job training.

What does reform mean? Reform means supporting our traditional public schools by empowering our principals—our school leadership—to make the major decisions affecting our children. These major decisions center on teachers—can the principal determine who is in our classrooms teaching our children—on curriculum and on the resources necessary to properly give students what they need to excel. We need to cut down on unnecessary administrative overhead and micromanagement from downtown and put those resources and that decision-making authority in our neighborhood principals’ hands. Reform means embracing innovative charters and technologies to provide real opportunity for all of our children, regardless of in which neighborhood they happen to live. Reform means looking to other school systems in the country, and even abroad, and being willing to adopt the best-practices here in Atlanta.

For the past four years we have seen scandal, dysfunction and outright in-fighting by our school board. It is time to put our kids before politics. I will bring seasoned and collaborative leadership to our new board.

On Tuesday, we can choose to continue business as usual, or we can choose to be bold and innovative – to strike a new course for our school system and our children. I choose the latter. I hope you will join me.

Reuben McDaniel, III (I)

Over the past four years, I have been committed to identifying and solving problems for the Atlanta Public Schools Board after the previous 8 years of neglect.  The problems have been vast and the solutions difficult, but the foundation for tremendous change has been laid and now is the time to capture that change.

My competitors are naïve and narrow focused about the issues.  I am the only candidate in this race that has the proven track record and experience covering all areas of required expertise with a pulse on the entire city.  I am committed to continuing the work by bringing that expertise and learned knowledge to the next exciting chapter in the history of the Atlanta Public Schools, without going through a disruptive period of change.

Specifically, I am committed to:  1) Selecting the best Superintendent for the System. I have already been through this process and know how to effectively evaluate candidates to get the best for Atlanta. 2) I will continue to work on the budget and financial systems to create an effective, strategy driven financial control system.  Given how broken the financial control systems were, there is no a quick fix.  Looking at the solutions my competitors have proffered, it is clear they do not have the experience to even recognize the problems, let alone fix them. 3) Every child will have an effective teacher each day. I will lead the policy work to make sure this is a part of our system policy structure.  And, 4) I will continue the work on making the administrative functions strategy and customer focused (like the work on the Excellence Project for our Human Resources Department) so that the decisions about building teams and resource allocation for instruction can better be handled at the school level.

This election should not be about personal agendas. It should not be about outside influence. It should be about truly serving all the students of Atlanta.  I am the only candidate in this race who has a history working with our schools all over the City.  I understand the unique needs and sensitivities of each of our communities.   I have the skill set to balance the often competing needs of the different parts of our school community.

I respectfully request your support on November 5th.

Cynthia Briscoe Brown

As we come to the last few days of this campaign, strong differences between my opponents and me have emerged, which can be summed up in the question, “Whom do you serve?”  By word and deed, my opponents give a variety of answers: they serve political power, big business, the corporate education industry, and those who would segregate students by race, class or parental involvement level.  The two incumbents in this race got us into the mess we’re in.  Mark Riley rubber-stamped Beverly Hall’s financial incentives and culture of fear and dishonesty, then gave his Board seat to Reuben McDaniel to continue the tradition of dysfunction and divisiveness.

Building the school system we all deserve takes the right kind of experience and leadership.  I’ve spent the past several months as I have for 20 years, connecting with, listening to, and learning from concerned parents, teachers, principals, APS employees and citizens in every part of Atlanta.  I’m more than ever convinced that we can have healthy, successful community schools which meet the needs of every student and teacher.  We can have a strong Board which works together to move our children ahead, instead of furthering their own careers. We can have a Superintendent who works with us instead of against us.  We can have a school system which is the shining star of our great city instead of the millstone around its neck.

For the past twenty years I’ve been serving children, parents and teachers.  My journey to this moment is clear and my record speaks for itself.  As a parent, volunteer, leader, and advocate for all our children, I’ve lived the good, bad and ugly of APS.  I know where we’ve been, which is essential to knowing where we need to go and how to get there.  I’m committed to working together with all eight of my colleagues on the next Board to ensure that every child, in every corner of our city, gets the world-class education they deserve.

Dave Walker

[Mr. Walker did not submit a closing statement, however the one and only statement Mr. Walker has made in this campaign (as far as I am aware) is as follows:]

I am the agitator here. Agitators clean things…I have, witnessed the Atlanta School Board for 35 years and they have been failures ever since. Part of them can’t spell CRCT. And what do we have? The biggest scandal in education in the history of the country.

Why would any citizen send the same people back with the same result? That is the definition of insanity. Don’t do that! Send the protestor – me. Send the agitator – me. You have a washing machine at home – an old one? It agitates. It cleans. Don’t send these people back. I am the protestor. I am now leaving the building.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

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