This is a historic election for the Atlanta Board of Education.
Whether it is picking a superintendent that will empower teachers and principals and decentralize the Central Office; fixing the budget to ensure more money is directed to classrooms and the pension issue is resolved; or working with stakeholders to create a culture of excellence in APS, the school board will have incredible responsibilities. As a former public school teacher, I know what’s at stake.
Before becoming an attorney, I taught social studies to 150 amazing 7th and 8th graders who were no different than anyone reading this blog. They were smart, they worked hard – and most importantly – they dreamed big. By the time they left my classroom, they were outperforming their more affluent peers in statewide social studies assessments.
But something changed when they went off to high school. When I returned for their graduation ceremonies four years later, half of my students did not walk across that stage, and that broke my heart. It taught me that there was more work to be done to ensure our students make it out of high school and are ready to succeed in the world.
The circumstances in APS are no different—we graduate 51% of our students on time. Only 38% of African American men and 20% of special needs students graduate in four years. Atlanta cannot claim to be a world-class city if its public education system is only giving half of its students an opportunity to succeed.
We have the opportunity to elect a school board that will finally work together to ensure that every child in this city, regardless of where they live, has access to an excellent public education. We cannot afford to waste this opportunity by electing a board member that will put ideology before students. Nor can we afford to elect a board member who built her or his career in the very system that desperately needs an overhaul.
We must elect board members that have the right experience, offer a bold vision, and steadfast leadership.
I have been in the trenches as a teacher and understand how bureaucracy can hurt student achievement. As an attorney, I also know how to bring stakeholders together to solve complex issues.
Those are some of the assets that I bring to the table and why I am asking for your vote on Tuesday. Thank you.
“We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created the problems.”
— Albert Einstein
Indeed, we cannot. That is why we must commit to advancing Atlanta Public Schools to a new paradigm, to a new way of thinking in order for you, its stakeholders, to gain and benefit from:
A Statement of Purpose – All APS vital stakeholders deserve a Purpose of Atlanta Public Schools that encourages and welcomes the removal of habits of mind and mental models that serve to de-motivate and demoralize teachers and learners.
An Enlightened School Board – All APS vital stakeholders—students, teachers, staffs, administrators, parents, taxpayers—deserve democratic and humanitarian “control and management” of Atlanta Public Schools.
Enlightened School Board Policy – All APS vital stakeholders deserve school board policy free from arbitrary barriers, politics, hidden agenda, social stereotyping, racialist ideologies, and workforce engineering.
An Enlightened Superintendency – All APS vital stakeholders deserve a Superintendency that models democratic ideals and is capable to lead continual improvement of the whole system of teaching and learning.
It is my desire to serve as the embodiment of your commitment to make the above four points a new reality for our Atlanta Public Schools.
Won’t you please lead me into that service come November 5th? I shall deeply honor your doing so.
The citizens of Atlanta deserve a public school system that provides Atlanta’s children with a world class education. Our educational system should serve as a model for other urban districts across the country; instead, our system has been nothing short of an embarrassment.
Over the next four years, the Atlanta Board of Education will engage in decisions that will impact the landscape of public education in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. And for that reason, it is critical that we elect the right board members who will put students first. We need representation that demonstrates a passion for helping students succeed. In my private life, I have been a staunch advocate for education, and a supporter of students who come from all corners of the city. I am prepared to continue my fight for children as a public servant.
On November 5, vote for Sean Christopher Norman for Atlanta Board of Education At-Large Seat 9, and I will work tirelessly to restore trust in Atlanta Public Schools. Our students deserve a world class education and I will not rest until every child in Atlanta has a school with the resources, leadership and committed teachers that are essential to student achievement.
My name is Dr. Lori James, and I am seeking the At Large Seat 9, of the Atlanta School Board. I have a 28-year exemplary record as a public school educator. I began my career as a special education teacher of severely emotionally disturbed adolescent males. I ended my public school career as a coordinator of Student Support Teams and Special Education. During my career, some areas I provided leadership include:
- Redeveloped the Student Support Team process to meet state and federal mandates.
- Collaborated with Legal Aide attorneys, the legal department and others, to reach agreements on student programming and placements.
- Assisted schools in compliance resolution.
- Professional Development
- Facilitated professional development courses for more than 20 years.
- Developed and implemented professional development courses approved by the Georgia Department of Education.
- Program Development
- Collaborated with other departments to develop the Response to Intervention (RTI) outline for the district.
- Wrote the RTI manual and process.
- Developed RTI training module and pilot program, including the first RTI Summer Institute.
- Policy Development
- Re-wrote policy for Section 504 (disabilities act).
- Reviewed and commented on various policies.
- Budget Accountability
- Managed the budget for Section 504 to ensure non-special education students, with disabilities or illnesses, received needed assistance.
- Managed disproportionate budget, with three other programs, to ensure funds were spent at the local school level.
I am the owner and founder of Focus on Education, Inc. Under this umbrella, Focus on Education Institute and Focus on Education Foundation were created. We provide the following services across the United States: student and parent advocacy, professional development, compliance assistance, program review and recommendations. Beginning in early 2014, Focus Foundation will provide glasses and hearing aides to students in Atlanta Public Schools, without charge. Focus on Education Institute provides free parent workshops, and educational leadership through the Focus on Education Institute’s Think Tank.
Eddie Lee Brewster did not submit a closing statement.