Round-Up of APS Headlines from the Past Week [Updated]

APS News

*** New Superintendent Elect Meria Carstarphen

*** Cheating Scandal

*** Other APS News

Board of Education, Committee Meetings and Public Forums

*** Scheduled Meetings

  • Board of Education meeting – Monday, April 14
  • Budget Commission – not yet confirmed, but likely on Monday, April 14 to review and pass FY15 budget (updates on schedule as they are announced)

*** Meetings Already Held

Non-APS News and Opinion of Interest

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon]

5 Responses to Round-Up of APS Headlines from the Past Week [Updated]

  1. Beverly Fraud says:

    I think the single most disappointing headline to come out this week is that Fulton County DA Paul Howard was actually willing to offer an Alford plea to Beverly Hall, had the judge gone along with it.

    Why Howard hasn’t been universally and vociferously panned for this from all quarters show how far Atlanta truly needs to go before it can rightly claim that this community truly advocates for its children.

    Kudos to Judge Jerry Baxter for doing the right thing, and rejecting this travesty of justice.

  2. Beverly Fraud says:

    Bob I saw this earlier and just HAD to respond:

    “However, I totally reject the demonization of certain efforts for reform with “bumper sticker” scare words. I want facts and specific instances where the “corporatists” have had a negative impact in Atlanta.”

    Do you not remember the Blue Ribbon Commission and and its stated intent to “finesse this past the governor” in order to protect Beverly Hall?

    Do you not remember when John Rice of GE, Bill Gates, Michael Casserly of the Council of Great City Schools, and Aramark amongst others tried to politically prop her up?

    If corporate America, in partnership with the federal Dept. of Education trying to prop up Beverly Hall and her “reform” doesn’t meet the definition of “negative impact” I don’t know what does.

    And please, if we were to be COMPLETELY honest about this. Paul Donsky, back in 2001 (not 2011, two thousand and ONE) in an AJC article pretty much told the story on widespread SYSTEMIC cheating for anyone who wanted to know. That’s the key: WANTED to know.

    The problem was Rice, Gates, Casserly, Aramark, the AJC editorial board, Sam Williams and the Chamber of Commerce, Shirley Franklin, Margaret Spellings, (later Arne Duncan) did not WANT to know. The “Atlanta Miracle” was too important a narrative to let truth get in the way.

    And yes, it has had a negative impact on APS students, and yet many of these same sorts of people are the types we have entrusted with the selection of Carstarphen, and the “red flags” that have been legitimately raised about her and being met with the same type of denials that we had with Beverly Hall.

    After all what’s it say that a CHILD has the EXACT same voice in the selection process as the teachers Carstarphen will lead?

    • Good comment – let me respond. In an earlier response I did say “certain leaders in the Atlanta business community screwed up and tried to cover up the Hall cheating scandal.” They were wrong in what they did and, if I remember correctly, several of the current Board members had a hand in getting past the Blue Ribbon Commission and ferreting out the scandal. In addition, any and all who either tried to suppress the cheating scandal or supported Hall as the mess unfolded deserve condemnation for it.

      However, I do not agree with your assessment that “yet many of these same sorts of people are the types we have entrusted with the selection of Carstarphen.” The selection process was driven by a Committee with a diverse representation and the final approval will be made by the current Board. So let’s take a look at the backgrounds of the current Board composition – and this will also address some issues you raised earlier – four former teachers, three current of former lawyers, six in the small business community (it adds up to more than nine as several Board members have had more than one career). And who is not represented? The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (or any large business organization for that matter) or “Rice, Gates, Casserly, Aramark, the AJC editorial board, Sam Williams … Shirley Franklin, Margaret Spellings, (later Arne Duncan)”.

      I would also add that I have gotten to know many of the current Board members really well – and my strong sense is that they are focused on raising educational outcomes for the kids. And none of them are “wild eyed” ideologues on either side of any of the issues you raise. Quite honestly, I believe the current Board and the members of the Search Committee went into the process looking for the best person they could find that would focus on educational outcomes. I think they succeeded in doing so.

      Does that mean that there are no hard questions to ask regarding Carstarphen’s background? There are – and you have raised some of them. But based on the evidence I have seen so far, I am not ready to indict Carstarphen on any of these issues. Do we need to be vigilant? Yes – and when we disagree with her, we need to be armed with facts and be vocal in that disagreement.

      Please keep digging and as you uncover facts, bring them to light.

  3. Beverly Fraud says:

    Thank you for responding. I want to respond to one point

    “The selection process was driven by a Committee with a diverse representation and the final approval will be made by the current Board.”

    In a way they are diverse; in a way they aren’t (and this may be hard to explain)

    There is a huge difference between a former teacher and a current teacher. Former teachers (and yes I’m guilty of painting with a broad brush here) tend to get amnesia rather quickly. There wasn’t, for lack of a better term, a “contrarian” on the board. Names like Ed Johnson and Ralph Long come to mind.

    I also wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss Turner, or more to the point, the voices she represents. The TEACHER’S voice. And here’s the deal If you don’t get BUY IN from teachers, it simply ain’t gonna happen. (If anybody disagrees that this isn’t a key, if not THE key, please weigh in!)

    Teachers may not actively resist, but trust me, they will PASSIVELY resist. They will “go through the motions” and they will “jump through the hoops” enough to not get fired-and they know you can’t fire ALL of them!

    Turner may or may not be a union hack, but if not through her, somehow you better get “buy in” from rank and file APS teachers, if you really want Carstarphen to succeed. How to get “buy in”? Start with this:

    -And HONEST conversation on ways APS can empower the classroom teacher to maintain the sanctity of the learning environment (google Coach Mark Black Santa Monica to see a prime, and sadly typical, example of how administrators routinely throw teachers under the bus)

    And HONEST conversation about putting measures in place, to protect teachers from the misuse of the evaluation instrument as a means of retaliation. (A huge problem in APS, one that has never been given the due consideration it deserves; one that helped keep the cheating scandal alive for years.)

    Has this school board every conducted hearings into either of these vital issues? Has the (supposedly involved for the greater good) business community used its bully pulpit to push this? (Perhaps the ethics department at Emory or one of the other universities could provide guidance here) Has either question been posed to Carstarphen? If not, WHY not, and what does that say about how much we really want systemic change?

    Now if you can honestly say that people on the selection committee were bringing up THESE types of questions, I might have my own “buy in” to the contention it was a “diverse” group. Someone who understands that if a Supt. had the courage to bring these two points to the forefront, APS teachers would probably be so happy they’d run through a brick wall for that Supt. not just “jump through enough hoops to keep my job”

    Isn’t that reason enough to consider the above?

    Thanks for the opportunity to respond.

    • I would agree that teachers need to be empowered, but there are artificial structures in place that work against this. Tenure places a burden on the administration, and my sense is that often the games played to get around this archaic system results in abuses at both the teacher and the administration level. Teachers should be “at will” employees just like everyone else in GA. Perform and conform to the system you are in or leave or be asked to leave. While the tenure system is supposed to protect teachers from abuses, in reality, the bottom line is that tenure ultimately just hurts the kids who have to put up with bad teachers that cannot be removed.

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