Maureen Downey, who writes at the Get Schooled Blog at the AJC, focuses her piece today on some things that are going well in APS.
Too often we focus on the negatives and then say “fix it”. However, if you will remember during the Board of Education campaign last year, I asked a simple question of the candidates – what does APS do really well (see here)? In many cases, the question stumped the candidates because the focus is always on what is wrong. Why is this important? As I noted last year,
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.
Let’s enjoy a few extracts from Maureen’s piece and delight in the things that are going well (and please read the whole thing).
Here’s another illustration. I was on a panel at Emory last weekend with two APS board members,… both former Teach for America teachers. A graduate of Atlanta Public Schools, Westmoreland went onto Princeton. He returned to Atlanta and taught high school. Raised in Columbus and the son of an Army veteran, Esteves taught middle school in Houston before going to Emory Law School.
Both Westmoreland and Esteves are bright young men making a mark on the Atlanta school board.
…Stephanie S. Johnson, principal of Maynard Jackson High School. A turnaround specialist with an impressive record of leaving schools better than she found them, …Calling herself the Cruella de Vil of APS, she talked about firing 47 teachers, sitting down with gang members and getting kids on track. Many APS parents have told me that Johnson is remarkable, and they’re right. Johnson has persuaded many parents to keep their teens at Maynard Jackson. I don’t think their trust in her is misplaced.
If you could have been at that panel, two observations would have heartened you: Great leaders are working 15-hour days to change the culture at APS. And smart young people are doing whatever it takes to help their students succeed.
Included in the piece is a “must watch” video of North Atlanta High School Teacher of the year Danielle Costarides (see here at the bottom of the article).
All great examples of what is going right in APS – hard working intelligent people making a difference in our children’s lives. Applaud them and, most importantly, learn their methods and apply them to the system.
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