Yesterday incoming APS Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen was on the media circuit and met with numerous reporters at six or seven events. Based on the events I attended, she was very well received by the media and interested community leaders in attendance.
The following is a quick recap of the news stories published with some key extracts.
[Added] WABE – Atlanta School Chief Ready To Focus on Future, Not the Past
“We are talking about children first, we spend less time on the politics, we spend less time on adult issues and we make the right decisions for the right reason and the right moment, so we can move forward.”
“And one area that I’m particularly proud of and I think that we have to have a conversation about here in Atlanta is the disproportionate placement; we have a large African American student population, but the disproportionate placement of those students in everything from special education to disciplinary alternative education programs.”
“The principal makes and breaks the culture of the school every single day….Carstarphen says she’s already been involved in some of those hires by making recommendations.
Simply having principal experience is not enough if you want to work in APS, says Carstarphen…“Are they the right match for the community? Are they interested in serving that population? Do they have the skills to uniquely work with English language learners where most of the parents don’t speak English as a first language at home? And if you don’t have those specific skills, but are you open to having a kind of leadership team and building people around you to that can support that?
From the AJC – extended coverage – New leader seeks revival of Atlanta public education
Rejuvenating Atlanta’s public education system will require finding “a light at the end of the tunnel” to recover from scandal and mistrust, said Meria Carstarphen, the school system’s incoming leader….Carstarphen…said parents want her to focus on student achievement in hopes of moving past widespread cheating by teachers who changed students’ answers on standardized tests in 2009…“There’s a lot of concern and frustration about the past, but there are a lot of people ready to move forward.”
Carstarphen said she’ll seek a “culture change” in which the school system will put children first and spend less time on issues that don’t directly have to do with education.
“The magic can flow. It does become a very special place where wonderful things happen for children. That’s something I don’t think is out of the reach for Atlanta,” she said.
From the AJC – Atlanta school leader seeks to repair system
The next leader of Atlanta Public Schools, Meria Carstarphen, said Tuesday she’s seeking a “culture change” that puts students first and moves past controversies.
She said the city school system needs to learn from its cheating scandal but can’t dwell on it. …
Carstarphen said she wants to hire staff, reduce the bureaucracy of education administration, improve employee morale and raise the school system’s 59 percent graduation rate.
Carstarphen is already working to hire her staff and evaluate the school system’s needs during a transition period.
Atlanta Intown – Carstarphen says it’s “a new day for APS”
The budget is one of her first priorities. The FY 2015 approved budget still allows for review and revision during the superintendent transition. Revisions will not be immediate…“Everything [needs to be] on the table before we start making adjustments,” Carstarphen explained.
The district is finalizing its vision, mission, and values. The board is working to solidify its definition of equity and approach for distributing resources – time, people, money. Carstarphen is both drilling down into the budget and comparing it to similar districts.
She also called for a “citizens advisory committee” that would add transparency to APS budget and policy decisions. Carstarphen said she believes that public schools should focus on the whole child and ensure they are “life long learners that love coming to school.”
Decaturish – New super says K-8 is ‘appealing’ [with audio of one of the events]
Carstarphen was asked about her feelings on K-8 schools in general…“I think a rich portfolio of options really helps parents in picking designs that may or may not support what they’re interested in for their child,” she said.
“I think K-8 as a design is appealing. I’ve heard parents talk about it in ways that eases their anxiety about that transition from elementary to middle school, and that research shows that by reducing transitions, or if you’re going to do a transition it has to be successful and well supported from elementary to middle or middle to high school. But having a good supportive transition that is within the same school culture can be beneficial to a child who needs that kind of continuity.”
“I think that it’s fair enough to say that K-8 can be beneficial to parents and families,” she said.
WXIA 11 Alive News (with video)
I will never tolerate people violating the law or openly violating the policies of the Board. I think it is about setting a standard and an expectation about how we are going to do business with our children.
People now … are talking to me about what is going well and what they would like us to [focus] on and what they hope for the future.
MyFox Atlanta – New superintendent working to change APS culture
The new Atlanta Public School Superintendent, Dr. Carstarphen, and her transition team have been working for several weeks now. Carstarphen said she’s using this time to actually learn the district and she’s even made some new hires.
“It’s just a lot of things that have to happen before the culture fully shifts,” said Carstarphen. Carstarphen said that the APS cheating scandal has made recruiting difficult…“There’s a reputation about the district right now that is what it is, but it’s also not the whole story,” said Carstarphen. “It’s a little more difficult of a sale, but those who have come and spent the weekend with me are very excited.”
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