WSB’s Jovita Moore interviewed retiring Atlanta Public School Superintendent Erroll Davis – see here with video. The topics included the controversy over the debt owed to APS from the Beltline, the aftermath of the cheating scandal and what he would have done differently.
On the Beltline issue,
Davis, “We have a contract which we believe should be honored, which is simple as that,”…
Moore asked, “It seems like part of the mayor’s issue with this whole thing, almost like loyalty, he seems to feel like he was betrayed by you for bringing this up in this last hour,”
Davis, “Our loyalty is to the children of this district and to the extent, that resources are due to them, we will vigorously pursue those resources,” Davis told Moore.
On the difficult period APS has had to endure due to the cheating scandal,
“It’s been a learning experience, and some of the things I learned were very unfortunate. I spent a good part of the last three years being quite angry at what adults have visited upon children,” Davis said.
And when asked if he would have done anything differently in the last three years, Davis responded,
“Clearly looking back, there are things I could have done better, different timing, different ways to implement decisions. I believe rather directionally we have made the correct decisions,” Davis said.
On balance, Davis was a net positive for APS. He came in at a time when the system was in crisis due to the cheating scandal and a Board of Education that was in disarray. He quickly took steps to remove the teachers and administrators from the system and then began to restart a completely demoralized district.
However, as he often admits, he is not a K-12 education expert and the system often appeared to remain static as opposed to advancing forward. Some of this was likely due to a Board of Education that was internally divided and that was not capable of advancing an agenda that was focused on educational outcomes. At the same time, Davis seemed to always want to rely on improving internal systems (which never appeared to be accomplished) prior to being held accountable for results.
While the district benefited from his arrival – which was to be temporary at the time – the continued extensions of his contract was a mistake. My sense is that the initial 90 days (which could have even been extended to a full year) was the limit on Davis’ effectiveness and, subsequent to that time, he became a caretaker and not the innovator and driver of advancing the district forward.
Davis has had a distinguished career and his time at APS further enhances his achievements. He is now retiring for the third time – it is now time to set aside the policy disagreements and we should all wish him well and thank him for his service to the community.
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