Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen – welcome aboard!

Dr. Meria J. Carstarphen begins today as the new superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools. The community has looked forward to this day with great anticipation and we share your enthusiasm to reenergize the district and improve the educational outcomes for our kids in the many years ahead.

We are also glad that you had the benefit of working with your transition team for the last two months to begin planning and developing an agenda for your administration. As you have said, the problems are significant and the work ahead of you appears to be overwhelming. I hope that you will enlist us as a community to help you drive the necessary changes that will benefit the kids. As you consider ways to engage us to help you in your efforts, I hope that you will share with us the information that is so often hidden inside APS or is published after there is nothing that can be done to improve it.

Let us know what the starting point is and then what initiatives you have in mind to improve the system from the current status quo. And then keep us up to date – not only with the progress you make, but also tell us where efforts may not be achieving the anticipated results. Please set standards and objectives for every part of your organization and then hold yourself accountable for them – and have the courage to put it all on display. We know that progress isn’t linear – it moves in fits and starts. Be bold, but be honest and when a change in course is necessary let us know. We will support your efforts to drive improved achievement and know that course corrections are inevitable – but do not hide it or ignore it when this is necessary.

Put it all on display and let us know how we can help you succeed.

As you and the prior superintendent have often said, “adult issues” get in the way of doing what is best for the improving educational outcomes. When confronted with these “adult issues”, please ask a simple question – how is this going to improve the education of the kids? And if the answer is “that it won’t” then have the courage to say it is not a priority and move on.

Push the adult politics and the personal agendas aside and put them in the gutter where they belong.

Over the next several days I will make some suggestions on the information and data that can help us help you. But for now, please remember that your success is dependent on the success of the students and the individuals closest to them on the front line – the over 3,000 teachers in APS are the ones that make it happen. Please listen to them and give them the support that they need to do what they do best – educating our children and giving them a great start on life.

Again, welcome aboard – we wish you every success and, as a community, we look to support your efforts in every way that we can.

[Follow me on Twitter @Financial_Decon & Facebook]

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