Carstarphen announces “Day One: Be There” campaign – and more

Atlanta Public School Superintendent Carstarphen, in her prepared remarks, announced a campaign to improve attendance and to get students enrolled and attending the first day of school. Talk Up APS reported APS,

…launched a city-wide attendance campaign during the July Board of Education meeting encouraging parents and students to ‘be there’ for the first day of school, August 4, 2014.

 “We’re excited about a message we want students and families to hear loudly and clearly – Day One: Be There.  August 4 is the first day of school in Atlanta Public Schools, and we need every student to be there on the first day and every day after that,” said the superintendent.  “We want the world to know that August 4 is not only the first day of school; it’s the first day of instruction.”

The campaign seeks to break the myth that missing the first day or only a few days of school is normal and doesn’t impact academic achievement.

 “We’re going to use every neighborhood, partnership and communications channel at our disposal to spread the word about the importance of the first day and every day of school,” said the superintendent.

A number of groups are joining in the effort to get students enrolled and prepared for the first day including the Morehouse School of Medicine( which will provide parents with the ability to register and immunize their children), Chick-fil-A, Dollar General, the Georgia Aquarium, Macy’s, Six Flags and Stone Mountain Park to support the campaign. A website has been set up to provide a complete list of back to school activities, registration time periods and other information regarding the registration process.

In addition, Carstarphen also indicated that the following activities and actions not related to Day One were underway, including,

  • The appointment of an outsourced General Counsel and a review of the Legal Department with the objective of saving at least $1 million (see more here).
  • All 22 principal vacancies have been filled using an improved selection process.
  • An Executive Director for High Schools has been appointed to support the principals.
  • The process of developing the standards for evaluating the superintendent is underway.
  • Several central office departments are under review including the Legal Department, the Communications Department, the Organizational Advancement Department, the Testing and Compliance Department and she indicated there would be others as well.
  • Several key roles remain open and any current or new employees must understand that all conversations must be about “children first”.
  • Working under a “30, 60, 90 day entry plan” to make sure that all APS leadership – including senior staff, in-school leaders and other departmental leaders – understands the detailed steps that will be necessary to change the culture in APS and drive change through the system.
  • As of today, more than 560 teachers have been hired of which 250 will be new to the teaching profession. There are still approximately 60 teaching positions open.
  • Central staff and principals will be meeting on a regular basis to work out any issues or problems to make sure that the schools are receiving the support they need.

Carstarphen then reemphasized the need to get the kids in school on Day One – “we can’t teach them unless they are in front of a teacher”. Over 5,000 children are not in class on Day One and the campaign is focused on reducing this to get the school year off to a good start.

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