AL-8 Tom Tidwell

Contact Information

Email – ElectTidwell@gmail.com

Phone – 404-551-4352

Tom Tidwell Campaign Website

Background

Tidwell earned an economics degree from Georgia State University in 1989. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, cum laude, in 1992. He and his wife of 20 years have two daughters who attend Atlanta Public Schools. Tidwell has served as a member of the Morris Brandon school council task force. He is a Trustee of Northside Methodist Church and also serves on the church’s Sports and Recreation Board. Tidwell is Vice-Chairman of the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods and serves as a board member of the West Paces Northside Neighborhood Association.

Education Priorities

[Tidwell] cited wasteful spending, rising class sizes, and shrinking graduation rates as his motivation for seeking a position on the Board.

Early Education – “Atlanta Public Schools has a fundamental problem, it is not educating our children. During the past four years of the current Board leadership, graduation rates have dropped significantly. Far too many children drop out before graduating. The graduation rate is an embarrassment to the City of Atlanta and to each of us as citizens. It goes without saying that we must increase the graduation rate, but we also need to make sure that our graduates are prepared to move on to their next step in life, whether it’s college, work or some other pursuit.”

We need to increase K-3 educational programs for our children. Our goal should be for every 3rd grader to read at or above grade level. Anything less than a 100% success rate is unacceptable. In 3rd grade, children stop learning to read and begin reading to learn. If our children are not reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade, then they start to fall behind.

Decentralized Control – We must decentralize decision-making control and give principals more autonomy over their schools, staff and children. Principals are in a far better position than downtown administrators to know what their students need the most.

Position on Revenues and Taxes

“… APS already has the money to accomplish these goals. Revenue is not the problem. We don’t need more money – we don’t need to raise property taxes. Spending more money is not the solution. APS spends more money per student than any other school district in Georgia and more than most school districts in the nation. We need to spend the money we have more effectively. We can do more with less. Spending the money we have more effectively will improve our schools.”

Excerpt from Letter to BOE on AIS Property Sale It is a huge mistake to sell the Atlanta International School property  instead of using reserve funds. It makes no sense to get rid of a  unique, income-producing asset in order to keep a fungible asset (cash)  that will barely keep up with inflation. 

Position on Deficit Spending and General Fund Reserves

“The current plan is not working. Budget deficits are increasing and our children are not being properly educated.”

My opponent is on the hot seat because he is fiscally irresponsible. During his two years as chairman of the board, he has passed budget deficits of $18 million last year and $28 million this year. We cannot afford this type of “leadership.”

Position on Allocation of Resources

“There have been huge increases is some administrative salaries downtown, but teacher salaries have been frozen for the past five years. At the same time, class sizes have increased and graduation rates have declined.”

… we need to get control of the budget process so that limited resources are spent more effectively. This starts by learning where money is being spent and then redirecting it into the classroom, not administrative salaries downtown.”

Position on Class Size Waivers and Average Class Size

“Everybody agrees that smaller class sizes are better. That’s not in dispute,” said Tom Tidwell, who has two children attending Brandon Elementary. “The question is how to get there. It may not be what Davis wants, but there are ways to get there.”

 “I want to reduce class sizes”

Increasing class sizes diminishes the learning experience for every child, but it has a disproportionately negative affect on young children (grades K-3) and children from impoverished areas. The more children you squeeze into a classroom, the more disruptions you have and the greater potential for school ground violence. Most studies show a positive effect between smaller class sizes and academic performance, especially for younger children. There is not a single published study I know of that even suggests larger classes enhance the educational experience for children.

Position on the Budget Process

“The first step is to implement financial accountability. We need to find out where the money is being spent, and then redirect it so more money goes into the classroom to be spent on teachers and supplies rather than administrative expenses downtown. Over the past four years, teacher salaries have been frozen but salaries for administrators downtown have increased significantly.”

Position on Overcapacity Issues and School Closings

Position on Board’s Oversight Responsibilities

Position on Charter Schools

Position on Other Issues that Have Financial Implications

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