In an effort to help voters prepare for the Nov. 7 elections, Atlanta Loop sent questions to candidates running for Atlanta City Council, Atlanta Mayor and Atlanta School Board. Early voting begins Oct. 16. To see district maps, click here.
1) Why are you running for Atlanta School Board?
My former classroom position in Atlanta Public Schools allowed me to determine that I have an interest in the systematic problems facing students. Many of the decisions impacting schools, classrooms, and students are made at the school board level. It is important to have someone at the table to represent District 5 who understands how the district operates and how it can improve from various vantage points. I am committed to children of APS and the people of Atlanta.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I worked for Atlanta Public Schools for more than a decade in various capacities, as a middle schools teacher, homeless tutor, virtual academy teacher, and human resources professional. I still work in public education. I am certified to teach 11 content areas in Georgia; I am pursuing a degree in Educational Leadership. I was elected by my peers to be part of the local school council and both Atlanta middle schools I previously worked. The Board of Education is a policy-making body; I have a degree in public policy from the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University. I have the experience and training that will allow me to be the most effective board member for District 5.
3) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ greatest strength?
Atlanta Public Schools greatest strength is its people. The students, teacher, administrators, parents, and community stakeholders want the best for children. They collectively have the knowledge and ability to push the district forward in a positive direction.
4) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
School climate and safety must be addressed. Forty-five percent of middle and high schoolers in the district do not feel safe at school. Fifty-seven percent of elementary students indicate that teachers are interrupted on a daily basis in the classroom. The district will not see significant academic improvement until teaching and learning can take place in every classroom.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
School climate is a major component in the problems facing the district. Children cannot learn in an environment where they do not feel safe; teachers cannot teach in environments where they feel devalued. The superintendent is the board’s only employee. As a former evaluation professional, I understand what gets measured gets done. The superintendent’s evaluation must include measures related to school climate and safety. I will vote for proposals that provide support for evidence-based climate and school safety improvements.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
-Increasing the graduation rate
-Improving school climate and safety
-Making Atlanta Public Schools more transparent, ethical, and equitable
7) What is your opinion of the current superintendent? Are you happy with her leadership or do you want the school system to go in a different direction?
Being an urban superintendent is a difficult job; their average tenure is a little over 3.5 years. The superintendent has performed sufficiently according to the current school board. There have been a number of changes made. Most of the changes are new and need to be evaluated for effectiveness. I will ultimately judge the superintendent on the academic return on investment of these changes. The superintendent is the board’s only employee; however, she is responsible for more than 5,000 employees. I believe that future evaluations of any superintendent should include feedback from district personnel.
8) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Yes. I pride myself on acting ethically and with integrity. My former teaching colleagues selected me as the ethics advocate for our school on the heels of the cheating scandal.