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. Note: This Q&A was received after our Sept. 18 deadline to submit answers. We will not run any new Q&A’s after Oct. 16.
1) Why are you running for Atlanta School Board?
I have been in education for 15 years and a parent for 10 years. I had no desire to run for political office but they brought the fight to my door step. When the current APS school board implemented the “school turnaround plan”, I was there with many community people, pleading for them to not close schools. But they didn’t care. They said they had been asking for help the entire time and no one came to their meetings. Well schools aren’t for sale! The current board needs to realize that. Teachers are fleeing with the threat of losing their jobs and closing down schools. It only makes it bad for our children and communities to have it gutted by people who don’t care. Board members should not just be visible for campaign season. The same way people get in to office should be the same way they campaign about the schools needs and celebrations. Going into the community, knocking on doors, having community events at the grocery stores and malls. That’s where the people are. Share and celebrate APS there, not behind some closed door where schools are being closed and given away for profit! Bring the pride back to APS!
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
Eshe Collins is the incumbent for this race. The day she voted for the school turnaround plan, which closed schools in our communities, was the day I knew the current board had to be replaced. I am willing to listen to constituents because I want my voice heard. I know that I will be more in tune with the community because I genuinely want to serve and be voice of the community. I am not going to tell people that they should stay informed by coming to meetings. We are busy working and providing for our families. The same way that people campaign to get in office, should be the same way they get information out about any all issues once they are elected. That is what makes me different than the current board member. I don’t dismiss people.
3) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ greatest strength?
I am a product of the APS system. I attended M. Agnes Jones Elementary School and graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. The community has always been vested in the APS system. We have always had a strong alumni presence. Our schools have had the greatest pride since I can remember. I know both my school songs and history because we love our institutions.
4) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
Stopping the negative conations that have been currently placed on our school system. That we are failing schools that need to be fixed. No! We are great schools in great communities that are known nationally and internationally. It is time to bring back the pride that has always been there. This “we need to be fixed madness” will stop!
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
To stop the closing of schools immediately, give power and job stability / security to the educators and employees of APS to stop them from fleeing. The current superintendent Dr. Castarphen seems to think that the extra 10K that APS provides educators was enough to stop them from fleeing. Not so. People would rather be paid less in other school systems, where they are not threatened with losing their jobs. That is just common sense.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
Being transparent as a board. Bringing back the pride of APS by stopping the closing of schools and terrorizing of employees and staff!
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?
Dr. Castarphen and the current board members have to go. If they want to go in to entrepreneurship, they need to be in other businesses besides education. Schools should not be for sale!
8) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Absolutely. I am a parent that wants the best for my child and community. I want the same thing for others.