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?
These past four years have been among the most significant of my life, as I have worked with colleagues, parents, teachers, students, and the community to right past wrongs and move forward to provide a world-class education for each and every child. Now that we have stabilized the district after some very difficult times, I want to continue contributing my skills and experience to giving our students opportunities for growth and success.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I am the only candidate who can demonstrate 30 years of both deep and broad experience as a volunteer, parent, and community leader in APS schools across the city. My proven commitment to our kids, and my knowledge of how we as educators can help them thrive, are valuable assets as we continue to move every student and every school to higher levels of success. Further, as a veteran BOE member, I know what the job entails and how to achieve our goals quickly and effectively.
3) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ greatest strength?
APS is truly inclusive to an extent matched by few other entities. We believe and live that education is a public good with the ability to raise every child to a fulfilling and successful life. To that end, we work every day to develop the gifts and meet the needs of each individual child entrusted to us. Our diverse student body and employee community further teach our students to appreciate and enjoy people who are different from them, which is an essential value in our increasingly complex world.
4) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
A. We must provide every child, at every level, with the highest-quality education.
B. We must recognize and address issues of intersectionality among our students. APS students have so many factors impacting their ability to learn and be successful: poverty, race, class, ability, family structure, food and/or housing insecurity, gender identity and sexual orientation, etc.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
I have worked for the past four years to address all APS’ challenges. Along with continuing all the good work we have done for our kids, my areas of focus listed below will help move every child forward to success.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
A. Closing achievement gaps by ensuring that every child gets everything they need to be successful in school and in life. We must continually commit to equity in every area of APS so every child can achieve their full potential.
B. Ensuring full and faithful implementation of our operating model, including meaningful school- and community-level control, completed rollout of signature programs, and effective training of teachers and administrators.
C. Supporting and strengthening initiatives such as Social Emotional Learning and No Place For Hate so every child experiences APS as a safe, welcoming learning environment for themselves and their peers.
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?
I was privileged to serve on the search committee which hired Dr. Carstarphen, and I continue to believe we made the right choice. She has been supportive of my ideas and responsive to my concerns. Under her leadership we have spent the past four years righting past wrongs and moving toward ensuring every APS student graduates ready for college and career. Our successes have been significant and measurable, especially in getting APS back on track academically, culturally, and financially. Our future challenges are different in some ways, but I am confident the BOE and the Superintendent will meet them together with the same level of creativity, collaboration and commitment we have demonstrated during this term. I am also committed to continuing the long-range and strategic planning we have already begun, to ensure we progress regardless of who is leading the District.
8) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?
Yes. Four years ago, I ran on a promise to return the BOE to a place of strong ethics and high transparency. My colleagues and I have delivered on that promise, eliminating infighting and personal attacks and returning the Board’s focus to all our kids. We still have some work to do in effectively communicating with stakeholders, but the BOE and APS as a whole are far more transparent than in the past, including: frequent town halls; focus groups on specific issues; livestreaming BOE meetings; willingness to be available 24/7 to address constituent concerns; and new policies and staffing devoted to family, alumni, and community engagement. I am committed to continuing our work in this area.