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?
Having been involved in community engagement and youth development for over ten years, I have long worked for positive change and outcome for children within the metro Atlanta area and other surrounding cities. My efforts as a board member would center on serving all of the children in the community; one child is no more important than another. We are a diverse city and have to celebrate that diversity. I feel that the time has come for me to seek elected office and use the skills that I have acquired for the betterment of our local government. By working together we can all share in the knowledge and satisfaction that we can provide for the educational needs of all children, and build a district where students, parents, teachers, and staff feel they are appreciated and that they are assets to the lives of our children within APS. I ask for your support because IT IS TIME FOR A CHANGE.
2) What makes you a better candidate than your opponents?
I absolutely love children and work hard for them to get the best outcomes possible. My wife and I have 3 sons that I’m a proud and active father for, which we plan on having them attend schools within APS once they reach school-age. Professionally, I’ve worked as Co-Chair of Policy Council for Easter Seals of North Georgia, Teacher and Gym Instructor for The Boys & Girls Club, Counselor for Youth Villages; I’ve also engaged with students as an After-School teacher for Charles R. Drew Charter, APEC Learning Center, and T.H. Slater Elementary. In 2009 as a sophomore in college, I started a collegiate organization that focused on community engagement, which was recognized as Georgia Southern University’s “Best New Student Organization” in Spring 2012. Currently, I’m a Lead Youth Mental Health Assistant for Peachford Hospital where I enjoy working with young people to overcome traumatic experiences through therapeutic approach. Having the skills to work with children in different settings gives me the drive necessary to produce results that will shape our district for the better. As long as the children remain our top priority, I am beyond confident that my work ethic will have what it takes to be the best candidate for the job.
3) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ greatest strength?
APS greatest strength is the community in which it serves. The City of Atlanta is blessed with talented people, multiple perspectives, and a constant drive to question and evolve. When we work together, this community does amazing things. Community engagement is of utmost importance as it relates to how well a school performs. When community members participate in the decision-making process, School Board members solicit community input, and others consider information during conversations and presentations, APS is sure to find ways to ensure the success of our children.
4) What do you think is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
Atlanta Public Schools in certain areas of concentrated poverty and minority background are not being fulfilled in an equitable manner.
5) How would you address what you feel is Atlanta Schools’ biggest challenge?
Unfortunately, high-poverty districts spend less per student than low-poverty districts do, according to U.S. Department of Education. Lower spending can irreversibly damage a child’s future, especially for kids from poor families. Some of the changes that I wish to implement once elected include; finding the resources necessary to provide underfunded schools with technological equipment, and furnishings to support state-of-the-art teaching and learning. I also wish to promote academic and workforce development programs that prepare students for high-demand jobs to assist with breaking the cycle of poverty in our communities. Other approaches to overcoming such hurdles include strengthening early childhood education and care, not streaming immigrants into special education, improving language training and strengthening teachers’ professional development to deal with multiculturalism.
6) What are the top two or three things you plan to focus on during your term as an elected official?
- Primary/ Secondary Math & Literacy Rates increasing, especially at our lowest performing schools.
- High School Graduation Rates increasing, as well as promoting workforce development programs that prepare students for high-demand jobs to assist with breaking the cycle of poverty within our communities.
- Developing strategies that increase Student Retention Rates.
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?
Although I appreciate anyone’s effort to make sure our students of APS gain the tools necessary to succeed, I can’t say that I support the superintendent’s best course of action known as the current Turnaround Plan. I am a firm believer that there are alternatives to bridging the achievement gap, which does not include the closing and merging of schools nor should it depend heavily on outside entities such as charter schools and other Education Management Organizations. To be a product of APS and to see how it’s being treated like some sort of experiment is a disgrace. All of our children deserve those who will not just implement a plan, but keep in consideration the demographic socio-economical backgrounds that a lot of our children come from. I want to see our school system go in a different direction, one that is data-proven and promotes equity across the entire district.
8) If elected, do you promise to conduct yourself in an ethical and transparent manner?