Atlanta Public School’s have been making a lot of progress over the past year at some levels, but they still seem to be mired in bureaucracy and real changes seem to be only happening on a school by school basis. The “who screams loudest gets what they want” mentally is in full force which is know way of doing business. For instance Wesley International had to wait a whole year and many hours of negotiations just to get into Cook Elementary. See following link for more information http://eastatlanta.patch.com/articles/wesley-international-academy-to-move-to-former-cook-elementary-school-space?ncid=newsltuspatc00000003
There are positive school-based innovations happening in our Capitol View neighborhood elementary school. Perkerson Elementary is starting an innovative new 50-50 Spanish Immersion program in 2013. Stanton Elementary, in the Jackson Cluster, is also starting the same type of program, but layers and layers of bureaucracy continue to hold our schools back from “putting children first”. The thing to note about these programs is that they would not have happened if it were not for the leadership and community at the school level. More information on this program and links to the application process can be found at http://capitolview.org/applications-due-by-june-21st-for-perkerson-elementary-spanish-immersion-program/
Parents are continuing to hold APS more accountable in other important areas, learning about their often broken and poorly managed processes, and asking the hard questions. Examples of this are seen in a recent AJC article and blogpost on the Deconstruction Blog with regard to the approval of the 2013-14 budget. More about this can be found at http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/jun/05/aps-budget-process-has-it-been-mess/. Jarod Apartov also recently made a video that explains the APS budget to parents and community members in simple terms at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP66iltBQ8I&feature=youtu.be
Fulton County Schools just finished their budget and seemed to be able to make much more progress than APS. Of course, they are also moving to a full charter system of public schools. More information about this can be found at http://johnscreek.patch.com/articles/fulton-schools-officially-approves-2014-budget-b390e97a
Because no progress is being made with budget process reform and there seems to be a ingrained culture of excuse making, many parents are pushing for more school-based budgeting that could focus more on putting the students first rather than continuing to feed money into a bureaucracy that does not have our childrens’ interests put first. Start up organizations such as Atlanta Communities for Excellent Schools are trying to build consensus between communities and regional organizations such as CINS, EMC2, NAPPS, SEACS, SNAPPS to advocate with a stronger voice about some of the systemic problems that APS is refusing to address or may not have the skilled leadership to address.
As parents and community members of Capitol View and the surrounding neighborhoods (Adair Park, Capitol View Manor, and Sylvan Hills), we need to be knowledgeable about what is going on and make sure we are at the table and making our voice heard. Get involved with education at our schools, in our neighborhood associations, and in these other regional and citywide organizations.