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Atlanta Board of Education Member, District 1

The School Board is the elected governing body of a school district. The School Board provides funds for the operation and maintenance of the system, adopts courses of study, prescribes standards for operation and improvement of the schools, provides for planning, expansion and improvements of facilities, employs personnel, approves the budget, financial reports and major expenditures, and appoints and evaluates the school superintendent
  • Leslie Grant

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    Ade Oguntoye Social Worker

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Biographical Information

What experience do you bring to the job and what is your motivation to serve as a school board member?

If elected, what would be your two top policy priorities and how would you work to achieve results?

What are the most significant challenges to quality public education in your school district? List two and explain how you will pursue them.

Which educational reform idea do you believe has the most promise for your school system?

What efforts do you support to raise the student achievement in each of the schools in the local school district and increase graduation rates?

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Campaign Phone (404) 969-5593
For 16 years I have been serving the students and communities of Atlanta Public Schools. In those years i have worked directly with teachers, students and administrators to address concerns and provide access to resources. I bring a background in policy development (I received my MSW focusing on Social Policy from Columbia University) and understand true partnership. Additionally I have served on several boards so I am familiar with governance. I currently serve on a board of a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) with a $5 million+ budget. I am running for office because I have a plan to grow the school system while serving the interests and needs of every student. While there has been progress made, I truly believe we have an opportunity to do a better job of reaching out to the community and serving the educational interests of our students.
1.Early childhood education- Although the Atlanta board of education mandate is K-12 education, we need to work with partners to provide early childhood education at all appropriate elementary schools. The dollars invested in high quality early childhood education yields results many times its' investment. We have schools that currently do it in the system. I would advocate for using a small fraction of the almost $500 million in unrestricted reserves from the lottery to pay for centers in schools so there would be no additional cost to tax payers.

2. Schools should be seen as a community resource and education center. The assets in the schools and community must be maximized to increase efficiency and decrease waste. Offerings at a school should include bringing back trade skills to high school students in partnership with the community who can provide apprenticeship opportunities. We should also live broadcast all board meetings at schools sites while offering dinner and homework assistance to make it easier for parents and the community to attend board meetings. Additionally there should be a job resource center at every school to assist graduates as well as the larger community in their career development.
Gentrification is a primary driver of decreased attendance as many people are priced out of their neighborhoods. We can address this as a system in the shorter term through utilizing some of our vacant property as affordable housing. Longer term we must see the education of our students as an opportunity to produce the next great community leaders to address this and other social concerns. We should ensure that our programs are designed to produce thought leaders as well as workers.

Another problem is the lack of sharing of best practices. Some schools are performing much better than others in the district. There should be more direct opportunities to share information from school to school. In addition parents and students must have all necessary information about career and educational opportunities available so they can make the best decision for their child.
I think the implementation of models are just as important if not more important than the models themselves. Models work when they are intentionally implemented. I think we must focus on having high quality teachers in environments that are conducive to learning with opportunities for parental and community involvement. When we do that we will be successful in whatever strategy or reform model we use. The strategies at several of the charter schools as well as neighborhood schools which use various versions of this are successful. So the current turnaround strategy is a great reform strategy on paper. The deficiencies come in the implementation of it. For example, the governance (go) teams can only be as strong in each school as their access to high quality information. We have to stop relying solely on a program or product and evaluate school communities and shore each one up according to data, needs and resources.
Early childhood education is key to having students prepared for a K-12 education. It reduces the need for remediation and allows the students and teachers to spend more time of grade level work. Additionally targeted instruction in schools that we know students did not receive the education they deserved must be implemented.

High school graduation rates can be raised by addressing the social concerns that drive students out of school including abuse in and out of school, endemic poverty and educational challenges. One solution is for each student to have an advocate in school that is focused on their success. This person would be responsible for creating a plan in what success looks like for the student. They would also be trained to look for signs of abuse and neglect and report them to the appropriate school contact. All young people need guidance and support to achieve all they can. Once the structural barriers to success are removed they can thrive unhindered. We can then have teachers focus on what they do best, educational plans and outcomes for their students. logo


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