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Atlanta Board of Education Member, District 5

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
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  • D'Jaris "DJ" James

  • Raynard Johnson

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    Jatisha Marsh Human Resources Manager

  • Erika Yvette Mitchell

  • Bobby K. Montgomery

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    Jackye Rhodes Retired Educator/ Realtor

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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) 997-3804
I worked ten years in Atlanta Public Schools as a teacher, homeless tutor, after-school program director, virtual academy teacher, and human resources analyst. I have a Master of Public Policy from the Andrew Young School at Georgia State University; I completed my graduate internship in the APS Office of Policy and Governance. I had the opportunity to shape policy in my roles in human resources and as a graduate intern.

I left my corporate career to positively impact the lives of Atlanta's children. My purpose and passion in life are to touch the lives of students. Purpose, passion, and preparation are my motivators in serving.
After the cheating scandal, I know the power of shining light to all areas of district operations. To not repeat the sins of the past, transparency is essential. More information should be made available to the public. More meetings should be broadcast. I will vote for, and collaborate with my colleagues on the board, to make more information publically available.

District 5 has been impacted by school closure, reorganization, and consolidation. I will champion creating administrative regulations around the criteria, timing, communication, and future facility use when such changes are proposed by the superintendent.
School safety, and systematic inequity are two significant challenges to moving the district forward. A positive environment is required for student learning to take place. Students who are in fear for their safety, and schools filled with chaos, negatively impact student achievement. A district where only some students have access to the resources that they need to succeed in school is inequitable.

The board is charged with hiring and evaluating a superintendent and approving a budget. The superintendent must be ultimately accountable for the climate in our schools through the annual evaluation. I will support budgetary outlays that are proven to improve school climate and safety. As a board member, every decision that I make will be viewed through the lens of equity.
All APS students need to have access to out-of-school enrichment. My time teaching and working with teachers and administrators in every school in APS showed me that many teachers are working extremely hard to erase achievement gaps. Many of our schools are fighting an uphill battle when there is a summer "brain drain." It is essential to have quality after-school and summer programs that serve our students whose families do not have the financial resources.
Local School Governance Teams are in place at every school. These teams are to establish and monitor school improvement goals. The district can work collaboratively with these groups and continue to build the capacity.

I understand that increasing the graduation rate begins before students even reach kindergarten. The Board should work to expand Pre-K options within the district. The Board should partner with the city and other entities to support quality childcare for ages 0-3.

As a former reading teacher, I know that we must invest to make sure students are proficient in literacy by third grade. We must also provide funding at the secondary level to provide interventions to students who slipped through the cracks on the elementary level. Reading is the window to the world.

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Campaign Phone (404) 316-6429
Like several other candidates in this race, both of my children were educated in and graduated from APS schools. During the time when my children attended APS schools, I served as treasurer of Garden Hills PTA, co-president of Southwest Middle School PTA, and other support committees for their schools. I am the only candidate with 38 years of experience teaching APS students. I taught for 19 years at Northside (North Atlanta), 10 years at D.M. Therrell and 9 years at Southside. I know what it takes to provide a world class education for our students, whether those students reside on the north side of town or the south side of town. I have experienced first-hand the impact of Board policies on the abilities of both teachers and administrators to provide a quality education for our kids. During my 38 years of service to APS, I was able to demonstrate my skills at educating our students. The list of achievements of my students is far too long to present here. I was selected twice by APS as “Academic Achievement Winner in Mathematics”. I was recognized for “Outstanding Leadership in Mathematics” By Secretary of State Cathy Cox. I have been a member of a visiting team with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) with the responsibility of making recommendations about how those schools could improve their academic programs. I consider service on the Atlanta BOE simply an extension of what I have been doing all of my adult life.
1) Sixty-six percent of our kids can’t read by the end of third grade! My top priority will be to provide whatever resources are necessary to ensure that all our students can read by the time they finish the 3rd grade. Because of the importance of the ability to read for overall academic performance, I will recommend that reading specialists be assigned to all underperforming schools to ensure that we meet this goal. 2) To expand the options for students not currently ready to attend college. We should enlist the assistance of corporations and industries moving into this region to tailor specialized curricula and internship opportunities designed to make our students immediately employable when they receive their high school diplomas.
Most of the schools in district 5 are underperforming school. Most of those students cannot read! Reading is fundamental! If they can’t read they are headed down the road to failure! We must address This issue. As I stated in the answer above, I will recommend that the board assign reading specialist to underperforming school to ensure that students can read by the end of third grade

Another significant challenge in my district is to provide a quality education for children living in low – income communities. The best way to address this is to make sure that APS resources are allocated in a manner designed to recognize this disparity and to ensure that income disparities do not result in diminished educational opportunities. I will ensure that my schools get the wrap-around services needed to address their issues.
I think the “Go Team” concept embodied in the new operational system adopted by the APS is an excellent way to place the school under the control of the community that it serves. Like many other ideas, however, the key is to make sure that these teams both truly represent the community and that any innovations generated by these teams are accorded a positive reception by system administrators.
Research by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established that the surest way to turn around failing schools is to make sure that each classroom in that school has a caring and competent teacher. In Atlanta, this means providing some sort of incentives to encourage our better teachers to stay in failing schools if they are already assigned there and to come to failing schools if they are not. Fortunately, there are many case studies throughout this country where public school systems have employed this concept with positive results. We should carefully consider all of these studies and determine what would the most effective incentives be in our system.

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