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Atlanta Board of Education Member, District 8 At Large

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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    Cynthia Briscoe Brown Attorney

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    Charlie Stadtlander C.E.O., Stadtlander and Company, LLC; Former Teacher

  • Ben Stone

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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?

Campaign Phone (404) 376-6080
I’ve served in Seat 8 At Large, Atlanta Board of Education since 2013. An Atlanta native, child & parent of APS alumni, I’m a 30-year citywide APS volunteer & community leader. A graduate of Davidson College & Vanderbilt Law School, I use my legal experience for Atlanta’s students, teachers & families, including founding 14 school foundations. On the Boards of the BeltLine, WABE/WPBA, Atlanta Partnership for Arts in Learning, Committee for Teaching About the UN, Alliance Francaise, & 3 PTAs, I created partnerships & opportunities for students & teachers citywide to enrich their lives. I helped Young Audiences develop smART stART, using the arts to improve reading skills in low-income APS kindergarteners. As co-President of NAPPS I promoted positive community engagement & a consistent voice for all Atlanta’s children. My 4 years in office have been among the most significant of my life, working with colleagues, parents, teachers, students & the community to right past wrongs & provide a world-class education for each and every child. We’ve restored stability to APS, pushed tens of millions of dollars from the central office to benefit kids, given local control to principals, teachers, & parents, & given teachers $45M in raises, all without raising taxes. APS is stronger and healthier, but there is still much work to do. I’m excited about the future of Atlanta and APS & want to continue using my skills & experience to give all our kids opportunities for growth & success.

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 achieves their full potential. Multigenerational poverty, housing/food insecurity, and other factors mean many of our kids start out behind their peers. I have and will advocate for citywide 0-5 year old early education so every child has a good start in school. More wraparound services, like medical clinics, development of safe and affordable housing, and better services for special-needs students also help move more kids farther and faster. Finally, I will support and strengthen Social Emotional Learning initiatives such as No Place For Hate so every child experiences APS as a safe, welcoming learning environment. B. Ensuring full, 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. As a parent myself, I was deeply involved in crafting our Board policy on family engagement and I champion our work to make parents part of the team to educate their children. I will support a Leadership Academy to retain great teachers and allow them to move into leadership positions. I will work for including career training in every signature program, because our kids need to know how education equips them to participate fully in the adult world.

A. 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. As a school system we cannot ignore the effect on education of the many issues and needs our children bring with them to school. My support of early education, wraparound services, and social emotional learning grows from my belief that all these help our children become ready to learn and grow. In my next four years, I want to focus on creating more partnerships with individuals and organizations who can help us address all our children’s needs. B. The relationship between APS and City leaders has impeded progress at both the school and municipal level. In 2014 we formed a Joint BOE/City Council Committee to share information and collaborate on issues where we could have collective impact. I will work to expand and improve the work of the Joint Committee to include other branches of government, which will allow us to resolve problems for the benefit of our kids and our city.
After careful study and a great deal of input, I voted with my colleagues to approve the APS Turnaround Strategy, which includes targeted professional training, greatly expanded wraparound services, and partnerships with proven experts to raise the bar in our most-challenging schools. While not perfect, the strategy gives us more human, financial, and emotional resources targeted to our students and schools which need them the most. At the end of its first year, the Turnaround Strategy is clearly yielding positive results, including improved scores at 15 of 16 schools included in the strategy, significant progress in closing achievement gaps, and better school culture. We have recently received national recognition for the innovativeness and success of our strategy. I look forward to further refining and adjusting our strategy in future years as we have more data.
In the four years since I took office, APS’ graduation rate has improved by 18 percentage points to a high of 77%. That means there were almost 600 more students who obtained their diplomas this year than in 2014, and who have a chance at successful, fulfilling adult lives. Those results are real and significant and show we are on the right track. In order to continue raising that number and graduating more kids, we need to become even more focused on meeting the needs of individual students. “All children are gifted; they just open their presents in different ways.” Our job as educators is to equip students with the tools to open their presents. We must expand offerings which engage our students in their education, including career education, arts, and athletics. We must ensure our special-needs students get extra support and encouragement so they can graduate ready for the next step in their lives. More advanced courses help our high-achievers succeed in top-tier colleges and universities. Adopting a whole-child approach to education shows positive results by every measure at every level.
Campaign Phone (404) 536-3918
I am an Atlanta business owner and former wmetro-Atlanta public school teacher. In 2009, I came very close to winning the Atlanta School Board District 3 seat from the incumbent. After graduating from the University of Missouri, I moved to Atlanta to teach in the public school system. During my teaching career, I taught 3rd Grade, as well as 9th & 10th Grade English Literature. While serving as a public school teacher, I also attended Georgia State University, where I earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration. I have served in numerous education leadership roles including, Bullying Awareness Coordinator, Faculty Sponsor of H.O.P.E. (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education), and Debate Team Coach. After completing my 5th year of teaching, I went back to school and completed a Doctorate in Jurisprudence in Health Law and Policy from Loyola University New Orleans. I continued my studies and graduated with a post-doctoral degree in Health Law and Policy from Loyola University Chicago. When I returned to Atlanta, I was struck by the disparity of resources and quality of education in Atlanta Public Schools. From my teaching and educational experiences, I have seen first-hand that too many kids come to school without adequate nutrition, proper eyewear, dental care, etc.
If elected, my top two policy priorities and how I would work to achieve results are: 1. To achieve parity in funding and resources for ALL schools in the Atlanta Public School System by focusing on all facets of the APS budget and where the dollars are being spent. I would achieve this result by working with my colleagues on the Board, as well as, continuing to get to know the needs of every school by visiting and listening to students, parents, employees and school leaders. 2. To create relationships with all Stakeholders and Policymakers, the Georgia Legislature, the Governors's Office as well as work to repair the tarnished relationship between the APS Board and the City of Atlanta Government (Mayor and City Council). To achieve this, I would work to create a Committee of parents, students, Board members, Community leaders, business owners and school leaders/Principals to interact with and lobby our Governor, State Legislature year round, especially during the 40 day legislative Session.
I am running CIty-Wide, and I will represent every school, every student, every teacher and stakeholder/taxpayer in the City. Each student, each teacher, each parent and each school has unique challenges. The most significant challenge that all of these stakeholders share, is the APS Board Policy of using institutional, one size fits all approaches. I will base every decision I make as a board member with the students, parents, teachers and schools' needs as my top priority. I will work to mitigate the disparity in resources among the schools in high wealth and low wealth districts, as well as ensure that Board polices recognize these unique challenges and give school leaders the flexibility needed to succeed.

The educational reform idea that I believe has the most promise for the Atlanta Public School (APS) system is that we can make every school great. Charter schools are used, currently, as public school choice for parents who believe the schools to which they are zoned to attend are not meeting the needs of their community/children. However, Charter Schools are a symptom of a larger problem. Every student should have access to a quality education within their own community no matter where in the district their family resides. We have to do a better job recognizing the unique needs in every school, student and family throughout the entire APS System. APS, also, needs to provide supplemental pay for teachers to work in lower performing school districts, until the problem of having low performing school districts is resolved, as well as, provide the needed resources for students who require wrap around services to better learn at home and at school.
The efforts I support to raise the student achievement in each of the schools in the APS system and to increase graduation rates is to recognize every child learns differently. Every child deserves to be supported on their path to success in life, so the Career Technical College Readiness curriculum is critical to meeting the needs of those students and ensuring their graduation and success after their K-12 years. APS must Increase funding for wrap around services for students, incentive pay for teachers to work in lower performing schools, and allow flexibility in every public school - driven and determined by the school Leader/Principal. Increasing parental involvement and allowing schools the flexibility to drive this involvement, by hosting parent teacher conferences at varying times/locations, as well as, other activities, will incentivize and allow parents to become more involved in their kid's school environment. I would, also, continue my work to promote, advocate for and increase awareness at the local and State level, policies and legislation, like the anti bullying bill, which I helped draft and worked across party lines to get passed in 2010.
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