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Atlanta Board of Education Member, District 2

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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  • Byron Amos

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    Tony Burks Educational Consultant and Coach

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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 (470) 588-3622
I've worked in education across the country for 25 years. I've been a teacher, Magnet Director, college instructor, and School Transformation Coach. I've also been an elementary principal, a Principal Mentor, a high school principal, and an area superintendent. I started teaching when I was 22 and became an elementary school principal at 27. I am the founding principal of The Early College at Guilford, North Carolina’s first early college high school and one of the first such schools of its kind in the world. I bring to the table formal training in policy and governance. I’m running because I care about the students of the Atlanta Public Schools. I have something to offer students and community in the City of Atlanta, School District 2. I have a unique perspective that will guide the way I work with fellow board members, the superintendent, and the community. Together we will make things better for our students.
My top two policy priorities are (1) children and learning, and (2) community engagement. I want to focus on the overall academic, social, physical, and personal wellness of students and their families to help our students achieve their dreams by creating conditions that help educators help students. Again, when we remove roadblocks and barriers, our children succeed. We must continue trying innovative things to help our students. Likewise, we also must simply do the right things and do the right things well to help our students achieve excellence. It'll take us working together as an effective team. When we are visible and transparent, we can connect families to help our students be their best. Public education–at its heart–is about community. We can have a great idea; however, if it isn't connected to the community, it won't be successful and it won't last. In the end, schools succeed when the community is informed, involved, and engaged.
One of Atlanta’s biggest challenges is its budget. Board members are interpreters of the budget, the budgeting process, and expenditures. I’ll advocate for transparency. I’ll advocate for posting each school's budget, as well as the district’s budget, online in a user-friendly, interactive format. I'll advocate for a budget process that includes a budget stabilization plan, a student-friendly budget book, and engaged GO Teams that inform school-based spending. Equity is another big challenge; we have a system that is still a tale of two school districts. I'll advocate for sustainable Academic and Social support for all students. I'll work to ensure that district policies are flexible, timely, and responsive to the intensity, length, and manner of support each student needs to succeed. I'll also advocate for a strategic plan that includes professional development and job-embedded professional learning for all staff.
Innovation is promising. It’s found, nurtured, and sustained in public education from traditional neighborhood to public charter schools. Let’s try innovative things to help our students in all educational settings. Likewise, let’s simply do the right things well to help our students achieve excellence. Let’s incubate innovative ideas so that traditional and charter schools may learn from each other. The flexibility schools have can spark a deeper exploration of innovative practices that can be replicated at other schools. Sadly, many schools operate with an “Elephant tied to a Chair” mentality. They see policy barriers and restrictions where such barriers and restrictions don’t exist. All schools–not just charters or themed schools–must have freedom and flexibility, challenge and choice. Our district must provide strong coaching, ongoing professional development, and face-to-face support. We must use data as a flashlight to shine the light on what works and what does not work.
The data clearly shows that APS needs to make improvements. Is the School Turnaround Plan the right improvement? That's the question. It’s important to examine what's in place, its progress, and data. Educators often discuss “being data-driven” (I prefer being data-informed). So we should begin with the data, look at root causes and verify that the strategy is aligned to the data, focused on the root causes, and is addressing the needs of the students. If so, the plan should be supported. If it is not, the district should make necessary adjustments or changes. Over the years, APS has changed programs and services faster than some people change clothes. There is nothing inherently wrong with change. But change without assessing the effectiveness and without continual improvement is educational malpractice. Atlanta’s challenge has been implementation fidelity, procedural consistency, leadership stability, and programmatic fidelity.
My experience is brought forth first as a graduate of the the Atlanta Public School system. Secondly, I have worked as a former substitute teacher in the class room for grades K-12. Educating students is a passion of mine as I know that knowledge is power and is the key to success. My motivation to serve as a school board member is students being able to grow and learn through a variety of subjects. I believe that nothing can be accomplished without the foundation of a solid education. I also intend to serve as a sounding board for Atlanta’s future youth for many years to come even long after my candidacy.

My top two policy priorities would be to a) look at and review areas of opportunities of charter versus public schools with low performance and b) ensure that students, teachers, parents and classified employees have a voice, are heard and are treated fairly within the system. I will achieve these results by being an advocate for education and serve as a subject matter expert in the areas of policies and structures. I will fight to protect education rights with the support and feedback of teachers, students, parents and the community to provide an action plan for resolution.
I will be supporting District 2. The most significant challenges are a) low performing schools and 2) bringing equity into the community for education. I will pursue these challenges by listening to the community and reviewing historical trending data to determine how these low performing schools can receive a turnaround without the impact of more school closures and loss of jobs. I live in the Vine City community and it is rather disturbing to see schools such as Woodson and Bethune as abandoned. Equity can be achieved by partnering with organizations and businesses for internships and increase more revenue for earning academic scholarships.
The most educational reform idea that has the most promise is students learning through innovation.
The main effort that I would raise to support student achievement and increase graduation rates is to implement more parent involvement programs. Implementing these type of programs will lead to students feeling further motivated which will ultimately drive and increase self empowerment.

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