Sunday, February 22, 2009

Some good news for once

Amid all the problems with the police department, the city's finances, MARTA going broke, the library shenanigans, and BeltLine snafus, it is nice to get some good news. Atlanta Public School's superintendent was named best in the nation. I think that is nice and all, but what I'm more pleased with is why:
When she arrived, fewer than half of the district’s fourth-graders passed state reading tests and fewer than one-third graduated on time. The latest results show that 86 percent of fourth-graders passed the test and 72 percent of the students graduated on time.
I also like the "how":
She required schools to implement academic reform programs. She replaced 89 percent of principals. She closed about 15 small schools and upgraded other campuses.
My favorite might have been the bit about her detractors:
The qualities Hall’s supporters find so admirable are the traits her critics find so repugnant.

They said Hall’s autocratic style alienates many teachers and parents.

While test scores have improved, they said most of the gains occurred in elementary schools.
Oh noes! Don't focus on the elementary schools! Don't focus on the area that influences future achievement! Obviously you'd like to see improvement in middle and high school scores, but won't those improve as the kids who learn more in elementary school get older?

As a former student in APS schools for 10 years, it is good to hear some positive news for a change. APS has been a laughing stock for years, nevermind that I had APS classmates who got in and did quite well at Harvard, Stanford, Penn, Northwestern, and other top-tier schools. I've felt that two big issues holding Atlanta back are the police department and the public schools. Most of the population growth over the last decade has come from childless households, and if Atlanta is going to ever be a real, first-class, global city it needs to attract families. Beverly Hall is doing important work that affects all of us, whether we have kids or not.


  1. 'I've felt that two big issues holding Atlanta back are the police department and the public schools'

    Amen, brother.

  2. Nice post. There are so many things that need to occur if Atlanta wants to be a first-class city, but certainly, as you say, attracting families is one of them.


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