Tuesday, August 18, 2009

APS' Hall is on the right track

Atlanta Public Schools' superintendent Beverly Hall gave her annual "state of the system" address this morning. Among the things she highlighted:
In her annual “state of the system” address, Hall lauded students’ achievements -- a 33 percent increase in graduation rates; one in three elementary students exceeding state standards -- and riffed off the real estate industry to make her pitch.

“We know that after homebuyers narrow their search to a particular neighborhood, two key factors influence their purchasing decision: the quality of the house and the asking price,” Hall told an audience that organizers expected to top 300, including local educators and corporate leaders.

“Similarly, parents choose schools for their children based on the quality of the academic program and the value provided,” she said.
I'd add that homebuyers often narrow their search for a particular neighborhood based on school district. So improving the APS is a big deal in terms of making Atlanta competitive with the rest of the metro area for families.

One reason I harp things like crime and the city's schools is because these are the issues that make Atlanta less competitive for attracting residents than say, Cobb or Gwinnett. I want to see Atlanta grow into a vibrant, urban city. I want to see the seeds of urbanity in Midtown, Downtown, and Buckhead grow into a world-class city. But it all starts with attracting residents to they city.

Sustainable growth means attracting young people and families. I love GSU being Downtown because it can serve as a vehicle to introduce urban living to young people who may then stay in the city post-graduation. Likewise, attracting families mean that you have kids who grow up in the city and don't want to leave (like myself).

To get families, you have to have good school districts. So it is good to see Atlanta doing well for a change. The CRCT cheating is a stain, but overall things are looking better. There is still a long way to go, but we should recognize progress when it occurs.

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