Excellent Schools Project is Not an Excellent Plan
The following is in response to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution's January 2nd article titled Atlanta school board could vote in March on school rating plan.
While the "Excellent Schools Project" is being sold to the public as a way to rate Atlanta public schools and identify those that don’t measure up, it’s really nothing more than a blame game public relations stunt that fails to address the real issue: the school district failed to provide Atlanta’s educators with the resources they need to carry out its lofty “Turn Around Plan,” and now they want kids, schools and teachers to pay the price.
Schools don’t need ratings and labels. They need investment -- in academics, arts athletics and social emotional learning, as well as resources for family engagement. Without it, way too many schools will surely receive a failing grade under the new system. But the schools haven’t failed. The district has just failed to give them the tools they need to pass this test in the first place.
According to the American Federation of Teacher's Decade of Neglect Report, 25 states still provide less funding for K-12 schools than before the recession after adjusting for inflation. Georgia is one of those states and remains one of the worst for per-pupil funding.
As a 41-year career educator, I know how hard it is to make our neighborhood schools better. I know it takes time and resources. And I know labeling our schools as failing will only give charter school companies license to come in and start buying off our public schools with lofty claims of improvement … and little evidence to back it up.
Instead of a program to rate our schools, let’s fund a program to improve every public school for every kid, with an experienced teacher in every classroom and adequate textbooks, smaller classes sizes, and school nurses that meet their needs. Instead of diverting already scarce public tax dollars away from traditional public schools to create "for-profit special-interest controlled schools," let's invest in our neighborhood schools -- in the communities where our families lives -- and should be able to thrive.
President of the Atlanta Federation of Teachers