If you’re a turnaround wizard, Atlanta Public Schools wants you

Atlanta Public Schools intends to hire turnaround experts to jumpstart struggling schools before they’re absorbed into a proposed new state takeover district.

In November, Georgians will vote on a constitutional amendment to create the Opportunity School District, which would take over some of the state’s lowest performing schools.  The state could hand the schools over to charter operators, run them or shutter them. Whatever path is taken, the schools would no longer be part of the local district but come under the control of a leader hired by the governor.

With about two dozen eligible schools each, Atlanta and DeKalb face the greatest risk of losing schools to the Opportunity School District. That’s why APS is seeking to fire up its own turnaround engines so its schools aren’t moved into the OSD.

Here’s what MyAJC.com says about the APS plan.

And here’s what APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said in her blog:

As we enter the New Year and a new season of making resolutions, it should come as no surprise to anyone keeping our district and our schools on their radars that we have a clear, succinct resolution for 2016: Turnaround Atlanta Public Schools.

It’s not only our resolution, but it is our mandate.

Meria Carstarphen defends Atlanta's campaign to bring in turnaround talent to remake failing schools.

Meria Carstarphen defends Atlanta’s campaign to bring in turnaround talent to remake failing schools.

In fact, the Turnaround is happening RIGHT NOW. We have started hiring tutors to provide focused tutoring for literary skills at 16 of our highest-needs schools. We are prepared to serve more than 1,900 students in grades three to five in daily sessions for 45 minutes in a 5-to-1 pupil-to-teacher setting. This tutoring is scheduled to get started in just a few weeks!

We are well into preparations for our Spring Break academy, which will be available to third- through fifth-grade students in targeted schools. Parents of eligible students will be contacted soon for enrollment information and other details.

And now we are starting the rollout of initiatives that will require even greater community engagement.

As I outlined in the State of the District last October and in board meetings and community gatherings since, we will consider any and all viable options for our schools and students, even if they generate controversy. Nothing is too bold for our kids. They deserve nothing less.

To that end, we recently issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ), in which we formally invited organizations with track records of improving student achievement to submit proposals as to how they could replicate such successes in our highest-needs schools.

Not surprisingly, there is a lot of chatter about this RFQ and already a lot of misinformation out there.  So, I think it’s important that I clarify what this RFQ is and what this RFQ is not. This RFQ is not a charter school application process.  We have a clearly defined process for applicants who are interested in opening a start-up charter school, and while we will continue to honor that separate process, that is not the purpose of this RFQ.  The RFQ is for organizations that can demonstrate how they could dramatically improve student achievement for both short-term and long-term success; increase the operational efficiency of a low-performing school; and provide a high quality educational environment for APS students within the target schools in partnership with APS to improve the quality of neighborhood school options.

The RFQ period closes on Friday, Jan. 22. We plan to review potential providers at the Feb. 1 board meeting, after which we will engage parents and community stakeholders in a transparent process. To the extent that a partner is willing to work with us in the 2016-17 school year, our goal is to bring those actions to the March 7 board meeting.

You may also have noticed recent advertisements for turnaround talent. We have embarked on a search for principal and teacher candidates who thrive in turnaround environments. I ask you to encourage qualified friends and colleagues outside of our district to consider APS as an exciting, challenging new experience in public education for them. They can learn more at www.APSrecruits.us.

When the state announced a new Opportunity School District that would potentially take over our lowest performing schools if approved by voters, it became abundantly clear that our runway had been dramatically shortened and that if our kids would have any real chance, we needed much more than systematic, incremental change.

It became clear to me that APS desperately needed transformational change!  And that is why I believe the steps we are taking as part of our school turnaround strategy are so critical.

As I shared at my State of District address this fall, transformation is not always popular, it’s never comfortable and it doesn’t come with the luxury of incremental progress over time. It does not come with the time to fully build trust and engagement so the community can fully understand the need and process of change implementation.  But what I am hopeful it will come with is dramatic improvement in the quality of education for kids, and at the end of the day, that is what our kids deserve and that is what our community is demanding of this district.

That’s my resolution and my pledge to all of you as Atlanta Public Schools stakeholders.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

61 comments
pcrabtree
pcrabtree

Austin got rid of her after implementation of HER plan. It did not work. After she left, they undid her plan, closed her charters, and started over, now they are succeeding. What is her real "plan"? Is if really about improvement? Or....? The board hires Erin Hames, sells off schools to charters, OSD passes and the governor gets the rest of the schools on the Beltline. Some of us are onto the lies and scare tactics she is perpetrating.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Here is a link to an educational entry on my blog, "MaryElizabethSings," which describes how to turn passive readers into active readers through a reading-in-the-content-area technique, known through research to have been effective since the 1920s. It is my hope that teachers and parents of students in the APS will utilize this SQ3R read-study technique to reach all of their students, with their varied reading levels within their various curriculum areas.


https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/about-education-essay-3-sq3r-survey-question-read-recite-review/


Also, for reluctant readers: https://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/about-education-essay-4-sq3r-expanded-for-reluctant-readers/

LaKeisha
LaKeisha

The last time Atlanta schools "turned around," a lot of teachers and administrators got indicted for faking evidence of the "turnaround." 
The bottom line is that...unfortunately...no teacher and no school can inspire uncaring students who come to school without being prepared and who don't give a rip about education in the first place.  The biggest problems the school systems have start at home, where the system has no control. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

I have to say that this entire proposal by Superintendent Carstarphen seems like a strategic move to preserve her own political power and influence against the Governor's move to take it away with his constitutional amendment. Nothing more.

Starik
Starik

@OriginalProf Perhaps it's to ensure that the current teachers and administrators are protected

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Starik @OriginalProf 

See AtlPeach below. I think that Superintendent Carstarphen has real political savvy, and some underlying  strategy re. the APS schools that hasn't yet been revealed. She's wily and Gov. Deal and Mayor Reed are outmatched, possibly in the intelligence department.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@OriginalProf

Decidedly so.  And don't think for a moment that the Governor is a political opponent of hers.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@OriginalProf

Moreover, a source believed reliable tells me Carstarphen has a "dotted line relationship" working for Eli Broad.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@OriginalProf

And I would greatly appreciate your doing whatever you can to encourage the AJC to do so.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson 

Excellent article.

(1) From your link, above: "Today Union City, which opted for homegrown gradualism, is regarded as a poster child for good urban education."

(2) My thoughts - from below - on improving students' progress in so-called "failing" schools:  "Make every teacher a literacy teacher, k - 12.  To do this, each teacher must be trained in the literacy techniques of reading-in-the-content areas."

(3) From my post, from the link given, below: "The importance of providing good professional development to engender a population of highly qualified diagnostic reading teachers is paramount, and every child will benefit from such teachers. It is not easy, but anyone who tells you there is an easier solution to the mounting problem of illiteracy is trying to sell a myth."

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@MaryElizabethSings @EdJohnson

I said once before APS should have MES as an educational consultant.  But, no, who do they have? Erin Hames, architect of Gov. Deal's OSD.  Carstarphen's arrangement with Hames is but an aspect of her dystopian narrative she uses for "horsewhipping and cheerleading" (her words) the public into compliance.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@EdJohnson

Thank you.  I would be pleased to help improve the APS, in any way that I am able.  You can contact me through Maureen Downey.  I would be unorthodox, however, in that I am not looking for a paid position and all that that implies at my advanced age, but I am willing to share, freely, of my unique experiences in educational delivery. I have an excellent memory regarding specifics of delivery of teaching reading-in-the-content areas to all teachers from 1 - 12.

pcrabtree
pcrabtree

She is part of the Harvard "Turnaround" plan based on a book about 5 charter schools. She has a questionable past..... ask Austin and St. Paul.

CSpinks
CSpinks

Meanwhile, poor children continue to be left behind.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@CSpinks 

That is, imo, because our present society does not have enough of empathy, care, and even wisdom, to see that all are inherently equal, and that the injustices between human beings are man-made, not divinely ordained. Man created these injustices and man can correct them, if inspired by the Soul.  Vote Democratic in the world of today.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

@CSpinks

If you really cared about poor children you would help to make sure that they have the tools to help them succeed in school before they enter the front door. The assault on the poor and the continual vilification of them while, at the same time, thwarting any program to help them shows that many do not understand or a being willfully ignorant on the obstacles our children face. Read Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs to understand why the child's basic needs must be met first before they reach the ability to truly learn.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@sneakpeakintoeducation @CSpinks 

The key words in your post are "before they enter the front door (of schools)" and "Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs." 

However, I must write that I believe Dr. Spinks was not trying to vilify the poor with his post, but to awaken others to the vital needs of the poor, which must be addressed by society.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@sneakpeakintoeducation 

In rereading your post, sneakpeakintoeducation, I believe you meant the pronoun "you" in your post not to be the personal "you," addressed to Dr. Spinks, but to be the generalized form of "you," such as the connotation contained within the pronoun, "one."


Moreover, I wanted to state that your entire post is excellent, imo, especially these words from it: "The assault on the poor and the continual vilification of them while, at the same time, thwarting any program to help them shows that many do not understand or a(re) being willfully ignorant on the obstacles our children face."  True observations, based on my experiences.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Starik 

My response was based upon why, imo, there remains too much poverty in our nation. My response addressed factors beyond purely educational ones.

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@Starik @MaryElizabethSings @CSpinks

Actually she has posted teacher positions that aren't even open, for the entire Carver Cluster. Go to the website to see for yourself. These teachers had no warning. Nobody knows what's going on or if they're going to receive a contract. Bonuses are being offered to teachers that receive a contract in Febraury.This means that many teachers will be losing their job. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

Here is some free advice from a "turnaround wizard" ;-) :

Make every teacher a literacy teacher.  To do this, each teacher must be trained in the literacy techniques of reading-in-the-content areas. I am referring to all teachers, k - 12.  This is not simply my idea.  Check it out.

Here is a starting point for you:

 http://www.sedl.org/pubs/sedl-letter/v14n03/5.html

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

From my link shared above, there is a subset, entitled, "Ten Myths of Reading Instruction":


Here is the final paragraph:


"What does have an impact on student performance has been a recurring theme throughout this essay—the quality, knowledge, and sophistication of the teacher is what really matters for helping children to become proficient readers. The quality of the teacher plays a very large part in determining the reading success of a student. A high-quality teacher can help every one of his or her students develop advanced reading skills. A low-quality teacher can have the opposite effect. The importance of providing good professional development to engender a population of highly qualified diagnostic reading teachers is paramount, and every child will benefit from such teachers. It is not easy, but anyone who tells you there is an easier solution to the mounting problem of illiteracy is trying to sell a myth."

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@CSpinks 

I agree, but that is true, often, because there is not enough empathy and care, and perhaps even wisdom, to see that all are inherently equal.  Training helps but even more important is the Soul.  "Where there is a will, there is a way."


"The Mind is Form, unfertilized.

Be fruitful and multiply, said the Lord of the Soul.

 Form without Substance is barren."

                                   - MES, 1971

CSpinks
CSpinks

@MaryElizabethSings We probably need to train our teachers in behavioral intervention techniques which work with members of their own and other social, ethnic and racial groups? Specifically, how inherently adept in dealing with "at-risk," Black, urban youth should we expect young, White, middle-class suburbanites to be?

Starik
Starik

@MaryElizabethSings @CSpinks How adept are black, urban teachers adept in handling urban youth in meeting the needs of white, Asian and Hispanic kids?

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

You will hear Carstarphen talk-up the state having approved APS' Charter System application but you will not hear her speak about the contract with the state to come as a result of the application.  Why?  Because the contract, unlike the application, requires managing every APS public school as if it were a charter school.

4BetterSchools
4BetterSchools

Carstarphen says that no "start-up" charters are in the works, but this doesn't mean that "conversion" charters aren't pending. This happened when she was in Austin, no? She brought in IDEA to run Allan Elementary without community support? 

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

Enough is enough, already, doggonit.

Atlanta Board of Education must fire Carstarphen and try again.

The Atlanta Board of Education must act immediately to buyout and terminate Meria Joel Carstarphen’s contract as Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools before her school turnaround antics come to fruition.  Charstarphen has shown, and continues to show, she has not a clue how to go about leading improvement of Atlanta public schools as a public good.  She so clearly demonstrates her “skill set” is entirely mechanistic, as any expert courtesan’s skill set might be.

At Monday’s ABOE meeting I will call on the board to fire Carstarphen.  I hope you will, too, might you care to do so.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@EdJohnson 

Not gonna happen. The Atlanta BOE and the Superintendent are all on the same page.

(Sexist simile about her, btw.)

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@OriginalProf

I hold no delusions about Atlanta BOE.  Just as I tried to help the prior board understand the damage Beverly Hall would bring to APS, the same goes for the current board regarding Carstarphen but far greater.


(Indeed it is.)

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@OriginalProf

(Indeed it does, and isn't something easy for me to do.  But desperate times require desperate measures.)

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Was  it Atl or DCS that hired Erin Hames?

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MaureenDowney @Wascatlady And this is the Erin Hames who taught for 3 whole years in Wake County NC at a school that had (2005-6 figures) less than 15% free lunch students?