Accountability Atlanta Charter Schools Georgia

Edward Johnson: Has Atlanta’s Leadership Admitted Failure?

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Edward Johnson is a deeply thoughtful man who is devotedto the systems thinking of W. Edwards Deming. Like Deming, Johnson believes that the path to improvement requires changing the system, not blaming teachers or dissolving the system. Thus, he says Governor Deal’s plan to turn Atlanta into a charter district and/or to create a statewide district akin to Louisiana’s Recovery School District or Tennessee’s Achievement School District.

Johnson says such plans are an acknowledgement of local failure, an admission of defeat.

He wrote this today to every local and state official:

February 16, 2014

To date, I am unaware of any communications from the Office of Superintendent, Atlanta Public Schools, informing the Atlanta taxpaying and public school communities of the superintendent’s position on Governor Nathan Deal’s designs to create, in Georgia, a New Orleans-styled recovery school district.

Surely, the communities need and deserve to know, given the extreme nature of Deal’s RSD designs that target 25 percent or so of APS schools for state takeover.

By his RSD designs, Deal obviously implies he believes APS Superintendent Meria Carstarphen lacks the mettle to lead improving APS as a system.

But then, also by his RSD designs, Deal implies he, himself, lacks the mettle to provide for Carstarphen and other Georgia public school superintendents to learn to lead improving their district as a system.

On the other hand, just as Deal implicates himself, Atlanta school board members and superintendent implicated themselves as lacking the mettle to improve APS as a system of the common good when recently they decided to turn APS into a Charter System. Both they and Deal demonstrate the Systems Thinking concept “Shifting the Burden,” if not “Addiction,” in the sense of being overly dependent on trafficked symptomatic solutions and averse to engaging the usually hard work of drawing out local fundamental solutions.

Deal’s RSD designs should come as no surprise, for they are but the state’s “Charter System” and “IE2” on a wider and more depraved scale. Just as the depravity of Deal’s RSD designs encompass APS as a Charter System, the depravity of President Obama’s Race to the Top Competition encompasses Deal’s RSD designs.

Deal has targeted schools for state takeover based on nothing more than district-level College and Career Readiness Performance Index scores below 60 on a 100-point scale, it has been reported. But, arguably, CCRPI scores offer no learning value or usefulness beyond merely ranking schools and districts for today’s political purposes.

And, of course, a systemic disruption of APS by Deal’s RSD designs will rob Carstarphen of ever being able to claim, in a rational way, that any manner of increased APS performance resulted from her leadership.

Consequently, one might think an essential question Carstarphen has already asked and can readily respond to, with respect to CCRPI scores, is: Will eventual state takeover of 27 or so APS schools fundamentally relieve needing to improve APS as a system?

Since one might reasonably surmise no, it will not, it is incumbent upon Carstarphen to state, and stake, her position on Deal’s RSD designs with supporting data, and inform the public, accordingly.

After all, data-driven decision making is what APS does these days, isn’t it?

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA
(404) 505-8176 | [email protected]

“There is no difference in culture between the things that actually count.”
–W. Edwards Deming

Cc: Atlanta Superintendent and School Board Members
Cc: Nathan Deal, Governor, State of Georgia (via Domestic Contact Form)
Cc: Senate Education Committee Members, State of Georgia
Cc: House Education Committee Members, State of Georgia
Cc: City Council Members and Mayor, City of Atlanta, Georgia
Cc: Atlanta community organizations
Cc: Atlanta Journal Constitution and other media

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