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APS Board's Courtney English: System Has "Failed" To Make Equitable Investments

"I don't think APS has done the job it should have done in terms of educating kids"

Trust. Fairness. Passion.

For some parents whose children are in Atlanta Public Schools, those three words are key to the ongoing redistricting debate.

It's especially so for parents and homeowners who live the neighborhoods affected by proposed closures and rezoning of students.

APS is looking to reduce excess capacity in a 60,000-seat district that only has 47,000 students.

Admittedly, redistricting is a process that raises concerns and fears about what the final outcome will look like.

In recent weeks, parents from some neighborhoods have questioned the process and whether they could trust that their concerns and ideas would be fairly heard and evaluated.

Others, particularly those who live in the Coan Middle School attendance zone, take umbrage with the characterization that the school might not be on the closure list if their passion to keep it open had been there all along.

They also question how APS officials can question their commitment and passion for their neighborhood schools when, in their estimation, the district has historically underfunded Coan and other schools in Southeast Atlanta. That perceived lack of support explains the rise of charter schools in Southeast Atlanta, they say, not lack of passion for the local public school.

It's an argument that school board at-large member Courtney D. English has heard along with other concerns.

English, who attended the closure meeting Friday night at Coan, told parents he understood their frustrations, why they are upset and why they are skeptical about improvements.

He agreed there have been historic disparities in services offered and supported by APS from school to school, telling them it was why he himself did not attend any of his in-zone schools.

"It's a hard truth and not easy for us to swallow," he said.

But, English, a product of APS and former middle school teacher in the district, told parents this whole redistricting process is designed to get all the children of the district a high-quality education.

After the meeting, he spoke with East Atlanta Patch about parental concerns and rebuilding trust.

Please click on the attached video to hear our conversation with English.

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