by Ed Johnson
Kindly allow me to share I have qualified to seek election to Atlanta Board of Education Seat 9, At Large.
But before offering a why – “a” why because there are many whys – I seek election, I sincerely say “Thank you!” to the several hundred of you who have received, and continue to receive, my Advocate for Quality in Public Education e-mails and have encouraged me to “keep it up!” And I shall keep it up. I also say “Thank you!” to those few who have responded with “Take me of your list!” for even then I gained insight and learned something. The Universe seems to offer lessons of all kind, but only when we ask the questions or take the actions.
Now, some people know I have sought election to Atlanta School Board Seat 9 At Large twice before. Both times an aim was, as is now, to help lead Atlanta Public Schools away from experiencing some manner of massively disruptive event that was so, so predictable a consequence from “school reform.” We now know, of course, APS did indeed experience a massively disruptive event – very likely the most massively systemic test cheating scandal in U.S. history. (This is my representation of that event; page 2 offers a visual of just how massively systemic the cheating was compared to the whole state. And because it was so massively systemic, a Systems Thinker would attribute the cheating to APS school board and superintendency and learn about them rather than single out some relatively few teachers for punishment and dismissal and there from learn little or nothing about how to improve APS as the social system it is.)
And, of course, some people may ask why I wish to serve on the school board. Again, many why’s, but one central why goes back to 2002 and the Atlanta School Board’s Charter Review Commission. The work of that commission, carried out on behalf of then-superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall and our very own “Atlanta business and civic community,” resulted in the Atlanta Independent School District (aka “Atlanta Public Schools”) Statutory Charter being changed for the worse; it set the stage for test cheating to perform.
Originally, the Charter Review Commission recommended this as a school board responsibility:
“Adopting district-wide policies that provide incentives for progress and consequences for failure for all decision makers in the district, as well as for students.”
I found the commission’s recommendation absolutely reprehensible. Who could possibly think to do such a thing to educators, not to mention children? How did they come to have such a heinous worldview? Or to support such a worldview? So I intervened directly with the Charter Review Commission Chairperson, Dr. Thomas Cole, then-President, Clark Atlanta University, one among Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Out of open and honest conversation with Dr. Cole came his seeing the God-awful nature of his commission’s recommendation. Consequently, Dr. Cole committed to me to have the recommendation replaced with one based on some understanding from Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s teachings on the psychology of people I had shared with him.
Dr. Cole fulfilled his commitment, such that the APS Statutory Charter that finally emerged states as a school board responsibility (along with a similarly stated superintendent responsibility):
“Adopting district-wide policies that support an environment for quality improvement and progress for all decision makers in the district, as well as for students.”
Thus it is exactly this “kernel of possibility” that again draws me to seek election to our Atlanta School Board! (This chronicles my involvement that lead to including the kernel of possibility in the APS Charter.)
I wish – and I hope you do, too – to have APS realize the above kernel of possibility the APS Charter allows! It can be done! It must be done! It must be done if APS is to survive and advance as a system, as a public good. APS leadership must learn, with courage, to absorb and not pass down into the system well-intentioned but nonetheless disintegrative mandates and affects from, for example, the Obama administration’s Race to the Top competition, charter schools, Teach for America, and, yes, even corporate and philanthropic colonialists.
However, since 2002 ‘til this day, our Atlanta Board of Education has continuously demonstrated limited capacity to bring about “an environment for [continual] quality improvement,” as the kernel of possibility in the APS Statutory Charter allows.
This situation must change, so I humbly ask your help to make it change by electing me into service on our Atlanta Board of Education Seat 9 At Large come Nov. 5, 2013.
I am committed to public education for sustaining democratic ideals in service to common good. By this commitment, for example, the worldview that charter schools are “public schools” causes me to experience psychological dysfunction; it mystifies me.
I shall sincerely welcome being invited into your presence to engage in leisurely yet open and honest conversation and dialogue, so that I may learn what, at the end of the day, truly matters to you. What do you care about? And if you are a teacher, I wish to ask: What do you need that you are not getting? What are you getting that you do not need? What must happen in order for you to become a great teacher? What are you passionate about? What is in the way of your intrinsic motivation? What kills your spirit? What, in school, kills any children’s intrinsic motivation or spirit, as you know it?
I have included, below, a bit about me. Additionally, my earlier school board campaign web site, www.EdJohnsonInSeat9.com, is still available. I invite you to go there, as the site still represents where I stand and what I stand for. I also invite you to go here for my opinion on the kind of superintendent APS must – MUST! – next have, if APS is to survive and advance as a quality system of public education and as a public good.
And, oh, if we truly want APS to survive and advance as a public good, then also APS must elect “Status Quo” when time comes to elect an operational model. Each other operational model option has system destruction baked into its physics. Just like Beverly Hall’s “school reform” had.
Mr. Johnson, a Clark-Atlanta University, is president of Atlanta-based Quality Information Solutions Inc.