Reed, Council Considering APS Takeover

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The Atlanta-Journal Constitution newspaper reported that at a recent meeting of the Finance/Executive Cmte of the City Council of Atlanta, Peter Aman got into a discussion with Council Members regarding the possibility of the City of Atlanta taking over the Atlanta Public Schools.

Apparently, other major cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC, have already done this.

Councilman Michael Julian Bond (Post 1-at-large) is supportive of the idea, while Councilman CT Martin (District 10) is opposed.

“He [Mayor Reed] wants to initiate a plan to ensure that all children in the city of Atlanta receive a high quality education,” Aman said.

“There are obviously a variety of ways to tackle that.  We don’t have primary responsibility for the Atlanta Public Schools … at the moment,” Aman said.

“You said that we don’t have any authority at the moment,” Councilwoman Felicia Moore (District 9) said.  “My question is, is there going to be another moment?”

“If we don’t address this issue, we are basically whistling ‘Dixie.’ It is going to continue to impact the quality of life and people are going to continue not to move here,” Bond said. “It may not look like New York. It shouldn’t look like D.C., but there are 30 other cities that have gone in this direction and I really think we ought to start having this conversation.”

“We ought to focus on what is in our ballpark,” Martin said.  “We still have a dirty city. We still have infrastructure problems,” Martin said. “Those who want to run schools, go run them. … I think we are too busy. I am not sure we should be focusing on this in 2011, as much as getting our city in good shape.”

“The mayor does believe that it is simply untenable to be in a situation where we are at the risk of losing accreditation,” Aman said. “It is also untenable, as he said last week, for there to be so much instability on the board so that a simple majority can remove the chair. He personally finds that unacceptable, to have the policies as such that the school board can fire a superintendent on one vote flipping. That leads to a grossly unstable school system.”

Later, Mayor Reed made comments to the press that he is not intending to take over the school system but he has not ruled it out because it is too important to just sit idly by.

The idea of an ATL APS takeover was criticized in numerous pieces on AJC.com, including on Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog.

Some parents have told APN they are worried that this was Reed’s plan all along, especially considering that the crisis was orchestrated by his top political Mayoral campaign supporters from 2009: State Sen. Vincent Fort, State Rep. Rashad Taylor, and APS Board Chairman Khaatim El.  Mayor Reed has distanced himself from the three, including by opposing the Board takeover and the group’s efforts to criticize SACS, but perhaps that was part of the plan?

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