Raynard Johnson Running for APS School Board Seat

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(APN) ATLANTA — An Atlanta activist and Twitter-fanatic, Raynard Johnson, is running for the APS Board of Education District 5 seat currently held by LaChandra Butler-Burks.  As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Butler-Burks is not running for reelection.

In 2009, Johnson ran for the Atlanta City Council District 11 seat, currently held by Keisha Lance Bottoms, although he dropped out of the race early on and became the campaign manager for Silas Kevil, who, along with several others, also ran for the District 11 seat.

According to Johnson, another candidate, Steven Lee, is also seeking the District 5 seat this year.  Lee has filed a notice of intent to run for a School Board seat with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.  Lee has run twice against State Rep. Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta).

“I am a native of Atlanta, a product of the Atlanta public school system,” Johnson told APN.

“I went to Beecher Hills Elementary and Southwest High School, which is now Jean Childs Young Middle School,” Johnson said.

“I was part of APS when APS was working,” he said.

Johnson said he serves on the Local School Council at Continental Colony Elementary School, has served on the Atlanta Police Department Zone 4 Citizens Advisory Board, has served as a Fulton County District Attorney Citizens Court Watcher, serves on the Board of Directors of the Inception Campaign, and is on the parent-teachers association for “every school in my district, all twenty.”

“As you can see, I’m engaged in my community,” Johnson said.

When asked how he would have voted regarding altering the rules to change the Board Chair, which led to the ousting of LaChandra Butler-Burks, he said he would have voted no.

“I understand why they did it.  I don’t think the process of what they did [was right]… Basically they wanted to bring up on the agenda discussion items related to cheating, but the Chair or Superintendent set the agenda,” Johnson said.

“They should’ve went after the process to get items on the agenda, as opposed to go after the person.  Then that would be considered governance,” he said.

As for charter schools, Johnson said he wants good schools and does not care how they are structured.

“I’m neither for nor against.  I’m charter school friendly.  Our traditional school system is broken – there’s something about what charter schools are doing are working, we need to replicate that,” he said.

When asked whether he has a preference for replicating what he says are high-performing models in a public school, versus a charter school, he replied, “I’m for a productive learning environment, whether it’s charter schools or public schools.”

Johnson said he believes one of the biggest problems facing the school system is disruption in the classroom.  “We need to get a handle on disruptions in the classroom, discipline in the classroom.”

“I’m not necessarily referring to pushing the child out of a school, there’s usually a multitude of issues with this child – they may be hungry, they may be homeless, their lights might be off, they may have been up early getting their brothers and sisters ready for school because no one is parenting, they might have been up watching TV because no one is parenting or because someone was partying all night,” he said.

“Education was valued when I was a child,” he said.

Johnson advocates for sending state social workers to the homes of misbehaving children.

“If you send a DFACS worker to that house, that will get that parent’s attention,” he said.

He also believes that every school should have a social worker, which he says is currently not the case and that multiple schools share social workers.

He said he was concerned about what he perceives to be inequity on the basis of socioeconomic class in out-of-school suspensions, and that he believes less affluent students receive such suspensions more often than those who are more affluent.

He believes these suspensions are counterproductive, leading to “less class time, you fall further behind, you get discouraged, by sixteen you’re ready to quit.”

Johnson said he wants legislation to provide construction companies receiving APS E-SPLOST funding with a tax break if they hire former APS students for construction jobs.

APN has reached out to other candidates for APS Board seats, and plans to publish more candidate interviews soon.

(END/2013)

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