Lawrence, Brewster, Norman Respond to APS Candidate Questionnaire
(APN) ATLANTA — The deadline has passed for candidates for Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education (APS BOE) to respond to the Atlanta Progressive News candidate questionnaire. This article contains the remaining unpublished candidate responses, which are from Charles Lawrence, District 5 candidate; Eddie Lee Brewster, Seat 9 candidate; and Sean Norman, Seat 9 candidate.
APN sent the questionnaires to candidates with whom APN had not yet requested an interview.
In District 5, there are five candidates. APN previously interviewed Steven Lee, exposing his fake PhD from an online diploma mill; APN also interviewed Raynard Johnson. APN sent questionnaires to the remaining three candidates. Charles Lawrence responded with his questionnaire responses, which are printed herein. Mary Palmer and Kathy Green did not respond with theirs.
In District 6, there are four candidates. APN previously interviewed Shawnna Hayes-Tavares, exposing her arrest for lying to a police officer, speeding, and driving for years without a license; her apparent theft of student activity funds and her prior suspension from a parent-teacher association; and her apparent creation of fictitious supporters to comment on the APN website. APN also previously interviewed Anne McKenzie. APN sent a questionnaire to Dell Byrd, but she did not respond.
APN had reached out to Eshe Collins previously for an interview but she did not respond. Collins later requested a questionnaire be emailed to her. APN did email her a questionnaire, but she filed her responses late, claiming not to have received it. APN cannot accept the late responses because we have already begun publishing our endorsements, along with the rationale for those endorsements, in APS BOE races. Therefore, APN worries that a candidate filing late answers could tailor their answers in order to seek an endorsement.
For Seat 9, there are five candidates. Ed Johnson responsed almost immediately to APN’s questionnaire, and his responses have already been published. Lori James did not send in responses to the APN questionnaire. Howard Franklin attempted to file late responses on behalf of Jason Esteves, but APN cannot accept the responses that are not timely. Eddie Lee Brewster and Sean Norman did respond timely; their responses are published herein.
(1) If you had been on the Board in 2010, when the so-called Gang of Five voted to change the rules regarding how to oust a Chair, and then ousted LaChandra Butler Burks as Chair, would you have supported the initial rule change? Yes or no, why or why not? If an incumbent, please explain your vote.
LAWRENCE: I would have voted not to change the rules because at the time I thought the change was potentially disruptive with little effect on educating our kids. I might add that I may have voted otherwise because at the time I was not on the Board and therefore had no access to all the information that led to the decision the Board made at that time.
BREWSTER: 1. If I had been a member of the Board in 2010, I would not have voted to remove Mrs. LaChandra Butler-Burks as Chair. I believe its [sic] important to adhere as much as possible to established order. It’s counter productive to change the rules in the middle of debating policies. As an elected official we should conduct the public’s business in an open and transparent manner. As a former electec [sic] city councilman I know from experience that it is counter productive to form a “block”. The students and and [sic] the community people of Atlanta suffer when the Board appears to pits [sic] one group against the other. The Clayton School Board was a prime example. It became dysfunctional because Board members formed factions. Resulting in the loss of accreditation. Every decision should be dictated by applying the standard of ; What’s best for the students?
NORMAN: I would not support any decision that hurt atlanta’s [sic] students. The decision to change the rule led to accreditation probation for Atlanta’s high schools.
(a) What is your overall position on charter schools?
LAWRENCE: My overall position is I am neither for or [sic] against Charter Schools. Some parents see charter schools as a legitmate [sic] alternative to educating their kids and being a current parent of an 8th grader I can understand the thought pattern of those parents who see charter schools as a viable alternative to educating their kids.
BREWSTER: My position on charter schools is based on the fact that I believe such schools can play an important role in educating our children. Such schools should be designed as labartories [sic] to develop new and innovative educational programs. I do support allowing charter schools to dictate the direction of its parent school system. The reality is charter schools are public schools. The traditional public school system has served our country well. The final decision should always be left to the parents.
NORMAN: I’m an advocate for good schools. There are good charter schools and there are good traditional schools. However, we need to focus on our traditional schools to meet the needs of all students. We can’t abandoned [sic] our traditional schools. They need us.
(b) Do you have any concerns about charter schools; if so, what are they?
LAWRENCE: My concerns would be the qualifications of the staff at the Charter Schools, physical capabilities of the schools, and the question of adequate funding for the schools.
BREWSTER: One of my primary concerns about charter schools is related to creating small and selective groups which does not [sic] want to acknowledge the existence of educational issues in the parent school district. For example, I would not have approved expansion of Drew Charter to include a high school. The people of Atlanta is investing [sic] millions of dollars in the renovation of Maynard Jackson High School. Its is [sic] well equiped [sic] to service students from Drew Charter.
NORMAN: I want to ensure that charter schools don’t serve as a social escape for engaged parents who can’t afford private school, but don’t support their neighborhood schools. I’m concerned that charters often deplete our communities with the highest performing students and the most engaged parents, which are essential ingredients to a successful school.
(c) Do you believe APS, or any district within APS, is already unduly oversaturated with charter schools?
LAWRENCE: No I do not believe that APS is over satuarated [sic] with Charter Schools.
BREWSTER: There is I believe only about ten percent of Atlanta students attending charter schools. About 5,000 students.
NORMAN: Yes, APS has more charter schools than any other district in the state. We need to focus on our traditional schools for all students.
(d) In what circumstances, if any, would you vote against a charter school application? [If an incumbent, please note any votes in which you did oppose a charter school application.]
LAWRENCE: I would vote against a Charter School application if I determine the Charter school would impact the existence of Public Schools.
BREWSTER: I would vote against any charter application which does not include an educational plan docuementing [sic] and explaining in plain English why and how the program would improve the educational outcome for students. It would also be a major concern if parents didn’t play an important role in school givernance [sic].
NORMAN: I would not support a charter school application if it did not outline an effective instructional and business management strategy. I would also be skeptical of charter applications that are submitted by for-profit companies.