Mayor Kasim Reed endorses Erroll Davis; he pledges to become more involved with Atlanta’s public schools

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed vowed to take an active role in the recruitment of a new superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools should he be re-elected in 2013.

Meanwhile, the mayor endorsed the idea of extending the contract of current Superintendent Erroll Davis for another two years. The Atlanta Board of Education currently considering whether to extend that contract.

“I happen to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead us for the next two years,” Reed said during a luncheon speech at the Commerce Club on Tuesday.

It’s also important to note that the City of Atlanta has no direct oversight or formal relationship with the Atlanta Public Schools.

But for Reed, that doesn’t appear to be an issue. What seems to matter most to him is whether families will choose to move inside the city and send their children to public schools.

“We have a private school tax in the city,” Reed said, adding that many families that live within the city limits will send their children to private schools instead of enrolling them in the public schools. If they are homeowners, that means that they not only pay property taxes to fund public schools, but they also pay the private school tuition.

Reed offered several ways of how he could become more involved with the Atlanta Public Schools.

First, he said the community needs to encourage top-notched people to run for the school board.

“It can’t be a political office of last option,” Reed said. “We’ve got to make it an attractive place to serve. We need to recruit.”

Next, Reed said he would be willing to re-engage the philanthropic community.

“There’s a ton of private philanthropy on the sidelines,” he said. “Many people in the philanthropic community got burned in the last investment.”

But Reed added that it’s time for the community to “heal and try again” to improve the Atlanta Public Schools.

“My plan is to get personally involved in recruiting the next leader,” Reed said. “I’m going to galvanize the corporate community to under-gird the leadership structure.”

He said the goal should be to attract a “world-class” leader to head the Atlanta Public Schools.

“The next leader of the system is not someone who is going to apply for this job,” Reed said. “The leader is someone who is happy (where he or she is currently working)…. We’ve got to find that person and bring them here and compensate them. We need something special.”

This would not be the first time Reed has gotten involved with leadership at the APS. Reed described how he and Paul Bowers, president and CEO of the Georgia Power Co., met with Davis when he was about to retire as chancellor of the Georgia Board of Regents to persuade him to become Atlanta’s interim superintendent.

One issue Reed did not bring up was whether he would be open to the Atlanta Board of Education entering into a contract with a new “world-class” superintendent.

The mayor has made it clear during his administration that he does not like multi-year contracts for top city officials. That was an issue during the search for a new general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport; and it has been an ongoing issue with the Renee Glover, president and CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority, who has a multi-year contract.

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3 comments
urban gardener
urban gardener

Y'all seem to forget that Reed was a huge, staunch, resolute supporter of dear Dr Bev Hall as the crap got higher and deeper. Everyone else was finally realizing that there really was a stench wafting up from Denmark, and he and his political and business community cronies were digging in.

Didn't trust him then and don't trust him now.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and he just cannot get enough of it.

woosnews
woosnews

Sounds like Mayor Reed's going to try to put a friend in charge of APS, and hopes Erroll Davis will stay on just long enough to keep the seat warm.

 

If the mayor really wants to learn about how to improve Atlanta Public Schools  - he could consult with the extraordinarily successful educators Erroll Davis just slashed at North Atlanta.

 

And if the Mayor really wants to broaden community support for Atlanta Public Schools, he might want to hold off on endorsing someone who  so recklessly damaged relationships with school families, and the civic and business leaders of Atlanta who have already stepped up to the plate.

Benevolus
Benevolus

Either Mayor Reed doesn't get it, or he's deliberately being coy – maybe even pandering to and perpetuating racial and class conflicts that divide Atlanta, while claiming to bridge those very divides. At a minimum, his remarks are puzzling, and betray a fundamental lack of understanding.

 

“What seems to matter most to [Mayor Reed] is whether families will choose to move inside the city and send their children to public schools.” This is not news. It’s EXACTLY the problem Beverly Hall faced – and started addressing – at North Atlanta High School when she started her tenure as Superintendent. Fifteen years ago, few families north of I-85, Brookwood Station and Bolton Road would think of using APS’ middle school if they had an alternative, and even fewer used the APS high school. That’s how the cluster dropped from four high schools (Dykes, O’Keefe, North Fulton and Northside) to one in the first place. Even then, APS didn’t need North Atlanta for the neighborhood, but used it instead for City-wide magnet programs and to relieve overcrowding at other schools. Since then, Dr. Hall, the former NAHS administration, and the NAHS community have worked together, mostly in a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation, to remedy what seems to concern the Mayor today.

 

“[T]he community needs to encourage top-notched people to run for the school board”? We’ve done that too, and it’s not their fault if other (elected) Board members prefer political games and self-aggrandizement to leadership, service, and collegial attention to the job at hand. “We’ve got to make it an attractive place to serve”? No, we need to NOTICE who’s currently serving, and who’s using it instead as “a political office of last option.”

 

“Reed … would be willing to re-engage the philanthropic community”? That’s big of him. The realities, however, are that (a) unless the Mayor wields more power, authority and influence than is evident, the philanthropic community isn’t his to engage or disengage; (b) the philanthropic community isn’t beholden to the Mayor, or anybody else, but makes its own decisions based on intelligence, effectiveness, excellence and results; and (c) the philanthropic community has ALREADY BEEN engaged, listening, helping and supporting – or at least they were until Erroll Davis’ Bloody Friday stunt at NAHS. (It seems the Mayor missed that memo.) The Mayor’s more perceptive observation is, “There’s a ton of private philanthropy on the sidelines … . Many people in the philanthropic community got burned in the last investment.” Them and the NAHS community both. “[I]t’s time for the community to ‘heal and try again’”? Does he really, seriously think that could happen while the community can’t trust the Superintendent’s credibility, integrity or ability to manage our schools? Can Mayor Reed magically persuade the philanthropic community that Mr. Davis really can produce good results? It’s extremely doubtful; but, if there’s ANY chance, Godspeed – and have at it, Mr. Mayor!

 

“My plan is to get personally involved in recruiting the next leader … . I’m going to galvanize the corporate community to under-gird the leadership structure.” Again, more power and authority we didn’t know he held; it does make one wonder why he’s held back until now. “[T]he goal should be to attract a ‘world-class’ leader to head the Atlanta Public Schools”? Another not-so-new idea; but maybe the minor politico-players on the school Board will hear him, where they won’t hear their own colleagues or constituents. “We’ve got to find that person and bring [him or her] here … . We need something special.” Darn tootin’; we need honesty, and credibility, and integrity, and trust. (And, by the way, it’s not JUST a matter of compensation.) “This would not be the first time Reed has gotten involved with leadership at the APS.” Given how that one turned out, it seems APS can finish last without the Mayor’s help, thank you.

 

Under the circumstances, it’s preposterous that Mayor Reed would endorse extending Mr. Davis’ contract at all, much less for two years. If the Mayor truly “happen[s] to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead [APS] for the next two years,” it would help immensely to have the rationale for that perspective. Otherwise, the void of reason will be filled by assumptions, speculations, gossip and suspicion.

 

“It’s also important to note that the City of Atlanta has no direct oversight or formal relationship with the Atlanta Public Schools. … But for Reed, that doesn’t appear to be an issue.” In the end, it also doesn't seem the Mayor much knows or cares about educational needs and expectations of families in the northern quarter of the City, or about honesty, integrity and trust in public office. Posturing, posing and blowing hot air may serve him well as he runs for re-election, but the City has plenty of other business, problems and issues that legitimately fall within his purview, and which actually need his attention. Perhaps the Mayor should focus on the job HE was elected to do, and leave off meddling in other folks’ business – at least until all of Atlanta’s roads, water, sewer, public safety, and administrative issues are fully resolved and running like clockwork.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Here is an account of Reed’s speech from my former AJC colleague Maria Saporta, writing in her Saporta Report: (Please read the full piece before commenting. This is an excerpt.) It’s also important to note that the City of Atlanta has no direct oversight or formal relationship with the Atlanta Public Schools. But for Reed, that doesn’t appear to be an issue. What seems to matter most to him is whether families will choose to move inside the city and send their children to public schools. [...]

  2. [...] At a Commerce Club luncheon last month, he said: “I happen to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead us for the next two years,” SaportaReport.com reported. [...]

  3. [...] At a Commerce Club luncheon last month, he said: “I happen to believe that Erroll Davis is the right guy to lead us for the next two years,” SaportaReport.com reported. [...]