Byron Amos was first elected to the Atlanta Board of Education in 2011. He spoke to SaportaReport via email.
Q: What’s your No. 1 concern for the students in District 2?
A: My number one concern for the students in District 2 is the lack of access to an equitable educational system. Providing what the students of District 2 needs to be successful is paramount. Equity is not always about money. It is not always about having the same thing that someone else has. It is more about having access to what you need to be successful.
Q: What could you as a Board of Education member do about that?
A: One of the things that we are looking at is Student Based Budgeting. Student-Based Budgeting (SBB) allocates dollars to schools based on the number of enrolled students where each student receives a funding “weight” based on need. This model can allow districts to increase equity, transparency, and flexibility in their funding system. Understanding this model and empowering the residents of District 2 to utilize it alone with the creation of additional partnerships are the biggest thing that I can do to bring about equity.
Q: What’s an uncomfortable truth the Board of Education needs to face?
A: I believe that we have faced the truth that there are two school systems operating in the Atlanta Public Schools. Some have called it the tale of two cities, where everything about I-20 looks drastically different than below it, in reference to student achievement.
Q: What’s something the Board has gotten right in the last four to eight years?
A: I believe that the implementation of the Charter System Operating Model was something that we have done right. This model helps us to give autonomy and flexibility to our educational leaders and parents. This model is designed to empower the parents and the community to create an education system that will best serve the population of students within that school.
Q: What’s something the Board has gotten wrong or failed to do in the last four to eight years?
A: We have not moved fast enough to address the lack of equity in the system.
Q: Overall, bottom line, what’s your pitch to voters?
As a member of the Atlanta Board of Education, I never would have fathomed that I would play such a pivotal role in the rebirth of public education in my hometown. Over the last four years, we have made some very difficult decisions, but through it all, we stayed focused on creating a high-quality school system that would ensure that ALL students reach their highest level of academic proficiency.
Although we have achieved great things together:
· M. Agnes. Jones Elem. The first STEM-certified school in APS.
· The Junior Achievement Academy at Frederick Douglass High School, where our children will learn entrepreneurial skills.
· The multi-million renovations of Brown Middle School
· And the creation of the Michael Hollis Innovation Academy where our children are learning computer coding, robot technology, and our student-teacher ratio is about 1:12. Simply put… “Hollis represents public education done right.”
We must continue to fight for strong and visionary leadership in our schools. We must fight for access to a more equitable education system. We must increase the number of students reading on or above grade level. We must continue to push for fully funded Vocational, Technical, and Entrepreneurial Education in APS. Finally, we must find ways to continue to address the discipline in our schools. WE MUST CONTINUE TO WORK TOGETHER!!!!
(Note: Updated on Nov. 25; Amos’ answers arrived on Nov. 24, after original publication.)