Atlanta Board of Education
Atlanta public schools - District 2
The Center for Civic Innovation sent each of the qualified candidates for the District 2 Special Election a “job description” questionnaire. Below are Aretta’s responses.
QUALIFIED TO GOVERN
Q: What do you think is the most important role of the school board?
A: The most important role is to make sure as many students as possible are reading, writing and doing math on grade level, through allocation of resources and creation of policies.
Q: Please describe, in sufficient detail, one professional accomplishment or contribution of which you are most proud. These examples should illustrate skills and capabilities you think apply to governing the City of Atlanta schools. These accomplishments may have occurred at any time in your personal, professional, or public life.
A: My involvement in getting sidewalks in the Anderson Park area is my proudest accomplishment for the community. The enduring benefit to pedestrians in the community will last beyond my lifetime. The lack of sidewalks between KIPP Atlanta Collegiate and the Westlake train station posed a safety threat to the students of KAC and the community. I represented the voices of the parents and worked with the school, the school’s advisory board, NPUs, and the Penelope Neighborhood Association to apply pressure on various city departments to raise the awareness of the necessity of the project, get the project approved and the funds allocated.
Q: Please list or describe no more than 3 current and past activities you participated in as a private citizen (not an elected official) in which you have acquired skills and perspectives that will make you a stronger school board member. Include your role in the activity and the year(s) in which you were involved.
Examples include but are not limited to Neighborhood Planning Units, neighborhood/ community associations, PTA, GO Teams, etc.
A: I am a founding parent of the group Atlanta Thrive. The Atlanta Thrive is a group of parents and grandparents. Our mission is to disrupt the inequities in Atlanta public education. We go out in the community and engage, inform, educate and empower our most vulnerable parents. We understand that people equal power and together we can improve the educational outcomes for our children. To date we have knocked on thousands of 4000 and recruited over 4,00 parents and grandparents to join our movement.
I was an instrumental part of getting sidewalks constructed on Anderson Ave. The lack of sidewalks between KIPP Atlanta Collegiate and the Westlake train station posed a safety threat to the students of KAC and the community. I represented the voices of the parents and worked with the school, the school’s advisory board, NPUs, and the Penelope Neighborhood Association to apply pressure on various city departments to raise the awareness of the necessity of the project, get the project approved and the budget allocated.
I was the President of the Parent and Teacher Organization of KIPP Atlanta Collegiate. In this role I directed the affairs of the organization in cooperation with the Executive Board and PTO members. I developed a year-long plan of action; built relationships with the school administration, teachers, community and parents; presided at all meetings of the general membership and Board; and co-lead the monthly Mobile Market in conjunction with the school and the Atlanta Community Food Bank. In addition to serving as President I’ve also served in the role of VP of Communications.
Q: If you could choose one subject/class to teach in local schools to ensure Atlanta’s kids understand their city, what would it be?
A: Within District 2 are streets named after Joseph Boone, Hamilton Holmes, Joseph Lowery and Martin Luther King; as well as schools named after Booker T Washington and Frederick Douglass. I'd want to make students fully aware of the contributions of these men and the many others who merited such legacies. I would teach a history class rooted in the local history of Atlanta.
Q: What is a new slogan for our city that could inspire Atlanta’s children and highlight who we are as a people?
A: Atlanta… Then, Now and Forever
DEMONSTRATES PEOPLE-CENTERED APPROACHES
Q: How will you hear from the people who make up our schools – teachers, administrators, students, and parents? Describe specific mechanisms (technologies, meetings, etc.) as well as how you will use the information.
A: Monthly Community meetings where two-way communications and problem solving will be encouraged
New Let’s Talk system being put in place by APS
PROACTIVE & RELENTLESS RELATIONSHIP-BUILDER
Q: Think of one major Atlanta issue indirectly impacting education in District 2 that needs to be tackled with a collaborative approach. How would you build relationships across the city and region with other governments, community groups, non-profit organizations, or private enterprises to affect change in our city?
A: One major Atlanta issue indirectly impacting education in District 2 that needs to be tackled with a collaborative approach is affordable housing. District 2 schools have a high mobility rate. This means upwards of 40% of the students in one school may have enrolled or exited over the course of the school year. This directly impacts learning.
Another major issue is the impact of tax abatement given to developers that adversely affects the revenue allocated to the schools. We need to ensure that development is rewarded without unduly penalizing the schools.
STRONG INTEREST IN TRANSPARENCY
Q: What level of openness and transparency should the citizens of Atlanta expect from city government under your leadership?
A: Citizens can expect to be informed on policies and actions well before they're up for a vote or a decision has been made.
Q: Please describe any policies, programs, or ideas you are considering to increase the transparency of city government, particularly in your office.
A: Monthly community meetings where I share what’s going on with the Board and school system and where I listen to constituent concerns.