Atlanta is holding a special election on September 17 to fill the vacant seat in District 2.

This election is crucial, because the current board majority, dominated by TFA alums, is committed to the so-called Portfolio Model, which means an abdication of the board’s responsibility and a proliferation of private charters.

Ed Johnson, a dedicated and well-informed citizen of Atlanta, should be elected. I have known Ed Johnson for years as a person with deep understanding of education and of systems. He believes in steady and thoughtful improvement, not radical disruption that upends the lives of children and communities.

This election could tip the balance on the board.

To understand why Ed Johnson is perfect for this job, read his responses to the questionnaire of the Georgia Charter Schools Association.

Ed Johnson
Candidate, Atlanta Board of Education District 2

Questionnaire by Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA)

1. Briefly share your qualifications for the office of District 2 School Board Member.

My qualifications are exactly those the Atlanta Independent Schools System (AISS) Charter requires, namely:

I am at least 18 years of age
I am a resident of the city and I have been a resident of the Atlanta Board of Education (“Board”) District 2 for at least one year immediately preceding the date of filing a notice of candidacy to seek office
I am a qualified elector of the city
I am not an employee of the State Department of Education nor a member of the State Board of Education


I do not currently hold an elective public office
I am not an employee of the Atlanta Board of Education or any other local board of education
I do not serve on the governing body of any private K-12 educational institution, however grade level-wise constituted

Perhaps this question actually meant to ask, “What personal qualities are you prepared to bring to the Board as the District 2 representative?” Assuming so:

I hold a keen, uncompromised position for the public’s Atlanta public schools system to remain a wholly public good committed to continually improving in quality as a public good essential to advancing democratic practices of civil society ever and ever closer to democratic ideals. Kindly see my bio brief at this link:

2. What is your vision for Atlanta Public Schools and how would you implement it?

Visions alone are insufficient. Visions, as well as missions, must be anchored in, aligned to, and function in harmony with an invariant Purpose.

Although my vision matters less than any visions District 2 communities and Atlanta civil society, at large, may hold for the public’s Atlanta Independent Schools System, which is commonly known as Atlanta Public Schools (APS), my personal vision is for APS to become the wholly unfractured public good it is chartered to be, so it can become Where Authentic Public Education Meets Purpose in service to sustaining and advancing democratic practices ever closer to democratic ideals that benefit all of Atlanta civil society and beyond. For this to happen, having a commonly agreed-to invariant Purpose is essential. Unfortunately, APS has not a commonly agreed-to invariant Purpose. Today, on account of the poor quality of top leadership of APS—Board and superintendent—the “purpose” of APS is whatever any one or more of some 300-plus private actors APS leadership calls “partners” selfishly want the “purpose” of APS to be, at any given moment, in service to themselves.

I, as an individual Board member, will not have the authority to implement my personal vision or anything else. However, as a Board member, I will seek to influence the Board to catalyze, via policy, the start of a very, very, very long overdue journey of never ending continual quality improvement anchored in Where Authentic Public Education Meets Purpose, as stated above.

3. Please describe your position on charter public schools.

Kindly know I am not a purveyor of any of the miscalled terms “charter public schools,” “public charter schools,” and “traditional public schools.” Without question, such terms are meant to manipulate. Thus I speak only the authentic and truthful terms “public schools” and “charter schools.”

That said, charter schools may be rightfully likened to vampire bats that feed on their victims’ blood but instead feed on the public’s public schools’ various resources, including but not limited to fiscal, physical, academic, and social resources. The thinking that such feeding then means charter schools are public schools is just plain ludicrous. And just as Count Dracula feeds on his victims’ blood after having promised eternal life in an instant, charter schools feed on parents’ hopes with promises of giving their children instant “access” to instant “high quality education,” in instant “high quality charter school seats,” in instant “high quality charter schools.” In Atlanta, such parents targeted by charter schools tend to be those of children labeled “Black.”

Data—for example, results from Georgia Milestones standardized test assessments since the inception of the tests in 2015—are clear that charter schools are not, in general, the inherently “high quality schools” they claim to be. And even if they were, nonetheless, all the wasted fiscal, academic, and social costs associated with having two parallel school systems is morally and ethically reprehensible. Such wasted costs should be going to improving public schools in the manner of the never ending journey of continual quality improvement I mention in my response to question 2, above.

So, my position? Charter schools are an abomination upon civil society. Moreover, our local, state, and federal lawmakers should not be in the business of legitimating selfishness. It’s not much of a stretch to see the connections to selfish acts of shooting up schools, for example, facilitated by easy access to military-style guns. Selfishness learned in one context invariably manifests in any number of other contexts, sometimes “by any means necessary.”

4. What do you think are the three greatest issues or problems facing Atlanta Public Schools? How could charter public schools help address these issues?

There is but one overarching greatest issue and that issue subsumes all other issues: Influence the Board to catalyze “Adopting district-wide policies that support an environment for the quality improvement and progress for all decision makers in the district, as well as for students.”

Charter schools are anathema to realizing this overarching issue, which actually is a role the Atlanta Independent Schools System Charter requires the Board to fulfill, and it never has.

5. What are the specific issues facing District 2? What should be done to address these issues?

The specific, overarching issue facing District 2 is the presence of a concentration of charter schools. Six of 14 schools are charter schools. That’s 43 percent charter schools. Data suggest the outsized presence of so many charter schools in District 2 feed greedily on resources that, morally and ethically, should be going to the eight District 2 public schools.

To address this issue, the Board members be must called to account, both severally and individually, for failing to honor their sworn Oath of Office that begins: “I will be governed by the public good ….” Charter schools are not public goods, so are anathema to Board members’ fulfilling their Oath of Office, and they don’t.

6. Do you support the expansion and approval of more high quality charter schools in the Atlanta Public Schools district?

No. Besides, various data sources are clear: Neither APS nor District 2 has any “high quality charter schools” compared to public schools. The term is a blatantly intentional miscalling meant to manipulate the unsuspecting.

7. Do you believe charter public schools should receive funding and resources equal to that of traditional public schools?

Again, I am not a purveyor of the intentionally misleading terms “charter public schools” and “traditional public schools.” There are public schools and there are charter schools.

Originally, to get themselves established, charter schools sold the public on the idea that they can do more with less, inherently, as if charter schools are automatically and instantly “high quality schools.” Now that the truth is known and the lie exposed, by their own admission, charter schools pressing for funding equality or equity with public schools should be taken as evidence that charter schools are a totally cost-equable, hence totally duplicative, hence totally wasteful schooling structure, inherently, and so should be allowed to die in the open daylight, just as Count Dracula dies when exposed to open daylight, or gets staked in the heart. Once staked in the heart, the stake must never be removed, lest he or it comes back to life.

8. What are your thoughts on the strategic plan APS is currently working on? In your opinion, what should be addressed?

The development of that strategic plan is an essential step the Board and superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, are taking in their process that aims to implement The City Fund’s free-market portfolio of schools “idea.” The “idea” is just that, and it has absolutely no basis in pedagogy nor in actually intending to improve schools, only change them.

The process simply begs disrupting and destroying APS as the public good it is supposed to be by continually closing and replacing public schools with ever more charter schools. The Board and Carstarphen cloak what they do by intentionally miscalling it “Excellent Schools Project.” The several other urban public school districts The City Funds has targeted for privatization do likewise; that is, apply an agreeable though erroneous name that cloaks the privatization agenda.

The Board voted their “Creating a System of Excellent Schools” process into existence by the 5­-3 vote they took during their March meeting, last school year. Sadly, at least one Board member voted not fully understanding the vote, but understandably so, because the Board Chairman, Jason Esteves, had snookered the Board member into voting in favor of the vote, I learned. Indeed, the vote was an extraordinarily slick execution that Esteves pulled off. It can help to have a graphical rendering of the process the Board voted into existence in order to see the full effect of the vote, at a relatively high level. See such a graphical rendering on the next page (or below), and note the thick black-lines trace through the process involving initial development of the strategic plan.

For more about my position and understanding of the so-called Excellent Schools Project, kindly see these of mine:

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