Archives for category: Atlanta

Ed Johnson lives in Atlanta and fights daily against the malignant competition and punishment inflicted on the children of Atlanta by the school board and superintendent. He shares the philosophy of W. Edwards Deming, who taught the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

He wrote this post and sent it to the school board:


Cyberattacks and competition
I have been under cyberattack for nearly a year, now.
First, it was attempted blackmail to “expose” me by making public an old username and password I used once to visit an “unsavory” website some 25 years ago.  I hear this blackmail tactic is quite common, and successful.
Well, blackmail didn’t work on me, so then came invading my computer and encrypting all personal files and holding the encrypted files hostage pending my paying the one bitcoin (~680 USD) ransom demand before I would be given the decryption key.
Well, holding my personal files hostage for ransom didn’t work on me, so then on 18 Dec 2018, there suddenly came a great flood of email notifications from subscription and online services all over the globe thanking me for having signed up.  Fraudulent signups continue to occur at the rate of around six or so per day.  The aim of the bountiful fraudulent signups seems to be the gamble that, in the fog of hurriedly unsubscribing the many services, one is bound to click on a Trojan Horse disguised as an “Unsubscribe” link.
Well, fraudulent subscriptions haven’t worked on me, so two days ago, this happened: My receiving notifications of Diane Ravitch blog posts had been blocked at, for crying out loud!
For the first time, I felt panicky.  No Diane Ravitch blog posts?!!  No, that can’t be!
But in the end that didn’t work on me, either.  Not for long, anyway.
So I remain a happy camper.
Even so, I guess we will always have some folk who have been taught and deeply conditioned to compete “by any means necessary” to win at the expense of others.
Atlanta Public Schools Leadership (APSL; school board and superintendent) are pretty good at teaching and conditioning people, even young children, to win at the expense of others, when winning and losing is not at all necessary, as with their Race2Read competition, for example.
Just think, the many children innocently and trustingly pour themselves into reading, wanting to do their best, to be helpful, to contribute, only to have the APSL adults turn on them and declare ten reading winner kids (“Top Student Readers”) and to tell the thousands of other children they are the reading loser kids, even if that is not the reality, at all.  Because they show they utterly fail to understand variation, the APSL adults create reading winners and reading losers out of the children, arbitrarily and capriciously, and ignorantly.
The currently serving APSL have always shown that everybody cooperating to achieve a common goal is an extremely foreign concept to them.  As their Race2Read competition exemplifies, the APSL would rather have children, students, schools, parents and community members, and even school bus drivers, competing than cooperating and collaborating.
How unfortunate, here in the twenty-first century, some among the APSL keep practicing the regressive belief that competition motivates people and boosts morale and improves quality, as does, for example, school board member Cynthia Briscoe Brown opining in a school board meeting here (at 1:22:30 thru 1:24:56) that the new “Elite Bus Driver” program is a way of “boosting morale” among school bus drivers.
Now, tell me, what parents would want an inferior, second-rate school bus driver at the wheel of the school bus transporting their children?  Or an inferior, second-rate mechanic having worked on the school bus?  What might parents think or do if they knew the majority of both school bus drivers and school bus mechanics have been told, and have come to believe, they are the inferior, second-rate ones?
Intentions hold no water, here.  Again, we are in the twenty-first century and the APSL should be progressing into it, not regressing back out of it, by way of behaviorism and Taylorism.
One dimension along which the APSL should have already progressed further into this century is that of recognizing the unethical and immoral nature of arbitrary and capricious competition—such as the Race2Read competition and the Elite Bus Driver program—and simply not do it.
So, how many children made Race2Read competition losers will grow up to transfer, unconsciously, their learned reading loser position in life into a selfish coding and hacking practice of “winning” by cyberattacking others?
What?  Did someone just say such a matter can’t be measured so therefore can’t happen?

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA | (404) 505-8176 |


Jan Resseger does not title her post “The Futility of School Closings.” She calls it “Considering School Closures as Philadelphia’s Empty Germantown High School Faces Sheriff’s Sale.” I inserted “futility,” because that is what I see as I read the books and studies she cites.

I am persuaded by books like Eve Ewing’s Ghosts in the Schoolyard (Chicago) and by Shani Robinson’s None of the Above (Atlanta) that the primary purpose of school closings is to gentrify low-income neighborhoods, push out poor black people, and open charters to lure white middle-class families. Chicago lost 200,000 black people from 2000 to 2016. Coincidence?

Read Jan’s great post and see what you think.


I just finished reading a compelling book about the famed Atlanta Cheating Scandal. It is titled None of the Above: The Untold Story of the Atlanta Public Schools Cheating Scandal, Corporate Greed, and the Criminalization of Educators. I found it hard to put down.

It was written by Shani Robinson, one of the teachers convicted in 2015 of racketeering, for changing her students’ answers on a state test, and journalist Anna Simonton. It is Shani’s story, and with Anna’s help, it is a very good read.

Shani was a Teach for America teacher who taught first graders at Dunbar Elementary School in Atlanta. She was one of dozens of teachers and administrators accused of cheating to raise her students’ test scores. Being arrested, charged, threatened, tried, and convicted was an ordeal, which she describes in detail. Throughout this ordeal, she maintained her innocence. She very credibly insists that she never changed her students’ test answers. Her student scores were not counted towards the school’s “AYP” and had no bearing on the school’s rating because first grade scores were not part of the No Child Left Behind dragnet.

She never received a bonus or any other monetary reward. Yet she and other educators were accused and convicted on a racketeering charge (the federal RICO statute that was designed to snare members of the Mafia and other organized criminals). She did not conspire with anyone, she writes, and to this day she insists upon her innocence.

What is especially shocking is her account of the “justice” system. At every step along the way, she and the others who were accused were offered the opportunity to get out of the charges if only they agreed to plead guilty. They got off scot free if they were willing to accuse others. Repeatedly she was told that she had a choice: If you stick with your plea of innocence, you face 20 years in prison; if you confess your criminal behavior, you will get probation, community service, and a nominal fine. Those who were convicted lost their job, their reputations, their careers, and in some cases, their freedom.

Others whom Shani trusted confessed to crimes they had not committed. She insisted upon her innocence and refused to lie to win her freedom. She cannot help comparing the longest trial in Georgia’s history with the cheating scandal in Washington, D.C., where no one was charged and there was no trial or punishment, nor even a credible investigation.

Somehow the whole procedure sounds like a story from the old Soviet Union, but this is American “justice” as practiced in Georgia.

What makes the story even more interesting is the way she connects her personal dilemma with the history of racism and injustice in Georgia and with the manipulation of politics by corporate interests. She notes again and again that the media created a feeding frenzy because of allegations that educators cheated, but were not interested at all in reporting how corporate interests shifted or stole hundreds of millions of dollars from the schools for real estate development or gentrification.

She describes Atlanta’s history as the first city to build public housing, which became home to many thousands of black families, and the first city to tear down all of its public housing, ostensibly to woo middle class families back to the city (and to push out poor black families).

She became disenchanted with Teach for America as she saw its recruits—funded by out-of-state billionaires and trained by TFA’s Leadership for Educational Equity– organize a takeover of the Atlanta school board so as to make way for corporate education reform, especially charter schools.

She details the efforts of for-profit Charter Schools USA to open a charter in Atlanta, and the determination of the black community to keep them out.


She writes:

“I tried to keep my cool as I came to terms with the fact that some very bad things had happened in my school district, worked to remain self-assured that my name would be cleared, and attempted to quell my outrage at the naked hypocrisy of some of the public figures who scrambled to condemn educators for ‘cheating the children.’ There were so many ways that children, particularly black children, were being cheated out of a decent life. During the decade that some APS staff members were tampering with tests, most teachers were doing the best they could with few resources for contending with kids who suffered generational trauma stemming from urban renewal, racialized violence, the drug epidemic, mass incarceration, and the obliteration of public housing. Meanwhile, real estate moguls and financiers were finagling ways to line their pockets with the education dollars that should have been going to the classroom.”

The most memorable line in the trial was uttered by the utterly reprehensible Judge Baxter, who said that the cheating scandal was “the sickest thing to ever happen in this town.” Shani wonders if he never gave any thought to slavery, Jim Crow, and the many other attacks on blacks as equally “sick.”

Shani Robinson’s appeal has not yet been heard. She may yet be sent to prison. Her book is a persuasive argument that some of the worst criminals in Atlanta were never tried for their crimes against the children of Atlanta.



Tom Ultican has been writing about differentcities where the Destroy Public Education Movement has made extraordinary gains. Atlanta has fallen into the clutches of the DPE as a result of Teach for America’s success in electing its alumni to the school board, which hired a superintendent committedto the DPE agenda.

Ultican writes:

“On March 4, the Atlanta Public School (APS) board voted 5 to 3 to begin adopting the “System of Excellent Schools.” That is Atlanta’s euphemistic name for the portfolio district model which systematically ends democratic governance of public schools. The portfolio model was a response to John Chubb’s and Terry Moe’s 1990 book, Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools, which claimed that poor academic performance was “one of the prices Americans pay for choosing to exercise direct democratic control over their schools.”

“A Rand Corporation researcher named Paul Hill who founded the Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) began working out the mechanics of ending democratic control of public education. His solution to ending demon democracy – which is extremely unpopular with many billionaires – was the portfolio model of school governance.

“The portfolio model of school governance directs closing schools that score in the bottom 5% on standardized testing and reopening them as charter schools or Innovation schools. In either case, the local community loses their right to hold elected leaders accountable, because the schools are removed from the school board’s portfolio. It is a plan that guarantees school churn in poor neighborhoods, venerates disruption and dismisses the value of stability and community history.

Atlanta’s Comprador Regime

“Atlanta resident Ed Johnson compared what is happening in APS to a “comprador regime” serving today’s neocolonialists. In the 19th century, a comprador was a native servant doing the bidding of his European masters; the new compradors are doing the bidding of billionaires privatizing public education.

”Chalkbeat reported that Atlanta is one of seven US cities The City Fund has targeted for implementation of the portfolio district governance model. The city fund was founded in 2018 by two billionaires, John Arnold the former Enron executive who did not go to prison and Reed Hastings the founder and CEO of Netflix. Neerav Kingsland, Executive Director of The City Fund, stated, “Along with the Hastings Fund and the Arnold Foundation, we’ve also received funds from the Dell Foundation, the Gates Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and the Ballmer Group.”

“City Fund has designated RedefinED as their representative in Atlanta. Ed Chang, the Executive Director of RedefinED, is an example of the billionaire created education “reform” leader recruited initially by Teach for America (TFA).

“TFA is the billionaire financed destroy-public-education (DPE) army. TFA teachers are not qualified to be in a classroom. They are new college graduates with no legitimate teacher training nor any academic study of education theory. Originally, TFA was proposed as an emergency corps of teachers for states like West Virginia who were having trouble attracting qualified professional educators. Then billionaires started financing TFA. They pushed through laws defining TFA teachers as “highly qualified” and purchased spurious research claiming TFA teachers were effective. If your child is in a TFA teacher’s classroom, they are being cheated out of a professionally delivered education. However, TFA provides the DPE billionaires a group of young ambitious people who suffer from group think bordering on cult like indoctrination.

“Chang is originally from Chicago where he trained to be a physical therapist. He came south as a TFA seventh grade science teacher. Chang helped found an Atlanta charter school and through that experience received a Building Excellent Schools (BES) fellowship. BES claims to train “high-capacity individuals to take on the demanding and urgent work of leading high-achieving, college preparatory urban charter schools.

“After his subsequent charter school proposal was rejected, Chang started doing strategy work for the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP). This led him to a yearlong Fisher Fellowship training to start and run a KIPP charter school. In 2009, he opened KIPP STRIVE Academy in Atlanta.

“While complicit in stealing neighborhood public schools from Atlanta’s poorest communities, Chang says with a straight face, “Education is the civil rights movement of today.

“Chang now has more than a decade working in billionaire financed DPE organizations. He started in TFA, had two billionaire supported “fellowships” and now has millions of dollars to use as the Executive Director of RedefinED. It is quite common for TFA alums like Chang to end up on the boards of multiple education “reform” organizations.

“Under Chang’s direction, RedefinED has provided monetary support for both the fake teacher program, TFA, and the fake graduate school, Relay. In addition, they have given funds to the Georgia Charter School Association, Purpose Built Schools, Kindezi School, KIPP and Resurgence Hall.”

Keep reading to learn the scope of the civic disaster in Atlanta, where DPE is rapidly applying its failed ideas and dismantling public education.

The sad part of DPE is that it proclaims lofty goals but eventually has to confront its failures, which are predictable.


Ed Johnson fights day after day to try to budge the Atlanta School Board, which is following the disastrous path of corporate reform, which has failed everywhere. The Atlanta School Board is controlled by individuals who formerly were part of Teach for America, and it is their dream to turn Atlanta in a portfolio district with many privately managed schools.

He writes:


Does pursuing “Excellent Schools” make the APSL fit to even say the name Alonzo A. Crim?


“The anticipated closure of Crim High School creates a need to formally recognize the legacy of Dr. Alonzo A. Crim, a former Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools and the first African-American to lead the school district in that role. The Board appointed an ad hoc committee to make a recommendation for honoring Dr. Crim. … [T]he ad hoc committee is recommending that the Atlanta Public Schools central office be named ‘The Alonzo A. Crim Center for Learning and Leadership.’”


Yes, it is proper and fitting for the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) central office to carry the name “Alonzo A. Crim.”  That need never be the question.


However, with is not proper and fitting is the obviously limited and racialist reason the APSL (Atlanta Board of Education members and Superintendent) state for formally recognizing Dr. Crim’s legacy.


Stating only that Dr. Crim was “the first African-American to lead” APS is insignificant in the face of the fact that Dr. Crim was, first and foremost, an “education man,” or educationist, unlike any one of them.


You see, Dr. Crim understood that people such as the APSL “who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get school reform wrong.”  Dr. Crim understood “such people opt for a demand model of learning rather than a support model of learning.”


Dr. Crim understood that people such as the APSL “who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get improvement wrong.”  Dr. Crim understood “such people opt for rigor and maximum difficulty rather than optimum difficulty.  Harder is better, they believe.”


Dr. Crim understood that people such as the APSL “who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get teaching and learning wrong.”  Dr. Crim understood “such people opt to focus on uniform and specific skills rather than understanding.”


Dr. Crim understood that people such as the APSL “who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such get evaluation wrong.”  Dr. Crim understood “such people opt for critical reliance on standardized test results and all manner of measures rather than helping kids become better thinkers and learners.”


And Dr. Crim understood that people such as the APSL “who concentrate on standards, goals, performance, achievement, and such utterly misunderstand motivation.”  Dr. Crim understood “such people opt to force kids to overly focus on how well they are doing rather than on what they are doing.”  Dr. Crim understood “such people believe excellence means being top-ranked.”


How do I know Dr. Crim understood this about people such as the APSL?


Because I asked him, as did the AJC, at my invitation.


You see, back on 23 March 2000, Dr. Crim listened to Social Psychologist and former teacher Alfie Kohn lecture on and argue these understandings at Georgia State University.


At the end of Dr. Kohn’s lecture, I approached Dr. Crim, introduced myself as President of the Atlanta Area Deming Study Group, and asked his opinion of the understandings Dr. Kohn made.  To my delight, Dr. Crim replied: “Alfie is right on.  He gets it!”


With those words, Dr. Crim renewed my hope for the future of public education, in general, and Atlanta Public Schools, in particular.  Still, I had one concern: has Dr. Crim the moral and ethical courage to publicly lend his voice to the matter?


To put my concern to rest, I contacted the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reporter who covered Dr. Kohn’s lecture with the idea to interview Dr. Crim.


The AJC reporter subsequently interviewed Dr. Crim, and reported: “‘I think [Kohn is] right on the money,’ said one member of the audience, former Atlanta school Superintendent Alonzo Crim, now a GSU education professor.  ‘Just as Kohn said, we’re trying to go back to the ’20s and make our schools factories.’”  (“Uphill battle: Many teachers think using standardized tests to measure specific objectives will change education for the worse,” AJC, 16 April 2000.)


Obviously, the APSL do not “get it!”


For if they did “get it,” they would know their chasing after implementing The City Fund’s so-called portfolio of schools idea that is utterly and totally void of educational value and calling what they do “Creating a System of Excellent Schools” flies in the face of Dr. Crim’s legacy.


Words simply refuse to come for describing just how unfit the APSL are to even speak Dr. Crim’s name, let alone THEY put his name on anything.


The APSL putting the name Alonzo A. Crim on Atlanta Public Schools central office facility is on the order of David Duke saying he “has respect for” Spike Lee.  I mean, gosh damn!


Compounding the matter are members of what The Black Agenda Report say is the Black Mis-Leadership Class.  Without question, a chief among the Black Mis-Leadership Class members is Dr. Michael L. Lomax, President and CEO of United Negro College Fund (UNCF).


Lomax was a cheerleader for school reformer Beverly Hall, and we know how godawful that turned out.  Lomax was a cheerleader for school reformer Michelle Rhee, and we know how disastrously “rheeform” turned out.  In short, whether he realizes it or not, will admit it or not, Lomax’s record is one of continuing efforts to destroy the very thing that allowed the UNCF to come to be—you know, that thing called democracy.  His op-ed The Atlanta Voice recently published, entitled “I support APS’s upcoming vote on school-rating system,” proves the point, yet again.


Still, the mindboggling question is, how does such educated ignorance come to be?


Unlike Dr. Crim and the renewed hope he wrought for the future of Atlanta Public Schools, the currently serving Atlanta Board of Education and Superintendent, in partnership with Michael Lomax and other Black Mis-Leadership Class members, have utterly destroyed that hope.


They are nothing on the order of being the education man Dr. Crim was.


And, in their arrogance, they refuse to learn to know it.  Why?


“[Dr. W. Edwards] Deming was a visionary, whose belief in continual improvement led to a set of transformational theories and teachings that changed the way we think about quality, management, and leadership. He believed in a world where there is joy in learning and joy in work—where ‘everyone will win.’”


Ed Johnson

Advocate for Quality in Public Education

Atlanta GA | (404) 505-8176 |


The Atlanta School Board is controlled by a slate of former Teach for America teachers. They are devoted to privately managed charter schools. They don’t seem to have any ideas about how to improve public schools other than to outsource them. They are determined to impose a portfolio district model that welcomes more charter operators staffed by temps like they once were.

A group of Atlanta citizens, led by Edward Johnson, perennial fighter for incremental improvement, not disruption, has presented a petition to the School Board:


An Open Letter to Atlanta Board of Education:
Why the Portfolio Privatization Plan for Atlanta is a Bad Idea


We, the undersigned, request that members of the Atlanta Board of Education vote against any resolution or resolutions brought before the Board on March 4, 2019, or at any other time, that would establish any aspects of the would-be Excellent Schools Framework in the Atlanta Public Schools district.
The Excellent Schools Framework, which is based on the so-called Portfolio of Schools plan, is another corporate privatization effort intended to, in effect, turn over our public schools to private companies and establish charter schools that use public money for what are essentially private schools.  Our public schools are not stocks and bonds in an investment portfolio to be bought, sold, and speculated. Our public schools are where children ought to be nurtured, protected, and educated.
We know that, in addition to privatization, school closures and attacks on teachers will accompany any implementation of the Portfolio of Schools plan, which the Atlanta Board of Education’s would-be Excellent Schools Framework is based on.  No research exists that indicates the so-called Portfolio of Schools plan actually leads to improving learning for students and teaching for teachers.
We also know The City Fund is promoting the so-called Portfolio of Schools plan, with $200 million raised to use to influence targeted urban public school districts to adopt, adapt, and implement the plan.  The City Fund’s local designated entity, RedefinED, has used its money to organize astroturf support for this plan.
This proposal is especially disturbing, coming at the time when the Board and Superintendent have already set hundreds of billions of dollars to go to billionaire social impact investors and real estate developers in “The Gulch” deal, downtown.
We urge you, the Atlanta Board of Education, to forgo your Excellent Schools Framework and, instead, adopt evidence-based models, such as the Community Schools model, that actually work for children.

This letter by the head of the Atlanta AFT local was addressed to the chair of the board of Atlanta Public Schools, who is an alumnus of Teach for America. Four members of the school board are TFA alumni, presumably trained by TFA’s Leadership for Educational Equity and primed to support charter schools, not public schools. What is the connection between TFA and privatization? Why does TFA favor charter schools over public schools? Why would a locally elected school board want to relinquish its responsibilities to corporate charter chains controlled by out of state entities?

February 18, 2019
Jason F. Esteves, Board Chair
Atlanta Board of Education
130 Trinity Ave., SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
Dear Board Chair Esteves:

You are now privileged to hold the position of Treasurer of the Georgia Democratic Party. That party has been pro-public education. Yet you are supporting the “Portfolio of Schools” model for Atlanta Public Schools.  This model is called “Innovative Schools” in Denver. And per your leadership, it is called “Excellent Schools” in Atlanta. “Excellent Schools” is not pro-public education. As you may or may not know, seven cities are being courted in order to turn their schools over to this model. 
In the interest of time and since I’ve not heard back from you, we are asking you once again to meet with some concerned Atlanta public school stakeholders and you are requested to walk away from the Portfolio of Schools plan.   We understand that you, one other board member, and the superintendent chose the facilitator to sell the Portfolio of Schools model to the board.

You, Eshe Collins, Matt Westmoreland, and Courtney English are TFA products.

  • What is the connection between TFA and KIPP?
In short, the direction of the board has amounted to preying on citizens and selling the district short. Black elected leadership has closed schools and brought in partnerships.
  • Does the board decide the partnerships or does the superintendent decide?
This superintendent served without goals or an evaluation for years.
  • Did the superintendent do her own evaluation, scorecard, and narrative?
  • How close to contract renewal did the board receive that information from the superintendent?
The superintendent’s contract is over in 2020. Unlike the previous process where Ann Cramer conducted various activities, we also want to discuss, vet and publish a process for a superintendent search that should be real and open. Unlike the last superintendent search, where we the union had reports from Austin, Texas, and St. Paul, Minnesota, it is time that Atlanta, all of Atlanta, know who is doing what. Atlanta taxpayers are being exploited. It is insane that you are awarding 25 to 40-year contracts to companies that are not about real evidence-based solutions for our children. The superintendent’s School Turnaround Strategy was a failure. The Strategic Plan was a failure. “Excellent Schools” is a private takeover with failure built in. You are closing schools, giving large charter companies contracts at the taxpayer’s expense and restructuring communities. Some members on the board are disengaged in the community, keeping big funding sources pleased in order to stay in the political arena.
  • Are you planning on running for City Council?
You ran for the state house and now you are on the Board of Education. You are Afro-Latino.
  • Are you aware of the Austin Latino Chamber of Commerce Op-Ed per the now Atlanta Superintendent?
We applaud you for forming relationships with the Latino Business Community, but per the Latinos and Hispanics in APS, we have not seen a comprehensive engagement plan with them.
Please walk away from the Portfolio of Schools plan and paradigm and, when and if you are ready, we are ready to help with evidence-based solutions that work in public schools. Please review the NCSL, OECD and PISA reports. The GFT asked former Senator Vincent Fort to sponsor the Community Schools Bill. It passed the Senate 50 to 1 a few years back. Senator Emmanuel Jones is sponsoring it during this session. By the way, when you close schools you destroy communities and gentrify.  Controlled agendas hurt people at-large. Please help champion the Community Schools Bill as the Chair of the Democratic Party supports it.

Thank you.

Verdaillia Turner, President, Atlanta Federation of Teachers

A reader has collected the ways that test scores can be manipulated to make a school or a district look better or worse:

How to Manipulate Test Scores

1) Manipulate the standards

2) Manipulate the test items

3) Manipulate the cut scores

4) Manipulate the test takers

5) Manipulate the responses (i.e., change the answers, also referred to as, “The DC Rheeform Miracle” a tactic so successful that Atlanta gave it go.)

6) Manipulate the media

Number five is the only overt form of cheating, however, all the other methods are forms of de-facto cheating. Number 1, 2, 3 were used by reformers to prove that our schools were failing; numbers 4, 5. 6 are used by reformers to prove that the charter experiment is working. Six reasons why Common Coercion test-and-punish reform was a criminal enterprise.

Ed Johnson, one of the most astute analysts of education in the nation, has offered a plan to rate the leadership of the Atlanta Public Schools. Please read his linked document. He frequently sends letters to the Atlanta Public School board and they regularly ignore his sound advice. The president and vice-president of the Atlanta board are TFA. The board is determined to disrupt the district and impose charters wherever possible, despite parents’ objections. His following comment describes a rating system for APSL (Atlanta Public School Leadership). Given that we already have ample evidence that corporate Reform is ineffective (see, for example, the $100 million spent and wasted on the Achievement School District in Tennessee), why do leaders of Atlanta persist in their demand for disruption? Because they can.

He commented:

Kindly forgive my intruding with the following long post broken into three parts to offer more perspective, but it’s a desperate situation here in Atlanta. Please help as you see best.

Part 1 of 3 from my “APSL design to rate schools, public design to rate APSL,” emailed 14 November 2018 (original email at

APSL stands for Atlanta Public Schools leadership. The abbreviation distinguishes understanding the leadership of APS as being different from APS, the district, itself.

The APSL are the currently serving Atlanta Board of Education members, collectively and severally, and the Harvard-trained Meria Joel Carstarphen, Ed.D., as Superintendent.

Right after civil society of Austin, Texas, effectively dismissed Dr. Carstarphen, effective school year end 2014, for imposing school choice and charter schools upon their Austin Independent School District in opposition to the public’s interests, the Atlanta school board’s Superintendent Search Committee, chaired by Ann Cramer, saw fit, for some unfathomable reason, to select Carstarphen as the search committee’s sole finalist.

Consequently, in April 2014, the Atlanta school board approved hiring Carstarphen to succeed Interim Superintendent Erroll Davis. Carstarphen is now in her fifth year as Atlanta superintendent, and APS is now nearly a decade removed from Dr. Beverly L. Hall’s tenue in that position and the history-making test cheating crisis Hall’s behavioristic practices applied to teachers and their administrators spawned.

Always generally busy with some manner of rushed, attention-grabbing, self-aggrandizing activity about “moving forward” with change, but never effecting improvement, the APSL are now busy with “Creating a System of Excellent Schools” under the auspices of their “Excellent Schools Project.” An aspect of the project is the involvement of a 57-person Advisory Committee comprising top-level APS administrators, some APS principals, and mostly other persons said to be representing “the community.”

The APSL Excellent Schools Project Advisory Committee met most recently … on Monday, 12 November 2018. The facilitated work of the committee in this meeting was that of responding to, and giving feedback on, the 18-page DRAFT Excellent Schools Action Framework (“DRAFT”). A scanned copy of the DRAFT, in PDF format, can be viewed and downloaded from my Adobe Document Cloud space, at this link (light blue highlights on the PDF are mine):

First, see in the DRAFT that pages nine (9) through 18 present action items to “Rate on a scale of 1-10 your belief that this action will help increase access to excellent schools across APS.”

When, at the end of their Monday meeting and after having concluded their facilitated work, the Advisory Committee asked for input from members of the public present. I was the only member of the public present.

In rising to the floor to speak, I respectfully and humbly introduced myself as someone who has been called “that Deming guy” and then offered this feedback on rating the DRAFT action items:

On a scale from 1 to 10, I would rate every action item zero (0). Unfortunately, your allowing me to deliver just a two-minute monologue is not enough time to explain, why zero. Thank you.”

(Note that in keeping with the APSL practice of legally ending public meetings immediately prior to allowing public members to speak for two minutes maximum, so the APSL will have no legal obligation to dialogue with the public nor to legally include public input and feedback in meeting minutes and in the public record, the Advisory Committee Meeting asked to hear from the public only after having concluded the meeting’s work.)

Part 2 of 3 from my “APSL design to rate schools, public design to rate APSL,” emailed 14 November 2018 (original email at

Now, be alarmed by the DRAFT. Be very alarmed, if not angered.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because it embodies what students, researchers, and practitioners of continual quality improvement (not “continuous improvement”), such as that of Dr. W. Edwards Deming’s humanistic philosophy and teachings applicable to education, readily recognize to be what Deming calls “Evil Practices” and “Forces of Destruction” operating.

• DRAFT Evil Practices: “Institute performance-based incentive pay,” “Performance-based contract,” etc.
• DRAFT Forces of Destruction: School “Leadership transition,” “Merge” schools, “Close” school, etc.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because its committee of creators and the APSL clearly aim to slink into parents minds and behavior selfish, consumerist school choice and charter schools expansion ideology that says, “It does not matter what kind of school it is – public, charter, or other – just as long as the school is an excellent school regardless of neighborhood.” In other words, the means don’t matter, just as long as one can get the end one wants regardless of the harm doing so will inflict upon others, even children, but just not “my” child.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because it brazenly intends to lead to codifying behaviorism and Taylorism in greatly expansive ways even Beverly Hall did not do. Understanding that Hall’s practice of behaviorism and Taylorism as continuous improvement, with attendant numerical goals and targets for test score gains, is what drove APS to experience the greatest systemic test cheating crisis in U. S. history, then just imagine the damage and destruction the DRAFT portends.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because it is so reductive and regressive in the extreme in going so far backward into the 20th century that it is reasonable to say the DRAFT makes behaviorism’s B. F. Skinner (life, 1904-1990; Harvard Professor, 1958-1974) and Taylorism’s Fredrick W. Taylor (1856-1918) rise from the grave to applaud it.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because, intentional or not, its committee of creators and the APSL aim to seal the fate of current and future generations of Atlanta children, especially those labeled “black,” in being generally submissive and compliant cogs in a “college and career ready,” simplified, algorithm-driven, amoral and selfish and greedy world of corporatocracy (yes, it’s a word; see definition below), when the reality is that the world comprises a completely interdependent and interacting network of systems created by both Nature and man that gives rise to ever greater complexity, unceasingly.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because it offers nothing, absolutely nothing, for working on learning to improve the internal capabilities of Atlanta public schools as a system that aims to prepare all students for complexities that will unfold, and have already unfolded, into the world, including public schools and other public institutions in service to sustaining and advancing democracy to benefit civil society.

Be alarmed by the DRAFT because it signals its committee of creators and the APSL, ironically, do not have even a Martin Luther King Jr kind of Systems Thinking wisdom and knowledge of what a system is nor of how systems give rise to complexity.

MLK Jr: “As nations and individuals, we are interdependent. … That whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. … This is the way our Universe is structured.”

To see an example of an MLK Jr kind of Systems Thinking in action, freely play around with my qualitative simulation of “Why APS cannot improve and why it can,” at this entirely self-contained link, shortened:

Part 3 of 3 from my “APSL design to rate schools, public design to rate APSL,” emailed 14 November 2018 (original email at

Atlanta school board members who have no understanding of systems, nor of Taylorism, nor of behaviorism, nor of Carstarphen’s known bent for behaviorism and Taylorism, in the style she practiced in Austin, and now in Atlanta, are an inherent risk and danger to the moral and ethical development, education, and welfare of especially children labeled “black.” They should not be school board members. They should have the wherewithal to know to step down. They simply are not qualified for leadership in the ever more complexifying 21st century.

For this reason, now see in the DRAFT that pages seven (7) through eight (8) present the following APSL Excellent Schools Framework Rating design:

• Exceeds Expectations (also 5-stars or “A”)
• Meets Expectations (also 4-stars or “B”)
• Approaching Expectations (also 3-stars or “C”)
• Beginning (also 2-stars or “D”)
• Needs Improvement (also 1-star or “F”)

But then, in the sense “what is good for the goose is good for the gander,” the APSL DRAFT design for rating the level of a school’s excellence suggests the public might also have a similar design for rating the maturity of APSL quality.

Accordingly, the following design is offered for rating the maturity of APSL quality:

• Great APSL Quality
• Good APSL Quality
• Middling APSL Quality
• Fair APSL Quality
• Poor APSL Quality

Then taking the design for rating the maturity of APSL quality into considering that the APSL DRAFT Excellent Schools Action Framework, and the APSL Excellent Schools Project, clearly signal that the APSL aim to codify behaviorism and Taylorism as well as school choice and charter schools expansion, the rating “Poor APSL Quality” is justified, and so is hereby attributed to the APSL.

Therefore, let it be known: Poor APSL Quality is the situation hobbling improvement of Atlanta Public Schools as a public educational institution and system of public schools.

Moreover, the Poor APSL Quality rating begs asking: What was it in the general minds, hearts, and souls of Austin civil society that came to reject Carstarphen and stand up for public education that seems lacking in the general minds, hearts, and souls of Atlanta civil society that has embraced Carstarphen and is amenable to destroying public education using the rationale that attaining an “excellent schools” end justifies any “school choice and charter schools expansion” means?

Again, freely play around with my qualitative simulation of “Why APS cannot improve and way it can,” as you wish. It will be interesting to vary P.Superintendency (public superintendency) quality and P.BOE (public board of education) quality. See below for definitions of the interdependent and interacting entities the simulation involves.

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA | (404) 505-81776 |

Corporate reformers managed to gain control of the Atlanta School Board hired America Carstarphen as its superintendent; she previously worked in Austin, where voters ousted the charter-friendly board.

Now Atlanta has ambitious plans to turn itself into a portfolio district and disrupt schools across the city. Reformers say that when they are finished with their mass disruption, every student will attend an excellent school.

Sadly, they can’t point to a district anywhere in the nation where this has happened. In New Orleans, the Star Reform District, 40% of schools are rated D or F by the reform-loving Dtate Education Department, and these schools are almost completely segregated black.

This is the key exchange:

School board chairman Jason Esteves acknowledges the work will lead to “tough decisions,” but says it’s necessary to create excellent schools for every child.

Over the coming months, the district will develop a rating system to grade its schools as well as determine how to respond when schools excel or fail. The board that will consider any changes includes several members who joined after the 2016 turnaround plan was approved.

“The vast majority of the community has seen the progress that we’ve made, has endorsed the work that we’ve done, and … wants to see more of it,” he said. “The electorate has generally been supportive in the face of pretty significant changes.”

But there are critics, and they say the district needs to shift priorities, not redesign its structure.

Shawnna Hayes-Tavares, president of Southwest and Northwest Atlanta Parents and Partners for Schools, fears officials want to bring in more charter schools or charter operators to run neighborhood schools, especially in those parts of the city.

“We’ve had the most change on this side of town. It’s like trauma,” she said. “The parents are just tired. They can’t take it anymore.”

Promises and lies.