Archives for category: Atlanta

Jack Hassard, professor of science education in Georgia, has discovered a wonderful new science educator with great ideas for the Atlanta Public Schools, and they don’t cost a dime.

Veteran education guru Ed Johnson has some tips on how to put science at the center of the elementary school curriculum. His plan calls for using nature, exploring, seeing, touching, paying attention, learning the science that is right in front of you.

Hassard quotes Johnson’s advice to the school board:

Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen has blogged good news: Let’s Play! Every APS Elementary School Gets a Playground! She recaps that, as a consequence of the school board having decided to provide for schools to be more equitable operationally, nine of ten priority elementary schools now have a playground ready for back-to-school. In addition, she reports that a playground at the tenth priority elementary school, Beecher Hills Elementary, is under construction and that the planning process there includes working with a City of Atlanta arborist. Great!
So, speaking of Beecher Hills Elementary School…

One of several points of entry onto a system of greenway trails is right next to the gated entry to Beecher Hills Elementary. It is at that entry point to the trails that I sometimes start and end a walk-run. Being out there to emerge in the surroundings and to be open to The Universe always proves a way to more fully engage the senses, and to renew. What am I seeing? Hearing? Feeling? Smelling? Tasting? One the most engaging times out on the trails occurred during a torrential downpour, and I got soaking wet. Still, the rain provided a very different learning context and experience I had not before imagined.

The greenway trails effectively extend Beecher Hills Elementary School’s backyard. And because they do, I often think it would be magical to be a kid at Beecher with freedom to play and learn in and from that extended backyard.

The point of entry to the greenway trails at Beecher Hills Elementary lies adjacent to the school’s front driveway. From that entry point the greenway meanders northward and down the westward side of the hill upon which the school sits. Then the greenway curves eastward along a fence behind the school before curving northward and connecting with an east-west trail just beyond having crossed a creek.

Environments outside the classroom for students to explore and learn.

Out Beecher’s back doors and down the hill, the fence encloses an expansive green field just begging to be played on. The field catches my eye, every time. It always invites me to pause and wonder what would kids do if let loose upon it? What sort of games would they innovate and play? What sort of learning would they innovate and personalize and internalize for themselves? What sort of questions would the kids ask prompted by observations they would have made? Would they even ask questions, having been trained to give only answers à la standardized teaching, learning, and testing? Would teachers run themselves ragged trying to control the kids’ play? How would teachers deal with kids’ questions, especially questions lacking answers?

And then I think, hmm, nighttime. Hardly any surrounding light! Look up, “billions and billions!” –thanks, Carol Sagan! And, of course, thanks, too, to that astrophysicist guy Neil Degree Tyson who claims “All I did was drive the getaway car” when Pluto got knocked off. So, yep, a telescope, right in the center of the field out back Beecher Hills Elementary School. Can’t you just imagine?!

Now there is a radical and innovative idea: Let the children play! Let them learn the lessons right in front of them! Let them understand that science is part of life and they are living in its midst.

Mercedes Schneider assesses the strange political maneuvering in Atlanta.

Atlanta has an elected school board and a superintendent. TFA elected at least two of the board members. The superintendent Meria Carstarphen is a data-driven reformer, eager to expand the charter presence in Atlanta.

But, but, but…the mayor has stepped in to name a “chief education officer.” Her choice is a TFA with corporate entrepreneur experience.

I know it’s confusing. I don’t understand it either.

Ed Johnson is an Atlanta community activist who is deeply concerned about the corporate reform takeover of the school board.

He wrote this open letter to the school board:

10 July 2018

Atlanta Mayor’s first-ever Chief Education Officer, an alum of TFA and BCG

Yesterday The Atlanta Voice reported that Atlanta’s new Mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has hired Aliya Bhatia to be the city’s first-ever Chief Education Officer.

Unsurprisingly, Bhatia comes into the job by way of Teach for America (TFA), Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and Harvard University. BCG is known to charge exuberant fees for cookie-cutter-like recommendations to downsize and privatize public services and for being a danger to public education.

According to The Atlanta Voice (my emphasis):

“As Chief Education Officer, Bhatia will work with community stakeholders to improve collaboration and identify and advocate for policies and resources that will improve access to high-quality education for all Atlantans.”

“Bhatia will also be tasked with creating a citywide Children’s Savings Account program for every child entering kindergarten and with working across city government to ensure that public schools are a priority for infrastructure investment and public safety.

“‘Quality education can transform lives. Aliya Bhatia’s experience, passion, and commitment to creating high-quality, accessible educational opportunities will allow her to effectively partner with APS [Atlanta Public Schools] and other education and industry leaders from throughout the community as we work to improve access to education and training for all of our children and residents,’ Bottoms said.

“A native of metro Atlanta, Bhatia started her career as a teacher with Teach for America and later joined the Boston Consulting Group as an associate and consultant. She recently completed her master’s degree in Public Policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University[.]

“The search for this position was led by two members of Mayor Bottom’s transition team: Bill Rogers, Chairman & CEO of SunTrust Banks and Virginia Hepner, former CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center.”

So now we have Mayor Bottoms leading Atlantans to believe it is necessary to “improve access to high-quality education.” Such messaging typically exemplifies the language school choice and school reform proponents so often use to bamboozle and sucker especially Black parents and others into selfishly demanding charter schools on the pretense charter schools are public schools.

Charter schools are not public schools; they are private entities that suckle public school funds for profit and thereby necessarily help destroy public schools and public education. Top priority for charter schools requires making money off children; no profit, no school. Thus saying “high-quality education” is very different from saying “high-quality public education.” Besides, what does “high-quality” mean, anyway? Or even low-quality?

Mayor Bottoms’ messaging implicitly argues that charter schools naturally provide “high-quality education” because, after all, they are like private schools and private schools always provide “high-quality education,” unlike public schools. Therefore, it is never necessary to improve charter schools; it is only necessary to “improve access” to them, which generally means having more of them. In contrast, access to public schools is a given, and public schools have always stood to be improved, continually. Disturbingly, however, charter schools are about replacement of public schools, not about improvement of public schools.

Atlanta City Council President and Members advised what was coming

On 20 April 2018, in a separate email to Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore, Post 1 At Large Council Member Michael Julian Bond, Post 3 At Large Council Member Andre Dickens, and District 4 Council Member Cleta Winslow, my district representative, I wrote:

Today I became aware of the [Mayor’s] “confidential” search for a City of Atlanta Chief Education Officer per the attachment, enclosed by linked reference.

The search bespeaks entangling City of Atlanta in Atlanta Public Schools Leadership’s continuing actions to expand school choice as a consumer good, to include inciting profit-making opportunities for private investors, rather than work on improving public education as a common good. Consequences for Black children, as a category attending Atlanta Public Schools, is education made worse for them and their learning resilience virtually destroyed. These consequences have become quite apparent during just the past three years.

Therefore, I wish to meet with you in your role [on Atlanta City Council]. I wish to share and discuss perspectives and understandings about the matter that otherwise may go unconsidered.

I can be available to meet at a time and a place convenient for you. Kindly let me know, won’t you?

Only Councilman Andre Dickens bothered to respond, explaining he had not “seen the application. The new mayor has stated during her campaign that she plans to hire an education liaison role that reports to her under her office. She has the discretion to hire staff that she sees fit as long as it fits in the budget.”

Given his explanation, Councilman Dickens then intimated disinterest in meeting.

Nonetheless, on 22 April 2018, I followed up to Councilman Dickens, with copy to various others that included all council members:

Yes, I know it is Atlanta Mayor’s personal decision to add to the staff of the Office of the Mayor various positions by whatever title, including the position titled “Chief Education Officer.” And that is the concern. The Mayor’s “Position Description for the Position of Chief Education Officer, City of Atlanta” reads as if the Atlanta superintendent [Meria Carstarphen, Ed.D.], or a devotee of hers, such as the one elected last year to Atlanta City Council from having served one term on the Atlanta school board [that being TFA alum Matt Westmoreland], may have written it or controlled the hand that wrote it.

Atlanta Mayor’s position description for Chief Education Officer, City of Atlanta, is, without question, pregnant with school choice and school reform language the superintendent and her devotee are known to speak and work to make happen. Consequently, the position description strongly intimates the Mayor seeks a person of low moral and ethical integrity who, if hired, will further normalize and expand the superintendent’s school choice ideology and machinations that target especially Black parents to become willing, selfish participants in destroying public education in Atlanta for all children and in destroying Atlanta Public Schools as a public good.

Surely you will agree “education liaison” connotes a very different expectation than does “Chief Education Officer.” The former connotes assisting communications and cooperation and such; arguably, involvement. The latter connotes command and control, as by “governance and outcome targets,” as you say; arguably, entanglement.

Besides, the title “Chief Education Officer” is generally understood to mean, in corporate-speak, the top administrator of a local education agency; for example, Chief Education Officer of Chicago Public Schools. However, City of Atlanta is not a local education agency.

Moreover, alarmingly, Atlanta Mayor’s position description for Chief Education Officer, City of Atlanta, allows a “camel’s nose in the tent” to institute quasi-mayoral control of Atlanta Public Schools in a way that can effectively skirt City Council’s lawmaking authority and responsibility. City of Atlanta quasi-mayoral control of APS will have a structure like that of, for example, DC Public Schools, but without the necessity of being codified, thus allowing for democratic ideals and proceedings to be undermined to benefit private interests at the expense of public interests. Not surprisingly, the politics of mayoral control of DCPS are known to precipitate fraud and ethical and moral lapses as normal behavior, as the recently fired DCPS Chancellor, Antwan Wilson, demonstrates.

Expect City of Atlanta quasi-mayoral control of Atlanta Public Schools to be, at least, a first step for the superintendent to begin doing away with the publicly elected Atlanta Board of Education. After all, the superintendent once brassily intimated to Atlanta school board members during a public board meeting that the school board is in her way.

Finally, it is interesting to note Atlanta, the so-called Black Mecca, will eventually find itself on the trailing edge of the nation’s emerging rejection of bipartisan Bush-Obama-DeVos school choice and school reform ideology. Witness, for example, recent teacher strikes and walk-outs in several cities and states. This should not come as a surprise. People beaten down will take only so much. Atlanta, especially, should know this, and should have learned the lessons by now.

Why must being on the trailing edge be the case for Atlanta, the so-called Black Mecca? Why did Atlanta, the so-called Black Mecca, even allow the “camel’s nose in the tent” that is Atlanta Public Schools in the first place by hiring a pro-school choice superintendent [Meria Carstarphen]? Why now allow that camel’s nose into the tent that is the Office of the Mayor? What has Atlanta, the so-called Black Mecca, yet to learn about lack of authentic education that sustains intergenerational cycles of servitude, hence poverty?

Should you change your mind and wish to meet to discuss more about the Mayor’s “Position Description for the Position of Chief Education Officer, City of Atlanta,” I can be available; it’s up to you. In the meantime, I, as a reasonable person, believe the public has a need to know about this, hence my Bcc (which is a way to avoid displaying a very long list of cluttering email addresses and is not meant to imply secrecy; people Bcc’ed may reply or not as they wish).

Perhaps one now knows why one would have been wise to put aside ones Black racialist ideology during last year’s mayoral runoff election in order to cast a rational, well-informed vote for Mary Norwood.

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA| edwjohnson@aol.com

Bcc: List 2

Edward Johnson is an education activist in Atlanta and one of the sharpest critics of a school board and superintendent determined to privatize the public schools of that city.

He recently wrote an open letter to former President Obama, asking him to apologize for the failed Race to the Top competition, which built on the failed strategy of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind.

Via Email (info@ofa.us)

 

Open Letter to Barack Obama seeking apology for RttT Competition

 

22 May 2018 (revised 23 May 2018)

 

The Honorable Barack Obama

c/o Organizing for Action

1130 West Monroe Street, Suite 100

Chicago, Illinois 60607

 

Dear Mr. Obama:

 

“We are being ruined by competition; what we need is cooperation.”

—W. Edwards Deming (1900-1993)

 

Thank you for your interest in my voting.  Voting, of course, is a cornerstone of democratic practice.  However, education—public education—underlies democratic practice that aims to serve and sustain the common good and to continually advance on closing gaps with democratic ideals, as in “We the People ….”  Unfortunately, your Race to the Top Competition strongly suggests a very different paradigm, a competitive, anti-democracy sustaining paradigm.

 

Frankly, Barack—may I address you as Barack since you addressed me as Ed?  Frankly, it’s hard to figure why especially prominent Civil Rights leaders would forgo inviting you to a private conversation out behind the woodshed at the very moment you spoke the words “Race to the Top Competition.”  Did they not understand competition made the Civil Rights Movement necessary more so than did so-called racism?  That so-called racism is, in reality, but an insidiously malicious and hostile form of competition?

 

The point being, the aim of every form of competition has always been, and always will be, to produce as few winners as possible and as many losers as possible.  Fine for sport competitions, but why would one facilitate attacking and harming the nation’s democracy-sustaining public educational systems by any manner of competition?  Was cooperation between and among the states not an option?

 

All too often, the thinking is that winning means excellence, and losing means failure or “not good enough.”  And that “competition builds character.”

 

But here’s the rub, Barack.  In social systems, such as our public educational systems, people made losers by competition for no good reason invariably figure out how to win, if only in their own eyes.  The massively systemic cheating on standardized tests that Atlanta experienced exemplifies the matter: A great many teachers and schoolhouse leaders the superintendent incited to compete for their job and bonuses for high standardized test scores figured they could win by changing students’ wrong answers to right answers.

 

We also have plenty other examples, including, notoriously: Dimitrios Pagourtzis, at Santa Fe High School, Texas; Nikolas Cruz, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida; Adam Lanza, at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Connecticut; and, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, at Columbine High School, Colorado.

 

And consider, too, some people made losers by competition for no good reason very likely figured they could win by becoming police officers, or wannabe police officers—in the case of George Zimmerman, for example.  Then to that extent, these winners turned policing into hostile competitions with the public that could not avoid producing notorious shootings of especially young “Black” males and other citizens for no good reason.

 

It really is quite easy to understand, in a word, why the U.S. pretty much leads the world in incarcerating its citizens and children.  And that word is competition, meaning deeply inculcated drives to win at the expense of others, by whatever means necessary, so as to rationalize one is superior or excellent and others are not.

 

  1. Edwards Deming also teaches the wisdom that “when a system is broken into competitive segments, the system is destroyed.”

 

Specifically, Dr. Deming teaches the wisdom that:

 

“We have grown up in a climate of competition between people, teams, departments, divisions, pupils, schools, universities.  We have been taught by economists that competition will solve our problems.  Actually, competition, we see now, is destructive.  It would be better if everyone would work together as a system, with the aim for everybody to win.  What we need is cooperation[.]”

 

Barack, can you see the very name “Race to the Top Competition” necessarily meant breaking our otherwise 50 United States into 50 competitive segments?  Can you see the Race to the Top Competition aim to expand the number of charter schools hence spread malicious school choice meant breaking local public educational systems into competitive segments?  And, therefore, can you see “Chief Facilitator of Destroy Public Education” just might be a fitting aspect of your legacy as a former President of the United States?  And that that would be an astonishing juxtaposition of paradigms?

 

Barack, if you can see these things, and because, as you say, “[t]here are no do-overs,” can you then at least apologize for having created the Race to the Top Competition and then for having foisted it upon the nation?

 

Kindly know until such apology comes, it will be hard to hear and appreciate any interest you express about my voting, or any matters.  Sustaining and improving public education as a common good in service to democracy is just that important.  And please, let’s have none of the nonsensical contention that charter schools are public schools.

 

Sincerely, I am

 

Ed Johnson

Advocate for Quality in Public Education

Atlanta GA | (404) 505-8176 | edwjohnson@aol.com

 

Bcc: List 1

 

Tom Ultican is on a mission to document the tentacles of the Destroy Public Education movement.

In this post, he traces the career of Atlanta’s current superintendent, Maria Carstarphen, whose singular goal is to turn the school district into an all-charter district. She embraces not only charter schools, but TFA, Relay Graduate School of Education, school closures, and of course, is funded by the notorious Walton Family Foundation in her efforts to stamp out public schools.

Operating in a conservative state with a governor committed to privatization of public schools, she is in a friendly environment.

 

Mercedes Schneider did some research and discovered that a very large proportion of the “deans” at the Relay “Graduate Schools of Education” got their start in Teach for America.

https://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2018/03/06/relay-graduate-school-of-educations-overwhelmingly-tfa-derived-deans/

This makes sense. TFA bypasses traditional professional education and places ill-prepared “teachers” in urban and rural classrooms with only five weeks of training. Who would go to a doctor who never went to medical school but had five weeks of training? Who would go to a “lawyer” who skipped law school and read law books for five weeks?

Relay is the right place for “deans” with no real education background. These faux “graduate schools” have none of the authentic markers of a genuine graduate school of education. Few, if any, of their faculty have doctorates. They have no programs in the foundations of education, in cognitive development, in learning the skills need to be a teacher of children with disabilities or a teacher of English language learners. Libraries? I don’t think so.

Relay grew out of a program created at Hunter College called TeacherU, whose purpose was to prepare young people to teach in charter schools. It was sponsored by three no-excuses charter chains: KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools. What matters most to the no-excuses charters are strict discipline and test scores. Who needs research? Who needs scholarship? Who needs experts in school finance or history or psychology? Not Relay.

Like the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy, Relay is a means of bypassing professional education while mimicking it.

The Atlanta Board of Education just awarded a $600,000 sole source contract to Relay to prepare leaders.

Schneider reviews the background of the 15 Relay “deans” and concludes:

There you have it: 15 “deans”; no Ph.D.s (but one almost); no bachelors degrees in education; no refereed publications, and not a one “dean” qualified for a tenure-track position in a legitimate college of education. But who needs legitimacy when you can franchise yourself into a deanship?

What a farce.

P.S. Mercedes Schneider has an earned Ph.D. in research methodology and statistics. She chose to teach high school students in Louisiana. She knows what a legitimate graduate school of education is.

 

I wonder who is pulling the strings in Atlanta, where the school board voted last night to give a sole source contraction Relay “graduate school of education” to train leaders. This was my advice. The Atalanta NAACP urged a delay in the decision. No dice.

Atlantan Ed Johnson writes:

Update

Last evening, 5 March 2018, the Atlanta Board of Education approved the superintendent’s recommendation to inject the pretentious Relay Graduate School of Education further into Atlanta Public Schools by terms of a probably fraudulent, but definitely questionable sole source contract. The school board took this action in spite of NAACP-Atlanta’s caution (see below) and in spite of educational historian Diane Ravitch having offered knowledge of Relay as “an organization founded in 2011 by three “no-excuses” charter chains–KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools–based on a charter teacher training program called TeacherU at Hunter College in New York City.” All school board members, save Byron Amos, voted in the affirmative.

Additionally, the school board approved the superintendent’s recommendation to reconstitute Perkerson Elementary School, in spite of the board members having been presented clear, research-based evidence that such behavioristic violence is counterproductive. In this matter, every school board member voted in the affirmative, arguably, a testament to the competitive, conflict-driven nature of their belief systems, especially the superintendent’s. Interestingly, District 4 board member Nancy Meister made the motion to reconstitute Perkerson. Yet, District 4, on Atlanta’s most affluent “White” north side, is the district most geographically distant from the Perkerson Elementary School community, in District 6, on Atlanta’s least affluent “Black” south side.

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
Atlanta GA | (404) 505-8176 | edwjohnson@aol.com

Relay is a faux Graduate School with no doctorates on faculty, no research program, no library, nothing but no-excuses behaviorism and test prep. Charter teachers training charter teachers. Charter leaders training charter leaders. Doug Lemov as the canon. And to think that teachers in Atlanta were found guilty of cheating. This is official cheating of students, teachers, and school leaders for which there is no punishment. But there should be.

 

The Atlanta Board of Education will vote tonight on whether to give a $600,000 sole source contract to the Relay “Graduate School of Education” to train school leaders.

Edward Johnson, a champion of public schools and an advocate of systemic change based on the philosophy of W. Edwards Deming, has spoken out against this decision, and with good reason. Deming helped to transform Japanese industry based on principles of teamwork and collaboration and the recognition that accountability starts at the top, not the bottom. (To learn more about Deming, read Andrea Gabor’s excellent The Man Who Invented Quality, especially chapter 9, where she explains Deming’s opposition to merit pay. Her new book, After the Education Wars, directly applies Deming thought to education.)

Relay is not really a “graduate school of education.” It is an organization founded in 2011 by three “no-excuses” charter chains–KIPP, Achievement First, and Uncommon Schools–based on a charter teacher training program called TeacherU at Hunter College in New York City. Graduate schools of education have faculty members with doctorates in their fields; they have research programs; they have departments and courses devoted to pedagogy, psychology, philosophy, sociology, economics, history, and other aspects of education. Relay has none of these features. Its “schools” are managed by charter teachers, some of whom have a masters’ degree; they specialize in teaching how to raise test scores and impose strict discipline according to the canonical texts of Doug Lemov; if you search for a Relay campus, you are unlikely to find one. Relay is one of the ways in which corporate reformers are determined to destroy professional education, for teachers and administrators alike.

I wrote a letter to the Atlanta Board of Education, following Ed Johnson’s complaint, explaining that Relay was not the right choice.

The chair of the education committee of the Atlanta NAACP wrote too, urging that the agenda item for a sole source contract be deferred until other institutions were invited to submit proposals.

From: Lula Gilliam [mailto:education@naacpatlanta.org]
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2018 12:12 PM
To: mjcarstarphen@atlanta.k12.ga.us; jesteves@atlantapublicschools.us; epcollins@atlantapublicschools.us; lgrant@atlantapublicschools.us; bamos@atlanta.k12.ga.us; michelle.olympiadis@atlanta.k12.ga.us; nmeister@atlanta.k12.ga.us; Erika.Mitchell@atlanta.k12.ga.us; kandis.woodjackson@atlanta.k12.ga.us; cbriscoe_brown@atlanta.k12.ga.us; pierre.gaither@atlanta.k12.ga.us
Cc: jkahrs@gsu.edu; dcowan1@gsu.edu; bawilli@gsu.edu; president@naacpatlanta.org; AfQPE@aol.com; edwjohnson@aol.com; Marypalmer515@gmail.com
Subject: Relay Graduate School of Education Sole Source Contract

 

To:  Atlanta Board of Education (ABOE) members

 

Good afternoon,

 

Community education activist, Ed Johnson, included the Atlanta NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) on an email thread that has raised several concerns.  We have been informed that ABOE has an action on tonight’s (March 5, 2018) agenda that includes Item 7.05.

The Board will be voting to enter into a sole source contract with Relay Graduate School of Education (RGSE).  The purpose is “for tuition for school leaders and central office supervisors to participate in the [Relay] National Principal and Supervisor Academy.”  The contract amount is $600,000.00.

 

We are certain you are aware the terminology sole source denotes that no other entity can provide these services.  Are you all familiar with the Principals Center at Georgia State University (GSU), which provides the very services that are mentioned in this sole source?  Did you contact the Center about the contract and offer them an equal opportunity to provide these services?  If not, please explain.  Just in case you don’t have this, I am including the contact information for the Center’s executive staff:  Dr. James R. Kahrs (jkahrs@gsu.edu) and Dr. Dionne Cowan (dcowan1@gsu.edu) as well as copying them on this email.  Also copied are GSU president, Dr. Mark Becker, and Dr. Brian Williams, Director of the Alonzo Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence (Atlanta NAACP Education Committee – Co-Chair).

 

Founded in 1913, GSU graduates more African American students than any other college/university in the country. With this impressive distinction and a true testament of leadership training at its finest, seemingly, Georgia State’s longevity and outcomes negate that no other entity can provide the services described by ABOE.    On the other hand, Relay Graduate School of Education was founded in 2011.  What is their track record for success that has ABOE considering a sole source contract in the amount of $600,000.00?

 

The Atlanta NAACP would caution ABOE to tread carefully in the use of “sole source” and the doling out of public dollars.  We highly recommend tabling this agenda item in order to offer this contract to the best possible provider.  Our children and families deserve nothing less.

 

In the best interests of students and parents,

 

Lula M. Gilliam

Atlanta NAACP

Chair – Education Committee

Co-Chair -Labor & Industry Committee

970 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive

Suite 302

Atlanta, GA  30314

(404)524-0580 (office)

(770)256-0275 (cell)

 

 

 

 

Once a bright light of the charter industry, Chris Clemons pleaded guilty to major thefts from the school he founded and led and is now bound for prison.

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/former-charter-school-director-expected-to-plead-guilty

“An Atlanta charter school founder has pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than half a million dollars from local public school systems.

“The former principal at Latin Academy, Chris Clemons, pleaded guilty to over 50 counts of theft and five counts of forgery after a hearing and sentencing that lasted about two  hours.

“Clemons was accused of defrauding three Atlanta area schools, and forcing at least one, the Latin Academy, to close because of a lack of funds. He faced up to 865 years in prison and $5.5 million in fines.

”The state alleged that the 39-year-old Clemon spent more than $50,000 to Atlanta strip clubs and made countless cash withdrawals.

“Parents said they were devastated when they learned what Clemons was doing.

“In the end, he has been ordered to pay $810,000 in restitution and was sentenced to 20 years, 10 to serve and 10 on probation.”

The moral of the story is that public money must be accompanied by public oversight.

Mercedes Schneider wrote about Clemons’ sterling resume. He was trained by Boston’s reformer “Building Excellent Schools” then earned an MBA at MIT, where he was featured for his vision and dedication to children.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/deutsch29.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/atlanta-charter-fraudster-chris-clemons-was-an-mit-featured-attraction-in-2007/amp/

Even for MIT grads, crime doesn’t pay.

 

In Atlanta, Christopher Clemons faces multiple criminal charges in relation to the alleged theft of more than $1 million from the charter school he founded.

The criminal charges against an Atlanta charter school founder have grown to 55 counts of forgery and theft of at least $1.3 million after a Fulton County grand jury indicted him on seven additional charges.

Christopher Clemons, the 38-year-old founder of Latin Academy, now faces charges linked to two other local charter schools he was associated with, according to the new indictment returned Sept. 1.

The first charges came after a reported theft of more than $800,000 from Latin Academy, which later closed.

The new case is linked to thefts of more than $500,000, including money allegedly taken from Latin Grammar School and Latin College Preparatory School.

Combined, the two cases against Clemons allege a theft of roughly $1.3 million.

Mercedes Schneider wrote about Chris Clemons, who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received an MBA from MIT. She delved into his history and his self-described passion to help poor kids. Among other things, he opened a charter school in Denver and two charter schools in New Orleans.

Whether he was creating opportunities for poor kids or for himself is an open question, until the case is resolved.