Opinion

As Atlanta Searches for a New Superintendent, There’s Never Been a More Important Time for Parents to Focus on Quality Schools

By David Mitchell | October 29, 2019

Atlanta, Georgia

When you’re a parent thinking about what’s best for your child, I can only imagine the fear and anger one must have when watching the conversation happening between the Atlanta Board of Education and the current superintendent. Negative comments in the media by the superintendent around being harassed by board members, accompanied by negative mail being sent to parents attacking board members, only reminds parents that the Atlanta Public Schools may be losing focus on our children’s future.

As this dust settles, what you should realize more than ever before is that it’s ultimately up to you to navigate your child’s educational future. Our children need a strong leader for our growing and diverse city and public school system. But with that decision being completely out of your hands, you must focus on the things that you can control. We believe this work includes inspiring parent engagement, empowering community leaders, activating praying pastors, and supporting capable and committed teachers. With or without a superintendent, these critical stakeholders must become and remain engaged in the process.

If you believe this level of stakeholder synergy and engagement is critical for our children’s educational future, then you should now have a clear understanding of the work of Better Outcomes for OUR Kids (BOOK). BOOK is an African-American-led organization founded in 2016 that is unapologetically focused on schools and communities serving African-American children. Our goal is simple, and that is to help build and support a powerful and connective ecosystem focused on supporting high-performing schools and the communities they serve. After only five years, we are once again plunging headfirst into a search for a new superintendent. As disruptive and political as the pursuit of a new leader can become, we must remain focused on educating Atlanta’s children. A strong superintendent is but “one cog in the wheel” that must be highly functional for Atlanta to reach its highest heights.

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In these uncertain times, it should be clearer than ever that we must look beyond the walls of the historical constructs of our dated public educational models, and look at new concepts, models and approaches to educate our children. The ability of parents to navigate their children’s educational future must now be supported by caring stakeholders like BOOK, who make this goal their top priority.

BOOK was founded and is operated by African Americans for African-American children and families. The need to create and uplift a new voice to “Educate, Empower and Execute” was long overdue in metro Atlanta. In partnership with parents, community members, pastors and business leaders, BOOK has created programming designed to listen to dialogue, gain knowledge, share resources and create quality engagements. As educational advocates, we plan to continue to build collaborative relationships through our programming, K-12 School Tours, Community Talk events, School Pilgrimage trips and Leadership Development opportunities.

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More than ever before, it’s our responsibility, and ultimately part of our children’s inheritance, to unearth every stone, look under every rock and remove every obstacle to ensure that our children receive a world-class education. What we must now understand is that only through this inheritance can we start to remove the “shackles from our feet” and address the systemic injustices that have plagued our race since we arrived in this country back in 1619.

It’s BOOK’s firm belief that we must research, understand and take advantage of every educational option available for our children. And if you believe this fact as strongly as we do, then you should also believe that it’s our responsibility to make sure that African-American children are educated “by any means necessary.”

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