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Atlanta Public Schools’ new superintendent Lisa Herring on starting a new job during a pandemic, the challenges of online learning, and using APS as a force for good.
Sponsored Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools (APS) continues a journey of transformation that creates choice-filled lives for each and every child in Atlanta.
When she arrived from Austin last year, Atlanta Public Schools superintendent Meria Carstarphen inherited a system reeling from a scandal of historic proportions. With the cheating trial finally over, she’s begun the slow process of raising graduation rates from 58.6 percent (now 59.1 percent) in a 50,000- student school system rife with economic inequality.
A decade ago, stellar turnarounds earned APS national praise. But now—in the wake of a cheating scandal that resulted in a trial, convictions, and TV footage of former educators handcuffed and headed for jail—gains at APS seem to come with an asterisk: Are they too good to be true?
Hall belonged to a movement of reformers who believed that the values of the marketplace could resuscitate public education. She approached the job like a business executive: she courted philanthropists, set accountability measures, and created performance objectives that were more rigorous than those required by No Child Left Behind, which became law in 2002. When a school met its targets, all employees, including bus drivers and cafeteria staff, received up to two thousand dollars. She linked teacher evaluations to test scores and warned principals that they’d be fired if they didn’t meet targets within three years. Eventually, ninety per cent were replaced. She repeated the mantra “No exceptions and no excuses.”