Candidate Questions

Board Priorities / Accomplishments

These answers are offered as a community service from candidates who chose to respond.
They do not represent an endorsement by the Buckhead Coalition.

Board of Education Candidates, District 4

New Candidate Question:
What are your top priorities as a new board member?
  1. Retaining the world class teachers that we have in APS, and especially in the North Atlanta cluster.
  2. Modernizing curriculum and instruction to equip our students to be competitive in the future job market.
  3. Re-engaging our entire North Atlanta community in the support of our neighborhood schools
  1. The most tremendous issue impacting our district as a whole is closing achievement gaps. The unique circumstances brought on by the pandemic highlighted disparity in our district for access to resources, people, tools, solutions for both academic recovery and social/emotional recovery.
  2. The communication and stakeholder engagement process must improve. This has been an area for enrichment for the past 15 months. We are inconsistent with how we engage families for feedback, how that feedback is incorporated into any forward planning and how communication of forward planning is executed.The goals and guardrails recently approved by the Board should be a good start.
  3. Teacher training. Greater investment in teachers, teacher training across the district and particularly for signature programs / DLI will allow us to hire and sustain the absolute best educators in our classrooms.

Board of Education Candidates, District 7 At-Large

New Candidate Question:
What are your top priorities as a new board member?
  • Tamara Jones: Providing a reliable, transparent, and equitable structure for strategic stakeholder engagement so every family, educator, student, and community is ensured their voice is heard by looking to the city’s NPU system for inspiration; Launching a birth through 12th grade literacy initiative based on the science of reading to address the stubborn and unacceptable state of reading proficiency because literacy is a social justice issue; Creating a working relationship with the City Hall that is not based on personal relationships but rather organizational processes and structures.
  • Stephen Spring: Defund Standardized Testing. Students in our schools are denied up to 60 days of learning each year due to testing and test-prep. It is inequitable with students who are in schools labeled “low-performing” by single-test, narrow measures losing nearly a third of a school year every year. By the time students in the “perform or perish” schools reach high school, they have been denied three full years of education.

Reallocate tens of millions of dollars upholding ineffective centralized processes to the point of learning. Our teachers deserve to be making pay equal to those of our other public front-line workers like our police officers and firefighters.

Empower school community formal and informal organizations to make decisions on curriculum, personnel, and managing a budget with real money. Our schools have GoTeams where these responsibilities are detailed.

  • KaCey Venning: One, put an equal focus on college preparedness and trade/vocation readiness. Second, the build a working relationship with the city to ensure the resources that students need to be successful outside of the classroom. Thirdly, ensuring the safety of our students which can also allow us to rethink how we currently engage students in instruction and services.

Board of Education Candidates, District 8 At-Large

New Candidate Question:
What are your top priorities as a new board member?
  • Keedar Whittle:
    1. Evaluate the needs of scholars to suggest the proper services needed for students’ success.
    2. Form clear lines of accountable conversation between the community, board and Superintendent.
    3. Evaluate and create measurable, equitable policies centered around increasing student outcomes.
Incumbent Question:
What has the board accomplished of which you are most proud?
  • Cynthia Briscoe-Brown: Increased graduation rate by almost 30 points; opened Atlanta College and Career Academy to develop workforce-ready graduates; passed and implemented historic Equity Policy so every child gets everything they need to succeed; achieved pay parity, guaranteed living wage, and multiple raises and bonuses for all teachers and staff; engaged with parents, employees, students, and community to create new Strategic Plan to guide APS through 2025; constantly balanced public safety with student, staff and family needs in the changing landscape of COVID-19; elevated social-emotional learning and wraparound services to develop students into responsible, capable adults.

Board of Education Candidates, District 9 At-Large

New Candidate Question:
What are your top priorities as a new board member?
  • Jason Allen: My top priorities as a new board member would be to prioritize improving policies that impact communication and engagement of stakeholders, early education and workforce development. Balance budgeting with academic and student services as key measures of success. Prioritizing feedback and improving flexibility for teachers and instructors in teaching and learning models for signature and District programs.
  • D’Jaris ‘DJ’ James: Addressing our process around communication and developing a more concise process. While the guard rails speak to the responsibilities of the superintendent I feel the language is very broad and does not provide an assurance that there will be any change. (2) Address/ Investigate the barriers that our Dual Language, Gifted and Talented, Special Education, etc, determine what measures are needed to drive the increase to student outcomes. (3) Immediately address the many concerns regarding our facilities
Incumbent Question:
What has the board accomplished of which you are most proud?
  • Jason Esteves: Under my leadership, I am most proud that the board worked diligently to craft and adopt an equity policy. This policy, in conjunction with the strategic plan, will drive the school system’s work for the next five years. We’ve also strengthened our governance framework to focus on student outcomes, while also shoring up our finances (our reserves are at some of the highest levels ever) and increasing student achievement (all-time high graduation rates).