In an address to hundreds of APS stakeholders last Tuesday, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) superintendent, Erroll B. Davis, Jr., announced that after enduring a tumultuous year of challenges, APS has embarked on the new academic year as a more stable district refocused on “the real work of educating children.”
The superintendent stressed that moving forward APS will focus intently on four key areas: excellence, equity, ethics and engagement.
Davis made the statements at the Carter Center during the 2012 APS State of the Schools (SOS) address. During the annual address, the superintendent informs the business community, metro area leaders, APS partners, volunteers and parents about the current condition of the school district, highlights accomplishments from the previous school year and outlines the district’s goals and priorities moving forward. The forum also gives attendees an opportunity to ask the superintendent questions during a brief question and answer period following the SOS speech.
In his speech, Davis acknowledged special guests sitting in the audience, which included new APS principals and the longest serving principal in the district, Cascade Elementary School principal Dr. Alfonso Jessie, who has served generations of APS students since 1966.
Davis also recognized high school counseling coordinator, LaVerne Ware. He indicated that under Ware’s leadership APS ranks third in the nation for grooming the highest number of Gates Millennium Scholars, and second among U.S. school districts with the most African American Gates Scholars.
Other APS 2011-12 achievements mentioned include delivering more growth on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (the nation’s report card) than any other participating urban school district, and graduating almost 2,100 students who earned more than $86 million in college scholarship offers.
When speaking about the school system’s challenges, Davis did not shy away from the multiple hot-button issues that made national headlines. He addressed them individually, and thanked the citizens of Atlanta for their support, outspokenness and passionate engagement during the difficult times.
“As community and business leaders, parents, board members, students and APS employees and citizens, we came through it together,” Davis said. “We are stabilizing this school system, and we have begun to refocus on the real work of educating children—with honor, integrity, focus and transparency.”
And in the spirit of transparency, Davis revealed that over the past year, district leaders have made some “stunning discoveries” with respect to student performance. According to Davis, about 80% of APS schools need intensive support.
But there is good news. Davis said that APS is on the right path and poised to succeed. The formula for success will concentrate heavily on emphasizing excellence throughout the district, offering more opportunities for stakeholder engagement, restoring and maintaining an ethical culture and ensuring a more equitable distribution of district resources.
Before closing, the superintendent reminded attendees that the APS community worked together to make last year’s achievements possible, and that same sense of unity can produce even greater results in the future.
“Together, we achieved these things, Atlanta! And we are capable of so much more,” Davis said.
Click on the link below to view State of the Schools multimedia (full video, special video presentation, speech audio and speech transcript).