ATLANTA -- For much of the past year, the Atlanta School Board has been embroiled in a cauldron of controversy and infighting amidst the CRCT cheating scandal and other huge problems.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CRCT Cheating Investigation
And with an open seat on the nine-member board because of the resignation last month of the former chairman, Khaatim El, six people stepped forward this week and declared they are up to the task of helping move the board, and the schools, forward. They've qualified to be candidates in a special election in November to fill that seat, to serve the final, two years of the four-year term.
It's the District 2 seat, in the heart of Atlanta, encompassing some of the city's poorest and most troubled neighborhoods.
Some of the candidates have run for local offices before. Others are new to politics. All have been active in their communities, working with children in and out of the public schools. All speak as if they realize very well that the failure of Atlanta schools damages the entire region.
The candidates are preparing to campaign and explain their qualifications and their platforms, and you don't have to wait. You can reach them directly and stay in touch with them in order to decide who should get the job.
Amos ran for this seat in 2005. Since then, "I've been very involved," especially in the past two years as a PTA president at his daughter's school in Vine City. "I have a second grader... so as we face the scandal, I'm still here to celebrate the good, as we say, of the Atlanta Public School system. I have been involved and will always remain involved...The kids of the Atlanta Public School system need someone to stand up for them... Board members should be able to work together on priorities, policies and procedures that will be instrumental in regaining trust, but most importantly, integrity, back into our system. And I think I'm the best candidate to do that. "
This is Brown's first try for public office. For more than 20 years she has worked in the West End community and surrounding areas and across the South, training young people to be leaders and advocating for youth. "My involvement has been directly one-on-one with a lot of mentorships, working with young people, many of whom went on to run for elective office themselves... Being on the board would allow me the opportunity to make sure that the policies are in place that will protect young people and make sure that we can grow the kind of leaders that Atlanta's known for... I really believe that I bring stability and credibility -- to a time right now in Atlanta's public school system on the Board of Education -- that is absolutely needed at this moment."
Farmer lives in a high-crime area in the city, between Turner Field and the West End. She has been a victim of crimes, including break-ins, committed by young people. She has worked with many community programs and initiatives addressing the problems and needs of youth living in poverty and amidst crime. Farmer has run three times for a seat on the Atlanta City Council. She wants to become involved in public service, she said, and is seeking the school board seat, "for the children, as well as for the economic vitality of the greater Atlanta community. When 2,000 high school students drop out, it equates to about a $100 million annual loss to our economy. We cannot afford not to educate children. Do I think every student has to go to college? No. But I do think we have to graduate every high school student with work-ready skills."
11Alive News had not heard back, yet, from Jeter in time for this article.
Kwabena "Cubby" Nkromo
Nkromo served as NPU chair in the West End for two years. He has volunteered extensively at Brown Middle School. One of his projects was convincing the school board to allow him and other volunteers to establish a one-acre garden next to the school that is more like a small farm. With students' help, and using the program as a teaching tool, Nkromo and the others are able to provide food for people in the community. He is planning to run for a seat on the Atlanta City Council in 2013. He is running for the school board now, he said, in part because he is "angry, determined and committed... These are platitudes that you're gong to hear throughout this campaign: 'for the children, for the children, for the children.' I don't know how to move beyond platitudes other than to hold people accountable not for what they say, but for what they do... I have two young children, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. My concern for our children [citywide] is not abstract. If my [own] children do not get what they need from this school system, their lives are unnecessarily decreased in terms of their capacity to be fully self-possessed and successful," and that is the same for all other children in the system.
Walker is a professor of psychology at Devry University. He ran for this seat in 2009. Walker has been a motivational speaker and mentor "in some of the most difficult communities in the City of Atlanta, and [I] actually speak to the kids, and not only tell them that education is important to their future, but show them" by example, that education and hard work can lead to a productive, fulfilled, professonial and personal life. "I'm a product of Bankhead Highway and Atlanta's public school system myself. So I realize the value of community, the value of a quality education. And to say that the City of Atlanta can't provide that for our youth today, that's a misnomer; that's a fallacy... We're better than that, we owe it to our kids and our community, and I look forward to the challenge in representing" the people of District 2."