ATLANTA – Atlanta Sen. Vincent Fort made the following statement today regarding AdvancED’s decision to put Atlanta Public Schools on probation:
“This is a political move by the accrediting agency, which produced a biased and vague report full of hearsay and unattributed quotes. They spoke to people who are largely affiliated with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce or have relationships with the chamber. For example, Mark Elgart, president of the accrediting agency AdvancED, is also a member of the Metro Atlanta Chamber Board of Advisors. Phil Jacobs, who serves on AdvancED’s Board of Trustees, is also co-chair of the Commission for School Board Excellence that was commissioned by the chamber in 2008.
“This decision puts parents and students in an alarmed position by creating fear that they will lose the opportunity to attain scholarships to meet their higher education goals.
“Over the last 10 years, substantive problems have permeated Atlanta Public Schools. The E-rate scandal in 2007 cost millions of dollars and resulted in two former employees pleading guilty to bribery and defrauding Atlanta schools. There has also been manipulation of graduation rates in addition to the CRCT investigation, yet the agency never put the system under probation during any of those issues. In fact, none of the agency’s six recommendations even relates to the CRCT investigation.”
Fort also pointed out how the report goes so far as to tell the board how to vote on issues, specifically relating to the selection of a superintendent. The report suggests “that the final selection of a superintendent should be determined by more than a simple majority vote of approval by the Board.”
“In addition to this report being riddled with conflicts of interest, I’m also concerned about the lack of diversity in AdvancED. Only one out of 15 board members is African-American,” added Fort.