Atlanta: Behind the Iron Curtain!

 

This summer, an Atlanta lawyer whose child attends school in Atlanta wrote a scathing expose of the ridiculous and byzantine interviewing process of the Atlanta Public Schools (APS).  His lengthy article which detailed the stupid and inexplicable process of interviewing prospective administrators was first published in the Fulton Daily Report, the legal organ for the Fulton County courts.  Later, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran an abbreviated version of the author’s article on its op-ed page.  For the uninitiated, reading about the hilarious hoops that the APS administration requires its prospective administrators to jump through is mindless.  For those of us who have experienced this insanity before, well, it’s just par for the course for APS.  He points out that if a candidate demonstrates any independence or creativity (or veers in any direction away from the prescribed, canned, standard “answers” which APS has handed down from on high), then the candidate is summarily dismissed as a viable candidate for the job.  The situation results in APS hiring a bunch of mindless boobs as administrators.  But, this revelation of APS’s hiring procedures is only the tip of the iceberg for the complete assaninity of the practices of the APS administration.  For those of us who try to make heads or tails out of what goes on at 210 Pryor Street (or in the individual schools), we are quickly reminded of the ways of the old Soviet Union.  Good is bad and bad is good.  Up is down and down is up.  Being a conscientious teacher and doing a yeoman’s job in the classroom is not rewarded.  In fact, this could be a liability.  Besides being a member of the right sorority or the right fraternity or a member of the right church, what’s really important is whether you’re a sycophant and whether you kiss the right rear ends.  The all important questions appear to be:  Is this person pliable, moldable?  Can this person be controlled?  Can we expect this person to keep his/her mouth shut when all kinds of irregularities and anomalies occur (like during the standardized testing or in financial accounting)?  Being a person of integrity and character is, we’re afraid, a liability in the Atlanta Public Schools.  Oh, yes, you may slip through and get a principal’s job, even if you’re a person of integrity.  But, don’t count on it.  And, if you do slip through the crack, don’t expect to ever be promoted beyond the principalship – especially if you blow the whistle on disdainful and questionable practices.  APS does not like to have its dubious practices questioned.  People have come to expect this of Georgia’s Soviet school system.  Good is bad and bad is good.


Does this mean that APS has no good administrators?  No, we didn’t say this, and we don’t believe this.  But, what we are saying is that it appears that APS has an inordinate number of scoundrels and a high number of insensitive and uncaring boobs who have made their way into the APS administrative ranks.  (We actually have a good working relationship with several APS central office administrators like Dr. Thelma Mumford-Glover and Dr. Norma Thomas.)  But, what we’ve observed is what we have observed through the years.  Too many times there seems to be no correlation between a person’s abilities/passion and his or her chances at promotion.  We’re just glad that others (like the aforementioned attorney who wrote the article) are finally making their voices known.  The president of GAE is a former employee of APS who is on a leave-of-absence.  Yet, we don’t hear her speak out against APS’s byzantine ways.  Perhaps she bites her tongue because when her tenure is through at GAE, she’ll likely  return to APS.  MACE has felt like a prophet in the desert while constantly speaking out against the evil doings of APS.  For three years in a row, our front-page, headline articles in The Teacher’s Advocate! was dealing with APS.  (See, for example, “APS: Teaching In Hell!” The Teacher’s Advocate!, 1997.)  We feel that we have to keep on shining the light on APS.  And, those who do their dastardly deeds against teachers like to do these deeds in the cover of darkness.  But, the classroom educators want MACE to keep shining the light until the humane, fair, and equitable treatment of APS teachers by APS administrators is the norm, not the exception.  APS teachers, we feel your pain.  One day, the Iron Curtain of oppression will be lifted.

August 10, 2003

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