Atlanta Ranks Number One in Improving Academic Outcomes . . . But Guess Who’s Thriving!?

The most recent data from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute is ready for review. I was excited to see Atlanta ranks number one in improving academic outcomes. However when I looked more into the data for students served in the City of the Atlanta public school system, I was quite shocked. 

Atlanta ranks number one in improving academic outcomes for white students. 

Don’t get me wrong; this is still a celebratory factor. However, I can’t ignore that for a district like Atlanta Public Schools that serves primarily Black students, this is interesting. It’s interesting data because students identified as economically disadvantaged also known as Title I students were not as successful. 

Atlanta ranks 45 in improving academic outcomes for economically disadvantaged students. 

The majority of Atlanta’s Title I schools are serving Black and brown children. This also makes up the majority of the students served in Atlanta. 

Let’s not make this a racial issue although I am not discounting that race does definitely matter. I want us to focus on the why and how. 

Why are Black and brown children not meeting the mark, and how do we fix it? 

It’s not as simple as we believe because no one wants to accept the fact that the educational system isn’t designed for children of color to succeed. This doesn’t just mean receiving a high school diploma, a chance to attend a college/university, or to be on a career pathway post graduation. 

Success for Black and brown students also equates to:

  • Not being traumatized in public schools
  • Not being racially profiled 
  • Not being targeted by standardized tests 
  • Not being mislabeled and pushed into special education programs 
  • Not being targeted by behavior and discipline policies 

This is a short list that highlights major areas of school discipline, teaching methods, over testing, and implementing negative stereotypes of children of color that keep them oppressed. 

The public education system continues to fail Black and brown children because the focus has been on the tangible areas such as money/funding, a diploma, the degree level of teachers, and fancy buildings while forgetting that the system’s greatest strength is in the psychological approach to keeping children of color oppressed. 

This oppression is seen in the neglect of teacher autonomy and flexibility, not valuing teacher, parent, and student voices, using communication difficulties as an excuse for lax and underfunded family engagement programs and the consistent labeling of Black and brown children as less than others. 

It is great that white children are succeeding, but they only make up a percentage of APS, what about the rest of the students?


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