Monthly Archives: March 2014

Education secretary applauds pick for Atlanta schools leader

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on Monday praised the selection of Austin Superintendent Meria Carstarphen as the sole finalist to become superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools.

“Meria’s record as a superintendent speaks for itself — student achievement that outperformed many urban school systems across the country and graduation rates that set new highs for Austin,” Duncan said in a statement. “I admire Meria’s deep belief in serving all students and holding herself accountable for their success.”

The Atlanta Board of Education could vote to hire Carstarphen at its April 14 meeting.

By Mark Niesse
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Was Carstarphen’s performance an issue at AISD?

Here is her performance evaluation – and the “sang the praises” assessment hold up

Last December the Austin Board of Trustees published their statement on the performance of Superintendent Meria Carstarphen. Many in the media have questioned her performance and ability to stay in the job based on the fact that the Board did not extend her contract for at least another year to 2016. However, it has not been mentioned that the Board had until next year to establish whether to further extend her contract or not.

The following are excerpts from the performance evaluation issued by the Board. The entire report can be found here.

  • Overall, the Board is pleased with the progress made by the district under Dr. Carstarphen’s leadership during the past year.

[Accomplishments] 

  • … the Superintendent has assembled a strong, well-respected leadership team. The Board recognizes and appreciates the importance of AISD’s strong leadership team in the face of all this uncertainty so that operationally, our budget remains sound despite major reductions in state funding for public education over the past two years. She has led the work to manage our resources wisely with a strategic, long-term view and, as a result, we have received high bond ratings over the past three years.
  • … we wish to highlight a few significant examples of the five district priorities for school year 2012-2013,…
  • First, in the area of “Whole Child, Every Child,” the Superintendent led a shift in the focus away from a culture of testing—which can be punitive and narrowly focused on test results—to one that emphasizes academic standards of excellence and strengths and interests of the whole child with art programs, athletics, health and wellness initiatives; and Social Emotional Learning.
  • Second, in the area of College-Ready Culture, our four-year federal high school graduation rates for all student groups increased and reached all-time highs with the class of 2012, including minority, poor and special education students.
  • … for the class of 2012, we also saw a decrease in the dropout rate for all student groups except for our white students and our English Language Learners…These are remarkable improvements that have occurred, for the most part, over the past four years.
  • The district… increased and developed a strong focus on literacy and numeracy at all levels, which is reflected in the continued academic improvement of students across the district.
  • In an effort to eliminate the disproportionality in disciplinary actions that have adversely affected some student groups, the district implemented a restructuring of the Alternative Education program in AISD for discretionary removals by handling non-safety removals on campus through the creation of campus-based Learning Support Centers…. This initiative is showing great promise and, most importantly, we are not adversely affecting academic opportunities of these students for minor disciplinary actions.
  • … the Superintendent continued to expand access to rich options in the district through dual language programs, early childhood education and alternative pathways to graduation.
  • … in the area of Human Capital, we were pleased to see the district increase compensation for all staff and expand access to health insurance care to qualifying individuals to meet the diverse needs of our employees and their households.
  • …in the area of Systems, our technology infrastructure improvements like the AISD Cloud and the Parent Cloud are proving to be the source for educational resources and information about other helpful resources.

 [Requested Improvements] 

  • As stated earlier, AISD is a large, complex, highly diverse urban district with numerous challenges. As such, there will always be work to do and areas that can be improved upon. Therefore, there are some areas we have asked the Superintendent to focus on for the remainder of this academic year.
  • … it is important that to remain college-ready in subsequent years, we clearly define and improve our measure of grade-level success consistent with the new college-ready standards. We must also ensure that at each grade all students are performing at or preferably above grade level when they complete that grade, especially in the core academic areas.
  • We must continue the momentum of improvement with our minority, economically disadvantaged, special education and English-language learner student groups so that we continue to close the achievement gap and ensure that all students graduate college-, career- and life-ready.
  • We must continue to invest in and support our campus staff. To be most efficient, this will require greater and greater collaboration between campus and administrative personnel as well as strategic monitoring of the professional development needs of educators and staff on each campus and providing the appropriate support from central office administrative teams.
  • To respond to the competition from private and state charter schools, we must be proactive in our efforts to ensure that every parent’s and student’s experience every day in AISD are positive ones and that the academic and extra-curricular offerings of the vertical teams across the district are of high quality and well publicized within and outside of AISD. Therefore, we must ensure that the environment at every campus and in every facility is welcoming and inviting to our customers and to our visitors. We know that they have choices, and we want them to make AISD their choice.
  • Finally,…we must continually work to develop and enhance the District’s relationship with parents, community groups and the community at-large.

 [Summary]

  • We believe we are moving in the right direction to achieve this goal and that Dr. Carstarphen, her leadership team, and all of our district’s educators will continue to raise the performance of our students and our district.
  • We thank Dr. Carstarphen and her team for all the efforts and good work we have seen over the past year.

This report was issued publicly on behalf of the entire Board – and I am unable to find that any Board member dissented from the Report.

So I ask – does this evaluation look like one that would lead to a termination? I don’t think so.

Further, now that Carstarphen has announced her resignation, it appears that AISD is looking back with some regret that it engaged in some political gamesmanship last December when it decided to delay considering an extension to her contract to a future time (see here). The Board played “chicken” and lost. Based on all the research I have done to-date, with the addition of Carstarphen as superintendent, Atlanta is the beneficiary of AISD’s fractured and indecisive Board of Trustees.

Also, I commend the AISD for publishing this document. It is a model that I hope APS will adopt.

Unfortunately, when I raised this exact issue with the APS executive who works with the Board Accountability Committee, she indicated that this was a bad idea and should not be done. While I agree that the detailed assessment does not need to be released, an executive summary, consistent with the above, is totally appropriate. By issuing a similar document, the public could then determine if the Board – whose sole employee is the superintendent – is holding him or her accountable for their performance.

Ms. Grant – as Chair of the Accountability Committee – I hope that you will take this suggestion under consideration for the future.
Robert Stockwell is the financial watchdog for APS and posts at Financial Deconstruction

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Carstarphen – Austin American Statesmen editorial board weighs in

Is Austin now feeling a bit of remorse over Carstarphen’s departure?

The Austin American Statesmen editorial board weighed in yesterday with an editorial about the imminent departure of Dr. Meria Carstarphen, who is now the only finalist for the superintendent’s position in Atlanta.

The editorial, titled “In wake of superintendent’s departure, district faces big challengesis behind a pay wall, but the following are some excerpts (emphasis added) and includes extensive criticisms of the AISD Board:

The ability to find a qualified replacement depends on the board’s ability to move past lingering campaign politics, stop micromanaging school administrators and make prudent decisions regarding financial matters.

The toughness, tenacity and top-down leadership style that made [Carstarphen] so effective on the one hand hurt her ability to build trust with certain communities.

Carstarphen was frustrated and flummoxed by Austin’s penchant for debating issues to the point of near inaction. That is understandable.

Her case was not helped by the appearance that the board seemed to rubber-stamp her decisions. Voters responded in 2012 by electing four new trustees, three who were vocal critics of Carstarphen.

If the election was meant to be a correction to overreaching tactics of Carstarphen, it missed its mark. Instead, the pendulum swung too far in the other direction, in which some board members have undermined Carstarphen’s authority. The result has been a board that is adrift without a clear mission.

As it calms the public’s concerns, the board must also ease anxieties of quality administrators Carstarphen hired to prevent an exodus of talent as well as the destabilization of the district.

I am sure the Board now understands that, when you engage in a game of ‘chicken’, there is a good chance that you will lose. And in a big way!

Robert Stockwell is the financial watchdog for APS and posts at Financial Deconstruction

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AJC background article on Carstarphen

some analysis on the content

Yesterday the AJC issued a story titled Likely Atlanta schools chief had rocky road in Texas (behind pay wall). There is a lot of good information on Carstarphen’s tenure in Austin and I think a bit of additional analysis is in order. Direct quotes from the article are in italics and any emphasis to the quotes has been added.

The probable next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools is coming off a controversial tenure in Austin, Texas, where public ire over budget cuts and a school closing rose as much as the improved graduation rates and finances.

Comment – I find it interesting that the paragraph essentially creates an equivalency between the perceived negatives (budget cuts and school closings) and the positives (improved graduation rates and finances). However, think about it for a minute – the closing of some underperforming or under-enrolled schools is a bad thing? Also, are budget cuts that improve the district’s financial position while at the same time improved educational outcomes are achieved is a bad thing? Count me on board for hoping to see both of those things happen in APS!

She left it in better financial and academic shape, but riled enough voters to undermine the support of the school board.

Comment – This is true “Can’t see the forest because of the trees mentality.” The Austin ISD is in “better financial and academic shape”, but she lost support due to her efforts to improve the system. These types of critics need to be watched carefully as their own agendas often supersede what is most important in a school district – educational outcomes. Unfortunately there are many such critics in Atlanta as well who place their own political or ideological agendas over the improvement of the student’s education.

With her contract set to expire in a little over a year, there has been no vote in favor of extending it.

Comment – This is a consistent meme that the media has seized on. But before you accept the conclusion that Carstarphen was not going to be rehired at the end of her contract in 2015, let’s look at the facts. Her initial contract starting in 2009 was for three years. In 2011 and 2012 she was given a one year extension. This past December her performance was reviewed with the following results (see TWC News article here):

The school board of the Austin Independent School District sang the praises of Superintendent Meria Carstarphen during Monday evening’s board meeting, but did not extend her contract.

School Board Vincent Torres says four years in the job, Carstarphen is delivering higher test scores and graduation rates with fewer dropouts. “We cannot achieve our goal of having all students graduate from high school if they drop out along the way,” Torres said. “These are remarkable improvements that have occurred for the most part over the past four years.” Torres said the district reached a record high 82.5 percent graduation rate in 2012, which is up seven percentage points since Carstarphen arrived.

Still, trustees are waiting to extend Carstarphen’s contract beyond its current end date of June 2015. The trustees say it’s nothing indicative of their confidence in Carstarphen. The board can still move to extend her contract at any time.

Based on the sole fact that the Board add another year to her contract this past December, does not lead to the conclusion that it her contract would not be renewed next year. The Board “sang her praises” – my sense is that they will now regret their short-term view and, as a result, the loss of a superintendent that made substantial improvements at AISD. [Added] Also, in fairness to the other side on this, here is a column written by one of Carstarphen’s critics.

Critics say she rammed through changes without consulting the majority Hispanic parents in the Austin Independent School District. “Her corporate-reform-backed agenda didn’t fly here because we fought it, and that’s why she’s leaving,” said Vincent Tovar, whose wife is a teacher, and whose daughter attends Austin schools.

Comment – the inherent self-serving and ideological stupidity of this statement is beyond belief. Let me make sure I have this right – even though she was successful in improving educational outcomes, she didn’t spout the bumper sticker ideology we wanted and so we are glad she is leaving! Incredible!

Drew Scheberle, a senior vice president at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, said members of the business community pushed to hire someone like Carstarphen, and they were pleased with the results. She cut a quarter of the jobs in the central office yet improved academic outcomes, he said. “She’s left this community stronger than how she found it.”

Comment – Now this is an assessment we hope we can count on when Carstarphen assumes her duties in Atlanta. She “cut a quarter of the jobs in the central office”. Does anyone remember the story from last year that the AJC published on the district’s bloated bureaucracy (see here)? Didn’t all the Board of Education candidates run on the proposition that it was important to reduce the cost of the central office and reallocate spending to in the classroom? If the APS Board is true to their campaign speeches, Carstarphen will have a lot of support in replaying some of her past efforts.

But it was a 2011 proposal to close a school and reopen it as a charter operation that made the biggest waves, he said. “That caused a revolt.” That action was approved by one school board but reversed by another after an election changed the makeup of the board.

Comment – OK, in other words, elections have consequences. However, in reviewing Carstarphen’s record, this one event – along with the controversy surrounding the adoption of a budget that had to be cut back severely due to State budget cuts – seems to make up the “controversy headlines”. This is pretty ‘thin gruel’ as far as I am concerned.

Williams said controversy should be expected of any leader who makes big changes, such as cutting budgets and personnel. But he credits Carstarphen for increasing Austin’s graduation and college-ready rates, and counts one other metric as an important achievement in a high-poverty school system: “We’ve been able to keep some of our middle class in the school district, which some other districts haven’t,” he said.

Comment – Carstarphen appears to be willing to take on tough and controversial issues. This matches up well with the new APS Board that consistently said it wants to tackle the difficult issues facing APS. Let’s encourage them to work as a team to do what is necessary to improve educational outcomes in Atlanta.

Scheberle, the chamber official, said that despite the controversy surrounding her, Carstarphen managed to stay in Austin beyond the typical three-year tenure for a Texas superintendent. He said she is a “relentless” leader who would work as hard in Atlanta as she did in Austin.

Ken Zarifis, the president of Education Austin, the area’s teachers advocacy group, described her as “tenacious” and “deeply committed.”

Comment – “Relentless”, “work hard”, “tenacious” and “deeply committed”. These are very encouraging words and represent a refreshing change from the descriptions of the current APS leadership. Also, after seeing her at several presentations in Atlanta, I would add – energetic, steeped in education research, data driven, a deep thinker, personable, self-deprecating and a great communicator.

I really liked it when she recently noted that it was important that the Board and the community come together as they consider solutions to the many problems APS is facing. Why is this critical? Because as Carstarphen said,

“I can implement anything. I feel like I’ve had to do that, “she said during her introduction at Hope-Hill Elementary. “Be careful what you ask for, because it will be done.”

Robert Stockwell is the financial watchdog for APS and posts at Financial Deconstruction

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APS chief aims to go beyond test-centric teaching

When she was a student at Harvard University, Meria Carstarphen learned from urban education leaders she considered “giants of the business” — the generation of reformers who demanded test-based academic results and rigorously measured improvement.

One of those reformers who visited Carstarphen and her classmates was former Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall, the disgraced leader whose school system job Carstarphen is in line to take.

Today, while Carstarphen still strongly believes in accountability and metrics, her approach emphasizes legitimate student achievement that goes beyond teaching to the test. She wants children to have a more complete education that starts at home and extends into the classroom.

Carstarphen, 44, would take over an Atlanta school district that is still on the rebound from a broad cheating scandal that took place while Hall led the city’s education system from 1999 to 2011.

“I’m as sad as everyone else that this is where Atlanta is,” Carstarphen said as she was introduced this week. “It won’t help any of us to … spend a lot of time thinking about the past. It’s very important that we learn from it and put measures in place to move things forward.”

If the school board votes to hire her next month, she’ll try to put the focus back on the classroom and away from the courthouse, where Hall and 12 others face trial on conspiracy charges. She would replace Superintendent Erroll Davis, who plans to retire this summer, three years after taking over in Hall’s wake.

During Carstarphen’s time as a doctoral student in Harvard’s Urban Superintendents Program, she said Hall and other large city superintendents would meet students and talk about their work as school district leaders.

Since earning her doctorate in 2002 — long before suspicions of cheating in Atlanta schools arose — Carstarphen has worked as an accountability officer in Kingsport (Tenn.) City Schools and District of Columbia Public Schools before becoming the superintendent of Saint Paul (Minn.) Public Schools and the Austin (Texas) Independent School District.

Carstarphen has gained a reputation as a bold executive who blends the business task of managing a large organization with the more intimate work of educating students. She got her start in education as a middle school Spanish and documentary photography teacher in Selma, Ala.

She upset some Austin parents with her handling of charter schools, a bond issue and school closures, but she touts achievements such as raising the graduation rate and test scores during her five-year term in Austin.

“She’s a very data-intensive person. She looks at the data and figures out what needs to be done to improve test scores. Realistically, that’s what every large district does these days,” said Robert Schneider, an Austin school board member and critic of Carstarphen. “We haven’t agreed about things all the time, but I do believe she tries to be open and honest.”

Although Atlanta is a smaller school district, with 50,000 students compared to 87,000 in Austin, Carstarphen may face significant challenges if she’s chosen for the job.

Atlanta has a lower graduation rate, at 59 percent, compared to Austin’s graduation rate of 82.5 percent, although it was unclear Friday whether the graduation rates were calculated using the same methodology. Atlanta’s school system also serves more low-income students, with about 24 percent of residents below the poverty line compared to about 20 percent in Austin, according to census and school district data.

“She’s going to have half the students but double the problems,” said Ken Zarifis, president of Education Austin, the labor union for Austin teachers. “When I look at Atlanta, it seems to me that there’s got to be a huge level of distrust, and that’s hard to overcome.”

The model of education reform has changed over the last decade, said Dan Domenech, executive director for AASA, the School Superintendents Association.

Urban education leaders now place a greater emphasis on helping students outside of school by improving their home environment, nutrition and health care, he said.

“They’re not looking at a fill-in-the-bubble standardized-test approach. They want to provide for the needs of these kids,” he said. “You could say she’s a reformer, but I would refer to her more as a quality educator who has the best interests of children at heart.”

Carstarphen would combine her classroom experience and her time as a leader of city school systems if she becomes Atlanta’s superintendent, said Cobb County Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, who knows her from his time as the Dallas superintendent several years ago.

“She works so many hours. When I talk to her late at night, I’m going to bed when she’s just getting home,” said Hinojosa, who plans to resign this summer and move back to Texas. “Meria is so student-centric. She’s a hands-on type of leader.”

MEET AND GREET

Superintendent candidate Meria Carstarphen will meet with the Atlanta community at several “open house” events Saturday:

  • 9-10 a.m.: Washington High School
  • 10:30-11:30 a.m.: North Atlanta High School
  • Noon-1 p.m.: Grady High School
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Jackson High School
  • 3-4 p.m.: South Atlanta High School
  • 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Mays High School

 

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APS School Chief History is a Mixed Bag

The probable next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools is coming off a controversial tenure in Austin, Texas, where public ire over budget cuts and a school closing rose as much as the improved graduation rates and finances.

Meria Carstarphen presided for five years over a system almost twice the size of Atlanta’s. She left it in better financial and academic shape, but riled enough voters to undermine the support of the school board. With her contract set to expire in a little over a year, there has been no vote in favor of extending it.

“You make some calls over five years that make some people mad,” said Mark Williams, a former Austin school board president who pushed to hire Carstarphen. He and other supporters say she advocated for needed reforms. Critics say she rammed through changes without consulting the majority Hispanic parents in the Austin Independent School District.

“Her corporate-reform-backed agenda didn’t fly here because we fought it, and that’s why she’s leaving,” said Vincent Tovar, whose wife is a teacher, and whose daughter attends Austin schools.

Paul Saldaña, another aggrieved parent, said Carstarphen refused to meet with critics, which he said helped galvanize a movement against the school administration that has endured. “If anything,” he said, “we can thank her for organizing our community.”

Carstarphen, 44, is the presumed next superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. The school board hasn’t voted to hire her yet, since a two-week wait is required by state law. But she emerged Thursday as the lone candidate after a search to replace Erroll Davis, who is expected to leave the job by July.

Drew Scheberle, a senior vice president at the Austin Chamber of Commerce, said members of the business community pushed to hire someone like Carstarphen, and they were pleased with the results. She cut a quarter of the jobs in the central office yet improved academic outcomes, he said. “She’s left this community stronger than how she found it.”

Williams, the former school board president, said Carstarphen cut nearly a tenth of the $700 million budget, eliminating 1,100 positions. She amended teacher contracts to one year from three, so that it would be easier to terminate the service of subpar employees, he said. She also established programs at two high schools that allow students to take college courses.

But it was a 2011 proposal to close a school and reopen it as a charter operation that made the biggest waves, he said. “That caused a revolt.”

That action was approved by one school board but reversed by another after an election changed the makeup of the board.

In December, during her annual evaluation, board members urged Carstarphen to build better relationships with the community and didn’t extend her contract, which expires in June 2015, according to The Austin American-Statesman.

Some of Carstarphen’s difficulties might have been specific to the place. Gus Garcia, a former Austin mayor who served on the school board decades ago, said Carstarphen had a hard time “connecting” with the Hispanic population. “She was never able to get close to the Latino community,” he said.

The Selma, Alabama-born Carstarphen has a bachelor’s in political science and Spanish from Tulane University, a master’s from Auburn University, a master’s and doctorate from Harvard, and got her start in education teaching middle school Spanish and documentary photography.

Williams said controversy should be expected of any leader who makes big changes, such as cutting budgets and personnel. But he credits Carstarphen for increasing Austin’s graduation and college-ready rates, and counts one other metric as an important achievement in a high-poverty school system: “We’ve been able to keep some of our middle class in the school district, which some other districts haven’t,” he said.

Carstarphen will face similar challenges in Atlanta, a city with stark juxtapositions of poverty and wealth, a majority minority student population and an engaged chamber of commerce. She also must rebuild the trust lost after a cheating scandal that has played out in the criminal courts.

Scheberle, the chamber official, said that despite the controversy surrounding her, Carstarphen managed to stay in Austin beyond the typical three-year tenure for a Texas superintendent. He said she is a “relentless” leader who would work as hard in Atlanta as she did in Austin.

Ken Zarifis, the president of Education Austin, the area’s teachers advocacy group, described her as “tenacious” and “deeply committed.”

He also seemed relieved to see her go. “I’m glad she’s made that choice and has moved on elsewhere,” he said, adding that, if she becomes Atlanta’s superintendent, “She’s going to have half the students but double the problems.”


 

 

By Mark Niesse and Ty Tagami
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Meria Carstarphen – Next APS Superintendent

Atlanta’s next education leader, Meria Carstarphen, sees herself as the visionary who can turn around urban public education, restore trust with parents and move the city’s school system past the stain of a cheating scandal.

Carstarphen, 44, was announced Thursday as the only finalist to become the superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools. She is currently the superintendent of the public school system in Austin, Texas, and the Atlanta school board plans a vote to hire her next month.

As an education reformer, Carstarphen said she believes in holding teachers and students accountable in order to get results. At the same time, she thinks she can unify a community that is frequently at odds with itself over the direction of public education.

“I can implement anything. I feel like I’ve had to do that,” she said during her introduction at Hope-Hill Elementary. “Be careful what you ask for, because it will be done.”

She said she will raise graduation rates, which stand at 59 percent, while also finding ways to prevent the disproportionate placement of black children and special education students in disciplinary programs.

She’ll replace Superintendent Erroll Davis, who plans to retire this summer after three years on the job.

Born and raised in Selma, Ala., she started her career teaching in the Selma middle school she attended. She later became superintendent in St. Paul, Minn., and was the chief accountability officer for the Washington, D.C. Public Schools.

“I’m not naive about what it takes to turn around an individual school or program or even an entire school district,” Carstarphen said in an exclusive interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution before her public introduction. “It will take some heavy lifting.”

School board Chairman Courtney English said that while Davis “pulled our children out of that burning building” left in the wake of widespread cheating, Carstarphen will be the next leader to bring Atlanta to worldwide prominence.

“Education is another opportunity for Atlanta to teach the world how to get it right,” English said.

But for all the praise she received Thursday, Carstarphen’s five years as Austin’s superintendent weren’t without controversy.

Board members criticized her leadership style. Community members objected to her proposals to close several schools and cut positions.

She sometimes bristled when school board members questioned her decisions, according to an article in The Austin American-Statesman, and she was accused of taking broad actions without first consulting teachers and parents.

Carstarphen forged a strong relationship with some in Austin’s black community, who came to see her as someone willing to listen and fight for inclusion.

In December, the Austin chapter of the NAACP gave her its highest award, the DeWitty/Overton Freedom Award, praising her for raising black test scores and graduation rates.

Graduation rates in Austin have soared to an all-time high at 82.5 percent, up from 74.3 percent in 2008, the year before she took over.

“She’s made it clear that all minority students are included,” said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin chapter of the NAACP. “She’s hired people who are black who were committed to excellence.”

Carstarphen did come in for some criticism, however, after two portions of a massive $892 million school bond measure were rejected by voters. The sections that were rejected would have poured some $403 million into construction to relieve crowding and augment academic programs.

Linder said the failure of portions of the bond measure shouldn’t be pinned on Carstarphen.

“There were folks in the business community who didn’t see her as business-friendly,” Linder said. “That wasn’t on her. There were those in the business community who worked against her.”

Carstarphen is being hired following a yearlong nationwide search for a leader who can improve academic performance and leave behind the stigma associated with a scandal in which investigators said 185 APS educators participated in changing students’ answers on standardized tests.

Thirteen of those educators, including former Superintendent Beverly Hall, now face trial.

While Davis was a transitional chief executive with a business background, Atlanta school board members now want a transformational educational leader.

After taking over for Hall, Davis focused on restoring integrity to public education. He fired most of the teachers and administrators allegedly involved with cheating, and he hasn’t shied away from controversy during battles over redistricting and school leadership.

Now Carstarphen will be responsible for completing the recovery and putting the city’s educational focus back in the classroom.

“She’s someone who has success in complex systems, who understood urban situations,” said Ann Cramer, the chairwoman of the Atlanta Superintendent Search Committee. “We went out and found the best, the absolute best.”

Carstarphen will work with a young and ambitious school board that was voted into office last fall.

The election replaced six out of nine board members, creating an opportunity for the board and the incoming superintendent to start fresh.

By Mark Niesse
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Staff writer Wayne Washington contributed to this article.

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