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Atlanta school chief: APS has to spend money to make up for deep mistakes of past

I sat down with Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen for a long video interview on the challenges her district faces. AJC multimedia journalist Erica Hernandez broke the interview into nine short segments. (Two to three minutes.)

This is one of the final segments. It's among the most compelling and far-reaching.

Carstarphen talks about the importance of quality early childhood learning, which she says could be a "game changer" for Atlanta. She discusses the mistakes Atlanta made in its reading programs and how those failures, compounded with the school readiness problem, have created a crisis.

"Kids aren't coming in ready and we can't get them ready," she says in the interview below. "And, by the time they get to third grade in some of our clusters, more than half, 90 percent of children in grades 3, 4 and 5, aren't reading at a proficient level. When you look across the entire's 9,000 elementary kids," she said.

Carstarphen addresses the contention that shoring up high-poverty schools in Atlanta comes at the expense of middle-class students and schools, saying the city has more resources than any place she's ever worked.

But the superintendent returns to a theme that runs through her entire interview: Does the community have the will to invest in its public schools?

Here is a link to the first segment.

Link to the second segment.

Link to the  third segment.

Link to the fourth segment.

Link to the fifth segment.

Link to the sixth and seventh segment.



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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.