A new corporate, civic effort to improve metro schools: Will it work?


A new civic coalition with some high-powered supporters hopes to turn around metro schools.

A collaboration of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta and the United Way of Greater Atlanta, Learn4Life unites metro school systems, communities, business and nonprofits around a plan to use a data-driven, collective-impact approach to improve workforce readiness and student achievement. Learn4Life is led by executive director Ken Zeff, former deputy superintendent in Fulton County.

At a presentation Tuesday at the downtown chamber offices, Learn4Life took stock of six major benchmarks in education: kindergarten readiness, third-grade reading, eighth-grade math, high school graduation, postsecondary education and getting a job. The findings in what Learn4Life called its inaugural “State of Education in Metro Atlanta Baseline Report” were disappointing.

Only one in five children in the region has access to high quality childcare; only 40 percent of third graders read on grade level. When you look at low-income students, the percentage plummets to 25.3 percent. Thirty-eight percent of eighth graders are proficient in math.

A bright spot was Georgia’s high school graduation rate of 79 percent. Of those grads, 75 percent pursue some postsecondary education, but the completion rates falter. Less than a third get a credential or degree.

The wise sage on the stage was Gwinnett Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks, who earned the title based on both longevity and success. Wilbanks has led Gwinnett since 1996, collecting dozens of national awards along the way. Indeed, he was asked at the chamber event what his “secret sauce” was in Gwinnett.

Wilbanks cited Gwinnett’s commitment to strong principals and quality teachers. “You need a good teacher in every classroom and you need a good principal in every school. I have never seen a poor school with a great principal and I have never seen a good school with a poor principal.”

To read more, go to the AJC Get Schooled blog.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Education

Politicians’ portrayal of teachers shifts with … politics
Politicians’ portrayal of teachers shifts with … politics

In most political debates about education, teachers are excoriated as selfish or exalted as selfless. Either they care only about the money or care nothing about it. Those archetypes emerged in the recent red state revolts in Kentucky, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Arizona in which teachers marched out of schools and into statehouses to demand change...
Spanking still allowed in Georgia, U.S. schools
Spanking still allowed in Georgia, U.S. schools

To spank or not to spank: That debate is once again in the headlines. The Tennessee Legislature on April 17 passed a bill that bans the spanking of disabled children at public schools. If signed into law, the measure would bar school officials from using corporal punishment on kids with disabilities, unless their parents give written approval...
Raising black student enrollment at UGA still a challenge
Raising black student enrollment at UGA still a challenge

Amalie Rosales asked a group of African-American students at a University of Georgia reception in Atlanta a question that reflecting concerns about what she will face as an incoming minority student. “How do you view diversity on campus?,” asked Rosales, 18, a senior at Sandy Creek High School in Fayette County. Freshman Caleb Kelly, a...
Participants fewer, passion same in new metro Atlanta student protests
Participants fewer, passion same in new metro Atlanta student protests

A handful of schools across metro Atlanta participated in National Walkout events Friday, with activities and messages that varied in shape, scale and focus, on topics from gun control to police brutality. The events were held Friday to coincide with the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre, when two students opened fire inside their Littleton...
State report finds accounting errors by Georgia Piedmont Technical College staff
State report finds accounting errors by Georgia Piedmont Technical College staff

Georgia Piedmont Technical College officials have made several errors in processing student aid, according to a state report released Friday. The report by the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts comes as federal education officials and the Technical College System of Georgia conduct a wide-ranging review of the metro Atlanta college’s...
More Stories