Maureen Downey

Education columnist

Maureen Downey is a longtime reporter for the AJC where she has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy for more than 20 years. She’s also taught college classes in mass communications and journalism.However, she’s learned more about schools from having four children in them.  Her own education includes an undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from Columbia University. She has worked for newspapers in New Jersey and Florida and has covered many school boards. She has won many editorial writing awards, including a National Headliner award. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her AJC editorials on the Genarlow Wilson case. In June, the Education Writers Association named her Opinion Writer of the Year. Read Maureen Downey's Get Schooled blog

Latest from Maureen Downey

Cobb and other districts move to online textbooks. Is it working? 
 Online textbooks bring both benefits and problems for the school systems that embrace them. In researching districts around the country that use them, it seems the first few years are rough, as revealed by the initial experience of pioneer Fairfax, Va., schools. The Atlantic did a deep dive into the question, quoting proponents...

Posted: 5 hours ago

Online textbooks bring both benefits and problems for the school systems that embrace them. In researching districts around the country that use them, it seems the first few years are rough, as revealed by the initial experience of pioneer Fairfax, Va., schools. The Atlantic did a deep dive into the question, quoting proponents...
Parents question clubs teaching boys to be leaders and girls to be polite
 Julianne Speyer, we need your example  in Georgia.  The 12-year-old Ohio girl drew national applause a few weeks ago when she wrote a newspaper letter calling out announcers at a July 4th parade who praised the Boy Scouts for marching as future leaders, while saying the Girl Scouts were there just to have fun. Parents at a Coweta County...

Posted: 2 days ago

Julianne Speyer, we need your example in Georgia.  The 12-year-old Ohio girl drew national applause a few weeks ago when she wrote a newspaper letter calling out announcers at a July 4th parade who praised the Boy Scouts for marching as future leaders, while saying the Girl Scouts were there just to have fun. Parents at a Coweta County...
State approves new charter schools in Atlanta, DeKalb and Gwinnett
 From architecture to Korean and Chinese language immersion, four new charter schools approved by the State Charter Schools Commission reflect a range of focuses. Located in metro Atlanta, the schools are Ethos Classical and Harriet Tubman School of Science & Tech in Atlanta, Community Academy for Architecture and Design in DeKalb, and Yi...

Posted: 2 days ago

From architecture to Korean and Chinese language immersion, four new charter schools approved by the State Charter Schools Commission reflect a range of focuses. Located in metro Atlanta, the schools are Ethos Classical and Harriet Tubman School of Science & Tech in Atlanta, Community Academy for Architecture and Design in DeKalb, and Yi...
Are teachers on board as Gwinnett rolls out merit pay?
 Gwinnett County Public Schools is rolling out a performance-based pay model that the superintendent calls “revolutionary” and a key to raising both student achievement and teacher morale. Saying few districts have the capacity for such bold reform, school chief J. Alvin Wilbanks credits the collaboration of teachers and administrators...

Posted: 3 days ago

Gwinnett County Public Schools is rolling out a performance-based pay model that the superintendent calls “revolutionary” and a key to raising both student achievement and teacher morale. Saying few districts have the capacity for such bold reform, school chief J. Alvin Wilbanks credits the collaboration of teachers and administrators...
Opinion: You can make more than lattes with that humanities degree
 Matthew Dischinger has taught humanities courses at the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, and Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a lecturer in the Department of English at Georgia State University. In this guest column, he makes a case for humanities majors.  By Matthew Dischinger If you or your college-bound student...

Posted: 4 days ago

Matthew Dischinger has taught humanities courses at the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University, and Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a lecturer in the Department of English at Georgia State University. In this guest column, he makes a case for humanities majors.  By Matthew Dischinger If you or your college-bound student...
Opinion: We can’t retool U.S. schools based on Finland or China
 Peter Smagorinsky is a University of Georgia education professor and a frequent contributor to the AJC Get Schooled blog. Today, he responds to a piece I wrote last week on Chinese education, which is often touted as model for the United States, particularly given the world-class math and science performance of its students. Smagorinsky writes...

Posted: 4 days ago

Peter Smagorinsky is a University of Georgia education professor and a frequent contributor to the AJC Get Schooled blog. Today, he responds to a piece I wrote last week on Chinese education, which is often touted as model for the United States, particularly given the world-class math and science performance of its students. Smagorinsky writes...
Political rhetoric: Create great schools. Political reality: Too costly
 I have been writing about Georgia education long enough to no longer be surprised by the difference in the political rhetoric – “We want world-class schools” – and the political reality – “But we don’t want to pay for them.” A new report from the American Federation of Teachers underscores...

Posted: 7 days ago

I have been writing about Georgia education long enough to no longer be surprised by the difference in the political rhetoric – “We want world-class schools” – and the political reality – “But we don’t want to pay for them.” A new report from the American Federation of Teachers underscores...
Politicians exploit charter school’s step back from Pledge of Allegiance 
 An AJC story today about a local k-8 charter school eliminating the Pledge of Allegiance from its morning ritual is riling readers and politicians.  The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School will use a later classtime for the pledge rather than at its schoolwide gathering of parents and students, citing the increasing number of participants...

Posted: 8 days ago

An AJC story today about a local k-8 charter school eliminating the Pledge of Allegiance from its morning ritual is riling readers and politicians.  The Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School will use a later classtime for the pledge rather than at its schoolwide gathering of parents and students, citing the increasing number of participants...
Trade-off of Chinese schools: Top math skills, but force-fed eggs
 In the United States for the summer, Shanghai-based journalist Lenora Chu recently dropped off her son at a New England overnight camp. As he unloaded his belongings, 9-year-old Rainey asked Chu, "Mom, do I need my homework?"  The camp director overheard and assured the boy, "No homework here." "My son just...

Posted: 9 days ago

In the United States for the summer, Shanghai-based journalist Lenora Chu recently dropped off her son at a New England overnight camp. As he unloaded his belongings, 9-year-old Rainey asked Chu, "Mom, do I need my homework?"  The camp director overheard and assured the boy, "No homework here." "My son just...
Should high schools isolate freshmen from seniors? 
 I was driving by my local high school Monday at dismissal and was struck by how young the freshmen looked compared to the seniors. I even spotted a beard or two among the older students.  Several neighbors with freshmen have shared their concerns  about having their “babies” in school with 18-year-olds. They worry not only...

Posted: 10 days ago

I was driving by my local high school Monday at dismissal and was struck by how young the freshmen looked compared to the seniors. I even spotted a beard or two among the older students.  Several neighbors with freshmen have shared their concerns about having their “babies” in school with 18-year-olds. They worry not only...
Reality check: How can we teach kids to recognize fake news? 
 A few years back, I began seeing Facebook posts about celebrities moving to small towns across America, including Decatur. The stories maintained actor Matthew McConaughey’s car stalled in downtown Decatur one busy afternoon, and he was touched none of  drivers stuck behind him beeped a horn or uttered a complaint. Instead, he received...

Posted: 11 days ago

A few years back, I began seeing Facebook posts about celebrities moving to small towns across America, including Decatur. The stories maintained actor Matthew McConaughey’s car stalled in downtown Decatur one busy afternoon, and he was touched none of drivers stuck behind him beeped a horn or uttered a complaint. Instead, he received...