Erick Erickson found our phone conversation between GA Charter School leaders and Ashley Bell as disturbing as we did.
Erickson is referring to our article Ashley Bell, State Super candidate, Reveals Himself. In it, Ashley Bell says Common Core is “the law of the land” and his job is to implement the law of the land. The problem with Common Core, according to Mr. Bell, has been the rollout. “Parents are having a hard time understanding it. Teachers are having a hard time teaching it. My objective is to help teachers and parents [understand and teach] Common Core.”
The conference call that day reinforced our concerns about his understanding of educational issues in Georgia. His perspective is limited and narrow. He doesn’t seem to know much about education outside his world on the board at his local charter school. While he is amicable and has a story for every question, Mr. Bell lacks solutions for the big problems that do not revolve around his experience.
Metro Atlanta School Performance
As Mr. Bell points out, the performance of metro Atlanta schools is embarrassing. The editors at Georgia SchoolWatch are disappointed that Mr. Bell’s only plan to help metro Atlanta schools is more charters. Mr. Bell states that NCLB waivers and “shaming them into behaving” is all the state can do.
While Georgia SchoolWatch understands that charters are part of a solution, we were stunned to learn that Mr. Bell has no plan to address the chronic problems that ail some of the metro Atlanta’s school districts. No state school superintendent will be successful if they do not address the problems in metro Atlanta. Like it or not, what happens in Atlanta is seen nationally as being a problem for all of Georgia. There are also other regions that face problems that deserve more thoughtful solutions. This was where Mr. Bell’s inexperience and naiveté were exhibit A. Our next state school superintendent should, at a minimum, have a plan to address the metro regions’ problems.
Mr. Bell didn’t demonstrate knowledge of how state education funding works. When asked about what changes he would like made to QBE, he said the biggest problem school districts have with QBE is that they want more money (Thank you Captain Obvious). He meandered around the funding formula without saying anything specific about the subject and went on to say that funding shouldn’t be wealth redistribution and that RESAs could help the problem by helping districts with teacher training and rewriting tests to be aligned with Common Core. (Again, helping to solidify Common Core is contradictory to the statement on his website and during multiple public appearances.)