Aretta Baldon, Incumbent
Candidate for Atlanta Board of Education, District 2
1) Why are you running for Board of Education?
I’m running for reelection because despite all of the accomplishments of my last term, there is still much work to be done. Our students deserve an opportunity for a better life and should be able to receive a quality education right in their neighborhood public schools. I’m committed to making sure we get as many children as possible reading, writing and doing math on grade level.
2) Many students have fallen behind academically because of the pandemic. What policies would you propose or support to help children get back on track?
The Equity policy and the shift to Student Outcomes Focused Governance Model will both be key to us serving ALL of our children’s needs with urgency and fidelity. The implementation of the universal academic and behavioral screeners and individualized learning plans are examples of great work driven by these policies. Additional policies that support this work include revisions to any of our current policies that make the health and safety of our school community a priority (physical & mental); our existing Trauma Informed, Restorative Justice and Social & Emotional Learning policies and our recent shift to becoming a 1-to-1 device district.
3) What is the greatest challenge for Atlanta Public Schools and how will you address it?
The biggest challenge facing Atlanta Public Schools is the majority of the children are not reading, writing and doing math on grade level and the 59 point gap between black and white student achievement. After my last two years on the School Board, I know our children can do better. I’ve already begun doing the work by ensuring that this is a focal point for APS over the next five years via the development of the Strategic Plan and the board’s shift to a Student Outcomes Focused Governance model.
4) Should the school system be investing more money? If so, in what areas (technology, capital improvements, etc.)?
I don’t think it’s a question of more money but how do we spend the money we currently have most effectively but with an eye to efficiency. The school system currently has a very robust budget. Could we use more, of course, but not at the expense of our taxpayers. We are blessed to have developed relationships in the business and non-profit community as well as governmental support via programs like ESPLOST to help fill the gaps. However, Virtual learning will most certainly continue to be an integral part of APS. We have to make sure that we clear the hurdle of the Digital Divide by providing options for students based on their needs. This includes investments into virtual learning centers and equipping teachers with digital teaching tools.
5) How would you ensure parents are engaged in their child’s education?
There is no way to ensure parental engagement. What I commit to doing is encouraging and facilitating parental engagement through my frequent updates at the community level. I also commit to creating an environment where parents feel comfortable engaging on all levels and at the level for which their issue is best suited.