Andrew Young Speaks Out at the Trial of Beverly Hall: Good!


 Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license by Mmann1988

Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license by Mmann 1988

Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, U.N. Ambassador, and civil rights leader, was in attendance at the trial of Dr. Beverly Hall, former superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools.

The purpose of the session was to hear arguments from both sides whether to grant a delay in the trial of Dr. Hall because of her battle with cancer.

The court heard from a hired oncologist for the prosecution, and Dr. Hall’s oncologist. It was very clear from Dr. Hall’s doctor that she is very ill, and doubtful if she can appear in court anytime soon. The judge ruled that the trial should be delayed for four months (the defense had asked for eight months).

At that moment, Andrew Young, who was in the courtroom, spoke out and said “good.” The judge was not pleased, but interestingly he engaged Andrew Young enabling him to make comments about the trail. Here is part of the conversation. You can watch full conversation (01.20 min) below.

Andrew Young: “It would be merciful for this court, these prosecutors,this whole city, if this trail never took place.”

Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter: “And everything just sort of go away?”

Andrew Young: “No, it won’t go away, Your Honor.”

Judge Baxter: “That’s your wish, that it just vanish?”

Andrew Young: “No. The school system has repaired itself. The State has done everything it could to wreck a very good school system.”

Dr. Young’s comments about the trial, in my opinion, were right on target. Not only has the state played a role in trying to wreck the APS, but the corporate reform movement has enabled a culture of fear to permeate schools, exactly what the Governor’s crack investigation committee of three (plus a 100 or so GBI agents) concluded. The crack investigative team, and its swarm of GBI agents descended on the APS and in many cases, questioned teachers without due process. It was more of witch hunt than an investigation with integrity. Follow this link to read several articles about the Atlanta cheating scandal on this blog.

Yes, the Atlanta administration emphasized test results. So is everyone else. And in spite of this condemnation from outside the APS, the school system has worked its way back.

Atlanta has been put into a glass house, and everyone is watching. Right now, it’s very close to hiring a new superintendent. However, the Search Committee has only put forward one name, and it seems as if the School Board will vote to support the Search Committee’s choice.

This is a mistake.  Here we have a school system that has made progress and what has the School Board decided to do:  It’s going to bring in a person from the outside, someone not familiar with Atlanta, and the school system. And in fact, this person has already said that Atlanta is ready for a turn around. “Turn around” is a code word for dealing with so-called failing schools (and districts).   Georgia’s “turnaround plan” is embedded in the Race to Top grant that it received four years ago.  Follow this link to find out how the turnaround plan works.  You won’t be pleased.

The APS needs stability combined with a new way of thinking about learning and thinking.  Bringing in a superintendent from the outside the school system will result in a return to mandated top-down “reforms” that will not satisfy anyone.  It will surely not significantly change the academic performance of Atlanta schools, as Ed Johnson has shown us in his research here, and here.

Andrew Young has spoken important words for more than a half century, and two days ago, he reminded us of his wisdom and understanding about how a community works.

About Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a writer, a former high school teacher, and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University.