|Board Member, Atlanta Public Schools District, District 6|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 5, 2013|
|First elected||November 5, 2013|
|Master's||Georgia State University|
|J.D.||North Carolina Central University School of Law|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign themes
- 4 What was at stake?
- 5 About the district
- 6 Recent news
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Collins is an Atlanta native and former Atlanta Public Schools teacher. She earned a B.A. degree in psychology from Spelman College, an M.S. in Urban Teacher Leadership from Georgia State University and a J.D. from North Carolina Central University School of Law. She holds Georgia educator certifications in Early Childhood Education and Educational Leadership and a license to practice law in the State of Georgia.
Collins currently serves as the Project Director for Jumpstart at Georgia State University. Prior to her current position, she analyzed national education issues and advocated for accessible healthcare at the Children’s Defense Fund. She also worked in Cape Town, South Africa where she helped refugee women and children access quality services and enroll in local schools.
Collins' professional experiences also include being admitted to practice in the State of Georgia, the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, being an Adjunct Professor for the Urban Education Freshmen Learning Community at Georgia State University, a Registered Neutral in the Office of Dispute Resolution for the State of Georgia, being a Judicial Clerk to the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr. in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and a Co-Author of The Name of the Game is in the Claim: Regulating Intellectual Property Protection and Traditional Knowledge (3 N.C. Cent. Biotech. & Pharm. L. Rev. No. 1, Spring 2009).
Collins is also an active community member and volunteer. She is a volunteer for Georgia Truancy Intervention Project, a mentor for the Sister2Sister Mentoring Program at the Fulton County Juvenile Justice Center and at Spelman College, a member of Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys, Gate City Bar Association and Georgia Association of Women Lawyers, the Editor-In-Chief of The North Carolina Central University Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical Law Review, a member of The North Carolina Central University Moot Court Board, a research assistant for the Atlanta Housing Authority Good Neighbor Program, an assistant volunteer coordinator for the City of Atlanta Victim Witness Assistance Program and a program assistant for REACH for Wellness at the Fulton County Dept. of Health and Wellness
- See also: Atlanta Public Schools elections (2013)
|Atlanta Public Schools, District 6 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Source: Fulton County Board of Election, "Election Results," accessed January 29, 2014|
|Atlanta Public Schools, District 6 General Election, 4-year term, 2013|
|Nonpartisan||Anne Wofford McKenzie||15%||1,001|
|Source: Fulton County Board of Election, "Election Results," accessed January 29, 2014|
Collins reported $46,507.00 in contributions and $29,891.20 in expenditures to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission , which left her campaign with $16,615.80 on hand. Major contributions included $5,000 from the Arthur Blank family, $5,000 from the Giornelli family, $250 from current District 8 candidate Mark Riley, $250 current District 8 candidate Reuben McDaniel and $500 from the Committee to Elect C.T. Martin.
Collins did not receive any official endorsements for her campaign.
Collins identified the following campaign themes for 2013:
Focusing on student achievement at the early stages of learning
Early education must be a top priority for Atlanta's schools. The evidence is overwhelming: It is much more effective to give a student a high-quality early education than it is to address low performance later through remediation. Early intervention is more cost-effective for the schools, and, more important, better for the child. These early years are crucial in laying a firm foundation for healthy development and lifelong learning. I have extensive experience in this area as a classroom teacher, policy advocate and non-profit program manager. I have seen first-hand the difference high-quality early education can make in a child's life. Early learning leads to later achievement, and it must be a central focus in our efforts to address struggling students and low-performing schools.
Promoting accountability at all levels
It’s simple: WE must be accountable. School leaders must be held accountable. Highly effective teachers truly matter. As a teacher and as a manager of teachers, I know that the most successful teachers, classrooms and schools are those with the most effective leadership at every level. The Board and district must be accountable to students, parents and the community and support change in schools that benefit our students the most. It is the Board’s role to provide school resources so that ALL students and teachers have what they need to succeed in the classroom. Additionally, family and community involvement is a crucial component to accountability as well. When these various groups of accountability are linked to learning, we see an increase in student improvement. It's a direct correlation that we must believe in. If we want our community to trust and have complete confidence in Atlanta Public Schools, we must hold our leaders accountable for the quality of education that greets our children every day.
Being accessible to address our students' needs and community partnerships
As your Board member, I will work tirelessly to ensure that the highest level of ethics and transparency is afforded to our students, our schools and our community. I will be accessible to the needs and concerns of students, parents and schools and ensure the necessary resources are provided to them. Families are our children's first and most important teachers. Families should feel welcome to share ideas, know what is happening in our schools, and work collectively in their child's learning. I will have an integral role in all PTA and community meetings so I can hear from students, families and community members. I want to make sure everyone knows their voices are welcome at the Board level. I will visit a school weekly, so I know what's happening "on the ground,” not just on paper. I will hold informational meetings to inform our parents and community on a regular basis. Also, I will hold consistent office hours to address any questions and share updates. Trust and open lines of communication are essential to ensure that every stakeholder has an active voice in our children's education. I will ensure these voices will be heard as the most accessible board member.
Note: The above quote is from the candidate's website, which may include some typographical or spelling errors.
What was at stake?
All nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education were at stake in the 2013 election. Brenda J. Muhammad, Byron D. Amos, Nancy M. Meister, Courtney D. English and Reuben McDaniel were the only incumbents seeking re-election, meaning that the election resulted in significant turnover in board members. Some suspect the large turnover was a result of a number of district issues, but most predominantly the criminal indictment of 34 district teachers and former superintendent Beverly Hall. Board members LaChandra Butler Burks, Cecily Harsch-Kinnane, and Emmett Johnson were some of Hall's biggest supporters, which may have been a factor in their decision not to seek re-election.
CRCT testing scandal
In March 2013 a Fulton County grand jury indicted 35 Atlanta educators, including former superintendent Beverly Hall, in a cheating conspiracy the stretched across 58 schools. Each defendant was charged with Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) conspiracy. The 65-count indictment also included charges of False Statements and Writings, False Swearing, and Influencing Witnesses in connection with the alleged conspiracy to alter Criterion Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT) scores. Former superintendent Hall also faced theft charges because her salary rose with rising student test scores on standardized tests. Hall retired in 2011, just days before the allegations surfaced. The indictments came after a two-year investigation that looked at test scores dating back to 2005. Cheating allegations first surfaced in 2008, when The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported "statistically improbable increases" in scores on the state-mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) at one Atlanta school. In 2009, the newspaper found similar increases at a dozen schools. The stories eventually led then-governor Sonny Perdue to appoint two special investigators who found cheating in 44 in 2011. In all, they found that 178 educators had cheated on CRCT tests.No school board members faced implications due to these allegations. During their first few months in office, the new school board members will have to select a new superintendent.
Another challenge the new board will face is the development of next year's budget. The new board will likely want a significant reallocation of resources away from administration and into the classroom. There is also a strong call for reducing deficit spending, ending teacher furloughs and granting teachers a pay raise. These cost reductions and reallocations amount to $40-50 million out of an operating budget of approximately $590 million. It is likely that the cost reductions in the administrative and operating functions will be difficult to achieve without reducing the cost inefficiencies created by a number of small schools that were slated for closure, yet still remain open. The new board will also have to address how to pay off an old pension liability that costs about $550 million. Atlanta Public Schools initially intended to withhold start up funding from charter schools in order to repay the debt, but in September 2013 the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the city’s school system can’t make charters share in the burden of paying off the pension debt. The court decided that the amount of money charter schools receive is set by state law. The debt had been accumulating since the late 1970s, and charter schools don’t participate in Atlanta Public Schools’ pension system. The district released $415,000 to Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School after the money had been withheld last school year. The board is left to decide how to pay of the pension debt.
In August of 2013, Atlanta Progressive News reported that District 5 candidate Steven Lee had misleading educational credentials in documents prepared for the City of Atlanta. Three resolutions passed by the City Council of Atlanta, appointing him to three different boards in 2009, refer to him as Dr. Lee. Supporting documents, including Lee’s resume, also referred to him as Dr. Lee. Former Mayor Shirley Franklin, councilmembers Felicia Moore, CT Martin, Joyce Sheperd, and Lamar Willis and former councilman Jim Maddox each signed letters of recommendation referring to Lee as Dr. Lee. When first asked about the references to him as Dr. Lee in the City legislation, Lee told Atlanta Progressive News that his Ph.D. was from Belford University. Belford University was a diploma mill that closed in 2012. It offered online, non-accredited college degrees to individuals for their previous life experiences for several hundred dollars. While it had a post office box in Humble, Texas, the degrees were mailed from the United Arab Emirates. Lee’s campaign materials did not mention that he previously referred to himself as Dr. Lee.
Ethical questions regarding Shawnna Hayes-Tavares
In the summer of 2013, Atlanta Progressive News reported that Shawnna Hayes-Tavares, a candidate for Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education District 6, had an arrest record and was the subject of several investigations and actions involving JC Young Middle School. Hayes-Tavares was arrested on August 08, 2011, by DeKalb County Police, on three charges, including giving a false name and false information to the police, driving while license suspended or revoked and maximum limits. Additionally, The Grady High School student newspaper and Atlanta Progressive News reported that the Young Middle School Local School Council claimed that Hayes-Tavares never reimbursed Young Middle School parents a total of $970 the parents had given her for uniforms during a summer camp. According to the March 18 Young Middle School LSC minutes, Hayes-Tavares collected $970 in full or partial uniform payments from the parents. Hayes-Tavares, however, claims that only four of the 15 girls at the camp paid for uniforms, which would equal $600 if those girls paid in full. After the majorette team was annexed by the After School All-Stars—a program with grant-provided funding for after-school activities—uniforms were no longer needed and Hayes-Tavares said she did not purchase them. Parents asked for a refund, according to the minutes from the meeting. Although Kelvin Griffin, the Young Middle School principal, asked Hayes-Tavares to return the $970, she had yet to refund the parents by the meeting on March 18, according to the LSC minutes. Griffin and Young Middle School decided to make the parents financially whole and reimbursed them. In an interview with The Southerner, Hayes-Tavares said she doesn’t know why Young Middle School is under the impression the parents were not refunded, but did not respond to an email asking her to clarify who refunded the parents.
This is not the first allegation of financial misconduct made against Hayes-Tavares. When she was president of the Young Middle School PTSA, the Georgia PTA began to investigate the association’s finances and it was requested by a Georgia PTA official that no previous or current member of the Young Middle School PTSA should hold a position in any PTA/PTSA until the matter has been completely resolved. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Hayes-Tavares claimed there was a Georgia PTA letter which cleared her to serve again. Shortly after this claim was made, Hayes-Tavares collected gift certificates to be given to teachers for Christmas, but the gifts never made it to the teachers. Hayes-Tavares claimed the money was stolen from a school desk. After this incident, the LSC decided to look closer into Hayes-Tavares’ alleged PTA exoneration. In June of 2012, a Georgia PTA official claimed that the Georgia PTA was not aware of a letter exonerating Hayes-Tavares. On July 29, 2013, Hayes-Tavares also wrote an email to William Scott, director of the Office of Internal Compliance for APS, in which she claimed that since the audit was completed, the members of the 2006/2007 PTSA should be allowed to serve again.
After Atlanta Progressive News editor Matthew Cardinale posted a story about the accusations against Hayes-Tavares, three comments were posted to the online story within 50 minutes defending Hayes-Tavares. One of the comments was signed “YoungMS Teacher”, another “T. Madhi” and the third was signed “Terry”, a resident of District 6. Cardinale saw that all three of the comments had the same IP address, meaning that they all came from the same computer. He then discovered that the IP addressed belonged to Hayes-Tavares’ computer because the candidate had previously commented on an Atlanta Progressive News article containing an interview with her on July 08, 2013. In a text message, Hayes-Tavares claimed that there were three campaign volunteers at her house posting the comments unbeknownst to her, and that she was not home.
About the district
- See also: Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia
Atlanta Public Schools is located in parts of Fulton County and DeKalb County, Georgia. Atlanta is the county seat of Fulton County. Atlanta is home to 443,775 residents.
Atlanta underperforms the state in median household income and poverty rate, but outperforms the state in higher education. According to the 2010 Census, the median household income in Atlanta is $45,946 compared to Georgia's statewide median of $49,736. The rate of residents below the poverty level in Atlanta is 23.2% while the state rate is 16.5%. The percentage of residents over 25 with a bachelor's degree or higher in Atlanta is 46.1% compared to the state average of 27.5%.
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Eshe' + Collins + Atlanta + Public + Schools"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Eshe' Collins for APS, "Meet Eshe', accessed October 29, 2013 (dead link)
- Eshe' for APS, "Experience," accessed October 29, 2013
- Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, "Collins, Eshe'," accessed December 26, 2013
- Eshe' Collins for APS, Vision, accessed October 29, 2013
- Scott Henry, Atlanta Magazine, "School board races begin heating up," June 7, 2013
- Larry Coplan, USA TODAY, "School cheating scandal shakes up Atlanta," April 14, 2013
- Office of the Fulton County District Attorney, "GRAND JURY INDICTS 35 IN CONNECTION WITH ATLANTA PUBLIC SCHOOLS CHEATING SCANDAL," accessed October 23, 2013
- Maureen Downey The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ""Most important school board election in the history of Atlanta,"" October 20, 2013
- Mark Miesse, ajc.com, "Georgia Supreme Court rules in favor of charter schools in pension fight," September 23, 2013
- MATTHEW CHARLES CARDINALE Atlanta Progressive News, "APS Board Candidate, Steven Lee, Touted Diploma Mill PhD," accessed October 24, 2013
- Atlanta Progressive News, "APS Candidate, Hayes-Tavares, Has Arrest Record, PTA Ban, Pending Lawsuit," MATTHEW CHARLES CARDINALE August 22, 2013
- The Southerner, "APS board candidate faces accusations," JOSH WEINSTOCK AND ARCHIE KINNANE, October 17, 2013
- Atlanta Progressive News, "Hayes-Tavares Caught in Apparent Fake Commenter Scheme" MATTHEW CHARLES CARDINALE August 24, 2013
- 2010 Census: Quick Facts, "Atlanta," accessed October 23, 2013"
- Fulton County Registration and Elections, "Archived Election Results," accessed October 23, 2013
- United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014