Anne Wofford McKenzie

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Anne McKenzie
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Candidate for
Board Member, Atlanta Public Schools District, District 6
Personal
ProfessionRetired teacher
Anne McKenzie is running for the District 6 seat on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education in a general election on November 5.

Elections

2013

See also: Atlanta Public Schools elections (2013)

McKenzie is running for the District 6 seat against Eshe' Collins, Dell Byrd, and Shawnna Hayes-Tavares on November 5, 2013.

Funding

McKenzie's finance reports cannot be viewed online.[1]

Endorsements

Mckenzie has been endorsed by Atlanta Progressive News.[2]

What's at stake?

All nine seats on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education are at stake in the upcoming election. Brenda J. Muhammad, Byron D. Amos, Nancy M. Meister and Reuben McDaniel are the only incumbents seeking re-election, meaning that the election will result in at least fifty-percent turnover in board members. Some suspect the large turnover is a result of a number of district issues, but most predominantly the criminal indictment of 34 district teachers and former superintendent Beverly Hall. Current board members LaChandra Butler Burksm, 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.[3]

Issues

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 streches across 58 schools. Each defendant was charged with Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) conspiracy. The 65-count indictment also includes 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 faces 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.[4][5]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.

Budget

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.[6] 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 has been accumulating since the late 1970s, and charter schools don’t participate in Atlanta Public Schools’ pension system. The district must now release $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.[7]

Diploma misrepresentation

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 in 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 PhD 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 current campaign materials do not mention that he previously referred to himself as Dr. Lee.[8]

About the district

See also: Atlanta Public Schools, Georgia
Atlanta Public Schools is located in Fulton County
Atlanta Public Schools is located in Fulton County, Georgia. Atlanta is the county seat. Atlanta is home to 443,775 residents.[9]

Demographics

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 $45,946compared 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%. [9]



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