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Ed Johnson, APS Seat 9 Candidate, Responds to Questionnaire

(APN) ATLANTA -- There are a lot of candidates for Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education (APS BOE) this year who have shown up out of the blue.  Others, like Cynthia Briscoe Brown and Anne McKenzie, have been at the table, attending Board Meetings while the school system was navigating the troubled waters of its AdvancED/SACS CASI accreditation crisis.


Ed Johnson, candidate for At-large Seat 9, is someone who has made his presence known electronically, by following and commenting on matters involving the APS Board in an ongoing series of mass emails to APS stakeholders.


According to APN’s email archive, Johnson has sent around three hundred emails to APS stakeholders since December 2010.  That date, however, is when APN began receiving the emails; he had already begun sending the emails for some time by then.


Johnson’s emails have covered a wide range of current events involving APS, sometimes referencing and commenting on news articles, including articles appearing on APN.


One of the recurring themes of Johnson’s emails is his promotion of systems thinking, especially the systems thinking framework promoted by the W. Edwards Deming Institute.  Johnson has sponsored the attendance of local education stakeholders at the annual conference of the Deming Institute each year.


Johnson has run twice before for the At-Large Seat 9, in 2001 and 2005.


Johnson is running for the At-Large Seat 9 being vacated by Emmett D. Johnson [no relation; although, ironically, Ed Johnson and Emmett D. Johnson have quite similar email addresses].


Also running for the seat are Eddie Lee Brewster, Jason Esteves, Lori James, and Sean Norman.


APN sent questionnaires to all five candidates in the Seat 9 race on September 08, 2013; this email requested that the candidates acknowledge receipt of the questionnaire.  The responses are due September 23.  Norman has acknowledged receipt and indicated his plans to respond.  Brewster and Esteves have not responded.  The email to James bounced.   Neither Brewster nor James immediately responded to a voicemail follow-up.


Esteves has made his positions known in other APN venues.  In a questionnaire for his 2012 run for State House, Esteves expressed his support for charter schools.  And in an interview regarding his affiliation with Teach for America earlier this year, Esteves declined to say that he supports teachers’ unions, clarifying that he supports teacher empowerment [a likely code word vague enough to both connote, and not connote, privatization, depending on the audience].

Ed Johnson--who is highly critical of charter schools-- responded to APN’s questionnaire immediately, as follows:

APN: (1). If you had been on the Board in 2010, when the so-called Gang of Five voted to change the rules regarding how to oust a Chair, and then ousted LaChandra Butler Burks as Chair, would you have supported the initial rule change?  Yes or no, why or why not?

Johnson: Here’s the “why” first, if you don’t mind.  For the longest I tried to get El to open his eyes to the self-aggrandizing game Beverly Hall, the Chamber, and the Chamber’s agent, EduPAC, were playing with the lives of students and teachers years before the CRCT cheating scandal broke.  El, like some other board members, wanted disparately [sic] to believe the extraordinarily higher test scores were proof positive of what “our” (read “Black”) kids could do.  And so he remained with eyes closed, until it was too late.  When he finally opened his eyes Butler-Burks [sic] involvement in the wicked cover-up effort became crystal clear to him.  From having observed him since he’d been on the board, I can reasonably assume El then cordially but privately tried, at first, to rein in Butler-Burks, but got stonewalled.  I can then reasonably assume that once stonewalled, El’s only rational course of action became to courageously deal with Butler-Burks openly per APS Statutory Charter; hence we got the so-called “Gang of Five.” Given this scenario, I applaud El for being willing to open his eyes, though belatedly, whereas the “Gang of Four” steadfastly refused to do the same and opted to keep playing the politics.  Now, having first given you a “why,” I now say, yes, I would have supported the initial rule change.  It would have been a moral and ethical thing to do, although gut-wrenchingly revolutionary.

APN: (2) (a). What is your overall position on charter schools?

Johnson:  Kindly allow me to unequivocally say my overall position is to stop the injections of the pathogen called “charter schools” into the public good called “public schools.”  Once stopped, my position would shift to focus on whatever amount of pathogen that was originally injected.

APN: (2) (b).  Do you have any concerns about charter schools; if so, what are they?

Johnson: Concerns?  Actually, it’s more like one being awake and having one’s eyes wide open.  Remember El and the “Gang of Five?”  Look, charter schools can be no better than a distraction to learning to improve public schools.  Why?  Simple.  Charter schools operate mostly under the very same prevailing style of business management that many public schools do.  This is especially the case with our Atlanta Public Schools.  Thus charter schools have the effect of, say, water poured on a grease fire that can only result in spreading the fire around.  Don’t you think it best to work the fire where it is, in one place?

APN: (2) (c).  Do you believe APS, or any district within APS, is already unduly oversaturated with charter schools?

Johnson: Definitely.  We have oversaturation – actually, super-saturation – in District 2, where Byron D. Amos is the ABE member, and in District 7 At Large, where Courtney D. English is the ABE member.  But allow me to be clear, one charter school in any district amounts to oversaturation.

APN: (2) (d).  In what circumstances, if any, would you vote against a charter school application? [If an incumbent, please note any votes in which you did oppose a charter school application.]

Johnson:  I shall always take as a touchstone the “Oath of Office” per the Atlanta Independent School System Statutory Charter, where it states: “I will be governed by the public good and the interests of said school system.” Charter schools, by their very definition, 1) cannot possibly serve the public good, for they are a kind of private good; and, 2) cannot possibly be a part of the school system, for as a kind private good charter schools necessarily are systems unto themselves.  So, on the one hand, to vote against a charter school is to hold to the “Oath of Office” and, on the other hand, to vote for a charter school is to ignore the “Oath of Office.”  I shall commit, unequivocally, to holding to the “Oath of Office” so as to give undistracted attention to another aspect of the Atlanta Independent School System Statutory Charter that is a school board responsibility, to wit: “Adopting district-wide policies that support an environment for [continual] quality improvement and progress for all decision makers in the district, as well as for students.”


Comments (5)

Ed Johnson
Said this on 9-14-2013 At 04:32 pm


1. “desperately” instead of “disparately”
2. “Butler-Burks'” instead of “Butler-Burks”
3. “kind of private good” instead of “kind private good”


Said this on 9-14-2013 At 05:28 pm

It is a pleasure to comment on the interview with Ed Johnson, Candidate for the Atlanta School Board.  For more than 30 years, I was professor Science Education at Georgia State University, over that period, I worked in the Atlanta Public Schools, especially in the area of teacher education and staff development.  I've personally visited most of the high schools in Atlanta, and many of the middle and elementary schools.

If I lived in Atlanta (I live in Cobb), I would definately vote for Ed Johnson.

I first "met" Mr. Johnson when his interview with an Atlanta reported was shown on a local TV station and on the Internet.  Since that time, Mr. Johnson has written guest posts on my weblog about education.  His understanding of how schools should be is remarkable.  He stands out because he is willing to challenge the movement to privatize public schools, especially as evidenced from his comments on Charter Schools.  The research on the effectiveness of charters is dismall, and it appauls me that school districts continue to add charter schools.

But there are deeper issues that would make Ed Johnson an outstanding member of the Atlanta School Board.  He understands how systems work, and because of his background in Deming's research, he would help Atlanta to envision an education system in which teachers become the leaders in curriculum development and instruction, and that administrators and other board members realize that any change in our schools need to enacted from the ground up.

Mr. Johnson understands how to do this.

I hope you will consider voting for him. 

charter school parent
Said this on 9-16-2013 At 01:36 pm

Thank you so much for posting Mr. Johnson responses.  As a charter school parent with children in 3 charters here in Atlanta, its good to know which candidate does not support our schools. This candidate failed to acknowledge that the charters he mentioned in District 2 are some of the highest performing schools in all the district. He calls them pathogens but supports failing schools.  His mindless rhetoric speaks to the fact that he is clueless as to how to make traditional schools better.  He failed to list one strategy nor policy recommendations that would strengthen traditional schools.  His only strategy is alienate Atlanta charter school parents by insulting our effective schools. Despite his friend's glowing endorsement above (see Jack's comments) THE ATLANTA FEDERATION OF TEACHERS SAID NO TO Ed Johnson! I think that he is a retired person with nothing better to do than waste money running for office, waste money sending individuals to the Deming Institute and waste money leading one-man protests.  Thanks Matt your reporting of this is SPOT ON!! I am forwarding this article to my networks which includes thousands of Atlanta voters who also happen to be charter schools parents.  Thanks again.  

Ed Johnson
Said this on 9-17-2013 At 11:59 am

Retied? Ha! That’s a laugh.

Waste money? Ha! Ha! That’s even a greater laugh. One must have money before one can waste money.

“Charter School Parent” would do well by Atlanta and our greater society if she were to get her hands on Diane Ravitch’s just-released book, “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools.”

Yes, Matt, thank you and APN for publishing my responses to the APN questionnaire.

Actually, thanks, too, to “Charter School Parent” for “forwarding this article to [her] networks which includes thousands of Atlanta voters.” One couldn’t ask for a better deal even if one had the money to pay for it. What's that tale about Bro Rabbit and the Briar Patch?

But more importantly, thank you for the APN article…

“Teach for America Agenda Advanced by Four Alumni Seeking APS Seats”

Your article came my way in this blog post from Diane Ravitch…

“What Will It Mean If Four TFA Alums Are Elected to Atlanta School Board?”

charter school parent
Said this on 9-17-2013 At 01:35 pm

Its like taking candy from a baby.  LMAO! 

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