ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

cloudy-day
88°
Partly Cloudy
H 87° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    88°
    Current Conditions
    Partly Cloudy. H 87° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    87°
    Today
    Partly Cloudy. H 87° L 66°
  • cloudy-day
    82°
    Tomorrow
    Partly Cloudy. H 82° L 60°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb news on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb traffic on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

Wsb weather on-demand

00:00 | 00:00

Local
Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’
Close

Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’
Photo Credit: Bob Andres/robert.andres@ajc.com
August 12, 2019, 2019 - Atlanta - On the first day of school, Atlanta Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen paid a visit to Tuskegee Airmen Global Academy and had breakfast with some of the students. It's a new school building. The cost of the building project was $30.5 million. Bob Andres / robert.andres@ajc.com

Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

America's education gap is not just between white and black—it is between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots,’ and a startling example of it is in Atlanta. 

In a district of about 52,000 students, there is a lot to celebrate. 

>>LISTEN TO VERONICA WATERS’ FULL ON-AIR REPORT BELOW.

Once rocked by a cheating scandal, Atlanta Public Schools have seen graduation rates jump more than 20 points to 80 percent in the past five years. 

“The struggle is real. The lift is intense,” says Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen. 

Still, Dr. Carstarphen tells The Atlanta Journal Constitution Editorial Board, more work is left to do—and socioeconomics matter. 

“The last Census data said that the average white family made $167,087 a year [in median income], compared to the average black family [at $23,803],” Carstarphen says. 

That income inequality exacerbates the achievement gap traditionally cataloged between white and non-white students, and it shows in test results. Take literacy, for example--the simple ability to read, write, and engage with language in meaningful communication. 

The 2019 Georgia Milestones test assessment of English Language Arts finds students’ proficiency rate under 40%. The stunning gap between black and white students is almost 60 percent. Eighty percent of white students in APS are proficient and above; the number is 25.3 percent for black students—and the district is majority black. 

“When you start pulling back poverty; when you pull back race, there’s the gap," says Carstarphen. "And we’ve closed the gap over five years. We’ve been chipping away at it, closing it, but that still means it’s sitting at 58.8 percent.” 

Atlanta Public Schools
Close

Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

Photo Credit: Atlanta Public Schools

The statistics showing improving ELA proficiency in APS indicates that Atlanta could be bucking the national trend in that area when it comes to the widening achievement gap. But the gap is staggering. 

In fact, white students in APS are beating the nation, while their black classmates are lagging behind. The more affluent the family, the larger the academic achievement gap. 

"White kids are 2.9 grade levels ahead of the average in America," says Carstarphen. "Our black kids are 1.5 [behind]. But when you take APS black kids and APS white kids and put them side by side, that means the gap in grade levels is [almost] 4.5 grade levels." 

Carstarphen explains that the academic achievement gap is closely tied to inequity—not just in Atlanta, but nationwide. 

“It is a sobering statement about the state of affairs for black and brown kids, compared to non-minority kids in America,” Carstarphen says. 

Richer parents have more time and money to invest in their children, exposing them to more academically-enriching vocabularies and experiences. Atlanta's is a district where millionaire families live just a few miles from those in poverty, and the superintendent notes the stark differences. 

Atlanta Public Schools
There are large learning gaps between white students and their black classmates in APS. The gaps are largest in places with large economic disparities. The black circles indicate the location of APS students on the chart.
Close

Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

Photo Credit: Atlanta Public Schools
There are large learning gaps between white students and their black classmates in APS. The gaps are largest in places with large economic disparities. The black circles indicate the location of APS students on the chart.

“When you’re in the neighborhoods, walking, and I mean you’re in it, the living conditions for our kids and housing is appalling,” Carstarphen says, adding, “The mobility is like 30-40 percent; people chasing low rents, just trying to make ends meet. 

“Food deserts is another piece to it. They don’t have access to transportation.” 

Carstarphen points out that three of the poorest schools in Georgia are all in Atlanta: Boyd Elementary, Thomasville Heights, and Fain Elementary. 

“It is why we didn’t close Thomasville Heights,” Carstarphen explains. “If I closed it and sent them somewhere else, those families would never see their kids. 

“Never have an opportunity to go to PTA meetings and be involved in the school.” 

Carstarphen believes the answer lies--in part--in investing in the communities themselves, not in a neighborhood already overflowing with development. She questions why tax abatements are given to developers who sometimes admit that they'll go ahead with a project whether they get the tax break or not, when the project in in question is, say, another fancy hotel in an area that already has five or 10 of them--while other neighborhoods saddled with low wages and few job opportunities sit untapped. 

“Over here in south Atlanta, where we know there are no jobs, no investment, very little at best,” Carstarphen says, “We want to try to shift some of the resources to the very families who make up the majority of Atlanta Public Schools; the communities where they live. Get them a grocery store, help them with housing, get some job development down there. Maybe some transportation?” 

Community investment creates opportunity, capital, resources, and training in disadvantaged and under-served communities. It is a way to start breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. The superintendent recalls hearing a high-profile company in a development meeting discussing a potential opportunity for 5,000 jobs; she says there are 5,000 parents in Atlanta who would need them. Those worlds will never meet at this rate, she says, because kids and their families need the education and training to step into better-paying jobs. 

Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools achieved year-over-year gains in 21 of 24 assessments.
Close

Education gap amid the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’

Photo Credit: Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools achieved year-over-year gains in 21 of 24 assessments.

"You have to be literate enough to at least learn the job," she states. 

That could go a long way for families in Atlanta, which is the most unequal city in America when it comes to income disparity. 

Carstarphen says, "The question that Atlanta has to ask itself, whether you're sitting in a school bus, on the school board, or in one of these board rooms: Do we have the moral courage to do the right thing for black kids, poor kids--and even white kids could be doing better in Atlanta--but for all of our kids? Are we willing to do that?" 

For her part, Carstarphen looks forward to staying in Atlanta, if the school board renews her contract which is up in June 2020. The superintendent and the board this year have been working on policy to right years of "historic inequity" in APS. 

"I'm committed. I want to see the job through for a city that I love."

Read More

News

  • A woman who reportedly befriended R. Kelly on a cruise and paid $100,000 for his bail five months later wants her money back. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Valencia Love put up the money for the bail in February after the R&B singer was in Cook County Jail for three days. His bail was set at $1 million after he pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. >> Read more trending news  Love paid the 10 percent required, and he was freed, but he has since been back in prison on separate sex crime allegations in federal court, WBBM reported. Now she wants the money back, and her lawyer, John Collins, filed a four-page motion Friday seeking its return, The Sun-Times reported. 'There’s been a substantial change of circumstances,' Collins said, according to WBBM. 'In this instance, he’s held no bond, so the purposes of the bond are frustrated in Illinois.' Collins also argued that Love had no idea there were other investigations into Kelly before she posted the 10 percent bail bond, and now that he is being held without bail on separate federal sex crime charges 'there’s no need to have her money sitting in deposit.' But Cook County Judge Lawrence Flood denied the request Tuesday, saying it had no legal basis and Love signed the bail bond slip, which warned that she could lose the money because a judge might order that the money used to pay his attorney’s fees, fines or other expenses. According to the Sun-Times, Love wants the money to go toward those expenses. She told the publication the money was a loan because Kelly was in jail on the weekend and couldn't access his account, which only he has authority to access. “Why is it such a big deal? He’s already locked up,' she said. 'Why can’t the bail money be returned?' At the Tuesday hearing, Flood also denied a motion to increase Kelly's bond to $1 million. The federal indictment of Kelly in Chicago includes nine counts of enticing a minor, three counts of child pornography and one count of obstruction of justice.Kelly also has federal cases in New York and Minnesota, WGN reported.
  • A 13-year-old boy suffered injuries when he was struck Wednesday morning by a car in South Carolina while he was walking his little sister to a bus stop, police said. >> Read more trending news  Police said the incident happened after dispatchers started to get calls around 7 a.m. about a Chrysler PT Cruiser and a silver sedan that appeared to be involved in a road rage situation near the intersection of Rutherford Road and Wade Hampton Boulevard in Greenville. Police said near the intersection of North Pleasantburg Drive and Mallory Road, the driver of the PT Cruiser lost control and drove onto the sidewalk, striking the 13-year-old. The boy was thrown into the roadway, officials said. His sister was not injured. Authorities said the boy was conscious after the incident. He was taken to a medical facility for evaluation and treatment of his injuries. His condition was not immediately known. The driver of the PT Cruiser was taken to a medical facility with injuries that did not appear to be life-threatening. The driver of the other vehicle involved in the suspected road rage incident left the scene before authorities arrived. Authorities continued work Wednesday to identify the driver. The collision also damaged power lines, causing an outage, police said.
  • A police officer in western Pennsylvania is facing charges that he used his position to have unwanted sexual contact with a woman, state Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Wednesday. >> Read more trending news  The incident in which Dustin Devault, 47, is accused happened while he served as an officer in Monongahela, officials said. He now works as a part-time officer with the Forward Township Police Department and as a police officer for Highmark. Authorities said the sexual assault is alleged to have happened in a police vehicle while Devault was on duty. Devault allegedly first met the woman in the summer of 2018 during a traffic stop, a grand jury found. The two met and texted several times afterward. The woman told authorities it was her understanding that Devault was going to help her become a police officer and seek treatment for a loved one who was suffering from substance use, according to investigators. On one occasion that the two met, Devault allegedly showed up in full uniform in an unmarked car. While in the car, the woman claims Devault inappropriately touched her several times and repeatedly asked her to have sex with him. 'When you are in that situation, you just freeze. You don't know what to do. He has a gun on him. He is a police officer. And I'm just a female. I just wanted to survive that moment,' the woman said during her testimony to the grand jury. The grand jury found Devault lied to his superiors in the Monongahela Police Department -- where he was removed from his position -- about his interactions with the woman and encouraged a co-worker to also lie. Devault is charged with indecent assault, official oppression and obstructing the administration of law or other governmental functions.
  • A Maine fisherman was stunned Tuesday when he pulled in his fresh catch of lobster from York Harbor. >> Read more trending news  Josh O’Brien told WSCH-TV he found a baby claw growing out of a lobster’s normal claw. “Out of all the thousands of lobsters we catch every week and everything we've caught so far this year, this is only the second of its kind we've seen,” O'Brien said.  The lobsterman cautioned against allowing the unusual growth to turn stomachs, telling WSCH the lobster is fine to eat.  “It's neat to see something like this out of the ordinary and keeps things interesting on the boat.”
  • A Maine woman is accused of rubbing fentanyl residue on her 1-year-old daughter's gums to help her sleep, which caused the child's death nearly a year ago, according to court documents. >> Read more trending news  Kimberly Nelligan, 33, of Bangor, was arrested Tuesday and charged with endangering the welfare of a child., the Bangor Daily News reported. Nelligan also faces a misdemeanor drug charge, WMTW reported. According to court documents, Nelligan had also used fentanyl on her older children. Nelligan called police Oct. 10, 2018, to report her baby was not breathing, the Daily News reported. First responders performed CPR on the child and took her to an area hospital, where she was pronounced dead, WCSH reported. According to detectives, the state medical examiner's office determined the cause of death was from probable toxic effects of fentanyl, WMTW reported. In a police affidavit, the baby’s father told detectives he had seen Nelligan rub the residue of the drug on her daughter’s gums about 15 times, the Daily News reported. Nelligan allegedly told the father she had done the same thing to her two older children when they were babies, according to the affidavit. She insisted she was not trying to injure the child. “You know I didn’t hurt our daughter on purpose,” Nelligan allegedly said to the father, according to the affidavit. Nelligan was taken to the Penobscot County Jail, WCSH reported. She is being held without bond, the television station reported.
  • The anti-gun violence group Sandy Hook Promise Foundation released a public service announcement Wednesday showing students using ordinary back-to-school items to protect themselves from an active shooter. The chilling video shows smiling children talking about their new school items until the scene switches to students using new shoes to run from a shooter, a boy using a new skateboard to bust out a window to escape gunfire, and, the most heart-wrenching, a girl hiding in the bathroom texting her mother that she loves her. >> Read more trending news  The Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, which has called for bans on weapons and the sale of large amounts of ammunition, grew out of the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people were shot and killed – 20 children and six adults. The foundation warned viewers that the video is disturbing and explained in a press release why they produced it. “So far this year there have been over 22 school shootings, and with students heading back to school, it seems sadly probable that we will see more incidents. This is unacceptable, given that we have proven tools to prevent these acts from occurring. We cannot accept school shootings as the new normal in our country,” the press release read. “Our goal with this PSA is to wake up parents to the horrible reality that our children endure. Gone are the days of viewing back-to-school as just a carefree time, when school violence has become so prevalent. However, if we come together to know the signs, this doesn’t have to be the case. I hope that parents across the country will join me to make the promise to stop this epidemic,” said Nicole Hockley, co-founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, in the press release. Hockley’s son, Dylan, was killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting. The PSA is below. Warning: Some people may find the contents disturbing.