As those with children in the Atlanta Public Schools (A.P.S.) know by now (ditto for anyone who has conversed with that group in the past few days), the school system dropped a neutron bomb this week with the release of a capacity study prepared by a trio of consulting firms. Basically, dwindling enrollment in schools serving largely underprivileged communities and over-enrollment at some of the city's best public schools (serving, as you might guess, largely affluent communities) is causing A.P.S. to evaluate its options and confront some difficult choices. Most of the options are distasteful to just about everyone as they redraw district lines, with the effect of splitting-up established communities' school children in ways that can seem arbitrary at best and insanely nonsensical at worst. Further complicating things is the fact that the debate necessarily brings to the surface decades-old Atlanta issues of a very sensitive nature, like race and socio-economic disparity. The cherry? If the threats heard amid the initial outcry hold true on any real scale, many of the options threaten to exacerbate an already awful situation: the pitiful Atlanta housing market, property values, et. al. On a positive note, A.P.S. Superintendent Erroll Davis has- by most accounts- handled the inevitably wrought first-reaction quite deftly. And the school system is going to great lengths to get input from stakeholders to put the hard numbers of the consultants' report into context, holding meetings and commissioning an online survey. However trite, the phrase "there are no easy answers" keeps popping into our heads. Like most aspects of life in these United States over the next few years, the herculean task here is to distribute those things that cause unhappiness in equal doses, because everyone is in for some pain.
· Atlanta Public Schools Capacity / Utilization Study 2011 [Atlanta Public Schools]
· Atlanta Public Schools Capacity Study SURVEY [Survey Monkey]
· Buckhead parents testy over Atlanta school zoning suggestions [Reporter Newspapers]