How one impoverished public school district is making strides

Washington Post, October 2015

by Valerie Strauss

Bertis Downs is a parent and an education activist who lives in Athens, Georgia. He was legal counselor and manager of the now disbanded band R.E.M., and he spends a great deal of time advocating for public education in Clarke County, where he lives, as well as around the country. In this post, Downs writes about the innovative leadership in Clarke schools by Phil Lanoue, who has run the district for six years and who was named 2015 National Superintendent of the Year. Though Clarke County is impoverished, Lanoue has been credited with making more gains to close the achievement between economically disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students than any other Georgia district. Last year, Downs wrote an open letter to President Obama, inviting him to visit the Clarke school district to see how his education policies are “actually hurting– not helping– schools like ours.”

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