The Fulton County school district is in pretty good shape, but it's struggling in at least one area. That was the message from interim Superintendent Ken Zeff at Fulton's "State of the District" address Thursday.

The school system has a balanced budget, an improving graduation rate and three years as a charter district under its belt. But despite the recent progress Fulton has made, Zeff said the district isn’t making headway in some schools in low-income areas.

Dr. Horace Mann Bond © James Bond


At the start of the Great Depression, Horace Mann Bond, father of the late civil rights leader Julian Bond, journeyed into the rural South to document the condition of African-American schools.

The photos he brought back show what some at the time refused to believe -- that Southern black children wanted an education.

A new exhibit at Gallery L1 in Atlanta's Old Fourth Ward is presenting these images to the public for the first time.


1930s Negatives

Atlanta Public Schools Headquarters in Atlanta, Ga. on July 7, 2015.
Stephanie M. Lennox / WABE

Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen outlined a plan to spend a nearly $100 million to address overcrowding in the Grady High School district.

She spoke to more than 300 parents at the Inman Middle School auditorium on Thursday night.

The plan is to spend $93 million to expand Grady High School, convert Inman Middle School into an elementary school as well as build a new middle school and athletic center by 2023.

Some parents at the meeting said they were concerned about the timeline. Bret Williams has two children at Springdale Elementary. 

It can be hard moving to the U.S. from another country, especially for a teenager. Imagine taking a high school test on Shakespeare when you barely speak English – while trying to make new friends, graduate, get a good job and help your family get out of poverty. 

About 15 percent of children in Georgia’s immigrant families were born in other countries, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  Quite a few who came here as teenagers live in DeKalb County and attend Clarkston High School.  

Founder of the Ron Clark Academy, Ron Clark has had over 3,000 educators a year come to observe some of the most innovative teachers in the world.
Alex Martinez

In this installment of “Valerie Jackson: In Conversation,” WABE talked with “America’s Teacher” Ron Clark, co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy.

Over 3,000 educators a year visit Clark's nonprofit school to observe some of the most innovative teachers in the world. He is the best-selling author of "The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck" and has a newly released book "Move Your Bus, An Extraordinary Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life." 

Ben Franklin Academy

Dr. Wood Smethurst, cofounder of the Ben Franklin Academy and one of the most progressive leaders in Atlanta's education circles, died July 14.  He left behind a legacy of humanity and hope, something celebrated by those who attended his memorial service last weekend.  

At the end of the service, every one was asked to take a long-stem rose from a floral centerpiece at Glenn Memorial Chapel. It was a way for everyone to leave with something that Doc held close to his heart.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee, May, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

The deadline for negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal is Friday. Other deadlines in negotiations have already come and gone. The United States is among the group known as the P5 + 1 trying to reach a deal with Iran over its nuclear program.

Members of Congress have expressed concern over the secretive nature of the negotiations. They are also at odds with President Barack Obama over the talks and issues relating to a possible nuclear agreement.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Fulton County Public Schools superintendent Robert Avossa is at the top of a short list to lead the Palm Beach County, Florida school district. 

More than 70 candidates applied, with Avossa ranking among the top three.  Thursday afternoon, he'll answer questions from the Palm Beach County School Board during a public meeting. 

Palm Beach County is the 11th largest school district in the U.S., and has about twice as many students as Fulton County.

This 2012 photo provided by Georgia Southern University shows students on campus in Statesboro, Ga.
Georgia Southern University, Jeremy Wilburn / Associated Press

Tuition will go up again for Georgia’s public colleges and universities starting this fall.

The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia approved the increases Tuesday.

Students at Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia will pay 9 percent more in tuition, or about $400 per semester.

David Goldman / Associated Press

The governor’s office is defending a trip to New Orleans last month that was paid for by a lobbyist.

The two-day visit to schools in Louisiana included other lawmakers and was funded by a group called StudentsFirst.

The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports the estimated cost of the trip was more than $14,000. The governor’s executive order he signed limits gifts from lobbyists at $25.  

Alison Guillory / WABE

President Barack Obama gave a speech to nearly 10,000 people at Georgia Tech Tuesday afternoon. He said he’s trying to make college more affordable in a time when many Americans are burdened by student debt.

“Here’s the challenge: Higher education has never been more important, but it’s also never been more expensive,” Obama said.

Obama unveiled what he called a “Student Aid Bill of Rights” and urged people to mobilize around the concept to bring change to the student loan system.

Redesigning The Snow Day At MODA

Feb 26, 2015
Courtesy of Museum of Design Atlanta

What do you do on a snow day when it doesn't snow? Kids are stuck at home, there's no white stuff on the ground to entertain them, and many parents are tearing their hair out.

Enter MODA, the Museum of Design Atlanta, with a just-in-time solution. 

Executive Director Laura Flusche visited the "A Closer Look" studios to tell us about an invitation that MODA extended yesterday, inviting families to bring in their kids for free "until the snow arrives."

Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen in the WABE studios.
Jason Parker / WABE

Dr. Meria Carstarphen blogs, she tweets and she constantly promotes positive news about the Atlanta Public Schools system. She was hired as its superintendent last summer with a unanimous vote by the Atlanta Public Schools board.

When she arrived in Atlanta, APS Board Chairman Courtney English was quoted as saying, "This city could use some unity. She's the right leader at the right time."  

Michelle Wirth / WABE

On Tuesday, the Georgia Senate unanimously approved a bipartisan education bill that would lead to changes in graduation requirements for high school students who also enroll in technical colleges and universities.

Supporters say right now high schools have one set of requirements and colleges have another.

If the bill gains final approval, the Georgia Department of Education would work with technical colleges and universities to merge the two.

Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta,  oversees the Senate Education Committee.

Martha Dalton / WABE

The state board of education approved changes to the Common Core education standards Thursday. The standards only include math and English. But officials still aren’t sure about science and Social Studies standards.

Georgia isn’t teaching anything new; it’s just changing what’s taught when.

“We moved some of these standards that were involved in geometry, for example, in the geometry courses, back to an Algebra course content,” said Martha Reichrath, Georgia’s deputy superintendent of curriculum. “The standard itself, however, didn’t change.”

Martha Dalton / WABE

The Board of Regents today approved a merger between Georgia State University and Georgia Perimeter College. At 53,000 students, the school will be the state’s largest public university. But why are university system officials combining a two-year college like Georgia Perimeter with a four-year school like Georgia State?

When you hear the words ‘colleges’ and ‘merger’ together, it usually means there are money problems. That is one reason for the merger. Georgia Perimeter’s enrollment fell 11% this year.

As 2015 gets going, we’re checking in with WABE reporters on some of the stories and trends they’ll be watching.


The state legislature will have to wrestle with transportation issues this year. Michelle Wirth says a funding problem is looming.

Emory University logo - official
Emory University

Emory University has updated its sexual misconduct policy. Federal officials are reviewing more than 50 colleges, including Emory, to see how they handle sexual assault complaints.

Martha Dalton / WABE

The Georgia Department of Education issued report cards this week, but the recipients were schools, not students. Schools were graded on students’ tests scores and whether those improved. Overall, report card scores dropped this year, but Matt Cardoza, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Education, isn’t too worried.

“It’s something that you want to look at,” Cardoza says. “You don’t get cause for concern necessarily on one year’s worth of data, but if it’s a longer-term trend, then it’s something that’s a little more cause for concern.”

Martha Dalton / WABE

The U.S. needs more engineers and scientists, according to the White House. So it sent its director of science and technology to Atlanta’s Spelman College Wednesday to get some ideas.

Programming robots is just part of what the SpelBots do. The Spelman robotics team also conducts research and does community outreach.

“We’ve been using the robots to do things like outreach to children, students at middle schools, just kind of introducing robotics to them, as well as competing,” says senior Daria Jordan.

Wally Gobetz /

Disclaimer: The following story may not be suitable for young readers.

Rolling Stone magazine has retracted parts of a recent story on sexual assault at the University of Virginia. The victim’s credibility has been called into question. But, the issue is an important one for Georgia colleges.

Two women have sued Georgia Tech’s Phi Kappa Tau fraternity for shrugging off rape allegations. Their attorney, BJ Bernstein, says the organization encouraged its members to sexually assault women.

Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Superintendent Meria Carstarphen held a roundtable discussion with reporters today. The APS chief explained how the district plans to address some long-running problems.

You could call it a “back to basics” approach. Carstarphen said before APS can make academic progress, it has to tackle some systemic issues.

“Simple things that get very simple in our world: master scheduling and scheduling for students, bus routes, things that most districts kind of do like clockwork, but for APS it has been a struggle over the years,” she said.

Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during a press conference, Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

Earlier this week, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the new members of his education advisory board.

It’s made up of superintendents, principals, school board members and other educators.

In his second term, Gov. Deal wants to look at amending the grade school funding formula.

It’s one of several policy issues Deal hopes to discuss with the education advisory board.

“Reading on grade level will continue to be a focus. We also would like to see the K-12 funding formula amended,” Deal's deputy Chief of Staff Erin Hames said.

Martha Dalton / WABE

We often think of the homeless during the holiday season. We don’t usually associate the term with college students. But it’s a problem most colleges have to face.

Kennesaw State University is the first Georgia college to develop a program devoted to helping homeless students. The CARE (Campus Awareness Resource & Empowerment) center has a food pantry for students in need and helps homeless students find a place to stay. The center is currently helping about 30 students.

Burgess-Peterson Elementary School principal Robin Robbins meets with students during an after-school study program in Atlanta, in preparation for last year's state standardized testing.
David Goldman / Associated Press

The federal government requires states to test students in grades 3-12 every year, and several states, including Georgia, are starting to use scores from those tests to evaluate teachers. Some parents and educators, however, worry schools are too focused on ‘the test’.

Every year, you can tell when it’s ‘high stakes test time’. Parents start posting on social media about how stressed their kids are over end-of-the-year tests.

A classroom in the programs building at the Thomson Correctional Center in Thomson, Ill.
M. Spencer Green / Associated Press

State officials have launched a new program that helps people behind bars get back behind the school desk.  

The Georgia Department of Corrections has joined forces with Mountain Education Charter School.

The goal is to get state prisoners a high school diploma or GED.

Martha Dalton / WABE

U.S. lawmakers are pretty polarized these days, but they seem to agree investing in early education pays off. Studies show kids who go to school early have a better chance of graduating from high school and are less likely to commit crimes. So hundreds of education researchers wrote an open letter to policymakers urging them to prioritize early education.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

The Republicans’ election sweep included the race for state schools superintendent. GOP candidate Richard Woods beat Democrat Valarie Wilson by a wide margin.

Early on, Wilson’s supporters were confident.  Noisemakers and confetti sat on tables, ready for a victory celebration. But they remained untouched shortly before midnight when Wilson conceded. She said she was surprised Woods nabbed 60 percent of the vote.

Michell Eloy / WABE

During the Freedom Summer of 1964, hundreds of college students flocked to Mississippi to help register African-American voters.  Fifty years later, that event is still inspiring other social movements, some of which also use the name ‘Freedom’. One such group at Emory University is sticking up for undocumented students.

Georgia Congressman John Lewis helped organize the Freedom Summer. He also delivered Emory’s commencement address last spring, where he urged students to support immigration reform.

Candidate Interview: Richard Woods

Oct 27, 2014
Georgia State Schools Superintendent Candidate Richard Woods (R)
Jason Parker / WABE

Tuesday, Nov. 4 is Election Day. Three top races are U.S. Senate, Governor and State Schools Superintendent. WABE has interviewed the candidates in those races.

In the State Schools Superintendent race, Richard Woods is the Republican candidate.

In South Georgia’s Irwin County school system, Woods has been a principal and curriculum director for Kindergarten through fifth grade. But, he spent most of his 22 years there as a high school social studies teacher.