Katie Howard is running for Atlanta Board of Education District 1.
Q: What is your current job (include the name of your employer) and list any significant memberships in public service organizations?
A: Council Aide, Atlanta City Council
Q: What is the biggest issue facing your constituents and why are you the best candidate to address it?
A: One of the greatest challenges for APS that is highlighted in BOE D1 is providing the most resourced and well-rounded educational experience for all students, particularly in schools that have less students and less socioeconomic mix. The disparity in our city is most apparent in these situations, and APS has to first make sure students at these schools are receiving an enriching, engaging and well-rounded educational experience and work towards every schools’ long-term growth. If elected, I would support policies that ensure schools have the necessary resources to get every child reading and performing math on grade level by Third grade, as well as use my platform to help promote our schools to the communities they serve.
Q: The pandemic has brought unique challenges to public schools, including mask mandates and hybrid learning. What is a lesson you have learned from these challenges?
A: The pandemic has certainly presented major challenges, but a lot of lessons have definitely been learned from it as well. For starters, APS definitely cannot do it alone and must fully leverage and utilize all community partners and organizations that have meaningful and trusting relationships with our communities and APS families. We also need to make sure that all families have reliable access to the internet and working computers with proper supports so on-line learning can be successful. The pandemic has also reminded us of the critical importance of clear and consistent communication from the District with all APS families, staff and stakeholders who must be kept informed and be able to easily communicate with the District.
Q: What is the future of virtual learning in APS?
A: I think virtual learning through AVA needs to be a strong and viable option for families who can fully support their student in that learning setting. I also believe the pandemic has reminded us that days away from school does not mean there has to be learning loss and that students can be taught remotely. I do strongly believe though that there is no substitute for in-person instruction and the resources, supports and experience that comes from learning in a school with peers and amazing educators.
Q: Atlanta Public Schools is operating under a recently adopted “equity and social justice” policy. What is your definition of those terms in public education?
A: I strongly support APS’ and the Board’s adoption of the equity and social justice policy, which to me means making sure every student has the resources to be successful, reach their fullest potential and feel supported, respected and included in their school. I think building a strong and reflective culture within our schools that represents all races, cultures and ethnicities is a key piece of making sure this policy a true reality throughout the system and doing such will take continual work and support, that I would definitely make a focus.
Q: APS Superintendent Lisa Herring is over a year into a three-year contract that the next Board of Education will have to consider extending or replacing. What is your opinion of Herring’s job performance?
A: I believe Dr. Herring is working to address the issues the system is facing during a pandemic and is committed to doing what is best by all APS students and families. I am looking forward to seeing her out and about in the district more so that she can directly connect and engage with our school communities. I also hope that there is continual improvement with communication and hopeful that in-person engagement with school communities can take place soon.
Q: The Board of Education last year demanded that the Development Authority of Fulton County cease granting tax abatements to developments within the City of Atlanta. Should the board maintain that position and why or why not?
A: I think the BOE should stay focused on making sure APS receives every property tax dollar they should be receiving and is needed in order to make sure we have a fully funded school system that provides the resources all students deserve. I am hopeful that things will start moving in a better direction with the DAFC to ensure that tax abatements granted are best serving all Fulton County and City of Atlanta taxpayers and residents.
Q: What are some areas of opportunity for the Atlanta City Council to work in partnership with the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board?
A: I believe that there are many ways APS and City Council can collaborate and partner, particularly when it comes to the areas of Parks and Recreation and affordable housing. There are so many opportunities for the city and APS to work together to make our city recreation centers even more heavily utilized by our children and families when it comes to after school, summer activities and more. Even though each should stay in their “lane” of work, the city and APS can also partner to educate families on all the resources available when it comes to affordable housing opportunities and looking at future initiatives that could help create much-needed affordable housing, including for APS teachers.
Q: What are some areas of opportunity for the Atlanta Public Schools superintendent and board to work with the mayor and City Council?
A: I think the most important and helpful thing the leadership of the city and APS can do is have open dialogue and a commitment to come together and work towards common goals that benefit students, families and communities. The pandemic has highlighted even more ways the city and APS can partner to make sure families are most effectively and efficiently receiving support when it comes to food distribution, housing/rental support, internet connectivity, safe recreation centers and more. And we all know that strong communities and schools go together so there must be intentional effort to fully support both.
Q: Anything else that you want to share for voters who may be undecided?
A: Experience and “walking the walk” matters. I have worked hard during the past 10 years of my children’s APS tenure to support all children and schools in the Maynard Jackson Cluster, and if elected, would do the same for all APS students in BOE D1 as well as the entire system. I am a proud APS parent and graduate and believe in APS, and every single student and school in our diverse system. I am hopeful for the opportunity to serve at the board level and support policies and actions that provide the resources so that every APS student is successful and can live a choice filled life.
Enter your email below to stay up-to-date on all the latest elections info.