Alfred “Shivy” Brooks is an educator and community activist running for the APS Board District 7 At-Large seat. If elected, he would be the first active teacher to serve on the board.
He currently teaches economics at Charles Drew High School and is the head football coach at Wesley International Academy.
Brooks ran for Atlanta City Council Post 1 At-Large in 2021, losing to Michael Julian Bond.
Background & Experience
- Georgia State University, Bachelors in Public Policy (2011)
- Economics teacher, Charles Drew High School (Since Aug. 2018)
- Outreach director, RESPECT Institute (Sept. 2012- Feb. 2016)
- Legislative aide, Working Families Legislative Caucus (Jan. 2012– Sept. 2012)
- Various roles in education and HR (2006-2011)
- Committed to ensuring equal access to advanced coursework and educational opportunities
- Advocates for comprehensive mental health services in schools
- Prioritizes active participation of parents and communities in school decision-making
- Supports anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies, along with restorative justice practices
- Aims to raise teacher salaries and benefits and ensure resource availability for current educators
Where did you grow up and how has your personal background influenced your perspective on public education?
My father graduated from Morehouse College in 1989 and brought my mother and I from East Orange, NJ to live in Lithonia, GA when I was just five years old. I started my educational journey at Panola Way Elementary school in DeKalb County. However, when my parents divorced, we returned to East Orange and Montclair, New Jersey, where I continued my schooling at Mt. Hebron Middle School and Montclair High School.
During this time, my father taught middle school in Dekalb County, GA, until our return to New Jersey, where he taught and directed the alternative school program at the high school I attended. Notably, Montclair High School was classified as the most racially diverse high school in the country. However, despite this diversity, there were clear racial divisions within our school. I consistently found myself as one of only two Black students in my AP and Honors classes.
These experiences in both the Metro Atlanta area and New Jersey exposed a persistent issue in education that continues to affect our schools today. While our schools may appear diverse, it is essential to ensure that our classrooms are genuinely inclusive, reflecting the full diversity of our student bodies.
My current role as a classroom teacher at Charles R. Drew High School adds depth to my perspective as a candidate for the Atlanta Public School Board. Each school day, I serve an interrelated classroom of students, some with learning exceptionalities and others with “gifted” abilities. Regardless of each child’s learning style or pace, I recognize the importance of providing every student with an education that enables them to reach their individual potential.
This commitment to serving each student aligns with the promise and social contract between our communities and our schools, a promise I uphold as a teacher and pledge to uphold if given the opportunity to serve on the board. As a candidate for the Atlanta Public School Board, I am dedicated to addressing the disparities and fostering equity within our education system. I firmly believe that every student should have equal access to advanced coursework and educational opportunities, irrespective of their racial or socioeconomic background. My perspective underscores the urgent need to create a public education system that goes beyond diversity to become genuinely inclusive, celebrating the richness of our student population.
We want to know about your involvement in the community. Please list any volunteer or mentorship activities, professional boards you sit on, and community organizations that you’re affiliated with.
In 2007, my journey in service to our community began when I joined the Metro Atlanta YMCA. At the YMCA, I took on the role of teaching swimming lessons and physical education to the students at Charles Drew Charter School in East Lake. After my regular work hours, I extended my commitment to the school by volunteering as the coach for their flag football team for four years, during which we clinched three championships. Simultaneously, I collaborated with the YMCA to establish the youth baseball program at the East Lake and the Villages at Carver YMCAs, in partnership with the Atlanta Braves. This initiative aimed to provide opportunities and engage our young people through sports.
In 2011, my wife and I relocated from East Lake to Custer/McDonough/Guice. This move marked the beginning of my tenure as the Education Chair for South Atlantans for Neighborhood Development (SAND) for two years. During this time, our neighborhood faced the potential loss of Benteen Elementary due to under enrollment and redistricting plans.
My dedication to community and youth continued as I volunteered for four years as the head flag football and assistant basketball coach at Wesley International Academy, where our teams achieved multiple championships in both football and basketball. In 2018-19, I took on the role of a volunteer 12-U basketball coach at the City of Atlanta’s MLK Recreation Center on Hilliard Street.
In the face of adversity, my family established the Bryce Brooks Foundation in honor of my son Bryce. This foundation is committed to providing access to free swimming lessons for children and adults, offering free lifeguard certification opportunities for high school students, and awarding college scholarships to Atlanta Public Schools graduates. It is a testament to our dedication to the betterment of our community, especially our youth, in Bryce’s memory.
Other service includes:
- Executive board of The People’s Uprising
- Education Chair for the State Conference of the Georgia NAACP
Why should voters support your candidacy for the APS School Board?
My candidacy represents a unique and historic opportunity to bring much-needed change and representation to our education system. For 150 years, Atlanta Public Schools has been educating children, but for those 150 years, there has never been an active teacher on the APS Board. Until this year, active teachers were excluded from serving on the board, regardless of the school district they taught in. With my candidacy, voters now have the chance to elect a dedicated father who has been an active member of our school community for over a decade, both as a committed parent and a passionate community member.
My deep-rooted involvement in our community is a testament to my genuine care and commitment to our students and schools. Furthermore, voters have the opportunity to elect a teacher with a degree in Public Policy from the esteemed Andrew Young School of Public Policy at Georgia State University.
My educational background equips me with the knowledge and expertise to make informed policy decisions that will benefit our students and schools. My practical background as an active teacher equips me with the ability to discern the gaps between well-intended policy and practicality on the ground.
Additionally, I have cultivated valuable relationships at various levels of local and state government, which positions me to advocate effectively for our schools, secure essential resources, and collaborate with key stakeholders to drive positive change.
Finally, my track record for community connection, care, and service underscores the type of public servant I will be as a member of the Atlanta Public School Board. I am deeply committed to addressing disparities in our education system and ensuring that all students have equitable access to quality education, regardless of their background. In conclusion, I humbly ask for the support of Atlanta voters because my candidacy represents an opportunity to bring about positive change, representation, and advocacy for our students, families, teachers, and schools. Together, we can work to create a more inclusive, equitable, and excellent education system for all.
The Atlanta School Board did not renew the contract for former school superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, and hired Dr. Danielle Battle as the interim superintendent on Aug. 7, 2023 while they conduct a national search.
Why do you think there’s so much superintendent turnover at APS — and what do you think can be done to address it?
One primary factor contributing to this turnover could be a lack of
alignment in the vision and priorities between the superintendent and the school board. When there is a disconnect between these two crucial
stakeholders, it can lead to conflicts, divergent goals, and ultimately, a
breakdown in leadership cohesion. This misalignment can disrupt the
implementation of strategic plans and hinder progress in the district.
To address this issue and promote superintendent stability at APS, several steps can be taken:
- Alignment of Vision: It’s essential to establish a shared vision for the district that both the superintendent and the school board fully endorse. This alignment should be the foundation upon which all decisions and strategies are built, ensuring a unified focus on the best interests of our students.
- Clear Expectations: Clearly defining the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of the superintendent and the school board is crucial. Transparency about their respective functions and boundaries can help mitigate conflicts and promote effective collaboration.
- Comprehensive Search and Selection: When searching for a new superintendent, the APS Board should conduct a thorough and inclusive search process that considers a broad range of candidates. This process should involve input from various stakeholders, including parents, teachers, and community members, to ensure a diverse pool of qualified candidates. Selection of the search firm that will be tasked with creating the pool of superintendent candidates should not be made prior to this current election cycle, as five of the nine board seats are up for election this year.
- Onboarding and Support: Once a superintendent is selected, a robust onboarding process should be in place to help them acclimate to the district’s unique challenges and opportunities. Continuous professional development and support can also aid in their success.
- Performance Evaluation: Regular and constructive performance evaluations of the superintendent can help ensure that they are meeting the expectations set by the school board and the community. These evaluations should be based on clear, measurable goals and indicators.
- Community Engagement: Engaging with the community is essential to understanding the needs and aspirations of the district’s students and families. Regular dialogue and involvement can foster trust and transparency.
- Long-term Planning: The school board should engage in long-term strategic planning that extends beyond the tenure of any one superintendent. This continuity can help ensure that the district’s goals and priorities remain consistent, even with changes in leadership. Addressing the issue of superintendent turnover in APS requires a concerted effort to align the vision, expectations, and goals of the superintendent and the school board. By establishing a solid foundation of shared values and priorities, involving the community, and providing support and accountability, we can work toward a more stable and effective leadership structure that ultimately benefits our students and their education.
What qualifications and qualities do you believe are essential for the next superintendent?
The foremost and paramount qualification for our next superintendent
should be a background in classroom teaching. Far too often,
superintendents without firsthand classroom experience are tasked with
overseeing our educational institutions, and history has shown that this
approach does not consistently serve the best interests of our students.
In addition to classroom experience, our next superintendent should
possess a robust educational foundation in areas such as educational
leadership, administration, or a closely related field. Furthermore, they
must exhibit a clear and compelling vision for the district, capable of
setting ambitious yet attainable objectives that prioritize the success and
well-being of our students.
Moreover, the superintendent must be a dynamic instructional leader who remains at the forefront of evolving teaching methodologies and
educational trends, ensuring that our district remains a leader in
Effective communication skills are non-negotiable, as the superintendent will need to engage with a diverse array of stakeholders, including teachers, parents, and community members. Additionally, they should excel in the realm of management, demonstrating proficiency in
overseeing complex budgets and resources while maintaining the district’s operational efficiency.
Lastly, the ability to actively listen and empathize is crucial for
understanding the diverse needs and perspectives of all individuals
involved in the educational process. This skill fosters collaboration and
empowers informed decision-making for the benefit of the entire school
APS is in the third year of a five-year strategic plan that ends in 2025. What are your thoughts on how that plan is going, and what would you do differently? What should the next five-year plan address?
The Atlanta Public School System (APS) has embarked on a significant journey with its current five-year strategic plan, set to conclude in 2025. While progress has undoubtedly been made in certain areas, there are clear challenges that must be addressed to ensure the plan’s success and, more importantly, to meet the educational needs of all students.
Here are my thoughts on how the plan is going and what could be done differently:
- Progress and Challenges: Equitable Funding: APS has made strides in this area, but it remains a significant challenge. To ensure every student has access to a quality education, it’s crucial to continue advocating for equitable funding and exploring innovative ways to allocate resources based on students’ needs and school conditions.
- Effective Leadership and Teachers: While APS has made efforts to increase access to effective leaders and teachers, retaining and developing high-quality educators should be a high priority focus. Professional development and mentorship programs can contribute to ongoing teacher improvement.
- Supporting Special Populations: APS should intensify its efforts to support special populations, including students with disabilities and English language learners. Specialized programs, additional resources, and teacher training can help ensure these students receive the support they need to thrive academically.
- Access to Advanced Coursework: APS should continue working to increase access to advanced coursework for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background or the school they attend. This will help bridge achievement gaps and prepare students for future success.
- Disproportionate Discipline Practices: Addressing disproportionate discipline practices is essential for creating an equitable learning environment. APS should invest in training and restorative justice programs to reduce the reliance on punitive measures and promote a supportive and inclusive atmosphere.
- Equitable Learning Environments: The creation of equitable learning environments should be a top priority. This includes addressing disparities in school facilities, resources, and extracurricular opportunities. APS should work to ensure that every school is a safe, welcoming, and conducive place for learning.
What Should the Next Five-Year Plan Address: In the next five-year plan, APS should consider the following key priorities:
- Digital Equity: The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital access for education. APS should focus on closing the digital divide by providing devices and internet access to all students, ensuring that remote learning is a viable option when needed.
- Mental Health Support: The well-being of students is paramount. The next plan should emphasize mental health support services, including counseling and resources for students dealing with emotional and psychological challenges.
- Community Engagement: Engaging parents, caregivers, and the broader community is essential. The plan should outline strategies to foster strong partnerships, involving stakeholders in decision-making and school improvement efforts.
- Data-Driven Decision Making: APS should continue to embrace student outcomes focused governance decision-making processes. This includes using data to identify areas of improvement, track progress, and make informed choices about resource allocation.
- Sustainability: Addressing environmental sustainability should be a consideration in the plan. Implementing energy-efficient practices and sustainable infrastructure can both reduce costs and contribute to a healthier learning environment.
- Innovative Education Models: Explore innovative education models, such as personalized learning, blended learning, and project-based learning, to cater to diverse student needs and preferences.
- Crisis Preparedness: Develop a comprehensive crisis preparedness plan to ensure that APS can respond effectively to unforeseen challenges, such as pandemics, natural disasters, or other emergencies.
How should the District best address the understaffing and retention of teachers and staff?
The best approaches to address the understaffing and retention for teachers and staff are to pay them a thriving wage, as well as stabilizing our leadership. First and foremost, offering competitive and equitable compensation packages is essential. Adequate salaries and benefits not only attract talented educators and staff but also incentivize them to remain in their roles long-term. A thriving wage reflects the value we place on their contributions to our educational community.
Additionally, stabilizing leadership within the district is crucial. Frequent changes in leadership can lead to uncertainty and inconsistency, which can negatively impact staff morale and retention. By ensuring stable leadership and providing opportunities for professional growth and development, we can create an environment where teachers and staff feel supported and encouraged to stay and grow within the district.
Moreover, addressing understaffing requires proactive recruitment efforts, including partnerships with local colleges and universities to cultivate a pipeline of future educators. Creating mentorship programs and providing ongoing support and training can also enhance job satisfaction and retention rates.
Ultimately, a comprehensive and holistic approach that combines competitive compensation, leadership stability, and professional development opportunities will contribute to resolving the challenges of understaffing and retention within our district.
More than 5,000 APS students have a disability or special needs. What can the school district do to better serve those students, especially when it comes to allocating resources to schools?
Serving students with disabilities or special needs is a vital aspect of creating an inclusive and equitable educational environment. To better serve the over 5,000 APS students with disabilities or special needs and allocate resources effectively, the school district can consider several strategies:
- Individualized Education Plans (IEPs): Ensure that every student with a disability has an IEP tailored to their specific needs. These plans should be regularly reviewed and updated to address evolving requirements. Allocate resources based on the goals and accommodations outlined in each student’s IEP. Teachers must be well supported in implementing IEPs with fidelity.
- Specialized Staffing: Hire and retain a diverse range of qualified special education teachers, therapists, counselors, and support staff. Adequate staffing levels are essential to provide personalized support and services.
- Professional Development: Offer ongoing professional development for teachers and staff to equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to support students with disabilities effectively. Training should cover inclusive teaching practices, behavior management, and working with students with various disabilities.
- Inclusive Practices: Promote inclusive classroom settings where students with disabilities are educated alongside their peers to the maximum extent appropriate. This approach fosters a supportive and inclusive school culture.
- Resource Allocation Equity: Implement a resource allocation model that considers the specific needs of schools with higher populations of students with disabilities. Ensure that these schools receive the necessary funding and resources to meet those needs.
- Parent and Caregiver Engagement: Foster strong partnerships with parents and caregivers of students with disabilities. Regular communication, collaboration, and involvement in decision-making processes can help tailor support to each student’s unique needs.
- Access to Assistive Technology: Provide students with disabilities access to assistive technology and tools that can enhance their learning experience and improve their independence.
- Behavioral Support Services: Invest in behavioral support services, such as counselors and behavior intervention specialists, to address challenging behaviors and create a positive and inclusive school environment.
- Transition Services: Develop comprehensive transition programs and services to support students with disabilities as they transition from one educational level to the next and eventually into adulthood.
- Regular Evaluation: Continuously assess the effectiveness of special education programs and services through data analysis and feedback from students, parents, and teachers. Adjust resource allocation based on the outcomes and needs identified.
- Community Partnerships: Collaborate with local community organizations and agencies that specialize in supporting individuals with disabilities. These partnerships can provide additional resources and expertise.
- Advocacy: Advocate at the local, state, and federal levels for policies and funding that support students with disabilities and promote inclusive education practices.
Only about one-third of APS students are at or above the proficient level for reading and math with reports saying that COVID learning loss is still a factor. How can the District ensure children meet or exceed the reading and writing standards?
Targeted Intervention Programs: Implement targeted intervention programs that provide additional support to students who are below proficiency levels in reading and math. These programs should be evidence-based and tailored to individual student needs. They can include one-on-one tutoring, small group instruction, and personalized learning plans.
Assessment and Data Analysis: Conduct regular assessments to identify students’ specific strengths and weaknesses in reading and math. Use data analysis to track student progress and adjust instructional strategies accordingly. This data-driven approach helps teachers provide targeted support where it is most needed.
Early Literacy Initiatives: Focus on early literacy initiatives that start in the early grades. Ensure that students have access to quality pre-kindergarten programs and early literacy interventions. Encourage parents to engage in reading with their children at home to promote a love for reading from an early age.
Professional Development for Educators: Provide ongoing professional development for educators to enhance their teaching strategies in reading and math. Training can include strategies for differentiated instruction, addressing learning gaps, and incorporating technology into the classroom to enhance learning.
Extended Learning Opportunities: Offer extended learning opportunities such as after-school programs, summer school, and weekend academies to provide additional instructional time for struggling students. These programs can focus on remediation and enrichment.
Parent and Caregiver Engagement: Engage parents and caregivers in their child’s education by providing resources, workshops, and guidance on how to support learning at home. Encourage regular communication between parents and teachers to create a collaborative learning environment.
Mental Health and Well-being Support: Recognize the importance of students’ mental health and well-being. Provide access to counseling services and support for students who may be dealing with stress, anxiety, or trauma, which can impact their learning.
Access to Technology: Ensure that all students have access to technology and the internet to support remote and blended learning, especially when addressing COVID-related learning loss. Equitable access to technology is crucial for keeping students engaged and connected.
Inclusive and Diverse Curriculum: Develop a curriculum that is inclusive and reflects the diversity of the student population. This can help students see themselves in what they are learning, making the content more engaging and relevant.
Continuous Monitoring and Evaluation: Continuously monitor the effectiveness of interventions and instructional strategies. Adjust and refine approaches based on ongoing evaluation and feedback from students, teachers, and parents.
Identify three ways the Atlanta School Board can better involve youth, parents and caretakers in the Board’s decision-making process?
- Robust Communication Channels: Establish and maintain robust communication channels that facilitate regular and transparent updates between the school board, youth, parents, and caretakers. This includes leveraging various mediums such as newsletters, dedicated websites, and social media platforms to disseminate important information, meeting schedules, and decisions. Ensuring that all stakeholders are well-informed is essential for their active participation in the decision-making process.
- Empower GO Teams with Decision-Making Authority: Empower GO Teams (Governance and Operations Teams) within each school by granting them decision-making authority in areas like budget allocation, school improvement planning, and policy recommendations. This decentralized approach not only involves parents and caretakers but also fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility for school-level decisions. The school board can provide training and guidance to GO Teams to ensure they are equipped to make informed choices.
- Empower the Student Advisory Council with Influence: Empower the Student Advisory Council with genuine influence over district-level decisions. Actively involve students in discussions related to curriculum development, school policies, and other matters affecting their educational experience. The council should have a designated seat at board meetings, where their input is actively sought and considered. Encourage them to propose initiatives and policies that they believe will enhance their education. Additionally, the board can allocate resources to support the council’s activities and initiatives.
Is the APS property tax burden too high for most Atlanta residents? Do you think commercial property owners are paying their fair share of APS property taxes?
Yes, the APS property tax burden is too high for most Atlanta residents. The solution to the issue is complex and it has become increasingly relevant due to steady increases in home values. These rising property values have indeed put additional pressure on many Atlanta residents, particularly our Atlanta legacy homeowners, who may be facing challenges due to gentrification and redevelopment in the city.
Furthermore, given the observation that APS spends 60% of its budget on its central office, instead of the mandated 65% for classroom spending (according to state law), raises major concerns about the allocation of resources. This suggests that there may be room for improvement in how APS manages its budget to ensure that a higher percentage is directly benefiting students and classrooms.
Regarding whether commercial property owners are paying their fair share of APS property taxes, concerns have been raised about the use of Tax Allocation Districts (TADs) by some commercial property owners. TADs can divert tax revenue away from APS and into development projects. This practice can potentially limit the funds available for public education in the district. In light of these factors, there is a need for an open and honest conversation about the allocation of resources and property tax policies in APS.
This conversation should consider the following:
- Equitable Taxation: Assess whether property tax policies are equitable, ensuring that both residential and commercial property owners contribute their fair share to support public education.
- Transparency: Promote transparency in how property tax revenue is allocated and spent within APS, giving the community insight into budget decisions and priorities.
- Budget Reforms: Consider reforms to APS’s budget allocation to align more closely with state law and ensure that a higher percentage of funds are directed toward classrooms and student needs.
- Review of TADs: Evaluate the impact of Tax Allocation Districts on APS revenue and explore options to balance economic development incentives with the funding needs of the school district.
Seat 7 At-Large candidates
- Brooks wins APS runoff election
- What Atlanta School Board voters were saying on Election Day
- Tamara Jones takes an architect’s approach to the “unsexy” work of the school board
- ELECTION RESULTS: 2023 Atlanta School Board
- What Atlanta School Board voters are saying on Election Day
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