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ATLANTA, Ga. — Black Atlanta students continue to struggle academically in the city’s public schools district, despite the city being considered America’s Black Mecca or Wakanda. There remains a performance disparity between schools south of Highway 20, which is highly considered the division line in the city between race and class. 

Schools north of the expressway perform higher on standardized tests. These students are more likely prepared for college and career when compared to their peers south of freeway. 

Now, Jason B. Allen, an educator with 17 years’ experience who grew up in Mozley Park, is seeking to change the narratives that have stifled academic growth for Black Atlanta students. 

Allen is running for Atlanta Public Schools (APS) Seat 9, At-Large in the Tuesday, November 2, 2021 election. Early voting starts Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

At-Large District 9 Candidates

He faces incumbent Jason F. Esteves, who is the current Board Chair and the at-large District 9 representative on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education. Esteves is also the Treasurer of the Georgia Democratic Party. In 2012 he ran for Georgia state House District 53 prior to running for school board. 

D’Jaris ‘DJ’ James founded Secrets of a Southern Belle & Gent, a college and career coaching program designed to help students make more informed decisions about their education and career and is also a District 9 Candidate. 

Allen’s professional career has solely consisted of working in the education space. 

There are 21 candidates vying for a seat on the Atlanta Board of Education; three in District 9: Jason B. Allen, Jason F. Esteves, and D’Jaris ‘DJ’ James.

What Qualifies Allen?

Despite the crowded field, Allen is the only educator running in the District 9 At-Large race. He feels his 17-years working as a teacher qualifies him to replace Esteves. Allen is also a Brightbeam education activist and after School Program Director, District Administrator, Special Education and General Education Teacher, and Family Engagement Specialist among other things. 

The Community’s Frustrations with APS

“?Through my experiences, I have become frustrated with APS and the inequitable treatment schools in Districts 5 and 6 continue to receive. There is seemingly a significant lack of investment in infrastructure, parent and community engagement programs for the majority of schools south of Highway 20. Reduced trust between teachers and the District on how best to serve our children inside the classroom has left educators like me and parents frustrated and feeling unsupported. There is little to no communication between parents and the District. Some school board members did not reply to emails from their constituencies, as for example, when parents complained about Douglass High School’s high turnover of principals,” Allen said. 

Why He’s Running 

“I am running for the Atlanta Board of Education because our children can’t continue to wait on a world class education system. They need it now. I believe our steps to begin this work are simple,” he said. 

Allen plans to improve student outcomes by improving family and community engagement, early education and workforce development, balancing budgeting with academics, and by providing wraparound services. In addition, he plans to prioritize feedback and increase flexibility for teachers and instructors in teaching and learning models.  

“Making Atlanta Public Schools a world class system means making our priority providing better educational opportunities for our students with a six point strategy,” he added. 

The APS Equity Divide 

At last month’s APS school boarding education advocates and parent groups voiced their concerns and disappointments about the district’s direction. The most notable division, what parents north of Highway 20 versus those south of the high. While parents in north Atlanta argued for a more walkable community due to school consolidations, Black and Brown parents South of Highway 20 demanded better infrastructure, more accountability from the school board and access to higher quality education.

“I know that Jason Allen is the best candidate for the Board of Education Seat 9 At Large because he has the interest of our children in mind as well as educators. He’s concerned about the health and wellbeing of our students, teachers and families during the pandemic and wants to see better policies in place to protect them,” Ms. Betty Almond, a grandparent with grandchildren in APS said. 

APS Seemingly Turned A Blind Eye at Sexual Misconduct

In October, Allen attended and supported student protesters at Douglass High School who voiced their disapproval of Principal Artesza Portee who is still on the job after allegations of sexual misconduct. Even after investigators from a private law firm concluded that Portee gave false information, Board members have seemingly gone silent on Portee giving him a warning. 

Allen plans to end what he says is a decline in leadership. “I have felt there is a decline in leadership and a lack of respect for the community’s educational values, its teachers and students, ” he says.

For more information on Candidate Jason B. Allen visit:  

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