Like Drinking Water from a Firehose

Flagpole, March 2014 Last weekend I had the privilege to attend one of my favorite conferences ever, in Austin, TX, where nearly 500 public education advocates from all over the country (some 30 states I am told) gathered to learn, commiserate, share, listen, engage, talk and have at least some fun as we all sought … Continue reading Like Drinking Water from a Firehose

Parent to Obama: Why don’t private schools adopt your test-based school reforms?

Washington Post Answer Sheet Blog, March 2014 by Valerie Strauss Bertis Downs is a parent who lives in Athens Ga., and the former legal counselor and manager of the band R.E.M.  He wrote the following letter to President Obama, inviting the president to visit a high school in Athens to see the impact of his … Continue reading Parent to Obama: Why don’t private schools adopt your test-based school reforms?

R.E.M. manager Downs reflects on career, looks forward on public education

Online Athens, February 2013 by Andre Gallant Bertis Downs, longtime manager of R.E.M., had an early run-in with rock ’n’ roll’s upper echelons as a bell hop in Atlanta in the 1970s. During a summer working at Atlanta’s Colony Square hotel, between semesters at law school, Downs encountered “an entourage of old people” who had … Continue reading R.E.M. manager Downs reflects on career, looks forward on public education

R.E.M.’s Bertis Downs: ‘Good Schools for All Kids’

February, 2013 Blake Aued As their lawyer, Bertis Downs had a front-row seat to local legends R.E.M.'s 20-year career as one of the most influential and popular rock bands in the world. So, when people had the opportunity to ask him anything, what did they want to know about? Education. Downs sat down with Willson … Continue reading R.E.M.’s Bertis Downs: ‘Good Schools for All Kids’

Whatever the vote on charter amendment, Georgia has serious work to do in public education

Online Athens, November 2012 This is being written on Sunday, so I have no idea how the charter school amendment vote came out on Tuesday. Like a lot of people, I hope and pray Amendment 1 is defeated, and I’ve tried to get the word out on what the choice really comes down to - … Continue reading Whatever the vote on charter amendment, Georgia has serious work to do in public education