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Bertis Downs on the State of Athens Schools

Best known as R.E.M.’s lawyer, for many years Athens resident Bertis Downs has been an advocate for—and become something of an expert on—public education.

With new superintendent Demond Means shaking things up (see Karen Sweeney Gerow and Tommie Farmer‘s recent op-eds for two differing perspectives on Means’ reforms) Downs had some thoughts he wanted to share. But he had difficulty putting them on paper, so instead he made this video and sent it to Flagpole.

In it, Downs argues for continuing the decentralized approach that the Clarke County School District agreed to pursue when it became a charter system. 

“We need to increase our social workers, our after-school programs, our mentoring programs, our health clinics—all the things that true community school models do,” he says. “We’re perfectly set up for that if we just go by that. I really believe we’re all in this together.”

Fair warning: Downs made the video at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, so the sound is low. Might want to wear headphones.