I knew that I wanted to focus on the city of Atlanta, because that is where I was born and where I lived all my life until I left for college. I love Atlanta and I think it is a pretty amazing city with much to offer. Even though I lived in the suburbs (Alpharetta) thirty minutes north of downtown, I never felt like I lived in the suburbs. It definitely still felt like a busy city that was full of traffic, shops, movie theaters, restaurants, and parks. I also went to a Catholic private school but it was located much closer to downtown, or as we like to say, "inside the perimeter" of I-285. Because I spent most of my time outside of my house in the actual city, I believe I was able to learn much about Atlanta, its citizens, and its culture. If you ask me, I have mostly positive things to say about the metropolis as a whole.
However, even though I do think Atlanta is great, I also know that the city faces many of the problems familiar to other urban areas in the United States. These include homelessness, racial segregation in housing, areas of urban blight and poverty, lack of public transportation, and of course, complex issues involving local education and education policy. When it comes to education, I believe I saw many of the issues firsthand even though I did not go to public schools. I still had family members and friends who went to public schools in the metropolis, so these issues were often talked about. I also visited these schools often.
One of the main issues I noticed was how the schools seemed to be very racially segregated based on location. There could be a school nearby that was 90% Latino, but only thirty minutes away there was a school that was mostly Asian and White. One could clearly see contrasts between schools like these, that ranged from the racial composition of the students, to resources available at each school, to the type of classes that were offered. In high school, I became especially interested in these differences when I realized that the majority of my friends and acquaintances who went to these mostly minority and mostly impoverished schools were not planning on going to college. Was it their choice....or their families? Were they "bad students?" Or were they victims of a school system that simply did not prepare them or push them toward higher education? As these questioned emerged I began to be interested in education policies and in the education system of the United States. The more and more I have learned, the more I realize what a complex diversity of issues are involved.
My hope this that through this project I will be able to delve deeper into some of the questions that I have yet to find answers to. In the very least, I hope to gain insight about some of the policies and policymakers that are responsible for the way the education system looks today....at least how it looks in Atlanta. To conclude, I would like to post a link to a video I remember seeing a while ago on the news. I think it offers a good idea of some of the issues I would like to learn more about.