Courtney English believes in leaving things better than he found them. An Atlanta native who was first elected to the Board of Education at 24— the youngest person to hold city-wide office in the city of Atlanta’s history– he’s been making a difference in the lives of citizens from an early age. A graduate of Morehouse College, English earned his master’s degree from Columbia University after serving as a founding teacher at BEST Academy, the first all-male school in the city of Atlanta in 60 years. When he was first elected to the Board of Education, the district’s graduation rate hovered at 50%. He rolled up his sleeves and went to work, championing policies to shrink the size of the central office, increase classroom spending and give more autonomy to principals and teachers. Additionally, Courtney led the charge to clean up years of administrative mismanagement and corruption –including a widespread cheating scandal—the largest in the nations history. Today, after years of partnership and perseverance, both in the classroom and in the boardroom, the graduation rate stands at 79% and climbing.
In 2014, English was chosen unanimously by his colleagues to serve as the youngest board chairman in the history of the school system. Chairman English went to work immediately, recruiting a new superintendent and leading the campaign to renew the 1% sales tax for school construction, an effort that will yield over $540 million for Atlanta’s students and generate $2 billion in economic activity for Metro Atlanta. English also led the board to unanimously adopt an aggressive school turnaround plan geared towards improving the quality of education in the city’s lowest performing schools. In order to reduce transiency and curb inequity facing Atlanta’s students, Chairman English championed an effort to repurpose abandoned school buildings into affordable housing units. Atlanta Public Schools is now the second school system in the country to have an affordable housing policy and will soon be the first to have a comprehensive affordable housing strategy. To ensure equitable distribution of the school districts $1.2 billion budget, Chairman English led the successful effort to re-establish the districts Women and Minority business program. Additionally, Chairman English led the negotiations to resolve a dispute between Atlanta Public Schools and the City of Atlanta involving the Atlanta Beltline —the largest redevelopment project in the city’s history. The deal he brokered ensures $100 million in new revenue for Atlanta’s students and keeps the multi-billion-dollar project on track. Taken together, these policy accomplishments represent some of the most aggressive programmatic and policy shifts in Atlanta since integration.
Courtney English is a proud graduate of Frederick Douglass High School, a member of the LEAD Atlanta class of 2011 and was named “Next in line to lead the region” by Atlanta Magazine. Chairman English serves on the boards of nonprofits like the National Center for Global Engagement, Child First USA, Star-C Development Corporation, and the Morehouse College Center for Teacher Preparation Advisory board. After serving on the school board for 8 years, he works as Chief Education Officer of an education technology company and has served as a guest lecturer at Emory University, Spelman College, Morehouse College and Harvard University.