Diversity Event

Facebook LIVE: ARA’s Tough Discussions - Race & Class in School District Secessions

Wednesday, October 14

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM


Racial segregation of America's schools was banned 65 years ago in the landmark "Brown vs. Board of Education" ruling, but a different wall that separates children is emerging today that reflects the nation's growing economic inequality: "secession" by wealthier school districts.

Secession occurs when communities carve out a new school district from an existing one, often on the grounds of keeping local control over education. Research finds that the impact is often racial, with the new splinter schools having a student body that ends up being wealthier and whiter than the district "left behind."

Tune in to our Facebook page on October 14th for the second installment of our virtual 'ARA's Tough Discussions: Racism & Real Estate' series on Unequal Opportunity: Race & Class in School District Secessions. We'll be joined by industry professionals for a discussion about how school district lines have been drawn and are being redrawn, why lack of apartments, density and diversity make for the most desired school districts, and how the real estate industry further feeds that narrative.

Moderator: Vic Collins


  • Dr. Jaha Howard
  • Courtney English
  • Erika Mitchell


Picture of Erika Mitchell

Erika Mitchell

Since elected to the Atlanta Board of Education, Erika Mitchell has established herself as one of Atlanta’s most influential public servant. Mitchell is an active board member when it comes to serving her community and she is a strong believer in parent and community engagement. Within Mitchell’s first year in office, she developed the first electronic newsletter for her district, and established community partnerships with Georgia’s Own Credit Union, Chick fil-A, University for Parents, youthSpark, Fulton County Juvenile Courts, U First Project, NFL Players Association,100 Black Men of America, St. Peters Missionary Baptist Church, and The Launch Pad for her educational district.  She has also co-written the first school district Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking policy and protocol in the state of Georgia in collaboration with Dr. Sharnell Myles.

Mitchell currently serving on the Atlanta Board of Education’s Policy Review Committee, Equity Taskforce and the Georgia Statewide Human Trafficking Taskforce Workgroup 1. Mitchell was recently appointed by the City of Atlanta’s Mayor Bottom to serve on the Atlanta 2020 Census Committee. Mitchell is also an elected member of the National School Boards Association’s Council of Urban Boards of Education’s Steering Committee.

Picture of Dr. Jaha Howard

Dr. Jaha Howard

Dr. Jaha Howard is the owner and practitioner of A+ Pediatric Dentistry of Atlanta, which is located in the heart of historic Vinings. He’s been featured on CNN, FOX news, and several print publications. He lives in Smyrna with his wife of ten years, Vanessa, and their three children. They worship in Atlanta at West End Church of Christ, where Dr. Howard serves as a church deacon and Sunday school teacher.

A proud graduate of Atlanta Public Schools, Dr. Howard continued his education at Howard University and the University of Illinois at Chicago where he received top academic honors.

As the founder of Wave of Excellence, a network of over 4,500 Smyrna parents dedicated to strengthening neighborhood schools in Smyrna, Dr. Howard is passionate about education, service and community-building. He strives to help individuals and communities find their voice and work together to achieve common goals.

He is currently an active member of Vinings Rotary, American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., LEAD Atlanta and other professional groups. Most importantly, you can find him working with you at various community initiatives to build a stronger Georgia…Our Georgia.

Dr. Howard is committed to this vision as he continues this race from last year’s campaign where he came just short of winning against a heavily funded incumbent.

Picture of Courtney English

Courtney English

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.

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.