Two pertinent articles in the AJC regarding education today.
Dale Davis, a spokesman for the DeKalb County School System, said his district has been in the 100,000-student range for several years with little change. Enrollment spiked a little after Hurricane Katrina bashed Louisiana and Mississippi and brought refugees to the area. But Davis said, “As things got back to normal, about 99 percent of them went home.” He described DeKalb as a “mature community” where not a lot of growth in enrollment is expected.
Student enrollment growth has slowed throughout Georgia. Here are the October enrollment figures for some of the big Metro Atlanta systems the past four falls.
Enrollment is down, yet we never hear from Crawford Lewis, Marcus Turk, Bob Moseley, or the BOE, about "righting the ship". The DCSS Central Office administration has grown and grown unchecked for years. It's just not the high salaries that cost taxpayers and take away resources from students, it's the benefits and pensions. The benefits and pensions cost us for decades after an employee retires. I've said it before, no pensions for staff with no student contact, give them nice 403b's/401k's instead.
Crawford Lewis and Marcus Turk put out small fire after small fire, but long range planning never seems to be a priority.
Also, I'm being frank and agressive with this accusation: The enrollment numbers are actually inflated! DCSS Central Office, Crawford Lewis, Turk, Moseley, etc. know this and ignore the number of students, most likely in the few thousand, who do not live in DeKalb. DCSS is arguably the most lax system in the state when it comes to checking both residency and FRL qualifications.
The system has taken on hundreds if not more Clayton County students. But there is no effort to check residency. I've heard from many teachers in the southeast part of the county, and they all tell of parents with license plates from Rockdale, Clayton, and Henry. When teachers point this out the principals and administrators, they are told to quiet down.
The actual enrollment number for DCSS should be closer to 97,000 or 96,000 or even 95,000. We are spending our precious few resources on parents who are gaming the system. And there is no doubt that parents from Clayton, Henry and Rockdale are going to try to sneak in their children to the beautiful new Arabia Mountain High School. What is the plan to stop it?
We need to push and push the BOE to make student residency and FRL qualifications a priority. We need to educate and focus resources on actual county resident students. Lewis and Turk need to continue to downsize the Central Office, and make it known very publicly that DCSS will not tolerate parents who break the law trying to sneak in non-county residents into the school system.
Atlanta superintendent named nation’s best
Beverly Hall honored by the American Association of School Administrators
Hall came to Atlanta in 1999 and has steadily improved students’ test scores and increased graduation rates through various academic programs. She required low-performing schools to implement rigorous programs that focus on literacy and math skills. She increased the amount of training teachers received and she removed weak principals and replaced them with those she deemed better equipped to improve student learning. State data shows the programs are working. For example, about 72 percent of the system’s students graduated on time in 2008, up from 39 percent in 2002.
Not to kick Crawford Lewis whens he's down, but...
Beverly Hall has focused on academics. More rigorous literacy and math skills. It's a big, big thing to hold principals more accountable. DCSS is infamous for a very, very political scene for principals and assistant principals. It's a whole lot more who you know than what you know. Many asst. principals are getting their advanced degrees from these online diploma mills. We have way too many principals getting involved in areas where they know nothing, like facilities and grounds and athletics, instead of constantly focusing on academics. We have some weak principals and weak asst. principals who will do whatever they can behind the scenes to advance. And once a principal gets a little burned out, he or she always scores a cushy Central Office gig at the same salary of higher. Heck, the BOE allowed a former principal to run the Sam Moss Center and over a billion dollars worth of facilities for years with no qualifications to do so.
Here's the easiest way to know you have a good principal at your school: He or she audits at least one class a day. If your principal isn't in at least one classroom for an entire period a day, he or she simply isn't getting the job done.
Hall had a huge, disgusting scandal on her hands with the federal computer/school technology program. Millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted and there were criminal charges. She's far from perfect. But Crawford Lewis has been a DCSS insider for four decades. He's not going to change. He's not going to suddenly reduce the Central Office waste & bloat. He's not going to emphasize academics over everything else. He's not going to make the long overdue changes needed for the growing Hispanic population in the northern part of the county (we don't even have one mid- to high level Latino DCSS administrator).
I thank Lewis much for his service, but it's high time to bring in a new superintendent from a top school system, preferably from Ohio or another part of the country that gets education done right.