Sunday, February 22, 2009

New Bill: That will Allow Students to Attend Any School in the County That is not Overcrowded.

I thought the bill below was very interesting. I think it is a good bill as long as the DeKalb County School Board and County Administration will not allow too many students to go to schools that are already overcrowded. I also was concerned that in the past students have been allowed to attend schools like Lakeside, Druid Hills, and Chamblee even if they are at their maximum capacity. Do you feel this is a good bill? If it passes what effect will it have on schools in Dekalb County that are already overcrowded? What will it do to schools that are already not at maximum capacity?

House Bill 251 (COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE)
By: Representatives Morgan of the 39th, Kaiser of the 59th, Setzler of the 35th, Reece of the 11th, and Dawkins-Haigler of the 93rd
A BILL TO BE ENTITLEDAN ACT
To amend Part 13 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to organization of schools and school systems under the "Quality Basic Education Act," so as to provide that a public school student can attend any school in the local school system under certain conditions; to provide for continued attendance at such school; to provide for statutory construction; to provide for related matters; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA:
SECTION 1.
Part 13 of Article 6 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to organization of schools and school systems under the "Quality Basic Education Act," is amended by adding a new Code section to read as follows:
"20-2-295.
(a) Beginning in school year 2010-2011, the parent or guardian of a student enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school in this state may elect to enroll such student in a public school that is located within the school system in which the student resides other than the one to which the student has been assigned by the local board of education if such school has classroom space available after its assigned students have been enrolled. The parent or guardian shall assume the responsibility and cost of transportation of the student to and from the school.
(b) No later than July 1, 2010, each local school system shall establish a universal, streamlined process available to all students to implement the transfer requirements of subsection (a) of this Code section.
(c) A student who transfers to another school pursuant to this Code section may, at his or her election, continue to attend such school until the student completes all grades of the school.
(d) This Code section shall not be construed to affect any student currently attending a school other than the school to which the student has been assigned by the local board of education pursuant to a transfer authorized under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (P.L. 107-110)."
SECTION 2.
All laws and parts of laws in conflict with this Act are repealed.

35 comments:

Ella Smith said...

Does anyone know if this bill has passed and became law or if it is still a bill? I am assuming it is still a bill?

themommy said...

It is still a bill, introduced by a representative from South Cobb.

I think this bill has real potential pitfalls.. what makes a school full, for example. Does Mt. Bethel have spaces because every third grade class isn't at system maximums? What about a star athlete who manages to find room at another high school -- who is going to oversee that the process if fair?

The original bill allowed for completion through high school, I see that that has been taken out. Supposedly language was suppose to be added about behavior and attendance expectations but I don't see that.

I believe that that Ms. Morgan is trying to free some students from the low performing schools of South Cobb. But what I don't understand is how that fixes anything except for the kids who get to "escape." I am a huge fan of KIPP schools, but I understand that a huge part of their success is probably related to the choice part (and the ability to dismiss uncooperative students) but I have seen little research that shows that the surrounding community schools have improved. Her husband is a Cobb County BofE member and I would think that this kind of bill is a slap in the face to schools in his district.

DCSS gives the most choice (both legitimately and through administrative transfers) of any school system in the state. It has been this way for years... but look at how dismal many of our schools still are. It isn't making an ounce of difference to the students left behind.

Cerebration said...

Looks like it's making progress --

Current Status
02/19/09 - House Passed/Adopted

http://www.legis.state.ga.us/legis/2009_10/sum/hb251.htm

I assume it will now be considered by the Senate. Let your State Senator know how you feel about it.

MSB said...

DCSS gives the most choice (both legitimately and through administrative transfers) of any school system in the state.

I would say that DCSS gives the appearance of choice, rather than actual choice. Certainly, we can apply to magnet schools, but as any one who has ever attended the Kittredge lottery knows, as many children get turned away as get accepted. I had a long conversation with Bob Moseley last spring about the new school choice options, and he admitted that many of the schools offering "choice" are already at or near full capacity, so only a very limited number of students will actually be permitted to transfer. I can speak from personal experience - I have applied for magnet programs for my children at least 7 times and have never been able to exercise any choice.

themommy said...

But DCSS has literally thousands of students at schools other than their own that aren't in a magnet/theme/charter program, rather they are either administratively transferred or more lately AYP transfers (I think nearly 1000 high school AYP transfers alone THIS year.)

Yes there may be some illusion for the specific programs, but I think plenty of people have gotten choice if they have asked for it.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps "choice" is a reality in some DCSS programming, but I tend to agree that this term is more likely to be utilized to dismiss parent frustrations when their child is unable to receive a service that they qualify for. If it is not a protected population for services then the "choice" is that you get to choose to have your child enrolled in a lottery for a snowball's chance in $#@% of getting a program that your tax dollars pay for. Yes, I am speaking of magnet programming. Then, you get to choose to watch as millions of a shrinking pot of dollars are spent on transportation to drive children past one magnet school to get to another. Frankly, Choice could not be further from reality in this segment of programming for DCSS. I am amazed that parents have tolerated this level of inequality in DCSS for so many years - Clearly,the overall issues are bigger than this single issue and comparing budgets for magnets to local schools is really small potatoes. However, isnt' this another example of business as usual when it is time to scrutinize programs for fiscal equality and determination of priorities?

Anonymous said...

(1) Revisit the original reasons why kids attended schools in the zones--what was the rationale.
(2) Parents come with kids right? (see charter requirements)--this goes to same point about kids' behavior standards (lack thereof)
(3) When more families move into a school zone and seats are already taken to capacity by out-of-zone kids, are those in-zone families forced to seek seats elsehwere? Think year-to-year--think long-term horizon.
(4) Not entirely sure this stands up to constitutional challenges.

Anonymous said...

Re: Second Anon - Perhaps it is late, but for some reason I have difficulty following..... Can you elaborate?

Anonymous said...

Just read the initial post - Hope the bill gains some supporters -

"The parent or guardian shall assume the responsibility and cost of transportation of the student to and from the school."

This might happen in Cobb but doubt we could get this level of involvement in Dekalb

pscexb said...

This was a blog topic on the AJC. I recall one person questioning, how do you define 'available' seats. Assuming that can be transparently clarified and agreed upon, I see no problem with this. It is shifting the cost of transportation from the taxpayers to the family.

Who are more than likely to take advantage of this? Hopefully those that are more involved with the education of their children.

Regarding some of the comments about the choice program offered by DCSS, I thought choice was the opportunity to go to another program not the guarantee you will get your choice. Near where I live, my children have access to several magnet programs, Theme schools, and IB programs. If we believe demand far exceeds supply, perhaps we should request that more seats become available, either in the existing schools or in new facilities.

themommy said...

PSC

I know that you know this but choice programs come with extra costs. IB requires multiple extra teachers and magnet programs get gobs of them (and no they aren't all funded by the number of gifted children.)

So, with limited resources, how can you justify spending more on a few children with the vast majority of students are doing without?

pscexb said...

themommy, that gets back to something you've requested all along, how do we 'know' what makes up the costs to educate a student. One could also make the argument that Title 1 students help subsidize the education for non Title 1 students. As most know, additional federal dollars go to school systems that have high Title 1 populations (in the original House stimulus plan, DeKalb was 2nd to APS in the state for receiving these kind of dollars). I contend that these dollars go to benefit ALL the children in the district, not just those at Title 1 schools. Are there extra resources at those schools? Of course, but at those schools, non Title 1 students can take advantage of those resources.

A little known fact that I mentioned before on GDK, Title 1 schools help subsidize non Title 1 schools with respect to their lunch programs. When you consider what kids pay for lunch, then look at the labor and materials used, could some of the non Title 1 schools afford a lunch program?

We typically look at the 'average' cost to educate a child and compare that across districts. AYP is extremely high and DCSS is not far behind. Could that be due to the extra dollars coming in due to a combination of high Title 1 and special needs populations? This is partly why I am concerned about possible vouchers for students. How does anyone know the 'base' amount it takes to educate a child? What kind of accountability is in place if one takes these voucher dollars elsewhere to use? What happens to the federal dollars associated with Title 1 and Special Needs students?

Can we dis aggregate then numbers and determine the source of dollars for each student? Probably so. I question what we might do if we knew the real answers....

themommy said...

Actually, it doesn't. Who decided that the students at Fernbank should get foreign language because they are an IB school, even though they have no room to take students from outside their attendance zone?

Why not make Medlock (which has 325 students this year) the IB school? Austin lost its German program the same year Fernbank got the IB foreign language.

All I am asking for is some basic equity... all students are guaranteed these resources before any students get extras paid for by strictly local tax dollars. So a Title 1 school gets a reading teacher paid for by federal dollars. This is not the same as DESA's 11 (plus instructors for band and stings) arts related teachers while some schools have no Art at all.

While I can appreciate the desire for an Arts based high school, it is essential that every high school have the personnel and the resources to put on theatrical performances so that students can participate. Every high school should have a chorus teacher before we have a DSA. Students who have an interest that falls within what you would expect to be offered at a high school ought to be able to explore that interest at their own school. If there passion is so great that they NEED a DSA, then so be it. But lots of students love to sing, dance and put on shows, but don't need a DSA type school to do it.

Title 1 is a federally defined program. DCSS might be able to spread the money around to a few more schools, but it is pretty much tied to teachers and resources for reading and math.

themommy said...

By the way, Cobb and Fulton both have high school programs for the Arts, but at each and every high school in their systems, students for who art is a hobby not a vocation have ample opportunities to participate and experience.

We absolutely cannot say that about all our high schools in DCSS.

Cerebration said...

I wish the school system would employ you psc. We NEED disaggregated data. We do have staff who compile data, but most of the time when I look for it or ask for it, I'm told that there is not enough staff to compile the types of data I'm looking for. We NEED someone who understands the system and who understands the numbers to compile relevant data to enable better decision-making. Our Board insists that they make data-driven decisions - and while that may be true, they are making those decisions using far too little data or far too irrelevant data. This is an issue that is at the core of what needs to change in the system.

And - themommy - I couldn't agree with you more. This imbalanced spending must stop.

Cerebration said...

PSC - One thing I disagree about is your post saying that Title 1 schools benefit all schools. A school like Lakeside does not get one dime of Title 1 money as far as I know. Here's an example - we implemented a "Freshmen Academy" - and hired an administrator to be in charge of it. (Waste of money, IMO, but I digress.) She was blown away when she found out that we had no BUDGET for the program. She said that when she was the director of the Freshmen Academy at Redan (a Title 1 school) she had a $100,000 budget - to be used for supplies, field trips, speakers, tutors - whatever.

Now - we get ripped a lot at schools like Lakeside for being "rich" - however - there's no way in God's creation that we could generate this kind of money from our community donations.

Additionally - for a differing paradigm - I pleaded for permission to send my child to another school while at Lakeside and was told, "Don't hold your breath." I never felt for one day that my children had any kind of choice. However, literally hundreds have somehow made the choice to attend Lakeside - forcing us to install 22 trailers - on top of our tennis courts, rendering them unusable - and crowding our school beyond belief.

Plus - how is it that Title 1 also subsidizes lunches at non Title 1 schools? I didn't follow that one.

Cerebration said...

I found this website about the National School Lunch Program - this is different from Title 1 -

http://www.fns.usda.gov/cnd/Lunch/

How does the National School Lunch Program work?

Generally, public or nonprofit private schools of high school grade or under and public or nonprofit
private residential child care institutions may participate in the school lunch program. School
districts and independent schools that choose to take part in the lunch program get cash subsidies
and donated commodities from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for each meal they serve. In return, they must serve lunches that meet Federal requirements, and they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children. School food authorities can also be reimbursed for snacks
served to children through age 18 in afterschool educational or enrichment programs.

Cerebration said...

they must offer free or reduced price lunches to eligible children.

I think it is this number - the number of students who qualify for F&R lunches that will deem a school Title 1 - if a certain percentage of their students qualify for F&R lunch. The school then gets Title 1 funding -- which is big bucks.

Standard National School Lunch program lunches are basically subsidized at the get-go by the government. It's when you can't even afford the subsidized price that you become Title 1.

pscexb said...

The FRL program allows school systems to run some cafeteria's at a loss because some are profitable.

Think about the athletic programs for DCSS. If they were run on a P/L at each school, some schools would not have football programs. The larger, football powers in DCSS drive the athletic budget. Monies go into a central pot and there is revenue sharing. Some call this the 'Robin Hood' method but it has been in place for years in DeKalb. I understand the same concept applies with many of the programs in the district.

Anonymous said...

themommy, Fernbank did not get foreign language because it is an IB school - they had Spanish long before that because the former principal and parent population decided that was were to use the FTE. As for "making the decision to become an IB school" that is initiated with the principal. When Fernbank was first vetted as an IB school there were several other elementary schools beginning the process as well. I know some dropped out along the way (although I don't know why).

At the time Fernbank began the IB certification process they did have room to take children from outside the attendance zone - but the school has grown 45% in two years (and that is in-zone population).

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

@Cere: "I wish the school system would employ you psc. We NEED disaggregated data."

We NEED more people who can pronounce "disaggregated data" leading the system ...

Enough cheap shots ... if you asked me to support this bill 2 years ago, I would have jumped on board. After 2 years following the vagaries of NCLB / AYP and admin transfers in DCSS, I can't do so. These "choice" programs seem more like trying to add life boats to the Titanic after it sank - sure, a few lucky passengers will make it but what is public and equal about that? I'm with the earlier poster - this is great as long as you "chosen."

This is a huge issue. We might as well out-source the entire system to private providers. Hmmm .... a system of public inspectors but private sector providers? USDA anyone? No stamps on their foreheads though ... talk about being "labeled!"

Cerebration said...

FYI -- here's the GA PTA's position on this bill

HB 251: SUPPORT Provides for school choice in public schools. Passed the House and now goes to Senate.

However - here's their position on SB 90: Voucher Legislation!

The Senate Education committee held its first hearing last week on SB 90 and GA PTA testified. We stated that we were in support of the provisions in the bill that allow for public school choice but opposed those provisions that allow taxpayer dollars to be used to fund vouchers to send students to private schools. The arguments we gave included:
• Private schools choose the student not the other way around
o Private schools may discriminate based on gender, religion, economic status, family background, intelligence, academic success or behavior. Public schools take everyone; private schools exclude those who they don’t choose to serve.
o In a US DOE survey of private inner city schools, 68% stated they definitely or probably would not accept vouchered students with learning disabilities, limited English or low academic achievement.
• Studies show that private schools do not do a better job educating youth than public schools
• Private school teachers do not have to be certified to teach; public school teachers no only must be certified to teach but must be certified in the subject matter they are teaching
• No fiscal or academic accountability is attached to the public tax payer dollars spent on private schools
o Incidents in private schools accepting vouchers with no accountability have shown abuses of those dollars
o Private schools do not have to demonstrate that students are making academic improvements through measures such as norm referenced tests nor do they have to publish the results of any tests that are given
o In every other department, program or taxpayer funded service, transparency is being demanded and reported yet we would accept less for our students?
• Vouchers fail to serve those who need them most, the economically disadvantaged
o Cost of most private schools exceeds the amount of the voucher so only those who can make up the difference can take advantage of them
o Transportation is not provided so only those who can get themselves to the private school can go
• Vouchers drain critical dollars from public education and remove the focus on improving public education

Dunwoody Mom said...

The voucher "scheme" is really nothing more than a financial aid package for those who want their private educations subsidized.

Sorry - that's just how I feel.

Cerebration said...

I agree Dunwoody Mom. If you want to experience discrimination, try enrolling your child with learning disabilities in a private school (unless it's one that "specializes in LD). I've been sickened by the treatment we have received in the past. She is capable of doing the work, she just requires some accommodations, but we were turned away by countless schools when they saw her test scores.

The ones that bother me the most are the ones that proclaim to be "Christian" and then turn children away. (I'm on my religious soapbox now, which I rarely ascend.) Jesus said, "Bring the little children to me, DO NOT HINDER THEM." He didn't say test them, bring me the top 10% and leave the rest with Herod.

These people should never have access to public money. If people choose to send their children to schools where only certain people are allowed in and are hand-picked, then fine - but I sure don't want to have to pay for it - especially when my child would never be deemed "acceptable."

Cerebration said...

Clarification again -- I have found Christian schools that do not do this -- and luckily they accepted and helped my children. Funnily enough - it's the ones with the outrageous tuitions who are so discriminating.

Cerebration said...

Two more bills highlighted by the GA PTA --

I like these:

HB 149: Move on When Ready: Students in 11th and 12th grades may enroll in Georgia public colleges and take Department of Education approved courses that will meet both high school graduation requirements and earn them college credit. Hours earned will not count against HOPE.What this means to you: If a student is ready to attend college and only has a few high school credits remaining to fulfill the high school diploma requirements, (s)he can earn those credits while attending college. Status: Passed the House Education Committee and will go to Rules to be put on the House calendar.

HB 400: BRIDGE, Building Resourceful Individuals to Develop Georgia’s Economy Act. Department of Education is to develop programs so a student can get courses at the home school, a technical college, a two or four year college, a work site as an apprentice, and other approved settings. Middle grades advisement shall provide counseling, advisement, career awareness, career interest inventories to evaluate each student’s academic skills and career interests. In grade 8, students shall select a preferred focused program and study and develop an individual graduation plan, IGP, with parents. High school students shall have annual reviews of the IGP which are to include academic core subjects and course work in math and science OR humanities, fine arts, and foreign language, OR sequenced career pathway courses; include IEP components if applicable; align educational and broad career goals and the student’s course of study; be based on the student’s selected academic and career focus; include experienced based, career oriented learning experiences such as internships, apprenticeships, mentoring, coops, and service learning; post secondary studies, dual enrollment and joint enrollment as applicable; have sufficient flexibility to change a course of study; be approved by the parent. What this means to you: students will develop a graduation plan that will set goals and courses of study to guide path to graduation.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I realize I came across harsh with my post. I know that there are children for which private school is really their best hope for a quality education and their parents do need help financially. My apologies if I offended anyone.

I suppose the parents I had in mind are those that I come across every day that only send their children to private school because the public schools are deemed "too diverse" for their children.

Anonymous said...

School choice bill- I'm not sure I can support it because it is too skimpy on details. It sounds innocent enough, but I want to know in advance how it will work. Does "space available" include covering every inch with trailers?
And what happens when a parent demands that their child attend DSA or a science and math magnet school but does not have the test scores? Will we have even more "lotteries?"

And won't a county like DeKalb have to first use empty spaces for the NCLB transfer students? Thus I question whether this bill means much in DCSS at the middle and high school levels. And you know that the football coaches will exploit this law to their benefit.

And what will school systems do with all those empty buildings once all the parents flee the cruddy schools?

However, I really like the Bridge Bill. Georgia has a poorly educated unskilled workforce and a very high dropout rate. If we can kill two birds with one bill, that would be great. However, this requires dismantling some of the DOE new math program. I have had a hard time understanding why every student in the state of GA needs to complete the equivalent of advanced algebra II and be ready for college calculus. Hasn't the mortgage mess taught us that our high school graduates need practical business math, and for those not going to college, modern technical and computer skills to insure employment in our changing world?

Cerebration said...

Great points anon. We already have a problem with balanced enrollment in DK high schools. For instance, Lakeside has an extra 400 kids or so - due to AYP transfers, etc - While we have over 1700 empty seats at a variety of high schools around the county.

Ella Smith said...

This bill scares me as to the interpretation of overcrowded.

Cerebration said...

DeKalb is unique in this odd situation of having so many "failing" schools whose students are allowed to transfer without restraint into a small minority of "passing schools". I don't think the State PTA stopped to consider DeKalb's situation when they endorsed this bill. I know that the Fed's certainly didn't consider our type of scenario when they implemented NCLB. I think everyone assumes that the failing schools would be in the minority - that the majority of schools in a district would be passing.

Sadly - our district overall is a Failure. Odd that our administration continues to refer to it as premier.

pscexb said...

HB 149 should appeal to those in the metro area, especially DeKalb County. It actually brings about a good discussion, take an AP course or a college course. Unless the student is shooting for Val or Sal, taking the college course helps the pocket, especially if the student decides to go to a Georgia college/university.

Currently, a student begins using their HOPE dollars with joint enrollment programs. If this passes, a student could theoretically go in as a sophomore, and if they are really studious, get a Masters degree (or at least enough credits) using HOPE dollars.

A side note to consider, my understanding is this could also be used for those wanting workplace certification, i.e. going to DeKalb Tech. Given the Perimeter College and DeKalb Tech are in our county, DCSS students are positioned to fully take advantage of this legislation.

Cerebration said...

I agree - let them move on! And even better - if you go to DeKalb Tech or Gwinnett Tech or one of those, you can get the Hope GRANT - much easier to get than the Hope Scholarship. You only need a 2.0.

There is no excuse for at least not acquiring some technical training after high school in this state.

We really need to build a rock solid middle class here.

Dunwoody Mom said...

There is a called BOE meeting on Friday. One of the items on the Agenda is a discussion of NCLB. Any ideas what that is all about?

Cerebration said...

This is the announcement that was sent out today -

February 24, 2009

NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS:

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the below listed meetings on
Friday,
February 27, 2009:

9:30am Called Meeting to adjourn to executive session to discuss a legal matter
Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center
Building A, Superintendent's Conference Room
3770 North Decatur Road, Decatur

10:00am Called Meeting to adjourn to a Committee of the Whole
Robert R. Freeman Administrative Center
Building A, J. David Williamson Board Room
3770 North Decatur Road, Decatur

The agenda for the called meeting is attached. Meeting information can be
accessed online by going to: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us, click on Board of
Education and Meeting Information.

Sincerely,
Thomas E. Bowen, Chair
DeKalb Board of Education


c: Members, DeKalb Board of Education
Dr. Crawford Lewis, Superintendent
Administrative Cabinet
Public, Press & Media Relations
Alexander and Associates