Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"A new era of responsibility"

As citizens of DeKalb County each of us is responsible for our public school system. We are responsible not merely for our neighborhood school but the entire school system of which it is a part. The current challenges to our public school system (DCSS) are many. And they are severe. But these challenges must be met. And it is our responsibility to meet them.

We must move past the "us versus them" mentality that divides our community and undermines our progress.


We must recognize the reality that we are all in this together. Each of us is bound to the other. Our individual success is dependent upon the success of every other member of our community.

None of my daughters will ever have a genuine opportunity until every child has a genuine opportunity. None of my daughters will truly realize their dreams until every child can realize theirs. None of us will truly taste success until each and every one of us is able to achieve success.

It's that simple.

None of the children in DCSS will be getting the best possible education until every child in DCSS is getting the best possible education.

We must move past our petty differences, discard our ineffective approaches and abandon the divisions of our past. We must put aside our childish ways and accept our responsibilities as citizens of our community.

We should seize these responsiblities gladly. For they are the duties that define our character and satisfy our spirit. And in honoring them we honor each other.

As citizens of this community we must seize this moment in our collective history. This is our time. We must dedicate ourselves to the goal of assuring every student in our public schools the best possible education.

Not the best for some, not the best for most, but the best for each and every single child. Regardless of address, affluence, race, religion or other identifier, every single child in this system must be given every opportunity, every advantage and every chance to learn, develop and grow.

We must dedicate ourselves to working relentlessly toward this goal. For if we fail a single child we will fail our community. If we fail a single child we will fail our selves.

And in this moment, in this time, in this new era of responsibility, failure is not an option.

24 comments:

Open+Transparent said...

Very good post by George.

Anonymous said...

Although I can certainly appreciate the spirit in which these opinions are offered, my experiences with DCSS administration have not led to an opinion that they are as " team spirited" as this writing hopes for. I have not experienced a proactive sharing of information or a nonbiased forum for receiving input from the community. It seems that they make decisions, then open it up to the community with a " middle of the road " concensus already in mind?

Perhaps I am missing something, but is that not the basis for this exchange of information? I think that it is imperative to scrutinize information - not to set up a lack of cooperation but to encourage accountability.

It is a new era of responsibility. But this is prompted by increased attentions to resource allocations, attentions that are long overdue in many cases....

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

@George Bradford

If I accept your premise, what practical steps or decisions are you asking me to make?

Your passionate expression on behalf of all children and the system is well made but what does it mean we should do differently day-to-day?

I'm afraid I do not understand what you are enjoining us to do.

Ella said...

I totally agree with what you said, but I also believe that there should be equal facilities to educate our students throughout the county. I am not for sure this has happened in the past. I still see some schools in the county who facilities are the state of the art and other parts of the county that facilities are in horrible shape. Why has money not being spent equally throughout the county for these needs? Why is so much money being spent to move the county office when schools where children are being educated are in the shape they are? Why does Ms. Popes office look so nice while children are being educated in 600 trailers across our county? Why has some parts of the county have so much as far as facilities while other parts of the county appear to almost be over looked.

I personally care about the education of every child in Dekalb County and I will fight to see Dekalb provide the best educational opportunities for every child. I was at Cross Keys last night to voice my opinion about this schools needs. I have no children at Cross Keys and I do not live in the Cross Keys community.

We also can care and work all we want but without the parental involvement all our cares, wants and work may not be very effective.

I do agree that we all should work together for education needs of every child in Dekalb County. If all citizens are working together in Dekalb County our chances are good to truely turn the Dekalb County School System into the school system it was 50 years ago.

Cerebration said...

Excellent post, George - I couldn't agree with you more. Equity for ALL is the key.

jodynroy said...

I agree with George as well. Where does equity begin? Those of us who are involved, who know our schools, who voice our opinions - loudly- to the system and who advocate for our kids make sure they get their due - and sometimes more. Of course, this should not be at the expense of other schools with less vocal involvement, but it usually is.
A perfect example is all the low-population schools that parents don't want to see closed (and I don't blame them). I also know that some of our older schools are much smaller physically than newly-built schools. But how can we be equitable and cost effective when we have so many more schools per capita than any other school system in the metro area?
we have over 150 schools for 100,000 students. Gwinnett, w/ 154,000 students has about 90.
This list of public school systems in Atlanta Parent is very telling. From my experience (doing PR for a school), the school systems themselves supply this info. YOu can probably verify it also by checking the Atlanta Magazine education guide, which publishes the same info. I don't know if the domain will post but I'll try: (delete the spaces & DOT)
http:// atlantaparent DOT com/Education/public.php

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

I am feeling more and more like a curmudgeon the more I listen to myself ...

The age, number and size of schools is important. I concede that. But to me these discussions seem more like debates about where to place the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I don't see how newer, larger, fewer schools will lead to better performing students. I just don't get it.

I think given the state we're in we certainly have to continue to address the "state of the plant." But how can this take priority over the students performance? Over teacher quality? Over parent engagement?

I would rather see my son in a high performing, dilapidated building than in a shining, failing school. Let's restrict school schedules to sunny days only and hold class in the empty field for heaven's sake if that's what it takes!

Where is the education coming from a building? ...Curmudgeon out!

Cerebration said...

Isn't this interesting -- (from today's AJC)

The Cobb County school system could face a budget shortfall of an estimated $76 million in FY 2010. "We're looking at every program, every service, every function that we can do without or scale back, " (CFO) Addison told board members. "We are asking for ideas and suggestions from the principals, teachers, staff, parents and community."

Imagine that!

Cerebration said...

Let me repost the enrollment numbers (Fall, 2008)- these should be used to keep spending equitable.

Avondale - 646 students - Capacity - 1155 (509 Available Seats)
(DSA will add 285 students to Avondale in August - putting enrollment at 931 - or 224 available seats)

Cedar Grove - 1239 students - 1323 capacity (84 available seats)

Chamblee - 1564 students - 1260 capacity (304 over capacity)

Clarkston - 934 students - 1260 capacity (326 available seats) In the process of a total reno and auditorium/tech classroom addition.

Columbia - 1322 students - 1365 capacity (43 available seats) Already completed a total reno and auditorium/tech classroom addition.

Cross Keys - 829 students - 1239 capacity (410 available seats)
(High School of Tech North will merge in August - unsure of the number of students who will be sent to Cross Keys.)

Druid Hills - 1409 students - 1218 capacity (191 over capacity) Reno in process.

Dunwoody - 1602 students - 1386 capacity (216 over capacity)

Lakeside - 1705 students - 1281 capacity (424 over capacity)

Lithonia - 1683 students - 1407 capacity (276 over capacity)
Crowding will be relieved with the opening of Arabia HS in August. Arabia can hold 2100 students. Even so, Lithonia is scheduled to receive a multi-million dollar addition.

MLK - 2044 students - 1407 capacity (637 over capacity)
Crowding will be relieved with the opening of Arabia HS in August. Arabia can hold 2100 students. Even so, MLK is scheduled to receive a multi-million dollar addition.

McNair - 1124 students - 1701 capacity (577 available seats) Already completed a total reno and auditorium/tech classroom addition.

Miller Grove - 1751 students - 1764 capacity (13 available seats)
Crowding will be relieved with the opening of Arabia HS in August. Arabia can hold 2100 students. Even so, Miller Grove is scheduled to receive a multi-million dollar addition.

Open Campus - 777 students - Program is moving to a new facility - unsure of capacity.

Redan - 1518 students - 1197 capacity (321 over capacity)

SW Dekalb - 1882 students - 1365 capacity (517 over capacity)

Stephenson - 1893 students - 2058 capacity (165 available seats)

Stone Mt - 1468 students - 1197 capacity (271 over capacity)

Towers - 1044 students - 1365 capacity (321 available seats) Already completed a total reno and auditorium/tech classroom addition.

Tucker - Currently has 1493 students, under construction - new building - unsure of capacity.

Cerebration said...

Update to that post --

Arabia's capacity is only now around 1600 students. The school will only take 350 students from MLK and 250 students from Lithonia. The remaining 1000 seats will be available as a "Choice" program for students countywide.

pscexb said...

There will be 3 school choice meetings regarding Arabia Mountain, beginning Tuesday, February 17 @ Chamblee. For the other dates and sites, go to the DCSS website @

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/newsroom/press/pdf/2009-02-11.2009-02-19.Arabia_Mountain_HS_School_Choice_Community_Meetings.pdf

Cerebration said...

Let's just go ahead and publish those dates - after all - they are looking for 1000 students to "Choose" Arabia in the fall --

Arabia Mountain High School
SCHOOL CHOICE
COMMUNITY MEETINGS

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2009
6:30 p.m.
Chamblee Charter High School
Ms. Rochelle Lowery, Principal
3688 Chamblee Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, Georgia 30341
678-676-6902

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2009
6:30 p.m.
AVONDALE HIGH SCHOOL
Dr. Tasharah Wilson, Principal
1192 Clarendon Road
Avondale Estates, Georgia 30002
678-676-0402

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 19, 2009
6:30 p.m.
COLUMBIA HIGH SCHOOL
Mr. Doug Sanders, Principal
2106 Columbia Drive
Decatur, Georgia 30032
678-874-0802

Ella said...

Kim, you are great. I went into my son's Gifted Biology class at Lakeside HS and the class had one sink, and one gas plug-in. This bothers me a great deal as a Science Teacher. You can teach knowledge of science in this setting but it will be hard for the students to do much applied type science experiments, in this setting. This is what bothers me. Their is a certain amount of infracture that is needed in Science. The students need adequate hall space to change classes and enough bathrooms to be able to go to the bathroom between classes. I do not care how old the building is but certain up-dates do need to be done to accommodate a certain number of students.

Cerebration said...

UNIQUE ASSETS OF ARABIA HS
Career Tech Labs:
Environmental Sciences Labs, Family and Consumer Sciences with a ProStart Kitchen; Health Occupations Lab “Technology Education Lab; Georgia Power Lab; and three Business Labs. Fine Arts Program that includes: 600 Seat Auditorium, Drama Classroom, Music Rooms: Band, Orchestra, Chorus; Keyboard Lab, and Arts Rooms: 2-D including digital art area, and 3-D room.
Cafeteria/Commons seating 650
Media Center
Athletics Program that includes:
1,400 Seat performance Gymnasium w/Double Practice Courts, indoor Running Track, Wrestling Room, Weight Room, Boys and Girls PE and Athletics Locker Rooms, Aerobics and Fitness Room, and three Health Classrooms. Outdoor Facilities include: Track and Performance Soccer/Football Field, Practice Soccer/Football Field, Baseball Field, Softball Field, and two Tennis Courts. Outdoor Classroom/Amphitheater and Walking Trail

This school was planned and paid for with SPLOST 2 spending with the reason being - to alleviate over-crowding in the fast-growing area of SW DK. So - instead, it will now only draw 600 students from nearby over-crowded schools and intends to fill 1000 seats with students from around the county. I don't know - I wonder - now - looking back - did we really NEED it, after all? Was the relief to over-crowding a bait and switch? What is the deal? It's still not settling well - not when there are other schools that really could have used the funding.

Cerebration said...

PSC - didn't even you assume that Arabia was being built to relieve over-crowding in SW DK? When did the plan change? Were the attendance lines redrawn as you had expected? Why are they not pulling more students from MLK, MG, Lithonia and SW DK? Are they hoping that students from these schools will apply? Do they only want high achievers - not neighborhood students? I'm not understanding - below is an old comment of yours explaining the Arabia plan - but this isn't what happened...

Arabia Mountain has the potential to provide relief to MLKing, Jr, Miller Grove, Lithonia, and SW DeKalb as there will need to be significant redrawing of lines in those areas. There will be split
feeder situations since there is not a dedicated middle school for Arabia Mountain. Those ES students in crowded schools will need to Arabia Mountain. Those ES students in crowded schools will need to go somewhere shortly.

Cerebration said...

This is what is published at the DCSS website for Regional demographics--(Moved from the old blog).

Region 5 Schools
Dr. Wendolyn Bouie, Facilitator
Regional Total Enrollment: 11,820 (estimated)
Elementary School Total: 4,933 (estimated)
Middle School Total: 2,645 (estimated)
High School Total: 4,242 (estimated)

Elementary Schools
Browns Mill
Fairington
Marbut
Murphey Candler
Stoneview

Middle Schools
Lithonia
Salem

High Schools
Arabia Mountain
M.L. King, Jr.
Lithonia

Seems to be they have the area high school enrollment of 4,242covered - divided by three brand new high schools that equates to 1,414 per school.

By contrast, look at Region 1 - although the number of high schoolers is less (remember, Cross Keys is one of the region's high schools), look at the number of elementary students coming up:

Region 1 Schools
Dr. Deborah Rives, Facilitator
Regional Total Enrollment: 14.352 (estimated)
Elementary School Total: 7,907 (estimated)
Middle School Total: 2,680 (estimated)
High School Total: 3,765 (estimated)

Elementary Schools
Ashford Park
Austin
Cary Reynolds
Chesnut
Dresden
Hightower
Huntley Hills
Huntley Hills
Kingsley
Montclair
Montgomery
Nancy Creek
Dunwoody (new)
Oakcliff
Vanderlyn
Woodward

Middle Schools
Chamblee (new)
Chamblee (original)
Peachtree
Sequoyah

High Schools
Chamblee Charter
Cross Keys
Dunwoody

And now, compare it all to Region 2, the Lakeside, Druid HIlls, Tucker and Avondale* cluster (*Avondale is now DSA magnet and shouldn't count as common enrollment, IMO)

Region 2 Schools
Dr. Felicia Mitchell, Facilitator
Regional Total Enrollment: 19,428 (estimated)
Elementary School Total: 9,644 (estimated)
Middle School Total: 4,507 (estimated)
High School Total: 5,277 (estimated)

Elementary Schools
Avondale
Briar Vista
Briarlake
Brockett
Evansdale
Fernbank
Forrest Hills
Hawthorne
Henderson Mill
Idlewood
Knollwood
Laurel Ridge
Livsey
McLendon
McLendon
Medlock
Midvale
Midway
Oak Grove
Pleasantdale
Segamore Hills
Robert Shaw
Smoke Rise

Middle Schools
Avondale
Henderson
Shamrock
Tucker

High Schools
Avondale
Druid Hills
Lakeside
Tucker


Region 6 looks fairly balanced as well --

Region 6 Schools
Mr. Horace Dunson, Facilitator
Regional Total Enrollment: 14,242 (estimated)
Elementary School Total: 5,796 (estimated)
Middle School Total: 3,399 (estimated)
High School Total: 5,047 (estimated)

Elementary Schools
Bob Mathis
Cedar Grove
Chapel Hill
Narvie J. Harris
Oak View
Panola Way
Rainbow
Woodridge

Middle Schools
Cedar Grove
Chapel Hill
Miller Grove

High Schools
Cedar Grove
Miller Grove
Southwest DeKalb

And then, look at the same problem in Region 3 - lots of elementary kids coming up --

Region 3 Schools
Ms. Sheryl Croft, Facilitator
Regional Total Enrollment: 15,747 (estimated)
Elementary School Total: 8,424 (estimated)
Middle School Total: 3,263 (estimated)
High School Total: 4,060 (estimated)

Elementary Schools
Atherton
E.L. Bouie, Sr.
Canby Lane
Clifton
Columbia
Flat Shoals
Glen Haven
Gresham Park
Kelley Lake
Leslie J. Steele
Meadowview
Peachcrest
Rowland
Sky Haven
Snapfinger
Terry Mill
Tilson
Toney
Wadsworth

Middle Schools
Bethune
Columbia
McNair

High Schools
Columbia
McNair
Towers

Luckily, all three of these high schools are prepared, having all had Luckily, all three of these high schools are prepared, having all had total renovations as well as additions, auditoriums and career tech.

And lastly, look at the number of elementary kids in Region 4 -

Region 4 Schools
Mrs. Rita Wyatt, Facilitator
Regional Total Enrollment: 21,267 (estimated)
Elementary School Total: 10,664 (estimated)
Middle School Total: 4,203 (estimated)
High School Total: 6,400 (estimated)

Elementary Schools
Allgood
Dunaire
E.L. Miller
Hambrick
Indian Creek
Jolly
Pine Ridge
Redan
Rock Chapel
Rockbridge
Shadow Rock
Stone Mill
Stone Mountain
Wynbrooke

Middle Schools
Freedom
Redan
Stephenson
Stone Mountain

High Schools
Clarkston
Redan
Stephenson
Stone Mountain

Again, these high schools are fairly well prepared. At least Clarkston is about to begin a renovation and addition, Redan has had one, as well as Stephenson - which currently has 205 available seats. Obviously, though, these schools will not offering the same number of available seats as Region 5 will.

Open+Transparent said...

The Transportation Division of the DeKalb County Public Works Dept. is simply incompetent. Thank you for blowing off the principal and nearby residents reagrding their complaints off speeding traffic in front of an elementary school. School safety means nothing to you. There was a blinking light, but you took it away, and now 7-year-old Kameron Dunmore is gone. Chew 'em out BOE!


http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/dekalb/stories/2009/02/12/dekalb_light_school.html

DeKalb can’t find requests for stoplight at school
SUV hit 7-year-old while he was in crosswalk
By TY TAGAMI
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Thursday, February 12, 2009

Despite claims from residents and a school principal, DeKalb County officials say they have no record of requests for a stoplight at the crosswalk where 7-year-old Kameron Dunmore was killed when a driver plowed through it last week.

Princeton Elementary School principal Juanita B. Letcher and residents near the south DeKalb school say they complained to county officials about the need for a light, but e-mails and records obtained under the Georgia Open Records Act show no record of any complaints — or of a light being removed.

Letcher has said that a blinking warning light had been in place at the crosswalk on South Deshon Road when the school opened in August 2007, but that the county removed it within two months. She also said a county employee came to the school about that time to do a traffic assessment. Letcher said she “expressed concerns about having traffic lights there” because of the high traffic volume.

Neighbors also have said they delivered a letter to county government requesting a stoplight, but officials couldn’t find evidence of it.

“We have checked and double-checked and have no record of a traffic signal request at this location,” one county transportation official wrote to a superior on Feb. 3, the day after the fatal incident. “The only records we have at this location are the work orders to install the new school signage.”

The official also noted that there were no records of any traffic signal projects pending there or assessments of a need for one. Aerial maps and photos obtained from the county show no traffic light at the intersection around the time of construction.

Regina Hill, who lives nearby, said she requested a stoplight in a letter she hand-delivered to the county administration building in Decatur after the school opened. She said it was addressed to then-Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones and that she gave it to the security guard on the building’s ground floor.

Jones’ successor, current CEOBurrell Ellis, promised last week to study whether a traffic light was needed at the school. Internal e-mails back up that resolve. A day after Kameron was killed, officials were e-mailing about expediting a study to assess the need for a traffic light. The studies typically take a few weeks, the e-mails say.

No Duh said...

Gotta agree with Kim. Rhetoric is great.

I'd love to "teach" a child in DCSS to read. But, I'm not a certified teacher, I'm not even a substitute. If I tried I'd probably get sued.

Obama is on the right track. Notice when speaking about education, he always says "parents need to take responsibility." This blog has written about how the BOE members should use their energy not getting admin transfers for their constituents, but holding town meetings to promote education, involvement, etc.

Ella said...

Actually the BOE has been on a campaign to involve parents. They have the parent workshops and also they have a special parent library or place staffed to help parents. I am not so sure where it is located but I do know that they have opened up a location for parents to get information.

I do not know how successful this program is but they do have it.

Cerebration said...

I'm pretty sure that the parent seminars and parent resource centers, etc, are a requirement of Title 1 and funded with Title 1 funds. That's why you don't see it at every school.

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

@No Duh:

Don't know your district or locale but you might find this a good opportunity for your message. I am planning to arrive late to work to make this one:

Emory Lavista Parent Council Meeting Wed. Feb. 18

If you follow the link through my site it will take you over to a full schedule for 3 upcoming meetings - one of which is, "Topic: School Councils -- How They Can Help You Improve Your School"

Kim->CommunityRadar.com said...

@No Duh:

Every time! I messed up the link again. Here is the correct one:

Emory Lavista Parent Council Meeting Wed. Feb. 18

Cerebration said...

This is an excerpt from an AJC article yesterday. It really caught my attention:

For years, people have said that teaching social and emotional skills would come at the expense of academics. But a growing body of research shows that strengthening these capabilities actually improves academic performance. A summary analysis by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning looked at hundreds of studies conducted by independent researchers of effective social and emotional learning programs. CASEL’s analysis showed multiple benefits for both regular-education and higher-needs students, including an average gain of 11 percentile to 17 percentile points on achievement test scores.

Maybe we need to focus on emotional learning - socialization - and general life skills like how to manage money and credit.

BTW - the enrollment numbers are in one of my comments above. I had referenced these in another thread. As you can see, we have totally out of balance enrollments.

Cerebration said...

Wanted to make sure this got posted to this thread because it's so important -- I told you all that I knew Arabia had always been sold as needed to relieve overcrowding in SW DeKalb. Now - that the thing is built - and they've found that they really don't need that many seats in that area - it's become a "choice" school - opened to applicants via lottery.

from the ELPC minutes from the JAN 12, 2008 State of the System address --

Q: What are the feeder schools for Arabia Mountain HS?

A: Arabia Mountain High School is designed to relieve overcrowding at Martin Luther King, Jr. and Lithonia High School.


(Oh - that's right -- that USED to be the story...)

Gotta add my favorite here --

Q: I did not see anything during the presentation that is going to help the overcrowding at Lakeside HS. Teachers are frustrated, and some of the good teachers are leaving. The quality of education has declined since NCLB.

A; At this time we are able to manage the enrollment at Lakeside.


Wow - what a juxtaposition...