Sunday, September 27, 2009
Arabia - Are they getting more than their fair share?
Kristina Torres wrote a column (press release) in yesterday's AJC titled, "DeKalb hopes Arabia becomes new model school". My stomach rolled. Model school for who? I am more than disgusted by the fact that so many millions ($53 I believe) went into this very special "magnet" school, when so many others are still either crumbling, aging, energy-wasting behemoths or over-crowded newer schools built for and full of "regular" kids. Arabia is the money-eating Pac-Man of pie charts - gobbling up more than it's fair share of resources per student - diminishing even the per student spending of DeKalb School of the Arts, DESA and Kittredge.
Arabia, in all it's glory, had to beg, borrow and steal in order to garner enough students to save face. I would challenge the powers that be to investigate each and every student's actual home address to ensure that the school is in fact, filled with DeKalb county residents. I wonder this, since the school is located in a little niche pocket way down in south DeKalb within 2 miles of the Henry and Rockdale county borders, yet over 25 miles from Lakeside, Druid Hills, Tucker, Dunwoody, Cross Keys, Avondale, Stone Mountain, etc - virtually inaccessible to a majority of county schools. Arabia is the Hail Mary pass made by Crawford Lewis to hide the fact as reported by Torres that, "Only 30 percent of DeKalb’s 22 high schools met federal testing goals this year. It was 39 percent in 2008." He is just certain that this crown jewel will cover the hideous failures elsewhere.
As we have reported here, Arabia was built and approved with the stated intention of alleviating over-crowding at near-by schools (all under 5 years old) - Martin Luther King, Jr HS, Lithonia HS and Miller Grove HS. However, in the end, Crawford Lewis and his leadership team deemed this school far too special to serve as just another neighborhood school, so they created several "magnet" programs within the building (in addition to the 500-600 allotted slots for locals). They did this in spite of the fact that Southwest DeKalb high school is a coveted (over-crowded) magnet school about 5 miles away. And still - all three of the aforementioned schools remain overcrowded and on the list for additions using SPLOST 3 funding!
Now we have reports from students at Lakeside that they don't have Environmental Science textbooks because all of theirs were sent to Arabia. Lakeside has overcrowded, large classes - some of which are being held in the cafetorium. Chamblee HS has a textbook shortage and well, we all know the story about the horrible condition of virtually everything at Cross Keys. I gasped when I read about Arabia's white boards connected to the internet -- and then shed a tear for Cross Keys "wipeboards" - the old white things all stained and cracked from years of use.
DCSS hates it when we shed light on the condition of Cross Keys, Lakeside, Chamblee and others along with the empty promises made to these communities - but I say - if you want to stand in the sunlight and take all the glory for the beautiful Arabia HS - then you also have to stand at the gates of the ghetto and take responsibility as you lay your eyes on the truth of what so many others have to endure under your leadership. Leadership whose motto seems to be "the best of everything -- for some."