Friday, January 29, 2010

Lewis needs to become a budget cut


Like the character created by Dr. Seuss, Marvin K. Mooney, it is time for Superintendent Lewis to go.

Here's why:

1. It is demoralizing for teachers to face salary cuts when he accepts a salary increase and other perks that were not made clear. How much did he receive in other compensation including increases in his retirement pay?

2. During his tenure, there have been two reverse discrimination cases filed against the Dekalb County for disparate treatment of nonAfrican-American students in the magnet programs. The first plaintiff prevailed. These lawsuits are costly and defending and then settling them cost the taxpayers bundles. By eliminating the magnet programs, the lawsuits over discriminatory admission policies will also be eliminated.

3. He continues to support magnet programs when the original impetus for their creation is gone. The magnet programs were the court-ordered creative solution to desegregate the schools. There is no longer any legal decree that the county is compelled to integrate the schools. The magnet programs along with transporting students cost us quite a lot and are antiquated. The money used to support these schools which discriminate against nonAfrican-American students can be put back in the neighborhood schools. The magnet programs spend considerably more to educate a child when compared to the cost of educating a child in a local neighborhood. The cost of testing the children for these schools would also be eliminated.

4. He hired Pat Pope whose credentials for the $200,000.00 job are questionable. He hired her creating a conflict of interest between Pope and her husband. He offered her a second contract after she has cost taxpayers a million dollars in matching funds. Who is laughing now? Pat is twiddling her thumbs doing no significant work while the County continues to pay her $200,000.00.

5. He continues to retain Ms. Pope after settling a lawsuit against her for sexual harassment. How much did this lawsuit cost the County? Her continued employment puts the County at risk for another lawsuit of this flavor. Pope denied the allegations of sexual abuse, but there must have been enough compelling evidence against her to compel a settlement. It is obvious that her denials were neither credible nor believed by the legal team settling the case.

6. He also hired three upper level personnel including a person to head a nutrition program. Does the County really need a person formally, a High School principal, in charge of nutrition. It would be easier to hire a dietician on a contract basis. Do we really need to pay some one to add more fresh fruit and vegetables to our children's diet?

Finally, I had the pleasure of meeting Pat Pope at a meeting to present the new Dunwoody Elementary School to the public. She was arrogant and uninformed. She was rude to parents including myself and did not seem to possess the knowledge of her title and inflated salary.

In the law, there is a concept called respondeat superior which means that supervisors are resonsible for the actions of their subordinates. Accordingly, Superintendent Lewis is responsible for the actions and untoward behavior of Pat Pope and all the other employees who engage in discriminatory practices resulting in lawsuits against the County.

Dr. Lewis, it is time for you to go. As Dr. Seuss says: "I don't care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow." Please go because all the children of Dekalb County deserve better.

===========
Post was sent by a DCSS parent who wishes to remain anonymous

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

The treatement of latino students under Crawford Lewis is inexcusable. As is the condition of Latino-heavy schools Cross Keys There are other schools in the county in pitiful shape, like McLendon and Lakeside.and Sequoyah.

I' love to see a chart comparing the number of DCSS administrators now compared to five, ten and twenty years ago.

Crawford will never be fired by the BOE. But he will chill out at the Commerce Club with fellow member Gene Walker.

Anonymous said...

Gene Walker is out there sending emails that he can save everything, prevent teacher furloughs and program cuts.

Keep in mind that he has suggested a two mil property tax increase already -- to require the only changes be by attrition. I think this is a terrible idea. Some property tax increase might be necessary -- but it should be far smaller than he is suggesting and cuts must be made in the "fat."

It worries me when people are latching their hopes on to Dr. Walker. Perhaps he will prove me wrong. We cannot simply tax our way out of this.

Ella Smith said...

I do not see a tax increase as the way out of the problem.

The problem is that banks are not paying the taxes on the property they currently own due to foreclosures. The problem is an economic crisis. I do not see taxing overburdened taxpayers already because property owners are not paying their property tax. Banks are owners of property also and the problem is that the banks are not paying taxes and no one is forcing them to live up to their obligations of many bad loans that many of them did make.

Before an increase in taxes occur the School System needs to get lean and mean. We are not there yet in order to ask the taxpayers for an increase in taxes.

The other problem is the formula which takes all of the tax dollars brought into Dekalb out. A county like Dekalb's tax base is being used for poorer school systems throughout the state and our children are sufferring now. Is it fair for us to keep raising our ml rate while poor counties keep their ml rate low and then use our ml rate money for educating their children. I do not think so. How about you?

We need to get access as a state to the reserve of money (1/2 billion dollars) in this time of crisis to help support the education of our children. The lottery money was support to be for the education of our children.
Our legislature body needs to act to get us access to this money.

Another metro counties deficit is 100 million dollars. Is it fair for the metro counties to continue to suffer due to the formula which is taking possible too much of our money away? Do we not need to go to our legislative body and ask them what they are doing to help education? They keep taking and taking from the public schools in the metro area. Are they trying to destroy public education as we know it?

Ella Smith said...

I also am concerned about the conditions of our schools that school our Latino-heavy population.

I also see a small percentage of Latino teachers in Dekalb County.

Anonymous said...

Some sincere questions here:

1) If Dr. Lewis is replaced by someone who makes more money (and we WILL have to pay more to get a quality superintendent) will the teachers be happy? Be careful what you wish for...we could end up with another Johnny Brown. How much did it cost DCSS to get rid of him?
2) Anyone know what percentage of teacher applicants are Hispanic in Dekalb? In the US? Is it a case of discrimination, or lack of applicants?
3) The magnets are the only thing keeping some great students and teachers in the county. Maybe we can't afford them, but we should keep in mind that we will lose some of our best talent if we close them.
4) Administrators are blasted constantly on this forum. However, in my 40 years in Dekalb County, I have met some of the most talented and dedicated people who are administrators for DCSS. They put in extremely long hours and (most) deserve the paychecks they receive. Teachers work long hours too...but they only work ten months a year and are not required to attend countless meetings, sporting events, and musical performances after hours.

Helen said...

Would it be demoralizing for the teachers to see the BOE hire a new superintendent making more than Dr. Lewis makes now (with his raise)?

One Fed Up Insider said...

It would not bother me if and only if. 1) He got rid of all of Clew's croonies. 2) Was not from the education field.

We really need someone with experience running a billion dollar a year corporation. To get that you are going to have to pay for it. But this way, he has no ties to friends and family.
He can really see what need to be cut to get the business running smoothly.

Next have the people under him be the educators (good ones, not CLew's yes men).

I bet in 4-5 years the system would be cleaned up. Supplies would be in our classroom, and we would not be a PO'd as we are now.

Do you know how hard it is to make copies for your class when the copier at school was broken 4 of the 5 days this week. I bet CLew does not have this problem.

Anonymous said...

Effective Leadership: DeKalb fire department does inquiry the day after a fatal fire in Dunwoody. Two days later, 4 senior commanders are fires.

Ineffective Leadership: DeKalb Superintendent knows of wrong doings in District. DCSS conducts internal investigations. Nothing happens.

Anonymous said...

Crawford Lewis, it's nice for you that Gwen Keys is a fellow leadership DeKalb alumni:

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb-d-a-erred-286914.html

DeKalb D.A. erred in reporting schools superintendent inquiryBy Tim Eberly


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

5:33 p.m. Friday, January 29, 2010

The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office said it mistakenly reported that it had re-opened investigations into DeKalb schools Superintendent Crawford Lewis’ purchase of a school district vehicle and his purchase of gas on his district credit card.

The cases are closed and prosecutors did not file criminal charges against Lewis, said Chief Assistant District Attorney Don Geary.


But Geary did say the office is reviewing information from those cases to determine if any of it is relevant to a current investigation involving the school district.

School district spokesman Dale Davis said Lewis declined to comment on the mistake.

News about the investigations involving Lewis surfaced this week after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained a taped interview between Lewis and a DA’s Office investigator from November 2008.

The DA’s Office had called Lewis in to answer questions about his car purchase and questionable gas purchases on his district credit card. But, midway through the interview, Lewis brought forth numerous allegations about his then-chief operating officer, Patricia “Pat” Pope.

The AJC detailed those allegations in articles that published on Sunday and Wednesday. In the latter article, the newspaper reported that prosecutors said both the investigations into Lewis were open.

DA’s Office spokesman Orzy Theus said in an e-mail Tuesday that a prosecutor was “taking a fresh look at the circumstances surrounding both issues.” He also said that new information had surfaced in the cases.

Later, Theus said that he misconstrued information relayed to him by a prosecutor.

“That was a bad choice of words on my part,” Theus said Thursday evening. “That was me making some assumptions...I apologize for the misunderstanding, but it wasn’t intentional.”

Geary, however, did say that the prosecutor working on the investigation involving Pat Pope, Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney John Melvin, is re-examining information those cases in light of the current investigation.

The DA’s Office is investigating whether Pope broke the law by allegedly steering contracts to her husband’s architecture firm and two other construction companies where she has connections.

“John is looking at all aspects of the allegations, past, present, etcetera, that have emanated from these individuals and this entity [the school district],” Geary said. “We’re looking at everything that we have had in light of the evidence we possess in the school case.”

The DA’s Office won’t say anything more about the school probe.

Anonymous said...

Teachers do go to after school concert, games, pto meetings, pto sponsored events, open houses, etc just like administrators. In fact, I attend more of the after school functions than my administrator.

The suggestions in this posting are right on. Unless the system is cleaned up, good teachers who care will leave, not because of pay, but because of the ridiculous crap that they have to put up and the incorrect pedagogies presented by Gloria Talley and her crew.

Another department that could go is the professional development. Paying for teachers to get professional development from outside the district and paying for teachers to be educated in the programs that they are teaching by people who have actually used the programs is much more effective than train the trainer model that is being used, as no one really knows much of anything.

We need someone with experience and no ties running DCSS who isn't afraid to hurt people's feelings or cut their job. Teachers are tired of the waste and not having what they need while the fat cats have what they need and do much more. I'd like gas money to get to work as a perk, wouldn't you?

Anonymous said...

My very favorite post header. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Cere: I object to your posting such a blatantly incorrect and misleading topical post by "Anonymous." While everyone is entitled to their opinion in comments, this post represents these items as fact. I think it cheapens this blog to post such as a topic. Items 2, 3 and 4 are absolutely incorrect and we all know it.

The rather minor lawsuits involving Kittredge did not cost "millions" to defend or "millions" to settle.

It does not cost twice as much to educate a student in a magnet school as in a neighborhood school. In fact it costs much more to educate ELL, disabled and special ed students. If Anonyomous has hard numbers and documentation, let's see it.

Pat Pope was actually one of the few high level hires that Lewis made that had true industry experience both in reality and on paper. I recall a year or so ago how Cere and others constantly were cheerleading for her on this blog. It may turn out that she was a very bad hire, but she had the credentials. To insinuate that Ms. Pope is a "sexual predator" is unwarranted.

I'm sorry but I can no longer recommend this blog as an appropriate forum to my community.
Farewell.

Anonymous said...

Since we moved to Atlanta and into DeKalb County nearly 3 years ago, I have heard the term Premier DeKalb thrown around a great deal by Dr. Lewis. I work as a teacher in DeKalb and have not seen anything premier about DCSS. I continue to wait.

Closing Kittridge and other magnet schools that are succeeding and implementing the techniques used in those schools would indeed make DeKalb premier. Research in education has shown numerous times that when you raise the bar, the children will rise to the challenge. In the three years that I have been teaching in DeKalb, I have seen the bar lowered and lowered. We need to give students at least 3 chances and document those chances when it comes to homework, we are not aloud to give zeros (even when earned on a test) unless the principal okays it, I have been in meetings and been told if children fail, we (the teachers) must be doing something wrong and that all children need to pass, I know that teachers have been asked to change grades to shut parents up, and I could go on with how DCSS dumbs down the education of its students, and I am sure that other teachers could as well.

What happened to the slogan "No Excuses"? DeKalb needs to have raise the bar in all of its schools and follow the Kittridge model in ALL schools. There is nothing special about the students that go to Kittridge. They do not have to be gifted. They only have to score in the 75% range on the ITBS. Following many of the techniques that Kittridge does, would raise the educational level across the district. Students would need to work to meet this goal, but right now, I do not see even the "gifted students" working too hard and they surely aren't expected to learn anything to mastery.

If we raise the bar of education and what we want our students to receive, our teachers to do, and cut the fat that is everywhere in the system, we could in deed be Premier.

Anonymous said...

Dear Board Members,

Please set a maximum reasonable superintendant salary & perks & bonus for all future superintendents.Period.

This "salary & perks & bonus" should be between 3 to 4 times higher than what a 30 year CLASSROOM teacher with a doctorate makes. Thus the superintendant is paid between $255000 and $340000.

On years when goals are met, he/she makes closer to $340000 in "salary & perks & bonus". On years when goals are not met, "salary & perks & bonus" are closer to the $255000. Period

Hire the best person (skills, experience, qualifications, integrity, proven results, and potential) willing to do the job under these terms.

Vox Noctae

Cerebration said...

We're very sorry to see you go, Anon 10:04 AM. However, the writer of this post chose to send it anonymously and although we could have chosen not to post it at all, we decided to toss the subject out here to discuss.

I personally happen to agree. It's time to let Dr. Lewis go. He has no more ability to lead. He has lost the faith and trust of most of his teachers, parents and bus and other staff. That is his basic job function - to lead and inspire the rank and file. I've never seen such bad morale in 15 years. Johnny Brown did not hold a candle to the bad feelings teachers have for Lewis and the board saw fit to replace him. And if replacing Lewis costs the system an additional $50,000 or so - that would be a PR bargain if the new leader could inspire teamwork and trust.

Also - since this is an opinion forum - "My Opinion Is" - leave the magnets. I agree that they won't provide us the wild savings we are dreaming about. And since it's true that there have been - and currently are - lawsuits files against these programs, we need to find a better way to cull applicants (tougher admission standards) and to provide the services for all who want it - whether in a magnet or in home schools. It's as imperative to provide for our top learners as for our weak ones.

And - as far as Pat Pope goes - this is a key issue with Lewis. From what I've read of court documents, he was very well aware of her marital status, her job credentials (which are questioned at length by attorneys), her friendships with contractors, and more than anything, he SIGNED the contract that had Tony Pope's name right there on it for him to see. I disagree with the comment about Pope's demeanor, it's not what I've experienced, however, many, many people say they have found her to be very dismissive to communities. So, we left the statements as is.

And the sexual predator thing is an actual lawsuit action filed by Harold Lewis - the details of which are pretty tantalizing. Dr. Lewis and the board "settled" with Harold Lewis on his complaint. (BTW - Dale Davis has made a statement to one of our reporters that Harold and Crawford are definitely not related.)

Always remember people - this blog is a discussion. It's not a news reporting site.

If you'd like to check in with a new, very informative blog on DeKalb Schools I recommend that you check out The DeKalb Parent Resource Site.

http://dekalbparent.wordpress.com/

(It's included in our favorite links on the right panel.)

Cerebration said...

BTW - we actually do know the identity of the writer, we don't post articles sent randomly by "anonymous"...

Cerebration said...

Last thing for now - I wanted to post the data about DCSS from the State. As you can see, we really are in need of some Hispanic teachers/employees.

from the state reporting site -
http://gaosa.org/reportinfo.aspx#pers

Number of Students in 2009: 96907
Economically Disadvantaged: 66.00%
Students with Disabilities: 9.00%
English Language Learners: 8.00%
Did this District make Adequate Yearly Progress
in 2009? No

DCSS test scores --

CRCT Math AMO = 59.5%
CRCT Reading/ELA AMO= 73.3%

Certified Staff Position Ratios

Teacher/Administrator Ratio 13:1
Teacher/Support Person Ratio 7:1
Teacher/Staff Ratio 5:1
Student Enrollment/All Teachers 14:1

Student data

Special Education 8.5%
English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) 5.8%
Early Intervention Program (EIP)
(Grades K-5) 16.3%
Remedial Education
(Grades 9-12) 1.0%

Of Retained students - 61.5% are male

2008-2009 grades 7-12 number of drop outs -
51,581

2008-2009 grades 9-12 number of drop outs -
34,443

Graduation Rates
White - 90%
Black - 77%
Hispanic - 73%


And you can see that of these 8359 total employees profiled (teachers and in-school support staff - AKA "Certified Personnel")

5601 are black
2472 are white
109 are Hispanic... 109!!! Our school district is nearly 10% Hispanic and we can only employ 109 Hispanics???

Anonymous said...

Cere said: "And if replacing Lewis costs the system an additional $50,000 or so - that would be a PR bargain if the new leader could inspire teamwork and trust."

Unfortunately the board doesn't have the guts to let him go for cause (buying car, p-card purchases, ineffective with teachers, unable to manage budget, etc.). So $50K won't do it.

Didn't the board just extended his contract until 2013 which means they'd need to buy him out. $255K+ for each year till then... Can't wait to see the fireworks when the board writes him a check for between $500K and $750K just to go away, then at the same time pay the new superintendent $250K. A million here, a million there, at some point it's real money...

Get rid of the board, bring one in with guts, take Lewis out -- for cause -- and then focus on the children instead of all this foolishness.

Anonymous said...

From my experience, most of the Hispanic teachers are teaching Spanish and not in the regular elementary, middle school, high school classrooms.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:44- "...Teachers work long hours too...but they only work ten months a year and are not required to attend countless meetings, sporting events, and musical performances after hours."

Yet, though not required to, many teachers DO attend meetings and events after hours AS WELL AS going to school to work as soon as the doors are unlocked. I know teachers who go to sporting events during the summer to support our students. Many of us are invested in the communities we work in. Don't think teachers are working a strictly 40 work week and running out the door as soon as possible (except maybe on Friday afternoons).

Cerebration said...

Check out this report from the National Society for HIspanic Professionals -
Georgia Colleges are seeing 150% more Hispanic students

The number of Hispanic students enrolled in Georgia’s colleges skyrocketed over the past decade and a report released today predicts the trend will continue, requiring colleges to develop programs to attract and keep these students.

College enrollment for Hispanic students at Georgia’s public and private schools grew by almost 150 percent, or about 7,700 students, from 1997-2007, according to the Fact Book on Higher Education from the Southern Regional Education Board, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for education in Georgia and 15 other states. The gain reflects changes found in the state’s overall population.

The trend is expected to accelerate as Hispanic students represent a larger portion of Georgia’s public high school graduates. They were 4 percent of the state’s graduates in 2005, but are projected to be 24 percent in 2022, according to the group’s data.


HIspanics represent nearly 10% of DeKalb County schools students. There are currently more Hispanics enrolled in DCSS than whites.

Cerebration said...

The original source for that report is the AJC.
Ga. colleges increase Hispanic enrollment

Bottom line - there's no excuse for DCSS to under-employ Hispanics so blatantly.

Anonymous said...

Tough to recruit Hispanic college students to teach at DCSS when they are NO Hispanic administrators, and when the schools with high Hispanic populations are in pitiful condition (Cross Keys, Sequoyah).

Cerebration said...

Yes, and as far as I know, the majority Hispanic schools have African-American principals who do not even speak Spanish and cannot communicate well with parents.

Anonymous said...

let's seem why would hispanic teachers wish to come and teach in a state that is constantly trying to rid themselves of hispanics. This is not an immigrant friendly state by any means. what are the percentages of hispanic teachers/administrators in gwinnett, cobb & clayton all of which have a large hispanic population. i worked for a large construction company here in atlanta that employs a large number of hispanics as field employees, very few were are foreman or superintendents and the hispanic liasion person didn't even speak spanish so its not just DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Curious as to the salaries of Dr. Lewis' bloated administrative staff? Visit our new website:
www.dekalbparentsaremad.com

themommy said...

Anon at 4:39pm

We really don't need another blog about DCSS schools. This one is quite sufficient and has been very effective.

Kathy Cox said yesterday that DeKalb is to divided, no one trusts each other, everyone is only interested in their own school, and that is part of the reason our system is such a mess.

I realize that whoever formed that website is very passionate about their small piece of the pie, but we have BIG problems in DeKalb.

In order to have solutions, we have to work together, acknowledge the validity of each others concerns and focus in on shared goals.

If all you are really concerned about is your little piece of the pie, go ahead and advocate but at the end of the day (or school year) you might not find yourself to satisfied with the results.

Otherwise, join the myriad of voices, parents, teachers, taxpayers, and perhaps a rebel administrator or two, on this BLOG and help us work together to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

Whether Dr. Lewis needs to be replaced or not is an interesting topic. Dragging the very successful magnet programs into the mix is irrelevant and destructive.

Most major school systems maintain some type of school choice program. As a system of nearly 100.000 students, DeKalb needs to offer a few alternatives for its students. Schools such as Kittredge provide a valuable alternative for interested students. It is a shame that more kids can't participate- perhaps the answer is to expand the program.

Some allege that somehow many at Kittredge are barely above average- but well over 90% of the kids at Kittredge and associated programs are gifted, and the handful hovering at the bottom of the test charts often struggle mightily.
Many of the Kittredge kids come from schools where they're viewed as freaks because of their academic acumen, but at Kittredge they're accepted.

Dr. Lewis may or may not be the problem. But shutting down the high achiever program will not improve the schools in this county, and will simply destroy something that works.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting discussion about whether or not C Lew should stay on in DCSS. Personally, I like the guy. But liking or not liking is not the issue, he is not performing to what I believe is the expectation. He should leave, it is pretty obvious to most.
Same principle for the magnets, Personally, I think that are a good thing. Frankly, I think that this blog is doing far from " dragging them through the mud ". As usual, people would like to steer as far away as possible as to why people think magnets should be eliminated..
I just can't get that. I have yet to see one accurate, reasonable basis for retaining this expensive, benefit a few, system that should be eliminated with the resources disseminated in the system.
Come on folks, give up the " oh it will ruin the best of the best" thing. If you look at the criteria, it is only necessary to be in the 75 percentile on the ITBS and have a 3.0. High achieving classes are in many " regular schools and many " regular " classrooms who have, shudder the thought close to twice as many students as in a magnet classroom. Unless I am mistaken Kittridge is 1 - 18 ratio.

Ella Smith said...

kittridge having a 1/18 ratio itself seems unreasonable.

I have had 14 special needs students this year in a class and now have 12. These are students who cannot learn well with normal types of presentations.

Kittridge students need challenges but the 1/18 seems too small of class sizes in the current economic situation. This is the problem I have with Kittridge. If these students were in our non-magnet programs they would not have this class size. They would get enrichment within the regular education setting.

Again, I am not anti-Kittridge at all. However, I am for equal class sizes at all schools.

Anonymous said...

@anon 11:01 pm, while many school claim to have "high achiever" classes, not all of the children in those classes are truly high achievers. My daughter is in a high achiever class and some of the children are barely performing at grade level. According to the teacher, while they would like to group by ability it isn't happening. So while 10 of the 24 children are truly high achievers they are being held back by the other 14 who are not, having to constantly go over and re-teach those not a grade level is unfair to those who could and should move on to more advanced work. IMHO, there should be more kittredges in the county, and they should start earlier than 4th grade

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:21 - Everyone would agree that magnets offer a challenging environment - However, the current economic climate does not allow for this level of expenditure to benefit a small group.
The solution is to spread the resources ( teaching professionals, positions, transportation monies, high achiever and gifted expertise ) into the county system. That would " raise the bar " and benefit the situation that you are describing.
Everyone would love to have a Kittridge for their child ( qualified or not ) but we can't afford it even now..... Retain the benefits and eliminate the inequality - Benefits to ALL of the children of DCSS in many ways - most importantly, the main reason, their education.

Anonymous said...

"Peachtree Charter Middle School has General, High Achiever, and Gifted Math tracks PLUS Accelerated math. Placement in levels is based on Georgia and ITBS scores (since the Georgia instrument keeps changing, I'm not even going to try to cite the alphabet soup). Students can be in a High Achiever Math class, Gifted Science, and General Reading - the schedule is tailored to the student's needs."


What a concept! This was posted on the block schedule discussion. It well illustrates a school's ability to meet the needs of children who present at many levels. Furthermore, it addresses the fact the few children are gifted in everything.... They benefit from a setting that will allow subjects to be at their level. Don't we all know children who are off the chart in math but not so much in the language arts or the other way around.
A quality environment can be tailored to meet the needs of all students and that is what we should strive for in all of our schools. Not just hoping on a wing and prayer that our child might get a lottery spot.

Anonymous said...

I would like to submit a rejoinder:

Lawsuit Lewis:

First, the discrimination lawsuits are neither small nor frivolous. As a lawyer who has both brought and defended these type of suits, they are costly in both time and money. Resources better put to use for the students are tied up defending these suits. Personnel from the County are deposed, required to fill out interrogatories, etc, and this takes away from the focus of educating our children. Lewis uses illegal affirmative action to justify spending more money on a particular racial group. The Supreme Court has recently decided a reverse discrimination case case bought by Caucasian and Hispanic firefighters clearly stating that you can not fail to promote the most qualified applicants because African-American firefighters failed to make the grade on a promotion test. Lewis continues to utilize low test scores to determine admission into the magnet programs which results in more qualified children being left out. Children with the highest test scores in the county are shut out from the magnet programs while children with considerably lower scores are allowed in. The County will continue to face more lawsuits of this caliber unless they start to treat all children equally.

Second, Pat Pope lacks a moral compass. She is cheating the County and robbing our children of money that could be utilized to stop teacher furloughs. Shame on her and Lewis for their collusion. Pope should be fired immediately. Let the County or Pope put her curriculum vitae/resume on the web site. I would like to see her credentials. I also challenge her to take a lie detector test and make the results public.

Third, the County needs to find a leader with moral fortitude to lead our children on the right path. Lewis sets a poor example for our children and the teachers of Dekalb County. Who wants to follow a leader who seeks monetary gain at the expense of our children? Parents need to have a vote in who runs the school system. The school board is just a figurehead and by continuing to endorse Lewis, our children are being damaged in the long run. Slash Lewis, Pope and all their cronies from the budget. Our children deserve better.

Fourth, parents and teachers need to continue to put the pressure on to force Lewis to step down before he does any more damage to our school system. He can ride the cow out to pasture with Marvin K. Mooney.


Anonymous

Dekalbparent said...

Just a FYI:

the ratio at Kittredge is not negotiable, because the state dictates how many kids can be in a "gifted" class. In elementary, it is 17 (not 18), and in high school it is 21 or 22. They allow a little latitude in defining a "gifted" class, so not every single kid in the class has to be classified "gifted" - just a certain percentage.

This is why the BIG emphasis on testing (and re-testing, and re-re-testing) every kid at KMS who doesn't come in with a designation of "gifted" to get as many as possible labeled. They use every possible test, which the regular schools don't.

I don't know if this also goes on at Wadsworth.

This state dictate has also affected the high schools. If a class is designated "gifted", but there are more than the allowable umber of students eligible, they change the name of the class to "accelerated", which has no size restriction.

Square Peg said...

Do Kittredge students enjoy a 17:1 ratio during most or all of the school day? That surely isn't the case for "gifted" students at other schools. At my kids' elementary, the gifted kids just had a pullout class for several hours a week. In our last year there, the school lost one of the gifted teachers and they went to a new model, said to be still in accordance with the law, which reduced the amount of pullout time and substituted the sophistry that the Discovery teacher was advising or collaborating with the classroom teacher to provide gifted activities in the regular classroom. That's how I remember it; hopefully someone who knows the rules and the situation better than I will jump in and clarify.

I always felt that it was unfair that the Discovery activities were only for students who had passed the gifted screening - those multiple choice tests of creativity and motivation. Don't all kids deserve stimulating, creative, and enriching activities? What the gifted kids especially need that's different, in my opinion, is a chance to learn without being held back to the middle or even lowest common denominator.

Anonymous said...

Magnets/ Gifted / Regular - Just do the Math:

Square Peg,

That is one way that an administrator can play the gifted numbers game... Compacting for different levels in the classroom and the gifted teachers can advise on the teaching. I cannot say how that works exactly. I think that they considered that for Dunwoody Elementary and decided against it. The parents were not big fans of that approach.... But, honestly, folks put alot of stock into getting to call their kids gifted, etc...... Actually, my child did qualify but I think that a school that can offer flexibility in classes probably has a good approach. For example, not all children are out of the world smart in all areas. That is why I think that magnets are not the best use of our shrinking county dollars. They are expensive, benefit a small number and take away from children who deserve the resources just as much...

I am researching some magnet / regular numbers and this is some prelim:
Kittridge (Magnet) and Dunwoody Elem (Regular)

Foreign Language
Kittridge Magnet - Three German Teachers at about $200,000 offering daily German classes, and tutoring, to 417 students -
Dunwoody Elementary - One Spanish teacher offering language to 727 students once every four days.

Music
Kittridge Magnet -417 students - Four Music Specialists at about $250,000for daily instruction
Dunwoody Elementary School - 727 students - Three Music Specialists some shared with other schools, at a cost of 172,000. Obviously, not an every day offering.

Classroom Size
Kittridge Magnet - Eight classes each grade, leading to an average of 17.37 students per class
Plus - Three CAT teachers who provide enrichment and additional teaching during the regular teacher's planning time ) - Unable to locate much salary info -Guesstimate that these are about
$200,000 in cost
Dunwoody Elementary - 727 students in 4th and 5th - approx 363 per grade level for 14 teachers - approx 25.9 students per class

Now, this being said - Dunwoody Elementary has done a great job out of the gate. The teachers are dedicated, smart, invested and frankly, worthy of some of the same resources in their classrooms... Time to make some hard choices. DCSS should make an investment in all of the children, not a small percentage, Every day foreign language is great, everyday music is great but let's all be real here -

Square Peg said...

Our elementary school had no foreign language instruction. We shared one music teacher with another school. From this blog, I learn that some elementaries have no music teacher at all.

Anonymous said...

Once proud parents realize that "gifted" in the DeKalb County Public School System isn't really gifted when compared to the full (public + private) school aged population in their area, they'll flee from DCSS.

That is, when their child likely will score in the less than 50th percentile at their new private school, but had been scoring 99th+ at their local. Soon the math will make sense and they'll realize two things: 1) DCSS isn't catering to the gifted -- magnet school or not and 2) If they want their "gifted" kid to be surrounded by other gifted kids, they should look for a different environment.

Hate to be a bummer on good discussion, but this is the way it is. And this blog has always asked for honesty. So this is MHO.

Square Peg said...

By "our" elementary school, I meant my kids' school. To this day it has been fortunate enough to keep half a music teacher and half an art teacher, but of course there is no foreign language.

Anon 9:17 - that's why I'm big on academic competitions of all sorts. They provide a reality check and are also a motivator to do above and beyond what one normally would at DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, anonymous 9:17. I had no idea I was clueless about my PUBLIC SCHOOL student's needs or the quality of his education. And here I thought AP scores were a good indicator of proficiency. Or that the other kids in his classes, who are equally driven to achieve, aren't nearly as smart as I thought they were. Guess all of his friends who are getting early acceptances into top tier colleges (including Ivy League) are fooling a lot of people.

Generalizations are rarely accurate.

Anonymous said...

Message here: DCSS magnets are not a equitable distribution of county resources - Just look at the numbers posted earlier -

This is not about the terming of gifted / high achieving / regular or otherwise. If you are a parent or student in DCSS, you either chose to be in the public school system or you don't have the option of paying 10-20 grand per year for a private setting.

That being said, it is a bit comical to watch people on the gifted bandwagon.... I have been on it and appreciate all of the perks. But, I see the magnet system as a resource drain on the system and local schools.

The earlier post was correct - It is a tough time, if you want to learn German, do it on your own dime.

Dekalbparent said...

@ Square Peg:

KMS has a maximum of 17 / 18 students in a class at any one time - when there is pull-out of a compacting group, there are fewer.

@Anon 8:52:

I don't think KMS has Music or Art instruction every day. I think it's once a week for each.

Also, check out the after-school activities (on the website); do the teachers get extended day pay for this? Anybody know?

Anonymous said...

The after school programming and tutoring at Kittridge and Wadsworth is provided by the teachers. I don't know if the teachers are compensated differently for this but it seems that , at least at Kittridge they are fairly well paid. On average, a 4th grade teacher = 54,000,
5th = 57,000 and 6th = 63,000.

It seems odd to me that they would only be receiving musical instruction once per week. Again, they have some substantial staffing if that is the case. Anyone, have a definite on this ?

Anonymous said...

I had one child at Kittredge about 4 years ago. KMS increased the size of every 6th grade class so it was more in line with non-magnets. I think there was a minimum of 20 students per 6th grade class back then.

Some of the arts teachers were part time. I know the orchestra teacher only came a couple days a week.

My child disliked the German course but I was told that the County Administrator for magnets (Ms. Porcher) required it.

Parents at Kittredge pay out of pocket for supplemental materials and supplies. There was no working cafeteria or auditorium and a real funky gym - a separate airless side building with mats on the floor.

However, the place ran like clockwork. I have never met a better organized group of teachers and administrators.

The teachers can handle more students per class. But you absolutely do not want to close this school. You want to replicate it- over and over and over.

In the words of MLK, keep you eyes on the prize. You don't want to dismantle the productive student programs like pre-K so C. Lewis can take the money. That is just nibbling around the edges. You want to dismantle the needless administrative programs and admin positions that seem to be self-propagating.

Anonymous said...

no disagreement about magnets being a cream of the crop service - just issues with expenditures and accessibility to benefit all students - this will not happen without dissemination to regular schools

Dekalbparent said...

We have seen two different emails to send budgets suggestions to.I tried both and one bounced, but I got a reply from Ramona Tyson's office acknowledging receipt of the other. the address is:

budget-suggestions@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Pass it on.

Anonymous said...

I have a 5th grade child at Kittredge. They have band or orchestra everyday, German every other day and art & chorus once every 2 weeks.

Dekalbparent said...

Thanks, Anon 12:41. We need all the facts when we discuss the magnet schools.

Just to be thorough, there are more magnet programs in DeKalb than the High Achiever magnets. Are we discussing eliminating ALL of them? Do we know how many students are in them, whether they are costing extra, and how much?

I am tied up with emergencies and urgencies today, but I will try to research them. Any other input would be welcome.

Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the only magnet programs that will be left will be the High Acheivers and Arts ones. Keep in mind, that the current proposed budget still has 50+ points for next school year for these programs.

I am not a fan of any school having extras unless all schools have the basics, but I am especially horrified that Dr. Lewis would suggest totally cutting some programs without making the existing magnet programs feel any pain.

I want to know how the art and chorus teacher keep busy at KMS, if they are only seeing each child one every two weeks?!?

For all those who have concerns about magnet spending, please make sure you communicate this to your board member. Because the magnet parents can make so much noise, the needs of the other 93,000 students are often forgotten.

Anonymous said...

7,000 students out of 100,000 students benefit from magnets?
Is that correct? wow
Agreed that we could use some real numbers in discussion of eliminating magnets as a recommendation.
The schoolhouse numbers alone are pretty amazing. 1 teacher for 17 children....
How can the other 93,000 parents not be active participants ?

Dekalbparent said...

Anon 1:55,

Where did you find out that only the High Achievers and Arts magnets would be kept? I am not great a trolling the DCSS website and sometime I miss stuff (could it be that it isn't the easiest to navigate...?) Where did you find the information about the points?

As to the Art and Chorus teachers at KMS, remember that there are 8 classes per grade X 3 grades = 24 Art classes and 24 Chorus classes. There are 5 periods in a day (correct me if I am wrong, parents of kids at KMS), with one planning period = 4 classes per day, so each teacher can see kids every 7th day. The math doesn't quite work out to once every 2 weeks, more like once every week and a half, so perhaps the Art or Chorus day isn't on the same day every two weeks - more like staggered...

Anon 2:28,

Are there 7000 students in magnets in DeKalb? Where are they all?

Dunwoody Mom said...

I would bet that info is now correct. If only the HA and Arts magnets are being kept in tact, that means that Arabia Mountain, Druid Hills and Miller Grove Medical Sciences Magnet would be affected. I don't think that would happen. Plus, all of those schools have academic requirements similar to the HA magnet programs.

Anonymous said...

To Dekalb Parent
Go to the Kittredge Website and take a look at the websites for the music, band, and orchestra teachers ( four of them ). The webisites are pretty involved with practices before school, etc...
Am I missing something? Every two weeks doesn't make sense?
And it looks like they have not one, not two but three teachers for German. Could that be ?

Dekalbparent said...

Yes, Anon - one German teacher per grade. Wadsworth, however, has one Spanish teacher for the whole school.

Anonymous said...

Most schools only have one language teacher per school. Seems like a place for a cut to me.

Cerebration said...

GUYS, GUYS... please refocus. Lewis wants us to fight amongst ourselves over who gets a bigger piece of the pie. That's why he throws out the magnet issue time and time again. Yes - it costs money - and I agree that the transportation can be cut for special schools, however, there are other places to make cuts to the budget that don't directly effect children.

We have too many administrators in Sam Moss - in transportation - in security - and in curriculum. Too many "Executive Directors" where directors would do. Too many APs whose jobs could be handled by someone less expensive. Too many unnecessary departments like "Health and Wellness"... lots and lots of waste - waste that in not happening in any classroom anywhere.

That said, we have several programs that each have their own principal and full staff - programs like Destiny Academy - DECA, Open Campus - that can combine administrations. Same for DSA and Avondale.

FWIW - when my son went to Kittredge, German was treated as a core subject. Thus the full time teachers. Also - Kittredge has 417 students - Wadsworth only has 165. Both serve grades 4-6.

Simply shutting down these programs won't save the full measure of cost to educate these kids - they still need a school and a teacher. I agree that Lewis can't set his sites on the Montessori and leave others alone - he's been after those schools for quite some time - probably a philosophical difference.

Also - the entire student population at Arabia is technically in the Medical Magnet program, so shutting that down would shut down the school. Which IMO, would be fine - it was supposed to serve the purpose of relieving over-crowding at MLK, Lithonia and Miller Grove. It was NEVER envisioned to be a special magnet until it became clear that it was going to be a pretty special building.