Thursday, February 4, 2010

Dr. Crawford Lewis discusses funding of Hollywood trip for DCSS Employees


Cerebration said...

The $8 million contract didn't include the conference?!!  What did we get for the $8 million?

Anonymous said...

It took a few days of thought, but I finally figured it out...

Crawford Lewis needs his ego to regain popularity due to his declining image as a result of his demand for more $ while most of DCSS was having their income cut, and his gas purchases, and his discount car purchase, and his hiring a convicted felon as CFO, and his ties to the construction debacle, and his...(enough already).

Hmmm... what should Crawford do??

How about sending key influential persons, like school principals on a district-paid vacation to Hollywood. They're sure to tout his praises then. So, off they go. Friends and family.

Thank goodness the board supported the expense, because most of us concerned really don't want those Title I funds spent on kids -- we'd rather them spent on airfare, hotels, and conference registration fees in Hollywood.

Cynical? Yes.

Anonymous said...

Truly sad. 8 million for a program that DeKalb tried and dropped several years ago. When Lewis said they were using Title 1 funds for subs and this didn't cost the county, I was amazed.

Title 1 funds are funds from the federal government to provide equipment, books and services to students in low income schools to help establish parity with other schools that have higher income parents. But Title 1 funds can be used for extra technology equipment (something many of our Title 1 students do not have access to at home and don't at school either), science equipment, software, supplies, books, tutoring, etc. It depends on how Lewis wants the money to be spent.

Unfortunately, Title 1 has become a private piggy bank for the Central Office.

Wait until our teachers hear we're paying 8 million for a program that teachers don't want to use while we cut their salaries.

I challenge Lewis to show any improvement in the DeKalb schools that used America's Choice and be able to directly link it to this program.

We spend millions on these programs. Can't you just the salespersons wining and dining Lewis (ex PE teacher) and Talley as they sell them these scripted programs? Springboard cost millions, produced nothing, and is now gone. We only have resentful teachers who were forced to use it and students who were forced to listen to it.

Look at the video again. Look at the juxtaposition of the beautiful hotel rooms with the cracked sidewalks of schools being served.

My understanding of this federal stimulus money is that the school systems got this money with a lot of leeway to make decisions as to how it would be spent. Obviously, they didn't realize what clueless people were running the school system.

By my calculations only 47 teachers are attending out of 200 DeKalb sent. So that means 153 employees are attending this conference even though they don't teach our kids. I bet they all work in the Central Office.

Molly said...

According to the reporter, only 47 of the 180 people attending the conference are teachers. If this boondoggle is really about improving the quality of teaching and training teachers to use the curriculum, why are we sending 133 administrators? The teachers in the classroom have been using this curriculum since August - they are the ones who have the actual experience to make something useful out of this conference.

Anonymous said...

Gifted class size...35! There are 140+ administrators heading to California. Should of/Could of had 4 classes of "highly qualified, motivated, gifted DCSS administrators" taught by 4 Instructor Trainers of AC here in Atlanta area for far less than the $350K. Does it really matter where the money came from because this is a travesty. Thiw comes as no suprise! "Premier Gas", Premier System. Talk about something that needs to be pumped out and replaced, we are talking the about the vast majority of the DCSS hierachy as well as conjoined BOE.

Anonymous said...

Be interesting to know the total conference attendance. Hotel has 600 rooms. Not sure you can assume that is all that would be accomodated but if so, DeKalb represents a third of the attendance.
Since there are federal dollars involved it should be possible to get the records from the conference.

Cerebration said...

I have also been wondering about the total number of attendees. If say, there are even 2000 (which would be far more than the hotel can handle), DeKalb would represent 10% of the attendees!

Again, I say, didn't our $8 million contract include some training?!!!!

Anonymous said...

He truly comes off as a buffoon in this interview. And he is digingenuous, if not dishonest: Title 1 funds can be spent on computers, textbooks, supplies and more.

If our Board of Ed is going to stcik with Crawford lewis, they will all lose when they run for re-election.

Anonymous said...

In his interview Lewis says purchasing equipment and supplies with Title 1 funds is ineffective.

How dare Lewis say equipment and supplies do not benefit Title 1 students. I have taught in Title 1 schools and spent a lot of my own money for equipment and supplies just as many teachers in Title 1 schools do.

Why would we spend our own money for equipment and supplies if we didn't think it benefited our students?

Has he bothered to ask teachers in Title 1 schools if they need equipment and supplies for their students?

Title 1 has become the Central Office's piggy bank to raid. They pretend Title 1 funds are free to DeKalb County. But Title 1 funds are coming from federal taxes. I pay federal taxes and so do you. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago DCSS didn't spend all their Title I money, and left millions on the table. I haven't checked to see if this has repeated.

Does anyone know how to check to see if all of these funds were spent last year?

It would be a shame if they've left money on the table at the same time they're cutting teacher pay.

Square Peg said...

Anon 12:51: Actually this boondoggle wasn't paid for by federal taxes. It was borrowed from the children.

Mandatory programs (Social Security, Medicare, etc.) plus interest on the debt plus the Department of Defense add up to about $2846 billion, which is already a lot more than the $2381 billion the federal government takes in. That doesn't count everything else from Title I to the CDC to Veterans Affairs.

So even though I pay taxes and so do you, we don't cover the costs and we are leaving the next generation on the hook for the shortfall. They deserve value for their money.

Of course, if Washington decides to give it out, it makes no sense for DCSS to leave it on the table, but DCSS owes it to the children to spend it well.

(Numbers taken from, table S-4; see also pie charts at

Anonymous said...

Isn't spending $400,000+ without approval from the board of education a violation of the board's purchasing policy (DJE) which in part states: "...Purchases of services and non-consumable products from budgeted funds with a value exceeding $50,000 shall be made by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or designee(s) upon the approval of the Board of Education..."

This board needs a backbone to enforce its own policies, and this superintendent needs a leash to adhere to them.

Cerebration said...

I'm thinking that means the general budget - and this wasn't money from the general budget. It's special ARRA - Stimulus funds from the federal government. Which so far, has only been used to save and increase government as far as I can tell - but that's another topic...

Anonymous said...

Information on how DeKalb Schools spent their Stimulus funds needs to be sent to Georgia's US Senators.
They would have a ball exposing more waste of taxpayers dollars.
Dollars given to Georgia help California's economy. Other than Delta's profit, all the benefit went to another state.

Kim Gokce said...

On a flippant but sad note, even "Delta's profit" is somewhat an oxymoron. If they've made a profit in years, it is because of Federal $$$.

Ok, I had my flippant moment ...

Here's a hypothetical for our commenters ... if America's Choice directly leads to every DCSS high school making AYP, would you feel the same way about this "Conference among the Stars?"

In essence, that is the proposition I am seeing between the lines from Dr. Lewis. The leadership seems convinced this program will bring great returns.

I have no expertise or direct knowledge of it. I did hear a teacher say in passing (paraphrasing), "I hate it but it does appear to work for my students."

Your mileage may vary ...

Paula Caldarella said...

Kim, as usual, a voice of reason.

Anonymous said...

Well for $8 million contract there better be some positive outcomes for the students.
I think recent posters miss the point entirely. With DeKalb having this major contract with America's Choice, you do not need to attend a National Conference for a bunch of cheerleading. You are not going to get what is needed by attending a 4-day conference. You need folks in the classroom, studying where current DeKalb students are and where they need to be and working in the classroom setting with the teachers to make improvements that address the students' needs.
Has Dr. Lewis or anyone in a position of leadership explained any of this to the community, to School Board members?
Sorry to be so flippant!!!!

Anonymous said...

@ Kim and Dunwoody Mom

I worked with many America's Choice teachers in many schools in DeKalb County, and I never heard that phrase "it works for my students".

Do you have data that supports the idea that academic progress was made by DeKalb students while using America's Choice in their schools?

Many schools in DeKalb County used this program for a number of years. It's not hard to make a spreadsheet and input the data from the America's Choice schools. We have the data in our very expensive and much maligned eSIS system.

I was at the BOE meeting when Lewis pitched Springboard, another expensive scripted teaching program (coincidentally also disliked by teachers who used it).

I knew Lewis didn't have the data showing student progress in the schools that used it so I thought surely the BOE would not approve expanding it to the non-Title 1 schools (once he expanded it to non-Title 1 schools, DeKalb Co. could not ask Title 1 to pick up the tab anymore).

Exactly one BOE member asked if there was data showing progress in the schools using Springboard. Lewis said there really wasn't enough data yet since the program had only been used for a year, but he really felt it was a good program for kids and all the schools could benefit from it.

Not one shred of evidence could Lewis offer, not one BOE member questioned him further, and millions were committed that night to this system which is now defunct.

Saying I feel it is good and I feel it works is not concrete evidence. Why don't we start on a small scale and see if the results warrant that we expand to a larger scale before we commit our scarce tax dollars?

If America's Choice had shown significant student progress for our students in all those schools for the years it was used in DeKalb County, why not make those results public? If Lewis could produce data showing the progress these DeKalb students made while using America's Choice, we would probably not have this controversy over this conference.

This is not brain surgery - just cost justification and asking for a Return on Investment based on data we already have.

Anonymous said...

Remember that game "Operator" from your childhood? You sit in a circle, the Leader whispers a sentence to the one beside him/her, who does the same until the sentence gets back to the point of origin. It never returned the same. NEVER.

This is why DeKalb should train the feet-on-the-streets (teachers) instead of trying to use the train-the-trainer model. Crawford should have brought the AC consultants in for several days, and several sessions, so the teachers who will be required to implement the methods could learn how -- first hand -- and do so accomodating their already busy schedules. Further, if the teachers don't respect the DCSS central office "trainer", how much do you think they'll learn? Seriously, they'll blow it off, and I couldn't blame them.

It doesn't take much more than a kindergarten education to figure this one out -- and SURPRISE -- Crawford was an elementary school teacher!

Dekalbparent said...

I fished google for America's Choice results, and found several articles (mostly on ERIC - a gov't education clearinghouse) ) on results. I could not find much for Georgia (only one analysis, done in 2001), nothing for DeKalb, and the newest I could find was written in 2003. Additionally, almost all the articles were written by the same authors. I don't know the significance of any of these facts.

What I found was that generally, students at America's Choice schools did better than their peers at non-AC schools. The most significant difference was in writing, with much less striking differences in reading and math - still improvements, but not BIG.

Another observation was that the improvements were seen in "minority" students, and kids from disadvantaged backgrounds. There was no marked difference in non-"minority" students or those from middle-class backgrounds compared to their peers at non-AC schools.

Last, it appeared as if the America's Choice model is a whole-school model - that is, it is not just about scripted lessons or a certain teaching methodology - it also calls for a specific school culture and mode of operation. This would explain the large number of principals and APs at the conference, perhaps.

Now, whether the DCSS schools are using the whole package or not I don't know, but it would appear that using the ENTIRE America's Choice schema is important to its success. If you only implement part of it, it is not as useful.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher in DeKalb and having taught using the America's choice design when it was first implemented in Dekalb in 2002, I will have to admit that America's Choice does work with the students, especially in writing, if you use AC correctly and in its entirety(of course you will have to adapt depending on your students). The new writing standards that Georgia adopted recently is actually from the America's Choice standards book even though they don't give AC credit for it. The AC design is A LOT OF WORK!!!! on the teacher's part and that is why some of the teacher's dislike the program. It is also a lot to ask of a teacher to soak in and implement in one year. I was trained in its entirety in 3 years.
I do feel however that a teacher can learn a lot from a conference, because I have gone to a couple of conferences and reported valuable information back to faculty to implement in classrooms with students. I would like to think that taxpayers got their monies worth by me attending a conference. Administrators are another story. I don't know how effective it would be if a lot of them attend a conference because they are not first hand with students, unless they see what they want in their specific building.
On another tangent now;
I again think that we (teachers and staff in school) are tired of our county being in the news every single week, especially since we are all learning this information the same time as you are. We already know that we will not be making as much next school year, however our boss received a pay raise. Please let your child's teacher know how valuable they are in your child's life and that you are appreciative of what they do for you and your child everyday. We have a lot to deal with (behavior problems, larger class sizes, no working copier- which means we have to spend OUR OWN money once again to educate your child, have to make sure students know what they need to pass the CRCT, etc) I think that little notes will help boost our morale. Right now our morale is really, really low. Believe me, just a small note will cheer us up and will make us remember the reason we chose this field for our careers! :)

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:53 I agree with you. Parents need to support their children's teachers.

The leaking roofs and moldy ceiling tiles are horrendous. The rationed paper and nonworking photo copiers are out of hand. Our class sizes are large and there is little extra room in our classrooms. Seeing your employer in the news on a nearly basis is very disheartening and morale is very low.

Parental support when your child is not on task and achieving to his full potential means more than you know. A note of thanks and encouragement would make any hard working teacher's day.

Anonymous said...

It is my experience that the administrators in DeKalb think that they can do things better than the programs that the system has purchased. It is important to find out who sponsored the research for the America's Choice program. Often research done to show that a product works, is sponsored by the company that created the product, and has a very small sampling and is done under very tight control, so of course the product is going to have good results and look wonderful if questions aren't asked and facts aren't looked at any deeper.

If teachers are expected to use this program all at once, and if their training is anything like the non-training that we've received for Math Expressions, Esis, and other programs that the county purchases and if they don't have teacher buy in, it's not going to work. This is true for any program. Teacher buy in along with support and education about the program are the key to making any program/curriculum work.

All teachers implementing any curriculum and program need to receive effective training. DeKalb does not provide effective training. Spending $383 million for such a few teachers to attend a conference is not economical. I am all for attending conferences, but with America's Choice conferences in Tennessee in the spring and with how large our county is and the number of schools implementing America's Choice, having America's Choice employees or teachers who use the program effectively from other schools come and speak to and work in our schools with the teachers implementing the program would have been money much better spent. More teachers would have received training and gotten the information that they needed first hand, instead of second and third hand or not at all.

I have attended many educational conferences, almost always on my own dime. Because I am spending my money, I attend all of the sessions. Even on the rare occasion that my school has helped me pay for a conference in the city that I lived in, I have had to report back and show them that I have been in sessions for a full work day.

Gloria Talley, there ARE other ways to do things. One just has to be creative and brainstorm other possibilities. I am tired of seeing my hard earned money whether it be federal dollars or county and state dollars misspent by DCSS. I work hard for my money and could use this money in a much more prudent fashion for my own family's finances.

DCSS needs to ask companies for freebies like training for all teachers as part of the deal when curriculum is purchased. This is very feasible. I have done it when purchasing curriculum for a one school school district, so it should be a piece of cake for a school system the size of DeKalb. But than again, we pay contractors for work that isn't completed correctly and don't call them back to fix it, so it must be the DeKalb way to grossly waste other people's money-or maybe this is how the administrators run their own household budgets and therefore don't know any better? It surely makes me wonder.

Anonymous said...

@Dekalbparent 7:20 pm

I found the same articles on Eric and noticed that Henry May and/or Jonathan Supovitz were authors on almost all of the articles regarding America's Choice schools including the one you mentioned on Georgia's writing performance using America's Choice.

The article "A Longitudinal Study of the Impact of America's Choice on Student Performance in Rochester, New York" pretty much sums up what you said. Written by - Henry May, Jonathan Supovitz and David Perda.

I did a little digging and found that almost every article these guys wrote (and actually almost all the studies on America's Choice) was under the auspices of the Consortium for Policy Research in Education (CPRE).

CPRE was contracted by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) to do these studies starting in 1998.

Guess who developed America's Choice? you got it - NECC.

Aren't these most of the Eric articles you saw:

AS you can see NECC developed America's Choice:

I enjoyed Anonymous 7:57 pm's post regarding first hand experience with America's Choice.

I would like to hear other teachers who have used this program share their views.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 8:46 pm

You are so right. NECC developed America's Choice and then paid CPRE to do almost all of the studies.

That is a flawed research model in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

This is very flawed. My husband a PhD who does research would not be able to have that type of research published in his peer reviewed journals. Much research in education is flawed in this way. It's about time that the public sees and understands the double standards. Like many that have a PhD in the field of education, research and PhDs in education are not up to the same standards as many other fields. Maybe this is why our education system is in the toilet.

Anonymous said...

As a teacher who currently works in a school implementing America's Choice, the focus of the program is on writing. However, the program does not emphasize, or even mentions the writing process. It assumes every child knows how to write. Also, there are no guidelines for grading because the students are doing more "free writing" than anything. My concern with the program is that is does not focus on skill building in writing, and miminal focus is on reading. The reading comprises of the students reading a short passage and using a writing strategy to write about the story. Skills like cause/effect; compare/contrast; main idea; sequence; figurative language; and other reading skills are not emphasized. The CRCT test does not focus on narrative writing. There are so many gaps in the AC curriculum and the students are bored to death with it. I can assure you that the testing scores are going to drop tremendously as a result of this program. Finally, DCSS should have sent an entourage of AC instructors here to train teachers facilitating the instruction, not principals and AP's. Are they going to come back and train the teachers in their schools? Absolutely not!!!

Cerebration said...

Well, this is anecdotal -- but we had been discussing the fact that Dr. Deborah Rives who was once a DeKalb principal, then Area Superintendent is now an executive with America's Choice. She was principal at Cedar Grove MS, and she touted the success of America's Choice there - but I'm not sure which years.

I looked up Cedar Grove's AYP record at the GADOE and found that this is their pass/fail rate (if that means anything.)

2003-04 No
2004-05 Yes
2005-06 No
2006-07 No
2007-08 Yes
2008-09 Yes

Anonymous said...

For those of you involved in the Druid Hills HS community, you might be aware of the latest issue of their school newspaper. One of the editors did an excellent and professional cover story on Crawford Lewis's raise and reactions to it. It's really professionally done and the teachers' comments throughout the article capture some of the current sentiment of teachers in all this mess. My child was formerly on the staff and we receive a paper with our subscription.

Anonymous said...

I believe America's Choice was used in DeKalb 2001 - 2005

Anonymous said...

The posts about research reminded me of something that I realized a few years ago about teacher education programs and research. It's not really that much on point about America's Choice. If you're interested in other ideas about for-profit corporate curriculum programs, read Jonathan Kozol's eloquent criticism.

After a few years in graduate school pursuing an advanced degree in education, I am convinced that the discipline of teacher education only presumes to call itself a science. It is a practice, or more precisely, a praxis. It is the method and technique of delivering knowledge. It is, in itself, not a science. Science, from the Latin word meaning knowledge, is what teachers know, not how they teach.

Albeit a controversial idea, I believe a teacher candidate should receive an undergraduate, and preferably, a graduate education in the discipline that they are going to teach, not in the "discipline of education." The candidate should then apprentice for two years with an experienced teacher-mentor, while receiving some in-class delivery of curriculum, methods, and perhaps ed psych (the most valuable education class I have ever taken.)

Since education presumes itself a science, it must produce research. Most of that research is anecdotal, and much of it is bogus. Research, unless its carried out by psychologists, or other professions whose discipline, by its very nature, requires research for the core of its knowledge base, is worthless.

Education doesn't require research. It requires a teacher highly knowledgeable in his or her discipline, with effective training and apprenticeship in the delivery of that knowledge. You learn to teach by teaching.

Ask any good teacher how well they were prepared for that first year after receiving their undergraduate or graduate degrees in education. It takes three to four years of teaching to learn to teach. Not three to four years of education classes.

Cerebration said...

Very well-stated, Anon 6:49 AM. I couldn't agree more. My 88 year-old-mother in law, a former teacher, has always said the same thing. We lose many good teachers in their first few years simply because the actual job of "teaching" is so overwhelming. Spending more time under the tutelage of a pro, would not only make for better, more confident teachers, it would certainly curb the turnover rate.

On the subject of learning - I wish teachers were much more aware of the methodologies employed by occupational therapists. They, and other types of specialists who work with autistic and special needs children, understand the physical (brain-based) process of learning better than about anyone. There truly is a physical component to learning. Your body needs physical exercise in order to create the nerve-connections in the brain necessary for learning.

Maureen Downey has an excellent post on the AJC Get Schooled blog on the topic of recess.

One comment hit which quotes from Newsweek magazine hit the nail on the head,

Armed with brain-scanning tools and a sophisticated understanding of biochemistry, researchers are realizing that the mental effects of exercise are far more profound and complex than they once thought. The process starts in the muscles. Every time a bicep or quad contracts and releases, it sends out chemicals, including a protein called IGF-1 that travels through the bloodstream, across the blood-brain barrier and into the brain itself. There, IGF-1 takes on the role of foreman in the body’s neurotransmitter factory. It issues orders to ramp up production of several hormones, including one called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF. Dr. John Ratey, author of the upcoming book “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain,” calls this chemical “Miracle-Gro for the brain.” It fuels almost all the activities that lead to higher thought. With regular exercise, the body builds up its levels of BDNF, and the brain’s nerve cells start to branch out, join together and communicate with each other in new ways. This is the process that underlies learning: every change in the junctions between brain cells signifies a new fact or skill that’s been picked up and stowed away for future use. BDNF makes that process possible. Brains with more of it have a greater capacity for knowledge. On the other hand, says UCLA neuroscientist Fernando Gómez-Pinilla, a brain that’s low on BDNF shuts itself off to new information. In his experiments, rats were put through weeks of running on a wheel, a workout that increased their BDNF levels. Gómez-Pinilla left half of the animals alone; in the other half, he blocked the hormone’s effects with a drug. Then he subjected both groups of athletic rats to a test of wits, encouraging them to find an object that was hidden underwater. The first group easily pinpointed its location, but the second, BDNF-deprived group wasn’t nearly as quick or sharp. Nature has conducted a similar experiment on humans. In unlucky people with a faulty variant of the gene that makes BDNF, the brain has trouble both creating new memories and calling up old ones. – NEWSWEEK

Cerebration said...

Anon, 11:57 PM - any chance you could sent that article electronically? Say, in a Word Doc? We'd be glad to publish it here.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in DeKalb my whole adult life. I chose to live here, and enjoy living here. But for the past two years or so, the administration of our school system has brought nothing but shame to the county, with hundreds of millions of dollars in spending with little results. Scandal after scandal after scandal. I want a school administration that is boring. That is focused on the nuts and bolts of running a school system. One with good, solid teachers. A nurse, art and music at every school, not 545 instructional whomever's. A lean administration. Functioning school buildings and grounds (no more roof leaks or disgusting rest tooms!).

Strong academics, well maintained facilities and reasonable school property taxes are not mutually exclusive.

Here in DeKalb, no one, not the School Board, not us residents, were paying attention as our school system spiraled to an out of control tornado of bloat, inefficiency, nepotism, waste, etc.

It's time to take it back. It's time to re-organize. It's time for transparency. The current superintendent is no longer the best person for the job. Many of his staff members (Talley, Ramsey) are well past their best days. Talk to your friends, neighbors and co-workers, and ask the best of the best to consider running for the Board of Education. Like it or not,our property values will take a massive step if we come under SACS review as Clayton County, and we're right there.

Dekalbparent said...

Thank you to all who followed up on the America's Choice research. As I said, I noticed that the same names appeared as authors on all the articles, and this made me wonder about the. Additionally, the same findings no matter where the school system was...

Anon 11:57, I also saw the article. VERY well written and professional. The newspaper itself is under some scrutiny, as I understand it, because they have written about DCSS issues in the past (e.g. they reported on the state of the Cross Keys gymm iver a year ago) and the articles have not been very flattering. I could find nothing to criticize in this most recent article. They should be proud.

Cerebration said...

Other requirements from ARRA funding specs -

•Making progress toward rigorous college- and career-ready standards and high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable for all students, including English language learners and students with disabilities;
•Establishing pre-K-to college and career data systems that track progress and foster continuous improvement;
•Making improvements in teacher effectiveness and in the equitable distribution of qualified teachers for all students, particularly students who are most in need;
•Providing intensive support and effective interventions for the lowest-performing schools.

The requirements are fairly broad. DCSS, in this instance, appears to be hinging on the "improve teacher quality" requirement. That's great --- except that only 47 teachers got to attend this seminar. (DeKalb employs around 6,000 teachers.) Hopefully, these teachers will be able to share what they learn.

Cerebration said...

Right on, Anon 11:25 AM!

Anonymous said...

I have been employed by Dekalb county for the past ten years. Morale has never been lower for my colleagues and myself at our school. America's Choice, questionable Dekalb leadership decisions, terrible technology progams, and shoddy prolonged new construction have all contributed to our frustration.

I hold the opinion that America's choice "might" be able to enhance or strengthen th education of children in Dekalb. However, the implementation of this "new" program has been higly ineffective in convincing teachers to believe in it. For high school math teachers, there were training days (5) during the summer which explained how materials were to be used in the classroom. Never mind that the materials were not completely alligned to our curriculum standards, and were not ready for delivery to school at the beginning of the year. Information relayed from America's choice reps through Dekalb Coordinators and coaches seemed to change daily and left teachers confused and frustrated. No-one seem to clearly know what the heck was going on, yet we were asked to "implement the program with fidelity". Specifically labeled America's choice classes for Math I were constructed using standardized scores from READING tests.

We have had individuals from America's choice come in to our school repeatedly to evaluate how well we are implementing their directives. Classrooms have observed and checklisted. Teachers and students have been interviewed. Students have even been given tests that don't count in anyway towards their grade. Yet the only thing we seem to be measuring in all of this is Teacher and school compliance, not student achievement.

For $8.7 million, we have paid an academic personal trainer to tell us how flabby we are, invite us to self help meetings(that we also pay for) in Hollywood, and provide us with an ever changing guaranteed prescription for good health. However, the only thing we've experienced so far is a whole lot of headache, sweat, and confidence that people connected to Dekalb County Schools can really help us when it comes to spending money.

Thank you Dr. Rivers and Dr. Lewis.

By the way, in 3 years when Title I is no longer able to fund America's Choice, what happens then.....? I wonder if I will become like some of my colleagues who speak privately of being GCB (Gwinnett County Bound).

Anonymous said...

I work in Dekalb Copunty Schools. We were told in August when we returned to work that Dekalb no longer participated in High Schools That Work. Yet, the AJC reports that the trip to LA was planned last August - and it is a trip to a High Schools That Work conference. $180,000? I'm afraid we will wind up like Clayton County - mismanagement resulting in a lack of accreditation.