Marshall's points were basically these:
We urge an approach which, as far as possible, keeps intact the instructional environment and needs at the school house. To this end, we believe that certain selected cuts may appear easy on their face but will have significant ramifications in the day-to-day school life.
And then to bullet point his letter he defends -
-Good quality high achiever programs
-Consolidating school buildings
-Sunsetting any new revenue (temp tax increase)
-Giving more responsibility to schools
-Seizing the opportunity to "reimagine" the system
-A long-term point of view
Not a bad agenda when you bullet point it.
He further says,
With all the challenges faced by the system, there is a rare opportunity for a wholesale re-imagining of the system. We believe devolving decision-making and accountability closer to the point of implementation can create an environment of innovation and success while enabling DCSS to realize greater savings in non-instructional/non-schoolhouse expenses. We certainly do not wish to adversely affect the lives of many of DCSS’ tireless employees but economic realities dictate a change in our economic structure. At the same time, we can reinvent how our school system works, to the betterment of all DeKalb children.
But even Marshall cannot truly speak for or understand the depths of needs and feelings of inequity that identify Cross Keys. Kim lives, eats and breathes for those students and teachers. He fights hard for them, yet he is swinging at windmills. It must be so frustrating - no one is listening. Yes, Cross Keys has seen a bit of construction lately - hurrah! But check out that piece of land. This property could be as gorgeous a facility as Arabia (yet, unlike Arabia, accessible to everyone via Marta) - but it is still basically blighted.
If you are not effected by Kim's stories of success in the face of adversity described below, then you are not human. As always, no one can really paint a picture better than Kim.
If there is an attendance area that faces a combination of all the problems we highlight on this blog, it is Cross Keys' area - old buildings, issues with parental involvement, crowding, lack of amenities, lack of business community support, readiness of incoming students, America's Choice (CKHS is one using this program) and the list goes on ...
In this environment this year, our high school has produced the County Champion Helen Ruffin Reading Bowl team, the overall Grand Prize winner, and the 1st and 2nd place Biology category Science Fair winners (both go to State this month and one goes to San Jose, CA for Int'l competition in May), a robotics team that is going to compete in World Championships in Dallas, TX, and we're graduating the top award-winning, incoming freshman at Georgia Tech (President's Scholarship - 1 out of 6900 competitive applications).
In the case of the Grand Prize winner of the science fair, she is a product of Woodward ES, Sequoyah MS, and Cross Keys HS and from immigrant family from Mexico that has made DeKalb their home 15+ years.
These accomplishments occur in what few argue are the worst facilities in DeKalb County. Surely these individual kids were destined to succeed because their parents are well-off and educated themselves, right?
Wrong on both counts - these young people are supported by working class and poor households with none of the common indicators for academic "success." They are all non-white. They are all "dreaded" apartment dwellers, too.
Ah, but I've got on my high horse again ... let me climb down. My point is that we are making the job of public education much too complicated in DeKalb because of the politics of the past. While everyone snarls and barks over their little slice of shrinking, stinking corpse of the budget, our area kids put left foot, then right foot out and keep moving forward with the help of a loving and competent faculty.
Right on, Kim. I implore our board, our readers and fellow bloggers to heed these words. Please - look at the system overall and seek to fix the inequity. Demand that the toughest cuts are made outside the classroom. Protect our children and their teachers. Fight for a better system. Fight for every child in DeKalb Schools.