Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An open letter to DeKalb parents, from the county's school board chairman

By Tom Bowen
9:14 p.m. Tuesday, June 15, 2010

DeKalb County parents and taxpayers have a growing number of probing and legitimate questions following the racketeering and corruption indictments handed down by a DeKalb County grand jury against former Superintendent Crawford Lewis and three others, and they deserve answers.

First of all, the DeKalb Board of Education does not condone unlawful behavior; neither do we allow indicted employees to remain on the job until a reporter starts “asking questions” as the AJC reported recently (“Indicted school officials cost DeKalb taxpayers,” News, May 28).

School board members started asking questions about the continued employment of the district’s former chief operating officer, Patricia Reid (then Patricia Pope), more than six months ago.

The board decided that the best course of action was to remove Reid from any decision-making over the construction program and reassign her to another position until her contract expired.

The board then decided not to renew her contract. The board considered this the best way to address concerns about the construction program.

Parents are again rightly asking why she remains in our employ until her contract expires June 30.

The answer: To take further action could trigger a fair dismissal hearing, which, according to DeKalb County District Attorney Gwen Keyes Fleming, could jeopardize testimony in upcoming criminal proceedings.

There have also been questions about why the board was unaware of the activities alleged in the indictment.

But District Attorney Fleming has been very clear on this point. “The indictment alleges that Board of Education members were intentionally misled,” she said at a news conference announcing the charges, adding that no board members were implicated in any way.

Ultimately, however, the final responsibility rests with the board. We accept that responsibility and will review our public bidding procedures and strengthen our ethics policies.

When internal reviews reveal irregularities in bidding and other procedures, we will report those to the proper authorities, as the school system did in this instance.

Whenever the focus of our board and administration, parents and supporters is shifted away from education, we face a challenge far greater than the controversy that distracted us.

We ask, therefore, for our community’s support in staying focused on the work of educating nearly 100,000 students who will return to classrooms in less than eight weeks.

We will continue to cooperate with legal authorities. We’ll continue to adhere to employment law and to respect the rights of the accused.

In the meantime, we need for our community of parents and public school supporters to pull together for a tough time ahead.

Especially during a time of public controversy and severe budget cuts, we need to do all we can to stay focused on educating our kids.

===
Tom Bowen is chairman of the DeKalb Board of Education.
http://www.ajc.com/opinion/an-open-letter-to-549921.html

133 comments:

fedupindcss said...

Sorry, Tom. Anyone who watches the Board meetings can tell you that you all rubber stamp important but boring issues all the time, then spend three hours arguing about piffle. Some of the members evidence an astonishing lack of intellectual curiosity, while others (yes, you Zepora) admit to not even reading the budget. At least two of the members are likely to come to geriatric blows sometime in the parking lot over disputes from decades ago that have no bearing whatsoever on the matters at hand.

You can blame Lewis, Pope and Reid all you want, but the Board's performance on a regular basis is careless and reckless. We need change all around.

Anonymous said...

Have to agree with Fed Up.

What is the role of the BOE if not to exercise oversight over the school administration, particularly in financial and personnel matters?

The fish stinks from the head down

Cerebration said...

Well, then, um, why did you fight for Lewis to get a raise and a contract extension, if you had a problem with the fact that he wouldn't fire Pat?

Anonymous said...

So, according to Mr Bowen, the Board decided to remove Ms Reid and to not renew her contract.
According to many Board members at the last meeting they cannot get involved in personnel issues.
When Mr. Redovian said he could not agree to the mass approval of contracts because some of the folks should not be employed, he was quickly shot down by a couple of other Board members and told they could not do decided which to employ. Does this Board have any clue as to what they can and cannot do ??????

Anonymous said...

Give me a break, Tom. Large parts of south Dekalb are slipping into conditions that resemble places in the developing world. The collapse and corruption of public services is a major symptom of this development. No one can credibly argue that the majority of students in south Dekalb are in any way prepared to function successfully. Meanwhile, the local government bureacracy looks out for itself while victiming those it is supposed to serve. It's not hard to diagnose, Tom. And it's not that hard to fix, either. Start by reading studies of African countries done by Transparency International.

Cerebration said...

These are the CRCT FAIL RATES for the schools in Sarah Copeland-Wood's district. (Others in S DeKalb aren't much better.) It certainly appears to me that our board has not been focused on education for quite some time!

FAIL RATES -- percentages failing:
READING / ENGLISH / MATH

Avondale 17/21/25
Cedar Grove 19/21/37
Clifton 16/22/34
Columbia 22/29/43
Flat Shoals 22/29/42
Gresham Park 29/31/43
Kelley Lake 17/20/29
Knollwood 25/28/43
Meadowview 23/27/46
McNair, Academy 24/31/45
Midway 29/33/47
Oak View 20/25/48
Robert Shaw 3/5/9
Sky Haven 26/28/36
Terry Mill (closed?)
Tilson (closed?)

Middle Schools
Cedar Grove 19/19/40
McNair 20/17/51


http://www.ajc.com/news/crct-scores-show-troubling-545144.html?appSession=983246364267917

Anonymous said...

The failing schools in the south end and through out the county will not improve until they clean up discipline, require students to complete homework on time, give zeros when they are deserved, stop scripted programs and focus on basic skills, hold kids back when they do not meet the standards for that grade level, and get parents involved. Cleaning up discipline and administration in these schools would get seasoned teachers to willingly go to these schools.

Anonymous said...

Amen anon 1:44 pm, amen!

Frustrated teacher said...

I love the way that Board members and most administrators invoke the "it's all for the kids" as they lay off staff, cut programs, and eliminate professional development. I'd like to hear from the Board members just what, exactly, they have done as a group to promote education in DCSS? We are much worse off now than we were 5 years ago, and still worse off than 10 years before that. Asked to do more with less, our morale suffers and surely the spirit that we project to those oh-so-precious (to the Board) "kids" is undermined, too. I would respect a promise by the Board for each member to spend two consecutive days in a middle or high school in the Fall to observe the consequences of these years of neglect. Then let them defend their record. You're right, bloggers, when you observe that we resemble a developing country more and more as time goes on.

Anonymous said...

What is further disturbing is that SCW and some parents are fighting to keep those failing schools open. Knollwood, Gresham Park and Skyhaven have horrendous scores. They seemed to care more about keeping the schools open than they do about the test scores.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the parents who want their children to stay at the failing schools, care deeply about their kids. They are not usually educated themselves and therefore would not know if their children are receiving one. Many parents only care about the grades that their children bring home and receive (notice I did not say earn) and not what the children actually know. These parents may also be afraid for their child to attend a good school, because deep down inside, they know that their child will be behind and will struggle to compete.

Cerebration said...

I am also tired of hearing them complain that they have to "do something with nothing"...

$1.1 Billion is not nothing.

This is the total budget our school system has to work with. With dwindling enrollments (now around 96,000), this equates to $11,458 per student.

Even with a general operations budget portion of "only" $765 million or so, this still equates to $7968 per student. Yes, it's lower than we'd like - but it's certainly not "nothing".... I really don't like my hard-earned tax money treated as "nothing".

Cerebration said...

And while these board members cry out about the "unfairness" of their schools slated for consolidation, they overlook the fact that this is an issue THEY created.

Here's a clip from my North/South research post -

In the north, we have Kittredge Magnet (capacity: 443 and enrollment of 416), and Oakcliff Theme (capacity: 662, enrollment: 593) that's 1,009 students in theme/magnet schools in the north - central DeKalb offers Robert Shaw Theme (capacity: 512, enrollment: 485) and Wynbrooke Theme (capacity: 837, enrollment: 933) totaling 1,418 students in theme schools in the central zone - but south DeKalb has the most— Bouie Theme (capacity: 787, enrollment: 853), DESA Magnet school for the arts (capacity: 600, enrollment: 528), Marbut Theme (capacity: 787, enrollment: 844), Narvie Harris Theme (capacity: 837, enrollment: 984), Wadsworth Magnet (capacity: 462, enrollment: 166) and the soon to open Leadership Academy Charter School. There are 3,375 students attending these theme/magnet/charter elementary schools in south DeKalb (just about the same number of "empty" seats in neighborhood elementary schools in the south.)

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/05/north-vs-central-vs-south-whats-deal.html

You guys just can't have it both ways! Wise up voters!

Anonymous said...

I agree Cere.

It's not how much money you have, but what you do with the money that you have. The people making the spending decisions are unable to make wise decisions with our money, and I would bet that they are unable to make good decisions with their own salaries. This is evident with Dr. Lewis. He made over $200 and according to what I read about his pending court case, he asked Turke about using the P Card for a trip to the Bahamas because he was short on funds. Really, earning over $200 a year and you're short on funds. That shows me that he has no business running our schools or any school in any capacity.

Looking at someone's credit score for the Superintendent job and principal jobs, and any other higher level position where financial decisions are made should be part of the hiring process. This should also include school board. This little bit of information can tell you so much about a person and his ability to handle money in an effective manner.

That said...

I think when you are struggling day to day it is just a gift to have a school to send your children to that you think is safe. To have it be warm and welcoming, is an added bonus. To think of it as family, you feel as if you have won the jackpot.

That is what these parents were fighting for. Add to this, that because of NCLB, we have the very false security that because the school made AYP it must be doing ok. Most of those parents, I would argue, wouldn't even know where to find all the published data about their schools.

Academics, I am afraid, become secondary.

Anonymous said...

I had to clean up coffee off my screen and keyboard after reading Tom's little story about a school system gone bad!

This letter proves to me the BOE is not hearing their constituents at all! You say "it's for the kids" yet you lay off small salaried employees, who have direct contact with OUR kids daily, and keep the inexperienced, over paid "friends and family" in our BLOATED Central Office.

No where in your letter do you apologize for approving the huge Palace on Mtn. Industrial, while Lakeside, Chamblee, Cross Keys and other schools leak and fall apart? How many of OUR kids will be using your Palace facility, full of $2000 chairs and $30,000 lighting systems?

Tom, your letter proves you just don't get it! It's time for honesty and straight up leadership. When the BOE starts asking for resignations of CLew-less' entire cabinet then you'll peak my curiosity once more.

It's obvious to me the BOE and staff are waiting for the current news cycle to die down so they can continue down the same path of nepotism, cronyism, waste and out and out lack of respect for the parents of DCSS and the DeKalb taxpayer.

I saw the scores that are posted here and I guess the next item of business, for the BOE, will be to close the Robert Shaw school since their failing scores are in the single digits. We can't have to much diversity or success in our schools. The BOE is famous for closing GOOD SCHOOLS, like Nancy Creek. Nancy Creek was the most Diverse school in DeKalb and in it's last year won a platinum award for success in CRCT scores and other academics. Yet you close it and to add to the insanity, Nancy Creek was in one of the fastest growing areas of Metro Atlanta.

Tom, you letter really disappoints me for the lack of leadership it shows the BOE has.

Once again, let's all say together, EARN OUR TRUST BOE! Ask for resignations of Tyson, Turk, Moseley, Thompson, Mitchell/Mayfield, Ramsey, Berry, any Guilroy or Edwards! That will be the first step in earning our trust back. But if it goes on, with these people in place, DCSS will never change.

Anonymous said...

SHOW US, TOM, THAT YOU ARE SERIOUS BY YOUR ACTIONS, NOT JUST YOUR WORDS AND GIVING US MORE OF THE SAME. IT WILL BE HARD TO LET THESE INCOMPETENT, BLOATED-SALARIED PEOPLE GO, BUT it is the first step in winning back our trust and getting re-elected. You all don't have a lot of time to really show us out here who are watching closely that you are on our side.

Good news is at least we know now that you have written us a letter that you are reading our blog and taking the public out here seriously. Please make sure ALL board members are reading this blog. They will learn a lot, maybe even about themselves.

I always liked this saying: THE ONLY THING YOU CAN CHANGE IS YOURSELF, BUT SOMETIMES THAT CHANGES EVERYTHING.

Anonymous said...

"No where in your letter do you apologize for approving the huge Palace on Mtn. Industrial, while Lakeside, Chamblee, Cross Keys and other schools leak and fall apart? How many of OUR kids will be using your Palace facility, full of $2000 chairs and $30,000 lighting systems?"

Could we some BOARD response on the above. I cannot honestly imagine what the response would be. I would love to hear it.

Great comments, "clean up coffee off your screen" blogger.

Anonymous said...

Do we think that Dr. Lewis or Ms. Ramona Tyson would notify SACs if a board member asked for the dismissal of certain employees?

I think they might. What say you?

Anonymous said...

Would SACs look into what these employees have already let happen to our school system due to greed, fear, whatever? Is SACs already looking into this situation? Millions of dollars have reportedly been lost due to their leadership. Are these the kind of leaders we need? If someone isn't leading effectively, can they lose their job?

Are we missing something here?

Anonymous said...

What is really being lost is something an earlier poster referred to -- the sheer magnitude of the collapse in the southern part of the county. Given the system's clear failure to educate a majority of young people there, the new administrative complex is nothing short of perverse. It is a new form of segregation that is undoing the progress made since the mid-1960's. American society is good at discarding parts that no longer "work." The rust belt and Detroit come to mind. What we are now seeing is the emergence of a suburban equivalent. And people in the northern part are not going to continue to fund a failed system down there. This is where the political changes will come. Look at Dunwoody and the idea of charter clusters. Once the money goes, the south will have to fend for itself, property values will go down even more, less money will be there for schools, etc.

Anonymous said...

Jay Cunningham - Dist 5
Failure Rate Reading/ELA/Math [followed by shared district, if any – 8 and 9 are at-large]

E. L. Bouie Theme 3.86/5.15/11.44 9 (Walker)
Narvie Harris Theme 4.88/5.26/13.75 3 (Copelin-Wood) 9 (Walker)
Marbut Theme 5.04/6.82/13.94 6 (Bowen) 7 (Roberts) 8 (Speaks)
Browns Mill 13.96/18.20/30.50 9 (Walker)
Canby Lane 20.62/23.54/35.20 9 (Walker)
Murphey Candler 19.10/21.17/31.01 9 (Walker)
Chapel Hill 16.42/21.69/37.42 9 (Walker)
Fairington 22.56/28.45/46.13 9 (Walker)
Flat Rock 20.29/25.31/39.08 9 (Walker)
Bob Mathis 11.83/15.91/27.75 3 (Copelin-Wood) 9 (Walker)
Rainbow 15.44/18.13/28.11 9 (Walker)
Stoneview 28.85/32.71/51.31 6 (Bowen) 9 (Walker)

Middle Schools
Chapel Hill 10.74/9.88/29.46 3 (Copelin-Wood) 9 (Walker)
Columbia 16.51/15.22/44.18 3 (Copelin-Wood) 7 (Roberts) 9 (Walker)
Lithonia 14.63/15.53/41.77 6 (Bowen) 7 (Roberts) 9 (Walker)
Miller Grove 10.54/12.03/30.59 6 (Bowen) 7 (Roberts) 9 (Walker)
Salem 14.78/14.64/47.78 9 (Walker)


Tom Bowen – District 6
Wynbrooke Theme 2.58/3.61/9.16 7 (Roberts) 8 (Speaks)
Hambrick 18.91/25.67/38.07 4 (Womack) 8 (Speaks)
E. L. Miller 23.58/27.55/41.84 8 (Speaks)
Pine Ridge 16.08/18.83/32.11 8 (Speaks)
Princeton 20.29/25.31/39.08 8 (Speaks)
Redan 20.84/28.29/35.63 7 (Roberts) 8 (Speaks)
Rock Chapel 15.08/22.48/27.81 8 (Speaks)
Rockbridge 17.82/20.29/32.75 8 (Speaks)
Shadow Rock 15.82/20.75/33.49 7 (Roberts) 8 (Speaks)
Stone Mill 22.83/25.80/54.10 4 (Womack) 8 (Speaks)
Stone Mountain 22.39/26.94/39.46 4 (Womack) 8 (Speaks)

Middle Schools
Freedom 24.29/21.83/40.76 3 (Copelin-Wood) 4 (Womack) 7 (Roberts) 8 (Speaks)
Stephenson 10.11/10.11/23.73 7 (Roberts) 8 (Speaks)

Zepora Roberts – District 7
Wadsworth Magnet 0.00/0.00/0.00 3 (Copelin-Wood) 9 (Walker)
Allgood 12.43/16.29/22.09 6 (Bowen) 8 (Speaks)
Atherton 29.83/34.86/52.63 5 (Cunningham) 9 (Walker)
Dunaire 23.25/29.48/38.46 6 (Bowen) 9 (Walker)
Glen Haven 26.04/30.46/44.79 9 (Walker)
Indian Creek 36.19/40.19/47.36 3 (Copelin-Wood) 6 (Bowen) 8 (Speaks)
Panola Way 26.27/32.28/47.84 5 (Cunningham) 8 (Speaks)
Peachcrest 23.14/28.92/41.32 9 (Walker)
Rowland 15.62/21.25/30.93 9 (Walker)
Snapfinger 23.75/28.61/37.95 5 (Cunningham) 9 (Walker)
Toney 30.37/34.13/49.46 3 (Copelin-Wood) 9 (Walker)
Woodridge 19.90/18.76/33.80 8 (Speaks)

Middle Schools
Avondale Middle 21.04/19.79/43.38 3 (Copelin-Wood) 9 (Walker)
Bethune 18.11/16.81/37.52 5 (Cunningham) 9 (Walker)
Redan 11.63/10.10/41.29 6 (Bowen) 8 (Speaks)

Anonymous said...

"Knollwood, Gresham Park and Skyhaven have horrendous scores."

FACT CHECK

Knollwood’s scores need improvement but they are not

The school has made AYP for six years. On the tests for reading, English Language Arts and Math the first and second grade students score 2 to 7 points below the county wide average with the exception of 3rd and 4th grade math. HOWEVER,

Almost all of the students come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Almost all (95%) qualify for free and reduced lunch. All are minority students (97% black, 1% Hispanic, 1% Mixed race, and 1% Asian). These two statistics are far from the DCSS profile (68% free and reduced lunch and 74% black, 3% mixed race, 9% Hispanic, and 4% Asian). In all of Georgia and all of DeKalb students on free and reduced lunch as a rule make the lowest test scores. Knollwood students out perform their economically disadvantaged peers on every subject except 3rd & 4th grade math. If you closed Knollwood and sent all those students to Chestnut or Austin wha do you think would happen?

Anonymous said...

"These are the CRCT FAIL RATES for the schools in Sarah Copeland-Wood's district." Cerebration is that for grades 1 through 5? I tend to trust the more detailed rates published at GADOE's report card site which dtails overtime as well. In the case of Knollwood the
math failure rate by grade varies a great deal from 23% in the 1st grade to 73% in the 4th. The 5th grade in the same year had a 24% failure rate. I can not explain this but the students in 4th grade class tracked low in math in grades 3, 2, and 1 in previous teat years.

Cerebration said...

These are the most recently released CRCT scores through middle school. I don't think it matters if it's a 25 or a 35 or even a 50% failure rate. It's pretty bad.

And Bowen acts as if the board has been doing a bang-up job, but got sidetracked by the recent criminal issues and now, they need our support to 'get back' to education. It's just so outrageous to me that schools in his own district have anywhere from 1/4 - 1/2 of their students unable to pass basic knowledge tests. Oddly, he seems to think the board is doing a good job.

Was he asleep when he wrote this letter?

Cognitive dissonance - look it up.

Anonymous said...

It's time to quit using "economically disadvantaged" as an excuse for poor test scores.
It's a cop-out for the adults and a disservice to the children.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blah...

I stopped reading Mr. Bowen's letter when he said "First of all, the DeKalb Board of Education does not condone unlawful behavior; neither do we allow indicted employees to remain on the job."

Take a looksie Mr. B, she's still on the job.

Yup, sounds like you and the board really are distracted. We'll all do a group-hug for the "kids" so it'll help you refocus. That's the point of your letter, isn't it? If not what exactly is the point of the letter? Oh yea I forgot -- it's an election year. Let's focus on that instead of these abysmal scores.

Anonymous said...

Culture also plays an important role, next to socioeconomic factors. The system actually reinforces the dysfunctional aspects of the culture by insisting that certain children should learn in certain ways. The methods advocated by instructional coaches, etc. would never be used in high-performing school environments. Of course, this justifies the existence of all kinds of "experts" based outside of the classroom.

Anonymous said...

Now now. Be careful what you say. Dunwoody Mom has pointed out we must play nice, or else.

Anonymous said...

If Dunwoody Mom's children had to attend, say, McNair High School, she might join the secessionist movement. This is what it's really about -- the loss of integration and the creation of a population that has an even steeper uphill struggle in a globalized economy.

Anonymous said...

Tom,

You cannot continue to ask Dekalb educators to take to stay focused on educating the students when it is clear that rules, regulations, and professional ethics do not apply to "the higher ups." We are struggling to print out the daily or weekly Georgia Performance Standard so someone can check off their list that it was posted on our wall...the ink and paper are out etc, etc. In other words, we have to focus our efforts 24 hours a day on the minutia required from all the red tape of being a teacher and we are held accountable if one tiny thing is not done on time.
Yet, we can see that the county got warnings about missing millions in state money for construction.

Without going on and on, you can see, that what I am trying to illustrate is that there is no way to stay focused with cuts, more work etc, while this three ring circus is taking place. How can we focus when some really good people have lost their jobs for NO REASON and others like H.L., (relative of C.L.) have a high paying 115,000 job after threatening to sue what's her name for sexual harassment? This position could pay for a several low paying jobs that were cut.

You MUST bring back some of the fine people that were let go. It was unjust and is draining morale. We cannot focus when we see how many double standards there are between the "haves" and the school regular school house staff.

If you want to increase morale and regain focus, bring back those that were let go. I assure you this would go a very long way.

I think you are smart and I like the way you handle difficult conversations. It is not your fault that you are working with people that do not grasp the importance of their jobs (some board members) and I will leave it at that so I do not go down this road. The shortcomings of each board member are evident to anyone who attends or watches a board meeting...

So Tom, thank you for what you have tried to do but please understand that teachers are ready to give much less, in a time when much more is required because they have been lied to, used, under- compensated, overworked, held to a double standard, mentally abused in many cases by their administrators, abused by some parents who do not want to hear that their child is not an angel, and generally unappreciated by the board. Most teachers "are done" with giving, and giving and giving to this dysfunctional, unjust, broken system.

Please ask Ms Tyson to save her breath and not continue to try to "rally the troops" by asking us to stay focused on education. We will do our jobs the best we can but morale is at an all time low.

Michael Youngblood said...

Bye Bye Dr. H.

See ya on the flip side.

http://twitter.com/DunwoodyNews/status/16335352609

Anonymous said...

We must be very careful about Economic Segregation. I believe that it is every bit as devastating as racial segregation. IMHO at-risk children benefit from attending middle class schools.

Unless the law has changed, Title I funding is awarded to schools based on the number of qualifying students. So, even if a school doesn't have a large enough population to be classified as a Title I school, it can still receive these funds.

Thirty years ago, I lived in the Hooper Alexander attendance area. The school had a poor reputation. Black parents used M to M transfers to send their children to Fernbank and white parents scraped together money to send their children to private school or pay tuition in the City of Decatur. That left a mostly at-risk student population at the school. Parents knew their children weren't getting the education they needed, but they didn't know what kind of help to ask for. They didn't know what to do to help their children. It was very sad.

A beautiful new school building is nice, but it will not improve student achievement unless there is solid instruction going on in the classrooms. We need to provide that kind of instruction even when parents don't ask for it.

Ella Smith said...

I do believe Chairman Bowen is one of our good school board members. However, it is hard in times like this for anyone to view any school board member as being a good member of the school board.

He appears to work with other members collaborative. He does not appear to be a micro-manager like some of the other school board members may or may not be. I respect him for his efforts. He definitely does not go around bad mouthing other school board members. He tries to work cooperative with all of them even when he disagrees with them. I may not always agree with him. However, I do respect him.

Ella Smith said...

Whatever techniques we are using to improve achievement in some parts of the county is not working. We need changes.

We need students to be held accountable. We need teachers to be held accountable. We need principals to be held accountable.
I think many times we adjust the curriculum for the students level of achievement and then we allow students, to continue with bad habits like not doing homework and studying for tests and we continue to pass them even when they do not meet standards. This has got to change. Students and parents must be held accountable. We cannot make excuses any longer for students not making achievement. We must raise the bar and teach the student to excel and achieve and meet the national and state standards.

Anonymous said...

Please ask Ms Tyson to save her breath and not continue to try to "rally the troops" by asking us to stay focused on education. We will do our jobs the best we can but morale is at an all time low.

Well said, Anon 7:31, and in a very nice way. We can hear your pain. The support staff dittos everything you said.

We can only hope (and pray) that they are listening.

Anonymous said...

Having worked in and with disadvantaged children for 12 of my 15 years in education, I have learned that good solid instruction, having high expectations, and making all people, including the students, accountable for learning. Making students work for the grades on their report card instead of giving them high grades because that is what their parents and the administrators want.

I get tired of hearing about disadvantaged youth not being able to make it and needing to learn differently. The problem that I saw as a teacher and consultant in failing schools is that the expectations were low and the quality of instruction was poor. The teachers had little enthusiasm for what they were teaching and they had already marked their students off as going to fail.

I was a successful teacher, because I held my expectations to be what I would want held for my own children. I did not accept excuses and showed children how to work hard to reach goals that we set together. I never lowered my expectations for any child, although I heard so many excuses for them. I did not care if a child's parent was in jail, that the lights were turned off, that he had to go to church, and so many other excuses that I heard on a daily basis. As I told my students' parents, you would not expect any of those excuses from me for not being prepared to teach, so I am not going to accept them from you. I also heard time and time again, that I wanted the children to be white. I simply replied if being educated and knowing how to read and write, having a strong vocabulary, and enjoying learning for the sake of learning is being white, than so be it. I call it being educated and I want my students to be educated and have a strong foundation and love learning.

I look at programs like America's Choice, and wonder how any person from any background would enjoy learning. The answer is they aren't going to enjoy learning and will probably be turned off more.

In schools where student achievement is down, it is the teacher's job to get the children excited about learning. Show them things that they are learning about, and exude a genuine enthusiasm for what is being taught. Teachers also have to have a can do attitude. All children can learn, with the proper guidance, prodding, and excitement about learning.

Anonymous said...

cont.

Principals in low performing schools need to hold the children's feet to the fire. Knock on doors when kids are at school or aren't getting homework completed or are falling behind. Walk around the school, show yourself, and be visible. Know what the children are doing what the strengths and weaknesses are of the students and celebrate their achievements. Let teachers know that they are doing a good job when it is appropriate and get on those that are not living up to high standards for themselves and the children.

Stop making excuses. Hold all people involved in the children's learning to high standards. Make learning fun and meaningful. Have children work for their grades. Make no excuses for poor achievement, as all children can learn.

Anonymous teacher said...

Ms. Smith, please stop with the "accountabilty" lecture. Teachers are already held accountable for every little thing (Anon 7:31 said it very well), but are not given the tools needed to facilitate learning. Some of these are time to tailor lessons to students' unique needs, reasonably sized classrooms, adequate and functioning equipment including access to a printer and copier, and water if it's a science class--the list is long, but it includes things that you probably took for granted when you were in school. I know I did.

Our commitment to the students remains strong but we have completely lost faith in DCSS administrators, including many principals. What have principals done as a group to support teachers? Nothing that I've heard of. Teachers should receive modest raises, their retirement accounts should not be threatened, and they should be treated like professionals. Without showing teachers some respect and commitment, DCSS shouldn't expect them to "focus on the kids"--we are not martyrs or saints, and we have the right to expect a decent working environment and salaries appropriate to the level of training that the system requires. This level of chaos and fear/uncertainty creates an unhealthy working climate, and I would not be surprised to see health-related lawsuits next year because of the psychological damage the workplace climate produces.

Anonymous said...

Cere --

What happened to comments made on Tuesday evening, June 15?

I wanted to scroll back through them and I cannot find them. Actually, I am having a good bit of trouble with this new layout. I hesitate to say anything because you are providing such a terrific service to the community.

Cerebration said...

Anon, if you click on the word "comments" (it has a number before it) in the green bar at the end of the posts- you will be taken to the comments. However, the post called "friends and famliy" has been closed and the comments are not visible anymore. We had "issues" with that topic... it was an experiment that seems a lot of folks don't actually wish to carry out yet...

I hope you get used to the layout - I actually tried to make it simpler.

Cerebration said...

So here's the tweet --

BREAKING: Dunwoody High School Principal will not return for new school year. No details yet.

Anonymous said...

Please don't give T. Bowen or any of these sorry BOE members a pass on anything. They were warned time and time again about Lewis and Pope...there are no excuses I know We tried communicating with him and the BOE but they disregarded us as if this was all made up...they did not investigate or anything. They had a duty and responsibility to investigate wrongful actions of the Super. and COO...we even involved Ron Ramsey and he did not reply. So please spare me this BS letter from Bowen, he like the other BOE are tryong to cover their Assets (suttle..no so much). It hurts to see good people suffer at the hands of corrupt individuals who all stood to gain from this. And believe me they all got what they wanted...just look at them...they all got a school..center or brokered deals for their personal interest groups....please don't get swept up in their hype people...don't trust and please verify.....records and emails don't lie anad will hold up in court when forensic teams access those computers they are trying so desperately to wipe clean. They will shut down this BOE and a few others to boot. Stay focused....

Anonymous said...

Can't wait!! .... what goes around comes around .... you reap what you sow. That's the only thing good about any of this.

Anonymous said...

Whoo Hoo ... the powerful that wielded "punishment" with no real desire for truth and justice, just on a whim of a friend/family, will get their just rewards. They will finally know what it means to be on the receiving end. Sweet!

Anonymous said...

Please, Ella, give it up. Last year you were on here serving up nothing but gushing love for Crawford. I am so sick of Pollyanna types who want everyone to breathe greeting card air and emote Hallmark sentiments all the time. EVERYONE IS NOT ETHICAL, Ella. EVERYONE IS NOT KIND, Ella. EVERYONE IS NOT PURE, Ella. If you want to be a BOE member, which, quite frankly, I hope does not occur, you need to develop a keener sense of smell.

As far as Dr. (LOL) Kevin Harris of Dunwoody HS, well, he was demoted. Did anyone not think this would happen? What a pompous ****. Just because you dress nattily and have an NFL reference on your resume hardly makes you a worthwhile choice for principal. Now that Crawford's gone, perhaps we will see people of merit placed in these very important administrative slots and not persons like Dr. (LOL) Harris who impress losers like Crawford with appearance and lack substance. I hope Dr. Harris enjoys watching the football games in his capacity as Ass.Principal somewhere else. Dunwoody's ex-football coach should be quite satisfied with poetic justice.

Meow.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the testing scandal will take down the admin team at SWest Dekalb? Maybe some things will begin to change now that Lewis is not around to protect people?

Dan Magee said...

Tom Bowen, you personally appointed David Moody to chair the school construction committee, despite the fact that he did bid and still bids on school construction projects. An incredible conflict of interest. These are contracts in the tens of millions.

Where is the accountability, the checks and balances? This BOE has failed in too many ways to list. A Central Office that has been spent on itself in an out of control manner for years. Nepotism, cronyism, ridiculous purchases that costs millions upon millions like America's Choice, High Schools That Work, eSIS, etc. Millions in Title 1 money that doesn't go into the school house but is controlled by petty Central Office administrators who send 200 teachers and staff to California on school days. Hundreds of millions from our property taxes and penny sales tax, yet some schools are falling apart, while many have leaky roofs and moldy HVAC systems...but of course the new Mountain Industrial Complex has $2000 chairs, $300,000 for lights for BOE meetings and more flat screens than Best Buy.

DCSS is a billion dollar operation with no oversight. Enough said.

Ella Smith said...

I totally agree with everything you said 8:58.

I have seen the pressure put on teachers by the administration to pass students and to lower standards so students can pass. I was shocked when I saw it and I have been disappointed by what I have seen.

I also think we have got to re-evaluate the way we present the material to our students. We have got to get students particularily in high school more engaged in learning. We are losing too many of them.

I know exactly what is happening in the schools. I taught in Dekalb County Schools for many years and left. I see the same type things in other school systems also so the problems are not limited to Dekalb County. However, I also see that there are good things also happening in Dekalb County Schools and in other school systems across the state. I want to look at the good also. Sometimes I see some individuals on this blog only wanting to look at the bad and sometimes only looking for ways to put others down. I love this blog. However, I do not approve of all the bashing of individuals that occurs on this blog.

Being Anonoymous makes some individuals feel that they can say whatever they want about others. At least I use my name on this blog and I do not hide behind Anonymous to make inappropriate comments to try to offend others who do use there names. At least I am willing to express my opinions openingly by signing my name. I would not be talking about someone having rose colored glasses on if I were you Anonymous. You do not even idenitify yourself by your own name and refuse to address your issues to my email with your name when I requested you do this. Who really has on rose colored glasses or sunglasses on this blog? I am open and transparent with my opinions and who I am. Can you honestly saw you are open and transparent about anything?

Anonymous said...

Again, Ella, you show another aspect of your personality that I believe disqualifies you for public office. Why so thin-skinned? Bravo for you that you use your name and are not anonymous. Yea! I opt not to do so. And? That disqualifies me from making commentary about what you post? Hardly. If you took what I said as insulting, then you should avoid the spotlight, dear. My points were (1) you gushed ad nauseum about Crawford all last year and decried posters who put him down -- that shows your very poor judgment of character; (2) you display this very tired Pollyanna attitude about most everything posted on here, case in point, the latest from Bowen who, my dear, is quite awful. Even if he did not know what all was going on with the monies and the hirings and the sexual politics and the cronyism and the nepotism, well, he should have. His predecessor certainly did. She had a dossier on Crawford that Pat Pope could have used as a foundation stone for one of her husband's shoddy construction jobs.

Now I will make a few more points about you and your postings and your ravings and your possible run for BOE, which, I again pray you do not gain a seat on.

1. You are a teacher, dear. SPELL THE WORDS CORRECTLY. USE CORRECT GRAMMAR AND PUNCTUATION.

2. If you don't want people to respond to what you post, THEN DO NOT POST.

3. Everyone who uses Anonymous as a moniker is NOT the same person, and why would anyone who uses Anonymous as a moniker want to communicate with the via e-mail when he/she can do so anonymously here on this blog?

4. It seems quite obvious to me (and some other posters you have conflated with me) that you are an apologist for administrators and excoriate teachers without due cause. I hate to rain on your diatribe, but it is the administrators and elected BOE members who have ****ed this County, not the teachers. Teachers need LESS oversight by these abject losers on high. If you really want to be elected and, by some unlucky chance, do get elected, you should push for a 50% reduction in the administrative staff at the County level.

5. It is not as if I were on here calling you names and saying you are an idiot or in any way denigrating you personally. I am responding to YOUR posts. You do come off as a Pollyanna. You do come off as a rabid supporter of all administrators. You do seem to have an incredibly thin skin when it comes to criticism of what you post or about your ideas. If you intend to have a PUBLIC LIFE, you need to be prepared to deal with people who disagree with you and who just might not like you based on your posts (diatribe).

Meow.

Cerebration said...

Point of clarity Meow - It was Ella, along with Kim, who did hours and hours of research and published our blog post called "Are DeKalb Schools as Bloated as Mr Potato Head?" That was one of the very first public reports on the subject. Click the picture of Mr Potato Head to read what Kim and Ella posted. She's not always wearing those rose-colored glasses.

Anonymous said...

Meow's point 4 is spot on. Especially the use of the invective. People need more perspective down here. And a greater willingness to acknowledge just how bad things are on the other side of Memorial. New York City schools have many "issues." But they send many graduates into a good state university system. What percentage of south Dekalb's graduates can make it in Georgia's state university system, which is inferior to New York's?

Be True to Your School said...

I fully agree with Meow, 1:07 AM and earlier posts. Meow is spot on with all points!

Ella -- most of us use "Anonymous" or another pen name not as a means to block transparency, but as a shield against almost certain retaliation -- even now.

Further, I am sorry, Cere, that you allowed Dunwoody Mom to bully you into removing posts and shutting down "Friends and Family." Part of my job is doing research and I know that bits and pieces of seemingly unrelated, trivial and/or possibly incorrect information can suddenly go together like a jigsaw puzzle to provide an answer. Just when people were finally opening up, Cere, you shut everything down.

It is stunning to me -- and very disappointing -- that you posted that BS letter from Tom Bowen -- which some people will actually believe -- but apparently removed a post from me that contained fully researched and documented information about Morcease (Mor-of-the-same-will-this-never-Cease) Beasley.

You also apparently removed posts from a "supporter" of Beasley's who did admit to being glad when he left as principal of Stephenson High School because he was so "intense." The last thing we need right now in DCSS leadership is someone as described by that poster who is an apologist for Beasley. DCSS -- and especially the teachers -- have been damaged beyond belief. "Intense" is not what is needed now.

We need a real leader not a book-selling "motivational speaker" who openly advertises on his own website that he writes, edits and researches dissertations. Hello??? Isn't that what the graduate student is supposed to be doing? That is part of getting a graduate degree. Where is Beasley's moral compass?

There has got to be another way to get the information that people were finally beginning to share out into the open -- into the power of full sunlight that seems to be no longer offered by this blog.

Suggestions, anyone?

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see where this demoted principal will end up..if it is business as usual, he will be at the Sam Moss center in a high paying job he knows nothing about..and fireproof regardless of how much he screws up.

Anonymous said...

I am tired of the schools hiring people who sell their services and books into important positions that require their full undivided attention.

When will DCSS begin to make solid educational decisions that use the tax payer money in the best of ways?

Be True to Your School said...

Cere,

I truly hate to see the momentum you have built with this blog disappear because of a few squeamish people who do not wish to speak truth to power or allow others to do so.

In the interests of offering up a solution, could you post this statement -- taken from the Hampton Roads, VA (The Virginian-Pilot) website, www.hamptonroads.com:

"Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Comments do not reflect the views of [The Virginian-Pilot or its Web sites] (Replace bracketed copy with "DeKalb County School Watch, and its administrator"). Comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Report Violation" link below the comment."

Wouldn't this allow you to open the blog up to those people who are finally beginning to feel secure in stating what they know or have heard? Those others who are too squeamish or pollyanna-ish to read the truth can simply move on.

For way too long those who object to "calling a spade a spade" (see Wikipedia definition below) have made it possible for the incestuous wrongdoing that is now firmly entrenched in DCSS. It is time -- and you have provided the venue -- to speak truth to power.

Wikipedia's definition of To call a spade a spade:
To "call a spade a spade" is to speak honestly and directly about a topic, specifically topics that others may avoid speaking about due to their sensitivity or embarrassing nature. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (1913) defines it as To be outspoken, blunt, even to the point of rudeness; to call things by their proper names without any "beating about the bush".

Anonymous said...

Cere,

Be True To Your School has given great solutions to your "problem" about some bloggers (Dunwoody Mom) being "concerned" about you protecting yourself from legal ramifications of online "defamation" ...

Thanks, Be True, for a viable solution. People WANT to talk ... they've been wanting to "shed light" for years most probably. Cere, you have a venue that allows them to finally get to do that.

Employees have been literally SHUT DOWN in the past when they have inadvertently crossed Central Office, even if they were attempting to make things better by offering "a different way" or even just simply speaking up instead of remaining part of the SILENT majority.

Area Directors (and principals) who are "token puppets" are hired to do the dirty work ... The powers that be like them weak so these puppets will do their (RM) bidding with a robot-like stare and no questions asked. They respond well to the fear factor.

I could go on, but I won't. Most of you know exactly what I mean, especially if you have gotten caught in the crossfire.

Anonymous said...

As far as I can tell, having now read the "information" posted by Dunwoody Mom -- in an apparent attempt to derail open and honest discussion on this blog -- here are the pertinent points relating to bloggers, blog posters and libel:

(1) Is there a difference between reporting on public and private figures?

Yes. A private figure claiming defamation—your neighbor, your roommate, the guy who walks his dog by your favorite coffee shop—only has to prove you acted negligently, which is to say that a "reasonable person" would not have published the defamatory statement.

A public figure must show "actual malice"—that you published with either knowledge of falsity or in reckless disregard for the truth. This is a difficult standard for a plaintiff to meet.

(2) Who is a public figure?

A public figure is someone who has actively sought, in a given matter of public interest, to influence the resolution of the matter. In addition to the obvious public figures—a government employee, a senator, a presidential candidate—someone may be a limited-purpose public figure.

A limited-purpose public figure is one who (a) voluntarily participates in a discussion about a public controversy, and (b) has access to the media to get his or her own view across.

One can also be an involuntary limited-purpose public figure—for example, an air traffic controller on duty at time of fatal crash was held to be an involuntary, limited-purpose public figure, due to his role in a major public occurrence.

(3) What if I want to report on a public controversy?

Many jurisdictions recognize a "neutral reportage" privilege, which protects "accurate and disinterested reporting" about potentially libelous accusations arising in public controversies. As one court put it, "The public interest in being fully informed about controversies that often rage around sensitive issues demands that the press be afforded the freedom to report such charges without assuming responsibility for them." Read on ...

(4) Do blogs have the same constitutional protections as mainstream media?

Yes. The US Supreme Court has said that "in the context of defamation law, the rights of the institutional media are no greater and no less than those enjoyed by other individuals and organizations engaged in the same activities."

(5) What if I republish another person's statement? (i.e. someone comments on your posts)

Generally, anyone who repeats someone else's statements is just as responsible for their defamatory content as the original speaker—if they knew, or had reason to know, of the defamation. Recognizing the difficulty this would pose in the online world, Congress enacted Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which provides a strong protection against liability for Internet "intermediaries" who provide or republish speech by others.

Dunwoody Mom -- if you are nervous about information and opinion provided via this blog, you do not have to participate. You do not -- however, have the right to take away the option for others to participate. Your unfounded scare tactics have undermined the open and honest discussion Cere had managed to birth and to grow. Shame on you!

Anonymous said...

Wow. Now that I fully understand the libel/slander issues I can finally say it: The DeKalb Board of Education members caused the Gulf oil spill.

Cynical? Yes!

Anonymous said...

Bowen's position is rediculous--basically waives a wand over the question of whether the board should have been listening to Littlejohn way back when she brought evidence of many cases of malfeasance.
Point being--they had the obligation to be agressive in their oversight many years before a criminal investigation. Criminal investigations should follow ethics case, not the other way around.
He says "we are taking responsiblity"--that's liek when your kid says "I'm coming" when asked to come to dinner--and he's staying where he is. He's not "coming" at all--and Bowen is doing exactly the opposite of "taking responsibility.
Responsibility for what?

Anonymous said...

I just happened to take an AJC with an article about the criminal investigations (pick a day) to Richmond with me.
My brother in-law fell on the floor laughing at the term "cabinet".
I suggest whenever we repeat the term, we put it in quotes with an LOL next to it.
The fact that Bowen continues to use the term without choking is indicative of his lack of perspective.

Anonymous said...

Here are the principal positions I've heard are open:

Cedar Grove HS (retirement)
Columbia HS (promotion)
Towers HS (retirement)
Clarkston HS (?)
Dunwoody HS (demotion)
Miller Grove HS (demotion)
Lithonia MS (retirement)
Columbia ES (retirement)

Anyone have anymore info?

I've heard from a number of sources that Area Director Ralph Simpson (he of the popular book) had been asked to resign but refused, so the County is trying to force him to become Principal at Cedar Grove HS. THIS IS NOT SLANDER, Dunwoody Mom. It's just an unsubstantiated rumor that I would like some verification of. I AM NOT PASSING ANY JUDGMENT ON SIMPSON, Dunwoody Mom. I am not saying a thing about impropriety of the book deal (or of sexual relations or fraternal/sororal connections) -- nothing of the kind. In fact, note myuse of "popular" with "book deal." I'm not even commenting on the thousands of $$$ he MIGHT have pocketed from his books popularity within the school system. (Check with Richard Belcher about all that, Dunwoody Mom.)

:)

Anonymous said...

I do hope that Simpson is demoted. He exudes the DCSS way (no zeros, pass everyone regardless of circumstances, make parents happy no matter what).

If he is demoted, his pay should also go down to that of a principal.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone confirm if there is an opening for principal at Chamblee HS?

Anonymous said...

What qualifications does one need to possess to be an Area Director? I'm seriously asking. I'm just saying ...

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 4:24 PM

Can anyone confirm if there is an opening for principal at Chamblee Charter H.S.?

Rochelle Patterson Lowery said she was leaving CCHS just as soon as her out-of-attendance-area (or out-of-district; I can't remember which) niece graduated from CCHS. The niece graduated last year, but Rochelle came back, anyhow. She now says she is just grateful to have a job and is staying indefinitely.

It would be terrific if she does leave! She does not know how to manage a charter school. (Just a statement of fact, DM.) Rochelle is military reserve and she is much more comfortable in a military hierarchal atmosphere. She does not understand the give-and take of a charter school.

Anonymous said...

anon @4:24, thank you.

Be True to Your School said...

Mor-of-the-same; will this never cease Beasley

Just FYI ... the button you push on Morcease Beasley's website -- the one to request his consulting services (Beasley offers services in Improving Instruction, Leadership Development, Program Evaluation and Research, Instructional Management Audits, Dissertation Writing, Dissertation Editing, and Statistical Analysis for Dissertations) takes you to his e-mail address: cloingeorgia@aol.com

Do you get it? Take a few minutes ...

c = chief
l = learning
o = officer
in = in
georgia = Georgia

chieflearningofficeringeorgia@aol.com

This guy (apparently hand-picked by the DCSS BOE) is advertising his services -- some very questionable -- as the Chief Learning Officer in Georgia.

OMG! Where do they find these people and what would it take to raise a red flag or two or three?

Anonymous said...

A former DeKalb School Board Chairman:

http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/wabe/news.newsmain/article/1/0/1664242/Atlanta/Reaction.to.Bryant.Nomination

Georgia's new interim school superintendent is getting rave reviews his first day on the job. Educational policymakers and some teachers' groups say they support the appointment of Brad Bryant. WABE's Martha Dalton reports.
Alan Richards, of the Southern Regional Educational Board, says Bryant is focused on students' success.
"He's a staunch advocate for higher standards, and for stronger efforts to help more of Georgia's high school graduates become truly ready for college and career training."
Richards says Bryant goes to staff development conferences he's not required to attend - just to add to his knowledge.
Tim Callahan, of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, says Bryant has been responsive his group's concerns.
"He's a fellow who remains calm, is very steady, seeks compromises and conciliation, rather than confrontation."
Callahan says Bryant has worked very well with educators on a state level, which will result in a continuity of leadership in the position.

Anonymous said...

Sonny picked Brad Bryant specifically because Bryant is a supporter for Race for the Top. Many of the other candidates (including some of the Republicans) are lukewarm on Georgia's pursuit for those dollars and the attached implications.

As for Morcease Beasley, he was BFF of Johnny Brown and was completely ineffective while in DCSS. Can't we find some new blood???

Cerebration said...

I attended a conference a few months ago at Agnes Scott College hosted by the federal government called, U.S. Department of Education Community Stakeholders Meeting, DeKalb County, GA February 18, 2010. Everyone there was supposed to be COMMUNITY LEADERS - we were supposed to be given info regarding the ARRA funds and how to apply for school improvement grants for your failing schools (DCSS has never made AYP). In fact, the Powerpoint was titled, "Turning Around Our Lowest Performing Schools: A Guide for the Community". The COMMUNITY.

Well - suffice it to say - the room was half full of politicians and Dr. Lewis' cronies. In fact, Dr. Lewis was scheduled to speak at the end of the meeting. The purpose of Lewis' appearance, according to the agenda - was to accept the comments of the panels which were to have public discussions before Lewis' speech. One panel was called, "Role of Community, Faith-Based and Private Sector Advocates in contributing to "Turn Around” Strategies" and the other was called, "Role of Parents, Parent Organizations and Students in contributing to “Turn Around” Strategies."

Outrageously though, Dr. Lewis made a "surprise" appearance right in the middle of the meeting - BEFORE the panel discussions. He literally jumped in from the doorway in the front of the room grinning and laughing! He proceeded to present his ridiculous dog and pony show about all of the GREAT things he was doing in DeKalb. He kept nodding to the federal reps (Alberto Retana was one) and referring to them by name - while he went on and on and ON about the wonderful progress he has achieved in DCSS. Our entire row considered walking out - but some of them were panel members and had yet to get their opportunity to speak.

Then Brad Bryant is called on by (someone - I"m not sure who) - and proceeds to tell the audience that DeKalb won't be getting ANY of the grant money --- you see, our schools are just TOO GOOD! Yes - there are so many worse schools in Georgia who really need this funding. DeKalb is just fine and won't qualify for the federal funds.

Talk about a disconnect! Why - oh why did he even think we were all there? Our bubbles now burst as he pretty much patted us on the heads proclaiming 'now, now, move along - there's nothing to see here - keep moving'...that money isn't for you - it's for 'other people'... you don't need it.

Brad Bryant would be a bad choice for DeKalb schools, in my opinion.

BTW - for info on the School Improvement Grants - go to this website -

http://www.ed.gov/programs/sif/index.html

Anonymous said...

Check this candidate out:

http://www.bethforeducation.com/

Anonymous said...

Is Mr Swanson, API from Redan HS, the new principal at Dunwoody HS to replace Dr. Harris, who just got here a couple of years ago from City of Atlanta Schools?

Anonymous said...

Please PLEASE compare Beth Farokhi's web site to Morcease Beasley's web site. That by itself tells all I need to know.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 9:18 PM

I am confused. Comparing Beth Farokhi to Mor-of-the-same; will this-never-cease Beasley is like comparing apples to oranges. They are not aspiring to the same office.

I have, however, sent Beth Farokhi an e-mail asking for specifics on what she can and will do regarding the DeKalb County School System if she is elected. I will be sending the same question to other candidates for State Superintendent of Schools. I will publish their answers on this blog.

Anonymous said...

BeTrue 9:18, showing the comparison about the KIND of person DCSS needs based on web site alone.

Anonymous said...

I agree with MEOW. Ella's post are irritating and seem to be quite off point. I am not impressed. She has defended everyone from Pope, to Lewis, to Frankie Callaway. All of whom...have screwed DCSS. Give it up Ella, give it up.

Anonymous said...

I would venture to say that the same could be said (irritating, off point, etc) about a number of blog posts on this sight...if you don't like Ella's posts, don't read them. No need to tear anyone down personally.

Anonymous said...

@anon 11:27 - was that necessary? really, why did people have to be disrespectful to cerebration and this blog by acting like someone on a reality tv show - sometimes i agree with an opinion and sometimes i don't but i usually try to teach by example if i don't agree
come on - we are all in this mess together -

Cerebration said...

It seems that as this blog has grown, we have also had to endure newcomers who have little respect for the dignity of others and simply like to troll the internet wreaking havoc. Ignore them. These are just their opinions. We all know what they say about opinions.

Ella has long contributed to this blog - in fact, she was one of our original posters. I have always felt that she brings value to our conversations. I personally appreciate her usually positive spin on topics -- as I struggle sometimes with my own cynicism. We all need to be reminded that there is still a lot of good in the system - and the people who work in it.

See why we have chosen not to open this blog as a candidate forum? Personally, my spirit could not take it.

Anonymous said...

I gave to agree with Meow. Once Ella came out and stated that she would run then she is open for what ever comes her way. We already know. That she backs central office. She has stated that several times. More often than backing teachers.

It would be the Same if Jim, SCW, or even Lynn D (if she does run) What they say and their actions may come back and bite them in the butt, as my mom use to say.

We need for someone to run who will listen to teachers first, then parents, then central office if we are are to get things turned around in DCSS.

Cerebration said...

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold its 3rd & Final Millage Rate Hearing & Called Meeting at 9:00am, Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at
the William Bradley Bryant Center for Technology, 2652 Lawrenceville Highway, Decatur,
GA 30033.

Anonymous said...

Anon. 12:20

We need someone who will put the children and the quality of their education first. All children and I do mean a quality education.

Our county school system can longer be for the adults, we need to work to ensure that our children receive a better education than they are currently.

I am a teacher and a tax payer in DeKalb. I am not for or against Ella, but I do not want any candidate that puts adults and their best interests above the children who are already being short changed.

The education system in America is need of so many changes, as it is failing our children. We spend so much to educate each child, yet, what do our children have to show for it? I have fourth graders who need to thank God that they have 10 fingers, so that they can count to ten, because they still do not know that 7 +3 equals 10. I teach in what I see as a good neighborhood.

The adults in the system are letting our children down. When we allow students multiple times to make up work and are not able to earn a zero even when they do no work, we are letting our children down. When we pass students on who have not passed the CRCT to go on, we have failed our children.

I do not want anyone on our school board who is not willing to fight for what is in the best interest of our children and helping them to become, educated thinkers, who love learning. I want the children to be able to support themselves some day.

Anonymous said...

Cere, what is this millage hearing for? Does the school board want to raise taxes? I thought that this was a non-issue. Did I miss something?

Anonymous said...

@12:34, the millage rate (your taxes) will remain the same, unless your house is reappraised.

These reappraisals cause an increase in the overall tax digest. If the school board intends to spend the extra money instead of using it to roll back the millage rate then they are required to hold three public hearings.

Welcome to the world of "back door tax increases" where the BOE can honestly say they didn't raise taxes, even though you may end up paying more because your house was appraised higher.

Anonymous said...

The Georgia Law on School Councils requires that local Boards of Education shall have written policy in place that states what the role of the School Council is in the selection process for a Principal.
I have tried to find such a policy for DeKalb but have not been able to so far.
Does anyone have the policy they can share or point me in the right direction.
With all the discussion about who some of the new Principals will be, it seems that School Councils are being ignored.
Would not surprise me if that is the DeKalb Board's policy, but would like to see what they have written.
Also, would not surprise me if, once again, DeKalb "leadership" is ignoring another lawful requirement.

Anonymous said...

12:45 Thanks for the clarification.

Teaching at a DCSS High School said...

Does anyone have any confirmation that Mr. Rodney Swanson, API from Redan HS, will be the new principal at Dunwoody HS ?

If so, Congratulations to him and the Dunwoody community!

.....For those of us who remain at REDAN......here we go again.... there's no tellin' who we might be getting in exchange for one of the great ones.....

.

Anonymous said...

The last edition of DCSS Kaleidoscope is out today. For those of you who do not know what Kaleidoscope is, you must visit the site! A lot of hard work and effort to spotlight our kids and teachers was put into this production, and it was sent out monthly to businesses and groups in DeKalb and metro Atlanta.

Click here to see the latest issue of Kaleidoscope!

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/newsroom/kaleidoscope/newsletters/2010-05-30.Volume_13.html

It's the last edition, as the entire PR staff that produced Kaleidoscope was fired. They are the only ones that ever covered and brought good news about what our students and teachers accomplish. (BTW, P. Guillory does NOT work on this with her PR colleagues-she's too busy producing premier TV shows...fo course, she didn't get fired, either).

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:21pm Andrea Russell always puts the kaledioscope together with pix and stories from the PR department...and it was usually printed and sent home on or before the last day of school; that was before Pope/Lewis closed the Printshop. A lot of things have changed for the worst...let's pray that DCSS can make a complete turn around for the better before August 2010. We have to look towards the future..not matter how cloudy it is. We all have reasons to be PO'd but I know that things will work out for all of us...including those who lost their jobs last June 30, 2009 June 2010.
We are going to see things getting better with time, as long as the DA does her job and the BOE does theirs.

Anonymous said...

The reason why I even commented about Ella's post was because I am so sick of people making excuses for these characters on the BOE and in the County Office. Tom Bowen is the CHAIR. He should assume FULL responsibility for what all has transpired under HIS stewardship of the BOE. If he had a shred of decency or even a remote smidgen of character, he would RESIGN. Even those losers on the Clayton County BOE several years ago resigned. Ericka Davis, BOE Chair, resigned. Eddie White, Vice Chair, resigned. At least one other member resigned. (One was voted off by all the others.) And Governor Sonny removed the recalcitrant remaining four. What has transpired in DeKalb is much, much worse than what happened in Clayton. Yet, the BOE merrily continues to sit and issue its words of happiness about its wonderful oversight of a school system called Premier than is in complete disarray. Tom Bowen deserves no words of commendation, especially from someone who aspires to SIT ON THE BOE.

Ella has positioned herself as a PUBLIC FIGURE by stating that she would run for BOE. Some months ago, when she stated that as her intent, she also stated that she would stop posting on this blog. Whatever. Post. Don't post. That's her choice. HOWEVER, if and when she DOES post, she should be ready -- and so should her apologists, even if they are the blog moderators -- for some negative responses. Perhaps Ella is a nice lady. Perhaps Ella means well. Perhaps Ella has done some good for the community. That does not, however, excuse her Pollyanna version of reality as concerns these rejects who have made every effort to destroy this once excellent school system.

MEOW.

Cerebration said...

I'm not sure what the milleage meetings are about. They had agreed not to raise the rate at the board meeting, but perhaps this is a change? Has anyone attended one of these yet?

Also - on the issue of school councils -

go to this website

www.GeorgiaEducation.org

and download the pdf called "School Councils:
Organization and Procedures" (I don't have the exact link).

The discussion about principal selection begins on page 5.27 and more or less says that each district should form it's own policies. Here are a few key points -

Currently, very few written policies actually define the role of the school council in the principal selection process. Most of the policies simply delegate the matter to the superintendent or offer a general statement. . . .

LOCAL BOARD POLICIES
The local board of education sets policy for the school system. By law, school councils have a role to play in the adoption of such policies. School councils should play an essential role in the policy adopted by local boards defining the role school councils are to play in the principal selection process. As elected bodies, school boards must receive input from the public when developing such policies. Requiring written policies ensures that this process will occur. No longer should the school council’s role in the principal selection process be made up as it occurs. School council members must speak up before the local board to ensure that there is a meaningful role for them to play in the principal selection process.
School systems in Georgia vary in size from one school with less than 300 students to school systems with over 150,000 students. Clearly there is no single policy that will be appropriate for each system. Some elements, however, should be common in all policies. . . .

CONCLUSION
Without a well thought out policy in place community members often feel they have been placed on the sidelines, have been left-out or are uncertain why or how they are being asked to participate. A well thought out policy is key to ensuring all involved are able to understand, appreciate and productively contribute to the process. At a minimum, it is important that there be open, honest, two-way communication so that the community does not feel their time was wasted and their opinion disregarded. Agreement is not necessary, but respect for each other’s role is.

Molly said...

The millage rate hearings are required by law, even if there is to be no change in the millage rate. DCSS is simply complying with regulations by holding the hearings.

The DCSS used to have a policy about school council input in principal selection, but it was recently changed. Crawford Lewis felt that if he was going to be evaluated on school performance, than he should have full freedom to hire principals. Current board policy reads "Whenever a vacancy occurs in the position of principal at a school, the superintendent shall seek input from the council as to the qualities and abilities that the new principal should possess and the leadership style that best meets the needs of the school. The input from the school council in any principal selection shall be advisory only."

Anonymous said...

Molly,

The exeception is that the charters for some of the Charter schools REQUIRE that the governing council be consulted and included in the selection process.

But... my experience is that the BOE and the DCSS have been violating these charter provisions.
I fear that by doing this they could be leaving themselves open to legal challenges involving selection of Principals and Assistant Principals.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Molly and Anonymous

Principal Selection

DCSS and the BOE ABSOLUTELY have been violating charter provisions -- and demanding that they be watered down when charters come up for renewal.

It would be one thing if Lewis and the BOE had a stellar record. They don't.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone out there know how the word "PREMIER" became associated with DCSS in the first place?

I overheard from a reputable source that Lewis' daughter came up with it on her job at a PR firm.

Don't know if DCSS paid her for it or not ...

That would be a good thing for someone to look into. The BOE will know the answer.

BTW, I do know this is a fact. Don't know about payment.

If the PR firm (or she) was paid, many of us would like to know how much did DCSS pay for the word "premier" and the logo change and making all the employees from that day forward have to answer phones "Premier DeKalb" ... it was a central office requirement that phones be answered that way ... at least that was the rule in the schoolhouses.

Anonymous said...

Blah, blah, blog, blog ...
SO what's next?

Should we all ALL ALL attend the next board meeting and ask some hard questions?

Cerebration said...

You're right, Molly. I do remember that. He had a list of improvements the board was demanding and he stated that he couldn't meet those demands if his hands were tied as to who he could place as principals. Makes sense. I just wish we would keep principals in buildings longer. That seems to be key to a quality school system - highly experienced principals in every school. Please stop "promoting" good principals to transportation and facilities, etc. We really, really need strong leadership within the schoolhouse.

Anonymous said...

Several years ago, one of DeKalb's (and the state's) lowest performing middle schools needed a new principal. I saw a real opportunity for the system to bring in a proven principal with a strong track record in middle school achievement.

They didn't. Instead one of the elementary school principals from the feeder pattern was promoted. The community demanded it. They were comfortable with her. Never mind that the school she was coming from had dismal stats. They liked her.

Fast forward all these years later, the middle school is still horrible, but they still like the principal.

Dr. Lewis had a point, if you trust the central office administration to recruit, appoint, and retain high caliber principals. So far, though, they have a pretty crummy track record.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 4:08 pm

Principals have been let go en masse in DCSS because that's been a great way to deflect responsibility for students' non-achievement from the Central Office.

Most administrators (1,239) are in the Central Office versus the schoolhouse (143 principals). This Central Office and in particular its "upper Management" has been an utter failure at raising student achievement. In fact, student achievement has declined under this regime.

The tactic of taking failing schools and "blaming the administration" - i.e. principals - has been utilized to great success. I believe around 15 to 20 were let go in 2008. Time after time, Lewis replaced principals of "failing schools" and time after time, those schools continued to sink even further. The problem was not at the schoolhouse level so the solution was like rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic. The BOE were like investors thinking this job creating ship would never sink.

Ahh! Speaking metaphorically - That great ship DCSS full of admin and support hitting that economic iceberg. They were lodged comfortably in their privileged world and toasting their good fortune, but now they're racing for the life rafts. Do you think they'll get those seats in the life boats before the teachers and students?

Anonymous said...

If a Redan AP has indeed already been chosen for the DHS principal position, that certainly contradicts DCSS' stated policy: to begin with a "stakeholder survey," develop a candidate profile within a committee made up of teachers, parents, administrators, and the area superintendent, review applicants by HR, and then choose the best person for the job.

Maybe the Redan AP mentioned in this blog and by DHS faculty is a stellar candidate. But if DCSS is telling "Stakeholders" one thing while hurrying the new principal into place . . .

Gosh, does that mean parents and teachers are again getting played by DCSS.

Of course they are.

Anonymous said...

The State DOE Charter Schools division is well aware that DeKalb Schools blatantly ignores charter provisions related to staffing, scheduling, and budgeting . . . even when the charter stipulates that the school has the flexibility to choose staff, schedule classes and content, and spend allocated dollars more appropriate to the school.

Under Dr. Lewis, area superintendents figuratively patted the heads of governing councils and basically said "do it our way or we'll shut down your charter."

The only real protection against DCSS' mismanagement is a Charter Cluster school system. And that isn't really an impregnable defense.

Anonymous said...

I'm a frequent contributor to this blog - my articles are the ones about Fernbank Science Center, the Compensation and Classification Audit that Lewis ignored, and the newest one about the state of Special Education in DCSS so I'm definitely not a supporter of "upper management". I can say however that Mr. Swanson is "stellar" per the DSA teachers. DSA did not ask for or want him to be moved to Redan. They were very upset to see him moved. Don't listen to me - ask them. Nor did he want to leave DSA and go to Redan. DHS could certainly do worse.

SongCue said...

Rodney Swanson is a stellar administrator who had the respect and admiration of everyone at DSA---we were all in mourning when he was moved to Redan. If he's been named the principal at Dunwoody, the DHS community should consider themselves lucky. He's cool, level-headed, warm, receptive, and quite approachable. Teachers, students, and parents all like him.

As far as thwarting the school council process of having a voice in choosing a principal, well last year said volumes about that: Druid Hills, Lakeside, MLK, etc. When Dr. Lewis played upset the fruit basket with the principals and moved several to other schools (along with APIs), very few school councils had a say. I wondered if that was "legal." A good resource for school council questions within DCSS is Nancy VanWyk at the county office. Nancy_R_VanWyk@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Anonymous said...

Nancy was RIFed....and is no longer even listed in firstclass. She's the only one who was an expert on school councils.

SongCue said...

Well, that's such a bummer about Nancy--you're right, Anon 8:31. She WAS the only expert in the county on school councils.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 1:34 Andrea Russell does not but produce the Kaleidoscope, the PR department always has. Andrea is in the Title One department and produces the Parent Resource Center newsletters. Here's an example of one of her newsletters:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/instruction/improvement/files/D3C4A800C83441FF9278EE21A2D2760D.pdf

Anonymous said...

here's the full weblink. Hope it makes it this time.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/instruction/improvement/files/D3C4A800C83441FF9278EE21A2D2760D.pdf

No Duh said...

Nancy was RIFed!? I actually think she added value. Always available and knew the answer to your question.

Did DCSS ever produce a comprehensive list of who was laid off (not just titles). I'd like to see that list broken out by race.

Anyone remember the lawsuit brought by the laid off people in the Parks and Recreation department of DeKalb -- reverse discrimination? They won. Atlanta Public Library also lost a suit brought by librarins laid off for the color of their skin.

Anonymous said...

RIFed? What does that mean?

SongCue said...

"RIF" is Reduction In Force, i.e. layoffs. So when someone's been RIFed they've been layed off. Actually, in many places, Reduction in Force is the terminology used in HR documents, with a policy attached to the procedure. I hear that DCSS uses the "last hired, first fired" policy of RIFfing people, but I have nothing to base that on. I've seen bloggers post different stories of how layoffs were handled in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

I think Nancy was technically in the PR department, maybe? And the PR department was mostly eliminated.

Now that I think about it, I wonder which firm "won" the bid for the PR job for DCSS. And who are the principals of that firm. And which DCSS central office staff or BOE members that they are friends with?

Anonymous said...

Actually, Julie Rhame produced the Kaleidoscope Newsletter (with help from her now defunct PR dept).

Anonymous said...

How can they justify laying off people with 27, 20, 15 and 10 years? If as they said it would be last in first to go. There should be an enquiry into all the people who were laid off. Look at the gentleman at Plant Services with 27 years, and he was laid off. People with less than 10 years were not laid off, even though some of them performance was not good. The little people were laid off, when the system is top heavy with all these Executive Directors, Asst. Directors and Directors. Human Resources alone has three Directors and a Chief Human Resources Officer. The Ernst and Young audit recommended that the person over Human Resources should be a Human Resource Specialist not an educator. They spent all that money for the audit and when the reccommondations were made about cutting some of the salaries at the top, and getting a Human Resource Personnel to be over Human Resources, the county did not carry out any of the recommendations, except for the time when they employed a Chief Human Resource Officer, who turned out to be a criminal and they went back to an educator.

Anonymous said...

Kaleidoscope was not "invented" by Ms. Rhame and her PR depatment. It has been around for over 15 years. I remember when it was in hard copy newsletter form. It was just changed to a virtual publication.

While the PR Department sounds like it had some good personnel, it was completely ineffective. Some have argued that Ms. Rhame and her staff were not allowed to do the job they were hired for. Just exactly what was their job? Could any PR person put a "positive" spin on the occurrences in DCSS?

I'm more concerned that we address the root problems in DCSS than figure out a way to present ourselves as a "premier" school system. Only when real change comes will students get the education they deserve.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:42

You are right in that Human Resources is overstaffed. DCSS HR has 61 employees that cost taxpayers $4,500,000 a year in salary and benefits (over $73,000 per employee).

Considering benefits, 14 of these 61 employees cost DCSS taxpayers over $100,000 a year with the top employee costing over $200,000 a year (can we say 4 teacher salaries?).

To view the DCSS HR staff and their responsibilities, go to the following DCSS web page and then click on Staff Directory on the right hand side menu:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/administration/humanresources/

DCSS HR needs to be pared down through consolidation of responsibilities. This department also seems ripe for a look at outsourcing many of its functions.

We paid $341,000 for the 2004 Ernst and Young audit and according to the AJC, Jim Landry, the Ernst and Young consultant, told the BOE that we were overpaying 2,500 non-teaching employees by around $15,00,000 a year and slightly over 200 being underpaid by around $300,000. Teachers were being paid about the same as other Metro teachers although our teachers were being paid slightly lower than some Metro systems.

See AJC news archive:
http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=AT&p_theme=at&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&s_hidethis=no&p_field_label-0=Author&p_field_label-1=title&p_bool_label-1=AND&p_text_label-1=Study:%20DeKalb%20schools%20overpay%20workers&s_dispstring=jen%20sansbury%20dekalb%20schools%20AND%20headline%28Study:%20DeKalb%20schools%20overpay%20workers%29%20AND%20date%28all%29&p_field_advanced-0=&p_text_advanced-0=%28jen%20sansbury%20dekalb%20schools%29&xcal_numdocs=20&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no

Anonymous said...

How can they retain magnet transportation at a cost of 2-4 million per year and cut jobs?

Ask the board members who voted to do this - Wasn't it : Jim Redovian, Sarah C-W and Jay???
Bottom line - They ( although they would not admit this in troubled times ) can do lots of things without giving a hoot about what the majority think.

In many cases, it is about looking good to their community for re-election or because they like choice programs.

Don't you get it BOE - " CHOICE" - that means people make a conscious decision to go out of their home school area and the transportation is TECHNICALLY their responsibility. For some reason , they make the decision to go above and beyond for this group while DCSS employees who really need their jobs are put out.

So blah , blah - more decisions and nothing we can do about it....Didn't someone mention a large group going to the next board meeting?

Anonymous said...

Someone is right and someone is wrong. I'm guessing it's the DCSS attorney who is the clueless one. You would think that this BOE, that allowed its superintendent and COO to operate in a manner that brought unprecedented RICO indictments, would want to be as open as possible with the new supt. search.

But not this BOE. Why learn from past mistakes?


www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-stalls-on-superintendent-552697.html
DeKalb stalls on superintendent search

“There will be a mechanism in the superintendent search process to get public input, but the exact method has not been determined,” Bowen told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “An initial meeting was held, and we will begin meeting regularly regarding the process in the near future.”

Bowen did not say when, nor if the meetings will be public.

Board attorney Joshua Mayes, of Sutherland firm in Atlanta, said the Georgia Open Meetings law allows the board to discuss “employment and personnel issues” in closed session.

But the Georgia First Amendment Foundation maintains the board should be meeting publicly to discuss the search process. Once the board has candidates, it can meet behind closed doors, said Hollie Manheimer, the foundation’s executive director.

“The personnel exemption is very narrow and allows the public to be barred only in very limited instances,” she said. “Deliberating about an individual’s specific disciplinary action would be a narrow example; discussion of the elements of a job description would not. The Open Meetings Act is about maximizing access to the public.”

Anonymous said...

"Board attorney Joshua Mayes, of Sutherland firm in Atlanta, said the Georgia Open Meetings law allows the board to discuss “employment and personnel issues” in closed session."


Sutherland, Asbill and Brennan - wow - these are some high priced lawyers. I guess the BOE has plenty of money for lawyers. What have we gotten from them except loads of "billable hours"?

Anonymous said...

Cere at 5:49 PM, the BOE and the COE (Corrupt of Education) are already scrambling for those life boats with excuses as to why they are not to blame. Like you said, "it must be the principals fault" or someone's fault (maybe the custodians?) ... certainly not the ones in power to make effective change. OH, no. Using your metaphor, it will take so long for the police boats (DA, SACS, GDOE, et al) to get TO the sinking Titanic that the BOE and COE in those life boats will be just a dot in the distance. And the community on shore will be left to salvage the remains.

Anonymous said...

SO, ARE LARGE MASSIVE NUMBERS GOING TO ATTEND THE NEXT BOARD MEETING?

IF ANYONE KNOWS WHEN AND WHERE AND WHAT TIME, PLEASE POST IT HERE SO THE LARGE MASSES OF INTERESTED BLOGGERS AND READERS OF BLOGS CAN PUT IT ON THEIR CALENDAR.

THANKS! IT MAY NOT MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO THIS BOLD, GIVE THEM MORE OF THE SAME EVEN NOW, BOARD, BUT IT'S WORTH A TRY.

Anonymous said...

Quote from Friday's AJC article:
“We need someone who can objectively identify the good and bad qualities in the system and to bring change to the specific areas where improvement is needed,” he said.

"Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson, who has led the district since Lewis took leave in February, has said she is not interested in the permanent job."

Ms. Tyson: No one who was in the inner circle of management WHEN all the corruption was going on should be interested in the permanent job. DCSS needs a "come in, clean house, don't know anyone in the system so not concerned with who is related to whom, kind of person."

Sorry, I'm just blogging the obvious.

Anonymous said...

It was actually Bowen and Cunningham who put magnet transportation back on the table. Bowen argued that transportation makes the programs viable. Cunningham is easily bullied by his constituents. He seems desperate to be reelected He loves the power.

Anonymous said...

You know, it takes a lot of time, and effort to bus your kids across the county to attend a different school. If you speak with parents who are doing this, you often hear that there is something going on at their home school that they don't like.

Instead of spending money we really don't have to bus kids to different schools, why aren't we fixing the problems at the home schools? Every DCSS school should be providing quality instruction to every student. I don't know how you would go about getting truly candid responses from parents on this subject, but DCSS should be seeking this information. Our PR group could help with this issue.

There is no question that we need better leadership at the top. That starts with a highly qualified superintendent. The longer we wait to start the process the longer we will have to wait for better leadership. Parents, community members and teachers should be involved in this process from the start.

Anonymous said...

Let me clear up some misconceptions about Kaleidoscope and the "PR staff".

First of all, the department has changed names and responibilities through the years at the whim of whatever superintendent has been in charge of the system. It was once truly the PR Dept. as you folks conceive it. At various times it was the Communications Department, Communications and Partners in Ed Dept, Pubications Dept (responsible for in-house publications and such with the now defunct print shop under its wing) and more recently, the Communications & PDS-TV Dept.

In this incarnation, the dept was charged with handling the system's good news (covering student achievement and the positive things going on in the schools). This they did through regular press releases to the local papers and through Kaleidoscope as well as the good quality programming on PDS-TV (I make a distinction between the good quality and the not-so-much for a reason).

All this was handled by Julie Rhame and her staff: a writer, a photographer who also contributes with writing and a Partners in Ed person. That's it. Dale Davis has not been a part of the dept since Dr. Lewis decided he needed a man-servant to hold his coat and open his doors. It was Dale Davis who was totally "ineffective" as someone recently alleged about the department. He's the person charged with dealing with the major press -TV reporters and the AJC. He and Dr. L are the ones that destroyed the pretty good relationship with those entities that DCSS once enjoyed.

Rhams's dept. was very effective in what they did. They did more with less and time after time made chicken salad from the chicken S&@t they were given. Kaleidoscope was held up as maybe the only example of DCSS doing a good job of communicating what was going on right in the school system.

When the department's budget was slashed to the point that they could no longer afford to print Kaleidoscope, it was Rhame and her team that, rather than pack it in and discontinue a longstanding DCSS tradition, devised the electronic version and created an even better publication from the ashes.

Two other things to correct: Nancy, another very good and dedicated employee that did not deserve this was not in the PR Dept.

And Andrea Russell has never had anything to do with Kaleidoscope or the PR Dept. Don't know where that idea came from.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for that clarification, Anon. I think the confusion regarding Andrea Russell stems from the fact that (I believe) she produces a newsletter for the Parent Centers that was confused with Kaleidoscope (which definitely was the best thing DCSS did for positive PR).

I remember thinking that when Lewis shut down the print department (after just purchasing a lot of expensive equipment) that he was making a very dumb move. The school system still needs a lot of printing and publication, which they now most likely pay more money for to an outside vendor or a pool of vendors.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:51

Kaleidoscope was around at least 15 years ago - way before Julie Rhame worked for DCSS. the publication was okay, but most teachers were too busy to read it. It was like many other ideas in DCSS - spend money anywhere but the classroom because that doesn't get you any notoriety. It certainly never impacted student achievement.

Julie Rhame and the entire PR Dept. should have been let go (and Ms. Guillory). They were completely ineffective. Looking at the bottom line, it doesn't matter if they were ineffective because they were not allowed to do their jobs. If nothing was getting done PR-wise, this is an economic drain on the classroom. Retaining them would have cost students more teachers. Maybe a new outsourced PR group will be more effective - at the very least they will probably be cheaper, and we certainly won't have to be stuck with their expensive benefits.

Ms. Tyson needs to look at outsourcing in part or whole:
1. Security
2. Custodial
3. Food Services
4. Groundskeeping
5. HVAC
6. Transportation
7. MIS
8. HR
9. Warehousing
10. Professional Learning/Staff Development

No department should be exempt if this will decease class sizes for students and/or increase service levels for the classroom.

Anonymous said...

@ 8:51am
Kaleidoscope was around at least 15 years ago - way before Julie Rhame worked for DCSS. the publication was okay, but most teachers were too busy to read it.....

Been teaching in DCSS since the 70's, and always looked forward to seeing the accomplishments of students and other teachers from all over the county, as written up in Kaleidoscope. I even got many, many ideas from seeing what my colleagues were doing, and I was motivated to get my students recognition in the publication (as I am now in the on line version).

There is no "inexpensive" outsourced entity that can handle what our PR staff is able to handle. By the way, do you have any idea how much private sector PR firms cost?

BTW....I have heard that smoozer Dale Davis has already gotten hired (at an even higher salary than what DCSS paid him) by the PR firm that DCSS is going to hire. Yes, this is still hearsay, but my source was reliable. For now, I'm still in a "wait & see" mode. just saying....

Anonymous said...

@12:26
I agree with you about the value of Kaleidoscope. Professionally done, hours and hours of work in covering the good accomplishments of DCSS students and teachers. Great job to the PR Department and condolences on how ya'll have been royally screwed by DCSS. It's a crime for our students, as well as for you.

I learned that the PR department person in charge of Partners in Education actually brought in over $100,000.00 to schools this past year by signing over 100 business affiliates as Partners in Ed. Following each partnership, the relationships average approximately $1000 per school in cash or services (for this year). Those relationships will continue, and so will the good for those schools.

I think the person in charge of the Partners program in the PR Dept is Dale Bowen. Dale accounted for almost twice the income to schools as his salary. Right.....DCSS.....cut the good guys, keep the dead weight that is more concerned with whether or not they have an office with the furniture they want. IT'S A CRIME!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:26 pm

You must have had more time than I did. I knew many teachers featured in it, and thought it was a nice publication. However, I lost track of it when it went online. I didn't even know it was online until I read about it in this blog.

My point was not to say Julie Rhame and her group were not competent. I just said they were not effective. Not her fault according to all the posters here that know her, but bottom line was if she or her staff were forced by Lewis and then Tyson to sit in their offices, they still were eating up a lot of money that could save quite a few teacher positions.

At least the BOE must publicly approve the expenditure for an outsourced PR firm so Ms. Tyson must present the costs. At that time we can see if it's less expensive.

Be True to Your School said...

An Open Request to Morcease Beasley

2nd Request

June 17, 2010 (Original Request Date)

June 20, 2010 (Today's Date)

Sent to: cloingeorgia@aol.com, morceasebeasley@hotmail.com, morcease_j_beasley@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

Dr. Beasley,

Please publish a scanned, certified copy of your Ed.D. transcript (showing graduation date and degree award date) AND a copy of your dissertation.

Let me assure you that this request is not meant to be intrusive.

However, given all of the issues in the DeKalb County School System and with the DCSS Board of Education, all BOE candidates, as well as all DCSS upper administration -- including you -- should be prepared to provide public documentation of their skills, experience and education. If all is in order, that should be no problem.

This request has already been published on the DeKalb County School Watch blog. Given the high stakes and the seriousness of the problems facing DeKalb County Schools, I would assume that you are already a regular reader of that blog.

Please reply to this request by return e-mail with the date and place you will publish the requested items. Alternatively, you may send them by return e-mail to this address: btty.school@gmail.com

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Anon June 20 12:35
Amen to your post! The Nancy VanWyks, Dale Bowens, and Julie Rhames of the school system were competent, worked hard, and did not earn big salaries.

Having someone like Nancy VanWyk around with her vast knowledge of the School Council Law was invaluable. She made sure that each school's Council submitted its minutes (and she read them!). She could answer questions easily and she was available to come to meetings, if needed.

Dale Bowen and Julie Rhame were outstanding. Not only were they professionally capable, but their institutional knowledge of DCSS is not easily replicated. Yes, folks, we need a PR department and if you think it's going to be cheaper to outsource it, think again.

It makes me crazy that the school board voted to keep magnet transportation (and I'm a magnet parent). And we all know that the board, along with the county administration has made one bad decision after another, but the three people listed in this post--especially Dale, who brought in much more money for the schools through Partners in Ed than he made--were worth keeping, I argue.

Again, AUDIT, AUDIT, AUDIT!

A Mother said...

Anon June 18, 2010 12:31 PM

We need someone who will put the children and the quality of their education first. All children and I do mean a quality education.

Our county school system can longer be for the adults, we need to work to ensure that our children receive a better education than they are currently.


Now, this is what I think needs to be the "Guiding Principle" of everything that is done from the top to the bottom, from beginning to end. Schools exist for the good of the children.

I'm not being noble. I'm being practical and maybe even selfish. The children are the people who will run the businesses, schools, governments, dispense our medications at the drug store or online when we retire.

Making children, their education, seeing to it that they are being prepared, getting what they need to be productive in and contribute to the world they will live their adult experiences in, is as good for "us" as it is for the children.

It's the only Win-Win.

Tom, you're still not listening!