Friday, June 4, 2010

Should we really reduce professional development requirements for teachers?

In an article titled, Budget woes could mean less training for DeKalb teachers, the AJC reports that the state is allowing DCSS to cut mandatory training hours for teachers in half because of the district’s budget problems.

The school system currently requires teachers to have 20 hours of professional development a year. On Wednesday, the board’s instruction committee discussed cutting training time to 10 hours a year.

Last month, the board approved a budget for next school year with $104 million in cuts, including seven furlough days for teachers. A proposal calls for three of those furlough days to be designated teacher professional development days, said Gloria Talley, deputy superintendent of teaching and learning.

To make up for that lost time, administrators are proposing teachers see to their professional development during the school day and in between instruction time.

Teacher Magazine, in an article titled, "Becoming a Culturally Responsive Teacher," reported that Ron Walker, executive director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, publishers of "Standards for Schools Educating Boys of Color" has this to say about professional development:

How important is professional development for teachers? Is good professional development key to undergoing some of the reforms suggested in the report?

Absolutely. Good, solid PD is the lifeblood of creative and successful schools because they are on the razor's edge. It keeps teachers sharp. Good, well-developed, thoughtful PD that takes into account where people are across the continuum of their learning styles and experiences validates and affirms. It keeps people fresh. It gives people a chance to create and contribute to their own development.

I would contend professional development needs the people who live in that school to be the stakeholders. They need to play an active role in developing it which is why having learning communities that are really functioning entities makes sense.

So, what are we to think? This is yet another example of how the "emergency" budget cuts will effect students in the classroom, continuing our school system's slide down a very slippery slope. As I understand Gloria Talley's budget-cutting proposal, teachers will be expected to "see to their professional development during the school day and in between instruction time." When exactly, is that?

81 comments:

Private School Guy said...

In the last few years the standards of professional development have dropped as funding has decreased. We have gone from professional trainers, guest speakers and noted authorities to whatever can be cooked up in the school site by people in whatever spare time they have. Here's an example, a principal gets multiple copies of some faddish book on educational practices. She gives the staff development project to the AP. The AP assigns a teacher from each grade level to cover two chapters of the book at a series of staff development meetings. (It appeared neither admin person had read the book) The result was a boring tedious waste of time for all. Nothing was learned nothing was improved.
I spend time and money outside the school site every years going to real learning sessions. I enjoy learning I take pride in become a more knowledgeable educator. Sadly I'm the only person on school site doing this.

Anonymous said...

professional development during the school day and in between instruction time.

At elementary schools that are losing points for some specials, or at those that never had enough for daily specials, teachers don't get daily planning periods. With the elimination last school year of most PE paras, now if two classes go to PE at once, a teacher must stay.

A different solution is to take some of the furlough days and make them student contact days. The loss of two instructional days won't wreck any child's future and will allow teacher's additional professional development or planning days.

Lynn Deutsch

Anonymous said...

An addition to my comment above, I realize that many elementary schools never had PE paras. It was reserved for larger schools.

Anonymous said...

If professional development is going to consist of sitting and passively listening to a voice via the web, than I do not consider that professional development. The "professional development" that I received in DCSS was the poorest that I received in my 15 years of teaching.

I get much more out of the non-DCSS professional development that I do for myself. Like Private School Guy, I like to learn and I like to share what I learn with my students. Very few teachers do this. Maybe having to get professional development from outside of DCSS will open up the eyes of more teachers to what they should be doing and giving the children.

Teaching Science in DCSS said...

The National Academies of Science came out with a huge report this year called "Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8." It's very informative but will depress you when you compare its recommendations to what's happening in DCSS with respect to science. About prof development, they say:

"Professional development is key to supporting effective science instruction." (p 6)

"Recommendation 6: State and local school systems should ensure that all K-8 teachers experience sustained science-specific professional development in preparation and while in service. Professional development should be rooted in the science that teachers teach and should include opportunities to learn about science, about current research on how children learn science, and about how to teach science.

"Recommendation 7: University-based science courses for teacher candidates and teachers’ ongoing opportunities to learn science in service should mirror the opportunities they will need to provide for their students, that is, incorporating practices in the four strands that constitute science proficiency and giving sustained attention to the core ideas in the discipline. The topics of study should be aligned with central topics in the K-8 curriculum."

That said, like the other posters so far, most PD in DeKalb is a waste. We are required to earn HALF of our hours through the County--which means, you can only get 10 hours from non-county sources like Georgia Tech, UGA, Emory, etc. Most teachers use their own time and money to get more PD beyond the 20 hrs, and what the County offers is a joke.

If the Board decides to cut us to 10 hours, I bet that they will also make those 10 hours county-only--in other words, taking away the PD that would cost money, like that offered by a college, university, or outside agency.

Professional development is essential to keeping teachers current, on their toes, and most of all, interested in what they're teaching. Teachers need to spend time with other adult minds discussing their subject. Cutting PD would be a big step in a dumb direction.

Anonymous said...

We used to have to take college level classes to earn credit for certificate renewal. If you could experience some of the staff development that I experienced in the hands of Premier Dekalb, you would see what a joke this has become. It won't be missed!
The Department of Staff Development fell under the 'Friends and Family' plan....pricy jobs for ineffective educators.

Anonymous said...

What does this mean for the students when teachers already struggle to "facilitate" the "new" math in the high schools? Isn't the county training model to send a teacher or two for training and they come back and teacher the teachers? That model is flawed, as was stated above the training offered through DCSS is a joke. Drop the training through the county, give each teacher a stipend and let them arrange their own training with a legit trainer.

DCSS Teacher said...

DON'T drop the PD training, esp in math and science! Instead, improve it to a reasonable academic level, use outside or college/university-based experts ONLY, and take teacher feedback seriously on what works and what doesn't. Also, compensate teachers appropriately for their time and money for REAL prof dvlp.

All professions are required to undego some form of PD. Who wants a doctor, or even a plumber, who doesn't know the latest techniques? DCSS is already far enough out of the loop of modern technology--look at eSIS and the Promethean Board fiascoes.

Yet another area where the principal makes all the difference--some demand that staff actually learn something. Others see it as a day off.

Anonymous said...

DCSS Teacher, you may be one of the people chosen at your school to get real professional development, but the train the teacher to train the teacher model that I have experienced at two schools does not work. I learned nothing. The teachers who were to train us did not know what they were doing and it was a waste of my time. I learned more figuring things out on my own.

Sorry, but I have worked in City School Districts where every teacher would receive the same training and I was not trained by a fellow teacher who knew more about the subject than I did, but was a friend of the principal.

Working outside of Georgia, I always wondered why the teacher professional development was not better. I do not understand why the DOE does not offer more training for teachers or why companies that offer one day workshops by other teachers from around the country do not come to Georgia.

I love the idea of giving us money to get our own professional development, but that probably is a pipe dream.

I believe that professional development is VERY important for keeping current and staying refreshed. I do however think that the professional development that I have received in DCSS has been a waste of tax payer dollars, as it just makes me bitter because I am wasting my time.

DCSS Teacher said...

I agree, Anon @ 12:04
Train the Teacher to Train the Teacher, is a bad model. One exception--I've had some great PD from Fernbank Science Center teachers, however. And, they are available afterwards for additional support because they're part of DCSS.

PD is not only a waste of time, it's insulting, when the person "training" you knows less than you do, doesn't know how to teach adults, and can't answer questions.

My fear, though, here, is that the Board sees a chance to save money and so they'll just reduce the requirement rather than seeing that it needs to be worthwhile. They really have no concept of what it takes to inspire us teachers.

Ten good hours would be worth much more than 20 wasted hours, but I don't predict improvement in the dismal situation. Ten wasted hours is still--10 wasted hours. I guess then we can say, "at least it's not 20!", but that is like resigning ourselves to mediocrity or worse.

Anonymous said...

In the ajc article, Ms. Talley stated that Dekalb could no longer give stipends for professional development. Has this been the common practice in the past few years? I drove myself to Athens everyday for a week one summer for a conference. Title 1 funds paid for my attendance, but I was told that I could not get any money to help pay for my gas. Or maybe the stipend was just for Dekalb sponsored prof. dev.?

Anonymous said...

DCSS staff development, for the most part, has been worthless. I seek opportunities to improve my skills from outside sources on my own time and pay for it with my own money. The county spends far more money setting up most of the staff development programs than it would cost to pay for courses I have taken outside of the system. This is a case where outsourcing would save major dollars and we could eliminate an entire department.

Anonymous said...

Gloria Talley is out-of-touch with what is happening in our schools. The comment that teachers would have to attend to their staff development during the day doesn't make sense. In an elementary school where teachers don't get a planning period every day, this will not happen. What is likely to happen is that principals will schedule staff development programs that start when the school work day officially ends. Much of what passes as staff development in our school buildings is useless. Also, I haven't seen any school system staff development programs that were offered after school hours or during the summer that included a stipend in several years.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher and the staff development done at the schools is worthless. The only time I received a stipend was for a class I took during the summer-not during the year.I have not even seen that offered in several years. The 20 hours of inservice we did during the year never paid a stipend at my school.IF the governor signs the bill, then we will not have to take any classes in order to renew our certificate in 2015.

Ella Smith said...

This last year we had to attend professional development one planning period a week. This allows the school to present information that they feel in needed to staff at the school site and also countywide.

We were horrified this year with the time it took away from instructional planning time. We are already on block schedule 2 days a week which means one day a week we have no planning. With professional development during the school day we did not have planning periods two days a week.
We already teach 6 out of 7 classes at Northsprings Charter High School and on top of that we did not have planning periods two days a week and one day was for professional development. It was a tough year.

I suspect this is what the county has in mind for professional development during the school day since this is what Fulton County and maybe other counties have went to and are saving a great deal of money by doing this. Fulton County is saving a great deal of money in the schools that also have teachers teaching 6 out of 7 classes unlike schools on traditional schedules in Dekalb.

I can tell you that as teachers we hate the professional development during the school day. There was much resistance to this change and teachers hated having to attend and having part of the little planning time we had taken away.

In Dekalb, the teachers on the traditional schedule do have two planning periods a day and with block schedule the teachers do have ample planning time so it might actually work much better in Dekalb than in Fulton County due to Dekalb County teachers having much more planning time provided to them than Fulton's teachers.

Anonymous said...

I will say that the staff development programs offered to media specialists have been excellent. This is because we have good leadership. They keep current and make sure that we have access to training that will really help. I don't mind going outside the system to earn my staff development credits. I used credits for my Ed.S. degree to renew my certificate. I would rather spend a semester attending a graduate-level class that actually helps me do a better job than to sit through a required class that I will never use.

Anonymous said...

@ Ella
"I suspect this is what the county has in mind for professional development during the school day since this is what Fulton County and maybe other counties have went to and are saving a great deal of money by doing this."

Your speculations scare me, as you have no evidence as to what DCSS may or may not do.Thus, to state this is misleading. (also, the correct verb tense is "have gone to")

Teaching Science in DeKalb said...

Anon 7:38

That is so petty. At least Ms Smith uses her name. Plus she has some kind of a handicap, as she has told us in previous posts. Let's give each other a break!

If we don't speculate, based on precedent, we might as well just surrender our frontal cortices (plural of cortex). What's "scary" about someone's speculation? Our BOE has not shown itself to be splendidly original: probably they will try anything they can get away with, to cut Prof Dvlp. Why not take their cues from a nearby district?

Part of the fun of a blog is the spontaneity of not checking every word for grammatical and syntactical correctness. (And, by the way, all sentences should start with a capital letter, even if they're nested in a parenthesis. You forgot to do that in your last sentence).

Anonymous said...

Professional development employs many people in DCSS. The regular Staff Development Department as well as the Instructional Coaches and Literacy Coaches in DCSS are strictly staff development. DCSS easily spends $10,000,000 a year between these two groups of personnel. Dr. Lewis used to run the Staff Development Office before he became Superintendent. That's why we have so many non-teaching staff development employees. I have rarely heard a teacher say DCSS staff development had a positive impact on their classroom.

Before Lewis beefed up the staff development department, schools were allocated staff development funds. The teachers and principal made the decision on who they wanted to come to the schools and do staff development classes. That seemed to work so much better. They could customize staff development for their schools. I'm sure it cost less as well. No overhead non-teaching staff like there is today. Yet another legacy of Dr. Lewis. He loved to hand out positions and promotions. We're paying for it now.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. How about we try to recruit teachers with more more education, in subject area, so that they will require less "development" along the way. If high school science teachers, for example, were required, by Georgia certification standards, to have more demonstrated coursework in subject areas, they would need less development and prep, less often. Professional develoment is not a substitute for hard core learning, in an accredited university (not online course).

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. How about we try to recruit teachers with more more education, in subject area, so that they will require less "development" along the way. If high school science teachers, for example, were required, by Georgia certification standards, to have more demonstrated coursework in subject areas, they would need less development and prep, less often. Professional develoment is not a substitute for hard core learning, in an accredited university (not online course).

Anonymous said...

You said,
"The regular Staff Development Department as well as the Instructional Coaches and Literacy Coaches in DCSS are strictly staff development. DCSS easily spends $10,000,000 a year between these two groups of personnel."

The coaches took away an enormous amount of planning time from the teachers during the day. What a waste of money on these positions!! After CRCT testing ended, the coach just appeared to "hang out" and did not have any real job to do for a month.

As you also said, "Before Lewis beefed up the staff development department, schools were allocated staff development funds."
This was so much more productive.
The money spent on all of the coaches should be diverted back to the schools for better use.

Anonymous said...

When is Talley's last day in DCSS? She's resigning soon. Don't let the door hit ya on your way out. She spent millions on non-classroom staff and unproductive programs, with no return on investment. She was completely out of touch with the classroom teacher, and was arrogant to parents too. No one here is going to miss you.

Anonymous said...

On Monday, the BOE will vote on, and by all indications, pass spending over $65,000 for band uniforms for Arabia Mountain High.

First, $500 a piece for a band uniform is outrageous. $100 million budget deficit and teacher and librarian layoffs, and no one could find a more affordable uniform?

Second, why is DCSS picking up the entire cost?? We have to get away from this welfare mentality. Why isn't the band having fundraisers, and even paying for at least half of the cost? Oh, they're a new school so they should get a $500 per uniform. Of course.

Third, is that this BOE and administration plays favorites. The schools that get new uniforms is hit or miss depending on which BOE members like you, or which DCSS administrators go to bat for you. The smart way to do this, if DCSS is going to keep its welfare mentality: Order the same type of band uniforms for all high school bands at the same time, with different colors for each school.

The cost savings of going with the same uniform with the same vendor is enormous. If the band coach and parents want a fancy schmancy uniform, then fundraise and buy it yourself.

You would never know that this BOE and Central Office are grappling with a $100 mil deficit. They just don't get it, just don't care about the taxpayer, and never will. Shameful.

themommy said...

The uniforms are small potatoes.

Look at this board item for Monday night...

Rationale

To approve the award of a one year service contract extension for the cleaning services for the Arabia Mountain High School Green Cleaning Program.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Steve Donahue, Executive Director, Plant Services

Summary

The award of the service contract extension will continue to provide for a safe and healthy learning environment through the completion of the Arabia Mountain High School Green Cleaning Program.

Details

This will allow the District to continue the Green Cleaning Program services contract with Defender Services, Inc. located at Arabia Mountain High School as set forth in the Standard Form of Contract for Services, Bid No.09-533 executed on June 4, 2009.

Financial Impact
The Agreement for Services for the Arabia Mountain High School Green Cleaning Program in the amount of $310,085.40 will be allocated from 101.57.50.31.000101.752.0000.

I wonder how much it costs to clean other DCSS high schools.

themommy said...

This is what the Board Item says about band uniforms..

I think many schools have more members than uniforms and they do raise funds to purchase the additional uniforms.

Band Uniforms are typically purchased on a rotating seven-year cycle for every high school. However, due to budgetary constraints, future revisions will be necessary to accommodate those schools next in the rotation. Arabia Mountain is the only DeKalb HS without marching band uniforms. Therefore, we are requesting 130 band uniforms for the school.

Anonymous said...

Ella's school model for staff development is being used. Our instructional coach got one planning period a week from the teachers in our building. That is one of the four planning periods available to teachers in our elementary school every week. Many teachers found this stressful. Suddenly, time teachers used to spend collaboratively planning lessons disappeared.

If DCSS wants to use this model, they should limit the staff development meetings to no more than one a month. Release time is also possible. With $10,000,000 to spend, the school system could pay for substitute teachers to cover classes so that teachers could attend a staff development program. This might be a case of less is more. Fewer training sessions with better information might be a good thing.

Elluminate is a good tool. However, some sessions were better than others. Again, better information makes for a better program. These sessions can be recorded and made available on a school website. Teachers might be able to choose from a set of programs. That way a teacher who teaches math doesn't have to sit through a session on the Social Science Fair.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see our instructional coaches out in the classrooms actively teaching. This is a form of staff development, if done correctly. They could collaboratively plan lessons with teachers and then go into the classrooms and present those lessons with the teachers. We are wasting good talent by asking these coaches to just talk with teachers about instruction. Put them in the classrooms where they can help a teacher while also working with students.

Let's say a teacher is having a problem teaching X. She could sit down with the instructional coach and plan a lesson. Deciding what roles the teacher and coach will fill during that lesson. The coach works in the classroom, observes the activity, and notes any problems that might need attention. After the lesson, the teacher and coach can sit down and look at what went well and what needs to happen next. There are so many variables that affect the quality of instruction. Sometimes small changes can make a big difference. The coach becomes a mentor and not an adversary.

Dan M. said...

Hey Steve Donahue, former principal, now Director, whoops, Executive Director of Plant Services: 4320k plus is a whole lot for cleaning services. hope you have multiple bids. Hope the BOE asks some tough questions to justify such a high amount.



Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Steve Donahue, Executive Director, Plant Services

Summary

The award of the service contract extension will continue to provide for a safe and healthy learning environment through the completion of the Arabia Mountain High School Green Cleaning Program.

Details

This will allow the District to continue the Green Cleaning Program services contract with Defender Services, Inc. located at Arabia Mountain High School as set forth in the Standard Form of Contract for Services, Bid No.09-533 executed on June 4, 2009.

Financial Impact
The Agreement for Services for the Arabia Mountain High School Green Cleaning Program in the amount of $310,085.40 will be allocated from 101.57.50.31.000101.752.0000.

Dan M. said...

Sorry $310k plus

Cerebration said...

Sigh. So - who exactly is "Defender Services" ? Does Arabia also employ regular everyday custodians like every other school? Is this $310,000 in addition to the regular custodial fees? If so - that would pay for a dozen parapros for other schools. If it's pure, simple out-sourcing with no DCSS additional janitorial costs, then perhaps it's a worthy trade-off. We need to know -

http://www.defenderservices.com/

FWIW - You can go to the eBoard solutions and download the April Financial Report (#2 on the Agenda) - Marcus Turk has actually provided more insight and definition as to the spending on this report. I still have NO IDEA which fund is paying the millions upon millions we're spending on attorneys.... THAT never quite shows up as a line item. Thus - we need the Check Register Online - to see those checks to law firms - who signs them, which budget pays for them and how much exactly we are spending. Why is this a secret? It's OUR money...

https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=14114

Dunwoody Mom said...

I think "Defender Services" is an outsourcing company for building maintenance? I have heard that name before.

Anonymous said...

http://defenderservices.com/

Interesting that they are located all the way down in Lagrange.

Anonymous said...

When did former principal Steve Donahue become an "Executive Director"??!! He has no prior experience in facilities maintenance and operations. Did he receive a pay raise with the new title?

Then again, he was a DCSS principal, which apparently qualifies you for any job in the world ;)

Cerebration said...

Here's another expensive line item -

Rationale
The District currently leases 88 single-wide portable classrooms under Bid #05-476-5 and 75 double-wide portable classrooms under Bid #05-188 for a total of 163 portable classrooms. If the portable classrooms are re-bid and the current vendor is not awarded the new lease contract, then the cost of the current vendor to disassemble and remove these units would be approximately $1,200 per single unit.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Steve Donahue, Executive Director, Plant Services

Summary
The District currently leases 88 single-wide portable classrooms under Bid # 05-476-5.75 and 75 double-wide portable classrooms under Bid #05-188 for a total of 163 portable classrooms.

Details
This will allow the District to continue leasing with Williams Scotsman, Inc.

Financial Impact
General Operations Budget 2010-2011: $1,391,414 Budget Code: 101.38.96.00.016101.752.0000

===

If we took that $116 million budgeted for rentals this year and bought our own trailers with the money at say, about $16,000 a trailer we could BUY about 88 trailers. Just a thought...

Anonymous said...

Arabia Mountain's entire custodial crew is staffed through Defender Services. Outsourcing was "said to be" cheaper or comparable to the custodial services at other DeKalb schools. I don't know the financial comparisons here, but Cere is right - perhaps outsourcing to companies like Defender is a good option for the future. Lord knows we pay enough for legal "defenders".

Cerebration said...

If this company handles all of the custodial needs at Arabia - then it's probably a good thing. In fact, maybe they'd like to take on Lakeside and Cross Keys! Think those two schools could ever be "green"? How about at least a greenish brown?

Cerebration said...

oops - at 11:04, that should have read $1.4 million - divided by $16,000 per trailer = about 88 trailers.

Anonymous said...

Looks like we are spending a lot of money for trailers that arrive on school sites in poor condition. Is there any oversight on this program? Broken AC, leaky roofs, doors that can be opened even when locked. These really aren't good instructional spaces. They are too long and narrow. At many schools they aren't temporary either. Some have been on school grounds for more than a decade. It might be better to pay for the construction of pods that have better classroom space, water fountains and bathrooms.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:15 That is the way coaching is supposed to work.

Anonymous said...

Instructional Coaches also model lessons in the classroom. The benefits of modeling lessons for teachers is:
1. When you successfully model a top notch lesson in a a classroom handling all of the content and classroom management you gain credibility with the teacher you are supporting. They will be more likely to take your advise and direction.
2. Teachers can sit back, take notes and see how it should be done in a low stress situation
3. Teachers can see it actually can be done
4. It keeps the coach "grounded". They don't ask the teacher to do something that is unrealistic

Modeling lessons is one of the most effective ways to train teachers. Every coach should be spending at least 50% of their day modeling lessons.

Anonymous said...

At my school, we don't spend any money to clean; the entire place is filthy.

The 4 custodians do little. The Executive Director has never done a surprise inspection at my school.

Anonymous said...

Somehow the comments have left the topic. I must make a comment about custodians. It is not a good idea to our source these positions. These people work too closely with students and staff. Please consider the tremendous trust that is placed in these individuals. There are other ways to cut money. Again, we seem to always look for ways to cut the people that make the smallest amounts. I am not a custodian. I am not married to a custodian. I work in a school and relize that these need to be DCSS employees.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Anon 1:24 PM, but outsorucing custodial should be on the table. There are some schools with decent or better custodians, and there are many more with ineffective and yes, lazy, custodians.

Anonymous said...

I meant to say Instructional coaches in DCSS SHOULD be modeling lessons in the classroom. As far as I know they do not this. That is the key element they are missing. I wonder why they aren't doing this?

Dekalbparent said...

Re: alternatives to trailers. I found this a while ago while on another magical mystery tour.

It appears it was designed as a contest entry, and it has never been implemented. I suspect if it had actually been done at any of our schools, it would have paid for itself. Might have also reduced the amount of construction DCSS has done.

The design is cool, and the rest of the website is fun to look at.

Anonymous said...

My husband works at CDC. They have outsourced their custodial staff with no degradation of service. If there is a good service level with outsourcing custodians, why not use this money to fund teacher or paraprofessional positions?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Instructional coaches in DCSS SHOULD be modeling lessons in the classroom. I wonder why they aren't doing this? June 5, 2010 1:50 PM

I think this was another position created to be a "cash cow" for a bunch of employees. It sounded good on the surface.
If all are paid by Title I, this money should be returned to the schools for extra Title I teachers and materials or, as one poster commented, we could pay for some substitutes with money as was done years ago so we could have presentations on cutting edge technology or instructional techniques with which to deliver the subject content to students.
At a spring board meeting, the board approved the money for extension of Elluminate Live to middle and high as well as inthe elementary. Thee DCSS presenter raved about the uses for it.
If this is so useful, why don't we have just one Instructional Coach per region. They could design presentations together and present all on Elluminate Live.
The coaches should not reimbursed beyond the normal teacher's salary for this position though because they do not even teach the child directly.

Anonymous said...

Title 1 money should go back to the school house. Empower our principals, not the Central Office and the Gloria Talley/Audria Berry army.

Private school guy said...

I feel a lot of the poor custodial work falls back on administrators who don't have a clue on how to manage building custodial services. If you look at how the outsourced companies perform you'll notice that there are expectations for every minute of a custodian's time. There are checklists in each room that have to be initialed for the cleaning that is scheduled there. Also many administrators don't seem to get it that having custodians resetting chairs and tables in the cafeteria for endless meeting takes away from their scheduled cleaning duties.

Anonymous said...

I agree with outsourcing custodial staff. We have 4 custodians... all of which need to do a better job. We have begged and begged for administration to do something about the building's cleanliness or lack thereof, and it falls upon deaf ears. DeKalb is paying too often for people not doing their job and nothing is being done about it. If the shoe were on the other foot and it was a teacher not performing, you better believe something would be done ASAP... well depending on the school.

Anonymous said...

Mentioning trailers... we have 8 trailers on our campus. Many have severe MOLD problems and leak everytime it rains. They have been on our campus over 10 years and it seems like they would want to build on to our building. I guess being a school that is largely latino and in DORAVILLE means we don't get anything but grief and substandard trailers!

Anonymous said...

Elluminate Live is not the answer to professional development. These sessions are boring and are just the reading of the power point presentations. Unless they were Dr. Tally and her picture while she talked about transparency after our school day had ended.

Not sure how much Elluminate is costing tax payers, but it's not worth the money, from the way that I have seen it used. Send me a power point to read and don't waste my valuable time. Another worthless product brought to us by DCSS.

Ella Smith said...

Our Instructional Coaches do the Professional Development Training. We also got a great deal of training this year on using the new data system regarding benchmark testing.

Next year Dekalb County will also have a central data system to pull up benchmark test scores and other test scores and use these to actually see where the deficits of their students are so they can go back and remediate. I am sure Dekalb County will spend a great deal of time training teachers how to use the new data system this year to improve student achievement in the Dekalb County Schools.

I feel sure that Dekalb has their own way of implementing their professional development. Even though I am trying to stay off the blog as much as possible on occassion I do have some experiences that I feel as a teacher that might be benificial so I will ocassionally comment on a topic. I do love this blog and what Celeb has done and it is difficult for me to totally stop something I enjoy so very much.

Passionate... said...

Excellent teachers seek professional development that makes sense for the students and the content. The district's idea of professional development for the past several years has been a "joke" for the majority of teachers. It has been a "one size fits all" approach. Our school based survey regarding our mandated professional development this year resulted in 95% overall dissatisfaction with no direct impact on job performance nor student achievement. Several years ago, educators took additional college courses in areas of interest and/or need for re-certification. Because courses were of interest, most teachers improved in job performance with a direct impact on student achievement. Because of technology, many courses are web-based and can be done as a group or individually. Our school survey showed a 100% teacher interest in taking virtual courses on subjects of interest [non to be mandated], but all to have an accountability measure. Unfortunately there are some schools in DCSS that need mandated professional development, scripts, etc. However, all schools should not be lumped together because of a few that need a change of leadership.

Anonymous said...

I agree we do have custodians that are lazy and do not keep the schools clean, what you need to understand is that falls back on the lazy principal. It is his/her job to make sure they are working and then you have the sam moss center they also should have someone checking on the schools. That may be a problem since the queen reid layed off some of those people.

What the tax payer should watch is make sure that the cleaning contract is not given to some of the friends and family team, as this is what usually happens. We need a group of parents to oversee what the board is doing until we can replace them. They can not be trusted as we have seen.

Anonymous said...

Ella, using data is not a problem for me as a teacher, but the quality of data that we are to use is a huge problem. The current benchmarks do not tell me anything about my students' strengths and area of need. I have used data to drive my instruction since I began teaching in 1996. I just need quality information/data to use to better help my students achieve.

Maestro en Doraville said...

@ anon 7:15

I, too, work in Doraville (perhaps in a school right next to yours?), and, though we've been through a year of "renovations," we're still dealing with buckets in the hallway when it rains, cracks between wall and floor, vermin, etc. Cross Keys is still way behind schedule in its renovations. I have been silent for several years about our situation, but it appears that we really are a forgotten segment of the "Premier" Dekalb "Family." I really try hard not to become too cynical, but I'm really losing faith in the leadership of this district. I guess if our parents made enough noise, something might get done, but you know our parents...I don't see them making calls about poor (dangerous) learning environments for their kids if they're afraid to "come out of the shadows." Most of them have no idea of the disparity in school buildings (have you seen the new Tucker High? Can you say community support?). Anyway, I'll return in a few months, because I absolutely love the Buford Highway Kids - wish they had comparable facilities...

Kim Gokce said...

Maestro en Doraville:

I have seen the garbage cans collecting water from roof leaks at Sequoyah this year. While the new, additional lighting is nice, it also illuminates the remaining work that needs to be done. I understand your frustration. I also understand your waning confidence in leadership.

I want to encourage you, however, to recognize that what happens in the halls and classrooms of Sequoyah is all that matters in the end. The students you are sending to Cross Keys (and Chamblee High Achievers) are the only true metric of your school's performance and they are fantastic.

Regarding community support, notice that Lakeside parents have been very organized and vocal and they, too, have a dilapidated facility. I'm not sure Sequoyah's facility woes can be attributed to a lack of community support/parental involvement - there is something deeper behind that.

The members of the Cross Keys Foundation have made a direct and material impact at the high school in just six months in terms of public relations and community interest in the school. We have organized advocacy, recruited volunteer tutors, sponsored events for student recognition, fulfilled thousands of dollars in wish lists items, solicited thousands more in "in-kind" donations, recruited business partners, and awarded two $1000 CKF Scholarships at Honors Night. We are only just beginning.

We are working with Ms. Cunningham to provide similar support and events in the future at Seqouyah. I think that there is latent community support for Sequoyah just as we have identified for Cross Keys. For example, a handful of local civic associations and neighborhood volunteers showed up late this spring to clean-up a couple of mountains of trash and debris from the grounds. See:

Communities Join in Clean-up

This is very positive and I think an indication of the potential for renewed civic and private sector support for your school.

With all of the doom and gloom inspired by the failures of our leadership, it still does not take away one bit from the extremely positive signs I see in the CK cluster and in the work you do everyday.

The Foundation has a major announcement coming up in July that I think will be a catalyst for very positive change at CK. This one will turn a few heads. I assure you that we are looking in coming years to do similar things for Sequoyah.

Here is what you can do (besides what you already do!)...

1.Become a CKF Member!
2. Please follow us on Facebook
3. Please share our mission with your peers using the Tell-a-friend.
4. Subscribe to our YouTube channel
5. Post wish list items via DonorsChoose.org. CKF syndicates these needs to our constituents for support. We are batting 100% on these so far ... At CK, a classroom set of French/English dictionaries, a screen printing kit, and a reading rug for a 2nd grade class at Dresden.

Please take heart and take action. The teachers, students, families, and community supporters have to succeed where leadership fails.

I appreciate your service to our children. -kim@crosskeysfoundation.org

Dunwoody Mom said...

Kim, the link for the Cross Keys Foundation has not been available for about week.

Kim Gokce said...

Hey DunwoodyMom! Thanks for the heads up but I'm not sure which link you mean.

Anonymous said...

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta-schools-defy-bid-542472.html

I would hope that there are checks and balances in place at DCSS to learn from Atlata's many mistakes with large technology purchases. And that the BOE is keeping a close eye.

But for DCSS Info. Systems (MIS), built up by Ramona Tyson with a $20 mil budget and hundreds of staff despite complaints of poor customer service, and the complete failure of the multi-million dollar eSIS purchase, there is reason for skepticism. Many times administrators make large purchases a) to justify their salaries and position, and b) just because they can.

Still not sure why MIS Director Tony Hunter got promoted to "Executive Director", despite the horrendous eSIS rollout. Dude didn't even think of a trial rollout first.

Anonymous said...

Kim Gokce, your leadership with Cross Keys and its feeder schools is remarkable. You're a treasure for the community. It's too bad that the the DCSS Central Office has virtually ignored Cross keys and Sequoyah. You're the best, Kim!

Anonymous said...

There are several things that everyone needs to realize about schools with large immigrant populations. Many families are happy to have a school for their children to attend even if it isn't as nice as it could be. Culturally, there is a difference in how parents interact with the school. Many find it difficult to question what happens at school. They hesitate to speak up about problems where American parents will be quick to speak up. Sometimes, language gets in the way. Finally, parents who are here illegally are unlikely to speak out about problems because they don't want to draw attention to themselves.

What this means is that we, as a community, need to be looking out for these schools. If you notice that a trailer park is growing behind your neighborhood school, or the school building is not being maintained, you as a taxpayer and voter can ask about it. Sometimes, that is all it takes to get on the school system's radar. The quality, or perceived quality of our neighborhood schools affect property values.

Kim Gokce said...

You nailed it! The premise of my work to-date at Brookhaven's high school has been that supporting our public school is a matter of civics and enlightened self-interest. No offense to parents but our schools are too important to be watched over only by parents.

Dekalbparent said...

Just looked at my post from yesterday, and I omitted the URL! I apologize:

Re: alternatives to trailers. I found this a while ago while on another magical mystery tour.

http://architecture.about.com/od/schooldesign/ig/Winning-School-Designs/Druid-Hills-High-School.htm

It appears it was designed as a contest entry, and it has never been implemented. I suspect if it had actually been done at any of our schools, it would have paid for itself. Might have also reduced the amount of construction DCSS has done.

The design is cool, and the rest of the website is fun to look at.

Maestro en Doraville said...

Kim, the work you're doing is just fantastic, and I'll turn my fellow teachers on to it. You're right - the whole community needs to be involved, because these kids are the future of our community. I'm excited about the tech and other new programs at CK; our kids at Sequoyah were really interested to hear about them, and I think it will keep a lot of kids in school, who might otherwise decided to check out early.

Thanks for the encouragement. You almost repeated my words back to me. Whenever the kids would complain about the conditions in the building, I would remind them that Sequoyah is really made up of the people inside it, not brick and stone. Believe me, these kids and their families know that their teachers and other community members care...Keep up the good work, and I'll spread the word.

Maestro en Doraville said...

Sorry for the poor editing -

"...who otherwise might have decided..."

I guess that clues you in to which subject I teach!!

Anonymous said...

Concerns relating to efficient custodians and maintenance of school buildings are symptomatic of the larger issue of poor facility management. Older buildings can age gracefully if they are maintained, and there are plenty of examples around Atlanta; however, most are under private ownership with owners respectful of their property. Living in the Cross Keys area and the school being my voting precinct, for years I have seen firsthand just how poorly a school can be managed from a maintenance perspective. It is disturbing seeing those responsible for the basic care of a school turning a blind eye to general maintenance of the facility that they work in daily. Even worse is pointing out areas of concern to an administrator and have them ignored. This has gone on for years and I know each of you can cite examples with your neighborhood schools. Maintenance has a cost, but not as much as maintenance delayed to the point of substantial facility remodel or replacement due to misuse and abuse. The people in charge of our facilities are showing us that they do not care and by not standing up and voicing our concerns we are getting what we deserve.

The much delayed renovation of Cross Keys will soon be complete and ready to greet current and new students this fall. I know these students will be excited with their renovated building and all it has to offer. The Cross Keys teaching staff will be on cloud nine. Although the new will wear for a long time, it will be interesting to observe just how well the newly renovated facility will be maintained as it ages. Reflecting on the current and past principals of Cross Keys, I see disappointment on the horizon.

Regarding Steve Donahue, he may have been a good principal, but does he have any construction or facility management experience? If he were seeking a facility management position in the private sector, would he be considered for employment?

Anonymous said...

"Regarding Steve Donahue, he may have been a good principal, but does he have any construction or facility management experience? If he were seeking a facility management position in the private sector, would he be considered for employment?"

Answer: Heck No.

Cerebration said...

Truly, I don't understand this HR method of moving perfectly good principals into more business-like jobs. We really need good principals with many years of experience - and we need to pay them very well for their leadership. We also need to hire experts in construction and facilities management to work in those departments. Certain requirements should be met such as a degree in construction or engineering or whatever... not a degree in education. I mean, I don't want to insult educators, but they are not qualified to do "everything" - actually, it's insulting to the rest of us that the school system thinks this way.

We have very few principals who have been functioning as principals for more than 5 years. This is a big problem, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I have heard there is a school calendar out with the furlough days on it. Has anyone seen one? Did they take all the teacher work days?
Did they give the children any of the furlough days off?
I think the children should have off all the furlough days as well, this is just another straw on the teachers' backs.

Otro maestro en Doraville said...

I'm happy to hear all the good things coming to the HIGH schools. This county forgets that we do teach in the elementary schools too. Making the high schools showplaces and leaving the elementary schools to be places full of vermin and mold is ridiculous! EVERYONE deserves a clean, safe, and acceptable facility to teach and learn! We need ALL community members to help ALL our schools... not just the high schools! If we can't do what we are entrusted to do adequately in the elementary schools, there won't be any students in these nice remodeled high schools to teach! Also, the school is more than a building, but facilities can get in the way when morale is as low as it is now.

Cerebration said...

Proposed furlough days are -

For 10 Month Employees - 7 days

August 2, 2010
August 3, 2010
Sept 3, 2010
Oct 8, 2010
Jan 4, 2011
Feb 18, 2011
May 26, 2011

For 11 month employees - 10 days

August 2, 2010
August 3, 2010
Oct 8, 2010
Jan 4, 2011
Feb 18, 2011
May 26, 2011
May 27, 2011
May 31, 2011
June 1, 2011
June 2, 2011

For 12 Month Employees - 15 days

July 6, 2010
July 7, 2010
July 8, 2010
July 9, 2010
Nov 24, 2010
Dec 20,2010
Dec 21, 2010
Dec 27, 2010
Dec 28, 2010
Feb 18, 2011
Mar 11, 2011
Apr 4, 2011
April 5, 2011
April 6, 2011
May 27, 2011

Anonymous said...

The question regarding Steve Donahue was rhetorical, and I appreciate the help making my point. I have communicated with several management folks in the Plant Services department over the years and I find that none of them know the difference between their posterior and a hole in the ground when it comes to facility management. It is truly embarrassing knowing that these are the kind of people we expect to maintain our public schools.

I know to the academic world, a degree is a successful mile marker for all positions of employment. Interestingly, I have actually seen field superintendants “break in” and educate construction project managers (with construction or engineering degrees) working for GSU and GT because they lacked solid field experience in a variety of construction disciplines. Having that field experience is valuable for thinking out side of the box when problems arise or the project schedule is suddenly condensed.

The ideal candidate for executive director of plant services at DCSS is someone with extensive field experience in the construction industry that has made the transition to project management and understands the business side of the industry. At some point this individual may have owned or been a partner in a construction or related firm. They will be English literate (spoken and written), computer literate, have experience with one or more scheduling programs, understand the bid process, and have a database of subcontractors for non-bid repair work. In the Atlanta area it would not be uncommon to find an individual that fits this description that is a SPSU graduate.

Construction in Atlanta sucks right now and I know three non-degreed men that could handle this job immediately. If a degree governs employment the right person can be found in two weeks. Give them the budget, tell them what to accomplish by year’s end, get the Hell out of their way, and they will produce. If this is done, an experienced principal can go back to doing what he does best.

I know what Steve Donahue made as a principal last year, does anyone know what he is making since he has assumed his current position at plant services?

Kim Gokce said...

"... it will be interesting to observe just how well the newly renovated facility will be maintained as it ages."

This is a very serious concern. I have been thinking about this for the past few months and two weeks ago out of the blue I get a message from a CK junior:

"I want to talk to you about how we can organize efforts to involve the students in taking care of the new facilities and keeping it looking right. If we don't take ownership, it'll just get trashed again."

How impressed am I with these young people? I will be working with volunteers like this guy to empower the students to be joint caretakers of the renovated buildings and grounds.

We have to find innovative ways to deal with the gaps in leadership.

Kim Gokce said...

@Cere: "We have very few principals who have been functioning as principals for more than 5 years. This is a big problem, IMO."

I think this is one of the biggest we face in the operations of our schools. Not only does this disrupt the functioning inside the schoolhouse, it also ensures that there is an expiration date for private sector relations.

Community and business support often comes from parents. When these parents move through school and move on, the business relationship moves on, too, in most cases. We need our principals to be a point of continuity for relationship building with the non-parent stakeholders in a given community.

Turning over principals may be accomplishing some goals for DCSS but they are not in any way accomplishing helping our schools with longterm community support. No one can practically replace the role of principal in these relationships.

Anonymous said...

"I know what Steve Donahue made as a principal last year, does anyone know what he is making since he has assumed his current position at plant services?"


He most likely received a raise as he is now not just a "Director", but an "Executive Director".

There are planty of smart construction and facility maintenance & operations administrators here in town at GA State, Tech, Emory, Morehouse, etc. who would be great at Sam Moss. Those schools have had a number of large construction projects and their knowledge would translate easily to a school system.

Unfortunately, this BOE and Central Office would rather recycle principals and fraternity/sorority buddies before recruiting competent professionals. (Don't mention Pat Pope as a competent construction pro; she could even complete her resume, and she was friends with Crawford before she was hired, of course).

Anonymous said...

“We have to find innovative ways to deal with the gaps in leadership.”

Gaps in leadership = Leadership that needs to be replaced

Dare I suggest that Kim, with his limited contact with CK students, is more of a positive leadership example and inspiration than the CK administrators that see these students all day? Case in point: Concerned CK student contacts Kim regarding an organized effort to take care of the renovated CK.

If there is a gap in leadership at CK, the gap needs to be closed by replacing current leadership with leadership that inspires, motivates, and is community oriented. Anything less is shortchanging CK students, teachers, and the community.

Anonymous said...

Complete waste of time. Great thing to get rid of. Let's add benchmarks to the mix.

Anonymous said...

Elementary specialists are good for a lot more than providing planning time for teachers. If FTE points for art, music, and PE are lost, the saddest part is the loss of those programs, NOT the loss of planning time for homeroom teachers.