Friday, July 16, 2010

ESEA Public School Choice Meeting Recap

Provided to us by DunwoodyMom

I attended this evening's ESEA Public School Choice Meeting at Chamblee High School. Here are some highlights:
  • The term "NCLB" is no longer being used - ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) is the preferred term.
  • AYP reports were to be released by the GADOE this week, but the release has been delayed until early next week.
  • Dr. Audria Berry reviewed the high-level requirements for Public School Choice as required by ESEA.
  • The following are the "Receiving" Schools for the 2010-2011 school year:

And I agree with the folks from Chamblee HS. They are going to further overcrowd an already over-crowded facility, so why was an annex not provided for Chamblee? Someone brought up having a Chamblee Annex at Cross Keys. Robert Moseley squashed that idea pretty quickly, but I think it certainly is worth taking a look at. So, basically, a school is better off not making AYP?

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Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) formerly known as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB)
Public School Choice Enrollment

July 21 – August 3, 2010
9am – 4pm
Monday – Friday

William Bradley Bryant Center
2652 Lawrenceville Highway
Decatur, Georgia 30033

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Visit DunwoodyMom's blog by clicking here.

For a presentation on AYP and explanation of the school choice transfers, download this pdf at the DCSS website.

226 comments:

1 – 200 of 226   Newer›   Newest»
Cerebration said...

Who in their right mind would list Lakeside as available for transfers? They already have 21 trailers and are just about to break ground on a major construction project. There will be more trailers and very little parking due to the construction for the next 18-24 months.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Why does Arabia Mountain need an "annex" when there are around 200 available seats at that school? But, yet both Lakeside and Chamblee, which are currently overcrowded, will get those lovely "educational cottages" if needed.

Anonymous said...

This whole transfer because your school sucks is just wrong. We are overcrowding already overcrowded schools and not fixing the problems at the "broken" schools. It makes me wonder if they're trying to screw up all of our schools?

Kim Gokce said...

Perhaps this is an early indicator that few HS made AYP this year??? After all, don't you have to make AYP to be a receiving school?

Anonymous said...

I am very leery about the Annex proposals. They tried it at another middle school off site and decided the following year it did not work, They brought the students into the school and results were an overcrowded situation in our home school.

So if it did not work this time, what changes are they making it to make it work this time. Very frustrating.

I know the counties hands are tied with this Federal Act, I believe that we need to get more forceful about discipline in some of the schools and weed out teachers who are "retired in place."

What about a team of highly qualified teachers who will go outside their cluster to help evaluate a classroom and give the info to the principal and area director? We need to come up with some creative solutions and administrators who are willingly to hear and step up!

anotherscienceteacher said...

Arabia has a Lithonia annex so that students can go to a school that has made ayp without leaving a school that hasn't...

Anonymous said...

But like Chamblee and Lakeside, Arabia Mountain should have to physically host the students. This is just wrong and reeks of discrimination.

Teaching @ a DCSS High School said...

To Anon @ 12:11:

Can we please quit sparking the fire of Dicrimination where none exists. There are federally mandated (NCLB) reasons why only certain schools CAN be listed as host/receiver schools. Additionally, the designation as Annex or Receiver school may CHANGE once the school year begins. Note that several of the annexes from last year were CLOSED FIRST SEMESTER due to low enrollment. Also we have NOT received the AYP status for our schools to really voice an informed opinion about the current host/receiver/annex situation.

Let's wait for the smoke to show itself before we consider screaming FIRE.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Kim, in order for a school to be a "receiving" school, it must not be in a "Needs Improvement" status, i.e., 2 consecutive years not making AYP. A school could be in its first year of non-AYP status and still be a "Receiving" school.

"Teaching @ a DCSS High School" has a point. As the blogger "themommy" pointed out to me the number of requested transfers fell quite a bit last school year and most likely will again this year due to the lack of transportation, so some of these Receiving schools may not see many incoming students.

Anonymous said...

Cannot wait until a new superintendent comes in and lets go Bob Moseley, who's been part of the problem for far too long.

Very surprised that Audria Berry is still around after the trip to the Carribean on DCSS p-card situation.

Dekalbparent said...

My question (and it is really a question, not trying to light a fire) is if there is physical space at Arabia, why set up an AM annex at Lithonia? The students in the annex would be Arabia Mountain students, but would not have the benefit of the facilities at Arabia. It would seem that the AM classes assume the use of the AM classrooms and equipment...

Why would any parent want to have their student at the Lithonia annex rather than just sending them to Arabia itself? Transportation issues?

Cerebration said...

What about transportation to Lakeside Druid Hills and Chamblee? Is transportation still required for AYP transfers? Are students required to provide their own? Are we using the "hub" system for this?

Anonymous said...

Parents must provide transportation and are reimbursed for all AYP transfers.

Teacher said...

Just a small point: NCLB itself was a reauthorization and rewriting of ESEA. So ESEA is s not really a "preferred" term: it's been with us since 1965 http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_go2835/is_1_28/ai_n29435474/. The archived webwsite http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/execsumm.html shows the early days of George Bush's thinking on NCLB/ESEA.

I'm struck by the good quality of the questions you parents/citizens are asking, and by how much DCSS has NOT done to prepare parents for whatever's coming in 2010-11. If I were in your shoes, I'd demand to know what kind of facility my children were going to be going to school in: how many kids will be in the school: how many trailers: and whether teachers have been trained in technology especially SmartBoards: how teacher training will work now that Professional Development days have been abolished: and all the other things you're asking. It's infuriating to see DCSS stalling on these issues, which affect all of us so much.

Just to whine a bit...this gives you an appreciation of how in the dark DCSS keeps its employees, too, many of whom are already getting anxious about what unpleasant surprises await us starting August 4 (if that's the date school will actually start). Many of us feel we can't go through another cliff-hanger again this year.

Thank you for your support in keeping up our morale as we teach the children of DCSS. It's encouraging to see feisty voices out there, since the teachers' associations have no teeth. If we protest--what'll they do? Fire us? Gee-they're already doing that!

Anonymous said...

For all of those who are concerned. Arabia had empty seats last year because there were no seniors. These year they are at full enrollment 9-12. BTW When a new high school opens they do not have a senior class the first year.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Arabia Mountain is projected to have upwards of 200 available seats this upcoming school year - seniors or not.

Anonymous said...

In Gwinnett, the schools that don't make AYP have parent/student meetings were they provide information about what they are going to do differently the next year and about tutoring services that the students won't be able to access if they take the transfers.

Does DCSS do anything like this?

Anonymous said...

No--tutors are not considered as an alternative to transferring in Dekalb--as the law allows.

Tutoring should be preferred by parents, educators and administrators alike.

Hell--it's another good way for the administration to GRAFT and cook books for Federal reimbursemant...just like they do with all money that travels with students...
just as they do with Title 1 money. Imaginary and manufactured students.

Anonymous said...

So has Arabia Mountain with all its extra jazz, Sat. school and pick of the cream of the crop teachers not made AYP their first year?

Anonymous said...

Arabia Mountain made AYP. The issue that is being discussed here is that there won't be AYP transfer students at the AM campus, rather the system is setting up an annex at Lithonia that will be a branch of AM. Based on the system's own published data, there should be 200 empty spaces at AM next year.

Anonymous said...

I'm a retired DCSS teacher. I must say that I am surprised that parents were not anticipating this problem with too many schools in DCSS not making AYP and too few schools making AYP thus leading to overcrowding. I knew as soon as I read the No Child Left Behind law that DCSS would be faced with this situation.

I believe the law says you have to "seats" for the transferring students so DCSS created "seats" by putting in massive amounts of trailers. This of course will put a huge strain on facilities such as the bathrooms (not enough of them to accommodate all these extra students), cafeteria, etc.

For a while DCSS solved the problem by creating "annexes". Annexes are school extensions that do not exist in any physical sense. For example, the Chamblee MS annex was housed at Sequoia MS because Sequoia had some extra classrooms ("seats") in the building that were not being used by students and teachers. The year the Chamblee MS annex was created, the teachers were newly hired to teach in the Chamblee MS annex - i.e. they had not been teaching for Chamblee MS over on Sexton Woods Drive. The students did not go to school with the other Chamblee MS students (obviously, since they were physically located at Sequoia MS). However, DCSS attached the name Chamblee MS to the rooms at Sequoia MS so parents in middle schools that did not make AYP could have a "choice" of Chamblee MS. Bizarre to say the least.

The same thing happened at Cross Keys. I believe there was a Dunwoody HS annex there. The students didn't go to DHS, their teachers were not from DHS, they never interacted with DHS students - but they were called DHS students on paper.

That's what the annex means. Your child goes to a "choice" school, but they are totally separate from that school - separate in physical location, teachers and students in the "choice" school. They never set foot on that school - different teachers, administrators, location, etc.

I don't know if parents complained about this situation or the Feds didn't like it or maybe they ran out of annex space. Maybe someone else knows.

I always wondered who came up with the annex idea. Someone in the Central Office - probably the Office of School Improvement since that's where the AYP and NCLB responsibility lies. I guess they thought parents wouldn't notice that their child carried the Dunwoody or Chamblee moniker as their school, but never even entered either one of those schools. Shame on DCSS's administration for using such sleight of hand to meet the letter of the law.

Anonymous said...

Robert Moseley is incapable of doing his job. He is the "spinmeister" of DCSS. I sure wish these leftover Clew-less folks would just resign.

The Annex thing never worked and the students hated it and their education did not improve.

DCSS Central Office staff are doing their best to destroy all schools! That way it will be a lot easier to deal with the problem.

I love the way the acronyms change. I for one could care less whether we called it ESEA or NCLB, the way DCSS is handling it I would spell it FAIL!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:49 pm

I think they are just incompetent although that's almost worse.

Anonymous said...

anonymous 4:31. What are you talking about? There was never a Chamblee MS annex or a Dunwoody HS annex.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:17 pm from anonymous 4:17 pm

What was the annex at Cross Keys called then? I know there was an annex at Cross Keys 4 to 6 years ago that had nothing to do with Cross Keys and nothing to do with the high school whose name it carried.

Perhaps a Cross Keys teacher knows what high school "lent" its name to the annex at Cross Keys.

I'm sorry, but you are incorrect as far as DHS goes. For 2 years at the Bryant Center (2007-08 and 2008-09) there was a virtual high school serving students in one of the labs.

There was a lack of "choice" for students in did not make AYP schools to transfer to so Dr. Lewis decided to put a virtual school at the Bryant Center and call it Dunwoody High School.

The students were bused in and sat in front of computers all day and were taught by DOLA teachers. A paraprofessional monitored them. Their scores were counted in with Dunwoody High School. They never set foot on the Dunwoody High School campus.

They were a very nice group of kids, but I always felt so sorry for them having to sit there in front of a computer all day long in addition to sitting on buses for hours to get to and from the Bryant Center. This shows the lengths parents in failing DCSS schools will go to.

The ones that graduated (there were all ages), graduated from Dunwoody High School.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:17 PM

I don't know about Dunwoody High School, but there was absolutely an annex for Chamblee Middle School. Where did you get the idea that there was no annex for Chamblee Middle School?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:17 pm

There was indeed a Chamblee MS annex at Sequoyah MS. The students came from middle schools not making AYP. They were housed at Sequoyah MS but called Chamblee MS students.

They had an assistant principal who reported to the Chamblee MS principal. They had their own teachers and none of the students interacted with Chamblee MS students. They just carried the Chamblee MS name.

Their scores were counted in with the Chamblee MS students however.

I supported Chamblee MS along with many of the Dunwoody and Chamblee cluster schools. I was not assigned Sequoyah MS. So when I went to support or train teachers at Sequoyah MS, I could only train the ones that were designated Chamblee MS.

Anonymous said...

What year was that? The Chamblee MS Annex?

Anonymous said...

This is so interesting.

So we are annexing children at one school and saying they are on paper at another school. They do not have the teachers at that school, the administrators at that school, eat lunches at that school, walk in the halls at that school but they graduate from that school.

Now I understand colleges extending out their faculty and schools to make money but for School Systems to do this like DeKalb is to try to get around the laws is sad. I know that we do not have space in DeKalb so we need to improve our schools so we do not leave our children behind to start with.

Anonymous said...

How can we use the word Premium on the front of our school system and play games like this on the back end? Who are our school board members trying to fool?

Anonymous said...

For example: the teachers at the Arabia Mounta - Lithonia Annex will be teachers from Arabia not teachers from Lithonia.

The annex option is valid. What else would you suggest? Continue to overcrowd the few schools that do make AYP?

Anonymous said...

I think Chamblee MS Annex was in 2007 and/or 2008. I didn't know it was phased out - is it? Since I retired in 2008, I really haven't kept up with all the DCSS organization and reorganization.

Are these annexes still in existence? Yes, the "choice" schools exist on paper only. The students do not attend school with the school whose name they carry and they have a different set of teachers (not to say these teachers are inferior in any way however). The only association with the school whose name they carry is the fact that their test scores are counted in with that school

Is this not the most bizarre "choice" situation ever? I wonder who thought this up? I'm curious if Cobb, Gwinnett, Fulton, APS and other schools handle the AYP transfers this way.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:39 pm

Are they going to transfer the teachers from Arabia to the annex at Lithonia. I doubt it. They will probably hire teachers for the annex. You are really missing the point. Arabia students are held to high expectations, they have access to cutting edge science and technology equipment, etc. Will the Arabia annex students have the same opportunities?

I'm not advocating overcrowding Arabia, but it's misleading to say these are Arabia students when they have absolutely nothing to do with Arabia except carry the name of the school. I think DCSS parents and students deserve to have the straight facts from the superintendent and BOE. We have been misled too long. The game has become to shuffle kids around than to improve their educational experience.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:39 pm

Why do you say these Arabia Annex students taught at Lithonia will be Arabia students because they are taught by Arabia teachers? First of all, why do you think they are all Arabia teachers - do you know for a fact that some of them are not new?

Also, I know many Lithonia teachers that are superb.

Kim Gokce said...

`Curiouser and curiouser!’ Cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English). ’Now I’m opening out like the largest telescope that ever was! Good-bye, feet!’ (for when she looked down at her feet they seemed to be almost out of sight, they were getting so far off).

This "annex" business is the most absurd thing I have heard yet ... and that is saying something. I have officially fallen into the hole following the DCSS' "white rabbit" ... Now, where did I put that bit of cake that reads, "Eat me."

Anonymous said...

Chamblee Middles enrollment goes in waves. There is no need for a CMS annex now because their enrollment is only 800 students or so.

I don't recall a Dunwoody annex, though there were students places at N. DeKalb Tech and the technical school was converted to a real school.

The annexes have been a failure to a large extent. Last year's annexes at Margaret Harris (Redan was the host school) and McNair High (SWD was the host) were utter failures, enrolling less than 80 students and being closed by the end of August and the students were sent to Redan and SWD.

If Arabia Mountain is going to be really full next year, then so be it, but it there are spaces, students ought to be allowed to transfer in on AYP.

PolitiMom said...

On a related topic...I haven't heard a word about redistricting, but at the DCPC meeting in the spring, Redovian said they were starting (or finishing) in September. Does anyone have any information? I can't find a thing.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I honestly don't remember anything about a Chamblee Annex. However, remember that Chamblee Middle School was housed at the old Shallowford Elementary School whose capacity was only around 400 or so, so if CMS was a "receiving" school, it certainly could not handle an influx of students, so it makes sense that there was an "annex" at another schol

Dunwoody Mom said...

So, what is the answer? By law, DCSS has to provide transfers for those who wish to do so. The schools on the "receiving" list for high schools are the only schools that are eligible to receive students.

Continue to overcrowd schools or come up with an alternative location location for the transfer students.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom

I agree that DCSS has so few schools making AYP that we don't have enough seats for the students who come from Did Not Make ATP schools to transfer in. There seems something not quite honest however to put those students in another school and call them Chamblee students or Dunwoody students, etc. They have absolutely no contact with any of the students or teachers in Chamblee or Dunwoody or Arabia Mountain, etc.

The dishonesty is what bothers me. Instead of being forced to focus resources (e.g. lowering class sizes, upgrading facilities, and other direct instructional services) on improving the schools that don't make AYP, DCSS has used and continues to use sleight of hand to pretend students have "choice".

Dunwoody Mom said...

Instead of being forced to focus resources (e.g. lowering class sizes, upgrading facilities, and other direct instructional services) on improving the schools that don't make AYP,

Let's not pretend that any of those have a correlation on making AYP or not.

Anonymous said...

Dishonesty, indeed!

I believe I see the fine sleight-of-hand of the lovely and talented Bob Moseley in this AYP shell game.

I wonder if the feds know about this and if they are okay with such a blatant maneuver to side-step the law?

Uh ... Bob ... have you checked into the fine and the possible jail time for defrauding the feds? Yes, it is fraud since DCSS is only too happy to take federal monies while playing fast and loose with federal regulations. Are you willing to gamble your future that the "background noise" will give you a pass on stealing their children's education?

Anon said...

Annexes are an approved method of providing choice under NCLB. One of the nuances of NCLB is that students who transfer from schools that don't make AYP have to have teachers from schools that did. So, under an annex or even if they to to the actual school, their teachers can't be their old teachers.

Some Arabia Mountain teachers will have to move to the annex, I believe, unless all new teachers have been hired. In other words, Lithonia's teachers can't just move down the hall.

The real question is whether there is physical space at Arabia Mt. and what parents who are eligible for transfers can do.

If it were me, I would start by contacting Jay Cunningham and asking him why. I think the inquiry is best if it comes from a parent (or student) who wants to exercise AYP school choice this year.

jay_cunningham@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us


I happen to believe that the reason last's year pool of students exercising choice was so light was the perception that the available schools/choices were no better than their home school. Remember, Arabia Mountain opened last year and offered choice to nearly 800-900 students.

So, it is possible that the most motivated families in S. DeKalb at least had exercised choice long before the AYP transfer information became available.

Anonymous said...

@PolitiMom, the entire system is at a standstill. Don't expect to see any changes in educational initiatives, school crowding (redistricting or choice), or anything else until a new superintendent is on board.

I may have missed it, but does anyone know if the BOE has hired a search firm?

Anonymous said...

@Anon 7:43 a.m.
The word is that things will be quite the contrary... the system is not at a stand still and there will be major changes when teachers return..... though we should be maintaning what is there until the new super is hired. It is my understanding that even America's Choice will be back!

Anonymous said...

America's Choice is back for next year. But essentially that isn't a change. That is part of the status quo. I doubt that there will be many noticeable changes next year.

I do think the system has several schools that the Feds and state are going to require fairly heavy intervention in as they haven't made AYP for so many years. Those interventions can't wait until a new superintendent.

Cerebration said...

Here's what the GA DOE website says about school choice -

Title I, Part A Public School Choice
When schools do not meet State targets for improving the achievement of all students, parents need to have better options, including the option to send their child to another school.

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) responds to that need by giving parents of children enrolled in schools that receive Title I funding and that are identified for “school improvement” the opportunity to transfer their children to a school that has not been so identified. These provisions of the statute, along with other elements that focus new attention and resources on turning around the schools identified for improvement, are critical mechanisms for achieving the vision embodied in NCLB, a high-quality education for all children.

The No Child Left Behind Act amended the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA) in a number of areas to strengthen parent involvement and choice in education. The most critical amendments, and the subject of this guidance, require LEAs to provide the opportunity to transfer to another school to students enrolled in schools that administer Title I programs and that have been identified for (1) school improvement, (2) corrective action, or (3) restructuring (both in the planning year for restructuring and in any implementation years).

Cerebration said...

Continuing -

About the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001
On January 8, 2002, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) that reauthorized the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). NCLB significantly raises expectations for states, local school districts, and schools in that all students will meet or exceed state standards in reading and mathematics within twelve years.

NCLB requires all States, including the State of Georgia, to establish state academic standards and a state testing system that meet federal requirements. Georgia received final approval of its state accountability plan from the US Department of Education on May 19, 2003, and revisions to the plan were approved by the federal government on June 7, 2004.

Adequate Yearly Progress

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is one of the cornerstones of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. It is a measure of year-to-year student achievement on statewide assessments.

Public School Choice

Under No Child Left Behind, children who attend public schools that have not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for two or more consecutive years and have thus been designated for Needs Improvement have the option of moving to a higher performing public school.

Supplemental Services

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, children in schools that have been in Needs Improvement status for two or more years may receive supplemental services that include before- and after-school tutoring or remedial classes in reading, language arts, & math.

Unsafe School Choice Option (USCO)

Under No Child Left Behind, states must develop a definition of "persistently dangerous" schools and allow public school choice for students who have been victims of a violent criminal offense or who attend a school that meets the definition.

Special Education Services and Support

Ensuring that No Student with Disabilities Is Left Behind Under No Child Left Behind, all students, including students with disabilities, must meet Georgia's proficient level of academic achievement by 2013-2014.

School Improvement

Our Mission is to design and implement a coherent and sustained statewide system of support and process for improvement, providing local education agencies (local school systems, herein referred to as LEAs) and schools in Georgia with tools and resources as well as intensive support for schools not making Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP).

Limited English Proficiency Students

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), all students, including students with limited English proficiency (LEP), must meet Georgia's proficient level of academic achievement by 2013-2014. LEP students will become proficient in English & reach high academic standards, at a minimum attaining proficiency or better in reading/language arts and mathematics.

Anonymous said...

It looks like this may meet the law. An annex would legally be part of the school. It is not what any of us on this blog probable see as fair or on the up and up. However, DeKalb does have one of the best law firms in the state and I am sure it has been approved by them and the research has been done by the best and most talented.

It just does not look good and DeKalb County really does not need to not look good right now. We are on the front pages of newspapers too often because of our bone head moves in the past. However, I do believe Ms. Tyson is doing the best she can with what she has to work with. I actually think she has done a good job.

What open seats do we have in AYP schools? I do suspect there may be some at Cross Keys that are not being filled but besides from that what seats do we have?

Do we just want to put more trailers on campuses? I do not. I do not think trailers are safe. The walls are thin. The children have to come in during a bad storm and their instruction is disturbed. If these schools do have the space this might be a good idea someone has come up with for a safe temporary solution. I am sure it is not the perfect solution Dr. Tyson would want. However, she has a hand of cards to play and she can not play cards she does not have. There is no space at the performing schools so what other solutions can we come up with as a group?

I do not disagree at all that this looks shady and not a solution that I would like to see either but maybe this is the only choice Dr. Tyson feels she has. Can you think of other solutions to give her? Let's do some brainstorming!!!!! You guys are a smart group of bloggers.

The county office does not want these students to leave their home school either probable nor do those school board members in those districts. Those schools in some of those districts are getting small. When they get too small then the school system could look to close them down and those school board members in those district do not want that at all.

Cerebration said...

I have long advocated for intense tutoring. Title 1 funds are available and the state provides a long list of accepted vendors. This way - all students get the support they need - not just the ones who are savvy enough to figure out how to get a transfer. Go on in there like an army and bring these kids up to speed.

Oregon is a good example of this kind of success -
No Child Left Behind law sanctions Oregon schools at record level

Educators at middle and high schools that hit all the benchmarks say they closely track each student's skill level, offering a double dose of reading or math class to those who need it. And they beefed up the curriculum taught to special education students and English language learners. What once were watered-down lessons or extra homework help have evolved into intensive lessons geared to grade-level standards.

Those approaches helped Clackamas High become the largest high school in Oregon to reach every federal performance target during the seven years under No Child Left Behind.

Anonymous said...

Cere, The solution is not just tutoring. The solution is to not pass children who do not meet the standards. Stop giving children grades that they do deserve and do not earn. This would mean to stop forcing teachers to pass children along. As long as we have children in the upper elementary grades who do not know their basic math facts, and who do not have strong comprehension skills, we will have failing high schools.

Yes, the problem is the trailers and lack of space in schools that are already at or over the max. However, the problem is deeper than that. The district has caused this problem as they encourage and make teachers pass students who do not have the skill level for the early grades. This catches up to kids as they go through school, some in earlier grades than others. This no zero policy and no failing student policy drives me nuts, as we are hurting the children and our future.

Cerebration said...

You can also find out waaaay more than you even care to know about NCLB (aka ESEA) at the federal doe website -

http://www2.ed.gov/nclb/landing.jhtml

And as far as the 'satellite' facilities - yes that is perfectly legal. I can't find the source, but I know I've read it. It's also perfectly legal to expect a school to add trailers to accommodate the transfers. Now, is this fair to the students who were already in the building? They have to give up their teachers because the transfer students are not allowed to be taught by teachers from "failing" schools - so the receiving schools have to hire those teachers to teach the students who were already in the building - and who now get to have class in a trailer.

It's not a good solution IMO.

Cerebration said...

Also very true, Anon 11:26 AM. We are doing students no favors by sending them along thinking that they are prepared when they are not.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many folks refuse to address the elephant in the room? With the exception of Arabia, which controls admissions, the high schools marked as "receiving" are outside of hypersegregated south Deklab. Also, where does a disproportionate amount of the tax money used to support the failing schools -- and the bloated salaries -- come from? What is wrong with this picture? Some would argue that this amounts to reparations by a different name. But that it is very inefficient and dysfunctional, since the education is so substandard. Of course, there is a large, parasitic bureaucracy in the schools and county government that has created an artificial "middle" class. Hard to see these people changing anything.

Anonymous said...

Some school systems are getting so picky that they will not allow teachers to fail students who have only made email contacts with the parents. It has to be phone contact. Now in the 21th century please tell me how lame is this? They will make any policy to encourage teachers not to fail students. Does this help the students? Absolutely not!!!! However, who do we blame? It is not our teachers. Is it our school superintendent? Yes, maybe!!!! Is it our school boards? Yes, maybe as they hire our school superintendent.

Be True to Your School said...

@Anonymous 11:05 AM

I challenge you, Anonymous, to name even ONE good thing that the clearly incompetent and gutless Ramona Tyson has done.

Tyson could have made -- or, at least recommended -- sweeping changes to benefit our children, including massive and significant staff cuts. Instead of acting in a timely manner to assure a better upcoming school year for students and teachers, Tyson opted for status quo. Anonymous -- she had the "cards in her hand", as you put it, to make things better on at least one front and she was not -- is not -- smart enough or savvy enough to do so.

I am no fan of NCLB. But, I am certain that no one envisioned a corrupt school system that would continue to let children and schools fail so that the "leaders" could become rich. No one envisioned an incredible situation where school after school after school would be allowed to fail and continue to fail until the list of available schools for transfers was whittled down to just a very few, putting even the top performing schools at risk due to overcrowding. No one envisioned a situation where the state department of education, the accrediting agency, and elected officials would look the other way instead of stepping up and taking decisive action.

Here's my suggestion: if a wing of a failing school can be re-named to the name of a school that is not failing, as that schools's annex, and different teachers brought in to teach, then why not just transfuse the entire failing school with all new teachers and administrators? Hire NEW teachers and administrators from outside DCSS. Re-name the school, if necessary. Give it a new school number. Whatever it takes to make it all new. Pair the "all new" formerly failing school as a "sister school" with one of the [now] few successful schools in DCSS -- preferably one that has similar demographics. Encourage the sister school to mentor as needed. Encourage student and teacher "exchanges" (much like the 4-6 week Fulbright Teacher Exchange, selecting the best and brightest of both teachers and students from the successful school to help infuse a culture of academic excellence and positive behavior.

Again, Anonymous, I challenge you to name even ONE good thing that the clearly incompetent and gutless Ramona Tyson has done.

The only good thing about Tyson being the interim superintendent is that the mean-spirited, slick and shifty-eyed Bob Moseley is not the interim superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Be True

DeKalb has restructured two schools in the last few years -- Sequoyah Middle and McNair Middle. I think it has happened twice at McNair, but I could be wrong. The McNair teachers were particularly unhappy about it as Dr. Lewis denied that teaching there was any different than say teaching at Chamblee Middle. Of course, Ms. Copelin-Woods was standing next to him so he wasn't necessarily able to be honest.

The way it worked was that everyone had to interview for their jobs. The problem was that many of the top teachers found positions at other schools and didn't bother to interview. I think Sequoyah had better results than McNair.

Unfortunately, on the national level, studies are showing that simply changing school leadership and staff isn't enough. The culture of the community must change as well as the instructional strategies being used.

Anonymous said...

@ Dunwoody Mom 10:05 pm

"...However, remember that Chamblee Middle School was housed at the old Shallowford Elementary School whose capacity was only around 400 or so, so if CMS was a "receiving" school, it certainly could not handle an influx of students, so it makes sense that there was an "annex" at another school"

When the Chamblee MS annex was created, the new CMS on Sexton Woods Drive was in place. I know all about the temporary housing it had. I even remember when it was housed in a wing at CHS (my daughter went to CMS then as a magnet student). CMS was a beautiful school with excellent teachers. I supported CMS and the CMS annex at Sequoyah MS. I knew the Assistant Principal at the CMS annex and the teachers at the CMS annex. All of the teachers that I trained at the CMS annex were new to DeKalb or had transferred to the CMS annex. There was not a single one from the Chamblee Middle School staff. I'm not saying the CMS annex teachers were not good teachers (they were very competent), just that no teacher from CMS wanted to transfer to the CMS annex at Sequoyah, a much older building. Why would they want to transfer from Arabia Mtn. to Lithonia's Arabia Mtn. Annex?

Many posters here have been saying the annexes located in a different physical space have teachers from the school that carries their name. That simply is not true. They are completely separate in all aspects except their scores are counted in with the school whose name they carry.

I agree with Anonymous 12:23 pm in that reconstituting a failing school would be preferable than having trailers or annexes that carry a schools name, but have separate facilities, faculty, etc.

Packing kids into trailers like sardines and creating AYP schools on paper like these annexes sounds like the "easy way out" for the DCSS administration and BOE. It's a bit like packing 35 or 36 kids to a classroom is easier for this administration and BOE than addressing the real problem of too many non-teaching personnel. Students are numbers and nothing more to this administration and BOE. Whatever looks easiest for them is the way they go. They have proved that time and time again. This is just one more example.

Anonymous said...

Be True to Your School in my opinion you really do get off on just being potty mouth with your words. It could be offensive to some. Could you hold off on the name calling a little? Your thoughts are excellent if you would just watch the way you cut down for instance Ms. Tyson. You do not have to like her but you do go a little overboard with your words. Tell us what you disagree with her on verses calling her names please.

However, I agree that closing down the school may be a long-term answer as you could bringing in known good teachers and administration and even possible give a bonus to teachers if progress is made and continues to be made.

To get the good teachers to go to failing schools you may have to give them something. There is some research out there which shows that merit pay that is given to teachers who bring up achievement scores in failing schools over time does work to improve achievement. This would be worth a try in Dekalb County, if we had the money. However, this appears to be one of DeKalb County's current problems along with most school systems in Ga.

Anonymous said...

By the way the last posted was 11:05. I want to make sure you know who you are getting a response from.

I do think your idea is a good option for the Dekalb County School System has, but they would probable have to use other measures also to get the teachers and administration they needed to make the changes. Big changes do not happen over night either. It took years to make the mess we are in.

However, they must have quality teachers.

Anonymous said...

There were financial incentives involved with the restructuring of McNair and Sequoyah if I recall correctly.

Title 1 monies were used.

Anonymous said...

This was not very successful here the last time it was tried then. I may be totally wrong. I would be the first to admit that. It takes many brains to come up with good solutions.

I wonder if they received merit pay for turning the school around.

11:05.

Anonymous said...

@ Be True to Your School

IMHO, it's important to stick to discussing someone's actions instead of what you perceive to be their personality. If you are unhappy with Ms. Tyson's actions or performance as DCSS superintendent, then it's effective to:
1. Objectively describe the action she took (or didn't take) that impacted students negatively and document the facts that support your position.
2. Objectively describe the action she should have taken and present documented facts as to why the result would have been different (i.e. better for students)

Performance is what we should be observing. Performance is objective and measurable.

I disagree with Ms. Tyson's:
1. Recommended reductions in teacher positions through attrition. This results in classroom sizes that are contrary to the safety recommendations in science labs per the National Science Teachers Association research studies.

2. Recommended personnel reduction if force for lower level employees at the schoolhouse level. These cuts have not significantly impacted the non-teaching personnel who in general make a greater annual salary than classroom teachers. In addition, employees who interact daily with students have been reduced in number.

3. Continued multi-million dollar learning programs such as America's Choice, Springboard, Instructional Coaches. I have not seen any positive Return on Investment data presented to the public.

I might disagree with Ms. Tyson's actions, but I would not attack her personally. I don't really think that's effective, and it's totally a non-issue.

Anonymous said...

REGARDING BE TRUE's PERSONAL COMMENTS:
Anon, generally I understand your feelings about not making things we are dissatisfied with a personal attack against an individual; HOWEVER, in this case it is indeed the INDIVIDUALS who have done us a grave disservice, much more than the programs that have NOT served us well. The reason the programs were selected in the first place was because a CRONY OR A FAMILY/FRIEND had something to gain from it. So much money has been wasted on such programs and computer software overhauls (when the AS 400 wasn't even "broken") .... it's these INDIVIDUALS who continued to suck the juice from the fruit of DCSS until it was bone dry and of no use to anyone. That's enough to breed contempt for these INDIVIDUALS who were either directly involved in corrupt practices or who cowardly decided to look the other way and be silent (Tyson).

Anyone in leadership, anyone in leadership, HAD to know about the corruptness. How could they not know? All those who were silent need to go. By their silence, they are accomplices to the illegal activities that destroyed a truly premier school system, hurting our children and our property values.

So, don't be too harsh with those like Be True who are sick and fed up .... there are many of us who have been thrown under the bus that don't want to be silent any longer and "just talk about the issues" ... the INDIVIDUALS ARE THE ISSUES in this failed school system.

IT WILL BE A MIRACLE IF WE OVERCOME THIS. In the meantime, we all suffer at the hands of a few.

Anonymous said...

McNair was restructured around 6 years ago. Their scores are up. Perhaps the DCSS administration and BOE need to look at ways to pull schools up so they wouldn't have to resort to trailers and annexes that carry a school's name but nothing else. All students should be considered; not just those with parents willing to transfer their children.

Here are the Meets or Exceeds figures for McNair:

2003 – 04 Did Not Meet AYP
Math – 47%
Reading – 63%

2004 -05 Did Not Meet AYP
Math – 49.7%
Reading -65.0

2005-06 Did Not Meet AYP
Math - 44.9%
Reading - 64.9%

2006-07 Did Not Meet AYP
Math – 26.5 %
Reading - 68.4%

2007-08 Did not Meet AYP
Math - 45.7%
Reading - 76.4%

2008-09 School Met AYP
Math – 56.1 %
Reading - 80.4%

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:33 pm

Well, either a leader is performing or non-performing. If they are performing, people will most likely re-elect them/hire them. If they are not performing then citizens will most likely elect someone else/hire someone else. It's really as simple as that for our students.

For example, I have seen many people who made disparaging remarks about SCW. I don't know her, and don't feel I need to know her personally. I look at her performance record and find that her votes have produced negative results for students based on objective educational measurements. While my taxes have risen, scores have fallen. This goes for all of the BOE members. I don't know a single one of them. However, they have not produced the results they were elected to produce, and we have seen a negative return on our investment.

I will be actively campaigning for every BOE challenger I can this fall. I will have test scores and facts and figures of millions of dollars of taxpayer money that has been spent for programs that produced negative results for our children. I truly believe that will appeal to prospective voters, particularly if I want to galvanize voters who usually never bother to vote in BOE races.

I live in the Northlake area, and there are many retired people in my neighborhood (me too). There is nothing more important than misspent property tax to get them to the polls. Overcrowding at Lakeside HS (I'll give them the numbers) can get the parents of school children to the polls. My neighborhood is much like anywhere in DeKalb County. Our concerns are pretty common.

Anyone unhappy with our current administration and BOE need to go door to door if necessary armed with facts and figures that impact property taxes, property values, and our children's future. Someone's personality is a non-issue to my next door nighbors. They need facts and figures that are meaningful to their everyday lives and family.

Anonymous said...

I also agree. Even if in the bottom of your heart you believe this to be true because you have been hurt. Apparently there is pain here. Apparently this pain has cause anger and apparently this anger is driving the comments. I understand this. I have been there myself with this school system. However, we cannot change anything by calling people names. We cannot sit down at tables and negotiate change this way.

To make change we have got to get people our to vote with facts and documentation of lack of service provided to us. This campaign needs to be data driven and not by name calling and anger. Attitude or anger can destroy what we are trying to do here entirely.

I know you do mean well. Your ideas are great. We need those but without the anger and emotions and name calling that goes with it. I feel this school system someway has not respected you so you are angry. They are good for that. I know. Only time can heal the pain.

Anonymous said...

I also agree. Even if in the bottom of your heart you believe this to be true because you have been hurt. Apparently there is pain here. Apparently this pain has cause anger and apparently this anger is driving the comments. I understand this. I have been there myself with this school system. However, we cannot change anything by calling people names. We cannot sit down at tables and negotiate change this way.

To make change we have got to get people our to vote with facts and documentation of lack of service provided to us. This campaign needs to be data driven and not by name calling and anger. Attitude or anger can destroy what we are trying to do here entirely.

Anonymous said...

To Anon who blogged:
"Cannot wait until a new superintendent comes in and lets go Bob Moseley, who's been part of the problem for far too long.

Very surprised that Audria Berry is still around after the trip to the Carribean on DCSS p-card situation."

I'm not surprised. The same people are still in charge. Nothing will change until they are gone. If Audria Berry did do this, and I say "if," then that should be cause for immediate termination.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it was Berry's p-card or anyone elses, rather it was Lewis'.

In the next few months, my understanding is that both the p-card policy and reduction in force policies will be changed to address the challenges we face today. But it wasn't Berry's or anyone else's card, it was Lewis'.
.

Anonymous said...

I teach at a NCLB receiving school. I don't have a problem with any child coming to any school. But I think if they transfer to a receiving school, they should be under some type of contract. They should not be a behavior problem, and should only be allowed to miss a certain number of days. A big problem is that parents have to bring their child a great distance, and they are late or absent a great number of days. One of the indicators for making AYP is attendance. They shouldn't come to another school and mess up our attendance because parents don't want to drive them everyday.

Teaching @ a DCSS High School said...

To Anon @ 5:36

One of the strange things about AYP is that a school like McNair Made AYP for 2008-2009 with scores so low but other schools with scores consistenly in the upper 80s and low 90s did not make AYP because their scores dropped a bit. Does this make McNair a better school, with better teachers, in a better learning environment? Hmmm...

Does AYP really mean anything substantive ?????

Will anything change (federal standards and indicators of a school's, or system's yearly progress) with the "new" ESEA?

.

Anonymous said...

Another situation where this blog is very close to the line of losing credibility. An employee was named regarding an allegation about a p card that no one knows to have any foundation. If that allegation is proven to be false, would that employee have grounds to sue this blog for defamation of character? Be careful of the names and allegations you mention if you don't know this personally to be a fact!

Anonymous said...

McNair Middle made AYP under safe harbor, the way they average scores or something. Some mathematical formula that is complicated, but is specifically geared to low performing schools that show improvement.

McNair's math looks to have dropped this year, though the scores I see are for all students not just full academic year like what counts for AYP purposes.

Anonymous said...

"One of the strange things about AYP is that a school like McNair Made AYP for 2008-2009 with scores so low but other schools with scores consistenly in the upper 80s and low 90s did not make AYP because their scores dropped a bit. Does this make McNair a better school, with better teachers, in a better learning environment? Hmmm...

Does AYP really mean anything substantive ?????"

Did anyone think NCLB and AYP was anything but political posturing? Bush came from Texas, the state that started disaggregated testing scoring and Adequate Yearly Progress. It sounded great, but before Bush left the White House, Texas had abandoned its stance.

Do parents/taxpayers understand the penalty from abandoning NCLB is only the loss of Title I funds is really a moot point? Title 1 funds were appropriated by Dr. Lewis to become a "piggybank" to:
1. Fund non-teaching Instructional Coaches ($8,000,000 annually)
2. Fund expensive, non-effective scripted learning programs such as America's Choice ($8,000,000) and Springboard ($1,400,000)
...Title 1 funds are not benefiting students.
3. Fund the Office of School Improvement (? millions)

The above accounts for almost all of Title 1 funds for DCSS:
See Georgia DOE website detailing DCSS expenditure of Title 1 funds:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2008

Meanwhile, to meet NCLB, we are shoving students into annexes that have nothing to do with the schools they are supposed to be associated with and packing students into trailers in the very few DCSS "Met AYP" schools.

DCSS would be better off without NCLB funds. The "trickle down" effect is just not working.

See Edutopia artice:
http://www.edutopia.org/its-revolting

Why are Ms. Tyson and the BOE not looking at the ROI of complying with NCLB?

Be True to Your School said...

I am willing to be blunt and direct about the problems in DCSS -- and most, if not all of those problems stem from DCSS upper management.

I worked for DCSS and have worked with and observed Ramona Tyson. She is incompetent and gutless -- and also arrogant. All confirmed by her inaction at a crucial juncture:

Tyson could have made -- or, at least recommended -- sweeping changes to benefit our children, including massive and significant staff cuts. Instead of acting in a timely manner to assure a better upcoming school year for students and teachers, Tyson opted for status quo. She had the opportunity to make things better on at least one front and she did not.

Facts are facts. You can't argue with the truth. I, for one, am fed up with misplaced "sensitivity" and pussyfooting around the issues, including corruption and blatant incompetence, which grow more and more tangled and disgusting by the day. Maybe if someone had forthrightly and bluntly said the emperor has no clothes, instead of worrying about hurt feelings, we would not be where we find ourselves today.

Would you call Tyson a courageous and competent leader?

I challenged Anonymous to name ONE -- just one -- good thing that Tyson has done for DCSS. So far -- no response.

Anonymous said...

Not making AYP is not a reflection on the quality of a school's teachers or students. A school can have excellent scores overall but if one subgroup falters, then the school will not make AYP, Unfortunately, the consequences to our school system as a whole are devastating. I have a child at Chamblee which ALWAYS is forced by DCSS to take more and more transfer students. These students are always 9th graders so they get to stay until they graduate. They arrive one or two grade levels behind. (please note that under NCLB the first choice of transfers go to the Title 1 students with the lowest scores.)

Our EOCT scores are going steadily downhill. Look at the recent release of scores. Frankly, I hoped that we would fail AYP the last several years. If you are thinking of asking for a school choice transfer to Chamblee you may want to think again. I personally would opt for free tutoring or would demand that DCSS open up Arabia Mtn and DSA for transfers. (not annexes)

At Chamblee, your student will attend a very old school in poor physical shape. Classrooms and trailers are small and will be very, very overcrowded. Your child will probably have less than 20 minutes for lunch. Your child will not be in the magnet classes. We don't have any modern technology. I think only 3 of our 13 math teachers had Smart Boards. Many of our ancient science labs are broken. We don't have a football or soccer field or a track. We don't have an auditorium and the school system has cancelled plans to build an auditorium and addition.

Most important, we lost 13 teachers this year so the professional brain drain is huge.

Anonymous said...

"Most important, we lost 13 teachers this year so the professional brain drain is huge." from the above blog. Does anyone know why Chamblee lost 13 teachers? That's more than the norm, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

@ Be True to Your School

I am Anonymous 5:55 pm who expressed the opinion that performance of the current superintendent and BOE is more important than personality traits.

I also worked with Ms. Tyson for a decade. Comments about her personality are not productive. Rather, performance of job functions is the only concern DCSS parents/taxpayers should be concerned with. The facts are that top level DCSS administrators and the current BOE have increased revenue (i.e. tax collections) while they have decreased our Return on Investment (student achievement). This speaks volumes about ALL of the current DCSS administration and BOE.

If you want to get this BOE voted out of office and a superintendent hired that will make substantial changes, you and everyone else needs to stick to the fact that they have failed DCSS students abysmally. While you are trying to make the case that character played a huge part in this debacle, I say that none of that matters. DCSS administrators could have great character but terrible results for our students. All that matters is that they have been ineffective for students while they spent more and more of our money. Student achievement is the most important goal of DCSS. I say that as a former teacher and long time DCSS employee. We must concentrate on what the DCSS administration and BOE has or hasn't done for students.

Looking at the facts and figures, the entire DCSS administration and BOE has not met Adequate Yearly Progress and needs to be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Tyson has held the school system together during probable the worse economic and legal crisis of the DeKalb County School System. She is well spoken, and she set benchmarks for Destiny Academy to get their Act together. She did not sugar coat the fact that they will have no more chances. Of course I thought last year was their last chance. However, she had done her homework on this situation and discuss the situation with the state department and had evaluated what the problems were. She admitted that the DeKalb County School System was at fault on this one also.

Tyson made tough recommendations during the crisis regarding cutting transportation. However, the School board would not approve this because of political reasons. She sent those expensive chairs back when she saw the price tag on them.

I am not Tyson's cheerleader. However, she deserves respect for what she has attempted to do.

A Mother said...

I challenge you, Anonymous, to name even ONE good thing that the clearly incompetent and gutless Ramona Tyson has done.

Tyson could have made -- or, at least recommended -- sweeping changes to benefit our children, including massive and significant staff cuts. Instead of acting in a timely manner to assure a better upcoming school year for students and teachers, Tyson opted for status quo. Anonymous -- she had the "cards in her hand", as you put it, to make things better on at least one front and she was not -- is not -- smart enough or savvy enough to do so.


I totally agree with you. Be True!

She had the opportunity to have moved the school closings (heck, some of the school closings) along. Some of the school closings could have been(and should have been) out of the way by the time a new superintendent comes in.

What did she do? Sit on her, uh, hands. I can't think of any pretty words to describe this.

The students of Dekalb will wait another year before this problem begins to be addressed by a new superintendent who will have his/ her lap full from day One, even if Ms. Tyson had opted to make some progress on this one thing.

The words you use are about the same ones I would use to describe her and her performance from what I have seen so far.

Does she not get it that there is no time to waste?

Anonymous said...

She had the opportunity to have moved the school closings (heck, some of the school closings) along. Some of the school closings could have been(and should have been) out of the way by the time a new superintendent comes in.

Um, the school closings were put off by the BOE, not Ms. Tyson.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 10:27 PM

I disagree that I am commenting on Tyson's personality -- with the possible exception of noting her arrogance. She is, or appears to be, incompetent in performing her job functions -- and that includes her lack of courage to make the tough decision and do what was morally and ethically right.

Character. Courage. It is all tied together, really.

Other than that, I completely agree with what you said. I am not being facetious. All of the DCSS administration -- reaching in some cases to the principal level -- and the BOE needs to go. It's unfortunate that those BOE members who are not running for re-election do not have the good grace and character to simply resign. But then, if they had any character, DCSS might not be in such a huge mess.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:23 PM

"Most important, we lost 13 teachers this year so the professional brain drain is huge." Does anyone know why Chamblee lost 13 teachers?

Three words: Rochelle Patterson Lowery

Lowery said she was leaving at the end of last year when her niece finished at Chamblee Charter High School. The niece was there on special permission. I am not sure that she even lived inside DeKalb County.

There was quiet celebration among the faculty and staff that they were almost done with Lowery. She was a huge disappointment -- totally unsuited to be a charter school principal.

Then Lowery took a look at the job market and decided to stay on. Inexplicable, really, once her "puppet-masters" and protectors were no longer there --i.e., Clew-less, Marilyn Steele, and Frankie Callaway.

To quote Dr. Seuss, "The time has come. The time is now. Just go. Go. Go! I don't care how."

Anonymous said...

I hear you.

However, do not not think the current school board members are micro-managing the situation which is part of the problem in itself.

These current members of our board are not qualified to do this. That is why it is so important to have a good quality superintendent you can trust and good assistant superintendents. However is the school board members are micro-managers it does not matter who the school superintendent is.

Maybe our problem has been who has been managing our school. I hear being a school board member is a full time job. Now it would be a full time job if you are actually micro-managing and trying to actually run the school system. This is not the job of the school board.

A Mother said...

Um, the school closings were put off by the BOE, not Ms. Tyson.

I am aware that the Board voted on this and the outcome of the vote. The Board dropped the ball, big time.

My point is - The superintendent has a role in this, too. The talk was about closing schools to the point of having identifed some of the schools on a short list.

Suddenly, Ms Tyson is Acting Superintendent. Suddenly, the decision is made to put school closings on the back burner.

Do I believe The Board made this decision absent or even contrary to Ms. Tyson's input? No!!!

If you don't have someone in the seat ready and willing to press forward on this very hot button issues, it makes sense to me that the Board voted the way they did. The opposite of that is also true.

Yes, the Board possibly could have made a different selection but the comments I made are about Ms. Tyson.

Anonymous said...

When Ms. Tyson does not have the votes the issue is died. She cannot get a major issue by without the school boards vote.

This is an election year. The board did not want these schools closed this year.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 10:47 PM

If you define what we have now in DCSS as a "together" school system and credit Tyson with holding the system together, then I shudder to think how you much worse it would have to be for you to identify a school system that is failing its students and falling apart.

Suggesting cutting transportation was a no-brainer for Tyson. She knew that would never fly with the BOE. Even if it had, the money saved would have been negligible compared to getting rid of the over-paid, under-talented administrators that populate DCSS's upper management and their hangers-on -- and that includes IT/MIS. Instead, she cut a relative few low-wage employees, did not fill teaching positions and enlarged class sizes.

Tyson deserves NO "respect for what she has attempted to do." She has attempted to save her own job and preserve her power base -- at the expense of our students and teachers.

If anyone has held DCSS together, it is our long-suffering, beleaguered teachers. But, they were and are powerless to effect change.

A Mother said...

Anonymous said...
When Ms. Tyson does not have the votes the issue is died. She cannot get a major issue by without the school boards vote.

This is an election year. The board did not want these schools closed this year.

July 17, 2010 11:49 PM


You could be right on that. I don't know the inside politics of the situation.

It sounds like you are saying that Ms. Tyson was ready to go forward and the Board did make the decision, contrary to Ms. Tyson's input.

If that is true, then she is not responsible for the delay in school closings. Voting out the incumbents sounds like a good idea!

Anonymous said...

I want to agree with anon 11:44 PM. The most important person in any school system is the superintendent.

However, DCSS is a challenging place to lead because we have a zillion different agendas among the constituencies. For example, take transportation, most students attend their neighborhood school, so this is a non-issue for them. For an unknown percentage of magnet parents, this is also a non-issue and they would rather not see the money spent that way.

But for those parents who need transportation and feel entitled to it, this becomes their only issue.

Anonymous said...

The school closings/consolidations were delayed on the advice of the Georgia Department of Education to the Board of Education.

Please know what you are talking about.

Anonymous said...

We have too many top administrators. This also is a no-brainer. The data shows this. I agree with you. I agree this task needs to be taken on and one I heard Dr. Lewis was prepared to take on before his departure. He was being forced to do so. I do not know what happened. All the top administrators knew that they were going to have to apply again for their positions. Who knows??? Maybe the board members stepped in on this one and wanted to wait until we have a new school superintendent. I think we have a great deal of micro-management going on. Many of these school board members make their school board position their full time job and with this they get too involved with the day-to-day operations in my opinion. Dr. Brown complained about this years ago and had a problem with this and he was gone when he questioned it. They are used to running the school system without the Administration and Leadership Degrees to do so. Maybe part of the problem lies in our school board members micro-managing the county office staff without the knowledge and skills to do so.

Cerebration said...

The school closings/consolidations were delayed on the advice of the Georgia Department of Education to the Board of Education.

I have never heard that before. Are you sure? I would be surprised as the reason we get shorted on state reimbursements is because we have so many under-enrolled schools. (Well, that and the fact that Pat Pope and Crawford Lewis never could quite get around to submitted paperwork worth millions in state funds to DeKalb.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am sure. When the DCSS met with the GADOE in early May, the GADOE told them that closing/consolidating the schools all at once would save the school system more money.

Anonymous said...

Here is the AJC article:

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/dekalb-school-closures-delayed-516000.html

Cerebration said...

Oh, I see what you're saying. The state recommends closing 10-12 schools and the proposal that the board then voted down only closed 4 schools. They haven't decided not to close - they've decided to wait a year and then do some major consolidating moves all at once. Apparently the state doesn't think piddling around with closing 4 schools is enough. We have some major work to do. Perhaps this is why they are scrutinizing programs like Destiny and other very costly programs in the system due to low enrollments in the buildings (decreasing state reimbursements).

Last month, the board voted on a tentative budget that included $115 million in cuts, including closing four elementary schools to save $2.35 million. Monday’s vote removed the school closings from that budget, which is up for approval next week.

The board now will scramble to find another $2.35 million in cuts or consider a property tax increase, board chairman Tom Bowen said.

The board’s reversal came after school officials met with a representative of the state Department of Education on Friday.

“The state indicated we need to have a comprehensive solution and look at all schools,” Bowen said.

The district now has about 11,000 empty seats. Closing a dozen schools will save the district $10 million-$20 million and bring in additional state funds for renovations to the remaining open schools, Bowen said.

Anonymous said...

I re-read the AJC article.

Please note that no state department official was quoted. Only DCSS BOE members were quoted. I have no doubt Ms. Tyson met with the state department. I have not seen a quote or spreadsheet from a state department official.

Due to the fact this was an election year for 5 BOE members and there was such an uproar on the part of the under enrolled school parents, this may have been a very good way to back out while using the state as an excuse. Plus, some BOE members who had schools on the closing list will take credit before the election.

If the article discussed in detail WHY the state concluded DCSS would receive more money if closings were delayed or even had a state department official quoted, I would be more inclined to believe the state was responsible for this decision.

Did Ms. Tyson ever give an in depth cost analysis at a public meeting as pertains to how and why we would save money by delaying school closings until next year (BTW - after the BOE elections)?

Personally, I think the school closings were ridiculous and saved only a pittance compared to the immense amount being spent on the incredible number of admin and support personnel. Schools should be closed only AFTER severely cutting, consolidating and outsourcing in the admin and support side. This must have really galled the parents of the schools slated to be closed. The fact that the Central Office personnel and highly paid Support side managers were going untouched while their children's schools were going to be shuttered.

Are there facts and figures available to taxpayers explaining the savings to DCSS if we delay the school closings? Has anyone seen these facts and figures? Please share them with us if you have seen anything concrete from the state. It would make for interesting reading and analysis for us taxpayers.

Cerebration said...

Tyson called the meeting with the state -

Tyson called for the meeting with the state because of a tenuous relationship with the previous administration, including former superintendent Crawford Lewis and former chief operating officer Patricia “Pat” Reid, formerly Pat Pope, board members said. Both are subjects of a district attorney’s investigation into possible misconduct involving the district’s multi-million dollar school construction program.

We try to keep an inventory of links to stories about DCSS. You can find them under the PAGES on the right side panel - the link called "News of the Day - LINKS"

Cerebration said...

Here's a link to the article highlighting the tabled work of the citizen task force - pretty sad, actually.

http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/task-forces-vote-likely-462829.html

Anonymous said...

Yes. I'm aware that Ms. Tyson called the meeting with the state. I just wondered if the facts and figures about exactly how much DCSS would save by closing these schools next year along with many others rather than 4 this year and then the rest next year.

Ms. Tyson provided very detailed budgetary spreadsheets when cutting teacher points, cutting employees, cutting the TSA, etc. so I'm assuming there is a spreadsheet (perhaps several with different scenarios) regarding the efficacy of waiting until next year to make any decisions. Were taxpayers provided with this information?

I'm sorry to seem skeptical, but I have seen unpleasant and politically volatile decisions sidestepped many times in DCSS - A prime example is not acting on the 2004 Compensation and Classification audit that would have saved us tens of millions of dollars. Lewis's own words to BOE members during the 12/05/05 BOE meeting:
"He stated that at the beginning of the study, 15,000 employees were told that they would not lose salary as a result of the study and he plans to stay true to his word....Once an associate superintendent has been named to Human Resources, he will work closely with the individual to identify creative ways to address the compensation portion of the study and will bring his recommendations back to the Board. "

The idea of saving millions of dollars by bringing our personnel cost for non-teaching employees in line with the marketplace was quietly shelved, never to be seriously considered at any other BOE meeting.

Anon said...

DCSS has had a very strained relationship with almost all facets of GA DOE the last 6 years. The bureaucrats in charge of instruction at the state level have consistently found DCSS bureaucrats resistant to any offers of help.

It goes without saying or really explaining, that the state bureaucrats over state funding for facilities had MAJOR issues with DCSS. It was in this context, when I believe the DCSS staff was trying to get a real handle on savings realized from closing schools that the inadequacies in the DCSS facility plan were revealed and the state people recommended waiting.

The only two board members that would have been impacted by school closings were Roberts and Copelin-Woods. The majority of the board doesn't support them, so I think that the politics were actually minor in this case. In fact, I think that the majority of the Board was disappointed that Copelin-Wood could be viewed as winning this issue.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:57

"It was in this context, when I believe the DCSS staff was trying to get a real handle on savings realized from closing schools that the inadequacies in the DCSS facility plan were revealed and the state people recommended waiting.
"

What DCSS staff members developed these plans and who presented them to the BOE? Will someone from the state develop plans next year, will we depend on the same personnel who bungled the plan, or will we hire a "consultant" to do what our highly paid DCSS staff members should be capable of doing?

The 2004 Compensation and Classification audit that Ernst and Young stated DCSS would save almost $15,000,000 a year in personnel costs if we brought non-teaching salaries in line with the marketplace. This report went into the DCSS HR Department. By the time Lewis brought it back out to the BOE, the figure had shrunk to around $2,000,000 a year, a considerable sum but close to 90% below what the independent auditors saw as savings. Even this reduced savings was not acted on by Lewis and the BOE.

Plans have a way going into the Central Office and coming out considerably altered. Parents/taxpayers should have access to the spreadsheets and cost justifications that determine the expenditure of our tax dollars. This includes any school closures, transportation cuts, and redistricting. Just taking the word of the DCSS administration has not worked so well. These documents are supposed to be published on the BOE website, but they are not always there. This should change. I hope we get all new BOE members committed to transparency.

Cerebration said...

To that end, there is a movement across the country to post the check registers of school systems online. We need to demand this level of transparency.

To learn more visit Texas schools advocate Peyton Wolcott's website -

http://www.peytonwolcott.com/CheckRegisters_Alaska_Louisiana.html

Then click on the other groups of states to link to the many, many school systems willing to put their expenditures online for the taxpayers to see.

Ask your board rep to propose posting an online check register. Ask candidates if they would be willing to make this a priority if elected.

Cerebration said...

In fact, Ms. Wolcott provides a "how to" for taxpayers to go about advocating for an online check register -

http://www.peytonwolcott.com/NationalSchoolDistrictHonorRoll_AskingYourDistrict.html

Folks, New York City, Miami, Dallas and Houston are doing this!

Anonymous said...

More than asking the DeKalb board, we should push for this to be an issue among the candidates for state superintendent of ed.

If it was mandated at the state level, there would be no discretion among local systems.

Anonymous said...

Don't be so lazy...

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/public/cptf/files/CPTF_Phase1_Report.pdf

A Mother said...

Personally, I think the school closings were ridiculous and saved only a pittance compared to the immense amount being spent on the incredible number of admin and support personnel(and superintendent.

I agree that the bloated adminstration with bloated salaries, the elimination of lower paid employees while keeping the highest paid and Many other things need to be addressed as soon as possible. Yesterday would have been a better time than today.

We've discussed the 2 I mention above and some of the "Many others". It is a very complicated situation. You almost have to take it one part at a time and talk about solutions to this one thing.

It is my opinion that the Board needs to be addressing ALL of these as soon as they can, including school closing.

I noticed that the Board haven't gone back to the drawing board to clean up their decisions (or lack thereof)on the 2 things I mention above. "I was not aware of that" is NOT an answer to the question nor a solution to the problem. I'm sure others noticed it, too.

Right now, I'm just saying school closings need action, now, also. If there are valid reasons for the delay, we should all be a lot clearer about what they are.

Of the 3 of us that posted what we thought the reason for the delay was, we each had very clear and different views. That should not be. We should all know the reason for the delay, whether we agree with it or not.

Whatever the reasons or excuses, the Board (and superintendent)has to take responsibility for their decisions and for communicating that to the public. We have every right to expect them to work together to get the job done.

A Mother said...

Please note that no state department official was quoted. Only DCSS BOE members were quoted. I have no doubt Ms. Tyson met with the state department. I have not seen a quote or spreadsheet from a state department official.

I noticed that, too, as I re-read the article.

You make some great observations about details that very well could have and should have been provided.

Anonymous said...

Please note that no state department official was quoted. Only DCSS BOE members were quoted. I have no doubt Ms. Tyson met with the state department. I have not seen a quote or spreadsheet from a state department official.

I noticed that, too, as I re-read the article.


Perhaps if you would actually read the various articles and news reports that are discussed and linked on this board, you would not post false information.


http://www.wsbtv.com/news/23828923/detail.html

A Mother said...

DeKalb Schools Forfeit Millions in State Money
Posted: 9:45 am EDT June 8, 2010

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. -- In the midst of a major budget crunch, Channel 2 Action News has uncovered more than $10.5 million that DeKalb County Schools failed to collect in state construction reimbursements.


Is this the article to which you are referring?

Regarding school closing delays and the documentation to suppprt that decision, I don't see that in either this or the previous story you provided the link.

Even if there were quotes and documentation, the responsibility for running DCSS rests on the shoulders of the local school board. They can listen to what might have been clear and strong advise in one direction or the other. Ultimately, the Board has to weigh all of this and make the decision that is best for this school system. There is no passing the buck, not even to the state DOE.

Now, if the Board were showing us the facts and figures given them by the state DOE, we might agree with them. I know they are not trying to say they based such an important decision of some vague statement made by someone from the state DOE. If they were to say that, I would have even more concern about them than I do now.

Anonymous said...

I believe (as do others) that Pat Pope purposely didn't file the proper paper work for the reimbursable projects was so the state wouldn't discover her alleged misconduct.

The good news is that the money will still be coming to DeKalb as the paper work is filed properly. This is not day to day money but money that goes to reimburse capital improvement projects out of SPLOST. This ie what Millar and other state reps have told us.

A Mother said...

Anonymous said...

The good news is that the money will still be coming to DeKalb as the paper work is filed properly.

July 18, 2010 5:48 PM


I'm not sure which Anonymous I am addressing but I'm thinking it is the one posting the last link.

I think we were trying to discern the reason(s) for the delay in school closings. We covered such reasons as the reluctance of Ms. Tyson, the political gains of the Board and advice from the state DOE to the Board.

I, for one, was interested in knowing more about the advice, especially from whom, in what form and how concrete. I recognize that the advice could have been a simple statement but I sure was hoping for a lot more.

Some of the money mentioned in the article is gone forever. Yes, some is still available.

I'm still missing any kind of a comparison of cost/savings with the 2 different timetables for school closing. I'm not able to make the connection from the information given in these articles.

What I have gathered from these articles is that Ms Tyson was looking for a way to delay. She brought something to the Board via the state DOE (we really don't know what). The Board says this advice is the reason they voted for the delay.

Do we know if and how much the school benefits from the delay? More importantly, does the Board?

Anonymous said...

Politics is always the reason for delays. Many were unhappy with the closings in certain areas. Some school board members had much to lose in an election year. Some depend on their paycheck. They are Ms. Tyson's boss. Five are up for re-election.

It makes sense that it would be best for school board members to wait until next year. They do not care how much it costs the school system next year. They care about being a member of the school board in the future.

Anonymous said...

Lakeside's renovation has been delayed yet again (failure to include roof in bid--so typical). It needs to be rebid and will likely not start until 2nd semester. So guess what? There are now lots of empty new trailers sitting on campus, and they can easily accommodate transfers. How fortuitous!

Cerebration said...

Exactly correct, 8:22

Remember, John Evans even came out to protest these school closings. This is a very hot button and no one will press it before the election.

Anonymous said...

As a member of the Task Force charged with closing the schools, I can tell you that the process was flawed from the moment the Board Budget committee decided to accelerate the plan. Originally, schools were to be closed at the end of the 11-12 school year. The Budget committee asked Dr. Lewis to see if it could be accelerated.

If Dr. Lewis had acted at that time, without appointing a committee, perhaps schools could have been closed. But the process was so incredibly flawed, not to mention, way to close to the reopening of schools, that it was destined to fail.

Logically, and this was said repeatedly by task force members, redistricting should be done simultaneously with school closures.

The only board member really impacted by school closings was Sarah Copelin-Woods. Ms. Roberts might have been impacted a tiny bit. I can tell you that none of the rest of the board members would come to their rescue -- ever.

Three years ago, DeKalb closed three elementary schools in the McNair cluster and opened the McNair Learning Academy. There were (are?) great hopes for this school. This year's test scores are dismal, among the worst in the county and the state.

The McNair cluster needs a patron saint, someone who has a vision and the skill set to turn around an entire community. Those McNair parents had no recognition of how low performing their schools are. Though the did acknowledge that the middle school is no good. This is part of the problem.

This person doesn't need to be on the Board of Ed, it just needs to be someone who can energize the community and help them advocate for instructional strategies that make sense and for a different path to lead them up.

Where is McNair's Geoffry Canada?

http://www.hcz.org/

Anonymous said...

Also remember that John Evans is a convicted felon and the lead purveyor in inciting the South DeKalb gets nothing because North DeKalb gets everything nonsense. He has zero credibility, as does his close friend Zepora Roberts.

Anonymous said...

Having taught in the McNair cluster, you are so right Anon 9:29. It is ashame that the schools have been allowed to get so bad. As a teacher, I was scolded for having high expectations for my students and expecting them to work hard to achieve them. My scolding not only came from local school administrators, but also from area superintendents who told my school in a meeting that we were not allowed to allow children to fail. If they failed it was a reflection on us and we had allowed them to fail.

This all happened three years ago in my first year in DCSS, but my 13th in the field of education. I have always had very high expectations for my students and myself, and have worked hard to give my students the same education that I would want for my own children (even when I had no children or materials to teach with from the school (not in DeKalb)).

I left teaching and DeKalb this year. I was tired of the lack of discipline in the schools. I was tired of the excuses made for students not learning. I was tired of the policies that enable children to fail, but allowing them to "feel good." I was tired of not being the teacher that I knew myself to be in other teaching circumstances in my career.

What I worry most is that what has been allowed to happen by parents (they have the biggest voice for their children-as teachers are to be seen and not heard in DCSS)is that what is happening in the McNair cluster will begin to happen elsewhere in the county.

Living in the Druid Hills Cluster and near Lakeside, many in my area will say oh not hear, but I believe it is only a matter of time as the parents who truly want their children to be educated in my neighborhood do not send their children to the public schools. They sacrifice and send them elsewhere or homeschool.

The problem that I see in DCSS is this:

1. Education is not what is the priority of DCSS or providing our children with a quality educaiton.

2. Too many administrators have either not taught long enough, have paid for degrees, are part of the friends and family network, do not have teaching experience for the grade levels that they are supporting (i.e. middle school teachers and elementary principals), and/or do not really understand how to use data to make a positive impact on instruction.

3. Discipline

4. Lack of integrity

5. Misuse of funds on all levels and in so many ways

6. Schools that are falling apart, dirty, leaking roofs and/or moldy

7. School Board Members who appear from faithful watching of televised board meetings to not be prepared, not have education as the top priority, and who do not know how to think in a way that would allow them to ask intelligent questions, so that they truly understand what is going on or being done.

8. Relying on programs instead of quality of education to educate our children.

9. Spending money on unnecessary expenses

10. Not thinking through expenses made and the financial implications that decisions/expenses will have in the future

I hope that we are able to obtain a superintendent who is not afraid to shake things up, anger people, and let heads roll, all the while raising the standards, not allowing for excuses, and having the children and the education that they receive as their ultimate goal. I am not sure if the school board as it sits now is capable of such a decision, or if new board members will have an easier time making such decisions.

I pray that our school turns around in the upcoming years. I listened to Tyson's talk about being transparent, but so far I am not seeing a transparent leader in her. In reality, I do not see her stepping to the plate and being a leader in general since has resumed Lewis' role as superintendent.

DCSS is in desperate need of a leader and I hope that they get a true leader soon.

Anonymous said...

I think that DeKalb County has been told to take their time and get their superintendent search done right. They have not flown by totally under the radar. Big brother does have his eye on them.

Anon said...

That is pathetic about the McNair Cluster, anon 11:28.

Some of what you write about is happening almost everywhere in public education. However, more and more research is supporting high expectations that will make a difference.

In Houston Texas, potential teachers now have to pass a psychological test that measures whether you have high expectations for minority students and that you believe that those students can be successful.

There is so much potential there for real change. That is why I think a movement like the Harlem's Children Zone is appropriate there. If we wait for the parents to demand change, it won't happen.

Anonymous said...

Here is a story in response to those that think Ms. Tyson is doing a good job.

4 years ago a group of us, in the area known as no mans land, a slice of DeKalb between Dunwoody, Chamblee and Fulton county, tried to save the most diverse elementary school in the county. The DCSS upper-management pulled out a fraudulent demographers report that failed to mention the incredible growth that is happening in this area. The DCSS planning department never once spoke with DeKalb Planning and zoning to discuss the expected growth of our area. The report was a cut and paste of a report completed for Fairfax County, Virginia. This is all water under the bridge, however the group were called names, "vociferous and loud" by the BOE and Clew's cabinet. Jim Redovian refused to help the parents, stating the politics were too tough to navigate since there were schools in South DeKalb being closed and the moves had to be "equitable". As long as these race based politics are played, nothing will change in our county school system.

The group was eventually thrown under the bus by Clew. They also lost a huge voice on the BOE, Ms. Little-John. The group had also uncovered a fraud by an employee, who just happened to be the son of former BOE chairman, Francis Edwards. This employee, a friend and family plan hire, had been given a 15k raise to work in Ms. Tyson's MIS Dept. For 6 months this man hid in our school, answering phones, covering the phones during lunch and hiding out at the local Radio Shack. Once we exposed him, Debbie Loeb and Clew visited this group and Ms. Loeb put Ms. Tyson on a speaker phone. This group heard Ms. Tyson said "she was unaware that this person was not showing up for work, in his new position at her office." I know she has a lot of employees but how could she go 6 months without knowing this man was not showing up for work? Because this man was the son of the BOE Chairman, Francis Edwards.

Ms. Tyson is part of the problem and the only thing that will set DCSS on the proper track to success is the resignations of the entire cabinet of our former Super. We also need to cut the 15 million dollars in salary out of our Central Office, like Ernst and Young suggested. The audit, that has now been hidden from public view, should be followed.

The Palace on Stone Mtn, Industrial is just one thing that does not look good to the taxpayers. It's the folks that fill that building that are the real problem. We need more whistle blowers to expose the fraud that DCSS has become.

Anonymous said...

Here is a story in response to those that think Ms. Tyson is doing a good job.

4 years ago a group of us, in the area known as no mans land, a slice of DeKalb between Dunwoody, Chamblee and Fulton county, tried to save the most diverse elementary school in the county. The DCSS upper-management pulled out a fraudulent demographers report that failed to mention the incredible growth that is happening in this area. The DCSS planning department never once spoke with DeKalb Planning and zoning to discuss the expected growth of our area. The report was a cut and paste of a report completed for Fairfax County, Virginia. This is all water under the bridge, however the group were called names, "vociferous and loud" by the BOE and Clew's cabinet. Jim Redovian refused to help the parents, stating the politics were too tough to navigate since there were schools in South DeKalb being closed and the moves had to be "equitable". As long as these race based politics are played, nothing will change in our county school system.

The group was eventually thrown under the bus by Clew. They also lost a huge voice on the BOE, Ms. Little-John. The group had also uncovered a fraud by an employee, who just happened to be the son of former BOE chairman, Francis Edwards. This employee, a friend and family plan hire, had been given a 15k raise to work in Ms. Tyson's MIS Dept. For 6 months this man hid in our school, answering phones, covering the phones during lunch and hiding out at the local Radio Shack. Once we exposed him, Debbie Loeb and Clew visited this group and Ms. Loeb put Ms. Tyson on a speaker phone. This group heard Ms. Tyson said "she was unaware that this person was not showing up for work, in his new position at her office." I know she has a lot of employees but how could she go 6 months without knowing this man was not showing up for work? Because this man was the son of the BOE Chairman, Francis Edwards.

Ms. Tyson is part of the problem and the only thing that will set DCSS on the proper track to success is the resignations of the entire cabinet of our former Super. We also need to cut the 15 million dollars in salary out of our Central Office, like Ernst and Young suggested. The audit, that has now been hidden from public view, should be followed.

The Palace on Stone Mtn, Industrial is just one thing that does not look good to the taxpayers. It's the folks that fill that building that are the real problem. We need more whistle blowers to expose the fraud that DCSS has become.

Anonymous said...

Are the problems of the Mcnair cluster really any different from the problems at Stephenson, MLK, Columbia, Miller Grove, SWD, Towers? Successful reform measures in these types of schools have acknowledged the need to break decisively with a learning, teaching, and adminstrative culture that, in a compleete reversal on the civil rights movement, does not value learning as the key to integration and upward mobility. Look at the Harlem Improvement Zone, D.C., etc. Bring in a superintendent of a different race and from a different culture.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:56 am

There are many, many families in the Nancy Creek district who are pleased with the decision to close the school. The are very happy at Montgomery and believe that their community is now embracing public school to a far greater extent.

In addition, the growth at Nancy Creek wasn't rapid, it was very slow. Growing by a handful of neighborhood kids a year and having space for 100s of transfer students wasn't a good situation.

Your bitterness at the situation ignores the reality that many of your neighbors are content with the current arrangement.

You are right about the need to restructure the central office and the salaries of those that work there. Hopefully, the new superintendent will be strong enough to accomplish this.

Anonymous said...

I reiterate that Henderson's incoming 8th grade class was a receiving class in 6th grade -- it took the class to 5 teams instead of 4 (about 120 kids)and it is now going to receive again for 8th grade - could be that it leaves the class as almost half home kids and almost half transfers. There are a number of trailers on site and the class size is probably going to be at around 4o kids per class. This is punative to the tax payers paing higher taxes to live in the Henderson feeder pattern. Further, the school has't really been touched in decades (it has received minor upgrades with splost funds but looks nothing like Tucker or Chambless Middle). I vote for not participating in the federal NCLB eqivalent at all (as a state) -- the feds aren't fully funding it and it costs so much to comply I think the studies show that we don't get back nearly enough to make it worth while.

Also, under NCLB, the state was supposed to take over a failing system after 3 or so years of not making AYP as a system. Anyone know when the last time (first tme) was that DCSS as a whole system made AYP?

Cerebration said...

Are any schools offering tutoring?

This is from the GADOE website

Tutoring Services / Supplemental Educational Services Providers
Supplemental Educational Services (SES) include summer and before- and after-school tutoring in reading, language arts, or math. They may be offered through public- or private-sector providers who are approved by the state, such as public schools, public charter schools, local education agencies (local school systems, herein referred to as LEAs), educational service agencies, faith-based organizations, and community groups.

Students from low-income families who remain in Title I schools that fail to meet AYP for at least three years, and are thus in the second year of Needs Improvement status, are eligible to receive SES.

Click on the provider's name from the list below for more details about that provider.


Click here for the long list of approved vendors:

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 11:57

"Also, under NCLB, the state was supposed to take over a failing system after 3 or so years of not making AYP as a system. Anyone know when the last time (first tme) was that DCSS as a whole system made AYP? "

That's really a moot point. None of the systems ever make AYP. It's impossible to do. If even one school does not make AYP, the entire system fails.

On another note, I don't believe the class sizes for middle school are authorized by the state to go to 40. Ask your child to count the number of students in his/her classes. If it is over the authorized number of students, then register a complaint with the superintendent, BOE, governor, the DOE and/or your state legislative representative. Every parent has the right to ensure their child is not in a classroom that has over the legal limit of students. That's why the state sets legal limits.

Parent in Henderson can email and meet with every BOE member and the superintendent to stress the impact that large numbers and an education in trailers will have on children's education. Parents have more clout than they realize. They must be vocal and organized and present logical data to advocate for their children. Nothing is as important to parents as their children, and nothing should be as important to the school system as the children.

I agree that DCSS should look into opting out of NCLB. The only money at stake is federal money. As far as I know that's Title 1 money - around $31,000,000 a year out of a $1,000,000,000 (yes - that's a billion dollars) budget. It is logical to question the benefit of this money for students since it's spent on learning programs such as America's Choice ($8,000,000), Springboard ($1,400,000), and funding Instructional Coaches ($8,000,000) and many of the personnel for the Office of School Improvement. Student achievement as measured by standardized test scores has shown a steady decrease in DCSS.

Perhaps someone else is aware of other federal funds DCSS receives because generally federal funds make up around 5% of Education's total funding in the U.S. Title 1 funds appear to comprise around 3% of DCSS's total so maybe there are more funds bringing us to that 5%.

Has any DCSS parent group started to question NCLB participation in an organized and logical manner? I know many school systems across the nation are questioning the efficacy of participating in this program, but I'm not aware that there is an organized effort in DCSS to push for facts and figures as to the ROI for students.

Anonymous said...

Here is the system's powerpoint on NCLB/ESEA...
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/about/schoolchoice/files/C40DEB0EF7574D949D3B93157D01D1DC.pdf

Anonymous said...

The Chamblee MS annex was before they opened the new Chamblee MS. The new school had more seats than the old location-(the former location had no extra seats. Once Chamblee MS opened in a brand new building there was no need for any annex and there has not been a Chamblee annex since. The transfers are quite welcome at Chamblee MS by the way.

Anonymous said...

"The solution is to not pass children who do not meet the standards. Stop giving children grades that they do deserve and do not earn. This would mean to stop forcing teachers to pass children along. As long as we have children in the upper elementary grades who do not know their basic math facts, and who do not have strong comprehension skills, we will have failing high schools."

I wish it were just that simple. Students who drop behind their peers due to rentention are much more likely to drop out. And I am not saying that we should pass them just to keep them in school. Though standards and retention of slow learners is just pushing the problem somewhere else. But it will still plague our society. It is a problem that we share with the rest of the US. Of course when I went to school (long ago) the choices were more limited. There were no social promotions, no high stakes tests, and people who didn't learn to read or do math on level dropped out to take blue collar jobs. My principal said to me you have three choices-finish school, go to jail or join the Marines.

Anonymous said...

"Successful reform measures in these types of schools have acknowledged the need to break decisively with a learning, teaching, and adminstrative culture that, in a compleete reversal on the civil rights movement, does not value learning as the key to integration and upward mobility. Look at the Harlem Improvement Zone, D.C., etc. Bring in a superintendent of a different race and from a different culture."
Your sheet is showing.
I think the two cultures here are not racial but economic. Most any middle class parent values education.

Anonymous said...

"Successful reform measures in these types of schools have acknowledged the need to break decisively with a learning, teaching, and adminstrative culture that, in a compleete reversal on the civil rights movement, does not value learning as the key to integration and upward mobility. Look at the Harlem Improvement Zone, D.C., etc. Bring in a superintendent of a different race and from a different culture."
Your sheet is showing.
I think the two cultures here are not racial but economic. Most any middle class parent values education.

Anonymous said...

Why use the "sheet" issue? South Dekalb -- like other hypersegregated suburbs -- has/had a strong middle class profile. Yet public education faces strong cultural problems. What makes MLK and Stepenson so different from high schools in Fayette county? Not per capita income.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 3:20 pm

"The Chamblee MS annex was before they opened the new Chamblee MS. "

That is not correct.

The Chamblee MS annex was in place when the new Chamblee MS was in place. I trained in the new Chamblee MS on Sexton Woods Drive at Pre-Planning and also during the year - very nice facility and a considerable improvement on the transition building. If you've ever been to Tucker MS you will be struck by the architectural similarity of the two schools. The brand new Chamblee MS was very unlike the old classrooms at Sequoyah that the Chamblee MS annex students attended class in.

During Pre-Planning and In-service days, I trained the Chamblee MS teachers as well as the Chamblee MS annex teachers because they could travel from Sequoyah MS over to Chamblee MS (no kids those days). If training was after school, I had to travel to Sequoyah MS to train them.

If you're a Chamblee MS teacher perhaps you were not even aware that there was a Chamblee MS annex over at Sequoyah. That's how little contact they had with you guys or anyone at Chamblee MS (they used to say they were really a separate school except on paper). The annex test scores were counted in with Chamblee MS test scores because they bore the Chamblee MS name.

As to the question - did you have room for them? Well, no you did not have room at the new school. DCSS was looking for any school that had extra classrooms. They set up an Assistant Principals (the Chamblee MS annex Asst. Prin. reported to Ms. Jackson), they staffed it teachers (not one had volunteered to leave the brand new Chamblee MS - I don't know about the other annexes), and then give it the name of any school that made AYP + the word annex.

Evidently that met (still meets - look at Tucker annex "housed" at Avondale - does anyone think these students have anything to do with Tucker except carry the name of a school that met AYP?)the letter of the law with NCLB, although IMO it did not meet the spirit.

Anonymous said...

Why would you think the "new" Chamblee Middle School would not have room? The school was, and is, under-entrolled. There would be no need for a Chamblee MS annex once CMS was in their new facility.

Square Peg said...

Anon 3:29's principal would only be able to offer two choices now: finish high school or go to jail. You can't just drop out and join the Marines. Their website says "Men and women between the ages of 17 and 29 who are working toward, or have earned, a high school diploma may qualify to enlist."

It's a different world now for blue collar jobs, too. And we don't just share this problem with the rest of the US; we share it with the world. Here's a quote from Japan. "Up to around 1990, even high school dropouts could be employed, particularly in the manufacturing sector. However, it is almost impossible for them to find jobs in a deteriorating economy..."

The quote is from an article about a study looking at average test scores of entering students at 150 Japanese high schools along with dropout rates, family income, and family stability, http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091212f2.html

Teaching @ a DCSS High School said...

Attention:

The AYP scores are now available at:

http://www.ajc.com/news/2010-georgia-ayp-results-573585.html

The only High Schools to make AYP were DSA, Arabia Mtn, Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, and Tucker.By the way, our school system had the lowest overall percentage of schools making AYP in the metro area.

What does the "new" Elementary and Secondary Education Act(ESEA) of 1965 stipulate as consequences for those schools that continually fail to make AYP ?

This whole AYP business needs to be revisted by the feds.

Anonymous said...

Teaching

Nothing. The new ESEA is still the old NCLB. It hasn't been revamped.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:44 pm

I can assure you the Chamblee MS new building was in place when Sequoyah "housed" the Chamblee MS annex.

I don't recall any "empty" classrooms when the annex was in place. You guys had several nice teachers lounges/workrooms. Are those still in place or did they get converted to classrooms? There were quite a other few nice spaces that weren't necessarily classes.

Anonymous said...

The first year in the new CMS buidlling they received 200 6th grade NCLB transfers. Every space was used for classes including book closets. The same thing happened at Tucker Middle. The students stay until 8th grade. The following year the 7th grade magnent students arrived swelling that grade level. The school was packed. There was no room for transfers. The Annex was set-up. The staff and students were included in activities whenever possible. Some connections teachers floated between schools. The following year the number of incoming students was reduced and the students and staff from the Annex were brought to the CMS building. CMS is slated for 100 NCLB students this year. I assume the number is limited to prevent overcrowding one grade level as happened before.
Had to set it straight

Anonymous said...

Those teachers at Arabia Mountain probably love the hate the school gets on the blogs. It probably keeps them motivated to prove you all wrong.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:00 pm

I remember that happening at Tucker MS (I trained there too when Jerry Hogan was the principal), but I remember being able to go eat my lunch in the teacher/workrooms at Chamblee MS's teacher workrooms. I also remember the annex teachers complaining that they thought they were coming to work for Chamblee MS, but were almost completely separate from the school.

I don't know about the 200 NCLB transfers that year. I was just shocked that the annex students had so little to do with the school. I didn't think it was fair to the students and their parents to say they were Chamblee MS students when this was "on paper" only. I'm retired now, so I have no dog in this fight. I felt then as I do now that we need to focus on doing what's best for kids, not what looks good on paper. Tucker teachers might want to weigh in here and tell us how much contact Tucker MS teachers and students have with the Tucker MS annex students that are "housed" at Avondale MS. How much contact do you think Arabia MS annex students will have with the Arabia Mtn. students? Will they have access to the cutting edge science and technology equipment that Arabia Mtn. has?

I do know that the Bryant Center had a classroom full of students that sat in the computer lab and were taught by DOLA teachers and called Dunwoody HS students. I knew those students. I know they were counted in the scores of Dunwoody HS. I know that Dr. Lewis needed to link them to Dunwoody HS because we had so few schools making AYP. It was a bad idea, but it satisfied NCLB.

Anonymous said...

At CMS, 200 NCLB students were received the first year the new building was opened. 100 students were placed at the Annex the second year because there was no space at CMS. The third year there was room to bring the students at the Annex back to CMS for 7th grade. Those NCLB Annex students were the 8th graders who left CMS last year.
The work rooms were used sporadically throughout the day as extra space for small classes.
The teachers and students were held to the same expectations as ohter CMS family and were given attention and support to help them succeed.
I am not sure I understand the questions about the workrooms. Teachers need spaces to make copies, have meetings, make bulletin boards. The work rooms are where all of the shared equipment is kept.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:21 pm

"Those teachers at Arabia Mountain probably love the hate the school gets on the blogs. It probably keeps them motivated to prove you all wrong."

I don't see any hate here. I see frustration from parents who feel DCSS establishes a few really top notch schools while leaving the rest to fare the best they can.

I really think Arabia is like Chamblee HS Magnet program. They have handpicked their students. They will always make AYP. But let's not pretend they serve the average community in DCSS. When Arabia Mtn. was being built, it was to relieve overcrowding in its area. There was much debate at upper levels as to should such a school with so much money invested in it be open to only the general community. In the end it was decided that the enrollment should be more selective. This is similar to Chamblee HS magnet (my daughter went to CHS magnet). Let's say the safety valve is alive and well all over DeKalb County. Involved parents are in all areas of the county. They are jockeying for good educational environments for their children.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 6:59

I think teachers should have work spaces available to them all day. I do not think teachers and students should be expected to learn in "any old space", particularly when we spend less and less on the schoolhouse and more and more on a massive bureaucracy. I have taught in closets and trailers - not a good environment for teachers or students.

BTW - I was in and out of the 2nd story work space during the day and never saw a class in there. Why should we build a new school and then have to hold classes in closets?

My point is that the annexes absolutely are not the same in opportunities for students as the schools whose name they carry. Anyone who has taught in an annex will tell you that. Yet DCSS continues to use them and now we have added massive "trailer parks".

Expediency may be great for the administrators, but it is rarely good for kids. Maybe less money spent on admin and support and more on classrooms would be a start towards solving this problem.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that the Annex is not the best way to go. The school system should find a better way to reach the students who need the extra help. At CMS a lot of effort is put into trying to help all students succeed. It does not always work but the staff does try.
However if the administraton tells a school that students are being sent that school must follow that order. The Annex staff did a good job and staff and students were eventually absorbed by CMS.
It is a hardship on the schools that are receiver schools because it distorts the numbers of students in grade levels. It takes a while for the new students to adjust (the students from the feeder schools have been together for a while). It is sometimes hard for the parents to pick up students after school if the student has an activity or detention. It is a hardship if the parent is called to come to school because of problems. This year there are no activity buses so if parents can not pick up students after school they will not be able to participate. I am not sure how much of this the incoming parents understand before they sign up for a transfer.
There should be a better way.

Anonymous said...

Only the magnet students at CHS are picked. Half of the school population is resident. Add in the NCLB transfers and the picture changes even more. However I do think that the Magnet program does raise the expectations for all of the students. There are a lot of variables that make a school successful. The blog has mentioned most of them: discipline, parent suppport, good teachers, good adminstration, students that want to learn, students, parents, and teachers who have goals for themselves.

Anonymous said...

However I do think that the Magnet program does raise the expectations for all of the students.

The test scores of the resident students do not beat that out. Do you all wonder why DCSS no longer separates the Magnet and resident scores at CCHS as they previously did?

Dunwoody Mom said...

Of course, the annexes are less than idea, but, in my view, are a better option than overcrowding already over-crowded schools.
By Federal Law DCSS has to offer transfers to students in so-called "failing" schools.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 7:54 PM

I am unaware that magnet test scores were ever reported separately from resident test scores. I was a parent at Chamblee High School from the time the first magnet students arrived through 2000. I never saw separate test scores -- even for the PSAT which determines National Merit Scholars. The only scores reported separately were scores for African-American students because their PSAT scores also made them eligible for a National Achievement Scholarship.

This is not the first time you have made this statement, as if it is factual. Please provide your documentation for making such a statement.

Anon said...

Under Johnny Brown, the scores were separated. I can't recall the situation at the middle school, but the resident students at Chamblee High had very unimpressive SAT scores. I hear all the time from parents at Chamblee.

From the Chamblee charter, you get a sense of the problem...

CCHS seeks to narrow the gap between the high achiever magnet program and the resident and charter student programs by making benefits of attending CCHS available to resident and magnet students alike to enhance the educational experience for every student. These benefits include access to the best teachers, high teacher expectations for resident and charter students and effective action to improve the low performing students. In addition, CCHS will separately measure and track results for magnet and resident/charter students for PSAT, SAT and GHSGT.

The parents of AYP students get reimbursed for transportation. Those students are not suppose to be eligible to ride any DCSS activity bus. This is a moot point now as the buses are being discontinued, but they weren't suppose to be on them anyway.

Anon said...

That is suppose to say, I hear all the time from parents at Chamblee about the two or three tier education students receive there.

Cerebration said...

The AYP issue is statewide. Problem is, most school systems only offer one or two high schools so the transfer option doesn't work. DeKalb is unique, in that we have a majority of high schools not making AYP but a few that do - creating the "mad dash" to a "better school". This is just not a good option, IMO. It only helps a select group of students who can navigate the system and get themselves across the county while creating undue stress on the receiving school, it's teachers and students.

I can't figure out why more tutoring is not available in all of these high schools. If Arabia can offer Saturday school - why can't Lithonia?

NCLB provides for tutoring as an alternative to transfers and summer school - this should be paid for with Title 1 funds. I would advocate strongly for a tutoring program to be implemented at "failing" high schools ASAP. Here's the link to the state approved tutoring vendors - parents in "failing" schools should demand that they set up a tutoring program when school begins in August (or sooner!) - There's no reason Title 1 money should be spent on "administrators" or "programs", leaving parents to pay for the tutoring which is critical to passing.

http://www.gadoe.org/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=112&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2009

This is from today's AJC -
29 percent of schools don't make 'adequate yearly progress'

The state’s high schools, which already had the worst record of the state's three classifications, fell even further behind on AYP, the chief measure of student achievement under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Nearly 67 percent of high schools didn’t make AYP in 2010, compared to 53 percent at this time last year, according to data released Monday by the Georgia Department of Education.

Anon said...

On to the issue at hand, most City of Atlanta schools did not have their AYP status released today because the CoA school system is still working on its investigation of the whole cheating scandal. When those results come in, I fully expect that CoA will have the lowest percentage of schools making AYP, so I guess we can take some solace in that. (Ok, just kidding.)

In all seriousness, when the summer retest are included later this summer, many of the schools will come off the didn't make AYP list. Of course, the same is true for other systems as well, so we will probably hold on to our bottom or nearly bottom place.

Clearly something has to change in our middle and high schools.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous, 9:28 AM

Regarding Nancy Creek School ...

I was a parent who was involved in "outing" the fraudulent demographic report. At the time I did not know that a group of Nancy Creek parents had discovered the same thing and had already gone to Crawford Lewis about it.

Horrified by what I found (the same cut-and-paste report was also used for Noble, IN schools) I met with Lewis and Debbie Loeb. Lewis professed to be shocked by what I showed him. I left a paper copy of all three reports that had all the duplications highlighted. And I left a CD with everything on it, as well.

With Lewis's concurrence, several parents took the fraudulent study to Dr. Douglas Bachtel at UGA. Dr. Bachtel is editor of The Georgia County Guide, The Georgia Municipal Guide & The Georgia Housing Guide. These publications (also available on DVD), updated annually, are comprehensive statistical fact books about all 159 of the state's counties and 534 municipalities. They are used on a daily basis across the state by governmental, business, health, and educational decision makers. Dr. Bachtel explained why the fraudulent demographic report was wrong -- in addition to the obvious cut-and-paste. He said he could re-do the study for about $15,000. He sent Lewis a copy of The Georgia Guide and the companion DVD. It was hand-delivered to Lewis's office.

Several weeks later, I found out that Nancy Creek had been to see Lewis about a month before I did. Lewis did not respond to any of my e-mails. I called and asked to pick up The New Georgia Guide and DVD. When I did, I found them unopened.

So, perhaps, Anonymous, what you are hearing is more fury than bitterness. Fury at having been cheated out of a high-performing neighborhood school by a craven liar and crook. Fury at the tit-for-tat fallacious reasoning used by DCSS to determine school closings. Fury that DCSS would not even consider housing Kittredge with Nancy Creek. Fury that none of the news media in Atlanta would run this story. Several indicated interest, then suddenly and inexplicably dropped it. Why? $100,000 is serious fraud.

Anon said...

They do offer tutoring. If you follow this link, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/nclb/ayp2009.html

you can find last year's AYP reports and then click on middle or high school.

Look at parent options, where it says SES is supplemental education services better known as tutoring.

I think lots of schools offer some version of Saturday school, but at least at one high school I am familiar with the students most in need didn't bother to come.

There is no easy answer when it comes to high schools.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:38 pm

"Only the magnet students at CHS are picked. Half of the school population is resident."

Of course I know that. My daughter went to the magnet program. But her classes were totally separate from the resident population until around 10th grade. Then all of the magnet kids went to accelerated classes and by 11th and 12th accelerated and AP classes. At the point she went to all accelerated and AP classes she had residents students in her classes. It was truly a "school within a school". It kind of goes without saying that's what a magnet program is.

Anon said...

Is DeKalb reinventing its' high schools?

Can anyone out there tell me?

What is DCSS doing to improve student outcome at the high school level? If anyone says American Choice, a pie in your face.

I understand that improvement starts at the lower levels and makes it way up, but nothing I see today indicates to me that there is a plan, any plan at all...

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:40 pm

That's because the CSS administration does not have the necessary instructional background (i.e. actually taught in classes and understand pedagogy as well as the discipline and classroom management challenges teachers face). The majority of our administrators have been more interested in their "career path". They have ascended via political connections and expected the system to pretty much run itself.

Anonymous said...

DCSS needs a complete redistricting plan. One that includes every school and makes an effort to break up these school attendance areas where children are failing in large numbers. We should be working toward eliminating every trailer being used as a classroom at every school

There is research that shows that at-risk students benefit from attending schools with middle class or upper-middle class children. A student who sees his peers reading will do so to fit in. The same thing goes for homework and behavior. Parents are more likely to get involved at school, if they see that other parents are making the effort.

Finally, some parents of at-risk children don't have the benefit of a quality education themselves. They don't know that their child is not getting the education that she is entitled to. They may know that something is wrong and not know what kind of help they should be asking for. They may complain about educational practices that actually work. If you have never been in a organized, well managed classroom, how do you know that your child is sitting in one?

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 9:14 pm

One problem with tutoring services is that the outside services DCSS uses are not responsible for test gains so there is no way of holding them responsible for a substantial amount of money we already spend and even more we could spend. How do we even know if they're doing any good for the students?

I agree with you that if we're going to be under NCLB in order to receive Title 1 funds, we need to have Title 1 teachers teaching students one on one and in small groups during the school day and after school. Test them at the beginning of the year and test them at the end of the year and expect gains when you are teaching one on one and small groups. That't the way Title 1 math and reading teachers used to work with students and be evaluated.

Anonymous said...

This question probably has a simple answer.

What happens when a student transfer to a school that Made AYP because their home school didn't make AYP. Then in a couple of years their home school makes AYP for 3 years. Are they then sent back to their home school because it now makes AYP?

Anonymous said...

Tucker Middle had an annex situation 2 years ago. The annex was at Columbia Middle for 7th grade. There was no interaction of students or teachers during the day. After that one year, they deemed it did not work and brought those students into the building for their 8th grade year. We went from 3 teams to 4 teams and becoming overcrowded.

Again I say, the county said it did not work, then WHY are they doing it AGAIN to TMS.

Anonymous said...

Tyson is just following the business as usual techniques of our former Super. It's time we ask the tough questions and if schools are failing it's time to hold the leadership accountable. What is so difficult about that?

Tyson is a part of the Central Office problem, how can we expect her to make the tough decisions? She needs to go with the rest of Clew's cabinet. We gave them a shot and they have failed miserably, why should we continue down this road of empty schools, overcrowded schools, and schools that continue to fail? Come on folks, it's time for change, enough with the talk of the annex situation and if CMS is over or under enrolled, before or after it was built. It's time to make all our schools successful!

The folks who have failed need to go whether they are White, Black, Latino or Asian. If the kids are not improving under your leadership, submit your resignation now! If not, expect to be fired. There are many good teachers who have been laid off recently all over the metro area, while friends, sorority sisters, frat brothers and family members have been saved. Why are we still talking about this?

We must overflow the public meetings and let the BOE know we are mad as hell and we are not going to take their shenanigans any longer!

Anonymous said...

I think the annex system is a great idea and certainly preferable to sending a bunch of kids to already crowded schools such as Chamblee HS, Lakeside, etc.

Of course we all know that changing the name of a few classrooms to a "failing" high school to "Chamblee High Annex" is a joke -- but so is tranferring those same kids to Chamblee or Dunwoody! Simply moving kids from school to school in hopes that a change in location will somehow make up for what may be many, many years of inadequate education makes no sense. And it is terribly disruptive to the kids who are already at the "receiving" school -- because that school becomes overcrowded, loses its neighborhood feel, creates chaos at the beginning of the school year, etc.

Keeping them at their current school but renaming it an annex is a better fix because it is less disruptive to the "receiving" school and is no less effective than busing them to the "receiving" facility. Because we all know that just moving kids to a new facility does not accomplish much of anything.

High school AYP is based on 11th graders scores on the graduation test. If you have a kid who is in 11th grade who can't read or who otherwise lacks the basic education necessary to learn the material needed to pass that test -- and you transfer that kid to Chamblee or Lakeside hoping that is going to help, you are kidding yourself! The changes need to occur in the earlier grades! That is the foundation of learning. I'm not sure there is much that can be done by even the BEST of teachers at the BEST of schools to help that kid at that point -- these teachers have lots and lots of kids to teach as it is.

It is really not fair to the receiving school to have to take on responsibility for a problem which may have been caused by years and years of inadequate education.

Real Parent said...

My kid went to a receiving high school this year and will not be returning because it has become a dumping ground. The school has a good academic reputation, but from what my kid had shared, its out of control. The administration is not use to handling discipline problems and in many cases turns a blind eye so that reputation can be maintained. This year I have opted to keep my child in our neighborhood and be a more engaged parent at our neighborhood school. Last year I felt like my child has won the lottery when he was accepted. What a difference one year can make. We really need to stop shuffling our kids all over this county and demand that the schools become better. If academic excellence can exist at one school, it can exist in all!!

Anonymous said...

@ Real Parent

I agree with you. The key to all children succeeding is parental involvement. I have many friends who have shifted their children to "successful" schools, leaving their local community schools to twist in the wind. Only parents can take back their schools and make them what they need to be for children.

Cerebration said...

And start by voting for a new board rep! I think we have some very promising candidates to vote for this November -- I hope you will all get out - bring your friends and relatives - and vote for new blood on the board!

Dunwoody Mom said...

For those in BOE District 1 - Nancy Jester will be at the Starbucks on Dunwoody Village Parkway on Wednesday, 7/21 and at the ChocoLate Coffee on Shallowford Road, Friday, 7/23. This would be a good time to meet one of the new candidates for BOE.

Be True to Your School said...

VOTE Today, Too!

I vote at Montgomery School. By 4 PM only about 500 voters -- less than 20% of registered voters -- had voted. Only a trickle all day.

Anonymous said...

@ Real Parent and @ Anonymous 1:51PM

I agree that parents who shift their children to "successful" schools leave their neighborhood schools to suffer. Typically, it is the parent who would normally be involved in their child's school who is moving. It is the parent who is vocal and involved in the community and can get things done. AND it is the student who is the high achiever that leaves the neighborhood school. So now you have a few dedicated parents and students trying to bring about changes for their school(s) but their voices are not heard because they are few in number.


I have heard some parents say that they cannot wait for the system to follow through on promises that would bring about improvements. So instead, they would rather go somewhere that already offers what their children need to be better prepared for college.

I believe that having the mandated choice schools helps to facilitate this shift from the neighborhood schools. If parents did not have that option, they would probably fight harder for improvements in their schools.

Anonymous said...

Any high school teachers out there that teach AP? I have a question for you. At my child's school, there was only one small class of a certain AP subject. They all got exactly the same dismal score on the exam. These are very bright kids. They have not been able to reach the teacher who may be out of town. The teacher has taught the class for years and generally has good results on the exam.

Do you know, off the top of your head, if they can contact College Board and ask for rescores or does the teacher need to do it?

Any suggestions? It is just very strange that all of them got the same very bad score.

Anonymous said...

My son received his AP score in the mail. I don't think I paid to get the score sent home because the AP business is a racket.

What subject was your concern?

Anonymous said...

What is considered a good score on the AP exam?

Anonymous said...

AP Scores?

For most universities and colleges, a student must have a score of 3 or better on the AP exam for college credit to be granted. Sometimes the requirement is a 4 or better.

4 is considered good; 5 is excellent.

Anonymous said...

Some argue that the AP has been diluted in an effort to promote inclusiveness (and thus increase the number of paying test takers). Many competitive universities and colleges now require a 4, instead of a 3, to grant college credit. People talk a lot about the GHSGT. They should also look at AP scores and the huge disparities between Dekalb schools there. These tests are far from perfect, but they do require serious thinking and the ability to write. Advocates of "differentiated" instruction in Dekalb argue for the use of graphic novels as effective teaching tools in AP courses. And they emphasize "experience" over "performance." Cut through the rhetoric, and you are left with the same thing: an unwillingness to address the bald fact that a huge population of children is unprepared to function effectively in the world.

Square Peg said...

To be more specific about what is considered a "good" AP score, here is Georgia Tech's transfer equivalency webpage: https://oscar.gatech.edu/pls/bprod/wwtraneq.P_TranEq_Rpt

Pick asterisk in the pulldown list to get transfer equivalencies for AP, IB, SAT2 scores, then in the next screen pick *Advanced Placement, Col Board.

The format of the actual page is puzzling, but I deduced that each heading represents the AP subject followed by the score. For example, BIOL 1 represents a score of 1 on the AP Biology exam. You get no credit for scores 1 through 4. A 5 gives credit for the Georgia Tech course BIOL 1510.

The list goes on to show AP Chemistry (need a score of 4 to get credit), AP Computer Science A (need a 4), AP Computer Science AB (which was discontinued last year by College Board), AP Macroeconomics (in DeKalb, only offered at Chamblee?), AP Microeconomics, etc. You have to use a little creativity to match AP course names with the headings on the Georgia Tech list. Looks like AP Physics B gives no credit at Tech regardless of score, but Physics C (only offered at Chamblee?) does.

My view of AP courses and exams is that if a student gets college credit, that's nice, but the most important reason to take them is to get a better foundation for college. Probably you'd be better prepared for Tech's physics classes after taking AP Physics B than having taken only regular high school physics. Also, if you're planning to apply to very selective colleges, you'll be competing with students who have taken numerous AP courses. If you get in, most of your classmates will have had that strong foundation.

Anonymous said...

AP Macroeconomics is offered at Dunwoody as well.

And yes, my experience is that many colleges are more impressed with a student actually taking AP classes than the grade that they receive on the final exam.

Square Peg said...

If you think about it, any AP scores from the senior year couldn't possibly affect college acceptance. By the time AP scores come out in mid July, they've already been admitted to college and paid their deposit.

Glad to know they have macro at Dunwoody.

Anonymous said...

I think AP classes give students a better background for college work. That's one of the main points. As for college acceptance, many students start with AP classes in 11th grade. I know my daughter took 2 APs in 11th grade and 2 APs in 12th grade. Some kids start in 10th grade with APs although I think that is awfully young unless the student is pretty extraordinary.

Anonymous said...

Gwinnett has many students taking one AP course in 9th grade, I think that there is an AP geography that isn't offered at many (any?) DeKalb schools that meets the freshman social studies requirement.

I agree that most important part of the AP process is the class itself. Research shows that what is important is the taking of the class.

That said, many kids make good use of the credits earned if they score high enough on the exam. My nephew will graduate a semester early from a very expensive private college this December. AP credits are a big part of the reason why.

A hundred years ago, when I went to college, I actually had enough credits that I started as a second semester freshman, which allowed me to register earlier than other freshmen for second semester.

Dunwoody Mom said...

I believe that in DeKalb, 9th graders can take AP Environmental Science if they took part in the STT program. I think, again I could be wrong, that 10th grade students can take 1 AP class and 11the 12th, how many they want.

Square Peg said...

The rules seem to depend on the school. DM, I also know Dunwoody students who have taken AP Environmental Science second semester of 9th grade after STT. However, my child at Chamblee was told that 9th graders were not allowed to take AP classes.

I know plenty of Chamblee and Lakeside students who have taken more than one AP class in 10th. A bunch of last year's sophomore class at Lakeside had waivered into the old math track in 9th grade by taking both geometry and algebra 2, and therefore were at the appropriate math level to take AP Computer Science in 10th. Chamblee has long had an accelerated math program, and those students could take AP Stat and AP Comp Sci in 10th. A number of magnet students also take AP World History to meet their 10th grade social studies requirement and (I think, am not sure) AP German because of the head start on German offered at Kittredge.

Just because a Chamblee student might be permitted to take 4 or more AP classes in 10th grade doesn't mean it's necessarily wise; each student should do what is right for him or her. My Chamblee kid didn't take the max. But I like to see schools allowing students to do as much as they feel ready for, rather than holding them down.

Dunwoody Mom said...

But I like to see schools allowing students to do as much as they feel ready for, rather than holding them down

I agree. With the competitive nature of college entrance requierments these days, I think it important that these type of opportunites are available.

Anonymous said...

I am really confused North Dekalb but believe me it has become overwhelmingly clear, I get it. Let them go back to their schools. "So what if its failing, FiX it, that is there problem." Don't bother us and inconvience us." After all, "we" pay all of the taxes that run this system, they better do what we say. We are educated, relentless, and our power in this county will prevail. I get it. I really do, but when I present problems to the solution as not only a parent, educator, and BELIVE IT OR NOT TAXPAYER AND HOMEOWNER in South Dekalb that are in regular discussions with moral, hardworking parents that as one of your bloggers put it, "Live in a suburban slum" it is not expounded on or quickly dismissed. So I will repeat once again. You say consolidate poorly attended neighborhood schools. Okay, I agree. Wadsworth's academic achievements were barely celebrated the first year that it opened for its academic accomplishments. This school, I would imagine, according to what I am hearing and reading should have been a God sent to you but there are no viable choices for Middle and High School and please the person that tells me don't they have a small magnet populations in Columbia Mid and SW Dekalb? You are obviously not a homewner in South Dekalb that has been the unwelcomed recipient of "gentrification." Let me explain something North Dekalb, We both need to seek the same means to achieve our different ends. You want your kids not to be subjected to overcrowding. Fine, I understand that. I want my kids to be in schools where the teacher can teach more than discipline and have like-minded peers with middle-class values. You see, contrary to what you believe but may not say. I am not lazy nor do I expect a handout. I have been working everyday of my life since I was fifteen years old. I worked my way through college and am currently working full time,raising a family and going for a Master's degree and I am determined to expose my child to the best opportunities and advantages I can give. JUST LIKE YOU. I am passionate and extremely determined and their education is one of my relentless passions. So if you give us more WADSWORTH options without a luck of the draw for Middle and High School both of our problems would be solved. With that being said, don't be naive. I know you have worked hard to protect your child from unpleasant people and circumstances but we cannot forget the kids that have parents that don't share our values. I repeat, THIS IS NOT AN EDUCATION ISSUE< THIS IS A SOCIAL ISSUE THAT INVOLVES THE CHANGING OF MENTALITIES. You must support social programs in those schools after they are consolidated and we have viable quality choices in South Dekalb or unless you dare not be around "those people" volunteer yourself to create change. If not from a human compassion point of view, how about from a practical one. If you can help change the negative mindset of one child that reduces the risk that you or someone you love will meet them at the end of a gun. You don't livc in a bubble, as much as you may want to Believe me, I wish I had one. This message was for those interested in a real solution and not for those looking through eyes of hate and disdain.

Cerebration said...

I don't really know what to say to that Anon, except that most everyone on this blog is advocating for a quality education for each child in every school. The idea that transferring to some other school perceived as somehow "better" causes nothing but strain on everyone and consequently leaves plenty of children in the original school "behind"...

Some of your perceptions of what you imagine we in north DeKalb think about south DeKalb need a serious shake-up. You may have drunk too much of Dr Walker's race-baited Kool-Aid. Nobody on this blog wants resegregation. We all want what's best for every single child in the system. Choose to believe it or choose not to.

Anonymous said...

I respect your view celebration and please notice that I avoided generalizations of any group of people and I especially avoid the use of explosive attack comments of "race-baiting kool aid" I am very glad that you sincerely seek the betterment of every child. I still feel that my suggestion is a good one and by the way would solve the overcrowding problem that you seek.
I am more of an independant thinker than you could ever imagine and I observe things and listen to draw my own conclusions. You may be surprised to know that I am more of fan of what Redovian has stood for on the board than Walker which is another misconception but I digress.

Anonymous said...

Anon, since I live in North Dekalb, I am trying to listen. I hear 3 points in your post. One is that South Dekalb parents need choice schools such as Wadsworth at the middle and high school level so students can learn in classrooms with like-minded peers who have middle-class values. The second is that it is necessary to work to create change among the students who don't have middle-class values. The third is that you are tired of the attitude of North Dekalb parents who don't want transfers to "their" schools. You did not say a word about race. Please set me straight if I misunderstood you.

I would like to hear more about your experiences and your suggestions for creating change.

My perception from volunteering at the neighborhood elementary with students at risk of failing the CRCT is that even they generally have families with a positive mindset, so I think we do live in a bit of a bubble. Not a racial or economic bubble, but an expectations bubble.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:29

"I understand that. I want my kids to be in schools where the teacher can teach more than discipline and have like-minded peers with middle-class values."

Parents all over DeKalb want their children in safe, clean reasonably sized classrooms with a competent teacher and access to cutting edge science and technology equipment. Give our students that, and what you want will follow even if all of the students in the classroom don't have those "middle class" values you and your family have.

I understand the desire to have social programs, but having a top quality teachers with a reasonable classroom size and a safe and clean environment will do more for the education of all students including your children. That's the way you do it - there is no magic bullet. It takes hard work on the part of teachers - those people who spend all day with your children.

Great teachers will want to COME to DeKalb and STAY in DeKalb (we've lost too many of them and continue to lose them and don't seem to care) if we have schools with classrooms like the one described above.

Parents all over DeKalb are asking so very little of our BOE and administration. Parents need to be at EVERY BOE meeting asking why our classrooms are so overcrowded and undisciplined and under performing. I don't think we can lay all of the blame at the feet of parents that aren't "middle class".

DCSS has a billion dollar budget pr 2010-11. We spend over $10,000 per pupil. We spend less than $430,000,000 on teachers salaries and benefits (considerably less next year since additional teacher positions will be eliminated) . So where is the other $570,000,000 going? Not into safe, clean schools with loads of science and technology. Not into additional teaching staff to make sure our children are not crammed like sardines into classrooms.

South DeKalb as well as North DeKalb parents pay lots of taxes and are passionate about their child's education. And in case you don't know, there are many parents who are not "middle class" who want the same opportunities for their children. Public education is for all students - not just those whose parents pay the highest taxes or even hold jobs.

What we have now is totally unsustainable. It is a patchwork plan and a shell game that leaves parents "on their own" to try to scramble from year to year to obtain a good education for their child. When this patchwork plan bursts at the seams in one area, the DCSS leadership patch it up and it careens into another area. A good education should not be based on the "luck of the draw". Until we have some topnotch leadership at the top of DCSS, parents will continue to scramble and scrape for their kids ALL OVER DeKalb.

Source for teacher figures:
DOE website and Ms. Tyson estimated expenditure salary and benefits per DCSS teacher http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2009

Anonymous said...

I want to speak to the last anon. I am the originator of the "middle-class" value quote and I want to say that I chose that term for the lack of a better term and I apologize. I agree with you. I can tell you that one's economic status has nothing to do with their value system. I am who I am today because of women and men who had no higher than an eighth grade education and lived in a shack but if they were judged on character, morals, and pride were the richest men and women alive and there are certainly those who have more who lack all of the above so please don't obsess on my lack of a better word. It is very hard to define middle-class these days anyway because so many of us are struggling. I respect the values of anyone who works hard to provide for their families and values the education of their children but please be clear I detest laziness, trifleness, and people who are not raising their kids properly but I agree with everything you said
Many Blessings.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:21
You are exactly the kind of North Dekalb resident that I was hoping would read my blog and that is one that would have an open discussion about real solutions. I don't claim to have all the answers. I am a passionate mother as well as an educator of about a decade. I have the unique privilege of working in the worst inner city school and trying to make an impact when the best teachers in the world were brought in and couldn't last a month. Like the last anon said in so many words to impact change it is not a one trick pony. I agree with you, some teachers have low expectations. I remember one of my goals when working in those environments was to help it be the place where I would want my child to attend and that had nothing to do with the families economic standing and I am happy to say that I was apart of a significant turn around in one such school and as the last anon said it took a lot of long hours and hard work. But excuse me if I put my parent's hat on sometimes and am emotional with my sons defying the odds stacked against them for so many reasons according to statistics.
thankyou again Madame or Sir for your response to my comment. Your sincerity and heart are evident.

Anonymous said...

I am very confused about the comment that there are no middle or high schools for Wadsworth elementary students. Don't Wadsworth magnet students automatically feed to a magnet middle school program and then to the high achiever magnet program at SW DeKalb?

Anonymous said...

I believe that Chapel Hill Middle Magnet and SWD HS Magnet program are the subsequent magnet programs for Wadsworth ES. Aren't Wadsworth Magnet students guaranteed a seat in these magnet programs if they keep an adequate GPA?

Anonymous said...

I am confused by these remarks as well. I know many parents who are very satisfied with the magnet programs at Chapel Hill and SWD.

What I really think has happened in DeKalb for the last 20 years is that motivated parents like yourself have been encouraged to make a choice. In fact, when Dr. Lewis was proposing all those additional school choice programs a few years back, I never thought it was meant to serve all children equally. Rather, I believe that Dr. Lewis was heavily motivated to offer choice to S. DeKalb middle class parents.

Why fix the schools when you can give parents another option? This was always Frances Edwards strategy as well.

Dr. Lewis had no vision to turn around the worst schools. In fact, at the meetings about restructuring McNair Middle, he argued that there was no difference in the students or the community from say Tucker Middle. The teachers showed him statistics about crime, health concerns and poverty in their community, but he just turned his head and left.

All children can learn, but they don't all learn the same way and they don't all have the same needs.

Anonymous said...

Also, I want to say that I don't blame parents for making a legitimate choice (I do have problems with administrative transfers) like magnet, theme, AYP etc.

I blame Dr. Lewis and Dr. Halford, before him, for doing nothing to try and turn around the schools.

Cerebration said...

Regarding the choices for schools in south DeKalb - Please read the article posted here called
North vs Central vs South - what's the deal?

In it, you will see that South DeKalb is chock full of magnet, choice and theme schools - in fact there are far more in the south end of the county than the north. Here's a listing -

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.)

These are elementary schools only. You also have Champion Middle Theme School, Chapel Hill MS, SW DeKalb Magnet for High Achievers and Arabia Mtn Choice High School for science and the environment.

This exodus from neighborhood schools to "choice" schools in the same area of DeKalb has caused the original neighborhood schools to become severely under-populated. Consolidation must occur. I would hope that the consolidation would bring more money for music and art as well as Title 1 funding for support teachers in math, science and reading. Discipline and uniforms could be a good addition to help turnaround the newly consolidated neighborhood schools.

Anonymous said...

SWD is struggling. Discipline is a real issue. Ditto for instructional standards and level. Arabia may very well end up taking the magnet program from SWD, because its overall environment is so much better. It is interesting to see how Arabia has been set up as an "elite" school in the south. By controlling the admissions process and actually enforcing rules, Arabia is able to do what no other high school in the south can. Of course, it would look very bad for the system if discipline and rules were enforced consequentially in schools in the south.

Anonymous said...

. By controlling the admissions process and actually enforcing rules, Arabia is able to do what no other high school in the south can.

This is true of all other high schools in DeKalb, not just in the South. Most high schools struggle with school climate issues, some obviously more than others and some have community issues that are far more challenging than others, but there isn't a high school in DeKalb, that has open admissions, that doesn't struggle with discipline. This includes Chamblee and SWD as they only pick a small part of their populations.

Anonymous said...

I want to add that discipline is a problem at most public high schools that don't select their students everywhere not just DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Let's define discipline..... My conception of discipline is very basic. Most teachers would be very happy with "basic politeness" which would include a minimum respect for adults.... In other words, if the students had ALREADY acquired this politeness, teaching would be simple.

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