Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Oh boy, this could get ugly

Yikes. This evening's online AJC is reporting that SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools) has officially put DeKalb on notice. In the article just released, Megan Matteucci reports that DeKalb schools must respond to questions from accreditation group.

Visit the link to read the list.  I have a raised eyebrow over this list.  It seems that SACS is gunning for our board's inability to properly manage our school system. All of the questions seem to highlight board policies such as closed meetings, hiring and firing procedures, bidding and awards procedures and preventing policy breakdown with checks and balances.  To quote:

A national schools group has ordered the troubled DeKalb County system to provide evidence that it is in compliance with accreditation standards.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained a letter the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools sent the DeKalb school system.

The group ordered DeKalb to respond to seven questions by the end of August. That information will be used to determine if a full-scale investigation is needed, said Mark A. Elgart, SACS president and chief executive officer.
This interaction with Chair Tom Bowen is confusing:

“The SACS inquiry letter is not connected to any possible loss of accreditation,” he said. “The inquiry letter seeks to get additional information from the district on whether the appropriate policies exist and were followed in response to a number of issues. ... Although SACS has the power to take away a system's accreditation, its primary function is to improve DeKalb and all systems it accredits.”

Bowen said the district is cooperating and pledged to be transparent, despite the school system refusing to release SACS’ letter to the AJC.
And in even further testament to the new level of "transparency":

Board members Sarah Copelin-Wood and Eugene Walker said they had not had a chance to read SACS’ letter. Cunningham, H. Paul Womack and Don McChesney declined to comment. Board members Zepora Roberts, Pamela Speaks, and Jim Redovian could not be reached for comment.

Excuse me! Wood and Walker hadn't had a chance to read the letter from SACS?!!  I think I'd put my Twinkie down and take a minute to read something this important.

I'm starting to think we're on the Titanic and our board is rearranging the deck chairs. Please, voters, vote them out in November.

===

On another note - (addressing comments on this thread) - yes, the new public school charter, Leadership Prep Academy will be paying over $122,000 in rent to New Birth Church for use of the "West Wing". Below is a photo of the letter to Melvin Johnson of New Birth (Melvin is also on the boards of the Leadership Academy and the private Christian school also located in the church building). Click on it to print it or view a larger version.

115 comments:

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the new Clayton County. I'm so sick of playing school in this place. Reeeee-diculous. As far as I'm concerned, all of those outside of the schools should be replaced.

Anonymous said...

Woods and Walker also may be part of the problem with the SAC review. This may be the reason the letter is not being released. How about transparency? They are so full of bull with their transparency comments.

Why have Woods and Walker not read the SAC letter? It would appear the other ones are well aware of what is happening.

We do need to replace some school board members. However, SAC may do it for us.

Anonymous said...

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained a letter the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools sent the DeKalb school system.

Why did Tom Bowen not want to release it to the public?

For those of you who keep calling for the Board to fire this person and that person, be sure to pay attention to the following question:

Description of the checks and balances to make sure the board is following hiring and firing policies.

If the policy says the Superintendent hires and fires, then that is what has to happen.

Anonymous said...

I hope that SACS comes in, so that we can have a new school board. Real change will not happen in DCSS until the current school board members are out and new ones who put the children above all else are put into place.

Anonymous said...

You really need to email your BOE members and then post their responses. Great for an election year. Email is forever.

Anonymous said...

SACS requested DeKalb provide:

• Policies and procedures for effective management, including hiring, whistle-blowers, nepotism and conflicts of interest.

• Information on staff and school board training. (a waste)

• Information on the board’s role in fiscal oversight and monitoring the district, along with how the board uses closed meetings and how members avoid micromanaging.
(let the administration manage TO THEIR OWN BENEFIT as they have been doing)
• Description of the checks and balances to make sure the board is following hiring and firing policies.
(No more church members and sorority sisters, sure that will happen)
• Information on how the board follows procurement procedures and awards bids to avoid conflicts of interest.

• How the district enforces policies and prevents breakdowns in checks and balances.

• Information on the superintendent search. The board terminated its superintendent in May.

Chairman Tom Bowen said the DeKalb board will discuss its response to SACS and the superintendent search on Friday.buried study.


Nothing at all about a bloated self dealing administration that is substantially overpaid according to a buried study.

Some whitewash will be applied. But nothing will change unless the State takes over and cleans out the BOC and the administration.

Anonymous said...

"Ugly"?

Sunshine can be beautiful

Anonymous said...

Yo, SACS, look here at Dr. "Chief Learning Officer" Beasley's diktat that all DCSS instruction should be based on Dr. Howard Gardner's "Multiple Intelligences" theory from the mid-1980's. Wow----back to the future with this patent bunk!! Pure smoke!!

"Gardner has made a point of writing that everything ought not be taught seven or eight different ways; and many schools find ways of integrating the MI philosophy without being so literal-minded about it. Nevertheless, the question this and similar descriptions raises is: Have many students been failing to learn about photosynthesis, or fractions, or American history, because they happen not to have the mix of intelligences suited to the traditional text-oriented curriculum? If this were true, one would have to imagine that the Asian and European students who regularly out-perform Americans were benefiting from a more personalized form of pedagogy—which, of course, they are not. The educational system both in Taiwan and France, for example, is determinedly knowledge-centered, and is unambiguous about the primacy of logic and language."
http://www.dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=3016

Anonymous said...

If Dunwoody can get it together to incorporate, surely they can get it together to vote Redovian out. The only person I can vote against in my neighborhood is Walker. You better believe I'm going door to door to get my neighbors out to vote against Walker. This has got to be the world's worst BOE. The ones not up for re-election should resign.

This mess has been caused by them. If we re-elect them, it will be caused by us.

Anonymous said...

So, who is going to go the meeting on Friday and report back for us on what happens and what is said.

Along with the SACs report, they are suppose to talk about the Superintendent Search. Lots of potential information there, unfortunately I can't do.

I hope someone can and that you take great notes and report back!

Anonymous said...

Two points... 1. Does anybody really think this board will answer these questions honestly?? Especially concerning nepotism. 2. Dr. Beasley is now requiring every teacher in Dekalb send their lesson plans to him and his office. How many teacher plans would this be per week???? Is someone there going to check to see if they are being followed? No, but the people who do the right thing now have to work even harder because of those that don't. I am so embarassed to say I work in dekalb. However I do love my job and my school. Thank goodness...

Anonymous said...

Welcome...Back Teachers. Welcome to more, more, more, more, more paperwork. Now you get to focus on how much paperwork as in lesson plans (at least 6 pages for each week), reports, data driven, turn this in, send your lesson plans to the county office, paperwork, paperwork, paperwork...Welcome Back. Oh, and if you have time from the paperwork...address the students needs. R they truly serious?

Anonymous said...

This mess was put in place by a previous board who appointed Dr. Lewis as Superintendent. I am certainly not defending the current board, but only Copelin-Woods and Roberts were on the Board when he was hired.

Then he hired Pope. Parents raised concerns back then with Dr. Lewis and the Board of Ed then (again only overlap Copelin-Woods and Roberts) about Vincent Pope and those concerns were brushed off.

In terms of governance, in DeKalb, there is absolutely no guarantee that it will get better. It very well could get worse. We have seen it on the County commission, in our DeKalb Legislative Delegation and on the Board of Ed.

Anonymous said...

The light of day is only ugly if you're a slug or a cockroach.

Anonymous said...

Is there anything stopping the owners and regular posters on this blog from sending a "friend of the board" package of information to SACS? I don't believe for a red hot second that the DeKalb BOE is going to answer these questions honestly.

A community POV perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Beasley needs to get out of his office and out of his expensive chair and see what is happening in our failing schools. Mandating that teachers send him their lesson plans, doesn't do a darn thing to improve instruction. Focusing on Gardner and his ideas is also not going to help our children.

We need to require mastery of concepts from our children before moving them ahead, cutting out the no zero policy, stop the multiple times to complete an assignment, start giving the children the grades that they have earned, and requiring their work to be done on time.

We aren't talking rocket science here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

It's hard to believe that not one parent has complained to the superintendent and/or their BOE members about excessive paperwork for teachers taking instructional time from their children. Has anyone bothered to email the BOE members about the excessive paperwork teachers are being required to do because the Central Office is in a mess. You would think this mess is the teachers and students fault.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced Anon 11:19 that no one really cares about the children and the quality of education that they receive. If a teacher speaks up about it, they are labeled a trouble maker. Same goes for parents.

I wish that their was a way to blow the whistle on what truly happens in DCSS. People from out of the area don't believe it and those in the area simply aren't willing to fight for other people's children-they don't realize what happens at other schools will affect their children through transfers and bringing the entire system down.

Anonymous said...

i believe we are losing many people who would come to DeKalb but don't because of the school system.

Dunwoody Mom said...

So, I have to ask how much "sway" does a SACS accredidation have? I have a co-worker whose daughter attended Jonesboro HS in Clayton County while they were on probation and she was accepted to Duke University....

Anonymous said...

I think SACs has a pretty high standard for evidence. I think a packet of unsubstantiated innuendos and accusations will be quickly disregarded.

SACs generally goes after the provable. For example, in Clayton, the football coach that was fired at the Board Member's insistence. Lots of documentation there.

Within the last 3 years, with tremendous fanfare, SACs accredited DCSS. This should have meant that they read and reviewed every policy etc. If there were inadequacies, the SACs audit team should have picked them up.

I think the situation in DeKalb has shown that no matter how many ways you can predict bad behavior, there is always someone who will find a way to surprise you. The policies are clearly inadequate and the Board already started revising them.

Anon said...

I think Colleges and Universities are smarter than the media gave them credit for and understand the accreditation challenge for a short term situation.

My understanding is that while Clayton's property values were already falling, the loss of accreditation was extremely damaging. Smart people that I have spoken to believe that the damage to DeKalb's property values would be far greater than just limping along with our current situation.

WE NEED A NEW INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT.

I would like to see the process of policy revision expedited. I would like to see changes made in the central office staffing. WE NEED A TURN AROUND EXPERT WHO CAN LEAD US THROUGH THIS PHASE.

Then and only then will we be able to attract the best and the brightest for the next superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Without a SACS accredited diploma your kids will NOT get Hope scholarships. Is this correct? If it is, then we need to make sure the questions are answered honestly.

This BOE are spineless and afraid of their own shadows. I watched the BOE meeting last night and it was an embarrassment. Not only do these people not get it but they think we're not paying attention. Also, the lighting was awful, you think after spending 35K for lights we could have an employee who knew how to aim them.

I'm glad they have a larger space and we need to fill every seat at every meeting, we need to hold these morons accountable. I apologize for the name calling but they are truly living up to that name.

Tyson could win some brownie points by placing the last audit, hidden by Lewis, back out into the sunshine. The fact that the Central Office remains mostly intact while laying off para pros is an absolute joke.

Philandra Guilroy, who runs PDS24, is paid over 120k to run a cable access channel only seen in DeKalb, while a production manager at a local TV station like Fox 5 is paid 75K. Something is wrong here folks. I know Philandrea is the daughter of Francis Edwards, a former BOE member, how is she able to keep this job? Nepotism runs rampant through our system and it was just as bad under past administrations.

It's time to clean house and this SACS warning is very telling. Our property values are at stake here.

Good Grief, it's been 6 months and still nothing has changed except we have a new Education person who also a pastor at a church and does consulting work on the side. You can't tell me there was no one else available to apply for the second most important job at DCSS, besides the Super's job.

Do these people think we are not watching? For Friday's meeting we need signs that asks Beasley to release his transcripts and dissertation or he should resign. What is this guy trying to hide? The taxpayers have every right to know this guys credentials to be in charge of the curriculum our kids are going to learn from.

Also, no more secret meetings! Whether it's about personnel or not, it's time all meetings are in the open, how are we to know what these guys are talking about? Are they really talking about an employee or about how to pull the wool over the taxpayers eyes?

Transparency must be demanded! Tyson do us all a favor and resign. Moseley, take your black book of fraudulent numbers and resign. Thompson and Mitchell what is it that you two do? Ransey, you've been a waste of our money time and money.

What's with these "leaders" they have shown time and time again that they have no idea how to lead and make the tough decisions that WE the taxpayers expect?

Anonymous said...

Without a SACS accredited diploma your kids will NOT get Hope scholarships. Is this correct?

I believe the actual high school not the school system, has to be accredited. Also, if accreditation is within 2 years.

Anonymous said...

In the Clayton situation, the Governor was able to fix that issue. I am sure that the same would be done for DeKalb.

Personnel hearings can't be done in public. People have due process rights.

Our demands need to be reasonable and based on best governance practices.

Anonymous said...

Thompson and Michell have always done a great deal for the past superintendent. He needed their support in dealing with day to day operations.

I think the school board may have knew this was coming and this maybe why the superintendent's trial is put off. The school system needs the trial to be put off right now for the school system. The school system have a vested interested in the outcome of Dr. Lewis' trial. He needs to be found not guilty for the school system's sake. The school system also have a great deal of money invested in his legal defense. Many on the board are still have relationships with Dr. Walker. The school board will benefit from Dr. Lewis being found not guilty.

Anonymous said...

I said it in a previous blog on yesterday but it bares repeating again today....So here goes.....DCSS needs to take a laxative followed up by a colonoscopy to remove all the pollops that seems to be causing the DCSS from operating smoothly (e.a. the entire BOE, current cabinent, all the family members hired since the CLewis Admin and those Grandfathered in by previous BOE members and previous Cabinent, Superintendents) this may leave DCSS with only 1000 employees out of 16,000 reported in the ajc on Monday...you see where I am going with this.......

Cerebration said...

Hopefully, guilt or innocence will be determined by the evidence - not what is "best" for the school system.

Additionally, if Lewis and Pope are found guilty, we may as well drop the Heery Mitchell suit. They are our "star" witnesses.

Waddamess.

Anonymous said...

This is happening because the current BOE failed to perform their duties. They had an obligation to followup on information that was pretty much gift wrapped to them months over a year ago but did nothing. They were being informed of the misdeeds of the three stooges on DCSS payroll (Lewis, Pope,Moody). All of the emails and documents emailed to the BOE were also sent to SACS and anyone else who would listen. In fact, this information made the case the DA was building on the three stooges a lot easier because they actually had witnesses and hard core proof from emails between CLewis, Pope/ Jamie Wilson and even Romona Tyson wss included on a few of those coorespondences. SACS knows a lot more than they are letting on and this BOE can sit back and play dumbu if they want but if the 5 that are up for re-election are re-elected sad to say but DCSS will become the next Clayton and be taken over by the State, which wouldn't be bad to have some oversight but at what cost will this effect the students who have done the right thing and the leaders have stood by and did absolutely nothing. CLewis piece should be pulled from this blog becuase he disgust me and I'm sure all the other parents, workers, parents, citizens of Dekalb, etc with his peddling his innocence as if he is the victim in all of this caios. The BOE should be indicted with the three stooges since they behaved inappropriate by receiving kickbacks in the form of (new schools in thier district, family getting the highest salaries/keeping their jobs during layoffs/receiving jobs in areas that were laid off/rubber stamping every change order the three stooges placed in front of them).
The madness must stop and Tom Bowen go home and prepare a better response to the press...where isi the new spokesperson for DCSS you need one with some brains to prepare and settle the infuriated parents/taxpayers down. The new logo does nothing to motivate and educate the students in DCSS. Find yet another way to waste tax payers dollars, the BOE and DCSS Cabinent don't have an image problem they are the problem!!!

Anonymous said...

The DCSS BOE should not be in communication with CLewis or any other parties indicted on charges...in fact those cabinent members should be on administrative leave until after this trial is over to get the day to day operations on task. They are a huge oart of this problem because they were the gate keepers of finance and human resources. How can they lead effectively when they could be implicated themselves if their story doesn't hold up against the defense team Pope has. She has a sharp attorney and will not hesitiate to go fro the juggular if needed and to save her client she will be coming hard and going in deep, so they should be preparing themselves accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Let us look at the July school board meeting.

One charter school was turned down because its paperwork was not complete. Another charter school was given money for a year because of connections (old employee and connections of the Dekalb County School System)and this charter school still does not have its paperwork done for its charter. What is the school system going to do in this case. They set up bench-marks to help this charter get its paperwork done this school year. One charter school got turned down because they did not have their paperwork complete. Another one got put through and is getting helped when we already have duplicate services and our school system does not have this kind of money.

Explain this to me. It is nepotism, church politics, and politics as normal on the Dekalb County School Board. You scratch my back and I will scratch yours for political favors. The school board or system did not even follow their own policies or state policies on this one. Why??????? Let us treat everyone the same in Dekalb County regardless of what church you attend.

Cerebration said...

I will state an opinion - it's church politics.

Have a look at some of the donations given out by the Bishop Eddie Long over the past 6-7 years. Why on earth would a Christian minister have such a high interest in politics? Well, seems now, that same minister's church will be receiving about $125,000 a year in rent for a DCSS charter school being placed in their facility. There is already a private school in the church - let's follow along and see if the private school eventually dissolves, allowing the public school to flourish in it's place - absorbing the private students. It's a slippery slope - allowing the strong possibility of co-mingling of funds.

Donations from Eddie Long - to 2007 -

Hillary Clinton $1000
Kweisi Mfume $2100
Denise Majette $2000
Maxine Waters $1000
Donzella James $1000
Max Cleland $1000
Steve Forbes $50
Sunny Warren $1000
Alan Keyes $1000
Gene Walker $500

More recently, in Walker’s campaign contribution form labeled, 15days08, Bishop Eddie Long donated $2,000 to Walker's campaign.

And Vernon Jones is in the mix –
http://www.crossroadsnews.com/view/full_story/1442238/article-CEO-fined-for-campaign-violations

On his July 8, 2004 campaign disclosure report, Jones documented $16,000 for an Aug. 10 primary runoff and $9,000 for a general election he did not have, since he won the primary outright. Among the contributors making excessive contributions were Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, GTT Inc., Tarpon Development, and Wilmot Williams, who each gave Jones $5,000 contributions split over primary, primary runoff and general elections. A company co-owned by Bishop Wiley Jackson of Gospel Tabernacle Church and Jackson's brother, Rodney B. Jackson, also gave $5,000 apiece.

Georgia law caps campaign contributions at $2,000 per race and $1,000 per runoff election.

And most recently as reported in the AJC -
From AJC July 9, 2010
http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/candidates-tap-familiar-sources-567756.html

Barnes, meanwhile, tapped several unions in Georgia and Washington, D.C., for at least $22,000 during the quarter. He also received $5,000 from Bishop Eddie Long, the influential pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow, back in the fray.
Which church is the one that gets the mention for the friends n family plan? Is it New Birth?
Inquiring minds want to know.
I'd also be interested to know if Ms. Alexander, of legal team fame might be a parishioner at the approved church.
Since many mega churches (Creflo Dollar's in particular) have automatic tithing, it's in their interest (literally) to have
church members who pull down mega bucks.
Most churches have membership directories. Would be interested how many DCSS employees cracking 100K yearly at the front office appear in a directory of an automatic tithing church congregation.

Anonymous said...

You hit it on the head. However, I was shocked to see Womack in the mix of this situation. This must mean that our new school superintendent must have wanted the support of Eddie Long as Womack and him are allies. The school superintendent came out as not having enough signatures a day or two later to enter the race. Again, you scratch my back and I will scratch yours. Politics as normal. This is horrible for our children. That is why the school board race is not suppose to be connected to a party. However, I can tell you who is a Dem. and who is a Rep. on the board.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow freshly returned from some googling.
Cere's mention of Rev. Wiley Jackson made me do a wordsearch.
Whoooeee!
www.independentconservative.com/2008/04/09 wiley/-jackson

Read what some former church members have to say about Wiley...
and Eddie....... and Creflo.
(Read what's said first. I know there's a few posters that will automatically discount this because the website has the word
"conservative" in it's title).

Anonymous said...

If you are concerned now about the DCSS charter school run by the infamous Frankie Calloway opening in New Birth Church, go take a look at this page for Morcease Beasley's church: http://spiritoffaithministries.org/our_vision

Beasley plans to open Christian Schools of Excellence and the e-mail address he uses is cloingeorgia@aol.com. The "clo" stands for Chief Learning Officer. Beasley uses that term everywhere he goes. Now he is proclaiming he is the Chief Learning Officer in Georgia.

BTW -- how is Calloway getting away with having DCSS pay rent to New Birth? The state legislature passed a law stating that school systems had to make unused facilities available to charter schools. DCSS has plenty of unused facilities. If Calloway wants to pay rent to New Birth, that is her choice, but it should come from private donations. DCSS is obligated only to pay Calloway per-pupil funds for the students in her school -- and that count is verified twice a year. If the count drops during the second verification, Calloway is obligated to return those excess funds to DCSS.

Anonymous said...

How come the democrats and the ACLU screamed when Bush had his faith based initiatives in the works? Yet, a church can house a public school using public funds inside that church? Isn't this an issue for the crowd that screams there must be a separation between church and state?

I guess when it involves a church, whose members are mostly a minority, it's okay and everyone looks the other way. What would happen if Wesleyan, St. Pius, Marist or Atlanta Christian housed a public charter school?

This smells really bad if you ask me and I guess Bishop Eddie Long will have to open up his books for all the world to see, right? Okay, I know that will never happen, but I think transparency would be good for this one. Where does Tyson attend church? I'm just sayin.........

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, when you speak about personnel issues being private, I agree to a point. When it involves ripping off the taxpayers the more public it is the better.

Right now, we have no idea what was discussed in those meetings involving Clew or Pope. However, we need for the former cabinet to step aside while this trial moves forward. How will these people be able to do their job while having to deal with the trial? Plus, I guess we'll be paying more attorney's fees while these folks lawyer up.

We need this trial to move as soon as possible, the judge needs to get moving on this or DCSS will remain in limbo and we'll never be able to move forward. I guess we'll never be able to move forward until the cancers like Tyson, Turk, Moooseley, Thompson, Mitchell, Ramsey, Beasely and the rest are removed.

Anonymous said...

What has taken so long?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:18 PM

"What has taken so long?"

Could you be more specific, please? There are a lot of moving parts here.

fedupindcss said...

My issue with the New Birth situation is less about it being a church, and more about it being a vector for nepotism/cronyism in hiring and contracts in DCSS. And let's not forget the exceedingly odd situation when Dr. Lewis closed Dekalb schools when Coretta King died (not to honor her, but to provide school buses for transport to New Birth).

As for SACS, I don't see them doing anything. They have come under a lot of criticism lately (including here) for not going after DCSS but pulling certs on small, rural systems. I think they released that letter as a CYA to keep up their own reputation.

On another note, glad to see "Premier" out of the school system logo. Bad grammar, worse truth in advertising. No, Dr. Lewis, if you say it, it won't automatically happen.

Anonymous said...

Talk about running day-to-day operations which the school is not suppose to do.

Womack discusses reading documents written by teachers on a regular basis. As a school board member I do not believe this is part of his job description as a school board member. He admits from his seat he is doing things he should not be doing and is blunt about it. Ms. Roberts demands the staff does something from her seat. Just this last school board meeting they tell on themselves that they micro-manage the school system. It is time SACS steps in before it is too late for our school system.

Thank you SACS.

Anonymous said...

The organization chart shows the Internal Auditor as a direct report to the Board of Ed.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/organizational-chart.pdf

Anonymous said...

I don’t think Dr. Beasley’s church in Covington exists in anything but the spiritual form. It appears to be more of an Internet business with multiple locations.
http://www.veromi.com/BusinessDetailPg000012625.aspx (do a find for Spirit of Faith Ministries, Inc.)

Dr. Beasely has published many articles on his Christian faith that are downloadable from the Internet.

See his document called Church of the Last Days.
spiritoffaithministries.org/Thechurchofthelastdays.doc

Here’s one on immorality:
spiritoffaithministries.org/TheChurchsChoice.doc

On conversion:
spiritoffaithministries.org/TheChurchsCommission.doc

On destiny:
spiritoffaithministries.org/TheChurchHasAGreatDestiny.doc

Prophetic times:
spiritoffaithministries.org/TheChurchWillReignonEarth.doc

On Thanksgiving:
spiritoffaithministries.org/ALessoninThanksgiving.doc

I don’t think there is any policy precluding DCSS employees from owning a business or even disclosing the names of the businesses. Many employees probably own businesses. As long a they’re not selling to the school system, it seems pretty benign.

Anonymous said...

The organization chart shows the Internal Auditor as a direct report to the Board of Ed.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/organizational-chart.pdf

That's a change and an welcome improvement. The last organizational chart showed the Director of Internal Audits reporting directly to the superintendent and indirectly to the Board. Of course, there is still no name on the chart.

Anonymous said...

Look at the difference in the old and new organizational charts:

Old:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/organization/files/6966EB6514D34006A52BA160C9AA062E.pdf

New:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/files/organizational-chart.pdf

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:29 PM

It is apparent our students are not meeting AYP the way we are teaching them. We have got to change the way we do things in the DeKalb County School System. It is not working.

We must make learning fun. We must work with students instead of lecturing at them. Students learn in different ways and material must be presented in different ways for all children to learn.

Anonymous said...

They were being informed of the misdeeds of the three stooges on DCSS payroll (Lewis, Pope,Moody). All of the emails and documents emailed to the BOE were also sent to SACS and anyone else who would listen. In fact, this information made the case the DA was building on the three stooges a lot easier because they actually had witnesses and hard core proof from emails between CLewis, Pope/ Jamie Wilson and even Romona Tyson wss included on a few of those coorespondences. SACS knows a lot more than they are letting on and this BOE can sit back and play dumbu if they want but if the 5 that are up for re-election are re-elected sad to say but DCSS will become the next Clayton and be taken over by the State, which wouldn't be bad to have some oversight but at what cost will this effect the students who have done the right thing and the leaders have stood by and did absolutely nothing.

But, do they not want to stand by, because they need puppets to micro-manage the school system. They need to help young friends of the family get internships in the summer, because their friend's sons and daughters need money for college. We have Turk who mother worked for the school board and whose father ran for school board once.

You have Francis Edwards daughter and Robert's daughter. You have Tim Freeman whose father used to be school superintendent and knows the good old boys. How many employees have connections to either past cabinet members or school board members? How many employees are connected to New Birth?

Why would a minister be making a $2,500.00 donation to Walker's campaign? Would it be the same reason the Sembler family members made contribution for over $17,000.00. Either the church or the minister wants something in return.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:49pm

Our students are struggling with learning because we are not teaching them so that they have a true understanding or mastery of the material. School should not be "fun." It should be hard, meaningful work.

Children do not always need games and made up hands on activities that do not really go with what they are learning.

Gym should be fun. Art should be fun. Music should be fun. Math, reading, social studies/history, and science should be meaningful and hard work. If it's enjoyable and students find it fun, so be it, but having school be "fun" is not in my top ten or twenty adjectives that I want my child to come up with when they are making a list for school.

The "fun" teachers are not always the best teachers and your child is not always learning what he should be in that classroom.

Our students need to learn about the real world. Right now they don't earn zeros, even when they do not hand anything in. They get multiple times to turn work in, because we possibly couldn't ask them to meet a deadline. They get multiple chances to do an assignment correctly, because it isn't fair to require them only one shot at a grade.

Give me a break-this isn't how the real world is. Our children don't need fun, they need to be taught so that the material is deeply understood. This type of teaching will never happen in a public school as the standards are a mile wide and an inch deep, with not enough time to get everything all in.

Gosh, I hope that you're not a teacher or an administrator, as your comment is exactly what is wrong with DCSS and why many good teachers left or are very fed up.

Anonymous said...

Times have changed and just listening to a teacher is not the answer for our students. Data shows that the majority of our students do not learn best this way.

Teachers must teach the children. Teachers must reach the children where the children are at and if this means changing the way we are doing things now that is not working then so be it. The schools in Dekalb that are successful need to keep on running strongly but the ones who are not need to do something different to change the outcome of the product which is learning. In business if something does not work you do not keep doing it over and over again. However, in education we just think we can do the same thing and children should change. Why can educators not change the way they are presenting the material some also? Change is not always a bad thing if what we are doing is not being productive.

Anonymous said...

Don't you get it, DeKalb thinks is has changed. It now allows children multiple times to turn in work. It does not allow teachers to give a child a zero, even when it has been earned. When work is turned in poorly, we are to give children another chance of doing it better.

I agree that instruction needs to change, but instruction doesn't need to be fun to get through to students. Instruction cannot meet students at where they are at, when they are so low in their skills that they can't do the standards that the teacher is mandated to teach. Scripted instruction doesn't work.

The problem that I see with DCSS, is that most principals and teachers have a lousy education as they went to lousy schools. They do not understand what children need to know. They do not understand that children need to master the short vowels before being taught silent e. They do not understand that children need to know their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts before moving on.

The quality of "professional development" that I received in the 3 years that I worked in DCSS was pitiful at best. I keep abreast of the latest trends and read the studies and see how I can use findings in my classroom. I looked at teaching as a profession.

DCSS does not want intelligent teachers that think and question. DCSS wants teachers to do as they say and shut their mouths. Teachers who question and want more for their children are thought as trouble makers. I have been several times, I was a trouble maker because I questioned why children who were still counting to ten on their fingers made it to fourth and fifth grade. I wasn't trying to be a trouble maker, I really cared about the kids and saw that we were failing them. This happens in those good schools, as well as those on the needs improvement list.

You see, those running the curriculum department, those that are coaches, those that are principals and aps, many have very little classroom experience. Many don't really understand what a quality education looks like. Many want the children to have fun and do not care about the outcomes.

I agree that instruction needs to change, but I do not think that those in charge of instruction have the knowledge to make the necessary changes needed. When we continue to have America's Choice in our failing schools with a high price tag and when we have yet another math curriculum to follow in elementary (4th one in 3 years) that skips around all over the place and does not allow for the children to build upon their skills, I have all the proof that I need. I may not have a doctorate degree, but I have so much more knowledge about what a quality education looks like than those with the big pay checks.

This trouble maker hasn't looked back from resigning at the end of the school year. I pray that the state does come and wipe the slate clean. I don't care about my property value at this point, as our schools are in dire needs of a real change that will only come from starting over.

Anonymous said...

Don't you get it? DeKalb thinks is has changed. It now allows children multiple times to turn in work. It does not allow teachers to give a child a zero, even when it has been earned. When work is turned in poorly, we are to give children another chance of doing it better.

I agree that instruction needs to change, but instruction doesn't need to be fun to get through to students. Instruction cannot meet students at where they are at, when they are so low in their skills that they can't do the standards that the teacher is mandated to teach. Scripted instruction doesn't work.

The problem that I see with DCSS, is that most principals and teachers have a lousy education as they went to lousy schools. They do not understand what children need to know. They do not understand that children need to master the short vowels before being taught silent e. They do not understand that children need to know their addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts before moving on.

The quality of "professional development" that I received in the 3 years that I worked in DCSS was pitiful at best. I keep abreast of the latest trends and read the studies and see how I can use findings in my classroom. I looked at teaching as a profession.

DCSS does not want intelligent teachers that think and question. DCSS wants teachers to do as they say and shut their mouths. Teachers who question and want more for their children are thought as trouble makers.

Change does need to take place in the way of instruction:

1. Students should not be moved on unless they have mastered the necessary skills for the next grade.

2. Stop the scripted lessons. They do not work.

3. Allow the skills that students need to build upon one another instead of skipping around.

4. Allow teachers to give children the grades that they have earned.

5. Work should be turned in on time or not graded.

6. Hands-on activities that demonstrate a deep understanding of the curriculum and the standards should be expected, once the children have shown that they have an understanding of the standards.

7. Class sizes that allow hands-on activities in a safe manner that allows the teacher to observe the students demonstrating their learning.

Anonymous said...

7:29 PM

I agree, except learning can still be fun. Some students enjoy learning new things, reading, doing labs, and doing hands out activities while they are learning. We just need to try to get students interested in learning. I know this is not an easy task but I do think this is where educators are missing the boat with many kids. Students are really bored.

Anonymous said...

"The problem that I see with DCSS, is that most principals and teachers have a lousy education as they went to lousy schools. They do not understand what children need to know."
Bingo! Too many teachers (and administrators) are poorly educated and do not have mastery of the subjects they are teaching. The best professional development in the world will never fix this - it is simply a "band aid." Georgia needs to raise standards for teachers. Require more rigorous coursework, in the subjects they are teaching. Make it harder to become a teacher and pay the teachers accordingly.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that kids do not come to school with a desire to learn. Teachers cannot be the only one sparking this desire. Parents play a vital role and need to also spark an interest.

Parents need to show an interest in what their children are learning and give their children further opportunities to learn more about what is taking place in school. My family vacations or trips consisted of going into Philadelphia, down to Washington, DC or Baltimore or up to NYC.

Not everything in life is fun. Let's face it. Our youth wants everything to be like a video game. Many have such a short attention span that they cannot focus on difficult or complicated material. Their brains have not developed that skill.

I think that learning should be interesting, enjoyable, but not described as fun. Fun means entertainment. School is not for entertainment, but to impart knowledge and to make people life long learners.

I am a life long learner, because I find learning interesting. It's not always fun or easy, but enjoyable. Labs and hands on activities if done properly should not be fun. They should be done for a purpose and students should be able to tell you with detail what they did.

I think of the "fun" teachers that I have taught with. These teachers had the children doing all kinds of activities, but the children never understood the purpose or reason behind what they were doing, but boy these kids had fun. There was little discipline and lots of fun. Not what I want for my children and not what I, as a former educator, see as being quality teaching.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow wondering...
Apparently DCSS is paying New Birth ten thousand dollars a MONTH for building rental for their new charter school. What type of rents are being paid for other charters, like the new charger Museum School at Avondale.
On a hunch, I'd be suprised if any other school is paying forty to fifty percent of that figure.
Anybody know what rents are being paid for the other charter schools?

Anonymous said...

The one group that needs to be investigated is the 100 Black Men of DeKalb. Their website says they are located at McNair High School, I googled mapped it. Are they paying DCSS rent? How can a nono-profit use taxpayer properties to house their organization? Are they using equipment that taxpayers paid for? This is all about friends and family and it needs to stop! How is this legal?

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 12:19 PM and Son of awcomeonnow

Why is DCSS paying $10,000 a month in rent to New Birth Church?

That's a very good question. Charter school law says that if a school system has unused facilities, it must make those facilities available -- at no charge -- to charter schools, including start-up charters.

If Frankie Calloway chooses to not use one of DCSS's unused-and-sitting-vacant facilities, then the rent to New Birth should be paid by private donations NOT by DCSS or using any taxpayer funds (county, state or federal).

Anonymous said...

I agree. I wish that there was a way for tax payers to know if this is fact or not. I see the current administration hiding such a payout as best they can, knowing it would upset many.

When will the children be put first?

Anonymous said...

The Charter school law that is referred to has not been tested in court. In other words, no charter school in GA has demanded a school system let them lease a building/buy a building and the system has resisted and the issue has ended up in court. There is much speculation about whether this law will withstand a court challenge.

Because of this, most charter starters are still looking elsewhere for space.

Is this why this school is at New Birth? Who knows? The real issue is what is market rent for commercial space in that area and does the rent exceed that.

This is, on paper at least, an independently started charter school not affiliated with DCSS. We may all believe otherwise and if someone has evidence, they should turn it over to the state Dept of ed.

Anonymous said...

I think we need firm proof that DCSS is paying rent to New Birth for the charter school. This is how misinformation can get into blogspere and cause the district to spend time on issues like this rather that the real (and verifiable) ones. Please provide this if you have it.

According to the state website on charters, the State BOE has a fund to assist with facilities. As mentioned by other posters, the local BOE must provide an unused facility without a rental or leasing fee however one would have to believe the charter would be responsible for utility costs and maintenance and operation expenses.

Do what I did, read this for yourself at:

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_charter.aspx?PageReq=CIIAPCharterFAQS#q25

Cerebration said...

I have posted the lease agreement letter for New Birth at the bottom of the article. Click on it to view and read it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting that Cerebration however I did not see where DCSS is obligated to make those payments in what you posted. I see an agreement between Dr. Johnson (probably an agent for the charter school) and New Birth. Did I miss the statement that DCSS would pay the requested amount on behalf of the charter? Is there another agreement that perhaps shows a payment agreement between DCSS and the charter school (other than what they are legally obligated to make to the charter for educating DeKalb students)?

Cerebration said...

Sigh. I'll have to dig up the website where I downloaded all of the files from. Or if you'll send me an email I'll forward all of them. There's a lot. Most of what you're interested in can be found in their state petition. There are a number of costs - and an overall budget with projections. (Signed by Lewis and Bowen) There's even a map of the west wing area of the church. The total costs have not been completely identified. In fact, the agenda for Monday's board meeting has an item for food service for the Leadership Charter.

Cerebration said...

Interestingly, you will find in the documents that four of the eight founding member of the board of the Leadership Academy are also members of New Birth. In addition, Dr. Melvin Johnson is also on the board of New Birth Christian Academy - the private school operating out of the same church building.

Even more interesting - Dr. Melvin Johnson donated $200 to Gene Walker's 2008 (15 days out) special election campaign for school board. Johnson is listed there as simply "retired" and his employer as "none".

Anonymous said...

Cerebration, if you say you have documentation linking the payments from DCSS to New Birth for facilities, I can trust you on that. I still find that hard to believe given how the law is written for how start up charters can get facility funds.

BTW, Dr. Johnson is a retired Deputy Superintendent for DCSS. He has the distinction of working under every superintendent for DCSS, excluding Ms. Tyson. Before the expansion of the central office under Dr. Freeman, he and Dr. Hallford were the only area superintendents.

Cerebration said...

I'll find the link sometime and you can leaf through the documents....

Cerebration said...

ta da!

Found it -- go here and download files about Leadership Prep until your heart's content!

http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_charter.aspx?PageReq=PEACSProposedCharterSchools24

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cerebration! I checked most of the documents having to do with leases and still did not see where DCSS would make those payments. I saw agreements between LPA and New Birth. It is getting late and I'll take a look at it in more detail this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Explain to me why we are paying New Birth rent when DCSS has empty buildings all over the county?

Can someone name all the DCSS properties that are sitting empty?

I think the chickens are coming home to roost!

Zepora's performance on 46 tonight was a disgrace, Tom Bowen should ask her to step aside before Monday's meeting. In this environment, apologies only go so far. There is no excuse for this kind of behavior, especially from a BOE member!

Anonymous said...

Cere, you're the greatest!

New Birth getting rent for a charter school when DCSS properties sit empty?

100 Black Men of DeKalb using space at McNair High School on Bouldercrest Rd.? I just looked at their website and under the contact us there is a google map that points right to McNair! Anon is right to ask if this is legal?

Please BOE find out why a non-profit is using taxpayers property for their own use. Is this legal?

Anonymous said...

Leadership Prep Academy is an independent Start Up Charter School. They will receive a lump sum payment from the school system and state and then pay rent.

I know several charter groups that have approached DCSS about facilities and have gotten nowhere. Keep in mind though, that most vacant buildings in DeKalb are in horrific shape. Leasing loses some of its appeal if you have to fix a building you don't own. Outright buying is a better investment.

Attorneys are expensive. Given the plethora of empty commercial real estate in DeKalb, finding suitable space isn't impossible and is probably easier than dealing with DCSS.

Bloggers are missing that essential point. This is an independent charter school. The Board of Ed and the State approved the charter and now they are up and running.

As has already been stated, no charter school has actually forced a system in GA to give them a building. If a charter school tries, it is expected that the impacted school system may very well take the state to court over the law.

What is very important to watch, in this case, is that the GA charter law explicitly forbids the conversion of a private school to a public school. If the NB private school disappears after this year, then it is up to the State to investigate. It will be hard to prove, but maybe not impossible.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow .....
having a bit of deja vu with the mention of Melvin Johnson's name.
'Ol Melvin and Stan Pritchett were co-stinkers, race card players and Avondale Estates vilifiers back around '96-97.
When residents north and south of Memorial tried to get a better school location for Avondale Middle School, Johnson and Pritchett fired every race card arsenal at them. Sucessfully. The AJC, Channels 2 and 5 all had extensive coverage of the debacle.
Raised to such a fever pitch that they had the residents portrayed as just short of burning crosses. I have an acquantance that was involved in the opposition, and she's still nursing her wounds from it.
Wouldn't begin to repeat what she has to say about Melvin Johnson: I'd be banned from the blog.

Anonymous said...

Melvin is definitely bad news.

Perhaps one of the local media outlets wants to take on this new school.

Anonymous said...

The Leadership Academy at New Birth (?????) and the Alternative School (????) that Mr. Calloway runs both have roots to New Birth. You have to follow the money trial and see who donated to which board members campaign. Go back and look and see who wanted Mr. Calloway's Alternative School to continue and approved it even when the paperwork was not complete for the second year in a row. Why break the protocol and procedures and let this charter school continue?
Where are both of these schools located? How close to New Birth Baptist Church?

All you have to do is follow the money trial. Eddie Long has many politicians in his pocket in this county. Look at the votes and the board members in such support of the schools and then look at the donations.

Anonymous said...

The news media does not have the guts to take on this issue.

The federal government investigated the situation several years ago as to some concerns. Some of these ministers do not make money to be making the donations they make, the cars they drive, and the private jets some of them have.

Cerebration said...

Allow me to repeat a comment from above -

Have a look at some of the donations given out by the Bishop Eddie Long over the past 6-7 years. Why on earth would a Christian minister have such a high interest in politics? Well, seems now, that same minister's church will be receiving about $125,000 a year in rent for a DCSS charter school being placed in their facility. There is already a private school in the church - let's follow along and see if the private school eventually dissolves, allowing the public school to flourish in it's place - absorbing the private students. It's a slippery slope - allowing the strong possibility of co-mingling of funds.

Donations from Eddie Long - to 2007 -

Hillary Clinton $1000
Kweisi Mfume $2100
Denise Majette $2000
Maxine Waters $1000
Donzella James $1000
Max Cleland $1000
Steve Forbes $50
Sunny Warren $1000
Alan Keyes $1000
Gene Walker $500

More recently, in Walker’s campaign contribution form labeled, 15days08, Bishop Eddie Long donated $2,000 to Walker's campaign.

And Vernon Jones is in the mix –
http://www.crossroadsnews.com/view/full_story/1442238/article-CEO-fined-for-campaign-violations

On his July 8, 2004 campaign disclosure report, Jones documented $16,000 for an Aug. 10 primary runoff and $9,000 for a general election he did not have, since he won the primary outright. Among the contributors making excessive contributions were Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, GTT Inc., Tarpon Development, and Wilmot Williams, who each gave Jones $5,000 contributions split over primary, primary runoff and general elections. A company co-owned by Bishop Wiley Jackson of Gospel Tabernacle Church and Jackson's brother, Rodney B. Jackson, also gave $5,000 apiece.

Georgia law caps campaign contributions at $2,000 per race and $1,000 per runoff election.

And most recently as reported in the AJC -
From AJC July 9, 2010
http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-politics-elections/candidates-tap-familiar-sources-567756.html

Barnes, meanwhile, tapped several unions in Georgia and Washington, D.C., for at least $22,000 during the quarter. He also received $5,000 from Bishop Eddie Long, the influential pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia.

Cerebration said...

Additionally, Dr. Melvin Johnson donated $200 to Gene Walker's 2008 (15 days out) special election campaign for school board. Johnson is listed there as simply "retired" and his employer as "none". However, we now know that Johnson, a retired DCSS Area Superintendent is on the founding board of the Leadership Academy, the existing board of the Christian School already in New Birth, and a member of New Birth.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonow
wondering....
How many of the new students that will be enrolled in Leadership Academy have parents that belong to New Birth?
Were their prayers answered (on the taxpayers dime) that
1. They wouldn't have to send their kid to the crappy local Dekalb school?
2. That they wouldn't have to pay tuition for a private school, while receiving all the perks of doing so?
Just wondering how many Leadership Academy parents had brother Eddie's church answer their prayers. Praise God and pass me your W-2!

Anonymous said...

@ 5:11 pm

Can you really blame parents for wanting to be able to use their tax dollars for good schools?

There may be a real connection between New Birth and "upper management" of DCSS schools based on what posters have state here, but I really don't see a shady connection here. How much square footage are they getting for $10,000 a month? Aren't there some liability assumptions on the part of New Birth when they have that many children on the premises?

I have friends with small businesses that pay thousands in relatively small office space (depends on the location of course).

New Birth is a "big business". $125,000 a year for an organization this size doesn't seem like a fortune they would be falling all over themselves to get.

Now if church/social connections rather than merit are driving hiring decisions, that is shortchanging students, taxpayers and prospects seeking to fill those jobs.

Anonymous said...

It is more a thing of having the school on the property for the church members' children. It is more raising leaders in the community at New Birth which is a good thing as long as religion is left out of the mix.

It give New Birth an opportunity to possible close their school and use taxpayers money to have a church on the property for those same members without the cost.

Cerebration said...

As far as New Birth goes, the way I see it is this: Many parents in south DeKalb are very unhappy with their neighborhood schools for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons has to do with student behavior and the lack of discipline in the building. Many parents don't want their children in such a loose school environment. Add to that the fact that many of the schools in the area do not produce good test scores, and parents start looking elsewhere.

New Birth is like the mothership of South DeKalb. Very powerful. Very influential. Very well-connected. They had offered a private school option to the unhappy parents, yet many could not take advantage of it and the school has not grown.

Brainstorm! Gather together Melvin Johnson (fomer DCSS administrator and New Birth member as well as board member for the private school on campus), Bishop Eddie Long, Crawford Lewis, Eugene Walker and Frankie Callaway (also a former DCSS administrator whose husband is principal of Destiny Academy, a DCSS charter for at-risk students) and you find a very well executed plan to create essentially a private school in the church building using public school (as well as Title 1) money.

Personally, I'm impressed with the idea of this school. I like the website and the statement on the application - The curriculum is a rigorous academic course of studies with a focus on leadership skills. This would be nice to have in every school. Of course, IMO, there's really nothing wrong with not being a "leader" - many of us are quite content to just do good work and contribute to the cause. But "leaders" are apparently in demand these days. (Just take a look at how many DCSS administrators have completed Leadership DeKalb.)

But what concerns me is that there are several schools like this cropping up around South DeKalb, and damaging the attendance of the neighborhood schools. Board members just don't seem to see this disparity that is being created by their own hands - and the hands of the people who are demanding better schools and now creating them themselves. l am concerned about the schools from which these "choice" students are being plucked. They are being drained of their best resources and I can't see how this is good for anyone "Left Behind". An enlightened person wouldn't damage other people this way in order to get the best for themselves.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 6:27

"But what concerns me is that there are several schools like this cropping up around South DeKalb, and damaging the attendance of the neighborhood schools. Board members just don't seem to see this disparity that is being created by their own hands - and the hands of the people who are demanding better schools and now creating them themselves. I am concerned about the schools from which these "choice" students are being plucked. They are being drained of their best resources and I can't see how this is good for anyone "Left Behind". An enlightened person wouldn't damage other people this way in order to get the best for themselves. "

I remember when they changed the Kittredge allotment from 2 students per 4th grade to a lottery in which all participants were in a giant lottery. Fernbank lost 17 fourth grade students to Kittredge that year. It devastated their ITBS average. Austin, Vanderlyn, and Oak Grove all lost substantial numbers of their highest scoring students. Their ITBS score averages all took big hits.

As a parent of mine used to say, it doesn't take many 99 percentile students to leave your school to lower your test scores. At one point the principal at Oak Grove spoke out at a BOE meeting about losing so many of their top students to Kittredge. It was impacting their test scores, they were getting flack from the Central Office as to why their test scores were dropping (no duh. couldn't they figure this out?), and they wanted those students back. This principal said to bring back the 2 student from 4th grade quota - simply to improve Oak Grove test scores. On the other hand the parents in Austin, Fernbank, Oak Grove, and Vanderlyn were delighted their children were in Kittredge. They didn't see it at all the way the principals did.

I think the magnet programs have been discussed ad nauseum on this blog, but we must admit that magnet programs serve much of the same purpose as charter schools. To your credit, you have stated that you think magnet schools also drain the local schools of their best students, and in addition act as a safety valve for parents who would be lobbying for a well run school if their children were left in their local schools.

You said you have a Kittredge kid - so did I, my only child. She got a decent education at Kittredge, but I maintain that much of the Kittredge education is about inclusion (highest achievers) and exclusion (low achievers and discipline problems). I was never super enthused about her going to Kittredge. We have a pretty good school in my neighborhood, and I think the local school would have been just fine academically and actually better for her socially.

The charter at New Birth as well as all the other charters is very similar to the magnet programs - they will practice inclusion and exclusion, drain the local schools of their high achievers, and act as a safety valve for activist parents. However, when you are a parent, you don't sacrifice your child on the altar of your beliefs. Parents in the magnet programs and the charter schools are very much alike. They are looking for a viable educational alternative for their children. When it comes to family and community - people will generally choose family. This doesn't make them enlightened. It makes them human.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Cerebation for your balanced post @ 6:27. The LPA charter has and will be heavily scrutinized to ensure that it meets the objectives of the charter for the students and uses the money properly. At the end of the day, if the test scores do not indicate that children are learning, it will be shut down.

As stated earlier, this is an independent charter that has been approved thus entitled to a portion of the monies allocated for each student in DCSS. The money is funneled from the Feds, state, and county through DCSS to the LPA Board. LPA can use the money to run the school, as any other charter would. Everything is above board and legal.

As Cerebration said, many parents in south DeKalb have lost confidence in their neighborhood schools. I don't believe it's a 'money' thing but an 'attitude' thing. Parents are concerned that others at their neighborhood schools don't have the same values when it comes to educating children. Some of the schools are focused more on remediation and 'law and order' rather than differentiated instruction. Charter schools are advertised to provide the 'focus on instruction' that many parents are seeking. As Cerebration suggested, it could have a 'skimming' effect where the best and brightest at some neighborhood schools will seek alternatives, either with charters or escaping through school choice. If that happens, what will be left at those schools?

Anonymous said...

In a sense it is a form of segregation of the educated parents normally who push for their children to get a great education and value education.

Behind you leave some good students, average students, but definitely you have the students which are normally going to cause the most problems in the school. Test scores are lower and behavior problem are higher as the population of students is lower.

It is a form of flight from discipline issues, or lack of discipline, emphasis on excelling in school verses trying to make AYP each year. It is flight away from public school that are not producing results.

Anonymous said...

How will we know that the students who are enrolled in LPA at New Birth are DeKalb County residents? And, what happens when the private school at New Birth merges with LPA -- which you know it will. How many of those students are DeKalb County residents? And what happens to the New Birth students who are not residents of DeKalb County?

Cerebration said...

The application asks for proof of residency. --

Anon 7:18 PM -- very cogent comment. Well stated.

I think my most basic point is that this system historically has managed by reacting to the most vocal squeaky wheels, leaving those without a voice also with a sub-standard education. We should be able to provide a quality education to everyone - while still allowing for some choice along the way. But the choice shouldn't be motivated by a desire to 'escape' a poor performing school.

Our superintendent and board need to be much more proactive in their educational methodology and programs - rather than the decades long mentality of 'putting out the fires' but never quite getting around to cracking the nut. (Sorry - mixed metaphors - but you get the drift.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:34 said,

In a sense it is a form of segregation of the educated parents normally who push for their children to get a great education and value education.

Well said and accurate! How do you think these parents feel when they are the minority with this value at their schools? This was part of the attraction with Theme schools, at attempt to keep middle class African Americans from either leaving their community schools or the school system. This isn't to say that lower income parents don't value education as much as we all know of exceptions of expectations regardless of income. It is fair to say there is some segregation by socioeconomic status.

Be True to Your School said...

The question from Anonymous 8:55 PM is a good one and should not be dismissed out of hand. We all know that school registration requires proof of residency.

However, there is significant and reasonable suspicion that DCSS is permitting many students who live outside of DeKalb County to enroll. If I remember correctly, Arabia Mountain is suspected as one of the schools that is allowing enrollment by out-of-county students.

Therefore, the question stands.

How can we be sure that, when the New Birth private school merges with LPA -- which you know it will -- that enrolling students will all be DeKalb residents? Will Frankie Calloway and Eddie Long turn away non-DeKalb students when those two schools merge?

Anonymous said...

"But what concerns me is that there are several schools like this cropping up around South DeKalb, and damaging the attendance of the neighborhood schools. ... I am concerned about the schools from which these "choice" students are being plucked. They are being drained of their best resources and I can't see how this is good for anyone "Left Behind". An enlightened person wouldn't damage other people this way in order to get the best for themselves. "


I also agree and contend that by allowing this, DCSS and the BOE are letting themselves off the hook to do what they need to do to improve the schools left behind. That is because many of the more vocal and active parents are the ones moving to these choice/magnet/charter schools. And yes, (I believe) many of these same parents probably have ties to some ranking person in DCSS or someone on the school board.

Unless something negative is going on at the "left behind" neighborhood schools, there is not a lot of attention given to them. You see all the photo ops and news releases about the schools such as Arabia where the DCSS can say "see what we're doing!"

But the system can really claim bragging rights when they can show how neighborhood schools have been/are being turned around. We can't forget about the good and average students who have been left behind or have chosen to remain in their neighborhood schools.

Anonymous said...

You know I totally forgot about the component of students who aren't from DeKalb. When you combine that with the fact that at least some families at the New Birth private school will prefer religion taught during the day, it is possible that the school won't be closed. Of course, we don't know where the students come from.

NBCA also goes through 12th grade, next year LPA will only go through 6th and their charter is written to go through 8th. Of course, it can be amended.

One Fed Up Insider said...

A friend of mine emailed Megan Mattueci in July about the same things pointed out here about 100 Black Men of Dekalb hoping she would investigate but Megan didn’t respond. Have you checked out the membership list? Looks like our BOE chair may be a member as well as Alduan Tartt, Thurbert Baker, Bishop Eddie Long, and Burrell Ellis.

Anonymous said...

However, they now have Arabian in their backyard that someone wants to keep special.

Arabian will pull many kids away from New Birth. Families also are more concerned about the price tag of tuitions in these economic times. The school officials did change the intent of Arabian Mountain. It would be interesting to see exactly when this happened and if it had anything to do with the new school board members taking office. Where New Birth politics the reason for the change in Arabian Mountain High School from its original intentions? How many students are actually in high school at New Birth. It could not be that many.

Anonymous said...

This is from the website of New Birth Christian Academy,

New Birth Christian Academy operates without financial support from local, state and federal governments, relying instead on tuition income and a strong Annual Fund to sustain the school financially. Tuition and fees do not cover the full cost of a New Birth education. Vigorous growth in annual giving will allow NBCA to remain flexible and focused on meeting its most pressing needs and seizing opportunities that matter most to our mission.

You can read the full text at,

http://www.newbirth.org/nbca_center.asp

It is interesting the focus on the LPA charter school considering there are several that exist in DeKalb. Obviously they are cropping up more in South DeKalb recently partially because of the elimination of the M to M program and reduced transportation options with NCLB/ESEA compliance.

Ivy Prep accepts girls from DeKalb. One would think the dollars follows the child hence making this possible. Does anyone know if there is an additional surcharge for coming from another school district? If not, I would think the same rule would apply for LPA if it accepts students from other counties.

Unless someone has proof that LPA is doing something illegal, this mindless speculation of wrongdoing is a waste of time.

Cerebration said...

I think you can only accept students from other counties if you are a state-sponsored (approved) charter. LPA is a county-sponsored charter.

This isn't mindless speculation. If New Birth plans to replace their own private school with the LPA in combination with Arabia for HS, then the state will have an issue.

Anonymous said...

The same problem exists in any private school currently. Parents are having more problems paying tuitions and thinking about their futures more as retired couples due to economic down turn. Many private school children are returning to public schools. Many are returning to Charter Schools which are public schools also. The point is that the children are returning to public schools.

We are indicating that the donations made to politicians could have a great deal to do with decisions made. That is true everywhere. However, it is not everyday that you see a minister make a $2,500 contribution to a school board candidate as mentioned earlier. That same candidate took $18,000 from Sembler. You need to read about there donations and expectations.

The question is: What did Eddie Long or the church want for their donation/donations? This is part of the point being made here by some.

The church cannot make donations legally. However, Bishop Eddie Long can make donations individually. As a minister, he sure donates a great deal of money to politics for someone who makes the amount he does. His family dress nice, and drive fine cars and still they have the ability to make these kind of donations to a school board candidate. Do you remember the federal investigation into the lavish lifestyles on the salaries several big churches were under a few years ago. I remember the federal government investigating the situation.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration said,

This isn't mindless speculation. If New Birth plans to replace their own private school with the LPA in combination with Arabia for HS, then the state will have an issue.

If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn't bump his rear when he hops. Take a look at that statement. that's like saying IF all the schools in the Dunwoody cluster become charter schools hence a charter cluster, they will secede from DCSS and form their own school system. Don't laugh but I've heard some folks in the county speculate on this. There are laws in place to prevent this like your statement above.

BTW, Arabia has a public lottery for admission. Are you suggesting that New Birth is going to rig the lottery, IF their school closes and IF their students wish to attend Arabia?

Cerebration said...

Um, no. I'm suggesting that our school system is setting up yet another "elite" track of more or less "publicly funded private schools" and then not giving a rats rear about the poor students left behind in the under-performing neighborhood schools. As long as they can keep the Bishop and the vocal parents happy and off their backs - things are good. Yes, these schools do in effect, "rig" enrollments as the applications require essays, certain GPAs, uniforms and your own transportation (to charters at least). The "lottery" is yet another hurdle to gaining a seat.

I don't really care one bit about how many charters or specialty schools we create in order to appease those who have the wherewithal to demand better for their children. I care about the fact that we don't take care of those left in the under-performing schools.

If south DeKalb wants to create a separate track of schools for their higher achieving learners - fine. But then don't just dust your hands and turn your backs on those who can't partake.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration said,

I'm suggesting that our school system is setting up yet another "elite" track of more or less "publicly funded private schools" and then not giving a rats rear about the poor students left behind in the under-performing neighborhood schools.

I share your concerns however at the end of the day, what can you or I do about the establishment of charter schools? Heck, the POTUS is offering charter school as a possible remedy for helping public education. Many here cringe about SCW but I must admit she recognizes they could negatively impact traditional neighborhood schools.

So what are we stuck with? My address should determine the quality of education my children receive? Perhaps I made choices in my past that resulted in the circumstances I find myself in today. Though late, I now recognize that the key to advancement is a solid education however I may be an unwed parent with children living where I can afford housing. A charter school opens nearby with promises to provide the learning environment I wished I had taken advantage of and seek for my children. Should I ignore that opportunity and keep my children in the school that I lack confidence in?

Anonymous said...

There are now five kinds of charter schools in GA.

1. Conversion -- These schools are/were traditional public schools that converted to charter status. (Examples, Chamblee, Peachtree etc.) These schools generally have a lottery to fill any unused spaces with residents of their county (or city if they are part of a city system.) Funding is the same as other system public schools. They may not accept students from other school systems. Must be approved by the local school system and the state board of ed.

2. Local Education Agency charter schools -- These schools are started from scratch by a local school system. Again, their attendance is limited to residents of their school system. Funding is the same as other system schools. Examples of these are the Career Academies across GA. like Coweta Career Academy and the Gwinnett High School of Math and Technology. Must be approved by the local school system and the state board of ed.

3. Locally approved start-up charter schools -- These are generally grass roots efforts to start a new public school. Again, attendance is limited to residents of the approving school system. Funding is suppose to be the same as other system schools. Examples of these schools are the myriad of KIPP schools across the metro area, Path Academy, ICS, and now LPA. Must be approved by the local school system and the state board of ed.

4. State chartered schools -- These are start up charter schools that didn't get approved by their local school systems and appealed to the state board of ed. (Don't presume that the local system's had legitimate reasons to not approve them, they often didn't.) They are approved by the state but they only collect the state portion of funding. No local dollars are used. These schools can accept students from across the state.

5. Commission charter schools -- The newest type of charter schools. The GA legislature passed a law setting up an alternative authorizer for charter schools in GA. These schools get both state and local dollars, but the local dollars come from the state, which has subtracted those dollars from the state's payment to the districts the students come from. I think that the per pupil money at a school like Ivy is different based on what system they are coming from. I am not sure though. The commission schools charter defines where students can come from. Ivy Prep accepts students from all over, while Avondale Museum School has a very narrow attendance zone (Midway and Avondale Elementary only).

I hope this clears up some of the confusion surrounding charters.

Anonymous said...

Actually, there is a new state law that prevents Charter Clusters. It isn't the same thing as setting up your own school district. For now, that is illegal, but I suspect a change just might happen in the next few years. Milton County can't exist without such a change.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the clarity 2:13! We needed that...

Also - I'll try again Anon 2:12 PM -

I'm not concerned about offering charters, etc. I'm concerned that our leadership sees this as fixing the problems - since it silences the squeaky wheels. I'm fighting for attention to the children who still won't have access to these schools and are relegated to an under-performing school. Fine - offer alternatives - but fix the local schools for the rest.

Anonymous said...

Ride on, Celeb.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration said,

I'm not concerned about offering charters, etc. I'm concerned that our leadership sees this as fixing the problems - since it silences the squeaky wheels.

Thanks for your clarifying your position however I disagree with your position on the current leadership. When Dr. Jim Mullen headed the charter review process, many thought that he (and DCSS) were firmly against charters because they would skim from schools. Ask the Museum school advocates if the leadership see them as fixing a problem. The same goes for the charter that wanted to base its curriculum on African American studies (it was denied).

I think DCSS has approved more charters recently for fear for litigation if they were denied. If the paperwork is not together, it makes it easier to deny.

I believe there has to be a significant and fundamental change not just in our schools but our communities. Some see charter schools as a half step in that direction. Given the current economic times and additional scrutiny on the budget, our school system leadership may not have much choice.

Anonymous said...

Opps, the state law permits charter clusters, not prevents it. Big typo on my part.

Cerebration said...

Well, Arne Duncan and Obama are big on the charter bandwagon so we may as well clear the way for more.

Read this latest report on how the RTTT money has been affecting positive change in public schools -

How 'Race to the Top' is rewriting U.S. education

Cerebration said...

When Duncan announced the first winners in March — $100 million to Delaware and $500 million to Tennessee — it became pretty clear what he wanted: The finalists generally had lifted limits on charter schools, found some way to tie teacher ratings to students' test scores and signed on to the Common Core Standards, a national curriculum movement that sets benchmarks in English and math through the 12th grade.

The program springs from a single sentence inserted in the stimulus law. Though it suggests that Duncan account for things such as teacher quality, data use, new standardized tests and school turnaround, it also allows for "criteria as the secretary deems appropriate."

Duncan had championed contests since he was the CEO of Chicago's public schools, where he experimented with competitive pilot projects. The results, by most accounts, were mixed.

Anonymous said...

Charter Schools and school choice in Chicago has the same problem as here, spots become political and the schools have become a who's who of political supporters children. They are in neighborhoods, that are not easily assessable to poor children who live on Chicago's South and West side.

Doesn't that sound familiar?

Dunwoody Mom said...

BTW, Arabia has a public lottery for admission. Are you suggesting that New Birth is going to rig the lottery

The lottery magnets are "manipulated" now, why do you think Arabia would be an exception?

Cerebration said...

Anon 2:43 PM - I think the definition of "fixing the problem" is where we get stuck. When you read that I think they've "fixed the problem" you think - they've fixed the educational shortcomings for some. But what I really mean is that "the problem" to our leadership has always been "noisy, complaining parents" and to silence a group is considered success!

Mosely in his famous comment said it all when he said he considers parents "background noise". It's sort of like killing a fly that buzzing in your ear. Ahhhh. That's better!

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom said,

The lottery magnets are "manipulated" now, why do you think Arabia would be an exception?

Would that explain why there are so many lawsuits against the selection process at Kittredge? I would think a public lottery would prevent that from happening.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration 3:41pm, we are probably in agreement with one another. We'll definitely keep our eyes on LPA and New Birth to ensure the taxpayers are getting a return on their investment.

A charter school must be housed somewhere. If relationships helped them to get a reasonable lease agreement with New Birth, who are we to complain.

Anonymous said...

Moseley and his little black book for fraudulent numbers needs to resign! This guy has treated my wife and I like we are nothing. We only help pay for his creative fudging of numbers and other nefarious activities with others in the Central Office. We're watching you closely Moseley!

Anonymous said...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Good Morning,

I wanted to summarize my observation on 12/6/2007. I was actually called
to your classroom because it was brought to my attention that students
were upset that they would not receive credit for an assessment that they
had taken.

As I walked into the classroom, you were seated at the table in the front
of the classroom. There were 4 students that had there head on their
desk. There were no objectives written on the board. Several students
did not have any materials on their desk. You never got up to walk around
the classroom to monitor the students progress.

You covered bisector angles and asked several students to complete the
problem that was listed on the overhead. Most students seem to be paying
attention to your discussion. As you continued to review the math
problems, you wrote the word UNETHICAL on the overhead. This was a
concern to me because I was not sure why you would write such a word on
the overhead as you were reviewing the math lesson. Ms. Prentice was the
word unethical written for me to see? I hope that it was not for your
students! What was the point in writing such a word on the overhead?
Please explain to me in writing no later than Wednesday, December 12th,
the reason for writing such.

If you have a concern about what is appropriate in your classroom, please
schedule an appointment with myself and your department chair as soon as
possible. As a reminder, Dr. Searcy is assigned to you to assist you with
your PDP, not your duties and responsibility as it relates to your
classroom.

Thanks,

C.T.

S. Carol Thedford, Ed.D.
Miller Grove High School
Principal
2645 DeKalb Medical Parkway
Lithonia, Georgia 30058
Office - 678-875-1102
Fax - 678-875-1110
selina_c_thedford@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

This letter was sent to me after I voiced my reservations to the students about using a benchmark exam as both classwork and test. Dr. Thedford told me to use the grades, but I couldn't do it because of my ethical beliefs. I asked Dr. Searcy what was the State's stance on what I should do, since she was the test coordinator, and she did not respond. I was later replaced, and my grades were changed by a woman brought in to replace me by Dr. Thedford, while I sat in the media center every day.

Anonymous said...

We're watching you closely Moseley! ...

I think everyone is. If you've been hurt by this system with no one to care about your innocence, it's quite interesting to sit back and watch the self destruction. Quite comical actually. Scramble. Scramble. Scramble.

Ron Ramsey, it's hard to look away when it's all around you, especially when you look in the mirror.

How do you people sleep at night?