Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It’s time now to bring parent revolution here

Check out the editorial with this heading at the AJC written by Glenn Delk, an Atlanta attorney. Say what you will about the dangers and ills of charter schools, I have to believe that we have come to the point where a charter school simply cannot be nearly as corrupt and wasteful as some of our current billion dollar school systems. School systems have been found to be nothing more that money troughs for those who are big enough and powerful enough to barrel their way over smaller, weaker beings to gorge.

Enough. We have to try something else. Give the power to the people. Some may do a better job, some worse. But at least we wouldn't feel so hamstrung and ripped off.

Here are some quotes from Mr. Delk's column -

...But if the Atlanta cheating scandal has shown us anything, it’s that the wrong people control public education and that real accountability in the traditional public school system does not exist.

Neither the parents of students attending the 58 schools, nor Atlanta’s taxpayers footing the bill, have any real alternative to the status quo.

But what would happen if we changed the current system of governance and offered parents and taxpayers the chance to assert control over public education in Georgia by convincing local school districts and the General Assembly to pass Georgia’s version of the Parent and Taxpayers Trigger? ...

The problems facing Atlanta’s parents and taxpayers are certainly not unique to Atlanta.

Whether it’s the soaring costs of public education, abysmal test scores and graduation results, loss of accreditation by Clayton County, or alleged corruption in DeKalb County’s schools, the simple fact is that we have a system of public education in Georgia and throughout the country in which the people who pay for the services (taxpayers) and the people who use the service (parents) have little or no real power.

It’s time for a coalition of parents, taxpayers, business and political leaders to join forces to bring the parent revolution to Georgia by implementing Georgia’s Parents and Taxpayers’ Trigger that will provide:

  • 51 percent of the parents whose children attend any public school in Georgia can, with a petition, trigger one of three options — charter conversion, closing the school, or use of tuition tax credit scholarships to enable students to attend a private school;
  • Fifty-one percent of the taxpayers of a county or city can, at a specially-called referendum, vote to trigger one of the three options for all schools in its jurisdiction;
  • the trigger applies to all public schools, not just failing schools;
  • charter school funding will equal that of traditional public schools;
  • parents and taxpayers can elect to close the schools and give parents a tuition tax credit-funded scholarship. Georgia currently has a $50 million annual cap on the scholarships; the cap should be lifted.

Some people will argue that such a mechanism will cause chaos in our public schools, or that the approach is too radical. My response is that perhaps the chaos resulting from a parent and taxpayer revolution is necessary to bring about real change, since I believe AJC columnist Maureen Downey was right when she wrote: “cheating on the CRCT did not help the children of APS, many of whom have poverty and family chaos already working against them.”

======

For more on the subject, read this post about Arnold Schwarzenegger's article on the subject in the Washington Post.

For more conversation on the topic of education reform, check out these two grass-roots blogs I recently discovered.  We are certainly not alone.

Knitting With Pencils - A Failure of Imagination

Dr Kwame M. Brown: Move Theory - Child Development Specialist, Thought Leader, Change Agent

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

I believe the article by Gov."Terminator" was quickly and easily refuted by pointing out the shenanigans of the Charter Company he so eloquently defended in his article.

Anonymous said...

Newsflash to those who are not familiar with charters: not all charters are run by a "charter company". In DeKalb, many are run by the parents themselves. Case in point: Kingsley, Peachtree MS, Chesnut, and Chamblee HS. I challenge you all to point out any shenanigans with these charters.

When anyone discusses charters, it is important to clarify what kind you're talking about. Parent-run vs company-run. They aren't the same thing.

But you have to have educated parents to make it work. That's a resource that money can't buy and it can't be moved around like a "learning cottage".

Anonymous said...

I've heard good things about KIPP.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:17

The point of the article about California is NOT to support the charter company. The point of the article is to demonstrate that we -- parents and taxpayers -- have the ability and the obligation to take control of our schools and make sure that education is Job One.

It should be very clear by now that there is not one person at the Palace -- especially not the so-called "Leadership" -- who sees DCSS as anything more than a cash cow.

For that reason, it will be a fight to the finish. These greedy, corrupt people at DCSS and on the BOE see themselves as smarter and cleverer than the teachers, parents and taxpayers. Typical criminal mindset.

These greedy, corrupt people at DCSS and on the BOE think that we will be unable to break their deathgrip on our school system. We CAN and we MUST prevail!

It is clear -- just as it was in Waiting for Superman -- that no one is coming to save us. The cavalry will not be riding in to the rescue.

We CAN and we MUST prevail!

Anonymous said...

The discussion nationwide concerns start-up charters - conversion charters are no in this conversation.

KIPP does such a great job? You remember a week or so ago when one of their schools burned here in Atlanta? Why were the schools hands out to the public looking for charity in the form of books, musical instruments, etc? Wouldn't Kipp be responsible for replacing the items destroyed in the fire?

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, you must not have seen the same pieces on KIPP as I did. What they have in place is amazing. They had a foundation already in place and a building they were remodeling for a high school for next year ready to go for temporary housing.

Of course, they needed donations. So did that elementary school in Cobb that flooded last year and schools that are hit by disasters to do.

Geez.

Anonymous said...

I am not speaking of the building - but to the call for school supplies and replacement musical instruments that were made via a local television station.

These items should be replaced by KIPP....

Anonymous said...

The charters in this article are not conversions as we know them in GA. These are truly lets shut the doors and let an outside organization operate the school.

I cannot attest to shenanigans in this specific case, I can tell you that the parents at the lowest performing schools often don't know how bad things are.

This is not to suggest at all that charters can fix all that ails these schools. In fact, these schools are generally a reflection of the communities they are located in. But what we are doing now, doesn't seem to be working very well.

Anonymous said...

That happened in Cobb as well. We all donated school supplies, books etc.

And given time, KIPP would have replaced everything. They wanted to put on a scheduled concert this week.

There is no doubt that for many students KIPP is working heads and tails above their local schools. KIPP does have a huge advantage in that it enrolls only the students that choose to go. But maybe that is the solution as well. Make parents and students own their education.

Cerebration said...

This charter school "trigger" requires action by parents. Those of us who feel hamstrung by the system could have a method for taking control of their own school and their own budget (just take a look at the school reports by the consulting company - Lakeside has been so neglected as to come in next to last in educational adequacy - tell me they aren't being held down.)

Cerebration said...

Think about it. If this action makes the schools worse (which is apparently the fear of many), then gee - we'll be LAST instead of NEXT TO LAST. Whoopee!

Time to make radical changes in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of radicalism, and our public schools, despite some glaring disaster areas, remain strong and successful. Suppose we pull these triggers and hand out vouchers? What private school is going to embrace low income kids with challenging skill sets? All we'll end up doing is gutting the one thing that offers hope for so many.

Anonymous said...

???

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:38 AM

" ... our public schools remain strong and successful."

What parallel universe do you inhabit?

Anonymous said...

Suppose we pull these triggers and hand out vouchers? What private school is going to embrace low income kids with challenging skill sets

None...private schools were built specifically to keep these type of students out.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad the Cross Keys ban director cannnot get in front of the local news camera and ask for instruments for his students....

Why does a school run by a private organization get "face time" to ask for donations when a poor, public school is left to their own devices?

Does not sound real fair to me.

Anonymous said...

Let's not demonize the private schools for the inadequacies of the public system. Who does that help? I look forward to heading to Chamble High in a few years to see how this charter thing works. We have neighbors who love it and will do everything in their power to keep it.

What's wrong with parental involvement in the schools? Isn't this something that DCSS begs their stakeholders to do? Sure there are more of us doing this on the north end of the county and there are few who are working their hardest to make it work in the south, but we are hamstrung by a DCSS leadership who only care about themselves and their friends and family. What's interesting in this who DCSS debate about Tyson's raise? It's awaken many more people to the troubles and corruption at the system. My State legislator was outraged and said this will make it much easier to pare down the DCSS BOE from 9 to 7 members. Thanks Tom Bowen and BOE, your shenanigans are exposed and the emperor is naked.. not a great visual is it?

The corrupt leadership at DCSS is trying to get as much as possible before they do lose control, when a new Super is hired and the next election rolls around in 2012.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:45, The DCSS leadership would not allow the Band Director on TV. That's what Jeff Dickerson and Cohn and Wolfe are for. The band Director can come to the BOE meetings each month and make his 3 minute public plea like the rest of us. If he does go rogue, he will be fired and his pension and his tenure goes down the drain. This is how DCSS operates. The Central Office cannot give others power that they can't control. It would expose them as lousy leaders, which they are!

Cerebration said...

I look at it this way, say the Dunwoody cluster becomes a charter according to the current law (is it a law or still a bill?) and votes to pull a trigger and break away - taking full charge of their own schools - with their own budgets etc...

This would be beneficial to the remaining schools in the district, as the Dunwoody cluster is very vocal and demands a lot of attention from the school board. If the board doesn't have to deal with them so much, they can turn their attention to the struggling schools. Sort of like when a teacher sends off high-performing students to do an independent study or go with a gifted teacher - now the classroom teacher can give his or her full attention to those still in the room.

If a low-performing school has a parent group that pulls the trigger and demands charter status, they can interview and decide which company to hire to lead their school. Then, they have direct access to those in control of their children's education.

There are so many ways to implement this trigger. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be heard, instead of put down with comments like, "if you knew what we know..." That's just ridiculous.

BTW - there is nothing in this that gives out "vouchers" for private schools. This is simply handing control of the local schools to the local community. They can now control their per pupil funding. Obviously, this could encourage the proliferation of all kinds of different schools - low income, Title 1, special services for learning disabilities, arts and music, etc... AND - these charters are by law, not allowed to require applications (even Arabia requires an application, an essay, certain GPA, etc...)

Anonymous said...

Cele- The problem that I see with converted Charter Schools is that the principal and AP and Teachers still have to follow the DCSS rules and things. They may be able to do a few things differently, but they are ultimately run by DCSS. It's a sham and waste of tax payer dollars if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Charter schools may come and go. But it seems like the administration still will be there collecting their booty. You only move the patients and leave the infection.

I doubt that the BOE would ever approve a charter school in Dunwoody. It would be a surrender.

Anonymous said...

"I doubt that the BOE would ever approve a charter school in Dunwoody. It would be a surrender."

This has to be a joke! There are 2 charter ES and one charter MS in Dunwoody. How can you not know this?

Anonymous said...

I have to be very honest with you Anon 11:53 am, I am not sure what you think the Chamblee charter does.

People may love the school, but I am guessing that most of what they love has to do with the magnet program and not so much the charter.

A conversion charter school is only as independent as its principal wants it to be. It is all about who the leader is.

Anonymous said...

Actually, conversion charter schools cost the system nothing. Not one extra cent.

They collect no extra dollars. If you know differently please let me know. There are a few conversion charters out there that would like their share.

A conversion charter can say in their charter that they are going to do X, but if the system doesn't pay for it, they don't get to do it.

Anonymous said...

Conversion charter schools get hundreds of thousands of dollars to "start up." This money doesn't fall from the sky. It's from tax payer dollars whether state or federal, so yes this does cost us something.

Anonymous said...

You are right, but in recent years, those federal dollars have become much more restricted and less plentiful.

Anonymous said...

There is a very simple way to put parents in control of their local schools. It is called smaller school systems. I am the product of a small town, New England education. Most communities run their own school systems. They are mostly small with a high school, middle school, and one or two elementary schools. School board members are elected volunteers.

Small school systems are more responsive to the communities that they serve. You can have a public discussion about class size and course offerings in your schools. While every school system has a superintendent and an administrative staff, you won't see anything like the huge administrative staff we have in DeKalb.

traceybaptiste said...

First, thanks for linking to my blog post "A failure of imagination." A lot of the comments on that post were from parents, students and teachers who don't feel like their needs are being met, or that their concerns have been listened to. I firmly believe that classroom teachers, students, and their parents are the ones who should be making education decisions, and that would happen only in school systems where the schools had autonomy over their own curriculum.

Of course I realize this may be a pipe dream, but I believe that parents have a duty to fight for better education for our children. Whether that's moving toward more charter schools, homeschooling, or pushing for individual public schools to have control over their own studies.

Good luck, guys!

Anonymous said...

It's time for vouchers. I"m sorry but it can not be any worse than our current system - I am totally unconvinced that vouchers will be worse and I think they can improve things. I think schools will crop up (or are already there) to handle the 'issues' that everyone claims won't be addressable -- there are schools for add, adhd, learning issues, gifted, and just plain old normal kids. The throw everyone in the classroom, 35 to a room and make the teacher adjust 30 different lesson plans and pay off your friends plan that we currently haver really isn't working very well.

Cerebration said...

Thanks Tracey! Thanks for visiting -- I really enjoyed reading your blog -- good luck to you too!

Maybe 2011 will bring some power to the people!

Anonymous said...

The earlier poster has a good point about conversion charter schools in DeKalb County. It all depends on the principal and assistant principals. Charter schools are supposed to use innovative techniques to deliver the curriculum required of the state and county. If the school administration does not support or understand the concept of innovation, then little will distinguish a conversion charter school from a regular public school.

The problem is that the DCSS administration appoints the principals for conversion charter schools.

And yes, the charter cluster law passed and is now law. So it will be very interesting to see if the Dunwoody cluster applies for charter status.

Dr. Kwame M. Brown said...

Hey, thanks for sharing the link to my blog! As a federal policy adviser on early childhood development, I appreciate the opportunity to hear the perspectives of those on the ground.

As far as your charter school solution goes - it is not that simple.

Your solution is radical, but it also lacks consideration of some important factors:

1. Level of understanding among parents concerning the process of education. Contrary to the belief of many, there is a ton of child development research out there, and there are some best practices that we can identify, such as the importance of collaboration, self efficacy, and enjoyment (all of which we do a horrible job with because they are all difficult to implement.

2. The fact that many charter schools have the ability to pick their students. This robs us of the ability to truly compare public schools in their current state to what would happen when kids are able to pick whatever charter school they want to attend.

3. There are only so many charter schools - who educates the rest? Do our public schools become depots for all of those that initially no one wants to educate?

4. Will these charter schools now suffer from the same problems as public schools, thus becoming the new public school system?

5. There are a myriad of factors affecting the quality of a child's education - I am not sure that the question of whether or not it's public is the major factor.

We must address these issues (and more)before we glorify the charter school option.

Cerebration said...

Good input, Kwame. It is a difficult situation. I think some schools in our system want to become charters simply as a means of escaping our bloated, ineffective administration. We're all pretty frustrated with the top down management - we are pretty much in consensus that we would like teachers and principals to have much more control over the day to day education happening in our schools.

I really enjoyed your blog - keep up the good work - I hope you'll continue to share your opinions with us here on DeKalb School Watch.

Anonymous said...

Dr Brown--
Before commenting on the strengths and limitations of charter schools in DeKalb County, GA, you may wish to do some reading on the specifics. Some of your advice does not apply here. For example, there are charter schools that do NOT pick their students - they are designed as neighborhood schools that are run by the parents in a charter council. So public school in one area = charter school. Your question regarding charter vs. "who educates everyone else" is moot in this situation. Your understanding is different from the reality.

Your advice regarding parental education is also of varied use. Some parts of this county (like the Emory/CDC area) have the best educated parents in the county. Not only do they not need advice on education, they could probably teach you a few things.

Perhaps you'll be able to add more to the discussion when you have educated yourself on the specifics of this school system. Being a federal advisor is not enough, sir. In fact, being a government employee may be a disadvantage, given how the government at all levels has failed us in this county.

Dr. Kwame M. Brown said...

@Cerebration:

Thank YOU! For tackling these important issues.

@ Anonymous:

Wow! Evidently you took my statement of the position of federal adviser as an ego thing. Did you see the part where I said "I appreciate the perspective of those on the ground?" be careful here with your argumentative tone. I am merely trying to point out some potential issues. Some of which you may have addressed. And my advisory role is on child development and play - my background is in developmental neuroscience (Ph.D.) - the true root of everything you are discussing with regard to process in education. and I'm not a "government employee" in the true sense - but it sounds like you have a huge bias (that is unfounded here because you don't know me). And by the way, I advise Head Start - which is one of the more successful programs with regard to economic return, long term effect on life, and parent engagement / empowerment. And I have citations if you contact me at my blog.

1) Parent level of education - irrelevant to me with regard to knowledge OF education. I am speaking specifically about knowledge of the process of educating a child, which is the task in question. A parent with a law degree is of little use in that equation. Could some of them teach me a few things? Maybe. But so could my parents, who live in Atlanta and each have over 30 years experience in urban education (REALLY wish I could tell you who they are!).


2) Charter school structure: Ok, if they are neighborhood schools, they aren't given the ability to be selective? How do they "cap" the number of students? Or is this an issue at all? is the goal to "share" the space with public schools? Or is the goal to eradicate? Please educate me further here.

3) And finally, government has NOT "failed us at all levels" This is just not true. Government has not done as good a job as it could have, and there have been some pretty egregious screw ups and in many cases lack of foresight. But the emotional monolithically applied scapegoat-ism is not particularly helpful. To insult someone just because they work for the government? Beyond the pale. Has corporate America done so well for us? Have parents as a whole? What entity has done such a bang up job for "us"?

Anonymous, I await your reply, hopefully you will shed some light on my above questions.

Anon said...

Dr. Brown,

I am not the anonymous who posted earlier, but I thought I would give you some clarity on #2.

In GA, the first model of charters that were allowed were conversion schools. Under this model, existing public schools could "convert" to charter status. The schools asked for and were given more flexiblity as it applies to local and state rules.

In DeKalb, conversion charter schools kept their existing attendance zones and accept all students from their zone. If they have additional space, students can be accepted from a lottery.

A conversion charter school is only as strong as the followign three things:

1. Strength of the principal, how independent is this person willing to be.

2. Strength of the charter, not just in what it says, but in how it is being used. To many conversions in GA are meaningless. They aren't using their charter waivers at all.

3. Strength of the cooperation between parents, faculty and school administration. The stronger the partnership, the stronger the school.


In GA, all our charter schools, both start up and conversion, are required to run blind lotteries. Several have had to change their application and lottery procedures through they years.

There is of course, the self selection process. Parents and students have to have some motivation to enter the lottery.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brown,

Having taught for 15 years, most of those being in very poor communities, these parents don't understand what a good education looks like. Many of these parents received a poor education themselves. These parents are at a disadvantage, because they don't even know what to look for or ask for in their local schools to improve them. I have been told by these parents, that they don't want me making their children white, and I have replied that I am simply trying to educate them. The state tests that the children are given are rigged that answering 50% of the questions correctly gets you a "passing" score. Parents don't understand this and it's difficult to explain this to parents.

Parents with better education have the advantage of knowing that their children aren't receiving a quality education. They can read through the fine print and determine what test scores really mean or do research to find out. They have skills that many poor parents are lacking.

Our education systems are failing our poor students. Many black educators are poorly educated themselves. They still speak and write using the black vernacular. They are not skilled in understanding how to help struggling readers and few care that these kids aren't learning the way that they should. Many are quick to judge the parents of these kids, and write them off.

From my stand point, charter schools probably aren't the answer, but may help some children receive a quality education that currently isn't available in their neighborhood school. Every child deserves to learn and receive an education that allows them to follow their dreams. That isn't happening in all of our schools in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

@ Dr. Brown,
I think many parents are frustrated with classroom sizes of 30+ students many of which hold students who have disabilities, low teacher morale, scant and non-working technology, moldy and unsafe classrooms, and science classes that cannot go beyond paper and pencil instruction. If you have not worked in DeKalb schools, you really can't appreciate the environment that our students and teachers worki in every day. I've taught students and teachers in almost every DCSS school and in many instances the learning goes on in spite of the school system's administration. Did you know DCSS has 8500 admin and support personnel and only 6500 teachers? Di you knw that HVAC and kitchen mechanics wig high school diplomas and 5 years of experience make as much as a teacher with a Master's degree in outsides and 5 years of teaching experience? Did you know that science labs accidents go up dramatically after 24 in a class and science classes just got approved to go to 36? Did you know that the number of teacher positions is decreasing every year while non-teaching positions increase? Did you know that property taxes have risen while student achievement has fallen to he lowest in the metro area?
Parents are worried and getting more and more concerned. Anyhing that promises change seems good at this point.

Anonymous said...

@ Dr. Brown
Involved parents usually have literate children. Success for students of non-involved parents is mug more dependent on the best practices you are talking about. Unfortunately, most of the students in DCSS are stuck in schools that have had resouces mismanaged and drained from the classroom. Very inept administration of DCSS has led to lower student achievement for that group of students. We have 2 school systems in DCSS with involved parents wanting to break away from the non-involved one. The administration is totally to blame and yet assumes no responsibility.

Anonymous said...

-We have 2 school systems in DCSS with involved parents wanting to break away from the non-involved one. The administration is totally to blame and yet assumes no responsibility. -

I'll bite on this one, how is the administration to blame for lack of parental involvement? Are you expecting similar success rates and outcomes in spite of the lack of parental involvement?

Anonymous said...

Obviously, you misunderstood my post. Students with involved parents can succeed even in substandard conditions. For students with non-involved parents it becomes extremely important to have excellent learning conditions. The DCSS administration has squandered our resources and utterly failed to provide the excellent learning conditions that are absolutely necessary for students with little parental involvement.n For example, studies on class size say that this critical factor is he most critical for students who come from low income and non-involved homes. Highly qualified teachers are more critical for these students. Access to technology is more critical for these students. These are the very areas DCSS administration has failed in. For example, class size matters for all students, but it matters so much more for these students. It's true for so many areas the
Administration needed/needs to address. We are so used to poor performance by the administration that we expect parents to do everything.

Cerebration said...

Dr. Brown, you are spot on regarding the importance of play and physical activity to learning. My daughter has learning disabilities and she saw an occupational therapist (professional - outside of the school system) who focused on Floortime and play as well as certain physical activities to stimulate the vestibular system and create sensory integration. These physical systems go hand in hand with learning - in fact, I would go so far as to say that the new school setting in which students spend a great deal of their time sitting, is harmful to learning. On top of that, we are most likely medicating students who may just need some quality time on the playground. My 88 year old mother in law knew this. She taught 2nd grade for 30 years and had a door in her room leading directly outside. She would just open it and let the kids out to run and play for 15 minutes every time she felt they were slumping in attention.

You all should read Dr. Brown's blog. He has very important information about learning.

For more info on Floortime, read the late Dr. Stanley Greenspan's books.

http://stanleygreenspan.com/

Anonymous said...

@5:30, I did misunderstand. You did a great job explaining. Seems like the equity and access conversation that will be held soon.

Anonymous said...

It's more than bricks and mortar though. Reasonable class sizes and attracting and retaining high quality teachers is the most important part ofthe equation. This will not be addressed with SPLOST IV. General operations funds need to be reigned for this to happen.

Beyond the Pale said...

Dr. Brown doth protest too much. His post indicates he thinks he knows better than everyone here how to solve DeKalb's problems. Yet he doesn't know how charters work. I think not.

Anonymous said...

commenting on the comments about Don M. & Paul W. and teachers... (can't remember which post though) ... I think you would find a direct correlation between very successful schools and schools with principals with long tenure -- the more experienced (and, therefore, highly qualified) the principal (and, perhaps the assistant principal, the more successful the underlying school. If you take this back a decade, to under Dr. H. I think you would find more of a "mindset" of training principals and of leaving them in place. If you were to couple this with a shift in pay structure to what Kim G. has been proposing wherein the pay structure was shifted and the highest paid remained in the schoolhouse (save for the superintendent who should really be paid more), you would have a system that encouraged long range planning and training within the school house. The emphasis would be shifted to teaching and training the teachers on how to teach and weeding out those who can not. When you have a 3 year process to remove bad teachers (and there are some bad ones) and you shift the principal every 3rd year, the students suffer and the teachers run the show in certain schools -- there are no leaders (I read an interesting statistic about lawyers being disbarred per year and doctors having their license suspended at a rate that is multiples the rate of teachers being sanctioned and having their license pulled -- the stat ought to be about even). When the principal is there based on the "friends and family" plan and not on experience and qualifications, then you don't get a well run enterprise. The message to Paul and Don (and others) needs to be to begin to right the ship by encouraging principals to be hired because they are most qualified, as a policy, left in place without the shuffling that Dr. L was infamous for, and a policy change in pay structure that rewards the best of best for remaining in the school house rather than moving on to administration.

Anonymous said...

Last year(2009-2010 school year) the DSA principal was recognized by Dr. Lewis as being the DeKalb County principal with the longest continuous tenure in a school. She had 8 years as principal. Of 150 schools and centers, the principal with the longest tenure only had 8 years. Dr. Lewis routinely used principals as scapegoats for low performance. He fired and removed principals en masse for low test scores. The next group couldn't get the test scores up either. But meanwhile he deflected any criticism towards himself as he shifted the attention to the principal. I guess like a Ponzi scheme he thought her could keep going indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brown, you are very good at making something seem so good, yet you know nothing of the problems that ail our system. The timing of this editorial is very interesting. Let me ask you, are you one of these Arne Duncan lackeys that are trying to force a Federal Curriculum, down our throats?

The goal of this administration is a Federal Curriculum that will rewrite history and teach the things THEY want kids to learn. If we're not careful, the Federal Dept. of Education will sweep down with new regulations and guidelines without any input from Congress. This could be something like what the FCC, with 3 of 5 unelected officials, were successful in pulling off this week.

If Obama wins in 2012, you can bet the very things WE want control over will be under the control of the Federal Government and the Executive Branch. Get ready folks this is about power and our republic is in grave danger.

Anonymous said...

@10:22am

Take your meds!

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 10:22

LOL - I guess you liked Bush and his NCLB initiative. My understanding is that Obama and Duncan are looking at some measures other than test scores for schools. As far as a federal curriculum, I would rather have that than the Cobb County version of pseudo-science which would teach that man walked with the dinosaurs.

Cerebration said...

Actually, Duncan and Obama are advocates for charter schools. In fact, they had an initiative to CLOSE 5000 public schools and reopen them as charter with an entirely new staff.

Dr. Brown was sharing his opinion which we very much appreciate. This blog has room for all kinds of differing opinions - I just ask - please treat each other respectfully.

Anonymous said...

Chaos is the midwife of change...

Cerebration said...

Come to think of it - what's happening with the plan to close the 5000 schools?

Obama wants 5K closed schools to rebound

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama intends to use $5 billion to prod local officials to close failing schools and reopen them with new teachers and principals.
The goal is to turn around 5,000 failing schools in the next five years, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday, by beefing up funding for the federal school turnaround program created by the No Child Left Behind law.

Obama doesn't have authority to close and reopen schools himself. That power rests with local school districts and states. But he has an incentive in the economic stimulus law, which requires states to help failing schools improve.

Duncan said that might mean firing an entire staff and bringing in a new one, replacing a principal or turning a school over to a charter school operator. The point, he said, is to take bold action in persistently low-achieving schools.

"Our students have one chance — one chance — to get a quality education," Duncan said in a speech Monday to the Brookings Institution think tank.

"If we turn around just the bottom 1%, the bottom thousand schools per year for the next five years, we could really move the needle, lift the bottom and change the lives of tens of millions of underserved children," Duncan said.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I hope you're right! However, the lest few weeks and the way Congress and our DCSS BOE acted in lame duck sessions, concerns me.

Whether you like NCLB, written by both Republicans and Democrats or whatever the Obama administration ends up doing, the education decisions for our kids should be made on a local level.

We should hold our teachers and leaders accountable for the success or failures of our children in school. I would like to see our leadership act like adults and be true leaders by providing the proper tools for our teachers. Teachers should not have spend a dime on supplies for their classrooms. Maybe we could divert some of those funds being wasted on America's Choice and these "Central Office" leaders who have done nothing to improve OUR kids education. I know.. wishful thinking.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous wrote:

Chaos is the midwife of change...

December 23, 2010 12:07 PM


Foul we say! Foul! Incorrect application and false assumption if they are applying this to the current DCSS situation.

Chaos implies randomness! There was nothing, and we repeat nothing was random about the systematic and planned pilliging, plundering, raping and squandering of the monetary and human assets of this system!

This is part of the basis of the case against the former superintendent....RICO! How soon we forget.

There is nothing random about your so called "chaos."

Ben Dover and Jim Bohica

Anonymous said...

I think if you go back and really scrutinize what's happened to eduction, you'd find that the feds getting involved in the first place is when things began to really go wrong. I think an answer may be to get the feds out of it altogether. Standards maybe... There's way too much money now being taken at gun point from those with the money by the feds, the state and local authorities and being put into the school systems, then they (the ones in charge) are figuring out how best to use this money for their own purposes (yes, this is my cynical view on the state of things). The Feds pass unfunded mandates that just mess with everyone, have us jumping through hoops that appear to give us a bunch of money that isn't worth all the costs of all the hoops in the first place. I think we were better off when it was all localized. I think that there may even be an argument (don't jump down my throat here) that the system for the minority students may have had more positives before all of the "improvements" at least in DCSS. At least way back when, there appears to have been a tight knit community that cared about each other, families stayed together, dads were involved with the raising of babies, everyone knew what everyone else was doing -- the kids were have fewer babies and I think (I could be wrong about this) but I think there was more motivation to learn and to really speak and read proper English and to succeed in the system.

Dr. Kwame M. Brown said...

@anonymous regarding the "lackey" comment.

Ok, let's get rid of the conspiracy theories, they are not productive. For the record, I am no one's lackey. In fact my MO throughout my career has been as an independent thinker. For the record also, I disagree completely with NCLB, and with the history of unfunded mandates. These are a waste of time. I also disagree with the longer school day, UNLESS it means that we are re-instituting music programs, plenty of physical movement breaks, and language programs. So that's (at least partially) where I stand.

Furthermore, your problem in DeKalb County is not THAT the government is involved in schools - it's WHO you have in your government. Graft and corruption, which you all (and ATL) have experienced in your school administration, can also happen among parent run schools, and in privately run schools.

Certainly, our solutions lie in just that - solutions. The monolithic view of "government bad, private good" and of "federal bad, local good" will lead us into another set of messes.

What we need - central (possibly federal) oversight/definition of best practices COMBINED with the FREEDOM of CREATIVITY at the local level. To say that local control is all that is needed - what if the people in your district have no idea what they are doing? Furthermore, central oversight allows us to pool our intellectual resources.

But federal involvement is certainly nowhere near a panacea, and I think unfortunately we rested on the idea that it was. It is a true give and take that I am after.

I will give you the example of Fairfax County Schools - one of the best school systems in the nation - people flock across the country and take jobs here because of our school system. Not privately run, not a system of charter schools, just really good schools (not all, but most) - and they are government run. News flash - not all charters do well.

I will also reiterate - people complain about the kids who "don't want to learn" or the parents who are uninvolved. What we have here is a cultural problem. Which we will not solve by continuing to further separate the elite from everyone else. WE solve it over a long period of time by changing what we value from money to wisdom. Check out this contradiction: "Hey, you should work two jobs" "Hey, you should spend more time with your children". Both can't be a "best practice". We have to choose family and education, or money, as our value.

Please don't forget too, that individuals in government that are corrupt, grew up here. The private individuals that ran Bear Stearns, largely grew up here. The people grafting from DeKalb County, grew up here. We produce these decision making INDIVIDUALS. So think twice about lumping me with them because I work WITH government. I am also an INDIVIDUAL, as are you.

So, we have a lot more work to do, far beyond saying "government get out".

Cerebration said...

I love this paragraph --

What we have here is a cultural problem. Which we will not solve by continuing to further separate the elite from everyone else. WE solve it over a long period of time by changing what we value from money to wisdom. Check out this contradiction: "Hey, you should work two jobs" "Hey, you should spend more time with your children". Both can't be a "best practice". We have to choose family and education, or money, as our value.

Well said Dr. Kwame M. Brown!

Anonymous said...

I hope Dr. Brown practices what he preaches, since our president is hellbent to separate the DC elitists from everyone else, by their redistributive policies that are "transforming America."

Dr. Kwame M. Brown said...

Anonymous - your comment makes no sense whatsoever. How can you redistribute wealth to lower incomes and be an "elitist" at the same time?

I could address that comment in much more detail, but that would take away from the subject matter here, which is important. I would ask as a fellow fan of this blog and the important subject matter, that we stick to talking about DeKalb County schools and not wax too philosophical. What are your further suggested, constructive solutions for DeKalb County Schools?

Not ideological, pie in the sky stuff, but practical solutions that can be implemented right now? Let's stick to talking about things that can be done to actually improve the process of education for the children, not "winning" an ideological battle.

I appreciate your energy and passion and eagerly await your practical solutions.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Brown, I agree that we need practical solutions at DCSS. I think the previous poster has jumped into a local blog with national opinions. I do believe a lot has happened during the lame duck sessions at a federal level, as well as a local level. The headlines have a lot of heads exploding on the left and the right and I think that when it comes to schools, the local citizenry should maintain a control of their systems.

Practical Solutions for DCSS:
-Trust
-Transparency - Where is the 2004 Audit and the minutes of ALL meetings, unedited.
-New Leadership - Cut all ties to past, Clew leaders should resign.
-Bottom up budgeting, school house first then Central Office personnel and consulting programs that have so far shown NO return on investment.
-Full audit of all programs and Open Check Book Online for the public to digest.
-No more Friends, Family, Fraternities, Sororities and cut ties to New Birth.
-No more North or South, we have a choice now, charter districts or ONE school system!

The latest DCSS headlines have many residents livid! The perception is, nothing has changed at DCSS. The BOE, Super and staff have obviously not changed the way they are doing things, more decisions made in meetings, announced at the last minute, no transcripts available of these meetings. Not a great thing if you are trying to change the perception by deception.

There have been some successes, we finally are searching for a Super, a process that should have started much sooner. Dan Drake has done great work in developing and using the software, DCSS has had for years but never used, that monitors population patterns. Gathering this information will be vital in the decisions that lie before the BOE in 2011.

Lot's to do and I would love to see Ms. Tyson earn her new salary and open the doors of the palace and let the sunshine in! She spoke of Trust, Transparency and changing the perception back in April, now that you are being paid the wage of Super, unlock the secrets of the tower for all to see.

Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

NewsFlash!

You have control of the schools!
You have always had control over American Public Schools!

Yep.
They are yours.
You vote for the school board.
Every one in the schools answers to them.
You vote for the county government of the larger county.


Quit acting like you have been robbed/cheated/mislead or whatever.

Don't like the schools?
How did you vote in Nov.?
Serve in the PTA?
Attend school board meetings?
Volunteer at your local school?
Or are you just waiting for some corporation to fix it for you?

You do not have to wait for a charter to get involved.


,