Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fear and Loathing Not Just in Druid Hills, Alas Brookhaven ...

Below is the text of a campaign of the Ashford Park PTA to help save one neighborhood from certain demise and DeKalb County from imploding. I had to respond and also feel obligated to share the factual corrections with as wide of an audience as possible because they are gross AND erroneous. Memo to DeKalb PTAs - you don't have to denegrade everyone else to lift up your children.

"Dear Ashford Park Elementary School PTA Representatives:

As a School Council Member for Woodward ES, a School Council Member for Cross Keys HS, and as the President of the Cross Keys Foundation, I am obligated to correct the mis-information contained in your communication below.

Woodward Elementary School has made AYP three of the last four years (2010 being the exception). Woodward Elementary is a good school with nearly 900 very fine young people and an excellent faculty. Woodward Elementary School is just as much part of the Brookhaven community as any of our other area public schools. To suggest that a change to the Woodward ES attendance area would "devastate Brookhaven's close-knit community" and "reduce the educational opportunities for all DeKalb children" is a groundless assertion that is offensive to me personally as your Brookhaven neighbor and is a direct attack on the reputation and dignity of these young people's families.

Putting aside the insult and the urge to return the favor by insulting the Chamblee attendance area schools with facts, I will continue correcting the mis-information about our Cross Keys area schools. The horrible little school at Woodward has recently produced a Presidential Scholar at Georgia Tech (Cross Keys Class of 2009). For those who are not familiar with this scholarship, it is awarded only to the top incoming freshmen at the school. In his year of admission, Carlton Washington was one of sixty students out of over six thousand and nine hundred applicants to receive this merit scholarship. Mr. Washington chose GT after spending his Junior year summer at engineering camp at MIT. One of his 2009 classmates won the DeKalb County Science Fair and competed internationally for her work in epigenics.

Then there is Yehimi Cambron, Cross Keys Class of 2010, who earned a competitive scholarship for a full ride ($160,000) at Agnes Scott College. Her dream is to be an art teacher at a school like Ashford Park or Woodward. This year's class includes Mpaza Kapembwa, a recipient of a full ride at Williams College, Forbes-ranked #1 school ahead of Harvard, Yale, and a few other schools you may know. The Class of 2011 also includes Vy Tran. The odds-on favorite for Valedictorian is considering her options but the full ride offered to her by Stanford University is one option she may have to take. You may know that school for their recent successes in NCAA football but they are an up-and-comer in academics.

While these are just a few exemplary cases of the type of high achieving students from Cross Keys HS and Woodward ES, they are just that - examples. The students in my local schools are every bit as educated and competitive in academics as those in your schools. I guess technically they are all our schools, aren't they? I personally own residential property in both districts and am proud of both schools.

The above examples are representative of the following additional accolades:

1. The high school was one of four high schools in DeKalb to make AYP last year. The others were Dunwoody, Tucker, and Lakeside.
2. In 2008, the seven schools of the Cross Keys attendance area were the only attendance area in which every single school made AYP that year, including Woodward making it for the third year in a row.
3. Cross Keys is an AP Honors School.
4. Cross Keys Georgia High School Graduation Test Scores in Math and Science are regularly in the top three in DeKalb.
5. The Brookhaven Rotary Club-sponsored Interact Club at Cross Keys has won three of the last four first place honors at regional service club competitions that include schools like Milton, Campbell, and Chamblee Charter.
6. Cross Keys HS has won many Helen Ruffin Reading Bowls at DeKalb County, including last year.
7. The school's robotics team finished in the first quartile of over one hundred teams from around the world.

These and many other individual and collective accolades are being quietly accrued at what I consider to be one of, if not the, best high school in DeKalb County. Both Woodward and Cross Keys are schools that Brookhaven residents should be very proud of, not encouraged to fear.

Besides my role as a School Council member at both schools, I am personally compelled to correct this mis-information you've propagated. For while hundreds of our neighbors in Brookhaven, Doraville, Chamblee, and Dunwoody have taken the time to learn the truth about the schools you have slighted, many have not and will take your mis-representations and errors as fact.

These children have far too much to struggle against to have the weight of this horrible image of them and their schools perpetuated. Please consider sending out a corrective statement to your members and encourage them to forward it along.

The truth has a way of healing. If you would consider sending these truths about my schools with the same energy and enthusiasm as the mis-information you are circulating in the community, I have a feeling that our community will be the better for it.

Here's hoping you can accomplish what you wish to accomplish for yourselves and for your children without mis-representing the truth about these high achieving and worthy neighbors.

Sincerely, Your Neighbor,
Kim Gokce
P.S. I hope the APE open house was a success. I missed it this year due to prior commitments. Please consider Cross Keys' Open House on Valentine's Day, 9:00am-11:00am, February 14th. If anyone would like to tour Woodward ES, I would be happy to be your escort."



On Wed, 26 Jan 2011 21:56:37 -0600, Ashford Park PTA wrote:
 

The turnout at last week's Public Forum on redistricting and consolidation at CCHS was huge, both in terms of number of people (2,000+) and level of passion in opposition to the proposed Centralized Redistricting Option (aka Plan A). We sincerely thank our neighbors and parents who came out.
Below are three things you can do to keep the momentum going and elevate our voice. Time is of the essence. On February 7, Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson will make her proposal to the BOE; on March 7, the Board will vote on redistricting and school consolidation. THANK YOU for your immediate action!
1. Join the Brookhaven Fields effort to sustain their neighborhood and protect their children’s educational opportunities by clicking the link below and “signing” your name to their virtual petition. Even if you do not have a student in a DeKalb County school, please consider adding you name; be sure to reference Ashford Park School. The BOE needs to understand the kind of active, vocal support we receive from our wonderful neighbors!


Brookhaven Fields, a vibrant 750+ home neighborhood, is at serious risk of being removed from Ashford Park Elementary School and subsequently, from nationally-recognized Chamblee Middle School and Chamblee Charter High School. Over the past 10 years, Brookhaven Fields residents and parents have invested time, talent and resources to elevate Ashford Park School to the successful community school it has become, and we do not want to be removed from the APS school district and Chamblee magnet cluster. Redistricting Brookhaven Fields relocates our 41 children from a high-performing elementary school to a school that did not achieve Georgia Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards in 2010—and has not since 2004.
   
2. Participate in the DCSS virtual public input workshop by taking the following survey; the deadline is Sunday, January 30. It takes less than five minutes, and we would greatly appreciate your support. The survey allows you to cut/paste directly into the survey (albeit with a character limit) and also allows you to directly e-mail your comments to redistricting@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us.



3. Email our BOE members the following statement (or similar points in your own words). Their emails are listed after the statement.
I am opposed to the Centralized Plan proposal to redistrict 16,100 students, including those who currently attend Ashford Park Elementary School in my neighborhood. The Centralized Plan will:

- needlessly move more than 40 children from a high-performing elementary school which consistently meets Annual Yearly Progress (Ashford Park) to a low-performing school which has not made AYP since 2004, and reduce the educational opportunities for all DeKalb children
- devastate Brookhaven's close-knit community which has been undergoing a renaissance centered around Dresden Drive

- undermine the Board's stated goal of community cohesion
- create costly requirements to completely retrofit a school campus that was only recently repurposed (Kittredge) and increase busing in our area

The nationally-recognized Chamblee magnet program which includes Chamblee Charter High School and its feeder schools is not broken. Chamblee is a highly successful magnet model with strong community support from parents, neighborhood associations and local businesses that work together to create these high-performing schools. DeKalb County tax dollars should not be spent to "fix" something that is not broken.

We recognize the need to make urgent changes in other areas of DeKalb County where parents and community members are pleading for change in their districts; they need DCSS’ focused attention. We urge DCSS to please slow down and not change everything at once. There is no urgent need to change the Ashford Park/Chamblee district or to reduce the educational opportunities provided to DeKalb children.
  
Raise opportunities for all children. Reduce opportunities for none.
  
Ramona Tyson, Interim Superintendent, ramona_tyson@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Thomas E. Bowen, Chairthomas_bowen@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Nancy Jester, Board Member
nancy_jester@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Donna Edler, Board Memberdonna_edler@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Sarah Copelin-Wood, Board Membersarah_copelin-wood@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Jay Cunningham, Board Memberjay_cunningham@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Don McChesney, Board Memberdon_mcchesney@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Pam Speaks, Board Memberpam_speaks@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Eugene P. Walker, Board Member, eugene_p_walker@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
Paul Womack, Board Memberh_paul_womack@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us
--

  Ashford Park PTA

everychild.onevoice

122 comments:

Dunwoody Mom said...

I see this email from the Ashford Park PTA is as troubling as the many emails floating around Dunwoody...

The nationally-recognized Chamblee magnet program which includes Chamblee Charter High School

Let me change this around for accuracy....

The Chamblee Charter High School plays host to the DeKalb County High Achievers Magnet Program.

Note: The majority of the students at Chamblee Charter High School are NOT in the magnet program. In fact, according to the figures released by DCSS a week of so ago, only 62 Chamblee High students are in the magnet program and 61 Chamblee Middle students are in the MS Magnet Program.

See this chart: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/redistricting/enrollment-high-achiever-magnet-gifted-middle-high.pdf

There is quite a misconception that being zoned into Chamblee automatically makes one a part of the Magnet program. It does not. Chamblee attendaze zone students have to apply to the magnet program just like everyone else.

I plan to attend the Cross Keys Open House on February 14th. I hope to see many of you there!!!

Anonymous said...

I wonder where this sense of protecting the entire Brookhaven village was when your PTA and principal chose to accept the bribe from Sembler to support Town Brookhaven despite the fact that the rest of the community opposed it.

You're entitled but then you can't hide behind looking out for the whole community when it suits you. Of course, Cross Keys doesn't promote hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

I attended a prospective parents meeting at Chamblee Middle School. The principal, who really impressed me, made it very clear that the magnet program is HOUSED at Chamblee but belongs to the school system.

There has been much of this behavior from the Ashford Park PTA for the last decade. The example given about Sembler is a good one.

The amount of work that went into getting themselves redistricted into Chamblee was amazing.

Additionally, the energies that have been occasionally displayed in making sure that more of Cross Keys isn't redistricted into Chamblee have also been amazing.

Anonymous said...

The Ashford Park people talk about being districted to Chamblee, but the fact is that most of them go private, so it's just talk. You know, the property values thing. CCHS itself is only 23% white, so their precious ones do not attend either the MS or the HS.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, when you say 61 or 62 students are in the magnet program, are you only speaking about CCHS residents in the magnet program? I have been told there are 352 gifted students at CCHS, we have an email into the school to find out how many of those gifted are actually IN the magnet program.

Kim thanks for your response. I was at Bethune last night with my wife, every cluster was represented there last night. The one thing I took away is NO ONE is happy with either plan. When asked to come up with a Option 3 all we had at our table were more questions.

-Cost benefits for all options!
-Is academic achievement being explored when closing a school.
-Everyone has asked for ES/MS/HS Magnet/Resident schools in every cluster.
-Transparency

Great discussions at our table.

Anonymous said...

matiessDunwoody Mom, Chamblee High School has about 350 students in the magnet program. The number you are quoting (62 students) I believe is the number of RESIDENT students who are classified as "gifted" at CCHS. Same with CMS.

Anonymous said...

Why is it a problem that people in Brookhaven want their kids to go to the best school possible? And that some of us believe that Woodward is NOT that school? I would not have bought into this district had I known that we would possibly be redistricted to Cross Keys/Woodward.

And yes, it does have to do with my precious children. I will give them the very best opportunities from day one. This doesn't make me a bad person, it makes me a good parent.

Perhaps the reason so many people send their kids to private is for the same reason. Looks like it is time for us to start investigating private schools as well, since there is no chance I will send my kids to Woodward.

Anonymous said...

"matiess" hmm... don't know where that came from. Please ignore.

Point is that anon 7:15 a.m. is correct.

Seems that the majority of parents speaking out want a high quality, high achiever academic program. The "differentiated" instruction model is not seen as a viable option.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there are 388 magnet students at Chamblee. Look at the first column of the chart I referenced. It will give you an idea of the home schools of these students.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Well, as Cere and I are finding out, it's difficult to actually get a true figure of "gifted" students in DCSS. There are different figures reported everywhere one looks.

Yes, there are students at Chamblee who are "gifted" that are not in the Magnet program.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Sorry, that anonymous 7:41 was me.

Anonymous said...

Resident students at Chamblee High do NOT have to compete for admission to the magnet program. You are mistaken Dunwoody Mom. ANY student who meets the magnet program criteria is enrolled in magnet courses and if they are successful, they continue to take magnet courses. I do not know how the county classifies these students, but there are many resident students who take magnet courses.

It is all described in the charter.

Anonymous said...

Folks, last night I was astounded at how many folks had not done any research of data. There were people at our table that were unaware that we had redistricted some schools just 4 years ago.

There was also frustration amongst a parent from Allgood, who had all kinds of issues trying to find info on the DCSS website. She had not heard of this blog and I wrote down the address and told her it was a great clearinghouse for data.

By the way, another recurring theme that came out of Clusters 4 and 5 last night was school choice. In celebrating National School Choice Week this week, I was amazed and pleasantly surprised at how many folks want school choice!

I also really like the idea of placing resident/magnet school programs in every cluster. This point came up time and time again.

Kim, I always enjoy your emails and I love the success of Cross Keys. I think CCHS and CKHS need to form a coalition of students, teachers and parents to start working together.

There are college administrators at Georgia Tech who always talk about the students coming out of Chamblee and Cross Keys, alum from these high schools become very involved at the college level. This administrator said these are some of the finest students we have in our programs.

For those who think an Avondale Magnet School Conglomerate is the way to go, "Centralized plan" I want to ask why you think we couldn't duplicate the magnet program in all clusters! Let's keep what works and maybe scuttle that improvement offic of Audria Berry's and place that money into the magnet programs so every cluster can take advantage of the programs that work.

Cerebration said...

Very good points, Anon 8:06. I know that Kittredge was supposed to serve as an incubator for teachers and teaching methods, however, over the years the program has become completely insular. Perhaps it's because although the teaching methods can be duplicated, the very small class sizes, hand-chosen students and best quality teachers cannot be duplicated at every "regular" school.

Our school system messed up when it spent it's energy over the years responding to 'squeaky wheels' by simply allowing transfers willy-nilly. All's quiet? Good. Well, that has been the purpose of this blog - to shine a light on the fact that our school system is outrageously uneven and plays favorites to friends, family and administrators. Too much money is spent on Berry's "Office of School Improvement" and not nearly enough directly in the schools. We have many needy Title 1 schools that absolutely could improve with an in-house boost of support teachers for small groups in reading and math. The system MUST shut down this out of control office of (hundreds?) of Instructional Coaches (not Instructional Specialists - as we found out those are art/music etc teachers) - and put that money into DIRECT, small group instruction in early years. Adding needs-based Pre-K academies would be an excellent way to start.

That said, I can say with absolute honesty that had I known then what I know now about Cross Keys - I would have sent BOTH of my children there by choice, with no qualms.

I must admit, I am beyond disappointed in some of our communities and their frightening reactions to the idea of having to move out of their comfort zone a little bit. ALL of these schools that are being dragged through the mud are full of children deserving just as good a shot at life as yours—"involved" parents or not. Please, remember that before you get out your keyboards and start typing.

It's all starting to look like one of those "angry mob" scenes in every episode of the "Twilight Zone".

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone begrudges the transfers in their schools the right to attend them when there is available space. It is the transfers that were given in excess of the attendance threshold at a school that are now pushing out residents. This should never have happened. Also, there was a comment that central and north DeKalb have populations predicted to increase. Where did you find this? The only charts I have seen show them as flat lines so stable.

Leo said...

Kim
I appreciate your sentiments, and I know you're proud of Cross Keys -- you should be and the students and families that go there should be too. But, elementary school is the foundation of the rest of successful schooling, and I have even heard you speak about the challenges that the elementary students at Woodward face. In fact, I believe you described Woodward as "the poorest elementary school in Dekalb county" based on the fact that 99% of the student qualify for reduced or free lunch. When you look at APE, you'll notice that several of the "good" things about the school were provided not by the county but by outsiders: the outdoor science lab, the computer lab, and this year, a music teacher, which was funded solely by the school's foundation. Moreover, the school has worked really hard to gain parental and community support over the past several years, successfully I might add. I believe that I've also heard you talk about the challenges of getting sufficient parental support in the Woodward community, and although it may not be due to a lack of interest in the education of students (I'm certain that most of the parents want their kids to get a good education), you've highlighted the challenges present which stymie that involvement: (working two jobs, not having transportation, language barriers, not knowing what to do or how to help out etc.) Based on the specific challenges facing the Woodward community, do you really believe that it is unrealistic that parents might prefer that their child go to a school where a higher percentage of parents provide support (either monetary or through volunteer hours) and where the community has overwhelmingly provided opportunities that would not otherwise be provided by the county? Don't get me wrong, I think the kids at Woodward should have these opportunities as well. In my opinion, it's a shame that we need to rely on outsiders at all to give our kids a good education, but if there's a substantial difference in this regard between the two schools (which I think here there is) is it fair to subject just a handful of elementary kids to such a significant difference (I believe the elementary number impacted is 23 or so). I would 100% support a true mixing of these communities (perhaps a consolidation), but to bring a small number of students into a learning environment with huge challenges that even you recognize doesn't seem fair to those students. [And no, I don't live in Brookhaven Fields, but I do believe that the parents there have valid points and have the right to be concerned about the differences in these environments and the available resources for their elementary students and also the fact that Woodward didn't make AYP last year because the school they are currently at did. Frankly, I have not heard a single parent who lives there complain about the high school even though the APS PTA e-mail talks about the high school too -- you must remember they are sending this to their entire population which includes parents with kids currently in the magnet program]

Anonymous said...

Great post Kim as usual -- I agree with Cere-- had I known then what I know now about Cross Keys vs. LHS (after subjecting a child to LHS) -- I would have gone to Cross Keys in a heart beat! There is so much love and care there for the kids that is missing in so many places with just as many AP offerings. I feel the same way about the IB program (I don't have as good a sense for "love and care at DHHS but I do sense that the academics behind IB in 11th and 12th grade at DHHS is much stronger than the AP versions at LHS because of the international standards in place -- therefore fewer succeed so it's a trade-off)

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 7;25a "And yes, it does have to do with my precious children."

We're neighbors, Anon, so this is difficult for me to say without sounding like I'm arguing - I do not intend that.

This rebuttal of mine is not about your children and your choices. This is about mis-information (I'm assuming it was an accident of negligence by BFCA and APE PTA). There is a slight difference between "never making AYP since 2004" and "making AYP three of the last four years."

I do not care where you want to send your children for education as long as they get an education. I care about the truth. I have shared what I know to be the truth.

It is not my position or desire to see more square footage moved left or right in Brookhaven. It is my desire that respect be given to the children in Woodward ES for their accomplishments and to the faculty there and Cross Keys HS and that no more mis-conceptions or untruths are circulated about them as a defense for what others want.

As someone who applauds civic engagement and community activitism, I humbly suggest that the petition submitted to the school system leadership with this egregious error will not win them over. THEY know what schools have made AYP and those that have not and will discount the argument being made when they see key facts being cited that are COMPLETELY WRONG.

Leo said...

@ Anonymous 6:33
Accepting the "bribe" from Sembler was the right thing to do. I'm assuming that you don't belong to the Costco and won't shop at the specialty "green" Publix when it opens either. Yes, some people on the Capital City-side of Brookhaven opposed the development (largely people in the APS school district and sending their children to Sarah Smith and those whose homes directly boarder the development) but many others in the community supported Sembler coming in (I know that I did and continue to do so) and will take advantage of the restaurants etc. that are there. Since you're so opposed to it still, I expect that you'll stay away.

Anonymous said...

CCHS does not control the Magnet selection process - DCSS does. This is from the school choice brochure:

"Clifton, Evansdale, Chamblee Middle School, Columbia Middle School, Chapel Hill Middle School, Chamblee Charter High School, Columbia High School, and Southwest DeKalb High School.
An effort is made to give the home school magnet site the opportunity to have 50% of the total magnet program enrollment selected from its home pool. The other 50% will be selected from a county at-large pool. Additional students not selected will be wait listed per grade level. Home pool seats will be filled by home applicants when available. At-large pool seats will be filled by at-large applicants when available."

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody has the same problem. One or two schools that everyone wants to attend...truth is all the elementary schools in Dunwoody are great. No one fails AYP, all the test scores are good, and they all have great parental support. It's fairly simple up here, the schools are unbalanced due to enrollment. Divide them up by geography and go on...A lot of these elite parents who try to rework the lines don't even go on to middle school. I wish they would go to private school from the start and leave the public schools alone.

Anonymous said...

You can find actual and projected population numbers at the Atlanta Regional Commission website. This is one place many parents have researched regarding population changes in their areas. Before Dan Drake arrived at DCSS, these numbers were ignored by the leadership, since DCSS did not have anyone who knew how to operate the GIS Data software. Now we do, Dan Drake!

Here is the link...
http://www.atlantaregional.com/info-center/gis-data-maps

Kim Gokce said...

Leo: "if there's a substantial difference in this regard between the two schools (which I think here there is)"

Well, you've hit the nail on the head. Everything you mentioned is available to the children of Woodward ES except the outdoor science lab and I'm not even sure about that. And, yes, it is the "poorest" elementary school in DeKalb Co as measured by Title I. So what exactly is the "inequity" of educational opportunities? There is none.

May of the arguments you make sound very reasonable ... [cue the 'but'] ... but you have completely missed the point of my rebuttal. I am going to continue to refuse to get into an analysis of the other schools serving our area because I think it is a moot point for our community - a "'Tis vs 'Taint" thing if you will. Our community is divided and that is life until ...

When that division is re-enforced by mis-information (again, assuming it was negligence, not malfeasance), I have to cry, "foul!" And that is all I am proposing - let's correct the record about Woodward ES and Cross Keys HS.

APE boosters and CCHS boosters are just Jim Dandy folks and I have friends on the Governance Council on down. I will not make a public spectacle of myself pointing out all the shortcomings of CCHS and is feeders as a way of uplifting Woodward community. I humbly asked that my neighbors reciprocate.

Kim Gokce said...

Leo: re: "Costco" ... good one! lol, I've thought about how many shoppers and dinners at Town Brookhaven fought to keep it out.

Cerebration said...

Leo, I believe the "bribe" was not the development itself, it was the actual very, very large cash donation the Sembler Co made directly to the school itself. How much was it exactly? Anyone know the exact number? I'm recalling $25,000. (Sembler made a $20,000 donation to Elaine Boyer just for the Lakeside cheerleaders - so who knows - it could have been more for Ashford Park.)

Anonymous said...

We cannont replicate magnets without finding a way to operate the ones we have with far fewer extra dollars. Are the parents at DSA ready to make that sacrifice? What about at KMS or DESA or Wadsworth?

DCSS does choice incorrectly. Until they fix that, please understand that we can't replicate anything.

Leo said...

@ Cere: I believe that Sembler donated $100,000 for the computer lab. I'm cool with people calling it a bribe, but I also think that it was a great call for the school community (the school has Smart/Promethean boards in every classroom and a nice computer lab too). I also think that the Sembler development on P'tree is good for the community, but I'm one for development of neighborhoods.

Leo said...

@ Kim
I agree that it is important that accurate information be provided and that arguments be made based on the truth not misstatements. And I too look forward to attending the Cross Keys open house -- I'm really impressed with everything that has been accomplished over there and hope that the success the community has there continues to trickle down to the feeder schools. Really, I just wish we ALL had great educational programs and find it amazing that DCSS can't seem to provide them, but I also see why parents of children in Brookhaven Fields would be concerned (and from a selfish standpoint, I think it'll be bad for APE to lose that community which gives so much time and money to the school).

Cerebration said...

Ironic that they didn't give a dime to Woodward though. Gee - maybe it has to do with the heavy concentration of registered voters at Ashford Park. Voters who would be ok with the big $50 million tax break that Gene Walker (who also got at least $20,000 from Sembler) tried to pass for the company. Millions our schools would not recover - well, except for Ashford Park - they got theirs and that's how DCSS rolls. Each school (community) for itself.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:40 - At Bethune last night there was a person sitting at our table that wanted the Magnet centralized. However, when she started to hear our arguments to that she started to listen to us. I told her I wasn't one to scuttle great programs and move them to another school. I want an audit of all magnet schools, financial, academic achievement, etc. and how it effects the residential students as well as the magnet students. I'm willing to make a sacrifice, once we have all the facts in place.

Like the former parents from Nancy Creek sitting at our table last night. They expressed their displeasure at the leadership refusing to listen to ideas and factual data from DeKalb Planning and the Atlanta Regional Commission, 4 years ago. Clew needed a building for Kittredge so he could sell to Sembler so Clew cooked the books to close a successful school that SACS said to duplicate and now the consultants want to re-open as a neighborhood school 4 years later. I don't blame parents in the new Nancy Creek district at all, the move to Montgomery and Huntley Hills 3 years ago only to be moved back because of faulty data and weak leadership at the Palace. Doesn't sound right to me.

Leo said...

@ Cere
The Sembler development on P'tree and the proposed development on N. Druid Hills were separate transactions. I think you might be confusing the money they paid. The P'tree/Oglethorpe one where they gave money to the school where the homes directly impacted (the neighboring properties) would go and was a done deal by the time the NDH proposal came up. The NDH development involved the lining of a lot of people's pockets, the moving of Kittredge and DCA (which was also opposed by a nearby community due to the impact on Nancy Creek Elem) and then was not successful in gaining the needed approval. But I think they only made the donation to Ashford Park to quiet some of the people directly impacted by the building of that property.

Anonymous said...

Kim--
A similar dynamic occurred about six years ago, when DCSS realigned the LHS and DHHS middle school feeders. The students from Briarlake and Oak Grove were going to move from Shamrock to Henderson, to vertically align the feeder pattern. This was advertised well in advance, and was not a surprise to anyone. The PTAs and School Councils at both schools, to their credit, worked hard to try to assimilate and ease the transition. But we had a substantial group of parents (ahem, Briarlake and OG) who were beside themselves at their children moving from Shamrock to Henderson (which they perceived as some sort of international hell hole, but used the cover of wanting to keep their "Shamrock" community together). Remember, this was one of the first big changes in attendance in the northern part of the county in years (not including creation of the middle schools themselves), so it was a harbinger of how parents would react.

Cut to a year later, when the move happened fairly seamlessly, the sky didn't fall, and after some adjustments the community came back to earth. A number of parents had gotten special permission for their students to stay at Shamrock, but in the end sent them to Henderson, with no ill effects (well, other than being in DCSS). If anyone lost in the deal, it was Shamrock, but only because they were so successful that they were forced to take a huge number of AYP transfers that they were ill-equipped to handle.

So kudos to you for informing the Ashford Park community of the facts. Reactions cannot be based on what you think might happen, because no one really knows. But it is up to you as a community to get in there and work to make the situation the best that you can when changes occur.

Anonymous said...

"Let's keep what works and maybe scuttle that improvement offic of Audria Berry's and place that money into the magnet programs so every cluster can take advantage of the programs that work.
January 27, 2011 8:06 AM"

--

ELIMINATE THE OFFICE OF SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT!!

Even with the battling PTA's and neighborhoods, I think we can all agree on this.

Eliminate the OSI, and put that $15 mil back into the school houses!

Anonymous said...

Cere--
Thank you again for all the work you do on this blog.

And thank you even more for your efforts to keep the focus where it should be: "our school system is outrageously uneven and plays favorites to friends, family and administrators."

This dysfunction is enabled by the attitude you so succinctly describe "Each school (community) for itself," an attitude fostered by DCSS and the BOE, although I don't give them 'credit' for the intelligence to be consciolusly devious.

I too, "am beyond disappointed in some of our communities and their frightening reactions to the idea of having to move out of their comfort zone a little bit. ALL of these schools that are being dragged through the mud are full of children deserving just as good a shot at life as yours—"involved" parents or not."

The irony is that so many of these folks fearing the Visigoths and Vandals of Clarkston and other uncivilized areas beyond the gates of their Romes think of themselves as 'progressive.'

Al

Anonymous said...

Change is scary, familiar is good, especially is you are happy. I think this is the bottom line for most people. It would be nice if the focus could be less on the problems of where you would be sent and more on the positives of staying where you are (It hink the people that came up with the SCORe plan did a good job with this.)

Being asked to make changes when there are no dollar figures to back up the necessity of doing so is wrong. The county will be negligent if they disrupt all of these student's learning without a clear understanding of the cost savings.

Until we have that - no changes should be made.

Anonymous said...

I am beyond disgusted at the wheeling and dealing that is going on between selected "leaders" in the Lakeside and Druid Hills HS communities. Much of the community has been left out of these planning sessions that are supposed to represent ALL kids and parents from ALL schools in the feeder pattern.

Anonymous said...

@Anon
"The irony is that so many of these folks fearing the Visigoths and Vandals of Clarkston and other uncivilized areas beyond the gates of their Romes think of themselves as 'progressive.'"

I couldn't agree with you more. I have lived in Druid Hills, paying $6000 or more a year in taxes for years, and have no children. The Fernbank families who are so upset about their kids moving to Briar Vista are hypocrits at best. We ALL pay into the Dekalb system, and there is no reason that people who choose to send their children to government run schools should be complaining so much. I too believe Dekalb County is corrupt, but if this redistricting will save money, then so be it.
I know many of these families spend tens of thousands of dollars on vacations, furniture, cars, etc. Yet, they want to be able to send their children to public school, get the VERY BEST, and don't care at all about the inequalities of the system. Yet most of them are Democrats, who are staunchly against "school choice."
By the way, I grew up in a medium size town in Mississippi, where my very rich REPUBLICAN father insisted that my brothers and I all go to public school, though there was a very good private school available and he could well afford it. We never discussed it, but I know that he wanted my brothers and me to become good adults, exposed to different types of people. The schools we attended were about 50% black.
I say to ALL of you Fernbank parents and the like:
You are teaching your children a very bad lesson. Your little child will do FINE in any public elementary school in Dekalb as long as you teach them the right lessons at home.
My two brothers and I all were honor students who went to college, then to graduate school at top universities.
GET OVER YOURSELVES.
The people who need to be complaining are people like me, who pay into the system, and do not like the inequalities and all the whining on the part of the "progressives."

Anonymous said...

And one more thing.
Is it true that the Fernbank parents are going to get parents who are attorneys to threaten to sue?
Have they done this yet?
What does anyone know about this?
That would be the ultimate in wasting our taxpayer dollars so that the county has to pay to fight their lawsuits.

Cerebration said...

Leo, I can see that you are able to view these Sembler transactions as somehow different - one acceptable and one not... Well, I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. I'm not able to pick and choose through those kinds of actions as I see only the political (money-making) motivations. I guess you see it as 'compensation'. But to me, that's just cognitive dissonance.

Anonymous said...

Here's even more fear and loathing from the DunwoodySchoolDaze blog.

Anonymous said...
When we relocated a few years ago, I spent a few months alone in corporate housing. One night I was at Coldstone Creamery and in front of me was a mom and her elementary-aged son. I introduced myself as new to town, explained that we were house shopping and wondered if she would talk to me about Dunwoody schools. I asked about Vandy and Austin and she enthusiastically told me how great they are.

Then I asked about Chesnut and Kingsley.

She looked at me, shook her head "no," put a finger over her lips to say "quiet" and then whispered "you don't want to go there."

At the open house to DES, it was Vanderlyn parents who expressed concern for their children's "safety" and asked if their kids could be kept separate from children from the other feeder schools.

We can't pretend to know what's in people's minds. What motivates us is rarely posted as a sign on our forehead for all to see. However, in the case of the plans put forth by Vanderlyn parents, I'm hard pressed to believe that it's about any sort of altruism.

January 27, 2011 6:52 AM


I'm a Dunwoody parent, thankfully NOT zoned into Vanderlyn and their bigotry. I intend to boycott all programs by Vanderlyn until they admit that they are causing school problems for ALL of Dunwoody and back off of their paranoia regarding Dunwoody Elementary School rezoning.

No VanderDash for me! No fundraisers, no Scouts, NOT ONE RED CENT to Dunwoody bigots!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how a Woodward student from 9 years ago is relevant.

I live in BFCA. My position, loud and clear, is this:

1) I bought a house, at a premium, and therefore pay premium taxes, partially due to the school district.

2) My concerns are A) my childs education and B) my house value. That is all.

3) Yes, if I'm redistricted, I won't send my kid to your school. That's because I will MOVE. See how that helps Dekalb.

4) A few numbers for you:
-Dekalb school district ranks 132 out of 155 in GA. BAD.
- Woodward elementary gets a ranking of 2 out of 10 by greatschools.org. Ashford is a 6, and improving, largely because of community involvement by my neighborhood and Ashford Park. So you can keep Woodward, I'll take Ashford. Thanks.

Dunwoody Mom said...

The nastiness in Dunwoody is shared by all....

concerned said...

Cerebration,

I think the comment about the entire Vanderlyn community is bullying, inflamitory and rude.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 9:36

The Sembler Company donated almost $150,000 to Ashford Prak ES for computer lab.

See BOE meeting 8/14/06:

See BOE meeting 8/14/06 and click on Ashford Park Donations on the left hand menu bar:

"Donations for Ashford Park Elementary School Improvements

Recommendation
It is recommended that the Board accept two donations in the amounts of $125,000 and $24,999 from The Sembler Company for new technology in support of student achievement at Ashford Park Elementary School. Motion by: ________ Seconded by: ________ Vote: ________

Rationale
These donations will support student achievement across all grade levels of the school.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Tim Freeman

Summary
The $125,000 donation will be used to support achievement across all grade levels in the school. The $24,999 donation will be used at the discretion of the school administration solely in support of its educational mission.

Financial Impact
None

Goals
Goal #2-To increase rigor and academic achievement in Reading\Language Arts, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies in PreK-12
Contacts
Mr. Tim Freeman, Associate Superintendent for Facilities Management, 678/676-1349"

It's too bad Ms. Tyson and the BOE have suspended posting BOE minutes and other supporting information.

Anonymous said...

@12:08 PM

Grow up and get over yourself. Downplaying the criticism doesn't make it less legitimate and you will never make it go away until you clean your own filthy house.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 10:37

"ELIMINATE THE OFFICE OF SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT!!

Even with the battling PTA's and neighborhoods, I think we can all agree on this.

Eliminate the OSI, and put that $15 mil back into the school houses! "

You have your figures wrong. DCSS received $128,000,000 (14% of the DCSS budget) in federal funding ad Dr. Berry and the Office of School Improvement is in charge of this money:
Go to this website and use the drop down menu to choose Dekalb and then click on the Revenue button:
http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form?p_fiscal_year=2010

$37,000,000 was Title 1 funds:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2010

DCSS taxpayers could use some transparency for this $128,000,000 in federal funding. What specific federal programs (ARRA, Title 1, ect.) are bringing in this $128,000,000? And better yet - a breakdown in how this $128,000,000 is spent.

Dr. Berry has not provided the information taxpayers want to see, and after all it is ALL taxpayer dollars whether it is local, state or federal money.

See the DeKalb Watch article "Follow the Money Trail" for a good review on the revenue and expenditures in DCSS. This is a state of Georgia site so DCSS has to participate, but they should establish a local site that is publishing every expenditure of DCSS and all the cost centers.

Anonymous said...

Here's the "Follow the Money Trail" link:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/12/follow-money-trail.html

Cerebration said...

Rudeness to Vanderlyn aside, I am floored by the protection of the Ashford Park school's donated "extras". Really Leo - how amazing that you make this statement that a $150,000 donation (you said $100, but it was $150 apparently) was perfectly wonderful in order to buy all this fabulous extra gear for Ashford Park - with NO regard for the fact that your neighbor PUBLIC school got nothing! And now that you "might" have to attend that pitiful neighbor school - you don't want to because it's not as "good"... How could it be? It gets NOTHING and your school got all kinds of free stuff (which I will note, they did not even offer to share).

This is the kind of myopic thinking that has gotten us where we are and cannot be used to envision the future. We need a broad, clear, open view that is fair to all in 2020.

Anonymous said...

Get a grip. Rude pepole in Dunwoody are not unique to Vanderlyn. But I refuse to rehash the issues of 3 years ago. The only way out of this mess is for all to settle down. Do people really think the county folks are blind and naive. They know everyone's concerns now. They will decide. Hopefully we no hidden agendas.
WE all have to live here 2 months from now when this is over.

Cerebration said...

Exactly. Don't let your communities fracture to the point of alienation over this.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was odd when I opened the booklet, DCSS is handing out at these public input workshops, to find a picture of a target behind the District goals of the process. With all the talk about cross hairs, targets and civility, after the Tucson melee, I just find it odd. It's on page 2, if you have a booklet.

The workshop was great! It's nice to hear ideas from all over the county and at least at our table there was one consensus. No one liked either option and we had too many questions trying to come up with a third.

Leo said...

@ Cere 12:34 -- I am not redistricted under the plan, so I have no personal stake in this other than that one of the plans takes some of the more afluent neighborhoods who provide a lot of time and money to my school. But this is not a reason that I oppose either plan (I believe the remaining school community will step up to the departures). In fact, I support an agressive redistricting and consolidation plan and have written the board expressing my opinion on this. Further, unlike much of the APE community, I support abolishment of the magnet programs, as I think they lead to problems in all of our schools. But I can see how some of the parents may have concerns based on some of the recommended changes, and specifically concerns about the availability of benefits and programs at their redistricted schools, especially when the numbers of families involved are not significant enough to make a huge difference at the receiving school. And as for Sembler, maybe you're right that they should have given money to more than one school. Perhaps parents from Chamblee Middle, Chamblee High, Montgomery, Huntley Hills, etc. should all be pissed off about this, but local businesses support their local schools all of the time, and most of the time, I believe that we as a community support this (I guess we could tell every business not to donate time, money, goods etc. unless it is that you're only offended because of the sum of money here). In the case of Sembler at Oglethorpe, APE was given money becausee the homes neighbhoring the new development and who were objecting the loudest to the development were zoned into APE. Is that fair to any other schools exluded? No. But I don't think we can fault APE for taking the money, especially when a large portion of the APE community supported the Sembler development coming in. I think you can easily contrast this to the Druid Hills debacle where there was little community support for the development and money only going to politicians, not any of the impacted neighborhoods.

Cerebration said...

True that. And true that we need to rein in a lot of the "extras" currently being doled out to certain schools and departments in order to move all the resources we have back into the schoolhouses and the classrooms.

Sorry to say, this includes much of the administration, the magnets and perhaps a charter school or two that are not able to bring in the numbers and whose empty seats are counting against funding for the system overall.

Like I said before, if you want a small, one-high-school system, then you should move to Decatur. We do not have that here. We have nearly 100,000 students who all deserve a solid education. Not some more than others - not those with active parents or neighborhoods -- all of them.

Anonymous said...

Just browsed some of the comments on the DCSS redistricting website. Wow. What is so amazing to me is the comments indicating how the local northern schools will suffer if Kittridge and Chamblee magnets are centralized because those other kids will not have access to the benefits of such programming and higher standards.

Really? Don't you think that the rest of the county would benefit from the same? Don't you think that is how the central area felt when KMS was ripped out of a centralized location? Now it is a problem?

they don't think it is fair to have the local area students in these programs to have to deal with such extensive travel times.... INSULAR. Do they think that the travel is fun for students in those programs from other parts of the county.

Hmmm. Really?

Anonymous said...

Everyone: PLEASE TAKE A BREATH!

I know that Central Office administrators are actually enjoying the bickering. This hulabuloo is taking focus away from the very needed reform of the Central Office.

PTA officers, neighborhood assoc. officers, etc., etc., need to communicate with each other on re-districting, in a civil manner. I am incredibly disappointed by the comments I've heard from normally rational residents of Dunwoody, along with Lakeside, SW DeKalb and Fernbank parents. Smart, tolerant parents are saying dumb, intolerant things.

At the end of the day, we'll be stuck with the same people in the Central Office making the same decisions that led us to this point.

We have to work together to make sure change happens, preferably a much smaller Central Office with an entirely new staff, the elimination of the Office of Student Improvement and Parent Resource Centers, and the auditing and downsizing of MIS, school police, Sam Moss, etc., overseen by a more professional Board of Education that holds the Central Office accountable.

It's up to us to make sure the focus goes back onto the school house and that the money and resources we do have are spent wisely and efficiently, with clear return on investment.



“ People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids?...It’s just not right. It’s not right. It’s not, it’s not going to change anything. We’ll, we’ll get our justice....They won the battle, but they haven't won the war....Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we’re all stuck here for a while. Let’s try to work it out. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to beat it. Let’s try to work it out."
-Rodney King

Anonymous said...

Smart, tolerant parents are saying dumb, intolerant things.

No, people you thought were smart and tolerant are just showing their true colors.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 2:04
I don't think I have heard anything from the Lakeside community like this (i.e. criticizing the other school). Their main concern seems to be distance/traffic to DHHS (which is a good school), block scheduling, and split feeders.

Of course, there could be individual parents expressing that opinion - but at least the community as a whole is not.

Anonymous said...

Kim, unless I am looking in the wrong place on the DCSS website, your statements about Cross Keys AYP status contradicts their information. Do I have correct information?

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/nclb/files/D39F2128B88E4D8482A90620D8AAEC56.pdf

Anonymous said...

That file link should be:

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/nclb/files/D39F2128B88E4D8482A90620D8AAEC56.pdf

Anonymous said...

@ Leo
Re Sembler

"But I think they only made the donation to Ashford Park to quiet some of the people directly impacted by the building of that property. "

Sembler sought a $52,000,000 property tax break in 2009. That's $36,400,000 (70% of total) that DeKalb schoolchildren would not have received ll the while DeKalb homeowners were struggling to pay the taxes on their homes.

From the AJC:
"Eugene Walker, the authority chairman, said his colleagues would vote on the matter at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting in June, though there is some uncertainty whether they have all the discretion. Walker, who was elected to the school board last year, said the authority would, as a “courtesy,” seek the support of his colleagues in the school system and of the County Commission."

Walker ended up resigning his position as head of the DeKalb Development authority in the ensuing publicity.


This came from a blogger on DeKalb Watch:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/11/kevin-levitas-promoting-ethics-on.html

"Eugene Pierce Walker, Sr. Election Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report for DCSS Board of Education-

SPECIAL 6-DAYS BEFORE SPECIAL RUN-OFF ORIGINAL REPORT – December 2008 (http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/voter/reports/boe08/WALKEREUGENE_6daysSpecialRunoff08.pdf)

→11/19/08 – Mr. Craig Sher of THE SEMBLER CO.... $1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mrs. Judy M. Sher - ...$1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mr. Gregory Sembler of THE SEMBLER CO.... $1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mr. Mel Sembler of THE SEMBLER CO...$1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mr. Brent Sembler ...$1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mrs. Debbie M. Sembler ...$1,000

→11/19/08 – Mr. Jeffrey S. Fuqua Manager of THE SEMBLER CO....$1,000 ...

→11/19/08 – Mr. R. Sheren Fuqua - ... $1,000...

SPECIAL 15-DAY RUN-OFF AMENDED REPORT – October, 2008 (http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/voter/reports/boe08/WALKEREUGENE_15daysSpecial08_amend.pdf)

→9/27/08 – Mr. Jeffrey S. Fuqua Manager of THE SEMBLER CO...$2,000 to Walker’s Special Run-Off Campaign

→9/27/08 – Mr. Craig Sher of THE SEMBLER CO....$2,000...

→9/27/08 – Mr. Gregory S. Sembler – Real Estate Developer of THE SEMBLER CO. ... $2,000 ...

→9/27/08 – Mr. Brent Sembler –Vice Chairman of THE SEMBLER CO....$2,000...

→9/27/08 – Mr. Mel Sembler – ... $2,000...


AJC coverage:
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2009/05/17/sembler_tax_breaks.html

All Business coverage:
http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-regional/12508151-1.html

Atlanta unfiltered:
http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2009/12/08/dekalb-school-board-tables-discission-of-ethics-code/

Rep. Mike Jacobs:
http://repjacobs.com/2009/06/

Cerebration said...

Personally, I have found all kinds of errors every single time I access data from the DCSS website. I tend to stick with what is reported to the state -

Cross Keys ATP

2004 - No
2005 - No
2006 - No
2007 - No
2008 - Yes
2009 - No
2010 - Yes

Anonymous said...

@ Leo
Re Sembler

"But I think they only made the donation to Ashford Park to quiet some of the people directly impacted by the building of that property. "

Sembler sought a $52,000,000 property tax break in 2009. That's $36,400,000 (70% of total) that DeKalb schoolchildren would not have received ll the while DeKalb homeowners were struggling to pay the taxes on their homes.

From the AJC:
"Eugene Walker, the authority chairman, said his colleagues would vote on the matter at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting in June, though there is some uncertainty whether they have all the discretion. Walker, who was elected to the school board last year, said the authority would, as a “courtesy,” seek the support of his colleagues in the school system and of the County Commission."

Walker ended up resigning his position as head of the DeKalb Development authority in the ensuing publicity.

From DeKalb Watch:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/11/kevin-levitas-promoting-ethics-on.html

"Eugene Pierce Walker, Sr. Election Campaign Contribution Disclosure Report for DCSS Board of Education-

SPECIAL 6-DAYS BEFORE SPECIAL RUN-OFF ORIGINAL REPORT – December 2008 (http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/voter/reports/boe08/WALKEREUGENE_6daysSpecialRunoff08.pdf)

→11/19/08 – Mr. Craig Sher of THE SEMBLER CO.... $1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mrs. Judy M. Sher - ...$1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mr. Gregory Sembler of THE SEMBLER CO.... $1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mr. Mel Sembler of THE SEMBLER CO...$1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mr. Brent Sembler ...$1,000...

→11/19/08 – Mrs. Debbie M. Sembler ...$1,000

→11/19/08 – Mr. Jeffrey S. Fuqua Manager of THE SEMBLER CO....$1,000 ...

→11/19/08 – Mr. R. Sheren Fuqua - ... $1,000...

SPECIAL 15-DAY RUN-OFF AMENDED REPORT – October, 2008 (http://web.co.dekalb.ga.us/voter/reports/boe08/WALKEREUGENE_15daysSpecial08_amend.pdf)

→9/27/08 – Mr. Jeffrey S. Fuqua Manager of THE SEMBLER CO...$2,000 to Walker’s Special Run-Off Campaign

→9/27/08 – Mr. Craig Sher of THE SEMBLER CO....$2,000...

→9/27/08 – Mr. Gregory S. Sembler – Real Estate Developer of THE SEMBLER CO. ... $2,000 ...

→9/27/08 – Mr. Brent Sembler –Vice Chairman of THE SEMBLER CO....$2,000...

→9/27/08 – Mr. Mel Sembler – ... $2,000...

Anonymous said...

A few Sembler links:
AJC:
http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories/2009/05/17/sembler_tax_breaks.html

All Business coverage:
http://www.allbusiness.com/government/government-bodies-offices-regional/12508151-1.html

Atlanta unfiltered:
http://www.atlantaunfiltered.com/2009/12/08/dekalb-school-board-tables-discission-of-ethics-code/

Rep. Mike Jacobs:
http://repjacobs.com/2009/06/

Anonymous said...

There is a fair amount of infighting going on within Lakeside, they are just being more quiet about it. The powers that be are more than willing to throw both Henderson Middle and Livsey under the proverbial bus.

No Duh said...

Livsey is not an LHS feeder school. So it is not within LHS' ability to "throw" them anywhere. Just how can LHS throw HMS under the bus when they have the exact same feeder pattern?

Anonymous said...

That was my question No Duh so I'm glad you asked it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:49, The parents I was with last night at the Bethune Workshop wanted to duplicate the magnet program in all the clusters. They also agreed that the magnets had no business being in this round of closings, redistricting and consolidation discussions. Why mess with something NOT broken? Use funds from the Office of Improvement (Not Title 1) to pay for Resident/Magnet programs in 4th-5th at ES's, MS and HS in each cluster. We also suggested in our option 3 to see a full audit of the magnets, financial analysis, academic achievement, and successes.

If we follow the suggestions above, DCSS gets their Nancy Creek Neighborhood School back, along with a 4th & 5th grade magnet. Move the 6th grade over to CMS and onto CCHS, then duplicate this in every cluster! A better use of buildings and you might save a couple of neighborhood schools while you're at it!

Cerebration said...

Very good ideas.

We also suggested in our option 3 to see a full audit of the magnets, financial analysis, academic achievement, and successes.

I'd REALLY like to see that one done.

Also, the problem with not closing or consolidating the magnets lies with Wadsworth. How on earth can you justify closing ANY other schools when you don't close Wadsworth with only about 150 students -- or for that matter - DSA with just at 300 from 8th-12th! That's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

And you can't close or merge Wadsworth back in with a regular school because as far as I know, they have already filed a discrimination lawsuit in that they are not equal to Kittredge if they are not allowed to "stand alone" like Kittredge. It's quite the tangled web.

Anonymous said...

The Lakeside "insiders" see the "real" school as comprised of those schools that pre-date the creation of the middle school concept. To them, Pleasantdale and Evansdale are not as much a part of the community -really - because they were Henderson High feeders once upon a time. So there is some thought that sending Evansdale to Livsey and the Evansdale Magnet to Jolly (or wherever) would free up space to return Sagamore to the original Lakeside fold. This is not a popular sentiment among the great Evansdale families whose kids are at Lakeside, but if you'll notice, none of them are leading the group that held the meeting this week. They seem to be perceived as having less standing.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 2:28 "your statements about Cross Keys AYP status contradicts their information. Do I have correct information

The one about all seven schools making it? Yes, that was 2008, not 2009 as I said. But the point remains the same - they all made it. All 6,000 of them and no other group of kids in DeKalb did so that year.

Thanks for correcting the accuracy - I really do care about the truth. And the truth remains unchallenged by anyone here. Woodward is a goods school producing amazing results on a regular basis.

The negative argument is a losing one - as the poster above said, BFCA and APE PTA should be focusing on the positive arguments rather than TRYING to belittle the actual successes at Woodward and Cross Keys.

The record stands and will stand up to scrutiny because it is a just a fact.

To the poster who uses GreatSchools.com or whatever to make their assessments, right! You might want to dig a little deeper before sending little Johnny off to school.

Anonymous said...

Question that is related :

Where is the financial data (i.e. the cost savings from all options) that the consultants told folks at last weeks meetings would be available this week? Here we are at Thursday and no numbers .......

Anonymous said...

No Duh,
That is precisely the point - Livsey isn't a Lakeside feeder so why are people in Lakeside making propsals that impact our Livsey area! We want to stay open.

The SCORe report recommended giving Henderson $ for an addition if any was left over in SPLOST III - but the Henderson folks say they have been fighting for unallocated money that is available - they don't want to take the back seat again and hope SPLOST IV will pass when there's $ on the table now. How is this small group going to make people go out and vote for SPLOST IV?

The online survey results tell the story: most respondents are elementary school, followed by high school, with a very poor middle school showing - SPLOST is already on shaky ground - if the draw for SPLOST IV is something for middle school, good luck getting out the vote.

Anonymous said...

Cere 3:28, Regarding Wadsworth and Kittredge. Maybe they should include PK-5 residents with the 4th and 5th grade magnets in both schools. Move the 6th grade magnets, Kittredge 6th grade to CMS and Wadsworth 6th grade to their clusters' Middle Magnet School. Every cluster should have a resident and magnet program in a elementary, middle and high school. Find the funds in Audria Berry's budget to fund these additions. The magnets should be part of the Vision 20/20 discussion NOT the redistricting/consolidation discussion.

No Duh said...

Your comment makes no sense. The SCORe plan deftly brings most of Sagamore into LHS while leaving room for Evansdale students and even some Livsey (if Livsey has to close).

Also, one of the key group members of the ad hoc team is an Evansdale parent, she just happens to have children at LHS, too, so her "hat" may not look like EES to you.

When you study the SCORe plan, you will see (no matter your personal agenda or what part of the county you live in), it is based on pure logic and logistics -- not emotion or hyperbole.

Kim Gokce said...

"Everyone take a breath"

Excellent advice. And while you're trying to recover you composure and blood pressure, take a listen to this awesome GT grad coming to help us at Woodward ES:

HOA Discovery Program at Woodward ES

No Duh said...

"The online survey results tell the story: most respondents are elementary school, followed by high school, with a very poor middle school showing - SPLOST is already on shaky ground - if the draw for SPLOST IV is something for middle school, good luck getting out the vote."

You clearly weren't around when the HMS community came out in full force to support SPLOST II because DCSS promised us that building Tucker Middle School would be the first priority on the SPLOST II list -- which it was. Believe it or not, HMS used to house students that now feed into TMS.

As to LHS wanting Livsey to close, I fail to see where that is mentioned in the plan at all. It is an ASSUMPTION. In order to create a plan for anything, basic assumptions must be made. It certainly isn't something anyone in the LHS or THS community would actively recommend. Get real.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 11:52 "I'm not sure how a Woodward student from 9 years ago is relevant."

I bring up the cases I know. Let me know about the ones you know ... please. Really, share with me your experience with these children and their teachers. Yes, I'm not feeling the love but I will play the game.

Lefty said...

Anon 3:33 - the goal of the SCORe plan is to minimize student movement. Their plan recommends that the Lakeside feeder remain completely intact adding the small portions of Sagamore/Leafmore that are bordered by Clairmont and N. Druid Hills.

At Tuesday's meeting, someone even asked if the possibility of moving Pleasantdale to Tucker HS was explored. The Lakeside parents said, "Not at all. There is no room for Pleasantdale to move to Tucker. Tucker is overcapacity now." Furthermore, Heritage or Livsey were only suggested in case the grade 6 annex becomes a forced issue. But the grade 6 annex is not in the core of their proposal.

Rather than spreading misinformation, get on their email list so you can see the facts. [2011redistricting@gmail.com]

Kim Gokce said...

"Tucker is overcapacity now"

Didn't we just open this school? Isn't there a more fundamental problem than all the lines here?

We are fools for letting our school format to remain "neighborhood scale." There are many problems, this is the root.

No Duh said...

Face it people. The small schools (Livsey) in north DeKalb will have to be led to sacrifice at the feet of the Sarah Copelin-Wood God.

Like it or not. Cost effective or not. If she doesn't get fed at least one small north DeKalb school ain't no small schools closing nowhere.

So for the good of the whole county -- Livsey may have to go to the alter.

I don't like it any more than the rest of you. But, the criteria does not (at this time) seem to factor in successful versus unsuccessful schools.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Livsey should go?

We need larger buildings and more schools.

It is a tiny building with a population in the low 300s of which a third come from outside the attendance zone.

Small schools are a luxury -- no matter how they are performing.

Anonymous said...

Larger buildings and fewer schools.

What if you discovered that some of those schools in the McNair cluster, while not high performing by your standards, actually do pretty well for their population. Then what do you say? Keep them open as well?

Anonymous said...

Livsey is the school of choice for administrators to send their children to these days. It's full of administrative transfers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kim for setting the record straight. This type of misinformation happens more often that we think in DeKalb and we need to confront it when we find it.

Anonymous said...

Small schools need to go - North, Central, South. Economically, this makes sense.

Why pay the extra dollars for admin and support and special teachers when you can reduce their numbers, hire more Content teachers, and reduce your child's class size?

For example:
Special Teachers - art, music, gifted, special ed, band, strings

Administrative and other non-teaching employees:
Special Ed lead teachers, principals, assistant principals, Instructional Coaches, Secretaries, Bookkeepers, Custodians, Bus drivers, Counselors, and Social Workers, paraprofessionals, Media Specialists, Cafeteria Workers, CTSSs...

...I'm sure I missed a few.

Close these little schools, let the excess personnel apply for jobs that have been left vacant by attrition (if you're an AP and there are no AP positions - so what - maybe you need to apply for a job teaching third grade.)

Would you rather keep these people employed and have kids in grades K - 5 and the content areas of math, science, social studies and language arts in classes of 30+ students?

Maybe some of you are happy to stick kids in huge classes. I'm not, and kids don't like to be packed into classes like sardines either.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 4:48 & Anon 5:59...

Livsey's enrollment today was less than 350 students, 25 of which are PreK and don't earn FTE funds. If what you're saying about the building having possibly a "third come from outside the attendance zone" and being "full of administrative transfers" is true, the school's true enrollment barely earns 1/2 of the funds it needs to stay open.

Just stating the facts.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 7:07

"If what you're saying about the building having possibly a "third come from outside the attendance zone" and being "full of administrative transfers" is true, the school's true enrollment barely earns 1/2 of the funds it needs to stay open.
"

So are the administrators going to send them to other schools like Briarlake or Oak Grove or Henderson Mill now if Livsey closes?

That's a hugh problem. When the DCSS administrators can pick the schools they can send their children to because they perceive the schools they are zoned into as inferior, they have absolutely no incentive to improve the schools in their neighborhood.

Ella Smith said...

I asked the question about moving the overcrowding at Pleasantdale to Livsey and then moving Pleasantdale to the Tucker district or some other school in that area.

When I used to teach at Lakeside I remember that this came up as a possibility several years ago. I know this had been considered in the past so I was curious if this idea was given any thought.

The SCORe plan seems reasonable.

Anonymous said...

What's the root behind Lakeside not wanting Pleasantdale (the goal of sending it to Tucker)? Can I assume this is not an isolated neighborhood school? Just wondering....

Anonymous said...

Pleasantdale is really physically much closer to Tucker HS-- it's pretty far away from Lakeside --although for middle school it is much closer to Henderson Middle -- this is one of those situations where splitting the feeder middles may make sense in order to be "greener" and send kids to the closest schools to reduce emissions --

Anonymous said...

"This is not a popular sentiment among the great Evansdale families whose kids are at Lakeside, but if you'll notice, none of them are leading the group that held the meeting this week. They seem to be perceived as having less standing."

Anonymous January 27, 2011 3:33 PM

You are not quite correct in your assessment. I am part of the ad hoc committee, not one of the spokespersons, but involved from the beginning behind the scenes, so I know a lot about the intentions, purpose, and motivations for the SCORe plan. As with everyone, we looked at the proposals and their devastating effect on our personal Sagamore community first, then realized how it would be detrimental to the Lakeside and the larger SC2 community.

The plan was conceived and developed by Sagamore and Lakeside parents, with the continuing input of PTA leaders at each elementary school and HMS. Evansdale has never been considered as unimportant. Indeed, the contribution of that community is critical to the success of Henderson and Lakeside.

The people presenting the plan are the ones who most directly developed the plan, managed the coordination with other schools, and have led the effort to find areas of consensus in our feeder pattern. They should be praised, not vilified for their efforts to protect everyone's interests to the greatest extent possible. Evansdale parents (or OG, or Hawthorne, or HMS, etc) weren't presenting only because they weren't the leaders and developers of the Lakeside feeder plan.
People from other schools could have done the same thing and developed a specific plan, but have not. Many of the people from the Sagamore and Lakeside ad hoc committee who also have spent countless hours strategizing and researching also have not been the presenters because effectiveness requires just a few official spokespersons.

The plan considers SC5 because that is where most of the Centralized and Decentralized plan movement occurs from SC2. SC3, which includes Tucker and Livsey, was not a place where the centralized and decentralized plan was moving many SC2 students. Our concern was that we do no harm to other SC2 feeders or to SC5. We did not consider it our job to try to rework the numbers for every supercluster. Livsey entered the discussion primarily as it relates to a SC2 school, Evansdale. We have no official position on Livsey because that is beyond the scope of minimizing redistricting in our SC2. SCORe does not recommend the Centralized approach which closes Livsey; it was merely a starting point to work with numbers. SC3 and Tucker feeders need to work out their own alternative proposals to satisy DCSS goals to maximize funding, minimize empty seats, and relieve overcrowding as much as possible. It has been made abundantly clear by BOE that status quo is not an option, and that we all have to be flexible.


As for the statement that SCORe throws Henderson Middle under the bus, there is nothing in the plan that specifically harms or helps HMS. There is nowhere to redistrict HMS students as there is no other middle school in SC2 that is not already at capacity. Since HMS feeds into Lakeside, it is part of the whole picture. 35% of Sagamore children go to HMS so SCORe developers certainly want to try to fix the problems at HMS. There is nothing in SCORe that discourages adequate and immediate funding of renovation and addition to HMS. That battle is currently being fought on other fronts and is not part of the student redistribution focus of SCORe. How would you solve the problem of overcrowding at Henderson? What lines would you change? What other positive changes and solutions can you suggest? SCORe has been modified many times since it began on January 4, and I am sure it will be modified many more times again.

For our Lakeside and SC2 community to remain strong, we must all work together, compromising where we can, and sacrificing where we must.

Anonymous said...

a few ways to address HMS is to address the artificial overcrowding present there, give some Pleasantdale students to SC3 schools (e.g. Livesy or Midvale) or to the Chamblee cluster and move some of Pleasantdale out of the HMS/LHS feeder pattern to minimize the overcrowding. Go after the addition. 6th graders should not be put in an annex or accademy. Also, Evandsale magnet could go to Mdelock and go after state fundung for the STEM tech magnet that there seems to be money in the pipeline for ....

Anonymous said...

What's the root behind Lakeside not wanting Pleasantdale (the goal of sending it to Tucker)? Can I assume this is not an isolated neighborhood school? Just wondering....

January 27, 2011 9:47 PM

There is no group Lakeside goal to redistrict it to a different supercluster that includes Tucker. Some individuals may want that. But, that wouldn't make sense in the current efforts to consistently use logical geographical and major road boundaries to draw attendance lines. Pleasantdale is south of I85 and 285 is its western border. Its eastern border is Gwinnett. The elementary schools on the other side of I85 are also more than full; their demographics are more similar to Pleasantdale. The schools on the northern side of 85 are part of SuperCluster one. While the nearest SC1 middle school, Sequoyah, is not unreasonably far from Pleasantdale, the feeder high school Cross keys is literally on the other side of the county on the western border almost at Atlanta city limits. So, Pleasantdale can't move north but has to attend highschools which are southwest or southeast of it . South of Pleasantdale is Evansdale elementary. A tiny corner of Pleasantdale runs between Evansdale and the gwinnet line and abuts Livsey, which is spitting distance from Tucker high. So, if Pleasantdale goes to Tucker, then Evansdale has to go to Tucker, based on geographic logic. Tucker is over capacity, even though it is brandnew--more great planning by DCSS, which placed middle schools in crazy places when designing feeder patterns, since it closed high schools and converted to middle, but without good planning as to proximity to its feeder high. Pleasantdale is very overcrowded and Tucker cannot handle it, nor could Tucker Middle. Pleasantdale contributes vast numbers of students to the nearby Henderson and then on to Lakeside. The irony is that it is a school of almost 900, which is a stated DCSS goal. The building just isn't big enough to handle 900and the adjacent schools have some empty seats. If lakeside people don't want Pleasantdale, it is because there are just so many Pleasantdale students that live so far away from Lakeside. And, in general aggregate terms, though definitely not true about individual cases, the economic status and academic performance of Pleasantdale students is not as high as other feeder elementaries. Gang activity is more common in students from that school than from other feeder elementaries. That said, there is no organized, or even loud predominate whispering, about not wanting P'dale at Lakeside.

Anonymous said...

"SC3, which includes Tucker and Livsey, was not a place where the centralized and decentralized plan was moving many SC2 students."

Sorry, my fingers got a little fast on me and I didn't proof read well when I wrote this. Didn't mean Tucker and Livsey are part of SC3. Meant that SC3 wasn't considered by SCORe, and that SCORe doesn't try to solve the problems of every feeder in SC2. The focus of SCORe is Lakeside feeders since Lakeside will have capacity for all current students when renovation finishes next year. SCORe looks at DCSS proposed changes to other SC2 feeder elementaries that would affect lakeside feeders to be sure we didn't do anything contradictory to our goals of geographical proximity and intact neighborhoods observing major roads as boundaries. We didn't propose closing Livsey. We aren't advocating consolidating magnets. We aren't trying to speak for Tucker feeders and Druid feeders, who can present their own number-based alternatives. As unpaid community volunteers trying to minimize the disruption to our feeder and come up with a Plan in only 2 weeks to offer as an alternative to a plan devised over several months by highly compensated professionals, it is just not reasonable to expect that we could have solved every problem for every school in SC2. The process and dialogue is ongoing.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Anon 10:58, but as a veteran of many go rounds at Lakeside, I can tell you that if the county came in tomorrow and told the community that Pleasantdale was being moved out of Lakeside, partying would break out at The Grove. Heck, there are folks there who would like to see Lakeside go back to the old, old days, when Henderson was still a high school and only Briarlake, Oak Grove and Sagamore were there.

Not sayin' the SCORe plan is about this at all, but that is one of the dark little rivers that flows through Lakeside. And it will until a new generation of people cycles through that community (as you can see by the return of Womack to the Board, they will not go gently).

Anonymous said...

Paul Womack would support a plan that put things back to the days of Henderson High School, I suspect.

Anonymous said...

I went to Oak Grove and Lakeside and don't remember when only those three schools were at Lakeside because Sagamore has always been a split feeder (into Lakeside and Briarcliff first, then Druid Hills after Briarcliff closed). I remember Oak Grove, Briarlake, Hawthorne, Heritage (when it was open), part of Sagamore, and Coralwood (when it was open), all attended Lakeside back in the day when Henderson was a high school and schools were created by neighborhood.

If we were being districted into a nearby high school where my kid gets a 7-period day instead of the less successful 4X4 block schedule and can get himself home from high school, walking or biking, so that he can participate in after school activities, instead of being redistricted into a school where he must cross two four-lane roads with congested traffic, maybe the outcry wouldn't be as loud.

On another note, perhaps what you say about Pleasantdale is true but I can honestly say that I have never heard Pleasantdale mentioned, positively or negatively, ever by a Henderson or Lakeside parent so I don't think it is on the minds of many people either way.

And finally, of course, this neighborhood will not "go gentle (into that good night)," we will rage against it rather than succumb to it. Many of us returned to the neighborhood or bought a house in this district specifically to raise our children here in the schools and community. We had a choice (even though we are labeled non-choice) and chose to send our kids to these schools. It may be unique in that so many people in this neighborhood actually grew up going to these schools themselves but it makes for a strong, supportive and involved community, which is good for the kids and the County.

Anonymous said...

I hope Fernbank PTA's Amy Power backs off on all this lawsuit talk. It's not going to help anyone, and will create another media circus and re-districting delays.

This mess has really shown the true colors of many PTA leaders, whether Fernbank, Sagamore, Lakeside, the Dunwoody schools, etc. Too many PTA'ers and parents could care less about the system as a whole; they just want their's and to heck with everyone else. Don't sue DCSS, Amy!

Anonymous said...

Amy will have to get in line at the courthouse. She/they won't be the only groups serving up restraining orders! Heck, I'll foot the bill for one myself. These plans are the work product (Dan Drake exluded) of a group of greedy, corrupt, unprofessional, and undereducated people. Allowing any redistricting plan to be forced upon this county with out a fight would in and of itself be a crime!

Anonymous said...

Just curious - what would be the grounds for a restraining order?

Will Amy Powers and her group reimburse DCSS for any legal monies the county has to spend fighting her lawsuit? Does Ms. Powers understand that filing a lawsuit only serves to hurt the children she pretends to care about?

Anonymous said...

These plans are the work product (Dan Drake exluded) of a group of greedy, corrupt, unprofessional, and undereducated people

These plans are the work of a professional management company.

Anonymous said...

All of this hub bub about the consolidation of schools that are underfunded, so that that district can get the most funding is a turn off from this parent. I want what is best for all of the children in the county, so that all of the children are able to receive a quality education. Wish I could afford to sell my house and take the loss, heck we would have accepted the job that my husband was offered in another state. Sadly we are stuck, but looking and working for a way to get the heck out.

Anonymous said...

In my haste I mispoke. My apologies...

I did not mean to diss the MGT group. They only collect the data and offer up suggestions.

It is the DCSS/BOE group I fear will twist, turn, and manipulate the data to fit their needs.

I also mispoke...should have said "injunction" rather than restrianing order.

The basis of the order could/would be the potential damage to property value, loss of specific educational opporunities (ie magnet), ...etc.

This process can not be done in haste just so DCSS/BOE said they
have addressed the situation. Decisions made today will resonate and be paid for many years in the future.

The decisions being made now, make no mistake, have not been made "for the children."

The hiring, firing, promotion decisions have had all to do with
a jobs program, not a school system.

Do not drink the Kool-Aid citizens of DeKalb County!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone posted a summary of the ELPC meeting today? Wondering if Joe Martin confirmed what Marshall has alleged regarding school funding?

Anonymous said...

While attending the Bethune Workshop on Wednesday, one of the MGT consultants said a financial report regarding Options 1 and 2 would be released today. Has anyone seen this yet? I can't seem to find it. Yet!

Ironic that the financial analysis comes out the day after the public comment workshops are done. Only two more chances for public comment, once Ms. Tyson makes her decision.

Anonymous said...

That's DeKalb for you. We do things ass backwards.

Anonymous said...

"I also mispoke...should have said "injunction" rather than restrianing order.

The basis of the order could/would be the potential damage to property value, loss of specific educational opporunities (ie magnet), ...etc."

=========================
Anon @ 1:26 and all of you nincompoops talking about restraining orders and injunctions against Dekalb county for lowering your property values.
Seriously, did you go to college? Everyone's property values are lower.
We, who have no children, pay thousands of dollars yearly to send what appears now to be your overly spoiled children, who have the unfortunate luck of having selfish, uninformed, and elitist parents to public school, and you have the audacity to talk about filing lawsuits and making us pay even more.
Why don't you move?
Why don't you send your little snotty kids to private school if that's how you want them to turn out?
Do you even read the news? Do you know that people are risking their lives all over the world to fight for freedom?
And all you care about is that your little snotty kid goes to Fernbank and not Briar Vista?
Send your snotty little kid to private school, so that we taxpayers do not bear the burden of educating your snotty little kids.
The only way you can redeem your kids is by stopping this nonsense and teaching them to be grateful and to be oh so not like you.

Anonymous said...

The cost analysis is out! According to AJC at Get Schooled Blog, Centralized Plan Option 1 saves 150 million dollars the next 10 years. But get this, DECENTRALIZED OPTION 2 SAVES 160 MILLION DOLLARS OVER THE NEXT 10 YEARS.

A million dollars more in savings to keep the magnets in place. Interesting they come out with this AFTER the Public Workshops on the plan.

Anonymous said...

The Tucker community has asked for years why Evansdale was never put in the Tucker area, as they are so close. My understanding it was protected and moved to LHS via redistricting through political connections and a former board member.

I commend Kim Golce on trying to present facts and supporting schools that most people think are beneath them. What is happening is that people don't venture inside the schools they think are bad but just listen to hear say and just test scores. Look at their PTAs; budgets and programs they offer that your school may not have.

Midvale Elementary is an IB school; has a phenomenal ART teacher, Spanish for everyone and great parental involvement. They also have at least 4 special ed classes that interact with general ed. It is a socioeconomically diverse because of an extended stay hotel; 3 apartment complexes plus community kids. It is a very caring and supportive school. Are any one of our schools perfect??? Is life perfect??? The students learn compassion for each other and exceed.

Tucker Middle is in the last stages of the International Baccalaureate application and should know in the spring. The staff is strong and Dr. Kathy Cunningham is a huge asset because she worked at the high school and knows what is needed for the students to succeed going to high school. She is approachable and willing to listen to concerns. We have parents asking to send their children there plus we have had to take AYP several times. They have an Annex in 2008 and now in 2010.

Tucker High is an International Baccalaureate School. We also are the county school for the visually impaired program, plus 4 additional special education classes. We have two teachers who were selected to work with Georgia Tech for a new program. There are great things going on here but people don't really know that outside our school or even some in our own community. They just see that there are not enough of the "right color" for their child!

Let's starting hearing facts about each of these schools and quit tearing each other down.

Anonymous said...

Ron Kitchens is the new principal at Woodward Elementary. The former principal was an AP at Shadowrock.

Kim Gokce said...

Reginald Stephens is the principal at Woodward ES and did come from Shadowrock. Not sure who you are referencing ...

Kim Gokce said...

"And that some of us believe that Woodward is NOT that school? "

Key word, "believe." I am a man of faith, too. From time to time I question my faith. I think it is at least reasonable for your to also your "beliefs" about Woodward ES.

Anonymous said...

Was the principal.

Kim Gokce said...

Ok. Well, as of a meeting last Saturday, he "was" the principal.

Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure Reginald Stephens is no longer principal at Woodward.

Kim Gokce said...

I stand corrected!

Anonymous said...

Reginald Stephens is still listed as principal of Woodward Elementary on the Woodward Elementary web site and also on the DCSS website for the school.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 1/28 9:28p "What is happening is that people don't venture inside the schools they think are bad but just listen to hear say and just test scores."

Well, there's nothing wrong with looking at test scores. The first time I cried "foul" about a mis-characterization of our Cross Keys kids was a headline in the Brookhaven reporter that read, "Cross Keys Fails Georgia High School Grad Test, Chamblee Excels."

The report contained the aggregate pass rates at the two schools. I pulled up the results for the four subject areas and saw that the students did, in fact, failed to reach the pass rates needed in Language Arts (deftly), and Social Studies (marginally). I also noted that their Math and Science scores were on par with Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, etc.

To me, the headline should have read, "Non-Native English Speakers Fail English Test."

Test scores and AYP pass/fail are objective measures we all should consider when evaluating a school's performance - that is not an issue. The issue for me is the lack of understanding by the majority of people of what context to put these result in and what is driving the numbers.

Anonymous said...

Look at the Staff Directory on the Dekalb website, stepens is listed under organizatin as employee services.

Anonymous said...

Ronnie Kitchens is the new principal at Woodward? Unbelievable. Although it has been a while, my experiences with Mr. Kitchens, when he was in a non-teaching capacity, did not leave a very favorable impression. I do not see him having the patience, skills, and diplomatic qualities necessary to competently run Woodward. Is the man actually qualified to be a principal? Fortunate for him, without strong Woodward parent participation, he will be just fine.

Anonymous said...

I ama graduateof Chamblee High School and have recently moved into a house in the heart of Ashford Park.

There are all types of students at Chamblee. I was a white student at chamblee and it was fine, amazing actually. I was in the minority and I loved meeting so many different types of people and exploring the world through my friends. So don't ship yours off to private school just yet. I was not in the magnet program because my parents felt that I could get the same education at Ashford Park Elementary as I could at Kitredge. I guess they were right because when I went to Chamblee, I was taking majority magnet classes without the "magnet credit" on my transcript. The magnet classes aren't any harder than the gifted classes, in my opinion.
It all depends on the teacher. I truly believe that Cross Keys has teachers that want to change students and make this world a better place, just like Chamblee. But I also know that Chamblee high has some duds just like any other school may.
Basically I'm saying these schools in the area are all talented and we all compete with each other in the same academic competitions. There is no need to start a war with neighbors or make kids feel as if their school isn't worthy. If your child has to go to cross keys, and you feel that that isn't the best school for them (which you are intitled to your opinion) then step in as a parent and quit posting on blogs and start helping your child. Motivate them to read an extra chapter and help them explore the topics they are learning about in school. You can help teach as much as any teacher. That is your job after all. An education starts and ends at home.

Kim said...

Just a note to let everyone know I am still here and still fighting mis-conceptions of our kids and schools ... that horrible little school at Woodward has been recognized by the GA Dept of Ed as a 2013 "Highest Progress School" in the top 10% of schools demonstrating advancement on test scores for ALL student groups over a three year period. Woodward was a good school at the time of the slander from our neighboring PTA and is an even better school today. Watch out for the Wildcats! :)