Monday, February 14, 2011

Ask Not What Your School District Can Do for You...

This article was published yesterday in the Briarcliff "Patch" (love that news source, BTW.)  I thought I'd share a bit of it with you on the blog. You can read the whole thing by clicking here.

A former Lakeside High parent believes local parents should let redistricting go through and let their students pollinate other schools.
By George Miranda

I'll be excoriated by my neighbors for saying this, but it is plainly obvious once we all agree to rid ourselves of the self-delusion insulating us from the truth: My neighbors are attempting to preserve their elitist, socioeconomic advantages. The fact is that Lakeside High-area schools are seriously overcrowded – in particular, Oak Grove Elementary School.

People who can afford to live in the district have moved into it, which up until the housing bust was peppered with infill housing. The DeKalb County Board of Education is not charged with maintaining the property values of the wealthy citizens of north-central DeKalb County; on the contrary, its mission is to provide free, high-quality education to all the children of the county. If the board can fulfill its mission cost-effectively and avoid raising property taxes, that's icing on the cake. The most cost-effective way to do this is to redistrict the county to alleviate overcrowding.

The school board must implement other changes just as necessary as redistricting to reduce costs and introduce operational efficiencies. Not the least of these, DeKalb County must stop pouring kids into schools already brimming over with students because the schools being evacuated are low performing. The right thing to do is to fix the bad schools. Unfortunately, the board’s hands are tied, at least in the short run, by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. This law must be significantly amended so that it helps students without destroying their school systems.



===
George Miranda is a Pastoral Care Counselor

95 comments:

Anonymous said...

The writer contradicts himself.

Anonymous said...

You suggest that"...its (Dekalb School Systems) mission is to provide free, high-quality education to all the children of the county. If the board can fulfill its mission cost-effectively and avoid raising property taxes, that's icing on the cake."
A few point for you to consider:
If we are assessed a tax on our property to pay for the school system, how could this education be “free”? (It’s not)
If we assume that the tax rate is left unchanged, the school systems tax revenue increases and decreases with the value of the assessed property. High property values are in DSS’s best interest too.
People, (like me) benefit from the tax assessed upon our wealthy neighbors. This is true if we live in a $120,000 condo in Dunwoody (my situation) or a $120,000 house in S. Dekalb. Those expensive houses pay a far greater portion of the tax burden that goes to pay for our children’s education.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your article completely. Taxpayers do not pay taxes just to support schools in their own districts. We pay taxes to support all schools and ALL children.

@831A. I see no contradictions. What are you talking about?

@912. Schools are FREE the same way roads, national defense, garbage pick-up, etc. are FREE. We pay taxes, and we do not expect that some taxpayers will benefit more than others. ALL get to use the roads, the garbage pick-up and the military to protect them.

There are many many people who pay exorbitant taxes, who have no children in public school. I would like my taxes to go to help ALL children, not just those in my wealthy neighborhood.

People "like you" benefit because you live in a wealthy neighborhood. People who live in poorer neighborhoods don't benefit.
Your hypocrisy is showing.

And, I agree with the author of the article that it is not the county's job to maintain "property values."

You are getting a HUGE free ride from taxpayers who have no children. So stop this nonsense about how it's not free.

The people who should have the biggest say are those paying the outrageous taxes, and who themselves are not getting anything out of it, except having to listen to their rich, elitist neighbors complaining about their children having to attend PUBLIC schools with the "unsavory" children of "renters" or of minorities.

Anonymous said...

George Miranda is my new hero. His neighbors will blast him for years, but the guy has courage. Kudo's.

Cerebration said...

I think George makes all of the points we have tried to make on the blog for quite some time now:

- FIx what ails the low-performing schools (instead of just giving transfers to "some" of their students)

- Work toward changing the No Child Left Behind laws so as not to place the entire burden on the higher performing "receiving schools"

- Consolidate and close the wasteful, small schools and focus resources on the resulting rebalanced schools

-Do not make the issue about property values - it's not the school system's responsibility to only maintain quality schools in certain areas to keep property values high - it's their responsibility to provide a solid education to every child in the county.

-Look outside of your own insular community and do what you can to pour forth your gifts and share your knowledge to those within reach of your community

Susan Curtis said...

What a generous heart! The ideas behind this article - that counties should provide free, high quality education to all children, that DCSS/BOE should fix the bad schools - are why I got into teaching in the first place. I knew I could make more money in the private sector, I knew I wouldn't get the sort of respect that I deserved, and I knew that improving the lives of children through education would also improve my small section of the universe. Kudos to Mr. Miranda! I wish our BOE had this attitude.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with George if home buyers did not take the schools into their decision-making process. Reality is that most of us pick a school district first and then look for a house if we are concerned about rising value. Even those without children or those who have decided that private school is their route still look at the school district.

I agree that DCSS should be looking at fixing the ailing schools and hence is the root of our issues. They have been focused too long on being a facilities development and management organization and have devolved into an ineffective, corrupt and worthless organization stuffed to the gills with illiterate and immoral individuals. They are not a school system! How DCSS is even accredited is beyond me. What this county has done to our children and the good schools we *had* is deplorable.

Every child deserves a good education and our taxes do not go to our school district but to the county as a whole. I have not heard anyone screaming to have their taxes go to just their school district. We have not become that inhumane yet. The most disturbing thing is that even the taxes on the McMansions in Dunwoody and Oak Grove do not cover the full cost of educating most of the children in this county when you look at a per pupil per school basis. The mismanagement is robbing the taxpayers and the children at this point and something really needs to be done to preserve our children's educational rights.

Anonymous said...

"I would agree with George if home buyers did not take the schools into their decision-making process. Reality is that most of us pick a school district first and then look for a house if we are concerned about rising value"


Only about one out of five households in the county currently having children in the school system. Picking where you live, whether single family home, condo, partment, etc., the schools in that district are a consideration, but just one factor out of many for most home buyers. It absolutely helps your re-sale value, but again, it's just one factor out of many.

Anonymous said...

Three years ago, a clergy member from Dunwoody took the stance. It was refreshing then, refreshing now.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I agree with your post and the points laid out in a rational way. I do not agree with George, however, and I am about as liberal as they come.

I might agree with George if he had put his morality where his mouth is. Instead, he grandstands but did nothing while his children attended the same elitist schools he decries. If he had these feelings, he could have taken the first step by moving his kids into a different district and working from the inside to fix the non-performing school. Obviously, he can be morally superior in a situation where remains unaffected. This alone gives him far less credibility in my eyes.

In general, I do not disagree with him in that something needs to be done and these schools need to be fixed. However, attendance lines are not going to change anything except make it more difficult from a commute perspective and have more kids transferring back to the central/north schools. The fix needs to start locally but until parents in non-performing schools care enough to get involved, it is unlikely to happen. These parents send their kids to others schools. Move attendance lines, ship kids to far away schools, take away any stable environment and watch the number of people that flee to neighboring counties for local schools. This is why this will not be the solution.

Since he brought it up, the reality of transfers into the Lakeside district are mostly high performers. The lower performers do not transfer as often so I have no clue why his neighbors would care if high performing kids transfer in. I haven't heard anything about the transfers (or maybe I just have more Christian friends than he does). We live in a majority African American county. When I hear all this "elitist" schools talk, it makes me laugh. Henderson is one third white (33%), one third black (34%) and one third Asian and Hispanic (33%) with plenty of apartment complexes. If anything, it has to be one of the most balanced and diverse schools in DeKalb. Since the same students attend Lakeside, I would think it has similar numbers. I hardly believe the socioeconomic elites are dominating these schools since the socioeconomic elites are in private schools. The rest of us are just public school parents trying to do the best for our children and others. There has been no push to get rid of transfers that I know of (except perhaps for the DCSS special permission kids because that is morally wrong which George should understand).

I couldn't care less about property values because I don't plan to move but the county will receive less tax money as the values decrease. Perhaps the goal is to send everyone packing to private school so that DCSS has more dollars per student. Won't fix the problem and will send the performers out of the public schools further exacerbating the issue. There is no easy fix.

Finally, he is going to spout his religion to taint his neighbors and assume he knows everyone's beliefs and motivations in this district? I understand his view to be that his neighbors are bad Christians but he is a good one for taking a righteous moral stand on something that will not affect him. Disingenuous at best, hypocritical at worst.

Anonymous said...

Maybe I am cynical but this is all well and good from someone who no longer has kids in the school district.

I read the full article and found it quite insulting. Lakeside is a very diverse school and saying that we are nonchristian for wanting our children to go there rather than Druid Hills is especially so.


I also felt that the author does not really understand the true nature of the Lakeside community. Maybe he isolated himself to the white middle class but that is not the case for most of the families in our district.

There are plenty of children in our own backyard that need help without makeing our children drive great distances through lots of traffic to go to school.

Look at the amazing things that happen at Sagamore Hills - parent's up early tutoring bus riders in math two mornings a week, a teacher and Sagamore Hills resident organizing tutoring at one of the larger apartment complexes after school.

Look at the signing choir at Briarlake - how nice it is for hearing impaired children to be at a school that works so hard to communicate with them.

I am sure there are countless other examples of "christian" behvaior in our neighborhood.
Before you judge others on their motives, maybe you should have explored what the motives are. I did not talk to one parent who objected to Druid Hills for any reason besides travel time, block scheduling, and disrupting the community that we have built. Druid Hills is a fine school with demographics not that dissimilar from Lakeside.

Anonymous said...

If all of you are waiting on govt.schools to educate your children then you should be ashamed of your self. Get your children in a private school where this hot mess is not happening.

Anonymous said...

well said!

You are right.

I have no kids in school and am proud to pay property taxes to make sure our country's future lives up to its past. It's not about me-it's about us. Get rid of 8 to 12 the shcools that are outdated and under enrolled and redistribute the students to alleviate any crowding. If we are going to make an investment in the future let's make the wisest use of the money.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who claim to be proud of paying taxes to educate our future...well it's been said that a fool(s) and their money are soon parted.

If you think the majority of the money you have contributed to the F & F Network via your property taxes earmarked for education, you are sadly mistaken and misinformed.

If this were a charity and we were looking for the lowest overhead and greatest return on donated dollar, DCSS would be declared a sham charity!

Anonymous said...

I am not opposed to alleviating overcrowding but when there is no overcrowding, as in the Lakeside case, I don't get it. My kids went to Oak Grove as recently as two years ago and there was no overcrowding so I have to believe that since his youngest child is in college he doesn't have the facts. I remained in the Oak Grove district in every scenario but still see no reason to arbitrarily move kids when there isn't a reason for it.

SCW thinks everyone should "feel the pain" because the south is closing schools. That is ridiculous. The southside was building schools while the north was closing them years ago. It happens.

I am curious about something though. I graduated from Lakeside in the 80s and there must have been close to 2,000 kids there back then and it was a top academic school. How can the school, only have capacity numbers in the 1300s currently and the addition of 30 classrooms raising it only into the 1700s (which is still fewer than attended when I was there)? These numbers have me stymied. I guess overcrowding is in the eye of the beholder.

Anonymous said...

I will not do a thing for the school district. Since my children have been there they have decreased my property values with redistricting, put communities through the ringer with meeting after meeting about the process. Then did NOTHING BUT gerrymander lines to apease state senators, and board members alike.
I now have one child in private school and another on the way. I hope the school system and the peoplr who run it rot.

Anonymous said...

"Cross Pollinating". Huh. Even if you didn't care about the lives of the children in these neighborhoods, this is a bad idea. Is it the kids of the neighborhoods we're "cross pollinating" with? Naturally, these kids will be gone at some point and I guess if they haven't "done the job" of improving a school, folks will be less likely to want to move into those neighborhoods. Doesn't solve the problem, see?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:37 has it exactly right. Exactly.

Anonymous said...

Before this mess is really cleaned up, our school board members need to learn how to speak proper English. Just watch a meeting and you will be embarrassed at the way they speak.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:34
Oak Grove has 6 trailers and is at 112% capacity; Lakeside has 23 trailers and 1800 students; Henderson Middle that feeds into LHS has 13 trailers and 1472 students - not sure where you are getting your data but you can see these on the 2020 reports; obviously, there is overcrowding.

As for attending LHS in the 80's with 2000 students- many criteria have changed that may make it different now: there weren't limits on gifted class sizes; there probably weren't footage requirements for spec. ed that exist now, there weren't computer labs that sit open unless a class reserves it; there weren't as many course choices so all classes were full rather than having a variety of classes with varying sizes of students based on interest; likely there weren't as many "offices" for asst. principals, counselors, book keepers, etc. so those were classes. I am sure there are other differences - I don't even think there were class size limits so they could put in as many as the room could hold. Maybe that is why LHS is overcrowded with fewer students than the 80s.

Anonymous said...

Meant to say 11:27 has it exactly right. But I can say 11:37 is spot on as well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:05 p.m.
Equally sad - check out PDS 24: the grammatical errors and mis-spelled words are embarassing and the web site articles aren't much better!

Anonymous said...

Spending our Tax money for a free education. Interesting sentence. I have no problem paying taxes for my kids and every kids education. I do have a problem with "friends and family plan" wasting money. Office of improvement, since created we have far more LESS improved schools. Far too much waste of our money. We need the money back in the school house. Bottom up budgeting. if we have funds left over, then we pay for America's Choice, whatever that is and Audria Berry's Dept. Ms. Berry should be shown the door as soon as Clew's trial is over.

Anonymous said...

We've gotten letters from Dr. Lewis and other high ranking, over paid administrators when I taught in DCSS. It's sad that with all the money spent, we don't have any proof readers on the payroll.

Anonymous said...

As long as we elect people like Jester, Walker, and Womack who only represent their special interest groups we will fail. If you are safe good for you, but remember it is at other childrens expense. THEY ARE BAD NEWS

Anonymous said...

George speaks the truth. We just don't want to hear it.

Anonymous said...

What the heck is your problem with Nancy Jester????
Are you one of the candidates who lost the election to her or something???
She hasn't DONE anything yet, except call out the financial malpractice of the DCSS during her campaign and promise transparency. So her kids are at Hawthorne instead of Dresden. Dresden is now designed to address the needs of ESL kids. The Jester children do not need this and don't speak Spanish. Hawthorne was a reasonable choice. So Anon. 2:48, You need to 1) learn to punctuate correctly and 2) get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

Say and believe what you want NANCY JESTER PLAYS DIRTY POLITICS. You of course are entitled to your opinion and I to mine. At least I am not bullying you. No I am not a political candidate and in fact voted for her.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 2:58 - you forgot, she also voted AGAINST Tyson's exorbitant raise.

Anonymous said...

Jester totally sided with the Austin parents and basically stuck a finger up to the rest of Dunwoody.

Cerebration said...

FWIW, Ramona Tyson came up with the final recommended plan along with the consultants (after so many community meetings and online community comments, which mainly came from north end parents). The board did not have input, discussion or even see the plan until she presented her recommendation at the board meeting.

Anonymous said...

To Anon at 2:52:
Your truth doesn't seem to align with many of the very well reasoned responses given here. Perhaps you should read them. And that's the truth.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:22
Lakeside is building 25 new classrooms right now that will be finished in the next 1 1/2 years.

Lakeside will not be overcrowded when that is complete.

Unfortunately the county did not take into account current construction when giving information to the consultants

Anonymous said...

To Cerebration:
For what it's worth, many Board members absolutely did have input into the current plan. While I certainly stand behind the current plan, Ms. Jester is publicly campaigning against it. She is now advocating for specific groups in the Dunwoody area.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 3:26
I was responding to Anon 1:34 who seemed to suggest that Lakeside and Oak Grove were not currently overcrowded and questioning how LHS could be if he/she went there with 2000 students in the 80s. I am quite familiar with the Lakeside addition and you are correct: once completed, it will not be overcrowded if the current enrollment holds steady.

Anonymous said...

Henderson needs to be brought in line with Lakeside ... Henderson is very overcrowded and now really needs SPLOST attention ....HMS needs to conform with LHS so they hold the same population (not even getting into the fact that HMS was never brought in line with other middle schools).

Ella Smith said...

I do not think the feelings about staying in the Lakeside area have anything to do with being a Christain or not or liking or disliking the neigbors.

Many parents went to Lakeside and there is an emotional connection. It is about school spirit and pride. If you are not part of the generation of tradition at Lakeside it would be hard to understand the strong emotions involved here.

Anonymous said...

I find the LHS attitude kind of "Stepfordish" -- ignore the facts and they will disappear. I'm wondering what will happen when the real graduation rates start being reported. All those missing teens that never make it out will suddently come to light. It's really not such a pretty place. Maybe safer than others but not so pretty.

Ella Smith said...

I understand that Lakeside has a high failure rate. However,they also have high standards. There are two sides of this coin actually. I see both sides.

Anonymous said...

@6:37 - Too many kids make it through high school that don't perform, or can't read or don't understand math - which is why so many are unable to survive in college. I'm glad there is actually a school unafraid to fail students. I didn't know those existed anymore.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 11:27 AM
"I couldn't care less about property values because I don't plan to move but the county will receive less tax money as the values decrease."

If you live in North DeKalb the County tax assessor will not decrease property value assessment. Otherwise, the County could not afford to keep the job bank alive and keep the social welfare programs going in South DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Tax Decrease? What tax decrease??? I paid $1,750 in 1994 -

Here are my property taxes for the past several years:

2010 $6,241.14*
2009 $6,241.14
2008 $5,910.42
2007 $5,872.48
2006 $5,966.90
2005 $5,332.58

*Yes - so kind of them to not increase my taxes last year!

Anonymous said...

@Anon 8:56
"If you live in North DeKalb the County tax assessor will not decrease property value assessment. "

Wrong.

I'm in Dunwoody and I challenged my home assessment, provided documentation justifying what we determined our property was worth and demanded they show the same. I took some lip from a snot-nosed little b***h answering the phone, but they agreed to our number.

Sure helped drop our mortgage payment, too. We're staying for the long haul so we expect the numbers will eventually recover.

M G said...

They haven't increased the millage rate in several years. The increase you saw was because the tax assessor's office reassessed values and said your home was worth more. There is a page in the budget document every year that shows the millage rate and it has been the same since 2002. Here's a link to the budget document, the millage rate is listed at the bottom of the graph on the top of page 14.

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/approved-budget-(2011).pdf

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Since it was professionally appraised at $689,000 three years ago and only $600,000 last year.

Anonymous said...

I give Jay Cunningham major props for giving up the position. I also give him props for managing a killer reelection campaign. Props for his advocacy for the schools in his region. What I don't give him props for is nepotism. His son at Columbia, Jonathan Woods, is an assistant principal at a high school. Mr. Woods received his leadership certification in 2009. He received his MIDDLE SCHOOLS MATH certification in 2005 and his SPECIAL ED certification (with an emphasis in math) in the same year. So in a meteroic rise of SIX YEARS a fellow with middle school training is made an assistant principal at a high school. What are his qualifications? His bloodline, baby!

Jay Cunningham's relatives should NOT be given preferential treatment in hiring!

Anonymous said...

@ 9:59

Isn't this exactly what SACS said should not be happening? Write the governor and the state superintendent regarding this and every other BOE member who has family members employed in non-teaching, high paying positions. Ask they why SACS refuses to move on the DCSS BOE. Ask Governor Deal if he will remove BOE members.
Governor Deal:
http://www.georgia.gov/00/gov/contact_us/0,2657,165937316_166563415,00.html

John Barge:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/sup.aspx
(there is an email link on the left hand side below his picture)

Anonymous said...

What specific groups is Ms. Jester campaigning for?

Anonymous said...

JAy advocates for schools in his district alright. That's why we havE Arabia functioning as a virtual private school for the south DeKalb elite. Right after they get their children through a theme or charter school (Leadership Prep $$ Academy.)

Anonymous said...

Friends & Family Update

Jay's baby's mama (Wood's mom) is the CTSS at Columbia Middle. Just sayin...

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:48 - Get over yourself! Jester has not voted for any plan yet, has she? Has she spoken in public about "snubbing" Dunwoody? What plan is she advocating for? I spent almost 2 hours with her just last month. She is willing to listen to anyone with ideas.

Politics is being played in Dunwoody by a politician, but it's not Nancy. Geez, Nancy was sworn in just over a month ago. But there is a powerful politician who is calling the shots with DCSS and it's not Nancy Jester.

Anonymous said...

Regarding property values:

They will never voluntarily lower your assessment.

If you think your value has fallen, file a return with county. I think the deadline is usually early March.

Anonymous said...

that a fool(s) and their money are soon parted.

thanks for the compliment-
however i have a hear d time believing that none of my tax dollars go to help educate children. Life is full of mismanagement and people who take advantage from Enron and Madof to people who take advantage of our government and our schools. Medicare fraud exists-somehow I don't wnat to stop helping the people who need medical care or the students who need to be ready for tomorrow's challanges. Perhaps where you come from the innocent have to be punished to make sure none of the guilty parties escape-but if that's the case which one are you?

Anonymous said...

Ms. Jester was a DHA last weekend and publically advocated for changing the current plan. She IS advocating for specific groups and no will not speak candidly with those that do not agree with her.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:27 am

Good for her. The current plan is leaving 1/2 the empty seats in place. Way to go Nancy.

Cerebration said...

I am not following these comments. If you download the "plans" (current, centralized, decentralized and now the new plan from the superintendent found here -

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/redistricting/attendance-areas-superintendent-recommendation-elementary-schools-map.pdf

You see that every plan takes at least a couple of hundred children from Austin and Vanderlyn (often, many more) and sends them to the newly converted k-5 Dunwoody ES. Some plans more than others, but they are quite similar in scope as far as I can tell.

You wouldn't really like my opinion - I'd go full throttle for the centralized plan - except that I'd stop and take a serious look at whether or not we can afford the stand-alone magnets at all (Kittredge, Wadsworth, DSA, etc...)

Wyndy Amerson said...

When we moved into the Oak Grove / Lakeside area in 1985, Oak Grove was not a premiere elementary school then. The parents who were ahead of me dug in their heels and went to work. They found a great principal. They set high standards and we expected to meet them. We expected a lot from our students and teachers. We built a nature trail. We raised money for playground equipment. We raised money for foreign language instruction. We painted. We cleaned. As we improved the school, more families moved in to the area. These efforts are not heroic or mystical. Anyone can do it. When my kids moved to Lakeside, I put the same work into the school. Is it elitist to haul woodchips all afternoon instead of taking tea at the Ritz? I am really damn tired of everyone on this blog, at the AJC, etc. thinking we are a bunch of snobs in our community. We work hard. We value education. The county sure as hell taxes me for my efforts. Compare my house value in taxes to those in SW DeKalb. I pay twice as much as those south of Memorial. Why? BECAUSE of our SCHOOLS. So don't get on your high horse and tell me that it shouldn't matter because it does. We bought in the area, we are less than 2 miles from Lakeside. George is 2 miles away as well but he would stay in the LHS area so I guess he can ride his high horse because he wouldn't be affected by redistricting. Easy to preach if you are not affected.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Wyndy. I too am sick and tired of all the criticism and name-calling we're getting. I live 1.3 miles away from Lakeside. My child should go to his community school. Case closed.

Anonymous said...

So, Mr. Miranda, what you're saying is that I should sacrifice the welfare of my children on the altar of the Public Good. As far as I can tell from your pontification, you made no such sacrifices yourself. Talk is cheap, Mr. Miranda.

Anonymous said...

Lakeside has the perception of being elitist within its own community because the same people run the same committees year after year. Some even when they no longer have a child at the school. There isn't an effort to bring in new blood because they might (gasp)want to due something new.... new ideas are not welcome, it's not the Lakeside way. Inbreeding is the norm.

Anonymous said...

Cere,

The centralized plan would have been good for most of Dunwoody, just not the vrey shocked neighborhoods that were being sent. That said once you change one thing you need to change many. In the case of Dunwoody that means Austin and Vanderlyn giving up some neighborhoods for Chesnut and Kingsely eventually see the gain. It is a domino effect.
However, now that it has been shown that their are apartments that are actually closer to Austin than some neighborhoods, suddenly the criteria is interupt less kids.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:02 PM

Please accept DES as your new school and move on. Most of Dunwoody is tired of hearing how you are not wanting your kids to go to school with kids from apartments. Austin, Chesnut, and kingsley have been over 40% MFH for years and you South of Womack people never cared then.

Wyndy Amerson said...

@Anon 11:32 AM - What have you done? Perception and reality are somewhat different. I know when I served on committees we welcomed "new blood". I was at LHS for 14 years as a parent and served on many different projects. I saw people helping with the Lost Boys from Sudan from tutoring to helping with clothing drives to providing jobs. There are ways to be involved at LHS/Oak Grove and if you ran into a bunch of volunteers that wouldn't let you have it your way then maybe a. you ideas were not so good b. you need to take assertiveness training c. find another group where you could have an impact. Stop judging all of Lakeside because of one run in you may have had. Lakeside is made up of a diverse and energetic group of parents. I admire many of them for working hard and spending valuable time to make an impact in the community. We have lived with crappy bathrooms, poor facilities for years and we are finally seeing some improvements. The families at DHHS, THS and DHS also work hard to support their schools. For all the people who complain about "spreading the wealth" how often did you get out to tutor children in need? Raise money for clothing, transportation or help families find homes? We had that kind of support at LHS for our students. I also agree with other posters - it is not my children's job to educate (or re-pollinate) other children. It is MY JOB to make sure my children were in a safe learning environment. I made a choice to buy into the OG/LHS area so my children could go to a safe school that valued education. My neighbors also put in long hours to make sure our children and children from outside the district could feel safe and strive for academic success.

Anonymous said...

The Lakeside Wyndy describes does not exist today. The climate is one where many teachers have lost interest, the kids have to fight to be treated fairly, even as they teach themselves their coursework. All this, while the parents, many of them Lakeside grads themselves, pat themselves on the back for having their high-achievers enrolled in the storied Lakeside. They manipulate administrators to ensure their children benefit from the best roster of teachers, while the unwashed and unknowing suffer through poor if punitive teaching techniques. They run a PTA that makes up the rules as it goes (just ask the State PTA which has intervened) and kick people off the board who don't live in the right neighborhood. Wyndy, this isn't one isolated incident: this is how things are done at Lakeside. All this, as the happy parents host drinking parties in the basement (don't worry: they collect the kids' car keys before the drinking commences). And if you are a parent who finds any problem with any of this, you will be isolated and not welcomed into the inner circle.

Anonymous said...

Wow anon 8:38 I'm not surprised this has happened to more than me. Wyndy - to answer your question I have spent countless hours volunteering at the school but only when I am not a part of a larger committee. I made the mistake of signing up to head a booster club committee only to have a parent w/ his second child now going through the school tell me that what I wanted to do wasn't the "Lakeside way of doing this". He actually said you can't do that like that. All I wanted to do was make this a committee of more than me doing all the work. I was told if I signed up for it I was responsible for all the needs of this group. Rules and bylaws don't apply to the core group of parents running the school, they are extremely exclusive not inclusive.

Anonymous said...

And I'll be a 3rd LHS person to "amen" what those that have just piped in to say that the LHS Wyndy experienced isn't the way it is any more... kids who survive and "prosper" do so on their own and "against the odds" -- rubrics aren't followed and teachers appear "actively out to get kids" -- kids fail not so much because they deserve to fail, although I'm sure that's the case with some.. but not at 50% as is the stat ... but because teachers really aren't so supportive. It's not such a great place. I've seen great. This isn't what everyone thinks it is. It may be the best DCSS has. But that's really sad. And, the committees ain't that open. Just look at who's running what and how that hasn't changed over the past 10 years or so. Some are in charge and their kids graduated a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

I have had one child go through Lakeside recently and he had a fine experience. BUT I agree with the earlier posters. In so many ways Lakeside is the DCSS Ptomekin village. Many kids do great, because their parents have the means to support them AND to navigate the Lakeside system. There are certainly some good teachers, but it's true that there is a very wide range of instructional experience. I was appalled to hear again and again about kids in classes (especially non-gifted classes) where the instruction is to basically teach yourselves. And don't even get me started on the counselors or the bloated administration who turn a blind eye to any problem/comment brought to their attention. And yes, it is all well and good to volunteer, but there is clearly an inner circle slated for leadership. That was always fine with me, but you definitely got the sense there are some ethical boundaries breeched from time to time (in terms of decisions on spending booster club dues, etc). And perhaps having a more open system would reduce that.
And really, this group advocated for the SCORe plan, and while that was certainly their right, I felt they presented this as the Lakeside neighborhood plan and really didn't do all that much to try and represent dissenting views that I certainly heard within the broader Lakeside-Henderson community. For example, I have another child at Henderson MS and I don't agree that all parents were OK with the current degree of over-crowding there. We had an opportunity with the consultants' proposals to see some of that alleviated and now we need to wait and see IF and WHEN we get SPLOST funds to take care of the problem. Also, many of us agreed with the comments expressed on this blog about needing to have a broader view of the entire school system and I heard many folks endorse the centralized plan. But, I'll admit, many of us expressed our views quietly at early meetings and then moved on when it was clear that they weren't in line with the "official" neighborhood position. For me (and I freely admit this is a wimpy stance), it's just not worth the discomfort of going against the grain.

Anonymous said...

As for the transfers to Lakeside being High achievers--OH NO. Many are kids who were failing at a failing school whose parents think that trekking across the county will magically turn them into scholars.

Yes, I have taught a few AYP transfer kids who made the change for the right reasons and reaped the benefits of being at LHS. But there are also a bunch of lazy do-nothing kids coming in right along with them.

To be clear, LHS had enough slackers and miscreants already--I am not suggesting that the AYP transfers are the root of what is becoming an alarming lack of discipline. But many of the transfer kids are failing, and allowing them to languish at the school that was supposed to be their salvation is foolish.

Anonymous said...

Could we please refrain from labeling the children in our FAILING SCHOOL SYSTEM as lazy, do-nothing, slacker, miscreants? Talk about blaming the victims!

Anonymous said...

I agree that overcrowding should be alleviated at Henderson. My guess is that you are not in the area that was going to be moved to DHMS/DHHS though. While the kids cannot walk to Henderson, the ones in the area affected can walk to the elementary and high schools (Oak Grove/Sagamore/ Briarlake/ Lakeside) so Henderson is a cross we bear. Maybe DHMS is a scant mile or so closer (and DHHS farther than LHS) but it is still too far or dangerous to walk. Don't think for a minute anyone is happy with the trailers but the alternative was far less appealing. Moving from one overcrowded school to another doesn't make sense. There are trailers at DHMS that our kids would be in once we were moved too so it wasn't solving the problem, it was just moving it to another school. In the process, we were losing our local high school for a difficult commute. Not worth it for those of us that were affected Three or four fewer trailers does not equal a solution for Henderson either.

Anonymous said...

Point of clarification -- I think that many of the AYP transfers at LHS aren't really there for the "stellar education" -- I think that they are there "because it's safer" than the home school. I think that this is the type of thing that ought to really be looked in to. If there are schools that really have a safety problem (or a problem with a "culture" of kids who want to learn being penalized for it) -- the underyling "root" or 'core' issue really needs to be addressed -- I think that DCSS is doing a miserable job of even trying to determine why kids are tranferring and trying to fix it. Also on the transfer front, if the policy was that adminstrators (particularly central office) had to put their kids at the schools they supervised, there would be an incentive to improve those schools. A teacher told me the other day that a central office employee has a child at HMS --dad lives in Gwinnett... how many are there like this? Perhaps Cere could start a column just to track what everyone here knows of the administrator's kids at various schools and where they live (without names so we don't violate pivacy laws -- just to get a sense for numbers?).

Anonymous said...

Wyndy: I hate to be part of the Anons who are ganging up on you, but they are all absolutely right. The Lakeside community may be the world's most expensive trailer park. The people who purport to be community leaders there harbor some less than subtle racial issues (please look at the PTA--they usually allow one member of color, and are so afraid of new ones they kept the most recent one even though she has no kids in the school right now). They spend massive time, money, and parent volunteer effort on a beauty pageant that was laughable a decade ago, instead of using those resources to address the massive dropout rate among their children's nonwhite classmates. Your attitude about how you are not responsible for any child except your own mirrors that of these parents, who try to run committees, foundations, and PTA not to improve the school for all children, just to get goodies for their own. It will ultimately keep Lakeside from evert being a truly great school.

Wyndy Amerson said...

All of you who hide behind the Anoymous Title - so brave of you. Really, none of you adocate for your own child? You are all so generous that you tutor other students ( I did ). George Miranda and the rest of the LHS bashers are out there helping those who are having trouble? I doubt it. You don't are either jealous or lack the backbone to get things done. Bash Lakeside. I am gone from the school. The real problem is the BOE. Not Lakeside. No ethics. No auditing of expense reports. No plan for improving student achievement across DeKalb. I know plenty of LHS parents. They work hard. I admire them. Anonymous - all you - not so much.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Amerson, I volunteer at the school that I used to teach at and don't have any children in DCSS. The entire district is corrupt. Lakeside is not the Lakeside that children who graduated 5 or 6 years ago went to. I know several parents whose children are finishing up college who attended Lakeside and have said that their children wouldn't go there now.

Many parents want someone else to take care of their children and their children's problems. Many parents want to be their children's friends instead of a parent. These are facts. This was true when I was growing up in the 80's, but it is something that I see even more now.

As a volunteer tutor, I have offered to help children after school for free-leaving notes in agendas, emailing, and leaving messages on home and cell phones has warranted no response from parents. Not even a thank you for caring about my kid.

As a teacher, I watched parents chase the almighty buck working to give their children stuff and to also have the latest greatest stuff themselves. What these parents fail to realize is that children need your time and attention. They want the stuff that you give them, but they need you.


When I go out for dinner with my family, I see too many instances where parents are on their cell phones (talking, texting, or emailing) with children doing the same or playing video games. Few families spend time together, talk, play games, hang out, discuss movies and books, go for a walk, etc.

We are in a me generation. Where people worship stuff: cars, cell phones, clothes, fancy homes, etc. Many of the things that people have, they truly can't afford.

I look at the state of DCSS and I am glad that there are PTAs that can afford the fancy stuff, but what many parents in all of the schools fail to realize is that their child is getting short changed in terms of quality education whether their child/school is making the grade. "Passing" the CRCT does not require a true passing grade of 70% or better. Your child can get 50% wrong and still receive a "passing" score. Is this a quality education?

It's time that the citizens of DCSS get their heads out of their rear end and realize that the children of the county are being used by the adults running the show. ALL children are being used-not just the kids on the South end of the county in the poorest run schools, or those not making AYP. ALL kids should be receiving a better education than what they receive currently. The money is there for smaller classes. The money is there for not having over crowed schools. The powers that be choose to spend money on high salaries for poor administrators, large sums on programs that do not work, pay teacher coaches larger salaries than teachers instead of putting these people in the classroom and helping children in need, promoting friends and family members, stealing money, misusing funds, hiring principals, APs, and administrators with 3-5 years of classroom experience to run our schools, oversee curriculum decisions, be area superintendents, and run our entire districts, and law suits.

People are anonymous because the DCSS mob mentality is strong and people will loose their jobs or have other repercussions for speaking out.

DCSS is not what it was 10 years ago. It is not what is was 20 years ago, and it is worse now than the 4 years ago when we moved here.

Wyndy Amerson said...

@Anon 1AM - The problems you cite are not new and they do not hold just to DeKalb County. I taught school in East Cobb. I couldn't get parents to attend student conferences. Their children couldn't read at a 4th grade level or write a simple declarative sentence. They were in a very nice tennis/swim section of Cobb. They were busy chasing the same dollars and had a tee time that was more important. That is why I refused to move to Cobb County when I bought a house. I visited schools and observed PTA meetings in neighborhoods where I wanted to buy a home. I chose OakGrove because of the parent involvment and concern for education. The issues I have with the LHS bashing is that there are many good parents in my neighborhood who work hard at the school. Yes, there are some parents who just want leave. They have theif fiefdom. They work hard. I think they need intervention but am I going to paint with such a broad brush to say that all of Lakeside is elitist? For all the ANON's on this blog, grow a backbone and go to work. Stop whining about things you can't change (or lack the courage to change). There is so much we need to do improve this School System. From hauling wood chips to tutoring students in English. Stop casting dispersions among your neighbors unless you really are out there doing the work. The entire school system is flat-lining due to corruption, nepotism and stupidity. More money is spent on the Central Office staff and PR firms than in our classrooms. I refuse to allow George Miranda or any ANON blogger though lump all parents in our community in one "elitist" box and think our children should be moved out our school district so we can "polinate" the rest of the county with our wealth and hard work. It is not our children's repsonsibility to improve DeKalb's educational morass. It is the responsibility of the School Board to support teachers and not furlough them. Buy lab equipment and not fund a PR firm. Stop the bashing between schools and neighbors and go to the top and have them really manage our schools.

Anonymous said...

Wyndy: Most of "us" LHS anons. are doing what you suggest. We are out there trying to fix things locally at school, at the county and at the state. We've seen more than we have ever expected to see--we too bought our homes solely for LHS and we've been very disappointed as principals have been run off due to prejudice and bigotry and the lack of leadership at the school over the past decade, coupled with a lack of leadership at the county, layered with mass corruption has made a mess that we're trying very hard to unravel. Being "anon" keeps us safe as there are some unsavory folks involved in the morass and a county attorney (Robert Hicks) did actually wind up dead (not just without a job). So, yes, we need to get our own kids educated, but some of us are trying with every ounce of our being to fix it for 100,000 children in the system.

Anonymous said...

The attorney reprsenting the 4 boys in the suit against the Bishop has 24/7 security and has received death threats with anti-semitic undertones (at least as of last fall) and Liz Carter, who ran against Hank Johnsson and some of her more prominent supporters also received death threats-- she was told that if she won, she would need 24/7 security. Don't you start to really wonder what exactly we are dealing with in DeKalb?

Anonymous said...

@ .." instead of using those resources to address the massive dropout rate among their children's nonwhite classmates..."

February 16, 2011 11:42 PM

This is African-American parent speaking----- Why would LHS (teachers, parents, students) be addressing drop-out rates in Dekalb County? When did that become their charge? They can't go and "backfill" 8 years of mal-education during the 1, 2, or 3 years that students with deficits realize that the educational opportunity ship has sailed and mercifully for the others drop out of school?

So what if parents used their moneys and labor to put up Miss Lakeside and used the proceeds to buy the teachers a few items not provided by the County?

Did you know that at least 3 black young ladies living near Stone Mountain and Redan have won Miss Lakeside?

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute--living near St. Mountain and Redan? Won Miss Lakeside? Okay. Can't decide whether to be mad or laugh at that one.

The fact that the Miss Lakeside pageant is a fundraiser is appalling. They charge students admission for two (!) separate nights, so the money is made on the backs of the kids. They tried to make it more respectable by awarding a "scholarship" that just about covers what it costs contestants in hair and clothes. No, if parents want to really help teachers they should be using their time volunteering in the offices and classrooms, going to BOE meetings to stop furloughs and step freezes, and lobbying their legislators to get austerity cuts stopped. That is the real work to be done here. It's hard and not very glamorous, but it is what actually makes a difference.

Cerebration said...

Want you all to read the rebuttal by Wyndy posted in the Patch.

Elitism Plays No Role in Lakeside Community Redistricting Debate

Dunwoody Mom said...

Oh, good grief. These "Miss whatever high school" have always been fundraisers - even in my day during the dark ages.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the link to Ms. Amerson's letter. I think she and others at Lakeside should be commended for their hard work and they should be held up as an example for other communities. With respect, calling the Oak Grove area wealthy and elitist comes off a bit like a bumpkin.

Anonymous said...

Wyndy is correct moving students to spread educational achievement should not fall on the shoulders of the students. The bottom line is that system-wide DCSS is failing and there aren't enough like-minded families to redistrict to have the effect Miranda so ideally espouses.

fedupindcss said...

Sad fact is moving LHS students around wouldn't help out at other schools, anyway. Too many of them end up with straight A's at LHS, only to have to take remedial classes in college (and it isn't like they are all going to Harvard, anyway). It isn't really all that.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ms. Amerson's series of questions in the last paragraph - there are major countywide issues that need to be addressed and answers that need to be provided. Unfortunately, there are parents, PTAs, school councils working hard to make an impact, request answers, etc. The system however is set up in such a way as to make it impossible to get traction or even get someone to respond to questions - from BOE members to county staff. BOE members continue to have their own pet projects, goals, play politics trading 1 vote for another and dismissing parents and their ideas. Nothing has changed. DCSS hides behind the "Palace" guards - can't even see anyone without going through clearance and being escorted. To get info requires filing Open Records requests - not so transparent!

Anonymous said...

Elitist: yes there are some of those in the Lakeside district. That's what you call Oak Grove parents who look down their nose at Briarlake and Sagamore. Heaven forbid poor Johnny would have to go to one of THOSE schools!

Anonymous said...

When will the district stop giving children grades? How can a child who cannot read or a child who cannot spell his name receive an A? How can we keep passing kids on with fewer and fewer skills? When will we stop giving grades to make parents feel good, while we are failing the children that we are in charge of?

Sick of the DCSS way. Tired of seeing children being used. When will the quality of education our children receive be improved and children, teachers, parents, and administrators be held accountable for the learning/education our children are or are not receiving.

Parent wake up!!!! If your child has an A on his/her report card, can you honestly say that they have done or are doing A work?

Anonymous said...

"That's what you call Oak Grove parents who look down their nose at Briarlake and Sagamore"

And this is important to you?

Anonymous said...

Wyndy's glasses are a bit too rose colored describing Lakeside. There are some great teachers and some really bad ones. There are some active parents interested in academics but many of the active folks are alum, former parents and are more focused on Valhalla, athletics and redistricting. The state of the school program by the principal that also had an update on construction only had 50 parents - very sad for a school of 1800 - got what they wanted from Ms. Tyson and have gone back to sleep. Meanwhile, their students are sitting in trailers with 34 kids, some are in "lab" classes in trailers, the emergency exit
plan is a mess,there are food fights in the cafeteria, kids strolling the halls all day- and no one is going to bat for the students or staff.

It is hard for many to get involved. The PTA board has many people holding more than 1 position and have been around doing the same jobs for a long time. There are no committees except Valhalla. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy - if you don't open things up, you don't get new volunteers. If you haven't expanded your circle of welcome, calls for volunteers go unanswered because people don't feel like they are a part of the community.

Anonymous said...

My guess is the elitists you describe will be present in any population. There are probably Sagamore parents with similar elitist attitudes about Briar Vista. Why anyone would be elitist about elementary schools in our district is beyond me since they all end up in Henderson and Lakeside together. Let's be realistic - all the elementary schools that feed into Lakeside are pretty good. I haven't experienced the elitism you claim so, perhaps, it exists but in small amounts. As a matter of fact, I have spoken with numerous Oak Grove parents who were okay with their kids moving to another elementary - their concern was mostly assuring they were in the Lakeside feeder system. In any large group there are outliers with opinions that don't represent the group. A few people voicing a derogatory opinion shouldn't taint all Oak Grove parents as elitist.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:50: only when the Lakeside community vehemently denies there are any elitists in their community and they profess to be so tight-knit. Let's be honest. Every community has all kinds of people with all kinds of beliefs, values, prejudices. The Lakeside community is no different. Have you heard them rallying to keep Pleasantdale families since Ms. Tyson presented her recommendation?

Anonymous said...

In order for any rallying to be done, someone needs to let the community know what needs to be rallied around. If the Pleasantdale families wish to stay in their current district instead of moving to Livsey, maybe they should attempt to let people know this. I am happy to sign any petition to help them and help in other ways. I heard some Briar Vista families are doing just this and I am happy to support them as well. Very tough to support something you are totally unaware needs support. No one in our district tried to district anyone out, including Pleasantdale. That was done for other reasons, such as saving Livsey - a school outside the LHS feeder.

Anonymous said...

SCORe's stated goal was to keep ALL of the current Lakeside community intact. If, in fact, that was their goal, shouldn't they still be going to bat for that goal? Is there any reason Pleasantdale should think SCORe's goal has changed?

"No one in our district tried to district anyone out".... true but passive - not hearing an active effort to retain those that were pushed out.

Anonymous said...

Get real. You are suggesting people get out and fight to keep Pleasantdale in the district when there is no indication Pleasantdale families want to fight it or care either way. Talk about passive. Are you an unhappy Pleasantdale parent? If so, make it known. It seems the parents of these kids are really quiet for people not happy with the outcome. Maybe they are happy - do you know otherwise? Tucker is much closer than Lakeside.

Pleasantdale got hit with the domino effect because the County decided to save Livsey which had nothing to do with SCORe. The SCORe plan left Livsey closed and Pleasantdale in the LHS district. LHS isn't all powerful either. There were other differences in the plan from the suggestions put forward so the Superintendent made her own changes. But, again, the reality is that it is very difficult to fight for something when those at Pleasantdale haven't indicated they want to fight.

Wyndy Amerson said...

Nothing wrong with rose-colored glasses - much preferred the green-colored specs some of you prefer to wear. Who gives a flying fig if you think people look down their noses at your from other elementary schools? Get over yourself. The high school prom election is over - I didn't win and neither did you! Time to put on those big girl panties and go to work. Someone won't let you play in their sandbox? Go build another sandbox. There is plenty of work to be done to improve our schools. Get off the blog and go to work. Write the BOE, the State, the DA. Tutor kids. Wash windows, clean up the grounds. Paint walls. While you are wringing your hands though - be happy you have hands to wring. I'm involved in another project to help those who made the sacrifice to allow you to even have a blog. Check out www.charlestonpatriotchallenge.org one day. We have so much to be thankful for in this country. You can do so much to make changes in your schools; whining won't help. Worrying about someone looking down their nose at you makes you look paranoid and silly. Do something instead of whine.