The letter below was sent to the DeKalb County School System (DCSS) Board of Education (BOE) members and Ramona Tyson – and unnamed others – on Thursday, June 2, 2011. The letter was a team effort by knowledgeable, regular editorial contributors to DeKalb School Watch.
- This letter is pertinent on a number of levels – the most important being it is another documentation of DCSS’s wasteful, ineffective spending to support a friends-and-family jobs program with no discernible return on investment (ROI).
- This letter about wasteful, ineffective spending is especially timely because the upcoming Monday, June 6, 2011 BOE meeting includes a vote on the SPLOST IV resolution.
- This letter was sent with a clear subject line: Title I Funding and Non-performance Issues.
Yet the only BOE member who has opened the e-mail as of 3:30 PM today (Sunday, June 5, 2011) is Nancy Jester. Ms. Jester opened the e-mail on Thursday, June 2, 2011 – the same day it was sent. Ramona Tyson has not opened the e-mail, either.
We know this because this e-mail was sent to Tyson and the BOE members using ReadNotify – certified e-mail with delivery receipts. With ReadNotify, we know, among other things, when the e-mail was opened and for how long.
The determination to maintain status quo at all costs ... the repeated non-action in the face of well-documented and reasonable requests ... and Tyson's and the BOE's intentional disregard of communications from taxpayers clearly demonstrates that the DeKalb County School System is a true kleptocracy: “government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.” This word is from ancient Greek – κλέπτης (thief) and κράτος (rule) – and the definition is found online in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
Members of the DeKalb County School System Board of Education and Ms. Tyson:
DeKalb County School System (DCSS) parents are demanding student achievement improvement. You can build new schools, close and consolidate schools and sign on to a plethora of "programs" all day long, but DCSS Title 1 students continue to lose ground when compared to their peers in the metro area.
Editorial contributors to the DeKalb School Watch Blog who have the knowledge and experience to research the topic of student improvement, have published the following on that blog:
- DCSS received $128,000,000 in total federal funding last year (2009-2010).
- Go to the state weblink below, drop down to choose DeKalb and then click the Revenue button: http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form?p_fiscal_year=2010
- DCSS Title I schools are not making adequate yearly progress at the rates of EVERY other metro school system. More importantly, the percent of Title I schools making adequate yearly progress (AYP) dropped from 80+% in 2008-2009 to only 50+% making adequate yearly progress in 2009-2010. For example, Clayton, Gwinnett, etc. had almost the same percent of Title I making adequate yearly progress in 2008-2009 (80+%) BEFORE and 2009-2010 (80+%) AFTER strict test monitoring. 100% of Clayton's schools are Title I. ALL of the metro area schools take the SAME tests and are under the SAME rules for Title I expenditure of funds. This is not a question of legality (although the precipitous drop in schools making AYP proved so in APS). This is a question of competence. Title I and federal funds allocated to personnel and programs should be moving Title I schools forward, not backwards, in making adequate yearly progress. When the DCSS Title I schools (BEFORE strict monitoring) were making adequate yearly progress, the Office of School Improvement was taking the credit. Now that we have strict test monitoring, and we can see in reality how many Title I schools are NOT making adequate yearly progress, the Office of School Improvement must take the blame and be held accountable for a lack of student progress that is commensurate with the other metro systems. There are many ways to meet Title 1 guidelines. Ms. Berry has chosen to meet the guidelines by filling the schools with highly paid non-teaching personnel and purchasing expensive learning programs. For example, she could use paraprofessionals or part-time retired teachers to staff the Parent Centers freeing up more money for direct instruction personnel. She could be allocating more staff development decisions to the local schools who could then contract with educational experts that customize staff development to each school's particular need(s). There are many ways to meet the guidelines. The ways Ms. Berry is choosing are NOT producing the results other systems are getting. Here are the links to see for yourselves what's happening in Title I schools. The superintendent and the BOE need to be take a serious look at this data: DCSS Title I 2008-2009 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status) BEFORE strict monitoring of tests: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2009 DCSS Title I 2009-2010 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)AFTER strict monitoring of tests: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2010 Clayton Schools Title I 2008-2009 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)BEFORE strict monitoring of tests: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=631&T=1&FY=2009 Clayton Schools Title I 2009-2010 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)AFTER strict monitoring of tests: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=631&T=1&FY=2010 Gwinnett Schools Title I 2009-2010 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)BEFORE strict monitoring of tests: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=667&T=1&FY=2009 Gwinnett Schools Title I 2010-2011 (see Number of Schools by Adequate Yearly Progress Status)AFTER strict monitoring of tests: http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=667&T=1&FY=2010 DCSS taxpayers want results, not excuses. Title I schools and their teachers and students deserve better.
- Please take this information to heart and use it to RELEASE the leadership in the "Office of School Improvement", clearing the way for DCSS' new superintendent to create a stronger, more effective, more reliable pathway to student improvement.
- Thank you for your time and attention to this critical matter affecting the futures of tens of thousands of children.