Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Fran Millar is pitching Brad Bryant for Superintendent - what do you think?

Heard the news? Fran Millar stood up at a recent board meeting and pitched Brad Bryant for Superintendent.

According to the AJC --

New name pitched for DeKalb's school boss job

To which I say, why the heck not? We have watched in disbelief as the board sabotaged the last two highly qualified candidates who bubbled to the surface and two other finalists decided to simply drop out, so why not just go out and get someone who can jump into the fire and start opening extinguishers (if Bryant would do so!) I am personally quite tired of the status quo (aka Ramona Tyson) and as long as we remain 'as is', our test scores and student achievement as well as teacher morale will decline. (You've all read about our pitiful test scores under Tyson's leadership. She's great at closing schools and cutting budgets -- not so great at ensuring that children learn.)

Although Brad could run the school system, I’m certain that Gene Walker, Jay Cunningham and Sarah Copelin Wood (now joined by Donna Edler) wouldn’t let him. They have sabotaged every decent candidate that has bubbled to the surface so far… Funnily enough, "someone" leaked highly confidential information about the qualified candidates in order to sabotage their progress, and now, "someone" has raised a stink about the open email newsletter written in response to the leaks by Nancy Jester, Don McChesney, Paul Womack and Pam Speaks.

There is a war going on on this board - a war between a group seeking to place a qualified candidate and a group seeking to keep the status quo - and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain that status quo – even so far as secretly leaking Executive Session personnel documents to the media, knowing full well that we have a very weak chair who will not call out this bad, unethical behavior, but will instead, call out the resulting responders. (This is Wonderland after all!)

However — since the entire school board will have to run again for office due to the change in the law reducing their size to 7 members (thank you legislators!) as well as the new Census data driving a re-drawing of districts, then perhaps Brad could serve as “Interim 2″… ? Tyson certainly does not want the job. Not only that, but the system cannot tolerate another 1-2 years of “status quo”, which is what we get with Tyson. She will never clean house and DCSS will never make progress until someone does. Would Brad? Hard to know. But at least he would be a different captain and (I’m hoping) would do what’s right for the students in our classrooms. They are the only ones who have paid a price thus far — and some of them have paid dearly. (Have you seen some of the test scores?)

At any rate, Brad Bryant could do a good job of righting this ship (unlike Tyson, who has simply steered the ship) — if he does the right thing and cleans house, placing the right people in the right jobs and weeding out the bloat — clearing the way for the next board to choose a well-suited superintendent who will bring the schools into the 21st century and focus on learning.

It's a shot at some kind of change anyway.

195 comments:

dadfirst said...

Mr. Bryant was previously a member of the DeKalb County School Board. I believe the consensus was the system needed an outsider - one who had no ties to the system.
Why the change of heart?

Cerebration said...

Let's just say, I'm sick of limbo. Bryant could serve as a second interim - say for 2 years - while we work to seat a decent board that will choose a qualified national candidate.

As it is now, no one in their right mind will apply, as many do not want it known that they are looking for a new job - and it's common knowledge that our board is completely unable to keep anything confidential.

Cerebration said...

The Crier has an article on the subject as well - a little more info than the AJC article -

Millar wants Bryant to take DeKalb School position

By Dick Williams For The Crier

State Sen. Fran Millar, a surprise speaker in public comment at Tuesday’s DeKalb School Board budget hearing, urged the board to break its logjam over hiring a superintendent and interview the former DeKalb and state school board chairman, Brad Bryant.

Millar, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee and a Republican, was accompanied by Democratic state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, the ranking member of the DeKalb house delegation.
Millar told the board his suggestion of Bryant had the backing of Gov. Nathan Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge.

The DeKalb school board has been trying for months to find a superintendent to replace the indicted Crawford Lewis. Three finalists were named publicly, but a series of leaks torpedoed them. The contract of interim superintendent Ramona Tyson was just extended.

In the last round of the search, four board members supported the candidacy of the superintendent of schools in San Antonio, Tex., a fifth vote couldn’t be found to hire him.

“I threw this board a lifeline,” Millar told The Crier. “No one’s going to take a job by a 5-4 vote of a divided board. They’ve got accreditation issues with SACS (the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools). And SACS has already been critical of the city of Atlanta school board for its repeated 5-4 votes.”

Bryant is a lawyer and businessman who long chaired the DeKalb Board of Education. He was named to the state school board by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

When schools in two Georgia counties ran afoul of SACS, Bryant was named by Perdue to supervise their routes back to accreditation. Later he was named state school superintendent by Perdue when Kathy Cox resigned to take a job in Washington, D.C.
Bryant served until the election of Barge last year.
Millar said a representative of SACS phoned him Wednesday morning to praise the idea of placing Bryant in the superintendent’s post in DeKalb County.

The building where Tuesday’s meeting was held, coincidentally, is the William Bradley Bryant Center.

SWinDekalb said...

So since Mr. Bryant's name is out there publicly, does this mean that he is even interested? I know the artcle said that this suggestion has the backing of Gov. Deal and State Supr. Barge, but will Mr. Barge take the position if offered?

Anon said...

yes, I understand that he would take the job and has promissed to do what it would take to clean house. I dare say that he would be able to get an audience with the Gov. & State Super. if we needed someone to step in and replace the school board so maybe this particular insider wouldn't be such a bad alternative given the BOE's complete inability to agree on another and their callous disregard of ethics. I think poor-ole Tom may just have to be vote number 5.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Wow! We talked with him several years ago, after a parents meeting. He talked of his many frustrations with then Super, Clew. I think an outsider is still the right idea, however Bryant could right the ship quickly. He personally knows the players involved as well as the current situation that MUST change.

Interesting idea Fran has. Bryant could be the hero if he did change the system for the better. Will the Cuningham, Walker, Copelin-Wood, Bowen and Edler faction let a Bryant in?

This could be one "insider" everyone could agree on, right?

To What End said...

Fran Millar recommending a superintendent? Shocking! And the timing couldn't be more perfect.... maybe he can "influence" his chosen superintendent to build Austin a brand-new 600 capacity school. Wouldn't that be nice, Mr. Millar?

travelingjoe said...

Kind of on the fence on this one. First, did Bryant apply for the position or is he just looking for a job because his bid to get on the ballot for the State Superintendent job failed?

Being a former DCSS BOE member has pluses and minuses. He may know where some of the skeltons are buried but he has no teaching or experience or as an educational administrator. Would you want Gene Walker or Sarah Copeland -Wood as superintendent simply because they have been on the BOE?

He was also a huge cheerleader for Kathy Cox and the Cox-math debacle which weighs against him.

However, I would like to know his opinions on right-sizing the main office, on setting academic and curriculum policy, school discipline, financial management, etc.

On the plus side, he spent considerable years on the state BOE and saw school systems go up in flames (APS) but probably saw other systems that are making AYP gains despite poverty and other demographic issues.

Anon said...

Bryant does currently have a good job as Counsel to the State Superintendent. I suspect he cares deeply about the future of the system. I wouldn't be surprised if he approached someone with the idea. Or it came in a "what are we going to do about DeKalb" conversation.

In a million years, the nine board members aren't going to rally around this idea. The question is can 5 or 6. Another possibility is that it makes the Board members who are resistant to change get off their duffs and move in the right direction towards actually hiring someone.

Millar has seemed reluctant to see DeKalb lose its accreditation. I expect that his motivation is just that -- seeing that DCSS retains the accreditation.

melaniestef said...

I agree, Fran Millar and Mary Margaret Oliver should run for the Board of Education (AJC Blog).

Cerebration said...

@travelingjoe

He may know where some of the skeltons are buried but he has no teaching or experience or as an educational administrator. Would you want Gene Walker or Sarah Copeland -Wood as superintendent simply because they have been on the BOE?

Um - Ramona Tyson taught Business Ed at Lakeside for about 2 years, then went to work for IBM helping to sell the Writing to Read Program. She returned, became head of MIS (really no tech training whatsoever-certainly no degree in computer sciences) and she is now the "Accidental $uperintendent"... And people cheer for her to stay on all day long! (I personally believe it's because she has long protected those who are in the F&F regime.)

You are worried about Bryant's credentials? Really?

Stnuocca said...

@Cere.

Agree with you!

I'd take Brad Bryant over any one currently on the board with certain caveats. For example, he could get the State BOE to face reality and quit having the same rules for Ford Pintos as the do for Ford Mustangs!

Cerebration said...

All that said, I only choose Bryant as a temp to take over for Tyson while the board is reseated and the new board can then look for a permanent super --

I do have to wonder about Bryant's tenure with the state. There are plenty of retired DeKalb administrators working for the state these days. And now I found this info on the AJC blog -

The Georgia DOE is filled with many past administrators from DeKalb. It would be interesting to see how many there are from APS. Adding up the expenditure on GA DOE personnel from the State Salary and Travel audit for 2008, 2009 and 2010 shows that GA DOE personnel expenditures increased from 2008 to 2009 and even in 2010 cuts to GA DOE personnel funding was minimal.

From 2008 to 2010 GA DOE personnel expenditures were down by less than 3%. Meanwhile Perdue and the Legislature were cutting funding for the school systems by huge margins. The Georgia DOE did not take any real hit in funding for their personnel so they should have had plenty of people to analyze this data. Take a look at the GA DOE personnel funding during this recession and time of unprecedented school system funding:

2008 – $50,022,380 in salary (without considering benefits) and $3,404,299 for travel.

2009 – $51,182,442 in salary (without considering benefits) and $2,697,331 in travel

2010 – $48,590,037 in salary (without considering benefits) and $2,610,083 in travel

How could the Georgia DOE not know what the AJC discovered with far less people and far less experience in the field of education? These superintendents and other upper level managers in the school systems have many personal and professional ties with the GA DOE. Many DeKalb upper level managers have retired from DCSS, and now they work at the GA DOE in upper level management. It’s like a DCSS Retirement Home.

IMHO another big problem is the Georgia DOE website. Data is not published in a timely manner which makes it very difficult for any ordinary citizen to draw valid conclusions.

Here are a few examples of web pages that should have important data for at least 2010, and yet the data is missing.

Look at Title 1:

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2007

Title 1 Comm. of Practitioners Yearly Reports stops in 2007.

Title 1 System Report of AYP stops at 2009

AYP Reports stop at 2009
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ayp2009.aspx

The number of highly qualified teachers listed by schools in DeKalb has not been published since 2006-07:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2007

The number and percent of highly qualified teachers listed by Georgia school systems for 2010 is not even in a recognizable data format:
http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&StateId=ALL&T=1&FY=2010


It just makes you wonder if Bryant isn't specially coming to DeKalb for the ultimate cover-up... Surely, after serving on the state BOE and now as their general counsel, he must really have the inside scoop. And every time I see him, he's singing DeKalb's praises -- in denial - - in Wonderland!

I know -- I"m a flip flop -- Is there no OPTiON #3?

C?Y!

Stnuocca said...

If we QUIT quit focusing on test scores, there will not be a rationale for the BLOATED bureaucracy that steal valuable resources (money and teacher time).

These resources will be reassigned towards the classroom as there will be no purpose no PURPOSE for these bean counters and DATA DRIVEN bozos!

Asking for the UNREALISTIC CRCT scores makes as much sense as hiring hire 100 police captains to supervise 200 policemen to stop street crime because you need the police captains to "crunch" numbers and "coach" good police practice! Don't you think we'd do better if we had 290 police officers and just 10 police captains. Would by homes in the town with the 100 captains and 200 patrolmen or the one with 10 captains and 290 patrolmen?

As long as we keep wailing the way we are about scores we JUSTIFY all of the BLOATED administration.

Why do you THINK the scores should be? Look at APS! Look at Washington, DC! Look at Detroit to see where we should be and take from there.

There has NOT been much CHEATING in Dekalb because we have not had LEADERSHIP in 2 years to suggest or direct ORGANIZED cheating. Wait till we get "BROAD ACADEMY" superintendent. To deliver the improvement our blog wants, the must be cheating. That is what Gates, Broad and the rest of them wanted HENCE APS and Beverly Hall.

Cerebration said...

I just think third graders should be able to read.

Stnuocca said...

....CORRECTIONS...

Would we want to buy homes in the town with the 100 captains and 200 patrolmen or the one with 10 captains and 290 patrolmen?

As long as we keep wailing the way we are about AYP scores we JUSTIFY all of the BLOATED administration that is REQUIRED to analyse or pontificate about them without ADDRESSING the root cause.

WHAT do you THINK the scores should be? Look at APS! Look at Washington, DC! Look at Detroit to see where we should be and take from there.

There has NOT been much CHEATING in Dekalb because we have not had LEADERSHIP in 2 years to suggest or direct ORGANIZED cheating. Wait till we get a "BROAD ACADEMY" superintendent. To deliver the improvement our blog wants, the must be cheating. That is what Gates, Broad and the rest of them wanted HENCE APS and Beverly Hall.

Stnuocca said...

Cere--- Third graders should be able to read. Absolutely.

The average and normal DUNWOODY and DRUIDS HILL and BUCKHEAD third graders ( of all races) CAN read.

Why, because they live in homes with parents and siblings like us---THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SCHOOL QUALITY.

Cerebration said...

This is a bad situation and Bryant may be a decent choice – but I remain skeptical due to his time with the state and his possible agenda to sweep it all under the rug. Temporarily, he would be better than Tyson – but I would expect and encourage the next board to replace him. Hopefully, during this time, he would do the right thing to try to improve the teaching and learning and not just fiddle with the buildings.

Stnuocca said...

....rather SCHOOL QUALITY depends on these kids like yours and mine.

Do we write off the kids elsewhere? HELL NO, we don't.

BUT if we continue this DON QUIXOTIC quest about test scores (nationwide) we will cause those who teach these kids to simply give up and CHEAT. Read the APS cheating report---good and bad people eventually did the same thing: they cheated.

atl said...

@ Stnuoccoa

"As long as we keep wailing the way we are about scores we JUSTIFY all of the BLOATED administration."

That's not the way I see it. If the administration and the Office of School Improvement lives by the scores, let their demise be from the scores. Since they are maintaining their control due to the supposed need to improve scores, then let's hold them accountable for these scores.

Cerebration said...

@Stnuocca - it has to do with teacher quality - which stems from principal quality which needs greatly improved in DeKalb. For my own self, I attended Catholic school and the nuns had no trouble teaching us all to read and do math -- even the poor illiterate migrant workers' children.

Cerebration said...

I do agree with you in one way -- teaching used to be a very creative, independent profession. Too many high stakes tests, scripted teaching, data generation, lack of discipline, poor principal leadership and unsupportive parents have made teaching a career not chosen often anymore. And further, our best teachers are leaving to teach in private schools which generally allow more freedom and flexibility and which respect teachers more. Or - they're just finding completely different jobs or not considering teaching in the first place. Not to say we don't have some wonderful teachers, but the percentage has slipped, IMO. It's just not an attractive profession anymore.

fedupindcss said...

Brad Bryant was a politician, and he has always functioned as one, speaking out of whatever side of his mouth will please his audience. Many of his decisions have been focused less on education and more on maintaining property values (as a former developer with a real estate agent sister, this is not a surprise). He was instrumental in bringing in Dr. Brown, then abandoned him as soon as he perceived opinion had turned. And he was very focused on the Lakeside area, often to to the exclusion of all else.

I just don't feel good about this one at all. Particularly since I think Womack would love it.

Cerebration said...

Interesting -- this meeting announcement was just sent out -

NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION CALLED MEETING:

The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 11:00am, Friday, July 8, 2011, in the Cabinet Room at the DeKalb County School System's Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain. The called meeting will adjourn to executive session for the purpose of discussing a personnel matter.

Momfirst said...

Has anyone seen the petition regarding the San Antonio candidate?

Anon said...

After sleeping on this news, I agree with FedUp. Adding to those comments, is that when he was on the State Board he barely had public meetings -- other state board members had them regularly.

Additionally, though he was only acting superintendent, he resisted all requests to intervene in the mess that was/is DeKalb.

I say we pass.

Cerebration said...

No -- hadn't heard about a petition - I thought that guy was history. The board couldn't get at least 5 to vote for him - and they won't even go with a 5-4 anyway right? They want at least a 6-3....

September said...

In spite of all of the concerns about Mr. Bryant, he may be our best hope of getting things settled down so we can actually hire a highly qualified superintendent.

My first reaction was absolutely not. After I thought about it I decided that this is a possible solution. Here's why. First, Mr. Bryant may know where some of the skeletons are buried and he might be willing to expose a few. He knows this school system well and may be one of the few people who could come in and clear some of the dead wood quickly. He knows the personalities on the Board and how to work with them. He knows the law, he knows how the DOE works, and he has political connections that may help us in the long run.

This is not a perfect choice. If we are going to wait for Superman, then we will be waiting for a long time and all of the problems we are concerned about will continue to exist. A new Superintendent will have to take some time to learn how things work in DCSS. This person will need to find the skeletons and that will not be easy. This person will have to learn how to work with the School Board. The problems we are experiencing did not show up suddenly or all at once. It will take several years for them to be resolved.

If Mr. Bryant is willing to come in and work on fixing some of the problems we have, that will help our next permanent Superintendent to complete the job. Fixing some problems will make the job more attractive to a good superintendent candidate. It is not the best solution, but it is a workable solution. If not Mr. Bryant, who?

Cerebration said...

I agree, September. I don't think there's a snowball's chance of getting a national candidate at this point. Better to place someone capable at the helm and move that national candidate goal back a couple of years -- when we (hopefully) have a new, calm, rational, relatively cooperative board.

Cerebration said...

Below is the petition mentioned in a comment above. Feel free to copy and paste the text into an email send to Thomas Bowen, Chair DCSS Board: THOMAS_BOWEN@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

If you'd like to send to the entire board, we have a link on the right side panel of the home page that will generate an email to the entire board with one click.

Petition To DCSS Board Chair To Select Permanent DeKalb County School Superintendent

WHEREAS the success of a community, namely DeKalb County, Georgia, is in great part measured by the success and quality of its schools within the school system;

WHEREAS the success of a school system, namely DeKalb County School System (DCSS), is in great part determined by having in place a superintendent which exemplifies and demonstrates the characteristics necessary to lead the school district;

WHEREAS the report of the Special Review Team for DeKalb County School System (Report) attached to the March 3, 2011 letter generated by Mark A. Elgart, Ed.D., President and CEO of AdvancED, states required action DCSS must take by October 31, 2011 in furtherance of maintaining system wide accreditation;

WHEREAS the Report’s Required Action No. 7 specifically states DCSS must “Select a new superintendent that exemplifies and demonstrates the characteristics necessary to lead a unique district as DCSS.” In other words, DCSS must have in place a qualified school superintendent by the October 31st deadline;

WHEREAS the Board of the DCSS has conducted a national search and interviewed a large field of superintendent candidates in order to find a candidate who exemplifies and demonstrates the characteristics necessary to lead a unique district as DCSS;

WHEREAS the Board of the DCSS has indentified a highly qualified superintendent candidate from the State of Texas who exemplifies and demonstrates the characteristics necessary to lead a unique district as DCSS;

WHEREAS this superintendent from the State of Texas has received a highly qualified recommendation from the new superintendent of the Cobb County School District, which superintendent also served in the State of Texas;

WHEREAS if action by the Board of DCSS is not taken at this time this highly qualified candidate will not be available to serve as DCSS superintendent;

WHEREFORE IN CONSIDERATION OF THE FOREGOING PREMISES and to avoid the loss of DCSS accreditation and the attendant disastrous impact on all DeKalb County communities, residents and children, the undersigned resident of DeKalb County hereby implores the Chair of Board of the DeKalb County School System to vote now to select a permanent superintendent of schools.

Respectfully submitted this ___ day of ____________, 2011.

Name:
Address:
Number, if any, of children in DCSS:

Stnuocca said...

Take a look at Oakgrove Elementary's CRCT scores and compare them to Hambrick Elementary' or Fairington's scores.

Can a superman superintendent change these scores (assuming they are ethically arrived at) in 2 or 4 years UNLESS we allow him/her to pretend to do so by deploying tons of useless paperwork and additional supervisors/coaches to help teachers get there?

I am going to play doctor without having seen the scan here: the Oakgrove kids got educated and their wonderful scores are by-products of this rich, wide, and challenging education. Hambrick and Fairington reveived ZERO rich, wide, and challenging education.

Instead, they got taught the test. Even if they had achieved the same CRCT scores, they'd be a lot lot less educated and prepared to learn more.

By the way, the Casey Foundation took down the Parks Middle School glossy brochure

Cerebration said...

Think back -- this is where we were three months ago -- They HAD 50 candidates...

Concerns raised about DeKalb superintendent candidates

Tom Bowen, chairman of the DeKalb school board, said district size doesn't matter.

"We were looking for people with proven leadership ability, a track record of improving academic achievement and raw talent," Bowen said. "We think that's what we have here."

Bowen said more than 50 applicants were screened for the job and several of them came from school districts at or near the size of DeKalb's.

"We want proven success, not a magic number," Bowen said. . . .

David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators, said he's been hearing nonstop from members who say they, too, are skeptical about the qualifications of the candidates.

"We have a lot of problems here and I'm frankly surprised by the [board's] choices," Schutten said. "There's a lot to do and not a lot of time for someone to get up to speed. We have to get [students'] scores up. ... And, frankly, there's a big morale problem with the staff.

"I'm not saying that they're not qualified for the job, but there's a lot of work to do," he said.

robinseek said...

Is there anyway possible we can grab Erroll Davis to be the interim if not the actual Superintendent for Dekalb County Schools? Not to knock the recent uproar about bringing Mr. Bryant onboard, but Mr. Bryant is considered an insider and we don’t need anymore insiders.

There is no doubt in my mind that Mr. Davis would step in and right Dekalb’s ship. He is an outsider with a business man mindset that he would use to get rid of the bloat at the Central Office and give more control to the local school house. In my mind, this is who we need for Dekalb County Schools.

Just look at the leadership he is exhibiting at APS already.

atl said...

@ Stnuoccoa

"Take a look at Oakgrove Elementary's CRCT scores and compare them to Hambrick Elementary' or Fairington's scores.'

Which is the major reason the Central Office personnel send their children to schools like Oak Grove.

Unless we address the issue of the Central Office and Office of School Improvement draining resources and direct instruction personnel from the classroom, we will never have a prayer of student progress in DeKalb.

SHS said...

I, too, think Brad Bryant would be an excellent choice for Interim Superintendent -- provided Ramona is shown the door and Brad gets to run the place without any interference.

I believe that Brad has greater political aspirations. A brief stint (2 or 3 years) as a no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners, house-cleaning Superintendent would be a great reputation-builder for him. I mean this in the most positive way.

The person who comes in, cleans up DCSS, gets rid of the friends-and-family program (along with all the assorted riffraff, thugs and hangers-on)and puts DCSS on track to educate children well could probably write his own political ticket in Georgia.

Fred said...

@atl
"Unless we address the issue of the Central Office and Office of School Improvement draining resources and direct instruction personnel from the classroom, we will never have a prayer of student progress in DeKalb"

You consistently made this allegation without offering a shred of proof. If Title 1 did not exist, there would not be additional resources for poor children. They would have to get by with local and state funding.

Please share how something additional is "draining" resources. Have you heard one principal say that their hands are tied with how to use Title 1 dollars at their school?

Sagamore 7 said...

Fred,

Please stop with the demands for evidence of waste and ineffective leadership with Audrie Berry's ARMY!

Our school didn't pass AYP last year and not 1 person from the "Office of Instruction" showed up to help. It was the parent volunteers that came in and helped teach the kids who needed it the most.

I am getting frustrated with your demands for accountability or lack thereof.

Fred, please tell me what Audrie's Army did for Sagamore Hills ES last year when a subgroup of 4th grade kids did not pass math last year.

I'll be patient for your response.

I can tell you exactly what the parent volunteers did!

They arrived at the school before classes started and helped teach ALL the kids who arrived early for their "Free and Reduced Breakfast and Lunch" MATH!

The parents also went to the apartment complexes where these kids live and had afternoon and weekend tutoring sessions for the kids and the kid's parents to help them be involved with their child's education.

We had teachers from the school volunteer, we had honor roll students from Lakeside and PRIVATE SCHOOLS volunteer to teach these kids!

Now, here are the results of the subgroup of kids.

2010 4th grade math passing 62%
2011 5th grade math passing 86.4%

If you look at the CRCT scores it shows that 5th grade math a SHES went down from 88.3% in 2010 to 86.4% in 2011. It shows a reduction in the passing rate of 1.9%.
Most people would look at that number and surmise that the class is doing worse. But that is just the opposite. You have to look at the % passing from the 2010 4th grade to the 2011 5th grade. These are the same kids.

Their scores improved 24.4% points from 62% in 2010 to 86.4% in 2011.

5th grade math is much harder than 4th grade also.

From a percentage improvement, 24.4% of 62% is 39.35% improvement!
That is incredible! Great job teachers and volunteers!

Now, take your time, (I'll give you until Monday) to tell me what did Audrie's Army do last year for this school and subset of failing kids?

I can't wait to hear your explanation.

S7

Stnuocca said...

@Fred-----Please share how something additional is "draining" resources. Have you heard one principal say that their hands are tied with how to use Title 1 dollars at their school?---

Here is how: when the IMPLEMENTATION of policies, programs, and practices dictated or occasioned by superfluous or ill-trained staff is like a tree trunk across the tracks in front of the education locomotive of teachers.

The tree trunks are eSIS, word walls, credit recovery, no discipline, and bringing kids who have been absent from the classroom more than 45 days to come take high stakes tests (and blame the teacher for not engaging the students) to name a few.

Fred said...

Sagamore 7, I'll say this now, the parents of Sagamore should be commended for being part of the solution in helping children, especially those that are not their own. What was done at your school should be a case study for others to consider.

Food for thought, if you were to put a value on the time spent by the volunteers, how would that compare to the Title 1 allocation for Sagamore? I believe you will agree that the Title 1 allocation is miniscle compared to that. My guess is about $155,000 was allocated to Sagamore for Title 1 Part A.

How did I come up with this? I looked at your Consolidatedd School Improvement Plan at
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/school-improvement/consolidated-school-improvement-plans/2010/sagamoreHillsEs.pdf

Page 9 indicated you had 247 Ecomonically Disadvantaged students. The Title 1 Part A allocation per student in DeKalb was roughly $620. I rounded up.

My guess is $155,000 could pay the salaries and benefits for 2 full time teachers with about 15 years of service each. Based on my assumptions, I don't think 2 teachers could do what the great volunteers at your school did for those children.

Does this answer your question?

Cerebration said...

Fred - no one is saying we should do without Title 1 - what we are saying is that the money should be used to hire support teachers to work directly with students in the schools -- as Sagamore proved - it works! Even when it's implemented by parents! Direct instruction works! Hiring "coordinators" or whatever they're called to hound teachers does not work.

Cerebration said...

BTW - I don't think schools actually GET Title 1 money until they have a certain level of saturation of Free & Reduced lunch recipients -- something like 50% or more. So Sagamore, as far as I'm aware, doesn't get any Title 1 money. However, if they did, I happen to think that yes, two highly qualified support teachers working in groups of 2-5 students in small groups one hour a day or more could definitely make a profound difference - (this would get up to 60 students a day some support).

atl said...

@fred
Most Title 1 dollars are not going to direct instruction. Teachers directly instructing small groups of struggling students is only way DCSS can effectively address the learning gap between Title 1 and non-Title 1 schools given the increased class sizes that are currently in place in DCSS. I know personnel in the Central Office and the Office of School Improvement don't want to be responsible for student achievement, but they are. If Upper Management doesn't want to take responsibility for students improving then they need to resign and let personnel come in who will take responsibility for moving students forward. Stop talking about principals and start talking to the teachers who directly instruct students. The Office of School Improvement should be relying on the content area and grade level teachers. Content and grade level teachers are the ones who are with students all day evey day instructing them in the basics every child should know.

Cerebration said...

Check out Maureen's live blog from the APS meeting -- pay close attention to the great ideas coming from their NEW SUPERINTENDENT, Errol Davis. He wants a mechanism for reporting intimidation (Hey! Where's our Whistleblower Hotline Promised Last August?!!)

[He wants to] eliminate “a climate that allowed cheating to occur, allowed ethical compromises to take place without consequences."

Davis promised to take a hard look at the target-setting procedures and “make sure those two work hand in hand and that the targets are, in fact, realistic and we are doing our job giving appropriate tools to teachers to achieve these goals.

For affected children, Davis says he wants a review of remedial programs in place to ensure that those kids are getting what they need.

“At the core of this issue is an academic problem, a curriculum problem,” he said. “We have to ask ourselves what did not happen in the classroom that allowed an adult to make a decision in a behalf of a child that ‘I don’t think you can actually hit this bar.’ I think that is a very scary question, but I do think it is one we have to ask ourselves. Are our teachers getting enough support in the classroom to do the job? Are they, in fact, the right people in the classroom to do the job we have asked them to do?”


Sigh! I'm actually jealous...

Live blogging from APS board meeting: Does our staff believe in our children?

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I stand corrected. I read further in the Sagamore CSIP, specifically page 12, item #5. As you surmised, Sagamore does not receive Title 1 Part A funds. It also indicates that 100 students qualify for EIP math and reading support yet due to budgetary restrictions, adequate support is not provided. It should be noted that in the site based model used by DCSS, principals make decisions on how to allocate points at their school. Perhaps someone should ask Principal Martin about that.

@Sagamore 7, hopefully this answers your question. I would suggest you speak to members of your CSIP team regarding the improvement action plan. Per #8, there is little teacher turnover so that is a positive for your school. Hopefully the same applies to student turnover. As we know, both of these can impact student success

Fred said...

@atl, have you been to a CSIP meeting? By your comments, I will say you haven't as you still seem to think that central office employees are driving intruction in the classroom. The principal makes the decisions they feel are best for their school, as we expect. Central office workers provide support and resources.

Take a look at the report link I provided for Sagamore of their CSIP. If you still want to believe Dr. Berry is making instructional decisions for DCSS merely because she ensures Title 1 dollars are used are prescribed by law, there is nothing else I can say. I provide data along with information and you ignore it.

Fred said...

Back to the topic of this blog, APS has given Errol Davis a year's contract. I guess DCSS can strike him off the list. Interesting that he does not have an education background yet he is entrusted with a school system facing may issues now. I hope he is successful in helping to turn things around.

Anon said...

Fred

Thanks to the efforts of a handful of parents, this coming school year, will be the first year in decades that every DCSS elementary school will have art, music and PE. However, the system still won't provide reading and/or math EIP teachers to schools that need them and that aren't Title 1 (IE Sagamore)

It isn't a choice if a principal has to choose between art and a reading specialist.

shame on DCSS

themommy said...

Once again, Fred, you overlook the fact that DCSS has a huge quality issue when it comes to principals. Perhaps this is intentional.

Weak principals don't question dictates from the central office.

By the way, I have been involved with multiple CSIPs and I gotta tell you that even at good schools, central office folks wanted their input.

I think you need to understand that this system is a mess and it starts at the top. It frustrates me that you won't acknowledge that.

atl said...

@ Fred

A principal can hire a Title 1 math teacher or a Title 1 reading teacher with a Masters degree and 10 years of experience who is a math specialist or a reading specialist for $50,129. Let's add 25% for benefits and that brings the total compensation to $62,661 for a teacher who is a proven expert in working with students who struggle with math or reading.

With those figures, I can hire 2 teachers who will directly instruct struggling students all day long and still have over $25,000 for a paraprofessional or a reading or math tutor.

Why on earth would a principal want a $100,000 Instructional Coach who does not instruct students? Most principals would choose a teacher directly instructing students over a Coach any day. They have told me that.

Stnuocca said...

@themommy

You are so right about the principals. The area superintendents wisely do not hire anyone smarter or more experienced than they are.

These principals in turn hire or are saddled with assistant principals of the same nature.

Thus, the miasma we find ourselves.

Fred said...

@themommy
"I think you need to understand that this system is a mess and it starts at the top. It frustrates me that you won't acknowledge that."

I don't recall excusing anyone of accountability, from BOE members to teachers, from legislators to citizens, along with the media. I know several citizens that like things the way they are in DCSS simply because they know they can influence decisions, even when they may not be in the best interest of the school system. We saw some of that with the redistricting earlier this year.

I do have an issue when false allegations are made regarding employees, Dr. Berry in particular, especially when those that make them don't understand her role. I've read some vile comments about her and it has not been fair. Has anyone stood up for the untruths that have been said about her and other school system employees? Open + Transparent suggested today that employees that were cleared of wrongdoing and righfully restored to their jobs should have had something else done to them. Why is that allowed?

Maureen Downey said what I have been saying, there is enough blame to go around. I acknowledge that changes need to be made with our school system, including some of its employees. Making changes to some of our schools without also making changes to their immediate communities will result in the successes we expect. Comments like this one has appeared all over the GetSchooled blog this past week. Do all of us that share this opinion have it wrong?

The easiest thing that could be done to positively impact instruction in DCSS is restore some sense of discipline to the classrooms. Teachers need confidence that if Johnny is acting out, he can be put out of the class and can't return until his parent comes in for a conference. If he repeasts his bad behavior, perhaps he is sent to an alternative school until his behavior changes. Educators are fearful of doing this because of reactions from the community. This is true in most school systems around the country. Is this the fault of those at the top?

Cerebration said...

Am I "hearing" you correctly Fred? That if we could only discipline the terribly-behaved children all would be well again? Those little rats... it's all their fault after all.

Fred said...

@atl
"Why on earth would a principal want a $100,000 Instructional Coach who does not instruct students? Most principals would choose a teacher directly instructing students over a Coach any day. They have told me that."

First let's clear this up again, this $100,000 you are referring to must also include benefits. I looked at all the salaries of employees for DCSS and there were no ICs making that amount. I saw some that may have made in the 70's. These are master teachers that have at least 15 years of classroom experience.

You indicated earlier you taught in the 70's. At that time, Principals were true instructional leaders in their schools. They probably were in the classroom at least 10-15 years and perhaps and AP at least 5 years. They could walk their talk and help new/weak teachers become better at their craft.

Fast forward to today and we have many principals that have less that 5 years classroom experience. I stated earlier I don't like this because it seem some are motivated to escalate their salaries as quickly as possible. Today's principal is less likely to carry the respect of an instructional leader as those in years past. At the same time, the job and responsibilities of a principal has changed significantly over the years.

ICs help in the schools by providing mentoring and instructional suggestions for teachers. They work at the direction of the principal at the schools where they are assigned. They are funded by Title 1. The rationale is that increasing the productivity of the existing staff
helps students more that by adding 1-2 more teachers. We see this in the business world through use of technology. Most workers have Microsoft Office and phones with voicemail which eliminates the need for secretaries and receptionists.

Whether you believe ICs help increase productivity of teachers is up to you. I'm sure not all are good at their jobs but they are recommended by principals for hiring.

Fred said...

@Cerebration, that along with larger class sizes are some of the top issues facing teachers. For your reading, take a look at,

http://neatoday.org/2010/09/13/top-eight-challenges-teachers-face-this-school-year/

I didn't see lack of support from the central office.

Fred said...

To show I am fair and balanced, this article does reference out of touch policy makers,

http://theapple.monster.com/careers/articles/9142-7-biggest-challenges-teachers-face

atl said...

@ Fred

"I will say you haven't as you still seem to think that central office employees are driving intruction in the classroom."

Well, who's driving this train if not the leaders? DCSS pays 218 employees over $100,000 a year (not including benefits. Only 94 of those 218 are principals, and not one of those highly paid employees is a teacher. What are we paying them for?

Principals report to the Central Office. Lewis fired scores of principals as he attempted to deflect blame for failing schools from himself and the Central Office. Just 2 years ago, Lewis formally recognized a principal in an administrator's meeting as being the principal in DCSS with the most seniority - all of seven years. Principals serve at the leisure of Ms. Tyson, Mr. Mosley and the Assistant Superintendents.

Dr. Berry hires all of those Instructional Coaches. She is their supervisor. If they give poor service to the teachers and students, she is responsible. There are close to 100 of the Instructional Coaches ($10,000,000 in salary and benefits) and she recommended putting more money into this non-teaching group with the additional RTT funds. Dr. Berry also hires all those Parent Center personnel - 79 of them that cost $4,695,000 in salary and benefits.

Dr. Berry also supervises a staff of 25 that cost taxpayers $2,333,421 in salary and benefits. What do they do?
Data Entry Specialist $50,532
Executive Director $117,012
Coordinator $88,520
Parent Community Liaison Specialist $62,682
Coordinator $104,784
Assistant Director $90,084
Accounting Associate $52,861
Executive Administrative Assistant $51,561
Coordinator $68,005
Coordinator $92,592
Coordinator $102,732
Coordinator $80,815
Parent Community Liaison Specialist $67,343
Accounting Associate $52,384
Coordinator $104,784
Coordinator $94,980
Administrative Assistant $32,004
Director of DeKalb Graduates $115,308
Administrative Assistant $37,231
Parent Community Liaison Specialist $61,021
Director of DeKalb Graduates $109,740
Administrative Assistant $36,527
Coordinator $77,580
Coordinator $89,457
Administrative Assistant $26,198
Total: $1,866,737 (with benefits - $2,333,421)

For a group that does very little except compliance, they sure do cost taxpayers a lot of money and cost students to miss out on a lot of direct instruction from Title 1 Reading and Title 1 Math teachers.


sources:
http://www.open.georgia.gov/
DCSS website

atl said...

@ Fred
Maybe you can answer this. Why does Dr. Berry have two Directors of DeKalb Graduates?

One for $115,308 and one for $109,740

With benefits, taxpayers are paying $281,310 in salary and benefits for these 2 positions when one director is all that is needed (if that - this job could be spread among the coordinators).

Fred said...

@atl, I can't answer your last question. Following is the link to that responsibility,

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/dekalb-graduates

I would guess having over 27,000 high school students, they were split between two coordinators. That is a guess only.

Fred said...

@atl, I asked you earlier if you sat on a CSIP meeting. You seem to think that teachers have no input in the overall school improvement planning. If you look at the one for Sagamore I provided, you see the strategies that evolved at that school.

Do you still think teachers have no input in their schools, even after reading the CSIP?

Cerebration said...

Interesting comment about secretaries... DCSS has 207 'Secretaries', 43 'Admin Secretaries', 67 'Library/Media Secretaries', 235 'School Secretaries' and 24 'Special Education Secretaries'. These add up to about 3% of the total number of employees.

But you're right, with computers such as they are, I rarely encounter a secretary in the business world these days.

I will say, the front desk school secretaries do earn their keep though! They are so much more than a secretary... part nurse, part attendance czar, part parent liaison, part clean up crew, part event planner...

atl said...

@ Fred

"First let's clear this up again, this $100,000 you are referring to must also include benefits. I looked at all the salaries of employees for DCSS and there were no ICs making that amount. I saw some that may have made in the 70's. These are master teachers that have at least 15 years of classroom experience."

Yes. $100,000 in salary and benefits. I have an Excel spreadsheet with their salaries listed (courtesy of the state Salary and Travel audit). Benefits do cost us Fred, and every time you bump someone's salary, you bump their benefits due to retirement costs.

Looking at the state Salary and Travel audit shows that around 40% of the Coaches make ABOVE $80,000 (BEFORE benefits are calculated in). Posters need to sort for Staff Development Specialists to find the salaries the Coaches command.

The Coaches are not master teachers with at least 15 years of experience. I looked up many of these Instructional Coaches on the Georgia teacher certification website. Most do not have that kind of experience. For example, the Towers High School Coach received her teaching certificate in 2002. How long has she been a Coach? And the 20 Prevention/Intervention Coaches are not even certified teachers.

"Whether you believe ICs help increase productivity of teachers is up to you."

No - that's not up to me. Look at the data regarding student achievement and see that this program is not moving students forward. Dr. Berry cannot produce hard data that shows a causal relationship between DCSS's Instructional Coach program and increased student achievement for DeKalb students, yet she recommends more Coaches, and the BOE approves more millions for this program. That's not a good decision for students.

The data I'm stating here is on the DCSS website or the state website. Did you think no one takes the time to look this information up?

atl said...

@ Fred

"Do you still think teachers have no input in their schools, even after reading the CSIP'

I know DCSS teachers have little input in how their school is run and how the money is spent.

If you would work in the schools alongside these teachers, you would know that.

atl said...

@ Fred
"I would guess having over 27,000 high school students, they were split between two coordinators. That is a guess only.'

Or maybe Teachmaster didn't pan out. That's my guess.

Cerebration said...

atl is correct. There are 115 of these 'Staff Development Specialists" and here are their salaries (benefits not included)

$48,179.08
$76,470.26
$60,088.96
$83,195.00
$69,389.25
$80,182.15
$65,729.36
$85,452.50
$81,084.28
$63,981.00
$75,513.00
$56,866.00
$81,322.50
$73,889.00
$86,693.00
$76,038.00
$56,947.19
$6,261.00
$85,570.00
$63,186.00
$83,779.09
$63,057.73
$60,607.89
$85,910.31
$77,440.25
$98,339.50
$84,586.25
$86,893.00
$91,573.00
$76,124.43
$102,416.00
$84,545.00
$75,176.52
$79,901.33
$76,304.45
$75,128.00
$85,085.00
$78,082.14
$82,472.37
$71,216.00
$73,014.00
$78,663.00
$68,301.50
$76,472.50
$74,887.89
$68,005.00
$42,766.23
$87,118.00
$56,278.00
$66,706.90
$66,481.62
$22,988.07
$69,583.79
$82,880.00
$69,358.28
$81,813.00
$76,432.48
$79,657.00
$82,805.00
$63,089.00
$18,149.24
$65,260.88
$72,973.00
$104,583.30
$87,601.00
$77,784.00
$101,495.69
$62,373.50
$72,769.47
$86,193.00
$83,232.83
$100,993.88
$84,236.25
$96,888.00
$62,082.91
$80,946.25
$102,626.40
$107,064.00
$44,005.92
$81,955.20
$76,771.40
$19,770.97
$86,575.50
$6,261.00
$58,027.07
$22,061.48
$72,664.00
$63,098.00
$85,125.00
$56,328.11
$78,194.00
$49,328.25
$81,032.00
$83,881.00
$91,386.61
$23,296.91
$56,327.00
$74,326.50
$74,664.00
$81,988.00
$83,205.00
$62,346.89
$84,130.00
$62,906.08
$79,131.50
$76,895.00
$68,558.00
$61,901.00
$59,851.91
$78,379.68
$103,157.65
$73,895.70
$79,323.00
$49,272.00
$50,973.88
$91,079.95

Cerebration said...

As I recall, it was Dr. Lewis who pushed the growth of this department. He never really respected teachers much - they are the only salaries he ever complained about. I recall him saying often - a teacher costs us $65,000 including their benefits! We can't afford more teachers!

To which I say, "Huh?" How can you run a school system when you don't think teachers are a worthwhile expense.

This is where we are coming from - then on to Tyson - who increased class sizes and cut parapros. Then she closed schools and redistricted some buildings. But she didn't really do much for the students in the classroom as the test results show.

J said...

The article's writer comes across as devicive and that is disappointing. Mrs. Tyson has made it extremely clear that she did or doesn't want the job as superintindent. What part of that don't some people get? Mrs. Tyson and the team at DCSS have been dealing with so many issues(fires)in addition to improving the overall education of the children in Dekalb. Parents have to do their part in raising and educating their children. The school teachers do too! Blaming Mrs. tyson for what is NOT going on in the class room is not all on her. Principals who sit back and all irresponsible and unprofessional teachers uncontrolled reign in their schools need to be sent home on a permenant vacation. Some principals are not capable of guiding,coaching or counseling their teachers in diversity education,motivation,and understand the reasoning behind the county objective to understand students personality and learning styles to teach the students. The objectives are designed to help the teacher teach the student, but many don't apply the methods. Sooo, the DCSS is hurting on many fronts. I think the county SHOULD hire an outsider who can lead and push the agenda intended to reflect positively in the county,restore trust and confidence in DCSS, and GET results in the county. I pray the county will recover and everyone will take their share of Blame pie. Let Go People and Be responsible.

atl said...

@ J
"Mrs. Tyson and the team at DCSS have been dealing with so many issues(fires)in addition to improving the overall education of the children in Dekalb.

But Ms. Tyson's main job is improving the education of children, and she has not done that. When she fails at that, everything else that she does is moot because that is the only reason the school system exists and consume over a billion dollars of taxpayer money.

Ms. Tyson has cut teacher positions to keep non-teaching personnel employed. This has impacted students as they sit in increased class sizes. She has kept Lewis's mistress in charge of educational policy even as student achievement declined. She has sidestepped the tough job of outsourcing non-teaching job functions. She has not published a check register or a pay grade scale for the other 8,500 employees (non-teachers).

These are extremely difficult measures to take, particularly when she is dealing with colleagues who supported her on her way up. However, Ms. Tyson chose to take this job. She could have said no. In addition, she asked for a very large increase in salary which will eventually have a big impact on her retirement (another DCSS taxpayer expense). She needs to make the tough decisions.

Cerebration said...

Boy, the "stuff" sure seems to roll downhill in DCSS. It's not the superintendent's fault, it's the principals. It's not the principals, it's the teachers. It's not the teachers it's the students. It's not the students, it's the parents.

How on earth can someone sound "divisive" who expects someone to do the job they are paid well over $250,000 to do? What kind of "fires" does she have to put out that other supers do not? That's the job. If you can't stand the heat, don't put on the apron in the first place. But that money sure did call loudly...

Check out the actual job description of the superintendent as well as the board of education. Job #1 is to educate students. All the rest is secondary and wouldn't exist without students and teachers.

Stnuocca said...

@J

The incompetent teachers and principals hired themselves over the last 6 or so years?

WHO the dickens hired these "shake'n bake" administrators.

Where I come from, surgery interns and residents don't become directors of the service/wards over staff physicians!

You don't have Army lieutenants with 2 or 3 years being promoted to colonels over in the combat zone...

What are you afraid of? I am guessing that if competent folks were hired the frauds with high paychecks might be found?

Stnuocca said...

We need more realists on this blog... People refuse to accept that inner city schools have issues that create havoc in the classroom. Others feel that they can't admit the these facts and keep their high salaries.

So we have an educational proxy war being fought much like the Cold War where the dying took place in Nicaragua, Vietnam, Angola, and Somalia---except that these battlefield countries are the at-risk public schools and the combatants are classroom teachers and unreasonable expectations.

We are not in the (near pro bono)Catholic schools that took care of kids who wanted to break out of the New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago public schools. Here we have high cost catholic schools.

Stnuocca said...

....no cheap Catholic schools in Dekalb= no safety valves to serve the at-risk kids whose parents want them out.

The Gov wants charter schools and school choice to play that role....in other to play that role, we got to put down the public schools.

What an outrage!

atl said...

@ Stnuoccoa

"no safety valves to serve the at-risk kids whose parents want them out. '

What are you talking about? Arguably DCSS has some of the most effective safety valves in the metro area - magnet programs/schools, theme schools, Fernbank Science Center SST program, administrative transfer for Central Office and Support personnel's children, etc.

DCSS has more school choice than any other system in the metro area.

IMO - the safety valve/school choice the DCSS administration has set in place has had the result of ensuring the most activist parents (both north and south) are uninterested in the outcome of the educational system for the rest of DCSS.

For example, Ms. Tyson has her children in a very nice theme school. Of course their school made AYP, and unruly students cannot continue to go there. What does she understand of the undisciplined classrooms and lack of parental involvement that exist in south DeKalb? Look at the elementary theme schools and the areas they serve. They are a definite safety valve:
Theme schools:
Edward Bouie
narvie J harris
Marbut
Oakcliff
Robert Shaw
Wynbrooke

Areas they draw students from:
Browns Mill ES
Fairington ES
Flat Rock ES
Murphey Candler ES
Chapel Hill ES
Cedar Grove ES
Oak View ES
Panola Way ES
Redan ES
Stoneview ES
Woodridge ES
Dresden ES
Pleasantdale ES
Cary Reynolds ES
Allgood ES
Avondale ES
Dunaire ES
Hambrick ES
Indian Creek ES
Jolly ES
McLendon ES
Medlock ES
Midway ES
Rockbridge ES
Rowland ES
Pine Ridge ES
Princeton ES
Rock Chapel ES
Shadow Rock ES

Fernbank was able to keep their community school intact even though they are overcrowded and should have been rezoned. You can see Fernbank's point as they raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide extra teachers and yoga classes and a garden club, etc.

This division is fine for those lucky few, but not so good for the ones left behind.

DCSS safety valves are alive and well in many forms.

SHS said...

Hey, Fred ...

You are [YAWN] so [YAWN] boring. And annoying. Seriously.

I am tired of your constantly hijacking this blog with your mindless parroting of undeserved support for Tyson and the friends-and-family-and-mistress who are stealing time and education from our children -- especially the poorest and neediest children --while lining their own pockets.

There is NO justification for what they (Tyson, Clewless' mistress, Ramsey, BOE, et al) have done. NO excuses. None.

Enough already!

atl said...

@ Fred

"The easiest thing that could be done to positively impact instruction in DCSS is restore some sense of discipline to the classrooms....Is this the fault of those at the top?"

Absolutely it is the fault of those at the top. They set the discipline rules and are the avenue of appeal for parents.

You seem to want to absolve the leadership of DCSS of any and all leadership decisions and actions. If students misbehave, then there should be consequences. Consequences should be consistent no matter who their parents are or where they live. Principals should be backing up their teachers.

Instead Central Office personnel and principals are involved in grade changing scandals. Look at this clip of Horace Dunson - for goodness sake - he was promoted to an Area Superintendent after this incident:
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/07/update-on-mlk-grade-changing-horace.html

And what about the Office of Internal Investigations who did not investigate Lewis when he allegedly used county money to take his mistress on a luxury trip? And how about the mistress who according to the DeKalb County DA went on that luxury trip - all this while teachers try to discourage extramarital sex?

The leadership of DCSS should be examples of decorum and ethics. They need to establish disciplinary rules and make sure they are enforced.

Stnuocca said...

I see your point. I apologize.

Do the safety valves you listed have high CRCT scores like good schools we aspire to send our children?

atl said...

@ Stnuocca

"Do the safety valves you listed have high CRCT scores like good schools we aspire to send our children?"

Of course. That's the point. Look up the scores for the theme schools I listed (I just copied and pasted from the DCSS website). Look up the magnet schools scores. Look up Fernbank's scores. And don't forget Vanderlyn who put in umpteen "permanent" trailers to make sure no one would rezone them, and do you think anyone challenged them. DCSS is the master of the safety valve. That's one reasons the poor administration of DCSS has had the staying power it has had.

Cerebration said...

good news on one of those "safety valves"... DECA

DeKalb Early College Academy, a Stone Mountain high school, has been selected as one of 15 model high schools for 2011 by the International Center for Leadership in Education. The chosen schools were invited to share their best practices at the 19th Annual Model Schools Conference held in late June in Nashville.


Model schools are selected annually based on high student achievement and other best practices.

Information: www.LeaderEd.com.

themommy said...

DECA is also apparently going to be a receiving school this year. Goof for the students who opt in.

Cerebration said...

Of course, with less than 200 students and a full staff, this school is one of the very tiny high school programs that find success. The Gateway to College is a similaly sized successful program. Destiny Academy Charter school is one with about 100 students. DSA is another with just around 300 8th-12th graders.

These programs are quite expensive when you break down the per student cost. DSA's per student cost is around $13,000 and they all passed the state tests. Then again, we have alternative high school programs for at-risk students that cost as much and don't find much success.

dadfirst said...

@SHS - I find your comments to Fred at 10:00 extremely disturbing. Is it your consistent mantra to be rude and disrespectful to those who do not agree with you? Fred has a different perspective than you do. What right do you have to tell to "move on"? Fred, and other individuals, should be allowed to voice their viewpoints without persons such as yourself belitting them with snide comments.

Cerebration said...

True that, Dad. Everyone, try to remain respectful of each other here. I realize it's all anonymous, but we do want a broad conversation, not just one slanted one way or the other. The goal here is to inform, not so much to argue a perspective. Folks are certainly entitled to voice their opinions. I guess that's what makes us Americans!

However, I hope that *both* sides of an argument [this includes Fred] can try to see a bit of the other's perspective here. We really don't want this to start sounding like a talk radio show...

Cerebration said...

That said, as far as blogs go, I really think this one is more restrained than most others out there. Some of the racial and other comments on the AJC and other blogs are getting out of hand and damaging the ability to have a conversation whatsoever.

dadfirst said...

I agree with respect to the racial comments on "Get Schooled". I realize Ms. Downey is too busy to monitor the comments, but the paper needs to assign someone to rid the blog of those comments.

atl said...

Ms. Downey has explained why she leaves many of these racially offensive comments up, but I find them so offensive that I rarely read her blog anymore. It's a waste of time to read such drivel.

FieldsGrove said...

"If students misbehave, then there should be consequences. Consequences should be consistent no matter who their parents are or where they live. Principals should be backing up their teachers."

AMEN to this! I dream of the day when this is the reality. Maybe it already is in some schools, but not mine. Every teacher in our school has a classroom discipline plan and incentives for good behavior, but it essentially ends there. They have few, if any, negative consequences for poor behavior. While many of the teachers have good classroom management skills, others have no idea of how to maintain control. The administration offers little or no support for more serious issues. Not surprisingly, there are many repeat offenders who continue to disrupt day after day, wasting valuable opportunities for learning for every child in the classroom. Teachers may be viewed as weak if they continue to ask the administration for support with undisciplined students. Often, discouraged teachers give up and leave the classroom for good.

Teachers' hands are often tied when it comes to discipline, especially if the parents of the unruly child are equally irresponsible and poorly behaved. It’s less trouble for the teacher to just try to deal with discipline problems in his/her own in the classroom, than to inform the parents and expect them to respond appropriately. Some parents would prefer to blame anyone or anything else for their children’s misbehavior, rather than hold their own child and themselves accountable: the teachers for not challenging their little geniuses, or their children’s classmates who are poor and/or from another culture, or whatever food additive is in the media spotlight that week as causing behavior problems.

While there may be many legitimate causes for children’s misbehavior, I see a larger problem: Over-indulgent, self-absorbed, and spineless parents let their children watch pointless tv programs, play video games, and generally act like spoiled brats with no responsibility, consequences for misbehavior, or character development. Many children with every advantage in the world come to school ill-prepared to be part of a classroom where learning occurs. Sure, the boys and girls can count, recognize the alphabet, and write their names, but they cannot behave appropriately in a classroom with 20 children and one overworked and underappreciated teacher.

Plus, in some classrooms, there are “special needs” children who NEVER receive consequences for their misbehavior and daily classroom disruptions. Their activist parents are equipped with special education lawyers who intimidate teachers and administrators into accommodating their “special” children’s behavior, regardless of the negative impact that it might have on every other child in the classroom. Their child’s “least restrictive environment” takes priority over everyone else. So much for consistent consequences… I know that it’s not politically correct to say so, but I often wish that my children had enforceable laws to protect their rights to a fair and appropriate education in a well-disciplined environment.

Parents are a child's first and most important teachers. When parents cannot or will not do their jobs, the child suffers and so do the people who those children encounter at school 180 days per year. Weak teachers and administrators can't manage many of these disruptive children. Yes, there’s plenty of blame to go around, but it starts with the parents.

bu2 said...

@Fred
Keep posting! Like many of the posters here, I don't agree with a lot of your viewpoints, but its good to have an informed inside point of view. Unlike many of the Hall apologists on the ajc blog, you aren't blind to realities, even if you have a lot of sympathy towards people I don't have much sympathy for.

bu2 said...

Much of the issue with special needs children is not the parents. Some schools don't want to spend the extra to deal with them appropriately or are too bureaucratic to deal with children who don't fit into one of their specially funded categories.

We were in another state and none of the private schools fit our child well. We explored our excellent local public school. We were discouraged from "labeling" our child. We were told that our child would have to "fail" before they could do anything, sitting in a regular classroom for 6-8 weeks before any accomodation could be made. From our church pre-school who we had worked closely with, we knew our child would be disruptive and would learn nothing in that setting with 20 other kids. It would be a wasted 6-8 weeks for us and difficult for the other children in the class.

When you talk to those in the special needs community, you realize there are some schools who care and others who just don't want to be bothered. Oak Grove, for example, has a very good reputation for caring. We talked to them before we found a private school that fit.

September said...

One of the things I like about this blog is that people try to be civil. We don't have to agree on everything. Everyone has a point of view and experiences to share. That is what makes this discussion interesting. I gave up reading Maureen Downey's blog because of the way that many bloggers express themselves.

SHS said...

@dadfirst

My issue with Fred is not that he holds viewpoints that I do not agree with, but that he has hijacked this blog.

dadfirst said...

@SHS, Fred has "hijacked" the blog? While I do not agree with Fred on many of his arguments, I have enjoyed his dialogue and it has caused me to pause and rethink some issues. SHS, you have submitted many posts on this blog as well as authored several articles. I do not recall that you were faced with the same disrespectful words that you posed to Fred. Telling an individual that he is "boring" and to "go away" is the heighth of intolerance and rudeness.

What good is a dialogue if people cannot post their own views without a vicious response from another blogger?

Fred said...

@bu2, thank you for your comments. My viewpoints come from over 40+ years of working with educators. I know why many of them chose this as a career, because they want to help children. Regretfully there are some circumstances beyond some educators control that prevents them from being successful.

There is no silver bullet in educating children, if there was everyone would be using it. You can change the players but if the game is stilled played the same, you will get the same outcomes. Is this the fault of those that in most cases don't make the rules? I don't think so.

There has also been what I consider to be malicious comments made about educators, especially those in the central office. I like dealing with facts and believe many are not aware of "the rest of the story". That why I always tried to share links to regulations, budget allocations, CSIP reports and other resources. If someone is doing their job based on a regulation and following it as indicated, how can they be blamed for things not working, especially when they don't set the regulations? If someone is not following regulations regarding how money is dispensed, it is a firable offense.

Our school system is far from perfect and has many flaws. It doesn't take much to acknowledge that. At the same time I do see many dedicated educators giving their all to help our children, despite some of the malfeasances that we've seen. Those that have compromised the education of our children with their selfish actions should be fired. I believe this represents a minority of educators.

At the same time, many students are succeeding and going off to do great things, even those that don't come from the best of family situations. The opportunities are there but ultimately every student has to make a decision to take advantage of them. That's what we did back in my day.

atl said...

@ FieldsGrove
LOL - aka Fred

A strong superintendent sets the tone for discipline.

Ms. Tyson hired those principals and/or they serve at her leisure. She renewed their contracts a few months ago so she must think they're doing a bang up job.

The DCSS Central Office is responsible for many of the discipline problems in DCSS by their failure to back teachers and principals when discipline problems reach the Central Office level as well as many policies they have instituted.

Increased class sizes - again a Lewis, Tyson, and BOE decision - has had a horrific impact on classroom management. Some classes have so many students they can hardly move. When they bump up against each other, tempers flare. You can forget engaging hands-on activities, critical science labs, and isolating discipline problems when you have 30+ students packed like sardines into your classroom. For low income students who may come from unstructured environments, class size is as important as having a competent teacher.

The Central office and the office of School Improvement has not invested in direct instruction for students who are struggling with basic level math and reading skills. Instead they have spent hundreds of millions on programs and systems and non-teaching personnel. I guarantee you if a student can't read the science or social studies book, he or she will be more apt to misbehave.

The lax policies with regard to classwork, tests, quizzes and homework that Dr. Beasley has instituted have shown kids they don't have to to do their work in a timely manner or even do their work at all. In addition, principals and Central office personnel routinely pressure teachers to change grades when students have done little or no work and/or failed to master the content. As a former grade level teacher, my students had consequences when they did not do their work or handed it in late and worked in a very low income school. Dr. Beasley has put teachers in an untenable position, but his policies are hurting students even more as he has mandated teachers can ask less and less of students. This undermines discipline more than anything I can think of.

The Central Office personnel have isolated their children from all this by placing them in theme and magnet programs and through administrative transfers. They pick and choose where they want their children to go to school regardless of where they live. In truth, many of the Central office personnel and Instructional Coaches are in those positions because they did not want to deal with the children in the classrooms.

atl said...

@ Fred
"That why I always tried to share links to regulations, budget allocations, CSIP reports and other resources."

If the Central Office and the Office of School Improvement were doing their job, DCSS would not be at the bottom of the barrel in student achievement - the only reason a school system exists. The Central Office personnel want to be measured on regulations, budget allocations, CSIP reports and other resources, but they are not doing the MAIN job they were hired to do - move students forward.

Stnuocca said...

@ATL

You want it both ways.

You want small classes, right? Then we need more classrooms or TRAILERS.

We also need more teachers, right? If we have issues with teacher quality now with the 8000 teachers we have now, how is this quality going to be with 9000 teachers?

If you CRCT scores from kids who are years behind, where are you getting teachers to come on board?


But yes, a strong super can get it done, right? Again your choices are Beverly Hall-like creatures or Crawford Lewis folks.

No---I am not offering solutions. Can't until we set realistic goals. Sadly, if we can't accept that the goals for Lithonia and Druids Hill are different the way we accept that the goals for Druids Hill and Westminster are different, we can't go anywhere.

Stnuocca said...

ATL,

I don't like the Beasley tactics because they smell like the Beverly Hall tactics.

ATL, are you willing to pay (taxes) for a staff for 1600 students at Lithonia if 400 of these students are failing 50% of their classes and if Lithonia expels 200 of these students? The results of which is that Lithonia won't make AYP even if 500 of these initial 1600 are competitive with Lakeside.

If we (the economic upper-crust of Dekalb County) can say yes, the Beasleys and the Halls would be no more!

If you answer is

atl said...

@SHS
Fred, FieldsGrove and dadfirst sound like the same poster with different aliases. The syntax and tenor are very similar.

A few examples:

Fred 2011 Test Scores:
"There is enough blame to go around..."

FieldsGrove:
"Yes, there’s plenty of blame to go around, but it starts with the parents."

Fred 2011 Test Scores:
"DCSS has many weak principals who really understand little about instruction and school management."

FieldsGrove:
"Weak teachers and administrators can't manage many of these disruptive children."

Fred 2011 Test Scores:
"I’m hurt. I commended you on your suggestions and this is how you address me. "

dadfirst:
"I find your comments to Fred at 10:00 extremely disturbing. Is it your consistent mantra to be rude and disrespectful to those who do not agree with you?"

dadfirst said...

I can assure you I am not Fred, atl. Continued attacks and accusations on those views that are different than your own is extremely tiresome and childish.

The question is: do you want a discussion where everyone agrees or do you want a discussion where all points of view can be openly posted and discussed and maybe, just maybe, some honest and open solutions to the problems we face as school system can be derived.

Fred said...

@Stnuocca, thanks for your comments to atl at 2:19 and 2:26. They are showing that they want it both ways.

Class discipline is a nationwide problem in public schools and not limited to DCSS as atl seems to infer. They say the apple does not fall far from the tree and you can definitely see that if you meet with some parents. Do you have the magic bullet? If so, school districts around the country are looking for it as this is one of the top challenges teachers indicate they face. I provided links yesterday proving this. You can also read Dr. John Trotter's webpage asking for a solution.

Do you recall why class sizes were increased? Due to property devaluations and less funding from the state, school budgets across the state went down. The state increased the allowable class sizes during Kathy Cox's tenure and almost every school district in GA did the same. They increased class sizes by 1-2 students to SAVE jobs. Every year there is staff turnover so they just did not fill as many open slots. NO TEACHERS WERE FIRED, UNLESS DONE SO FOR PERFORMANCE REASONS. Let the record show that in the 70's when you claim to have taught, class sizes were larger than they are today. Think it was easier because the students were better disciplined?

Like Stnuocca said, you seem to want smaller class sizes and more teachers. How will you pay for it? I have not seen you mention you want to pay more in property taxes. If you eliminate most of the workers in the central office, who will do the jobs they are currently performing? The teachers that you say are already overburdened?

The policies you attribute to Beasley were in place before he got there, while Talley was there. Again this is another of the points you and I agree on, we are giving a crutch to students by giving them too many opportunities to complete their work. It's not like that in the real world. It does put teachers in a bad position and sends a bad message to students.

I guess you don't acknowledge EIP Math and Reading teacher, that are paid for with Title 1 Part A dollars? As I understand the regulation, you can only get them if you are a Title 1 school. Tough for schools like Sagamore that are close to being one. Changing the regulation and give local school districts greater flexibility is a solution. Blaming those for following the regulations is not, especially when you don't understand them.

I asked you a question yesterday that you have not answered yet, have you sat in a CSIP meeting? themommy mentioned she has. You should try this, especially at a Title 1 school. It might open your eyes to site based management and how the principals determine how the Title 1 money is best used for their school.

Stnuocca said...

@ATL,

They sound or read very much alike! They do have overlapping points of view. They are quite possibly Black educators but they speak from different parts of our diverse district.

Tell us who you are and where you come from in your views.

atl said...

@Stnuoccoa

We don't have 8,000 teachers. We have approximately 6,400 teachers and around 8,500 Admin and Support personnel. Teachers are paid on par or less than the Maintenance personnel for HVAC and Kitchen machinery who need 3 years of experience and a high school diploma.

Class sizes have been raised as Lewis cut 275 teaching positions for the 2009-10 school year, and Tyson cut 100 teaching positions in the 2010-11 school year simply by not filling those jobs, and there were cuts for years before that in teaching positions.

There are so many other Central Office decisions that have made teaching unattractive in DCSS that they are too numerous to go into in this post. If you are in a school, you encounter many of them.

Class size and competent teachers are important for the success of all students, but these two components are critical for low income students.

If you put teachers first and give them decent class sizes, compensate them fairly, support them on discipline and ensure their recommendations on what works and what is needed in their classrooms is implemented, you will have a much better chance of attracting good personnel. Remember that the teacher's physical environment is also the students' physical environment.

IMHO every child deserves:
1. A clean and safe environment
2. A competent teacher in a reasonably sized class
3. Abundant access to cutting edge science and technology

Fund this first, and then IF there is anything left over money can go for fancy programs and fancy personnel and fancy travel to conferences.

The irony of these 3 components is that teachers have no control over them. The leadership of the school system is supposed to be taking tax money and providing this. I have toured school systems that provide their students with these 3 components. Many of these systems used Title 1 money and saved money by having small administration and support groups in order to provide these for their students. Parents/taxpayers expect so little in the way of services that these 3 components seem like pie in the sky.

I don't like trailers either having taught in more than my share. Again this is an administrative decision. We keep putting money into everything but the classroom.

Since almost every school I ever taught in was low income and Title 1, I'm for setting realistic goals as well. However, the past and current DCSS administration has used the need to make AYP as a pretext to hire an army of highly paid, non-teaching family and friends the like of which we have never seen. If this army of non-teaching certified personnel are using AYP as the reason for their existence, then by golly, we need to hold them responsible for making AYP. If there is no need to make AYP which they now claim they are not responsible for, then we can dispense with 50% of the Central Office and Office of School Improvement personnel and plow that money back into the classrooms.

Stnuocca said...

@Fred:

Regarding your comments "...If you eliminate most of the workers in the central office, who will do the jobs they are currently performing? The teachers that you say are already overburdened?..."

Because we can do without most of these jobs there'd be really nothing for the teachers to do. Teachers won't miss the dude who supposedly checks for lesson plans or counts your A's, B's or F's.

We need to get rid of all these workers who get in the way of the teachers.

atl said...

@ dadfirst

LOL
Well, I thought I was being nice by holding off on a Sybil comment.

Stnuocca said...

@ATL

Regarding "....If this army of non-teaching certified personnel are using AYP as the reason for their existence, then by golly, we need to hold them responsible for making AYP..."

Remove 'prohibition' and Al Capone would need a new occupation. Prohibition in this case is "making AYP".

Let's go further, shall we?

Expel the kids who do no not want to behave (dress, behavior, attendance, minimum grade..etc...) and those whose parent cannot make them. Ipso facto, DCSS does not make AYP.

atl said...

@ Stnuccoa
Fred and the rest of the DCSS administration would like to be absolved of any responsibility for student progress while they collect their high pay, check your lesson plans, and travel to conferences.

DCSS is at the bottom of the barrel in student achievement even though we don't have anywhere near the percent of low income schools other systems have (e.g. Marietta and Clayton have 100% of their schools as Title 1).

The DCSS administration should not get a "buy" as they plod merrily along their way draining resources that are meant for the classroom.

Personally, I think every administrator including all those coordinators and coaches, etc. should be rotated back into the classroom for a full year every 5 years teaching a grade level or content area subject. Perhaps they would have more incentive to make the classroom a well disciplined, attractive environment.

Cerebration said...

Some issues that need clarified:

atl is correct. We are down to about 6,400 teachers - far fewer than even 5 years ago. I do believe this is an issue. We do need more teachers and more direct support in the classroom and with students. The Central Office staff (which for argument's sake we will include Instructional Coordinators and Parent Coordinators and all other Title 1 jobs) very well could be rearranged to instead fund support teachers in the schools - used for pullout instruction for example, to beef up reading and math skills by directly working with students. This is a decision that could be made by Ms. Berry but is not. The idea that some "federal" department strictly mandates exactly how she chooses to spend the money is wrong. Check in with Gwinnett or Clayton or Fulton to see how they use their money. There is flexibility. If something is not working, it should not be continued... That's all we're saying.

robinseek said...

Please keep in mind that with all the cuts last year, many CTSSs were left to pick up the schools where the previous CTSS was let go. Many but not all CTSSs are having to split time between 2 schools.

Most work at 1 school MWF and the other school TT. The TT school comes up short as far as customer service because the CTSS is not there to assist on Friday and Monday.

A CTSS does not make that much money as it is and I don't understand why they can't be assigned to 1 school 5 days a week. They are critical for both teachers and students and should be available every day. I know of other districts where this is indeed the case and it makes sense to me.

FieldsGrove said...

@ atl & Stnuocca

Let me assure those who think you know me that I am not “Fred” or a black educator. I am a parent from Super Cluster 2, where I have children in multiple schools. I am not a fan of the current or past DCSS central office administration. In fact, I have worked hard to inform my local community about the corruption that exists in DCSS and the theft and misuse of our tax dollars. Unfortunately, few parents seem to notice or care about what is going on in DCSS schools across the system. From where I sit, most seem to feel that as long as their children are in a “good” school, they don’t need or want to get involved.

A “good” school isn’t enough for me. I want my children and all of the children in Dekalb to receive an excellent education. I believe that a new, outside superintendent is essential to begin the process of correcting what ails DCSS, and I have posted as much in earlier blogs. I’ve begged the BoE to hire Dr. Duron, and I’ve asked my local community to do the same, but it hasn’t done any good, yet.

Apathy is rampant in the “good” schools which my children attend. As long as their children get good grades and stay out of trouble, many parents can’t be bothered to get involved with local school politics, much less district politics. I’m relatively new to all of this, so I don’t have the vast knowledge of who-did-what to destroy DCSS or how school funding even works. I’m doing my best to be active and well-informed by volunteering, attending meetings, reading this blog, and much more. I hope to make a difference in our system by being a vocal and informed parent. Then again, I may just lurk if people are going to accuse me of being some other poster whose opinions I do not universally share.

Please don’t misinterpret my earlier response to atl’s comment. My intention was to point out that parents bear some responsibility for teaching their children to behave appropriately, and that our schools need effective teachers and administrators to provide school-wide discipline and an environment conducive to learning. I see this first-hand every week when I volunteer.

I’m not letting anyone off the hook - from the central office and BoE all the way down to the local schools - for the pitiful situation in which DCSS finds itself today. And by “local schools”, I mean everyone in the community - administrators, teachers, students AND parents, especially those apathetic parents with questionable parenting skills who often prefer to turn a blind eye to BOTH the troubles in DCSS and their own children's disruptive behavior.

Cerebration said...

I have posted the meeting agenda for Monday's board meeting on the "Mark Your Calendar" page - accessible on the right side panel of the home page of this blog.

I noticed that there are still quite a few slots available for citizen comments. If you would like to have your name added, email Ms. Francois at
MARGARET_C_FRANCOIS@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

and ask to be placed on the speaker list or arrive early to the meeting and ask to be added if there are still slots available.

Stnuocca said...

....I think every administrator including all those coordinators and coaches, etc. should be rotated back into the classroom for a full year every 5 years teaching a grade level or content area subject. Perhaps they would have more incentive to make the classroom a well disciplined, attractive environment.....

Wonderful idea that a gutsy super could make. What might be the drawbacks?

dadfirst said...

A very wise, intellectually astute former priest in my church once made this comment: "In order to have a REAL conversation with another person, you, yourself, must open to the possibility that you are wrong". In otherwords, if 2 individuals seek to converse and each one holds fast to their own beliefs without the courtesy of actually listening to the other individual, then you have not really had a true "conversation".

Compromise and change cannot come without a true, meaningful dialogue. This type of dialogue will not occur as long as there are those that disrespect the views of others.

Fred said...

@FieldsGrove, very good post! we are different people with different perspectives yet there is some commonality in what we say.

You said, "I’m not letting anyone off the hook - from the central office and BoE all the way down to the local schools - for the pitiful situation in which DCSS finds itself today. And by “local schools”, I mean everyone in the community - administrators, teachers, students AND parents, especially those apathetic parents with questionable parenting skills who often prefer to turn a blind eye to BOTH the troubles in DCSS and their own children's disruptive behavior."

which is what I have also said repeatedly. It seems atl feels that simply paying tax dollars is enough and simply blaming others is productive. I asked atl if they have participate in a CSIP and still have not gotten a response. Every shares in the failures an successes of their community, which includes their schools.

Sure, educators and elected officials carry a greater load because of thier positions but they don't carry the burdens alone. Do people really disagree with the premise of this statement?

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I beg you, please call a principal at a Title 1 school. Ask them for yourself, who determines how Title 1 money is spent at that school. Ask about the ICs and whether they provide value. Ask what they would do to improve learning conditions for their students and how citizens can help.

They are 12 month employees and would problem welcome a concerned citizen wanting to learn more about the use of those funds. Let them know you want to share that with others. I believe if you did this, it would open your eyes to site based management and the use of Title 1 funds.

Real knowledge is power....

Cerebration said...

Will do Fred.

Fred said...

What is a teacher? Is that only someone that sees students 7 hours a day? How about counselors? Librarians? School psychologists? Speech pathologists? Social workers? Paraprofessionals? These are examples of individuals that have student contact hours during the school day. Are they important to running the school system?

atl said...

@ Fred

But the school system leaders bear the most responsibility. The leadership needs to be changed at DCSS starting with the Superintendent, the Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning, and the Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement.

These are the instructional leaders for the school system, and they must be accountable to taxpayers. We are not asking for 100% of our schools to make AYP. We just expect our students to have student achievement similar to school systems that are comparable to DCSS. That is not happening now. It needs to happen.

I. Teaching and Learning Department Stated Goal:

"..to improve student learning outcomes in reading/English language arts, math, science, and social studies with alignment of K–12 expectations for literacy, numeracy, and science resulting in students who are prepared for postsecondary options including work readiness.

In Dr. Beasley's own words:
"Diverse comprehensive educational services are provided systemwide to over 100,000 students. Our mission is to give each of these children an excellent education."

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/teaching-and-learning

II. Office of School Improvement Stated Goal:
"Our goal in the Office of School Improvement is to provide a coherent and sustained system of support and a systematic process for continuous improvement. Schools and centers are provided with the tools and resources to facilitate academic progress, including intensive support for schools not making adequate yearly progress (AYP)."

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/school-improvement

In Dr. Berry's own words:
"Title I programs must be based on effective means of improving student achievement and include strategies to support parental involvement."

atl said...

@ Fred

The ONLY employee you cannot do without is the teacher.

Did you know that out of 15,000+ employees, only 3,400+ are grade level and content area teachers?

So we have 15,000+ employees, but only 3,400+ of them are responsible for teaching the math, science, language arts, and social studies for the almost 96,000 students in DCSS. This is a 28 to 1 teacher to pupil ratio for the grade level and content area teachers. No wonder our class sizes are so large.

Here is the breakdown (from the state Salary and Travel audit - BTW - we have hired more Coaches so that figure is off by 20 to 30):

6.400 teachers minus 2,981 who are not grade level or math, social studies, language arts, and science teachers = 3,400+.

And we wonder why our students are not grasping these subjects?

Why is the Central Office not running these numbers?

Numbers of teachers NOT grade level teachers or content area teachers: 2,981
This includes:
Library Media Specialists:
161
Special Area Teachers:
1369
(Special Education Adapted PE, Pre-K Sp.Ed., Psycho-Ed Sp.Ed., Sp. Ed Interrelated, Sp. Ed. Specialist, Sp. Ed. Autistic, Sp. Ed. Emotional Behavior, Sp. Ed. Hearing Impaired, Teacher of Mild Intellectual, Teacher of Moderate Intellectual, Teacher of Orthopedic Impairment, Teacher of Other Health Impairment, Teacher Of Severely Intell. Impaired, Teacher of specific Learning Disability, Teacher of Visually Impaired, Speech –Language Pathologist, Adapted PE teacher:
1,369
Other Instructional Providers:
42
Instructional Specialists (Art, PE, Music, Band, Orchestra elementary teachers):
445
Gifted:
87
ESOL:
154
Early Intervention Specialists:
128
Instructional Coaches (America’s Choice Instructional Coaches, Literacy Coaches and Graduation Coaches):
80
Exploratory Teachers:
46
Hospital Homebound:
1
Vocational Teachers:
207
Related Vocational Teachers:
11
World Languages in high school and Connections teachers in middle school
250 (estimated)

No wonder the teacher turnover is so phenomenal in the grade level and content areas.

Cerebration said...

When I think back, the people from school I remember most were my teachers. I had some amazing teachers who served as mentors, enlighteners, encouragers and examples of the kind of person to aspire to be.

bu2 said...

Individual schools can control discipline. Its a matter of culture and leadership.

I went to a JHS in another state that was rated one of the 10 most dangerous schools in the country and the only JHS on the list (personally I think we were way over-rated). There was one spring day a friend and I lost count after 35 fights that we had personally witnessed. The school was roughly 2/3 Anglo, 25-30% African-American and 5-10% Hispanic in a middle class neighborhood. 20 years later when the school was lower middle class and roughly 80% African-American and 20% Hispanic they were on the TV news for basically the same problems. They still had the same principal.

I went to HS in the same neighborhood with basically the same group of kids. My sophomore year I saw 1 fight all year long and the kids broke it up within 15 seconds. One day at that school I had forgotten a book and went back to my locker from class. An Ass. Principal was in the hall with a couple of women teachers and had a tire tool in his hand, apparently having helped someone with a tire. He asked if I had a hall pass. I said, "No." Then he asked, "Have you ever been hit by a tire iron?" Not really registering what he had said, I calmly replied no. He laughed and told me to get back to class.

The point is that the HS didn't tolerate problems. The JHS did. The HS didn't have problems with the same group of kids. The JHS had the same leadership and had problems with different socio-economic mixes a whole generation apart.

Dekalbparent said...

Bloggers have said that the class sizes are too high and that discipline problems are rampant. I see a relationship here. If discipline problems were handled better (i.e. if teachers felt backed by principals and principals felt backed by administrators and parents couldn't get their kids off the hook easily), then classes could be larger.

1) Several dinosaurs here (and I am among them) have observed that their classes in school were 35-40 and there was not a problem. In my school, everybody was scared to death of being sent to the principal's office - I'll bet the same is true of others who were in large classes.

2) Media Center secretaries have a gigantic job - please don't lump them in with secretaries who can take long lunches and may or may not be worth their salaries! A media center secretary orders books, deals with suppliers, processes books when they arrive, shelves books, checks books out, repairs books, issues overdue notices (repeatedly in most cases), stocks supplies, books the library and prepares for presentations, answers student questions, and is often the only person physically there in the library proper (librarians having planning and teaching duties)and must ride herd on an entire class at a time. I am not a media secretary, but I have observed many, and I am uniformly impressed.

3) I agree that every school ought to have a dedicated competent CTSS. What is the use of even the limited technology our students have if it isn't working? If you only have a CTSS half the days in the week, you spend a lot more time waiting for your machines to function than you do using them.

Letting media secretaries, media clerks and CTSSs go was a short-sighted decision made by people unfamiliar with how a school works.

End of soapbox.

FieldsGrove said...

@ atl 6:39

This is a legitimate question: Are all of the 2,981 non-grade level and non-content area teachers funded the same way? I thought that federal tax dollars fund certain instructional programs (ESOL, Special Ed., and Title 1), so there are federal guidelines mandating how those dollars are spent (at least to some degree). Meanwhile, state and local tax revenue is used for other expenses like media specialists, art teachers, etc... I'm not being critical of the data you've presented, just trying to understand school funding, district and local decision making, etc... Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

atl said...

@ FieldsGrove

This is a legitimate question: Are all of the 2,981 non-grade level and non-content area teachers funded the same way?

Funding is not the question. DCSS has only 3,500 employees out of 15,000+ teaching reading, writing, math, science, and social studies as grade level and content area teachers.

That's why outsourcing, consolidating and cutting all non-teaching positions (8,500 of them) must be done in order to fund more employees involved in direct instruction of students. Ms. Tyson has taken all of these options off the table. It's no wonder DCSS has such high teacher turnover in teachers teaching the basics of reading, writing, math, social studies and science - the skills they need to be successful in life.

Cerebration said...

I don't quite understand how this is possible, but I have heard several times recently that Tyson's hands are tied. She has been told emphatically (By Bowen and the board) that she is not allowed to fire anyone.

It's something to consider if true. It's wrong, if true. The board should never give such a directive to a superintendent.

atl said...

Posters need to email Bowen and the other BOE members and specifically ask them if they or any other BOE member has told Tyson she cannot let anyone go. She let paras and a few CTSSs go last year. They had no problems with that.

If Bowen has told Tyson she cannot fire anyone, it seems like that would constitute the BOE doing the superintendent's job, a position that runs counter to SACS.

FieldsGrove said...

I agree with atl that many non-teaching positions need to be cut, consolidated, and outsourced to fund teaching positions with direct student contact. I support the idea of an outside superintendent who can clean house.

I find it interesting that the same BoE who extended Tyson's contract for three more months would also take away her power to fire incompetent and/or unnecessary employees. Are the current and past BoE members (Roberts), who sing Tyson's praises, just using her to perpetuate a corrupt and broken system?

@atl - I'm new to this blog, and you seem to be quite knowledgeable. I posted my earlier question, because I thought you might be able and willing to help me better understand school funding, policy, decision-making, etc... I was under the impression that you are/were a teacher. Please don't let your anger and frustration with DCSS turn this blog into merely a place for people with opposing views to argue, or you will miss a valuable opportunity to educate the public.

Sagamore 7 said...

While we are discussing Instruction and Cirriculum, has anyone looked at the AGENDA for Monday's board meeting?

Dr. Berry had some leftover title one funds and decided to offer a one week summer science camp for kids at 4 elementary schools! I think a couple of teachers in the classroom year round would be a better way to spend $100,000!

Also, we are spending over $1,300,000 at Towers HS this year on another one of America's Choice programs.
What do you think the results are going to produce, AGAIN?

This is my problem with this DCSS culture.

If we hire outside consultants / reformers to turn around a HS within DCSS and it continues to fail then our administration just fires the consultant and hires another one.

Isn't it DCSS's JOB to teach the kids? Don't we have teachers in the schools whose job it is to teach our kids? If THEY are failing then let's get rid of them!

It is the same as a manger who managers the managers. Does that make sense?

If I had $1,300,000 to spend at a HS I would spend it on additional teachers and in-class support instead of a program!

Here is the description of the program.

The NCS Pearson approach to school improvement is a comprehensive approach that involves a rigorous methodology that guides change across all dimensions of the school to quickly increase academic achievement for all students- from vision, leadership, and instructional practice to collaboration and stakeholder involvement. The comprehensive school improvement model is powered by America’s Choice research and experience in implementing its school design and leverages the Pearson’s range of education programs and services to complement the proven school design and expand its capacity to meet schools needs for improvement. NCS Pearson, Inc. has concentrated on developing instructional materials aligned to standards, safety net programs to help students who are struggling to get back on track for meeting standards, and professional development programs designed specifically to support the implementation of the instructional design.

atl said...

@FieldsGrove

I have no anger at the school system. My daughter went to a magnet school and received an excellent education. Unfortunately, this is not the case all over DeKalb County, particularly in low income schools in South DeKalb. Uneven educational opportunities should be a concern for every citizen in the county.

DCSS children have only one opportunity for an education that will prepare them for success the rest of their lives. All students in DeKalb should be receiving equitable services, and that is not happening now based on per pupil expenditures and educational outcomes.

Objectively speaking, the data shows that DeKalb taxpayers all over DeKalb County are not getting a good Return on Investment.

I'm not especially knowledgeable. Any data I cite is accessible to anyone who cares to go to the Georgia and DeKalb County websites, and I try to cite my sources in order to encourage fact checking and different analytical slants by other interested posters. The regular contributors to this blog who publish the articles are certainly more knowledgeable than I in terms of finance.

If you are interested in data regarding DCSS as pertains to personnel structure, finance, and educational outcomes, I would recommend you go to these official sites:

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=111&PID=62&PTID=213&T=0&CountyId=644&FY=2010

http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/

http://app.doe.k12.ga.us/ows-bin/owa/fin_pack_revenue.entry_form

http://open.georgia.gov/
(look under Salaries and Travel Reimbursements)

http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/

Also, Cerebration, the moderator of this blog, has put together some excellent information on these sites:

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/p/facts-sources.html

http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/p/budgets-and-budget-suggestions.html

I would encourage you to make an appointment with your BOE member to discuss school finances, personnel structure and educational outcomes.

Lastly, you may wish to sit with some of the heads of the departments at the DOE and ask them to explain how schools are funded and any rules and regulations you do not understand.

Involved citizens are critical to ensure tax dollars are used wisely to produce the best possible Return on Investment.

Sagamore 7 said...

Isn't this what our schools system is supposed to be doing?

Doesn't this tell you that our current administrators do not know how to operate a school?

They are spending BIG money on programs that sound very much like what our office of Instruction and Improvement should be doing.

Our tax dollars funds HUGE departments within DCSS that have this responsibility!

Why is DCSS spending millions in hiring outside consultants?

Because they are NOT qualified to do the job themselves.

They have not gotten results for YEARS and do not have the expertise to run a successful school system.

Why do we accept status quo?

Why does the culture of failure permeate through DCSS?

How do we allow such failure in our schools?

Accountability? I don't think so.
My kids want to be meteorologists because they know that they can wrong ALL the time and not lose their jobs. I guess that applies to DCSS school administrators too.

BTW, the cell Towers are getting approved on Monday night.
I personally would like to see the other 2 bids that were presented.

See you at the meeting.

S7

robinseek said...

@ Dekalb Parent 8:12
I work at an elementary school where our CTSS was assigned a 2nd school. Our CTSS is as competent as any out there and when this person is not at our school, boy those it shows.

When the limited technology goes down and the CTSS is at the other school, instructional time is impacted tremendously, especially when we have assignments geared towards using the technology that day.

Whoever made the decision to assign the CTSS to 2 different schools needs to go back and reverse the decision. Technology is critical to what we do in the classroom every day and we have been instructed to utilize it more. When that technology breaks down and the CTSS is not at your school, valuable instructional time is lost.

I invite all of you on this blog to visit any school at the start of the school year that has 1 CTSS assigned to it. You will discover that we will not have total use of all the technology in the school until 3 to 6 weeks in the school year. This is not a knock against the CTSS, but a knock against those who decided to assign them to 2 schools. These guys have to set up technology for the admin, teachers, students and the labs at each school. It is definitely not an easy task.

robinseek said...

Should have been 1 CTSS assigned to 2 schools at the start of the new school year. Sorry about that....

Cerebration said...

According to the last budget proposal that was presented, the board cut 18 CTSS and 100 paras (I think - if I recall, the proposal was to cut 200, but they only cut 100)

Read about it here

What the Budget Cuts Mean

View the budget worksheet here -

2010 Budget Plan

Cerebration said...

These are from 2010 when Ramona first took over. I don't have budget worksheets from the 2011 discussions.

atl said...

@ Cerebration 2:35 pm

Looking closely at the budgets in 2009-10 and 2010-11, it looks like Dr. Lewis and Ms. Tyson eliminated around 600 teacher positions. What kind of an impact did eliminating all these teachers have on DCSS student achievement?

It was interesting to take a close look at the proposed 2010-11 budget sheet you provided. According to my calculations, Ms. Tyson pegged the cost of a teacher at $65,000 in salary and benefits.

Example #1:
Ms. Tyson recommended reducing Magnet Points (a Point means a teacher) by 20 points for a savings of $1,300,000. $1,300,000 divided by 20 = $65,000.

Example # 2:
Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating 8 DECA (DeKalb Early College Academy) Points (Teachers) for a savings of $520,000. $520,000 divided by 8 = $65,000.

Example #3:
Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating 8 Single Gender Points (Teachers) nets a savings of $520,000. $520,000 divided by 8 = $65,000.

Example #4
Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating Target Assistance Points (extra Teachers for schools that need additional help for students for various reasons) for a savings of $3,965,000. Divide $3,965,000 by $65,000 (cost of a teacher) = 61 teachers.

You can see how Ms. Tyson assigned a value of $65,000 as the cost of a teacher throughout the budgetary process.

Adding the number of teacher positions eliminated in Example #1 (20), Example #2 (8), Example #3 (8), and Example #4 (61) = 97 teachers.

Now look at the Increase in class sizes (highlighted in blue). Ms. Tyson recommended increasing class sizes by 2. She assigns a value of $14,000,000 in savings. If you divide $14,000,000 by $65,000 (value of a teacher), the additional number of teaching positions eliminated = 215.

Now add the 215 additional teaching positions eliminated to the 97 already eliminated in Examples #1, 2,3, and 4, and this equals 312 positions eliminated for the school year 2010-11.

This comes on top of Dr. Lewis eliminating 275 teacher positions the year before (see BOE meeting notes Executive Summary 4-13-09). Eliminating teacher positions was the largest portion of saving for fiscal year 2009-10 (we didn't have as big a deficit at that time). See quote from BOE 4-13-09 BOE meeting below:
"Further proposed reductions include an increase to class sizes. The increase in class size will still keep DeKalb Schools below the state maximum requirements, prior to the state’s increase. This action will save $18.1 million and will reduce the staffing needs by 275 teachers. "

Of equal concern should be that 600 teachers left the system in the last 2 years. Ms. Tyson stated that she did not cut teacher personnel. She only eliminated teacher positions through attrition. Obviously she and Lewis felt confident that the attrition rate is in the hundreds every year. This points to an enormous teacher turnover rate. Studies show that a high teacher turnover rate has the effect of decreasing student achievement for Economically Disadvantaged students, a group that has a difficult time showing the same progress rate as their more affluent peers. DCSS Economically Disadvantaged students mainly reside in our Title 1 schools.

Do you know if Ms. Tyson proposed increasing class sizes this year, and if so, did the BOE approve this?

It's disheartening that Ms. Tyson and the BOE not see the relationship in decreased teacher numbers, increased class sizes and decreased student achievement in DCSS.

Cerebration said...

Excellent points, atl. This one in particular caught my eye,

Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating Target Assistance Points (extra Teachers for schools that need additional help for students for various reasons) for a savings of $3,965,000. Divide $3,965,000 by $65,000 (cost of a teacher) = 61 teachers.

Really? How can any superintendent worth a grain of salt think it's a good idea to eliminate Targeted Assistance for at-risk students? How absolutely thoughtless. I just don't understand the countywide cheerleading for this lady. She has harmed so many children. I did take a liking to Tyson at first and bought into her sincere-sounding speeches. But due to the results and the ability to see with hindsight, I am less and less impressed each and every day.

atl said...

@ Cerebration

Here is some additional information as a comment on your 2:35 pm post.

I hope I misread this article.

Champion News published an article (3/12/11) entitled "DeKalb County Schools use 2011 budget as template for 2012". To quote the article:
"DeKalb County Schools budget and finance staff will begin the annual operating budget development process in July.
Significant reductions include:
- $15.8 million Staff reduction and increasing class size by two"

http://championnewspaper.com/news/articles/874dekalb-county-schools-use-2011-budget-as-template-for-2012--874.html

Using Ms. Tyson's calculations would mean DCSS would be losing 243 more teaching positions. That would bring the total teachers lost to 828 in the last 3 years. Surely I have misread this.

Other systems have used RTT money for additional teachers. Why not DCSS? Didn't Ms. Tyson just reinstate the travel budgets for many departments? It's unconscionable to be adding additional non-teaching Instructional Coaches at $100,000 each in salary and benefits while draining our classrooms of teachers who directly instruct our students. It's not good business to take outsourcing off the table while adversely impacting your core business.

Here's another quote from Marcus Turk:
"“It’s a progressive budget not a regressive budget,” DeKalb County Schools Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk said."

Here is link to the 2012 budget:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/approved-budget-(2012).pdf

Here is a link to the 2010 budget (see Executive summary) where Lewis states the budget cuts 275 teaching positions:
http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/approved-budget-(2010).pdf

September said...

We need media specialists in our schools. There are many research studies that show that students who attend schools with high quality library programs learn more and have higher test scores than students who attend schools with poor quality library programs.

This link will take you to a document that does a good job of summarizing the research in an easy to read format. If you don't have time to read the entire report, pages 8, 9 and 10 will provide you with good information.

http://www2.scholastic.com/content/collateral_resources/pdf/s/slw3_2008.pdf

September said...

Sorry. The link on my last post was incomplete. This is the link to the research on academic achievement and school libraries. I added a retirm to put the link on 2 lines because the last part of the link was dropped.

http://www2.scholastic.com/content/collateral_
resources/pdf/s/slw3_2008.pdf

When you past the link into your search box it should look like this

. . ./collateral_resources/pdf/. . .

Fred said...

@Cerebration, thanks for sharing the 2010 Budget Plan. Seeing it again should remind citizens of the realities regarding the budget cuts. If salaries and wages make up almost 90% of the operating budget and you receive less money from the state and local governments due to property values assessed lower resulting in a reduction in property taxes, tough decisions have to be made. atl is standing on the sideline giving misleading information but at the end of the day, like most school districts around this country, teachers had larger class sizes.

As I mentioned earlier and according to what you saw in the budget plan, no teachers were laid off however the positions of some of the teachers leaving the district were not filled. Yes, DCSS did hire new teachers last year but not as many as open positions.

Fred said...

@atl, please stop giving misleading information. Teacher attrition rates are WELL documented. As usual, I share this link for you to read at your leisure,
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2010/2010353.pdf

You seem to have a habit of giving information without any context. You are good at giving surface level information but fail miserably with your analysis. You said earlier DCSS has 6400 teachers (though I belive your definition of teacher is flawed). If you assume 100,000 students, that comes to just under 16 students per teacher. Some would look at that and say there is not a problem with this ratio. Most on this blog know that due to REGULATIONS, you can have special needs children is small groups of 10 or fewer with a teacher and para. At Margaret Harris, you may have 1 to 1 ratio of student to teachers. DCSS provides this services because it is the LAW. Unfortunately, you keep saying there is flexibility and a central office staffer should do something about that.

Even Phil Kent admitted on the Georgia Gang with respect to thier cheating scandal that more that Beverly Hall was accountable. He cited the Atlanta Business community for reasons we have already heard.

Jeff Dickerson made the point that all agreed with (also said my yours truly), the first teachers of many children need to be fired. That is the parents. He mentioned the reality of a child coming to school not knowing the alphabet, how to count and a limited vocabulary. You hand this child over to a teacher and tell the teacher they will be place on a PDP if that child can't pass a test. In your case, you blame a central office employee because the teacher can't get that child to pass a test. As Sagamore 7 pointed out, that community provided significant resources to help the poor children in their school despite not being a Title 1 school and getting additional money for them. Do you think what is happening at Sagamore by interested community members is also happening at McNair Middle? Is it the fault of someone in the central office if it doesn't?

teacher said...

@ Fred

Seeing the budget again, reminds me of the waste that is paid for over inflated non-teaching/classroom salaries. 90% of a school district's budget should not be salaries, and when it is the education the children receive should be impeccable.

@ Cere

Thanks for reminding tax payers how their hard earned money is being wasted by the district.

Fred said...

@Sagamore 7, I believe I answered your question with help from Cerebration. Your school is not a Title 1 school and that is why it did not receive Title 1 funding. It is in your CSIP in Item #5 on page 12. Government regulations is the reason your school did not recieve Title 1 funds. Perhaps if the threshold is lowered for what is a Title 1 school, it will receive additional resources via Title 1.

I will speculate you know about the CSIP and have read it. Please share with atl that teachers and parents are involved with improving their school. Also share with them Item #17, what your school does to help with student learning. You should also share Item #22 as it appears your school has a very active School Council that is inclusive of the community. Having 7 meetings per year is more than 2 schools combined I know of.

Please also make atl aware that community members of Sagamore get information about your CSIP as Item #26 indicates. It is also available on your website which enables me to know so much about your school. Compared to many Title 1 schools, Sagamore is doing a great job providing a quality education for its children. I wish your model could be repeated at Title 1 schools however that seems to be a challenge that no one has the answer for.

Given your school has low teacher turnover, that speaks volumes about the overall environment. Despite not making AYP, I'm sure Principal Martin analyzed the subgroup that needs remediation and sought input from the community on how to address it. Your school is not an NI school so supplemental services are not available. Through use of measurable goals, I'm positive Sagamore will make AYP.

It is amazing that Sagamore made AYP on 10 of 11 categories yet has to live with the label of not making AYP. I don't think that is fair. That is the fallacy of using a measure like this to determine the worthiness of a school. I bet other schools are in a similar situation as Sagamore.

Fred said...

@teacher, according to SACS, salaries and benefits make up between 87 - 93% of a school districts budget. This number is probably higher in DCSS because we have the greatest number of school buildings in the state. This percentage could go down some if there was more consolidation.

This seems contrary to what some citizens say about school sizes. You can't have both.

Fred said...

@atl, you have alleged their is fraud with the DCSS Title 1 program. This is what the Federal Government says about fraud,
"Fraud occurs when education grants are not applied for, received, or spent for their intended purposes, generally through theft, misappropriation, or false statements. Fraud can occur in applying for a grant, such as if false information is provided on the grant application. Fraud can also occur during performance of a grant, such as through false assertions on a performance report, theft or misappropriation of grant funds, or certain types of lack of performance under the grant. Fraud also happens when grantees try to cover up underlying problems by creating false documents, by destroying documents, or by not being truthful with investigators or others. It’s important to recognize that there can be fraud even if no money has been received, such as when false information is provided in a grant application, and that type of fraud should also be reported, investigated, and prosecuted. "

To make it easy for you, following is the website you can go to to report your suspicions,

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/hotline.html

You can also do it anonymously! Let everyone know how your filing goes.

I should note that had Sagamore gotten Title 1 funds, that would have been a misappropriation.

teacher said...

@ Fred

I don't trust SACS or what they have to say. Too many in DCSS are over paid for their jobs. We have high administrative overhead and Title One coaches instead of Title One teachers that would better help the students and their needs.

The bottom line in DCSS is that we over pay for everyone other than those that genuinely work with the kids.

As a former DCSS employee, I am telling it like it is, and always have, even when I worked there. Too many chiefs who don't know what they are really doing or who don't have a handle on the English language themselves to be running an operation like DCSS and educating the future of our country. Having worked in DCSS, the corruption and misuse of funds that do not benefit the children are over the top.

If Sagamore is so great, than why do the educated people that I know in that community no longer send their children to that school, because the school was not meeting their children's needs and educating them further than what they had learned at home? Also why are their exceeds sections so low?

You see Fred, a person who really understands the CRCT data, doesn't give a hoot about who passed, because passing means that a child scored 51% to about 80% on the poorly written test, but looks at those that exceeded expectations, because they had to score 83% or higher. I didn't have too many kids with scores in the low 800s on the CRCT who I felt should have not be receiving help in some way, because they weren't really where they should have been for that grade level.

You see anyone who cares about their child's education would not look at the meets section of the broken down data, but the exceeds, and ask why that particular section isn't higher than it is, as that is where an average child should pass given the low threshold of the CRCT tests.

atl said...

@ Fred
"As I mentioned earlier and according to what you saw in the budget plan, no teachers were laid off however the positions of some of the teachers leaving the district were not filled. "

When there are 4 teachers in 4th grade, and one retires or leave the school system, this is called attrition. When Ms. Tyson doesn't fill that position, then the children coming from 3rd grade will pay the price. Instead of each 4th grade class having 23 students, there will now be classes of 30+. Ask any teacher. A child having problems will be much more likely to get individual help in a class of 23 than 30+. Children not performing on grade level will ALWAYS suffer in the larger class.

The impact on students when they sit in a class of 30+ instead of 23 is EXACTLY the same as no matter if they lost a teacher due to Ms. Tyson cutting a teacher position or if she lets the teacher go. Student progress will decline.

The focus needs to be on the needs of students. That's the reason I'm so concerned about decreasing the number of teachers - because it results in larger class sizes and decreased student achievement.

Now that Lewis and Tyson have decreased our number of teachers by 600, we have seen how that contributes to decreased student achievement. I did many years of grade level teaching so I know that you only have so many hours in the day. To say that struggling students can get as much individual attention when they are in a class of 30+ as they would get in a class of 23 is simply not true.

Cerebration said...

Question: If we're down to about 6,500 teachers and have about 13,000 employees, does that mean that we now have just as many non-teaching employees as we do teachers?

atl said...

@ Fred
"you have alleged their is fraud with the DCSS Title 1 program. "

I have never alleged fraud in the Title 1 program. I have said that poor decision making on the part of Dr. Berry has led to a declining number of DCSS Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress.

If Dr. Berry's decisions for expenditures of Title 1 funding were good decisions, then our percentage of Title 1 schools making AYP would be much higher. Other school systems with similar demographics have a much greater rate of schools making adequate yearly progress.

Comparing the student progress in Title 1 schools in EVERY other metro system (even APS) with our Title 1 schools shows that we have the lowest percentage of Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress. Looking at the CRCTs for grades 3 - 5 for the past school year shows that DCSS will probably have even less Title 1 schools make adequate yearly progress when the numbers are posted on the DOE site. How will Dr. Berry and Dr. Beasley and Ms. Tyson explain that? More excuses?

Dr. Berry may follow the "letter of the law", but the federal government allows many ways to meet Title 1 requirements. It's obvious from the student achievement data that she is not choosing the ways that move students forward.

Poor management has always been the term I've used.

atl said...

@ Cerebration

We had 15,500+ employees 2009-10 (per the superintendent's FAQ sheet published after Ms. Tyson became Interim Superintendent in spring of 2010).

"DeKalb County School System has 1,239 Central Office employees (7.81%) out of a total of 15,859 employees. Of the 1,239 total, 982 (6.19%) are General Fund Central Office Employees. The remaining 257 (1.62%) Central Office Employees are funded through federal Special Education Funds, federal Title I funds, School Nutrition funds, etc."

Ms. Tyson cut 200 paras, 13 CTSSs, 150 "Central Office" employees (many of them lower level employees moved into the Central Office payroll (e.g. a FSC teacher was classified as a Central Office person and then cut), and 300 teacher positions - and I believe that's all that was listed in Ms. Tyson's proposed budget 2010-11 adopted by the BOE and also cited in the Champion Newspaper article (see below).
http://championnewspaper.com/news/articles/874dekalb-county-schools-use-2011-budget-as-template-for-2012--874.html

The above personnel and position cuts total about 600+ (300 of them teaching positions). Where are the missing 2,000 employees?

If the numbers have changed, DCSS needs to publish the new numbers.

atl said...

@ Fred
" atl is standing on the sideline giving misleading information "

Well, Fred, I just run the numbers and when Ms. Tyson says she can save $14,000,000 by increasing class sizes by 2 students and then she does it, I do the computation of:
$14,000,000 divided by $65,000 (Ms. Tyson's designated annual cost per teacher) = 215 teachers

When she proposes and the BOE approves cutting 20 magnet teachers, 8 DECA Teachers, 8 Single Gender Teachers, and 61 Targeted Assistance Teachers, that equals 97.

It doesn't matter what calculator you use. The numbers still add up the same, and the numbers are coming from DCSS management.

Cerebration said...

There are 16,668 people listed on the 2010 salary report. About 1450 of them are substitute teachers. 4757 are K-12 classroom teachers. Plus, there are 448 "Instructional Specialists", which I'm told are teachers like art and music. Another 80 are listed as Gifted Teachers. 187 are ESOL teachers. 126 are listed as Early Intervention Primary Teachers (including Yvonne Butler, at a salary of $118,482.

That leaves 9,746 employees.

Cerebration said...

I'm not sure what all the jobs are, but below is a list of the departments listed at the DCSS website.

Assessment and Accountability
Athletics
Audit and Compliance
Design and Construction
Educational Media
Elementary School Teaching and Learning
Fleet Services
Guidance, Counseling, and Mentoring
High School Teaching and Learning
Human Resources
Internal Affairs
Management Information Systems
Middle School Teaching and Learning
Operations
Plant Services
Prevention / Intervention
Professional Learning
Public Relations
Public Safety
Purchasing
Research and Evaluation
School Improvement
School Nutrition
Security Systems
Social Work
Special Education
Special Services
Student Relations
Student Support Services
Support Services
Teaching and Learning
Title I
Transportation

Fred said...

@atl,
"I have never alleged fraud in the Title 1 program. I have said that poor decision making on the part of Dr. Berry has led to a declining number of DCSS Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress."

You did say the following,
“DCSS upper management has not asked teachers what works with these children so that the money can be spent in an efficient and effective manner.”
atl on 6/25 @ 9:10 AM

“DCSS has not properly managed Title 1 money. It has become a piggybank for whatever the Central Office wants to fund.”
atl on 6/25 @ 10:08 AM.

“Everyone who works for DCSS knows Title 1 funding expenditures is "top down." Very few funding decisions are made at the local level.”
atl at 6/26 @ 9:18 AM

This sound like you are implying fraud to me.
It would be great if you could provide more teachers for small group instruction (I mentioned that before). Fact is that there is not enough money in the budget to do this. The question becomes, what do you do with the funds you have available.

Also as I've also said before, Title 1 funding decisions are made at the local school level by the principal. The pricipal solicits feedback through the CSIP team, school council, and teachers on how to best serve their population. This is the site based management model that DCSS has used for years.

I asked before, have you ever sat on a CSIP team or school council meeting? Recently?

Fred said...

@teacher, as a teacher you should know that teacher's salaries are set by the state. There can be supplements based on the school district. DeKalb pays a higher supplement than those in South Georgia due to its tax base.

It is worth looking at administrative overhead. Unfortunately it seems an employee is either in the school or considered a central office employee. Bus drivers are very important yet considered part of the central office. They have been cut at least 25% since DCSS went to the tier busing model a few years ago. There have been cut backs to custodians. There have been cutbacks to central office employees (media relations, drivers ed, copy departments to name a few). Everyone is doing more with less.

I also have a problem with using CRCT/AYP as the determining factor for the success of a student and school. There are some good parts to NCLB (making sure every student gets attention) but there are parts that are harmful to students, schools, employees, and communities. Sagamore passed 10 of 11 measures yet did not make AYP. How can you make over 90% yet not get some consideration for passing.

I would like to look at a combination of measures such as growth over the year, the teachers' assessment along with a nationally normed test such as the ITBS. This probably requires more documentation but I beleive ultimately it bests serve the student.

In cases where you have 5 year olds coming to school with a blank slate, perhaps a montesorri approach is needed. What I mean, transparent expectations are set however you allow more time to help the student grasp concepts. Yes, more direct instruction is needed with smaller groups. I think this is worth the investment and would gladly pay more tax dollars for this.

Anyone else out there willing to pay more tax dollars for more teachers for direct instruction?

Fred said...

@atl,
"It doesn't matter what calculator you use. The numbers still add up the same, and the numbers are coming from DCSS management."

Let me give you another number to consider. There are about 130 schools in DCSS, give or take 5. You shared 215 + 97 = 312. Divide that by 130 you get about 2 1/2 teachers per school. In fairness, that does not include para's that were let go in the lower grades. That probably averaged 1-2 per school. I think para's were retained in Title 1 schools but I'm not sure about that.

During the boom days of our economy, all school systems grew as though there was no end to tax revenue. Educators got annual increases and new programs were introduced to help with learning. Every school system in this country in trying to reconcile their budgets with lower tax revenues and increasing prices for various services. What is happening in DCSS with employee cutbacks is happening around the country. You shouldn't imply otherwise as it is a reality in today's environment. Can you at least admit that???

Cerebration said...

Nice synopsis of atl's points, Fred. I happen to completely agree with each of them. There are most likely more effective ways to spend Title 1 funds directly on students.

FWIW, you talk about teacher pay increases, but leave out the fact that so many of the new Title 1 funded employees, like the "Parent Resource" people (of which Zepora's daughter is one at $61,000+) make considerably more money than most veteran teachers with virtually no accountability.

Cerebration said...

FWIW, I visited a link provided by Fred at the US Dept of Education. This is what the law says about how Title 1 Funds should be spent -

SEC. 101. IMPROVING THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF THE DISADVANTAGED.

Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 6301 et seq.) is amended to read as follows:
TITLE I--IMPROVING THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT OF THE DISADVANTAGED
SEC. 1001. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE.

The purpose of this title is to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments. This purpose can be accomplished by —
(1) ensuring that high-quality academic assessments, accountability systems, teacher preparation and training, curriculum, and instructional materials are aligned with challenging State academic standards so that students, teachers, parents, and administrators can measure progress against common expectations for student academic achievement;
(2) meeting the educational needs of low-achieving children in our Nation's highest-poverty schools, limited English proficient children, migratory children, children with disabilities, Indian children, neglected or delinquent children, and young children in need of reading assistance;
(3) closing the achievement gap between high- and low-performing children, especially the achievement gaps between minority and nonminority students, and between disadvantaged children and their more advantaged peers;
(4) holding schools, local educational agencies, and States accountable for improving the academic achievement of all students, and identifying and turning around low-performing schools that have failed to provide a high-quality education to their students, while providing alternatives to students in such schools to enable the students to receive a high-quality education;
(5) distributing and targeting resources sufficiently to make a difference to local educational agencies and schools where needs are greatest;
(6) improving and strengthening accountability, teaching, and learning by using State assessment systems designed to ensure that students are meeting challenging State academic achievement and content standards and increasing achievement overall, but especially for the disadvantaged;
(7) providing greater decisionmaking authority and flexibility to schools and teachers in exchange for greater responsibility for student performance;
(8) providing children an enriched and accelerated educational program, including the use of schoolwide programs or additional services that increase the amount and quality of instructional time;
(9) promoting schoolwide reform and ensuring the access of children to effective, scientifically based instructional strategies and challenging academic content;
(10) significantly elevating the quality of instruction by providing staff in participating schools with substantial opportunities for professional development;
(11) coordinating services under all parts of this title with each other, with other educational services, and, to the extent feasible, with other agencies providing services to youth, children, and families; and
(12) affording parents substantial and meaningful opportunities to participate in the education of their children.

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I took a look at the list also. I sorted the column containing positions. As I looked at it closer, I saw a LOT of positions of staff that have student contact time that are not classified as teachers. For instance, do you put para's in the teachers category? Some would say that when small group instruction is done or if a teacher is absent, para's are essentially teachers. There are many para's in DCSS, especially in the special needs area.

How about Special Education Interrelated? You do know those are Special Ed teachers. Same applies for Vocational as those are the Career Technology teachers.

This is what I mean by context, it is more that just looking to the data at a high level. You actually go in and analyze it further. It is challenging for a lay person to know who is a teacher and who is not but just looking for familiar titles. Maybe another column is needed to help lay people tell the difference.

For anyone to blindly say school systems have too much overhead without offering specifics, one should be wary about that statement. The very people you may want to cut could be someone providing instructional services for our children.

Cerebration said...

The 2011 Title 1 Part A Allocations for Metro Systems are published online -

Atlanta City - $39,326,962
Gwinnett - $27,215,904
Cobb - $16,303,478
Fulton - $20,608,190
Clayton - $17,244,941
DeKalb - $43,244,832

Fred said...

@Cerebration,
"FWIW, you talk about teacher pay increases, but leave out the fact that so many of the new Title 1 funded employees, like the "Parent Resource" people (of which Zepora's daughter is one at $61,000+) make considerably more money than most veteran teachers with virtually no accountability."

DCSS has to answer for this, especially with respect to accountability. I'd like to see the job description for this position before making a judgment as that should drive the salary.

Another thing thing to consider with salaries, teachers are paid for 190 days yet most spread their pay out over 12 months. A 12 month employee works about 230 days. I come up with this on the assumption there are 260 workdays, with 10 holidays and 20 vacation/sick days per year. I raise this point because I believe parent center coordinators are 12 month employees, since I believe those centers are open during the summer. To do a fair comparison, you need to look at the teachers salary for 230 days to that of a 12 month employee.

Cerebration said...

Believe me, with a child who went through special education at DCSS and one in the gifted/magnet program over the past 15 years, as well as having served on many PTA and Councils, having dealt personally with Lewis and Pope, etc, I think I've figured quite a lot of this out. While I (and many bloggers) am a "lay" person, I do have the ability to sort data and figure out what paras do (they should not be "teaching" the class, BTW).

FWIW, many of our bloggers are retired DCSS teachers and personnel, highly involved, active parents and PTA, Parent Council officers as well as parents who have had SPLOST oversight and served on many "Task Forces"...and very long histories of dealing with the system. We're not the uninformed "lay" people you might wish to believe.

atl said...

@ Fred
"You shared 215 + 97 = 312. Divide that by 130 you get about 2 1/2 teachers per school. In fairness, that does not include para's that were let go in the lower grades. That probably averaged 1-2 per school. "

Let's add in Lewis cuts of 275 teachers. Now we're talking about 4.5 teachers per school. In an elementary school, that probably an extra teacher per grade level. Many of our schools are small. In some grades there are only 3 or 4 teachers to begin with. Now there may be only 2 or 3.

Cutting classroom teachers, the only personnel responsible for ensuring students master math, reading, writing, social studies and science and the person that most students are with most of the day for instruction is just plain shortsighted if you want to move students forward academically.

Ms. Tyson should be cutting, outsourcing and consolidating every job but the grade level and content area teacher. That's a big factor in what happened to DCSS student achievement, and Ms. Tyson and the BOE retain complete responsibility for this situation.

Looking at DCSS test scores in Title 1 schools after strict test monitoring would suggest to me that all the frivolous and trendy programs and non-teaching personnel that the Central Office spent money on to try to improve achievement was wasted. They apparently threw money at every non-teaching personnel and expensive learning program. Where is the ROI for Springboard - tens of millions on that program for much of the early 2000's, teachers hated it, and does it even exist anymore? All those tens of millions for Springboard mismanaged because no one in the Central Office would listen to the teachers, and no one wanted to come out and model lessons in the classroom to see how it worked and no one wanted to take the time to look at the data .

Many those programs that added personnel are in place, and no one wants to let them go. Ms. Edwards child is head of the TV station (where is the ROI in that - that was established during Lewis's reign), Ms. Roberts daughter and Dr. Callaway's daughter are Parent Coordinators, Mr. Walker's son is a Security Officer, etc.

Dismantling these non-instructional programs that employ so many friends or family or using an alternative way to deliver these services less expensively was more difficult politically than increasing class sizes and cutting teaching positions. DCSS upper management and the BOE can't pawn this off on anyone.

Really, they could have dusted off the 2004 Ernst and Young Compensation audit to see what non-teaching personnel were overpaid, and adjusted their pay or even commissioned a new audit (the 2004 audit was very comprehensive and was completed in less than 5 months). Cutting the pay of non-teachers by 10% would have allowed us to keep all of those teacher positions. Why didn't Lewis use that audit to keep DCSS pay for non-teachers in line with other systems and keep the class sizes as is? You can't blame the students, teachers, and parents for this.

It sounds like Ms. Tyson is increasing class sizes yet again. A recipe for even worse student achievement - most especially in low income schools - that's where class size mattes the most.

atl said...

@ Fred
"Another thing thing to consider with salaries, teachers are paid for 190 days yet most spread their pay out over 12 months."

Teacher pay can only be looked at in relation to what the other systems are paying. We are not a very attractive system to work for in the first place. We really have no control over teachers pay IF we want to run a school system where teachers teach and students learn - the definition of a school system. Our teachers are paid on par and perhaps a little lower than some metro systems. Their salary schedule is published and can easily be compared with any other system. So if you want a school system, teacher pay is a moot point. You pay what the market pays.

Many other metro systems run their Parent Centers much less expensively (and just as efficaciously I suppose since we have absolutely no data for our Parent Center). Other systems use paras or retired teachers to staff them. They are not employed as many hours. They all have para certification in Clayton. They all have teacher certification in Fulton.

There are many ways to do Parental involvement. DCSS has chosen the most expensive. I think it's terrible that DCSS apparently has no certification standards and experience requirements for these Parent Center personnel who cost us millions a year.

Where are the educational certificate or social services licensure requirements listed for the Parent Center personnel? This should be listed on the Internet just like teachers. Furthermore, any citizen should be able to check the certification and licensure of the Parent Center employees just like teachers. What are the educational standards and minimum requirements (i.e. how many years in a classroom or how many years performing social service work, etc.) for the Parent Center personnel? Looking at their backgrounds via the Georgia Certification channel, I could find no common standards like I found in the other metro systems.

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I'm sorry you interpreted my comment to mean that many were "uninformed" as that was not my intent. My point was specific to looking at vasts amounts of data and not having a full understanding of what some of the values mean. atl presented a value for the number of teachers that I dispute. Believe it or not, I believe atl is very passionate and informed as are many of the posters. I believe they underestimated in this area because some of the labels used to identify teachers.

I also believe atl and I want the same thing, a great DCSS for all children however we differ regarding the approach to accomplish that.

atl said...

@ Fred

"This is what I mean by context, it is more that just looking to the data at a high level. You actually go in and analyze it further. It is challenging for a lay person to know who is a teacher and who is not but just looking for familiar titles."

Here is an analysis for the 2009-10 school year. Granted it needs to be update it for the 2010-11 school year since DCSS added Instructional Coaches and cut more teacher positions.

A layperson can know exactly what these categories denote because he/she can look a person up on Community Net who resides in a category, then look at the website of the school they are assigned to to verify the job function. It's not all that difficult.

Numbers of teachers NOT grade level teachers or content area teachers: 2981
This includes:
Library Media Specialists:
161
Special Area Teachers:
1369
(Special Education Adapted PE, Pre-K Sp.Ed., Psycho-Ed Sp.Ed., Sp. Ed Interrelated, Sp. Ed. Specialist, Sp. Ed. Autistic, Sp. Ed. Emotional Behavior, Sp. Ed. Hearing Impaired, Teacher of Mild Intellectual, Teacher of Moderate Intellectual, Teacher of Orthopedic Impairment, Teacher of Other Health Impairment, Teacher Of Severely Intell. Impaired, Teacher of specific Learning Disability, Teacher of Visually Impaired, Speech –Language Pathologist, Adapted PE teacher:
1,369
Other Instructional Providers:
42
Instructional Specialists (Art, PE, Music, Band, Orchestra elementary teachers):
445
Gifted:
87
ESOL:
154
Early Intervention Specialists:
128
Instructional Coaches (America’s Choice Instructional Coaches, Literacy Coaches and Graduation Coaches):
80
Exploratory Teachers:
46
Hospital Homebound:
1
Vocational Teachers:
207
Related Vocational Teachers:
11
World Languages in high school and Connections teachers in middle school
250 (estimated)

We had 6,700 teachers at that time so that left about 3,700 as grade level and content area teachers. Pretty disconcerting that only 3,700 our of 15,000+ employees are grade level and content area (math, science, language arts and social studies) teachers. The grade level and content area teachers are the front line employees that we place the most responsibility on for ensuring students master the concepts of math, science, social studies, reading and writing - i.e. literate graduates . Increasing their class sizes impacted a group already straining to run the school system's core business.

Fred said...

@atl,
"Many other metro systems run their Parent Centers much less expensively (and just as efficaciously I suppose since we have absolutely no data for our Parent Center). Other systems use paras or retired teachers to staff them. They are not employed as many hours. They all have para certification in Clayton. They all have teacher certification in Fulton."

Again, I agree this should be looked at further. Just because you have no data does not mean you are not getting something out of it. Have you asked for any and been told it does not exist?

DCSS operates 11 full time Parent Centers. If operating costs can be reduced without impacting the quality of services, I am defintely for that. In fairness, reducing these operating costs won't have much impact on the overall Title 1 budget.

Fred said...

@atl,
"Increasing their class sizes impacted a group already straining to run the school system's core business."

No argument but if you can point to one school district around the country that did not have to make tough decisions when they had significantly lower tax revenues, I'd like to hear of that. The state increased allowable state sizes and school districts took advantage of that. In unionized states around the country, teacher were laid off. That is a reality in today's environment. DCSS is no exception to that. We don't like it but what other choices do we have.

You failed to point out that there were several schools that had small class sizes, ranging from 15 - 18 in lower grades while others, especially in South DeKalb had 26 - 30. I don't know the current status of the schools with small class sizes but that was a contention with many teachers in South DeKalb schools.

Cerebration said...

That's exactly correct, Fred. We have long pointed out the inequities in class size and other expenditures. For instance, those small classes you point out exist in schools like DeKalb School of the Arts, Kittredge and Wadsworth, DECA, and other specialty (what I now call "boutique") schools. It's the regular, neighborhood schools that are suffering the increased class sizes. It's completely out of balance and must be rebalanced. Tyson did manage to consolidate some schools, but did not go far enough, IMO.

Have you read our post on the reason the schools in south DeKalb had to close? We figure it's due to an explosion of the magnet and theme and charter schools ('boutique') that drew literally thousands of students away from neighborhood schools, leaving them desolate and struggling.

Neighbors ditched out on their own neighbors and now complain that the neighborhood schools are closing.

Historically, this is how DCSS has handled any situation -- reactionary. Not proactively and not with vision, but just to quiet the squeaky wheels that happen to be squeaking this week --

North vs Central vs South - what's the deal?

Cerebration said...

Monetary discussions aside, obviously, duplicating the programs in north DeKalb or simply sending "some" students to other schools has had no impact (or actually an adverse impact, IMO) on south DeKalb schools.

Is there a reason we have to worship at the altar of north DeKalb schools? Is there a reason we can't dream up something completely different in south DeKalb that will better suit the needs and learning styles of the students?

Cerebration said...

"Just because you have no data does not mean you are not getting something out of it. Have you asked for any and been told it does not exist?"

Yes. We are only given copies of their promotional newsletters. There is no data and the Parent Centers obviously have done nothing to improve student performance. In fact, I am wondering if many parents would even attend if food and door prizes weren't provided... and I'm not being facetious.

We need real social work here - people to work with families in the homes. Perhaps a partnership with DeKalb County Family Services.

Fred said...

@Cerebration,
"We need real social work here - people to work with families in the homes. Perhaps a partnership with DeKalb County Family Services. "

We have them in DCSS and they work with DFACS. They are called School Social Workers and DCSS has about 44 of them.

But hold it, atl would say they many not povide value to DCSS because they are not classroom teachers. This is what I mean by context again.

I also shared earlier the Parental Involvement requirements of Title 1 along with the set asides that must be made for this. Kim shared earlier of the great work done at the Cross Keys Parent Center as he saw it with his own eyes over a period of time. Can anyone say they have witnessed an underutilized Parent Center over a period of time? Has anyone asked for data regarding a particular Parent Center usage? The Parent Center Coordinator at Chapel Hill Middle School conducts GED classes at that site for parents, among the other services provided. The Parent Center at Clarkston conducts language classes for parents in that area.

The AJC recdently indicated that DCSS serves about 3% of its student population for those where English is a Second language. At we expect these students to pass the CRCT after being in the country for a short period of time.

You listed the amount of Title 1 Part A money that DeKalb will receive this upcoming school year. I took from that that we have greater needs thus greater challenges than other school districts. I would say with the exception of a handful of schools, most have at least 40 students in the Ecomonically Disadvantaged category, thus is will be considered for AYP.

Does 44 sound like enough Social Workers for DCSS?

atl said...

@ Fred"

"No argument but if you can point to one school district around the country that did not have to make tough decisions when they had significantly lower tax revenues, I'd like to hear of that.

Look no further than the Big Chicken, Fred.

Please read Cerebration's article:
What is in the Best Interest of DeKalb Schools' Core Business of Educating Students?
http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/06/what-is-in-best-interest-of-dekalb.html

From the AJC (June 20, 2011);

“Marietta City Schools plans to cut its budget 4 percent through belt-tightening measures that include outsourcing 22 custodial positions. There are no furlough days or teacher layoffs planned.

Superintendent Emily Lembeck said that could change if the system doesn’t receive the funds expected from state and federal sources. Last year’s budget was based on a revenue shortfall of $5.9 million....

....It becomes more difficult to protect what happens in the classroom without looking at some services that are not directly related,” Lembeck said. “Reducing days of instruction through furloughs and larger class sizes is not in the best interest of our core business of educating students.

Marietta City Schools started outsourcing custodial jobs seven years ago through attrition. Schools spokesman Thomas Algarin said increasing the privatization will save the district $223,242 a year. Thirteen head custodians will continue as school employees and those left will have to apply to ICS Contract Services in Atlanta for custodial work after June 30.

Many other school systems have outsourced jobs to save money. Joe Edgens, executive director of facilities for the Nashville Public Schools System, said his district privatized about 618 custodial and 44 ground services positions in 2010, saving the system $5 million to $6 million a year. Nashville has 78,000 students and a proposed 2012 budget of $670 million."

Marietta City Schools has 100% Title 1 schools, almost the same demographics as DCSS (only not as affluent) and this schools system made AYP last year and the year before. 100% of their schools Made AYP.

I really like Lembeck's quote:
"It becomes more difficult to protect what happens in the classroom without looking at some services that are not directly related,” Lembeck said. “Reducing days of instruction through furloughs and larger class sizes is not in the best interest of our core business of educating students.”

Fred said...

@atl, thanks for sharing! A much smaller school system but you answered my question.

DCSS proposed outsourcing jobs however David Schutten on behalf of custodians fought this. It seems DCSS tried this in the past with poor results. I think there was a blog topic about this.

If DCSS wants to get serious about reigning in costs, this should be on the table. Are citizens vocal enough to fight for this? I don't know.

Cerebration said...

Fred, Let's not get bogged down in debating the minutia. I've asked you this before -- what are your suggestions for addressing the pitiful lack of success in our classrooms? You seem to think that all is well, but the test scores tell a much different story. Have you asked John Evans what happened that his 3rd grade grandson has not yet learned to read? I find it very sad that you refuse to acknowledge the enormous failure that is harming so many children. We need ideas for improvement - do you have any? Do you have a vision for DCSS' future? Have you read ours? I think it's quite good --

“Without a vision, the people perish…”

Fred said...

@Cerebration and atl, may I suggest something that can be productive for readers of this blog. Would you consider creating a new blog topic asking about the positions in a school system? Using the latest salary and position data, we can go position by position and discuss the position along with the merits it provides to a school system. As I indicated earlier, I disputed the number of teachers identified by atl. This way everyone can see what we are looking at and make a determination for themselves.

In doing so, we won't be able to determine how a position is funded, local, state, federal. This speaks to whether any regulations are associated with the position. We should mention that if you think this is worthwhile.

I should point out that I am getting assistance from several educators, both retired and active, with my posts. There is no way I would know everything I am posting without help. Their reason for helping is to provide some balance with what is being said unchallenged. I thank all who have helped.

Cerebration said...

BTW, Ramona Tyson's "Vision" is all about consolidating buildings and building new ones -- nary a mention of children and learning.

Vision 2020 by Ramona Tyson

Cerebration said...

Interesting, as we have input from teachers, staff and retired DCSS employees as well...

There is no way to post all of the jobs for DCSS - however, as we often encourage readers, you can go to the state's website and download the Salary Report here -
Open.Georgia-gov

This can be sorted in Excel by salary, by job title, etc... this is how I quickly add up the number of say, k-12 classroom teachers. Most job titles are fairly obvious, however there are some interesting ones, like "Miscellaneous Activities"...

I would recommend that people download the file, click the column listing job titles and resort (keeping the rows intact). Then you can find the numbers of jobs by simply subtracting the last line number in that job category from the first. It's pretty much a no-brainer thanks to the state.

Fred said...

@Cerebration,
"what are your suggestions for addressing the pitiful lack of success in our classrooms? You seem to think that all is well, but the test scores tell a much different story. Have you asked John Evans what happened that his 3rd grade grandson has not yet learned to read?"

I thought I have offered many including today at 7:08 AM. I have NEVER indicated all is well, in fact several times indicated that I was not satisfied. I can reference those if you'd like.

I empathized with John Evans when he told his story but at the same time I wondered about the assistance provided by the parents of his grandson. I wanted to ask if his grandson had been tested for possible vision or dyslexia. I wanted to ask if they took advantage of any outside services to help such as those provided by Title 1 or tutoring on their own. I wanted to ask how much reading they do with their grandson.

As you can see, there are many questions I would want to ask before blaming the school system. If it is indeed a partnership, why was his grandson allowed to progress to the 3rd grade without grasping concepts for reading. Did they just realize there was a problem?

Cerebration said...

One more post on the subject for you to read, Fred. When we first started this blog, Kim and Ella spent hours upon hours collecting salary data and comparing ours to other systems.

They published their findings in the "Mr Potato Head" post (Feb 2009), accessible by clicking Mr. Potato Head on the home page, or by clicking this link -

DeKalb County Schools System as Mr. Potato Head?

Fred said...

@Cerebration, my request was for you to create a blog topic to discuss and then we would have a thread reviewing them. There are many that don't need an explanation. I bet there are some positions listed in the spreadsheet that people wonder about. There should be enough knowledgeable participants to answer the questions. I really believe this could be educational and an eye opener.

My hope is that we end up with more knowlegeable citizens regarding positions in our school system. Perhaps then more specific questions can be asked.

Cerebration said...

Yes, please do reference your ideas for improvement, as I've somehow missed them in the discussions about Title 1 funding.

Cerebration said...

Oh - on that note of confusing job titles, we did once publish a post on the difference between Instructional Coordinators, Instructional Specialists, Instructional Supervisors, etc... I find these quite confusing... We tried to discuss and answer those questions -

Read on -

Clarity on the "Instructional Specialists" vs "Instructional Supervisors"

atl said...

@ Fred

"We have them in DCSS and they work with DFACS. They are called School Social Workers and DCSS has about 44 of them.
"

Yes. I know and DCSS spends $3,000,000+ on these 44 social workers including their salary and benefits which puts their average cost at around $71,022 per social worker (very high for the market in terms of social worker pay).

In addition, we have around 270 counselors (per the state 2009 salary and travel audit) that cost approximately $22,500,000 in salary and benefits which puts their average compensation at $83,000 a year (versus teachers at $65,000, and the counselors work only a few more days than teachers).

The functions the Parent Center personnel perform are redundant in that the Social Workers and Counselors used to perform much of these same functions. Indeed they are in a perfect position to perform these functions.

The rationale often is that these functions are just too burdensome for over worked social workers and counselors in DCSS, but classroom teachers have been asked to take on more students and more responsibilities.

Again, the upper management takes its eye off the ball of its core business - the education of students. Preservation of the classroom appears to be an alien concept for the DCSS administration. This disconnect is wearing our school system down.

Fred said...

@Cerebration, I reviewed the Mr. Potato Head post. I noticed on 7/27/2009 @ 4:27 PM and 4:28 PM, Kim identified postions and asked for help yet got not responses. I am proposing we address that now. Most of that blog seemed to be focused on the salaries to the positions.

Most of the ideas I provided were centered around improving the education for low income students, given that is where most of the challenges exist. This is not to ignore the students that come to school with a foundation and prepared to learn.

atl mentioned earlier and I agree, when a teacher has to spend more time on basic skills and remediation, it can take away from those students that are ready for more challenging work. I would also consider ability grouping though it got a bad rap many years ago. I admire teachers that can effectively teach multiple skill levels in one room. Unfortunately, not enough have this skill.

Fred said...

@atl, you think $71,000 for salary + benefits is high in the metro Atlanta area? You say that not knowing the years of service these individuals have? What do you think they should make for salary and benefits, especially when you consider their case loads? You do know this includes immigrants, homeless children, poor families, even those from "good' homes that may have some dysfunction.


Are you suggesting DCSS sets the salaries for this position along with counselors instead of the state? I thought you said earlier that the state establishes these along with market conditions.

Cerebration said...

Fred, write something up and email it to me at reparteeforfun@gmail.com

If you are looking to rewrite a post similar to the one Kim and Ella attempted, I really don't have time for something that extensive. Neither do Kim and Ella these days. But if you would like to write a post, email it to me and I'll put it up for you.

Cerebration said...

See, once again, this is a very good example of why I continue to advocate that the school system start their own blog and information center. Sadly, Ramona axed the entire communications department except for Philandrea Guillory's tv station.

atl said...

@ Fred

"my request was for you to create a blog topic to discuss and then we would have a thread reviewing them."

In that same vein, DCSS should be publishing:

1. A list of employee job classifications
2. The certification, licensing, and/or experience requirements that correspond to the job classifications
3. The job description for each job classification
4. The pay scales for each job classification

DCSS should also be publishing an online check registry and a detailed breakdown of the number of personnel in each job classification.

It is taxpayer money that funds all of the jobs in DCSS.

Taxpayers should not have to depend on interpreting the state websites, scouring the DCSS website, and gleaming facts from the newspaper and local blogs.

Make it easy and transparent for taxpayers. Perhaps we would have avoided the recent criminal charges against the two highest administrators in DCSS if these reforms had been in place.

Fred said...

@atl,
"In that same vein, DCSS should be publishing: "

While I don't disagree with the spirit of what you are suggesting, I believe this is a responsibility of the state. In fact, most of the information you are requesting can be found on the state websites, as you already have done with DCSS salaries. I'll take what you requested a step further and suggest there should be a simplication of titles across the state so one can compare tiles and compensation across school districts. That would help citizens more than anything else.

The online check register is a request going around the country. Let us know when someone establishes that. Remember, if this is done, you may need a staff to maintain it.

Cerebration said...

I think the bank does that just fine. No need for a staff. In fact, we already have a substantial staff under Marcus Turk, and their data is certainly already online. I know my checkbook is online. If I gave you a password, you could view it.

Peyton Wolcott has led the charge and there are literally hundreds of systems available online. I've chatted with her - getting online is quite simple and she stands ready to help.

http://sunshinereview.org/index.php/Checkbook_register_online

Cerebration said...

I like this quote from the Check Register site --


"A popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

- James Madison, American president

Cerebration said...

BTW - the Ernst & Young 2004 Audit did just that - simplified titles. And that's about all they did in the end - as Lewis stopped them from comparing salaries beyond teachers.

atl said...

@ Fred 11:31 am

"The online check register is a request going around the country. Let us know when someone establishes that. Remember, if this is done, you may need a staff to maintain it."

Cerebration is correct. Alabama has 130+ school systems publishing check registers:

"http://www.peytonwolcott.com/CheckRegisters_Alabama.html

Here is an example of a check register for DeKalb County Schools in Alabama (get the irony of the name?). Posters might like to see what a check register looks like:
http://www.dekalbk12.org/Financialreport/Accountability.pdf

if we put those MIS people to work on this, check info would be input by anyone writing a check, but the software would do almost all of the work. We need to work smarter, not harder.

atl said...

@ Fred

"I'll take what you requested a step further and suggest there should be a simplication of titles across the state so one can compare tiles and compensation across school districts. That would help citizens more than anything else."

That was what the state of Georgia already did in the Salary and Travel audit. They force school systems to put all personnel in categories and then list their salaries. How do you think we could compare the salaries of our Security personnel with say APS:

DCSS Schools Security Personnel Salaries by:
A. Salary Category
B. Number of Personnel
C. Percentage of Personnel in Salary Category

$90,000 to $100,000 1 0.5%
$80,000 to $90,000 3 1%
$70,000 to $80,000 9 4%
$60,000 to $70,000 22 10%
$50,000 to $60,000 50 23%
$40,000 to $50,000 27 12%
$30,000 to $40,000 87 40%
$20,000 to $30,000 8 4%
$10,000 to $20,000 3 1%
$5,000 to $10,000 3 1%
$500 to $5,000 4 2%


APS Schools Security Personnel Salaries by:
A. Salary Category
B. Number of Personnel
C. Percentage of Personnel in Salary Category
$100.000 to $113,000 2 1%
$90,000 to $100,000 0 0%
$80,000 to $90,000 1 1%
$70,000 to $80,000 0 0%
$60,000 to $70,000 1 1%
$50,000 to $60,000 5 2%
$40,000 to $50,000 5 2%
$30,000 to $40,000 10 5%
$20,000 to $30,000 39 18%
$10,000 to $20,000 59 27%
$5,000 to $10,000 47 21%
$500 to $5,000 52 24%

This is a gross measure. DCSS needs to do what EVERY other school system in the metro area is doing:
Here is an example from Cobb. Posters should go there to see an example of what DCSS should be doing:
http://www.cobbk12.org/centraloffice/hr/compensation/schedules.aspx

Here's Rockdale:
http://portal.rockdale.k12.ga.us/about/fs/hr/employbenefits/Pages/default.aspx

Here's Fulton:
http://portal.fultonschools.org/departments/Human_Resources/Pages/Salary_Schedules_11_12.aspx

ALL of the metro systems have salary schedules posted online - not just for teachers. It's amazing that DCSS doesn't look at what other systems do.

atl said...

@ Fred
Re counselor salaries:

"Are you suggesting DCSS sets the salaries for this position along with counselors instead of the state? "

Counselors are considered 10 month employees by the state of Georgia like teachers. Why would they make so much more than teachers? If you have a link to a different pay scale for counselors, please provide it.

Passionate... said...

DCSS Counselors work 10 months, but their pay scale is based on a longer day.
Interesting blog comments. Bottom line for student achievement.
DCSS needs teachers that know what to teach and how to teach our students. All other certified staff, on and off campus, need to work as hard, if not harder than classroom and/or content area teachers to improve student achievement. All other employees need to support teachers! Students need an education! Excellent teachers need and want to teach students! Excellent certified staff, not in direct teaching roles, work hard to support teachers. What we don't need in DCSS is dead weight. Staff taking long lunches, coming late to work, leaving early, not caring about anything except their paycheck. DCSS Central Office staff is perceived [many of them] as dead weight! Many schools have "dead weight" individuals too! Cleaning house of individuals that do not make a difference with our students is a must and we need to being NOW!

Fred said...

@atl, another interesting article if you have time that someone shared with me. The source is Education Week from 2000 regarding Standardized Testing.

http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/staiv.htm