Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Conversation About Race

Eric Holder, our new Attorney General in the above 16 minute speech called us a “nation of cowards” because we refuse to talk about race and race related issues honestly. The creator of a popular Race Relations blog disagrees with Holder's statements, but adds this, "There are certainly some honest conversations happening here and all over the place in the blogosphere. But even tucked away behind our keyboards, blind accusation and gross generalization plague “discussions” of almost every racial issue that comes up. When people disagree they all too quickly and frequently resort to name-calling and refuse to entertain opposing or even tangential points of view. When challenged, many just cling to their original position more tightly."

Do you think we could attempt to have a conversation about race here at this blog? Do you think we can do it intelligently, civilly and without resorting to defensive responses? Do you think we could try to open our minds and just try to see each others' perspectives and move our race relations here in DeKalb Schools just a little bit forward?

I have faith in you guys -- I think we can do this!


Anonymous said...

Okay I'll start - I moved here 14 years ago from the DC area, and I was and still am shocked at the degree of racism that still exists here. And I mean within the white community. When my children's elementary school was assigned an African American principal a few years ago, there were quite a few people in the surrounding area who suggested I should pull my children out of that school because of it. I could go on, but I won't; the point is, if this still exists in what is supposedly one of the more liberal parts of the county, we have a long way to go. It stuns me to think that within my lifetime people were "legally" disenfranchised; I see the divide lessening with each successive generation but it is still there.

Anonymous said...

Don't kid yourself Anonymous - racism is a two-way street. There is one instance that I know of where parents let it be known that a white principal would not be accepted at their school.

Anonymous said...

I'm not ignorant of that attitude, but don't you think the former perpetuates the latter? A lot of bitterness remains between the races, but given the history of the state, I don't find much justification for it in the white community. I do see hope in the younger generations, but memories are long and we are not yet that far removed from forced integration. The struggle is not over.

Anonymous said...

I am shocked at the degree of racism that still exists here. And I mean within the black community.

Ad now that South DeKalb has its share a new and renovated facilities, there is a movement in South DeKalb to vote against having a SPLOST 4? WTF?

Anonymous said...

I'm not ignorant of that attitude, but don't you think the former perpetuates the latter.


A lot of bitterness remains between the races, but given the history of the state, I don't find much justification for it in the white community.

I don't get the sense there is a lot of bitterness between races. My children do and have always gone to diverse schools - I have not seen any "bitterness".

Are you trying to imply that racism is a "white" issue?

No Duh said...

I think our conversation would be better served if we kept in mind that we are probably talking about "prejudice" and not "racism":

"prejudice": an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge; an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race,or their supposed characteristics.

"racism": a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

Prejudice is ignorance. Racism is hate.

I suggest we all harbor at least some "prejudice," and I pray none of us harbor "racism."

Cerebration said...

Here's a quote from the Holder speech

As a nation we have done a pretty good job in melding the races in the workplace. We work with one another, lunch together and, when the event is at the workplace during work hours or shortly thereafter, we socialize with one another fairly well, irrespective of race. And yet even this interaction operates within certain limitations. We know, by “American instinct” and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character. And outside the workplace the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays America in the year 2009 does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago. This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated.

I would say that is true in DeKalb county. I would also say that our public schools - our last chance for quality racial integration - have jumped ship - myself included - due to the racial hostility between the adults in the system. This is currently a black/white issue - but we cannot ignore the growing Hispanic population. These people are not represented by adults in the system whatsoever - there are very few Hispanic teachers (unless they teach Spanish) and I can't think of a Hispanic administrator. If there is one, I'd like to know.

Overall, sadly, the whites have left, and the current administration has marginalized the Hispanics - a group that is now just about as large as the whites.

Anonymous said...

Check out the article "Racism,Eric Holder, my Son and Me" in today's American Thinker Feb. 23,2009

Anonymous said...

My first exposure to the racism or racial prejudices in the context of DCSS was during the recent redistricting battles. Here's commentary I shared in my community in May '07 in our newsletter:

"Prejudice is the "3rd Rail" (like Social Security for national politics) of DeKalb County Schools. Much of the commentary—both from the public and from Board Members—was not-so-veiled references to race. When parents from northern quarters of the County decried the risk of temporary classrooms that might result from the re-districting plan, they were greeted with the equivalent of rotten tomatoes. For example, these are paraphrases of a BOE member's comments: "If temporary classrooms are good enough for children in the southern parts of the County, then why aren't they good enough for your little Anglo kids in the north?" ... "You are worried about a little over-crowding for your cozy neighborhood school - what about all the brown children stacked on top of each other in trailers over here?"

Besides the insulting nature of these comments (and their inaccuracy about demographics), I found these types of exchanges depressing for two reasons: 1. It shows just how bad the School Systems' planning has been in the past, and 2. It seems that some of our current leaders would rather see all of DeKalb's children suffer rather than work for the relief of those that do already. How can this possibly lead to "premier" education for any children in DeKalb?

What will we say about DeKalb School System when we look back on these times in 5, 10, or 20 years? The beginning of the end? The turning point back to "premier" status? I pray for the latter, but plan for the former. I can't see a dramatic improvement coming to the DCSS unless our leaders, and our parents, face up to the realities of money, discipline, and race politics. Here's hoping that I am wrong in my conclusions - I'd rather have my son go to a good public school than to be right. In the meantime, do your best to help your local public schools because it doesn't look like there's much in the offing from the System as of now."

Anonymous said...

So, yes, we can have a conversation about race/racism/prejudice but I think it is a non-starter in DCSS. Just as this thread has, all these conversations turn into he said/she said or "he started it" type arguments to go in circles indefinitely. And while blacks and whites arguing about who's responsible for all the ills of DCSS, latinos stand in the balconies of the public debate and last in line for a quality public education in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

@No Duh: My comment was directed as an after thought to my post - not directed at yours. I think challenging the BOE members with these types of questions is perfectly valid. A forum is all that is lacking... perhaps that's a very practical way to address this big problem. Now that I think about it, I do not know of any forum where the entire BOE can be held to public account. The fact that they are beholden only to their voters is their own short-sightedness and lack of understanding of their job. It may be how to get re-elected, though ... hmmm.

Anonymous said...

Kim, the types of comments you refer to occured here in Dunwoody during the "conversations" with regards to the overcrowding situation with our schools. There were parents from one particular school that fought and fought to get the "apartment people" (that was their term) re-districted out of their school and across I-285 to Nancy Creek. This group of parents is the loudest when it comes to disapproval of the new Dunwoody 4/5 Academy. They unsuccessfully tried to have the Dunwoody cluster re-districted to have the "apartment people" attend the new ES. Quite frankly, I was embarassed for my community (even though most did not agree with their language or tactics).

So, as we can see prejudice happens on both sides and we must find a way to come together - for our children's sake.

themommy said...

With all due respect to Mr. Holder, I believe that the great ism of this time is classism.

One of the most horrific moments of my involvement in public education came about 18 months ago or so, when sitting at a meeting I watched several parents in tears. These parents were brought to tears because speaker after speaker stood up and bashed "apartment dwellers." Of course, these so called uninvolved parents, had dragged themselves to an informational meeting about the new school in Dunwoody.

This was then followed by hundreds (if not thousands) of hateful emails and letters to the superintendent and school board members as well as regular citizens. I had the displeasure of reading many of these and while I wasn't totally surprised, after all I live in Dunwoody, I was ill nonetheless.

I no longer think it is about race. I believe it is about class, income level and education level.

themommy said...

funny, Dunwoody Mom and I were posting at the same time.

I can totally understand, given the behaviors that have originated as of late in both the Lakeside and the Dunwoody clusters, how some school officials and bureacrats might not be to sympathetic to their cases.

(Didn't some parents form a minority parent association at Lakeside a few years back? What a mess!)

Cerebration said...

Kim is correct. We really no longer have much racial diversity in DK schools. I posted the numbers once, and can dig them out again if anyone wants to see.

As far as my personal experience at Lakeside. I'll tell you parts of the story. My son suffered much discrimination at the hands of two African-American teachers in particular. This is how they managed to punish him - they assigned many "projects" (graded subjectively) and would only give him a "70" (D) on anything he turned in. Further, he was assigned to do a "group" project where no one ever did any of the work except him - he completed the entire project himself - and when he turned it in with his name on the various parts - except one part where one kid actually emailed him his part at 11 pm the night before - the teacher gave him a 70 - a D and admonished him for not giving the others credit. He turned in a very nice story (IMO) but she gave him a really low grade because she "didn't understand it". On top of this, she gave him several "Fs" for not turning in a form or some odd paperwork - which he actually did turn in - but she said he didn't.

This same teacher once stood him in the hallway because he couldn't come up with a sentence with a direct object in it as quickly as she wanted. She humiliated him and eventually failed him for the semester. Second semester she tried the same thing - failing him with a 69 - but luckily, he pulled such a high score on the EOCT that the automatic 15% he received for that pulled him solidly into a C. (Did I mention - he's actually a pretty bright kid and had been in the magnet program.)

Another teacher would not pay attention to his powerpoint presentation at all when it was his turn - instead working away on her computer. As he finished, and walked past her, she would hand him a sheet with a big "70" on it - every time. Again, she gave him many F's on other subjective items like forms and oddball things. Enough to give him a 68 or 69 (F) for a final grade. Second semester he was transferred to the white teacher and got a B.

Our AA art teacher actually failed over 60% of her art students that year and then got into a shoving match with a parent over the prom. She then incited black students to host a protest with signs calling Lakeside racist because they didn't vote in the African-American girl as homecoming queen. Of course Channel 2 was there. (Her protest was that the ballots were hand written and hand counted by "racist white staff and parents" however, this was done simply because she had taken the scantrons they had ready for voting and wouldn't turn them over.)

I know that African-Americans have many stories of their own of much worse treatment due to their race - I just want you to know that it goes both ways. I understand their pain - but I was not willing to subject my children to that level of hostility and anger over their own personal issues. Many good families have been driven out of Lakeside in the last few years.

Anonymous said...

@Dunwoody Mom: "Kim, the types of comments you refer to occured here in Dunwoody during"

I'll call what you describe "snobbism," not racial prejudice. I do not think the BOE member's comments had any justification.

@themommy: Amen! Classism rules in the Post-Racial Age. Some folks just have quite figured out that there's a better way to hate your neighbors!

Cerebration said...

I like this quote from the American Thinker essay by Larrey Anderson:

Racism exists in America only in the communities were it is stipulated, reinforced, and taught as a alternative to the veracity of hard work and lasting opportunity that is the real America. In other words, Mr. Holder, racism, where it exists in this country, is a political and cultural contrivance sustained and manipulated by people like you.

I really agree with this. I have never personally treated anyone badly due to their race (I have for other reasons - like being a total snob - I hate that - or for putting down my child with LD - I'm sensitive about that) - but I really do meet people where they are and for the person they are. Most people I know are the same way. I have been really distressed since my Lakeside experiences because truly, this was the first time I was not met with the same respect in return. There's something really wrong over there - a deep racial divide is brewing. I hoped it was just a Lakeside thing - but this speech by Eric Holder really makes me wonder.

Anonymous said...

@Cere: Amen! That is why I always try to tamp down casual accusations of racism - it can be self re-enforcing.

By the way, I am a thoroughly modern, liberated and mostly white male. Therefore, I am man enough to admit my prejudice: I think my kid is the most deserving in the world and I do everything I can to make sure he gets a good education. Just as soon as we get past potty training ...

Seriously folk, with the exception of Cere's example of "reverse discrimination," do you really think any of these topics are rightly veiwed as "racial?"

Southside DCSS "getting what they want" ... is it really because we have a African American Super and BOE members that share that fraction of DNA?? Seriously? If somehow in the next few years "non-black" schools get funding for some significant projects or programs are we going to chalk that up to the great "Black Conspiracy" and its ingenious way of disguising their true intentions?

All parents want the best for THEIR kids. All localities want the best for THEIR schools. I don't see anything wrong with this and it is natural. What we should expect from DCSS is a more professional and equitable balancing of these naturally conflicting interests in limited resources.

Anonymous said...

Kim, "snobbism" is a form of prejudice, though based on the conversations I overheard at parent meetings in PCMS and at ball fields in the summer, I maintain some of the angst of these parents was racially based.

Anonymous said...

@Dunwoody Mom: "Kim, "snobbism" is a form of prejudice, though based on the ..."

Absolutely! Perhaps the oldest and most pure form of prejudice after misogyny. But that is my point ... it is not racism. And the fact that a few devolved souls hold onto this kind of hatred as their woobie does not (should not) damn the rest of us - which is exactly what Mr. ... oops! What the BOE member did with his own outrageous comments.

Ella Smith said...

Teachers deal with prejudice students on a daily basis. If things do not go students way many times they will pull the race card in both directions. Teachers have to be very sensitive about this. I am sure at one time or another this has happened to every teachers.

I do think race and prejudice is something we need to talk about. Their is a great deal of stereotyping that also goes on in our society. Young Black males have been sterotypes or profiled by our law enforcement in our society for years.

Prejudice does go both ways. When I used to go into teacher's meetings at Lakeside High School all the Black teachers and White teachers tended to sit with teachers of their own race.

Celebration, I suspect that your situation was a much discrimination for your child having a Specific Learning Disability as it was that he was white. I taught Special Education at Lakeside. I asked for 504 accommodations to be close to a bathroom and to make sure I did not have more than 3 or 4 preps. This was to be confidential of course but every special education teacher knew about it and they resented me because I requested accommodations. Since leaving Lakeside I have not had much of a need to request accommodations as my teacher situation is much better and I do not have 7 lesson plans as I once did when I was at Lakeside.

As a parent of two special needs students who went to Lakeside I went to mediation twice because the school did not want to give my children accommodations are required by law. The school board attorney always told the administration at Lakeside and the Special Education Lead Teacher that they did not have a choice but to honor the law.

Since I think I know the teachers you are talking about I know how they feel about any accommodations. They feel it is special treatment and this may be the behavior your child felt. I know these feelings are present at Lakeside. I saw them every day I taught their.

Ella Smith said...

My LD is getting the best of me. I know the last word should be there and not their. Please be patient with me and my written expression. I am not proofing what I write and this always is a disaster.

Cerebration said...

Ella - you didn't notice my ground rule I added to the front page -- no pointing out typos or grammatical errors here - it's a conversation - not a writing contest.

Ps - the child I told about at Lakeside was my child identified as "gifted"... the one with LD really never had these types of problems - teachers were much more sympathetic to her and she had different teachers.

Ella Smith said...

Thanks for that addition. I think I know those teachers and maybe this makes them feel better about themselves. I am sorry this happened to your child. This sucks !!!!

There apparently was a great deal of race tension at Lakeside when Mr. Chelf was there.

Cerebration said...

No Duh, you may get your chance to ask those questions you posted earlier!

The League of Women Voters of DeKalb
and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

host their first annual

Wine, Cheese and Politics: The Talk of the Town

March 3, 2009 6:30 pm – 8 pm

3824 Lavista Rd.
(.5 mi inside I-285 at Lavista and Harobi)

6:30 Hors d'oeuvres and informal reception
7:30 Hot Topics for DeKalb

Bring a colleague. Bring a friend. Bring a neighbor.

Under the Gold Dome
Howard Mosby, Head, DeKalb House Delegation

Collaboration: New Ways of Working Together
Bettye Austin Davis, Asst. Chief of Staff for CEO Burrell Ellis
Jay Cunningham, Dist. 5, DeKalb Board of Education

Community TV: What You Have, What You May Lose, How to Keep It
Charlotte Engel, Manager, People TV

Join us – but please RSVP - so we can plan for the crowd!

Call 404-321-0913 / League of Women Voters or email

pscexb said...

Good topic! In general, I am skeptical in discussing race on blogs. I've participated in some that find a way to inject race regardless of the topic. In those, it seems the anonymity provided with the posts makes some feel they can say anything, regardless of how tasteless it may be.

I find this particular blog is an exception to that. I believe due to the kind of posters on this blog, we can and will continue to have discussions where we disagree and not let them turn into name calling sessions. There are many perspectives represented here and we have different roots of origins. I believe (through these rose colored glasses) we collectively want the best for our neighborhoods, schools, and communities. I would like to see other points of view in the discussions. I am trying to encourage more in my 'neck of the woods' to visit and comment.

I also believe there are more people that want to have honest conversations but don't know where to begin or how to have them. Time will tell if DCSS will have a summit to discuss race. Dr. Lewis mentioned wanting to do that last year.

Cerebration said...

I would love it if you would do that, psc. This is a pretty good group to try this with so far... I think we're capable of having this discussion honestly. And you're right - we all just want the same things for our families. And more than that - we want everyone to enjoy these things - not just certain groups or neighborhoods. I hope our Board members grasp this and start working as a team - tackling issues in order of importance - not fragmenting into who can bring home the most to their district.

We ALL want what's best for the greater good in this school system.

Ella Smith said...

The problem with our school board is that some of our board members try to micro-manage what is happening in their district. Some of the board members may be prejudice in general to what other districts may receive over them. I have heard comments several times in the past of why is this district getting this and not my district. As an individual member the school board has no power. It is only as a group that a decision can be made.

I think the school system would benifit for open dialog about this. I feel that the Lakeside/Druid Hills/Cross Keys/Chamblee area is concerned as to being left behind on their needs in their buildings while it appears that certains areas have gotten a great deal of construction. This was originally due to growth in the county. Now I feel in many hearts around this area their is a feeling of discrimination. This absolutely may have no merit but the feelings appear to be their also.

Many citizens in the south side of the county feel that the north side of the county gets more money than the south side of the county. This absolutely may have no merit but the feelings appear to be their also.

An open dialog may clear up many concerns that do have no merit. Communication is so important and lack of communication is the root of many misconceptions. I think it is time the school system discuss this issue. I feel it would actually help the feelings of prejuctice and racism if it does exist.

Cerebration said...

While you're at it - ask the African-Americans in SW DeKalb how they feel about Arabia. Do they think it's fair that you have to fulfill entrance requirements to get in the lottery? Do they expect the "lottery" to be fair? Were they expecting to get re-districted and their children would automatically get to go to Arabia? Are they all chomping at the bit to apply? Are they happy with MLK, Miller Grove and Lithonia and have no desire to transfer?

The school is 26 miles away from Dunwoody HS, 22 miles from Lakeside, so I'm not sure if that many students will travel from so far away. Seems a magnet or choice school should have been more centrally located in fairness to all.

No Duh said...

Call me naive...

I really thought the prejudice in our system was contained at the adult level within the county. I know the cursing we heard about with the last board was over a racial comment. Somebody called Lynn Cherry-Grant a racist or something. And I know that the "Chelf thing" started out as a racial thing.

And I know that students can be really ugly to each other.

But, to hear about case after case of prejudice and discrimnation (Black teachers/administrators sabotaging white students)in the schoolhouse makes me more sad than I ever thought I could be.

Last year we had a bus driver who was very prejudiced (pre-disposed to think all white children were being raised as racists), but we were able to at least get that on the table.

I know Dr. Lewis is not a racist. And I wonder how many cases of discrimnation -- at the teacher/student level -- are being brought to his attention. Again, we are constrained by the laws and teacher "union." Parents really have no voice in the system. And we better find a way to get one!

Ella Smith said...

The "Chelf thing" started out as a racial thing. Many more qualified black assistant principals were overlooked because some of the members of the community liked Mr. Chelf who at that time was an assistant principal over attendance. He was given the job which caused the racial tension to rise at Lakeside.

Anonymous said...

If you want to talk about race and DCSS, then they way DCSS treats Hispanic students at the north end of the county has to be brought up. Thigs are bad up in the north end. It's a fast, fast growing population. Latino gangs are out in full force in that part of the county, and across the county line in Gwinnett. The school facilities are brutal. No Latino administrators. No one from DCSS trying to improve parental involvment. The BOE members that represent that area of the county don't know or understand that population.

There's a high droput rate with this population. Ask any DeKalb police officer about the Latino gangs like Sur 13 and the Latin Kings. Drugs. Theft. Violence.

Fulton County is actually doing a nice job with outreach to Hispanic families and other immigrant populations. They have nice outreach programs, led by staff who speak multiple languages. It's hrad, constant work, but they have really improved parental involvement. I went to a Friday afternoon meeting at a Fulton elementary school. Snacks & drinks were provided, children were allowed to play in the gym during the mtg., most of the meeting was spoken in Spanish, and the auditorium was packed of Hispanic parents. Impressive.

DCSS ignores its Hispanic population, and it has far reaching consequences.

Cerebration said...

Reminds me of the day the police burst into the cafeteria and arrested several Latino students who they suspected of robbing some homes in the Lakeside neighborhood. The principal was out of the building - the cops just came on in very aggressively and took these boys down right there while all the other kids stood around and applauded.

I'm not saying it's ok that they committed these crimes, but could you imagine the outrage if those boys had been white or African-American?

The police could have easily pulled each kid individually from a classroom earlier - this was a very visual, intimidating display of police force.

Anonymous said...

@O&T: "If you want to talk about race and DCSS, then they way DCSS treats Hispanic students at the north end of the county has to be brought up."

I am sad to say that I think this may be the biggest problem of "race" in DCSS. I have been told by teachers about X-Keys AYP transfer students at Lakeside being told by admins things like they couldn't use book bags because all X-Keyers are gangsters.

Though the charge that DCSS has no leadership engaged in an effort to reach-out to the Latino community is probably true, I have to report that the more I dig into the activity in the X-Keys cluster, the more I find lower level efforts galore.

Just this week the Brookhaven Reporter featured a piece about DKPD and their 'lunch with a cop' program visiting Woodward Elementary. There are also many non-profits that are attempting to support this most disadvantaged community at the schools.

Here's what amazes me the most, with the $1 billion dollar budget and what by all accounts is a huge system and program administration, DCSS doesn't appear to have a dedicated program to serve this large and special needs population.

I personally believe the future success or failure of the Cross Keys cluster is the canary in the mine shaft for DCSS in terms of the idea of fairness and "racism" in public education. If there were ever a field that needed leveling, X-Keys is it. If X-Keys doesn't rocket to the top of DCSS priorities across the administration, then it's just more of the same to me.

In the coming weeks, I should be able to better define the existing landscape of X-Keys stakeholders. This week I have obtained a long list of players from the Latin American Association, SETPA, Girls' Inc., the Junior League, and DCSS' own counselor ranks.

Let me call these folks the bride; the groom they wait for is DCSS senior leadership and Brookhaven movers and shakers. I'm not ordained but I'm going to try to find a place for these groups to meet. Ojalá!

Anonymous said...

DCSS Central Office ignores the Latino population because Hispanic parents don't get together and make a fuss. They are not going to be the sqqueaky wheels.

It's going to take the Latin American Association, which does amazing work, to be the one to get parents together and demand DCSS takes its Hispanic population seriously.

And the Sur 13, Latin King and other Latino gang stuff you hear about is very real, especially just across in Gwinnett, but it reaches into DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

Here's a different paradigm. Many are beginning to believe that somehow the NCLB legislation has an underlying goal to effectively "dismantle" public schools. The premise is that the privatization of public schools could be a $600 Billion business. A business that would be created by driving the middle class out of public schools and into private. The end result leaves us with a new business market for investors (akin to what has happened with HMO's) and an underclass of people who will be too poor and too uneducated to have the wherewithal to fight for their rights.

Here's a quote from an article in "Race, Poverty and the Environment" online:

The objectives of privatization have been threefold: first, to divert taxpayer money from the public sector to the corporate sector; second, to capture part of the market, which would otherwise be receiving free education; and third, to drive out middle class accountability, leaving behind a disposable population that won’t have a voice about the inappropriate use of their tax dollars, nor the bleak outlook on their futures.

Sound plausible?

Read the rest here --

Cerebration said...

another excerpt - pretty compelling --

Middle Class Flee to Private Schools

The dismantling of the public schools is forcing
those who can afford to pay for private schools to give up their right to free, equal education. Driving the entitled middle class out of the public schools furthers yet another goal of privatization, namely that of decreasing accountability, reports Dr. Giroux. Dr. Giroux points out, that while an increasing number of students of color may not graduate under NCLB, their failing public schools are more than willing to provide them with “the appropriate attitudes for future work in low-skilled, low-paying jobs.” Pat Wechsler reported in Business Week that thanks to partnerships with businesses, such as McDonald’s, in under-funded schools, students “learned how a McDonald’s works, and how to apply and interview for a job at McDonald’s.”

It is no coincidence that one of the largest contributors to President Bush’s drive to institute vouchers, tuition tax credits, and charter schools is the Walton family—founder of Wal-Mart—who has dedicated at least $250 million to such efforts over the past six years, according to USA Today.Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the United States, with more than one million workers. Wal-Mart’s wages and benefits are significantly below retail industry standards, according to a report entitled, “The Hidden Cost of Wal-Mart Jobs,” by Dr. Arindrajit Dube, Ph.D. and Ken Jacobs. According to Anthony Bianco, who wrote a 2006 biography of the man, Walton “preferred uneducated workers.” Such workers are unlikely to question low pay, or unionize. School failure is a product of “the political, economic, and social dynamics of poverty, joblessness, sexism, race and class discrimination, unequal funding, or a diminished tax base,” summarizes Dr. Giroux.

Ella Smith said...

Children from proverty homes normally according to statistics end up in poverty homes. Educationally there is so much information about this topic but it all says the same thing. Basically parents of children from proverty situations normally do not take an interests in the education of their children so the children end up in the same situation as their parents.

I went to a workshop about 7 years ago put on by the Latino community, federal grants and The University of Georiga. The whole emphasis was to get the Latino parents involved in the schools. Their also was a big enphasis on who to education Latino students. There were speakers from across the country. There was a great emphasis on the attitude about girl in the Latino community and their education verses the boys in the Latino community and on attendance issues. To change these behaviors the emphasis was on parental involvement.

Ella Smith said...

who is how above

Ella Smith said...

Cerebration, there are many in the educational field who do believe that NCLB will enable private schools to thrieve.

I think it will drive more parents in Dekalb County to private schools because of the overcrowding of schools in the Lakeside, Druid Hills, and Dunwoody area. Parents in this area do not like to see their children go to overcrowded schools. Many of them bought their homes in the area due to the schools their. Know that students can come from all parts of the county due to AYP and crowd the schools many parents are concerned about safety issues. Safety issues is not necessary a situation that will stop the AYP students from coming to these schools.

On another note, I think what pscexb was trying to say in his comment earlier is that the African American community view that white schools are better. Again I have heard many African American teachers who teach in the middle and south side of Dekalb say that more money is spent on the schools in the north side of the county. I do believe there is some truth to the situation that good quality teachers sometimes take jobs in schools that they preceive to be the best schools particularly when they have a choice of where they take jobs. I have heard parents at Lakeside upset about the teachers that were transfered from other schools due to AYP. These parents are concerned about the quality of these teachers. Hiring of teachers from my propective is left up to the principal and county personnel. I would hope there is no truth to this.

Cerebration said...

Yes, we had that one woman who ran for School Board this past election (can't think of her name) anyway - her entire platform was that the North end schools get so much more money and she was going to fight to bring more money to South DK. She had no facts - she just insisted this was true because the test scores are higher in North DK. (Therefore - we simply MUST be getting more money...?!) Yep. I invited her to tour Lakeside but she never did.

Cynthia McKinney used this tactic for years to remain in office. Much of this thinking in fact, is leftover from her hammering this message.

Anonymous said...


Don't want to bring up the whole LHS controversy again, but while I agree that Wayne Chelf wasn't the best candidate for the job at LHS, he was the best candidate of those offered by DCSS. I know, because I was PTSA president at the time and was on the panel that sat in on the interviews. The other candidates were underqualified.

My 4 kids never had racial issues of any sort with students or teachers at LHS, Henderson or Henderson Middle, but observed incidents (primarily at LHS, but some at Henderson Middle) of preference given to black and white students by specific administrators and staff. They learned who to steer clear of if your shorts were too short, or if an AP that "didn't like" white males was in the hallway to go the other way.

There are a few teachers at LHS who show prejudice, and the Wayne Chelf/AP situation was fueled by a group. The other problem at LHS is two factions of parents who are prejudiced and vocal.

We decided not to enroll our daughter at LHS this year, too much drama that gets into the way of education. Couldn't be happier with the decision, but still staying involved with DCSS and county politics too insure that our school system is sustainable - our community needs it.

I hope that the new board can begin to bring progressive thought and action to the system. It takes commitment and hard work, and I do wish them the best. As some of the veterans cycle off (hopefully), things will change.

Cerebration said...

In addition, the poor decision was made to leave the three AP's who were not chosen for the job at Lakeside - to work under Chelf - who they saw as not as deserving of the job as they. It was a really, really bad decision and is what I believe the catalyst for the racial divide that has since spiraled.

I tend to think many of these poor decisions are made because Dr. Lewis refuses to delegate. He tends to micromanage and get himself all immersed in these situations - bringing much emotion to the fore and making decisions when he really doesn't have an intimate knowledge of the facts.

The hierarchy of DeKalb schools is out of balance. I think the Area Superintendents should function as actual Superintendents over their areas - which should function more or less as separate school districts. Dr. Lewis should not be so heavily involved. He should not be hosting community meetings over every single micro-issue that comes up. This attention from the top brings far more importance to a topic than most of them should have.

I'm actually not positive what the Area Super's do - but I think they need much more autonomy. People in the schools should be dealing with the Area Supers on most every issue - leaving Dr. Lewis time and perspective to see and plan long-term. However, I'll bet that most people don't even know the name of their Area Super.

Anonymous said...

Mary Kay, welcome, and please, please post as often as you can. if you were PTA Prez during the Crawford/Chelf fiasco, you had a
front row to seat to a debacle, and have a viewpoint unmatched by anyone else.

And also maybe you can offer some insight on how a high academic performing high school does it with some of the crappiest faciliites anywhere in the metro area.

Also, any insight on why Crawford Lewis allows so many administrative transfers to LHS?

I could listen to you for hours talk about Lakeside. It really is one of the most fascinating situations of any school in the country.

Cerebration said...

And forgive me for not welcoming you in my last post Mary Kay -- we really are glad you're here.

themommy said...

Dr. Halford was a joke in so many ways, but he had a policy of not promoting from within at schools. In otherwords, if you were an AP at Lakeside who thought you might want to one day be Principal at Lakeside, you were advised to leave and go somewhere else. I have never understood why Lewis thinks this is a good idea-- let the AP interview but then leave them in place when a committee of teachers and parents have not chosen them.

In the one case where parents begged him to promote the AP, this was before the days of parental participation in interviews, Halford finally gave in, but told the parents they were making a horrible mistake -- and guess what they did.

Anonymous said...

Glad to be here. It was a debacle. There are so many layers to what happened. When Randy Lee was promoted, it seemed to be an opportune time promote everything positive about LHS - Lee preferred to keep under the radar (in retrospect, a good idea in a system where success and achievement aren't always looked at as a good thing).

Unfortunately, the outcome was very unpleasant for all and I agree with Cerebration that the racial tension was a result of the Chelf era. DCSS and Lewis did not support Chelf, nor did his admins. Lewis was misguided by his own staff and the ones who paid for all of this were the students.

I was shocked by the reception that Ms. Moton received when she was introduced as principal, and the rudeness and outright bigotry that I saw and heard. This supposed liberal, all-inclusive community really disappointed me and it was an embarrassment. I was also extremely disappointed by the lack of support that she received from Lewis and DCSS, particularly with the role that they played in LHS' problems with Chelf. Hope she makes it out alive.

LHS has changed dramatically in the 8 years we had children attending. My older sons (graduating in 2004 and 2006) received outstanding educations in a great high school environment. Everyone was accepted and felt proud to be at LHS. My son who graduated in 2008 received a mediocre education and the tension in the school during his four years showed in the graduating seniors - they were ready to get out of there. That's too bad.

LHS has some great teachers, and these teachers, traditionally, are teaching AP and Advanced/Accelerated courses. That accounts in part for the success of the kids at that end of the spectrum. The vast majority of these high achieving students come to school as learners, with families who expect them to succeed. In turn, these teachers challenge the students. This type of student can be successful wherever they are placed.

I have limited experience with teachers in the general classes, but one of my children was in general math and we spent a fortune on tutoring, since he had a teacher that didn't teach. This was a major concern as our daughter was approaching high school, as she is not an advanced math student. She is a freshman at a Catholic high school, and because of the overall commitment to educating all students, is at the top of her class in accelerated 9th grade algebra. Go figure.

Administrative transfers? Something I've been fighting since our days at Henderson Mill. I don't have an answer for why they continue, but in many cases it appears that they were rewards or compensation. I do not understand why DCSS does not put a stop to this.

Enough for today. Enjoy the snow day - my daughter is 15 today and this is the best birthday present ever!