Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cross Keys Meeting

Let's hear more about Cross Keys. It clearly is one of the facilities most in need of major work in the entire system. If you attended the meeting, what's your take? Was the area Hispanic community well represented? If the HSTN move a smart one? Bring it and inform!


Anonymous said...

The Hispanic community was not represented at all as far as I could tell (late arrival). The X-Keys teachers were there in group but I detected almost zero parent presence. Certainly, there were no more than a handful of parents if that. I was the only "latent constituent" of DCSS present I noted. Those that have talked to me know that is my buzz word that I refuse to let go of in DCSS circles. There is a massive constituency for DCSS (and especially for X-Keys) that is completely disengaged. Parents with pre-school children only, parents in private school, empty nesters, retirees, and others that are not on the radar screen for DCSS.

We'll never be fully successful at DCSS or X-Keys until we get some of these groups involved again. Who in DCSS is reaching out to win them back?

Anonymous said...

DCSS and the BOE reaches out to everyone in the county...once every five years when they want a SPLOST passed!

Anonymous said...

"We'll never be fully successful at DCSS or X-Keys until we get some of these groups involved again. Who in DCSS is reaching out to win them back?"

Parental involvement is the primary key to success for any school. How can we blame DCSS for disengaged parents? DCSS builds the schools, maintains the schools, staffs the schools, develops the curriculum, etc. It's the job of the community to become involved.

Cerebration said...

Not true, IMO. Schools should be equitable across the board. Just because there is little to no parental involvement, doesn't mean it's ok to dispense more resources to other schools - since these folks won't cry out. NO NO NO -- the whole purpose of PUBLIC education is to provide a pathway to a successful life for everyone - ESPECIALLY those who come from challenging environments.

I'm sorry, Anon. I completely disagree - the school system IS responsible to improve the delivery of education at Cross Keys. And it starts by completing the promised improvements and reaching out to the Hispanic community.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Cere on this one ... just because it's harder to involve these parents, that doesn't mean DCSS can punt. Sure, the parents have to step up but in a special case like X-Keys, administration reps have to try harder.

@Anon: "Parental involvement is the primary key to success for any school. How can we blame DCSS for disengaged parents? DCSS builds the schools, maintains the schools, staffs the schools, develops the curriculum, etc. It's the job of the community to become involved."

It is also the job of DCSS to nurture and develop strong community ties. X-Keys had this and it was lost. Parents come and go and the 'System' has to take responsibility for continuity in community relations. In this case, X-Keys "community" has been destroyed by county zoning decisions, DCSS redistricting and apathy to the situation.

Heck! I was referring to folks like me that have kids that are NOT in the system. DCSS needs to reach out to us in this district and say, "We need your help in making X-Keys cluster one in which you would send your kids. Please join us - here's our plan."

When I attemptied to advocate for re-redistricting of our community to Chamblee district, I wasn't told all the reasons why we would be better off staying in X-Keys in the long run and about the "turnaround plan" and how the community could contribute to success.

I was told "we [DCSS] are not responsible for the gentrification of your neighborhood." How insulting to my area's parents (mostly middle and working class) and to the parents of the immigrant families currently dominating X-Keys cluster. And that is a direct quote from the highest level.

(checking blood pressure before continuing ...)

I will fall out of my ergonomic chair and break my neck if that message ever comes from the top down at DCSS. Not just rhetoric, mind you, but an actionable set of requests from DCSS to the community.

Dr. McMillan, X-Keys principal, is going to provide me this type of data from her perspective. God bless her dedication and optimism! I want this from DCSS, too. No takers so far ...

If they actually reach out to this larger constituency and also make a real effort to connect with the Hispanic families and get no partners, then I agree DCSS has done it's job. Until then, call me a nag but I'm calling and no one is answering.

An action plan to rebuild X-Keys constituency? Anyone? Hello, DCSS leadership please step forward.

Anonymous said...

@Anon: "DCSS and the BOE reaches out to everyone in the county...once every five years when they want a SPLOST passed!"

I did fall out of my chair for that one ...

You know I think of quote attributed to Mark Twain: "A banker is a fellow who lends you his umbrella when the sun is shining and wants it back the minute it begins to rain."

DCSS is a fellow that wants your input during revenue discussions and wants you to shut up when he starts to spend it.

Ok. Maybe harsh but it does occur to me from time-to-time ...

Cerebration said...

Just curious - was your Board rep there? (Is it McChesney?) Have you contacted him to discuss these issues? I would suggest hounding him. It's his job - he asked for it!

Anonymous said...

@Cere: "Just curious - was your Board rep there ..."

As I arrived for only the Q&A, I can only say I did not see him there at that point. I did send a personal invitation to both Mr. Chesney and Ms. Speaks but received no reply. I have never met Ms. Speaks and can't be sure about her attendance.

I'm not sure if this means anything. So, please no reading between the lines! Stop with the on-point questions Cere! :)

Anonymous said...

DCSS does not reach out to parents and the public well at all, especially in the North DeKalb schools with large Hispanic populations.

When this much money is involved, DCSS has a duty to really spreead the word to not just parents but taxpayers.

And why would the Hispanic community be there when DCSS doesn't have any Hispanic administrators and principals? This is a really tough segment of the population to get on board. But once you gain their trust, they will be as involved as any group of parents.

Did DCSS spread the word to the neighborhood associations around Cross Keys? Did the BOE members that represent that area help inform the public of the meeting? Where there signs in English and Spanish outside the building 2 weeks or so before the meeting?

No, No, and No.

DCSS communicates well when it wants to communicate well, like when they want a SPLOST or you to call your elected state and county officials on a certain issue.

P.S. Whenever there is a public meeting at a North DeKalb school with large Hispanic populations, call the Latino American Association on Buford Highway, and ask them to help spread the word.

Anonymous said...

We should ALL be contacting Mr. McChesney (Cross Keys is indeed in his district) about this. You don't need to be in the Cross Keys district to be a Cross Keys advocate - if we are concerned that resources go where they are most needed we need to make that known. As DeKalb county residents we are all "latent constituents" to use Kim's term.

Cerebration said...

Apparently, McChesney and Womack were there. I don't think Pam Speaks attended. So McChesney must be up to speed on the issue - that will help the community continue their conversations with him.

This school system is definitely all about squeaky wheels getting greased. No doubt about it.

greenie said...

Mr. McChesney & Mr. Womack DID attend the CK meeting before the Ellis meeting that night - I spoke to Mr. McChesney - he actually filled me in on what I'd missed, tho I arrived after he left (b/c I couldn't find the new meeting and was almost 30 min late). They arrived on time b/c they got a msg from DCSS about the move.

I spoke to Mr. McChesney and he is dedicated to getting this (CK Reno) done right and believes that CK is among the worst, if not THE worst, physical shape of all schools in the DCSS. He also told me that a Spanish interpreter was introduced at the meeting - apparently she wasn't needed. I don't know if the meetings were advertised in Spanish - I doubt it, and I bet anon knows better than the rest of us. One English-speaking parent who identified herself as "pretty heavily involved at school" stood up and made it clear that she had only found out about the meeting a couple of days earlier and didn't understand why. Staff said there were signs around the school, kids sent home fliers (like they give them to parents) and a calling post went out.
At my dd's school and others in the n'hood, there are signs in the carpool line and on the street when there is a meeting. Does CK even have a marquis where they can post messages? Lakeside just got a very nice one (paid for by PTA, I'm guessing).
I also agree w/ anon that the Latin-American Association (and Latino media) are critical to increasing parental involvement, and CK should be reaching out to them.
OK, I'm the great procrastinator - should have posted sooner, I know. From what I heard from teachers, the PTA at CK has been more off than on for the past 7 years, tho I saw somewhere (here? their website) that the PTA was reestablished just last month. Hopefully, the new leader will get the support she needs to reach out.
One thing I felt after the meeting in speaking with teachers - they are frustrated and fed up with DCSS, but very dedicated to CKHS.

greenie said...

BTW, as to who was at the meeting - I counted appx 45 ppl at 6:40. Front row was filled (about 10 ppl) from county admin.
Appx 15 CK staff, 6-7 from HSTN faculty, ~10 "community" - that would be Kim, Ella, at least two parents who were there with a HS student, and perhaps 3-4 more parents and another student or two (and me).
Since I never heard a peep out of the Spanish interpreter (there on the county admin row), I assume there were no Spanish-speaking parents.
However, I saw at least one Hispanic family wandering around the CK building looking for something (the meeting or a student) while I was driving around the school looking for the meeting before being redirected to Ashford Park.