Monday, April 6, 2009

DeKalb Preparatory Academy Charter to Open by 2010?

I picked this up on the Laurel Ridge email newslist and thought DCSWatch readers might find it useful:

"I'm Laura Crawley, and I live near Laurel Ridge Elementary, where my kids have enjoyed several terrific school years. A few months ago, I was asked to join the founding board for a new charter elementary school in Dekalb County, called Dekalb Preparatory Academy. We're looking at sites in Tucker and possibly in Clarkston, and the goal is to open in September 2010.

Dekalb Prep will be part of the Mosaica family of schools, which includes schools in Phoenix, Denver, Chicago, and Cleveland. Atlanta Preparatory Academy on Fairburn Rd, which is opening in fall 2009, is also a Mosaica school.I've learned more about Mosaica since joining the board, and I like their emphasis on parent involvement, incentives for teacher achievement, attention to multiple intelligences and the ways children learn, and the extended school day.

I'm writing to ask my neighbors in Dekalb to take a moment to explore the Dekalb Prep website, If you're interested by what you see, please sign the petition (the link is on the home page of the site.) Mosaica is working on the charter application now. If you have any questions, just let me know off line at


Cerebration said...

Gee - how about putting it at the Heritage site?!!

themommy said...

Won't happen because DCSS won't ever approve this one.

Late last year, Dekalb amended its charter school policy to allow location to be a reason to deny a charter petition.

If and when this school opens, I can almost guarantee that it will be a commission school located in DeKalb, rather than a school chartered by DeKalb.

Unless DCSS moves to sell the Heritage site, this school won't have access to it.

I am curious who their target audience is, is the needier students you might find in Clarkston or the less needy students you might find in Tucker. Makes a big difference if you ask me.

Anonymous said...

Someone who knows the school system please explain to me why the DCSS administration hates charter schools, and does everything possible to block them?

themommy said...

1. Lack of control
2. Competition is not good
3. We are a shrinking (albeit it slowly) school system and can't afford the loss of students at SOME schools.
4. Some of the start ups that DCSS has are really not good schools, but it is politically impossible for DCSS to shut them down, because the parents and some politicians support these schools without fail. So now the system is stuck.

Having read many poor charter proposals, I can tell you that DCSS is often right to reject them. However, the challenge, moving forward for DCSS, will be with groups like the Avondale one, that are so professionally done.

Cerebration said...

In case you aren't familiar with what the Avondale group is working on - here is a link to their site. It's the most organized, productive initiative I've seen -- They're calling it "The Museum School" -

Cerebration said...

This is an interesting quote from the Avondale group's website that may be encouraging for the DeKalb Prep group --

On May 13, 2008, Governor Sonny Perdue signed a piece of legislation into law called HB 881. Known as the Charter Commission Legislation, this new law "allows the petitioner to request charter school approval directly from a newly-formed state charter commission if the local board of education rejects the petition, or if the petitioner seeks conditions different from those approved by the local board of education. In addition, it changes the way charter schools are funded by enabling the State Board of Education to establish a grant program to provide matching funds to charter school organizations for capital improvements or construction of charter schools."

Kim Gokce said...

For those that come after who can't copy and paste the link above to the Museum School site, here it is clickable:

Kim Gokce said...

Wow ... did you see the performance of the school in Chattanooga that the Avondale Estates folks are partnering with?

Time to look for a home in AE? :)

Sight Edman said...


Or Chattanooga ;^).

I rooted around on that site and couldn't find any unfiltered data. Closest I found was on the PEF site, but it was all "summarized". Are there better links with more detail?

Kim Gokce said...

I was only referring to the summarized test score data - no other source data I am aware of on the site. Very impressive summary test data ... I am easily excited, though, positive data being so rare these days ...

Anonymous said...

Google doesn't work for me. Son of Awcomeonnow posting here about
The Mommy's comment regarding Clarkston vs Tucker as the site.
Before you fall into the trap of what's more needy (Clarkston or Tucker), ponder the attendance areas.
From 285 to the City of Clarkston, only those students SOUTH of the railroad tracks attend
schools feeding into Clarkston High School.
A small portion of the area North of the tracks goes to McClendon Elementary (Druid Hills).
Everything else attends Idlewood Elementary (Tucker HS).
Idlewood was literally bombed by apartment students, (and 90 day vouched refugee students) after the late 80s.
Clarkston poisons the well for
Clarkston, Tucker, and to a lesser degree Druid Hills. The problem's transiency- and it's the same problem that's making Avondale parents go the extra mile to try and start a school that would meet
reasonable expectations.

Cerebration said...

Check out the apartments feeding into these schools -

Tucker (24 complexes) -

Clarkston (28 complexes) -

Druid Hills - (69 complexes)

To look up others go to

I reported on this blog once, the number of apartment complexes feeding into our high schools. The above links take you to pdf files that show the total number of complexes, their names and the elementary school they feed into. It's very interesting when you dig into this data - a majority of the apartment complexes are in the north area of the county. For example, Cross Keys has 80 complexes that feed into it. Druid Hills has 69, Lakeside has 36, Dunwoody has 28, Tucker has 24, Chamblee has 22 - but CONVERSELY - Redan has only 2, SW DeKalb has only 4, MLK has only 5, Miller Grove only has 12 and Lithonia has only 17. The new Arabia HS has zero - due to the fact that they are now going to be a "choice" (magnet) school and have no attendance zone at all.

Be careful what you say about students from apartments. Dr. Lewis actually called the Dunwoody folks "prejudiced" when they opposed sending all of the students from the perimeter area apartment complexes to the new elementary school - along with a portion of home dwellers redistricted from Vanderlyn. He emphatically disagrees - he does not think apartment dwellers are transient or cause any difficulties to local schools.

(They have since decided to make the school a 4th/5th Academy.)

This is no small issue - the county recently agreed to allow denser development in DeKalb, if those developers would hold out a certain number of units as subsidized housing for police, teachers, etc.) Our schools must prepare for the onslaught - and obviously - the apartment growth (which usually brings large numbers of children) is in the north end of the county - not out near Miller Grove, Arabia or MLK.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow tips his hat on your research. The stats show the sheer number of complexes feeding into the schools. What isn't shown is how the Dekalb County Housing Authority has turned most of these complexes into cash cows for investors/corporate concerns.
How? By refinancing many of the units as "affordable housing"
under Low Income Housing Tax Credits.
Believe it or not, Dekalb can TRY (operative word) to have some say in all this.
How? Start looking at the "Legal Notices" section of the
Champion. There will be a heading
for bond hearings for the Dekalb Housing Authority to refinance X complex, generally for the purpose of "Providing safe, decent, affordable housing for persons of Low to Moderate incomes."
This, and similar wording usually translates to:
We're going to make this a tax credit property. The owners get to take ninety thousand a year off their taxes for 10 years for every million dollars tied into income capped units.
Wait, it gets worse. Our elected misrepresentatives voted
unanamously to match the federal tax write off with a state tax write off. Oh, and they get to keep all the rental income. Yipee!
Anyway, start reading the Champion, and attending those bond hearing meetings. Bring 50 or 60 friends.
More later.

Anonymous said...

Cere- Lewis "Emphatically disagrees" about the toxic effects of apartments because:
1. He's more interested in Title
one funds then in educational
2. He's toeing the party line.
There's almost nobody elected
or appointed in a leadership
role in Georgia that will
publicly state rentals and
apartments kill schools.
3. Halford, Superintendant
prior to Brown privately
urged the Dekalb Comission
to quit zoning and building
apartments. Note that it
was said privately, and
note how the comissioners
completely diregarded him.
4. When the race card comes
out is usually when
somebody is threatening
leadership's money
supply. Calling someone
a "Bigot" when you see
their hand in the cookie
jar is very effective.
We've allowed the worst of these theives to get away with it for over 4 decades

Sight Edman said...

While the DeKalb search pages list number of apartment complexes it gives neither number of units, total size of complex nor size (1BR? 3BR?) of the units. We know DeKalb has this information and one would hope DCSS uses this in its planning process.

Does anyone know if/where the information used by DeKalb is available online? I feel a spreadsheet coming on.

And for those wishing to debate the impact of transient housing we need look no further than East Cobb:

"The citizens of East Cobb created The Civic Association to make sure the development of the area keeps the East Cobb residents, their families and the overall environment of East Cobb consistently in the forefront. East Cobb has also limited the number of apartment complexes that can be built in the area. You will find mostly townhomes and single family residents in East Cobb."

Now that is from a real estate web site, not exactly what we would consider an authoritative source, however Lassiter, Pope, Sprayberry and Walton consistently rank at the top of schools in Georgia. Something is going on up there.

The US Census Bureau gives a quick comparison of DeKalb and Cobb stats--too broad for good analysis. The USCB also provides data by ZIP code (2000 data :^( and building permit data current to 2007.

Then again, maybe it isn't the people and demographics don't really matter.

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow is pleased that more people are getting the joke.
Vast propaganda by the National Multifamily Housing Association aside, the final determination on how well an area functions is by the balance of it's housing mix.
My research has shown that once an area surpasses 25% of it's housing mixture in multifamily units ( that includes condos/townhomes/ apartments), the schools invariably suffer.
I haven't seen the most current percentages on single vs multifamily housing in Dekalb, but we're probably at or near the 40 percent threshold.
Thad- good point on complex size. Tucker may have 24 complexes compared to Clarkston's 28, but most of the complexes are at least 350 units that feed into Tucker.
Both Tucker and Clarkston have genormo complexes of 600 plus units compromising their attendance areas.
A few years ago a friend obtained a list of Dekalb complexes, includingt number of units in each. He found the information at the library. In Gwinnett.

Cerebration said...

Not only do all of the enrollments at our high schools need balancing - the apartments need balanced within the school system. Apartment dwellers by and large are nomadic and difficult to educate with any kind of consistency. Dunwoody seems to have been inundated with apartments within their high school attendance zone - apartments literally line I-285 as well as surround Peachtree Middle and Perimeter Mall. Lakeside, however, actually has the highest number of apartments in any attendance zone in DeKalb - mainly coming from the access roads. It's very hard to make sure the needs of these students are being met when there are so many. Parental involvement is low - and consequently students fall through the cracks. Despite Dr. Lewis' attempts to paint people who advocate for balancing apartments among local schools as prejudiced, they are really seeking to balance the needs among the local schools in an attempt to better help these students achieve while maintaining stability within the school.

Ask any teacher - it's extremely difficult to stay ahead of the curriculum when you have an abundance of students transferring in and out all year long. Students suffer and get lost in the cracks. This isn't as big a problem in South DeKalb. Check out Lakeside - how many of these kids from the apartments who enroll as freshmen actually graduate from Lakeside? Are their needs REALLY being met? Is this not a hot issue because these students are mainly Hispanic? Dr. Lewis is extremely protective of the African-American students who live in apartments in Dunwoody - but what is his record regarding Hispanic students? No comment.

Cerebration said...

There's an awful lot of pushback on the charter school concept out there. Much of it needs to be read with an open mind. Much of it makes sense.

Charter Schools: The Solution to the Crisis in Public Education?

This conference on May 4 is an outgrowth of an informal gathering that took place a month ago on a Sunday afternoon attended by 20 people, mostly younger public school teachers very concerned about the invasion of public school space by charters. It is also an outgrowth of the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) to save public education. Pass this information on to people in your schools as this is an issue not school is exempt from. For a perfect example read this from Leonie Haimson: Brooklyn Prospect Charter School Will Be in Sunset Park High School Building


Charter Schools: The Solution to the Crisis in Public Education?

Do Charter Schools actually represent a genuine movement to re-establish community control, parent choice and equitable education for ALL students? Or are they part of a larger movement sweeping the country and turning the public sector of education over to hands of privately run organizations?

Do charter schools provide adequate channels for the democratic input of staff and parents? What happens when charter schools deny educators union rights, pensions and benefits?

At this forum, we invite teachers, parents, students and community members to consider the role that charter schools play in the larger national agenda to privatize education in the United States. We will discuss the validity of their popular claim to support civil rights by providing parents of “failing” schools other options. Please join us.

Charter schools are opening while public schools are closing or being placed in smaller spaces that hinder the expansion of public schools. Charter schools also have stricter admission policies. With all these “at-risk” or “failing schools” closing, where are their students going to go? Who will accept them?

Join a discussion on these important topics and more!

May 4 5:30 p.m. Pace University Student Union 1 Pace Plaza (look for signs) 2/3 to Park Place, A/C to Broadway/Nassau, 4/5/6 to Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall

Sponsored by the Grassroots Education Movement (GEM) to Defend Public Education, a newly formed coalition of NYC groups and individuals dedicated to defend public education, and the parents, students and teachers affected against attempts to privatize, underfund and undermine the system. The coalition is building this forum and is also building a rally on May 14 to oppose NYC school closings.

Co-Sponsored by (list in formation) the Independent Community of Educators (ICE), Justice not Just Tests - a NYCoRE Work Group, the International Socialist Organization (ISO)

Cerebration said...

I would even go so far as to say that our very own school system could be implementing programs that will only serve a select number of students (parents) and will (unconstitutionally?) require special qualifications for admission (to a public school program) such as grades, essays, Title 1 status, and ability to provide transportation (even if reimbursed with Title 1 funds, you may still need to provide your own transportation).

What will all of these specialized, segregated programs do to the quality of the "home" schools? Already, just due to NCLB transfers, we are seeing several of our high schools with 500+ empty seats. What is being done to improve the education provided to regular, neighborhood schools? Are we becoming an elitist school system by providing programs that divide students into categories by motivation, interests and ability to seek out what they need?