Saturday, January 30, 2010

Back to the topic of the block

Changing from the block to a 7-period day is one of the current ideas batted about as a cost-saver. Personally, I think it is probably a great idea, and actually would save money, however, there are some details in the current proposal that need to be addressed - details that would effect teacher morale and student outcomes.

Currently, at the block schools, teachers teach three long classes and have one long planning period. At the current 7-period day schools, teachers teach 5 short classes and have 2 short planning periods. Block teachers have a maximum of 102 students (34 per class) and 7-period teachers have a maximum of 170 students.

Apparently, Crawford Lewis was unaware until recently that at most of the high schools on the 7-period day, teachers "only" teach 5 out of 7 periods. His recommendation to the board is that all teachers at 7-period day schools will now teach 6 periods a day next year. This will allow them to cut staff by about 10 teachers per school at the schools currently on the 7PD.

I don't even know where to start to explain how damaging this move would be. This means that 7-period-per-day teachers would then have a maximum of 204 students every day and they will have only 50 minutes per day to plan for and grade work from all of those children. Currently teachers do their best to give the 140 students they see every day the best education that they possibly can within the already tight constraints of the school day. Crawford Lewis apparently thinks that "teaching" for 71% of the day is not enough -- but it's not about the amount of time teachers spend at the front of the classroom, it's about sheer number of students for whom they have to prepare and grade.

Unfortunately, I am very worried that these teachers will not be able to maintain the same level of quality that they do now if they lose 50 minutes per day of planning and gain 34 more students next year. For example, for an English teacher, the sheer volume makes the prospect of grading that many essays simply impossible. With 204 students, if a teacher spends five minutes grading each student's essay, it will take 17 hours to grade each set of essays assigned.

Further, if teachers on the 7PD answer the call and work themselves into the ground next year (for 5% less pay!), and students continue to do well on standardized tests, the BOE will have absolutely no incentive to put schedules back to the way they were, even after our budget crisis passes. I am extremely apprehensive about the possibility of maintaining test scores though -- morale is beyond low, and if an entire faculty is put on what used to be considered an "extended day" schedule and are paid less for doing it, I can't imagine that many teachers will continue to bring the same level of commitment to all of their classes.

I think this is a crisis, not only for the faculty members but also for the children enrolled in all of our 7-period day high schools. Believe me when I tell you that the feeling among these is that of despair. The board needs to step in and create a policy regarding the 7-period day. They need to add the wording that teachers on this schedule will teach 5 periods and use the remaining 2 periods for planning and conferences. Wording is everything.


Anonymous said...

With the budget crisis, it is not too much to ask teachers to teacher 6 classes per day with one planning period, if the class size is kept to 28 or 30 per class.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:27-- Is it too much to ask that our students accept a lower quality education? Is it too much to ask for our students to expect feedback and proper evaluation on their work? If yes, then fine; let's overburden the already heavily burdened faculty at the few schools whose test scores are-- excuse me, WERE-- keeping DCSS afloat.

Cerebration said...

30 sudents X 6 periods per day = 180 students. I'm thinking that would be the end of learning to write a proper essay.

We simply need to spend our money on more teachers - move some of Talley's army of Curriculum Specialists into the classroom (at teacher pay). A high school teacher in a core subject that requires a lot of grading and communication should not have to deal with more than 150 students at a time. It's simply too much to ask and our students will be the ones to suffer.

Anonymous said...

"With the budget crisis, it is not too much to ask teachers to teacher 6 classes...."

Why not do one better? Why not only have 6 classes per day for the students... They are 4 classes over the graduation requirements with 7 classes per day.

Teachers would teach 5 classes (about 150-175 students)and have 1 planning period.

Much more would be saved that way.

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

"With the budget crisis, it is not too much to ask teachers to teacher 6 classes...."

What is too much is to ask teachers to make more limonade with less lemons.

If the citizens/parents/students are willing to forgo the flavor.....go ahead.

Vox Noctae

Cerebration said...

Great idea about the 6 period day, Vox. If DeKalb would do as many other counties and simply adhere to the state's graduation requirement of only 23 credits (DCSS requires an additional credit in Social Studies) it would be even easier to get it done in 6 periods per day! Summer school - at the student's expense - would make up for failures.

Anonymous said...

"With the budget crisis, it is not too much to ask teachers to teacher 6 classes...."

It is not too much to ask DCSS to stop paying for America's Choice, for High School That Works, for charlatan consultants, for "en masse" PSAT, AP tests for the unqualified....

And give juniors and even seniors glossy packets explaining the various DCSS magnet program for next year!!

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

I've taught 6 classes with one planning session, but the class sizes were 22-28. Not really that bad at all. Seriously teachers, you're going to have to make a little sacrific too. Cut the Central Administration severely, but you can't whine about ever possible solution to the budget issue.

Anonymous said...

Anon:January 30, 2010 2:07 PM

Did you teach these 6 classes before DCSS had the Instructional Inquisition, RTI, and detailed directives on how to set the 4 walls of your classroom?

Anonymous said...

I vote for 6 period days with one planning period. It's what I grew up with and seemed to work well. When did DCSS move to a 7 period day?

Anonymous said...

IF Dekalb goes to 7 period, 6 of them being teaching periods, then I can't imAnd with the 5% cut that might be handed down, we're going to be too busy working our second (or third) jobs to have time to grade or plan at home. I know that I do my best in my classroom, but since I'm taking a pay cut, and being asked to do (much) more with less (although with more students), when my school day ends, then my work for school ends, too. All the extras I used to do are gone. If I can't get it done during the working day, then it'll just be late or undone. That's so sad.

Square Peg said...

Comparison of the options: Suppose there are 1020 students at a high school, with a class size of 34. That makes 30 classes.

On the current 7 period day, the teachers teach 5 periods, so at any given time, 5 out of 7 teachers have a class. Thus you need 7/5 x 30 = 42 teachers to staff the school. Each teacher has 5 x 34 = 170 students to grade assignments and input data into eSIS for.

On the current block schedule, at any given time, 3 out of 4 teachers have a class. Thus you need 4/3 x 30 = 40 teachers. Each teacher has 3 x 34 = 102 students. (Presumably they have twice as many assignments per student to grade, since the course is compressed into one semester, but I doubt things actually work that way.)

On a six period day, 5 out of 6 teachers have a class at any given time. The school needs 6/5 x 30 = 36 teachers. Each teacher has 5 x 34 = 170 students.

On a seven period day with one planning period, 6 out of 7 teachers have a class at any time. The school needs 7/6 x 30 = 35 teachers. Each teacher has 6 x 34 = 204 students. The teachers are very unhappy.

The 6 period day looks like the best balance, but it has its own problems.

The state graduation requirements are
4 units English/Language Arts
4 units math
4 units science
3 units social studies
3 units language/fine arts/career tech
1 unit health/PE
4 units electives
Total: 23 units.

That list comes from the "Georgia High School Graduation Requirements: Preparing Students for Success" document on the page.

DCSS constrains students more than the state requires. DCSS requires a fourth unit of social studies and an extra unit of PE. And for a DCSS college prep diploma with honors/distinction, the elective units are extremely constrained, because the diploma requires 3 units of world language and 1 unit of career tech. The career tech, PE, and social studies units eat up 3 of the 4 elective units on the state list. It would be impossible for an honors student to fit fine arts each year into a 6-period day, and very difficult to fit any AP class that did not also provide a core credit. This would make it hard for students to get into selective colleges. This isn't just a problem with the honors diploma. The college prep basic diploma allows only one more credit of flexibility.

At a minimum, if DCSS goes to a 6-period day, they need to do away with the career tech and extra PE requirements.

Square Peg said...

To think of the problem with the 6-period day in a less analytical way, consider the student who is told "You may want a career in art, but we are putting you in Early Childhood Education this year instead of your art sequence prerequisite because the master schedule is a mess and eSIS doesn't work." On a block or 7-period day, that student will be upset. On a 6-period day, that student will likely have no electives left to spend on art at any time during high school.

Cerebration said...

Great math, Square Peg! In my opinion, it always ends up looking like some kind of blended choice is going to have to be the solution. But then, that opens a whole 'nother can of worms, doesn't it?

Idea -- go to a school system where this kind of blended schedule works very well and copy it!

Dekalbparent said...

I may have heard wrong, but I think a parent of a freshman told me that the career tech requirement has been dropped. I think the total number of credits required remains the same, allow but that would allow another elective.

The discussion of 4x4 block vs. A/B block vs. 6 period day vs.7 period day goes on and on - each arrangement suits some kids best.

My gut feeling is that if teachers have more students and less planning time, the academics in some classes will suffer. If you want kids to write well, they have to write frequently and get lots of detailed feedback. Same with the long-term history or science projects; the kids need time with the teacher to plan and ask questions.

Square Peg said...

I took the diploma requirements off the DCSS website at

If the required career tech credit has been dropped, they ought to update the website.

Anonymous said...

Will the citizen/parent pay for all these extra courses or not?

If we want our kids to major in art while in high school, we need to pay for block schedule or 7-period days.

If not, our kids will go back to 6 classes a day.

It is not fair to get a service without paying for it...Is it?

When housing was driven by voodoo-economics, there was enough money from revenue to pay the more expensive schooling and the extras.

Now friends, it's over. I don't think any of us in the private sector would work for free...I am not going to take 30 extra patients for "free" unless I want to or can use the cost as a tax deduction.

By the way, running a school system is not like running a billion dollar corporation. Billion dollar corporations make their own billions. Education is a governmental agency mandated by the State constitution.

School superintendents don't resign to go run Sears, Pizza Hut, Metlife, and wachovia!

By that standard, Mr. Obama should make more than Bill Gates...

Anonymous said...

In the olden days, we took math, English, science, and PE all year, every year. So four class periods were set. If you took band, orchestra, or chorus, that took care of your 5th period. The last period was filled with language, art, social sciences, and other electives. Why doesn't this work anymore?

Square Peg said...

Social science was an elective then? History and foreign language are now required by colleges for admission. (BTW, my high school had a 7 period day.)

Anonymous said...

Visit to see the salaries of all of Dr. Lewis' bloated administration!

Ella Smith said...

I have been teaching 6 out of 7 periods for the last two years. I am floored that Dekalb County Schools allows its teachers who are on the traditional schedule to have 2/7 planning periods. This does not happen in any school system.

On block you have 1 planning period a day so you have more planning time. It is much easier to teach on Block Schedule because of this. This looks unfair planning time if you are on traditional schedule as you end up teaching a variety of more subject matter frequently also.

Dekalb County must do this. They do not have a choice. Dekalb County School Teachers in high school have had it easy this way compared to other school systems.

I am teaching on a modified block and do not have a planning period everyday. There is nothing legally that even indicates you have to have a planning period daily. Teachers also have time before and after school to plan. Teachers also are being required to put more time in planning outside of school hours with this type of schedule. We have been doing it in Fulton County for a couple of years.

More and more school systems are going away from block because of the cost. Going off block and teachers teaching 6 periods a day will save the school system alot of money. This is a must right now.

Cerebration said...

Interesting, Ella. You don't teach a full class though do you? Do the regular classroom teachers in Fulton teach 6/7 periods? Do they teach 180-200 or more students every day? How do they keep track of essays, projects, homework, conferences, etc?

themommy said...

Anon at 4:45pm

We really don't need another blog about DCSS schools. This one is quite sufficient and has been very effective.

Kathy Cox said yesterday that DeKalb is to divided, no one trusts each other, everyone is only interested in their own school, and that is part of the reason our system is such a mess.

I realize that whoever formed that website is very passionate about their small piece of the pie, but we have BIG problems in DeKalb.

In order to have solutions, we have to work together, acknowledge the validity of each others concerns and focus in on shared goals.

If all you are really concerned about is your little piece of the pie, go ahead and advocate but at the end of the day (or school year) you might not find yourself to satisfied with the results.

Otherwise, join the myriad of voices, parents, teachers, taxpayers, and perhaps a rebel administrator or two, on this BLOG and help us work together to make a difference.

Anonymous said...

In essence we're cutting back on teachers in order to save the 5800 non-teaching personnel. Currently, those 5800 non-teaching personnel represent 42 % of DeKalb's emoyees. I guess soon DeKalb will have only 50% of the employees teaching. Really, someone needs to teach our children.

Anonymous said...

Of we are cutting teachers, why aren't we cutting any non-teaching personnel?

fedupindcss said...

I think starting with the class of 2012, the career tech requirement disappeared as a free-standing requirement. Now you have to have one unit of career tech or world language or fine arts (not one of each).

DCSS went to the block and 7-period days in order to allow students time during the school year to make up for failed courses--too many kids simply dropped out, rather than go to summer school. This was their way to shore up their dropout rate.

The odd thing about the graduation requirements for DCSS and GA are how onerous they are, compared to states with far more successful educational systems (i.e. the entire northeast). Heck, most colleges don't require this much to matriculate.

As for AP, it has become a racket for the College Board. A lot of schools won't even give credit for the classes anymore, because so many students take them now. And parents, trust me, having your kid skip the freshman college class with the AP credit is dollar-foolish, since that DCSS AP class is in no way college level. They get to the sophomore college class and fail because they are so unprepared.

Cerebration said...

Thanks for the blog support, Anon 7:50 PM. However, there really is room for all of us out there and I'm sure that we can all work together as a team for the good of the entire system.

Anonymous said...

As Fedup says AP is a racket and it consumes money. If the kids can do college work in 11 & 12 grades, let them do "full time" joint enrollment.

AP is a game to get extra GPA points and tell the colleges that you are college material---( the high school diploma in effect does not mean that in GA)

They don't step in high school during their senior year until graduation practice.

Oxford at Emory, Georgia State, and Howard university accept students.

Anonymous said...

Oxford at Emory, Georgia State, and Howard university accept students as early as the end of their junior year.

If they pass their college freshman classes, they receive their high school diploma without a "senior" year!

Anonymous said...

Before CLewis took over, middle and high school was only six periods per day, with teachers having an hour of planning time. The seven period day is really tiring, especially when your planning time,(which is a joke), is consumed by mundane, irrelevant meetings almost daily. We need to go back to six periods. It would be more cost effective for all.

Square Peg said...

On the "OK - so what happened?" thread there was a discussion about the need to support gifted kids. AP classes are a way a motivated student can seek out a challenge in high school. The only gifted high school classes we have anymore are language arts, biology, and chemistry. And, as Anonymous said, AP classes have unfortunately become a way to convince a college that you're college material.

Anonymous said...

The only gifted high school classes we have anymore are language arts, biology, and chemistry

My child is a gifted Math class.

Anonymous said...

As Fedup says AP is a racket and it consumes money. If the kids can do college work in 11 & 12 grades, let them do "full time" joint enrollment.

AP is a game to get extra GPA points and tell the colleges that you are college material---( the high school diploma in effect does not mean that in GA)

If a student scores well enough on those AP tests, they an receive college credit. I know a 2009 DCSS graduate, who between, their AP credits and Joint Enrollment started college as a 2nd semester sophmore.

Square Peg said...

Your child who is in a gifted math class - is he or she in the old math track? I was under the impression that the new track didn't have gifted classes. I may be wrong; if so, sorry.

Anonymous said...

Cere 9:38, The mommy 7:50, and Anon 4:45: Please post here.

Board members, former board members, and deputy superintendents read this blog. I am one.

As with the bloggers, our lives are busy and we simply don't have the time to check multiple sources for the temperature of our constituents. So it's best to keep it all in one place.

Recognizing many of you despise us, most of us are (were) in our roles and willing to take the heat if it can help DeKalb's students. Keep us informed so we can try to make the changes you want in the system you are paying for.

Anonymous said...

Accel Math II - GFT

Ella Smith said...

All teachers in my school teach 6/7 classes. I am in regular education classes 5 out of the six classes I teach. I also teach 6 different subjects, so no one needs to whin to me about teaching 6/7 classes.

I team teach:
P. Science

And teach Self-Contained
Study Skills

My self-contained Biology class had 14 students at one time. Now there are 12 special needs students. This is not a small special needs class at all. Sometimes the para is there and sometimes the para is not there.

I do have 8 students in Study Skills but in there I am suppose to be giving support for 2 students also in Science who have failed the graduation test and 1 student I am teaching basis math.

It is hard for me to feel sorry for teachers to teach 6/7 classes in high school. Elementary teachers do not get the time for planning to start with that high school teachers get.

Now, this will be tough for teachers who are extremely adjusted to having two planning periods. It also does allow less time for planning. However, a teacher's contract says nothing about it being a 8-4 job. Legally we are paid to teach, and if we have to put in another hour or two to do this a day there is nothing illegal about this. I checked the law on this as this was what our principal told us.

I do not have a planning period at all on Tuesday and Thursdays and I teach 6 different subjects which I try to keep up with. This is extremely difficult.

I do think it is important to look at the number of preps teachers have. A teacher in high school should never have over 2 or 3 preps to prepare for in a 6/7 period day. Most of the teachers have this. I agree it is hard and frustrating. On the other hand the school system has to be treated more like a business and we do need maximum productivity out of our workers for the money they make.

Celeb, I am able to see both sides of the situation. Administratively, we need to go off block in general to save a torn of money. By going to block and teachers in high school and middle school teaching 6/7 classes a day look at the money that the county could save.

It has been a real adjustment going from block to teacher 6/7 classes, but being a team teacher I can honestly say that I have not seen a difference in the quality of the teaching going on. Teachers just have to work harder, and the school system is getting more work productivity for their money. This is merely the Scientific Method verse the Human Behavioral Theory of Leadership at work or a combination of several leadership styles.

Again, I know how frustrating this must be so care must be given to the number preparations teachers have. This has been a year from H____ for me. It is frustrating. I cannot get everything done. Work has been stressful. However, the school system has got all the work possible from me while I am at work.

I honestly think this is a good business decision. I do understand all the frustration. I understand how change is hard. However, the teachers will not go to any other school system and find a better situation regarding this situation anywhere else. No other school system has allow its teachers to teach 5/7 classes. This has been a perk in Dekalb for some time.

Anonymous said...

Peachtree Charter Middle School has General, High Achiever, and Gifted Math tracks PLUS Accelerated math. Placement in levels is based on Georgia and ITBS scores (since the Georgia instrument keeps changing, I'm not even going to try to cite the alphabet soup). Students can be in a High Achiever Math class, Gifted Science, and General Reading - the schedule is tailored to the student's needs.

Anonymous said...

Whn you look at the org charts, it's amazing how many made up, unnecesary admin positions there are, and there is no way to measure the effectiveness of these positions.

Crawford lewis has built up an army of administrators who are in place to serve him, not our students. Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Governmental Relations and Charter Schools
Ms. Nicole Knighten

Why does DCSS need someone for Charter Schools, when they do want any? is her job to do everything possible to fight charter schools in the DK?

Anonymous said...

Broadcast Media
Ms. Philandrea Guillory

Did she have any experience/education in broadcasting? Nope, but her mom is former BOE member Frances Edwards, so that of course justifies Phil making $130 per year plus pension and bene's.

Anonymous said...

Why does DCSS need someone for Charter Schools, when they do want any? is her job to do everything possible to fight charter schools in the DK?

Maybe to oversee conversion Charter schools in the county?

Anonymous said...

Pg 10

So when Tony Hunter was bumped up to Exec Director of Info. Systems, that means there will still be a director position. That's another $130 a year in salary and bene's. Crawford is still making up admin positions despite the budget shortfall.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 0920 is correct with regards to Peachtree MS. Also, a student must maintain a "B" average in the subject to remain in the Gifted track.

Anonymous said...

Here are administrators that do nothing for student learning. We could eliminate all four of their positions and their support staff, and not notice for a second they were gone.

Executive Director
Office of School Improvement
Dr. Audria Berry

DeKalb Graduates
Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell

DeKalb Graduates
Dr. Margie Smith

Leadership Development
Dr. Thomas Glanton

themommy said...

The Charter School person oversees the applications (of which there are generally dozens a year) as well as existing schools. We have several start ups as well as conversions, but except at renewal time, they are pretty much left alone.

However, she is also the governmental relations person, the one who monitors actions at both the state and federal level and in the legislature. We no longer have hired lobbyists, so she is it.

The state has rules relating to how systems must handle charter applications. All large metro systems have someone that does the same job as DeKalb does. It is a fairly onerous job to either accept or reject a charter.

It is yet another unfunded mandate from the state.

Shayna said...

I think that the new math track isn't required to have gifted tracks available -- Peachtree may be doing it becuase they have the ability to "staff it". Gifted classes can be staffed (student wise) in different ways for state funding (if they don't tinker with it) -- I personally prefer the 21 kids to a classroom approach as it works better for my kids -- but it can also be done with 10 gifted kids and 18 or 20 "high achiever kids" (or something along those lines). AP classes have no such resitrictions and at LHS my son was in AP classes with 35 kids. Private schools seem to (in my experience in researching this at 2 or 3 private schools) never staff AP classes over 15 or 18 kids as the teachers can't give appropriate feedback with more than 15 or 18 kids in a classroom (this can be said for standard english as well...). With 35 kids in the classroom, they were "analyzing" each other's work such that they were not being fully prepared for the AP test. The models are very different between public and private schools. On the flip side, any child seems to be able to sign up for an AP class in a DCSS school -- they don't put too high a weight on success with the exam (although I noticed some attention paid to the percentage of "3s" in Atlanta Magazine this month) and more emphasis on availablility whereas the Private Schools seem to act more as a "gate keeper" on who can take the class. So a school like LHS can put 35 high achiever/gifted kids (or maybe more if the legislature eliminates class size restrictions) into an AP class but would possibly need to restrict to 20 or 22 (or 18 at KMS - not High School, I know...) for what we are conditioned for to for "gifted" classes (and have received some national recognition for top services for gifted students in write ups). AP is a way to serve more students in one class room. When then applying to college, the colleges look to see how many AP classes your student took amongst those offered at your school -- so if the school offers 28 (LHS), they want to see alot taken -- if the school offers 5 they want to see less. This is what I've gleaned over the past decade as a parent in DeKalb....

Anonymous said...

"It is hard for me to feel sorry for teachers to teach 6/7 classes in high school. Elementary teachers do not get the time for planning to start with that high school teachers get.

Now, this will be tough for teachers who are extremely adjusted to having two planning periods. It also does allow less time for planning. However, a teacher's contract says nothing about it being a 8-4 job. Legally we are paid to teach, and if we have to put in another hour or two to do this a day there is nothing illegal about this."

Elementary school teachers teach a fraction of the number of students that high school teachers teach. Furthermore, the subject matter at the high school level is significantly more complex. Not to mention that elementary school teachers aren't expected to coach a sport or sponsor a club. No one's arguing that elementary teachers don't work hard, but that's why it's not inequitable for them to have less planning time.

By the way, I don't know ANY teachers of core subjects on the 5/7 model who are able to work from 8-4. If I'm lucky, I leave work at 4pm once a week, and then I make up for it by grading papers for 3+ hours on Sunday night.

And with all due respect, "team teaching" a class is an entirely different ballgame than having the sole responsibility for a class.

Ella, I know you work hard and juggle a great deal, but you're not solely responsible for grading/evaluating 200 students as a team teacher. It's a different playing field.

Cerebration said...

Wow - great chat! I think the bottom line on making teachers teach 6/7 periods rather than 5/7 periods is that students will suffer. There's no way that they can expect good feedback and individualized attention when a teacher has 200 people to monitor. They have really, really bad morale and are extremely defensive as it is. Just try piling another 35 students on them - they will have a virtual strike - I guarantee.

Just being realistic. Children will get LESS attention.

And board rep, or whoever you are - glad you're here. I don't think anyone despises anyone. We are just EXTREMELY frustrated and angry and feel helpless about the outrageous nepotism, waste, bloat, fraud and lack of attention directly to the classroom. We are very tired of our concerns and now - our anger - being dismissed by our board reps and school admin. This blog is the only place people feel they have a voice. No one in the system is listening. I emailed Sarah CW with suggestions for cutting waste and her reply was, "I didn't vote for Lewis' raise - I was absent that day." Huh?

And our schools are suffering - with NEVER making AYP, terrible teacher morale, larger and larger classrooms, and a complete inequity in classroom environment. If you don't get some of these schools (ie; Cross Keys) up to living standards, we will have to call in the health dept.

Arabia was the biggest slap in the face. The official FTE count for Arabia from Oct shows 491-9th graders, 369-10th graders and 151-11th graders (no seniors). Of those 1011 students, ALL 1011 are in the "Medicine and Environment Program" -what happened to the promise to provide at least 500 seats to non-magnet students from area schools to relieve over-crowding? If my child was still in a trailer at MLK when there is PLENTY of room down the road at Arabia I would be so angry. MONEY DOWN THE DRAIN. Heck - we should open it for tuition to Rockdale and Henry Cos - it's so much closer to them! If you DARE spend money to build additions to the other area schools, when you have one SO under-utilized, I will personally lead the charge for Cross Keys to file a lawsuit. THEY need the construction. They have NO auditorium, a dangerously cracked up track and field, no science labs, no workout facility, horrible classrooms, little technology, no elevator... etc. Go to Arabia and take a tour. Then go directly to Cross Keys and take a tour. And then hang your head in shame.

In addition - The fact that totally unqualified people who happen to be friends and family of people with power are nabbing jobs when there are qualified TRAINED professionals in the world who could certainly do these jobs is disgusting and disheartening. DCSS has become a jobs program, with jobs being handed out as rewards or gifts of some kind.

The fact that Gloria Talley has an army of 500 or so "Curriculum Specialists" when our teachers are continually asked to make sacrifice after sacrifice is ridiculous. PUT THEM IN THE CLASSROOMS.

We do NOT need a Health and Wellness person. The wellness facility using the Kaiser grant was supposed to be used for students. One of our parents went out to check. She was told - NO that's not for students - that's for us! Gee - the students got a little half court gym. Can you IMAGINE how far that money would have gone at Cross Keys or Lakeside? (Where parents finally gave up and fixed up their own weight room and bought their own equipment with their own money!)

No One is looking at the big picture. It's all a "you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours" leadership style. No - we have no more faith and trust in the leaders of DCSS.

Cerebration said...

And as far as the construction currently happening at Cross Keys - it's all been in the building for the School of Technology so far. Nothing for the regular classrooms, nothing in the gym, cafetorium, band room, or outdoor fields and grounds. This school needs so much more than what you are "boasting" about spending on it. So much more.

Again - go to Arabia - or even Tucker (which BTW tried to apply to be a charter and were told NO - unlike Arabia, which was deemed a magnet more or less without even having to ask!) Then spend the whole day in Cross Keys. And stop by Chamblee and Lakeside on your way home - be sure to use the student restrooms.

Oh - then be sure to go back to your new gleaming Board Offices and use your restroom - AND workout facility. And you wonder why we have no respect???

Anonymous said...

And as far as the construction currently happening at Cross Keys - it's all been in the building for the School of Technology so far

The "School of Technology" IS Cross Keys - it's not 2 separate schools like DSA and Avondale.

Anonymous said...

When you ask science teachers to work with reduced plan periods, you reduce the number of labs your children perform since it takes so much time to set up labs. Less labs mean students are I'll prepared for the GA high school graduation teat and for college science classes. If a chemistry or biology teacher cannot have the time to set a safe lab situation, they will not run labs. Did you know that neither the state nor the county requires students to have labs for high school science.
As for English teachers, my child went to Kittredge and then Chamblee. One of real advantages was that the lower pupil teacher ratio enabled his English teacher the opportunity to give him numerous essay opportunities. If you decrease plan periods for English teachers, your children will have less feedback on their essays. Of your child is a great writer then don't worry. Most children are not great writers though
I'm not a science teacher or an English teacher, but I know the logistics of teaching both.
Actually the 200 high school teachers Lewis wants to get rid of are a drop on the bucket compared to the 5800 non teaching personnel he wants to keep. I'm sure Lewis could find 200 nonteaching personnel he could put back in the classroom for our students. Or maybe most of those 5800 non teaching personnel are not certified teachers. That's even more scary.
Why are we fighting over scraps for our childen when 42% of DeKalb employees don't even teach our kids? Why does Lewis want to cut teachers but won't touch the 5800 non teaching personnel? It's so pitiful to see our kids packed into dirty classrooms like sardines, have little acces to technology, and teachers that are so demoralized completing paperwork for the "higher ups".

Anonymous said...

On the flip side, any child seems to be able to sign up for an AP class in a DCSS school

Yes, any child is capable of signing up for an AP class. However, from what I hear from school officials, most of the children who sign up for these courses are the ones capable of doing well. Also, I know at St. Pius, children drop AP classes after school starts, whereas in DCSS, once you set foot in an AP class, it cannot be dropped. So, a student best be comfortable that they can handle the work load.

Cerebration said...

VERY interesting link to the org chart from Dekalb Parent blog -

The names read like a who's who of friends of Lewis or people being investigated -
For example -

Sr. Director
Communications/PDS-TV/ Partners in Education
Ms. Julie Rhame


Broadcast Media
Ms. Philandrea Guillory

I'm sorry - do we really need both these people? In the corporate world, there would only be one director and then people under would make more regular salaries - and do the nuts and bolts work. Oddly - they closed the entire in-house graphics dept - which was full of regular people... We still need all the publications - so who's doing it? Are we now farming it out? To whom? Another friend of Lewis?

I also noticed - what happened to Dr. Shannon (last name?) who was always Director of nutrition and wellness - she was given a "boss" -

Executive Director
Corporate Wellness Program
Dr. Yvonne Butler

But Shannon is not on the org chart... has she been bumped by a principal who is a good friend of Dr. Lewis'?

Anonymous said...

Dear Board Members,

"Teachers, you are paid $50000 to teach for 180 days. Remember, we are not paying you by the hour!! Do you accept the contract?"

The State now says you will only get paid for 174 days ($48400).

The County now says that you have to teach 200 or ANY number of students per day.

The County now says that you have to teach 2, 3 or ANY number of subject levels per day.

The County now says that you have to teach 3, 4, 5, 6 or ANY number of periods per day.

Dekalb County piles on a ton of meaningless paperwork "full of sound and fury signifying nothing!" that takes away from the teacher preparation for his/her class.

Because teachers are a professional and not an hourly employee, the Public & Fellow Teachers say that you should use as much time before and after school to get the job done (well)....without ever yelling, cussing, getting front of the students or parents.

Board Members, don't you think teachers need a well-defined contract so every one knows what to expect...Otherwise, they are plantation workers.

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:42, that's not entirely correct. The new work at Cross keys is intended for thetech scool. The rest of the school will be untouched.

Cere has a great point: If you care about our school system, take a tour of Arabia High, and that same day, take a tour of Cross Keys (the entire inside and its extensive grounds). It is the single most pertinent example of how ineffective our Board of Ed is.

Cerebration said...

"The "School of Technology" IS Cross Keys - it's not 2 separate schools like DSA and Avondale."

It certainly is not. I'm told that these are separate. Have they actually renamed the school? They merged the HS of Technology North into the Cross Keys facility this year. They did not make the entire school of Cross Keys a school of Technology. The percentage of kids who will actually use the new automotive class is pretty low. If they are doing this, then it's on the sly. But at any rate - the only work that has been done is to the Tech building. (CKHS has about 4 sep buildings. All crummy.)

Anonymous said...

Dekalb County piles on a ton of meaningless paperwork "full of sound and fury signifying nothing!" that takes away from the teacher preparation for his/her class.

ALOT of the paperwork the schools and school systems have to complete are mandated by the NCLB.

Anonymous said...

-Sr. Director, Communications/PDS-TV/ Partners in Education
Ms. Julie Rhame
-Broadcast Media
Ms. Philandrea Guillory

The difference between the two: Julie Rhame is an experienced professional and very, ver productive. Philandra is inexperienced and the opposite of productive, but when your mom was a powerful member of the BOE, well...
Philandra would be considered for employment in that positions by any other school system, let alone for even half that salary.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, Philandra would be NOT considered for employment in that positions by any other school system, let alone for even half that salary.

Cerebration said...

Well either one of them would be hard-pressed to get a salary that high in the real world - even at CNN.

Anonymous said...

Science teachers, for the most part, support the block schedule. As a previous poster indicated, the longer class times give the students the opportunity to performs labs, finish the labs and have time to write up the labs. I know at DHS, labs are a significant enough part of the grade to have an effect if the labs are not completed and written up in time.

Cerebration said...

Maybe we need a hurricane(?!)

READ EDUCATION SECRETARY ARNE DUNCAN’S STATEMENT that Katrina was good for New Orleans education.

Reader Wyman Duggan writes:
Arne Duncan Is right on the money with respect to the revolution that is occurring in New Orleans public education post-Katrina. I submit that it is highly desirable from a libertarian perspective.

And another reader who requests anonymity writes:
Though I almost never disagree with you, I have to agree with Arne Duncan that the hurricane was the best thing that could happen to New Orleans public schools.

The system was so atrocious before the storm that you actually had the valedictorian of a high school here who couldn’t pass the state exit exam. The public school system was as dysfunctional as you could find in the Western world – violence, corruption, and not much education.

The system is now improving and has the highest percentage (60%) of charter schools out of any school system in the nation.

School scores are improving and there is now hope (oh, how that word has been forever tainted by the Obama) that things can change (another word that was sullied) for the better.

It really did take a nearly-destroyed city to mostly remove the stranglehold that the teachers unions had on the local system. Sometimes good things do come out of disaster!

Cerebration said...

Speaking of violence in schools. I received research showing that the school with the highest incidents of violence (aside from Alternative Schools) in the state was Avondale HS. So - now do you see a possible reason Lewis insisted on merging those good kids from DSA into Avondale?

There's always something else behind the curtain. Always.

Anonymous said...

"ALOT of the paperwork the schools and school systems have to complete are mandated by the NCLB.
January 31, 2010 12:49 PM"

Really? Does NCLB require teachers to go to Kinko to blow up the Math 1 GPS to spash on their wall?

Does NCLB require teachers to keep a glossy "data" wall displaying how many A's, B's...per class period?

Does NCLB require teachers to produce lesson plans that they can't use and profit not the students?

The answer, my friends, "is not in NCLB but in Building B"!!

Vox Noctae

themommy said...

In fairness, DSA came from Avondale. Avondale has/had room for it and needs invigoration.

Across the country, magnets are routinely put in inner city or low socio-economic schools. And they are successful. And they only have one principal.

Ugh. The inefficiencies of DCSS are mind blowing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Arne Duncan,

1. What makes charter schools successful is the fact that parents/students elect to abide by the rules of the charter!

2. What makes Chamblee, Druids Hill, Lakeside, and Dunwoody high schools successful is the median value of their home along with the non transient nature of the families living in them.

3. So Arne, that Charter movement is merely serving the students/parents who respect authority, study, and have a degree of ambition.

4. What about the other schools, do you plan to close all of them to re-open them under another name?

Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

Has anyone on this blog ever tried to set up, explain, conduct , and clean up a lab in 50 minutes? How much in depth can you get in that amount of time?

Anonymous said...

Nobody can explain that feat. By the way, you did not even say "safely"!

Yet DCSS and parents want and demandwe want-----Which is why we are hypocrites in labs and in other areas in education as well.

Chemistry lab were always completed before or after school. Kids without transportation came during lunch or during another teacher's class.

Vox Noctae

Cerebration said...

Interesting. I've never heard of after school labs. We always did them in a 55 minute class (we worked on pottery in a 55 minute art class too and even managed to learn cooking and sewing in 55 minute classes) in my high school.

And yes, Arne Duncan and Obama plan to close 5,000 low-performing schools nationwide (to start) and reopen them as some kind of charter.

Dekalbparent said...

Can one of you good math people do the figures on a "rotating block"? My kid had this in middle school (not DCSS). What would the cost be here?

There were 6 subjects (English, History, Science, Math, PE, Art/Music). Each day had 5 class periods - 4 were 55 minutes long and one was 100 minutes. So, each day, one subject was skipped, and one was doubled, enabling each teacher to have a double period every 7th day. The schedule also rotated which period each class was, so you didn't always have Math first thing in the morning.The rotating long class period was popular with the teachers, and the rotating schedule was popular with the kids.

It really wasn't very hard to follow, once you got used to it.

Cerebration said...

That sounds really interesting!

One Fed Up Insider said...

Cere... I will believe your last statement when I see it.

For example, I graduated in the early 90's in rural NC. My high school was #1 for drop out, #1 for teen pregnancy, #1 for kids not passing graduation test. Other areas we were either 2 or 3.

The state said "clean up your act or we are going to take you over". Well, needless to say close to 100 parents went to the state and said .... PLEASE, PLEASE take us. 20 years later they are still waiting, and yes, my high school is still #1 in teen pregnancy, #1 in drop rate, #1 not passing graduation test and we are now #2 in unempolyment in the state.

The state would not take over our county school because it was going to cost too much.

I just have a hard time believing anything Duncan and Obama say. If a state can not correct 1 school, how the heck is the DOE going to take over 5000+ with money that we do not have?

Cerebration said...

I'm just quoting the announcement from last May - it's in every available news source.

Obama wants 5K closed schools to rebound

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Obama intends to use $5 billion to prod local officials to close failing schools and reopen them with new teachers and principals.
The goal is to turn around 5,000 failing schools in the next five years, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Monday, by beefing up funding for the federal school turnaround program created by the No Child Left Behind law.

Obama doesn't have authority to close and reopen schools himself. That power rests with local school districts and states. But he has an incentive in the economic stimulus law, which requires states to help failing schools improve.

Duncan said that might mean firing an entire staff and bringing in a new one, replacing a principal or turning a school over to a charter school operator. The point, he said, is to take bold action in persistently low-achieving schools.

Click the link above for the entire article.

Ella Smith said...

Actually there are lab you do in Biology but not as many as in P. Science, Chemisty, or Physics.

I am a teacher at a Charter Science School and we have lots of experiments going constantly but we honestly provide fewer opportunities in Biology. The dissection of the pig or cat is normally one of the last lessons of the year. However, we do many labs online at North Springs. We have computer labs on carts so as to have access to computers on a regular basis. There is so much valuable lab material online for all subjects today.

I disagree that Team Teacher is not the same as teaching a class. I guess it depends on you dedication to team teaching. I collaborate several times a week with my team teachers after or before school and we actually do a great deal of team teaching. I grade all the students tests. I grade labs in class. I am highly qualified as a Special Education Teacher and highly qualified in Science. I do know that many team teachers do not team teach. I understand from the propective you speak. This is why I have made comments about Team Teaching and that it could be handled differently in many situations.

I agree that teachers do not need to be teaching more than 3 preps in high school. However, I think requiring them to teach 6/7 classes is not unreasonable. I would like to see Dekalb rolling in money so every teacher in Dekalb could have 2 planning periods a day. However the money is not there now and tough decisions have to be made to keep our school system going for the next year or two. All the school board would like to see teachers have 2 periods of planning a day but the money is not there.

Just in cutting out the extra planning periods we will lose 10 teachers at these schools.

Today in class an assistant superintendent indicates that there will be layoffs in education across the state. We do not have to be offerred contract this year until May 15. School is basically out. There is a reason for this.

Instead of being worried if we are going to be teaching 6/7 classes in Dekalb many do need to be worried if they will have a job. I hear things are going to be real tough regarding the budget everywhere.

I would love for the Anonymous who keeps making comments about online classes to take a college class online and then come back and make the same comments about online classes. I think that would be interesting. Times have changed and many subjects can be taught online effectivly. Others such as research and math classes cannot be taught effectively. I respectfully disagree. However, I have taken 2 college classes online and found them very challenging. You guys in fact did not see me on here at all. I was too busy.

CEleb you went to a workshop recently about online learning. Educate us.

Summer school for Dekalb is probable going to be online this summer to save a bunch of money.

Ella Smith said...

Anonymous, I love to debate. We will have to debate this issue sometime.

I am sure we would have fun.

Anonymous said...

Another twist on a hybrid schedule which allows for 7 courses:
Students have all 7 classes on M-W-F. But they have 3rd, 5th and 7th period classes on Tuesday for a 75 minute period and 2nd, 4th and 6th period classes on Thursday. I think 1st period is 5 days a week/50 minutes. I think there is even a little time for planning, clubs, tutoring on Tuesday and Thursdays. Thus students take all their courses year round but some only 4 days a week.

This is how my old high school does it and it is a little easier to follow than the rolling block.

Cerebration said...

Some kind of hybrid would seem to work best. Individual schools should be allowed to create their own schedules, but the number of credits and whether they are year long of half year classes should be consistent across the county (for transfers).

Also - we still could experience teacher cut backs - listen to what Kathy Cox had to say at the meeting last week -

Cox also told the group that 8,211 teachers in the k-12 system owe their jobs to federal stimulus funds. Without the federal infusion of money, they would not be working.

Anonymous said...


What is the difference between your "charter school" and the nearest high school in your county?

If charters are having such great results, why don't we just duplicate Ella's school over and over again?

No paperwork needed, no buy in, no stakeholder input needed. The overnight success of these charters would vindicate the decision, no?

Your charter school happens to be a magnet school as well?

Anonymous said...

I fear that we have not experienced the worst of the economic problems. I agree with Cox when she says that teacher cuts are coming. This is why it is so important that we cut the bloat and high salaries of people. The administrators going back into the classroom in August, should receive the same salaries as teachers doing the same job (this angers me just as much as Lewis's raise, retirement fund padded, and larger expense account). If they don't like it, allow them to move on and go elsewhere for a job. Departments and jobs need to be cut and we need to operate our school system efficiently. No more pointless law suits. No more hiring friends and family who are not qualified for the job that they are doing.

Raising taxes so that teachers can keep their same level of pay, is not an issue that should be looked at right now. Taxes may need to be raised in the future to keep class size down and to keep teachers in the classroom. Until then, deep cuts need to be made.

Anonymous said...

The block is great for PE, Art and Science labs, bad for everyone else. While a variety of other factors are at work, Chamblee and Lakeside opted against the block for academic reasons. Perhaps the rest of the county should follow their lead.

Incidentally, well taught AP classes where students are appropriately screened first are often far superior to joint enrollment at some local JC, which looks nifty to parents but is really just the easy way out.

Anonymous said...

Needs assessment survey in 2006 identifyed 2 billion (with a "B") dollars of needs. The current Splost III has a construction value of 513 million or 25% of the needed construction funding. Imagine you're at home, trying to pay 2,000 dollars of bills and you have 513.00 ... it will be impossible to make everyone (anyone) happy. You simply will not be able to meet the needs. DCSS/Capital Improvements is no different. The work identified was voted into effect by the Board. Only the Board can make changes to the current work.

While there are certainly plenty of questionable decisions, there are still 90,000 students who need us all to remain passionate and keep vigilent at funding the remaining construction needs. That is the only way to make a significant difference.

The facilities have sat without needed repairs, upgrades and replacement for the past 30 years. Splost funding provides the method for funding the construction.

Everyone is in a tough spot with the economy. The teachers are an incredible group, most deserving of our total support in any way possible. Making the facilities usable and yes, even up to date, is one sure way to support the educational process.

Fuss about the details and make needed changes but keep the focus on the kids.

Ella Smith said...

Block schedule is good for Science and PE and some Fine Arts classes.

We are on a modified block schedule this year at North Springs Charter Science and Arts High School. Tuesday we have 2, 4, 6, advisement and 8 period which is an enrichment period for clubs and extra help for students. Wed. is 1, 3, 5, and 7 periods. It does work great in the sense that Science, PE, and some Fine Arts classes have a block one day a week. However, it is HELL not having planning daily.

Someone asked what is the difference in the school I teach verses School around. First of all they do not have all the Science excess extra facilities we have. Charter money gave us extra money to spend. Our Science Teachers are top notch. We actually do have more equipment, etc. The Arts have not only band, art, and chorus, but piano, stings, drama, and dance classes.

We are not a start up charter. We are a charter within the school system. Part of our charter involves parent involvement. Another part is all around cooperative planning. Every teacher works together in the school so that they all are at the same place in the curriculum for the most part. The students take the same designed test in the Biology class for instance. We run it though a program aligned to the standards, and we get immediate feedback on what each students knows and does not know.

For instance on the mid-term exam I can give you as a parent a spreadsheet showing you what standards your child appears to have mastered and which ones your child has not mastered.

We also do a great deal of Project Base Learning Activities as outlined in our charter.

You may walked down the hall at my school and see a male student in high heel shoes. This is not a big deal at my school. Students are excepted for who they are.

Dekalbparent said...

WOW, Ella, just WOW! Makes me want to move.

Ella Smith said...

Do not get so excited.

Every school has its own sets of problems. We are working on putting the Charter into the curriculum in full. It is a struggle. People do not like change. Teachers want to teach on their own time table. Teachers want their own tests. We are in a transitional period. We are not there yet. Our final exams and mid-terms are together. We are working on Unit Tests together. We have the capability but it is not in full swing.

We are working on parent involvement. Parents are suppose to volunteer at least 10 hours a year. Some parents volunteer. Some parents do not.

We have only been a Charter inside the School System for about 2 years. We also have Study Hall/Study Support daily for 20 minutes during 5th period.

Our population is also changed a great deal in the area. We have alot more poverty. However, I heard today that all Fulton County Schools made AYP after summer school. This was great.

Anonymous said...

Why don't students have to pay for the AP test? They do elsewhere.

Cerebration said...

Anon - SPLOST 2 brought in a half billion also. I believe the Needs Assessment was done to include SPLOST 2 + 3 -- so we have half the money - not 1/4. This has been a Lewis talking point that has bugged me for a long time. He states that the $2B in needs was estimated before SPLOST 3 - but it includes needs before SPLOST 2.

Otherwise, this would mean that after completing a half-billion of SPLOST 2 work, we STILL had $2 Billion of Needs. (Not to mention - how much did we spend during SPLOST 1 - another $450 million? What's that total now - $3B? I don't think so.)

This is from the SPLOST 2 forensic report -

The SPLOST 11 budgeting process started with HM, the program management firm which had been engaged by DCSS for the SPLOST I program, conducting a comprehensive Needs Assessment (NA). The purpose of the HM assessment was to evaluate and identify the capital improvement, technology and transportation needs in the late 2001 time period for evaluation purposes for the SPLOST 11 program'. In total, HM identified approximately $1.15 billion in capital requirements for the assessed areas. In contrast, at the time of the start of the SPLOST 11 Program, the Sales and Use tax collections were estimated at $524.4M, plus Georgia DOE funding and interest of another $56.7M (after the use of $18.3M of advanced funding for SPLOST I projects), for a total of approximately $581.1~~Th. is resulted in assessed needs that were considerably in excess of anticipated SPLOST 11 collections.

Due to the variance between collections and total assessed needs, the School Board was presented with a preliminary prioritization and budget for all potential SPLOST 11 projects on June 2002~. On June 10,2002, the Board of Education (BOE, or the Board): Approved the SPLOST 11 Capital Outlay priority list of Phase 1A projects totaling
$325,433,078 to allow for the immediate planning and development of new schools, renovations, technology and transportation improvements.
Authorized the Superintendent and Staff to utilize funding in the amount of $105,400,000 to plan and develop new schools and centers, classroom additions, renovations and property acquisitions described as Phase 1B.

In total, the June 10,2002 actions by the DCSS BOE approved funding in the amount of $430,833,078 for those projects, prioritized as a part of the needs assessment as Phases 1A and 1B. (See attached Schedule I for summary of the amounts and dates of Board approval actions.)

In addition, DCSS had identified approximately $24.6M of Program contingency4. The NA
estimates supporting the Board authorized amounts included costs of the following types:
' SPLOST I Capital Improvements and Capital Improvements Needs Assessment - revised lo/ 18/01 R&M/PMA makes no comment as to the appropriateness of utilizing of SPLOST I1 funding for SPLOST I projects

A review of SPLOST I1 Board actions does not indicate any direct Board action or consent item specifically approving program contingency but contingency amounts are shown on documents supporting board minutes beginning on September 13,2004. At the September 13,2004 Board meeting, the board approved the allocation from contingency to balance the cost increases incurred on several projects. The contingency balance prior to that action was $24.6 million as listed above. ---

As mentioned above, anticipated SPLOST 11 tax collections were estimated at $524.4M
at the inception of the SPLOST program, which, with the Georgia DOE match, totaled $581.1M
of total revenue. As of April 2006, total SPLOST I1 tax collections and other revenue were
estimated at $494 million, or an amount in excess of $1 15M below the $61 1M that the Board had
approved for specific projects and contingency.

Cerebration said...

BTW - many of us advocated to replicate Ella's school at Lakeside. We could have easily taken on the School of the Arts, along with offering a math/science magnet. But our pleas fell on deaf ears - it was Avondale or bust!

Anonymous said...

Chamblee charges students $8 per AP test. I just sent in my check last Friday. $8 is by no means the full cost of the test. I am waiting to see how much students are charged for AP tests at my other child's high school.

Ella Smith said...

I would have loved to see Lakeside a Charter Science and Math and Arts Charter.

However, the group who run the show apparently want what was there when there went to school there.

An interesting topic of discussion in class today was the pressure of the school board members to go back to the good old days when they were in school.

However, things have changed so much in education things can never be like they were back then. However, school board members sometimes wants this. This is there agenda. However, it will never happen. The good old days were not the good old days for everyone.

Anonymous said...

What infuriates me about this discussion - the possibility of eliminating the block in favor of the "cheaper" 7-period schedule - is the gyrations Lewis and company put DHS through in recent months, torturing parents with survey after survey, doing an "intervention" so we could understand what's best for our students, and creating much debate and dissension within the community. Once again, all for naught.

Anonymous said...

Instead of saying that 8,211 teachers in the k-12 system owe their jobs to federal stimulus funds, why didn't she say 8,211 times X number of children were not going to have a teacher without stimulus funds??

Pretending that these 8000 teachers only have 25 kids per day, would these 200 000 children be home schooled or what?

I bet K. Cox applied that money for useless bells and whistles--or let it trickle into districts who pay for PSAT for all and AP tests...

We love to scare teachers into being compliant. As for me, I want my children's teachers to teach my kids and help them develop to their full potential. Cowards can't do that.

Vox Noctae

Vox Noctae
Vox Noctae

Anonymous said...

Chamblee charges for AP tests?

Any other Dekalb school charges for AP test out there?

The AP tests are in May, right?

Cerebration said...

Vox - I think this is why the legislature is allowing districts to lift restrictions on class sizes - we may have to work with fewer teachers = which means each teacher will have more students. My mother in law taught 2nd grade for 30 years - and for many of those years she had an average of 45 students! Can you imagine?

See, the tax increase will come. But it won't solve all the budget issues, we will still have to reduce staff all over the place. Government workers (and that includes schools) have not yet felt the sting of what the rest of us have been enduring. The outrageous numbers of lost jobs means that income tax collections for the 2009 filings are going to be a budget shock to the government. Government does not generate revenue. It's not self-supporting. Without business and business persons income tax, there is no money to run government.

I really don't wish this upon anyone. But this is my warning - coming from the corporate world. You either lose your job - or you get to keep your job and at a reduced pay do your job and half of someone else's.

Anonymous said...


A different era. I cannot imagine 1teacher dealing with the pathologies of 45 students "while pre-testing and post testing and giving 3 grades a week to 45 kiddies in 3rd grade. eSis, GPS, differentiated instruction, CRCT, ITBS..." All that bull within the parentheses would have to be done away with...

I cannot trust my precious in a class with 44 other kids...I won't be able to sue the teacher for negligence of duty.

Cerebration said...

You're surely right about that. She had a door in her classroom that opened to a field with a playground. She could just open it whenever she felt like the kids needed to go out and run around... by themselves! (She stayed inside and graded papers or worked with one or two kids or something...she was always busy and full of hilarious stories!)

Demand.Integrity.Now. said...

@Anonymous, "Dear Arne Duncan ..."

Not true!

Chamblee Charter High School includes Lynwood Park which is -- socio-economically -- a very poor area. At CCHS, 36% of the students are eligible for free-or-reduced price meals. The student population is 54% African-American, 25% White, 10% Asian, 7% Hispanic and 4% Multi-racial.

Druid Hills, another charter school shares similar student demographics, except 49% of their students are eligible for free-or-reduced price meals.

Dunwoody and Lakeside are not charter schools.

Please. Do not parrot inaccuracies. Do your homework (no pun intended) and go to the Georgia Department of Education's website for the facts.

Anonymous said...

When I went to school, the U.S. did not have to compete with the rest of the world. Fathers on my street did not even have to have a high school diploma to earn a decent living, wives did not work, children were fed, and doctors made house calls. Those days are over. It is a competitive world and if your child is not literate in science, math and technology and can't write fluently, they are behind the eight ball in life. Do you really want your child taught in a classroom with 44 other kids? That's exactly what Lewis would have us believe - that we can still have quality education no matter how many kids are in a classroom. Remember that 42% of DeKalb's employees are non teaching personnel (6% more in personnel costs than other metro systems). That translates into $54,000,000 annually that we could re-employ in the classroom if we just aligned our budget with the rest of metro Atlanta.
Honestly, you should go into the schools and see the utter degradation many of our students and teachers have to be in every day. No one who is a professional person would want to work there. I have worked in well over half the schools in DeKalb so I know what most teachers put up with and I know why so many of the good ones leave. The good teachers are not trapped - they just move on.

Anonymous said...


We are on the same team.

49% free & reduced lunch is pretty good versus 70% on up free & reduced lunch.

60% African-American is not the same as 60% on up African-Americans.

Some of the African-Americans live in the school zone of Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, or Druids Hill in the high priced houses or high priced appartments which indicates somekind of income and perhaps parental education and job stability.

The other African-Americans who do not live in the school zone of Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, or Druids Hill are manifesting a desire not to go to the school in their attendance zone and making great sacrifice to get to Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside, or Druids Hill every single morning. That is indicative of some choice motivated by the fact that kids learn better with other like-minded/motivated learners.

So Arne, what are you going to do with the rest of the students who are staying in their attendance zone?
Vox Noctae

Ella Smith said...

No one said, Lakeside was a Charter or magnet school.

However, it was said that we would have liked for it to have become a charter school in Science and Math and the ARts. The indicated also was that this was not wanted by individuals who want to keep Lakeside as it is now.

I hope this clear up the miscommunication.

One of the problems is many want the school system the way it used to be. In fact many of the individuals on the school board remember Dekalb when it was the Premier High School in the state. However, now times have changed and we really do not want our schools the way they were. We want them on the cutting edge of technology and we want our children to be able to compete in college and in the global society.

Ella Smith said...

Many students are out of district at Lakeside also and make great sacrafices to attend Lakeside. This is why the school is so crowded. Many students are out of district in the schools that do well on the test which show parents it is a good school.

Paula Caldarella said...

What infuriates me about this discussion - the possibility of eliminating the block in favor of the "cheaper" 7-period schedule - is the gyrations Lewis and company put DHS doing an "intervention" so we could understand what's best for our students, and creating much debate and dissension within the community. Once again, all for naught

I did not feel tortured and I totally disagree that the discussion at DHS was "for naught". I thought the community meeting was handled very well by Ms. Stepney and many of the top DCSS administors, (Mosely and Talley among them) were in attendance to hear our concerns with the 4x4 block schedule. I, for one, am not a proponent of the 7-period schedule, and I look forward to seeing how the new modifed A/B block at DHS shakes out.

Dekalbparent said...

We have seen two different emails to send budgets suggestions to.I tried both and one bounced, but I got a reply from Ramona Tyson's office acknowledging receipt of the other. the address is:

Pass it on.

Anonymous said...

I do not think my doctor could provide me the same quality of care if he/she took on 30% more patients (an occurrence that has happened in recent years). I believeost doctors we know professionally and personally will tell you patient care is stretched to the breaking point. It's the same with teachers. I know they can't provide the quality of teaching with 30% more students. Just like doctors they'll do what they can, just less effectively. I don't want an overloaded and frustrated teacher teaching my child. I understand we have hard economic times, but eventually we'll pull out of this recession. Meanwhile, our children will never get their education back. That boat will have sailed. Let's look at other non teaching areas to cut. In the corporate world you cut your least effective areas first. That is what Lewis and the BOE should do.

Cerebration said...

Oh, Anon 11:43 PM - I certainly am not advocating for classrooms of 45 students. I was just sharing a story from the old days. You must be new to the blog, for if you knew me, you would know that I have advocated for improving schools more than just about anyone.

Check out some of the older posts in the blog. We have lots and lots of good data and great discussions.

We have tripled our readership and obviously, there are many new people who I need to consider when I make comments. Sorry about that. And you are correct - the times were very different then. She also had a classroom full of fairly obedient, respectful children. She does tell some great stories!

Cerebration said...

What I am saying, though, is that the economy is still really bad - and what has been happening in the business world (esp banking, construction, real estate, automotive, manufacturing...) is starting to trickle into government - forcing them to tighten their belts. The money is simply not there. You can raise taxes all day long, but if people have no income - well, you can't squeeze blood out of a turnip.

This is why it's so vital to rail on the administration to take the cuts OUTSIDE the classroom first. The top must be shaved - the teachers have given enough for now - it's the administration's turn.

I say we start with - corporate wellness, Sam Moss (how about outsourcing some groundskeeping?), Gloria Talley's army of curriculum specialists - and yes, transportation.

Morale is bad enough - no one will take more cuts to the classroom sitting down - as long as the top continues to enjoy healthy bloat.

Anonymous said...

Free and Reduced lunches mean nothing. We have kids in our schools whose parents are teachers who get free lunch. We have kids in our schools whose parents are driving BMWs and Mercedes who are free and reduced lunches. Parents know what number to put down on the form and they get free and reduced lunches, there are no checks and balances. The number of free and reduced lunches should not be any threshold to the income level of the families within our schools.

Paula Caldarella said...

You would think some type of proof of income level would be required for a free/reduced lunch - W2, WIC documentation. I worked as a lunchroom monitor once. The amount of food that is throw away by the students on a daily basis is astounding - a big money loss right there, imo.

Anonymous said...

Great post by Anon 5:02. Dekalb knows that many, many families claim FRL who should never qualify for it, but C Lew and Ron Ramsey would never ever think to ask for proof of need. it is disgusting how many parents have no ethical qualm with taking FRL. And lewis and Ramsey enable the sense of entitlement.

Anonymous said...

I hear that Free and Reduced lunch is actually a money maker for big school districts across the nation.

A fair amount of FRL kids do not eat. The school cafeteria prepares a little over food for the average number of kids who eat regularly but charges the Feds for the full number of meals based on the FRL population.

In fact, schools "feed" student on half days before they leave school...and prepare even less on the day preceeding 3 or 4 day weekend.

Any cafeteria worker can second that?

Cerebration said...

It's not about a free lunch whatsoever - F&R lunch is used to determine the Title 1 status of a school - this equates to millions. Much more than some extra pizza.

Anonymous said...

That must be why DCSS does not check.....

The dirty rats!

Kim Gokce said...

110 comments in a day ... how's a girl to keep up?

RE: Block ... my impression from the leadership at Cross Keys is that they have the liberty to run a hybrid schedule to meet their needs. This makes the most sense to me and I don't understand why it wouldn't be left up to each school to work out a hybrid that works for their needs.

@cere: "... should not have to deal with more than 150 students at a time."

Just a note of trivia, I heard the figure 150 quoted as the maximum number of relationships a human brain can effectively manage on average. This came up in a discussion about facebook "friends' ... seriously, that's a lot of kids to track, discipline, instruct, and inspire.

RE: Cross Keys/Tech North up there in a couple of spots ...

The 2 schools are administered as one effective this year.

RE: SPLOST III at Cross Keys ...

The fourth wing (of 4) is gutted and in process of having an add'l 25k sq ft added to it to house tech and 2 art classrooms. The remaining 3 wings will have significant interior and system renovations during the rest of this year (still targeting Dec 2010 to complete). There is much that will be left to do after Evergreen Construction is gone. I was at soccer tryouts today (I was cut in the 1st five mins) and tripped on the crumbling track with my own feet. The grounds and athletics are a serious problem. The lack of auditorium and other amenities is a major shortcoming. In spite of that, our kids keep improving ... wait for the plug ... Cross Keys HS won 1st place in DeKalb's Ruffin Reading Bowl over the weekend! On to regionals on 2/6! Peace, out.

Cerebration said...

"I heard the figure 150 quoted as the maximum number of relationships a human brain can effectively manage on average."

Wow - scientific proof for my 150 kid max theory! thanks!

ps - CONGRATS Cross Keys Readers!!

Anonymous said...


Please sever off all ties with family and friends during the school year in order to serve over 150 students. The brain can only handle 150 effective relationships..and WE own you body and soul.

You may resume ties with family and friends during the breaks and the summer.

Not doing so is ground for termination.

Paula Caldarella said...

This makes the most sense to me and I don't understand why it wouldn't be left up to each school to work out a hybrid that works for their needs.

Kim, this is what we were told at the Dunwoody High School meeting concerning the scheduling options: Each school is required to teach, I believe it was, 360 minutes per day. The school is allowed to come up with the scheduling plan that best fits their needs. At DHS, the elimination of the 4x4 block, was, in my opinion, the result of several years of parental dissatisfaction with the 4x4 block.
Have you spoken with the administration at Cross Keys to get a sense of how they feel about the block?

Anonymous said...

The issue isn't really how a day is structured for high schoolers, bur rather whether we can afford 8 credits per year (32 lifetime) per each high schooler.

I think the system has done a lousy job identifying the schools where students have a critical need for those extra credits. Limit the 8 credit year to those schools and move everyone else to 7 (or better yet, like Gwinnett, assume that most students will pass and go to the 6 period day).

Paula Caldarella said...

The issue isn't really how a day is structured for high schoolers

It's not? If we have issues with NCLB because of its "cookie-cutter", "one-size" fits all approach, then how do we turn around and say that all schools must fit into a 7-period day. Quite frankly, and I may be in the minority, but, I approve of the idea that each school can identify what works best for their students.

Anonymous said...

"At DHS, the elimination of the 4x4 block....."

Has the block officially been eliminated at DHS? What is the new schedule?

Paula Caldarella said...

Dunwoody HS requested a move to a Modified A/B Block schedule. I have not heard that the request was denied by DCSS. However, I should know more tonight as we have a meeting at Peachtree for rising 9th graders.

Anonymous said...

Cointa Moody's salary = $92,192.09 as a General Admin Secretary...someone needs to look into this...she is a secretary for Pat Pope and gets paid way too much!

Anonymous said...

It would hardly seem a fair shake to teachers being asked to teacher 6/7 periods a day while others stay on the block -twiddling away the hours and teaching to half the number of students. Lest we forget that with only one planning period there is alot of housekeeping the teachers won't be able to get to; such as making copies - unjam the machine, wait your turn or walk upstairs/other end of the building only to realize that once again the machine is broken and da** it's time for my next class. So much for that "planning" period. All schools should go to a six period day w/ teachers teaching 5 of 6 periods. If high schools go to a rotating block there will no longer be an option to do joint enrollment.