Wednesday, January 6, 2010

So, Dr. Lewis got a raise - what say you all?

From 11 Alive

DeKalb County teachers are upset that their superintendent is receiving a raise -- months after they received furloughs.

The DeKalb County Board of Educationapproved a $15,000 raise Monday night for Superintendent Crawford Lewis, who has held the position since 2004.

While many believe Dr. Lewis is doing a fine job, officials with the Organization of DeKalb Educators says he should not receiving any kind of raise when the teachers and other employees are not getting one.

"I just think, when you're asking everyone else to make sacrifices, it's not the time to be giving one person a raise," said ODE President David Schutten. "It's like Dr. Lewis and the majority of the school board are tone-deaf to what's going on."

The board approved the raise 7-1, with Eugene Walker as the one member who voted against it. Walker said by phone Dr. Lewis "deserved a raise, but the economy did not support it, and we should be focused on geting the 13,000 employees in our school system raises instead."

Click the 11 Alive Link for the rest of the story.


Cerebration said...

Also, watch this Channel 2 report on the latest on the trial. The Heery/Mitchell attorneys state that they would be much further along if they could get cooperation from the school board - but they're not.

COO of DeKalb Schools' Trial Enters Critical Phase

Anonymous said...

OMG, the story states that Crawford took a $10,000 decrease last was his own idea!!!!

If he wants to go, PLEASE GO! You are an embarassment and the majority of teachers do not respect you. We have even less respect for Info. Systems Executive Director and his awful eSIS software and the complete lack of customer service by Tony Hunter's staff.

Great leaders lead by example. But Crawford wants his and he wants it now.

It hurts me deeply to think how much better the Board of Education would have been with Ernest Brown instead of Gene Walker and Coach Ella or Marshall Orson instead of Womack second fiddle Don McChesney.

Please, please, please tell your neighbors to start paying attention to the school system and Board of Education.

Anonymous said...

Wow! There are truly no words to describe the demoralization that I witnessed among my colleagues today. We go to school each and every day prepared to do the best job possible, often under difficult circumstances. In our classrooms, we lead by example because it's the professional thing to do. In our schoolhouse, our administrative team leads by example and supports us. We are a better school because of them. That seems to be as far as the example of good leadership goes. Dr. Lewis and the BOE should be ashamed of themselves over this incident. He's not commenting now because he and his people haven't figured out how to spin it. Paul Womack's explanation on the news was insulting and shows just how clueless they all are. Pitiful, just pitiful!

Anonymous said...

Crawford Lewis brought us SpringBoard, America's Choice, and eSIS. Need I say more? Except maybe to ask who benefited from those deals.

Cerebration said...

Wily Womack and his new attorneys pulled a fast one. They tried to quietly slide it by the folks - but the rumor of a salary increase got out and that made the board and Lewis mad. But they moved forward anyway - despite how the folks felt about it. That's Womack's style. Dr. Lewis expected much, much more in salary. He surely didn't want $30,000 of his new annual compensation tied up in a dumb expense account that he can't take with him and won't factor into his pension check. He most likely was very disappointed in a mere $15,000 raise in salary. He was simply in a panic to pad his pension check. Certainly, he plans on retiring before the whole Pope-Heery/Mitchell trial. You see, he and she are in limbo right now. They're in a Catch-22. The HM attorneys are chomping at the bit to ask Ms Pope some more questions (seems her character and integrity have come into question - some blatant "mistruths" revealed about this lady hired by Dr. Lewis - first as a consultant and again as COO - but with the name Pat Reid - not Pope (although it actually was Pope at the time - sort of). And her resume? Why, she hadn't seen that one before -- the search company Lewis hired wrote it.

But - alas - the judge won't let those attorneys ask her any more questions unless someone files charges. Well, gee - whose going to do that? Tick, tick, tick... hear that clock? Time is running out - someone will surely file some charge soon - and then - stand back! Pat Pope isn't going to go down alone. She'll sing like a canary. Why do you think she was always smiling like the Cheshire Cat at the board meetings?

Anonymous said...

Lewis how do you sleep at night the way you have treated all those people at the sam moss center that were in the lay-offs. I can't beleave that the board gave you more money when those people lost their salaries and insurance. Some of them had small children.

Anonymous said...

Moral issues is so important. Sometimes it is better for School Board members to say nothing than to stick foot in mouth.

I feel that Dr. Lewis deserves to be pay equally to the other school superintendents in surrounding counties. This is a tough issue.
Dr. Lewis should be providing the vision for the future for the Dekalb County School System. This is his job as the superintendent. He should be scanning the environment and looking for issues and correcting them to make it better for the students to learn and for teachers to teach.

I am deeply bothered by the Annoymous 7:10 comment. If this is truely the feelings of the professionals in our schools who have the most direct contact with our students and truely are the ones whose moods in many cases determine if children in a classroom have a good or bad day at school or if the standards in our classroom are learned it would appear that someone did not scan the environment as leaders in our educational community before making a decision that impacts our children and community.

Dr. Lewis deserves a raise but the timing was not appropriate. Our teachers do not deserve to be furloughed but it is a necessity. The pension plan reduction did not need to occur and was not deserved by teachers but it was a necessity according to the School Board. The bus drivers and cafeteria workers do not deserve to get the cuts in salary that they had to take.

My concern also is the number of young teachers this will drive out of teaching into another field in Dekalb. It is predicted that School Administrators and Teachers Shortages are coming in the future.

The decision was a hard decision. I am not so sure I could have voted yes even though I believe Dr. Lewis deserves a raise but his needs are not more important than the bus drivers, cafeteria worker, parapros, or teachers. In economic conditions like this it is important to be sensitive to the needs of all employees. If a great deal of the overhead at the county office was cut on Administration Dr. Lewis' salary actually would not be that big of any issue. The bigger issue to me has always been the massive spending of help at the county office.

Ella Smith

Anonymous said...

Moral issues are so important. Thank God I am not an English Teacher. I would get fired the first day of school.


Anonymous said...

I want to know how much of his $255,000 salary he uses for his job. I make about $51,000 and spend well over $3,000 so that I can have copy paper, cleanser and paper towels for clean desks, novels for guided reading, hand sanitizer and soap, pens to grade papers, white board markers and erasers, staples and staplers, paper clips, a chair for my desk, a broom and a dust pan, science supplies, folders, tape, supplies for student projects, and the list could go on.

I have spent countless hours redoing work because of Esis on my own personal time because the program cannot handle the volume of people trying to utilize the system.

Earlier this week, we received an email from the Wellness people with a recipe for Chili (something that if I wanted I could easily find on the internet). What the ... ? I can't get my report card grades to save correctly and Esis has been down time and again the past three days and you're sending me a Chili recipe and the hours of the wellness clinic. I don't have time to go to any wellness clinic. I have a family and need to do work at home grading papers and inputting grades and trying to fix report cards, so that my students receive the best education I can give them.

I smile knowing that I will not sign any contract offered to me in the near future and that May is not so long away. I am tired of acting like a professional while friends and family of the powers that be get fatter and fatter wallets. A true educator doesn't go into education for the money, we are public servants. They do it for the love of children. I have heard Dr. Lewis talk about how much he cares about DeKalb, however these actions speak so much more louder than any of the words that spew out of his mouth.

The kids at Stone Mountain High School wouldn't be in school without heat if he cared. The newer roofs of so many school buildings wouldn't be leaking, if he cared. Cross Keys wouldn't be in shambles, if he cared. The elementary math curriculum would enable students to learn and not just be introduced and exposed, if he cared. Our special education students would get the services that they need, if he cared. The Lewis/Pope car theft wouldn't have happened, if he cared.

I do not feel that DeKalb will enable me to ever be the best teacher that I can be. In the two schools that I have worked at principals and assistant principals are more worried about their jobs than actually educating the students attending their school. I have been told that I am not able to fail anyone no matter what the circumstances. I am not able to give a child a zero, even when they have done no work. My report cards reflect inflated grades that the children did not work for.

The moral among teachers, teacher assistants, custodians, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and service workers who truly care about the kids is so poor. People are giving up. The people voting for school board members in the county need to wise up and make better choices.

As I tell my students, life is about choices. The board has made their choice to give Lewis a raise. I will make my choice, and as a very well educated, caring, and good teacher, I will leave. My child will not attend the DeKalb County School System and I will encourage more families to use other ways to better educate their children.

Many teachers will wear black tomorrow to morn the professionalism that has been lost and the lack of education trickling down to the children.

Anonymous said...

Some DeKalb teachers, seeing red over superintendent's raise, will dress in black Thursday.

I think parents should join in. To bad there isn't enough time to notify enough people. Perhaps it can be repeated another day.

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry Anon. This is serious business and this latest action by the school board is nothing more than a slap in the face to teachers and staff. I can't believe that Lewis signed on the dotted line for a measly $15,000 raise - sure, yeah, right - he had other offers. The expense account is a joke - that only helps him out for the next year or two until he retires. Bottom line - it looks like the board (except Walker) and Lewis were more than willing to stomp on teachers morale for a lousy $15,000 plus some short term expense money.

I wish they would have called his bluff.

Cerebration said...

BTW - Ella, Womack states in the video that "I don't want this to come out the wrong way, but we have people begging for teaching jobs."

Whenever someone has to say, I don't want this to come out the wrong way - brace yourself. Now, what does that mean? Is that a threat? As in - teachers - if you don't like it - there's the door.(?!)

Anonymous said...

He gets a contribution to his retirement account and the rest of the county employees were told that we were not going to get ours for the whole year!!!! No step increases and no cost of living increases but we can give him a raise.... let's see how many of our good teachers stay at the end of this school year!! I am really disappointed in our school board!!

Cerebration said...

I have a feeling it's Gwinnett who is going to find themselves with teachers begging for jobs - teachers who want to leave DeKalb. They already have many of our best.

Cerebration said...

NOTICE: Teachers at Shamrock Middle School found a shih tzu with a red collar wandering the halls on Tuesday (1/5/10). He is being taken care of but they are anxious to reunite him with his family. If this dog belongs to you, please contact the school office at 678.874.7602.

Here_for_the_kids said...

Why are we all here? Why are you checking this blog? Surely those of us so involved in "watching" this issue care primarily about what kids in DeKalb County are learning, how well equipped their schools are, how supported their teachers and administrators are, how well we are using funds to serve the needs of ALL students in DeKalb County. Where is that deep foundation of commitment to students and educators in the deplorable $15K grab-at-the-stash that Dr. Lewis demonstrated in his shameless contract plug?

When teachers and faculty and staff were told they would not receive a pay raise this year, most put aside their own need for the funds that, mind you, are well-deserved. Most didn't carp about this problem, and instead, chalked it up to a bad economy, and, as those involved in public education so often do, "took one for the team," as they say.

Teachers and faculty and staff all over DeKalb have suffered for the sake of the "team" this year.

But let's look at the state of that team. That team works with overpacked classes in many schools. That team tries to teach without reliably working air or heat in their classrooms in many schools. That team works in many schools without adequate copiers to produce materials for their students. That team stands by why custodial staff are stretched to their limits.

That teaching team is so mistrusted that the ways they are to assign work and weight grades are dictated by people at the County level far removed from individual schools' classrooms. That team--once again, in a spirit of mistrust--is required to give incompetently written "benchmark" pre- and posttests to "prove" that learning is actually taking place in their classrooms, instead of being trusted that as educators they may actually be able to assess students' work accurately in their own classrooms. That team in many schools is supplanted with the hugely expensive "America's Choice" program and its scripted didactic delivery that, as one teacher said, "any marginally literate person" could deliver.

That team in some schools has to work to keep kids from falling through weight room floors that collapse--and notably, at a school with a predominantly non-native population whose parents do not feel empowered to complain about the renovations they never received from SPLOST monies they never saw--with records about said funds tucked away in the office of one Pat Pope, currently under investigation for alleged financial mismanagement.

That team, Dr. Crawford, is supposed to be YOUR team. And that team has been taking one and taking one and taking one "for the team" now, at your behest, for years now.

We are here at this blog because, as educators, as concerned parents, as committed members of the community, we want the best for the team. And isn't that why teachers, faculty members, staff and administrators all over DeKalb make sacrifices to "take one for the team?"

And here, the man who's supposed to be at the head of all this, instead of "taking one for the team" like the rest of us, chooses to take one FROM the team. Or 15,000 ones FROM the team.

Dr. Crawford Lewis has pronounced that he alone is more important than the entire team, a team without which his position would be absolutely useless.

This county's educators and support staff are fed up, demoralized, and, frankly, pretty furious. We want an answer. And frankly, we want a new superintendent and new financial management to go along with it.

Anonymous said...

Annoy. 6:40
Thanks for your comment:

It hurts me deeply to think how much better the Board of Education would have been with Ernest Brown instead of Gene Walker and Coach Ella or Marshall Orson instead of Womack second fiddle Don McChesney.

Please, please, please tell your neighbors to start paying attention to the school system and Board of Education.

Thanks for again for your comment. I got to know Marshall after the election and he is a good guy. I did not get to know him as a candidate. Earnest is great. However, I give Dr. Walker props for voting no Monday night.

I always respected Mr. Womack until he attempted to embarass me in public.


Anonymous said...

We should have a rally at the next school board meeting with signs outside protecting the decision.


Anonymous said...

I hope that every one will remember this when we go back to the polls and vote. This is when we will get a chance to change things. Remember the board had to go along with this and we can remove them with a short trip to the polls.

Anonymous said...

Ella, you sound like you are a Lewis supporter...administrators deserve raises when they are EARNED! Corrupt administrators most certainly do not! How could say/post otherwise?? This really makes me question your judgment...something I have not really done before.

Anyone catch the latest WSB news report on the POPE debacle that aired tonight? DA is saying District, which asked for the investigation, is not really cooperating...something about disputes over documents and atty/client priv.

I am telling y'all...something is not right at DCSS--and when it comes crashing down, it will be big. God help this District and our children.

SLP98 said...

I don't work in DCSS nor do I have children but I do live in DeKalb and I did email every board member to ask them to vote NO to the raise. Only Walker responded. Unfortunately, the apathy of many of the potential voters in the county makes it unlikely that we'll see any changes on the Board in the near future.

Oh, and even though I live smack in the middle of DeKalb, I drive to Fulton to work in the school system there. It's not perfect, but I don't think it is as corrupt or screwed up as DCSS.

If you can't stay in DCSS any longer, consider switching to Fulton! The drive to south Fulton is against traffic, and many of the north schools are in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs - not too far.

Anonymous said...

There were recent posts about Instructional Coaches (or something like that). Here's an e-mail sent by one at a South DeKalb Title I High School to all the English teachers. I love how trivial the emphasis is on ensuring AYP is met. What a joke Premier DeKalb has become. (I'll forgo mentioning the punctuation and capitalization errors of this Language Arts Coach.

Good afternoon teachers,

Starting this month (January), the *** administrative team and America's Choice literacy and math representatives, will be conducting focus walks with an extra emphasis on instructional bulletin boards.

I have been creating laminated signs for you to update your instructional boards. I have delivered signs to 9th grade teachers and will be working on the instructional board signs for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade teachers.

Please see the attachment to get an idea of how your instructional bulletin board should look.

When gathering student work for your board, please remember:
1. Post your most rigorous assignment(s).
2. Only post a few assignments from each class. You do not have to post all of your students' work.
3. A rubric must accompany the assignment you are displaying.
4. Commentary must be on each piece of work you display.
5. Commentary should specifically indicate how the students mastered the standard. It must go beyond "good job" "excellent work"

I will deliver your signs to you before the week is over. If you need assistance setting up your board, please email me and I will be happy to assist you.

Thanks for all you do!

***, M.Ed.
DCSS Office of School Improvement
Instructional Coach-English language arts
*** High School
Monday - Friday
Phone: 678-***-****

Anonymous said...

Annoynomous, I really do not know Dr. Lewis well enough to make any formal judgements about him. I have never set down and had a conversation with him. Professionally I cannot blash someone that I really do not know. I do know from talking to everyone who does know him that his heart is in the right place. I do think he should be getting equal pay to other superintendents in the Atlanta area. As I have said perviously I think principals and AP make the money they receive. I also feel Dr. Lewis' responsibilities to this communities are very high and he is like a CEO of a big company dealing with big money and big decisions and he should be compensated. However, now is not the time.

I wrote up this morning so upset. I am a teacher. How could anyone say to the teachers of Dekalb County. I hope you do not take this the wrong but we had to give Dr. Lewis a raise to keep him here. But if you want to leave here is the door more of less.

Highly qualified teachers are the key to students' achievement. In the administrative classes currently I have learned so much about ways to impact achievement and to constantly be scanning the external and internal environment of the school to make improvements for the classroom setting so student achievement can continue to improve. However, again I do not see this as a decision that has been throughly thought out and both the internal and extermal environment have been scanned before this decision was made. Our School Board members are our Educational Leaders in the community and they must scan the environment and make decisions based on what is best for all the stakeholders.

I wonder how important it is to keep Dr. Lewis under contract right now with all the litigation going on in the Henry Mitchell case and the Pope case. When you are under contract you represent the school system and have to remain silent. I thought it was interesting that the school board is not forthcoming or helpful in the Pope investigation at all as mentioned last night on the news article. Maybe it is important to keep Dr. Lewis in his current position at the current time for many business decisions. There is a great deal of money at stake in the Henry/Mitchell case.

We do not have all the information the School Board members do so when we are discussing issues on this site we are discussing issues many times with lack of information due to confidential situations and due to lack of transparency in other situations.

If I was a teacher in Dekalb I would be emotionally sick by this decision. It is a sad week for all the employees of the Dekalb County School System. I doubt that Dr. Lewis is happy with his contract either and I doubt he is happy with all the bad feelings this caused in the school system.

Ella Smith

Cerebration said...

Good points, Ella. I think we can all agree that the argument is not whether or not Lewis DESERVES a raise - but whether or not HE ALONE should receive a raise - right after he himself has asked so much of our teachers and bus drivers and others. Teachers DESERVE a raise too - but have only endured cut after cut over the past few years.

A 2% pay cut when you make over $100,000 is not a very difficult sacrifice to make. At between $35,00-$70,000, losing several days' pay due to furloughs, losing your pension contributions (the board gave Lewis large contributions as part of his new package), having to pay a larger percentage of healthcare costs have all put a pretty heavy burden on our teachers. This is on top of having to learn new curriculums, submit more paperwork and work with a new student information system that is seriously flawed.

It's just the timing - the timing has been a huge slap in the face to teachers. I simply can't believe the rest of the board other than Gene Walker can't see that.

I do think you're on to something - they may need to keep him so that he is on the "inside" during the prep for this trial. Bowen is a lawyer - he voted yes - he's a pretty stable, trustworthy person. There's a lot of evidence that needs investigating - and I've only seen about 1/500th of the court files.

Anonymous said...

I'm a parent and a former teacher, in Ohio. In the present climate of DeKalb County Schools, the teachers and principals do not have a voice. They are fiercely reprimanded if they raise concerns that differ from top administrators. The layers of bureaucracy are mind-numbing, yet there is very little support for teachers and principals. Mid-level administrators appear to exist for the sole purpose of making more busy work for the teachers, as opposed to offering real guidance/assistance/support for teachers and principals. The bloat, as many have mentioned, has increased under Dr. Lewis’ tenure. It doesn’t matter if Dr. Lewis deserved this raise or not. It’s the fact that, at a time when teachers and support staff have endured pay cuts, Dr. Lewis should have known better than to ask for a raise and the school board surely should have know better than to give it to him. This does nothing but immediately lower morale.

But @cerebration makes the great point that the school board had the smarts to limit the actual salary part of the raise, which would have figured into Dr. Lewis’ retirement salary. Instead, they gave much of the raise in other categories.

I really think the DeKalb County School system is broken. Voters do not pay attention to school board elections and then complain about the outcome. I and others have worked hard over the years to TRY to get highly qualified candidates elected, but to no avail. It’s discouraging to watch this board in action and even more discouraging to take the time to write letters, speak at meetings, and talk to the members—only to see bad decision, after bad decision being made.

By the way, on the AJC blog, some "posters" praised Dr. Walker for voting against the raise. The fact that Eugene Walker voted against Dr. Lewis’ raise does not suddenly make him a great member of the board. This man got elected to the school board because he had campaign coffers in the thousands donated by the Sembler corporation. At the time of the election, Dr. Walker chaired the DeKalb County Development Authority, the body that was charged with possibly awarding Sembler a lucrative contract in Brookwood. Dr. Walker was running against a HIGHLY qualified opponent (Ernest Brown!) in the school board run-off who could not begin to match the money Dr. Walker was able to amass. And, only after he was elected to the school board did Dr. Walker resign from the Development Authority—although it took public outcry and pressure from his fellow school board members.

I don’t think Dr. Lewis has ever intended to be a bad superintendent. But the problems in our schools are overwhelming and he’s managed the school system like the little boy with his finger in the dike. He’s tried one fly-by-night program after another and placed an inordinate amount of pressure on the principals and teachers in the process. No program lasts more than one or two years, until a new one comes along. eSIS is a disaster. As a parent, I STILL have not been able to log on and teachers must post grades from home late at night, when internet “traffic” on the system is light. I could go on and on, but I’m too demoralized and depressed.

My daughter graduates in 2011, but all of us in DeKalb County pay for poorly run schools, even if we don’t have children in the system. IMO, the practice of school systems being comprised of entire counties in Georgia only works in rural areas, where there aren’t as many students with diverse needs as in DeKalb and other metro counties. The time has come to restructure the school system in DeKalb. One administration cannot meet the needs of 90,000 students.

Paula Caldarella said...

The time has come to restructure the school system in DeKalb.

I would like to hear your ideas about how to restructure the school system?

Cerebration said...

Well said, Anonymous 9:06 AM! I couldn't have put together a better comment myself --

Would you like to be a front page writer??? This is a group blog - we could use you! -- Send me an email!

BTW - DM, we've discussed restructuring before. This school system could be divided into anywhere from 4-6 different systems. (One of the many parent committees already worked very hard to come up with the "regional" plan - but it seems to have fizzled.) At any rate - if they are not totally independent, they could be nearly independent. Each region already has an Area Superintendent. Give them each more power - like an actual superintendent. Allow each region to make their own decisions on many issues. And we could even have a sort of Executive Superintendent who deals with the state, the feds, evaluating districts, evaluating programs in other states - digging around - looking ahead - to bring best practices to the system. Our current super is a micro-manager like none other. The super needs to be a visionary.

The state currently won't allow new school districts to form. But a change in the law could open up a whole new era. And Obama and Arne are pushing for change - hard.

Check out the latest discussion on the Race to the Top at the AJC blog -

States race to meet federal Race to the Top deadlines

Anonymous said...

@Dunwoodymom, I have to get ready for a meeting and don't have time to answer right now. Will write a response later.

Paula Caldarella said...

Cere, restructuring - it won't ever happen. As far as new school districts, I have not heard of any legislator who has even attempted to bring forth the idea of allowing new school systems in the state. It must be a difficult to impossible undertaking, or else I could see Dan Weber or Fran Millar taking up this cause.

Anonymous said...

What about the folks who were laid off that had jobs with a sense of purpose..We got rid of the printshop and outsourced work because Ms. Pope/Reid said we would save money. When all we have done is increased cost and got some incompetent person telling us where our print jobs will be sent for completion and a large bill. We had an entire department that printed for the DCSS now we have bills, bills, bills. But Clewis receives a raise...well why did we layoff if we had money to throw around. Remember Mosley and a few others received promotions back in October and a raise came with those jobs.
What kind of message are we sending to our children and staffers, that it's o.k. to screw over the little man and that it pays to be top dog.

Anonymous said...

Restructering did happen. Just look at the Wake County School System (NC) during its last election. The board got overturned and the first thing on the agenda that was passed. Going back to neighborhood schools. No more busing here to there to everywhere.

It took a group getting together through out the county and working and going out and getting votes together but it was done.

Kate Goodhart said...

I am furious about this raise. I cannot believe that Dr. Lewis accepted it, much less requested it. And, I am shocked that elected board members voted to approve it. I know that $15 isn't that much in comparison to the overall budget, but that's taxpayer money meant to benefit our kids. If Dr. Lewis loves DeKalb so much, he should understand this. Everyone is focusing on the teacher and staff layoffs, furloughs, and paycuts, and I agree that they are solid arguements for why this raise is WRONG. There's more though. Some of our students don't have heat in their classroom. I firmly intend on spreading the word that our board representative isn't doing a good job and should not be reelected.

Anonymous said...

Clew and the board need to explain to the teachers and bus drivers who are having a tough time making ends meet why a guy who was making about $85K just a few years ago now "needs" to make $255K + inflated expenses just to make his ends meet.

Cerebration said...

Adding yet another dimension to the discussion - the AJC is also reporting that the superintendent is blocking the very investigation he requested.

Maureen Downey has a blog discussion going -

As they say, things in DeKalb schools are getting curiouser and curiouser with each passing day.

It sounds like the superintendent has built a bunker around his office and believes everyone — including now the district attorney — is out to get him. When public officials develop a persecution complex, things go downhill quickly.

Why would Lewis and DeKalb schools stymie an investigation that they requested? There’s hardly an answer that I can think of that doesn’t reflect poorly on the system.

Check out the discussion at Why is DeKalb blocking probe that it requested?

The AJC article is available there as well.

Anonymous said...

I have been told by a student that almost every teacher at our high school was wearing black today. In addition, at least one teacher at a nearby private school was also wearing black. As a parent, I will also be wearing black. I urge all of you to consider doing the same, and remember to go to the BOE meeting on Jan 11 (Mon).cytem

Anonymous said...

Not only teachers will be at the board meeting. I hope all employees will be there. And everyone that was in the lay-offs also.

The employees that were in the lay-offs need to get together and file a class action suit against the school system.

Anonymous said...

It is my understand that Fulton County is real close to being approved and going back to two counties. Fulton and Milton County will be the two new counties. I have heard this will be the first change like this coming up. The Milton group have been working on this for along time.

It is understandable how the Northside of the County would like its own government. Sandy Springs pulled out from the county because of this. When this happens Fulton County School System will be 1/2 the size it is now. The upper half will be Milton School System and Milton County School System will have by far top test scores in the state.

I again feel strongly that we are not aware of most of the information that the School Board is basing decisions on. Due to the lack of transparency and now it appears the lack of providing record that any citizen of Dekalb County should be able to have do a records request and have access to there appears there must be something the School Board is attempting to kept out of the public eyes.


Anonymous said...

I wish the DeKalb Council of PTA's would consider getting on board with the parent (student?) blackout on Monday to show empathy and support for the teachers, staff, and bus drivers.

Anonymous said...

At our school, the principal went around and took a tally of how many teachers were wearing black to protest Dr. Lewis's raise. Then, we received an email from the principal stating that the district office had requested that we do not talk to media if they come to our school. I wonder what is next.

Anonymous said...

Hey Crawford and BOE elected officials... If you have to direct the principals not to talk to the media, look inside yourselves and answer the question: Are you in it to benefit the students, or you? Right now it looks like the answer is "you".

John Heneghan said...

Dr. Lewis have you given up on your plan for "Premier DeKalb", the blueprint for making DeKalb the premier K-12 school system of choice through your seven strategic pieces which are leadership, data analysis to ensure quality decision making, customer service, accountability, access and equity for all students, training for all employees, and unity. Your leadership is suppose to be the capstone of this blueprint which would galvanize all employees with the rally cry of "Premier DeKalb ... One Direction, All Schools, Every Student!"

Please show some leadership by being accountable.

Residents 70 % of your property taxes go to the DeKalb County Board of Education. Are you paying attention or just paying the bill?

SongCue said...

It's a mystery to me how Dr. Lewis and the Board of Education could not have foreseen the reaction from non-administrative employees and the public. I think Anon. 6:54 has a valid point. The PTA's main role is to be an advocate for families and children. I know the people who are in the leadership of the DeKalb PTA Council. They are smart and savvy, and they know the problems of DeKalb County Schools.

Dr. Lewis' raise, in my opinion, is yet another symptom of the disconnect that exists between the upper administration and employees in the school houses. If there had been a thread of trust left between the two, it was severed Monday night.

Trust is earned and this administration has managed to lose the trust of its employees and the public in a few short years. From ill-thought-out programs (math, language arts, eSIS), to an environment that discourages personal expression by teachers and principals, Dr. Lewis and his staff have lost all credibility.

Those of you who post on this blog must stay informed and talk to your neighbors about the absolute necessity of working to elect school board members who will serve the children of DeKalb County. Whether or not you have children in the public schools, it's in everyone's interest to live in a community with good schools. What we have now is not sustainable nor acceptable.

Anonymous said...

Please remind me which Board members are up for re-election in 2010. And does anyone know if Ernest Brown plans to run again for an at-large seat?

How can we get in touch with him to urge him to do this?

Cerebration said...

The board members whose terms expire in 2010 are:

Jim Redovian - District 1
Sarah Copelin-Wood - District 3
Jesse "Jay" Cunningham, Jr. - District 5
Zepora Roberts - District 7
Eugene P. Walker - District 9

That's over half the board. Of the remaining four, we will still have Tom Bowen, Pam Speaks, Don McChesney and Paul Womack.

Tom and Pam are our best, IMO. Glad they'll still be with us. They need 5 new, solid, hard-working, honest leaders to join them in 2011.

Anonymous said...

I can't find the link online for the original article (AJC) stating the board would vote for the raise, but am I only one who remembers a quote from lewis that essentially said "I can't go on like this." Like WHAT you whinebaby? $240K/yr, expenses, car, etc and you really need MORE? give me a break. It makes me ill that his pride is tied up in earning the same as everyone else his level in the city. Maybe it's b/c they are DOING A GOOD JOB!!!! and what about all the other $100K+ employees who he so proudly told us in Sept all took 2% paycuts under his "leadership" - are they taking back their 2%?
so Womack says the BoE basically reinstated the 2% which Clewlis had willingly given up - until some stick rode up his backside and told him to whine! (if anyone has that quote, please post it)
Other question, on which AJC wasnot clear. it said his contract provided the $2500/mo expense account. I assume he's always had an expense account - they couldn't ge away w/ adding another $15K w/out more outrage. Does anyone know if the expense is new or if the number is new? surely e already had an expense acct. I guess they're referring to the new contact b/c it says "in addition to the $255K, the contract grans him$2500 expenses and a monthly contribution of $1250 to HIS tax-sheltered annuity fund. If I were a DCSS teacher, TH"IS would really outrage me. I hope I'm wrong. Shame shame shame, asmy fried used to say
Oohhh I can hear the wind howling! (literally, I'm typing away, there's a sprinkle of snow onthe ground and
ALL the schools are shut andnow the wind is howling...

Here_for_the_kids said...

There have been announcements about a planned picket of Monday's BOE meeting at 5 pm outside the building. The BOE meeting after that is a business meeting, so no opening for community discussion, but there is a plan to pack the house.

Anonymous said...

Several parents have mentioned at school and in this blog that the PTA (at any level) should get on board with a protest against Clewless' lack of leadership. Please be advised that in order for any PTA to keep its tax exempt status, it cannot engage in political activity of any kind. The role of a PTA is coordination of parent volunteers and support of student activities. In the State of Georgia, a school's charter or PTA organization can be taken away if either is involved in political activity. Of course, that certainly doesn't stop PTAs from providing information about parent groups meeting about issues - they simply cannot become a political action committee or make formal political statements. I've looked at the rules because I, too, thought it would be great if the PTA spoke up on behalf of parents and teachers. Ah, well.

Anonymous said...

I'm really glad to see John H wading into this issue. His question to Dr. Lewis is right on target. I also appreciate the poster who protested against the description of DeKalb as a third-world county. It's not. I've noticed that the more I focus on what's wrong, the more I overlook what's good. Which is the truth?


I often say that, as long as my kids are getting a quality education from skilled and creative teachers, I can hold my nose at the political stupidity swirling above their heads. So far, their Dunwoody schools are continuing to do a really good job - excellent teachers, solid support by parents, and wonderful extracurricular activities. Okay, not the math - that's not so good. We've hired a tutor to take care of that.

I want their good experience to continue, so this awfulness has to stop now. I, too, will pay attention to who's running for the School Board.

Cerebration said...

Dunwoody is poised to find someone to replace Redovian and send a strong, fair-minded person to the board. (John? How many jobs can you do?? Can you clone yourself?)

Don't take that wrong - I'm a fan of Redovian - I just don't think he plans on running again (could be wrong).

Anonymous said...

I am a Redovian fan to but inside the perimeter is tired of everything going to Dunwoody. We want our piece (granted very small) of the pie.

I would love to see a group from across the county get together and help each other out.

If someone would like to get a email going and lets get a band of brothers to speak of to work together. Go and get out the vote together. Work in each others district together. Educate the voters together.

I truly believe that if we got a band together we can overtake the school board and win. We need this for the teachers, para pros, bus drivers, and for heavens sakes the STUDENTS.

Anonymous said...

"Everything going to Dunwoody." As long as this polarization continues within the county, among parents and teachers, we'll continue business as usual. People need to understand that EVERY SCHOOL is underserved. Miles and miles of posts have delineated what hardware, software, furnishings, renovations, HVAC, technology, etc. have gone to various schools (or not). Band of brothers? I think we need a coalition of parents. Big difference.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:16 ..

What do you mean, "Everything going to Dunwoody"? Examples, please. Most of our schools are falling apart.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:16 typing fast so please forgive me. Sometime my brain moves faster than my fingers.

Let me see.. Have you gotten not 1 but 2 NEW schools? Let's see we have Montgomery who lost out on a huge playground for the kids because the county would not fill out the paper work. Yes Redovian knew about it. He should have worked for those parents to help get things through. The parents were paying for the playground equipment not cost to the county but we need a simple paper filled out and nothing happened.

Granted your schools are falling apart too, but the way I see it you got a very nice piece of the pie while ITP is struggling to make ends meet.

Ok, I admit we got Chamblee a new school, but heck 60 percent of the kids that go there are not neighborhood kids. They are from they are from the south (not all but a big portion of them).

Let me ask you this.... Why was it when PCMS was built, they got to keep all of items for being the old school and get new items for being a new school. For example, orchestra and band equipment. They got to keep their "old" items and got to purchase more and newer equipment. Just because it was a "new built" school and had to meet state standards.

And let's not forget that Redovian also has Henderson Middle School. Can I tell you the ways that he has forgotten about the schools acrossed I85 that he represents. Everything thinks that HMS belongs to Wommack and McChesney but it does not. I remember Lynn Cherry Grant making a comment years ago, "those are the same TV's that were here when I was in school here".

When HMS, Sequoia, and Shamrock where changed over from high school to a middle school, LHS and Tucker can and took everything. The parents at HMS and Shamrock have worked hard to replace things that were stolen from them. The county has yet replace those items. (ie, library books, band, orchestra equipment, PE equipment) What has Redovian done to help this. NOTHING. Nada, and Zilch.

That is sad.

Paula Caldarella said...

So, anonymous, you are saying that people from Lakeside and Tucker came over and stole items? Really?

btw, what equipment are you talking about at PCMS? My child was in orchestra and we had to provide our own instruments and paid yearly booster fees to help our with other fiscal issues.

Cerebration said...

Actually, I remember a group of Lakeside parents being allowed to go over to the old Peachtree MS just before they tore it down and claim the remaining old desks and shelving - the Sam Moss people brought that 40 year old stuff over -- and we were damn grateful to get it!

As far as equipment goes - I'm quite certain that none went to Lakeside. They have old band equipment (I could be wrong, but I don't think the county provides much for bands and orchestras unless you are a Title 1 school) and terrible, old PE and weight-lifting equipment. Recently, the parents finally relented and spent a fortune to buy new equipment and fix up the mold-infested locker rooms themselves.

And library books? This was a long time ago, but I remember Mr. TIppins opening a 1948 dictionary at Oak Grove's library to show us that the word "computer" wasn't in it! Lakeside's library is not much more current. Don't even ASK about Lakeside's science "Labs" or equipment. It's from 1968 - and mostly broken or lost over the years.

Nope, as Dunwoody mom says, the reason our children manage to still perform well is because the parents fill in the gaps - and there are some really big gaps.

Cerebration said...

FYI - Atlanta Unfiltered posted this listing of superintendent's pay today - stating that the recently fired John Thompson of Clayton Co was the third highest paid super (perhaps it was Clayton who was wooing Lewis?)

Here’s the rest of the Top 10 superintendent salaries for 2009, courtesy of

$389,314 — Beverly Hall, Atlanta
$387,934 — J. Alvin Wilbanks, Gwinnett
$367,371 — John Thompson, Clayton County
$287,991 — Crawford Lewis, DeKalb County
$274,425 — Cindy Loe, Fulton County
$249,530 — Martha Patterson, Bibb County
$239,254 — Thomas Lockamy, Savannah-Chatham County
$236,129 — Donald Remillard, Douglas County
$232,602 – Dana T. Bedden, Richmond County
$227,853– Emily Lembeck, Marietta

Cerebration said...

Of course, nothing is standing in the way of Beverly Hall's now $400,000+ compensation package!

Beverly Hall, ATL school superintendent: $400,298

Anonymous said...

Cere, when it comes to salary, let's not forget Lewis' $2500 per month expense account, other perks, buying a car for one-third the preice, etc.

Hene has a great point about C Lew
ignoring the 7 tenets of a Premier system: 1) leadership, 2) data analysis to ensure quality decision making, 3) customer service, 4) accountability, 5)access and equity for all students, 6) training for all employees, and 7) unity.

Customer service was and still is AWFUL. Equity for students? Not if you're Latino. Accountability? Not when it comes to eSIS, making up new unneeded admin positions, etc., etc., etc. training? Tony Hunter didn't even have training for all teachers on eSIS??? Data analysis? Please. unity and leadership? I'm laughing. If you're in the C Lew inner circle, like Ron Ramsey and Yvonne Butler, you're guaranteed a fat pay check. If not, you're SOL.

It is well past time for the BOE to have Lewis retire and bring in a new super from outside the system.

Cerebration said...

No argument here, Anon. It's time. Especially when you look at 7) unity. That's never going to be repaired as long as Lewis is at the helm. He has broken all trust - public - and within his rank and file.

Anonymous said...

I know it's just pennies here, but just another illustration of Clew taking advantage of the situation. He opt'd to buy his own car and get reimbursed via a monthly stipend as opposed to having the district buy a car and keep it maintained. With that being the case, shouldn't he be using his reimbursement monies for gas, car washes, maintenance and such? Or if others are to follow his example, shouldn't all employees of the district have the same free use of Sam Moss car wash etc services for their own personal vehicles?

Cerebration said...

The travesty is - due to all of these attention-soaking emergencies and media frenzies, we have lost our leadership. Lost our way. We're without vision. And there couldn't be a worse time to lose it. The blogger's quote below rings true for DeKalb schools here and now. We need to wake up, shake off our grogginess and garner new leadership - leadership with a vision for our children's future.

Vision is the lifeblood of any organization. It is
what keeps it moving forward. It provides meaning
to the day-to-day challenges and setbacks that
make up the rumble and tumble of real life.

In a down economy—particularly one that has taken most of us by surprise—things get very tactical. We are just trying to survive. What worked yesterday does not necessarily work today. What works today may not necessarily work tomorrow. Decisions become pragmatic.

But after a while this wears on people. They don’t know why their efforts matter. They cannot connect their actions to a larger story. Their work becomes a matter of just going through the motions, living from weekend to weekend, paycheck to paycheck.

This is where great leadership makes all the difference. Leadership is more than influence. It is about reminding people of what it is we are trying to build—and why it matters. It is about painting a picture of a better future. It comes down to pointing the way and saying, “C’mon. We can do this!”

When times are tough, vision is the first causality.
Before conditions can improve, it is the first thing
we must recover.

Michael Hyatt is the CEO of omas Nelson Publishers. He blogs on “Leading with Purpose” at and also Twitters at @MichaelHyatt.

Anonymous said...

Does the teacher who had the courage to speak out in the video have to worry about his job? I heard that county admins were visiting schools on Thursday to find out how many teachers wore black. They simply cannot be trusted to put the welfare of students and teachers above their own. It's a constant CYA dance.

Anonymous said...

On topic of equipment loss from Henderson to Tucker/Lakeside: when Henderson became a middle school, the thinking was that their "high school" equipment was not necessary for a middle school, and it was parceled out to Lakeside and Tucker. This included large band instruments (drums, xylophones, etc.), science lab equipment, sporting and weight equipment, library books, etc. However, no one really knew what a middle school did or didn't need, so there wasn't much control over what went. The result was that HMS was left pretty bare. This finally became apparent years later when new middle schools were built, and the parents and staff at HMS found out what a new middle school got to make it "whole." Leave it to say that HMS didn't have any of those items, new or old, because they had walked away years before. But this was not the fault of either high school; it was the short-sightedness of the county administration, probably aided by board members looking out for "their" high schools (no one was looking out for middle schools then).

Anonymous said...

Was out tonight for a parents night out. Some of the parents are very active in the various PTA's and such, and have never even heard of this blog, or the AJC's Get Schooled Blog, or the Citizens Advisory Committee, or that BOE meetings are streamed online, or the Pat Pope scandal, or the eSIS mess, etc., etc.

These are hard working parents. They volunteer at their schools. They come home from work, eat dinner, help their kids with homework, give their kids a bath, and fall asleep while watching Grey's Anatomy.

We have to spread the word about this blog. We have to get parents and county taxpayers paying attention. The Crawford Lewis administration is out of control. Our Board of Education is of the same quality as Clayton County's.
When you talk to other parents, teachers, neighbors, etc., please tell them to start paying attention, whether its on this blog, or watching a BOE meeting, or asking their children's teachers what they need. Things have to change, but right now, I'll guess that maybe 5% of DCSS parents and even less than 5% of county residents without children in the system are paying attention. Please also talk to your state representatives and state senators (except Ron Ramsey).

Lewis and DCSS have built this massive, bloated, out of touch bureaucracy army which isn't going anywhere. We are short changing our children, our teachers, and our fellow taxpayers. One day Dan Weber and Fran Millar are going to get the state legislature to grant Dunwoody charter school system status, and I won't blame them for doing so. If they can't get charter school system status, Dunwoody will break off into the soon to be formed Milton County, and both DeKalb County and DCSS will lose its No. 1 economic engine, Perimteer Center.

Its really, really bad right now. Crawford demanding a raise while teaches lost STEP and more was the last straw. We are going to lose hundreds of experienced teachers who are fed up with eSIS, Gloria Talley's ineffective curriculum instructors, the pitiful America's Choice curriculum, and the layers of Central Office admin bloat. Those expreinced teachers will be replaced by a whole lotta first year teachers or mediocre veteran teachers just seeking a paycheck.

Until we get thousands of more parents and taxpayers paying attention, we will be stuck with the Crawford Lewis administration and the current Board of Education. It's as bad right now as its been in a long time. Help.

Cerebration said...

Do you mean to tell me they're watching Grey's Anatomy but not reading this blog? My, oh, my, we have work to do!

Seriously, Anon. Thanks! I agree - send people!

FWIW - some people have been finding us - our daily visitors have tripled in the last month!

That's from 500/day to 1500/day! We're getting there.

Paula Caldarella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula Caldarella said...

One day Dan Weber and Fran Millar are going to get the state legislature to grant Dunwoody charter school system status, and I won't blame them for doing so.

I have not heard anyone speak of this. Who is saying this?

If they can't get charter school system status, Dunwoody will break off into the soon to be formed Milton County, and both DeKalb County and DCSS will lose its No. 1 economic engine, Perimteer Center.

I believe it was Fran Millar who said recently that Dunwoody moving into Milton County was not something he believed he would/could happen.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb already lost all the Perimeter Center tax revenue- 13% of the total tax base!

Please note that AJC reports that DeKalb's tax base has fallen more than any other metro county. So folks, the you know what is about to hit the fan this summer.

I would like to know the status of the DCSS reserves. I imagine they are being used up.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with anon. 12:02. Of the 30 teachers and teacher assistants at my school. 10 are leaving this year-this is what I have heard. There may be others who are keeping hush about it. These people are leaving for either retirement or because they have had enough. That it a huge number of positions to replace in one school, especially for a school who has little turn over in the past. This number is not including other positions that need to be replaced because people left mid-year. The teachers who are retiring may not have all their years in or be of the age to get the max, but they feel that they are unable to do the job that they were once able to do long ago and realize that things are not going to get better and that their pay checks aren't going to get any bigger either. Younger teachers, like myself, are leaving because we went into teaching to educate and to help children become life long learners. The county has shown that they do not care about the children, the educators, and other workers in the district.

I have had personally had enough. It's not about the money-although it hurts that Lewis got a raise we were given the shaft. It's about knowing Lewis' expenses were increased and I continue to put money out of my pocket for things like paper and photocopies, so that I can do my job. It's about not being able to do my job the best way for the children and being called out for questioning bad decisions and rules that hurt a child's education. It's about exposing children to material, but never allowing anything to sink in. It's about having to spend so much of my own time after school doing work several times-whether that be entering grades in esis or grading papers that come in to me in dribs and drabs because we have to give students three chances and more to get their work in, because zeros are not allowed. (I have been teaching for 14 years. I have had no computer and have had close to 40 children in my class and have not spent this much of my own time doing work even though I had to manually figure out grades for all of my students.) It is because the district doesn't care if the teachers and children sit in dirty buildings that may or may not have heat and air conditioning, but most likely have mold in the vents and ceilings due to the leaking ceilings. It is because I receive chili recipes via email instead of the paper and other supplies that I must purchase myself. It is because teachers have a wellness program complete with someone in charge making well over $100,000 and the children in our high schools should be using this equipment first not the workers of the district. It is because millions of dollars are wasted in litigation and salaries for fat cats on programs and projects, me an average educator has never seen or does not have time or interest in attending or using. It is because the board of education and the superintendent do not care about the children. Their words and actions do not match and actions always speak louder than words.

Leaving is not because I do not like to teach. I LOVE teaching and am glad that I chose it as my profession, however, I have not been able to teach in the three years that I have been in DeKalb. So instead of being bitter, it's time to go.

Anonymous said...

The charter cluster legislation already exists. However, multiple attempts at converting Dunwoody High School to charter status have failed. So, the cluster isn't possible.

I can't remember what the legislation said exactly but as I recall it was kind of meaningless (charter cluster.)

Millar has been wishy washy on his support for the city to try and find a way to form its own school district. However, right now, the GA Constitution caps the numbers of school districts at the number that is there. If the Milton County folks want to form, they will need to get two school districts to collapse into one or they will need to have the Constitution amended. If the latter happens, I think you will see a huge push for a Dunwoody City School System. However, I wouldn't hold my breath for it to happen.

Anonymous said...

I know a lobbyist for an educational association who assures me that as soon as the Georgia legislature reconvenes, they're going to restructure the entire pay grade scale for educators, state-wide. Everyone, and I do mean everyone except Crawford Lewis, would take a hit in that scenario. (It's the alternative to hitting us with 6-8 MORE furlough days.) I imagine that the DCSS waters will begin to get very choppy indeed if both teachers and administrators take a $2-5K pay cut on the heels of Clew's raise.

SongCue said...

We owe it to our children and their teachers to pay close attention to the Georgia General Assembly this session. If their shenanigans amount to anything smelling of cuts that would divert funds from our schools, call them out on it! Georgians cannot afford to continually underfund our communities!

One of the best ways to stay abreast of educational issues is to get on the Georgia PTA Capitol Watch Click on Issues & Action, then Capitol Watch. Sally FitzGerald, a champion and hero of mine, is at the state capitol every day during the session and keeps us all informed of everything that impacts children and families.

Anonymous said...

I would much rather have the furlough days. That way I can go work at my extra 2 part time jobs to make the ends meet.

Oh by the way Educational Lobbyist. Why are you not running ads on the radio nd TV like the Judges and DA are to make sure that they keep their funding?

I am so glad that I do not waste my little bit of money that I have left on ODE, MACE, or PAGE. I really have not seen one thing that they do. Total waste of money IMO.

Cerebration said...

I'm sorry that teacher morale is so low. I personally, wish you would all stick it out. I think we could actually get fresh, new leadership in another year or two. Don't give up!

But - if you insist on quitting - at least promise me that you will send an email to Paul Womack disputing his claim that "we have people lined up begging for teaching jobs". Let him know it isn't so.

H. Paul Womack, Jr.

2809 Woodland Park Drive
Atlanta, GA 30345
Hm# 404.325.5821
Fax# 404.325.9233
Term: 2009-2012
District #4

Cerebration said...

Check out the latest 11 Alive story on the subject:

DeKalb Teachers Hold 'Dark' Protest of Crawford Lewis raise.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to say that I can not take it another year or two either. I bring my job home, I can't live it at the door. Everyday when I come home and tell another story about the useless crap we have to endure day in and day out it really upsets my spouse. I can't depress my family the way that I am depressed right now and have been for the last few years. It is not fair to ones that I love.

Paula Caldarella said...

I'd more impressed with the "black-out" if it were no the brainchild of ODE. IMO, David Schutten is more about making a name for himself. He and John Trotter are two of a kind.

Paula Caldarella said...

I suppose we can keep an eye on the job postings to see what affect the raise will have on teachers actually leaving the system.

Cerebration said...

I have to wonder what in the heck this "black out" is supposed to accomplish? ODE had every opportunity to endorse better school board candidates. I went to their forum with the candidates and saw the form they asked the candidates to fill out. Basically, the form only wanted to know "do you agree with" X, Y, Z issue. (All issues ODE had a very harsh opinion about.) I was not impressed. In fact, it was either Pam Speaks or Pam Buncum who refused to even answer their questionnaire.

Their website makes NO MENTION of protesting the raise BEFORE the raise was approved. I know they addressed the board at the Dec meeting about a rumor, and published a written statement on JAN 4 but that was about all. But there was no rallying of teachers before it was too late. Check through their articles -- there's not much published there. This DCSW blog has WAAAAAY more articles and information. (Shameless plug!)

ODE needs serious new leadership - and I see from their website (what little info they have there) that the deadline to run for an ODE elected position is JAN 15.

Teachers, put on your thinking caps and nominate some strong, articulate, professional leaders to step up. Now's the time!

Paula Caldarella said...

Absolutely, Cere!! If I were a teacher that gave $50.00 per paycheck to this organization, I would expect more out of them than a "black-out" and protest at a BOE meeting.

A question for ODE members, exactly how does ODE "providing information, training, representation and support services for students, parents, teachers and Educational Support Personnel (bus drivers, paraprofessionals, secretaries, custodians, lunch room workers, etc.) in order to produce a stronger and more effective school system."

I am a parent and I would be interested to know how ODE supports me.

fedupindcss said...

ODE is a joke, as is PAGE and the GEA. None of the teachers' "unions" in this state do a thing to help their members.

I know there are folks here who are anti-union, but food for thought: in the states with strong teacher's unions (i.e. the Northeast) the schools are much, much better. And that is because the teachers use their collective bargaining power to force such socialist ideas like smaller class size, teacher work days, parent-teacher conference days, reimbursed continuing education, and higher salaries. The taxes are higher, but you get what you pay for.

SongCue said...

As I've said before on this blog, I taught in Ohio, a state which had collective bargaining. My strong teacher's association (OEA) bargained for our contracts. @fedup is correct. Our schools were good and the teachers were treated like professionals. We had guarantees, like 30 minute uninterrupted lunches, planning periods, and all else @fedup mentioned, plus legal representation if needed.

A strong teacher's association helps build strong schools.

Paula Caldarella said...

My issue with teacher's unions - it would make it impossible to rid our schools of bad teachers - not that is easy to do now anyway.

Kim Gokce said...

@Anon 10:06am: "I would like to know the status of the DCSS reserves. I imagine they are being used up."

As I recall, we documented on this blog some months ago that DCSS has virtually NO reserve ($25k at the time). This came up during a dust-up in the press about Gwinnett receiving complaints for having "too much" tax payer money sitting in reserves.

I doubt there is more than a few days reserve in our system but this is speculation - they could have been salting away reserves these past few months.

Kim Gokce said...

My mother taught for 27 years in Fulton Co and during some pretty bad times. In our little household, the horror stories from the school house were served up every night along with the cornbread, squash and chicken.

The themes sound eerily familiar to too many teachers' experience in DCSS today - weak schoolhouse discipline (no backup from admins for teachers), incompetent and ladder-climbing admins, uninvolved or non-supportive parents, overcrowded classrooms with long days and short supplies.

In the end, she retired earlier than she would have preferred after having a student get in her face screaming and spitting in her face about how he didn't have to do what a B*tch wanted. When the administration let it slide, she gave up.

I always tell her she should track down "Little Johnny's" parents to thank them for raising such a miscreant because his outrageous behavior freed her in the end from what had become of the failing system at the time.

What our teachers want is not complex or hard and, in fact, is in most cases precisely what will improve results for our young people. It would not, however, perpetuate the golden goose that is the central admin infrastructure.

Cerebration said...

If anyone can understand the monthly financial report, please download it here -

November 2009 Monthly Financial Report

and then let us know what it says.

Reserves are discussed on page 15.

Dekalbparent said...

I don't feel like I know enough to form an opinion about teacher's unions. But, Dunwoody Mom, it seems as if DCSS has difficulty ridding itself of bad teachers anyway. Because of micromanagement from above, principals don't seem to have the autonomy to fire them.

At my child's elementary school, a 4th grade teacher told the kids that dinosaurs became extinct because they got stuck in the mud and were struck by lightning. She remained there for two years until she left another position.

Anonymous said...

To be financially secure the district should have two full months of annual operating expenses in reserve (excess/savings) at the end of the fiscal year. Monthly expenses vary so it's hard to look at this month-by-month, so end-of-year is the benchmark. IMO we're not close.

Much blame this time goes to our House and Senate leaders who've continued to cut the State's contribution to public education forcing the local school board to raise taxes (and take the political "hit") if you want your kids educated in public schools.

Your House and Senate reps are in a unique position. They know if they raise taxes they'll be voted out of office. But they also know that they can transfer this nasty task to school board members by underfunding schools (read as: "State Austerity Cuts"), leaving the only way your kids will get a decent education is if the local school board will raise taxes to ensure enough teachers for your students. At the core, I believe school board members are in it for the kids. They raise the needed funds, then promptly get voted out of office. It's due time to turn the tables and focus the underfunding problem back from whence it came. Let's not let our House and Senate leaders play political games!

Anonymous said...

Please check out the comments in crossroads newspaper under heading- superintendents pay proves divisive.I am appalled that all of these events are taking place and horrified that these occurrences are permitted. This system is in so much turmoil.

Crawford Lewis, State Senator Ronald Ramsey(Internal Affairs crook),HR Administrators as well as others are constantly violating the DCSS very own protocol and make up rules as they go along according to who the rules apply to. Everything must change.

Paula Caldarella said...

I don't feel like I know enough to form an opinion about teacher's unions. But, Dunwoody Mom, it seems as if DCSS has difficulty ridding itself of bad teachers anyway. Because of micromanagement from above, principals don't seem to have the autonomy to fire them.

Teacher's in a union situation can go on strike and disrupt our children's education - another big no, no for me.

I agree with your point about principals and the inability to rid their schools of bad teachers - I know of a MS teacher that 3 different principals have tried to get rid of - with no luck. This teacher is "infamous" within the school community and yet is still at the school.

Cerebration said...

"stuck in the mud and were struck by lightning"

Oh ho, that is so funny! Thanks for the chuckle, DP.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:44 a.m. I agree that the state austerity cuts to public education have been devastating. But when the State legislators see large school systems like DeKalb increase the superintendent's pay, hire more highly paid administrators or promote principals to business positions, refuse to close chronically underperforming schools and fail to make academic progress, they (especially the Republicans) use these factors as an excuse to not fund public education.

Until they see fiscal responsibility and true leadership, I don't think this will change.

Cerebration said...

Boy, you're not kidding, Anon.

Superintendent’s pay proving divisive

Cerebration said...

The tax issues are touchy. There's no way to cut government without touching the schools. Education accounts for roughly half the state budget and nearly three-quarters of the county budget.

In fact, according to many sources, this state would be in a world of hurt without the $1.4 billion in stimulus funds from the federal government - which was almost entirely spent on saving teacher's jobs.

Here's a quote from theAugustaChronicle-

"I don't know what we would have done, how we would have balanced without the federal funds," Mr. Essig said. "Thousands of teachers and state employees would have been laid off if we didn't have the stimulus."

The cuts to school spending will only stop when the taxpayers of Georgia are willing to pay more in taxes - both state income and local property - to generate the budget necessary to provide the public education people seek.

OnlineAthens has a great article on this.

We may think we pay high taxes, yet, compared to places where they really do have excellent public schools - we don't. However, most people with money, who seek a quality education for their children are able to find and pay for private schooling, which encourages them as voters to elect people who will keep their taxes low.

It's a vicious cycle and until the people with the power and the money decide to spend what it takes to create and maintain quality public schools, we will continue to experience only pockets of success, allowing Georgia overall to continue to rank at or near last place in public education.

The thing is - does anyone with power or money really care? Not really - not when they are able to get the needs of their children met privately, or through select public schools in wealthy areas. Have any of you ever been to a private high school? Believe me, they are happy in their utopia and don't give us public school people a single thought - ever.

Anonymous said...

There is no correlation between high school system spending and student achievement. Actually, the systems in the US with the highest per pupil spending are often underperforming.

Too much school system spending here and in other large urban systems goes to administration and non-classroom spending.

Gwinnett County was forced to run a lean and mean school system administration as they added more students in a 10-15 year period than any system in the Southeast has ever had to add. Gwinnett has kept a lean and mean administration as the growth has lessened.

But in DeKalb, the Board of Education and we voters/taxpayers, have tolerated the incredible growth, waste and bloat of the DCSS Central Office. Compare the amount of administrators from 20 years ago to now. The increase in staggering. For every administration position added, it's not just salary, but health insurance and pension that take away valuable dollars form the classroom.

I am sick and tired of hearing teachers saying that have to use their personal money for little clasroom expenses, like scissors, glue and construction paper.

The DCSS Central Office is a jobs program on steroids. Too many DCSS principals, asst. principals and teachers are willing to do anything to snag a cushy Central Office gig. Instead of putting the focus on the classroom, and making sure we retain top teaching talent and give them what they need, we have built a cesspool of bureuacracy. As long as we elect people like Womack, McChesney, Copelin-Wood, Z Reoberts, etc. instead of intelligent, talented candidates like Shayna, Ernest Brown, Ella, Orson, etc., we're stuck in this mess. Our student population goes down, while administration spending explodes.

We have no one to blame except the person in the mirror. It's on us.

Paula Caldarella said...

Gwinnett County was forced to run a lean and mean school system administration as they added more students in a 10-15 year period than any system in the Southeast has ever had to add. Gwinnett has kept a lean and mean administration as the growth has lessened.

I would not hold up Alvin Wilbanks and his "terror" regime as some type of way to do things right. Alvin Wilbanks makes Crawford Lewis look like an amateur.

Anonymous said...

If Fulton County can cap the expense account to $12,000 a year and Lewis is getting $30K and a car??!!! I am driving a 10 year old van with over 100,000 miles... what are we paying for???? I am tired of the entitlement, tired of so many chiefs and less Indians... morale in the schools is spiraling downward.... Let our board members know that this is not acceptable!!!

Cerebration said...

As far as money goes -- It's a darn good thing for Dr Lewis that he got his when he did. Pretty soon - there won't be much to go around.

Check out this article on the tax collections -
Legislature facing revenue meltdown

With tax collections in a year-long nosedive, the General Assembly returns to Atlanta on Monday for a session of fiscal retrenchment not seen since the Great Depression.

A Republican-led General Assembly bent on both remaking state government and avoiding increases in taxes or fees will be working with a budget that is $4 billion smaller than two years ago.

That means teachers will almost certainly see more furlough days and schools could cut days of instruction; small state agencies could be shut down or merged with other agencies; hundreds, if not thousands of state and school employees could lose their jobs.

Cerebration said...

And while you're at it, read this one (from the Philadelphia Inquirer!) about the secession of North Fulton back into Milton.

The plan would put Atlanta in a less affluent county

shameful said...

The DCSS has totally lost focus on their purpose in our children's lives. They've forgotten why we send our "most valuable possessions" to them every day, five days a week.

Cerebration said...

They sure have. They've done even worse, they've placed us ALL in purgatory.

This has become utterly ridiculous!

Cerebration said...

Well, bad news from the Gov --

Updated: Perdue budget: Teachers face 3 more furlough days in next six months

Cerebration said...

Oh - BTW - I call BS on that "poor Dr Lewis took a pay cut last year and he's just making up ground.

Here's the recently released data from the state on Fiscal Year 2009 salaries -

$ 287,991.63 (salary)
$ 9,452.75 (expense)