Mrs. Ramona Tyson
DeKalb County [GA] School System
It is unacceptable to further overcrowd Chamblee Charter High School with AYP transfers. Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS) already has more students than it was built to accommodate.
Overcrowding has a proven negative effect on our students’ education. For more than 25 years, we have known, “Probably the greatest single discouragement to better instruction is the overcrowded classroom.” (Karp) Further, this overcrowding at CCHS is a long-term educational problem since the AYP transfers being sent to CCHS are 9th graders and they may stay at CCHS until they graduate.
Overcrowding puts more stress on CCHS’s already-stressed building that is way overdue to be re-built. Portable classrooms create capacity problems inside the bricks-and-mortar school building. CCHS is already approximately 200 students over its original as-built capacity of 1,347. These unnecessary AYP transfers will put more than 1700 students in CCHS, thus being significantly out of compliance with the Georgia Department of Education’s square footage requirements for school library media centers, school cafeterias and toilet facilities. The Georgia Accrediting Commission requires, “a minimum of 20 square feet of floor space per student in each instructional area.” Overcrowding is also unsafe and puts our students at a physical and health risk.
To paraphrase Walter Karp, quoted above, “What makes these conditions [at CCHS and elsewhere in DCSS] appalling is that they are quite unnecessary. The [DeKalb County School System is] top-heavy with administrators and rife with sinecures. Large numbers of teachers scarcely ever set foot in a classroom, being occupied instead as grade advisers, career counselors, coordinators, [coaches] and supervisors.”
You have other choices allowed by No Child Left Behind besides overcrowding and dumbing-down successful schools like Chamblee Charter High School. For example:
1) “A virtual school may be among the schools to which an eligible student may transfer, so long as that school is a public elementary or secondary school (as defined by the SEA) and has not been identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring. If the “virtual school” is not operated by the LEA, the LEA could enter into a cooperative agreement with the school so that its students can enroll.”
It’s time to get our money’s worth out of the DeKalb Online Academy (DOLA). If that doesn’t suit you, then there is always the Georgia Virtual School – also paid for by our tax dollars.
2) “The NCLB statute does not address whether non-Title I schools that miss AYP for two or more years may be offered as transfer options. Accordingly, an SEA may adopt a policy governing the use of non-Title I schools that have missed AYP for two or more years as choice options. In doing so, the SEA should bear in mind that the public school choice provisions are designed to offer high-quality options for parents. If an SEA adopts a policy permitting the use of non-Title I schools that have not made AYP for two or more years as transfer options, LEAs offering such schools as transfer options should provide parents with detailed information on the academic achievement of those schools, including information on why they did not make AYP, so that parents can make informed choices.”
What is the Georgia Department of Education’s policy on this? Because Georgia is a mostly rural state with limited school choices in rural school systems, I am betting that Georgia permits the use of non-Title I schools that have not made AYP for two or more years as transfer options,
3) Chamblee Charter High School is, in fact, a real charter school – the result of a grassroots community effort. CCHS is a charter school that always has more students wanting to enroll than there are seats. There is always a lottery for available seats at CCHS. This lottery is required by the U.S. Department of Education. “SEAs or LEAs may not require a charter school to alter its admissions process for [the purpose of admitting AYP transfer students]”.,
Students who wish to transfer to CCHS should have participated in the lottery for charter school seats. Or they could have applied to the lottery for the CCHS Magnet Program. However, it is too late for either one of those options for the 2010-2011 school year.
In addition to the choices listed above, here are some other U. S. Department of Education-approved options:
4) "Creating new, distinct schools with separate faculty within the physical sites of schools identified for school improvement, corrective action, or restructuring;
5) "Encouraging the creation of new charter schools within the LEA;
6) "Reshaping long-range capital construction and renovation plans in order to ensure that schools that are likely to receive new students have additional space; and/or
7) "Easing capacity by initiating inter-district choice programs with neighboring LEAs or by establishing programs through which local private schools can absorb some of the LEA’s students."
Have you seriously considered the above options? If so, please explain in detail why they are not being used in DCSS. I will publish your response to this e-mail, word-for-word.
What you are doing may meet the letter of the NCLB law, but it does not meet the intent of NCLB. You are overcrowding and taking down successful schools while, at the same time – because you will not address the challenges and correct the problems in schools not making AYP – you are consigning DeKalb County’s students (especially its substantial Title I student population) to a bleak future.
What you are doing with regard to AYP transfers and Chamblee Charter High School may not be legally criminal, but it is morally indefensible.