Sunday, August 15, 2010

Again, I ask, "Choice for whom?"

Mrs. Ramona Tyson
Interim Superintendent
DeKalb County [GA] School System

Mrs. Tyson:

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.”[1] (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.[2] The Georgia Accrediting Commission requires, “a minimum of 20 square feet of floor space per student in each instructional area.”[3] 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.”[4]

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.”[5]
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.”[6]

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]”.[7],[8]

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."[9]

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.


Sandy Spruill


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Anonymous said...

Dunwoody tried this tack 2 years ago when they were inundated - I imagine Lakeside as well.

It fell on deaf ears....

Anonymous said...

No more nice, here! The gauntlets are off.

By the morrow, the DCSS wagon train ( gravy train) will be surrounded by the Libertarian tribe, the Chamblee tribe, the Lakeside tribe, the Druids Hill tribe, Department of Education tribe....and the very angry South Dekalb parents.

Time to quote MacBeth " Tomorrow, tomorrow....."

Anonymous said...

It won't fall on deaf ears this time for "the lion is wounded".

Truth is the receiving schools played nice----they don't have to anymore or they will die from annual AYP sunami.

Paula Caldarella said...

I posted on another thread a comment someone made to me yesterday about the student population of Chamblee now being comprised mostly of students from South DeKalb. If this statement is accurate, how insane is this?

Why not an open an entire school, by whatever means, consolidate schools and use the empty building to house these student.

This makes absolutely no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, you may be on to something. Keep you ears open for the recommendations for school closures and consolidations on 8/27. It could free up buildings that could be used for AYP transfers.

Anonymous said...

No, receiving schools have not played nice in the past. They have gone as far as to arrange meetings with DCSS officials and congresspeople. Fire marshals and health department officials were called in and did nothing.

The state doesn't enforce its facility requirements on existing buildings, only new ones and only when they are built.

DCSS continues to take the easy way out. The hard way, closing a school and reinventing it, is the path that they should be taking.

Why just make an annex at Lithonia? Why not shutter it and reopen it as something entirely new and different from an instructional program? Why not do more than simply shuffle students around?

Anonymous said...

If the in-school administration were competent and supported in their decision to remove the 5 to 10 percents of students who make instruction impossible in certain schools they would be no AYP transfers.

Students who have mapped out an academic plans cannot learn while the teacher is dealing with semi-pathological cases and the parents who bully them.

Who would wake-up early to go to Chamblee if they had a manageable classroom?

Anonymous said...

I know that the state would like to see some outside charter school operators come in and open schools in some of the lowest performing areas. DeKalb's charter policy is onerous but now that the state charter commission has survived the first court challenge, you can fully expect to see some new charter options for these areas soon.

I think DCSS is almost always reacting to AYP transfers rather than being proactive about them. Last year, they had done a fairly good job preparing and even had an early round of choice making in May or June for students from the schools that were for sure going to have to offer transfers. The choices weren't very popular, there weren't many spots in N. DeKalb schools and so not to many students opted in.

Arabia Mt. was a more popular option than Chamblee and I consider that a good thing because it means that parents are looking at more than who their child will be sitting next to.

The root of this problem is that DCSS has some really weak high schools. Fixing these should be priority number 1.

Anonymous said...

If the in-school administration were competent and supported in their decision to remove the 5 to 10 percents of students who make instruction impossible in certain schools they would be no AYP transfers.

And students might even be able to learn and the schools might make AYP! GASP!

Anonymous said...

The District office only want to please the parents with 3 chances to complete a simple homework, multiple redos on quizzes and tests regardless of student effort....

In Gwinnett, parents who come to school blasting teachers and administrators are arrested... (no prosecution I think) but the incident give them pause.

In Dekalb, parents rule.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom,

I had posted an answer to your question on the other blog post, but last year CCHS was 55 percent African American, which doesn't accurately reflect the demographics of the resident population. The magnet program may even be majority S. DeKalb students as many N. DeKalb magnet students return to their home high schools or go private.

The problem at CCHS as I see it, is that we have been unable to grow stong support from neighborhood families whose students aren't in the magnet program.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:10
"Dunwoody tried this tack 2 years ago when they were inundated - I imagine Lakeside as well."

And now Dunwoody did not make AYP. Soon we will have 100% of our high school not making AYP.

Paula Caldarella said...

Thanks - I did not see your reply.

The problem at CCHS as I see it, is that we have been unable to grow stong support from neighborhood families whose students aren't in the magnet program.

I think you are right. As a CHS alum, who remembers that school when it was a vibrant, neighborhood-supported school, it breaks my heart to see what it has become. It's as if no one cares...

themommy said...

Parents do rule and they file lawsuits regularly and complaints with the Dept of Justice with great frequency.

It is far easier to appease than it is to tell parents no.

In Gwinnett, parents are offered two choices. They are never the most convenient choices. Parents are reimbursed mileage twice a year, at the end of each semester. There is no MARTA. Almost no one is taking these choices.

In DeKalb, when I suggested this, they looked at me like I had grown a second head, horns and a long nose and told me that DCSS parents would never stand for this.

I then suggested, like Gwinnett does, to have a meeting at each school that has to offer transfers where the principal explains the strategies that will be in place to make improvements. They thought this was a great idea and I am certain they never implemented it.

Offering choice is easier than fixing what ails these schools.

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

Did you read the AJC this morning as to what APS did? They have gradually put choice into most of their schools and shuffled the lowest achieving students and discipline problems into Crim HS. NCLB has really had the opposite effect of what it set out to achieve.

themommy said...

One other thing, in school systems where there is only one elementary, middle or high school, the system doesn't have to offer choice.

And they are not offering private school choice in those places either. Sorry out of luck seems to be the response.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:51

NYC has done that for many, many years. All of their schools are choice schools - except for the "Zoned Schools" which have to accept students who do not get accepted to the choice schools. That would satisfy many parents all over DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

NYC, though, is having the same issues on a much larger scale as Crim is in Atlanta. The zoned schools aren't working very well.

Anonymous said...

Here we go again, not in my backyard. You should take into consideration those parents who are committed to a good education for their children as well. Unfortunately, my family have been taxpayers for many years and our son has not attended public school from pre-K to the 8th grade. We decided to enter him in public high school this year. However, his home school have failed AYP three years in a row. We want our son to have an opportunity for a good education and refuses to send him to a school with failing grades. He scored in the 70 or more in the percentile range on his standardized test. He graduated second highest in his
8th grade class. Received a letter from the President of the United States for his achievements. I am surprise by the response from several anonymous writers.

James Williams
Concerned parent

Anonymous said...

Why would the zoned school work?

Recalcitrant or undisciplined students make teaching and learning impossible.

If these students are isolated in a school or in a zoned school that school cannot make AYP.

This a choice urban schools have to make try to educate everyone or educate the educable?

In too many classroom the Administration forces the teacher to sacrifice or compromise the education of every one for 2 or 3 recalcitrant or undisciplined students.

NYC has chosen the opposite sacrifice the 5% bad apples for 95% good apples.

Cerebration said...

I'm not following your point, Mr. Williams. What do you mean, not in my backyard?

Be True to Your School said...

Mr. Williams

I understand and am sympathetic to your concerns.

Kim Gokce, a parent in the Cross Keys area, has been very involved in bettering Cross Keys High School even though his children are quite young. You might want to take a tip from Kim.

As you see, not supporting neighborhood schools with your involvement and volunteer efforts for 9 years, while your son went to private school, and then finding out your neighborhood high school has not made AYP is not a recipe for good schools. What were you thinking?

Check the Georgia Department of Education website and find out why your neighborhood high school did not make AYP. Go talk to the principal. Sometimes it is a very minor matter -- such as bad test scores from a few special needs students or from students who do not speak English. In that case, not making AYP should not color your perception of the whole school.

If you send your child to 9th grade in a school that did make AYP, be prepared for demands on your time. In those successful schools, parents are expected to volunteer time and talents. The fact that you live a long distance away is irrelevant. Those schools are successful because parents are involved.

You might just find that you and your child have a much more satisfactory experience in your neighborhood high school -- where you can easily become involved and make a difference -- than in the overcrowded classrooms of the few DCSS high schools that did make AYP.

Kim Gokce said...

Anon 9:40p " but last year CCHS was 55 percent African American, which doesn't accurately reflect the demographics of the resident population."

I think you are making a leap to conclude this number is driven by transfers - let me tell you why.

The percentage of Caucasians in zip 30341 is approx 43%. The percentage in CCHS other zip code (30319) for attendance is nearly 70%. The majority of the school age children in 30319 do not attend public school.

The fact is, the African-American "demo" in our area probably DOES out number the Caucasian "demo" if you isolate for public school enrollment. I think the majority of your African American students are indeed attendance area residents.

The number appears "high" simply because of lack of participation by Caucasians, not due to transfers.

Kim Gokce said...

... a quick follow-up to my demographic comment ...

To add to the affect I'm describing, consider that the Caucasian demographic in general and certainly in 30319 and 30341 are older than their "non-white" populations.

The exaggerates the proportional presence of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians in our public system for CCHS simply because of higher birth rates.

I really would love to see the actual enrollment of CCHS broken out by Magnet, etc. but I feel pretty sure that most of that 55% African American figure is attendance area.

Kim Gokce said...

Contrast those figures with St. Martins, Our Lady of Assumption, Marist and St. Pius, for example, and you'll find the Caucasian kids "missing" from CCHS.

Kim Gokce said...

@Be True ...

Thanks for the compliment but I have to clear the record in case my wife ever reads this blog ... I have only one child. He is 3 years old and we are very blessed with that one. More weren't in the cards for us.

Cerebration said...

Unless you count the several hundred at Cross Keys whose lives you have both effected so positively!

As far as AYP goes - I agree with the earlier comment - it may not be what it seems. Cross Keys did not make AYP, but I'd send my kid there with no problem. The teachers and staff are amazing - the students are fantastic and it's a true American melting pot where learning is going on.

Anonymous said...

My family lives in CCHS district, public is NOT an option for us. My family is also Caucasian. Both our boys will be attending CCHS, one in 3 years and the other in 4.

We've been involved with our elementary schools, NCTS & Montgomery, we fought to get CMS built in the neighborhood, when our kids were toddlers, and now we're already learning and preparing to get involved at CCHS.

It does take students efforts, parent assistance and community involvement. CCHS has all three and we look forward to searching out for more help.

The other day I suggested on this blog that the established parent councils need to start a discussion regarding independent schools districts. I'll be at the DCPC meeting Sept 1st, to start a discussion. Mike Jacobs, our state rep, lives close by and Fran Millar is running for state senate. Dan Weber started the conversation a year or so ago. It will take time, however, we can't wait on DCSS any longer, we gave them the summer to change and to me nothing did, it's more of the same.

Anonymous said...

The problem that I have with the transfers is the over crowding that it is causing in our schools. People pay a premium to live in certain high school attendance areas. To have these high schools now riddled with trailers, because of NCLB transfers is not acceptable to me. Neighborhood kids should have first dibs on the available spots and no over crowding should ever occur in our schools.

Mr. Williams, I am sorry that you find your neighborhood school unsatisfactory. I am sure that it did not get that way over night. You made a choice of where to live, now you are saddle with the consequences. I did not buy a cheaper house, expecting my child to be able to attend a better school. I purchased my house because of the schools in the attendance area and paid a premium because of my choice.

Life is all about choices, Mr. Williams.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:35. We purchased our home in CCHS attendance zone because we knew private would not be choice. Your thoughts are spot on!

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 11:37 PM

I, too, will be at the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council meeting on September 1 and also at the Libertarian meeting on September 7. For both meetings I will take the day off from work to be there and participate.

It is time to take back our schools! What is the old saying ... If it is to be, it is up to me. We can stop waiting for the cavalry to ride to the rescue. SACS, Governor Perdue, the Georgia Department of Education -- they all have excuses and they all have let us down.

Quite frankly, I have no idea why so many of our tax dollars are going to SACS. They are an anachronism and have proven through the DCSS debacle that their "accreditation" is worthless.

The time is now! If you want to take back our schools, be there on September 1 and September 7!

Be True to Your School said...

Chamblee, Dunwoody, Lakeside and Druid Hills Parents -- A Call to Action!
The important things to remember are:
(1) These are OUR schools.
(2) The DCSS staff, sorry as they are, are paid with our tax dollars and they need to listen up.
(3) NCLB offers options other than transfers when a school doesn't make AYP.

DCSS has been taking the easy way out and we have allowed it. Why?

We are the ones who, as parents, community members and taxpayers, have worked hard to make our schools excellent. Now we are in danger of losing everything we have worked so hard for.

Stunningly, Dunwoody did not make AYP last year. Well, it stops right there. No more "asking" DCSS ... no more suggesting. NCLB offers choices and we are the ones who are going to make the choices -- not DCSS who will always take the easy way out. DCSS doesn't get to continue putting our kids and our schools at risk! Not now. Not ever again.

One option instead of transferring students is for those students to take their classes through the DeKalb Online Academy (DOLA) or the Georgia Virtual School (GVS). Our tax dollars pay for both.

Parents of students in schools that did not make AYP: take your choice -- DOLA or GVS. But, you don't get to overcrowd our schools and bring them down to the level of your schools. Not now. Not ever again.

Anonymous said...

Parents of students in schools that did not make AYP:

You do have a third choice, in addition to DOLA or GVS.

You can keep your students in their home school, find out why it did not make AYP, get active and involved with the school and make sure that you and your child are part of the solution to resolving whatever the AYP issue was/is.

DCSS Teacher said...

Tutoring in local schools is a better solution than busing to a distant school, but it's hard to implement and hard to protect from scammers, including "experts" who would come in and claim they could boost learning. Tutoring in schools by the same teachers who already work there is unethical according to DCSS if the teachers were paid extra for their work. DCSS has done nothing to recruit and train potential tutors, but has chosen the expensive busing route.

All parents, including those in poorly-performing schools, are "trapped" in one moment of time. Your child will only be in 4th, 5th, 10th, etc grade once, and few people want to spend their time struggling every day about the school system. If those of us in more affluent areas are wringing our hands at the massive failure of DCSS, imagine how powerless those people whose only neighborhood choice is a bad school, must feel. In their position, I'd really feel caught between a rock and a hard place. All of us parents would probably prefer a good school in our own community that we can easily visit or volunteer at when time permits. Busing robs parents of those opportunities: after a few years of it, I think I might just give up. I know that many parents in South County have done just that.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the post "As a CHS alum, who remembers that school when it was a vibrant, neighborhood-supported school, it breaks my heart to see what it has become. It's as if no one cares..."

When you have a leader in a school that is more county-minded, with a what's-best-for-my-career attitude, you will see low morale seeping in until it becomes the elephant in the room. Employees use to share their ideas until it became quite clear that ideas were really not welcomed.

Making a school successful like Chamblee was takes more than a magnet program ... it takes love and care from the employees in the school. It becomes more than a job. It becomes a community, a "family" if you will. That was the unique piece at CCHS.

Unless the current leadership changes or leaves, CCHS will become just another mediocre DCSS school. It's already a lot different than it was.

The administrators in the school have to stand up and speak out for their schools like the Martha Reichraths and the Cheryl Finkes did. It has to be more than a job, more than a higher income for retirement purposes, more than a stepping stone to a another job. It must be more than bowing down to the demands of the DCSS without ever questioning "is this right for my school?" "is this right for my employees?" AND THEN taking it to the next level.

With the way the DCSS is today, why would any leader in any school not question every single thing coming down the pipe?

AND, with a STRONG charter governance council to back them for the good of the school, how can they lose more than they win. And when they lose a battle here and there, they'll lose with the respect of their peers and subordinates. Leaders can't lead effectively by instilling fear, or by being fearful themselves.

What Chamblee has become and continues to become is a far cry from the example of excellence that it used to be.

Leaders can be strong or weak ... this CCHS leader has proven more often than not to be very very weak. But perhaps her hands are tied by the tyranny that has become DCSS.

Paula Caldarella said...

It becomes a community, a "family" if you will. That was the unique piece at CCHS.

Yes, that that my experience at Chamblee. My classmates and I had our class reunion last weekend. What a wonderful time we had talking about our days at Chamblee and most remember those days fondly. It is sad that, for the most part, the current students at Chamblee will not have this same experience.

Anonymous said...

Conversion charters really have very little autonomy. Dr. Hallford and Brown and Lewis might have gone along with things because they wanted to appease certain people or because they just didn't think it matters, but at the end of the day, the building belongs to DCSS and the faculty and staff are employees of DCSS. Those leaders who were strong leaders under benevolent superintendents left when the superintendent wasn't benevolent and they retired.

themommy said...

Avondale High School
Clarkston High School
Cross Keys High School
Freedom Middle School
Towers High School

These schools now have entered Needs Improvement Level 5. This is pretty severe. This year is the planning year for these scho0ls. These are the consequences.

Restructuring: Year 1 - Continue school improvement plan, choice and SES, and inform parents. District required to prepare a restructuring plan for alternative governance using one of the following actions: reopen as a charter school, replace all or most of the staff, enter into a contract with a management company, turn over operation of the school to the state, or any other major restructuring of a school’s governance arrangement consistent with section 1116 of NCLB.

Restructuring: Year 2 - Implement restructuring plan for alternative governance. Continue to implement school improvement plan, continue to provide school choice and supplemental services, inform parents. [4 AAC 06.870 & NCLB 1116(b)(8)]

McNair Middle has now entered NI 6. Where is the restructuring plan for it?

Anonymous said...

I really, really, really hope CCHS parents take their fight to the BOE and Central Office, and refuse to back down. The school is borderline unsafe with the overcrowding, and students fights occur exponentially more often in such conditions.

This BOE and Central Office have ignored CCHS, Cross Keys and Sequoyah for so long, and its intolerable. Actually, the BOE and Central Office have treated all of its schools with higher Latino populations in such a disgusting way, it's lawsuit worthy.

Fight the good fight, CCHS parents. Finally, you're in a position with a BOE and Central Office that are now forced to actually listen to parents. Except Bob Moseley (a scheming dinosaur), who calls us background noise.

Anonymous said...

@ The Mommy:

Clarkston High and McNair are being "transformed" this year. That is why Clarkston has a new principal, the former AP from Chamblee High. They each received very large ARRA School Improvement Grants. You can find their grant applications on the GA DOE web.

However, I was distressed to see that the state is allowing Clarkston and McNair to pursue the "Transformational" model and not complete Restructuring. In Restructuring the school must replace all the teachers, or at least require them all to reapply for their jobs.

As I read the applications, all they are really doing is paying America's Choice more Title I dollars to "differentiate" instruction. This is BS. This system needs to use their Title I dollars to put more highly qualified teachers in these schools and reduce the class size to 20 students, require the students to attend quality after school tutoring in key subjects, and enforce discipline. Clarkston has many international students and they need lots of assistance with ELL students, an area that I do not feel DCSS administration has ever focused on.

Anonymous said...

This BOE and Central Office have ignored CCHS, Cross Keys and Sequoyah for so long, and its intolerable. Actually, the BOE and Central Office have treated all of its schools with higher Latino populations in such a disgusting way, it's lawsuit worthy

While you are correct that the Hispanic populations have been ignored, CCHS has a very small Hispanic enrollment.

No Duh said...

Mr. Williams. We thought $10,000 to $20,000 a year for kindergarten was a waste of our money. We took out a 30-year loan on a piece of real estate in a school district with excellent schools, and our money goes toward that investment. We did not think private school would give us the dividends an appreciating home would. Perhaps that was foolish -- we think not.

There are plenty of homes for sale in our lovely neighborhood. Prices are low now and interest rates are the lowest they have been in 55 years. But, you better act quickly, our wonderful schools can probably only hold out for a couple more years before they either collapse from the combination of neglect of their physical plant and weight of the people inside them -- or from the mass exodus of our fine teachers and administration, due to the abuse they are receiving from the DCSS administration.

Act now, operators are standing by...

Anonymous said...

Welcome to our world, CCHS, Cross Keys and Sequoyah families.

Not so long ago Druid Hills HS was a very good high school. So DCSS designated it a receiving school. DCSS transfered so many children to Druid Hills that now the parking lot is full of trailers and it has failed to make AYP.

The silver lining (sort of): Now that Druid Hills HS failed to make AYP it is no longer a receiving school. Officially. There are numerous administrative transfers again this year.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 2:35 AM

I could not have said it better myself!

Chamblee Charter High School under Rochelle Patterson Lowery is a far cry from where it started and from where it should be.

It's not too late, though.

CCHS became a charter school in order to assumer accountability and direct its destiny. The present governance council needs to take back the school. They allowed the charter to be weakened. Now they need to step up and do what it takes to be a true charter again.

As a conversion charter, CCHS was still a true grassroots effort. It just made more sense to not go through the hassles and expense of finding another building, etc. It allowed CCHS to focus on its primary business -- successfully educating students.

Time to regain the autonomy CCHS once had! Time to take back our school!

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow with an observation:
"Dunwoody tried this tack two years ago when they were inundated"

Wasn't that about the time that Dunwoody was having the vote to incorporate? Remember theatened boycotts from our unethical state representative,that's charged with being over DCSS school ethics when the state legislature's not in session?

"We reward our friends, and punish our enemies".

A (regrettably) former state legislator told me this years ago.

"Reward our friends"....
Convince South Dekalb parents in failing schools that actually care that the answer to their prayers is for their child to board a bus, and be sent to the
"good" or "white" schools.

"Punish our enemies"
By sheer numbers, overwhelm an area, particularly if that area's being politically contrary.

Look up "Cloward-Piven", and see if how Lakeside, Dunwoody, Chamblee's preposterously high dumps don't describe what's at work. I can also attest from experience that they did the same thing at Tucker Middle School a few years ago, when 350 extra kids showed up during the first two weeks of school.

As petty and vindictive as some of the school board and higher up front office types are in DCSS, would this type of behavior be beneath them? Nothing would suprise me.

Finally: think dollars.
350 new students from predominantly Title 1 area to a
non-Title 1 school. Voila! Instant Title 1 status.

Overlook existing capacity at schools throughout the county, and hyperconcentrate kids in the few schools that aren't listed as
"failing" or "needs improvement".
Presto! The need's created for mobile classrooms. ( Don't forget that competitive bids haven't been issued for said classrooms for years. Hmmmmmmm).

Overlook declining enrollments
(and presumed lesser need for bus purchase). What to do? Why, negate
the lesser need by transferring, say, 1100-1300 students to Chamblee, Lakeside, or Dunwoody.
If a bus holds say 50 students, then on paper we need to have 22 to 26 buses to ship all those kids up to the promised land.

Friends and family: Who's in charge of transportation? Who are they related to? What's lacking in how all the transporation is handled? An easy to follow trail.
Non-computerized, remember?

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

Technically, AYP transfers are now supposed to drive themselves and get reimbursed at .55/mile from federal funds. However, we do still have the "hub" system - which provides transportation to magnets - Chamblee included. This leaves the possibility of having bus-riders who may also be collecting mileage. Also, we've been told that in the past, many AYP and Admin transfers ride the free shuttle to Emory and then walk to Druid Hills. Lakeside has a MARTA stop at it's front door. Looks like Dunwoody is the hardest to get to - you may really have to drive there. But the reimbursements could add up to over $450/month - which would certainly cover the costs.

Dunwoody/Chamblee ISD said...

All I'm saying is this:

Whether it's a Dunwoody/Chamblee "charter cluster" or a Dunwoody/Chamblee ISD, our children would liberated from the mismanagement of DCSS and the current BoE.

Dunwoody/Chamblee ISD would be a wonderful school system: Two High Schools, Two Middle Schools and 9 Elementary Schools. All under local control. No wasteful overhead. No redundant administration. All of our tax dollars going to educate our children (and not pay for P cards, cars, golden showers, kick backs, friends and family employment, etc.).

Leaving DCSS would improve our children's education AND our property values. It's that simple.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody mom, I know of many folks who live in the attendance area and do not plan to go private. Your insinuations, especially from a Chamblee grad, disturb me. We need to take our school back and get more parents involved. I know of at least 400-500 kids, from the Chamblee attendance zone that do not have a private option, especially with the economy not showing signs of returning.

It's talk like yours, that only serve as a reminder to parents in our attendance zone, that all is lost. Well, all is not lost and we could use some help from the grads to speak of the valued history of CCHS.

By the way Dunwoody Mom, you folks OTP, got lucky since DHS did not make AYP, hence no transfers. I bet you're really happy about that since the summer of renovations have now become the fall of renovations. I know you're an advocate for CCHS, however your talk works counter of the work being done by the Sandy Spruill's and many others the past few years.

If they close CCHS, due to mold, mildew or anything else, we'll look forward to being sent to DHS. Some of us in the Murphey Candler and Gainsborough areas will make sure we're assigned to the DHS district.

Before cLew was indicted, he came to CCHS and promised renovations in the next SPLOST, I doubt that will pass now, since his administration can not be trusted and the majority of them are still in place.

Anonymous said...

Son of talking back at Cere:

Senior moment. Completely forgot about the mileage bonus. Wonder if that scam was shared with the right people? As in constituents/ co-church members of some of the usual suspects.
$450 a month pays the note for some FINE wheels. What better way to pull up in style and be seen on Sunday?

Anonymous said...

The DCSS shuttle busses created under the "Superintendent's Transportation Efficiency Plan" still deliver transfer students to Druid Hills every day.

In addition the Druid Hills transfers take the free Emory Shuttles from South DeKalb Mall (and North DeKalb Mall) every day. Those Shuttles are jammed full of these kids.

On top of that, there are also marta busses that run from the marta trains direct to Emory/Druid Hills.

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

Dunwoody/Chamblee ISD, I'm totally in agreement. The tax base from both areas would serve us very well. We can finally get our districts balanced properly and only allow transfers to fill the empty seats. It's time we tell DCSS enough!

Why is the BOE and leadership hellbent to make everything in DCSS equitable? Especially destroying the few good schools they have left. From closing the most diverse elementary school, to allowing overcrowding at other successful schools, the only thing DCSS wants is a failed state so they can get more federal funds to line their own pockets.

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

The BoE is not hell bent on making everything equitable. Far from it.

The BoE is simply incompetent, lacks vision and could care less about the impact its actions (or inactions) have on the children.

The BoE has proven beyond any doubt they cannot govern DCSS. And replacing 5 out of 9 of them in November will not change that fact.

The solution is NOT to change the BoE. The solution is to eliminate them from having any control over our schools.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, show me the statistics please! You say it's a fact that Chamblee residents go to Marist. Huh? Prove to me it's a fact. You can say what you want but I know many who plan to go to CCHS.. Do I agree that CCHS governance council has done well? Hell no! But soon those folks will be gone and a new generation will be coming in. Your rumblings on about the jokes and everything else do not serve your Alma Mater well.

One only has to look at the traffic created by Marist students daily to know that most Marist folks come from DuLuth, Dunwoody, Marietta, Buckhead etc.. Yes we have some that have moved here so they would be convenient to the school, but the cars coming from 285 and P'Tree Industrial tells me something a lot different from the "facts" you seem to know.

How is this debate helpful?

If they close CCHS, I look forward to my kids coming to DHS, since you folks seem to get all the nice stuff. Your BOE rep seems to think he only serves Dunwoody and NOT Chamblee. Vote Redovian out! He trades his votes for Dunwoody only and never seems to care about the other parts of his district inside 285. We pay taxes too!

CCHS might be a joke to you, but it's not to us itp. What is it with you folks from Dunwoody? You use our little league parks, pools, YMCA's and stores but you just can't see yourselves coming to school itp. Geez! Dunwoody MOM, I'm losing respect and your willingness to make jokes about your alma mater and spout baseless facts is well, sad!

Anonymous said...

I remember with great sadness how many N. DeKalb parents acted with Hallford began addressing the huge inequities related to the amount of AP courses offered at DCSS high schools. Many in N. DeKalb acted as if the problem would only be fixed by threatening what they had.

It hasn't happened, while the number of AP courses has risen at many S DeKalb high schools, the number has not been reduced at N. DeKalb schools.

Some of this us vs them discussion on the blog today is very disturbing. Most parents are just looking for a decent education for their child.

Anonymous said...

If your goal is a charter cluster, you had better make sure that whoever you elect will be able to make that happen. It won't be easy at all. Those 5 votes could end up being very elusive.

Paula Caldarella said...

Look at the data anonymous. Look at the enrollment at the ES in the Chamblee area - then look at the enrollment at CMS. Last year there was ONE 6th grade team at CMS - they had only about 180 6th grade students? Where did they all go once they left ES?

No one has ever said CCHS is a joke - now you are just making things up. What's with the point about parks, and YMCA's and stores? That makes no sense. The parks belong to all the citizens of DeKalb - our taxes go to keep them up. The YMCA was built by the Cowart family - former Dunwoody residents. Stores? What stores?

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, you just deleted the posts I was referring to. I hope you realize your statements were inaccurate and I appreciate you taking the unproductive comments out of the debate. With the new families in the surrounding neighborhoods, we're doing all we can to make a positive change and to provide top quality education. For those that may not be able to afford private-especially at this time.

Paula Caldarella said...

Dunwoody Mom, you just deleted the posts I was referring to. I hope you realize your statements were inaccurate and I appreciate you taking the unproductive comments out of the debate

They were not deleted because they were inaccurate. A productive conversation about the conditions at Chamblee must include the "bad" and the "good".

Dekalbparent said...

Druid Hills did not make AYP as of the first release of information, either.

Summer retests may have changed that, but I don't know yet.

Paula Caldarella said...

Anonymous, I have a task for you...

Convince DCSS to release the Chamblee test scores separated by magnet students and "resident" students.

Then, you and I will continue this conversation. Until then, I'm done. You won't change my mind and I won't change yours.

Paula Caldarella said...

One should not just look at AYP status, Dekalbparent - a closer look needs to be taken at the test scores. It could be that one small subgroup is what caused Druid Hills not to make AYP - where as the majority of the students could be doing just fine.

Anonymous said...

I am only making a point and asking a question why you folks in Dunwoody use 285 as a barrier to balance school attendance zones?
We went through this when we were trying to save Nancy Creek. Redovian told some parents there that Dunwoody parents did not want their kids attending schools itp. However, we found some in the Georgetown area, willing to send their kids itp. They were screaming at Clew to redraw the lines properly! You folks have every right to use the parks itp, how come you can't attend our schools?

CMS has two teams this year and 100+ 6th grade transfers headed there this week.

I also bring up the fact that Kittredge Magnet has many of our neighborhood kids and they have a 6th grade there. That has kept the CMS 6th grade numbers down.

You mentioned the word joke in a post you deleted. That is what I was referring to.

Let's end this silly discussion and help each other! See you at the DCPC, Dunwoody/Chamblee Parents Council, Sept 1st, Peachtree MIddle, coffee at 8:45.

Cerebration said...

I still have a mindset that offering a transfer is never going to solve the problems at the home school. How could it? All it does is satisfy a few select students whose parents have the knowledge, the means and the wherewithal to ask for and implement a transfer. So - out of the tens of thousands of students in so-called "failing" schools, several hundred take the train out. Where does that leave the rest?

Paula Caldarella said...

I also bring up the fact that Kittredge Magnet has many of our neighborhood kids and they have a 6th grade there. That has kept the CMS 6th grade numbers down.

Kittredge has little to no relevance on this conversation.

Again, where did the 5th graders from Ashford Park, Huntley Hills and Montgomery go for 6th grade? It wasn't Chamblee middle school.

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, We have been trying to get the scores separated. I agree every school district have kids that need more help than others to achieve. I also think that kids in a school zone should be able to attend their school without having to be forced to take 100's of others that end up making the school unsafe. If they were filling empty seats, great! However, CCHS seats are filled, there is no more room!

I also apologize for saying the things about the parks. pools, etc.. I'm just tired of folks trying to knock the folks at CCHS down! We're proud of our magnet scores and we hope their success will rub off on the non-magnet kids.

Paula Caldarella said...

am only making a point and asking a question why you folks in Dunwoody use 285 as a barrier to balance school attendance zones?
We went through this when we were trying to save Nancy Creek.

#1 - the "folks" in Dunwoody don't use I-285 as the dividing line for attendance - that is the way it always been since Peachtree HS and later Dunwoody HS were built.

#2. Interesting, I heard the opposite about effort the "save" Nancy Creek, which btw, I was against closing. There was talk about the possible re-zoning the apartments across from Perimeter Mall into Nancy Creek. That apparently was squashed rather quickly by DCSS - not the Dunwoody

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom. Have you been to CMS this year? I have been there everyday since school has started, and my wife is running for school council. There are many kids from Ashford Park, Montgomery, Huntley Hills and Kittredge attending.. Kittredge should be a part of the conversation. The 6th grade there have affected attendance numbers you speak of.

We are also trying to change the perception of the schools here in Chamblee and DCSS leadership has made that very tough. But we're not going to give up!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:35 am

"While you are correct that the Hispanic populations have been ignored, CCHS has a very small Hispanic enrollment. "

Your statement is not true. Why would you say such a thing?

As of March 4, 2010 Cross Keys had:
Hispanic: 578
Black: 159
Asian: 102
White: 24
Total: 863

Cross Keys Hispanic students make up 67% of the total students.

We really try to make sure the facts are listed on this blog.

(source: Georgia DOE FTE count:

Paula Caldarella said...

Well, Anonymous, you and I agree on the fact that our neighborhood schools should be left "in tact".

A remedy for the so-called "failing" schools is to make them better - not sending children on an hour-bus ride every morning and afternoon.

And now with the activity buses being discontinued, these children will even have less of a connection to their school with regards to invovement in extra-curricular school activities.

Magnet Parent said...

"Again, where did the 5th graders from Ashford Park, Huntley Hills and Montgomery go for 6th grade? It wasn't Chamblee middle school."

A bunch of them wound up at Kittredge Magnet School. In fact, as far as I know, all the 6th grade vacancies at Kittredge were replaced by children from Ashford Park, Huntley Hills or Montgormery.

So, yeah, it is relevant to the discussion.

Paula Caldarella said...

CCHS is Chamblee Charter High School, not Cross Keys High School.

Anonymous said...

Actually I know of at least one Dunwoody and one Lakeside child who got into 6th grade at KMS.

This is part and parcel of the problem though. Chamblee area parents want their children in the magnet program or they don't want them in the High School at all.

Paula Caldarella said...

How many 6th grade vacancies?

Lynn Deutsch said...

The Blue Ribbon Task Force report which was heavily used in the school closings a few years ago, recommended not changing high school clusters.

Is that practical? Probably not. But that is what that Task Force recommended.

I know that parents from Chesnut (including me) worked for several years before the condos were built on the access road and on Dunwoody Park to try and get some redistricting. We got nowhere.

Paula Caldarella said...

You know, my children may not be at Chamblee, but as an alum, I would love to serve on any type of Governance Council, task force, whatever. Maybe I'm naive, but I want my school back to what it was - a vibrant force in our neighborhoods.

Paula Caldarella said...

I apologize for taking over this thread and if I insulted anyone, I am sorry - I guess I'm just too emotional over this issue. Perhaps I'll step back and take a deep breath and do some work....

Anonymous said...

I was talking to one of my teacher friends last night who lives in Western Pa. I was telling her about the problems here and the first thing that came out of her mouth was why are they transferring students and not offering tutoring?

This is the question that I have as well. It would make more sense to me to offer tutoring than transfers. I realize that DCSS parents are used to getting what they want, but it it time for a change in this department.

Offering tutoring would stop the over crowding in other schools and would also require the district to focus in on truly improving our failing schools. Right now it seems that we do the DCSS Shuffle and just shuffle kids around without really changing anything or offering a better quality education. Of course, turning schools around requires administrators who have been in the trenches for more than 3 to 5 years and really understands what works and what does not work in teaching-something that no 3-5 year old teacher truly has a strong grasp on. It also requires administrators to fully understand all aspects of learning, especially reading and math in the elementary grades, something that most gym coaches do not understand, as they haven't had the course work. It requires a school board that is focused on the children and not what they can get out of the district for themselves and their family.

Offering tutoring-real tutoring that helps the children with the skills that they are lacking and not homework, is the key to improving our failing schools. Transferring children around only shuts parents up, but does not change the quality of education offered at our schools. Choices need to be made by administrators with experience-Oh I forgot, DCSS does not have many of those.

Cerebration said...


The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a called meeting at 2:00pm, Tuesday, August 17, 2010, in the Board Room at the DeKalb County School System's Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain.


1. Superintendent’s Search
Presented by: Mr. Thomas Bowen, Chair


1. Budget, Finance & Facilities Committee Meeting, 10:00am, Thursday,
August 19, 2010, AIC Cabinet Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard,
Stone Mountain

2. Board of Education Called Meeting (Executive Session), 10:00am, Friday,
August 20, 2010, AIC Cabinet, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard,
Stone Mountain

3. 2010 Teacher of the Year Recognition Program, 6:00pm, Saturday,
August 21, 2010, Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic Community Center, 2500 Clairmont
Road, NE, Atlanta

4. Instruction & Board Policy Committee Meeting, 10:00am, Monday,
August 23, 2010, AIC Cabinet Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard,
Stone Mountain

5. Board of Education Called Meeting (Committee of the Whole), 10:00am,
Friday, August 27, 2010, AIC Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard,
Stone Mountain

6. Board of Education Called Meeting, 2:30pm, Tuesday, August 31, 2010,
AIC Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain

7. Dunwoody-Chamblee Parent Council Meeting, 8:45am, Wednesday,
September 1, 2010, Peachtree Charter Middle School, 4664 North Peachtree Road, Dunwoody

8. Board of Education Work Session & Meeting, 6:00pm, Tuesday,
September 7, 2010, AIC Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard,
Stone Mountain


Always check the Meetings & Announcements page listed on the side panel for the latest scheduled meetings.

Cerebration said...

I completely agree, Anon 10:27 and have stated so on this blog many times. Why are we not offering intense tutoring to struggling students? We can do this two ways - via NCLB - the state offers a long list of pre-approved vendors to supply the after-school tutoring. And we can use our Title 1 money for in-school support teachers who can offer a "double-dose" of classes such as English and math to struggling students in small groups with close interaction with the classroom teacher.

Anonymous said...

I've signed up to be a speaker at the Sept. 7 school board meeting. Plenty of spots are still available. Contact Margaret Francois for a slot.

Anonymous said...

Tutoring is offered. Each family at a Title 1 school that doesn't make AYP should get a letter that explains their options for tutoring.

See here:

and here:

and here is a parent notice letter from DeKalb

I will say that I would put the SES (tutoring stuff) at the top of the letter rather than at the bottom.

The problem is that in DeKalb the message has always been (or at least for the last 20 years or so), if there is a choice it must be better than where you are now.

These families opting for choice aren't connected to these schools as they are generally rising 9th graders. They just hear that there is a choice and they jump on the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone will read the letter reference above. DCSS is spending tons of Title 1 dollars to implement strategies to help students at Cross Keys (and I am sure the other schools as well) and if the student leaves to go to CCHS or somewhere else, they forgo those services, including school based tutoring with transportation provided after the sessions!

Anonymous said...

Dunwoody Mom, I had to go to work for a few hours and I hope you got some work done yourself! I really look forward to meeting you at the DCPC, Sept. 1st.

It's funny you and I are arguing the same points and I think we can debate ourselves into agreement before we take our first sip of coffee.

Lynn, is right, we tried and tried and some of us at Nancy Creek were under the impression, thanks to Mr. Moseley and Jim Redovian that Dunwoody were fighting any type of redistricting. If that was wrong I apologize, that was all we had to go on. We were also asking DCSS to renovate and reopen the old CMS property, which now should be condemned by the looks of it, for Kittredge. Better access to 285 for buses and better traffic flow. Now our remaining schools are very crowded and growing. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, Chamblee and the unincorporated areas adjacent to it, are the second fastest growing areas in Metro Atlanta. DCSS just ignores the planners and the numbers continuing our drive into the ground.

Anonymous said...

I honestly think the ultimate goal of DCSS is to pit the folks of Dunwoody and Chamblee against each other, destroy our schools, force us into private. Then they would have a place to move their failing students as well as our tax dollars to fund their fun and frivolous behavior. At least it appears that way.

Dekalbparent said...

I agree that DHHS may have failed tpo make AYP because of a small group. I will try to determine if that is the case.

However, DHHS received a surprise influx of NCLB transfers (almost 250) along with the usual administrative transfers in the fall of 2006, which would make these kids seniors and juniors (for those who didn't quite make the graduate in 4 years mark) in the spring of 2010, when the EOCT and HSGT that determine AYP were given. That, combined with the loss of a full floor's worth of classrooms for a full year created crowded and non-conducive conditions. (BTW, there is still a complete floor closed - in a project that was supposed to be done in September 2009).

Shamrock also received a surprise influx of 500 NCLB transfers in 2006, and given that the transfers are not really required to re-apply when they change schools, I believe many of those students have moved on to DHHS.

Anonymous said...

Why are transfers able to just continue on to the school in that cluster? Why do they not have to go back to their home school and reapply when they are changing schools?

I really am trying to understand why the district is allowing some schools to be over crowded and others to be half full.

Anonymous said...

We need to hold th BOE accountable for the large number of administrative transfers. Crawford "Bahamas Booty Call" Lewis used them as a way to grant favors. That practice has to end, no matter who the supt. is.

The public should be provided a list of how many transfers at each school and th reasons why. We don't need names. Just the numbers and justification. People may be tired about hearing all of the needs at Lakeside, and to a lesser extent, Druid Hills, but parents and staff at both schools are 100% correct when they complain about getting slammed with admin transfers.

Anonymous said...

Anon August 15, 2010 9:12 PM Time to quote MacBeth " Tomorrow, tomorrow....."

And then there is the song from Annie

The sun will come out tomorrow


Tomorrow, tomorrow, you're only a day a way.

Maybe we can get the "indicted four" to sing this.

Anonymous said...

Anon August 15, 2010 9:12 PM Time to quote MacBeth " Tomorrow, tomorrow....."

And then there is the song from Annie

The sun will come out tomorrow


Tomorrow, tomorrow, you're only a day a way.

Maybe we can get the "indicted four" to sing this.

Anonymous said...

DHHS is busting at the seams, with no relief in sight. Even when construction is completed, the large numbers of transfers will necessitate a parking lot full of trailers. There is absolutely no where to park at the school. Currently, there are fewer than 10 student parking spaces and none for parents who are visiting the school. I do not understand why these details are not considered when determining "capacity" and numbers of transfers. Parents received an email today to expect that schedules will be switched over the next week or so to alleviate overcrowding. Why is this OK? What can be done??

Square Peg said...

Looked up DHHS on the state DOE report card site. Sadly, the "did not meet AYP" status apparently wasn't because of small subgroups. The page says that the AYP requirements only consider subgroups of at least 40 students. The subgroups whose scores didn't meet the threshold were very large groups, each just over half of all DHHS test takers.

It appears that the GHGST math scores plummeted for DHHS's black and economically disadvantaged students between 2009 and 2010, and that's why the school didn't make AYP. Both groups had about a 53-55% pass rate in 2010, down from pass rates in the 70's in the three previous years. AYP goal is 74.9%, with some margin allowed.

See the "Academic Performance" tab.

Square Peg said...

By "Sadly, the 'did not meet AYP' status apparently wasn't because of small subgroups," I mean that it is especially sad that this can't just be brushed off as a technicality. Something went wrong involving a majority of students.

District wide, the GHGST math pass rate dropped from 69.3% in 2008-2009 to 65.6% in 2009-2010. A small drop, but nothing like what happened at Druid Hills. Was it, as Dekalbparent suggests, the construction and the crowding and a cohort of transfers in 2006 which the school was unprepared to handle?

Anonymous said...

Tutoring for struggling students is the way to go. That is, a small group of students (no more than 4) working with an instructor on skills they are having problems with. You can move a child to a different school, but that won't help unless you fill in the skills gap. Real tutoring needs to be offered at schools that aren't making AYP before students are allowed to move to another school. The money we are spending on gas and busses would be better spent on tutors. This also requires students and parents to take some responsibility for the problem.

Anonymous said...

"The DCSS staff, sorry as they are, are paid with our tax dollars and they need to listen up."

Thanks for spitting in the face of every teacher in DCSS that has absolutely no control over all this drama...I hope you enjoyed making this teacher already burdened with work feel absolutely worthless.

Goal of DCSS...get the parents to eat each other so they all go away.

Thats what all the parents are doing. Cannibalizing each other instead of uniting. Dunwoody, Chamblee, Druid Hills, Cross Keys community organizers...I am all for you wanting to better your community, but do you honestly give a hoot for the kid at Towers who works a job to support his family or the kid at Stone Mountain that has to sit in a classroom of 36 kids and try and learn? Because to this teacher it seems you are only concerned about your own kind.

Start caring about all the kids and stop the "gonna take care of my own" mentality. Thats exactly what DCSS wants. Community versus Community so they can do whatever they want while everyone is battling. This crap is only propagating the whole North vs. South issue that you know the prominent board members love to push.

Anonymous said...

And what makes you think the kids at Chamblee, Druid Hills, Dunwoody aren't working to support their familiest? Our children are also sitting in classes of 36.

Get over it....You're not the "oppressed".

Anonymous said...

Let's stipulate that my child did not do anything to deserve a McNair High School or a Dunwoody High School diploma.

He was simply born in my family and followed my socio-economic path of home ownership on Candler Road or on Spalding Drive. He ain't smarter and he ain't better than yours. And the bratty kids from Pace, Westminster, and Woodward ain't smarter and better than him either

(Feeling how we are on high horse and forgetting that there are yet bigger horses?)

Let's stipulate that there will always social and economic disparities in our society.

It is obvious to deaf and dumb persons that the outcomes at McNair and Dunwoody are social-economically based.

Please, parents, quit avoiding the issue with your my school this, my school that, my child this, and my child that. As a society, we are contracted to provide at least a floor for all even as we maintain some of our birth privileges.

The AYP transfer scenario was not well thought-out by the national administration we put in 2001. Period. They contemplated a small amount of AYP transfers to more affluent schools with space and better public resources. That model has failed and, at least in Dekalb, is not viable...

To be continued.

Anonymous said...

"The DCSS staff, sorry as they are, are paid with our tax dollars and they need to listen up."

Not every teacher in DeKalb is incompetent. In fact, many are highly qualified and dedicated to the students they teach. We can all agree that the system needs some help. I prefer action to name calling.

Anonymous said...

I agree that every student in DCSS should be supported and challenged to the maximum level possible. No child, whether disadvantaged or gifted, should be short-changed at the expense of another. DCSS has enough money to serve every student and to do it well, but it will require efficiency in the Central Office, cutting bloat, hiring and supporting excellent and qualified teachers. If all energy now is put into making sure every kid meets minimum standards (AYP) then we lose the kids at the top of the heap (and you lose their parents, who are often very involved in the school and are generous with important financial donations).

Anonymous said...

We welcomed the parents that brought their kids from failing schools, to Nancy Creek, when it was open. Why? Because we had seats available. These kids were willing to work and their parents supported the school, volunteering and coming to meetings to get involved.

Now we have a population explosion going on and I do not see the county doing anything about it. Let's hope something has been done over the weekend, like they said they would do.

We care about our chilcren but please don't tell me we don't care about yours. My wife and I volunteer twice a week at our school, reading, cleaning, copying, helping teachers etc.. We also have jobs. You got to give a little and please don't tell me I don't care for your child. That will not help the debate at all!

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 6:35 PM

I apologize if I hurt your feelings. I know that most DCSS teachers are on their last nerve and it is just the beginning of the school year.

The DCSS staff I am referring to is the sorry, overpaid, undertalented Central Office staff, NOT our beleaguered teachers.

To your next point -- I spent 20+ years as a school volunteer in Montgomery School and Chamblee High School. During that time I did not work a full-time job or get the benefits that comes from working full-time and moving up the corporate ladder. I now work a full-time job, my children have graduated high school and college, and I am still doing things for Chamblee High School.

So -- no, I have no energy to worry about Towers, SW DeKalb, Lithonia, Stephenson, etc. Those communities need to take care of their own. I am concerned about Chamblee, Dunwoody, Cross Keys, Druid Hills and Lakeside. With the possible exception of Dunwoody, these high schools have been treated like "a red-headed stepchild." Take Chamblee for instance. Since SPLOST I, Chamblee has been promised a top-to-bottom renovation, but nothing has been done. It is always "wait until the next SPLOST."

While CCHS students are trying to learn in grossly overcrowded conditions (because DCSS won't do what it takes to enable all schools to make AYP), among the rats, roaches, rust and mold -- DCSS just keeps piling on more students, making our teachers lives miserable by hiring that know-nothing charlatan Beasley, and doing nothing about the deplorable CCHS facility.

So, yes! -- yes I am far more concerned with Chamblee, Dunwoody, Cross Keys, Lakeside and Druid Hills than I am with any other high school in this mess of a school system.

As another poster said last night, "the lion is wounded." The gloves are off now and we are going to do what is necessary to take back our schools.

Anonymous said...

... That model has failed and, at least in Dekalb, is not viable... To be continued.

I continue.

Let's try to fix the ravages of low socio-economics on education in an other way.

We all should be putting our heads together to insure that all Dekalb Schools educate all students. We need to do so without giving people speeches on parent involvement ( because parent involvement equal salaried professionals versus hourly employees with less flexibility).

Go ahead and set up your independent school systems----with the cost ( losing the economy of scale) you might as well test-prep your child and try to get him to Pace Academy because it is going to cost you the same.

Anonymous said...

No school should have to accept so many transfers that the school, due to lack of space, teachers, parking, etc. cannot teach the kids effectively. No one wins here. Kids transfer from a failing school to a school that can no longer provide a good education, for any child, due to overcrowding. At Druid Hills, the toilet paper and soap in the bathroom, runs out before noon (which is a serious public health hazard) and there are currently classes with over 50 kids. None of this is acceptable, for any child.

Anonymous said...

I continue again...

Fighting to insulate the 3 northern schools from AYP students for any reason only takes your credibility away and adversely put you a class war that you can't win. Check your demographics!

All you have to do to effectively keep AYP kids away from our jewels ( Lakeside, Druid Hills, Chamblee, Dunwoody) is come up with an alternative to ensure McNair, Lithonia, Avondale, Clarkston make AYP!

Come on people--Think!

Anonymous said...

This is not a North/South argument. No school, no matter where it is, should have to accept so many transfers that the school cannot provide a quality education for each and every kid in the student body. Period. NCLB is a completely and utterly flawed program, and the way our state and county are implementing it is slowly destroying our schools, throughout DeKalb County.

Anonymous said...

Things are going to get difficult for AYP transfer kids at Lakeside in a couple of months. MARTA is discontinuing the bus line that runs in front of the school. Secondly, almost all student parking will be unavailable when construction begins in October. It's sure to be a mess.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:44, I have to disagree with you. I live in Chamblee and we have public housing, public/private housing, many apartments that house low income immigrants, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, as well as whites. At Huntley Hills, the majority of the Hispanics come from the attendance zone, they also have the best attendance. Please do not bring class warfare into the mix. Do we have as much as our friends in South DeKalb? Maybe not, but Chamblee, Cross Keys, Dunwoody High, as well as it's feeders have plenty of low income, minority as well as caucasian families. I guess it's been a while since you've driven up here.

Anonymous said...

7:17 When I purchased my home in NDHS district, I did so because the school was making AYP and I liked the location of my home. I was willing to pay more for my home and school taxes because of the school.

As a parent and tax payer, I have every right to be ticked and upset that NDHS did not make AYP last year. I have every right to be upset that the other high schools in my area that did make AYP are over crowded because of transfer students. These people also paid a premium not only in their home purchase price, but also in the amount of taxes that they pay to support the DCSS system.

I am sorry that there are schools that haven't made AYP for many years and I look at the board members representing those districts and shake my head, as they are a part of the problem. Another part of the problem is that parents aren't demanding that their local schools provide a better education.

I want all of DCSS to improve and provide a quality education. I worry as a home owner and parent that DHHS is just the tip of the ice berg as far as schools not meeting AYP. Chamblee and Lakeside will be next, maybe even Arabia. What will happen to DCSS then? What will my house, whose value has already tanked by 20%, be worth then? How will I provide a quality education for my children, as we won't be able to move, sell our home, or afford private school?

Having worked in DCSS as a teacher on the North and South sides, I blame parents and voters for allowing the schools in their neighborhoods to get so out of hand. I blame parents for not focusing on what their children are actually learning and instead are focused on the grades that they bring home, as the two are not equal. I blame parents for not talking to neighbors and voting for better for school board.

Parents whose children attend an over crowded school, have every right to be as upset, as the parents whose child is attending a school that did not make AYP.

There are alternatives to making our schools over crowded and in turn making them all not meet AYP. Tutoring that focuses on the children's needs comes to mind, as a much better alternative to transferring.

Having all high schools not make AYP is not a viable option for an already in trouble system.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 7:17 PM

Sorry! I have no more energy or time to do what the overpaid, undertalented Central Office staff should be doing with regard to the schools that do not make AYP repeatedly.

I have been an hourly employee -- I worked my way through college -- and I know it is tough. But, that does not excuse parents from their responsibility to get involved in their children's schools.

Life is about choices. I chose to get involved in my children's schools for 20+ years, instead of working full-time. Money was often tight then. And now, as a result of my volunteering instead of working in the private sector, my Social Security will be considerably less than it might have been. I may not ever be able to stop working.

Parents at McNair, SW DeKalb, Redan, Lithonia, etc also made choices. And their children are not my responsibility, nor do I feel compelled to make up for their bad choices.

And speaking of cannibalizing -- it is the top-heavy, bloated DCSS administration of mostly African-Americans who are stealing time and money and education from primarily African-American children who live in reduced circumstances in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

I live in Area B where the median income is $150 000 per household & single home sell for $325 000. Is Area B high school going to make AYP?

Less than 5 miles away is Area A where the median income is $49 000 per household & single home sell for $87 000. Is Area A high school going to make AYP?

If you want to keep the A's from coming to the B high school because of AYP, you will need to help the A high school make AYP especially that the A's got more voters. If they made AYP, they would not need to come.

Any attempt to fight on any any other ground will open you to unfair accusations and be demagogued by your friends Zepora and Sarah into a class war.

Again, people just think a little.

Dekalbparent said...

I sense that there are some assumptions being made about the north/central DeKalb school populations. I can speak most specifically about DHHS.

Just because you can drive by some beautiful, expensive homes near the location of the school, do not assume that the kids who live there form the population of DHHS. Those kids go to Padeia, Westminster, Pace, etc, and their parents' $$ and efforts go there, too.

I took these numbers directly from the 2010 DOE report card on DHHS:

Students in AYP Grade Levels:

All 383

Asian/Pac Islander 44
Black 197
Hispanic 43
White 91
Students w/ Disabilities 37
ELL 41
Economically Disadvantaged 199

57.7% of the students taking the tests were Black

58% were Economically Disadvantaged

17.5% were Hispanic

18% were Asian/Pacific Islanders

27% were White

Anonymous said...

@ 8:09

Read what you are saying while putting yourself in the shoes of the parents of AYP kids knocking at your door.

Would your arguments cause the parents to pull his kid out and return him to his home school?

What you don't get in social security, you'll make up with the equity in your home. At least that is what I hope if my annuities dried up.

And of course, you worked less because your were the primary bread winner of the family?

Don't you think that if we affected change and improved the school --we don't have to get them like ours--that would be a better argument??

Anonymous said...

Yikes! This is degenerating rapidly into an us vs. them argument, when I believe we all really want the same thing: an adequate education for every student, in a safe and healty school building. The transfers help neither the receiving schools, whose fixed resources are overtaxed, nor the tranferring students, who don't receive the individualized attention they deserve because of the vast crowds, nor the schools from which the students transfer, because they lose the students whose parents are motivated enough to get their kids out. We need to re-think the way DCSS implements NCLB mandates. In the letter opening this post, Sandy Spruill lists several other options that DCSS could implement that would alleviate at least some of these problems.

It's only going to get worse, if we continue on the transfer-'em-all path, as fewer DCSS high schools will make AYP, given the higher standards that will be implemented in years to come.

Our school leaders MUST re-think their methods and come up with a way that will help, not hurt, their constituency, the students.

Anonymous said...

I give up. This old nasty race-baiting is never going to be resolved in my lifetime. I say, let them have the whole freaking school system. I'm outta here! Enjoy yourselves as you wallow in blame and self-pity.

Anonymous said...

Those kids who go to Padeia, Westminster, Pace, etc, and their parents socialize with your kids and influence your kids.... etc.... which what some of the AYP parents may be hoping for BECAUSE THAT IS PART OF THE EDUCATION that is missing.

Anonymous said...

This is worth repeating:

"The transfers help neither the receiving schools, whose fixed resources are overtaxed, nor the tranferring students, who don't receive the individualized attention they deserve because of the vast crowds, nor the schools from which the students transfer, because they lose the students whose parents are motivated enough to get their kids out. We need to re-think the way DCSS implements NCLB mandates."

No one is benefitting from the the implementation of NCLB in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

"Those kids who go to Padeia, Westminster, Pace, etc, and their parents socialize with your kids and influence your kids.... etc.... which what some of the AYP parents may be hoping for BECAUSE THAT IS PART OF THE EDUCATION that is missing."

As a Druid Hills HS parent, I find this comment completely offensive, for so many reasons.

Anonymous said...

When all of our schools don't make AYP, what will we do next?

From where I am sitting, I am not seeing the DCSS administration trying to get the non AYP schools up and improving. I also do not feel that the current administration has the ability or know how to do it, either.

Transfers are not improving anything for anyone. The children that are in the failing schools need to be offered tutors and work on improving the education that way first. Discipline needs to be top priority and getting rid of the thugs that take away time and energy from kids who want to learn, need to go.

Schools should not be over crowded to be in compliance with NCLB. This is not a win for anyone. It is actually causing more of our schools to be failing. DCSS may not have any regular high schools in any top polls in the near future. That is very scary.

Cerebration said...

Anon does have a point. Apparently, some of these horrible schools in south DeKalb have some children with some pretty outrageous behavior - I definitely wouldn't want my son near these boys either.

More bullying alleged in DeKalb

A DeKalb County parent is accusing students of slapping and stomping her son at a football camp.

The mother, Betty Bowden, told Channel 2 Action News that her son was among teenagers bullied by older students at a recent camp. She filed a police report about slapping and stomping, reported Monday. She told the TV station that she didn't believe the older boys wanted to hurt her son, but said she planned to move him to a private school.

DeKalb County Deputy Chief Superintendent Bob Moseley told Channel 2 that two players from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. High School were suspended and the district was looking into other incidents.

The news station reported that it obtained a police report about a separate incident involving Lithonia High School students at a camp on the campus of North Georgia College. Mosley said a prevention and intervention team at Lithonia High already had talked with players about hazing and bullying.

Bullying has been a sensitive topic in DeKalb since Jaheem Herrera, 11, committed suicide there last year. His parents said he hanged himself after facing anti-gay taunts from classmates.

Perhaps actual instruction on respect and discipline in the schoolhouse is the first order of business.

Anonymous said...

We are wasting energy arguing and blaming each other while NCLB is accelerating toward total disaster.

If you look at the state website, you see that Lakeside and Tucker didn't make the targets this year on the GHSGT math test, but they are listed as making AYP because they appealed the calculation. I don't see how they can make AYP next year. Next year the pass rate target goes up, and next year's test takers will be the cohort who have been the guinea pigs for the new math rollout since 6th grade. Pretty soon no school will be left behind.

There is a lot of blaming going on in our country, but somehow we have to figure out how to work together to solve our problems. Nobody's house or stocks will be worth much in the future if the next generation can't afford to buy them. The price you will get for your assets in retirement, like any market price, is driven by supply and demand.

I think the bloggers best in a position to suggest how schools can be improved are those whose children tried transferring to a different school under NCLB. What factors made the new school better? Or was it disappointing? Our goal should be to educate students and prepare them for life, though. A goal of meeting AYP targets is very unrealistic because the whole premise of NCLB is flawed.

Cerebration said...

It will sure be an interesting day when Chamblee does not make AYP. This downward spiral is totally unavoidable. A few successful schools cannot save an entire system. The end result is only failure for all.

Only hard work, dedication, small groups and putting Title 1 support directly in the schoolhouse, especially in the early grades, will make the difference in the end.

Anonymous said...

We have so many problems in DeKalb County Schools, it's mind-boggling.

But the NCLB transfers is one that can be fixed. Since we're not getting action with the DCSS administration (when have we EVER?), it's time to inundate our elected officials who are responsible for this mess in the first place.

Contact your state legislators, the governor, the gubernatorial candidates, and---most importantly--your representative and senators in Washington. Share the stories, nightmares, and realities that we're experiencing in DeKalb County.

To find your state officials:

Candidates for Governor: Roy Barnes
Nathan Deal:
John Monds (Libertarian candidate)

U.S. Government:
Find your rep:
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator Saxby Chambliss

Shower these people with calls. emails, letters!

Sandy Spruill said...

Just FYI ...

In terms of my e-mail sent on Sunday to Ramona Tyson: all board members were copied. Cere posted the e-mail on this blog.

I received the same canned answer twice, which I understand was written by Bob Moseley. It appears to be an auto-response.

Interestingly, none of the BOE members have even bothered to open the e-mail from me, much less respond. This includes Jim Redovian, an incumbent standing for re-election.

Even more interesting -- Maureen Downey, of AJC's Get Schooled blog, deleted the e-mail without reading it.

I know this and have the documentation because I use for these e-mails.

Anonymous said...

Can you read your email in 3 minutes? Get a speaking slot at the Sept. 7 school board meeting. And if you have time, be sure to chastise everyone for the way you were disrespected. Your email was cogent, well-researched, and meticulous in its detail. Shame on them for not responding in a thoughtful manner.
I'm sure you've done this before, but just in case, request a speaking slot by contacting Margaret Francois, the school board clerk.

Dekalbparent said...

Those kids who go to Padeia, Westminster, Pace, etc, and their parents socialize with your kids and influence your kids.... etc.... which what some of the AYP parents may be hoping for BECAUSE THAT IS PART OF THE EDUCATION that is missing.

Sorry, but I beg to differ. Neither these kids nor their parents socialize with or influence my kids. The kids go to the private schools because their parents DON'T want them to mix with us.

Anonymous said...

I'm ashamed of the BOE members, especially Redovian. I swear he does not think District 1 includes Chamblee, which it does. I hope he is at DCPC or I'll catch him at the YMCA, a reply should be forthcoming. How in the heck do these people want us to communicate with them?

I'm stunned about Maureen Downey, she is a stakeholder as well as a "journalist". Sandy, did you send a copy to Megan Meteucchi, of the AJC or Wendy Saltzman of CBS 46?

Moseley has been busy today with the football hazing incidents at MLK and Lithonia. However, he could have sent you a one sentence reply.

There were some folks from the CMS PTSA who told us that, Tyson and the group were working on it over the weekend and would address it today. Did anyone see any change at CCHS, besides the additional trailers?

Hopefully, the Fire Marshall will address the situation? God forbid an emergency happen at the school, during school hours. Montgomery had a very small incident with a dishwasher motor on Friday. Fire Dept. came and secured the power and very small amount of smoke/smell in the kitchen only.

Don't let this rest! Maybe we should all copy and paste it and send it to the lot!

Anonymous said...

I have a very good friend whose 2 kids are/were at Paideia, having gone to DeKalb County schools through 3rd and 8th grade. One has graduated and is in college; the younger is a senior in high school When the older child was in 8th grader she had the choice of going to Chamblee Magnet HS(she'd been at Kittredge then Chamblee Middle), Druid Hills (her home high school), or Paideia. She chose Paideia.

The parents of these students are my friends as are our children. Mine have gone through DeKalb County schools. My friend tried VERY hard to keep her kids in DeKalb County schools, but ran into road block after road block on a number of issues--and this was 7 years ago!

I'm writing this to give everyone perspective: people have been frustrated and feeling powerless with our school board and administrators for a VERY long time. It would be fascinating to talk to people who, like my friend, pulled her kids after several years in DCSS.

My friend has always thought it would be helpful---if any of the administrators or school board members actually care about fixing our schools---to send a questionnaire (survey monkey, perhaps) to those who have left DCSS, asking why they left.

But it will never happen; no one at the Mountain Industrial Palace cares about fixing our schools.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Tom Price. He is our House Congressional Rep. for North DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Re Read Notify.

We are in the internet business. attaching read notify can make some emails end up in spam folders depending on the security level set.

Maureen Downey monitors this blog -- she didn't need to open your email, she had probably already read it.

Maureen Downey is now in a funny spot. She had suggestted that Ralph Simpson be fired over his book sales, but she can't bring herself to suggest any punishment for Beverly Hall and she is really getting beat up for that.

Anonymous said...

My kids have been at Lakeside and Pace and the Pace environment is much more respectful than the Lakeside environment; the quality of the eduation is legions ahead of the Georgia curriculum (there's absolutely no comparison -- the substance of what is taught and the way it is taught), the kids who are there actaully all want to learn, the teachers all want to teach. We have yet to run into any faculty who had any issues with any kids (which we have run into in the past). We have experienced fairness, respect and, yes, diversity. In fact, this year's freshman class has nearly a dozen (of 100 or so) freshman who just graduated from the Ron Clark Academy there on scholarship. Please watch your assumptions.

The north/south divide is not what it appears. The discipline issue has more to do with it than almost anything else and the so called "north" is not "white" -- the northern, sought after schools are only, approximately 25% white -- the trouble is whites put Asians and Hispanics into a "minority" category and Blacks seem to put Asians and Hispanics into the "White" category so the population in the "north" is very diverse because our schools have shades of all colors across the spectrum and the south is not the least bit diverse becuase it is only one color. We need to watch our definitions and look at the big picture.

There is a substantial diffence in how taxes are assessed throughout the county and what the buildings look like at Columbia HS vs. Lakeside HS if you would come take a look -- you would be appalled.

Anonymous said...

@ "As a Druid Hills HS parent, I find this comment completely offensive, for so many reasons"

Your kids influence these private school kids too. It's a two way street.

They are neighbors and frequent the same haunts. I thought you meant these private schools kids were not part of your landscape. They are part in lesser numbers of the AYP-deficient schools landscape.

I live in one of these $400 000 homes. Even though I paid the mortgage myself, my dad paid for it indirectly by putting me through Tufts University School of Med.

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Anonymous, 10:19 PM

Thanks for your comments! Clearly Jim Redovian is not really interested in being re-elected.

Yes, the e-mail I wrote and sent to Tyson was also sent to Tim Eberly, Megan Matteucci, and Wendy Saltzman. Only Wendy has opened her e-mail.

Sandy Spruill said...

Re: ReadNotify

Thanks for telling me that ReadNotify may cause some e-mails to go into Spam folders.

I have found ReadNotify to be invaluable. Can you recommend something else that performs the same, but does not have unwanted side-effects like sending e-mail to the spam folder?

Anonymous said...

I will check with my husband tomorrow, but I think it is the fact that it is an HTML tag and some email filters routinely reject all or most HTML. If you are just sending a regular email from home, your email provider may have a message about whether you want it sent in just HTML or both HTML and text. As I understand it, readnotify is HTML.

I will check tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

It was an appeal by any of the high schools. It was the State DOE that cooked the books unsolicited. Gov Barnes et al... wanted a little bragging right in this sea of the new math failures.

They simply removed the repeaters who failed the previous year.


Square Peg said...

"It was the State DOE that cooked the books unsolicited."

Thanks for explaining the appeal.

If the state hadn't done this, DCSS's numbers would have looked even worse. The only non-magnet non-special high school to make AYP this year would have been Dunwoody.

Looks like Arabia and Chamblee didn't make the math pass target in the economically disadvantaged category, but were close enough to be considered passing this time.

The targets go up each year until "100% proficiency" is required in 2014. Unless the law changes or the states come up with more ways to cook the books, in 2014 we'll have a "failing" nation, not "failing" schools.

Anonymous said...

I notice that every comment (barring one) is focused solely on the problem of NCLB, which is that education in this country, state, and county is about "educating" to the bottom. What about the kids in the middle - who with a bit of attention could excel, what about the kids at the top, who are bored to death? These students appear to be the backs that everyone is riding - they help a school make AYP (GREAT JOB!) - then open the floodgates for transfers only so they can receive less attention.

I do not know who runs this blog, but I'd be interested in knowing, if possible, what the impact of budget cuts on Discovery and Gifted services has been county wide. Anybody know? Anybody care? (these services should exist in all local schools - regardless of geographic area and SES).

Anonymous said...

Stating that all parents on the south side have to do is get involved and their school will be better, is a huge misconception. Or that they decided to buy cheaper homes so that's what they get implies that perhaps someone has not been to South Dekalb in recent years.

Some parents help and some don't. Some get involved and some don't. Some support their children and some don't. Some moms don't work and don't get involved. Some moms work and stay involved. The educational experience is not the same on the North as it is the South. Clearly overcrowding schools is not the answer. Letting young minds that want to learn and making them stay in a sub standard school is not the answer. Building new buildings alone is not the answer. Education must have an aim, a focus, a raison d'etre!!! The parents that have opted to transfer their children have not made the school undesirable, over crowded yes but not sub standard....if it had parents would have stopped utilizing the option to transfer. While parents may have made a poor choice in purchasing a home realizing your mistake and making an adjustment is part of the learning process as well. When Dekalb was fat with revenues, schools could have been improved internally, that did not happen. Now its crunch time and this is what happens when we don't fix an already existing problem when its smaller. South side parents did not purposely purchase a home on the South side with the intent on sending their children to school on the North side. No reasonable parent would want their children to have to get up two hours early, ride 285 twice a day, get home two hours late from participating in anything with their school….. At least give South side parents credit for recognizing something different is happening on the North side in the educational arena. The same percentage of parental involvement happens on both ends. Why is it when 20 parents show up on the North side they are heard and when 40 show up on the South's not enough? Here's a thought.....let's try and come up with a decision that will make Dekalb County better as a whole because until that happens and the government continues to impose programs like NCLB or ESEA we will continue to have overcrowded schools on one end and poor performing schools on the other. The main point is that students who want to learn suffer on both ends. Let us come together and reason with each other. Stop claiming that all parents, all teachers and all students are the problem. We all know that these three groups are reacting to administrative decisions. So why not take these three groups, unite and make administration become proactive. "It can not be denied….children have an inherent desire to know. Teachers and parents can either encourage this natural inquisitiveness or squelch it." As stakeholders, what are we going to do?

Anonymous said...

I think you pose some great thoughts, anon 9:48 AM.

I happen to think that the one thing that sets schools apart in DeKalb regardless of location in the county is the level and depth of parental involvement, not the number of involved parents. Add these educated parents to a well motivated school administrator and you have a terrific school. These parents know the questions to ask, the resources to allocate and the direction to go if things aren't going well.

I would dispute that the same percentage of involved parents exist in every school. I have spent time in many DCSS schools and with many DCSS parents, administrators and teachers, and what you said doesn't hold true.

However, using the lack of parental involvement as an excuse for why DCSS isn't fixing certain schools is unacceptable. Just as saying that if one school needs new computers their PTA must pay for it because their PTA could pay for it but at another the system will buy the computers because that PTA can't, is wrong as well.

I also don't hear enough S. DeKalb parents coming to board meetings to call out their board members and the bureaucrats on the low performing schools. Maybe 1 or 2 a meeting at the most, but there are 10s of 1000s of students enrolled in these schools. I think this is because the most motivated parents have shifted their students to other schools.

Airing our dirty laundry in public is the only way to get things fixed, I am afraid.

Anonymous said...

You mention South DeKalb parents need to attend more BOE meetings. Well I have for years and all the leadership says is that we're "Background Noise" They don't listen unless you are part of the New Birth Mafia or you're placing money in the palms of their hands.

With the location of the 30 million dollar palace and the start times of most meetings at 6pm, Parents in Dunwoody, Druid Hills, Lakeside or Chamblee would have to head out for the meetings by 4:30, 4:45 at the latest. Last Monday, it took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to drive to the palace from P'tree Industrial and Clairmont. DCSS Central office is not central at all, it's closer to more Gwinnett County taxpayers than Dekalb taxpayers. I sometimes wonder if this was planned to keep the background noise away from meetings.

South DeKalb residents you have an opportunity to go to the meetings and raise hell with your leadership.

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

"The kids go to the private schools because their parents DON'T want them to mix with us."

That's an extremely offensive comment. There may be exceptions, but both the families I know who left DCSS and those who opted for other options for educating their kids don't feel this way.

As a family who had 4 kids in DCSS schools for 18 years, volunteered in the schools, served as PTA officers/school council members, participated on DCSS task forces, and supported our local schools PTA's financially, the decision to leave for 3 reasons:

1) curriculum/academics
2) school/board administration
3) bruised head from banging it against a brick wall in dealing with the above.

However, I am willing to do anything that I can to help DCSS succeed, including help elect a new BOE and demanding action from the current board and state BOE to radically decimate the current administration.

Anonymous said...

Sandy, Please read your letter at the next DCSS Board mtg and please look at the BOE members in the face and ask them (particularly Jim R) why he could not even have the decency to respond to you.... You might have to remind him where Chamblee is - but then again, I live in Dunwoody and got the very same treatment when I e-mailed him about an issue..... Cannot believe that he has the guts to go for re-election..... Dunwoody/ Chamblee - PLEASE, pull together and get someone who will help our district and care about the entire system.

Anonymous said...

"help our district and care about the entire system" isn't the standard practice in DeKalb. Unless things are going to change dramatically, having a strong advocate for the person that can best represent your area is about all you can hope for.

I want DCSS to be a better school system, but I want my community and schools to be protected.

Anonymous said...

I work with many S. DeKalb parents that are unhappy with their schools. The one consistent gripe they all have is that the lack of discipline in the schools. I always ask, have you demanded that disruptive students be removed - permanently from the classrooms and school building? And they have rarely done so. The DCSS is so desparate to make the graduation rate go up, they are not going to kick these kids out of school unless all the parents are demanding this.

I think DCSS administration must take 100% of the blame for passing students through elementary and middle school with As and Bs when the students are functioning 2 or 3 grades behind. Then these students hit high school and must take the GHSGT or EOCT and bingo they fail! DCSS must stop the grade inflation and social promotion. It will be painful but it has to happen.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Beasley,

Does the EOCT or the CRCT have any questions that can be answered correctly with my kinesthetics and musical intelligences.

Why do you make my teacher waste her time on that junk?

Which intelligences did you use to write your masters and doctoral dissertation?


Anonymous said...

@ James Williams…the scores that you indicate that your son made are….let me see….okay…but not great. I applaud you as a parent, but the problem is not the school or the teacher….it is the parents and students. If your child is indeed a good student, then he will prevail no matter where he goes. The Does Not Meet AYP status does not indicate that strong teachers aren’t present in these schools….many students have deficiencies that teachers can’t help. If the standard that I’m teaching says that the students will be able to multiply fractions, but there are students in class who do not know how to multiply, add, or subtract, yet they’ve made it to 5th grade, there’s a problem. We need parents like you in these schools to stay and support. Don’t just run to the other end. We need you to volunteer in these schools…walk the halls and enforce them to go class, complete class and homework. …because we’ve tried and it doesn’t work. Maybe we can have T.I. come to tell them how important it is…because they aren’t listening to us. Basically, we need parents to be parents and handle their end and we will handle ours. Oh and if we offer tutorials, we need your little precious babies there…following directions.

Anonymous said...

I have been teaching in the DCSS for several years, and I would not want my grandchildren to attend the school that I work at. Why? There is no discipline....excuses are made for students when they misbehave, students skip class, the lunchroom is filthy from students who throw food on the floor with no regard, the students destroy the bathrooms by writing on the walls and flooding the sinks....the total teaching environment is hectic. And then there is the blame game…blaming teachers that Lisa doesn’t know her times tables, but she has managed to make it to 7th grade due to the push by the administration to pass her and many like her. Some of my co-workers have adopted a "I don't care" attitude regarding discipline, while they search for jobs elsewhere. When I initially entered the DCSS, I was told of schools to avoid teaching at and while the one that I teach at was not on the list, I assure you that it should've been.

Anonymous said...

To the poster who stated that she only cares about schools on your end, heck, I don't blame you. Why should you care about schools on the south end when the parents don’t care about these schools. I hear parents on the south end talking so negatively about their child's school and if it’s the teacher's fault that their child didn't do his work or refuses to follow directions. Let’s remember that the mother is the first teacher. By the time we meet them, they have been well- grounded in what their parents haven’t taught them at home. Hey, my school isn't pouring with parent volunteers either, but I'll bet next month's check that the schools on the northern end have more parent volunteers than you can shake a stick at. Where are our volunteers? Well, we see them when their child's cell phone or mp3 player is taken, or if they want their child's schedule change because the teacher enforces their child to behave, or when they say, "that teacher doesn't like my child", so they come up to the school to give the teacher a few volunteer words....and I do mean "volunteer" words. Attend some PTSA meetings and you will find more teachers than parents. My school has 1,500 students, yet only 10-15 parents, if that, shows up for these PTSA meeting. Yes, there are a few dedicated parents, but they are few in numbers and they can’t do ev-ver-ry thing.

Anonymous said...

To the parents who believe that sending their children to the north end is the answer, then you're wrong. We need to work together to fix the schools in your child's neighborhood. Transferring students to another school is not fixing the problem.
Further, I am so sick of hearing people talking about schools making AYP or that a certain school hasn't made AYP. Some of you guys have no clue what it actually takes to get AYP status. Look, tutorial, extra time in class, etc., will not get it if the student doesn't have the desire to learn or if the parents continue to send these children to school with the necessary “need to knows” from the beginning. Most kindergarten teachers are doomed from the beginning. And now with Beasley's "3 chances to makeup an assignment"...the parents in S. DeKalb will truly use it to their advantage.

Anonymous said...

I left a perfectly decent school system for the chance to teach in the DCSS. I wish I could click my ears and utter--there's no place like home---and return to where I taught for 3 years prior to coming to the DCSS. I am stuck with a house that has lost value, so I can't just hop up and leave. And now to think that the Central Office is top heavy and Z. Roberts' daughter makes more than me and does not have the years of experience or degrees that I is appalling.
Another thing...when I was in school, an AP or principal was a seasoned individual...sometimes one close to retirement. These people put their years in the classroom. From their years of experience, they developed knowledge to handle the hectic schedule of a school administrator. I am not saying that a few young adminstrators couldn't do the job, but in the DCSS, there are too many of them. The administrators are young in age and many lack the necessary experience to govern schools adequately.

Anonymous said...

Many parents saw the writing on the wall and decided to work smarter and not harder. Thus NCLB gave an opportunity to bridge the educational gap. I had only heard about the difference, experiencing the difference is something to behold. I certainly understand the frustration of those who live in the neighborhood and I am sorry. The offer was just too good to refuse. Those same parents are now driving across town and still volunteering. I know, I'm one of them. No more chairs are put out for a PTA meeting on the North side than on the South side. The first PTA meeting has the largest crowd on both sides of town and it gets smaller as the school year continues. I've attended BOE meetings and its a few parents attending on a regular. Just look at the recorded meetings on the educational channel.... Why do you think they could build a new meeting room and only have about 100 chairs for a county that houses about 100,000 students! South Dekalb parents care and we fight for our schools, we unlike north side parents have no results. Caring is one of the reasons NCLB/ESEA is so popular. You can say stay but parents in South Dekalb know what's out their and know how hard it is and we want better for our children too regardless of where we live. Even those who stay some want to leave. My job is to make sure my children receive the best education possible, to make sure they show up ready to learn to be involved in their school and the community.... that's exactly what I'm doing and have done. While the "system" is being fixed my child won't be held hostage to the part that's obviously broken when I have a choice to do better.

If I plan on my children attending college (and I do) and college level courses are dropped for lack of participation or you're encouraged to take classes on DOLA vs having a plethora of options to take higher thinking classes..which one do you suggest I take? If my children can't learn because teachers have to deal with discipline issues with 5 kids per class vs the one problem kid every other class which one do you suggest I take? If I volunteer to serve and I'm told to wait let me see if I can find something for you to do vs oh yes let me plug you in here or their..which one do you suggest I take? When I attend a BOE meeting or stakeholders meeting and I'm told the decision has already been made and you'll have to adjust vs let me see what can be done and I'll get back with you, as we saw from the response with Ms Tyson.which one do you suggest I take? When you want to write a check to pay for something and you're told we only take cash, its against the county policy to accept checks vs thank you so much for your support and here's your receipt..which one do you suggest I take?

This is not even the tip of the iceberg I've come up against and witnessed first hand. So why we are battling out which side of town my children should stay on.. they still need to graduate and be able to compete globally for college. Are children attending college on the South Side..yes they are. Do children drop out of high school and college on the North side...yes they do. I had to decide what works for my family and I'm a consumers worst night mare. I read, check out my options and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. While I am willing to fix this problem..I am not willing to jeopardize my children's education while its just being argued about.

I've been complaining, attending board meetings, stakeholders meetings, writing emails, getting black balled for years and we're finally talking together on this issue. Good!

Their a huge difference in the schools, you know its bad when your child's teacher children are across town instead of in the school with their parent! Why, because they want the same thing I want. The best possible education for their children, I can't fix the problem by myself but I can drive by myself so driving I will continue to do!

Anonymous said...

When you want to write a check to pay for something and you're told we only take cash, its against the county policy to accept checks vs thank you so much for your support and here's your receipt..which one do you suggest I take?

My children's N. DeKalb schools don't take checks.

I am curious, did you research the schools before you purchased or rented a home? The situation in S. DeKalb has been less than ideal for decades, now, I think.

Anonymous said...

When you want to write a check to pay for something and you're told we only take cash, its against the county policy to accept checks vs thank you so much for your support and here's your receipt..which one do you suggest I take?

My children's N. DeKalb schools don't take checks.

I am curious, did you research the schools before you purchased or rented a home? The situation in S. DeKalb has been less than ideal for decades, now, I think.

No I did not and that was a HUGE MISTAKE. I did not know to check SAT scores, etc..... I am now teaching my children how to select a home. I know better and I still refuse to have to accept their entire educational life with my mistake. Even if NCLB/ESEA did not exist, I would do something different so that they could have a better opportunity. They have to be able to succeed in college and after and having a good educational foundation is key. I am willing to work three jobs, rent an additional apartment so they can have what they need. So many parents are like me and we are determined to still be involved.

Cerebration said...

"help our district and care about the entire system"

This is about the entire system, like it or not. When we try to do our darndest as parents to create a wonderfully successful school - only to be rewarded with being ordered to take on hundreds from other schools - crowding the building for our children, then it becomes a system-wide issue, like it or not. While I certainly understand the desire of parents wishing a transfer, I have also experienced first-hand the havoc these transfers cause to receiving schools. Neither scenario is fair - nor a good solution. But it works for our board and admin, on a case by case basis. The squeaky wheels get greased and the complaining then quiets down so they figure "all is well".

This conversation perfectly exemplifies the fact that DeKalb offers a very small pie of good opportunities for several thousand students to fight over. And while we fight over slices of this small pie, they continue to milk resources right off the top for themselves, in the form of unnecessary six-figure salaried jobs and multi-million dollar "programs" which in the final analysis do very little to fix troubled schools.

BTW - when I was an officer on a PTA, we had to pay over $700 in bank fees for bounced checks - in addition to the fact that we never collected the face value of the check. It's a pain in the neck to monitor bad checks as a volunteer PTA officer. That's when we decided to go cash only.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I did do research on he schools in our area, Chamblee. We fought for CMS to be built on Sexton Woods! We were then threatened harm by a neighbor, who sent us a profanity laced threat. We sent that threat to the Chamblee Police Dept. However, when the last meeting took place, my wife stood up read the letter and at that very moment, opponents to CMS were appalled by the threat and no longer fought to keep CMS from being built. That was our introduction to DCSS, Johnny Brown was the Super then. Our kids were toddlers and were not even attending school yet.

I'd get into the threats and names we were called when we joined a group of parents to keep Nancy Creek Open, but it's water under the bridge. We uncovered all kind of malfeasance, from Jamal Edwards, son of our former BOE Chairperson, hiding out in our school after receiving a 15k raise and a new job in MIS. No one at DCSS, at the time, knew how to operate the demographic software they had purchased to help with redistricting. We uncovered the cut and paste, Fairfax. VA, fraudulent demographers report, and we also discovered that DCSS and the DeKalb Planning Dept. never spoke with each other regarding the DeKalb 2020 Vision plan, which was rezoning numerous areas in our attendance zones. But Mr. Moseley and his little black book kept referring to us as "Background Noise". The former beat writer from the AJC even called us names, after we had given her all this information.

Our kids continue on the DCSS, since private is not an option. We love our schools and support them with our time. I really believe once we get new leadership in place and everyone, from clew's days, has resigned we'll be able to move forward. Will it be perfect? No. But at least this current group of friends and family, at the Central Palace, and their abuse of power and lining their pockets with OUR tax dollars will no longer be around!

Cerebration said...

Yes, but we also need policies in place to prevent abuses like Pope and Lewis in the future. We also need a board full of strong, child-focused, education-focused school board members. Happily, we have several terrific candidates! I just hope voters have the sense to vote them in over some of the incumbents.

Anonymous said...

DCSS has a billion dollar budget for 2010-11. We spend over $10,000 per pupil.

We spend less than $430,000,000 on teachers salaries and benefits (considerably less next year since additional teacher positions will be eliminated).

So where is the other $570,000,000 going?
Not into safe, clean schools with loads of science and technology.

Not into additional teaching staff to make sure our children are not crammed like sardines into classrooms.

Not into programs that would institute a rigorous student discipline program.

South DeKalb as well as North DeKalb parents pay lots of taxes and are passionate about their child's education.

What we have now is totally unsustainable. It is a patchwork plan and a shell game that leaves parents "on their own" to try to scramble from year to year to obtain a good education for their child. When this patchwork plan bursts at the seams in one area, the DCSS leadership patch it up and it careens into another area.

A good education should not be based on the "luck of the draw". Until we have some topnotch leadership at the top of DCSS, parents will continue to scramble and scrape for their kids ALL OVER DeKalb.

(source for teacher expenditures: Ga. DOE website and DCSS superintendent proposed budget cuts spreadsheet)

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Anonymous 10:30 AM

I chaired the committee that created and established Chamblee Middle School in the face of significant opposition from DCSS.

Please get in touch with me at Leave me your phone number, please, so that I may call you back.

Thank you,
Sandy Spruill

Cerebration said...

Wow - Anon 10:40 AM - very well said.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:40, not to take away from the passion of your post but a few corrections.

The budget for FY2011 is $746.6 million, which is 12% less than the budget for FY2010. You can see this at the following link on page 7,

Salaries and benefits make up about 90% of the overall budget. You may have been making a point exclusively about teacher compensation however the fact remains the labor costs make up a majority of the budget. If you want to reduce the overall budget you must consider reducing labor costs.

Not sure how one factors in SPLOST revenues since it is accumulated and spent on projects that have been already defined. The expected income from SPLOST was about $450 million over 5 years thus the annualized amount would be about $1.125 million. Not sure where you get the billion dollars from but you may have rounded up.

Cerebration said...

The $1.2 TOTAL budget comes from the very document you provided the link to.

The confusion lies in the fact that the GENERAL OPERATIONS FUND is $746.64 million (what you call the "budget" which is in actuality the operating budget for the school system). However, when you add the rest of the funds (other budgets) the total is $1,203.24 million - or in other words, $1.2 BILLION.

So here it is - from page 7

FY 2011

General Operations Fund $746.64

Other Funds:
Special Revenue $97.78
Capital Outlay $194.79
Debt Service $95.84
Enterprise Funds $48.78
Trust & Agency $19.41

Total Other Funds - $456.60

TOTAL BUDGET FY 2011 - $1,203,240,000

Cerebration said...

The definition of "other funds" from that same report -

All of the “Other Funds” are funded by revenue sources other than property taxes and state QBE earnings, which are used solely for General Operations.

Among these “Other Funds” is the Capital Outlay fund. During FY2011, Capital Outlay expenditures, including those for SPLOST III, are projected to be $194.8 million. Capital Outlay expenditures include the principal and interest payments due on the $300 million bond obtained in conjunction with SPLOST III.

The funds for the payment will be transferred and paid from the Debt Service fund. The Debt Service fund payment of $95.8 million is the actual payment of the principal and interest due on the bonds during the fiscal year. A principal payment of $85 million and interest payments of $10.8 are due in FY2011.

The Special Revenue fund consists primarily of budgeted state and federal grant expenditures, including Title I funds. Special Revenue expenditures are planned to be $97.8 million. The Special Revenue funds contain the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) stimulus funds. In February, 2009, ARRA, also known as the Federal Stimulus Package, was signed into federal law. The result is that DeKalb County School System will receive three types of funding. Two of the types are to be used in the Special Revenue fund, and not the General Operations fund, in accordance with Title I and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal guidelines. The third type of ARRA funding is the State Stabilization fund. The ARRA allocated funds to the State of Georgia budget are being used to prevent statewide budgetary shortfalls. The State Stabilization funds will be provided to the DeKalb County School System through the QBE funding formula. The Special Revenue funds do not include the first two types of ARRA funds. The Title I and IDEA allocations for next year will increase the planned expenditures by approximately $26 million in the fiscal year 2011.

The Enterprise fund expenditures are budgeted for $48.8 million for the next fiscal year. The Enterprise fund is comprised of the Athletics and School Nutrition operations.

The Trust & Agency fund includes the operations of the employees’ alternative retirement plan and has $19.4 million budgeted for FY2011. This is due to a suspension $26 million of funding to the Board-sponsored retirement account.

Cerebration said...

BTW - those funds - all combined with the Operating Budget funds are referred to as the "CONSOLIDATED BUDGET".

Cerebration said...

So when you divide the OPERATIONS budget by 98,000 students you get a per pupil cost of $7,618.

However, when you divide that CONSOLIDATED BUDGET total by 98,000 students it equates to $12,277 per student.

That's an additional cost of $4,659 per student.

Cerebration said...

IMO, that's getting pretty costly. $12,000+ could buy a pretty decent private school education. You see where the voucher argument comes in when you crunch the numbers this way. The cost is the cost. The business of the school system is to educate students. We have about 98,000 students. The total amount of money the school system is taking in - in the name of these students for whatever reason - is $1.2 BILLION. To say that "some" of it goes to other things is to say that we're collecting money for reasons other than educating students.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification Cerebration!

Another point that should be noted in your calculation for allocation per student. Your figure represents an average amount and would not represent a possible voucher amount if we were to go to such a system. Fact of the matter, each student has a different 'value' associated with them, i.e. special needs, gifted and title 1 students get additional dollars, gifted get additional dollars.

That said, it would be interesting to see the base amount allocated for each student. I'm sure that number would surprise people.

Cerebration said...

Here are some costs that I think could be questioned -

INSTRUCTIONAL SUPPORT $53,624,816 (7%) too many people "monitoring" teachers instead of working one on one with students

SUPPORT SERVICES $18,316,526 (2%) I need to be enlightened as to how this differs from Instructional Support. Total "support" now equals $71,941,342 ($734 per student)

SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION $58,930,519 (8%) too many assistant principals? others?

GEN. ADMIN. $8,903,212 (1%)

TRANSPORTATION 33,308,908 (4%) This isn't bad, actually - it's only about $340 per student/year

OTHER* 18,791,431 (3%) Yowsa - that's $18 million labeled "other" - let's look deeper

But only 67% of the total Operating budget goes to teacher's salaries (INSTRUCTION $497,168,099 - 67%) - Barely twice the budget for their "support services and instructional support" The $497,168,099 allocated to teacher's salaries equate to $5,073 per student - which for a class of 30 equals $152,190. Hmmm. Something's not adding up on this one.

Anonymous said...

If your school (not PTA) is not accepting checks and works on a cash only basis that should send up a huge red flag. I recently attended a meeting were an audit from a few years ago was discussed and the bookkeeper is being indicted for theft. The amount is in the mid 5 figures. I do not doubt that this is a much bigger issue than one school, especially since the county doesn't have and hasn't had in quite some time a head of internal audit.

Cerebration said...

Still included in the budget book --

Item 117 Chamblee HS-
ADA & Career Tech $ 1 1,152,507

Another interesting tidbit that I never knew -

The constitutional tax limit available to levy in support of the operation of the school system is 20 mills. A local referendum in May, 1971, raised the tax limit of the DeKalb County School District to 25 mills.

Ah! So those constitutional items can be overridden locally.... interesting!

Anonymous said...

Schools have had to go to cash only because of the number of bounced checks received. When I taught last year, I had to put my own money in to cover the cost of several bounced checks, so that the children could go.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody have any proof that AYP transfers lead to the receiving school making lower scores?

One of the apparent reasons for schools joining the list of not making AYP is that the percentages passing needed go up each year. Scores that allowed schools to pass two years ago or even last year are failing scores now. When the mandatory pass rate it gets to 100% must pass including every subcategory of 40 or more, then all our students will be above average (or will they?).

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 1:44

"But only 67% of the total Operating budget goes to teacher's salaries (INSTRUCTION $497,168,099 - 67%) - Barely twice the budget for their "support services and instructional support" The $497,168,099 allocated to teacher's salaries equate to $5,073 per student - which for a class of 30 equals $152,190. Hmmm. Something's not adding up on this one."

Using Mrs. Tyson's figures of $65,000 as the teacher cost including salary and benefits (see her options for budget cuts for fiscal year 2010-2011) and given the fact that we now have 6,500 teachers the teacher salary figure would be less than $430,000,000. That leaves around $67,000,000 that I'm having a hard time accounting for the rest. It can't all go for books and supplies.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 12:42 and Anonymous 1:19
It's interesting you saw passion in my post. I was just crunching the data. I'm assuming you are also Anonymous 1:19 pm who asked about funding and weights. This is from the Georgia DOE:

Funding Weights

As an example, a funding weight of 1.67 (approx. gifted weight) would mean that if a child is classified as gifted, DCSS would get 67% more in per pupil funding for that child.

Look at the middle school funding. The state rewards you if you have6-8 middle schools versus having the students in 6 and 7 in the elementary schools (see below - middle grades).


Grades 1-3

Grades 4-5

Grades 6-8 (Middle Grades Program)

Grades 9-12

Kindergarten Early Intervention Program (EIP)

Primary Grades 1-3 (EIP)

Upper Grades 4-5 (EIP)

Grades 6-8 (Middle School Program)

Gifted Education

Remedial Education

Vocational Lab

Special Education
Level I
Level II
Level III
Level IV
Level V (Inclusion)

Special Education depends on the level of disability. For example, blind or profoundly disabled would be a Level IV.

All of this funding depends on how many hours a student is served (there are generally minimums and maximums depending on the category). For example, if a gifted child is served 5 hours rather than 4 hours, the full amount will be given. If that child is only served 4 hours, then the funding is reduced proportionally.

Anonymous said...

The school with the audit and the bookkeeper issues had a policy where everything had to be paid in cash -- no checks allowed and it was very difficult to get a receipt for any thing Things were not accounted for. Lots and lots of red flags Orders for supplies and goods that were "made" but the items never arrived. I understand that there are/were/have been similar issues at other schools. Paul Womack may actually be interested in hearing from you if you have any information. I wonder how many Shondras were in the school system because one was in the internal auditing department but no one seems to be able to confirm if she is a "friend and family"related to Wendy's story.....

Anonymous said...

Dishonest Bookkeeper/Inept Auditor

I think you must must mean the "auditor" named Chardra. She works for Carla Smith who is also unqualified as an auditor or an auditor supervisor. Carla reports to Susan Hurst who reports to Larry Hammel. I think. It is very difficult to keep track of these people

We believe Chardra and Carla are aware that possible large-scale per-pupil funds fraud has been committed throughout DCSS. When it was thought to be discovered, they apparently were told to do whatever necessary to cover it up. They did, irreparably damaging an innocent person in the process. They were shielded by Ron Ramsey.

We are hopeful that, by providing the information we have to the Libertarian group when they do their audit this fraud will be uncovered. And the guilty will be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

Cere, I want to thank you for the number crunching in this thread. It burns me up that so much is being spent for frivolous, unexplainable things.

This is why we need total change at the Palace! I'll be at DCPC, Sept. 1st at 8:45. Ms. Tyson and Dr. Beasley are the guests! Folks, write your questions down this is our chance. Ms. Spruill bring your letter that no one is replying to. We must demand the truth, Ms. Tyson said in the spring that they must regain our trust. Through this summer of crazy things, we're seeing the same thing, and it's not trust! That scares me.

Anonymous said...

Oh, my goodness. Ronald Ramsey shielded this mess. It is so sad that this man is so unfair . He protects big administrative crooks and come down hard on teachers. Hopefully the new person in charge will be from Alaska and not no or care about the making waves. Our school system needs a shake down since Lewis took office, we have a bunch of incompetent family and friends in the whitehouse who donot deserve their jobs.

Sandy Spruill said...

Thank you to those people who – via this blog and e-mail – have asked me to read at the upcoming September 7 BOE meeting the e-mail I wrote to Ramona Tyson about Chamblee Charter High School overcrowding. I am not going to do that and here’s why:

(1)I find it offensive to stand as a supplicant before a group of people who are elected public servants and read to them something they already should have read.

(2)It is offensive that the BOE members are on an elevated dais looking down – both figuratively and literally – on the people whose tax dollars pay their salaries and also pay for this school system.

(3)It is offensive that the board members sit in silence with no comment when someone takes personal time to address them.

(4)It is beyond offensive to even enter the Stone Mountain Palace when I know that the BOE approved this lavish facility while consigning our students to leaky, overcrowded, mold-and-mildew filled facilities that are suitable only for the roaches and rats that also share those spaces.

Finally I am not going to read to the BOE the e-mail I wrote to Tyson because it is all for show -- only for show. They don’t care what the e-mail has to say; they haven’t even opened it, much less read it. They have no interest in researching or reviewing the documentation I included.

The DCSS BOE blithely and regularly blows off taxpayers. The BOE’s attitude is one of, “My mind is made up. Don’t confuse me with the facts.”

Paula Caldarella said...

Sandy, you've said it perfectly.

Do you know the results of the Fire Marshall's visit?

Anonymous said...

It was a board member who suggested that the emails be sent out encouraging concerned people to email Ms. Tyson about Chamblee High School.

The scrutiny that the BOE is under from SACS right now has basically rendered them useless. Where we might have once emailed a board member for help, we are now being advised to email Ms. Tyson and company directly. Many of the board members share our concerns about Beasley for example, but they are feeling rather trapped. They can't fire him and they can't order Ms. Tyson to do so either.

It is heartbreaking to me to see how quickly we are falling down the hole...

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the Beasley, where in creation did he get "Department of Teaching and Learning" term for what is supposed to be " Department of Instruction"??

The clever devil appropriated it from New York University's school of education. And we all thought you were an original. Beasley, did you attend a conference over there?

Since you are an educator, do read and digest:

Cerebration said...

Oh heck, he used that phrase to describe himself as a principal. This is from his website -

pon being offered the position, Dr. Beasley accepted the appointment and so began his journey in the DeKalb County School System. He served as Principal and Chief Learning Officer of Stephenson High for five years. As Principal, he led the school to increased test scores, increased parental involvement, improved school morale, improved school safety, a sense of community, improved rigor, relevance and relationships. He shares his educational experiences and strategies for securing sustained and phenomenal improvement in his first book titled:

A Passion for Improving Schools:

Twelve Keys for Achieving and Sustaining Phenomenal School Improvement.

(The book can be conveniently purchased by clicking the Purchase Book button at the bottom of this webpage).

This is where you will also find his services for hire in helping to write your dissertation -

Dr. Morcease J. Beasley offers services in Improving Instruction, Leadership Development, Program Evaluation and Research, Instructional Management Audits, Dissertation Writing, Dissertation Editing, and Statistical Analysis for Dissertations. Please request services using the link provided below.

Very self-promotional, that guy. Lewis always fell for that stuff (ie: Yvonne Sanders-Butler). I'm surprised that Tyson does as well.

Anonymous said...

Well said Ms. Spruill. I look forward to meeting you one day. Will you be at the DCPC on Sept. 1st? I for one will plan to be there.

I just have to meet this Beasley character face to face. I also want to ask Redovian why he is not answering my email regarding his lack of leadership in his ENTIRE district. I also hope Moseley is there with that little black book of attendance numbers which compares actual numbers with capacity. I do plan to be respectful too.

Anonymous said...


Dr. Beasley only ventures in school districts where his mentor has influence. From Birmingham, Dekalb, Port Arthur, he is always in the shadow of Dr. Johnny Brown.

Was there a break-up with Johnny or did the teachers of Port Arthur chased him out?

Hopefully the teachers will find a way to prepare their lessons in a way that helps them teach students more than in a way to feed the Beasley. They might even soon find a way to overwhelm his in-box with lesson plans of biblical proportions.

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Anonymous 10:29 PM

Actually, it was NOT a board member who sent out a request encouraging concerned parents and community members to act with regard to Tyson's plan to further overcrowd Chamblee Charter High School. I am not at liberty, right now, to say who sent the e-mail and it is too late to call and ask that person's permission. But, it was definitely NOT a board member.

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Dunwoody Mom

No, I don't know the result of the Fire Marshal's visit to Chamblee Charter High School. I wish I did. I did copy the Fire Marshal on my e-mail to Ramona Tyson.

BTW, Dunwoody Mom -- the CCHS Blue and Gold Foundation is having a Silent Auction on Friday, August 21 at the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant on Clairmont Road, next to Peachtree-DeKalb Airport. Tickets are $10.00 each, available at the door. Amazing things are up for auction! The event begins at 5:30 PM and bidding on the auction items closes at 7:30 PM. I am certain there will be people there you know, including former faculty and staff members.

Sandy Spruill said...

@ Anonymous 11:02 PM

Yes, I will be at the DCPC meeting on September 1. I am taking the day off from work. I look forward to meeting you there!

Be True to Your School said...

Take a look at Beasley's e-mail address taken from his church's web site:

Spirit of Faith
Atlanta, GA

He is calling himself the Chief Learning Officer in Georgia! LOL!

One of the visions Beasley has for his church mission is to establish Christian Schools of Excellence.

Kim Gokce said...

Wow, tough to catch up on this thread just after after days ...

On the technical questions about email above ... ultimately, the behavior of email tracking services depend on the configuration of the receiving mail server and the destination email client software. Messages can be read without your tracking software knowing it because the client application can be configured to a) never send read receipts, b) confirm read receipts on case-by-case, c) send read receipts every time.

So, I would not recommend making assumptions about the disposition of email messages you send no matter what email service you use.

Regarding CCHS over-crowding, does any one have the actual numbers on how many are attendance area children versus transfers versus Magnet? And, among transfers how many are actually NCLB transfers? My impression is that there are many administrative transfers also but I do not know the figures.

Anonymous said...

@ Sandy Spruill and Anonymous 11;37 PM

Use this link to access new and existing schools Georgia Department of Education building codes. Then see if Lakeside and CCHS are in compliance. If DCSS is not in compliance, appeal to the DOE. Count the toilets, measure the rooms, etc. to ensure they meet state regulations:
Here is the link to the Georgia DOE:

For example, in this document, there is a limit on the number of children per toilets. Toilets must be conveniently located as well. I know when Fairington ES was so crowded (34 trailers outside the building to only 33 classrooms inside the building), the building stank from so many students trying to use the number of toilets that were built for half the population they had crammed in there.

BTW there are studies on the decline in student achievement in overcrowded schools. I guess Mrs. Tyson didn't read any of those before she made these transfer decisions.

Dan Magee said...

FY 2011
General Operations Fund $746.64 mil

Other Funds:
Special Revenue $97.78
Capital Outlay $194.79
Debt Service $95.84
Enterprise Funds $48.78
Trust & Agency $19.41
Total Other Funds - $456.60

TOTAL BUDGET FY 2011 - $1,203,240,000

DCSS spends $1.2 BILLION DOLLARS annually. Think about that staggering number. The $746 mil in general operations dwarfs the DeKalb County operating budget, an operating budget of a county with 740,000 residents, compared to a shrinking school system of under 100,000 students.

That amount of money is being spent by educators with very little to no financial expertise (and some with little teaching experience!). The CFO had little prior experience. A director of Internal Affairs who seems to miss blatantly obvious scandals that parents, bloggers and the media uncover with little digging.

Tens of millions spent with no return on investment (America's Choice, eSIS, etc.). Millions spent on non-classroom staff who not only do not benefit the system, they add more mindless busy work for our teachers. A Chief Learning Officer who must have temporarily lost his mind when he stated to teachers and staff that "there is no I in team but there's a U in unemployment"?? Funny he says that while allowing a policy that gives students three chances to turn in homework before a zero grade, if a teacher is even allowed to give a zero. Where does he find the spare time to also be a consultant and pastor?

The only way the system works is when there are checks and balances in place. An effective board of education needs to set the course, draft policy, establish standards, goals and a high level of ethics, insure that spending is disciplined, frugal and worthy, and most importantly, holds an administration accountable when they fail.

Our board doesn't even see an issue with nepotism. Do we really want Zepora "I'm Going to Slug You" Roberts, Sarah "Never Prepared for Meetings" Copelin-Wood, and Gene "$20,000 plus from Sembler" Walker to be leading a $1.2 billion dollar operation?

Five BOE members are up for re-election. It is time a new board sweeps the Central Office clean and starts anew. Right now, we're not only tolerating mediocrity, we're tolerating borderline malfeasance. The focus has to be on students, parents and teachers. The current Central Office-first paradigm can never be allowed again.

Anonymous said...

Existing schools aren't required to meet the current standards. Our school, with an attorney, investigated this years ago. You are grandfathered in. Even without transfers, most 40 year old schools don't meet the requirements today.

Our school even used the state standards to try and argue for redistricting to relieve our overcrowding and got no where.

Anonymous said...

100% right on the mark:

Do we really want Zepora "I'm Going to Slug You" Roberts, Sarah "Never Prepared for Meetings" Copelin-Wood, and Gene "$20,000 plus from Sembler" Walker to be leading a $1.2 billion dollar operation?

Anonymous said...

The Chamblee Annex for ESEA transfers is at Elizabeth Andrews.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone stopped to think about the ridiculous culture that NCLB has created and why schools aren't meeting AYP? I have to say as an observer, this is a bit passive aggressive. Should we care that our students can regergitate information for a test or that they can critically think and be prepared for the challenges facing us in the future? PLUS Only 10% -18% of our communities vote. Put your votes where your heart lies and make your elected representatives more accountable to the needs of their communities! Change is hard - it will come at a price. I find the remarks from Ms. Spruil easy to say from someone that doesn't have to deal with the difficult situation and context that is the state of education in Georgia and in the U.S. If she could do a better job, she should be public with her sentiments - it's not our board's job to seek out her comments or respond to every single member. They will respond to constructive action and persistence. Is this what our community is coming to? Really??

--Confused and frustrated

Anonymous said...

Wow! Here we are again! Michelle Jones-new principal at Clarkston High School is the daughter of Dr. Felicia Mitchell-Mayfield.

Anonymous said...

Yes, well this is one case where the daughter shouldn't have to suffer because she is the daughter of Felicia Mitchell-Whoever.

Michelle Jones is smart, down to earth, and a very hard worker, never even thinking about using her mother's name to gain favor ... In fact, never even wanting to be associated with all the "corruption" ... not to say Felicia is corrupt, just that "guilty by association" is a fact of life. Of course, I don't see Felicia trying to DIS-associate herself with that bunch.

Meanwhile, it's unfair to Michelle Jones for us to assume she got the job because of her mother rather than because of her hard work and intelligence. Boy, this whole thing has made us a very distrusting, always-think-the-worst group of bloggers. Pretty sad state of affairs, huh? Thank you BOE. Thank you Premier Lewis. Thank you Pat Pope-Whoever.

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