Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9 Board Meeting

This board meeting was short and sweet once again! That's two in a row!

Here are the bullet points:

Channel 24 showed a video montage of the first day of school. It was cute, but technically pretty bad. Bad music, bad lighting, bad editing.  But a good message - the day went well at most schools.

  • Moseley reported that we have 93,764 students enrolled today, and expect that number to jump to 98,181 by Monday.
  • We have about 6,500 teachers and 10 teacher vacancies.
  • 1,577 students applied for an AYP transfer. Chamblee HS has 198 acceptances and Arabia (well, the annex of Arabia which will actually be at Lithonia) has 240. Moseley has decided to wait three weeks before actually sending these AYP students to these schools. (Not sure what that's about...)
  • We are about to embark on a major board policy revision.  A committee, which includes our attorneys, will evaluate all 247 current policies as well as look into needed policies to add. They will write new policies for topics such as ethics, purchasing, employee business activities, whistleblowers and Pre-K. 
Other than that, the approval of the promotion of Felicia (Mitchell) Mayfield's daughter from Assistant Principal at Chamblee HS to Principal of Clarkston HS (a school in severe academic trouble) was unanimous.

In compliance with Board Policy GAG, Employment of Relatives, it is requested that the Board of Education approve the appointment of Ms. Michelle Jones as Principal at Clarkston High School. Ms. Jones is currently an Assistant Principal at Chamblee High School.

Ms. Jones is the daughter of Cabinet member Dr. Felicia Mayfield.

Leadership Prep Academy asked for approval to use DCSS food service until they are able to secure their own. When Sarah asked where LPA was located, the speaker simply gave the street address.

Then board members had their two minutes of free campaigning - ahem - open comments time. Here, I'll just insert, blah, blah, blah. Except that Jim Redovian made a heartfelt statement about young Blake Kuller, who as a rising 9th grader at Dunwoody high school after having looked forward to high school his whole life, lost his battle with MS and never got to attend Dunwoody. News like that is humbling and keeps things in perspective. For all our system's and school's faults that we tend to focus on here, we must remember that our schools have deep meaning and memory-making ability for our children. To miss the experience of high school altogether is heartbreaking. Our prayers go out to Blake's family.

Tom Bowen ended the meeting with a statement of hope. He wants the public to look forward to changes for the better. He is certain the board will step up to the requests from SACS, and utilize SAC's leadership to move our system forward in optimism for better days.

Here's hoping!


Anonymous said...

ODE would like Ms. Roberts to resign.

Anonymous said...

Wait, the Zepora mess wasn't mentioned or even hinted at???

Anonymous said...

from AJC

DeKalb County’s largest teachers’ union is calling for a board member to step down after she threatened to slug a reporter.

The Organization of DeKalb Educators, which represents about 4,700 school employees, said Monday that vice chairwoman Zepora Roberts is a bad example for students.

“How can you tell children not to call each other names, not to make threats and not to bully each other when you have a school board member that continues to act this way? This is conduct that is inexcusable for a school board member,” said David Schutten, the union’s president. “We think she should step down.”

more at

Anonymous said...

Yes, teachers are calling for Zepora to be kicked off the BOE!! Thanks for a complete lack of a backbone, Chair Tom Bowen.

Anonymous said...


Gene Walker and Pam Speaks also have children working for DCSS??? Hey Gene "Sembler Patsy/Commerce Club sponsor of C Lew" Walker, funny you didn't disclose this when you ran for BOE.

"Board members Eugene Walker, Pamela Speaks and Sarah Copelin-Wood also have children who work in the district, Roberts said."

Anonymous said...

The link to the AJC article where the ODE is demanding Roberts' resignation.

Anonymous said...

What about the America's Choice contract??

Anonymous said...

It is the job of the board to make policy and the job of the super to implement. No "committee" should be making policy! This is insane!

Anonymous said...

Can't wait!!!! Bring it on Zepora "HR Puffnstuff/I'm Going to Slug Ya" Roberts!!!

And remember one of her closest friends is convicted felon and South DeKalb/North DeKalb divider John Evans.

Anonymous said...

I loved SCW question, where is leadership academy? Answer.. In Lithonia, then staffer said the address. Isn't this Academy at New Birth? Just say it! What are they trying to hide?

Plus, with all the discussion on nepotism and tonight's piece on Channel 46 at 11, there is no discussion of the Principal at Clarkston? The least someone could have done is talk about Michelle Jones achievements at Chamblee High. The parents would like to know her experience for the job. No discussion just a vote and move on...nothing to see here. Good grief! Do they think we are not watching this joke of a meeting. What are they trying to hide? Ms. Speaks, she was in your district why not say nice things about her. Redovian where were you with the nice things to say about Ms. Jones?

No apology from Zepora "I'm gonna slug you" Roberts. She could have defused the CBS46 piece with a heartfelt apology.

My son came home with his DCSS Blue Book that we all have to sign. It talks about threats and bullying etc.. My son asked, who is in 6th grade, "will Zepora face suspension?" "If I had threatened someone I would have been suspended immediately." "How come she has not been punished?" I didn't have an answer except to say let's hope the voters decide to throw her out in November.

Plus, I'd like to know if it's true kids were sitting on the floor at Chamblee High School? A school designed for 900 had 1700? Is this true? 45 in each class? How is this successful? Has Redovian or Speaks been to Chamblee High?

Hey Dunwoody Mom, how was Dunwoody High today? I heard it was confusing but organized chaos was a phrase I heard to describe it. Would like to hear other thoughts on this.

The meeting was disappointing at best! The parents would like to hear more discussion by our BOE members. What do they do, sit in the their offices on their $2K chairs and discuss everything and then come out and vote? Why turn on the $35k lights for a one hour meeting that had no substance whatsoever! If I had driven all the way out to the Palace for this I would have been livid!

Shocked in Clarkston said...

I'm shocked and outraged! I read here that Ms. Michelle Jones is to be the new principal at Clarkston. Ms. Jones is Felicia (Mitchell) Mayfield's daughter (a DCSS Cabinet member). She will be replacing Dr. Sherry Everett per the Federal school improvement grant recently awarded at Clarkston.

Ms. Jones is the daughter of a DCSS Cabinet member, at a time that friends & family hiring is a huge scandal. She seems to embody why we don't hire friends & family -- Ms. Jones is largely unqualified for the position.
* Ms. Jones has been assistant principal at Chamblee, which is not a Title 1 school (Title 1 experience is an important component of the grant)
* Ms. Jones has never worked on Title 1 budgets (as was required by the grant)
* Ms. Jones has no experience with anything like the Clarkston community, a diverse group of refugees and African Americans.
* Ms. Jones has been Assistant Principal of Instruction for just 1 year and Assistant Principal of Attendance for 2 years. Seems like a very short track record for a job this important.
* Ms. Jones does not implement standards-based instruction, a Clarkston staple that has been effective in huge improvements on graduation and EOCTs.

Anonymous said...

"I read here that Ms. Michelle Jones is to be the new principal at Clarkston."

How many years of regular education experience does Ms. Jones have? Does anyone know? The principal is the instructional leader of the school.

Anonymous said...

It amazed me that Zepora Roberts failed to apologize for threatening to slug the reporter. According to the latest AJC article, Ms. Roberts doesn't regret her actions at all and no parents have expressed any concern about her behavior. I have sent an email to the entire board asking them to censure her. I would suggest that others do the same.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Ms. Michelle Jones, she is a hard worker and very smart and never never mentions her connection with the "top brass" ... in fact, she tries to completely remove herself from all the fluff.

She's down to earth, unassuming, no nonsense, and part of the DCSS from high school days. She was Frances Dubner's gifted STAR student (I think). She's well liked and well respected and does not use her family ties at all.

She was a math teacher before arriving at Chamblee as Attendance AP and has been Instructional AP only this year, but helped the Instructional AP the year before.

She goes the extra mile for kids who are struggling and tutors some of them after school herself. She has 4 children of her own, elementary school ages and younger.

She will do a good job at Clarkston and if you didn't know she was Felicia Mitchell Mayfield's daughter, you would never know it.

Anonymous said...

That sounds great. Morcease Beasly by all accounts was a very good math teacher - for 3 1/2 years. How many years does Ms. Jones have?

Anonymous said...

Hey Dunwoody Mom, how was Dunwoody High today? I heard it was confusing but organized chaos was a phrase I heard to describe it. Would like to hear other thoughts on this.

Thanks largely to Dunwoody PARENTS, the first day was totally smooth and organized. One exception being extremely long wait for new students to register, but that's fairly normal I think ... plus they have a new registrar this year and there's a learning curve.

The Dunwoody PARENTS are totally amazing ... always. They were there ALL weekend moving boxes, delivering things to offices from the gym area, getting things organized .... THE PARENTS, honestly, are what makes Dunwoody "Dunwoody" and what makes it the success that it is.

Parents first, APs and support staff helping also ... the first day went by without a hitch. All pitching in to ensure a successful opening in a school that's very loved by its community. The community always steps up to the plate and does whatever it takes, whatever is needed. It's a sight to see.

Anonymous said...

There has been some discussion on a couple of threads about the Leadership Academy (the New Birth Charter), and I wanted to follow up with some observations and a question.

It is not at all unusual for charters to be housed in churches. ICS is housed in two churches, the new Museum School is in a church, and some other charters may be as well. The Museum School is a state charter, I know, but the point holds. Churches simply have the space and the BOE and DCSS are not interested in renting vacant school buildings to charters (e.g., Forest Hills) at anything approaching reasonable terms, preferring to let such buildings sit idle and vandalized.

My question concerns what the churches get paid. IIRC the 2 schools used by ICS are paid token rent directly by ICS--small amounts reflective of their view that community service is not a money-making endeavor. What I've been reading makes it sound like the Leadership Academy's rent is paid directly by DCSS, and not at "token amount" levels. Is that correct? If so, does that not mean that DCSS is in effect supporting one charter at a higher per pupil cost than another, although the funds actually go to New Birth, not to the Leadership Academy pupils?

Anonymous said...

Hey guys just to change the pace a little, I got a question.

How do you start at a school system as a bus driver and climb to the CFO's secretary making over $70,000 a year without a degree? That's more than some teacher's make after being there for years. Maybe because your name is FREEMAN. Things that make you go hhhhhhhmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Out of all the highly qualified leaders out there who dream about getting a school like Clarkston (the idealist type who wants to make a difference) why did the board insert a convenient person. It almost does not matter if the person is the daughter of someone or not....what matters is the mentality of the board in continuing to disregard the notion that it's important to find "the best person for the job"...This board fails to see the connection between highly qualified teachers/administrators and student success. The student is ALWAYS taken out of the equation but WHY??!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:19, that's one of the problems of blogs, some people post their speculations as the truth. LPA has a lease agreement with New Birth. LPA is a DCSS approved start up charter hence federal, state, and local dollars are legally provided based on a percentage of the per student subsidy. These same dollars are provided to other start up charters in the district.

Anonymous said...

"Plus, with all the discussion on nepotism and tonight's piece on Channel 46 at 11, there is no discussion of the Principal at Clarkston? The least someone could have done is talk about Michelle Jones achievements at Chamblee High. The parents would like to know her experience for the job. No discussion just a vote and move on...nothing to see here. "

In fairness, they don't do this for most principal candidates. This was handled as a separate action item because she is the daughter of a cabinet member. If not for that, you would not have heard her name.

It should be pointed out that if there was probing by board members when this was presented, it could be perceived a micromanaging, an offense that SACs reprimands boards for.

Anonymous said...

Thanks 10:27.

But if LPA is getting the same per pupil as any other county charter and LPA is spending per pupil more on rent than the others, does that not mean the LPA students are then getting comparatively shortchanged? I still have the feeling I'm missing something here.

For those of you who don't know, that per pupil amount is already something like 80-85 cents on the dollar in comparison to what is allocated for 'regular' school pupils.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't need to be short and sweet. Parent and the community at large needs to be winding around the building waiting to speak for 3 minutes about the state of DCSS.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:36, that is an excellent question! The answer is 'it depends'. It depends on the other funding sources that LPA has to sustain itself as a school. One would guess that as the year goes on, we could review the financial statements of the board for LPA. That could be very insightful.

There have been a few charter schools that failed due to a lack of funding. Some failed because they did not meet the educational objectives set by their charter. Because of some of the players involved in LPA, it will be interesting to see how this school fares.

Paula Caldarella said...

It should be pointed out that if there was probing by board members when this was presented, it could be perceived a micromanaging, an offense that SACs reprimands boards for

I disagree. One of the items that SACS is looking for answers on is the neptoism issue with DCSS. Ms. Jones qualifications for her job as Principal at Clarkston should certainly be a point of discussion for the BOE, imo.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:32

So we can lay this at Ms. Tyson's feet. She knows the bad public relations DCSS has as the taxpayers are concerned with croynism and nepotism.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with you Dunwoody Mom. If a BOE member selectively inserts themselves in operational issues (hiring staff members), that could be perceived as micro managing. BOE is responsible for policy making, financial matters, and hiring the superintendent. Day to day operations of the school system is solely the authority of the superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Seems like we need to clarify nepotism. According to most dictionaries, nepotism is favoritism granted to relatives or friends, with no regard to merit. Has this happened during the existence of DCSS? Undoubtedly yes. Does that mean every relative of an employee that has been hired was not qualfied? In my opinion no. I think some may be on a slippery slope when some attempt to suggest that every person hired that has a relative in the school system is not a qualified candidate.

It is fair to ask if there are job protections for such individuals once it is determined they are not qualified for their position.

Anonymous said...

WOWWW!!! Great stuff by CBS 46!!

So one of Zepora's daughters works as a Parent Resource Center Specialist making a dam $64,000 per year, and she doesn't even have a college degree!!

If you are a hard working teacher, you must be furious to see this salary. What do parent resource Center staffers even do during the summer??

She has no degree, and makes more than most teachers??

What has this completely mismanaged school system come to???

Tm Bowen failed. failed to show leadership. Failed to "man up". Thanks for nothing Tom.

And nice to skip out and not answer any questions Ramona Tyson. Why act so cowardly???

We truly have a bunch of incompetent leading our Central Office, and spineless, feckless morons on our BOE.

Cerebration said...

Wow. Wendy's report opened up a big old can of worms! Zepora ratted out the other board reps with relatives in the system. Tomorrow Wendy has an interview with a board member on the issue... who oh who?

Go Wendy!

Anonymous said...

That piece along with what they plan to show on Tuesday probably deserves its own blog. As Zepora said, Friends and Family goes back to the days of Jim Cherry. It seems to be more of an issue today, probably due to the economy.

Anonymous said...

Oh my, oh my!!!

The CBS piece not only exposes our BOE and Central Office as idiots, it is a flat out telling statement to every business in the metro area and state: Don't locate here. If you're looking to buy a house, don't buy it here. if you are a college student majoring in education, you won't apply to DeKalb.

I thought it would be impossible for DCSS to make Clayton look good. We've reached that point!!

Anonymous said...

Zepora Roberts and this school system just lowered all of our property values. We are a laughingstock. And it's desered. How are we collectively stupid enough to elect Zepora Roberts, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Gene Walker and Foghorn Leghorm Paul Womack to be in charge of educating 97,000 of our children every year, and spending almost a billion a year between the annual budget and SPLOST.

That orange-haired, rude, aggressive freak ZR made us into the next Clayton County. Lord help us.

Anonymous said...

The Jones hiring in the midst of the friends & family nepotism scandal is the perfect example of why, for all their nice talk of a bright future, blah, blah, blah, DCSS will not pull out of the tailspin intil this board and the entire top level management is shown the door.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wendy! great job! Don't stop you're only at the tip of the iceberg. Check out Lynn Cherry Grant and her relatives, to keep it racially balanced. Wow Zepora can justify it "because it has been going on for years!"

Ms. Tyson you need to say something so parents can gain some trust with you. Our children's education can't afford to wait 18-24 months for the policy review. Can't you answer a few tough questions please?! Parents and taxpayers deserve some answers from the leader of the system. Hiding from the cameras is not helping!

Promoting an unproven principal as leader of a struggling Title 1 school that needs strong leadership experience is not thinking of the best interest of the children. We're tired of the lip service the board continues to give.

To the poster above Ms. Jones could very well be ready for the challenge, but in this current environment, thanks to CLew, Pope and the rest, the BOE should ask the tough questions or at least discuss her credentials during meetings before they vote. The BOE and their successors created this mess and I think SACS would welcome the transparent discussions in the sunlight.

It's great to know that Dunwoody had a good start thanks to parents. There are a lot of us that look forward to doing the same thing at Chamblee High as soon as our kids get there.

Wendy keep asking the tough questions and I think it would be helpful to add the vote tonight for Ms. Jones. Our BOE are not making great decisions right now but it certainly seems to me that they are about to throw each other to the wolves!

Anonymous said...

MS. ROBERTS RESIGN IMMEDIATELY! Your performance was an abomination and should have no part in DCSS. The entire Clew cabinet need to resign. The ship will continue to sink until these folks are shown the door. I hope Sonny is watching the state might have to help out the taxpayers of DeKalb.

After watching tonight's meeting I just don't see anything changing. Words are one thing, but we need to see action and 18-24 months for a policy review? Come on.....

Anonymous said...

Well, of course she interviewed Womack. He always wants his time in the spotlight. He is Batman. Of, course Robin, may be there beside him as you normally see one of them and then you see the other one not far behind. Robin would do good to distance himself from batman for his political future.

I am shocked at how much Ms. Robert's daughter makes as a Parent Specialist. Now this is definitely, a positions that the daughter got because of her mother. The pay for this daughter is way too much for her qualifications. That is what made Ms. Robert so mad.

Anonymous said...

What SACs is looking for is whether the policy related to nepotism is followed. That is why, last year, five years after he got the job, Dr. Lewis brought to this board Jamal Edward's promotion.

Anonymous said...

What SACs is looking for is whether the policy related to nepotism is followed

There is no nepotim policy to follow - I think that is SACS point.

Anonymous said...

Lewis was forced to bring Jamal's promotion to the BOE because Jamal after receiving the promotion and raise had NOT reported to his new job for 6 months. Parents caught him hiding out at Nancy Creek adn Tyson had not known he was not reporting to his new job.

This was a disgrace and Jamal and Tyson should have been fired for this. Someone was signing his time sheet for 6 months, when he was NOT reporting to his new position.

This whole mess is a slap at the teachers and especially the para pros that lost their jobs in May.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was interesting how the school system skirted around where LPA was located. I thought the address given was the old address of the school. I know the speaker knew where the academy was located.

I think this speaks volumes. For this item to come up for a vote and get on the agenda in such a fast fashion also was interesting. I guess actions do not have to set for thirty days. The school board does deals like this in a slick way. They did not discuss it at all other than Ms. Woods question. They all voted for it as it had already been discussed totally by email or in back rooms. That is how transparent our school board is.

By the way what is Dr. Calloway husband's name? I did not see him on the report last night. He had also worked for the Dekalb County School System for years. The last time I knew where he was he was a principal of an elementary school in Dekalb. Where is he now? He is a very nice guy. He is very loyal to the DeKalb County School System.

Anonymous said...

Zepora Has No Class

Zepora is an embarrassment -- a low-class, tacky, ignorant, unintelligent embarrassment.

Bowen is an embarrassment. Not only does he not display the slightest bit of leadership or intelligence, as one poster said he looked like a bum who had just wandered in off the street at last night's meeting. Scraggly beard, no tie, collar sinking below ill-fitting jacket. An embarrassment!

When taxpayers are exhorted to beg and plead with BOE chair Bowen to publicly rebuke Zepora for her infamous threats to a reporter and to publicly apologize for Zepora's appalling, low-class display of bullying and bad manners -- then anything Bowen might say or do now is meaningless.

Bowen would not recognize class and/or intelligence if he tripped over them -- which he is not likely to do at a BOE meeting.

Cerebration said...

Clarence Callaway is paid $141,000 to serve as principal at Destiny Charter School - a school with about 100 at-risk high school students.

Can this school not be combined with another school? It seems wasteful to spend all this money on a building and entire staff for about 100 students. All of these small schools can be combined under the leadership of one principal for at least 500-600 students. This is ridiculous. Now, we'll have Frankie Callaway - retired administrator from DCSS also serving as principal at a new charter school for just a few hundred students. These administrative costs need to be spread out. We can't afford all of these people. For example, Avondale HS and DSA share a building, yet they each have their own staff - complete with principal, APs, counselors, teachers, etc. However, when the High School of Technology North merged with Cross Keys, they merged using the current CK principal - as a blended school. This works fine. Why not consolidate leadership like this at more schools?

Cerebration said...

Hey - check out this cool little online video created by Ella Smith - it's so uplifting! Nice job Ella!

Wake Up Everyone in DeKalb - Vote!

Anonymous said...

My first response from a board member:

Thank you for your thoughts. I would like to address one of your points.

Dr. Speaks and I had a long meeting with Dr. Beasley and the heads of high school, middle school, and elementary school about Americas Choice. We asked several probing questions to see how it would be used going forth.

We have removed the program from 5 schools. This is at the principal's request. We have also modified the program greatly. Meetings were held with principals this summer so they could reconstruct the program to fit the needs of their specific school populations. We have allowed them that freedom. Americas Choice has assisted us in making those changes specific to the school building. Principals seemed relieved that they could craft things in a more specific way rather than just following some rote program.

Let me also say that I was on the committee that accepted the request of administration to use Americas Choice. One of the questions I asked was that we not be left with an unfunded mandate in two years that would amount to squandering several million dollars. The plan was crafted so that we could sustain it more than two years. The staff did some good work in finding a way to make the funds last longer. I see that you are adamantly opposed to the program. I probably could not change your mind, but I want you to know some of my thought process about seeing this program continue.

Research has repeatedly shown that you cannot get a track record on a program unless you use it at least 3 years. Many researchers say that the period for evaluation should be 5 years. If we throw this program away after 1 year we would be throwing $8 million down the drain. I cannot in good conscience do that based on the research available. I also say, and this is based on research, that it is not necessarily the program you choose, but the depth of its implementation.

Something you also may not be aware of is that Americas Choice is on the short list of programs that the Obama administration is looking at to craft a national curriculum. I have been told that it is in the top 3.

Because of these factors I believe we must give it a longer run. I will be the first to say that if the research does not bear out its continuation we should let it go. Right now I think that would be premature.

I hope this helps you understand how I view this program. I would be glad to talk to you about any of your comments, but it will need to be on the phone as a reply to all of them would be quite lengthy. Please feel free to call. 404-664-2458.

Thank you for your interest in our schools.

Don McChesney

Anonymous said...

Great a National Curriculum! The last thing we need is the Feds telling us what to teach in the classroom. NCLB was basically for accountability issues that so many had and it turned out worse than anyone (right or left) thought.

But a National Curriculum? This scares me and could this be their ultimate goal as the current Federal leaders lead us into a socialized country and economy? I'm just asking.

One more note, McChesney said we need 3 to 5 years to see if a program is working, well then I ask Mr. McChesney, why are we not giving principals 3 to 5 years to see if they can improve a school? I can think of a few schools where a principal was only there a year before being reassigned. I do know there are exceptions when some principals prove they are not capable of the job. I had a first hand experience with one here in DeKalb, and we were happy a change was made quickly. However, how do others feel?

Cerebration said...

Very good point, Anon. We need principals to stay put for at least 5 years in order to create a change and then maintain stability in a schoolhouse.

Lakeside has had 4 principals in the last 10 years. It's ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Re: Response from Don McChesney About America's Choice

This is BS.

What research? Which researchers? Documentation needed. Or is McChesney simply parroting hearsay?

America's Choice is in the top 3 programs recommended by the U.s. Department of Education? Documentation needed. Or is McChesney simply parroting hearsay?

Which 5 schools have principals smart enough and bold enough to ask to have America's Choice removed?

We know what works with Title 1 students. Smaller classes, longer instructional periods and more intensive one-on-one instruction by highly qualified teachers. Title 1 teachers must teach the subject matter and they must also make up for the loss of normal, everyday parent-child and family interactions that happen naturally for middle class children: access to books and magazines; involvement in conversation; limited TV time; supervised computer access; age-appropriate classes and activities; etc.

McChesney is not willing to "throw $8 million down the drain", but he is willing to throw away the futures of the 66% (1) of DCSS's students -- more than 64,000 students! -- who are economically disadvantaged.

(1) Most recent documentation on Georgia Department of Education website:

Title 1 was designed to provide additional funds to help economically disadvantaged students, NOT to line the pockets of America's Choice executives and previous DCSS employees who now work for America's Choice because they can provide access to DCSS.

Wait 3 - 5 years to know that America's Choice is a hack program designed primarily to enable its employees to get rich on the backs of Title 1 students? I don't think so!

McChesney -- where are your priorities, man?

Cerebration said...

I think it's true about America's Choice being favored by the feds. At one symposium not too long ago, Dr. Lewis was a speaker - along with keynote Arne Duncan. There used to be a press release accessible on this at the DCSS website, but it seems all historical press releases have disappeared. Luckily, I have a large hard drive and save a lot of files.

For Immediate Release:
August 18, 2009

DeKalb Superintendent to Attend
America’s Choice Symposium

DeKalb County School System’s Superintendent, Dr. Crawford Lewis will attendAmerica’s Choice and ACT’s Superintendents’ Symposiums this week on August 20-21, 2009 in Washington, DC. Dr. Lewis will also join Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
on the list of featured speakers for the symposiums.

Secretary Duncan, the event’s keynote speaker, will share with the superintendents President Obama’s agenda and the Department of Education’s plans for making it a reality, while Dr. Lewis will later speak on the topic of Aligning the National Agenda to Local Needs: Rigor & Readiness Initiative. In this address, Dr. Lewis will share the background of the DeKalb school district, major priorities, why America’s Choice is a good fit for the school system, and some of the start-up highlights of DeKalb’s partnership with America’s Choice.

The goal of the Superintendents’ Symposium is to give the educators an inside track on what is happening with education nationally. The symposiums also detail for the superintendents ways in which to tap into stimulus funds and other funding resources that support programs to help students graduate on-time, college and career-ready.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers will brief the symposium attendees on progress toward creating common academic standards for the country. The attendees will also have the opportunity to interact with their peers and presenters and will also have the opportunity to raise issues that most concern them and their school districts.

DeKalb County School System will implement the America’s Choice comprehensive school reform program into 40 of its elementary, middle and high schools this school year. America’s Choice is a research-based, instructional improvement program that addresses low student achievement in literacy and mathematics.

Cerebration said...

Like it or not people, many of these new ideas like America's Choice, Charter Schools, Merit Pay for Teachers, etc are coming from the federal department of education. Arne Duncan and Obama have been very vocal in their plans to shut down at least 5,000 schools nationwide and reopen them as charters. The RTTT money is all about fulfilling these demands.

Cerebration said...

In fact, at the RTTT seminar at Agnes Scott College last spring, Lewis was extraordinarily animated and quite "chummy" with the reps from the federal government. I wondered then if he wasn't gunning for a job with them.

Anonymous said...

I'll give Don credit for responding to the inquiry. That's more than most BoE members do. (I'm talking to YOU, Jim Redovian and Tom Bowen).

But his logic is seriously flawed.

Research on the effectiveness of a program should be done BEFORE it's implemented, NOT aftward. And in this matter there is plenty of data available. We do not need to wait on it.

And throwing good money after bad money is NEVER acceptable. If a mistake has been made, admit it and cut your losses. Don't whistle in the dark, look the other way and hope the problem goes away. That's called denial.

Get out of denial, Don. Be honest and face reality.

Cerebration said...

Scary thought - what if they figure out that after 5 years the program didn't work at all and they've seriously undereducated thousands of students?

Cerebration said...

On the subjects of principal reassignments and discussions ad nauseam about tactics that never get implemented - yet get a lot of press - here's an example;

By Kristina Torres
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/17/08

One of DeKalb County's top principals is being asked by Superintendent Crawford Lewis to take a job at a lower-performing campus, one of several school leadership changes expected in the coming months.

Eight DeKalb schools need new principals for next year. Vanderlyn Elementary School principal Charlene Burger is now expected to be at one of them, although it will be up to a selection committee at any of the eight schools to choose her.

That won't likely be a problem, considering Burger is among the select few named by the state as "high-performance" because her students soar above academic goals.

Vanderlyn is one of the top elementary schools in DeKalb.

"These schools . . . could use the skills she brings to the table as a veteran principal," DeKalb spokesman Dale Davis said.

DeKalb school board member Jim Redovian, who represents the Dunwoody neighborhoods where Vanderlyn is located, has heard from a few parents upset at losing Burger.

"Dr. Lewis' job is to put the best people in the best place at the best time," Redovian said. "It's a matter of needing her somewhere else."

Burger on Tuesday released a written statement that said she would "support any decision" about where she lands.

And where DID she land? -- Oak Grove!


(She's now been replaced with Laura Neely.)

Paula Caldarella said...

Charlene Burger retired.

Anonymous said...

Let's put America's Choice aside. There's been plenty of feedback from teachers on this to conclude that in it's originally delivered form, it was awful. If they think so, it doesn't matter if it's the most beautiful thing in the world -- it'll still go over ugly.

My point at this moment raises the Horrible Spectre of Socialism -- of course we don't want that, but tell me -- what exactly is wrong with a 2nd grader in Ohio needing to know the same thing as a 2nd grader in Wyoming?

Anonymous said...

Wow, Cere, glad you keep those announcements. However, you have really made me nervous. I guess in America's Choice world the teachers will have no choice except to become robots, teaching a program that's "research based" research done by whom?

The local teachers are the only ones who have direct effect on students. They know the kids, since they spend time with them everyday. Some Federal employee in DC or America's Choice rep does not know what the students need or how to teach them. This National Curriculum thing scares me, how do teachers feel about being told what to teach, how to teach, and then being held accountable if the grades do not improve?

I do know that Arne Duncan came from Chicago with Obama and the schools in Chicago have received over a Billion (with a B) dollars of our money to improve their schools. Also, what kind of strings are attached if a system takes Federal funds? Any wonderful program out of Washington always comes with strings attached. I hope DCSS is clean of the morons, who run it now, before the National Curriculum is implemented. I only wish private was an option for my family, now more than ever.

Anonymous said...

It's not about knowing the same thing, it's about how the kids are educated. I fear with a National Curriculum, teachers will become robots. Plus, who will control what is in that Curriculum? I certainly do not want a politician, whether they are right or left, to decide what's in a National Curriculum.

There is a lot of history about this country that is not being taught anymore. Plus, I have read books and talked to teachers about calling the USA a democracy. Folks, we're a republic whether we like it or not.

Let's get back to the issue at hand, Zepora should resign and the entire upper management of DCSS should follow her right out the door. Hopefully the voters will take care of the BOE, but these "leaders" in Clew's cabinet, who allowed the malfeasance to continue for so long, should resign, retire or be fired!

Cerebration said...

Right, DM, Charlene Burger retired from Oak Grove and has been replaced with Ms. Neely.

I'm simply pointing out how the media was lulled into reporting whatever Dr. Lewis put out there. Gee - here he was - taking those "high-performing principals" and moving them to such needy schools as Oak Grove...

Cerebration said...

Speaking of... Oak Grove is such a wonderful school. Here's one example of the kind of thinking that drives the students and teachers in this exemplary place -

The Oak Grove Eagle Standard

I am respectful.
I am responsible.
I am prepared and capable.
I am here to learn.
I will cooperate and set a good example with my actions.
I will value others as unique and special individuals.
I will respect others in my school, home and community.
This is my time and my place.
I am an Oak Grove Eagle!

Maybe our board reps need to become Oak Grove Eagles!

Anonymous said...

I just spit coffee all over my computer screen! Amen Cere, maybe our BOE & Leadership need to recite the Oak Grove pledge everyday.

Could it make the difference?

Anonymous said...

OMG - Laura Neely??????

What is her experience - maybe 5 years teaching (could be less) at Kittredge and 4 years (might be 5) as AP at KMS? (with two maternity leaves)

Tell me, how much experience with "regular" kids has she had, never mind special needs?

Ask her how her husband got a job as a para at KMS while she was AP? With no education experience and no intention of a career in education...

Anonymous said...

Talking to YOU, Jim Redovian!

On Thursday, August 5, 2010 at 8:02 AM an e-mail from me was delivered to Jim Redovian's DCSS e-mail address. That was 6 days ago.

I know it was delivered because of ReadNotify. Because of ReadNotify, I also know that Redovian -- who is running for re-election to the DCSS BOE -- has not bothered to open the e-mail, much less respond to it.

An e-mail was delivered at the same time to Morcease Beasley. No response from him, either. He hasn't even bothered to open it, also.

The arrogance of both men -- actually, they are behaving more like immature, scared boys who know they are waaaaay in over their heads -- is astounding. I pay their salaries.

Hey, boys -- do you think we have not yet figured out that you both are charlatans in every nuance of the definition: A person who makes elaborate, fraudulent, and often voluble claims to skill or knowledge; a quack or fraud.

Anonymous said...

Talking to YOU, Jim Redovian

I'm relieved I'm not the only one Jim Redovian ignores. He's been ignoring me, my wife and our children for years.

Maybe he's just "out of town" (his pat excuse for missing Board meetings) every time we call or write.


We need to replace him and the four other incumbents in November. BIG TIME.

Anonymous said...

Reasons Zepora is defensive about her daughters.


2008 TRACEY N. JONES salary jumped to $60,261.47 as a STAFF DEVELOPMENT SPECIALIST!

2009 TRACEY N. JONES salary jumped to $68,692.91 and she was PROMOTED TO AN ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL!!!

Ms. Zepora “NEPOTISM” Roberts, within a 4 year period, your daughter TRACEY N. JONES salary increased from $49,902 to $68,692.91! With a couple of hefty promotions to boot!

Now. Your daughter CHANDA L. WHITE is also employed by DeKalb County School Systems.

2005 CHANDA L. WHITE salary was $11,384 in the PARENT CENTER

2008 CHANDA L. WHITE salary jumped to $53,292.17 & Travel Expenses $107.19 as a FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR (FEDERAL FUNDS?) -

2009 CHANDA L. WHITE salary jumped to $59,895.57 still as a FAMILY SERVICES COORDINATOR!

WOW! So, let me understand. Just from 2008 to 2009 Zepora Roberts’s daughter’s salary JUMPED SIX THOUSAND, SIX HUNDRED THREE DOLLARS AND FOUR CENTS??? ($6,603.04)!!! Same position but with a SIX THOUSAND DOLLAR RAISE?????? WOW!!

And to think that teachers were under a salary freeze implemented by you during this same time period.

Anonymous said...

It appears to me that the incompetent "fat cats" at the district office have continued to receive their raises over the past 3-4 years, while the teachers and paras (you know the ones that work with the kids) have been required to sacrifice theirs? What's wrong with this picture?

If the district is forced to "tighten their belt" then ALL EMPLOYEES (from the top down) should be required to sacrifice!!

Cerebration said...

I recall Dr Lewis creating these "Executive Director" positions (ala - a "promotion") in order to justify the accompanying raise for certain people (those he refers to as his "cabinet" as if he's the president). Others then got promotions on up the line. The board rubber-stamped the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Here's the factoid for the day. You can decide if it is more or less important than whose in laws work for DCSS. "Although homeless students are under reported because of the stigma attached to being homeless, therre are more than 3000 homeless students enrolled in DCSS."

Anonymous said...

Son of awcomeonnow ....
About the 3000 homeless students. I wouldn't doubt the statistic, and we shouldn't fault the students for their predicament.
But, the sheer extent of the numbers can be placed in the laps of the current and former Dekalb County Board of Comissioners.
They are the ones who made the decisions to allow five by the week hotels on Memorial, one on Scott Boulevard, another one over on Northlake Parkway, yet more on Buford Highway, Clairmont, and Shallowford Road,
They've also allowed a roughly
equal number of properties to open and remain so around Glenwood and
1-20, Candler Road, Candler Road access, you name it.
THe amount of crime eminating from these properties in the past, now, and projected into the future is sky high. It's not to be blamed on the homeless kids.
No, the blame goes to drug dependency among some of the parents, and property owners that act as slumlords. None of this would have occurred if the Dekalb County Comissioners truly gave a rat's ass about the citizens of Dekalb County.
Does the arrogance, corruption,
and no care attitude sound familiar?
Leadership is just as bad at the board of comissioners as at the Board of Education. If citizens of Dekalb are able to enact meaningful improvement at the School system, use the momentum!
Don't quit until we have people in all levels of power that truly represent us.

Cerebration said...

Reported homelessness has certainly increased since the McKinney-Vento Act. Now that you can choose your school if you are "homeless", we suddenly have a major jump in the numbers identified as such. I have been told Lakeside has experienced a big jump in homeless students applying.

Below are some of the definitions of homeless - and it's strictly as reported by the student/parent. As far as I know, there is no verification process.

Children and youth experiencing homelessness find shelter in a variety of places. To help educators identify homeless children, the Act defines who is considered homeless. According to the U.S. Department of Education, people living in the following situations are considered homeless:

Doubled up with family or friends due to economic conditions
Living in motels and hotels for lack of other suitable housing
Runaway and "Throwaway" children and youth
Homes for unwed or expectant mothers for lack of a place to live
Homeless and domestic violence shelters
Transitional housing programs
The streets
Abandoned buildings
Public places not meant for housing
Cars, trailers, and campgrounds
Awaiting fostercare
Migratory children staying in housing not fit for habitation

Requirements for Schools

The McKinney-Vento Act provides certain rights for homeless students. They include waiving certain requirements such as proof of residency when students are enrolling and allowing categorical eligibility for certain services, such as free textbooks.

The Act also states:

Homeless students may attend their school of origin or the school where they are temporarily residing.
Homeless students must be provided a written statement of their rights when they enroll and at least two times per year.
Homeless students may enroll without school, medical, or similar records.
Homeless students have a right to transportation to school.
Students must be provided a statement explaining why they are denied any service or enrollment.
Students must receive services, such as transportation, while disputes are being settled.
Students are automatically eligible for Title I services.
School districts must reserve a portion of Title IA funds to serve homeless students.
School districts must review and revise policies that provide barriers to homeless students.
Schools must post information in the community regarding the rights of homeless students, in schools and other places that homeless families may frequent.
School districts must identify a McKinney-Vento Liaison to assist students.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 4:28

"OMG - Laura Neely??????

What is her experience - maybe 5 years teaching (could be less) at Kittredge and 4 years (might be 5) as AP at KMS? (with two maternity leaves)

Tell me, how much experience with "regular" kids has she had, never mind special needs?"

Why would you say that? Did you know that Laura Neely taught 7th grade math at Northmont Middle School in Dayton, Ohio before she moved to Atlanta in 1999? She taught 6th grade (all subjects!) at Shadow Rock Elementary before she came to KMS. Then she taught at KMS - maybe 5 years? She has 10 + years of teaching experience, most of it in regular schools as a regular teacher. This is what we need in principals - ones with extensive (minimum of 10 years of teaching regular ed) classroom experience. I'm the poster that posted Morcease Beasley (3 1/2 years of teaching) and Ramona Tyson's (2 years of teaching) lack of classroom experience. But I know Laura Neely has many years of regular ed teaching experience. Let's post the facts.

Anonymous said...

I'd be curious if Laura Neely kicks herself regarding coming to the Dekalb County School system.
I'm very familiar with Northmont Middle and High Schools.
(Englewood, Ohio). It's an excellent school system. It should be regarded as a resume' enhancer to come from Northmont Middle School.
So... Neely has some experience in the past with schools done right. Wonder if she regrets coming south and experiencing the reverse for the last 11 years?

Anonymous said...

I teach three classes on the block. As of today, I have 33, 42, and 37 students in each class, respectively.

I have never had a situation in which more students are added to large classes. My class with 37 have had new students added yesterday and today. Usually they are balanced to 32 or so by now.

This is not unusual at my school. Some classes have more than 42 students. I walked by a classroom yesterday with several students sitting on the floor and several standing along the back wall. This is ridiculous and can only lead to poorer performance and even more difficult classroom management.

Georgia's public schools are on the path to ruin if this keeps up.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 5:14 pm

"I teach three classes on the block. As of today, I have 33, 42, and 37 students in each class, respectively."

Do you parents care? If they do, they should be at the Central Office (palace) finding out why there are so many students in their child's class. They can also lodge complaints with the state of Georgia DOE.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone who comments on this blog afraid to use their own name. Your comments mean absolutely nothing if you are a coward to own them. It is amazing how anyone can be an expert and know so much when they don't have to identify themselves. Peace!

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why people are afraid to use their real names - "Because there is no i in team, but there is a u in unemployment." If it weren't for insiders sharing info., we wouldn't truly know the situation in DeKalb. However, I have a family to feed and house!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately some of the information being shared in factually incorrect and in some case libelous. While frustations with DCSS is understandable, everyone also has a responsiblity to make sure speculations don't become facts that harm innocent people working for the district. There are over 15,000 employees that work for DCSS and most are dedicated, hard working employees that want to do their best everyday. If we see something posted we know is incorrect or cannot be validates, we should speak out against it.

Be True to Your School said...

@ Anonymous 10:09 AM

And, um ... your real name is ... ?

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why I stay Anon. My kids are in the system and I was threatened and slandered by the previous Super, Mr. Clew-less himself.

My wife and I have spoken up at BOE meetings during those wonderful 3:00 snippets, called public comments. I find it sad that the BOE can't comment after we comment.

Cere does a great job keeping the truth out there, she is a great blog administrator. if you think something is not factual, show us the facts!

Anonymous said...

I used to think people were just being paranoid when they were fearful of the Central Office. But now that I have seen it first hand and been affected directly, retribution and retaliation, for speaking the truth, is alive and well in DCSS!

I find it sad when parents are criticized when questioning with facts, especially in the midst of all the fraud and corruption in our schools system. Something needs to change and fast!

Ruth Kenny said...

Congratulations to Laura Neely on becoming the new principal at Oak Grove. And congratulations to the Oak Grove community. You may not know it yet, but you struck gold. My daughter had Mrs. Neely for math at KMS and then my son had the good fortune to attend KMS when Mrs. Neely was the assistant principal. She is enthusiastic, level-headed and approachable. She was a tremendous teacher, who made math come alive for her students. As an administrator, she listened to the students and parents when making decisions. I'm sure there will be some learning curve, but I know she will be an asset to your school and community.

Anonymous said...

Let's be clear, Romona Tyson knows what is going on. Let's not pretend that she had no knowledge of where the bones are buried. she has been employed with Dekalb County for too long and recieved too many promotions herself to not be apart of the whole mess. It also doesn't bode well that Crawford Lewis wanted her to to be the interim superintendent. Lewis brought in Dr. Pringle who was underinvestigation for misappropriation of funds in Gwinnett County. They were best buddies. She left Stephenson to go to a new school after money disappeared at Stephenson High. How many people was Lewis covering for? Dr. Bolden replaced Pringle. I didn't think anyone was worse than Pringle but low and behold they send Dr. Bolden who got the job because of his former boss. He was uniquely, sorely and totally unqualified. He had the audacity to be ignorant enough to believe that he didn't have to listen to input from his staff. I quess with the good o'boy system at work if you are incompetent, you get promoted. The board needs to be dismantled. The county office cleared out, The organizational chart consisting of embarrsing people eliminated. The state needs to take over the county. There can be no hope for Dekalb county without intervention from the state and federal government. I cringe everytime I think about all that does and does not go on in Dekalb County.

Anonymous said...

Laura Neely is an inexperienced, incompetent principal and she is doing a horrific job at Oak Grove. I have heard rumblings that this will be her last year at the school and that she will be replaced with a higher-performing and more experienced educator.