Thursday, September 9, 2010

In Mom We Trust

I remember when I was a kid, (the last of five in our family) during dinner, I would sometimes ask my mother if I could have a little more. If the pot was empty, my mother would pick up her plate and spoon her own helping onto my plate. She never balked, she never hesitated. She didn't complain, or question, or tell me I was greedy. When I would see her lift that plate, I would be embarrassed and beg her not to give me her own food, but she would have none of that. That one selfless gesture -- so readily repeated -- did so much to build trust between my mother and me. My mother took her job as CNO (Chief Nuturing Officer) very seriously. And, I always knew I could count on my mother.

It was disheartening to see at the BOE meeting a parent reduced to asking the full Board for a simple, reliable copy machine for her children's school. But, what was even more disheartening was Ms. Tyson's response moments later when Mr. Womack publicly requested Ms. Tyson to just give the school a new copier. To paraphrase, she said she would get on it first thing the next morning, she would "get the facts."
The implication was clear. The response was so typical of the Central Office when a parent or teacher or community member brings them a concern or problem. The parent must be lying! Or over-exaggerating. Or being dramatic. Or just plain crazy. Somehow, the staff always has the "facts" and the customer is always wrong.

I believe they do this so they can set up a classic he said/she said situation. And, I was right. Facilities claimed they had been responsive to the school's needs. And then, they offered the ultimate shut-down. We don't have any money! The pot is empty.
Well, I believe a CEO's job description isn't too far off a CNO's. When there's nothing left, it's time to take the shirt off your own back. Fork the food off your own plate. Make do with less for yourself.

Oh mom, how I miss you.


No Duh said...

Hot off the press...

The vendor has agreed to completely rebuild that school's copier.

Bloggers ask, why do we care? Because we need to stay on DCSS to start working smarter -- not longer. No more band-aides. Do a job right the first time and you save money and make your customers happy.

The proof will be in the copying.

Anonymous said...

It's just sad when a $2000 per chair throne-sitting BOE can't afford to buy a copier to benefit a school full of children. And yes, SCW, I'm talking about the children!

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many copiers they have at the Palace?

Anonymous said...

At the end of the DCPC meeting, Ms. Tyson said, "accept her decisions without criticism. Believe me, we have done our homework."

That was the most arrogant comment by OUR interim Superintendent. I was actually enjoying the things she was saying during the meeting, until the end.

Sorry, Ms. Tyson, if I think a decision you have made is bad, you need to accept the criticism. That's what folks do when they work and get paid with OUR money. Taxes pay for your salary, get used to it or quit!

Anonymous said...

What happened to the printshop budget that was taken by Pat Pope? Did she spend it on the new Palace?Marcus Turk states that DCSS saved money well let's see the money that was saved Marcus..if not get me some copiers and a working printshop ASAP..start asking those questions...who is the contact person for repairing the copiers....before it was the printshop now who are we to call....Ghostbusters?

Ms Tyson you owe some answers to the Teachers, Parents and students about why we have not received the Times We Share calendars with important dates and other documentation from DCSS....give us some transparency please...

Anonymous said...

The copier stays jammed at the Palace as well....First I must say that everyone does not know hot to operate a copier properly which could lead to some of the problems...using improper paper could be another reason (construction paper, card stock, etc) but most importantly I believe that the machines are cheap and all need to be serviced.

Anonymous said...

I would have to say that copiers are a problem in lots of schools. We have a curriculum that requires teachers to make lots of photocopies. Some schools have had their copiers rebuilt and I hear they are working no better than the ones that haven't been rebuilt. Its kind of like a car that has 200,000 miles on it. You can keep repairing it, but there comes a time when the car is in the shop so much that you can't get to work. Teachers should not have to spend their own money at Kinkos to make copies so that their students can do the classwork as dictated by our instructional coordinators.

Anonymous said...

DCSS is about to raise the graduation rate again.

The Dekalb On Line Academy (DOLA) is going to have a crack at passing kids who have earned (more likely being given) a charitable average of 50% in a semester class...for free.

Wow--All we have to do is get a 50% in a class and we are of to see DOLA!

Beasley & Tyson: why don't you guys just make 50% and stop this tired charade? Beasley will take credit for the new graduation rate and credit his multiple intelligence scheme and/or his great skills.

Woe is us!!

Anonymous said...

That parent at the board meeting belongs to my school and we are extremely grateful that she does. She witnessed the copier breaking during the last two weeks of school last year when study guides and finals had to be printed. Many of us spent our own money making the necessary copies (as we have had to do many times). Since the new school year began, I cannot count how many times service has been called. He was there today as a matter of fact. I know there are schools much worse off than we are, but this is ridiculous. I bet things get fixed quickly at the Palace, or do they just buy new?

Anonymous said...






Anonymous said...

As a former teacher in DCSS (and other districts), I have never understood why I did not have the tools that I needed. Why did I have to buy my own paper? Why were the copiers always broken? Why did I have to make my own copies at Kinkos or use the copier at my husband's graduate school in the wee hours of the night to be prepared for class the next day?

Teachers need to band together and speak up. Sitting back and allowing your morale to be taken away is not only bad for you, but also for the children. I understand that there will be backlash for speaking up, but it is about time that the teachers and parents get together for the good of the children in DCSS. Our district cannot afford for anyone to remain quiet any longer. Our school system is crumbling and we have to try to stop the mess before it gets worse.

Ella Smith said...

As a teacher in Dekalb County several years ago I was shocked at the last of classroom supplies to teach I was given. Haven now taught at different schools in the metro area I still am shocked at the lack of support material I was provided back then compared to the material I have been provided at the other two school systems I have taught.

I have always felt there that we may be spending too much money on transportation, and administration overheads. We all should demand more money gets into the classroom to our children in Dekalb County. Our teachers should have the supplies needed to teach. There is no excuse for having bad copy machines for teachers in our schools.

No Duh said...

If it had been put to a vote, teachers and staff...if you had to choose between having DCSS provide working copiers and the accompanying paper and toner OR the America's Choice curriculum, which would you have voted for?

No Duh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I have a friend, a parent at our elementary school, who use to sell the copier that the schools use.

She often remarked at how it was a machine designed to do high volume copying but not by so many hands. She couldn't imagine though that the company would have disclosed this. They wouldn't want to miss out on the sale.

In other words, it was designed to use in offices were there was a designated clerical staff.

Anonymous said...

I have worked in schools (not DeKalb) where we (teachers) had to be given an in service by the copier company in order to work the copier. No in service, no copier code. The teachers grumbled, but it did keep the copiers in working order for a much longer period of time.

Right now we have parents using the machines, teachers, assistants, administrators, and whoever else wants to copy use the machines.

Anonymous said...

$1.2 Billion WITH A B! dollar budget and we can't get supplies to our teachers. Priceless!

I think I am going to suggest at our next PTA Meeting that the PTA provide each teacher with a $100 Copy card for Office Depot or Kinkos. At .09 cents per copy the teacher would be able to copy 1000 sheets. That would be something, I know not enough, but something!

Our PTA raised over $50K last year. We provide each teacher with a supply purchase card and we also replace the expensive bulbs on our Promethean Boards since DCSS can't.

I thank God for our generous parents, teachers and the PTA!

themommy said...

Our school got a new principal last year who removed the idiotic paper policies of the previous principal, where each teacher was given an allocation of paper that was meant to last the month.

This meant that the paper drawers on the copier were opened and closed multiple times.

New principal came in, changed the policy, had one staff person in charge of loading the paper and while the copier still breaks, it happens much less frequently.

themommy said...

At my children's elementary school, the PTA leased a copier for their needs for many years. They no longer do this because most things are done electronically now, but it was a big help.

Anonymous said...

I think you are all missing the point here.

If we had abundant access to cutting edge technology, teachers would need less copying. The MIS department has done an absolutely awful job of providing technology that will automate the instructional process. Until parents hold the DCSS MIS group responsible, we will continue to operate in the 20th century rather than the 21st century. Please walk into your child's classroom. Can you honestly say it's that much different than the classroom you attended in the 1970's or 1980's? Actually, many of our classrooms look like the 1950's or 1960's. Walk through your schools, and then compare the classroom to pictures from the mid-20th century.

Consider that DCSS taxpayers have literally spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars on technology.

Much of this discussion revolves around the fact that as No Duh has pointed out DCSS has not worked smarter - we've chosen for our teachers to work longer. The MIS department has been a very lucrative "jobs program" for many connected personnel. Until this changes, we will have discussions about copying and dittos.

This post is a sad commentary on DCSS in that our teachers and students teach and learn in an environment that ceased to exist for the business community and most of the members of classrooms in other metro school systems 20 years ago.

Anonymous said...

In Mom We Trust, truer words never spoken.

Anonymous said...

"Get to the bottom of this"

Some of y'all on this blog are singing Ramona Tyson's praises. Just remember that she has little teaching experience, built up MIS to a $20 mil dept. with 200 staff but no return on investment, and was in charge of business and administration during Crawford Lewis' terrible tenure. She is a bureaucrat through and through. She, just like Bob Moseley, Ron Ramsey, Audria Berry, Marcus Turk, Josie Alexander, etc. will never take parental concerns seriously. But they sure will continue to build up the massive bloat of the DCSS Central Office.

Anonymous said...

I used to work in a DeKalb school. We got two brand new copiers one year. They worked great, for that first year. The next year, they were down A LOT. Third year - even more. Fourth get the picture. I saw the tech and asked him about it, this was towards the end of year 2. First, two copiers is not enough for 100+ users, especially not teachers. In two years we had made as many copies as a copier would handle in TEN years. A million clicks in two years, one school, 100+ people. Sounds like a lot, but that's 5,000 sheets per teacher per year - one case of paper. 100 students - 50 sheets per student per year. Consider tests, activities, etc. its about 1 piece of paper per student every three days.

OK, the other issue - the techs came out every time another part busted, and they replaced the part. They wanted to do a complete refurb, but the district would have to pay that, its not in the contract. So of course, that never happened. The third issue, according to the copy techs, was the sheer number of people handling the copier - it was brutal, teachers jamming the machine, etc. One full time copy expert who knew how to handle the machines, do basic maintenance, etc, would go a long way in keeping up the life of the machines.

I understand about the last point - hiring a non teaching person just to run a copier didn't make much sense. But they really messed us up when they said they wouldn't pay to refurb the machines. Instead, we were constantly waiting for the techs to fix the machine as oer the contract.

Anonymous said...

Ramona Tyson is doing a great job considering the "mess" she inherited. We should be proud of her thank and paise her and her family for the sacrifices she is making during difficult times for our school system.Excuse me, she was not appointed by the Board to teach but to lead a "troubled" school system, and for that I give her an A+++.
Cheryl Matthews
As for the copiers, practice sheets don't teach. We need teachers who use strategies that employ hands- on activities. As one renoun educator use to say: "you teach from your feet not from your your seat".

Everyone has been shocked by the events of Pope Etc. but don't think for a moment that a lot of folk were kept inn the dark.

I refuse to be negative with so much pending on SACS. Please join me in being positive.
Retired and proud of it!

Anonymous said...

Ramona Tyson first ran MIS which has given us 20th century schools in a 21st century world. Please walk down the halls of your child's school. Many, many of the rooms look like they belong to the 1950's,70's,70's and 80s. All this talk of copiers when we live in an electronic world (except for DCSS classrooms). MIS has become an inefficient department with friends and family employed.

Taxpayers have literally spent hundreds of millions for technology and have very little to show for it.

After running MIS and before becoming Interim Superintendent, Ms. Tyson ran Human Resources and Finance including having the Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk reporting her. Doesn't anyone think she bears any responsibility for financial missteps or MIS's poor performance for our students? After all, she ran those departments. Are we happy with MIS and the Finance Department?

Anonymous said...

i'm glad that a parent was heard and acton was taken; not that long ago, i told one of my school's county coordinators that we were increasingly frustrated with the demands placed on us and yet we were not given the necessary tools to meet the demands resulting in out-of-pocket expenses for us; her response? "oh, teachers always complain." our current copier runs ok, but has so little toner that we cannot read the copies; and this after being nagged to bring up ghsgt scores, eoct scores, ap scores, and benchmarks. we have to make these copies on our own at kinkos and that on top of a pay cut and furlough days. parents of dekalb (all of dekalb, not just the north), your teachers and children deserve and need so much more than your palace county officials will give.

Anonymous said...

MIS is a disaster! They gave a former BOE chairperson's kid a $15k raise and a new job. After 6 months of this son not showing up to his new job, the parents of the school, where he was hiding, started asking questions. The Central Office and CLew was so scared we would say something to the media, they gave us a new principal.

When a former Asst. Super called Ms. Tyson, on a speakerphone with parents in the room, Ms. Tyson had no idea that this son had not shown up for his new position for 6 months, yet she approved his pay every two weeks!

The funny thing about all this, the son had no idea how to fix computers, printers and he even had trouble loading software for the teachers. We had two parents who went around the school and fixed the printers and loaded software, all the while this son, Jamal "Where's Waldo" Edwards just sat around answered phones, picked up McDonalds for staff and hung out at the local Radio Shack.

The really sad thing, this guy still has a job in MIS today!

I'm with the previous poster, no matter how hard this current leadership works to regain the stakeholders trust, the past will always haunt them!

We need a Super who will come in and ask for the resignations of Tyson, Moseley, Turk, Thompson, Mitchell-Mayfield, Berry, Ramsey, any Guilroy or Edwards and especially Beasley or we will never see things change for the better.

They are trying hard to give us the perception that something good is happening, but they always seem to stub their toes along the way. It's time for REAL change folks or DCSS will always be the fraud it's been for many years!

No Duh said...

the mommy! That is so deceptively easy! Why don't we stop opening and closing the dang drawers all day long!!!

Okay, I know it's more complicated than that. But, it's time to think outside the box.

Interns from DeVry?

I was cruising the net trying to find prices for new copiers. Hard to do at the level of our copiers (salesmen driven). But, I found one that looked like it could bind a book if you wanted it to and it supposedly was designed to make700,000 copies a month It was around $65,000.

Schools don't need copiers that can bind a book. Why doesn't someone from MIS develop a relationship with the R&D folks at Xerox (or Cannon, or Ricoh, ...) and help them design a copier just for schools? Heck, someone designed a laptop that can be dropped on the ground out on a construction site (I saw it on a commercial!).


Be True to Your School said...

I agree with themommy!

Why not consider partnering with a copier company and developing a design contest open to DCSS students to design just such a copier?

Meanwhile, perhaps handling the copying duties is a job for PTA volunteers. If parents would take just one day a month -- only about 20 volunteers would be needed -- they could be trained on how to correctly operate, clear paper jams and trouble-shoot the copier, etc.

One thing that will definitely help to avoid paper jams is to keep opened packages of paper in zip-lock bags. That prevents humidity from getting to the paper. Humidity is a major cause of paper jams.

The other major cause of paper jams is printing on both sides of the paper unless the copier is specifically set up for duplex printing. In that case, tell the copier to print duplex. Never, ever take copies out of the copier, turn them over and try to run them back through the copier. Never!

A major cause of damage to the copier automatic document feed (ADF) is feeding a document with pages paper-clipped or stapled together. Always double check to be sure there are no hidden staples or loose paper clips in documents that are to be copied.

Finally, do not use cheap, off-brand toner. Use only the toner designed to go with the copier and produced by the manufacturer of the copier.

Cerebration said...

Twenty parents giving a full day every month at every school to make copies... hmmm. Wonder if that's doable? I highly doubt it.

FWIW - this is from the 2009 salary schedule -


Anonymous said...

wow. as a classroom teacher of 17+ years who doesn't make as much as jamal edwards, please know that i am more disgusted and discouraged than ever. Why on earth haven't parents and others gone to the media? that will get someone's attention faster than hoping for internal audits or reform through sacs.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a different kind of duplicating machine would work better for schools.

The Risograph is an updated mimeograph machine.(Remember dittos?)

"This simple technology is highly reliable compared to a standard photocopier and can achieve both very high speeds (typically 130 pages per minute) and very low costs."

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration 11:51 AM

You are a Lakeside parent, right? Don't you think that Lakeside could get volunteers to handle copier duty once a month? That means a volunteer comes to the school to do volunteer work only 10 times in a given school year. Or, maybe volunteers are there only 3 days a week, every week -- and teachers would need to plan ahead with their copier requests.

Regardless, it's a win-win for teachers. They don't have to spend their planning period trying to make copies or spend their personal money to have copies made at Kinkos of Office Depot.

The schools I am familiar with have parents in daily to answer the phone, put up mail, greet visitors, etc in the main office and help out in the attendance office.

For more information on parent volunteers and how to encourage them, go to
National Parental Involvement Day is November 18, 2010.

Here is a list of Atlanta companies that belong to the Corporate Volunteer Council: www.cvcofatlanta,org
The Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta supports member companies in their strategic commitment to workplace volunteerism and civic engagement.

Cerebration said...

Lakeside - no problem, but I think you said "all" schools. That could be a problem.

Corporate volunteer council -- good idea! Thanks for sharing.

And Anon 12:38 - do these new "dittos" smell as good as the old ones?


Anonymous said...

Part 1 of post:

Take a look at the 2009-2012 DCSS Technology Plan that Ms. Tyson developed when she ran MIS. See the meeting and participants below. If you want to read the entire plan here is the link:

Does anyone see ANY parent or teacher participation in a plan that will be spending tens of millions of tax dollars over the next 3 years? I could not find even a single person within the schoolhouse who had anything to do with this plan. I’ve never seen a school system technology plan that has absolutely NO teacher, student, or parent input. This is one of the main reasons DCSS wastes so many millions of our tax dollars buying “the wrong stuff” as schoolhouse personnel so aptly put it.

Does anyone else think this is the way the SACS responses will be handled as well?

Core Team
Ms. Ramona Tyson, Deputy Chief Superintendent for Business Operations and Finance
Mr. Tony Hunter, Director, Management Information Systems
Ms. Valerie Riley, MIS Project Coordinator, Office of Technology Planning and Policy (OTPP)
Technology Planning Team (see below)

Technology Planning Team:
Dr. Mindy DiSalvo, MIS Assistant Director, Grants and Community Programs
Dr. Regina Merriwether, MIS Assistant Director, Instructional Technology
Ms. Natalie Terrell, MIS Assistant Director, Project Management Office (PMO)
Ms. Joyce Miller, MIS Assistant Director, Telecommunications

On January 6, 2009, the technology planning team met to discuss and plan for the “think tank” meetings with the various departments. The meetings were held on January 29 and March 18, 2009 to evaluate the district's current status related to educational technology and to identify existing gaps between our vision and our current reality. The district representation was as follows:

Mr. Robert Moseley, Deputy Chief Superintendent for School Operations
Mr. David Guillory, Executive Director, Transportation
Ms. Julie Rhame, Sr. Director, Media and Public Relations
Mr. Quentin Fretwell, Director, Student Relations
Dr. Gale Thomas, Director, Student Support Services
Dr. Kishia Towns-Dixon, Magnet/Theme School Coordinator, Instruction
Dr. Frankie Callaway, Deputy Superintendent, Administration
Dr. Sonja Alexander, Director, Professional Learning

Anonymous said...

Part 2 of post (DCSS Tech Plan):

Ms. Gloria Talley, Deputy Superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction
Mr. Tony Eitel, Executive Director, Assessment and Accountability
Dr. Delmas Watkins, Director, Career Technology
Mr. John O’Connor, Executive Director, Special Services
Ms. Rhonda Wells, Coordinator, High School Instruction
Ms. Kimberly Jones, Instructional Coach, Exceptional Education and Support Services
Ms. Alita Anderson, Coordinator, Elementary Instruction
Mr. Marcus Turk, Chief Financial Officer, Finance
Dr. Joyce Wimberly, Director, School Nutrition
Mr. Larry Hammel, Director, Finance
Mr. Michael Florio, Director, Risk Management
Dr. Jamie Wilson, Chief Human Resource Officer, Human Resource
Ms. Patti Reed, Director, Employment Services
Ms. Brenda Hudgins, Manager, Technology
Ms. LaTarae Johnson, Resource Specialist, PATS
Mr. John Brown, Specialist, Compliance
Ms. Patricia Pope, Chief Operations Officer, Operations
Ms. LaRon Cousin, Assistant Director, Budget
Ms. Tiffany Nowlin, Administrative Services, Plant Services
Ms. Ramona Tyson, Deputy Chief Superintendent for Business Operations and Finance
Core Team (mentioned above)
Mr. Chris Guidi, Security Officers, Infrastructure and Support
Mr. Stan Mitchem, Manager, Network Services
Ms. Faye French, Coordinator, Student Information Systems
Mr. Ron Hilburn, Coordinator, Information Systems
Mr. Joseph Swing, Assistant Director, Technical and Support Services
Mr. Thomas Cox, System Engineer, Telecommunications

On January 16, 2009, the technology planning team met with Dr. Jo Williamson, our State Technology Plan liaison to discuss the Georgia State Department of Education’s expectations and changes for the 2009 – 2012 technology plan.

Following this meeting, the technology planning team met on February 6, 2009, to organize the draft in order to meet the February 12, 2009 E-rate submission deadline.

On April 21, 2009, the technology planning team met to discuss in detail the template that would be created for the final document and to determine roles and responsibilities for finalizing the 2009 – 2012 technology plan.

Anonymous said...

What you must understand is that schools are allocated funds for the purpose of purchasing things such as copiers. If you are on the outside looking in, I believe the assumption is that Ms. Tyson has a majic wand. A good leader DOES investigate before making a decision and that is logical and fair to all involved. Would you want assumptions made if you were the principal of that building? You would want a fair assessment of the situation and often it is not what it seems.
Title I schools receive an enormous amount of funding from the government. Did anyone ask if the school is a Title I school? There is a PTSA in every school. Did anyone ask if the PTSA could not provide a copier? As parents, we can solicit assistance from corporate sponsors. Did that parent try?
African-Americans need to empower themselves towards change. It is vital to understand the manner in which funds are allocated within any building.
I am not a principal or administrator in DeKalb. I do agree with the manner in which Ms. Tyson responded. It was a fair response to all involved.
Outside looking in people are always quick to judge. I do it daily as I watch the news or hear about a person charged (not convicted) of a crime. We must allow our virtues to lead us and be patient as we walk in the right "Path" towards change.

Anonymous said...

This seems to be the season of education movies. Race to Nowhere seems to be entirely different than the other movies as of late. This one infers that there is to much pressure on students.

Anyway, it will be here on Oct 21st with a director's Q and A afterward.

Anonymous said...

Saw these posts and had to roll my eyes. The strategy for copiers in Dekalb is VASTLY different than the strategy for copiers in ALL the other Metropolitan counties who do not experience these issues. I know that from industry insiders that a majority of the equipment is being run at a higher volume than was originally bid. Each Gwinnett County School has 4 or 5 copiers. Same at Forsyth and Fulton. Dekalb schools were given 1 or 2 at best. You can't blame the vendor or the techs. Fear not though, I heard that the new RFP will rectify this situation and become more like the other school systems.
Don't know if this post is still being looked at, but you should look at the facts before you scream at the vendor or the equipment. Just an FYI from someone in the industry.