Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time for Change

DeKalb County Residents,

You have an opportunity to make a significant change that can positively affect your quality of life and your wallet.

For most local elections, the incumbent has an overwhelming advantage.

We now have the rare chance to bring new vision to the DeKalb County Board of Education. The DCSS BOE oversees a billion dollar budget and over 15,000 employees (unfortunately, it's top heavy with more staff and administrators than actual teachers). There are two very qualified challengers to BOE incumbents and the final vote is less than two weeks away.

Nancy Jester is in a run-off against incumbent Jim Redovian. If you believe the BOE just approved $70 million dollars for a new Chamblee High School for any reason other than getting Jim Redovian re-elected, I have a bridge for sale I'd like you to consider (no slight against Chamblee; it's a fine school and your facility was long past due for attention).

Please consider voting for Nancy and donating to her campaign:

Donna Edler is in a run-off against longtime BOE member Zepora Roberts. Roberts has multiple family members working for the system and infamously brought state-wide negative press to the county with her infamous "'I'm gonna slug you" confrontation with a TV news reporter.

Please consider voting for Donna and donating to her campaign at:

You can advance vote on Nov. 22nd, 23rd and 24th at the DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections Office on Memorial Dr. across from the county jail, or on run-off election
day on Nov. 30th (check for your precinct).

If you prefer the status quo for a board of education who's lack of oversight led to indictments against the system's then superintendent and chief operating officer, along with numerous other scandals (Bookgate, CRCT cheating scandal, the Frankie Callaway grade change, the Jaheem Herrera investigation, Gasgate, the Arabia Mountain High bait and switch, etc.), then Redovian and Roberts are for you.

If you believe this system can improve dramatically, can be transparent in its operations, and can break free for its status quo, then please consider Donna Edler and Nancy Jester.


NAACP DeKalb County Branch said...

DeKalb NAACP Political Forum. Saturday, November 20, 2010, 12 noon - 2 pm. DeKalb Technical College, Conference Center. 495 N. Indian Creek Drive. Clarkston 30021. Stone Mountain Judicial Circuit Superior Court Candidates: Courtney Johnson and Michael Rothenberg. DeKalb Board of Education, District 1: Nancy Jester and Jim Redovian. DeKalb Board of Education, District 7: Donna G. Edler and Zepora Roberts. Run-off Election - Tuesday, November 30, 2010. More info? 404 241-8006 or

Anonymous said...

I hope, hope, hope that Donna is given fair treatment on the 20th. Zepora Roberts is close friends with DeKalb NAACP head John Evans.

Anonymous said...

Donna E-D-L-E-R, not Elder.

Anonymous said...

So Jim Redovian is actually going to face Nancy Jester. Can he say he's done his primary job on the BOE which is to increase student achievement (same goes for Ms. Roberts)?

Anonymous said...

Do you really think there will many people in attendance on a Saturday afternoon the weekend before Thanksgiving, for a run off forum?

I can't imagine it is a wise way for either Jester or Redovian to spend their time as it is dubious that any of their potential voters will be in attendance.

Anonymous said...

@Open + Transparent

Please make sure the link to Donna Edler (you have a typo since you spelled it Elder) is correct so that people can see what she stands for, email her with questions, and/or donate money. You link is incorrect.

Here is the correct link:

Your link is going to the wrong website.

Open+Transparent said...

Sorry for the misspelling. My dyslexia strikes again.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of the bumper sticker:
"Dyslexics of America Untie!"

Anonymous said...

So, this has become a political blog now?

Anonymous said...

Here is the latest from Morcease Beasley. Here he tries to take credit for the increase in writing test scores across the county. MORCEASE, have you no shame, man? Your policies had absolutely no effect on what happened with these tests. You, sir, are a charlatan, a boll weevil looking for a home. If the math GHSGT results are worthwhile, then take credit for them. Otherwise, continue to pull the wings off flies and to send your resume out.

To: All Teachers, Instructional Coaches, Assistant Principals, and Principals

From: Dr. Morcease J. Beasley, Interim Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning

Re: Georgia High School Writing Test (GHSWT) Results for Fall 2010

Date: 17 Nov 2010

We have EXCELLENT news to share! We are pleased to share that the high expectations for teaching and learning are resulting in improved learning outcomes. Our students are learning at higher levels in DCSS. Our teachers are teaching at higher levels. Our principals are leading at higher levels. Indeed, the tedious and complex work is already paying off for our students. We are excited to share good news about the attached DCSS Georgia High School Writing Test Results for fall 2010. For the first time in many years, we have made significant gains in passing rates at most schools with no schools showing a decrease in passing rates from the previous school year. The 2010 DCSS GHSWT highlights are as follows:

• The DeKalb County School System made more gains than the state for the total percentage of eleventh grade first time test takers passing the GHSWT.
--DCSS improved 5% from the previous school year with a 94% passing rate this year.
--DCSS is closing the gap with the state--DCSS is only 1% away from the State's passing rate of 95%.

• All 25 high schools, centers, and charters showed gains or remained consistent.
--21 DCSS schools showed gains.
--3 schools showed no gain since they have had 100% passing for at least the last two years--An Excellent Reason Not to Show Gains.
--1 school showed no gain and had a 93% passing rate.

• No high school demonstrated a loss in its passing percentage.

• Towers High School demonstrated the highest passing rate gain--A double-digit gain of 16%--Towers went from 76% in 2009 to 92% this year. This is phenomenal improvement.

• Both DCSS School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools, Clarkston High School and McNair High School, demonstrated gains of 7% and 8% respectively.

• DeKalb School of the Arts, DeKalb Early College Academy, and Gateway Charter had passing rates of 100%.

• 21 out of 25 schools have passing rates higher than 90% and the other 4 schools have passing rates between 85% and 90%.

• No Schools, centers, or Charters in DCSS had a passing rate below 85%. This is a first in recent years and probably within more than a decade.

We are very proud of our students, teachers, instructional coaches, and principals. Kudos to all of them for such outstanding preparation and results. To ensure our community is informed of this wonderful news related to teaching and learning outcomes in DCSS, our Public Relations Firm, Cohn & Wolfe, will assist with sharing the good news with media outlets. We appreciate your support as we set the standard for excellence in DCSS.

Dr. Morcease J. Beasley
Interim Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning
Department of Teaching and Learning
O) 678-676-0731
F) 678-676-0759

Setting the Standard for Excellence in Teaching and Learning

Anonymous said...

The funny thing about the comment at 4:52 is the first time I saw it, I read it correctly. It took me a minute to get the joke.

Have you ever seen this before:

"I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg.
The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsatltteer be in the rghit pclae.
The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?;"

Paula Caldarella said...

We are very proud of our students, teachers, instructional coaches, and principals. Kudos to all of them for such outstanding preparation and results.

How is Beasley "taking credit"?

Ella Smith said...

The scores look good. A gain is a gain and it is something to celebrate.

Anonymous said...


I thought from the beginning, that you were not going to make this a political blog. I am disappointed in where this blog is headed.

Just as disappointed at the emails that I have sent to Ms. Jester with no reply.

Looks like to me same old same old.

Anonymous said...

I don't see this as a political blog. There is an election going on, so yes, it's time to talk politics. But since the November 2 election, there have been plenty of other topics posted and discussed here.

Anonymous said...

The Repubilcans in the GA House are within 10 members of a super majority. I think it is actually less. A super majority is a 2/3rds majority which is what is needed to override a Governor's veto and pass Constitutional amendments.

Several state representatives who are democrats are considering party switches!

If this happens, Milton County might be a reality sooner rather than later, though I am not sure it is the right thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Roberts friend john evans should be a reasons not to vote for her. John only appears when he can get news coverage. I know several people who have asked for his help and when he can not be in front of a news reporter no show. Please, please don't vote her back in. We need a change and haveing to look at walker, jay, sarah is enough.

Anonymous said...

I can say, as a Dekalb teacher, that any part I had in my student's success is in part because I ignored many of Beasley's directives......

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:49

Nancy Jester always replies. You're just making stuff up.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:49 here again. Wish I could say I was making something up. My husband sent her one and I have sent her one no response.

Anonymous said...

Nancy Jester always replies. You're just making stuff up.

If she agrees with you, if not...silence.

Anonymous said...

" Nancy Jester always replies. You're just making stuff up.

If she agrees with you, if not...silence. "

Ms. Jester's opponent Jim Redovian supported Crawford Lewis and Patricia Pope/Reid and presided over an unprecedented decline in student achievement in DCSS. If you want dialog, his record speaks volumes.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:49pm shame on you. I can assure you that Nancy Jester replies to her emails. It is very important to her to do so. I have spoken to her and she wants very much to hear from those with concerns about Decalb County School District.

She asks people all the time to email her or call her. Don't say these sort of things. We should all be careful about what we say. Above all we should tell the truth,.
I'll be voting for Nancy Jester, because she does listen and answer emails and questions when ask in public forums.I trust that she will be a positive addition to the board and will try and protect our childrens education.

David Montané said...

Another misprint at "$15,000 employees" - probably understood by most readers correctly, but worth pointing out just in case - should be 15,000.

I dare the anonymous poster who seems to think that a blog for citizens trying to keep watch on a county school system's policies should not get political, and who has not admitted what he or she was trying to provoke a response from Nancy Jester about, to step forward and tell us who you are.

I am for transparency, as are Nancy and Donna. Until this person steps forward, we can all assume that it is one of the secretive incumbent board members trying to cast doubt on this blog and Nancy. Could it be J.R.?

Cerebration said...

Hmmm. Political - maybe. I hadn't wanted to get into a place to hash out debates, however, I never said the bloggers and I wouldn't have an opinion. In fact, they are entitled to have different opinions, they just happen to agree - we would not ever consider voting for a single school board incumbent. I think that's obvious. (In fact, if you have a different opinion, with interesting reasons, feel free to post it here!)

Below is a comment I left on another post on the subject -

The DeKalb School Watch did not endorse a single incumbent. They are ALL complicit in the poor actions and decisions made over the last several years. They are all guilty of endorsing waste and bloat and (except Gene Walker) giving a raise to Dr. Lewis after cutting teacher's pay. They are all guilty of inducing an inquiry by SACS and putting our children's school's accreditation in jeopardy. They are all guilty of horse-trading behind the scenes. They are all guilty of costing the system literally millions of dollars every year in FTE credit from the state by running schools that are nearly empty. They did not act on this until it was pointed out numerous times by Lynn Jackson at the state. They are all guilty of rubber-stamping every single purchase/contract executed by Pat Pope and Crawford Lewis. They are all guilty of this while never once calling for an audit - internal or otherwise - and in fact, endorsing Lewis' action in tossing out the results of the last audit done under Johnny Brown. They only succumbed to hiring an internal auditor after SACS initiated an inquiry. They are all guilty of spending millions upon millions on attorneys defending the system in several lawsuits, while withholding money for media clerks and in-school support staff.

Why on earth would anyone vote in any incumbent on this board?

In addition to attending charrettes, feel free to read some of our blog posts over the last couple of years reporting on these behaviors. We have an education at the ready for you at DeKalb School Watch. Problem is - will you believe it? Or will you choose to believe the current board's mantra - "We Didn't Know!" Come to think of it - that's even more disturbing...

BTW - stand by as Redovian pushes to raise your property taxes (you all do know that about 70% of your property taxes go to the school system, right?)

From the March 18, 2010 AJC

DeKalb schools deficit nears $115 million; targeted school list released

Those who said they do not want to raise taxes are McChesney, board chairman Tom Bowen and members H. Paul Womack and Pamela Speaks. Board members Eugene Walker, Zepora Roberts, Sarah Copelin-Wood and Jim Redovian said they are looking at raising the millage rate by amounts varying between half a mill and 2 mills. Board member Jay Cunningham said he is undecided.

Nancy Jester said...

Hello Bloggers!

If you've emailed me and not received a response, please email me again and/or call me at 678.360.1148. Typically I answer email in less that 24 hours so if you haven't heard from me, please try it again and call to alert me. I take communication very seriously; even if we disagree.

--Nancy Jester

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "transparency", David Montane would like to dismantle public schools altogether.

""My vision for the future of education in Georgia is that, by 2035, there will be NO MORE TAXPAYER-SUPPORTED EDUCATION in Georgia. Formal education will no longer be mandatory. The stakeholders in education will be the parents and students and teachers ONLY.

If students want to learn something or their parents want their children to be taught something, the students and/or parents will pay the tuition. Teachers will receive the full benefit of the tuition paid. Private schools which directly meet the educational needs or desires of families will proliferate, and children will learn to be responsible for their own learning. Grandparents, uncles and aunts, friends, neighbors, and charities will step forward to voluntarily contribute.

Non-stakeholders will no longer be forced to financially support the uncontrollable mass of administrators and teachers who in turn force the institutionalization of an unknown mass of children. The burden of state and local claims on our homes, our incomes and our purchases will be more than halved."

Anonymous said...

Let ME go on record again to state that I sent an email to Nancy Jester on 10/30...Still waiting on a response...

Paula Caldarella said...

Cere, you know I think the world of you and this blog, but endorsing political candidates, I dunno....

Anonymous said...

"Let ME go on record again to state that I sent an email to Nancy Jester on 10/30...Still waiting on a response... "

Stop being petty - if you actually want a response from Nancy email her again. If you want to make the point ad naseum that this particular email has not been answered you have done so.

Cerebration said...

Nancy, check your spam folder. When I get complaints that someone sent me an email or posted a comment that didn't appear, I usually find their mail in the spam folder.

Anonymous said...

its the black versus the white...

rich versus the poor...

us against them...

same ol' same ol' from the dekalb school watch blog

Cerebration said...

I haven't spoken with David Montane about his public school position, but the quote above seems pretty radical. There are lots of people willing to try radical things these days in education. (Check out Obama and Duncan - making schools and states "compete" for funding!)

It was recently pointed out to me that the US standing in education began to plummet when the federal Dept of Education was formed. That would be an interesting thing to investigate.

At any rate - our state is getting closer every time the legislature convenes to implementing a voucher system.

Here's a summary of how far SB90 got last session:

First Reader Summary
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to elementary and secondary education, so as to provide the option for parents to enroll their child in another school within the local school system, a school in another local school system, or in a private school under certain conditions; to provide for definitions; to provide for the amount of scholarship and method of payments; to provide for rules and regulations; to provide for limited liability; to provide for an annual report on the program; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date and applicability; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

I would wage a guess that many of the parents in south DeKalb burdened with low performing schools would dearly love one of these vouchers for private!

Nancy Jester said...

Hello Anon 656am,
I've rechecked my inbox and my spam folder for 10/30 and I'm not seeing your email. So, please resend it. As I always say here on the blog, if you don't get a response from me, please call me at 678.360.1148.

--Nancy Jester

Cerebration said...

7:39 AM - I'm not following how you came to that conclusion. Can you tell us how we're feeding that idea? I certainly don't want to... We want to make our schools great schools for everyone.

No Duh said...

EVERYTHING in life that involves money -- and who gets it and who doesn't -- is POLITICAL!

Anybody ever work for a corporation (where no one is elected to their positions)? Tell me there isn't politics played in the corporate world.

Tell me politics isn't played in the school house.

Election politics is just the top of a very long political continuum.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 6:56
Are you aware that Nancy Jester has a phone number contact? If your email is not getting through to her, you should call her contact number. Here is her website contact page:

Anonymous said...

1. With regard to the "accusation" that this blog is political - so what? This blog has a purpose - shedding light on whats going on the school system, making it better. By necessity, the school board is one layer in all that, and it happens to be a political layer.

As to the original post:
2. Redovian vs. Jester. Even Nancy will tell you that Redovian isn't one of the bad guys here. Either one is good, some may say fresh blood will be better; but even if Jester gets on, she is going to have a challenge working with the rest of the board.

3 Linking a new Chamblee to Redovian's re-election is spurious, makes me want to disregard the rest of what you said. I would bet that an unscientific polling of this group would be happy if Chamblee got the upgrades it deserves. Infrastructure *is* important. The problem, of course, that if you asked people to raise their taxes to pay for it...then you get pushback. Look at the rest of the country...our taxes are not too high...they are not high enough to support the things we need.

4. The 10% that I wholeheartedly agree with is that Zepora Roberts needs to go. She's not the only one, but she NEEDS to go. We'll have to get the others in due time.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that you even had to write this post and that there are even run-offs. I just can't understand why anyone would vote for any of the incumbents. Period.

Redovian is a nice guy and I admire his intentions, charitable work, etc - but that does not make someone a good Board member. While I think he's one of the not-so-terrible-ones on the Board, I do think he was not at all effective. I never heard him asking tough questions, demanding accountability, calling out the wrongs of other Board members, etc. And I never saw a single proactive attempt ever to engage (or even meet) any of his constituents outside of Dunwoody. Not even during his "campaign". And I've heard from many others that he said he didn't have any time to campaign. Really?!? Then how will he have time to be a good Board member?

And on another note - the redistricting in Dunwoody is going to be ugly and I think having someone outside of Dunwoody representing District 1 is the only hope for some unbiased, untainted, impartial lines to be drawn.

ps. I'm from Dunwoody.

Anonymous said...

"Linking a new Chamblee to Redovian's re-election is spurious, makes me want to disregard the rest of what you said. I would bet that an unscientific polling of this group would be happy if Chamblee got the upgrades it deserves. Infrastructure *is* important. The problem, of course, that if you asked people to raise their taxes to pay for it...then you get pushback. Look at the rest of the country...our taxes are not too high...they are not high enough to support the things we need."

Wow, what a mind-blowingly uninformed post by Anon 10:47.

Linking the approval of $70 mil for Chamblee by the BOE to help Redovian's re-election bid is the opposite of spurious.

It goes to the heart of the problem. This BOE will make snap decisions spending tens of millions not on merit, but for politics and expediency. $70 mil!

This has nothing to do with raising taxes. SPLOST should be managed in w ay where each school is renovated or completely re-built due to need and age. Chamblee High should have been renovated years ago, and better maintained to increase its lifespan in the first place.

"Our taxes are not too high"??? What the...? DCSS takes 70% of county property tax, even though well under twenty percent of county households have children in a DCSS school. Our property taxes and penny sales tax are being misspent by the tnes of millions, and you have no problem with that? With better administration and less bloat we could have a school system that focuses on the school house while slightly lowering taxes.

"they are not high enough to support the things we need" Again. What the...?

Anonymous said...

anon 1047,

I'm not sure I agree with you on point 2 and it's probably best not to assume Ms. Jester agrees: "...that Redovian isn't one of the bad guys."

Redovian is part of the problem. He hasn't taken his BOE responsibilities seriously. He doesn't look into the fraud, he's had "friends" get jobs and he's fiddling while Rome burns. Now that he's in this runoff, he is scrambling around to convince us to vote for him using a combination of fear and misrepresentations. That's not being one of the "good ones". Seeing how he's behaved has convinced me to vote for Nancy Jester.

Mark my words, once Nancy Jester is on the board, you'll start to see a movement towards respecting the blogger community. They will realize the power this group has once she is there.

Cerebration said...

Well, I disagree with that one. This group has no power and electing Nancy and Donna won't prove that at all... it will just prove that the voters in these districts want change. They want an actuary (Nancy) and a certified public accountant (Donna) on the board to look at and manage the numbers.

I would think that the current board would very much like to have these two women on board - they are both "numbers" people (very much needed on this board) - and they both have children in the system.

Anonymous said...


Your right, the election will prove that voters want change. I don't want to overlook the community that this blog has built. Maybe a better word is empowerment. This blog has created a place for our community to debate ideas and find common ground. It provides an area where we can speak with each other and is empowering. I think that this blog should get more respect for that and will. Cere, you've given so much to the school community. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

They will realize the power this group has once she is there.

What a scary statement.

A very small percentage of DeKalb voters and parents know of or care about this blog.

DCSS will be a better school system when all parents are involved enough to care. Then, and only then, will things really change.

Anonymous said...

@anon 1109,


Really?! I read the comment to mean that a group of concerned citizens has made a difference and formed a community to discuss improving things in DeKalb. That's not scary at all. I think it's sort of a "we the people" kind of thing.

Cerebration said...

You are right about that, 10:15 AM. I am amazed at how the internet has leveled the playing field in so many ways. Educationally, extremely poor children in third world countries are gaining access by using the "One Laptop Per Child" program.

Beyond that - there's so much information available at your fingertips on the internet that it's making it very hard for government agencies to NOT be transparent. You look like a tech dummy if you don't keep your info online. And then blogs and news media have flourished - allowing people who would otherwise never even meet each other to engage in conversation (and debate). Personally, I think it's all good -- well maybe about 95% good.

That's why our slogan on the homepage is

"ipsa scientia potestas est" ~
"Knowledge itself is power"

Anonymous said...

I'm not so convinced that the current board really wants "numbers" people on the board... incumbents actively campaigned against Pam Buncum (an auditor/accountant); and now seem to be coming out in support of the folks opposing the actuary (Nancy Jester) and the CPA (Donna Edler). They are against posting the check register and pcard transactions. One starts to wonder what they don't want to be found....