Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Bleak Perspective/ A Call to Action

I want to make sure that all that read this Blog, don't miss this column from the AJC.

Just an excerpt from the column. Read the whole thing of course.

When a majority of south DeKalb students fail to succeed in college and, indeed, would be hard pressed to pass the military’s basic-skills examination, it is surprising that the military’s successful model of using serious remediation coupled with consequential discipline goes unmentioned while dubious educational “theories” are touted over and over.
I, for one, would like to commend William Blackwood for putting in writing, what many have been feeling.

After posting this, I came back to add that it is time for ALL parents in DeKalb to demand better for their children. There are real issues in DeKalb and they are complicated by the fact that this system hasn't had a clear instructional plan for decades. Too many weak school house principals, too many passive parents and too many central office employees has really made for a horrible situation.

In demanding better, parents have to step up as well and support higher standards in both academics and discipline. They have to demand more of the children, themselves and their communities.


Anonymous said...


Jim Bohica Ben Dover

Anonymous said...

Wow. Just WOW. I applaud Mr. Blackwood for putting this in writing, and worry where he will find employment next year. His intellect is no doubt too threatening for the higher-ups to consider him for the superintendency. While we at this blog have focused on superfluous personnel out of the Central Office, he highlights a whole other area of waste: school administrative teams who are doing nothing to improve student achievement and prepare them for a promising future. And I think his painful obervations that they receive salaries they could never earn elsewhere is exactly what has infuriated people about Ramona’s Demand. (Who, besides superintendent candidates, says a superintendent is worth $275,000???) Aside from the shame of the indictment, Crawford Lewis’ most damaging legacy to DeKalb Schools was promoting the wrong people for the wrong reasons and thereby crippling the educational environment in schools across the district. Where we once had a deep bench of principals and APs and lead teachers who were carefully groomed before they became leaders in the school house, we now have friends and family.

Mr. Blackwood also points to something we bloggers have avoided during our redistricting debate. The discussion extends beyond what’s fair to whom- who can walk to which school, who has always been zoned in this attendance area. It’s that a middle and high school environment where the purpose is truly to educate kids is not a given in DeKalb County anymore. Parents whose schools still have competent, responsible administrators and parents eager to support school programs and get their kids into college know that a healthy school climate is a precarious thing. When parents allege that resources have been deployed to make some schools better than others, that’s not really why they’re better. They’re better, because a community has surrounded that school to say “we want hard classes and high standards” and “we won’t have this behavior and we won’t permit that.” And there is a school administrative team that tows the same line. It’s not a black/white issue. Our best functioning high schools are extremely diverse. It’s a standards issue. The type of behavior Mr. Blackwood describes – that continues with impunity at his school – is what ultimately scares parents into action because they will not keep their children in a school that’s unsafe.

Cerebration said...

This article is amazing - and the author is SO BRAVE! We need to develop a blog "person of the year" award - I'm certain no one could out-earn it from Mr. Blackwood the rest of the year. I pray the board "hears" him!

Cerebration said...

The bloated assistant-principal caste characterizes a system that employs more non-teaching personnel than it does teachers. This dysfunctional jobs-creation program is complicit in the invidious perpetuation of the hugely disenfranchising notion that black students are to be taught in a special way.

A teacher is supposed to appeal to “multiple intelligences” in a manner that will produce a “differentiated” classroom. I have been told to do “raps” with students and to appeal to their “kinesthetic intelligence.” Collaborative “group work” is proffered as a means of classroom management and instruction.

Game-like activities feature prominently in jury-rigged, “research-based” pedagogical approaches. Not only should the teacher minimize interaction with the students during such activities, but more emphasis should be placed on “effort” than on whether the material is mastered. “Instructional change coaches” and other emissaries from the massive central bureaucracy offer up these putative insights and vet the classroom for the presence of such utterly meaningless items as “word walls” and “instructional boards.”

This is Dr. Lewis' legacy. His disdain for teachers and poor students was revealed in his actions such as hiring so many "coaches" and "security" staff.

FWIW - We have actually had several discussions regarding the bloated in-school administrations. In addition to the odd proliferation of assistant principals (one at Lakeside actually misspelled his own title as "principle") - we have redundant FULL STAFFS covering 2 or 3 very small schools which need consolidating. (However, the consolidation discussion have been derailed for several years now - due to outcries that "north" DeKalb has to feel the pain too! - Thus the push to redistrict simultaneously - resulting in NO ACTION due to NEVER-ENDING research, discussion and debate!)

I'm with Paul Womack on this -- Get on with it!

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Dr. Blackwood! Bravo!

Cerebration said...

These students remain alienated from the fundamental function of any solid education — the inculcation of critical thinking via reflective interaction with a competent authority figure able and willing to guide them through various tasks in a sensible manner.

Exactly! What's sad is, most students would have no idea what the above sentence means.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10:15 said: "It’s not a black/white issue. Our best functioning high schools are extremely diverse. It’s a standards issue."

I completely agree. I have a student at Dunwoody HS. It is very diverse. I do not know the exact figures but I would estimate 40% black, 40% white, 20% hispanic. I love the diversity. And I love the school environment which is focused on learning. While I am sure it is not perfect, to me it seems that the admin at DHS does a good job of doing what the author suggests is lacking in his school.

It is so sad to me when people assume that race is the main issue. It SO is not.

Anonymous said...

Truer words have not been said about DeKalb. In my humble opinion, Mr. Blackwood is a hero. Hopefully his truths do not fall on deaf ears.

Anonymous said...

Good-bye Dr. Blackwood it's been nice working with you.

Anonymous said...

By way of contrast, check out this link.

Imagine how hard these coaches are working to ensure these kids get a college education. No question, to develop these athletes and identify this many scholarship offers, goes way above beyond the job description.

Anonymous said...

This attitude of going through the motions of educating is pervasive of a number of low-performing schools.

This attitude is "aided and abetted" by the various policies of the DCSS subject coordinators ( Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language..etc..) as well as a grading scheme that requires a ton of grades for meaningless student activities just to counterbalance the real quiz and test grades.

Within the subjects, these coordinators tell you to "do" the "Bill of Rights" or to speak Spanish without needing subject-verb agreements..etc...

My intuition tells me that at Chamblee HS, Lakeside HS, and Dunwoody HS such policies are not adhered to in advanced classes but are certainly applied in in general or remedial classes.

About time the AJC took the bull by the horns!

Anonymous said...

@....a grading scheme that requires a ton of grades for meaningless student activities just to counterbalance the real quiz and test grades."

Without these crazy grades, the class failure rate would be too high.

Anonymous said...

"Without these crazy grades, the class failure rate would be too high."

January 16, 2011 12:17 PM
...not with Dr. Beasely"s policy of 3 attempts to make up a zero.........

Anonymous said...

With the possibility of failure, students would learn!

A teacher friends tells me how he had to justify a 60 (F) for a student who had been AWOL for 50 of the semesters 90 days. She had to document contacting parents and issuing written notice that the student was failing. When the teacher complained that she had been marking the student absent on eSIS----student was absent in other 3 classes almost as many times but received a charitable 70 (D)from other teachers----the administrators still ask for proof.

Anonymous said...

You are lying!

If I were a student in a class where someone could be out 30 out 90 days, what grade would I expect for near perfect attendance?

If teachers are giving 70s to people who come to class 1/3 of the term, I'd know you can fail this class....

Anonymous said...

Looking at the 100's of students coming home and leaving home without books or other material, I must commend Ms. Tyson for having put all of the high school textbooks online!

They are all online, right?

Anonymous said...

I think ou were bring sarcastic, but just FYI-The English textbooks ARE online, but a)That was part of the package when they were purchased, and b)CL, who was super at the time, had no input into their selection.

Online textbooks are of little use to kids in S. Dekalb (sorry to generalize, but based on experience) because home Internet availability is not a given.

Conversely, I teach on the north end now and issue books only by parent request.

Anonymous said...

A brave man indeed. Note how many teachers post here and won't even identify ourselves in this forum.

Anonymous said...

A real bona fide PhD from Yale does carry some protection.

I imagine that the poor soul was sold a bill of goods by Dekalb when he accepted his position.

They obviously did not tell him about the special way that minority students should be educated.

Cerebration said...

You all may recall the Frankie Callaway story -- that involved changing grades for a student who missed something like well over 30 (50?) days of school the last semester of her senior year. Her Georgia Tech educated math teacher had a failing grade racked up for her, but was told to pass the student, allowing her to graduate on time. Many people at the time claimed that the edict came down from higher up (which leaves very few people, as Callaway was a deputy superintendent). In the end, Callaway retired with a very nice pension but the teacher felt no choice but to quit her job.

Did Frankie Callaway encourage cheating and then hurriedly retire?

As I understand the story, WSB started to investigate this student's story. When they found out that a teacher had been pressured to somehow give this student every opportunity in the world to graduate. The teacher says that the student didn't do the work and skipped quite a bit of school. On the last day of school, the parent demanded that the student be allowed to graduate (not sure who she demanded this of.) It looks like it became a showdown between parent, teacher, student and "someone" who made the teacher back down. The teacher quit on the last day of school in protest - breaking her contract.

THEN comes the DCSS investigation (Ramsey's dept I'll assume.) This is when Frankie Callaway got involved and asked Ms Patterson - whoever she is - to amend her statement. This is just DCSS attempting to keep bad press away from the doorstep. However, obviously, this would not have been necessary if the school had simply backed up the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Blackwood, you are this veteran teacher's hero. Thank you for so bravely and eloquently saying what has needed to be said for a very long time. It amazes me that with the large number of African Americans in leadership positions in DCSS, this serious problem has not been honestly dealt with. Too often, facts and statistics have been presented to make it appear things are better than they are. I've worked in this system for twenty-three years and things are worse than ever. I hope that because of this brilliant editorial by Mr. Blackwood, the blinders will finally be removed.

Anonymous said...

I refuse to change grades. If the administration wants to do so, that's on them; I cannot prevent them from doing so. But I post mine "as is," and no, I don't give students the ridiculous "three chances," either. At the end of the semester, I can say with confidence that my grades are accurate, and I post them. Done.

I had a colleague who teaches seniors, and one kid's failure in her class would keep him from graduating. I believe his average was 40-something; it wasn't a case of his being really close and her being tough to make a point. She stood her ground. The principal changed the grade but at least the teacher knows that she did the right thing. She also has not taught seniors since then!

One pitfall regarding graduation-parents have to get a certified letter (20 days, I believe) prior to graduation, informing them that the student will not graduate. Some teachers make the mistake of having major assignments due after this date. The kids know when the letters go out and then don't bother to do any more work, knowing that they are untouchable at that point.

Anonymous said...

As for kids with a huge number of absences, it used to be the policy that after a certain number, no credit would be given for the course. If I recall correctly, students who were over 16 would be withdrawn. Why has the practice changed? Money. Per pupil money.If a kid drops out and does not transfer to another school, he stays on the rolls of DCSS until the final funding counts have been submitted.

Anonymous said...

@12:15, We don't have remedial classes, as they are thought to be damaging to students' self esteem.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Blackwood for going after the elephant in the room. We have a lot of work to do in this school system.

Anonymous said...

I wish I were as brave as Mr. Blackwood. Unfortunately, I need my job and know how the system works. FANTASTIC letter and absolutely correct. I would love to help the kids I work with more but my hands are tied in many ways. (Poor discipline, ridiculous amounts of paperwork etc)

Thank you, Mr. Blackwood.

Anonymous said...

No truer words have been written from the inside.

Administrators want to cycle as many kids through the system as possible regardless of what the kids know.

Politicians too. They want to claim high graduation rates even when they are over stated or patently exaggerated.

Why? Because the students are of no value: they are oftentimes the children of poor or poorly educated people.

Where parents are educated, the argument is about inflated GPAs not mere graduation but it is the same battle for the teacher.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Blackwood for being courageous enough to write this.

I know you will be hearing from someone......... and it won't be for kudos.

Anonymous said...

He won't be hearing from someone soon. Actually, they had better be nice!

Any lawyer would take this courageous man's case on a contingency basis if Dekalb Conty decided to retaliate or to bully.

Courage and truth protect the brave.

Anonymous said...

An excerpt from Mr. Blackwood's opinion piece:
"Meanwhile, the pressing need for intensive, remedial, small-group instruction in reading and math on a massive scale makes the continued employment of so many overpaid non-teaching personnel seem appalling."

Mr. Blackwood nailed it on this one. Title 1 funds accounted for $128,000,000 or 14% of the DCSS budget last year, and almost all of it under the guidance of the Office of School Improvement was spent on non-teaching personnel instead of math and reading Title 1 teachers instructing small groups of struggling students.

How many times do teachers have to say that Title 1 funds need to provide intensive instruction for small groups of struggling students?

Take another look at the Title 1 money discussion on this blog -
"Just how much Title 1 money are we spending?"

"Can Title 1 attain its Goal?"
(This had excerpts of a study that showed how and Title 1 money was being spent on administration and support instead of teachers instructing students)

"Can DCSS Level the Playing Field?"

Anonymous said...

"I refuse to change grades. If the administration wants to do so, that's on them; I cannot prevent them from doing so. But I post mine "as is," and no, I don't give students the ridiculous "three chances," either. At the end of the semester, I can say with confidence that my grades are accurate, and I post them. Done."

That may be your experience, bu tin many schools, the pressure on teachers - particularly young teachers - to change grades is intense and to these young people just starting their careers sometimes overwhelming.

As you mentioned, your principal can change the student's grade. Not only can principals change grades, many administrators in the Central Office have the access to eSis to change grades as well.

Is this really what parents want in a school system? Is this even egal in Georgia?

Anonymous said...

If every Dekalb County teacher told of their experience with this incompetent machine, could they all be fired for telling the truth? The truth shall set you free!

My kids are high school Spanish 1 & 2 students in a south Dekalb school. They have no clue that you have to conjugate verbs to make sentences. When I ask their 2 different teachers, they tell me that the County is moving away from rote memorization and conjugating. When I check with college Spanish teachers, they tell me that even with a modern approach, you need to understand a little bit of grammar.

Anonymous said...

I've worked all over DeKalb County and the difference in North and Central DeKalb schools is like night and day. It's very disconcerting to see those 6 feet tall Assistant Principals with bullhorns in the hallways of the middle schools while students are changing classes. I never saw this at a northern middle school. Correct me if I'm wrong northern middle school teachers.

Anonymous said...

Contrast two of the existing blogs: Dr. Blackwood calling it exactly like it is and some parents yelling to end the magnet schools.

Pulling down the top, that is, discontinuing the VERY successful magnet programs will not fix anything. In a county that has few successes, don't change what is working. Maybe in the future, when there is a comprehensive plan.....

We must fix the bottom. Please do not try to fix the bottom in the name of "equity" on the backs of our gifted kids by sending them to their under-performing home schools. Dr. Blackwood is right. Small class sizes, comprehensive discipline plans, and caring adults will help lift this group. Title 1 money shouldn't be going to more laptop carts, it should be going to more small group pull-out model remediation teaching (like Reading Recovery!)

Anonymous said...

Fantastic letter!

As I find usual for the ajc, comments are not enabled for this or any other newsie item.

[of course, comments are enabled for most stories about UGA football or the real housewives of atlanta.]

Anonymous said...

@3:47 (who responded to my 2:08 post)--I realize that I seemed to be saying that we teachers should all just say "No" to pressure to change grades.

While I may be a rebel, I realize that new teachers fear for their jobs and give in to pressure. I am not criticizing them--we are told to obey the rules of the organization for which we work.

But of course when those in charge know little about instruction and base their policies on whim, the newbies fall into line, and the ridiculous becomes the norm.

Anonymous said...

Yeah! Thanks for speaking out. The only thing missing are the facts that blacks have been in charge of (1) the purse-strings for the past decade and (2) the decision-making for the past decade. They have been doing this to their own people... I'm not aware of other cultural groups where you would find this... there have been billions of dollars spent over the past decade and not very much of it has gone to actually, really help these children. That to me is what is most distressing. This is where I come back to -- it's not really crying out for a solution of more's now looking like a priority thing. (Even in the hell holes of WWII concentration camps and ghettos, the children were taught to read and write in a few different languages -- and that was without any resources -- without the basics -- such as food and water much less books. They were taught because it was a priority for them to learn -- even if they were going to be dead a few months later--just read some of the diaries written by 15 and 16 year olds.)

Anonymous said...

Re: grade changes, below is the relevant GA law.

Of course, A) is interesting, but really if the teacher isn't--for reasons already cited--willing to complain, this part is moot.

The section that I have indicated in bold made me hopeful--that the teacher could argue that the "three chances to make up a zero" policy or other similar nonsense results in a grade inconsistent with achievement. Perfect! This is what we are looking for!

But then go to c). Looks like admins can do pretty much whatever they want as long as they are willing to own it.

O.C.G.A. § 20-2-989.20 (2011)

a) No classroom teacher shall be required, coerced, intimidated, or disciplined in any manner by the local board of education, superintendent, or any local school administrator to change the grade of a student. This subsection shall not apply when a teacher has failed to comply with grading policies or rules adopted by the local board of education or written procedures established by an individual school that are applicable to the grading process,unless such policy, rule, or procedure would require a student be given a grade different than the actual grade achieved. A violation of this Code section shall constitute an ethics violation reportable to the Professional Standards Commission pursuant to Part 10 of this article.

(b) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to prevent a principal or other local school administrator from discussing the grade of a student with a classroom teacher.

(c) Nothing in this Code section shall be construed to prevent a central office administrator, superintendent, or local school administrator from changing a student's grade. Any grade change made by a person other than the classroom teacher must be clearly indicated in the student's school records and must indicate the person responsible for making such grade change.

Anonymous said...


Not elegantly put.

I am pretty sure that in my south Dekalb neighborhood there are a small number (20-25%) that if taken care of would allow the rest of the school to do well.

We can't save everyone.

Anonymous said...

@ 5:04 People want the magnets to stop because of the inequity of funding and money spent per pupil. ALL students deserve to have a quality education, not just those in the magnet programs.

Anonymous said...

@6:03, are they spending more on magnets that on small elementary schools with less than 450 students? They are being subsidized by local dollars.

Anonymous said...

@6:16 I believe that the small schools that are not funded need to go as well. We do not have the money to spend to keep all of the schools that we have open. I do not feel that we need to raise our taxes to cover the loss that we will have in next year's budget, but spend what we have in a more efficient way.

Cerebration said...

FWIW - yes, small schools are gap-funded with local dollars. We all agree, they need consolidation.

But guess what. Magnet programs are also gap-funded with local dollars.

Anonymous said...

At 5:33
"The only thing missing are the facts that blacks have been in charge of (1) the purse-strings for the past decade and (2) the decision-making for the past decade. They have been doing this to their own people... I'm not aware of other cultural groups where you would find this"

You have never heard of mill towns, mining villages or serfdom maybe you should research these and get back to us about "other cultural groups" not doing thing to their own people.

Anonymous said...

Just out of curiosity, here is his PhD dissertation abstract. Sounds like a smart cookie!

Socialism, nationalism, and "the German question" from World War I to Locarno and beyond
by Blackwood, William Lee, Ph.D., Yale University, 1995 , 337 pages; AAT 9613970
Abstract (Summary)

Drawing on its Marxist identity, European social democracy consistently presented itself as an internationalist movement capable of pursuing goals rooted in working-class solidarity. Internationalism suffered a crushing defeat in August 1914, and the events of 1914-1918 laid the foundation for the permanent fracturing of the international working-class movement. The First World War also marked the victory of nationalist revolutions in East Central Europe. The defeat of the three imperial powers that had dominated the multinational region for over a century led to the emergence of new nation-states whose existence the peace treaties ending World War I officially sanctioned.

In international relations, "the German question" in East Central Europe thus took on a new form, as German territorial revisionism came to dominate diplomacy involving the region. European social democracy--traditionally subject to strong German influences--rejected the post-1918 territorial settlements in East Central Europe. As a result, Czechoslovak and Polish social democrats confronted the need to reconcile their ideological allegiance to working-class internationalism with their commitment to independent statehood.

This study addresses questions of international relations within the European social democratic movement, in the process demonstrating how socialism served German nationalism. After World War I, European social democracy formulated foreign policy prescriptions which subsequently found acceptance at the state level. The most important aspect of social democratic diplomacy lay in its willingness to countenance a bifurcation of the European continent into a stable, western part and an eastern part subject to change. This latter principle was inscribed into the interwar state structure by the Locarno treaties of October 1925, the most important diplomatic event in Europe before 1933. By focusing on the implications of social democratic theory and practice for state interests, this study also illustrates the divergent implications of social democratic internationalism for Czechoslovakia which succeeded in harnessing the International to serve Prague's official foreign policy, and Poland, which found itself alienated from European social democracy, the first institutional political movement to propagate European integration.

Anonymous said...

Now, let's not get offended by the truth to the point where it is not addressed. The leadership of DCSS has been predominantly African American for many years and yet black students continue to struggle. A problem that is not acknowledged will never be solved.

Anonymous said...

From what I know, Dr. Blackwood has had the misfortune of crossing paths with one "Dr." Terry McMullen, a demoted principal who is now an AP at SWD. McMullen is s shining example of DeKalb corruption at work. He practically got run out of his last job, and there were stories about misuse of Title I money and inappropriate behavior involving women. I can think of a no better DeKalb wake-up call: the obviously brilliant Dr. Blackwood telling it like it is (his students rave about his commitment to teaching)versus the inept, bumbling "Dr." Mcmullen (wonder where he got that title from?) who has no business living off the taxpayer's dime.

Anonymous said...

McMullen was the principal at Bethune Middle School where he was known as a control freak bumbler. Even assistant principals fled from his school! His cousin is "Skip" Nelloms, the demoted principal of MLK. "Skip" is now an assistant principal at Towers HS. There seems to be a genetic connection to failure as an administrator.

As I understand it, McMullen was not desired at SWD, but was just placed there without regard to the feelings of the current administrative staff. What principal or assistant principal wants a known loser administrator among their ranks so that they have to pick up the slack? And, why oh why, would McMullen be placed at a secondary school when his experience is at the middle school level. There is NO logical reasoning behind the personnel decisions made by the County Office.

Oh, and who can forget SWD's Area Coordinator, Angela Pringle, who was plucked from Gwinnett by Crawford just before Gwinnett was probably going to "release" her from her job. She had been removed from the high school where she was principal and was sitting at Gwinnett's County Office awaiting the results of the investigation being conducted on her principalship when DeKalb hired her. GO FIGURE.

Oh, yea, and who can forget that it was SWD's princpal who went to an Advanced Placement conference last year on behalf of an AP teacher at the school and received his award and recognition for him -- and then kindly informed him of it after she returned! He was not even afforded the opportunity to attend his own AP recognition ceremony. No one with any sense would EVER take a job teaching in DeKalb County!

Anonymous said...

"The only thing missing are the facts that blacks have been in charge of (1) the purse-strings for the past decade and (2) the decision-making for the past decade. They have been doing this to their own people... I'm not aware of other cultural groups where you would find this... "

LOL - Bernie Madoff who is Jewish made off (no pun intended) with $50,000,000,000 (i.e. the budget for 50 years of DeKalb Schools to put it in perspective) in his Ponzi scheme. Many if not most of his victims were Jewish. Saudi Arabia rulers reap most of the oil money for their extended family (and this includes thousands of relatives) at the expense of the common Saudi Arabians with their lip service to Muslim tenants, white televangelists like Jim Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Earl Paulk, Ted Haggard, etc. took advantage of their congregations while enriching themselves and indulging in the very "sins" they cautioned against. The Mafia is most successful in Italian-American neighborhoods. And the list goes on.....

Culture and affiliation (religious, racial, etc.) has EVERYTHING to do with TRUST in order to gain power and money, and it's a universal and equal opportunity phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

@6:03 and Cere

And how much actual "local dollars" does CCHS receive for its magnet program? Any idea? Gifted funding (ie the 1.66 FTE) doesn't count since that is a state funding formula. Transportation is a separate issue.

Anonymous said...

It does not make any sense that Dekalb African-American students are not more successful when the upper management is at least as reflects the racial demographic as African-American as the students.

Is this thread finally zeroing on the reason why other demographically like school districts are zooming ahead while Dekalb is regressing.

The school has a duty to educate not a duty to cover up.

DISCIPLINE: sanction, expel, fail instead of passing everyone would go a long way to fix things.

Anonymous said...

The SWD community needs to come out and address this crap. My child has had Dr. Blackwood. He is one of the best teachers around. Treats the children like thinking individuals and really pushes them. They were talking about his getting fired over the break. How do we wind up with these idiot administrators who then try to run off good people who obviously care? That artcile is an absolutely brilliant look at the problems we face as a community as far as education is concerned.

Anonymous said...

CCHS gets an additional 7 "local" points for being a magnet school.

Anonymous said...

The same Black intelligentsia that would have supported Dr. M. L. King needs to address this crap whether or not they have children in south Dekalb County or not.

Clearly many well educated and middle class parents have homes in South Dekalb but have their children in private schools or in a public school north of Memorial that reflect their values.

Anonymous said...

I say appoint Dr. Blackwood to an advisory body of some kind! He sure seems able to bring together a lot of issues in a way that makes you understand why public education is so important. He also makes our current "leadership" look like a bunch of fools.

Anonymous said...

Or they have them in Arabia Mt, the theme schools, etc.

The Black community in DeKalb is quickly segregating themselves.

Anonymous said...

One could ask - does Southwest DeKalb High School deserve someone of Mr. Blackwood's credentials and commitment, but then that woulln't be fair to his students.

I've worked with Southwest DeKalb High School students, and there are quite a few that would give any student in the state a run for their money.

Mr. Blackwood can get a job anywhere. He knows that. He just thought - or I hope thinks - he can make a difference at SWD HS. The students on the other hand are "stuck" there in a administrative nightmare.

My daughter went to Chamblee High School in the magnet program. Her absolutely best English teacher formerly taught at SWD HS. My daughter used to complain that she she was a great teacher but she marked up all her essays in red ink. I told my daughter that she might never find another English teacher who would take the time to actually teach her and the other 99 students how to be a fluent writer, and she needed to be thanking this teacher every day. This English teacher taught at SWD until she was castigated so much for insisting on high standards for her SWD students. It broke her heart when she moved on to Chamblee, but it was Chamblee students' gain and SWD students' loss. This teacher loved the students at SWD, but the administration didn't value her.

I knew a Freshman biology/AP bio teacher at SWD who had a Brown University degree and had worked in biology research at a major university before he decided to teach. His first teaching job was SWD. He loved his students, but he was stuck in a trailer for 2 years with no lab, and the principal gave him 34 students a class one year (over the state limit). When he protested that labs were essential to teaching biology and the safety of the students was compromised with these numbers, the principal brushed him aside. This ivy league biology graduate left at the end of the year to become the educational liaison for CNN.

I don't know what it is about SWD HS. Some of the brightest and best teachers absolutely love those students so the students must be something special. Then they get driven off by the worst administrators. I've seen this over and over. What is the problem with this school? I was so not surprised when I read this essay. It is so par for the course for Southwest DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

The different heads of subject areas should be checked out also because they are telling teachers how to deliver instruction to African-American kids in the these funny and worthless ways.

Anonymous said...

My son was very disappointed when he did not get Dr. Blackwood for AP European history. They gave the class to another man who isn't all that great. Dr. Blackwood speaks all kinds of crazy languages and is a true expert and scholar who knows how to communicate with young African-Americans. After reading his article, I am beginning to think they don't like him becuase he's so damned smart. IMHO that's crazy!

Anonymous said...

I was amazed by Mr. Blackwood's letter. It was well thought out and the message was compelling. I was also pleasantly surprised to find teachers of his caliber toiling away in the vineyards of a South DeKalb. It is somewhat disheartening to me to me that teachers with his education and talent are buried and we are presented with people like Dr. Beasley.

About five years ago there was a book by a young black man in which he described two black societies. There was the privileged one in which he was raised that went to private schools, had debuted balls, etc. They looked down on the rest of the blacks as being classless and essentially worthless.

Maybe the DCSS administrators think that they are the upper class, like the young man, and really want nothing to do with the children. More likely, they are nouveau upper-class, seeking to make it to the top.
And all of this is done with taxpayer money.

I hope that someone at SACS reads the letter from someone on the firing line actually dealing with two children rather than considering the 2500 pages of probably useless garbage provided by the administration. The letter tells much more about what is going on.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone ever wondered why the military is so successful at turning young men and women into effective and disciplined soldiers? It is very simple. Leaders are consistent. They establish clear expectations, rules, and consequences.

When you set high standards and uphold them, students usually rise to the challenge. They have to know that you mean business and will not pass them just because they are sitting in your class or Mom complains. School administrators and the CO need to back up their teachers. The first year you do this, there will be a lot of students sitting in summer school. The second year, you will have just a few because the word will go out.

As for school discipline the same basic rule applies. You set up the rules and consequences. THEN YOU ENFORCE THEM. It is a novel idea, but it does work.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 8:08 pm
"My child has had Dr. Blackwood. He is one of the best teachers around. Treats the children like thinking individuals and really pushes them. They were talking about his getting fired over the break. "

Did he get fired? I'm sure he could get a job anywhere - just like the other teachers I've known who left Southwest DeKalb who ended up with "better" jobs, but you wouldn't know the jobs were "better" because they missed the SWD students so much.

What is it about this school? It's lost some of the brightest and most motivated and talented teachers I've ever met. The saddest part is these teachers love the students and challenge them in ways they've never been challenged before. It's the administration who drive these great teachers away.

SWD is a school with many talented kids. The students want to use their minds. But the administration are among the poorest leaders I've ever seen. It's so incredibly unfair to the students.

Anonymous said...

Cereb @1:53 PM

And Mrs. Calloway walked away with her pension. She is now securely ensconced at the Leadership Academy (downstairs in the NBBC in a space rented by DCSS for $120,000 per year) drawing a salary of about $150,000. Also, her numerous relatives ply through the halls of The Palace drawing large salaries and undoubtedly will be pensioners forever to be supported by the dwindling number of the financially beleaguered DKC taxpayers.

Anonymous said...

Can we replace Beasley with Blackwood? Sounds like BW has a clue. Beasley's one of these brothers who can't represent too good.

Anonymous said...

I was in three of the better Dekalb schools several times in the past year as a DOE consultant. I saw students in the hall ways almost having full sex. I saw teachers at their desks doing computer stuff while students text-ed and watched porn and videos on old PCs. I talked to admin that were only interested in retiring soon. What a crap system!
All the BS I was told by the Admin and then in the classrooms I visited nothing was helping the students.

Anonymous said...

Oh, that's what we need--a consultant to weigh in with a bunch of hyperbolic observations. I'll stick with Dr. Blackwood's bleak but balanced view. Sure wish we had a say in the matter; he sounds like the type that we deperately need at the county office. Maybe Beasley can go teach at SWD.

Anonymous said...

9:42, I reread your post--maybe you were being facetious??

Anonymous said...

@ 10:06 I don't think Beasley has a teaching certificate.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:42

I suspect that the almost sex in the hallways will be found in many high schools across the nation.

Some problems you mentioned are peculiar to DCSS however. As far as teachers sitting at their computers, they were probably entering information into eSis, a computerized attendance/grading system that takes forever to go from one page to the next and requires teacher input up to 6 times a day, trying to finish or upload a complicated lesson plan template that the new head of Curriculum and Instruction requires of teachers, or emailing parents, a monumental task that has gotten so prolific with the administration's requirements that teachers despair of ever getting their emails done.

Those teachers were lucky that they even had a PC that could show videos. My son's PC didn't have the driver to show snippets of science videos he bought to illustrate specific science concepts. When he asked the CTSS to please download the driver, the CTSS told him he didn't know how to do it, and that my son would just have to forgo multimedia in the form of DVDs. In addition, his interactive board was functional for only a month, encountered a problem MIS knew about, and then it never worked again. The CTSS and other MIS personnel never bothered to fix it no matter how many trouble calls he put in on it. And yes he filled out the MIS form in the "Little Red Schoolhouse" in FirstClass. Finally, he was told it was fixed, but he was so frustrated by it not being dependable (sometimes worked - sometimes not) that he gave up even using it ((only a $3,000 piece of equipment).

My son left DCSS last year with my blessings. He really missed the kids, but he misses nothing about the system. He's amazed at how efficiently schools function at the new system he works for.

It's strange that the DOE is filled with so many ex-DCSS administrators in highly placed positions. They are all retired so perhaps those administrators you are speaking of will turn up at the DOE. I've been wondering lately if that's not what's partially wrong with Georgia's educational system.

BTW - my son was at one of the "best" schools in DCSS. So you can imagine what it's like in the others.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:13
You are correct. Dr. Beasley, DCSS's head of Curriculum and Instruction, does not have a teaching certificate. He does have a leadership certificate so he can supervise teachers, but he cannot teach students. If you want to see his certification, go to the Georgia Teacher Certification site and input his name - Morcease Beasley:

Anonymous said...

Back to the previous post about what was supposedly observed by this person claiming to work for the DOE--one of the few things that MIS has successfully done is to put a very strong internet filter on our network. Those kids watching porn? That didn't happen. You can't even google "breast cancer" and go to a related site from a DCSS computer.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration

"Briarlake - of the 412 students, 25 are labeled gifted."

Those figures are inaccurate. Briarlake has so many gifted students that they have a fulltime teacher for gifted. This would not happen unless there were a minimum of 80 to 90 students. We don't have that many dedicated gifted teachers in DCSS - 81 to be precise - so many gifted teachers have to take on 2 schools in order to "pay" for their position (this is actually what is stressed to gifted teachers). Obviously, 25 gifted students would not "pay" for the gifted teachers since gifted is funded at $1,300 to $1,800 a student (66% override on state funding per pupil which is around $3,000 a student) depending on how many hours they are served. Briarlake is my neighborhood school and I actually used to teach gifted there. We had around 100 gifted students and 1.5 teachers, and it hasn't changed that much. My understanding is that gifted teachers have had to take on even more students as the gifted teacher numbers have been cut.

Where is this information coming from?

Cerebration said...

From the approved 2010-11 budget on the DCSS website -

Check it out for yourself - search "Briarlake" or any other school you're interested in to see the FTE and points credits.

Cerebration said...

If you want to strictly look at the school allotments (points) then download this doc

All of these are found under superintendent - budget items accessible on the DCSS home page.

Cerebration said...

Chamblee MS is listed as having 233 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 3.00 extra locally funded points (teachers) for Magnet.

Chapel Hill MS is listed as having 116 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 2.00 extra locally funded points for Magnet.

Henderson MS is listed as having 200 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 0 extra locally funded points.

Peachtree MS is listed as having 234 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 0 extra locally funded points.

Chamblee HS is listed as having 100 gifted students and receives 7.0 extra locally funded teachers for Magnet. Chamblee also receives 1.0 federal funded ROTC point AND 1.0 locally funded ROTC point.

SW DeKalb HS is listed as having 32 gifted students and receives 6.0 extra locally funded teachers for Magnet. SW also receives 1.5 federal funded ROTC point AND 1.5 locally funded ROTC point.

Lakeside is listed as having 116 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Druid Hills is listed as having 24 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Tucker is listed as having 95 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Dunwoody is listed as having 178 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Anonymous said...

While there is a lot of good information here, there is also a lot of misinformation. Much of it comes from people looking at raw data and not having a full understanding of the background. As a result, many make assumption that are not based on all the facts.

Mr. Blackwood wrote a thought provoking piece that has many truths in it. It also contains some points that beg questions, such as what facts or data does he make his assertion that a majority of South DeKalb students fail to succeed in college? He also seems to suggest that many students will have a hard time assimilating in the mainstream society. I understand he is a very good teacher and has high expectations of his students. Perhaps his high expectations is contrary to the educational experience that some students have had up to that point in their lives.

Yes, there are pockets of affluence and prosperity in South DeKalb. Their are probably larger pockets of poverty and despair in that community Education can be the great equalizer if students take full advantage of it. Unfortunately there are too many cases of focusing of self esteem rather than mastery of content. Teachers with high expectations are sometimes pushed to lower their standards which ultimately compromises their effectiveness. As a result, some teachers become a part of the culture of low expectations and giving false hopes to many students regarding their knowledge of content.

Anonymous said...

If you are looking at "Gifted" teachers, it's a bit more difficult to decipher at the HS level. A school may qualify for a couple of Gifted teachers based on the number of identified students, but that doesn't mean that only that number of teachers teach Gifted kids. LHS has about 12 Gifted certified teachers, many of whom teach Gifted classes for part or most of their day.

Anonymous said...

Cere--I just posted re:LHS before reading your post regarding points. They have no Gifted points? Forget my explanation, then, as we need not consider how zero Gifted teachers are allotted.

Cerebration said...

No - we were looking at Local Funding - this is additional funding paid for with local funds - DCSS funds - for extra teachers due to the magnet programs. Apparently, principals handle the gifted services at regular schools in a variety of ways - this is obviously something that needs to be addressed and parents need to be assured that their gifted child in a regular school is getting as good an education as students enrolled in the "high achiever" magnets who won a seat in a lottery and may or may not be identified as gifted.

Cerebration said...

As I understand it, students labeled "gifted" mathematically count for about 1.6 times as much FTE credit as a "regular" high school student (1.0). All of these total points are combined to determine an FTE number - a point credit if you will - to be exchanged for teachers by the principal. Of course, the principal has to take into account all of the services required by law, such as special ed and gifted, so the principal must offer whatever will satisfy the law for those students and divvy up the rest.

Now, for the magnets - they are given several additional teachers which are paid with local funds - DCSS tax dollars. (Not state or local.) This is where the inequity comes in to play, IMO.

Cerebration said...

To clarify - the magnet's extra teachers are for magnet points. We just compare the gifted qualifications between schools, as the stated reasoning for the extra funding has always been because the magnets serve so many gifted students in one building... but as you can see - so do other schools - and those schools have to make due with the basic FTE points they accumulate - they don't get "extra" points for magnet or otherwise - except federal points for ROTC. (These points show in the boxes labeled "federal" and "local".)

(Someone had asked somewhere earlier to show where the extra local funding was for magnets - I don't think that person thought it was true.)

Anonymous said...

I used to think it was the teachers. But now I'm convinced. 90% of the problems are due to the parents. Garbage parenting = garbage students, and there's nothing the BEST teachers can do about it. Public schools = a failed social experiment. In another 20 years public schools will be like Medicaid: available as a last resort, but avoided at all costs.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration
Thanks. I went to your link.

Regarding Briarlake - they have a fulltime teacher who lists her schedule. I can guarantee no school in DCSS would have a full time gifted teacher with 25 students. Since 11.1% of DCSS students are classified as gifted, doesn't it seem odd that Briarlake, one of the highest achieving schools in DCSS would only have 6% of their students classified as gifted?

Another example is Oak Grove. It lists only 45 gifted students and an allotment of 2.81 teachers for this school. Is it realistic that a school like Oak Grove only has 45 gifted students? That's only 7% of their students while the average for DCSS is 11%.

Fernbank only has 45 gifted students on this list. When I taught there, we had 150 gifted students. That was some time ago, but it's gotten higher academically, not lower. And again 2.81 gifted teachers are allotted for gifted. Their website says 20 classroom teachers are also certified for gifted. This would not happen for 45 gifted students.

Look at Hawthorne, a very high achieving school, has 0 gifted students listed. But their website shows a Discovery teacher. I know her quite well. She told me not long ago they were hoping to have enough students to get her full time.

Look at Atherton. The FTE count says they have 0 gifted students, but looking at their school website, they have a gifted teacher who is there Mon. and Tues. for a full day and half day on Friday. She has a schedule for her grade levels.

This same FTE document says Browns Mill has 0 gifted students. Yet according to their website they have the Discovery program.

This document says Clifton has 0 gifted students, yet their website says they share a gifted teacher with McNair.

It says Austin has 70 and is allotted 4.38 teachers. Their website has 2 teachers just to teach the primary students. I'm assuming the 4th and 5th are served within the classroom.

Evansdale is listed as only 18 students, but has 3 Discovery teaches according to their website although one appears to teach art part time and gifted part time. Ms. Rios has been there forever and has so many students she only teachers 4th and 5th.

Henderson Mill says 8 gifted students, but their website lists a full time gifted teachers who has so many students that she depends on the classroom teachers certified in gifted "differentiating" instruction to help serve the 4th and 5th grade.

Livsey ES lists only 34 students, but the website says they have too many for the fulltime teacher so the ESOL teacher also gifted certified spends half her day teaching gifted as well.

Please note that almost all of the website state these gifted kids are only served 225 minutes a week (3.75 hours) so it's not like they're seeing the students an enormous amount of time.

There is something terribly wrong with these numbers. They are totally inaccurate as far as gifted is concerned.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line, in terms of the funding and the actual presence of gifted teachers and programs at schools is that there is 1) no oversight, 2) points are allotted by the central office, and 3) principals are spending the points as they see fit.

I can see that some principals are putting more money towards their gifted students, in terms of wanting a gifted coordinator and teachers with gifted certification on staff, than are others. Some schools are providing services to a few students, others are providing no services to a fairly large number of gifted students. For example, I'm at a school identified as having about 70 gifted students (elementary) but we have no Discovery program (e.g., gifted teacher providing in-class services). Instead, the administration has opted to simply have gifted certified teachers in a mixed level classroom, with the assumption that the needs of the gifted kids are being met.
Meanwhile, at schools less than 5 miles away, with smaller or comparable populations of gifted students, the approach is to have gifted certified teachers in the classroom in conjunction with pull-out with a gifted instructor twice a week.

Again, this is what I've been trying to say for months now. Many here are complaining about administrative transfers for reasons outside of being threatened (e.g., provision of services shouldn't have anything to do with these kinds of transfers) and also are opposed to to making KMS a true "gifted magnet." But there is a clear lack of consistency in provision of gifted services for these constituents across the county.

Clearly, these numbers indicate that all is NOT equal in Dekalb. And in no forum have I seen the administration willing to take this particular beast on...instead they simply respond that it is A) up to the principal of local schools how they spend these points (so too bad for those resident students if you don't earn a full point - you get no services) and B) some schools may have trouble providing services available at other schools if they "just don't have the numbers."

themommy said...

Each gifted student is worth either 1/5th or 1/6th extra of an FTE at the elementary level. Multiply those numbers by 6 to get a better picture. (It is possible that I am off on the fraction, but it gives you an idea about how it works.)

This only works at the elementary level -- no idea how to to do the math at the other levels.

Anonymous said...

Which school has a gifted coordinator?

Anonymous said...

Thank you Cere and all of the insightful contributors for this wonderful and desperately needed communication and educational forum. One thing stands out in all of the challenges we grapple with here. Dekalb County Schools (from leadership to schoolhouse to parents/students to community) desperately needs to define a REAL, practical definition and purpose for EDUCATION (beyond cute phrases and the "right" bubble on a test. Once this occurs, then out of this purpose will come a real guiding vision and plan for the growth,modernization,& rebirth of the system;(i.e. we'll have academic, attendance and discipline policies that are balanced and make sense) Then Dekalb can grow from the current ball of confusion, mistrust, and shame to become a system that inspires pride, full up to date education, community and a highway to the rest of the 21st century world.

Anonymous said...

And thank you for trying to get this interesting and valuable discussion back on track after it was derailed by ANON 11:28. All of you with your narrow, self-serving agendas, please allow discussions like this to progress without interjecting random, unrelated posts about your pet issues.
How about the next time someone posts a comment that is off topic we ignore it? Maybe they will get the hint...

Cerebration said...

I agree with you Anon 1:28 AM - something is wrong with these gifted numbers. I would suggest that gifted parent reps or PTA reps go over these points with your principals. The principal can pull the number of gifted labeled children in a building and give you the real number - then go to the board and ask for your funding for next year. Follow up - it's money that isn't getting to your school - your child. Something is definitely askew with these school allotments.

Anonymous said...

I suspect nothing immediately will happen to Ms. Blackwood, however, he has embarrassed the school system and in particular the administration at Southwest DeKalb High School with his observations (well deserved I can assure you, and certainly not confined to Southwest DeKalb High School).

Later, very quietly, the administration will look for evidence that he has not met some requirement (and teachers can never meet all requirements - there are some the administration does not even share with teachers - they learn about them in retrospect), and in the end he'll have to move on. That's if he has already not made his decision to leave this school. He sounds like a teacher who has already made that decision since he spoke out about the environment his students in.

It's a bizarre system when the female employee who took trips with Dr. Lewis on the county P card is still in a high ranking position, the employee who bought books with Title 1 money is still in an administrative position, the employee who denied that the math teacher who had her grades changed gave him proof (even after she secretly taped their conversation - see weblink below) was promoted, and the Internal Investigations Office director still has his six figure income even while "missing" the Pope/Reid, Lewis P-card, and Bookgate scandals.

When teachers and parents/taxpayers read about these scandals of high ranking officials who have nothing else to do but have affairs, take personal trips and buy their own books with money meant for the poorest of children, and either pressure teachers to change grades or do it themselves with impunity, the covenant between the taxpayers and the system is ripped a little bit more.

The BOE needs to clean house in the DCSS administration in order to regain the trust and repair the damage that has been done. It's had a devastating effect on students. Parents that are scrambling for cover are finding that it's getting harder and harder to find a "safe harbor" in DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

As I have said on previous posts: For a school to be successful, the teachers must have high expectations, challenge the children's minds and the school must have a high expectation of parental involvement. That's why the magnet schools are working. It is sad that more schoolhouses don't adopt these ingredients for their own schools.

Can you see now that if these three ingredients were present at all of our other schools, there would be no need to send kids to a magnet. You can't have two of the three.

Parental involvement doesn't mean stuffing envelopes and couriers, but that is sometimes what I have done. It means taking an ACTIVE INTEREST IN YOUR CHILD'S SCHOOL WORK. Being present in the schoolhouse, attend meetings for school issues, email teachers for updates and showing up unannounced to check the school out. Get to know the principal and be seen in the schoolhouse. I don't want to hear the "I have to work" stuff. You don't have to be there everyday, just make your presence known. Just because your kid is now a teenager, doesn't mean your homework is done. Check it out once a week, Do you know what they are learning? You might be surprised and angered.

Part of our problem is the dumbing down of the books. Have you read these things? Too many color pictures, commentary, stories and extras. They are difficult to follow and incomplete. I don't know about the textbooks for middle and high but I am betting they can't be too much different.

Cerebration said...


The DeKalb Board of Education will hold a public hearing & meetings on Tuesday, January 18, 2011:

10:00am Public Hearing pursuant to State Law O.C.G.A § 20-2-212-6
regarding the proposed salary increase for the Interim Superintendent
J. David Williamson Board Room
DCSS Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

10:30am Called Meeting to adjourn executive session to discuss a personnel matter
Cabinet Room
DCSS Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

11:30am Business Meeting (re-scheduled from January 10, 2011)
J. David Williamson Board Room
DCSS Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Anonymous said...

About webwasher and the "impossibility" of viewing inappropriate material: ask ANY student to take 30 seconds to show you the fix they use to get around webwasher.

I've heard a lot of discussion about Beasley's requirements, but not many of them have been shared with the public. This form must be filled out for every week's individual lessons and submitted to admin:

I. Before you meet to plan
 Determine the materials you will need to use in the planning sessions and who will bring them each time you meet. A suggested list is the following:
• Content textbook , TE, and supplementary resources
• Georgia End of Course Content Descriptors (EOCT) if applicable
• Georgia End of Course Performance Level Descriptors
• Georgia Performance Standards
• Marzano’s Nine High Yield Strategies That Affect Student Achievement
• Subject Instructional Calendars
• State Instructional Framework (Opening, Work Period, Closing)
II. Agree on planning norms (day and time to meet, location, who will bring materials, who will be timekeeper, who will write the final draft, who will type draft during meeting)
III. During the planning session (You should be typing as you plan the lesson.)
STEP 1 (10 min)
IV. Using the classroom profile, review the standards taught last week and the students’ performance level
V. Determine standards to be retaught
VI. Determine differentiated needed support students this week
VII. Identify what standards/elements should be explicitly taught using the pacing and content description guide
VIII. Create essential questions informed by the standard.
IX. Is there way to introduce this lesson with a hook to get students connected to the content?
X. Thoroughly discuss what students should know and be able to do as a result of this lesson.
XI. Determine the way you will provide direct instruction – model the strategy, offer a written model, do a think aloud, etc.
XII. Remember to use the LOTS (Language of the Standard throughout the day’s lesson)
XIII. Use real world applications
STEP 2 (20 min)
XIV. Use the timing of the Instructional Framework when planning the opening, work period, and closing. [opening: 15 min; minilesson: 20 min; work period: 40 min; closing: 15 min].
XV. Identify the research-based strategy(s) you will use for each part of the lesson
XVI. Determine how you will introduce and reinforce vocabulary needed for the lesson- how can you make use of the Word Wall as part of the lesson.
XVII. Make sure rigor is embedded throughout questioning and student tasks (refer to and document use of Bloom’s Taxonomy chart).
XVIII. Determine what you will use as formative assessment (closing- ex. exit tickets or questioning) of the lesson to adjust the work the next day if needed.
XIX. Make sure your sponge, mini-lesson, work period, and closing support your standard(s)/element(s) for the lesson – Remember that the work period is student-centered so who will be monitoring or conferencing with which students?
STEP 3 (10 min)
I. Are you using these resources: Promethean Board +(teacher and student use), games (jeopardy, matching, bingo) technology (senteos, LCD, airliners, manipulatives, docucamera, ipods) and assessment tasks such as anticipation guides, think-pair-share, jigsaw.
STEP 4 (5 min)
I. Summarize your list of who needs to do what to be prepared to teach the unit lessons

II. After the planning session(important for collaborative classes)

 Procure what you need to deliver effectively the unit lessons
 Equipment (technology)
Differentiatied materials
 (Station teaching work, alternate tests)
 Days to use
 Formative/summative assessments (rubrics, project/performance tasks created)

Anonymous said...

I am a retired teacher that has taught in the north and south end of the county. While teaching in the north end, I taught quite a few students who were there with special permission. Their parents wanted the best for their children and knew they would not get that at their home school in the south. The first thing I noticed when I began working at the Title 1 school in the south end, was the lack of discipline and expectations. Students were often inappropriately dressed, ran in the halls, and put minimal effort in classwork and homework. A lot of the students were many grade levels behind-just look at the test scores. The students know they willl not repeat, even if they fail the CRCT. We just pass them on. In my opinion, we need top-notch administrators( not dictators) in those schools that respect teachers that do a good job and get rid of the teachers that are incompetent. At the north end school where I taught, the parents would not have put up with some of the "sorry administrators and teachers" that are in the south end of the county. I am aware that a lot of the parents in these Title 1 schools are not as educated and involved, but wouldn't it be nice if the administrators in the county office would work harder to make sure that these students receive the help they need to succeed. I agree with Mr. Blackwood that we need to instruct these students that are grade levels behind in small groups with more teachers.We do not need to throw the money at America's Choice that has not worked to pull up the scores.There needs to be more consistency in enforcing the school rules, and it so important that there be high levels of expectations.Students need to get the grade they earned. I believe the students can meet these higher expectations, and can catch up academically with intensive small group instruction in reading and math.

Anonymous said...

@Cerebration: It's clear that the gifted numbers are unclear!

The Governor's Office of Student Achievement lists gifted students:

is the website. Choose a school, select Demographics, and then Selected Programs.

The numbers posted here, (232 at Oak Grove, 67 at Hawthorne, 571 at Chamblee Charter High School, 225 at Southwest DeKalb High School), are much more in line with what posters have observed.

The Vocational students are also listed on the Governor's site and are significantly larger than those listed on the DCSS budget site.

Cerebration said...

Interesting. So the official report to the state shows many more students labeled gifted than schools are given allotments for.

I wonder if the totals add up countywide? This is something someone should definitely look into. Anyone want to volunteer for duty?

Anonymous said...

I think Beasley's been watching Martha Stewart.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 10:09
"I believe the students can meet these higher expectations, and can catch up academically with intensive small group instruction in reading and math."

I'm retired as well and taught many students math and reading in regular ed. Intensive direct instruction with competent teachers will have the result of catching these students up. I can remember when the Title 1 math and the Title 1 reading teachers tested the small groups of students that enter their classes at the first of the teach. They gave them intensive instruction and at the end they were tested again to see how much ground they had gained. The responsibility of the Title 1 math and the Title 1 reading teachers in the schools was not to keep these children forever in their remedial programs. They were expected to show gains in their student achievement and within a year or two, students were expected to be on grade level, know the content and strategies that would allow them to be successful, and then move back into the regular education reading and math program.

We had much higher scores for our Economically Disadvantaged children and our Students with Disabilities group with this method.

The DCSS Office of School Improvement under Lewis and Berry has produced a steady decline in student achievement for the most vulnerable group of students. Why has the BOE approved Dr. Berry's every proposal to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on programs and non-teaching personnel that have not proven effective and in reality have caused a decline in achievement as time and money is drained from the regular education classroom - the last hope for these children?

Ms. Tyson should be placing every certified employee she can into the schoolhouse directly instructing students in the content areas of reading, math, science, and social studies. Every teacher and parent knows direct instruction is what is necessary for most students to succeed. Otherwise why would we even have teachers? I know it's really hard work to teach, but someone must get into the classes and instruct the students.

Anonymous said...

Remediation is what is needed.

DCSS seems to avoid this at the middle and high school level. Any teachers want to chime in as why this may be?

Titus Barik said...

Unfortunately, I don't believe that the Dekalb Administration has the education level necessary to comprehend Dr. Blackwood's remarks in the first place. Too many big words for them.

Like others, I too applaud Dr. Blackwood for coming forward.

Anonymous said...

Earlier poster re: in-school Gifted coordinator, I can speak only about HS, but each school is supposed to have one.

The GC oversees testing, for existing students and also those who come in from private schools (often the case with high school). The GC communicates with parents as to student progress, particularly if a student is on probation and may possibly be removed from the program. And this individual keeps each student's Gifted file, which contains all test scores from the time that the child entered school.

BUT there is no stipend associated with the position, so often no one takes the job, or--and yes, I have seen this happen--someone who is on the track to "leadership" will take the position as a resume builder.

I haven't seen much solid oversight of these students at the school level. It's ludicrous that there is no compensationn for such an important job! Class sponsors, coaches, club sponsors, all get a (well-deserved) stipend. But who is going to take this position and do a great job with it when there is no money associated with it?

Some principals may be "finding" funds. That can and does happen. But straight from the mouth of the county coordinator--"It's a volunteer position for the good of the students." (I declined to serve).

Anonymous said...

They don't want to hurt students' self esteem by placing them in classes labeled as remedial. At least that is what a principal told me.

I think part of it is that they don't want to acknowledge the extent of the problem and create remediation programs that would work. There is no textbook geared towards a remedial class, so someone (the team of instructional coaches, perhaps? would have to put something together. God forbid that we spend some time on something so vital--we have all of that other stuff (as described at9:55) to do. Smoke and mirrors.

When I taught at a Title I school, we tested the reading level of every kid every year. I got a printout that told me that most of my 10th grade students read on a third to fifth grade level. I was told to consider that when preparing my lessons. Sure, I had some ideas, but as has been mentioned in other threads, teaching reading is a specialized skill and one in which I am not trained.

The school has one reading teacher. One. But there are SAT prep classes being taught during the school day. I'm sorry but those should be after school or arguably not the school system's responsibility. Another example of focusing on the brighter kids and pretending that those whose lack of skills sometimes actually prevent them from graduating don't exist. And yes, many get disgusted and leave.

I did my best to help these kids. The school system did not.

Anonymous said...

Cere @ 10:13,

I'll start compiling state numbers and comparing with the gifted numbers in the MGT chart and numbers shown in the budget. I'll begin with elementary schools and at the top of the alphabet, in case you have other takers who want to start at HS or MS level.

Anonymous said...

@ I got a printout that told me that most of my 10th grade students read on a third to fifth grade level. I was told to consider that when preparing my lessons.

This is clearly more about the self-esteem of the high administration or the school administration AND NOT about the self-esteem of the student.

The self-esteem of the kid would be much higher if he/she could read at grade level instead of passing a 10th grade course engineered for a 5th grade reading comprehension!!!

Unfortunately, this is exactly what they are asking the Dr. Blackwoods to do: make pretend!


Anonymous said...

I wish we could shame DCSS to own up to the problem unveiled by Dr. Blackwood because owning up to the problem is the first step.

This discussion of gifted issues obscures this possibility.

Anonymous said...

11:41--exactly. And I firmly believe that a lot of behavior problems stem from the kids' struggling to comprehend the lessons. Seriously, why would a "bad" kid come to class evey day? They do want to learn. Then they get frustrated and act out. It's much more comfortable to convince both yourself and your peers that you are ill-behaved than stupid.

I am not suggesting that these kids are stupid--but that is how they perceive themselves when they cannot do grade-level work. They do not realize that they have been done a disservice and might actually have the same innate ability as others.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration
I couldn't find Mr. Blackwood's opinion piece in my print edition of the AJC Friday, Saturday or Sunday. Did it only run on the Internet version of the AJC?

Anonymous said...

The current title I approach is not bearing fruits to the level where it would make a palpable difference.

We need to set aside political correctness and varnish to fix the problem straight on.

Small groups pull-outs for reading and math with Title I funds coupled with strong and affectionate discipline will go a long way.

If we have to send away 10-20% via expulsion or alternative schools, so be it!

Maybe we can hire a school for profit to take of these 10-20% since these for profit schools claim to raise the dead.


Private school guy said...

With all the talk and blather coming from DCSS regarding and demending teaching being data driven it's time to pull the curtain back and show that this so called data is not effective and is simply creating stumbling blocks in the way of real and engaging learning. The scores on the standardized tests may reveal some truth. But the real truth will only be known in 10 to 20 years when graduates find that the time they spent in school did not prepare them for a career or life in general.
In the long run the schools are furthering the continued existence of a permanent underclass.

Anonymous said...

The article is in the OpEd section of today's print version of the AJC

Anonymous said...

This has to be one of the very best short discussion on what's really happening in education to appear in quite some time. Sure hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Anonymous said...

@11:48: Why does discussing gifted students preclude addressing the problems we have known about and eloquently described publicly by Mr. Blackwood? Why do we have to focus on one or the other?

The focus of the schools should be to help ALL students achieve to the best of their abilities. With high standards and a focus on education (rather than administrators and their buddies) there is no reason that we cannot address the needs of all kids. There simply has to be the desire.

I work in higher education. Trust me, kids are coming to this level being told that they have mastered material but are weak in the basics. These are students from all sides of the tracks, and if you make time for them, they master the material. There is NO reason that this cannot be done at these lower levels, and there is NO justification that is it not the focus of our administrators.

Anonymous said...


We know Dekalb Schools does not admit the issues raised in the OpEd.

The thread is about a courageous teacher's insight about problems not related to gifted education but basic education. ( I can't begin to imagine the welcome this teacher is going to get tomorrow!!---Let's make this sacrifice count!!)

By having this thread focus on the OpEd we can be sure that Tyson, Womack, Bowen, Speaks. McChesney, Elder, Jester, and walker can see truth or perception at the visceral and most basic levels.

You'll need another martyr for Gifted Education.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:42
"And thank you for trying to get this interesting and valuable discussion back on track after it was derailed by ANON 11:28. All of you with your narrow, self-serving agendas, ..."

I'm Anonymous 11:28 and please accept my apology. I was not tring to derail an important conversation. I actually thought I was on the "Gifted and Magnet School Data" thread when I posted inadvertently to this thread.

I'm very interested in this thread. Much of what Dr. Blackwood has described as an administrative over staffing nightmare has already been shown in research I did for many of the threads on this blog so his comments and others on this thread are personally very interesting.

One suggestion I would make to posters and those just reading this thread is to go to the numerous blogs in metro Atlanta and post this information and a link to Dr. Blackwood's essay. Post on your Facebook page and email friends your link to his essay. If you participate in a national education blog or one that has an interest in education, publish a comment regarding Dr. Blackwood and include the URL or link to his opinion piece.

Second, take a moment and email or call Ms. Tyson and the DCSS BOE members to express your concern with the issues Dr. Blackwood has brought to our attention. Jay Cunningham and Eugene Walker are the BOE members elected by the SWD HS community, but ALL BOE members bear the responsibility for ALL of our students because ALL BOE members hire the superintendent, approve every expenditures and every hire and every promotion and set the educational policy for DCSS. You can email them en masse by clicking on the link Cerebration has provided on the first page of the DeKalb Watch blog (right hand side). I'm assuming Cerebration has added the new BOE members to the email link.

Lastly, email your concerns to your state legislators who are trying to decrease the BOE to 5 or 7 members. If they have not read Dr. Blackwood's essay, they certainly should. The responsibility for the poor state of education in DCSS is squarely on the BOE members' shoulders. The BOE members control the school system, no one else. They are the ones responsible for student achievement.

Here's a link to finding your legislative representative:

..and then enter your zip code (all 9 digits) at the field at the top of the page and clock Go.

Dr. Blackwood is a social studies teacher. I'm sure he knows the value of active advocacy in our political system.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the reception that Dr. Blackwood will receive, I would like to offer a challenge.

Let this courageous man know how much his words are appreciated. the reception from his fellow teachers will be mixed; some will applaud and others will resent him for stating the hard truth.

CHALLENGE: When this man gets to work tomorrow, let him see a mailbox full of supportive emails. Please--everyone who is on this blog, send him a note. It can just be a sentence--"Thanks for speaking the truth."

Dr. Blackwood's email address is

(note the underscore between first and last names) You can email him by name via first class if you are a teacher, but know that "Big Brother DCSS" will have access.

There will be a lot of attitude swirling around at SWD tomorrow. Let's put something concrete in front of Dr. Blackwood so that he knows that those that matter appreciate him. I have already done so.

Anonymous said...

Look on DeKalb OJS Civil cases and see how many times and for what amounts Jesse "Jay" Cunningham has been sued or garnished for indebtedness, mostly relating to auto debt. Great that we have him helping to control a huge budget. 17 cases over the years taken to court for money and one for a protective order for domestic violence.

When are the voters of DeKalb going to wake up?

Case Search Results
Last Name First Name / MI Party Type Case ID* Type Court Style Filing Date Status
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 09G24391 State Garnishment State Ford Motor Credit Co Vs Jesse J Cunnington 28-JUL-2009 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 10G35599 State Garnishment State Ford Motor Vs Jesse J Cunningham 15-NOV-2010 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 03A11016 State Civil Suits State Ford Motor Vs Cunningham 08-SEP-2003 CLOSED
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 04G91364 State Garnishment State Ford Motor Credit Co Vs Jesse J Cunningham 01-SEP-2004 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 93A75228 State Civil Suits State Frank Jackson Lincoln Vs Cunningham 20-JUL-1993 CLOSED
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 07G08078 State Garnishment State Ford Motor Credit Vs Jesse J Cunningham 25-JUL-2007 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE J DEFENDANT 08G13210 State Garnishment State Ford Motor Vs Jesse J Cunningham 01-APR-2008 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE JAY DEFENDANT 01M81305 Magistrate Civil Suits Magistrate Cindy Mcqueary Vs Jesse Jay Cunningham 31-MAY-2001 CLOSED
CUNNINGHAM JESSE JAY DEFENDANT 01M85208 Magistrate Civil Suits Magistrate Bruce Webb Vs Jesse Jay Cunningham 13-NOV-2001 CLOSED
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 08G18581 State Garnishment State Ford Motor Vs Jesse J Cunningham 18-NOV-2008 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 08G19157 State Garnishment State Georgia Receivables Inc Vs Jesse Cunningham 12-DEC-2008 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 10G28373 State Garnishment State Georgia Receivables Vs Jesse Cunningham 13-JAN-2010 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 09G28373 State Garnishment State Georgia Receivables Vs Jesse Cunningham 13-JAN-2010 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 10D58256 Magistrate Dispossessory Magistrate Salem Crossing Shopping Center Vs Evelyn Phillip 16-AUG-2010 CLOSED
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 10G36434M Magistate Garnishment Magistrate Ga Recievables Inc Vs Jesse Cunningham 16-DEC-2010 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 02D60250 State Dispossessory State Lexington On The Green Vs Jesse Cunningham 18-MAR-2002 OPEN
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 97CV11173 Superior Domestic Relations Superior Cunningham Vs Cunningham (Se) 15-SEP-1997 CLOSED
CUNNINGHAM JESSE DEFENDANT 07A74296 State Civil Suits State American Express Vs Evelyn Phillip 18-SEP-2007 CLOSED

Anonymous said...

Add to that his FELONY conviction for embezzlement on the criminal side. Based on the civil and criminal court records, this guy couldn't get a job in the private sector.

Anonymous said...

For that matter, email Tyson et al in support of Blackwood. But first let him know. He needs to know.

I don't know the man; I wish I did. But I know what it's like to be a teacher who rocks the boat, and he has taken on a tidal wave.

Anonymous said...

"The thread is about a courageous teacher's insight about problems not related to gifted education but basic education. ( I can't begin to imagine the welcome this teacher is going to get tomorrow!!---Let's make this sacrifice count!!)"

EXACTLY. Maybe someone should send Dr. B a link to this blog!

Anonymous said...

I believe that remediation would not be as needed if the elementary curriculum had rigor and remediation was done at that level. The problem that I see is that we just keep passing people on without the necessary skills. If parents and children knew that DCSS was not going to keep passing kids on, than maybe they as well as the school would work harder to get the children to where they need to be.

Anonymous said...

"EXACTLY. Maybe someone should send Dr. B a link to this blog! "

That's not a bad idea. Morcease Beasley, head of DCSS Curriculum and Instruction:

Anonymous said...

I hope the SWD community wakes up to support this man. There are enough involved parents there.

Anonymous said...

1:33--too funny! I posted that someone should send Dr. B a link, and I meant Blackwood. But yeah, let's start letting Morcease know exactly what we think!

Anonymous said...

Make sure your fellow parents and teachers read this editorial. Give it the audience it deserves. I plan to copy it and place it in every teacher's mailbox at my school tomorrow.

And encourage them to contact Tyson and the BOE and ask for a response.

momofthree said...

Re Gifted FTE count - here is an excerpt from the Georgia Department of Education - Resource Manual for Gifted Education Services (

The FTE count is not a student "head count," but a "service" count. A Gifted FTE might
be one student served in a Gifted Education Program all day (one student X 6 segments = 6
segments = 1 FTE); or it might be six gifted students getting one segment of gifted
education service (6 students X one segment = 6 segments = 1 FTE); or it might be three
gifted students getting two segments of gifted education service (3 students X 2 segments =
6 segments = 1 FTE); or any other combination that equals 6 segments of instruction.
Twice a year (on the first Tuesday in October and the first Thursday in March) school
systems report the amounts and types of instruction they are providing, and those days
serve as samples for calculating systems' earnings from the state funding formulas. (There
is a third count for Special Education in December of each year.)

I also was trying to determine the number of students that have been categorized as "Gifted" but all I could uncover was the FTE reports. It is a data field in the database so there must be something somewhere. Another question is the number of students who would be eligible for High Achiever grouping and how many are really eligible for remedial services. I would be happy to help if you can offer your knowledge on data sources.

Anonymous said...

This document is posted on another teacher's website at SWDHS. The instructor is probably just following the policy recommended by the DCSS, but it is really sad!

1. You may retake TWO (2) tests this World History class.
2. You must come BEFORE SCHOOL (so come early, I am here by 7:25)
3. OR, you may take them during films I show. You must ask and be ready.
Circle the assignment number & Grade to be dropped.
1. Drop ONE low Test Grade. Remember, a zero is also a low grade. You can NOT drop the Midterm.
2. Drop ONE low Homework Grade. Remember a zero is
also a low grade.
3. Drop ONE low Classwork/Notebook Grade. Remember
a zero is also a low grade.
4. Drop one low Project Map Grade. Remember a zero is
also a low grade.
5. Drop one low Quiz Grade. Remember a zero is also a
low grade.
6. You MAY NOT—drop a film.
7. You MAY NOT—drop 2 or 3 of anything. You can’t drop extra tests, or homework or anything else.

Print student name __________________________________________________

Print Parent Name ____________________________________________________

Sign Parent Name_______________________________________________________________."

Anonymous said...

OMG that is outrageous! Roadmap to complacency. Wow. but yes, this is exactly what is required--just spelled out more formally than is usually the case. Wow.

Anonymous said...

Ladies and Gentlemen: We have found our new superintendent!

We fear however he would not be interested in inheriting this mess!

What say you Mr. Blackwood??

Jim Bohica Ben Dover

Anonymous said...

Chamblee MS is listed as having 233 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 3.00 extra locally funded points (teachers) for Magnet.

Chapel Hill MS is listed as having 116 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 2.00 extra locally funded points for Magnet.

Henderson MS is listed as having 200 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 0 extra locally funded points.

Peachtree MS is listed as having 234 gifted FTE credits and the school is awarded 0 extra locally funded points.

Chamblee HS is listed as having 100 gifted students and receives 7.0 extra locally funded teachers for Magnet. Chamblee also receives 1.0 federal funded ROTC point AND 1.0 locally funded ROTC point.

SW DeKalb HS is listed as having 32 gifted students and receives 6.0 extra locally funded teachers for Magnet. SW also receives 1.5 federal funded ROTC point AND 1.5 locally funded ROTC point.

Lakeside is listed as having 116 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

Druid Hills is listed as having 24 gifted FTE, but receives no extra points (except 1.0 for federally funded ROTC).

This is my problem with the "high achiever" magnet -- schools like Henderson, Peahctree, Druid Hills and Lakeside have more gifted points but are missing the extra magnet points-- the magnet points are funds by local dollars. Either the magnets need to be done on the same funding formula or they need to be dropped as it is not fair to the kids in the other buildings --including SWD.

Cerebration said...

Anon, I moved our comment about the gifted to the gifted thread. Let's try to keep the gifted conversation there -

Gifted and Magnet School Data Now Available

Anonymous said...

For the record, I too work at the school and the current principal of SWD has never even been to an AP convention to receive recognition for any teacher. She prefers to be in her building. Perhaps you are speaking of one of the principals that came before her or an assistant principal.
She is very sincere, upstanding and fair and is working diligently to change the culture of the school because she graduated from SWD and cares deeply for the school and community.

Some aspects of the article are true and many teachers probably feel this way, but remember, administrators have to work under the confines of the district. The movement to change the educational system will have to start from the top down.

Anonymous said...


As a teacher who works in Dekalb, I absolutely disagree that
"movement to change the educational system will have to start from the top down." Where would we be if Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King, as examples, had waited? Yes, we need the top to implement system-wide policies, but only when teachers-and others calling themselves educators-are willing to apply the very critical thinking we tout in the classroom will we see real, meaningful change.

Anonymous said...

The movement to change begins with the principal. If she/he truly does not agree with what DCSS wants, than she as well as teachers need to stand up and say no. Kowtowing to DCSS administrators is saying that it's okay to give the children an inferior education. I have spoken up at a faculty meeting before as a teacher against what was wanted of us, as it was a waste of time. Other teachers agreed, but sat quietly. Too many are afraid for their jobs. They sit and allow the same old DCSS stuff to continue. Until teachers rise up, speak up and fight for doing what is right for the children, I cannot call you professional. Professionals wouldn't allow what is happening to our children to continue and remain quiet.

It's time for an educational uprising in DCSS-throughout DCSS-for a bettering of education for ALL CHILDREN-not just those able to attend a "good school."

Working with a child from the Cyber Academy shows me that the education that children in DCSS are receiving is quite inferior to that of children in other states.

It's time for the rhetoric to stop, and for teachers to take a stand for providing the children with a quality education.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:22

"Some aspects of the article are true and many teachers probably feel this way, but remember, administrators have to work under the confines of the district. The movement to change the educational system will have to start from the top down."

So the SWD HS principal is not to blame. It is her supervisor Area Assistant Superintendent Angela Pringle:
TN: 678-676-2826

Or Ms. Pringle's supervisor Deputy Superintendent Robert (Bob) Moseley:

Or perhaps it is Mr. Moseley's supervisor Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson:

Or perhaps it was Ms. Tyson, the DCSS BOE. That's where the buck stops.

I can agree that much of the blame rests on the Central Office and the BOE for failed educational policies. Now are they willing to take responsibility for the lack of student success in south DeKalb high schools or noy?

Wasn't Angela Pringle principal of Arabia Mtn. and before that of Lakeside High School? Seems that I recall there was a controversy regarding her tenure at Lakeside.

Going through this exercise I used the DCSS organizational chart. If Dr. Brookwood thought the administration within the schoolhouse is bloated, he shouldake a look at this "upper management organizational chart (and it only lists the Superintendents and Directors in DCSS):

The sad part about these layers of bureaucracy is that Ms. Tyson and the members of "upper management" and most of the BOE members think education occurs in meetings between administrators in their offices.

Anonymous said...

"Wasn't Angela Pringle principal of Arabia Mtn. and before that of Lakeside High School? Seems that I recall there was a controversy regarding her tenure at Lakeside."

Let's clear this up right away. Angela Moton, current principal of Lithonia High School, was the former principal at Lakeside. Dr. Pringle is still the current principal at Arabia Mountain while also serving as Area Superintendent.

Anonymous said...


You have your Angelas confused. Lakeside had Angela Moton and Stephenson (and Arabia Mountain)had Angela Pringle

Anonymous said...

For the record, I believe that Angela Moton truly cared about the students....

Cerebration said...

Dr King would agree with you, Anon 5:41

Ever notice the MLK quote waaaay at the bottom of the right side panel of the home page of this blog?

Never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

The man was profound.

Cerebration said...

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cerebration said...

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Martin Luther King, Jr.


Feel free to add more MLK quotes!

Anonymous said...

Dr. Blackwood is kind of like MLK. Why does it take a white man with no real stake in the community to stand up and finally say the right thing?

Cerebration said...

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dr. Blackwood realizes that we all have something at stake here.

Anonymous said...

I really liked the idea of emailing the teacher who wrote the editorial. Has anyone done it? I hope so.

Anonymous said...

Tomorrow, we will all know whether there is indeed freedom of speech in Dekalb County.

We will also find out what Georgia Byzantine labor laws will be used to protect the Dekalb County Schools' reputation now inexorably exposed in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The question is: how will it silence this courageous voice and other voices willing to speak in spite of the consequences?

Storm clouds are gathering near and far. If there is to be a reckoning ahead, this metropolis' law firms "... raging for CASH,
With Ate by THEIR side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with TRUTH's voice
Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth

Remember teachers that "until the day of his death, no man can be sure of his courage."

Anonymous said...

Here's a link to a case from about 10 years ago in Gwinnett in which the public came to bat for the teacher.... he is still teaching 4th grade at the same school.

Cerebration said...

Pondering another King quote -

I found this Dr. King quote startling. And not to get preachy - but it's what I think Jesus would have said - and what his challenge actually was to everyone to give away all of your possessions.

Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

Can anyone actually do that? Would we as a society possibly consider eliminating poverty? Tall order...and a scary one. People have their nails deeply embedded in their "things"... But, if we truly want to mend what ails our society, we will have to give up some personal comfort - and extend a very big hand up.

In “Final Words of Advice” from 1967, King asserted directly:

“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income. . . . We are likely to find that the problems of housing and education, instead of preceding the elimination of poverty, will themselves be affected if poverty is first abolished.”

21st Century Segregation: Inverting King’s Dream

Cerebration said...

You know, along that line of thinking, Fernbank is trying to do the right thing. They continue to say - ADD ON! We'll take on ALL the students in our area! And they could! So why not take their challenge? Add on to Fernbank - make it one of our 900 student elementary schools that are written in the goals. Sell the other properties or make them parks. Instead of diluting Fernbank - let them grow! They WANT the challenge and they are more than qualified to take on the challenge. I predict they would be very successful if given the challenge.

Anonymous said...

You left part of the your link off.

Anonymous said...

That's weird, but it looks like it cut the "e" in half.

Jones, My Opinion said...

Way to go, Mr. Blackwood! For all of your "concern," you've played right into the hands of the malfactors. The tone of your opinion conveyed no empathy or plan of action in terms of making wrongs-right. You simply point fingers and then indicate that you live in Decatur city. As such, it's not really your problem. That's the take-away.

On this 25th anniversary of the federal holiday for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, one can only marvel at the sense of timing of the AJC posting that Op-Ed piece. It's almost as if a subliminal barometer fell lower and lower while reading Mr. Blackwood's opinion.

Well, thank goodness that Dr. King wasn't an elitist or someone who whined about helping a people in a great need of help. Although from a middle-class background, Dr. King understood the factors which caused so many African-Americans to fare far lower on the socio-economic strata. He chose to do something, help somebody. In choosing that, he helped all of us.

The scathing indictment offered by Mr. Blackwood is a self-indulgent venting session. As a teacher, he should've aired his personal grievances, thoughts, and a plan of action within the system. Especially, since he is currently working there.? What are the students, faculty, and administration to think now?

The problems of south DeKalb county are the problems of the country, which are the problems of the home. There are so many things to address, choosing to atttack by targeting one area is definitely not the answer.

Let's all do our part by edifying, not destroying...

Jones, My Opinion

Anonymous said...

How about not closing Medlock, putting it and Fernbank together and expanding the PY IB program to even more kids? Dunwoody folks - is there a problem with splitting elementary grades between two schools?

Cerebration said...

Good idea - - while we wait for the addition to be built onto Fernbank. The reason to have all 900 students in the same building is to save on administrative costs. Two separate schools require 2 principals, more APs, counselors, cafeteria staff, janitorial, etc...

Anonymous said...

Commend for courage, yes. He obviously is throwing up his hands and expects to be fired or vilified.

Author receives a "C"--gets credit for courage and spirit--and understanding the issues.
Extra credit for knowing how to feed into the AJC's anti-DCSS "piling on" agenda (social hot-buttons).

The article itself was incoherent: not clear what the primary point was; leaves the allusion to "ghetto" from the standpoint of a school or school system to the imagination of the reader; and I needed a deep breath to finish reading most sentences. (as you must reading this one).

It was also written in a way that only people accutely aware of the problems in the public education establishment would understand.
(like the readers here)

Anonymous said...

@1:00, Excellent analysis and perspective! I'll admit I read the commentary several times and got a different understanding each time. It is a good piece but can be hard to determine the writer's primary objective.

Sandy Spruill said...

Dr. Blackwood has generously allowed me to share his personal e-mail address:

You can safely write to this e-mail address without worrying that DCSS is copying and saving Dr. Blackwood's DCSS e-mail, as well as anything else that shows up on his DCSS computer screen.

In return, may I suggest the following to those who want to contact Dr. Blackwood personally:

(1) use your real name
(2) provide a phone number
(3) provide a means of verifying that you are who you say you are -- for example, a local home address
(4) write from your personal e-mail address, NOT from a DCSS e-mail address

It should go without saying that, whether or not you agree with or understand what Dr. Blackwood wrote, civility is expected.

Personally I admire Dr. Blackwood for calling out the elephant in the room and I am in awe of his courage.

Where do you stand? Consider this poignant quote on courage from MASH:
"Frank, do you know what a hero is? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he's somebody who's tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough to not give a damn [about consequences]. I don't give a damn." - Hawkeye

Anonymous said...

Whole lotta comments already:

Anonymous said...

I appreciate Dr. Blackwood's efforts. I don't know what he has against word walls. They can be useful when you want to make sure your students pick up on key vocabulary that they wouldn't get in their normal life. Council of Trent for instance or Federalist

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr. Blackwood for your courage. I have often posted here (anonymous DCSS teacher, of course), too afraid to leave my name.

Your comments have shamed me. How easy it has been for me to sit at home at my computer in the evenings, complaining about the sorry state of affairs at my school. Yet I have become a participant in the evil of DCSS. When I allow the fear of losing my job to govern my actions, I am no better than Crawford Lewis or Frankie Callaway or the many others who exploit the system for personal gain at the expense of the community.

I have seethed silently while administrators have forced grade changes. I have caved to the interminable meaningless demands in order to protect myself. Again, you have shamed me.


A Cowardly Lion
In Search of the Wizard :)

Anonymous said...

@4:56 PM

Will these walls of knowledge be present at the SAT testing sites or the AP World History testing sites?

As stated why is alright to assume that the innate intelligence and abilities of my Black children are somehow so different than majority children as to need a crutch?

Is there a special university that provides word walls? Should I get my Black children to apply there?

I want to give my children the full light of the sun not just the pale light of the moon!

The Dream endures!

Anonymous said...

@ 9:32 AM

I know elitists, I work with elitists, I have slept with elitists. That Blackwood is no elitist.

1. Elitists don't take their 6-month baby-girl to a moon-less SWD football game in the drizzling rain.

2. Elitists don't ride their bike in the inner-cities without a police escort especially before daylight or after dark.

3. Elitists don't drive pre-2006 Korean cars.(Prius is Japanese)

4. Elitists don't work as teachers.

But on the other hand:

1. Elitists usually ask for salaries way above their degree of competence.

2. Fellow Elitists usually approve for salaries way above their degree of competence for other elitists.

3. Finally, elitists think that SWD students cannot measure up unless they are "painting a moonscape by the numbers".

Anonymous said...

@ 7:29 Well said!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:50pm aka Cowardly Lion

Be shamed not!

Remaining anonymous to survive should be no reason for you to hang your head in shame! You and "we" on this blog know the vindictive nature of the DCSS administration. Their tentacles, much like a jelly fish, extend much further then we realize.

To be honest, we don't believe we are necessarily safe behind this thinly veiled cloak of anonymity here on the blog but it is what it is.

Did you serve your clients to the best of your ability considering the circumstances you are forced to work under?

If the answer is yes, then hold your head high. You have no reason to be ashamed.


Jim Bohica Ben Dover

Anonymous said...

Title 1 Fraud