Monday, February 28, 2011

DCSS Stonewalls on Open Records Request -- Let Your Legislators Know!

From Jim Walls' AJC column ... now published on his blog, Atlanta Unfiltered ...

"DeKalb County schools are in the [public] education business, but they haven’t learned to adhere to Georgia’s Open Meetings Act [and Open Records Act] [that apply to all public agencies]. School officials can't produce minutes of two meetings where a controversial salary audit was discussed, nor the audit's executive summary that was supposedly kept in the official file of a third meeting."

Right here ... right now is where DCSS must be stopped.

DCSS administrators are misspending millions of dollars -- most of which is going, if not into their own pockets, then to undertalented, overpaid friends-and-family. They are smugly confident that they can and they will continue to get away with it. The BOE has and continues to enable them.

Please write your elected state and federal officials and ask them to step in and initiate prosecution of DCSS and the BOE (including previous BOE members back to 2004) by the Georgia Attorney General. There is no point in writing the BOE because they won't do anything.

From the first time this information was requested -- and that goes back at least to a verbal request (completely acceptable under the Open Records Act) made to Ramona Tyson by Shayna Steinfeld in an open meeting of the Emory LaVista Parent Council on September 15, 2010 -- DCSS has stonewalled. See Emory LaVista Parent Council minutes and Community Radar. There must be something very big and very wrong in the original salary study -- something for which Tyson and her Palace Guards are willing to risk life-changing, career-ending prosecution to keep hidden.

If we don't draw a line in the sand now -- then when will we?

If not now, then when? If not us, then who?

Meanwhile, DCSS continues to hemorrhage millions of dollars and turn out thousands of students who are barely educated, if that.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who DCSS Spends Its Millions of SPLOST With

SPLOST is coming up again. It's been a disaster on multiple occasions, as evidenced by the fact that the last person in charge of it, Pat Pope, is now under RICO indictment for criminal enterprise.

-DCSS Chair Tom Bowen picked David Moody, a construction company owner, to chair the Citizen's Advisory Committee, as advisory board for school construction projects. Bowen picked Moody, even though Moody still wants to bid on DCSS projections. Have you ever seen a more massive conflict of interest? Nice decision making and professional ethics, Tom Bowen and David Moody.

Moody's role in DeKalb construction case a twisting tale

AJC Investigation

"Moody plans to continue to bid on construction projects while he is on the committee"

"Pat Pope is friends with Moody and officials at Turner Construction, her husband has told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Moody, who declined to comment for this article, has worked on 19 DeKalb school construction projects since 2003, collecting nearly $40 million, documents show."

“You always want to maintain the appearance of propriety,” Orson said. “In order to build public trust, you need to instill the public’s trust. And you can’t instill the public’s trust if you include the people you’re overseeing as part of the oversight group.”
-No one from DCSS caught architect Vince Pope, Pat's then husband, working on DCSS projects. Way to do your job, head of DCSS Internal Affairs/State Sen. Ron Ramsey and defacto head of Internal Affairs, DCSS retiree but still making full time salary Robert Tucker.
-Architect Robert Brown, an insider's insider, who was the reason a few years back that the $9 million Southwest DeKalb High project ended up costing taxpayers $21 million dollars, still gets DCSS contracts. Even though he is a Directors Emeritus of the DeKalb County Public School Foundation, the main fundraising arm of the school system. It's nice to be an insider.
-Now word comes out that a construction company that often gets DCSS construction contracts, HJ Russell, a longtime DCSS favorite, may alledgedly be a proverbial "slum landlord".

Again, DCSS loves HJR:

"H.J. Russell & Company and its excellent staff repeatedly met or exceeded all of our expectations during the pre-construction, construction and post-construction phases on several school projects totaling over $53 million dollars. Many of these projects had significant cost and sequencing challenges that Russell worked through in a collaborative manner with the school system and the design team."

Stanley J. Pritchett, Sr., Ed.D., Deputy Superintendent

But read this, and ask yourself, would you give this company millions of SPLOST dollars?

Majority ownership of Bethel is controlled by H.J. Russell and Company, a massive real estate development and property management firm based in Atlanta. This sets Bethel apart from other local public housing, which is managed by the Athens Housing Authority, a seemingly well-funded and sufficiently staffed agency whose only job is to operate and maintain public housing in Athens—except for Bethel. H.J. Russell, on the other hand, is an absentee landlord with what can only be described as divided attention. The company’s web page proudly announces its high-profile construction and development projects for multi-billion dollar global corporations, while Bethel appears to be an afterthought. Big-ticket crime prevention needs, such as an entrance gate that actually works (Bethel's gate opening onto College Avenue routinely sits wide open in disrepair), are rarely met, if at all. Even simple weather stripping is difficult to convince Russell to provide: residents complain about inexplicably high heating bills (as much as $300–$400 per winter month for the small units) while cold air enters unhindered through cracks around doors and windows.

To be fair, Russell has pitched in lately on G.E.D. and “leadership” classes for Bethel residents, spending a reported $16,000 on the educational measures. The threat of closure—loudest in early 2009, when ACC Police Chief Jack Lumpkin and County Attorney Bill Berryman sent a letter to H.J. Russell threatening to condemn the property if the company didn't take measures to reduce crime there—seems to have managed to loosen Russell’s purse strings somewhat, but the company still shies from the substantial construction costs involved in assuredly securing the neighborhood. The residents agree that the current gate’s design is flawed, as its large swinging doors act as sails in the wind and are often wrenched open. A new, sliding gate is needed, they say. Others suggest a more ambitious plan, with the gate moved from its College Avenue location. But seeing as residents have waited for over a year for minor repairs on the existing gate, it is unlikely that Russell will eagerly step up with a final, expensive replacement. To hire an off-duty police officer as a guard, the group agrees, is the only sure way to ensure that outside crime stays outside. Russell did employ off-duty ACC police officers for a short time with great success, but the company soon ended the practice, citing costs.

Do you trust this Board of Education and this Central Office to properly, responsibly and ethically spend hundreds of millions of your tax dollars for another SPLOST?

Friday, February 25, 2011

“Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians”

DCSS has “too many chiefs and not enough Indians”. The figures below show why certified teachers must vacate the classroom and stop teaching our children in order to get ahead in DCSS. These numbers come from the state Report Card web pages. They reflect the number and pay of certified personnel in the DeKalb County School System as well as a comparison with the other metro Atlanta school systems.

8,200+ DCSS employees hold current certificates with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, almost all being teaching certificates, yet only 6,374 are fulltime teachers.

Looking at Average Annual Salary (benefits NOT included), Average Daily Salary, and numbers of certified personnel over the last three years, Teachers (and therefore students) have borne the brunt of cost cutting in this recession. The result of a constant reduction in teaching positions rather than sharply decreasing admin and support personnel has been increased class sizes and decreased student achievement.

These figures illustrate that the way to make the most money, have the most job security, and bear the least responsibility for student achievement is to get out of and stay out of the classroom.

*Note that Support (no supervisory duties) personnel work only 7 more days a year than Teachers, yet they make over $10,000 more in Average Annual Salary than Teachers.

DCSS Certified Administrators, Support Personnel and Teachers - Number of Employees and Average Salary

Administrative 2007-08
Administrative 2008-09
Administrative 2009-10
Fulltime number
Average Annual Salary
Average Contract Days
Average Daily Salary

Support 2007-08
Support 2008-09
Support 2009-10
Fulltime number
Average Annual Salary
Average Contract Days
Average Daily Salary

Teachers 2007-08
Teachers 2008-09
Teachers 2009-10
Fulltime number
Average Annual Salary
Average Contract Days
Average Daily Salary

Since Teachers are the employees who instruct our students and are TOTALLY responsible for making AYP, it seems obvious that DCSS has lost its focus.

Many posters have said their BOE members want statistics before they will admit our administrative and support group is overstaffed and overpaid while our teacher group is understaffed. Please refer them to these statistics the state has required DCSS to provide. These statistics have been subsequently posted on the state DOE website by the state of Georgia DOE Information Technology group.

Mrs. Tyson needs to begin and the new superintendent needs to continue to right size our ratio of Staff (admin and support) to Teacher personnel as well as right size the pay schedule for the admin and support group. Maybe this will encourage the BOE to press Mrs. Tyson for that missing 2004 Compensation audit. Perhaps Mrs. Tyson and the BOE will understand why they should have authorized an up-to-date Compensation audit last spring conducted by an independent accounting firm with no ties to the school system administration or the BOE.

Comparing the DCSS 2010 numbers of certified personnel to other Atlanta metro area systems, we have a lower Teacher to Staff ratio than any other metro system with the exception of Atlanta Public Schools, a system that is arguably not a model of fiscal responsibility. In other words, DCSS’s 4:1 Teacher to Staff ratio means that for every five DCSS teachers, we have one employee who is certified to teach, but does not do so.

In simpler terms, 20% of our personnel certified to teach do not instruct a single student.

Look at this comparison of DCSS with the other metro systems (be sure to click on the Personnel and Fiscal tab):

DeKalb Schools:
A. Enrollment: 96,678
B. Fulltime administrators: 518
C. Fulltime Support Personnel: 911
D. Fulltime Teachers: 6,374
E. Staff to Teacher Ratio: 4:1

Gwinnett Schools:

A. Enrollment: 158,438
B. Fulltime administrators: 644
C. Fulltime Support Personnel: 674
D. Fulltime Teachers: 10,484
E. Staff to Teacher Ratio: 8:1

Fulton Schools:
A. Enrollment: 88,446
B. Fulltime administrators: 370
C. Fulltime Support Personnel: 553
D. Fulltime Teachers: 5,919
E. Staff to Teacher Ratio: 6:1

Cobb Schools:
A. Enrollment: 106,574
B. Fulltime administrators: 411
C. Fulltime Support Personnel: 757
D. Fulltime Teachers: 7,773
E. Staff to Teacher Ratio: 6:1

Clayton Schools:
A. Enrollment: 49,381
B. Fulltime administrators: 282
C. Fulltime Support Personnel: 272
D. Fulltime Teachers: 3,565
E. Staff to Teacher Ratio: 6:1

Atlanta Public Schools:
A. Enrollment: 47,944
B. Fulltime administrators: 470
C. Fulltime Support Personnel: 364
D. Fulltime Teachers: 3,728
E. Staff to Teacher Ratio: 4:1

What happens when an organization like DCSS has “Too Many Chiefs and Not Enough Indians?”

The result of directing a disproportionate percent of our certified admin and support personnel into non-teaching positions has been and will continue to be detrimental for DCSS students in terms of student achievement, the ONLY reason for our school system to exist. Until Mrs. Tyson and the BOE address this situation, our students’ achievement will continue to be the lowest in metro Atlanta.

(Source: the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement web pages – links provided in this article – click on the Personnel and Fiscal tab)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Why? Here's Why ...

Guest Post by Lucy Ke
I live in DeKalb. My child has been in one DeKalb public school and one independent school within the Atlanta region. As a parent, I was active in both. I also went through regional and local leadership training, in part to educate myself on a personal question:
Why do our elected officials pay lip service in exaltation of public education and then totally fail us in protecting and enhancing it? What keeps any of us from seeing the link between public education and economic development?
I may’ve learned the reasons why.
I’m not sure if this is Georgia politics, all politics, or just human nature, but here’s why I think nothing gets done to support or improve public ed, especially when it’s in a slow-mo crash like it is in DeKalb:
The more the merrier. Let’s get a committee or task force together to study / oppose / watchdog the personalities and the issues of public ed. Let’s dilute the original grassroots energy to resolve the real problems. Let’s study the minutiae and then self-congratulate on the tiniest steps forward. Let’s forget the questions that brought us together in the first place and allow ourselves to become repurposed, from a Mustang into a jalopy.
To even engage with grassroots efforts to improve and defend DeKalb’s public ed entails jumping into an alphabet soup of groups, and some of them are sham, like Hollywood-set storefronts for other agendas.
Nervous Nellie leaders. Elected officials see public education as labor-intensive, costly, and emotionally charged, so it’s easier to tapdance around it. Express concern but promise nothing concrete or actionable, and tapdance around it. Eventually, the elected officials advance to other roles or skulk into obscurity, but the problems of public ed remain.
Our teachers know because guess who’s left holding the bag, year in, year out?
C’mon. As adults you know what’s right, and you know what’s wrong. What’s happening in DeKalb schools is wrong, it’s as wrong as it can be, and we need to be vocal about it. Don’t just express outrage among yourselves.
Let your elected representatives know how you feel about this cesspool, and ask them what you and they will do about it. And then make sure they do their part. Don’t let them just advise you on a good course of action, like it’s your schtick and nothing to do with them. I’m sick and tired of elected officials acting like summer camp civics counselors to concerned grassroots parents and activists.
Math problems. I’m always astonished by our elected officials’ inability to do the simple math: if you were elected in 1998, the 8-year-olds who watched their parents vote for you then are old enough to vote for you now. These young constituents may be in college, in their first jobs, or out of work because they dropped out of high school.
I ask each local public servant, If you are not now an expert on DeKalb’s public ed issues, then when will you be up to speed? What else could be more important for DeKalb? Do you think you can get anything done with a thinly educated workforce that’s been raised on a systemwide obsession with standardized testing?
Placid and passive groups. If you’re an active parent, you know who these groups are. Their raison d’etre is to represent teachers’ interests or to safeguard standards, but they often remind me of NATO forces in 1994 Rwanda — good show of presence and intention, then pull back or pull out when the massacres begin, and lament problems with “logistics capability.” Thus they prefer to steer clear of local controversies and do not express indignation or outrage over the betrayals (eg, a school superintendent who, with several of his colleagues, stole in a brazen and systematic fashion from the students and teachers of this county, and a school board whose subsequent responses can best be described as profound stupidity).
A “village” of complacency and inaction permitted Crawford Lewis & Co. to happen, and that will continue long after those sentences are passed out and served.
I’m more worried about the residue—the current school board; the DeKalb school system’s bloated size; and a grossly underserved teacher population.
Lucy Ke is a parent in DeKalb County.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Even HOPE is cutting back

Deal unveils cuts for HOPE, pre-K

The AJC is reporting that the lottery funded HOPE scholarship is not able to keep up with rising tuition costs. Therefore, the decision has been made to cut back a bit on HOPE scholarships and make the requirements more stringent.

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday unveiled sweeping cuts to the popular scholarship program, many of which could kick in as early as fall.

A major change would cut scholarships for potentially 180,000 of Georgia's 200,000 HOPE scholars to 90 percent of current tuition levels -- a move that has current and future students mulling their finances, and, some feeling short-changed.

If the cuts are passed it means a HOPE recipient would have to come up with hundreds of dollars to cover tuition and mandatory fees now covered by the scholarship. For example, a HOPE scholar at the University of Georgia would have to pay $353 out-of-pocket to cover a semester's tuition based on today's rates. Additionally, that student would have to find a way to pay for more than $400 in mandatory fees per semester for services such as transportation, health care and student activities. Tuition and fees for next academic year could increase, which would raise even further what students would pay.

The change will take effect this fall and will effect all students, even those currently enjoying a 100% HOPE scholarship.

Another AJC article, called Drastic cuts unveiled for HOPE, pre-K gives a bit more detail.

Only the brightest of college students – those with at least a 3.7 high school GPA – will see HOPE cover all tuition, Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday morning as he released a drastic plan to cut escalating costs to the popular lottery-funded program.

For those earning at least a 3.0, the scholarship will cover at most 90 percent.

As for pre-K, parents will see the free program cut from 6 ½ hours to four, Deal said, adding that the change will allow the state to open more slots to the program.

"We're taking action today to strengthen the HOPE balance sheet," Deal said, as he stood before a podium that read: Enduring HOPE.

Deal released his proposal at Georgia State University’s student center, with students mixed in with the media. He shared the podium with representatives from both parties. The changes, he said, would save about $300 million.

There are multiple other changes for HOPE, most of which go into effect this fall:
  • Decouples from tuition. Students earning at least a 3.0 will see the scholarship cover 90 percent of current fiscal year 2011 tuition rates.
  • Ties future scholarship amounts to lottery revenue, not tuition rates.
  • Cuts private college award from $4,000 to $3,600.
  • Creates the Zell Miller Scholarship. Students with at least a 3.7 GPA and 1200 SAT or 26 on ACT will get full tuition at public colleges and $4,000 to private colleges. Students will need to maintain a 3.5 to keep the scholarship.
  • Eliminates money for books or mandatory fees.
  • Caps payout to 127 hours for HOPE scholarship and 63 semesters for the HOPE grant. Students will a post-secondary degree will be ineligible for the technical grant.
  • Requires high school students to take "rigorous" classes to qualify for HOPE. This will begin this fall with incoming high school freshmen.

The transfer policy: Is it clear yet?

Below is part of the text of the new board policy regarding transfers.

Click here to view the proposed policy (Descriptor Code:JBCC) in it's entirety.  This policy is "ready for action" and will be voted on at the next board meeting.

F. Children of Full-Time District Employees

Subject to review by the Office of Student Assignment , a student whose custodial parent or legal guardian is a full-time school-based employee of the District may enroll in the school in which the parent or legal guardian is employed, regardless of whether the employee and student reside in this or another school district. Transportation will not be provided by the District. Children of employees who do not reside in the District will not be required to pay tuition.

A student whose custodial parent or legal guardian is a full-time school-based employee at a theme school may enter the lottery to attend the respective theme school, regardless of the student’s residence. The student must comply with the school’s published admissions procedures.

Because of the unique nature of magnet programs, which have special admission criteria and competitive selection processes, children of magnet program employees will be given no special preference in the application or lottery process for admission to the respective magnet program. Students wishing to enroll in the program must follow the published admission procedures and meet the admission criteria for the program. Moreover, because of the special cost to the District in providing magnet programs, these programs are limited to students who reside in the District.

This provision does not apply to pre-K programs.

It still isn't clear to me what the transfer policy is for employees of the central office, Sam Moss Center or other areas, where employees can technically be assigned to a school as part of a cost center, yet not actually spend their day in that school building. I wish the policy for those people was spelled out more clearly.

And the little throwaway line about pre-K is mysterious.

Visit the link above and read the policy.  Then submit your thoughts on it in the box at the bottom of the page.

Harvard Study Questions Lack of Vocational Education

According to a new Harvard study, American students lack vocational skills that would help them in obtaining jobs that do not require a college degree. Inspired by the European educational system, the study contends that students should begin planning their future career path as early as their middle-school years. If the students determine that they are no planning to pursue a 4-year college degree, then they should begin vocational training, perhaps even earlier.

For those who may question the proposition of pushing kids into vocational programs for fear of their being held to lesser expectations, the authors offer another perspective. Is it no more inappropriate to push difficult college-preparatory courses on students who have absolutely no intention of pursuing a college career? Regardless, the authors feel that students should have the option of changing their educational and career paths at their own discretion.

Robert Schwartz, one of the study’s co-authors was previously a champion of the “college for all” approach to education.

According to higher education policy analyst Sandy Baum, in a world where plumbers are needed, we shouldn’t “be nervous about directing people in that route.” The idea, in his mind, should be to enhance and create opportunities and options for everyone. Baum added, “What we’d like is a system where people of all backgrounds could choose to be plumbers or philosophers.” Baum’s contention is that the options should be available.


The study, "Pathways to Prosperity," states that the current system of education is not adequately preparing students for the real world, said project director William C. Symonds, The Harvard Crimson reported.

"The 'one-size-fits-all' model just doesn't work for everybody," Symonds said. "There's a variety of pathways to success."

Spearheaded by Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Robert B. Schwartz, the report found that "many young adults lack the skills and work ethic needed for many jobs that pay a middle-class wage" and noted that the teen employment rate is 28.6 percent, the lowest it has been since the Great Depression.


Harvard Study Questions Lack of Vocational Education

Pathways to Prosperity Seeks to Redefine American Education System

Harvard report says students need to be better prepared for college

Monday, February 21, 2011

Redistricting Hearings Scheduled

Sent: Mon, February 21, 2011 10:04:08 AM
Subject: DeKalb Schools - Redistricting and Consolidation Public Hearings

Greetings ~

On Tuesday, March 1, 2011 and Thursday, March 3, 2011, DeKalb County School System will host public hearings regarding the Superintendent’s Recommendations (February 7, 2011) for the Proposed 2011-12 School Year Redistricting and Consolidation plan. The public hearings will be held both days at 6:30 pm at the Administrative and Instructional Complex Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA 30083.

The goal of the public hearings is to provide a fair and equitable opportunity for citizens representing all regions of the DeKalb County School District to comment on the Superintendent’s February 7th
recommendations concerning the redistricting and consolidation plan. DeKalb County citizens are encouraged to come out and express their opinion on the Superintendent’s recommendation. Each person will have an opportunity to provide their opinion on a public comment form. There will
also be opportunities for speaking.

(Below) please find a document outlining the process for the upcoming public hearings on March 1 and March 3. Beginning today, February 21, the team will start receiving calls and conclude taking requests by Friday, February 25 at 3:00 pm. Speakers will be notified by 5:00 pm on Monday, February 28, 2011 via email or phone.

For more information on the Superintendent’s recommendation, please go to:

Ramona H. Tyson
Interim Superintendent
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083
678-676-0010 office
678-676-0709 fax


Public Hearings on the Superintendent’s Recommendations (February 7, 2011)
for the Proposed 2011-12 School Year Redistricting and Consolidation

Tuesday, March 1, 2011 6:30 P.M.

Administrative and Instructional Complex
Board Room
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

The goal of the public hearings is to provide a fair and equitable opportunity for citizens representing all regions of the DeKalb County School District to comment on the Superintendent’s February 7th recommendations concerning the redistricting and consolidation plan.

Please come out and express your opinion on the Superintendent’s recommendation. Each person will have an opportunity to provide their opinion on a public comment form. There will be opportunities for speaking.

You can sign up to speak by either pre-registering or signing up at the public hearing:

1. Pre-register (the first 38 speakers at each meeting), by either:

a. Going online 24 hours a day from 9:00 AM Monday February 21 until 3:00 PM Friday, February 25 at or

b. Calling 678-875-2000:

9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Monday February 21, 2011;
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Tuesday February 22, 2011;
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Wednesday February 23, 2011;
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM Thursday February 24, 2011; and
9:00 AM – 3:00 PM Friday February 25, 2011.

c. The online/phone registration process will ask you to provide your name, the high school cluster you reside in, zip code of your residence, and email or phone number (in case we need to contact you).

d. A map of high school clusters can be found at

e. Two persons each night from each cluster will be randomly chosen from all of the online requests to speak from that cluster.

f. Those selected to speak will be notified by 5:00 PM on Monday February 28, 2011 via email or phone.

2. Sign up at the meeting (the second set of 38 speakers at each meeting):

a. Accepting speaking request forms from 5:30 PM until 7:15 PM that night at the meeting.

b. The person at the registration will ask you to write your name, the high school cluster you reside in, and zip code of your residence on the form.

c. Two speakers (and alternates) from each of the 19 high school clusters will be randomly chosen each night from those who sign up at the meeting.

A short presentation on the Superintendent’s recommendation will be followed by 76 speakers, each who will have 90 seconds to speak.

Thursday, March 3, 2011 6:30 P.M.

Administrative and Instructional Complex
Board Room
1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

For more information on the Superintendent’s recommendation, please go to:

Math Survey

The AJC tells us that State School Superintendent John Barge plans to ask the state school board to vote to reinstate the traditional math courses (often referred to as discreet math courses) on the state-approved, state-funded course list with the intention of allowing local school officials to decide which courses they want to teach. In response, DCSS' Dept. Superintendent Morcease Beasley sent out this memo:

From DCSS Dept. Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Morcease Beasley

From: MORCEASE J. BEASLEY Wednesday, February 16, 2011 6:12:10 PM
Subject: Parent Feedback on Discreet Math Option
To: HS Principals 10-11 MS Principals 10-11
Cc: ALICE A. THOMPSON Woods, Walter

To: MS and HS Principals

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

Re: Parent Feedback on Discreet (Traditional) Math Option

All MS and HS parents are requested to share feedback on the district's intention to offer the discreet math option (referred to as the traditional approach) using the CCGPS/CCSS appropriately sequenced for such an option if the state BOE approves to grant such flexibility. This discreet math approach would be offered to incoming 9th graders beginning the 2011-12 school year. Parents may share feedback by going to the district's website or by utilizing the link below.


And then from a differnt email he sent:

The discreet math approach, taught using the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) sequenced as appropriate, would be as follows:

9th Grade Course Intermediate Algebra with Statics
10th Grade Course Geometry and Statistics
11th Grade Course Advanced Algebra and Statistics
12th Grade Course Multiple Course Offerings in Mathematics


To take the survey, click here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rut-row! Looks like there could be trouble for DCSS and SPLOST IV

Mayor, schools at odds over penny

By Nancy Badertscher and Kristina Torres

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A potential showdown between Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and Atlanta Public Schools over a penny in sales tax could jeopardize nearly $1.5 billion worth of school construction, maintenance and technology for the city and surrounding school systems, including Fulton and DeKalb counties.

In an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Reed said the penny — which over nearly 15 years has helped build or renovate 84 city schools or other buildings, among other projects — instead needs to go to a regional transportation plan expected to be put to voters next year.

The penny is in play because it expires next year. Reed doesn’t want the city school system to seek to renew it as voters also consider the transportation tax. If both were to pass, the city would have the state’s highest sales tax at 9 percent and would be at a competitive disadvantage, the mayor said.

“Obviously, I’m very concerned about renewing the 1 percent sales tax in the city [for education] and then adding another penny,” Reed said.

The showdown looms as the city’s school board must decide whether to join with Fulton, DeKalb and the city of Decatur to ask voters to continue using the 1-cent-on-the-dollar sales tax to fund capital needs. The tax started in 1997 and has been renewed twice. The three other systems, which all want the sales tax to continue, cannot seek a referendum to do that without Atlanta schools’ participation.

Click here to read more.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

DeKalb's Ramona Tyson makes list of influential black woman

(This is from the AJC - I'm sure he meant "women"...)

Anyway -

Ramona Tyson, DeKalb County Schools interim superintendent, was selected as one of Atlanta Business League’s 100 Top Black Women of Influence. Tyson along with the other honorees will be recognized at a breakfast Tuesday at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta. The list singles out women who are leading entrepreneurs or have influence over large public bodies. Read the entire list at .

Friday, February 18, 2011

A Community Discussion with Wendy Kopp, Teach for America

With opening remarks by Mayor Kasim Reed
Moderated by Dr. Beverly Tatum, President of Spelman College
With an infusion of federal funding to raise student achievement, four Metro Atlanta School districts searching for new superintendents, and with persistent achievement gaps along racial and economic lines, this is a moment of great opportunity and challenge for public education in our community. Across the nation, state governments and school districts are experimenting with a number of possible solutions – from reduced class sizes and greater funding, to higher standards and increased accountability. Join us for a discussion on what works, and what doesn’t, in providing an excellent education for all with Teach For America Founder and CEO, Wendy Kopp.
This event is inspired by Wendy's recent book A Chance to Make History. Informed by twenty years of experience in urban and rural schools and communities, A Chance to Make History moves us beyond current debates and blame games and provides hope that we can ensure educational opportunity for all of our nation’s children, regardless of their racial or economic background.

Click here to Register

Monday, March 7, 2011 from 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

Doors open at 6:00 PM

Rich Auditorium at Woodruff Arts Center
1280 Peachtree Street Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30309

Seating may be limited... Register today!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Coaching Teachers: What You Need to Know - From Education Week

by Elena Aguilar 

Last spring, a major study suggested that putting literacy coaches in schools can help boost students’ reading skills by as much as 32 percent over three years. This four-year, nationwide research project affirmed what many of us who have been coached—or who are coaches—know: Instructional coaching works.

Or rather, it can work if the conditions are right.

Six years ago, I began coaching at the school where I was then teaching. I coached and taught for three years, and then became a full-time instructional coach at another middle school. I’d like to share some of the things I’ve learned about instructional coaching, with the hope that these insights might be helpful to those who have recently become coaches or who are considering doing so.

An alternate title for this piece could be, "If Only I Had Known."

Basically the author, an instructional coach states:

Coaching is really, really hard. Most coaches receive no preparation: It’s still rare to find classes to take or credentials to pursue, and not much is written about the practice. I’ve seen many strong teachers plucked out of classrooms and catapulted into coaching; but an effective teacher of children isn’t automatically effective at leading adults through learning.

Coaches need training and on-going professional development. There is so much a coach needs to know: how to observe instruction, give feedback to teachers, model and debrief lessons, facilitate meetings, and present information. Coaches also need to know a lot about how adults learn and they need to be exceptional communicators.

The "why" for coaching must be made very clear by the principal. Coaching should be presented by the principal as an "effectiveness builder," not a deficit-filler. A coach’s work should be aligned with the school’s goals, and also needs to be shaped by the teacher—from what he/she wants support around. But it’s critical that the principal articulates why a coach was hired, what the coach is supposed to do, and how teachers are expected to work with the coach. When the "why" for coaching is vague, the coach’s impact will be limited.

The "what" of coaching also needs articulation. A coach’s roles and responsibilities need to be created (or co-created with the administration) and then shared with teachers and staff members. If not, coaches are likely to be asked, "What exactly do you do?" and then asked to make photocopies, sub for absent teachers, put up bulletin boards, and so on.
The reality in under-resourced schools is that coaches are often used in many ways. We may pull students for intervention or diagnostic testing, gather and analyze data, compile resources for parents, or even put up bulletin boards. But it is imperative that when a coach is working individually with a teacher that there be a clear definition of what that work is and that everyone understands when "coaching" is taking place.

So what is coaching? Essentially, coaching is a process that can move a person from where he is to where he wants to be. A coach needs to "enroll" a teacher—get him brought into the process. A teacher has to want it. This must be said because coaching cannot be mandated (principals may need to be reminded of this at times).

Coaching is about listening.

Effective coaches aren’t over-directive.

"Without trust there can be no coaching," write Rafael Echeverría and Julio Olalla in The Art of Ontological Coaching. While this is undeniable, it also presents a tricky conundrum that must be addressed. A principal may see the coach as part of and accountable to the administration. Yet in order for coaching to be effective, teachers need to be able to completely trust a coach and know that what is said and observed will not be repeated to the principal.

Coaching can be transformative. I coach because I want to see massive improvements in the outcomes and experiences for children in our schools. As a classroom teacher, I could influence 50 kids a year. As a coach, working with teachers, my work has impacted hundreds of students. Now, I also coach principals. I like thinking about the numbers, knowing that I can possibly change the lives of thousands of students for the better.

I’m starting to see the impact of my coaching, and I would dare to say that in some instances it has been transformative. Our education system is deeply flawed and seriously broken in places, but it is fixable. In order to repair it, we need to pay attention to every part and every person. Coaching is a way to heal and transform our public schools.

Elena Aguilar has taught elementary, middle, and high school, and is currently a School Improvement Coach in the Oakland Unified School District. Her recent articles for Education Week Teacher include, "How Teachers Can Build Emotional Resilience" and "Teaching Secrets: First Days in the Elementary Classroom."

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DeKalb Farm to School Stakeholders Meeting

Did you know farm to school programs help kids to eat healthier and support family farms? Did you know healthy kids are smarter kids? Attend the first DeKalb Farm to School meeting, and  find out more about other initiatives in the U.S. and Georgia,  and what it takes to launch a farm to school program.

Participants will learn about local resources and share their own farm to school projects. Challenges, opportunities and first steps for DeKalb County will be explored, and the group will begin planning a strategy for the DeKalb County Farm to School program.   This first meeting will be facilitated by Georgia Organics.

When:  March 23, 2011. 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Why: to review Farm to School opportunities, challenges and next steps for DeKalb County; and to leverage the help and expertise of community volunteers.
Where:  Fernbank Elementary 157 Heaton Park Dr NE Atlanta, GA 30307-1399 (in the cafeteria)
Who: Anybody who is interested in participating in a DeKalb County Farm to School program. Parents, teachers, school nutrition staff, administrators, community members, Master Gardeners, farmers, organizations, government agencies, etc.

RSVP and Questions:   Contact Rosalie Ezekiel at