In DeKalb County, parents have no chance starting a charter school (just ask the awesome parents who founded The Museum School of Avondale), unless it's a charter run by old DCSS administrators (The DeKalb Leadership Prep Academy, located on the New Birth campus, for which we pay New Birth $10,000 a mont in rent, is run by former DCSS Central Office administrator, the disgraced Frankie Callaway, check this out on Frankie).
But the Fulton County School System, our neighbor, which is as diverse as DCSS, and faces our same financial issues, isn't as closed minded about charter schools.
Can you imagine any DCS Central Office bureuacrat ever saying somehting along these lines?
"Martha Greenway, deputy superintendent for organizational advancement, said the feedback from parents and staff showed an interest in more flexibility in the delivery of instruction, providing the potential for more innovative learning via the Internet, in-the-field experiences and hands-on experience. There were calls for more foreign language and music programs and for teachers to be evaluated more on performance and less on years of service, Greenway said."
Can you imagine this in our county: "Among student groups, one of the stated priorities was a system that promotes teachers who are really engaged and committed to student learning, something that might not have always been achieved in the past, she said."
Can you imagine a Central Office and Board of Education who trusts parents, who are open to change, who don't have to micro-manage and waste tens of millions on crap like eSIS, America's Chpice and the Audria Berry-led Office of School Improvement?
If Fulton can, then we can darn sure do it here in DeKalb!
P.S. Fulton's Supt. Cindy Loe is retiring from Fulton. How about asking her to come over here to Dekalb for a few years!!
Fulton appears set to switch to charter schools
The Fulton County school board appears ready to make a push to become the largest system in the state to take the charter school tenets of flexibility and increased parental involvement system-wide.
Board members don't officially vote until Feb. 24 on whether to petition the state to become one of Georgia's first charter school systems, as well as its biggest with 92,000 students. But at a board retreat last week, the consensus of the majority was to proceed, officials said.
"I feel good about moving forward to develop more specifics of the petition," Linda Schultz, school board chairwoman, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
School Superintendent Cindy Loe said she's also supportive of going ahead with plans for the system to become a charter system.
"I think it could be a great thing for the system and for the community as a whole to rally around," Loe said, "and I think that there are great potentials for continuing to improve student achievement from having that support and buy-in from the community."
Currently, eight of the state's 180 public school districts -- city systems Cartersville, Decatur, Gainesville and Marietta, plus Floyd, Putnam, Warren and White counties -- are state-approved charter school systems, with school-level control over budgets, programs, personnel and innovation. Several other systems have pending charter applications.
All systems have until 2013 to pick one of three paths: retaining the status quo or becoming either an IE2 system or a charter system.
Last year, Fulton nixed the idea of becoming an IE2 system, which presents with the potential for greater flexibility from state rules but a top-down administrative approach. The status quo was never considered a viable option.
Board members solicited feedback from the public last fall on the pros and pitfalls of a charter system. Nine hundred people appeared at a series of public forums. Eighty others submitted written comments and more than 70 students weighed in as well.
"I was impressed by the quality of suggestions that we received during the forums," Schultz said. "It was clear to me that our staff, parents and community felt we could improve student achievement with additional flexibility in specific areas."
School board members have said they want the switch to a charter system to be cost-neutral. One of the next steps would likely be considering each recommendation for what rule changes might be required and what expenses might be involved, Loe said.
For example, one of the frequent themes in the feedback was the desire for smaller class sizes, she said. That would not require a rule change, but it would have to be pointed out that reducing class sizes means hiring more teachers, Loe said.
"Class size is so expensive, that would be a hard thing to do," she said.
Martha Greenway, deputy superintendent for organizational advancement, said the feedback from parents and staff showed an interest in more flexibility in the delivery of instruction, providing the potential for more innovative learning via the Internet, in-the-field experiences and hands-on experience.
There were calls for more foreign language and music programs and for teachers to be evaluated more on performance and less on years of service, Greenway said.
Among student groups, one of the stated priorities was a system that promotes teachers who are really engaged and committed to student learning, something that might not have always been achieved in the past, she said.
Loe said a lot of ground still has to be covered before the transition to a charter system starts, which would be August 2012 at the earliest.
"We're still on track for that possibility, if everything keeps looking positive," she said.
Here are the Georgia Schools of Excellence. I believe this is the first time I've ever seen this list not contain even one school from DeKalb:
GREATEST GAINS: Schools that demonstrate the greatest continuous gains in student achievement for the past three years as measured by assessments in reading and mathematics
St Simons Elementary, Glynn County
Schley County Middle/High School, Schley County
Long Cane Elementary, Troup County
Holcomb Bridge Middle School, Fulton County
Westside Middle School, Barrow County
Gray Elementary School, Jones County
Lula Elementary School, Hall County
Lavonia Elementary School, Franklin County
Bremen High School, Bremen City
Oglethorpe Charter Middle School, Savannah-Chatham
Morrow Elementary School, Clayton County
TOP 10%: Schools that are in the top 10 percent of schools in Georgia as measured by assessments in reading and mathematics
Britt David Magnet Elementary School, Muscogee County
Jackson Elementary School, Atlanta Public Schools
Crabapple Crossing Elementary School, Fulton County
Lassiter High School, Cobb County
Parkview High School, Gwinnett County
Simpson Elementary School, Gwinnett County
Lake Joy Elementary School, Houston County
South Forsyth Middle School, Forsyth County
Malcolm Bridge Elementary School, Oconee County
Marietta Center for Advanced Academics, Marietta City
Savannah Arts High School, Savannah-Chatham
Congratulations to these schools.
I've heard bits and pieces about the battle the Museum School parent went through. Can anyone give me the rundown of what happened, and how they finally got permission to officially start the school?
I am on the Charter committee to update and review our charter at North Spring Charter High School. I will let you guys know how it goes. I am real excited to be a part of the process and I am interesting in learning in detail about the process more.
We are going to try to improve our charter and continue it despite the school sytem becoming a charter.
Would becoming a charter district allow for the complete dismantling of the Office of School Improvement and the army of unnecessary teacher coaches along with the Office of Curriculum and Development or whatever Beasley's job and department are? If we could get rid of these two departments than schools would be able to come up with innovative ways to make students achieve and learn the Georgia standards.
The problem is that the DCSS officials are intellectually capable of writing a charter district petition.
@Anon 5:05 According to the Georgia DOE site, Schools that have been recognized as a Georgia School of Excellence in the past five years are not eligible to win again UNLESS the only school or schools eligible to receive the honor in a certain district have won within the last five years.
I hope this explains why DeKalb schools are not included.
@ Anonymous 8:24 PM
Surely you mean,"The problem is that the DCSS officials are intellectually INcapable of writing a charter district petition."
Yup. That is what I meant.
I beg to differ about DCCS being incapable of writing charter petitions. While some may be incapable, they are resourceful!Obviously someone wrote the one for Leadership Academy. There is a Phi Beta Kappa administrator on staff whose capabilities have not been utilized to the fullest. There are others who are capable but obviously those in power are threatened by them.
What they are very capable of is insulting the intelligence of parents and taxpayers. They are also capable of and are perturbing almost an entire county of parents and taxpayers who have the best interests of the children at heart.
When you really think about it, how can a few unscrupulous people seem to be so powerful while those who provide the monies to fund their lifestyles stand helplessly by? I am a senior adult who must carefully budget in order to pay property taxes, utilities, while others enjoy the fruits of my labor. While looking at the salaries, I could not believe that an unskilled warehouseman makes 77k! This is going on not only in this school system but in state government with our elected officials (public servants)being treated to lavish gifts, trips, and meals by the lobbyists.
Showing up in record numbers to voice dissatisfaction and becoming organized with strategies is how to put an end to this unbelievable mess!
The Museum School was denied a charter by the county, but the state gave them one. They also wanted to rent the old Forrest Hills and were denied access to that by the county as well.
I would like to see legislation introduced whereby charters MUST use or MUST be allowed to use vacant county school buildings before paying exorbitant amounts of rent to others.
Has any BOE member discussed how these vacant properties can be utilized rather than spending money to maintain them?
Does the public get a vote in the path the county chooses? Have these conversations been started/completed (I missed them if they did)? At this point, I do not trust our elected board to make a decision this important.
There already is a law that requires school systems to make unused schools available to charters. However, it is poorly written, and as first ICS then TMS learned when trying to rent the closed Forrest Hills, school systems can effectively comply and not comply at the same time by making the buildings "available" at very unfavorable terms with regard to cost and lenghth of lease.
Or you can just have friends in the right place and get 10 grand a month for your church from DCSS to run a "separate" school administered by a disgraced former county official. :)
The Museum School was denied a charter by the district because they wanted to restrict their attendance zone to the 30002 zip code ONLY. They didn't even want to open the attendance area up to the two elementary school zones that they cited in their charter repeatedly as being the reason that they wanted to open a charter school. The district advised them that they would have to open the zone up to the entire county & that change was not made. The charter was denied, and they took their argument to the State Charter Commission. Lo and behold, the State Charter Commission told them the SAME thing...and they changed their attendance zone.
The district didn't have a problem with The Museum School's charter, just the appearance that it was intended to be a school for a particular area of the county (which is not allowed under charter regulations).
Looked at one way, TMS parents were trying to create the neighborhood school they had been denied by DCSS's repeated rebuffing of their attempts to work with Forrest Hills and Avondale. This view coincides with how Avondale sees itself.
Looked at another way, TMS parents specifically sought to exclude poor kids, like the refugee kids that attend ICS, literally across the street. This view coincides with the private enlarged drainage ditch, er, lake image Avondale too often projects.
Looked at a third way, the TMS parents really should have looked at how it looked to people besides themselves when they tried to make TMS exclusive. :)
Hawthorne parents are looking into this.
The Museum School of Avondale Estates began as an initiative by local parents empowered to create an innovative, quality public school located in or near their own community. The movement was based on school choice and the desire to offer another quality public option in the community – to serve as many children as possible while maintaining the mission to create a community school.
Diversity is an important characteristic of The Museum School, and school and board leadership are, and will always be, committed to ensuring a diverse population of students, staff and board members.
In the process of planning the school, organizers quickly realized that opening the attendance zone to all of DeKalb County would, within a few short years and possibly immediately, force the creation of an overcrowded lottery system with a long waiting list each year.
Therefore, in choosing the 30002 ZIP code as the original proposed attendance zone, they sought to create a zone that was more diverse, racially and socio-economically, than the city of Avondale Estates itself, yet still manageable in terms of the number of children located within that zone. In fact, the 30002 ZIP code area is as diverse as the current attendance zone.
In its letter denying a charter to The Museum School, the DeKalb County School System did cite a concern about the proposed attendance zone, but the county also cited the school’s museum concept and its potential partner list among other reasons for the denial. The state of Georgia voiced only a concern about the sustainability of the attendance zone size, not its diversity, and Museum School organizers were happy to amend the zone to include a wider geographical area and still be able to achieve a quality, public school located within the community.
The school's attendance zone has roughly the same racial and socio-economic demographics as those of DeKalb County. In addition, it is governed by a diverse board that welcomes application for board membership from anyone interested in applying, regardless of residency within the attendance zone.
Please visit the school and see for yourself what it’s all about: Tour the school, attend board meetings and meet board members and school leaders. Most importantly, visit the classrooms and see student diversity for yourself.
Museum School board and school leaders continue to work hard toward the inclusion of all families within the diverse attendance zone.
"In its letter denying a charter to The Museum School, the DeKalb County School System did cite a concern about the proposed attendance zone, but the county also cited the school’s museum concept and its potential partner list among other reasons for the denial."
And the school system cited in its denial that the Museum School didn't have any former Central Office administrators on payroll...
Imagine, Forrest Hills, a small community school (<300 students), starts deteriorating academically.
Forrest Hills is closed.
The Museum School is opened. The Museum School has much better scores than Forrest Hills. (I wonder which school(s) the former bused - read, apartment - students of Forrest Hills attend?) The Museum School petitions to use the closed Forrest Hills building.
The Museum School becomes a better, demographically different, Forrest Hills, but with an application. All within a few years.
I'm not saying that that is what happened/is happening, but that is how it looks from the outside.
And that is coming from a parent who loves/utilizes/advocates school choice.
Charter schools are great! The atmosphere for learning and professionalism is outstanding from parents view point.
For example, the favortism and corrupt that principals display in DCSS is not evident.
Administrators in DCSS need sensitivity training and how to conduct meetings on planning for effective instructions
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