Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time IS Running Out!

At last night's BOE meeting, Ramona Tyson reminded everyone that "time is running out" for her to take care of the many things she wants to do. Helpfully, though, after stonewalling for months on the Ernst & Young Compensation and Classification Study for which DCSS has already paid, Tyson has put together a whole plan and timeline for a new study. A little something for the new superintendent to do -- while Tyson manages status quo during the superintendent's first year. (More on this in a later blog article.)
     Time is, indeed, running out -- for DeKalb County School System.
DeKalb County School System – a school system that has not made AYP in 6 years and that is, quite frankly, running out of schools eligible to accept AYP transfers – sports a whole rogues’ gallery of inept and overpaid sham-administrators and quasi-dictators.
     Many of these embarrassments have “Dr.” before their names and can be seen on TV at every BOE meeting. Most are African-American whose soft bigotry of low expectations for disadvantaged African-American, Hispanic and ELL students -- and their willingness to hire incompetent friends-and-family – have kept the majority of DeKalb’s students (African-American, Hispanic and ELL)way behind their far better educated peers.
     It’s not enough that Ramona Tyson demanded and got a big salary for a job for which she is clearly unqualified. She has not done the first thing to reduce the Palace bloat or to get rid of Crawford Lewis’s insiders circle (of which she was a part). Further, her salary extends into the first year of the new superintendent to make sure, I suppose, that the new person gets a clear message about maintaining status quo – above all else and at any cost.
     As COO, Tyson was one of only four direct reports to Crawford Lewis. All the money flowed through Tyson. It is not possible that she did not know what was going on that led to RICO indictments against Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope. She had to have known. As did Marcus Turk.
Only the BOE can fire Tyson. So, what does Tyson know about one or more BOE members that has secured her job? With a big, undeserved raise. What makes it so critical to maintain the status quo that one or more BOE members broke Board policy and state law to go to an equally less-than-ethical, shop-worn reporter with highly confidential information about ongoing personnel negotiations with a potential superintendent?
     Friends-and-family continue to feed at the DCSS trough even though they have clearly failed at their jobs. Six years – and hundreds of thousands of federal dollars later – of not making AYP as a system? For starters, anyone involved with “School Improvement” should be fired and shown the door with the admonishment to not let the door hit them on the way out. And that’s just scratching the surface of ineptness in DCSS. If you or I had failed so completely at our jobs, we would be out on the street, looking for a new one.
     What is with constantly buying new “programs” that are “guaranteed” to “turn around” student achievement – or lack thereof? Yet, DCSS cannot supply textbooks for every student in every class. What is with constantly training and re-training teachers – instead of letting them spend their time doing what they do best and have already been trained to do: teach.
     We know how to teach children. We know what works and what doesn’t. What Tyson and DCSS don’t know how to do is get rid of the hangers-on, the make-a-quick-buck folks who promise big achievements with little work and the inept well-connected who take up space and gobble up money – all the  while ultimately consigning our children to a life that is little better than that found in a third world country.
     The BOE meeting on Monday, 2, 2011 involved a well-orchestrated PR parade of people singing the praises of their schools and Ramona Tyson. A parent sang Tyson’s praises, claimed that DCSS has the best leadership team in the country and implored the BOE to appoint Tyson as Superintendent. No one bothered with pesky documentation to back up their claims. Not one person spoke up about the BOE's breach of trust in revealing confidential information.
     In which alternate universe do those people live?
     They are engaging in magical thinking – as always. Just because they say it is so does not make it so. Successful education requires hard work. For disadvantaged, at-risk students who are already way behind, successful education requires one-on-one or small group teaching, preferably by a real master teacher with a real degree from a respected college or university.
     DeKalb County School System has the money needed to successfully educate DeKalb students – all DeKalb students. The money must be re-directed from inexperienced, inept “coaches” seeking a cushy, do-nothing job. The money must be re-claimed from under-talented, overpaid friends-and-family – the very people that Tyson refuses to get rid of.
     The question now, though, is: Can the forces of decency get organized, elected and start building a different future for DeKalb County’s students – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds? That is the most important question. Everything else is noise.


Susan Curtis said...

I admire your passion for improving DCSS. I'm afraid that the BOE does not have the political will to make the changes necessary for OUR school system to succeed. And I also worry that our electorate does not have the fire to fight any issues that involve the entire county. While this blog is great for informing people who read it, a person must actually want to know about DCSS before they read it. Perhaps a grassroots door-to-door campaign throughout DCSS explaining how poor schools affect everyone along with suggestions on how people can get involved might help. I'm willing to help organize. Let me know what you think.

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Sandy, Great summation of the condition at DCSS. It's amazing the very media, who claims they are doing a service revealing the personal contract negotiations of the future Super, never really tells the WHOLE story of the goings on in OUR school system.

The media serves up bits and pieces and nibbles but never tell the entire story.

Crawford had the former beat writer at the AJC wrapped around his finger. Luckily they took her off the beat and the replacement has done well exposing SOME elements. But the medias lack of ability to link all these stories together, has given us what we have today.

People are scared to speak up at meetings! Wouldn't you be afraid to have to face people like Jay Cuningham, a felon, who robbed from his former employer? Or Eugene Walker, who has to bring up the race card every tine he gets a chance?

A former board member once told myself and other parents to follow the money. We are certainly trying and Sandy's FOIA for the E&Y audit is the start. Tyson should still produce the entire document. There is something in there the former clew regime, including Tyson, does not want us to see.

We need a Palace cleansing, Tyson, Moseley, Thompson, Turk, Mitchell-Mayfield, Ramsey, Tucker, the Guilroy's, and especially Ms. Berry, the alleged traveling companion of Clew, and every one of her minions in the Office of "Improvement" better known as the drain on the Title 1 funds with NO return on investment, should resign soon and turn in their badges at security.

shark bait said...

Have you tried sending this to the AJC as a Letter to the Editor? It would be great to get this message out to the larger population.

Joseph Hunt said...

Did you hear the part last night about Tyson's submitting the mysteriously found part of the audit to Sutherland Asbill for review?

Sutherland Asbill?
King & Spalding?

How the hell are we able to afford these attorneys and where is the money coming from?

Is Josie Alexander or whatever her name is not competent to review this audit material?

And look at the Dept of Audit's listing for Miscellaneous Services on their report of salaries. Check out how many people made more than $50K for miscellaneous services! How about $75K? How about 100K?

Cobb has more employees listed under Miscellaneous Services, but most made less than $3000, which sound about right for miscellaneous services.

DCSS is robbing our children of a decent education with inflated administrative salaries and benefits.

In all administrative employee categories on the Dept of Audits website, except the "teacher" category, DCSS outspends every other school system in Georgia by far.

DCSS itself is the equivalent of a criminal enterprise.

I'm pissed. And I'm especially pissed at Tyson's ineloquent explanation of the missing audit and Bowen's dissembling while trying to summarize what Tyson said.

Can you say "cover-up"?

It made me nauseated.

Anonymous said...

I will not stoop so low as to respond to this racist post. It all boils down to race in Dekalb? Why/ Why/Why? Tyson has done an excellent job for which she did not ask. Thnks ms. Tyson!

teacher said...

What has Tyson done to earn the HUGE raise that she received? I see more of the same old DCSS politics. A larger army of coaches that do not work with children and over spending on many positions, but they won't be touched as many of the over paid are friends and family members of those in charge. More schools that are not making AYP and poor choices of ways to spend funds-America's Choice.

The biggest problem with DCSS, is that there are a group of people that believe DCSS is the best thing since sliced bread and those that fear for the children attending. I fall in the later category. I realize that there isn't much that can be done to improve DCSS as long as it stays the size it is, as too many fall into the first category.

The people running DCSS look at it as an employment agency and not for it's sole purpose of educating children, so that all children in DCSS receive a quality education.

HaHaIToldU said...

Well I am a black woman and I agree that Tyson hasn't done anything to improve the education of DeKalb's students. I don't care that she is only an interim. She is getting paid like a Superintendent and should be able to put out fires and run the school system at the same time.

Experienced Teacher said...

As a veteran DeKalb teacher (20+ years) I couldn't agree more. In addition to the problems succinctly described by Ms. Spruill, another big problem exists in the Interim Superintendant for Teaching and Learning Position. Dr. Morcease Beasley has been allowed to run amuck without any checks and balances.

I watched a recent board meeting where Beasely asked for and received money for "map software" for each school and the resultant training, touting its capability as used in other metro systems. Only one board member questioned this expenditure, but not thoroughly enough. At the end of the exchange, all BOE members approved this purchase without so much as investigating to see if it was needed. It is not. Every teacher in this system has access to Google Earth on their county issued computer. Many of us also have interactive boards where all destinations on Google Earth can be displayed. Futhermore, we have map software embedded in Discovery Education, which also allows for "travel" to any continent and location on the planet.

This is yet another example of purchasing unnecessary items because it appears to be "cutting edge."

Dr. Beasley has created more paperwork for building administrators and teachers than is necessary. Multiple surveys for gauging effectiveness is useless if they are ignored.

Daniel said...

What was up with delaying the budget?

SHS said...

@ melaniestef, May 10, 6:00 PM

Ah ... dragging out that same old tired canard of "racism."

DeKalb School System's student population is 72% Black, 11% Hispanic and 10% White. Of the population as a whole, 10% are Limited English Proficient.

Further, the vast majority of Palace administrators and school principals are Black. In fact, of the 9 Board of Education members, the majority -- 5 -- are Black.

These are the people who are running the DeKalb County School System and failing -- badly.

"Time IS Running Out!" is not racist. It tells the truth. It's way past time to speak truth to power. And the truth is most of the power brokers, administrators and principals in DCSS are Black.

Their "soft bigotry of low expectations for disadvantaged African-American, Hispanic and ELL students -- and their willingness to hire incompetent friends-and-family -- have kept the majority of DeKalb’s students (African-American, Hispanic and ELL)way behind their far better educated peers."

Maybe serious improvements and real progress could be made if:
(1) Tyson and the BOE did not see DCSS as strictly a jobs program for friends-and-family -- regardless of qualifications.
(2) Tyson and the BOE would get rid of employees who are not successful in their jobs, year after year after year.
(3) Tyson, the BOE and principals would hold students and parents accountable.
(4) People like you, melaniestef, did not yell "racism" when presented with the searing realities and the truth about a majority Black school system.

Can the forces of decency get organized, elected and start building a different future for DeKalb County’s students – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds? That is the most important question. Everything else is noise.

You -- melaniestef -- are noise.

Anonymous said...

Personal insults are allowed on this blog?

teacher said...

Well said SHS!!!!

ben dover said...

melaniestef sounds like a DCSS plant. Do you know for a fact that Sandy isn't black? It's hard to call the race card when the majority in power are black.

Anonymous said...


But this is nothing new. Even back during the days of Jim Cherry as Superintendent, nepotism ran rampant through the DCSS. Follow the money!