Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tale of Two School Systems – Part III

“This is an EQUALITY Issue” 

Since July 10, 2006 when Audria Berry was made Director of the Office of School Improvement, the number of DCSS Title 1 schools has increased slightly while federal funding (primarily for the academic improvement of students in schools classified as Title 1) has increased 220%. Note that federal funding from 2005 to 2010 has been close to half a billion dollars. When 2011 RTTT money is added in, that half billion figure will be a reality. Although the DCSS administration from Lewis to Tyson has treated these federal dollars as “free” money, EVERY citizen in DeKalb County who has paid federal taxes in the last 6 years has seen this money deducted from his/her paycheck. Have these federal dollars benefited the students they were/are intended to benefit?

DCSS is STILL divided into a dual system when it comes to student achievement. Look at DCSS’s 2011 Georgia High School Graduation Test scores. The Office of School Improvement has had close to a half billion dollars to spend in the last 5 years from when these students in our Title 1 high schools were in elementary school, and they have failed to move them forward in relation to their peers.

$500,000,000 spent for INCREASED student achievement in Title 1 schools that has in reality resulted in DECREASED student achievement is not acceptable. BOE members need to look at the schools they serve and ask if they are comfortable supporting the present DCSS administration personnel who have overseen the expenditure of half a billion dollars for Title 1 schools while presiding over a decline in student achievement. The DCSS administration needs to understand that taxpayers all over DeKalb are interested in the achievement of EVERY student in EVERY school in DeKalb. The DCSS administration and BOE must take responsibility for spending tax money earmarked for leveling the playing field for our lowest income students in an efficacious manner. A Return on Investment needs to happen for ALL students.

See below for a list of the schools that the DCSS BOE members represent. Please email your BOE member and ask him/her if he/she is satisfied with the $500,000,000 spent by the Office of School Improvement.



teacher said...

It is my understanding that more schools could qualify for Title One funds this year. If this is the case, than even more money would be flowing into DCSS.

The waste of this money is something that every citizen should be furious about. Title One money is not free money. It is our federal tax dollars at work.

With the way DCSS spends this money, little actually helps the children receive a better education. Most goes into the hands of adults and creates unnecessary and unneeded jobs. Until those running DCSS realize that DCSS's purpose is not a jobs program, but to educate children, I don't see any significant changes taking place any time soon.

Fred said...

I say again what I said in the previous blog on this topic, your beef is with the Federal Government. When they send the Title 1 money to the state, it comes with regulations on how the money is to be used. School systems can lose the money if it is not used as stipulated by the Federal Goverment.

If you want to see measures on how the money is used, take it up with the Feds. They control the purse strings and set the rules. Getting frustrated at those that follow the rules set by the Federal government gets you no where.

Anon said...


The amount of money the system gets is determined by the number of children who qualify for Title 1 funds, not the number of schools that qualify.


No, our frustration is with DCSS and how they choose to use the money. Not the money itself.

A few years ago, Dr. Lewis got embarrassed because the system had to return over a million dollars of unspent federal Title1 monies to the federal government. That is when he began centralizing the decisions on how federal funding would be spent.

However, as always, he fired no one for the inability to manage this program properly. No consequences for ineptness. Again.

Cerebration said...

Check out Gwinnett. They apparently have parent councils at each Title 1 school that gives input and direction as to how they'd like their Title 1 funds spent. They spend them differently at each school depending on the needs and desires of the school leaders and parents.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
There is actually wide latitude in expenditures of Title 1 funding and federal funds in general. No one size fits all model is forced upon school systems. DCSS chooses to meet the "letter of the law" that creates more non-teaching jobs and the purchase of ineffective learning programs. Other systems have provided more direct instruction for students with Title 1 funds and garnered more teacher input as to what works for their students. DCSS has not chosen to do this. The way the funds are being spent now are causing a DECLINE in Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress.

Too many Title 1 chiefs (coaches and coordinators and directors, etc.) giving teachers excessive paperwork, tying them up with burdensome and ineffective training sessions and meetings, and handing down poorly constructed mandates that don't work for students are but a few examples of how Title 1 dollars are causing a decline in student progress as as contrasted to other school systems.

No one forces DCSS to take those funds. If the DCSS administration's decisions with this funding is in fact causing a decline in Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress, then why take the money at all?

A half a billion dollars is a powerful incentive to keep the status quo. That's a lot of admin and support salaries.

There needs to be an online accounting for every spent with Title 1 dollars. Ms. Tyson and Dr. Beasley should be looking for someone who has a proven track record in using Title 1 funds to move students in Title 1 schools forward. The BOE should not be "rubber stamping" the recommendations of Dr. Berry.

Cerebration said...

Wasn't this Pam Speaks former job at DCSS? Seems when she ran Title 1 students were more successful. Maybe she could shed some light on the subject?

Anonymous said...

PLEASE Get REAL!! The Title I money is doing exactly what those in control of it want it to do.... create and maintain good paying jobs and benefits.
That is the prime function of DCSS and never forget it. The lovely little children are only the key to getting the money from not only the Feds, but also the State and local taxpayers.

Fred said...

@atl, isn't there a saying that correlation does not imply causation? I think you are performing simplistic analysis to draw your conclusions. We are talking about children that are unique in many ways.

To be clear again, I agree that more scrutiny should be done to ensure the best learning resources are provided for Title 1, or for that matter all students. We have many lost generations of students who were provided the 'gimmick du jour' with education. Hopefully we can agree that the instructional method used by this teacher with this student may or may not work with that teacher and that student.

My recommendation would be to ensure a higher percentage of students can read by third grade. It might mean redirecting more resources to Title 1 students and schools for reading bootcamps, i.e. smaller learning groups. If Title 1 gives the flexibility to use funding for this, I'd be for it.

For consideration, how long do you give a program before you determine its effectiveness with instructions? If you don't get immediate results, do you change right away? If you were provided the measures you are seeking, is that enough alone to make a decision?

September said...


There are so many instructional programs that have been forced on schools without any real indication that they work. Some college professor writes a book, or does a small research project. Most university professors work in an environment where it is publish or perish. So there is a lot of incentive to write that journal article or book. A very successful teacher shares her secrets and suddenly everyone has to teach this new way. Very little real testing of these programs is done before they are marketed. Some recent examples, whole language, America's Choice, and our most recent high school math program.

Teaching is an art. Should we share our successful strategies? Yes, but we need keep in mind that what works for one teacher may not work for another. Sometimes the tried and true method is the best one. We often abandon successful programs like Reading Recovery for the latest and greatest that doesn't really work.

As for our Title I Coaches, principals know which teachers are in need of assistance and should be directing the activities of these people, not a coordinator who rarely sets foot in the building. Coaches should be reporting to the principals in the buildings where they work. Coaches should be working every day along side teachers who need help. It makes no sense for a coach to force a successful teacher to use different teaching techniques only to have that teacher's success with students diminish.

Title I money can be used to hire teachers and that is what will help the most. Bill Gates may think that it is OK to have a class of 40, but I know from personal experience that I am much more successful with struggling students when working with smaller classes.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
I am well aware of the difference in correlation and causation. Correlation does not always mean causation, however correlation is necessary for causation and often indicates possible causes or areas for further investigation. I'm not aware of any studies conducted by the DCSS Office of School Improvement that shows the efficacy of the $500,000,000 worth of personnel and/or programs Dr. Berry has chosen to spend Title 1 and federal money on.

You are correct that in the case of Title 1 and federal funding, we need to look at the period of time we are implementing a program that is supposed to produce results.

Dr. Berry has been the head of the Office of School Improvement since 2006. Prior to her promotion by Dr. Lewis, she was head of Title 1 (2005). That's why Cerebration's article states that DCSS students taking the GHSGT were in elementary school (5th and 6th grade) when Dr. Berry began to direct Title 1 and federal funding away from direct instruction and the discretion of the local schools and into non-teaching positions and expensive learning programs. I wouldn't say DCSS taxpayers and parents of students at Title 1 schools are asking for IMMEDIATE results when SIX YEARS down the road Title 1 and federal funding decisions and expenditures are not proving efficacious for students.

Dr. Berry has had a half billion dollars at her disposal and the many years since these high school Title 1 students were in elementary school to move them forward. Instead, DCSS Title 1 schools have moved backwards in relation to their peers in other Georgia counties.

Where is the accountability for the Office of School Improvement? Why did Dr. Lewis and the past BOE not ask these tough questions of Dr. Berry? Why is Ms. Tyson and the current BOE satisfied with no data showing a direct causation of any programs funded by Title 1 and federal funding with improved student achievement?

The Office of School Improvement has not leveled the playing field for the students in Title 1 schools. DCSS is operating as a dual school system now more than ever.

Did you think no one would hold the Office of School Improvement accountable for - well - improvement in Title 1 schools?

You can't keep blaming the students, teachers and parents forever as you collect, spend and direct half a billion dollars meant for the improvement in student achievement for these low income students OUT of the classroom and INTO personnel and programs that do not move these students forward.

Dekalbparent said...

Is it possible that there is a connection between considering Title One funds "free money" and the use of those funds to purchase less-proven programs and pay people who don't work directly wit students?

If it's seen as "free money", then whoever makes the spending decisions will play a lot more fast and loose with it. The public needs to realize it is not "free money" that we didn't pay - it's just as much our money as our property taxes.

Fred said...

@atl, I agree with the comments made by September. America's Choice is an example of a program that came with a strong reputation however DCSS has not gotten the results it expected. You might be surprised to hear that principal's requested to continue using this program. You might trying contacting a few Title 1 principal's to verify this. Unfortunately, it takes more than a program but you must have staff properly trained on how to apply the concepts during instruction.

I wonder about your figure of half a billion dollars. In your estimate , does that include the free lunch program money? Does it include some of the other Federal programs such as for homeless children, those with disabilities, etc.? You may find out this money does not go as far as you think it does as you begin splitting the pie.

There is enough blame to go around for everyone regarding the achievement rates at Title 1 schools. I stil say unless you drill down and ask the question WHY more, we won't have a handle on how to make the necessary adjustments. I still say the Federal Government has to include stronger measures to show the kind of information you want to see.

Marie said...

Here's how struggling readers learn to read and how learning disabilities are first identified: an adult sits with a child, book in hand, patiently reading, helping to sound out words, then encourages, reinforces, praises and repeats the activity at frequent intervals - preferably twice a day. Here's how struggling readers do not learn to read: a "coach" meets with a teacher and advises remote strategies to meet the needs of children the coach has never even met. It's not that complicated. I know two things from first-hand experience: a volunteer(unpaid!!!!) parent can have a tremendous impact on a struggling student's achievement; and if kids can't read, they will never be successful in school.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
"America's Choice is an example of a program that came with a strong reputation however DCSS has not gotten the results it expected"

This is not surprising. The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a not-for-profit organization that developed America's Choice, found this program so profitable that it became a "for profit" spin off subsidiary. America's Choice has been since acquired by Pearson, a very profitable company that sells education programs.

In addition, former DCSS staffers who worked for America's Choice helped sell this program to DCSS. This was clearly a conflict of interest.

Reading about the background of the authors of the the white papers published on America's Choice shows close connections between America's Choice and the "researchers" who gave it such high marks. You cannot compare the research on America's Choice with the peer review in the scientific realm comprised of strict control groups and non-biased researchers.

"I wonder about your figure of half a billion dollars. In your estimate , does that include the free lunch program money?"

Please provide a link to the Title 1 and Federal funding data that you have access to. I have not found that detailed of a breakdown on the state website - just the figures of a half billion dollars overall - pretty mind boggling to me and most DCSS taxpayers.

BOE members need to ask for the data you and the other members of the Office of School Improvement have access to since they are the elected officials ultimately responsible for the expenditure of funds as contrasted to student achievement (aka - ROI).

"There is enough blame to go around for everyone regarding the achievement rates at Title 1 schools. "

No - the blame lies with:
1. Dr. Berry who has made the expenditure recommendations that have caused a decline in Title 1 schools making adequate yearly progress and failed to close the gap between the Title 1 schools and non-Title 1 schools in DCSS

2. Dr. Lewis and now Ms. Tyson (and Dr. Beasley) for supporting Dr. Berry's poor educational decisions

3. The DCSS BOE members for approving expenditures of $500,000,000 that has not only failed to move Title 1 students forward in relation to their peers in other counties, but has actually caused a decline in student achievement for our lowest income students

Data does not lie. The data says that the "blame" lies with Dr. Berry, the past and current superintendent, and the members of the BOE who have supported Dr. Berry's ruinous decisions for our Title 1 students.

This is "cut and dry" even as you would seek to obfuscate the results.

NO EXCUSES - the Office of School Improvement has utterly failed to move DCSS low income students forward academically when compared to their peers in other counties (their competition for college positions and employment).

Dr. Berry is the Director of the Office of School Improvement - she needs to be replaced with someone who can produce the results for tens of thousands of Title 1 DCSS students. Why is she still allowed to set educational policy that is not moving our Title 1 students forward?

Stnuocca said...

"A lot of the truths about education in this country were on display Saturday as I watched the Class of 2011 graduate from T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, Va. To me, none was more obvious than the fact that parents and family culture are the most important factors in a child's education. It's a fact that school administrators and the ever-expanding industry of "reformers" are loath to admit, lest they appear powerless in the face of the staggering academic differences among the kids who have been handed diplomas from America's high schools this month."

Fred said...

"Please provide a link to the Title 1 and Federal funding data that you have access to. I have not found that detailed of a breakdown on the state website - just the figures of a half billion dollars overall - pretty mind boggling to me and most DCSS taxpayers."

I searched two places for this. I found the Federal expeditures at

For Fiscal Year 2010, the Feds provided just over $128,000.00, which was about 13% of the operating budget for that year. That is why I questioned your half a billion number. It should be noted that prior to 2010, the Federal percentage of the budget was no higher than 7%. Where did you get your number from?

I looked at
for how the money was spent. Interestingly about $60 million of the Federal dollars was spent on salaries, most of it on teachers.

You might want to take a look at the Title 1 page on the DCSS website. Look at the recent newsletter of the services that are provided through the parental involvement requirements. Factor in also that over 9000 students in DCSS receive ELL services through Title 1. After reading that, do you stand by your statement that it does not provide value? I still say you may not be looking deep enough into the program and the requirements.

You blame the central office for ELL students not passing the CRCT despite being in this country for a short period of time. You blame the central office for more parents not taking advantage of the parent centers, though many do as you see in the newsletter. Could it be that many parents are working multiple jobs? I guess you would also blame the central office for parents not reading to their children.

As I've said, there should be accountability of the Title 1 money to make sure it is doing what it is intended to do. The Feds should have additional criteria specified with how to measure program effectiveness. I think there is enough blame to go around.

Fred said...

@atl, also take a look at the following link when you get a chance. Someone sent it to me.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this opinion article.

Anonymous said...

I have some questions regarding instructional coaches. How are they evaluated like administrators do teachers have any input on their yearly evaluation. Is there any individual data evaluating their worth. This department claims to be data driven lets see some data.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
Approximately half billion dollars is the cumulative amount that has been received in federal funding since 2006 when the Office of School Improvement was created and Dr. Lewis made Dr. Berry the director. That was stated in my post.

If you add in 2011 funds including the RTT funding and Title 1 funding included (not yet on the website you provided a link to) then you will see that approximately half a billion dollars from 2006 to 2011 has come to DCSS via federal funding.

Posters are encouraged to go to this site and see for themselves. Add up the Revenue from the federal government from 2006 through 2010 – remember 2011 has not been included:

Thanks for the other link. I went there as well. I downloaded the csv file and did a data sort. The category of Teacher says expenditure of $19,830,821 (not sure where you got $60,000,000?). This seems very small compared to the $123,000,000 in federal funding DCSS received.

I am ESOL certified so I know the unique challenges ESOL students face, but if you take a look at our Title 1 schools, most students are not ESOL (ELL), and this is not the group that consistently keeps DCSS Title 1 schools from making adequate yearly progress. I've had many parents who worked 2 and 3 jobs so this is not a phenomenon reserved for ESOL kids.

The Central Office and most specifically the Office of School Improvement must shoulder the blame (not students, teachers and parents). The Central Office and the BOE manage the money and make the decisions - not the students, parents or teachers. The upper level administrators are accountable for DCSS Title 1 students not progressing at the same rate as other students in similar circumstances in other counties. If you can't produce a Return on Investment in six years with the programs you have used hundreds of millions of taxpayer money to purchase, then new management is called for.

The DCSS administration has truly produced a system of "Haves" and "Have Nots" while other school systems have narrowed the achievement gap and leveled the playing field between low income and middle income students.

I'm sorry Dr. Berry cannot figure out what works for Title 1 students. Maybe she should try some data analysis to see what produces results. If Parent Centers cannot be directly tied to student achievement progress, then she needs to scrap them and invest in several other Parental Involvement models (the federal government allows a number of different models) to see what the data says is successful.

Set your objectives, measure your objectives, and see which model gives you the results you want. This is certainly preferable to complaining that you serve "a lot" of parents and you can't control what they do and a lot of our students don’t speak English.

Cerebration said...

Maybe we just need fewer employees period. Seems "back in the day" when DeKalb was a nationally respected school system, we had about half the number of employees, with nearly 90% as many students.

This was sent to the blog:


1976 - 85,726
2010 - 96,785


1976 - 8,000
2010 - 15,859

Gayle said...

@ Fred

Well, I found that $60,000,000 in salaries on the link you provided, but only $19,000,000 is for Teachers so I would say that your statement "Interestingly about $60 million of the Federal dollars was spent on salaries, most of it on teachers" is misleading.

Here is the breakdown directly from the link you provided:
ART,MUSIC,PE $420,276
TEACHERS $19,830,822

So DCSS collected $128,000,000 from the federal government to improve student achievement and spent $19,000,000 on teachers.

Students achieve by teachers instructing them.

I think posters will be surprised at how the other $108,000,000 was spent last year - certainly NOT on direct instruction for students struggling in math and reading.

Posters go to:

2. Click on Payments

3. Choose Local Boards of Education (LEA)

4. Use the drop down menu to the right of Organization: to choose DeKalb County Board of Education

5. Use the drop down menu to the right of Funding Source" to select Federal

6. Click Search

7. Scroll to the bottom of the downloaded page and select Export to csv. This will download the information into a csv file.

8. Sort on Column B to find salaries.

A caveat:
The salary sort shows only ONE Parent Center Coordinator paid for by federal funds (see above $35,475) yet we know from the state Salary and Travel audit (and the DCSS websites) that DCSS employs 70+ personnel in the Parent Centers including Ms. Roberts daughter, Frankie Callaway's daughter, a Guillory (and who knows what other relatives) at a cost of $3,000,000+ not including benefits. Where are their salaries buried in this report - or are DCSS taxpayers paying the millions of dollars of these Parent Center personnel out of our property tax dollars as our children are packed into ever larger classrooms and teacher salaries are cut?

No wonder our Title 1 students are showing declining achievement. Are these students useful only for the "money" they bring in for DCSS administrators to use as they please? The most pressing questions Ms. Tyson and the BOE need to be asking should be directed at the Office of School Improvement.

Cerebration said...

Wow. Amazing research atl -- thanks. I would recommend that everyone follow the directions above and check the links provided by atl. True numbers tell the story.

Fred said...

@atl, you are a tough one. I'm glad you found the information I referenced. Aren't you curious of the one year spike in Federal dollars to the school system? Did you ask 'Why' and wonder if the same will happen for 2011? Again, I say you are looking at the information at a high level without trying to understand why.

You said "Students achieve by teachers instructing them. "

Yes, just under 50% of the 2010 Federal dollars were spent on salaries. You are only concerned about that spent on teachers? Can a hungry child achieve? Can one that needs services beyond what the school provides succeed? Can students drive themselves to school? Can parents that don't speak English communicate with their children's primary teacher help them? Do para's provide any value with classroom instruction? Are supplemental materials needed to help with instruction?

Just adding more teachers without properly equipping them will result in failure. Putting a child that needs more services in a classroom with a weak teacher (yes, there are some that exist) does not help a student. The student going home after school and playing video games instead of reading does not help. Students staying or waking up to late does not help. Parents that don't provide nutritious meals along with no structure for their children does not help.

As I said earlier, you can provide resources through Title 1 but you can't make ALL the students learn. There are some that take advantage of the services provided however we both know despite the best attempts of many, there are some that do not.

Simply blaming the Central office is an easy way out. That would be similar to me blaming you if one of your students did not succeed. By your postings, I believe you are a good and caring teacher. Unfortunately you may not be able to reach all of your students, regardless of the resources at your disposal and time you put into it.

There is enough blame to go around...

Fred said...

@Cerebration, good post at 4:32 but it lacks context. Did you know in the 70's that class sizes were in the 30's? Think about it, we had many of the same schools and fewer of them with larger enrollments. Students were packed in like sardines.

At that time, teachers knew they had greater support from parents thus less discipline issues (a big reason why teachers want smaller class sizes today). There were also fewer Federal regulations regarding various programs.

Someone posted a while back that the growth of the central office occured in the mid 90's when multiple regions were created in a attempt to provide more assistance to the schools. When Hallford realized it was not working and eliminated this, he did not put those people back into the schools but created new positions in the central office. There were no documented job titles or salaries so you had situations where several people with different responsibilities could be doing a similar job.

Gayle said...

@ Fred

Interesting article. Teachers will be the first to say that involved parents generally make the best students. Even parents that do not speak English or live in abject poverty but take the time to talk with their children and stress the value of education have a great impact on their child being academically successful.

However, parental involvement is not always possible for many reasons, death, illness, substance abuse, long hours on the job, etc. This is the group that needs the impact of teachers the most. Which brings us to the second factor that impacts student achievement - class size. The studies on class size have been misconstrued to say class size doesn't matter.

The latest Harvard based study bandied about has its roots in the Florida constitutional amendment that brings class size down by 2 or 3 students from the mid-20s to the low 20s. A class of 25 versus 23 does not matter significantly in terms of student achievement - does anyone believe it took a Harvard study to find this out? This study has no reliability or validity when extrapolated to adding 7 or 8 students to a class of 25. Now you are going from 25 to 32 students.

The studies regarding "significant" class sizes show that for middle income students with significant parental involvement, large class sizes have much less academic impact than on low income students from homes with little parental involvement. The recent Harvard study done regarding 2 or 3 students in a mid-20s size class was latched onto by cash strapped state and local education officials.

As Cerebration pointed out, we have added thousands of employees in DCSS. Few of them were content area teachers. How do we know this? Because we went from 8,000 employees to 15,000 employees yet our students still sit in math, science, social studies and language arts classes basically the same size as they were in 1976. IN 1976, we had mostly middle class students with high parental involvement so class size did not matter as much. We do not have that school system any more in many parts of the county.

The school system which is established to educate children should not be in the business of social work - they can't do both jobs and do them well.

Give students competent teachers, small class sizes, a safe and clean environment, and access to cutting edge science and technology equipment. Then you will see academic progress.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
I'm assuming that the "spike" in federal funding came from the AARA "stimulus" money added into the Title 1 funding. Now the RTT money will keep federal funding high as well for a while.

It really is that simple. If a school system fails to educate students so they are literate in math, reading, language arts and science as compared to other students in other systems with similar challenges, the leadership of the school system is to blame. They hire the teachers and every other employee, train the personnel, set the guidelines for their jobs, establish the programs, allocate the money, set policy, control the physical plant and environment, etc. down to the very last detail. They control the school system.

No matter how you cut it or spin it, DCSS Title 1 schools are failing to make adequate yearly progress at the same rate as other metro county Title 1 schools including Clayton which has 100% of their schools as Title 1 or Gwinnett which has almost as many Title 1 schools as DCSS. Look at the rate their Title 1 schools are making adequate yearly progress - 80%+ to our 50%+ even after strict test monitoring (and DCSS's precipitous decline from 2009 to 2010 is another serious ethical question).

DCSS students are not deficient in intelligence or motivation. We don't somehow have a group of children that cannot succeed. They are kids just like other kids in other counties in similar situations. To say that they are "different" is to blame them. To say that their parents are so "different" than the other metro parents in similar income and neighborhood situations is to blame the parents. I guess the teachers are to blame next. FYI - we have some of the most caring, hardworking teachers around in DCSS. Have you been in their classrooms, not to criticize or to figure out what they are doing "wrong", but to simply pitch in and help them out? You might actually learn something about the members of the classroom.

The DCSS administration is clearly to blame. They want control of the money and authority over personnel with none of the responsibility and accountability that comes with the decisions they make. It has worked that way for many years. It's just not working that way now.

The buck must stop somewhere. It stops with the people who make the decisions for the school system. If their decisions were the right decisions, we would not be in the shape we're in now. More of our Title 1 schools would be making adequate yearly progress instead of sitting at the bottom of the proverbial barrel.

September said...

The list of salaries paid out of Title I funds is interesting. Keep in mind that if you provide after school tutoring and want the students to stay for it, you have to provide transportation home. A teacher is not going to volunteer to tutor students when it means regularly putting in a couple of 10 hour days each week. You have to pay them for their time. Just for the record, if you are paid for tutoring, that paid time doesn't start until after the regular school day has ended. You can't double dip.

My point is that while some of this spending looks like a misuse of funds, it might not be. Has anyone looked at the rules and regulations for spending Title I money?

Gayle said...

@ September
There are some Tutorial companies on the federal funds payment spreadsheet, but not very many.

Are there a lot of teachers paid to tutor after school? Many DCSS teachers I know were "pressed" into service with no pay to tutor after school.

The point is that a very small amount of the federal funds go to teacher salaries, the very employees who instruct students. Meanwhile, the class sizes are getting larger and larger and students are getting less and less individualized help. A teacher can only do so much with 30+ (or 35+ in some cases ) students with 50% or more reading many years below grade level.

Go to the website. It's interesting to see where the money is going.

Other Management Personnel (who are they?) took $3,700,000+.

Other Salaries and Compensation (who are they?) took $2,200,000+. Professional Development Stipends took $2,000,000.

Instructional Coaches (Teacher Support Specialists) took over $10,000,000 (without benefits calculated in)

The ubiquitous America's Choice (there are a number of listings for them) took $8,000,000+.

Dell computers (many entries for them) took $4,200,000 (I thought computers were paid out of local SPLOST funds).

Other Administrative Personnel (who are they)took almost $1,000,000.

Communities in Schools took almost $1,000,000 (old program - didn't even realize that was still around).

Another close to a $1,000,000 expenditure was earmarked Purchased Professional and Tech Svcs.

Fred said...

@September, you hit on the point I'm trying to make to atl. You examined the data further and were able to draw reasonable conclusions regarding how the money was used. I don't believe you can make a true assessment unless to look at the true intentions for each payment.

If I used the logic made by atl, if a student does not eat their lunch provided by Title 1, the central office is to blame. I would then need to eliminate lunch, the materials, and personnel involved with the lunch then try something different. I realize this is an extreme example and atl does not believe this.

Gayle said...

@ Fred

How DCSS to say we don't know what the money has been spent on when the website we get the information from is devoted to transparency in finances but doesn't give the details we need. Humorous and Kafkaesque.

A half billion dollars has been spent in six years (that figure can't be hidden) just to level the playing field between DCSS Title 1 and non-Title 1 schools, and the chasm is still deeper than other school systems.

DCSS has almost doubled our personnel while we have close to the same number of students, yet our math, science, language arts and social studies class sizes remain the same as the 1970s ensuring students who need extra attention won't get it. I taught in the 70s so I remember the class sizes very well.

DCSS leaders cannot ensure Title 1 schools are making adequate yearly progress. Our Title 1 students academic progress is among the lowest in the metro area when compared to Title 1 schools in the other school systems.

I know you and the other leaders in DCSS don't want to be responsible for student achievement, but that's exactly what your jobs are about. Excuses for poor performance are what got us to this point.

How will you "spin" the new CRCT scores? I'm sure you're already trying to figure that one out.

gapeach920 said...

Please be advised that the annual salaries noted for teachers and paraprofessionals are, in fact, what they have earned for the year--however, the salaries are not broken down.

For example, many teachers and paraprofessionals work after-school programs; many also work summer school programs, as well as summer camp programs. These programs are over and above the normal school year hours; therefore, they earn additional monies.

As I understand it, all of these monies are "lumped together" and appear on the yearly GA salary scale, thus misleading the public into thinking that that is the teachers'/paraprofessionals' actual yearly salary for the normal/regular school year.

Fred said...

@atl, time permitting take a look at this link,

This is the school improvement page listing Federal governments for the state of Georgia. On the right side of the page, look for the box that says Allocations. Select 2010 initially but look at the others later. This brings up a PDF showing the Title 1 Part A allocations. You will see that DCSS was given just under $37 million for this.

I got this information from a Title 1 coordinator in another county. This is the money the Title 1 coordinator oversees, not the entire Federal allocation of just under $130 million. This goes for a variety of mandates such as Public School Choice, Supplemental Services (outside providers) and Teacher Professional Development to name a few.

My friend also indicated they are primarily an administrator meaning the Federal government dictates the allocations for each school. The principals make the decision on how to use the money. The Title 1 handles much of the paperwork involved with providing the money to various schools. If you have done business with the Feds, you have an idea of the paperwork involved for $37 million dollars, 80+ Title 1 schools, who knows how many employees and students.

America's Choice could only be purchased if the principal's bought into what it could provide. They indicated the AC is primarily a series of 'Best Practices' that if implemented properly, can help improve student performance. The people that wrote the Common Core Standards work for Pearson, which you indicated owns AC.

AC can also help expose weak teachers since it uses a series a measures for student performance against instructional practices. Did you know that? How do you think a weak teacher would react if they were exposed by a measure?

I checked with someone at DCSS and they mentioned that Ms. Talley was involved in bringing AC to DCSS, since she was over instuction. A Title 1 coordinator could not make a decision like that as their responsibility is to ensure the funds are dispensed as the Feds dictate.

Gayle said...

@ Fred

"America's Choice could only be purchased if the principal's bought into what it could provide."

If the principal has no other choice to spend Title 1 money but on America's Choice, then rather than lose that money he/she will choose that program.

Please give us a link to the data that directly ties America's Choice to improving the achievement of DeKalb County schools. That is really what taxpayers are interested in.

Gayle said...

@ Fred 4:37 pm
Audria Berry must have you working overtime. I'm assuming she didn't give you all of the information pertaining to America's Choice.

Look at your statement:

"I checked with someone at DCSS and they mentioned that Ms. Talley was involved in bringing AC to DCSS, since she was over instuction. A Title 1 coordinator could not make a decision like that as their responsibility is to ensure the funds are dispensed as the Feds dictate."

Please reference the April 17, 2009 DCSS BOE meeting notes. I included a direct quote from the BOE meeting:

"Presented by: Dr. Audria Berry, Executive Director, Office of School Improvement

"This year, the United States released an unprecedented amount of Title I funds to support the education of the most needy children, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA)..... The additional focus is providing intensive and effective turnaround support for the lowest-performing schools....."

"The America’s Choice Program Design of Rigor and Readiness helps schools change patterns of low performance and close achievement gaps that may have existed for many years. "

Financial Impact:
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds of 2009 will be used for this project. The cost for 14 elementary schools is $1,750,000.00, 13 middle schools is $1,950,000.00 and 13 high schools is $2,275,000.00, and Service and materials and supplies are $2,189,703.20. The total cost is $8,164,703.20"

"Requested Action
It is recommended that the Board of Education approve the purchase of America’s Choice Programs: Intensive Design and Rigor and Readiness for the 2009-2010 school year. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funds of 2009 will be used for this project.
The total cost is $8,164,703.20"

Read the BOE minutes for yourself.

Did Dr. Berry's proposal for America's Choice "close achievement gaps that may have existed for many years."? The data would say otherwise.

Marie said...

Wow, Fred. You are working so hard NOT to blame the EDUCATIONAL PROFESSIONALS who head up DCSS for NOT EDUCATING CHILDREN in ways comparable with adjacent counties with similar demographics. Fulton has TITLE ONE SCHOOLS OF DISTINCTION!!! These are AWARD-WINNING schools that have OUTPERFORMED expectations year after year. Indeed, they have more children making AYP in greater numbers. Look it up. And what do WE have? More and more DeKalb schools NOT MAKING AYP. This blog is replete with comments from EXPERIENCED CLASSROOM TEACHERS who know first-hand what is and isn't being done to support their efforts. But by all means, if you want to blame Gloria Talley, who left two years ago because she knew she was dealing with a county full of nutcases, be my guest. If you thinking paying a NON-CERTIFIED COACH $60,000 bucks a year - a coach who is not qualified to be an actual TEACHER - is money well spent, well then fine. The rest of us are going to fight this and eventually, the corruption, the p-card use, the crooked construction projects, the board members kidlets who rake in the bug bucks - it's going to be exposed.

Anonymous said...

I think it is beyond clear that America's Choice and other programs are not only failing to "close the gap" but I hear from teachers that the performance of all students is slipping as this school system sinks into some sort of academic quicksand.

My major gripe with American's Choice and such programs is that they often depend on scripted teaching. This sends a message that the administration believes that we have teachers who can't be trusted to teach without this crutch. If we have some incompetent teachers they need to be weeded out (not promoted to being Title I coaches). Scripted teaching punishes the good teachers by tying their hands and chills creativity.

My other gripe with DeKalb county is that so many Title I students transfer out of the failing schools but the Title I money does not follow them. These are the students who are most in need of high quality tutors and afterschool support programs but it is not offered in the receiving schools.

Gayle said...

@ Marie
"If you thinking paying a NON-CERTIFIED COACH $60,000 bucks a year - a coach who is not qualified to be an actual TEACHER -'

I have to correct you here. 80 Instructional Coaches accounting for $6,000,000+ in salaries alone would put their average salary at $75,000 a year. Maybe the Coach at your school only makes $60,000 a year but the salary "slack" is taken up by other Coaches paid at a higher salary in other schools.

Fred said...


This is been an interesting dialogue that I’m sure others have learned something from. Below is a link you are probably already familiar with since Georgia has adopted this.

Common Core Standards

Guess who is one of the endorsing partners?

You can see their website at,

The following link is an example of the Title 1 Coordinator responsibilities though this is for New Jersey,

My point has been that the Title 1 coordinator does NOT make curriculum/instructional decisions for a school district with Title 1 money. That is done by the curriculum specialist in collaboration with the Title 1 coordinator and principals. You noted earlier that not every Title 1 school elected to use AC.

You and I have always agreed that regular evaluation of program effectiveness is needed. How long should it take to determine if Best Practices are being used as prescribed by AC. When should a school district expect results?

The Miami Heat recently lost the NBA championship to the Dallas Mavericks, despite Miami having 3 of the top 10 players in the NBA. If you consider the following hierarchy,
Owner (citizens)
Team President (BOE)
General Manager (Superintendent/Central office)
Coach (Principals)
Players (Teachers)

It sounds as though you would solely blame the GM for the Heat losing the championship. I say all are responsible.

There enough blame to go around…..

Fred said...

Something else that should be pointed out, not all the Federal dollars provided to school districts are for Title 1. As a result, the half a billion figure over 5 years is misleading.

Gayle said...

@ Fred

Good morning Fred. I see that you are back at your desk at DCSS.

Give it up. The Office of School Improvement has had six years (when our 5th graders were in Pre-K) and hundreds of millions of dollars in personnel hired and programs purchased to improve student achievement in Title 1 schools.

Taxpayers do no want to hear excuses. We want results. We expect ALL schools in DCSS to have similar scores to metro Atlanta systems that have comparable schools. DCSS upper level administrators need to take the responsibility for that happening. No one else can take this for them.

You are on this blog stating that the highly paid Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement has nothing to do with improving student achievement in DCSS schools. Here is the stated goal of the DCSS Office of School Improvement:
"Our goal in the Office of School Improvement is to provide a coherent and sustained system of support and a systematic process for continuous improvement. Schools and centers are provided with the tools and resources to facilitate academic progress, including intensive support for schools not making adequate yearly progress (AYP)."

BTW, Dr. Berry has not held the title of Title 1 coordinator since 2006 when Dr. Lewis promoted her to Executive Director for the Office of School Improvement.

Taxpayers will be interested in the upcoming scores to see if more or less Title 1 schools made adequate yearly progress (AYP) since that is the stated goal of the Office of School Improvement.

Here is a question for you Fred. Are you blogging at the direction of someone in DCSS or are you on this blog during the middle of the workday on your own? No offense - but is blogging in your job description?

It's good that Cerebration cannot see IP addresses because she most likely would see your IP is from a DCSS IP address. Is DCSS MIS monitoring your blogging on a DCSS computer during the school day? Do any DCSS administrators know you are blogging during your workday? It would be good to know if MIS monitors some employees, but not others. Can some DCSS employees spend their workday blogging but not others? Have directives come down to teachers that they cannot blog while some employees are encouraged to blog?

I'll let you get back to work now.

Fred said...

"You are on this blog stating that the highly paid Executive Director of the Office of School Improvement has nothing to do with improving student achievement in DCSS schools. "

Actually I have consistently stated that 'blame' for DCSS schools not achieving as expected is shared between everyone. When our schools succeed, everyone shares in the success. When they don't do as well, everyone shares any failures. One person does not succeed or fail with a school system the size of ours alone.

This is where you and I differ. You seem to believe one person has determined the course of this school system with respect to Title 1 and nothing can be further from the truth.

I've provided links to actual data and information so others can make up their minds. I am not satisfied where we are as a school system. I'm not pointing fingers but rolling up my sleeves to see what I can do to help. I won't succeed or fail alone.

The most important person my children have is me. No one at the central office will determine whether they succeed or fail, it will be because of me along with the choices in life they make.

Fred said...

And by the way, with the exception of 12 month employees, most DCSS employees are off for the summer break. Today is the last day of summer school for those employees. Let's hope the students that attended improve their scores and can progress to the next grade.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
If you didn't notice, the article we were commenting on is about Title 1 schools and the failure of the Office of School Improvement to level the playing field with respect to student achievement. That's why the comments regarding the Office of School Improvement are germane.

You still didn't answer my question. Is Ms. Tyson comfortable with you blogging during your workday? You may want to consult the DCSS Internet Use Policy. Here is a link:

Fred said...

@atl, what article are you referring to? If you are talking about this blog topic, it is an opinion that has obvious mistakes as I've illustrated in several of the links I provided. All Federal dollars provided for a school system are not Title 1 or go to the Office of School Improvement. In my opinion, accountability for student performace starts at home with the parents and students. In a school system, it starts at the school house with the teacher and principal. It continues to flow up to the central office.

As I've stated, there is enough blame to go around. Purchasing a program to help with student achievement won't help if you some combination of an unmotivated student, ineffective teacher, unsupportive principal, and unengaged parents. I've been in Title 1 schools where I have seen at least one in this list.

Accountability should exist at the central office but for things they have control over. Programs should be evaluate annually by interviewing key constituents, users and consumers for overall effectiveness. If central office employees can't demonstrate their value by their actions, they should be terminated.

You mentioned earlier you are ESOL certified. How would you feel if you were evaluated as a teacher solely on the results of your students performance on a test? I think that is asinine as there should be several additional measures to determine teacher effectiveness. You could be the best teacher in knowing how to reach a variety of students but if that student does not want to learn, you can be screwed. Your stance seems to suggest you would be OK with that.

I forgot to mention earlier, 11 month employees are also still working and will be off the month of July.

Gayle said...

@ Fred

Regarding your ideas on accountability:
"In a school system, it starts at the school house with the teacher and principal. It continues to flow up to the central office. "

No. The authority and decisions start at the top and flow down (ALWAYS so in DCSS) so the top is responsible before anyone else.

When a business fails to make a profit, the responsibility lies with the CEO and top management since they made the decisions that everyone else followed. See that's what Dr. Berry and all of Lewis's other upper level managers never understood (and still don't). If you are at the top and make the decisions for everyone below you - you MUST take the responsibility if the decisions do not work out.

If I'm a salesperson told by upper management to sell buggy whips when there are only cars on the road, then of course I'll fail to make my quota. Thus it is the mistakes of upper management that will drive the company into the ground - not my inability to sell buggy whips.

That's like DCSS. Upper management is dictating educational policy that is based on poor decisions and making teachers follow it (overcrowded classes, scant and non-working technology, excessive paperwork, scripted learning programs, excessive time spent in meetings, grading students too leniently, training that has little to do with their students' needs and is not meaningful, ineffective instructional coaches, etc.). When the students do not progress, upper management is at fault because upper management forced their unsuccessful way of educating students on the teachers. This is just the reality of DCSS.

Accountability always comes to the top first - well - except on Wall Street. And we can see how that's worked out for our economy can't we?

Notice Zepora Roberts and Jim Redovian lost their BOE seats because their poor decisions failed to move students forward. That's the way it's supposed to work. Hopefully, more will lose their seats the next time around until we get a BOE and superintendent who can turn this school system around.

Fred said...

@atl, I like your analogy with buggy whips. Keep in mind that if your competitor is selling a modified version of buggy whips and their reps are making their quota, the reps will probably be fired not management.

With that same thought, most parents probably hold the teacher accountable for their child's education since they are closest to the child. The parent would probably say, "You should know how to teach regardless of what program you use. If Johnny can't read, it is your fault". When parents aren't satisfied with the teacher, they begin to escalate up the chain. Again, I would say you have seen this. If Johnny can't read, the parent will blame the one that interacts on a daily basis with Johnny, not someone in the central office.

Gayle said...

@ Fred
LOL - a modified version of buggy whips?

Fred said...

@atl, I reviewed the 5/4/2009 Board meeting minutes. Yes, Dr. Berry presented the item to purchase AC for just over $8 million dollars however I noticed that Ms. Talley did not attend this meeting. There were other curriculum/instruction items that were presented by Dr. Guilliard. I point this out because in the 9/13/2010 Board Meeting, Dr. Beasley, as interim head of teaching and learning, presented the same item of behalf of the schools that were interested in this program. Please note that not all Title 1 schools used AC, it was requested by principals at schools that wanted it. The same applies to the initial request in 2009.

This goes back to my point that those in curriculum ultimately make the decisions on the instructional resources to use with Title 1 simply being the funding mechanism. If the request meets the critieria for use of Title 1 funds, they are released.

I also noticed that DCSS has used AC for two years. Back to a question I asked you earlier, how long do you give to evaluate program effectiveness? Given the annual investment of $8 million dollars in Best Practices, which includes Professional Development, how quickly would you expect to see results?

Cerebration said...

Read our post about the America's Choice conference in Hollywood that cost over $400,000.

America's Choice - Sucking up the Stimulus

America's Choice was a darling of the federal government -- Obama and Arne Duncan can't say enough good things about the program. IMO, Crawford Lewis wanted a federal job in the worst way and saddled up to these guys as much as possible. In fact, Lewis was a speaker at an AC conference where Duncan was the keynote --

Here's the press release --

Now, did anyone have an "aha" moment?!!

Cerebration said...

But of course, as always, with Lewis is was "for the children"...

Fred said...

@Cerebration, what would you say if DCSS did not try AC, given the endorsements it received? Remember, the magic behind AC is the Best Practices concepts and the connection with the Common Core Standards. If you were superintendent, you are always looking for a silver bullet to help raise student achievement. What could be better than a program that included Professional Development teaching best practices for your schools.

Would you have given AC a try, based on its reputation? Or would you continue to do things you know were not working?

Gayle said...

@ Fred

"I also noticed that DCSS has used AC for two years."

No. There were quite a DCSS few schools that were using it back in the early 2000s when it was at that time the "darling" of the state of Georgia. There are some that have been using it since then. Once a program gets going in DCSS, never let it be said that we evaluate it.

Our newest 2011 CRCT scores say that if DCSS doesn't get a housecleaning at the top very shortly, a lowering in property values will be all over DeKalb. They are nothing short of unbelievably awful. Then where will our tax money come from?

What's amazing is that the Dr. Berry has headed the Office of School Improvement for 6 years and these abysmal scores are the result.

There must be some serious problems with the Instructional Coaching program and Literacy Coaches and Instructional Change Coaches and ESOL Coaches and Prevention/Intervention Coaches (a group that are not even certified teachers) and I'm sure I've missed some other "Coaches". All of these "Coaches" averaging close to $100,000 in salary and benefits and yet they never teach a child. All of the Instructional Coaches were hired by and report to Dr. Berry. No wonder so many of the teachers are discouraged. I feel sorry for the students. The teachers can move on, but most of the children are trapped.

Fred said...

@atl, I just can't let you have the last word on this topic, especially when you are wrong again. IC's report to the principal in the school where they work. Their purpose is as the name suggests, to provide coaching to teachers in Title 1 schools, usually at the direction of the principal. The coaching involves observing then providing suggestions to help that teacher be more effective. In years past, this was called a master teacher, in some school districts.

It should be noted that ICs are allocated to the school district based on a regulation in Title 1 that says 10% of the funds must go towards professional development. DCSS choice this method by hiring senior teachers (yes done by Dr. Berry since Title 1 funds are used but with recommendations from principals since they know the candidates), use the train the trainer concept to get these folks up to speed with AC, then put them in the schools.

There is enough blame to go around if you continue to look for scapegoats...

Stnuocca said...


My friends in the classroom tell a different tale.

The Instructional Coach (IC) are mostly no better at teaching than the teachers; the IC's intimidate the principals; the IC's seem to put as little time in the help mode while favoring the inspecting mode on the few days that they are in schools.

Fred said...

"The Instructional Coach (IC) are mostly no better at teaching than the teachers; the IC's intimidate the principals; the IC's seem to put as little time in the help mode while favoring the inspecting mode on the few days that they are in schools."

I'd really be interested in seeing your sample size. For a subordinate to intimidate the person responsible for the performance evaluation is a serious allegation.

There are good and bad employees in every profession. I bet there are some bad IC's. I also believe the good ones far outnumber the bad ones.

Some IC's don't have the respect from the teachers they are supposed to help. Some teachers believe they are beyond needing assistance thus reject anyone providing constructive criticism. Is that the fault of the IC? Does that make the IC a bad person if the teacher bad mouths them? This happens also.