Sunday, July 10, 2011

This is DCSS' Spokesperson?

If you missed today's The Georgia Gang on Fox 5, you missed Jeff Dickerson (and Alexis Scott) defending Beverly Hall and her administration. Jeff actually placed the blame on the massive scandal on parents. This coming from someone who was paid to be a public relations consultant for Beverly Hall and her administration.

Dickerson was once a journalist. On The Georgia Gang, when he appears, "Atlanta Tribune" appears below his name, as if he is still a practicing journalist. Right now, he is making top dollar as the lead DCSS spokesperson. All is rosy in DCSS when Jeff Dickerson is spinning it. No corruption, no massive waste, no nepotism, no cronyism, no reason to doubt the Office of School Improvement and its effectiveness, no need to ask why MIS spends tens of millions with no ROI, no issues with a Board of Ed who keeps the status quo at all costs, no problems with the stellar leadership of the feckless Tom Bowen, etc.

And if the blank hits the fan again with DeKalb County School System, Jeff will get another chance to blame the mess on the parents.


Gayle said...

I didn't realize APS is still one of his clients. I wonder how the taxpayers would feel about paying for a PR person for Hall and her crew?

Take a look in this video at how Jeff criticizes Doraville with regards to the GM plant. All they wanted was to keep a quiet community. I'm not aware that he lives in Doraville. Read the comments section.

Dorablogs (October 25, 2009):

And guess who the developer who was interested in putting the Falcons at the GM plant site?
"This is old news to many of you, but early this week a big announcement put Doraville back in the spotlight. The AJC reported that Sembler & Co — the only developer still negotiating with GM for their former Doraville plant — has floated a proposal to build a new football stadium for the Falcons on the site. "

Dorablogs (Dec. 28,2008):

Everyone remembers Sembler - the group who contributed so much to Eugene Walker's BOE campaign?
From the ajc:
"Sembler generated political heat in May by seeking a 100 percent property tax abatement. It was initially valued at $52 million over 20 years, though the estimated value has since been reduced to $42 million. Sembler asked the DeKalb Development Authority for the expanded break , after the authority had already granted a 10-year abatement worth $20 million.....The Development Authority’s former chairman, Eugene Walker, quit this month in the wake of the controversy over Sembler’s donations for his school board run. He had championed the additional tax break for Sembler while on the board."

Fred said...

"Take a look in this video at how Jeff criticizes Doraville with regards to the GM plant. All they wanted was to keep a quiet community. I'm not aware that he lives in Doraville."

I guess you are not in favor of economic development, creating more jobs, and increasing the DeKalb tax base and receipts. The GM site is obviously zoned commercial so putting something there that can create jobs and generate tax revenue makes sense.

DeKalb has a poor mix of commercial to residential tax receipts. In other words, residents carry a greater burden of supporting the infrastructure needs of the county because there are not many commercial entities. The old GM plant provided many opportunities for blue collar workers, providing many employment opportunities.

You are sounding more like you want DeKalb to fail and be less competitive.

Anonymous said...

While I am very bothered by Dickerson's biased presence on the program I'm sad to say that the Georgia Gang is a relic that is far past it's prime. I've been an on and off viewer since the days of Tom Houck and frankly the program no longer matters. The show might as well be called "Grandparents Argue" It's tucked away early on Sunday and I think the only people watching it are those who forgot what time High Q comes on or people with sleeping problems.

Fred said...

@resident2012, you think Dickerson is biased? If he is biased, what does that make Dick Williams and Phil Kent? Those guys seldom make concessions on a point, in fact yesterday was the first time in a while that Phil Kent had to acknowledge Dickerson had a point with those to blame with the APS cheating scandal.

I actually record the show and watch it later in the day. It is interesting hearing their perspectives though I may disagree with them.

Cerebration said...

"Grandparents Argue" - hilarious!

I can't believe you all are discussing The Georgia Gang.

After axing the entire in-house PR department, Dickerson is just about the only hire by Ramona Tyson besides Beaseley. "Nuff said.

SHS said...

Dick Williams and The Georgia Gang have lost any credibility they might ever have had -- and it was already in shreds and tatters. I guess this is where has-been so-called journalists end up. Quite frankly, no one on The Georgia Gang was ever "all that" as a journalist.

Fred said...
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Fred said...

"I can't believe you all are discussing The Georgia Gang. "

We are discussing this because Open + Transparent began this blog topic.

I neglected to mention that Open + Transparent took what Dickerson said out of context (not surprising). Dickerson said that parents are the first teachers of children and those that send 5 year olds to school that don't know their alphabet or how to count are not being good teachers and are part of the blame. Does anyone disagree with that? How would you feel if there were 5 students in your child's Kindergarten class like this, especially if your child is reading above grade level? Where do you think most of that teacher's time will be spent, given the high stakes testing environment? Seems like someone else said this earlier.

Also, his title is listed as Media Consultant.

Anonymous said...

As for unprepared K students - There is Head Start, Pre -K and barrels of federal funds that can be used for this exact problem. The overall grouping of students simply by age is an outdated concept but replacing it would upset so many other things in schools systems are reluctant to abandon it. One simple solution is K classes that begin every six months with students entering when they are ready. But I see lots of what was described but with a good teachers and support staff it can all work out.

September said...

The problem with what Jeff Dickerson says about parents not getting the job done at home is that he doesn't tell parents what they should be doing. It is like saying to a parent that their child needs to get plenty of sleep, but not saying how many hours are probably needed and not talking about the signs of a well rested child. It may seem obvious to you, but it might not be for the parent. If you don't follow up your parents aren't getting the job done comment with some helpful information, you are just playing the blame game. It's an easy way to sift the blame, but it doesn't help in the long run.

Cerebration said...

Bottom line - if we continue to toss blame around and squarely back on the parents, then we will never resolve the problem. It's critical to have a decently educated society so it's in *our* best interests to make certain that each of our future taxpaying, law-abiding citizens can read well and understand math concepts necessary to hold a job and manage personal finances (something we really need to teach in high schools!)

Also - I am a big proponent of taking some of these shuttered schools and making them into pre-k academies. That would relieve over-crowding in some elementary schools and not count against us for the FTE funding (pre-K's do not count for FTE, and therefore take up capacity in buildings, leaving them below recommendations.)

Fred said...

@September, much of what you say comes out during prenatal visits. At what point does the government get involved wtih advising how one should raise their child. This is a slippery slope.

At the same time, Dick Williams mentioned the high rate of births to unwed mothers in the Black community, somewhere around 70%. Alexis Scott added that many are young and lack much education themselves. Yes, there is a problem in my community. I can acknowledge that. This partly contributes to the challenges that many schools are facing. Places of worship try to help get the message out on all fronts however it falls on deaf ears, if you look at the statistics.

I wish I had the answer....

Cerebration said...

Partly? Do you think?????

I think a big issue is that we are on our 2nd and 3rd generations of single mothers in poverty. They are unable to break this cycle themselves (and some may even question the need to break it.) If our society wants things to improve, we need to address these issues of poverty, which can be done by educating.

September said...

Yes, a child who is reading in Kindergarten deserves appropriate instruction. However, there is a developmental window for reading. For most children it opens around the age of 6. It is like turning on a light. Prior to that you spend your time working on readiness skills. IMHO that should be the focus of our Kindergarten instruction. Many children learn to read in Kindergarten because they are developmentally ready. Keep in mind that we have a lot of young 6 children in our Kindergarten classes because of our Sept 1 cutoff date.

I have been in this business for a long time. When I trained as a teacher, kindergarten, if it was offered, was a three-hour program that taught readiness skills. As a college student, I worked with a 1st grade teacher who took a class of children from being non-readers to readers in about 6 months. At the beginning of the school year only one child was able to read. Some of those children arrived not knowing their alphabet, but most (95%) left 1st grade with age appropriate reading skills.

September said...

Really Fred. I went to a lot of those prenatal visits. We talked about a lot of things, but never how much sleep a five-year-old needs. We did, however, talk about how much sleep I needed to have a healthy baby.

Fred said...

@September, no disrespect intended but I don't think you are in the demographic where that kind of advice would be neeeded from an OB/GYN. Again, I am not shifting responsibilities but acknowledging what I've said repeatedly, there is enough blame to go around.

Again, that is why I am a huge supporter of early intervention strategies to help children master reading fundaments. As Cerebration mentioned, there are proposals to create Pre-Kindergarten for 3 year olds, with the hope of getting children into the system earlier. There are some that are not in favor of this and they already believe many parents simply use schools as free day care.

I'm not sure when you started but in my day, more children came prepared for Kindergarten. In fairness, this was in a working class area when most homes had two parents. Despite being lower income, families made sure their children got a good foundation and supported teachers. This was in the day that the 'Board of Education' meant something else if you know what I mean. Little to no discipline problems.

September said...

Fred, my point was not about the sleep habits of the children we teach but about how we as educators give parents short, pat answers without realizing that they sometimes don't understand what we mean. BTW, I would discuss sleep issues for children with my pediatrician. Mine was very helpful. UnIntended or not, your comment was out-of line.

The school class I am referring to was in a city school system. You can teach a four-year old to read, but there is research that shows that most of these children don't hold on to their reading advantage as they progress through school.

Studies comparing children who received early reading instruction with children who received extended reading readiness instruction show that any advantage you get from teaching a small child to read disappears by the 6th grade. In other words, the children who got extended readiness instruction caught up quickly.

Anonymous said...


DeKalb County (DKC) is in a death spiral.

It has the same job bank philosophy as the DCSS. 7500 employees.
10 years ago the County had only 43,000 less people but had about 2,000 fewer employees. The BOC commissioned a study to improve efficiency and then ignored it because it called for layoffs of a minimum of almost 1,000. Like DCSS a lot of friends and family members have to be protected.

Taxes will now be raised by 4.35 mils. This will drive Brookhaven to incorporate, like Dunwoody did and the part of DKC below Dunwoody to annex to Chamblee or Dunwoody. This will further erode the DKC tax base meaning more tax increases.

The once AAA bond rating has been blasted with 5 or 6 downgrades because of poor financial management. No short or long term plans to correct this except to raise taxes.

South DeKalb appears to be beyond salvage. Most of the $330 million infrastructure-park and $100 million Green Space bonds was spent there.
A $6 million budgeted Arts Center was built for only $19 million (more than 3 times); a number of new swimming pools, expansion of Walker Senior Center, etc. etc. Result: 15,000 or so foreclosed homes.

DKC is founding father Thomas Jefferson's worst democracy nightmare come true. Jefferson was afraid that the time would come when the takers would be able to vote themselves the fruits of the labors of the makers. DKC has reached that point.

AS to Dick Williams comments of 70% illegitimate child birth rate, the Latinos are about at the same level and the White's at about 50%. The Af Ams and Latinos seem to have congregated in DKC and attend DCSS.
There also was an article in last Sunday's AJC about the large number of non-English speaking immigrants that the US State Department settles in DKC and whose children attend DCSS. Dr Walker sometimes comments about how great this is. Because of the eroded tax base of South DKC the North DKC taxpayer are being required to pay a greater share of the County expenses.

Like DCSS, the DKC County government just will not make the hard choices needed to keep the ship afloat.

Cerebration said...

Fred, obviously, you are a man.

Gayle said...

@ Fred

My sister was a Head Start teacher so I've always had an affinity for this program. And I still strongly believe that low income children can benefit from middle class experiences.

Have you read the recent exhaustive report on Head Start by the U.S. Health and Human Services Department? Reluctantly, the Health and Human Services Department released this report that it had commissioned. Head Start was begun under this Department and remains under it. They have never allowed it to be moved to the Department of Education.

This report has been a real bombshell in education.

"In sum, this report finds that providing access to Head Start has benefits for both 3-year olds and 4-year-olds in the cognitive, health, and parenting domains, and for 3-year-olds in the
social-emotional domain. However, the benefits of access to Head Start at age four are largely
absent by 1st grade for the program population as a whole. For 3-year-olds, there are few
sustained benefits, although access to the program may lead to improved parent-child
relationships through 1st grade, a potentially important finding for children’s longer term development. "

Please read the entire report:

I'm still a huge supporter of early childhood education though. IMHO - I think this program has not been periodically evaluated and changed to be more efficacious for children. Rather it has been ossified in its delivery and execution.

Many critics of this report do not agree with its conclusions. A significant number say that Head Start became a jobs program bent on maintaining the status quo rather than focusing on the children, thus skewing the results. Follow up reports are due. This should make for interesting reading.

teacher said...

Having worked in Head Start, Head Start is not focused on educating children, it's focus is health and nutrition. Kids learn how to brush their teeth, eat family style, manners, play outside, but teaching the alphabet and other things that I do with my three year old are not encouraged and in fact discouraged because it's a social program. I would agree with the findings of the report, although I too believe in a strong early childhood program that inundates children with vocabulary, learning experiences, and being able to question and think about the world around them.

Fred said...

@atl and teacher, this has been some kind of day as it seems I'm in agreement with both of your points. Every program should be subject to regular review, evaluation, and tweaks for improvment. I've had family members send their children to Head Start with good results.

Fred said...
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Fred said...

@dundevil, I'm not looking for a reply but would you recommend your child or grandchild live/move in Dekalb, given the points you raise?

Gayle said...

@ Fred
Then we should look at the efficacy of DCSS Parent Centers, Instructional Coaches, America's Choice, Fernbank Science Center, and many, many other programs in DCSS.

Failure to look at these programs and eliminate the ones that cannot show data that they are moving students forward academically MUST be eliminated. When education becomes a jobs program like the one that pervades DCSS, student achievement always suffers. That's what we're experiencing currently. Resources must be funneled back into the classroom.

Fred said...

@atl, everything should be on the table for regular evaluation. You also have to do things in accordance to any regulations, if any are associated with the dollars provided.

What you don't want to do is create an environment by which employees are fearful of their jobs if events beyond their control don't work as expected. Could you imagine a "Pay for Performance" environment set for Kindergarten in low income neighborhoods? One could say that's what lead to the culture created in APS, fear and intimidation about your job if you can't move students forward. It will be interesting to see what will happen in 2014 when the expectation is that all schools should make AYP. Will the law be changes and will it still be in play?

One of the speakers tonight mentioned how parents are their children's first teachers. That opinion is shared by many in my community.

bu2 said...

My sister enthusiastically volunteered for Head Start one summer in the 60s and came out thinking it was all worthless. Its apparently a nice idea that doesn't work. But noone has measured it before, like a lot of education ideas.

Early Childhood Intervention programs that target specific needs of individual children work better than scattershot approaches like Head Start.