Saturday, August 27, 2011

Dr. Atkinson made her public debut this morning

Maureen Downey has an excellent report on Dr. Atkinson's first public meeting this morning. Maureen tells us the following:
In her first meet-and-greet Saturday morning with the community, DeKalb school chief finalist Cheryl Atkinson came across as open, tough, seasoned and ready for the challenges of the fractured district.

Twice, to applause both times, Atkinson said she had no problem letting people go who are not performing. She also won applause when she said that education takes place in the classroom, not in the central office.

(You gained the sense that the DeKalb parents in the audience believe there is too much dead weight in the central office as the applause was reflexive whenever Atkinson talked about changes at that level.)

“My focus will be on our students and student success first with adults and political issues taking a distant second. Children must come first. Our decisions, my decisions, must first and foremost focus on what is good for all children. My intention is to create an internal structure that will allow effective educators to focus on the core mission improving academic performance. We do not have the luxury of allowing non-academic related issues to consume the attention and focus of all our educators,” she said

She also earned applause when she said that she didn’t believe in teaching to tests, but she did believe in preparing for them, including raising the performance of high school students on the college admission tests, the SAT and the ACT. In Kansas City, she pushed and obtained ACT testing for every student during the school day.

There is much more. Read Maureen's blog post by clicking here.


Cerebration said...

I was unable to attend the meet and greet, but in reading these comments I find this one by Jeff says is best, “I believe that the new leader will have a window of opportunity to dramatically reduce the overhead before being swallowed up by the problem instead of solving it.”

Truly, this is an enormous task. And it’s very true that getting right down to business is the way to establish the ground rules and maintain power and control. I don’t know if Dr. Atkinson really realizes that she is entering a battle. Even Johnny Brown didn’t manage to win the power. (Although he was dismissed with a $400,000 parting gift, which may be a decent enough achievement.) Maybe Atkinson should fly to Texas and take Brown out to dinner and get the real scoop. Her staff is mostly comprised of wolves in sheep's clothing, IMO. It would serve her well to replace almost every single one, ASAP.

I with her the best.

Anonymous said...

She had to negotiate with a real teachers’ union in Ohio. Here she has no union to slow her down in furthering DCSS’ continued, willful ignorance of teachers’ concerns and its desperate attempts to save money by bleeding teachers dry of salary and benefits. In the meanwhile, DCSS and all the admin cronies enrich themselves with the “savings.”

Not many years ago, in some school districts, applicants would not be hired as teachers if a bankruptcy appeared on their records. It’s illegal to do that now, but my biggest concern is that she was listed as sole defendant in adverse litigation in a bankruptcy. This should have been admitted on her application. If it is true that she did not list this litigation on her app, (and it is public record) then she should have been disqualified and not even considered for the position. This calls her veracity into doubt.

DCSS is trying to sell her as the best candidate for the job, and apparently will gloss over anything that would concern its constituents (not its stakeholders, because not even teachers have any stake held in DCSS–DCSS has removed teachers’ and other lowly employees’ stakes–not to mention parents’ and taxpayers’.) To satisfy, at the very minimum, SACS’ “demands” (as if SACS would ever enforce them as true demands!)

DCSS would leave us all in ignorance of its backroom dealings and politically charged decisions, sunshine and open meetings laws be damned.

Anonymous said...

And God help us if the New Birth connection mentioned in a comment to the Get Schooled blog is true!!!

YaGottaBeKiddingMe said...

C'mon. It's not that hard to see what's happening here. The demographics will continue to rule the day. The most galling aspect of all is that the folks least happy with the selection of Atkinson, or all the other BOE shenanigans, are probably the ones having to foot the biggest portion of the bill. How long do you think that's going to fly? It's our money. Why give it to those who prove time and again that they will not spend it wisely.

It's ridiculous to pretend we shouldn't want the best for our own children. It certainly doesn't imply any lack of concern for other children. Yet, that's what the manipulators and agenda-pushers will argue.

I won't be surprised to see more efforts to incorporate cities within DeKalb county. Otherwise, we just sit back and continue to watch our education tax dollars go right down the drain.

BTW, I think Atkinson handled the question about her bankruptcy very poorly. She didn't actually address it, preferring instead to brush it away as just related to her husband's small business. Is that HER name on the legal documents or isn't it? Whatever the circumstances under which it occurred, by not fully disclosing it on her signed application, she acted unethically and perhaps illegally. It's a big mistake to give that a pass. I'm aware of a nearby county that recently threatened to fire an employee when they found out he had, 10 years ago, written a bad check for less than $150 that he ultimately paid.

What kind of message gets sent to our students. Well, Johnny, it's okay to lie on a job application; just make sure you have the right connections so that you can get away with it.

Anonymous said...

To replace "Everyone ASAP" is the dumbest statement that was EVER made. Don't you realize that ONE NEW person can't run a show or even know what the state Regs. are. I agree that the new Supt. should take stock of where we are and where we need to go. I think a new organizational chart with downsizing is necessary...but by "a hit list"....I attended the meeting and wasn't expecting much more than the last "show of the three". I have to say that although her most recent assignment was in a very small system, she has served in systems larger than DeKalb at high levels (Deputy & Associate). I left that meeting rejuvinated and hopeful, wondering why she wasn't in the
1st 3". Most inpressive and inportant, is the lady knows "Curriculum and Instruction" " Teaching & Learning. This is exactly what we need. WE HAVE NEVER HAD A SUPT. AS KNOWAGABLE IN THIS ARENA AS SHE IS...Not Cherry, not Hinson, not Freeman, not Hallford, not Brown, and definately not Lewis. WE didn't need it when we had strong instructional leadership in the county but now....Yall, this is where the rubber hits the road. Let's support DR. A. and put pressure on each Board Member to get out of the way and let her lead. I'm in!! Join me in writing your Board Member and supporting Dr. Atkinson if she gets the votes o Monday!

Anonymous said...

I was also unable to attend the meet and greet, but wanted to comment on Dr. Atkinson's position on not having a problem removing teachers who perform inadequately in our classrooms. A indepth look at administrators across the board is needed too. In both cases, there are a number of UNQUALIFIED DCSS employees that MUST be exposed and purged. Whatever tools are available, please launch and employ them immediately. Contact Bill Gates' Foundation for assessment tools. Swift action is necessary--similar to that taken by former chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, Michelle A. Rhee. Radical and bold steps MUST be taken to "clean" house as parents suggested by their applause.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 7:21 PM, August 27

The New Birth connection is REAL.

Go to and look at the bankruptcy documents provided by PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records). There you will find Calvary Academy of the King listed as a creditor on page 4 of Docket 1.

Then go to the New Birth website, click on the Network tab, and scroll down to The Father's House - Pastor Network. Click on The Father's House and go to Church Locator. Search for Calvary Revival Church, Norfolk, VA. lists Calvary Revival Church as also doing business as Calvary Academy of the King.

Anonymous said...

Both our children attended all 12 grades in the DCSS and graduated. Both were successful in college and have good jobs.

However, Dekalb County Schools are not near what they were in the 70s and 80s. There is simply no way that my children today would attend DCSS schools - no way! Not as long as I work or have the flexibility to move.

I've got to pay my property tax, including school tax, by September 30. Rest assured, I abhor paying my taxes to support such a poorly run school system that maintains such a bloated bureaucracy, passes off breaches of integrity such as "Bookgate" with a slap on the wrist two-week fine, pays more in legal costs than its three neighboring counties combined, and would not terminate indicted school officials. I have also read about Dr. Atkinson's contract in the AJC - $275,000 per year, 30 vacations days up front as a "gift", $2600 expense account, etc., etc. This makes me want to pay even more tax!!

I think that there are a lot of people in this county who feel as I do. One day, some day, this will all change. I hope that such change will not be caused by the implosions that Rep. Steen Miles described previously.

Anonymous said...

I have thought about one method of fairly measuring teacher performance. The idea of video recording teachers delivering instruction in their respective classrooms as an approach of checks & balances with respect to lesson plans and their continuity in covering the required material--and how well they do it. The technology is there--take YOUTUBE for example. In fact, this is a built-in product ALL students (and teachers that need to hone their teaching skills) can employ. That is, excellent instruction in the core content areas can be accessed by students (not to mention many already exist on YouTube) during station learning and/or while at home. The idea is to setup a repository of these educational videos whereby parents and children can be protected from inappropriate content. I know there are resources such as BRAINPOP and what-have-you, but students of all ages look for alternative resources (e.g., textbooks. Different authors have different ways of presenting information. A student may have to go thru 3 or more textbooks to find an author that explains it where they can understand the material being taught. Likewise goes with teachers. Given I profess to be a computer scientist by training and profession, I forsee tablet computers replacing textbooks in 3-5 years--maybe. I envision this as a beautiful tool for "interactive learning." Our next superintendent should move in this direction. This will aid us NOT teaching to tests as Dr. Atkinson advocated.

LaLaMeeka Chadwalli said...

@ Anon August 28, 2011 1:10 AM this is a great idea as it will give great insight into challenges faced by our teachers. Students yelling over one another, ripping on each other about their hair, skin color, parent in prison, who's your daddy issues, etc. The teachers face these obstructions every single day. Video documenting such behavior would be great to show.
their parent(s), guardian, et al.

Anon 11:09. Sounds like you are worried about your cush job at the palace. You should be if you have to resort to trolling school blog websites,

Cerebration said...

@Anon 11:09 I disagree. To wait and "assess" will be her demise. Like I said, she really should seek Johnny Brown's advice.

Cerebration said...

From the AJC blog: "Expose the entire E&Y audit of 5 years ago and get a new one going immediately."

Ahh - another episode of empty promises! Read Ramona Tyson's very words from this blog post:

Ramona Tyson's Report on the 2004 Ernst & Young Audit

"Now today, as a part of the transitional plan, the next steps are to complete the following over the next 6-9 months with a direct focus on central office positions and administration salaries:

By May 30, 2011, we will develop a request for proposal to conduct a compensation study partnering either with a college or university or a company that specializes in organizational structure/compensation study.
By June, 2011, I will transition this plan to the new superintendent and I will include the documents that were found under the E&Y study for full disclosure and receipt to the new superintendent.
By the end of June we will ask the legal team to review the RFP.
By July of 2011, a public advertisement of the RFP will occur.
By August of 2011, the RFP will be acknowledged with vendors that will reply to that RFP.
By September of 2011, the RVP evaluation and vendor selection will occur.
And by October, board approval and award to such vendor.

All of this is subject to change dependent on the new superintendent, but I did want to give the board the complete commitment to follow through on the charge of seeing that the study is begun.""

So, like, did any of this happen? No. It was a PR ploy to quiet the public on the issue. Period.

It's all smoke and mirrors my friends. Puppet mastering. I hope Atkinson is smart enough to figure out she's being manipulated. Unless, of course, that was part of the whole agreement. Time will tell. I'll hold out hope that she's on the up and up. But every time I've done that with DCSS, I've been disappointed.

In fact, if you are really interested in just how many empty promises we have been fed since Tyson’s been at the helm (which pales in comparison to Lewis’s empty promises) read this blogpost which follows up on her very first public meeting full of promises to the audience at an Emory Lavista Parent Council. (FWIW, we will follow and report on Atkinson’s promises as well.)

Revisiting Past Comments From Ramona Tyson

Cerebration said...

This is to show just how absolutely controlling I think our board is -- and how I think that no matter what Atkinson promises, she will find her efforts blocked every time.

teacher said...

@ Cere, this all goes back to the post with Charolette Iserbyt. Shutting concerned parents up for a few months buys them more time for people to work on their goals, as they hope that parents/resisters will forget and move on to something else.

LaLaMeeka Chadwalli said...

Puppet master indeed. I wonder if we'll get a Dr. Atkinson bobble head doll at the next PTA meeting?

Open+Transparent said...

"I understand there's a perception of nepotism and cronyism," Atkinson said. "But I think that if we have the right people, competent and capable in the job, then that will address the heart of the issue. I'll spend the time studying this and realigning [staff] and probably downsizing it."

"She said she also wants to conduct a top-down audit of school finances, looking at each program and how it spends local, state and federal money. If the money spent doesn't bring results, then the program must go, she said."

Let's revisit these comments in 12, 24 and 36 months from now. Ramona Tyson made a number of pledges she did not follow up on. Tyson did nothing to address the needless spending, the friends & family plan, the ridiculous office of School Improvement, the bloated Central Office, school police dept., MIS, etc.

I truly hope Atkinson follows through on her pledges.

Anonymous said...

Paraphrasing John Wayne "She talks the talk but can/will she walk the talk."

Jo said...

"Perceived nepotism and cronyism?"


Go to (You will have to set up an account to access Box, but it is free.)

Access the Palace Staff and Schoolhouse Teachers 2010 file. There you will find an Excel workbook with two spreadsheets. The first spreadsheet contains complete listing of all DCSS employees in 2010. (This is taken directly from using the option to download information into a spreadsheet.)

The spreadsheet has been sorted according to job title/category.

Within each job title/ category, it has been sorted alphabetically by last name.

Each category has been numbered so it is immediately clear how many are in that category.

The salaries in each category have also been subtotaled, so it is immediately clear how how much money is being spent on that category. (Please note: expense accounts are not included.)

It is eye-opening!

"Perceived nepotism and cronyism"? This is NOT perception. It is reality!

Owner of many, master of none said...

As a teacher and former member of the Teachers Advisory Council, which Dr. Lewis disempowered by having Teachers of the Year, rather than elected TAC representatives,serve, I'd like to see Dr. Atkinson show her respect for teachers by resurrecting that group or, better yet, creating another forum for teachers to have direct input to HER. The group is now functionally nonexistent--we never hear anything that comes out of there--but in a setting where there is no union or effective representation of teachers, we need some way to talk directly to the Superintendent without five layers of middle-people intervening. Such a move, which would show that she wants to hear what it's like in the classroom, would reassure me that she cares deeply about helping us do our best to educate chidren in DCSS. Perhaps her experiences dealing with a "real" union will carry over here.

Gayle said...

@ anonymous 1:10
"Given I profess to be a computer scientist by training and profession, I forsee tablet computers replacing textbooks in 3-5 years--maybe. I envision this as a beautiful tool for "interactive learning." Our next superintendent should move in this direction. This will aid us NOT teaching to tests as Dr. Atkinson advocated."

You do realize that Dr. Atkinson equipped every student in 6th grade through 12th in Lorain with a laptop - now - not 3 to 5 years down the road?

dekalb2 said...

These are the kinds of things that need to be addressed:
Leaky air conditioning systems
Units that shut off and students vomiting from the heat in 98 degree heat.
Rooms not cleaned or swept.
Teachers buying their own vacuum and cleaning equipment
Secretaries overworked and having to stay until 7:00 most nights to catch up. Schools need sommeone to just answer the phone.
Teachers swamped with paper work which leads to less time to plan instruction. THIS IS A MAJOR PROBLEM.
Class size increasing will definitely impact the quality of education. Class sizes of 24 in kindergarten with only one shared papraprofessional per grade level.
Instructional coaches just sitting and looking at the computer screens.
No duty-free lunch for teachers yet this school year. This is a mandate from the state.
Lunchlines with a 20 minute wait and 100 students in line. This impacts instruction.
These are occurrences observed at my school in the last week.

Jo said...

A response to "Berny's" comment on the Get Schooled blog article on Atkinson's "debut."

@ Berny

" I agree that the new high schools on the southside are beautiful and children should NOT be transferred elsewhere but should instead receive the same education opportunities at their home school. But sadly, that’s not happening. And ALL schools should be made equal in the terms of quality of teaching staff, discipline and funding. What’s wrong with that?"

Here's what's wrong with that, Berny:

Strong schools are a function of strong parent and community involvement. Basically every DCSS school receives the same amount of per pupil funds for each full-time enrolled student. South DeKalb schools -- many of which are Title I schools -- receive even more money. (If those schools are getting less in per-pupil funds, it is because YOU are pulling your children out of your neighborhood schools insread of making them better.)

Yet, South DeKalb taxpayers continue to return the same sorry BOE members and tolerate the family-and-friends scam (and fraud with federal funds) that puts money into the pockets of incompetent, undertalented, over-paid, do-nothing Palace staff INSTEAD of putting the money in the classroom.

You are not paying your fair share of school taxes. You probably pay 50% or less of the property tax I pay. (Former BOE member Zepora Roberts pays $300 per year in property tax, none of which is school tax -- highly questionnable and possibly illegal -- and her house is labeled "DeKalb County Schools" on Google maps.) I pay nearly $8,000 in property tax, 70% of which goes to DCSS where it is promptly misspent.

I spent more than 20 years as an active parent volunteer making sure my children's North DeKalb schools were the best they could be. I didn't do that just because I was looking for something to do. I could have made a lot more money by spending that time on my career. But, my children were worth the financial sacrifice.

You drive your kids to "better" (though comparatively underfunded) North DeKalb schools and just drop them off instead of using and improving your neighborhood schools. And that's where it ends. You don't spend your time volunteering in North DeKalb schools. Often your kids aren't willing to conform to the behavior standards in North DeKalb Schools. And, your kids are overcrowding North DeKalb schools, leaving behind empty classrooms in their neighborhoods.

It is up to you to make your neighborhood schools better and I resent paying top dollar taxes to educate your children because you won't take responsibility for your neighborhood schools. At the very least, people who choose to send their children to North DeKalb schools instead of making their South DeKalb neighborhood schools better should be paying the same amount I (and my neighbors) do on the school tax portion of their property taxes.

No Duh said...

Hmmm. And just who will be responsible for negotiating computer hardware and software contracts to outfit 100,000 students with laptops/ipads? The grotesquely overpaid Assitant Super of MIS -- Ramona Tyson. You can be sure Walker, Cunningham and Wood are furiously having relatives incorporate "computer services" businesses all across DeKalb.

Gayle said...

"Ernst and Young audit....By August of 2011, the RFP will be acknowledged with vendors that will reply to that RFP.
By September of 2011, the RVP evaluation and vendor selection will occur.
And by October, board approval and award to such vendor."

Beginning and completing this audit as soon as possible is critical to Dr. Atkinson if she wants to realign non-teaching salaries more in line with marketplace realities. The audit would give her the data and cover to adjust salaries for the vast army of non-teaching personnel who consume so much of the DCSS budget.

Also, Dr. Atkinson outsourced some operational staff in Lorain. I hope she does some limited outsourcing in DCSS, gathers the data to see if it is cost effective, and moves forward in that area.

Anonymous said...

@ No Duh
"And just who will be responsible for negotiating computer hardware and software contracts to outfit 100,000 students with laptops/ipads? The grotesquely overpaid Assitant Super of MIS -- Ramona Tyson."

The AJC reports that Tyson will be back in her old job of Deputy Superintendent of Business Operations so she will not be running MIS. RFPs are public information so that's not a real concern either.

The question is - would MIS be up to the task of implementing any large scale laptop initiative? Look at eSis/Schoolnet. It's been 4 years and $11,000,000 after this purchase, and the system still don't work the way it's supposed to and deliver the results Tyson (at the time head of MIS) and Hunter (currently head of MIS) promised. And has the Activboard program worked seamlessly? That also was millions of dollars.

The problems with technology initiatives in DCSS have NOT been corruption or nepotism or cronyism. The problems have been/are less than competent implementation and maintenance of the software and hardware and an inability to meet the instructional objectives promised by MIS.

No Duh said...

Wasn't able to attend the Dog and Pony yesterday either.

Same quote from AJC jumped off the page for me, too. "Perceived nepotism/cronyism." Followed by, "BUT, I think IF we have the right people, competent and capable in the job, then that will address the heart of the issue."

With all due respect Dr. Atkinson, "the heart of the issue" is that we DON'T have competent people in place!! Would anyone be complaining about nepotism/cronyism IF we HAD competent/capable people in the jobs?

"Realigning" staff?? That's all DCSS does!! How many times to you have to realign someone like Felicia Mitchell before someone cries foul?? She didn't last long as Lewis' assistant, did she? Even he figured out she can't beat her way out of a wet paper bag, but, was she let go? Nope, "realigned."

And that's just one example of how and why DCSS is drowning in incompetence and waste.

I honestly don't care what anyone's last name is IF they can show tangible, viable, verifiable RESULTS that directly "align" with the job they are paid to do.

No Duh said...

MIS isn't under Business Operations?

No Duh said...

Kickbacks, Braves/Hawks/Falcons, etc. tix don't typically show up on the RFP.

Anonymous said...

Jo; I rally wonder how much school taxes are paid by Zip Code. Based on the 50% or so reduction in assessed property values for South DeKalb and the small to zero reductions for North DeKalb, you are probably correct that North DeKalb pays a disproportionate share. Also, there are a number of exemptions from paying some or all school taxes based on both age and income.

The same inequity holds true for County Government. That is, North DeKalb taxes support the bloated County Government.

Dare I say: "Milton County"

Anonymous said...

@ No duh
Yes. MIS is under Business Operations, but Tyson is not in charge of RFPs or day to day MIS operations.

The problems with technological competence and project execution are the issues DCSS has consistently faced, not corruption or cronyism or nepotism. For example, eSis/SchoolNet work seamlessly in other systems that have this product and deliver the benefits promised. This is also true of the ActivBoards. Look no further than Forsyth or Gwinnett to see how EVERY classroom has an Activboard, teachers receive ongoing training and support on the use of these boards, and they are properly installed and maintained.

The hardware and software DCSS buys comes from large and respected corporations and delivers good value for other school systems.

The question is - why do these same systems (eSis/SchoolNet, Activboards, laptop carts, technology labs filled with brand new Dell computers, etc.) that work so well for other school systems not perform the way they are supposed to perform in DCSS, and why do they not deliver the benefits promised? This is the question that needs to be asked of MIS before going into a one-to-one laptop initiative.

MIS needs to be completely audited and reorganized with an instructional focus and only the most competent personnel retained. There is a very large and expensive Project Management team in place that can't ever seem to get it right. This needs to be addressed. DCSS MIS is a PC shop that refuses to look at other systems (Apple, Linux, etc.). They do not have an instructional focus. They concentrate on the network rather than ensuring the the end user in the classroom has the necessary hardware and software in good working order.

Dr. Atkinson is obviously more interested in the end user than anyone DCSS has had before. It will be interesting when she begins to ask MIS the tough questions, and no doubt she will since she came from systems that had abundant and working technology. Asking students to "bubble in" the pencil/paper benchmark tests (1960s style)and asking teachers to "scan" in the answer sheets (1980s style) will be shocking to someone who comes from a system that successfully implemented laptops for every child. She will want to know why students don't have access to enough technology to deliver "real time" assessments to teachers. She will encounter resistance to any large scale purchase beyond PCs. There are many areas she has taken for granted as being successful that are not working properly for the members of the classroom. I predict some major changes in the department.

No Duh said...

Anon, agree with everything you said.

However, if MIS is under Business Ops and Tyson is head of Business Ops, then by my definition of leadership (and Harry Truman's), Tyson is responsible for MIS. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

@ Jo
South Dekalb schools may receive a lot of Title 1 money, but the control of that money lies in the Office of School Improvement which is part of the Central Office. Parents who have children in Title 1 schools the school personnel who teach their children have little control over the hundreds of millions in federal funding expenditures.

Contrast the millions in Title 1 funding with the smaller amount of PTA dollars in many non-Title 1 schools in north DeKalb and a number of non-Title 1 schools in south DeKalb.

The PTAs in the non-Title 1 schools raise the funds and therefore have control over their expenditures. The expenditures are not for non-teaching personnel or ineffective learning programs or administrative overhead. These PTAs with substantial funds evaluate student needs based largely on teacher and administrative requests.

Look at this article in Dekalb County School Watch comparing the efficacy of expenditures in Title 1 schools with the PTA expenditures in non-Title 1 schools:
Is DCSS Leveling the Playing
Field Between Schools?

Title 1 funds are supposed to "level the playing field" yet little of the funding actually ends up in direct instruction for students.

I can understand the frustration of parents with students in low performing Title 1 schools in south DeKalb. The blame lies in large part with the DCSS administration that has moved Title 1 funding decisions out of the schoolhouse and into the Central Office. No one in the Office of School Improvement or the Central Office is being held accountable for the dismal results federal dollar expenditures have produced. Parents, students and teachers are being shortchanged in Title 1 schools. It's not fair to blame them when they seek a better situation for their child.

Anonymous said...

@ Cere
"By July of 2011, a public advertisement of the RFP will occur.
By August of 2011, the RFP will be acknowledged with vendors that will reply to that RFP."

Here is the link to the DCSS bid page:

Where is the RFP for the Compensation audit that Ms. Tyson committed to?

This bid should have gone out before now and the information should have been ready for Dr. Atkinson when she arrived. Instead, it appears there is no bid at all.

SHS said...

@ Anonymous, 4 PM

It is extremely fair -- and entirely well-deserved -- to blame parents for simply shipping their children off to North DeKalb schools -- overcrowding them -- instead of working to make their neighborhood schools better.

Hey parents: Title I funds do not follow Title I students in DCSS -- more for the pockets of the Palace employees.

These are the same parents who repeatedly vote in sorry BOE members like the feckless Tom Bowen, convicted felon Jay Cunningham, avowed racist Gene Walker and clueless Sarah Copelin-Wood.

It looked like Donna Edler would be a significant improvement, but she generally seems unprepared and has been a great disappointment. Who knows about Pam Speaks?

It is way past time for parents in South DeKalb to take responsibility for their schools. Don't like your neighborhood school? Demand changes and work to make them happen. Convert non-performing schools to charter schools or create new charter schools and put them, rent-free in the many empty DCSS buildings in South DeKalb.

There are plenty of solutions if your kids are worth it.

Dekalbparent said...

As to DeKalb taxes:

District 2 pays the largest total taxes, with District 1 close behind. These are North and Central DeKalb districts.

The rest of the districts COMBINED do not pay the total taxes of EITHER ONE of them.

Source: DeKalb County Commission records.

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 4:21

Regarding RFP for a Compensation audit...

I think that just deals with Operations. Here is the administrative RFP information (Superintendent search firm, Lawyers, etc.) But I don't see the Compensation audit RFP Ms. Tyson promised to post in July listed here either:

Jo said...

@ dundevil 3:09 PM

I'm thinking North DeKalb School System. Dividing DeKalb County into two different counties would work, too.

Just so you know, you can check out anyone's DeKalb County property taxes by going to: Then click on "Property Tax." All you need to know is their name.

At the same site, you can find the rules for property tax exemptions. It is highly doubtful that Zepora Roberts and Paul Womack legally qualify for the exemption they take from school taxes. And that's just based on DCSS BOE earnings, as well as their corporate pensions.

Take a look for yourself.

Anonymous said...

Thats right YouGottaBeKiddingMe--there will be larger cities and city school systems before any county school systems are broken up.

Anonymous said...

Joe @2:30 PM

There are may be more non-taxpaying voters than taxpaing voters in DeKalb.
There are a higher apartment to owned-homes in DeKalb than any other county.
Apartment renters pay taxes via their rent, but don't evn notice it.

Incumbents stay in office this way.
(It will help when we get rid of the superdistricts)

Anonymous said...

Better cut and capture those website references to Reverend Long's connections--they'll be off the website tomorrow.

Gayle said...

@ Jo
"I'm thinking North DeKalb School System. Dividing DeKalb County into two different counties would work, too"

Did you realize that the state of
Georgia would have to change the State Constitution to create a new school system?

Here is a link to the Georgia Constitution - Article VIII - Section V - Paragraph 1.

"Paragraph I. School systems continued; consolidation of school systems authorized; new independent school systems prohibited. Authority is granted to county and area boards of education to establish and maintain public schools within their limits. Existing county and independent school systems shall be continued, except that the General Assembly may provide by law for the consolidation of two or more county school systems, independent school systems, portions thereof, or any combination thereof into a single county or area school system under the control and management of a county or area board of education, under such terms and conditions as the General Assembly may prescribe; but no such consolidation shall become effective until approved by a majority of the qualified voters voting thereon in each separate school system proposed to be consolidated. No independent school system shall hereafter be established."

In layman's terms, that means that as of the date of this article, NO other school systems can be established. DeKalb is DeKalb and it is unconstitutional to create a North DeKalb School System.

Look at what it takes for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution:
"Paragraph III. Repeal or amendment of proposal.
Any proposal by the General Assembly to amend this Constitution or for a new Constitution may be amended or repealed by the same General Assembly which adopted such proposal by the affirmative vote of two thirds of the members to which each house is entitled in a roll-call vote entered on their respective journals, if such action is taken at least two months prior to the date of the election at which such proposal is to be submitted to the people."

So just to get an amendment to the voters, you need a two third majority in the legislature. Then you need to get the voters to vote in the affirmative.

It seems like it would ALL parents in DeKalb (north and south) for reform of the school system and the election of new BOE members. The governor can already appoint new
BOE members if SACS steps in so SACS is a good pressure point. And we will have every BOE member up for re-election in 2012 since they will be pared down to 7 from 9. This was accomplished by support legislators from ALL areas of DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

The constitution can be changed. This can be more likely to happen if the Republicans get a super majority in the statehouse. There is one other out for DeKalb. If an area adjacent to Decatur incorporates and becomes a city they could become part of Decatur Schools. So if the City of Druid Hills is established you could create the Decatur/Druid Hills consolidated school district.

Jo said...

@ atl 5 PM

I had already read everything you sent about changing the Georgia Constitution. Thanks, anyhow.

I am through spending time on DCSS. It is a lost cause. When the BOE "votes" for Atkinson, they will be putting the final nails in the DCSS coffin.

Trying to work with the DCSS BOE has been like spitting into the wind. This goes for any DCSS BOE for the forseeable future. Even with a downsized BOE, I don't see any change in the voters. Enough already!

I am determined to be part of the change that will benefit me as a North DeKalb homeowner and taxpayer. From this point on, that is what my time will be spent doing. I am through with throwing my tax dollars down a rat hole.

I'm betting I am not alone.

Anonymous said...

The state constitution can be changed. It seems like we vote on a lot of these amendments. Bring it on!

Dekalbparent said...

Decatur has stated that they are not interested in annexing any residential areas now. Their schools are full and cannot accommodate more. Schools currently in unincorporated DeKalb would not automatically go to Decatur - Decatur would have to buy them.
(When Decatur considered annexing Forrest Hills, they were told the school didn't come with the deal.)

I'd see the city of Druid Hills happening faster than an annexation...

Cerebration said...

4:21 PM You made my point exactly. Ramona made SO many empty promises at her first public meeting at Emory Lavista Parent Council. Virtually none of her 'promises' have come to pass. I see the same empty promises rearing their heads now through Adkinson. It's exactly the same. Both women may have wanted to make change, and may have thought, or think that as superintendent they CAN make change, but they are wrong. It's a wag the dog system.

All that said, I do think it would be much easier to change the Georgia Constitution (after all the current wording was a 'change' at the time) -- than to get SACS to take any action, much less the Governor.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have lost hope in the Dekalb County School System. We have elected strong Republican majorities in the House and Senate and we will have a Republican governor for at least three more years. Next year, we will remove Barrack Obama as President and most likely replace him with a Rick Perry. There will be a 5-4 conservative majority on the Supreme Court and the Democrats will most likely lose control of the Senate at a national level.

The State of Georgia will not and cannot permit the Atlanta Public School System and the Dekalb County School System to function as they do now. Doing so would drive jobs to other states and our economy would never recover. People considering relocating here are turned off by the likes of Walker, Copelin-Wood, Cunningham, and Bowen. If you have any doubts, I would suggest that you attend a school board meeting and listen to these people. They continue to believe that all our problems are "racist" when 82% of Dekalb is minority. The schools in their districts are so bad that students there are transferring out. On solution to this is to reconfigure our districts to where students actually attend school - not where they live. The really sad thing about all of this is that it is the students in those districts who are being hurt most. In a few short years, all of them must face the reality of the job market. So-called "entitlement" programs are going to be cut drastically and I'm not sure what these students will or can do.

I conclude by simply saying that change is closer than you think. You cannot force people to pay taxes to support something they despise. Given the Republican presence at all levels of government, I think that a change in our Constitution restructuring our school districts is growing more practical every day.

Cerebration said...

And DeKalb Parent: I am FLOORED! All the other districts COMBINED do not pay as much in taxes as either District 1 or 2?? What about District 4? I thought we paid some heavy taxes too in District 4. Please share the totals if you have them.

Cerebration said...


Parents for DeKalb Schools is excited to release its very first video:

Failing Schools, Forgotten Children:
Stories from DeKalb Schools

In this compelling video, a South DeKalb parent shares her frustrations, hopes, and dreams. Share it far and wide with anyone and everyone who you think could benefit from this story.

By sharing this video, you help to grow our reach to more parents and more schools across DeKalb County.

Brief update: The Board of Education is meeting on Monday, August 29 at 10:00 a.m. for the final vote to hire proposed superintendent candidate, Dr. Cheryl Atkinson. A complete update will be sent following this meeting.

Parents for DeKalb Schools remains committed to ensuring the best possible education for DeKalb children. With your help, we will make it happen together!

See our updated web site:

Anonymous said...

"It is extremely fair -- and entirely well-deserved -- to blame parents for simply shipping their children off to North DeKalb schools -- overcrowding them -- instead of working to make their neighborhood schools better. .....It is way past time for parents in South DeKalb to take responsibility for their schools."

Well, a south DeKalb voter only has one vote. You cannot blame a single voter for the collective votes of a district. You have been a tireless worker for DeKalb students. You must realize how difficult it is to make any changes in the local school within the confines the DeKalb Schools upper administration has created. The Central Office is a power center that controls a billion dollars a year, spent/spend tens of millions on lawyers annually, and have layers upon layers of administration for citizens ALL OVER DeKalb to plow through to effect change.

There are many dedicated parents in south DeKalb. They are up against a Central Office machine that depends on Title 1 (and other federal) funds for the majority of discretionary funding. Most Title 1 funds come from the concentration of low income students in south DeKalb so maintaining control in south DeKalb is infinitely more important that maintaining control in north DeKalb.

Non-Title 1 schools have legal control of their PTA funding - the only discretionary funding for most non-Title 1 schools - and well out of the grasp of the DCSS administration. Title 1 funding is often the only (or the lion's share) of discretionary funding for the Title 1 schools - and completely within the grasp of the DCSS administration. How would they fund all of those non-teaching personnel without Title 1 funds?

Let's not forget that a disproportionate amount of Gifted money (66% override in per pupil spending) flows to schools in north DeKalb. Austin, Vanderlyn, Fernbank, and Oak Grove (just to name a few northern DeKalb schools) hire numerous extra grade level teachers with gifted funds resulting in lower class sizes for all students. Gifted funding is state funding that follows the students, is spent within the schoolhouse, and is not able to be used for the multitude of non-teaching expenditures that Title 1 and federal funds can be used for.

With over 10,000 (10% of all students) classified as Gifted, this is an enormous amount of per pupil funding - much if not most of it flowing to a small number of schools (mostly north DeKalb), and virtually ALL of it spent for teachers that directly instruct students (QUITE the opposite of Title 1 funding).

Another result of the skewing of gifted funding is that many gifted students in south DeKalb in schools with low numbers of students classified as gifted have virtually no gifted services.

Trying to force all students to stay in their local schools will not work in the current climate of educational opportunity inequity. Look at Kittredge as an example of a school that has taken many stellar students out of north DeKalb schools. In the early 2000s, the principals at Vanderlyn, Oak Grove and Fernbank complained at a BOE meeting that Kittredge was draining their schools of top students and decreasing their standardized test scores. Druid Hills has the International Bacculaureate program and Chamblee has the magnet program and Fernbank Science Center has the Scientific Tools and Techniques (STT) program, and then there is always all of that Gifted money.

DCSS has been masterful in giving vocal parents in both north and south DeKalb enough options to silence their voices, and the administration has more at stake to silence south DeKalb parents than north DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

Title I funding can be used to hire teachers and it is done in DeKalb.

Cerebration said...

DCSS has been masterful in giving vocal parents in both north and south DeKalb enough options to silence their voices, and the administration has more at stake to silence south DeKalb parents than north DeKalb.

That right there hits the nail on the head.

SHS said...

@ Anonymous, 8:41 PM

I am not blaming just a single voter in South DeKalb. I am blaming ALL of the voters in South DeKalb -- those who vote for the sorry trash who make up the majority of the BOE and those who don't bother to vote.

You are right. I have been a tireless worker for DeKalb's students. I have taken on major projects, faced down major opposition from DCSS and managed to prevail. But, I have not done it alone. I simply am good at running meetings and organizing projects.

However, the travesty that is the DCSS BOE and the debacle of the superintendent selection have brought me to the end of my rope.

When I pay my nearly $8,000 in property taxes this year, it will renew my determination to wrest those funds out of the grasping hands of the trash who sit on the BOE, the New Birth Mafia and the thugs, thieves and overpaid incompetents who make up the majority of the Palace People. They could care less about DeKalb's children -- as long as they get theirs.

I can't make a difference in South DeKalb. They are too far gone and there are too few in South DeKalb who care enough or are willing enough to do the hard work. Not as long as they can just ship their kids up to North DeKalb schools, tax-free and tuition-free.

Do not misunderstand. This has nothing to do with color. Those kids are welcome in North DeKalb Schools -- as long as their parents move to the North DeKalb attendance area where they want their children to attend school and pay the taxes that those of us who already live here pay.

That said, I know I can make a difference in North DeKalb. I have tackled tougher projects and have been successful. I plan to do it one more time. As my North DeKalb neighbors write out their checks for property tax, I hope they will join me. Enough is enough: the time is now.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 9:09

"Title I funding can be used to hire teachers and it is done in DeKalb.'

You are correct. Except MOST of Title 1 funding does not go to hiring teachers and directly instructing students. Most Title 1 and federal funding goes to non-teaching personnel and scripted learning programs. Consider that around $37,000,000 a year comes into DCSS from Title 1 (federal funding comprises over $100,000,000 a year, but Title 1 is around $37,000,000):

Approximately $10,000,000 is spent on close to 100 non-teaching Instructional Coaches.

Another 6 or 7 millions is spent on the scripted learning program America's Choice.

Another 4 to 5 million is spent on the non-teaching administrative personnel who directly report to Audria Berry in the Office of School Improvement.

Another 3 to 4 million is spent on the non-teaching (also non-certified) personnel in the Parent Centers

These non-teaching groups alone account for around close to $23,000,000 out of that $37,000,000.

So yes - some money goes to directly instructing students, but the lion's share does not.

Anonymous said...


There are many "safety valves" established in north DeKalb. I know quite a few parents in my affluent neighborhood who have their children in special DCSS programs and magnet schools. They feel their children's needs are being served so they are very satisfied. These are parents who would be very vocal and tremendous agents for change if their child was forced to stay in the general population of the regular education schools. DCSS troubles in the north do not amount to much to them since their children are settled in special programs and schools.

The DCSS administration under Lewis and the "Lewis group" has long used a divide and conquer strategy. Only when parents from all over DeKalb come together for change will change happen.

Dekalbparent said...

Cere -

The information I have was deemed "not for publicizing" because it is not available to the public (although I don't know why). I is from a reliable source.

The districts I am talking about are County Commission districts, not school districts, and the figures include both residential and commercial real estate tax figures.

Nonetheless, these are county taxes, 70% of which goes to DCSS.

This is not a slam at residents of any other area of the county - real estate values have taken a hit more in some places than others, and you live where you live. It is just a statement of where the majority of tax funding for the county comes from.

Dekalbparent said...

I would like to see us start thinking about our homogeneity in terms of those of us who want kids to be pushed and challenged and made ready for the real world, and don't want to put up with lax rules that allow discipline problems and disruption rather than in terms of where we live or what ethnicity we are.

I have spoken to way too many people in this county to buy that certain attitudes and expectations go with certain addresses or skin hue. We need to consciously look for opportunities to build coalition, because that's what it's going to take to change things.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:15 pm

What do see in the future? A single party Republican dictatorship? Even more specific, an all-white, Christian, Republican dictatorship? The death of public education, and the rise of a Christian fundamentalist curriculum mandate? Is that what you want?

Rick Perry as President? I almost spewed my breakfast reading that one.

We don't hold the same hand of fortune-telling cards.

Anonymous said...

Promise Amended-The delay in hiring the superintendent delayed the bid process for the salary survey. Tyson's last day as interim was to coincide with the development of the RFP and that was to be earlier than now. No one wanted the salary survey to be overseen by the interim-it would only make for controversy and criticism. In Tyson’s defense when she announced the schedule she could not have known that there would be two serious delays in hiring. Still it is well that we wait-many of those who post to this blog would not trust a salary survey unless it was under a new superintendent.

The RFP is now in development in anticipation that the new superintendent will oversee its implementation. Amend the proposed calendar with RFP announced in September.

Cerebration said...

ok. thanks anon. However, I will not hold my breath.

Anonymous said...

September is along time to hold your breath anyway. When it happens maybe you willgraciously apologize.

Anonymous said...

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