Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Where Have All Our Teachers Gone?

Dr. Atkinson says that if we “put Students First, there is no limit to what we can accomplish.”

A good start for putting students first would be to increase our number of teachers in order to decrease the class sizes that are proving so detrimental to student progress.

DeKalb dismal standardized test results show that the loss of 600 teaching positions in the past two years has had an extremely negative impact on student achievement. When you eliminate a teaching position, the impact on students in the form of increased class sizes is EXACTLY the same as letting a teacher go. The impact to students is what DeKalb Schools should be concerned about.

Read on to see how so many teaching positions were eliminated. Looking closely at the budgets in 2009-10 and 2010-11, it appears that Dr. Lewis and Ms. Tyson eliminated around 600 teacher positions. Look at the proposed and subsequently approved 2010-11 DeKalb Schools budget:

Reviewing the calculations, Ms. Tyson pegged the cost of a teacher at $65,000 in salary and benefits.

Example #1: Ms. Tyson recommended reducing Magnet Points (a Point means a teacher) by 20 points for a savings of $1,300,000. $1,300,000 divided by 20 = $65,000.

Example # 2: Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating 8 DECA (DeKalb Early College Academy) Points (Teachers) for a savings of $520,000. $520,000 divided by 8 = $65,000.

Example #3: Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating 8 Single Gender Points (Teachers) nets a savings of $520,000. $520,000 divided by 8 = $65,000.

Example #4: Ms. Tyson recommended eliminating Target Assistance Points (extra Teachers for schools that need additional help for students for various reasons) for a savings of $3,965,000. Divide $3,965,000 by $65,000 (cost of a teacher) = 61 teachers.

You can see how Ms. Tyson assigned a value of $65,000 as the cost of a teacher throughout the budgetary process.

Adding the number of teacher positions eliminated in Example #1 (20), Example #2 (8), Example #3 (8), and Example #4 (61) = 97 teaching positions eliminated.

Now look at the increase in class sizes (highlighted in blue). Ms. Tyson recommended increasing class sizes by 2. She assigned a value of $14,000,000 in savings. If you divide $14,000,000 by $65,000 (value of a teacher), the additional number of teaching positions eliminated = 215.

Now add the 215 additional teaching positions eliminated to the 97 already eliminated in Examples #1, 2, 3, and 4, and this equals 312 positions eliminated for the school year 2010-11.

This comes on top of Dr. Lewis eliminating 275 teacher positions in 2009-10. Eliminating teaching positions was the largest portion of saving for fiscal year 2009-10. See quote from the DeKalb Schools 2009 - 2010 approved budget (executive summary on page 8): “Further approved reductions include an increase to class sizes…..This action will save $18.1 million and will reduce the staffing needs by 275 teachers through attrition.”

Of equal concern should be that 600 teachers left the system in the last 2 years through attrition. Obviously Ms. Tyson and Dr. Lewis felt confident that the attrition rate is in the hundreds every year. This points to an unacceptable teacher turnover rate. Educational studies show that a high teacher turnover rate has the effect of decreasing student achievement for Economically Disadvantaged students, a group that has a difficult time showing the same progress rate as their more affluent peers. DCSS Economically Disadvantaged students mainly reside in our Title 1 schools.

Coaches, Coordinators, Managers, and Directors don’t teach students – teachers do. Let’s ask Dr. Atkinson to bring back our teachers. When we are spending $73,000,000 for Central Office staff and packing our classes with 35+ students while our student achievement declines, it is clear DeKalb County Schools has lost its focus. Dr. Atkinson needs to bring that focus back on the students. We’re counting on that.


Anonymous said...

"Looking closely at the budgets in 2009-10 and 2010-11, it appears that Dr. Lewis and Ms. Tyson eliminated around 600 teacher positions."

This says it all. The Lewis/Tyson holdovers at the Central Office value administrative bloat and crazy large purchases such as America's Choice over classroom teachers.

Parents have had enough. It's time for Atkinson to right the ship and clean house.

And where are you, David Schutten and ODE? Isn't your group supposed to be the leading advocate for teachers?!

Atlanta Media Guy said...

Cere, You are the best! Thanks for running the numbers. Data never lies. It's amazing that the BOE and staff can spin the results all they want. I guarantee you if you asked 100 DCSS(D?) parents about 600 teachers being let go the last two years there would be shocked looks on their faces. My question, where is David Schutten? Shouldn't he be screaming for his teachers? If eduKalb was honest and forthright they would be screaming for less central Office staff and more teachers. Where are the people advocating for our students, instead of buildings and political favors?

Sight Edman said...

Couple of remarks.

73,000,000/65,000 is a little over 1100. So, if you cut the Central Office Staff to 1/2 you almost fund the "light brigade". (Onward, Onward, Rode the Six Hundred).

And you say "Educational studies show that a high teacher turnover rate has the effect of decreasing student achievement for Economically Disadvantaged students..." Do you have a citation for these studies as I suspect the actual causal relationship is the opposite?


Anonymous said...

One enormous difference between public and private school is class size. My son is in AP French with 6 kids (himself and 5 others). They are in classes with an average of 12 kids and a max of about 18. This has been the case in the 2 different private schools schools I have seen personally. The other really big differences are that the teachers have complete control over curriculum (for better and worse) and are hired and fired with ease by the headmaster (principal/superintendent equivalent).

Anonymous said...

David Schutten is too busy being Eugene Walker's go-fer and mouthpiece.

Cerebration said...

I can't take the credit for all of the research on this blog - not at all. We have several very talented data crunchers who dig up these numbers and cobble together many of our posts....

That said -- There are quite a few studies showing the connection of turnover to student performance. Read on --

Low performing schools rarely close the student achievement gap because they never close the teaching quality gap – they are constantly rebuilding their staff. . . .

Low school performance and high poverty were correlated with high teacher turnover in both in the Milwaukee and Chicago Public Schools.

The Cost of Teacher Turnover in Five School Districts Executive Summary

Researchers and policymakers often assume that teacher turnover harms student achievement, but recent evidence calls into question this assumption. Using a unique identification strategy that employs grade-level turnover and two classes of fixed-effects models, this study estimates the effects of teacher turnover on over 600,000 New York City 4th and 5th grade student observations over 5 years. The results indicate that students in grade-levels with higher turnover score lower in both ELA and math and that this effect is particularly strong in schools with more low-performing and black students. Moreover, the results suggest that there is a disruptive effect of turnover beyond changing the composition in teacher quality.


The high teacher turnover rate and low student academic performance are two urgent issues that threaten the education of America's children--our greatest resource. The technical core of schools nationally is to provide a quality education to produce literate generations to function in our global society. If the United States is to equip its young people with the problem-solving and communication skills that are essential in the new economy it is more important than ever to recruit and retain high-quality teachers (Murnane & Steele, 2007). This article focuses on whether teacher turnover effects students' academic performance.

A National Issue: Whether the Teacher Turnover Effects Students’ Academic Performance?

Anonymous said...

High teacher turnover rate + large class sizes

Does anyone think this hasn't impacted student achievement?

Cerebration said...

FWIW -- here's one that correlates class size to student achievement.

Summary Research Conclusions

Overall, the pattern of findings drawn from the existing research leads to the following three conclusions:

A consensus of research indicates that class size reduction in the early grades leads to higher student achievement. Researchers are more cautious about the question of the positive effects of class size reduction in 4th through 12th grades. The significant effects of class size reduction on student achievement appear when class size is reduced to a point somewhere between 15 and 20 students, and continue to increase as class size approaches the situation of a 1-to-1 tutorial.

The research data from the relevant studies indicate that if class size is reduced from substantially more than 20 students per class to below 20 students, the related increase in student achievement moves the average student from the 50th percentile up to somewhere above the 60th percentile. For disadvantaged and minority students the effects are somewhat larger.

Students, teachers, and parents all report positive effects from the impact of class size reductions on the quality of classroom activity.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of teacher turnover, please watch what happens at Cross Keys at the end of the year.  Many good teachers-teachers who have taught there for years and who love the school-are planning on looking for work elsewhere.  They are fed up with the policies and micromanagement of the new leadership there.  It’s truly a shame.  The Cross Keys teachers and staff work under an atmosphere of fear.  They are scared to speak up for fear of retaliation by certain administrators.  The only recourse they feel they have is to leave.  Kim, they desperately need your help!  I fear that the school you love will be taking steps backwards when this exodus occurs.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Atkinson should publish the teacher turnover rate for DeKalb.

Some states require their school systems to publish the teacher turnover rate. This is not a bad idea for all Georgia systems since teacher

Surely the Georgia DOE has his information. It should be made public.

Read this study:

"In the 2004–05 MetLife “Survey of the American Teacher,” new teachers reported being
greatly stressed by administrative duties, classroom management, and testing responsibilities,
as well as by their relationships (or lack thereof) with parents......
....."While it is true that
teachers of all ages and in all kinds of schools leave the profession each year, it is also true that the rate of attrition is roughly 50 percent higher in
poor schools than in wealthier ones and teachers new to the profession are far more likely to leave than are their more experienced counterparts."

This study compares the teacher turnover rate and the cost of that teacher turnover across states:

See stats for Georgia below:

Total Number of Teachers - 87,839

Teachers Leaving the Profession - 6,642

Cost Related to Teachers Who Leave the Profession - $81,736,892

Teachers Transferring to Other Schools - 8,419

Cost Related to Teachers Who Transfer to Other Schools - $103,609,330

Total Teacher Turnover Cost (Not Including Retirements) - $185,346,221

***The Department of Labor conservatively estimates that attrition costs an employer 30 percent of the leaving employee’s salary.

Anonymous said...

As with most things, the devil is in the details. I'd like to know if teacher attrition stats are gathered with an eye toward massaging the message. For example, if administrators say that "x" teachers left due to the reason "got another job", and no one leaves because "I hate the working environment", then how are these numbers communicated? It's difficult to say why people leave on paper. Which gives a system bent on 'massaging' the story leeway to do so.

Cerebration said...

Funny you should ask... studies have been done as to why teachers leave the profession too...

Behavior, Completion Rate and Teacher Turnover Rate at Selected Texas High Schools. (December 2007) Robert Scott McGowen, B.S., Texas A&M University; M.S., University of Houston, Clear Lake Chair of Advisory Committee: Dr. Luana Zellner

"Literature from prior studies infers that relationships do exist between all five of the study’s dependent variables. However, this study only yielded significant findings in the areas of student discipline and teacher turnover. . . .

In 2000, more than 247,000 teachers left their jobs resulting in a turnover rate exceeding 24 percent (Blair, 2003). Teachers Boles and Troen (2000) note that one of the reasons commonly attributed to novice teachers leaving the profession are poor working conditions. However, past research has considered the issue of poor working conditions one that is not readily addressed in order to keep qualified teacher professionally satisfied (Keller, 2003). With more than half of teachers leaving the profession listing physical environment as one of their reasons for quitting (Blair, 2003), it is imperative that educational leaders address the workplace as a factor of school improvement. . . .

Anonymous said...

@Anon 10:45 -

When one resigns from DCSS,one is given a check-off list of reasons. The closest you can get to "I don't like the working environment" is "No reason given".

Anonymous said...

"Many teachers who see no hope for change leave the profession altogether. While it is true that
teachers of all ages and in all kinds of schools leave the profession each year, it is also true that:
• the rate of attrition is roughly 50 percent higher in
poor schools than in wealthier ones;and
• teachers new to the profession are far more likely to
leave than are their more experienced counterparts."

Anonymous said...

The bulk of research on teacher research shows that most teacher attrition is from new teachers who have been teching five years or less. This is a national problem that all school systems including DeKalb have sought to address. The same research shows a variety of reasons but the preventable ones can be addressed primarily through a new teacher induction system that includes assigning new teachers to experienced mentors for their first year of teaching. In additon, admininstrative (principal) support is important. Induction programs include an exit survey not given by HR to evaluate the experience and see what worked and what did not. That would include reason for leaving. In this rough economy all teacher attrition has gone down by about half-that includes in DeKalb. Reasons for attrition that can not be prevented include my family moved, illness in family, better pay, job closer to home, and raising my family. Traditionally those only accounted for 25% of all attrition. The biggest source of attrition for experienced teachers is retirement. Loss of teacher positons in the past years includes the state legislature's increasing class size and thus reducing the the per pupil funding. However, in the past DeKalb chose to increase teacher funding beyond the state formula by awarding extra points out of local funds. Even after the budget cuts DeKalb chose to fund pre K services beyond the state funding.

Cerebration said...

According to the 2010 salary report at the state DeKalb has:

27 Teachers of Visually Impaired
61 Teachers - Severe Intellectual Impaired
13 Teachers - Other health impaired
11 Teachers - Orthopedic Impaired
114 Teachers - Moderate Intellectually Impaired
15 Teachers - Mild Intellectually Impaired
24 Teachers - Hearing Impaired
22 Teachers - Emotional Behavioral Disorders
772 Special Ed - Interrelated Teachers
44 Middle School Exploratory Teachers
397 Kindergarten Teachers
448 Instructional Specialists (art, music, PE,) PK-8
1999 K-5 Classroom Teachers
1434 Grades 9-12 Classroom Teachers
929 Grades 6-8 (MS) Classroom Teachers
78 Teachers of Gifted - (68 are K-5 certified)
188 ESOL Teachers
53 EIP 4TH and 5TH Grade Teachers
70 Early Intervention Teachers

PLUS 1450 Substitutes

Cerebration said...

To recap: Pull out the basic classroom teachers -

1999 K-5 Classroom Teachers
929 Grades 6-8 (MS) Classroom Teachers
1434 Grades 9-12 Classroom Teachers

That totals 4362 Core Class Teachers
One for every 23 students (if we use 98,000)

Cerebration said...

Good points, Anon. FWIW, the legislature allowed systems to increase class sizes if necessary due to budget reductions, they did not make a larger class size the law.

So, with a teacher-student ratio of 1:23, why are so many of our classes so large?

We need to break down the numbers above by K-5, MS and HS ratios. Anyone have those numbers?

Anonymous said...

It seems unreasonable for students to cut close to 600 teaching positions while the Central Office stayed virtually intact. IMO - the Central Office and other support services should have born the bulk of the cuts. Instead low paid employees were moved under the Central Office "umbrella" and then their positions were cut or personnel were laid off.

If we add the 200 paraprofessionals that were cut las year to the 600 teaching positions that were eliminated, this equates to 800 adults working directly with students that were removed from the classroom.

Is it any wonder that only 19% of DeKalb Title 1 schools Made AYP last year?

Look how Marietta City Schools, a system also demographically identical to DeKalb, handled the economic crunch. 73% of Marietta City Schools Made AYP in 2011
AJC article published June 20, 2011:
“Marietta City Schools plans to cut its budget 4 percent through belt-tightening measures that include outsourcing 22 custodial positions. There are no furlough days or teacher layoffs planned.

Superintendent Emily Lembeck said that could change if the system doesn’t receive the funds expected from state and federal sources. Last year’s budget was based on a revenue shortfall of $5.9 million.

The district’s Board of Education will vote on the 2012 budget at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the school headquarters at 250 Howard St. A public comment hearing will be held a half hour before the meeting. The $74.5 million budget is $3.1 million less than last year’s.

The proposed budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 will eliminate a food service warehouse position, consolidate two bus routes and use $3.4 million in reserves. Two alternative and special education facilities will be combined at one location. The city system has 11 schools and 8,000 students.

School officials said the budget process has been challenging since 2008. Lembeck said privatizing custodial jobs was a difficult decision based on the economy, which has driven school systems to look at business and staffing practices.

“It becomes more difficult to protect what happens in the classroom without looking at some services that are not directly related,” Lembeck said. “Reducing days of instruction through furloughs and larger class sizes is not in the best interest of our core business of educating students.”

Ms. Lembeck knows the "core business" is educating students. She chose to outsource and cut in non-classroom areas to protect the "core business" of Marietta City Schools.

Will Dr. Atkinson move to build up our "core business" and give the children back their teachers?

Cerebration said...

Actually, there are more teachers:

207 Vocational Ed Teachers
41 Other Instructional Providers (We found many of them at Fernbank Science Center)
46 Military Science Teachers
462 Regular Ed Parapros
781 Special Ed Parapros
And the very odd description of "MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES" that claims 145 employees (I have no idea if they are teachers...)
We also have 108 Lottery Preschool Teachers
and 109 PreK Parapros

Cerebration said...

BTW - if you're interested in the data about support personnel, Maureen Downey at the Get Schooled blog at the AJC has a post on this today --

What do all these support personnel in DeKalb do? Are the positions and salaries justified?

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration

"So, with a teacher-student ratio of 1:23, why are so many of our classes so large? "....
"That totals 4362 Core Class Teachers
One for every 23 students (if we use 98,000)"

It's long and complex. I'll answer this in 2 posts:

Post 1
Actually, that number is not correct. If I teach part time, I am counted in that number and in 2010 DeKalb had 438 part time teachers according to the Georgia DOE. If I "share a class with someone else then 2 part time teachers = 1 fulltime teacher.

Also, this count includes ALL of the Core Class teachers that have come and gone throughout the year. For example, if 150 teachers leave throughout the year, then 150 come in to take their classes. So you will get a count of 300 teachers in the state salary audit, but there were only 150 actual teachers working with students in the classroom at any given time. In other words, if you don't account for the ones coming to replace the ones leaving you will "double count".

A way to get an approximation of and control for the "double count" is to look at how many teachers made less than $37,000 a year. Since the beginning salary for a teacher with 0 years of experience and a Bachelors is $40,000, then most likely anyone below that is either coming or going or a part time teacher.

Grade 1 through 7: 1,870 teachers (1,772)
196 of these teachers made less than $37,000 a year so we can subtract 98 (1/2 are coming and 1/2 are going during the school year)

Grades 6 -8: 877 teachers (821)
113 made less than $37,000 so we can subtract 56 from the teacher total

Grades 9-12: 1434 teachers (1,298)
272 made less than $37,000 so we can subtract 136 from the teacher total

Kindergarten: 397 teachers (374)
47 made less that $37,000 so we can subtract 23 from the teacher total

Grades K - 5: 181 Teachers (159)
45 made less than $37,000 so we can subtract 22 from the teacher total

Using the actual totals of teaches in a classroom at any given point in time yields 4,374 teachers. The 438 part time teachers will probably reduce this by another 100 (remember all of these part time teachers were in our >$37,000 count and yet we split them just like the teachers coming and going).

Remember Ms. Tyson eliminated around 312 teaching positions for the 2010-11 school year, and you're working off 2009-10 figures. So let's take that figure down to around 3,900.

98,000 students divided by 3,900 teachers = 25 students per class.

Anonymous said...

Post 2

Let's remember that not everyone classified as a teacher teaches. Some are given other responsibilities. For example, a school may decide to use them as a technology specialist or in some other function. They will be listed as a grade level teacher, but they will not have a class. Therefore, the other teachers must absorb the students they would have taught.

Look at the number of special programs and schools we have.

Last year the state numbers for Wadsworth students was 153. They had 9 homeroom (grade level teachers) per their website. This is a pupil teacher ratio of 17 per classroom. For these 9 teachers who have 17 students 9 other teachers in the county must have 33.

DSA (where many Central Office personnel send their children) often has classes of 12 or 15. For every teacher at DSA that has 12 students, 2 other teachers in the county must take on 31 students.

Let's look at the IB program at Druid Hills. Last year they had 17 per class. For every IB teacher that teaches 17, another Druid Hills teacher must take on 33 students.

Many AP classes, especially in low income schools, may only have nine AP students. So 3 teachers in that school must take on 30 students to accommodate that teacher who has 9 students.

Replicate this all over the county with our many theme, magnet, IB, AP and other programs. Now you can see why a small class anywhere means a large class somewhere.

BTW - This is why schools also need to be looked at in terms of cost centers.

The maximum class size for Kindergarten (and I imagine PreK comes under this as well) for 2010-2011 is 22. Since we have 11,000 PreK and Kindergarten students, if they all have 22 (some have less), then this equates to 500 Kindergarten classes. To make up for the 3 students they don't have (remember they cannot have 25), that leaves 1,500 students that must be reapportioned somewhere in the county with other teachers. Since 2nd and 3rd grade can only have 25, these 1,500 extra students must be redistributed upwards among grades 4 through 12.

And on and on it goes.

Anonymous said...

@ Cerebration
"Actually, there are more teachers:

Yes. But every student must take the core content areas of social studies, science, language arts and math. These are the areas of student achievement. If we fail at our students mastering math, science, language arts (reading and writing), and social studies, we have failed to fulfill our mission.

In terms of content mastery and student achievement, our problems in Dekalb and every other school system that has students not making academic progress stem from the grade level and content areas, not from a lack of mastery in music or art or PE.

That's why it is critical to concentrate on the teacher turnover and class sizes of the grade level and content area teachers. Not to say the specialists are not important (I LIVED for Band from 6th through 12th grade), but as far as academic progress, this rests solely on the backs of the grade level and content area teachers. They have the responsibility for academic progress of students and will soon be "paid for performance" in terms of student scores. We MUST ensure they have reasonable class sizes and good working conditions or we will have a teacher turnover rate that is even worse that it is now. That is not good for students - the bottom line in an educational system.

Anonymous said...

This is off topic, but just curious what people here have to say about the whistleblower hotline. If the information only goes back to the DCSS, isn't it somewhat a waste of time or possibly could get traced back to person wanting annoymity?

Anonymous said...

Gosh,I thought Lynn Deutsch was going to hold the Board and Administration accountable? She's obviously good at criticizing, but short on providing solutions or digging in to fix anything.

Cerebration said...

I'm not sure how this discussion is possibly relevant to Lynn Deutsch. Lynn put in years upon years of service to many great DeKalb schools, committees, and leadership groups. She really should be commended. Unfortunately for us -- Lynn just won a seat on the Dunwoody City Council. They will now enjoy the rewards of Lynn's great service to community.

Anonymous said...

Lynn? Really? My own personal experience is that she is the first one to jump in, dig in, problem-solve, cajole with, question, show up in your face at the end of meetings (in the respectful way) and bring home her points -- all well-thought out, all for the betterment of EVERY child, and all with systemic change in mind.

Now let us get back to the topics at hand. C'mon, come with us. And leave that grinding axe at the door.

P.S. I sincerely hope you're not one of those people who wait for people to solve problems for you, especially those who weren't in public office at the time and who gave of their own time and sacrificed -- for YOU. And ME.

Thanks Lynn -- and congratulations!

Paula Caldarella said...

Somebody's got a big chip....Lynn has probably done more good for ALL of the children of this school syste than anyone I can think of. She knows the issues of DCSS, South, North, Central.

Moving on, has anyone seen the new Board Policy presented this morning? It deals with Board Member contact with the school system. I'll be there were some Board Members not real thrilled. I like it..what do you all think?

Anonymous said...

Here is a brief article from the AJC on the proposed policy change regarding the interactions between the board and the staff:

Cerebration said...

That is encouraging. I like this part -

There Board Board
1. 2. 3. 4.
The ultimate responsibility for a school’s operation lies with the Superintendent. are advantages for obtaining knowledge about a school’s operation by individual
members visiting the school. However, some problems can be encountered by members visiting schools, including the following:
It is impossible to separate the identity of a Board member from that of a private citizen. Evaluation of staff members and employees is an administrative responsibility, not a Board member’s responsibility.
Board members must not make general statements or promises that could be construed to be the position of the Board. Board members should not make statements to teachers and employees which could be construed as a procedural directive.

Cerebration said...


D. Guidelines for Visiting Schools
Board members are encouraged to visit schools during open house and other times which are specially arranged for the general public. In addition, Board members are encouraged to visit the schools to speak with, listen to and observe the operation and procedures of the general operation of the school in order to gain knowledge for the responsibility for policy-making decisions in the areas of finance, personnel, curriculum, facilities and transportation.
1. Notify the Superintendent’s office and state the purpose of the visit. 2. There should be no interruption of classes or other activities. 3. Class visitation or observation should be done only with the approval of the
principal. 4. Review of evaluation information of any teacher or employee should be done only
in executive session of a Board meeting. 5. The Board member should not act or speak independently in making decisions or
commitments of a course of action of the Board. 6. Official visits by Board members shall be carried on with open communication
with all Board members.
Board members must recognize that their presence in the schools could be subject to a variety of interpretations by school employees. Therefore, individual Board members interested in visiting schools or classrooms will inform the Superintendent of such visits and make arrangements for visitations through the principals of the various schools. Board members will indicate to the principal the reason(s) for the visit if it is being made for other than general interest. Such visits will be regarded as informal expressions of interest in school affairs and not as “inspections” or visits for supervisory or administrative purposes. Official visits by Board members, meaning a visit to a school for other than a personal reason, will be carried on only under Board authorization.

Great Policy!!!

Cerebration said...

I'm printing the whole AJC article -- this is such good news!

DeKalb school board debates protocol change for board, staff

By Rich McKay
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

In a DeKalb Board of Education meeting Wednesday, Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson proposed a policy that would govern how both board members and staffers interact. Namely, Atkinson doesn't want board members to give staff instructions or make information requests without going through her. Also, she doesn't want board members to drop by schools without notice and a reason stated. She also doesn't want staffers to make work related inquiries to board members directly. She said she wants the district's policy of governance to be clear for all. No vote was taken.

So - think they'll pass it??? How about Dr. Walker? Sarah? Jay? Paul? These are the board reps who invade schools and boss the staff. I still remember the day Sarah publicly ripped into Dan Drake at a board meeting.

Anonymous said...

Will this policy prevent Dr. Walker from asking his niece, who is one of the board secretaries about school system issues?

NOT Waiting for Superman said...

@ Anonymous 5:31 PM

You are way off-base to criticize Lynn Deutsch!

Your ignorance of Lynn's above-and-beyond volunteer service to the DeKalb County School System is astounding. I have known Lynn for years and have had the privilege to work with her on many occasions.

Lynn will be outstanding on the Dunwoody City Council! She is educated, intelligent, well-informed, thoughtful and always prepared.

Your uninformed comment is one reason why I wish this blog required real name registration to post -- one pseudonym per real name.

This is not a criticism of Cerebration who has made an amazing difference in DeKalb County with this blog. It's simply a function that Blogger doesn't offer.

Too bad. Almost everyone who posts now is "Anonymous." That opens the door to misinformation, gossip and outright lying. Who do you trust?

More importantly, an unwillingness to "stand up and be counted" is one of the main reasons that DeKalb County School System has been brought to its knees by fraud and incompetence.

Anonymous said...

There were only 5 board members at today's meeting. Walker, Sara, Jay, they were no where to be found.

Anonymous said...

This new Board policy regarding Board member visits to schools will really irk Womack. How will he spin his trips to Lakeside to direct activities there? He will be on Atkinson's agenda and voicemail constantly, delivering the "purposes of his visits".

Annie B. said...

Who knows what is reported to the whistleblower hotline?

Good question.

Ask Kim Gokce.

Didn't he shoot down one idea to track whistleblower complaints, voluntarily provided by the complainants? He must have a Plan B.

Otherwise what's to stop DCSS from sweeping it all under the rug?

How 'bout it, Kim?

Cerebration said...

You are correct there - Kim did suggest an alternative reporting mechanism that would be confidential. It was originally Sandy's idea to offer a 'parallel' tracker for people who report to the DCSS hotline. Because really, how do we know if things really get looked at? I heard one report already of someone who tried to call but didn't get an answer several times in a row. Finally, someone did take the call.

We do still need to find the time and tech support to set up an optional reporting system here... it's not easy since we're all volunteers with other jobs to do.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:05

It is my understanding that it is Dr. Walker's daughter-in-law that works in the BOE office, not his niece. She is married to his son, who happens to be in the DCSS police department.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Kim thinks of the new principal at Cross Keys?

Paula Caldarella said...

My guess is that Dr. Atkinson heard complaints in her meeting with school principals about BOE members "dropping in" and interfering in the daily school business.

In my opinion this is a good sign that she is really listening to her employees. I love this policy!

We'll see if certain members of the board will support Dr. Atkinson on this or push back.

Kim Gokce said...

Auntie B --- goodness gracious!

"Didn't he shoot down one idea to track whistleblower complaints, voluntarily provided by the complainants? He must have a Plan B.
How 'bout it, Kim?"

I shot nothing but my mouth off ... I posted one comment on the "Plan A" suggesting that sending personally identifiable data such as driver's licenses, etc over the "open wire" of the internet was not advisable. This is not a controversial position of mine. The "Plan" was pulled by the author - not me. Ask her.

As for "Plan B," I spent hours researching a solution that would protect privacy, paid personal funds to acquire the technology and offered to support it because it seemed SO important. Crickets "Auntie," crickets ... so thanks for the snarking and the inuendo - fostering a better community is what it's all about! Kudos!

Do I sound bitter? Good, because I am a bit tonight. And I feel baited ...


On the "what Kim thinks" about any given principal ... seriously?

My policy is simple vis-a-vis DCSS employees: I will maintain a professional and working relationship with the damned chief arch-angel in Hell to support our kids.

So, sorry, all my personal opinions about individuals in the employ of Cross Keys HS and the entire freaking system will remain just that - personal opinions.

I don't think some of our readers understand what these types of relationships require - we have seven principals in our area of support. In the span of one year, we've had to try to contact and build rapport with twelve principals to conduct business due to turnover. Ditto for teachers - key teachers leave, retire, or burn out and the Foundation has to start from scratch and the kids miss opportunities that will never return.

I personally have invested hundreds, many HUNDREDS of hours this past year in the Foundation's causes including such relationships and efforts. I put in a full 40-50 hour week on my job managing a high profile project on a contract basis with no guarantee I'll have work in a month or be able to pay my mortgage or feed my family and THEN I put on my Foundation hat ...

Then there's the sacrifices of personal time with family, investment of money that could/should be spent on my kid, my wife, and missed opportunities elsewhere in life ... it is not trivial and to have it addressed in such flippant tones is more than I can hear and stay silent because God help me I have a scrap of pride left in me.

I am not complaining because this is all done voluntarily and with love in my heart and the full love and participation of my wife AND my son - he is a great boy and is learning to serve by watching and participating in our sacrifices. He loves CK, the kids love him and he is learning from them how to be a decent flipping human being. He has spent significant time at Cary Reynolds, Sequoyah, and Woodward. He knows more about our schools than most of the adults that claim so here.

I complaining because it is maddening when Cere posts an incredibly high value thread and we devolve into this nonsense, blood shoots out of my eyes and I dispense with wisdom and open my mouth ... ugh! For the love of all that is sacred, I go to bed with a prayer that I can participate in comments here again one day and not loath myself for doing so!!!

I came here in the early days of the blog's operation to find allies and organize a community response to the many needs of our schools and students and did (God bless you Cere & Co!). Now I come here to make sure no one is slandering my good name or that of the families of Cross Keys, Seqouyah, Woodward, Montclair, Dresden, Cary Reynolds, and Oakcliff ...

Tamam! Enough! Bastante!

Kim Gokce said...

To cleanse your ears of my rant and to try and to compensate for my cynicism, I offer the hope of one more amazing young person from Cross Keys:

Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta Reveals the Next Face of the Future

God, help us hang in there long enough for the Laura Ramirezes of the world to take over.

JT Carlton said...

The numbers are solid and the effects and results are very real on every campus in DeKalb. Well done, Cere. We teachers are anxiously awaiting to see what happens next. If Dr. A does what needs to be done, she will have teacher support for sure!
-JC, Teacher at a DeKalb High School

Anonymous said...

Kim, you are amazing! Thank you for your rant...... If this school system (& the CK admin) only recognized your value. I DO know that the CK teachers & students see you as their "bright light" of hope! Hang in there.

Anon said...

I thought some of these policies are already on the books -- especially about board members dropping into schools with no reason. I say this because we have a friend, a former neighbor who will still see occasionally, who is a retired DCSS principal.

He was horrified when Paul Womack was elected again. Womack served on the Board about 20 years ago. Womack was notorious for walking into schools and yelling at staff in front of whoever.

At that time, they did adopt policies/rules about board member behavior. I actually have no idea if they are on the books.

Anonymous said...

Kim Gokce: Many, many people support you and the great work you've done. Please don't let a few crackpots get ya down!

The citizens of DeKalb County who haven't paid attention like Kim and Cere are the reason the school system is miserable. We have elected too many unethical, cronyism-living, incompetent Board of Ed members, who have enabled a Central Office culture of fraud, politics, greed, waste and a lack of respect for the classroom. It's on us, not on the few like Kim in the county.

Anonymous said...

unfortunately, you get involved with your kids' school -- you think things are fixable, 'cause things are fixable; then you delve into it 'cause you care. If you're paying real attention and you really care, then you start to learn. And once you learn, you see that it's not just "fixable" it's Chicago in the 1930s and it's going to take more than you and me -- we really need law enforcement willing to take down king pins who are completely unconnected with the bosses and a new BOE (with a few notable exceptions who don't operate like they are in Chicago in 1930) and we need to clean house. Otherwise, we just need to self destruct and start over again -- mini districts and/or vouchers - push the dollars into the hands of parents and prevent the corruption all together -- if you have mass corruption, you've got to spread the money out.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:54 You are correct!!! Not sure that Atkinson can clean things up, no matter how much she wants to. Those who've had control of the district for some time, care nothing about the kids and only about the money they can get for themselves and friends and family.

Anonymous said...

Right -- 10:08 -- so, I've become sold on vouchers -- push the money into the hands of the parents -- you'd still have the potential for corruption but it would take the cooperation of many more people to put all of their vouchers together (either intentionally or by defaul) for it to happen -- I think it would be much more difficult. At least the competition would make it a lot harder. And if it's not working 10 or 15 years from now, I'm hard pressed to imagine how it can be any worse -- those with public schools they like (e.g. Fernbank, Austin, OakGrove, Lakeside) can support their public schools much better than they are currently being supported by the BOE and can really support their foundations - but it if it's a bust -- I can't imagine that it would be any worse than our current situation -- you undo it and start over again.

Anonymous said...

So I see the trolls have found the DCSW blog, too...attacking Lynn and Kim? Really?

Hang in there, Kim. Keep fighting the good fight. Your supporters far outweigh your detractors.

Now, can everyone keep on topic, please???

Marney Mayo said...

@ Kim

I love this from your "rant". It has been my life as well for the last 10 years:

"My policy is simple vis-a-vis DCSS employees: I will maintain a professional and working relationship with the damned chief arch-angel in Hell to support our kids."

Please hang in there.

Dekalbparent said...

Kim -

Please don't get discouraged - the work you are doing is fantastic, and it has drawn in many others to contribute in a real and positive way. I got the update about the robotics teams - what a bunch of winners!

This blog was at one point a place where those of us with ideas could get together and plan for action. We have, in turns, become discouraged and frustrated because our honest attempts to improve the system have been thwarted. The blog has also got a wider audience, and thus attracts a lot of different types of contributors - some are venting and some are flaming just for the fun of it.But we are seeing some of our issues brought to the public via AJC and Ga Unfiltered (I know it was DSW that first brought up the CRCT cheating issue three or four years ago).

I am discouraged by the size and amorphous nature of DCSS problems. One thing I will be doing is watching carefully, asking questions everywhere, and supporting the Superintendent in anything that looks like an effort in the right direction - also asking her why not when something DOESN'T get done.

Anonymous said...

The blog has been a game-changer. It is able to bring bits and pieces of a much larger puzzle together and allows everyone to do their little bit to make an enormous difference. Everyone really must keep at it... otherwise the bad guys win. Conversely, the kids lose and society at large down the road really loses. What we, collectively, through this blog and efforts a large number of folks are doing outside of blog, are doing, have enormous consequences long term because the expenditure of billions of dollars to "educate" kids without really educating them is really a long-term crime against humanity as a whole. We can't let them keep doing it.

Cerebration said...

A bit off topic, but this could be helpful for security of teachers' laptops and other devices.

I want you all to know about this free security software called "Prey" that will locate your laptop or smartphone if it's ever lost or stolen... I learned about it from an online service called "Netted" which highlights the latest apps, software, etc on the internet (you may already have heard of it). Here's the web address if you want to sign up for their notifications:

If you just want to check out the security software, copy & paste this link:

Here's what "Netted" had to say about Prey:

Prey, a tracking program for computers and smartphones that, in the event your device is stolen, will broadcast everything from location to screenshots to webcam pics directly to your inbox.You can also remotely trigger anti-theft operations that will change the system password, blare an alarm for 30 seconds, alert the thief he's being tracked, and clear your browser cache.

Prey is free for up to two devices, but has a scalable monthly fee for as few as three and as many as 500 (there is a pro plan available to cover even more devices). It runs on Windows, Mac, Ubuntu, iOS, and Android, and won't siphon off any of your CPU's valuable performance until it is activated.

Anonymous said...

DeKalb Superintendent to hold another fireside chat

By Rich McKay

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

DeKalb County School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson is holding another "fireside chat" at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 28 at the auditorium at the school administration building, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain. The meeting is geared toward school paraprofessional employees, but is open to all members of the public. The sessions are part of her listening tour to hear from as many DeKalb school workers as possible. Information:

Anonymous said...


If you put tracking software on DCSS computers, wouldn't that possibly limit the income of some of DeKalb's finest? And also the computer suppliers?

Anonymous said...

A system I once taught for was placed on probation by SACS for, among other things, a board member's regular presence in the office at a local high school. He'd sit near the desk of the reception area for a couple of hours, a couple of days a week. And then one board member got in knock-down physical fight with another at a meeting.

Anonymous said...

When will DeKalbers stop electing clowns for BOE?

Jay Cunningham

Gene Walker

Zepora Roberts

Paul Womack

Sarah Copelin-Wood

Anonymous said...

This data is great. I always growled whenever Womack would say that no teachers had lost their job. Technically he was correct, but there were still teacher jobs that were cut. My class sizes have grown so much its like I have another class (HS 7 period day). Its ridiculous to ask us to do more data on our students, teach all of the content, increase the depth of knowledge, write commentary on all their work, AND give me more students. I cannot grade 140 essays with commentary in my planning time.

Anonymous said...

Last year at budget time one of your key points was noting how expensive the magnet schools were versus the other schools. And now your point is how its better to have smaller class sizes. Do you see how this appears contradictory? Magnet schools offered (yes, past tense) smaller class sizes which is one of the reasons for their success. Should all of the schools have smaller classes, of course? And, the fix should be to lower class sizes for all, not complain about magnet points.

Cerebration said...

Well, that's sort of what I said. I tried to point out the big discrepancy in the sizes of the classes. Some magnet school classes have as few as 12-15 students (check out class sizes at DSA). Most have about 19-20. Regular classes are up to 30 or so. Don't you think it would be 'fair' to balance these and settle at say, 20-25 per class?

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 8:59

I'm not Cere so I ask your pardon in advance for putting my opinion into the ring.

I posted many times last year advocating for magnet schools to have no more in per pupil funding than any other regular education school.

DCSS magnet schools have a lower PUPIL tTO TEACHER RATIO than regular education schools. That drives up the PER PUPIL EXPENSE in relation to the regular education schools.

It's mathematically obvious that magnet schools that have 17 or 20 to a class will have a higher PER PUPIL EXPENSE than schools with 30 or 35 per class.

Lower class sizes are good for ALL students, not just magnet students.

Do you think it's fair to students in regular education classes to sit larger classes than magnet students?

Do you think it's fair to have more per pupil spent on a magnet student than regular neighborhood school student?

Magnets are by definition created to "attract" students who have a compelling interest or aptitude in a particular subject (e.g. science, technology, performing arts, etc.) or to serve a particular population of students (e.g gifted, high achievers, etc.). Magnets are not created to give selected students small class sizes. Unfortunately, this is often the way they are used in DCSS.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon 9:23

Part of the confusion over calculating the cost of magnet students is the issue of gifted money. You cannot simply take teacher/student ratio as the sole factor. Unfortunately, no one really knows how gifted money is disbursed, but, theoretically, high achiever magnet schools have more gifted children and, thus, get more funding for them.

Cerebration said...

We researched (as best we could, the numbers vary depending on if you get them from the state, DCSS admin or the principals) and then we discussed this a while back. Rather than re-discuss, feel free to read these posts:

Gifted and Magnet School Data Now Available

Another discussion about gifted points and programs - are we offering what's required?

I find it interesting that we are always told that the magnets get extra funding because they serve so many gifted students at once. Well, these charts don't tell us how many students at Kittredge and Wadsworth are gifted, but they do tell us for Chamblee and SW DeKalb. If I'm reading the chart correctly - these are some comparisons

Magnet Schools for High Achievers/Number of Gifted
Chamblee MS - 294
Chamblee HS - 388
Chapel Hill MS - 81
SW DeKalb HS - 262

Regular School/Number of Gifted
Druid Hills MS (Shamrock) - 83
Druid Hills HS - 161
Peachtree MS - 152
Dunwoody HS - 225
Henderson MS - 157
Lakeside HS - 317
Salem MS - 57
MLK HS - 118
Stephenson MS - 51
Stephenson HS - 115
Tucker MS - 63
Tucker HS - 117

Although I sincerely believe that students labeled gifted need extra attention (and they are given extra funding so they had better get extra attention...) I have doubts that the 'high achiever' magnets are the best solution. Many students in these schools are not labeled gifted, yet benefit from the resources allocated to the gifted students in class. Also, there are literally hundreds of gifted students in 'regular' schools who may not be receiving anywhere near the same gifted services as those who won a seat in a magnet.

Anonymous said...

I'm anon 8:59,
I forgot to add that I'm a gifted and AP teacher at a magnet school, so I know how it works. And I agree that we are underserving many gifted kids who didn't win a seat. My point is that you can't have the argument both ways; complain about small class sizes for budget purposes and then complain about not having small class sizes when achievement tanks.

60hrclub said...

I am a first grade teacher, started the year with 27 students. We finally earned a new teacher, my class size dropped to 24 (8 English lang. learners). This has been the toughest year yet. I do not feel like we are making the gains we normally do. Management of small groups is tough, and paperwork is overwhelming! We need to realize in a Title One school, small class size is a must if we want to see gains in student achievement (not to mention, happier teachers).

Cerebration said...

I understand your point Anon. I think I haven't been clear. I completely agree that small class sizes are vital to learning, and my complaint in the past has been about the inequity -- some classes (magnet schools mostly) DO have small class sizes, which eats up budget, forcing others to have even larger classes than if it was all simply divided evenly - after you apply the FTE funding formulas.

That said, 'the budget' is the flimsiest excuse ever. We have over $1.2 BILLION every year in the budget. About $750 million of it is for general operations. Seems like there is enough money, however, we have far too much waste and far too many legal fees to spend that money in the classroom.

Anonymous said...

I think our system should prioritize who they are serving in high achiever magnet schools. Top priority should be high achieving students who are stuck in a school with very few other high achievers or gifted and are, thus, receiving very little extra attention because the funding isn't there for such a small percentage.

This could be easily determined by accepting only students from schools where the gifted percentage is below x%. Students who attend a school where the percentage is higher are already receiving services (like how some schools have 2-3 gifted teachers and others have none).

The purpose of magnet schools isn't just serving high achievers; it's serving high achievers who aren't being served where they are.

Cerebration said...

Actually, the original purpose of the magnet schools was to integrate the system in response to the federal lawsuit.

Cerebration said...

I sympathize greatly with the 1st grade teacher above. This is one of the most critical jobs in the system. We simply MUST have small classes in the lower grades. We MUST ensure that early learning is successful for all students. When you teach the basics in the early grades, then students do well throughout the rest of their years.

These early classes should be the ones with only 12-15 students - AND they should have pullout sessions for reading and math at different levels.

Anonymous said...

I want to remind the blog that I really believe that the gifted numbers in Cere's post are wrong. I think that the Lakeside and Henderson actual gifted numbers are higher and that the numbers DCSS uses for these schools for state gifted funding are higher. I think that they put the funds into a pool and "reshuffle" and then have new numbers (for lack of a better descriptor) to get the funds back to the school.... it's been part of the point calculation formulas and how having new principals every 2nd or 3rd year actually harms the classrooms (it would take a new principal a long time to figure it out and to do something about it).

Anonymous said...

Agreed, Cere, but it has obviously evolved since then. With as many problems as DCSS has, I don't think integration is one of them. I think DeKalb parents simply want an equal chance for a quality education, regardless of the zip code they live in and regardless of the racial makeup of their school. Integration alone does nothing - we need equal opportunity and funding regardless of diversity and zip code.

On a separate topic, were you at the DeKalb legislative meeting last night? You would have been horrified at the ignorance on the part of both the parents and the legislators. Paul Womack was even there and could not answer a very basic question on how AYP transfers work (the question was, "Can a student transfer out of a failing school after it fails for a certain number of years?").

A parent stood up and asked if the legislators could make sure that the towns of Decatur, Tucker, Chamblee, and Dunwoody would stop taking an unfair share of the school system's money to make better schools that other people can't get into. What?

A legislator was answering a question on whether she supported charter schools. She said she opposed charter schools and was NOT an opponent of charter schools. Then she had an argument with a parent over the definition of opponent. Embarrassing.

Anon said...

If the magnet schools, especially the elementary ones, only had smaller classes then the arrangement could be made that the additional state funding covered those costs. However, it is the extras, the multiple music teachers, the multiple foreign language teachers etc that the local taxpayers are fully funding.

Cerebration said...

Darn! It looks like I missed an excellent night of entertainment! Do you suppose the legislator misspoke and meant to say she was not a "proponent" instead of "opponent" of charter schools? People misspeak all the time.

Truth be told, I think that we should set a national precedent and open the doors wide for unfettered transfers. Allow students to attend any school they wish - as long as there is room. (Of course, federal law says that is no excuse for AYP transfers, so they would get first dibs.) But how bout it? People could check out all schools and apply for the published list of available seats. Say, if you live within 1.0 miles, you also get first dibs as it would be ridiculous to bump someone who could walk to school.

Anonymous said...

" However, it is the extras, the multiple music teachers, the multiple foreign language teachers etc that the local taxpayers are fully funding."

Let's be fair about instruction in the arts. One music teacher in a school of 800 or more students will have a lot of trouble providing instruction to all students. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

If you go back to the budget information that Nancy Jester had on her website last spring, you will see that additional teachers are assigned to schools that have large student populations. Also keep in mind that there are some schools that just missed the student population threshold to qualify for those additional teachers and they are struggling to meet the needs of their students.

While you may not want to pay for music instruction, research shows that students who are involved in school music programs on average have significantly higher SAT scores than students who don't participate.

Anonymous said...

Missive from Mr. Woods today:

To: All DeKalb Employees
From: Mr. Walter Woods, Executive Director, Communications
Through: Dr. Cheryl L. H. Atkinson, Superintendent
Subject: Roundtable Discussion with Faith-Based Leaders
Date: 18 November 2011

The DeKalb County School District is pleased to announce that Superintendent Dr. Cheryl L.H. Atkinson will hold a roundtable discussion with faith-based leaders on December 1, 2011. As referenced in her 90-day entry plan, Dr. Atkinson seeks to meet with parents and community members to establish good will, build support and establish communication channels. The meeting will begin at 9:00 am and will be held in the Administrative and Instructional Complex Auditorium, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, GA, 30083.

Thank you.

For some reason this makes me very uncomfortable. Wonder if a New Birth contingent will attend? Wonder how many different faiths will be represented?

On kind of a side note: Didn't someone suggest a connection of New Birth with Atkinson? Something about the bankruptcy which a listed a New Birth-related school as creditor?

Cerebration said...

I wouldn't give that New Birth connection much thought. New Birth extends into something like 11 states and has hundreds of satellite churches that tithe back to New Birth. You could be associated with a school or church that was associated with New Birth and really not even know it...

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:17

Kittredge Magnet School has 417 students in grades 4-6, a full-time band teacher, a full-time strings teacher,a full-time art teacher, a full-time PE teacher,and a German teacher for each grade,as well as an enrichment teacher that serves all three grades.

By contrast, Ashford Park Elementary has about 500 students, pre-K through 5, and has an art teacher, a music teacher and a full-time PE teacher, as well as one Discovery teacher for grades 1-5.

Columbia Elementary has about 650 students, pre-K through 5, and has an art teacher, a music teacher and two PE teachers, as well as one Discovery teacher for grades 1-5.

Anonymous said...

Kittredge Magnet School

4th grade:
137 students for 9 teachers
15 students for each teacher

5th grade:
137 students for 9 teachers:
15 students for each teacher

6th grade:
145 students for 9 teachers
16 students for each teacher

*The 3 full time German teachers are considered grade level teachers per the Georgia Salary and Travel audit.

Keep in mind that DCSS has a 25:1 OVERALL pupil teacher ratio

In order for Kittredge to have such low numbers 261 additional students must be distributed somewhere in the county over and above the 25 students a teacher "looks" like he/she has in grades 4 - 12.

That is to say, for every student under 25 in a room at Kittredge, another teacher in grades 4 - 12 somewhere in the county takes on an additional student.

Who can say this is equitable for students? Can everyone see how so many classes in DeKalb end up with 30 students? Kittredge is just one small example. There are so many more.

All students could benefit from small class sizes, but educational studies show that low income students benefit the most.

Please check these sources if you want to verify:
Number of students per grade level for Kittredge:

(Use the drop down to select DeKalb County and click the By School button)

Number of teachers in Kittredge for:
4th grade:

5th grade:

6th grade:

Anonymous said...

@ Cere 8:46

"You could be associated with a school or church that was associated with New Birth and really not even know it..."

Do you mean like Arabia Mountain?

BTW - Was Atkinson sending any of her children to a private school associated with New Birth?

Anonymous said...

Kittredge funding was more "equitable" when all of its students received the extra points associated with being gifted. When they dropped the qualifier for entry below "gifted", they lost their ability to fully fund KMS with those funds. As a result, the funding has to be taken from elsewhere in the system. I think (but don't know for sure) that the funding that the county gets for gifted students from the state DOE, which is then pooled and re-distributed is one of the main ways that the system accomplishes this....If you look at the gifted numbers on the charts the county presents to the state for funding per school and compare it to the numbers the county uses per school for internal funding, it's stark. This would explain why some are really complaining that their gifted children are not receiving services while others have kids who are not 'gifted' but are receiving services "in spades".

Anonymous said...

Unless the law has changed recently, gifte funds follow gifted students. So if you have a lot of gifted students, you get a lot of extra funds that a principal cause to use to hire extra teachers. A 15: 1 pupil teacher ratio (the overall ratio is actually lower than this because the art, music, band strings, etc. teachers get figured into this) in the classroom while regular education schools have such large class sizes seems a somewhat implausible. Did Ms. Tyson reinstate the extra magnet points (1 point = 1 teacher)?

Schools in high income areas have more students classified as gifted. Schools in low income areas have less students classified as gifted and more students below grade level in reading and math. Both schools receive extra funding - high income schools from the state via the gifted program and low income schools through Title 1 and other federal funding.

One of the major differences in DeKalb County is that if your school has a lot of gifted students, you end up with more TEACHERS who work directly with atudents, while if your school has a lot of students behind in reading and math, you end up with more COACHES who never work directly with students.

It seems that with close to $100,000,000 in federal funding ($40,000,000+ Title 1 funding) - most of it because of our low income students that some of that money could flow to the classrooms of students who are not reading and/or computing on grade level. While these funds cannot be used for grease level and content area classroom teachers, they can be used for Title 1 Reading and Math teachers to remediate struggling learners.

Take a look at how federal funds are spent in DeKalb.
For example:
$1,230,391 was spent for travel
1. Click on Other Expenditure Information
2. Click on Payments
3. Click on Local Boards of Education, Select DeKalb under Organization, Select Federal under Funding Source, Click on Search

You can search by page or scroll to the bottom of the page and you have the option to Export to a CSV file.

Anonymous said...

Oops! Typo - should read:
While these funds cannot be used for grade level and content area classroom teachers, they can be used for Title 1 Reading and Math teachers to remediate struggling learners.

Cerebration said...

Very good points, Anon.

On the topic of the money following the child, we tried once to research the numbers of students labeled 'gifted' and which schools they attend. It was very frustrating, as the numbers reported to the state do not match the numbers assigned to schools as FTE and also do not match the numbers given to us directly by principals. This could really use an audit - as it appears that our gifted money is somehow pooled, and then the funding returned by the state is then redistributed, perhaps inequitably...

Cerebration said...

Again, here are a few of our posts on the subject:

Gifted and Magnet School Data Now Available

Another discussion about gifted points and programs - are we offering what's required?

Funding Inequity: how it works in DeKalb

(The above post lists FTE spending by school. Kittredge at the time spent about $11,000 per student, as compared to say, $6,900 at Dunwoody ES or $12,800 at Knollwood. -- Also compare the per student cost at DSA of $11,612.95 per pupil to Arabia -- $5,214.29 per pupil).

DCSS funding allocation makes no sense at all and needs an audit and rebalancing.

Of course, the state needs to do some serious work on their funding formula as well (and they plan to). Read the post below for Joe Martin's explanation of the QBE formula.

Emory Lavista Parent Council hosts Fran Millar, Mary Margaret Oliver and Joe Martin (Part 2)

No one is denying the gifted students at Kittredge their due. I am the first to admit that truly gifted students require and deserve a different teaching environment - at least part of the time. We all just can't help but wonder if funding these special "high achiever" programs could be harming the gifted students left in their home schools.

Anonymous said...

The state of Georgia has a coordinator for Gifted.

She should be able to answer any questions anyone has about the state regulations regarding Gifted education. Her telephone number and email is listed on the web address above.

Anonymous said...

It's less the "how" it's supposed to be done vis a vis the state -- it's more what's actually happening in DCSS and who is really paying attention to the flow of the cash with the gifted dollars that is being really questoned -- the charts with the numbers of gifted kids used for the state funds are really very different than the charts used within DCSS for the individual schools and the kids at a place like Kittredge all get gifted services even though they are not all gifted eligible .... there is something "off" but no one is really watching or questioning at the right places (and audits don't really seem to exist). It works splediddly for the kids at KMS who are really benefitting from it all and there are some schools where it "levels" out just fine (Fernbank may be one of these) but there are other schools where there are kids being deprived of their gifted funds because of the pooling and redistribution....

Anonymous said...

I'm finally 100% convinced that I'll help my daughter pay for my granddaughter's education in private schools. I'll be leaving DCSS in May 2012. I want the best education for her so she'll be able to compete in the global economy. We're being out-educated today. Tomorrow, out-competed for jobs and other opportunities. This will be self-evident to our children when they go off to college and into the real-world.

Anonymous said...

my middle son, who was in DCSS through elementary and middle and is now in one of the top privates for high school -- comes home once a month and states about how happy he is to be at his high school and how his kids will go there from elementary on (my response: better make a lot of money, ethically....).

Paula Caldarella said...

After seeing the look of pride, accomplishment and joy on my oldest child's face when she received acceptance to 2 of her college choices, I thank the DCSS teachers, administrators and parents that have made her educational experience so wonderful and meaningful. I am totally confident she has been prepared for the next step of her educational journey.

I wish all DCSS students could have that same experience.

Anonymous said...

Dun. Mom, I agree completely. My child was in a good public elementary school, with a lot of supplementation at home. Then at a private school for middle school, where she received a great education, them back to public for high school, in the IB program. I found her high school education to be almost what it would have been in the private school, with the exception of trips abroad, but she was accepted to every college she applied to, and has found herself well prepared for college. In fact, there is a top student from the private school there and they are doing comparably.

However, I am also very aware that we had good options - options that a large percentage of DCSS students don't have.

Anonymous said...

What teacher is getting paid $65,000? I've been teaching for 10 years with a Master's degree and have yet to break the $50,000 mark! I did not get into teaching for the money (duh), but if $65,000 is the worth of a tracher, where is mine? This is where the teachers are going... to second and third jobs to make ends met. If only I had forgone college and grad school to learn some secretarial skills then I could make $73k!

Anonymous said...

My daughter is a 7th grade student at DHMS (formerly Shamrock). She is in a high achiever's class. She is one of 35. Yes I said 35! I'm not sure what the class size limit is, but 35 is too many students for one teacher to handle. I have a 2 children and a husband, and it's challenging for me to handle all the drama that arises. I can't imagine what these teachers are having to deal with given the drama that arises from middle school students. I would love to see smaller classes so that my daughter can get more one-on-one time with the teacher. I don't get the ass-forwarding thinking in Dekalb County (an ass is supposed to be in the back). Through redistricting, they increased the enrollment numbers of already full or at capacity schools, yet they did not hire more teachers to address the over-crowding issues. I guess it was not a part of their 2020 vision. In the meantime, my child has to suffer. I pay my taxes for my children to attend a school in my district. I should not have to pay for them to go to private school on top of that!

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous 10:06 pm

The $65,000 figure for teachers is based on the average teacher in DCSS Making $54,412 plus 20% added for benefits.

The $72,000 for the secretary doesn't include benefits. If we include benefits, then the secretarial position is really $86,400 in total compensation.

Anonymous said...

"My daughter is a 7th grade student at DHMS (formerly Shamrock). She is in a high achiever's class. She is one of 35. Yes I said 35!"

Roy Barnes (nicknamed King Roy by the Republicans) was arrogant and didn't include many teacher on his committee to revamp education, but he did wonders for the students as he lowered class sizes.

Barnes stated that during the first year of lowering class sizes, schools could exceed his new maximum class size up to 20%, but by the 4th year, schools had to be on target.

Class Sizes and Funding under Barnes:

Kindergarten - 1:15
Kindergarten Early Intervention Program - 1:11
Grades 1-3 - 1:17
Grades 1-3 Early Intervention Program - 1:11
Grades 4-5 - 1:23
Middle Grades Program - 1:23
Middle School Program - 1:20
High School - 1:23
Vocational Labs - 1:20
Category I Special Education - 1:8
Category II Special Education - 1:6.5
Category III Special Education - 1:5
Category IV Special Education - 1:3
Category V Special Education - 1:8
Gifted - 1:12
Remedial Education - 1:15
Alternative Education - 1:15

And schools couldn't average either. In other words, before if I had 30 in each 4th grade classes and only 23 in each 5th grade classes, I could average them and say they only had on average 26 per class. No more under Barnes. If I had over 23 in my 7th grade class, DCSS had to get another teacher which might ten reduce me to 17 or 18.

The superintendents were beside themselves. They knew they would have to rightsize their admin and support numbers, but Barnes held strong. The superintendents had to put those teachers in the classrooms and cut in the Central Office and the support side.

Then Barnes was out and Purdue was in. He immediately rescinded the small class sizes and he re-instituted class size averaging. IMO this is the worse thing Purdue did for education and tax payers. It gave the superintendents to raise class sizes every time they wanted a new non-teaching department or buy a program. Raising class sizes freed up money for a bloated admin and support.

Deal needs to tell superintendents they have to have a set classroom size. Give the superintendents no more money for this. They will be forced to cut in the non-teaching end as they hire in the teaching end. Who are the winners? Students who sit in manageable classes and parents as they see their chid getting the additional attention they need.

Cerebration said...

This is the only way the state can step in and make school systems do the right thing and right size the classrooms - eliminating the burden from teachers. In addition, the state needs to fully fund this plan and reinstate the austerity cuts and 'equalization' grants back to the school systems as it is earned.

I wonder if it's possible to legislate the allowable numbers of support personnel?

Anonymous said...

This sums up why DCSS is the way it is perfectly:

"One of the major differences in DeKalb County is that if your school has a lot of gifted students, you end up with more TEACHERS who work directly with atudents, while if your school has a lot of students behind in reading and math, you end up with more COACHES who never work directly with students."

Anonymous said...

Anyone looking at the stock market today. The way I see it, this is going to be a moot point in the next 12-36 months. The elimination of 600 teacher positions is going to look minute compared to what's going to happen.

We're seeing students delay or drop out of school altogehter for lack of money (e.g. HOPE). Soon, teachers will be leaving for the same reason. The defects are tied to economics, the constant changes in government, etc. The brightest minds w/o food cannot think and do anything. DCSS leadership MUST make the tough decisions.

Open your eyes! If the fat and incompetence is not trimmed within the next 6-9 months, it's shooting itself in the foot. This sad state of affairs cannot continue.