Michael Thurmond writes an essay

Our new superintendent Michael Thurmond has written an essay about DeKalb schools that has been posted on Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog at the AJC online.

Read the entire post here:

Get Schooled
DeKalb’s Michael Thurmond: Getting our house and priorities in order

We hope he holds himself accountable to his own written priorities:

We will get our financial house in order. It is not enough to blame the state — or the state of the economy — for our financial woes. We will squeeze every ounce of educational efficiency out of every dollar. We will embrace best practices – not just in classroom expenses but in legal fees, central office budgets or workers’ compensation costs – to ensure that every conceivable dollar that should be going to a classroom is getting there.  . . .

Prior to accepting this job I asked each board member if they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to lift us off probation and bring fundamental change to our system. All nine board members stated without reservation that they were ready and willing to meet the standards set by our accreditors.

They have 99,000 reasons to put “my district” concerns aside. They are determined to work together and make hard decisions – political and otherwise – in order to rebuild public trust.

With a new vision to fundamentally transform the DeKalb County School District, we will earn full accreditation. The quest to build a great public school system has already begun.

So far he’s just given us words – encouraging words, but just words. He hasn’t had much time to formulate a plan of action, and we hold out hope that such a plan – in detail – will be forthcoming.  Soon.

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38 Responses to Michael Thurmond writes an essay

  1. In case you missed it, a day earlier, David Schutten, head of the DeKalb Organization of Teachers also posted an essay on Maureen’s blog:

    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/02/15/the-task-facing-michael-thurmond-save-the-system-from-taking-a-nose-dive/

    Hopefully, all these people are actually sitting down talking and not just publicly blogging and posting essays …

  2. Betsy Parks says:

    We clearly have a polished politician for Superintendent who cares about the people who put him in power: the dysfunctional DKBOE not the kids, community, or voters. What a waste of our $$$.

    Lets PUSH and finish STRONG! Please sign and continue share our petition to remove DKBOE. http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-nathan-deal-and-georgia-state-board-of-education-review-sacs-findings-if-accurate-replace-the-dekalb-county-school-board

    We will deliver it to Governors Deal’s office immediately after the GABOE meeting February 21. Governor Deal’s office has asked us to deliver our petition immediately following the conclusion of the hearing! Kristin A. Bernhard, Education Policy Advisor will receive the petition on his behalf at the Office of Governor Nathan Deal, 142 State Capitol Atlanta, GA 30334. Everyone who supports the effort to remove the DKBOE is invited to attend this gathering. It is just a short walk from the GABOE meeting but we need to RSVP.

    http://www.facebook.com/events/158584497627854/

    or send me private me on the change.org petition site linked above.

  3. teachermom says:

    No I don’t buy it. Sounds like politica-speak to me. I will not, cannot, EVER trust this board again. They are not going to change. Words mean nothing! I don’t want to hear the man who is being paid over 300k tell me how wonderful the people are who are giving him the money. They need to go, and frankly, so does Thurmond. I can’t even consider him to be viable for the job because of how he came in. He is only hurting the county by trying to tie any solutions to the idea of a recommitted board. We cannot move forward until we own our history and get rid of those who have robbed our county. Did he really think that the board would have answered “no we don’t want to do what it takes” when he asked them if they were ready to make sacrifices, even though it is obvious that they have NEVER had the motivation to put the kids first. I have signed the petition,

  4. Thurmond needs to really realize just how tired the DeKalb citizens are of empty promises.

    It was a mere 18 months ago that Cheryl Atkinson made very close to the same kinds of statements.

    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2011/08/13/dekalb-names-a-new-leader-is-she-the-right-one/

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/08/dr-atkinson-made-her-public-debut-this.html

    “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.

    And 16 months before that – it was Ramona Tyson -

    http://www.emory-lavista.org/node/43

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/08/revisiting-past-comments-from-ramona.html

    Interim Superintendant Tyson, described herself as a dedicated DCSS professional of 22 years who had experience with IBM at the request of the DCSS administration. She noted her commitment to her family, especially as a mother of two elementary school aged children. She stated that her goal was to do the best job possible while staying focused on the core business of DCSS and the students of DCSS. Specifically, she shared her goal to rebuild the trust of all stakeholders and especially the morale of DCSS employees.

    And then, of course, there’s the big ball of lies from Crawford Lewis we’ve all paid dearly for.

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/04/premier-misrepresentation.html

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/05/superintendent-lewis-pat-pope-and.html

    We’re like a pack of abused dogs. Very very leery of humans anymore…

  5. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Mr Thurmand said
    “We will get our financial house in order. It is not enough to blame the state — or the state of the economy — for our financial woes.”

    Mr Thurmand,
    We do not blame “the state – or the state of the economy” for our financial situation. According to the Georgia DOE, school districts have received more and more money over the last 15 years. DCSD is getting more money now than it ever has. If you bothered going to the office and talking to your CFO, you would know this. We, sir, blame the DCSD executive administration of which you are now a part of. What exactly, sir, are you going to do aside from defend the board at the hearing this Friday?

    Best wishes, –DIO

  6. Just Saying says:

    No one has talked to the staff working in the schools to ask their opinion. We are on the front line. There are surveys that students complete about teachers and that the staff completes about the administrators.. When will we get a chance to give input about district level concerns, such as the needs of our students and school? These are the two most important things to most educators. We would also like to talk about: pay, insurance, benefits, security, staffing, testing, class sizes, technology, communication, scheduling, district level support and an organizational chart with real names.
    In no way am I trying to say that these are all of the concerns or that everyone in the schools would list the same areas. The issue is that be it the principal, teacher, para, counselor, custodian or clerical staff we are not provided any means to give our input about the school system. It amazes me that people not working in the system tells us that “we should just speak out and sign our names.” When you have nothing to lose, it is easy to be brave,
    I love my students. I go to school each day and try to do my best for them. There is only so much that a school based person can do to increase morale. Every person in the school is on the front line each day.
    Pray that real and good changes will come to our schools.

  7. Beverly Fraud says:

    Mr Thurmand said
    “We will get our financial house in order. just as soon as my paycheck has cleared the bank. It is not enough to blame the state — or the state of the economy — for our financial woes.”

  8. howdy1942 says:

    I think that I am with @teachermom. For years now, this School Board has made promises to SACS, to the State, and to the people. It has failed to deliver on even one! It was completely oblivious to the activities of Lewis and Pope. Even after Lewis was indicted, this Board chose to pay Lewis’ legal expenses – now over $100,000. What is at question is not a policy nor a statute of the Dekalb county – it is simply about the personal decisions and actions of one man that violated state law. Even after Pope was indicted, this Board did not fire her – it let her work our her contract – over a month at taxpayer’s expense.

    SACS has been on this Board’s case for years. It delivered over 25,000 pages in response to its findings in 2011, made promises and commitments, and then failed to deliver on any of them. SACS, in its December 2012 report did not cite a single area of progress that this Board has made. It did cite numerous deficiencies of the current leadership of this Board. And even after this report, this leadership stated that “it had done nothing wrong”. This board has had three superintendents in three years – which are still being paid their superintendent salaries at taxpayers’ expense. It just “fired” the latest last week.

    Now this board cannot come together enough to elect a leader with a majority vote. Somehow, Eugene Walker presents this 4-3-2 vote much like a “mandate” or “landslide”. He states that it is not a sign of dysfunction.

    And now this Board hires Michael Thurmond who promptly announces that he, not the board, will represent the District on February 21, 2013. He has no authority by statue to speak for the board. The board is under no obligation to implement any commitments that he makes. He is an employee of the Board – not its supervisor.

    If this board wants remain in place and begin a healing process, Dr. Eugene Walker should resign. He is the very symbol of all that is presently wrong with Dekalb schools. The board should then elect another chair. Nancy Jester is probably not electable despite her extensive knowledge of what needs to be done and her knowledge of our financial woes. However, Dr. Pamela Speaks is electable and represented herself well on January 17, 2013, before the State Board. It just seems to be that if the board felt so strongly that Atkinson has to go, it should feel just as strongly that, at a minimum, Dr. Walker should not be chair.

    In short, Dr. Walker should resign. Second, a new chair should represent this board at the February 21, 2013, meeting with the State Board. If these simple steps cannot be taken, then the State Board has not choice other than recommending to the Governor that he suspend this Dekalb board.

  9. Blindsided says:

    Mr. Thurmond,
    We teachers know what your appointment, and inaugural speech mean……we’ve heard it soooooo many times before. (My 40th year). The ‘Palace Privileged’, attempting to hang on to their jobs, will demand even MORE from overworked classroom teachers, to satisfy your demands.
    Here’s how it works:
    1. The incompetent Board threatens the Super. (Super Mannequin)
    2. The ‘Super Mannequin’ threatens the ‘Palace Privileged’.
    3. The ‘Palace Privileged’ threaten principals, and classroom teachers.
    4. More testing, data collection and inane paper work is demanded of teachers.
    TESTING IS NOT TEACHING!!!!!
    DeKalb teachers are mad as hell at being expected, for soooo long, to make the Palace crew “look good”.
    Any questions???

  10. dekalbite2 says:

    From the full text of Mr. Thurmond’s speech:
    Mr. Thurmond writes………“How can we do all that with a board of education that AdvancEd has said is a major part of the problem? Prior to accepting this job I asked each board member if they are willing to make the sacrifices necessary to lift us off probation and bring fundamental change to our system.”

    My question is…..
    What are the “sacrifices” the Board members must make to “lift us off probation and bring a fundamental change to our system”? That seems an odd turn of phrase.

    Why should it be a “sacrifice” unless you are personally getting some perk or compensation that has stood in the way of the success of the organization and now you must give it up. If you were receiving such perks that stood in the way of the success of students, you should not be able to have a “do over”. Students who have missed out on their educational opportunities as they sat in huge classes with scant materials and frustrated teachers do not get a “do over”. This was/is the one chance most of them have for a decent education.

  11. teacher/taxpayer says:

    I heard on an NPR report late last week that Thurmond’s contract requires him to come up with a plan within his first 90 days. That takes us into May. I guess the good news is that we will have all summer to attend board meetings to see how his plan is trickling down to the schoolhouses.

  12. dekalbite2 says:

    So will the plan have quantifiably measurable objectives for:
    1. Improved student achievement
    2. Fiscal soundness

    Will there be established benchmarks for meeting the student achievement objectives and fiscal soundness objectives? Will the benchmark information be published on the DCSS website so that taxpayers can see if he met those objectives?

    Those are the questions taxpayers need to be asking about his plan.

  13. howdy1942 says:

    I read all three editorials in today’s AJC and Maureen Downey’s most closely represents my feelings. Reading from this blog, I sense that many in Dekalb County are angry and frustrated – with the Dekalb County Board of Education.

    I have the deepest respect, empathy, and even sympathy for our teachers and principals. I walk my dog around Brockett Elementary every day and frequently meet teachers as they are leaving. To each one I always say “hang in there, keep your chin up, we are about to turn this ship around”. I often see the principal’s car on weekends and holidays at the school. These teachers and principals are working – and working hard. They are doing their jobs in an environment of frustration, uncertainty, and fear.

    Read the SACS report for yourself – I have. Perhaps the finding that angers me most is the intimidation by members of this Dekalb Board that has created a “culture of fear”. This report cites multiple instances of teachers leaving school in tears after being harassed and bullied by a member of this board. It cites interference by Dr. Walker in the hiring process when he encouraged Dr. Atkinson to select a particular brother of a board member. It cites threats and intimidation by members of this board toward all levels of staff. I managed people for years and had the good fortune of having some outstanding supervisors. I can assure you that such intimidation would never have been tolerated – there would have been severe consequences and probably outright dismissal.

    What has happened in Dekalb County has happened – that culture of fear must end. It cannot end if members of this same board remain in place. They should not be defended and for making that his top priority, I have lost a lot of respect for Michael Thurmond. As Maureen Downey so accurately stated, Michael Thurmond would be very wise to understand that from the perspective of so many Dekalb County residents and taxpayers, there is a very, very big difference in the Dekalb County School Board and the Dekalb County School System. He would do well to focus on the latter and not the former.

    I sincerely hope that the State Board unanimously recommends on February 21, 2013, to the Governor that he suspend this Board. And I sincerely hope that Governor Deal will not delay in doing so. With that single action, the residents of this County, teachers, principals, and students can come together and put the ugly past that has been created by this board behind us.

  14. Sadly, I have to say that our teachers are suffering financially, spiritually and emotionally. I have noticed while out shopping and working that I cross paths with MANY people who are DeKalb county teachers — and are working another part time job in order to make ends meet. I met TWO of them tonight! And this is not a new thing – they’ve been doing this for many years. WE REALLY NEED TO PUT OUR MONEY WHERE OUR MOUTHS ARE. In our teachers! Period. We need to pay them well, create very favorable work environments for them and give them the freedom to actually teach. We have gotten so off-center regarding our focus. Educating children is NOT rocket science! How many of you learned to read WITHOUT a million dollar ‘program’?!

  15. DeKalb Observer says:

    A observation: we have been saying for at least four years that DeKalb schools were in a load of trouble. Posters to this blog identified truly scandalous incidents that were never investigated or even reported in the media. Documented malfeasance – like information identified in the various audits – horrified us, but the media yawned. Now,AdvancedEd and the State BOE have stepped in, and there are blogs, tv reports and newspaper articles about this hot mess. It is strange to me that as we were tumbling down this hill, this blog was the only place anyone seemed to be aware of what was happening. Thurmond seems to have gotten his perspective from Walker – and appears to have grossly misunderstood the nature of the problems we face. The challenge isn’t keeping the BOE in place, although he’s promising to help them stay there. The challenge is installing a board with integrity and credibility. It practically enrages me when he says he asked if they are all willing to “sacrifice.” Seriously? How about asking them if they will from this point, make decisions ethically.

  16. Jeneane Nicholas says:

    You know things have gone crazy when AdvanceEd states that the cronyism that is practiced by the Dekalb BOE is a major problem and yet Dr. Walker supposedly tries to “calm taxpayer fears” by going behind closed doors and admittedly hires his friend, Thurmond to the tune of $275,000. Dr. Walker showed he was more interested in finding someone who could help him keep his job rather than getting our school system off probation. The board needs to go because if they truly cared they would of done their job when they first received warnings.

  17. No Duh says:

    As I read Thurmond’s (Dickerson’s) editorial today, I felt like Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver. I kept saying to myself, “You talkin’ to me?, You talkin’ to me?”

    I don’t understand why Thurmond thinks “we” — who he defined as “all of us in north DeKalb and south, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, conservative and progressive” — need to be told “we” need to “coalesce behind winning unconditional accreditation.” I don’t understand his condescending tone when he said he’s “confident the DeKalb community will rally to the goal of improving education.” Or that “citizens and parents pushed aside parochial concerns to approve a massive redistricting plan.” And surely, he could not be talking to US when he instructs: “We must cast aside ‘my school, my neighborhood, my district’ parochialism and work together for what is best for the entire district.”

    To whom is he speaking? I know “we” all over DeKalb County have been espousing these principles for YEARS! Someone needs to tell Thurmond “we” have been the ONLY ones trying to do any of those things!

    Equally offensive was his telling school-based employees to “re-dedicate” themselves to being the best they can be while he was busy dedicating himself to saving Gene’s (and all of Gene’s F&F) income source. I didn’t say “job” because that implies work.

    He needs to stop talking to us and start talking with us.

  18. Cheryl Miller has written an interesting post on the Patch… Could it be that the leaders in the system are trying to stack the deck in the public comments portion of the board meetings by securing spaces for select people to cheerlead for their school and system leaders?

    Are Stakeholders Stacking the Deck in DeKalb?

    http://dunwoody.patch.com/articles/are-stakeholders-stacking-the-deck-in-dekalb

  19. dekalbite2 says:

    I was at the Lakeside City meeting (Lakeside is trying to form a city) last week. The auditorium seats 600 and all the seats were taken by the time I got there so many people were standing including me. Time and time again the question came up – how can we get out from under the DeKalb County School System? What can Lakeside City do to correct this school system? The speaker, Mary Kay Woodworth, finally just had to say no more questions about the school system. That one question by far dominated this huge gathering. Marshall Orson and Jim McMahan were in the audience as well as some other politicians. Maybe Mr. Thurmond needs to come to some meetings without his “handlers” to see how upset people are about the school system’s poor use of taxpayer dollars and failure to improve student achievement.

  20. you are superman says:

    I very much agree with my fellow citizens. Thurmond is a snow job and it rarely snows in Georgia. So once again we find ourselves further handicapped by unethical practices by the school board. I first felt hopeful until I heard about his commitment to help the board.
    We are superman and must demand that the governor wipe out this board ASAP. Closing school from one sector of the county was not accepted by that community. Why are schools getting face lifts(MLK) and (SWDHS) a fine arts facility on the backs of the southwest corridor? These new 10 plans will close even more schools in the same area. If the board or Thurmond was genuine all projects in the county not in progress would be frozen. They would focus on correcting the findings in the fiscal audit i.e. eliminate 40 million from central office. Review and then send Atkinson’s unqualified team packing. This will help the fiscal budget and start restoring employee morale. These two tasks are no brainers.

  21. David S says:

    Why do I have this mental picture of Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick?

  22. Chamblee Dad says:

    New here after lurking for years. I have been a very involved parent for years as well, including serving on our elementary school council, frequent advocate for our school during all the budget/redistricting battles, financial sponsor of PTA events & of course involved in the classrooms of my children. I intend on doing so as my children progress into Chamblee Middle.

    I have also frequently spoken before the board regarding many issues throughout those years. I always went through the standard request process, and always spoke frankly and usually from an adversarial point of view – the circumstances required it. I always tried to be as diplomatic as I could, but once or twice got a little intense. Always spoke without notes, came from the heart & brain, I knew what I wanted to stay, sometimes winging it based on the comments of others.

    But, once last year I was approached by higher ups wanting “positive news” about our school, no specific details were requested, just something other than “bad news.” I was surprised but agreed, warning ahead of time I wouldn’t present spin for the district. I felt this was coming above the level of those requesting it, hence why it seems to come from schools throughout DCSS. I do not fault those who asked me, I suspect they had no choice, or at least were “urged” to do so, and we do have good news that I know they are proud of, and they’ve worked hard to accomplish it.

    So I did brag on our school, I too firmly believe we have much to be proud of. But I followed that by attributing the credit to whom it belonged – the teachers, principal, staff & parents, especially the teachers & paras. who were being asked to do more & more with less & less. This was accomplished without the help of the central office, obviously the contrary. I ended by asking for our “fair share” of resources to continue our work, nothing more but nothing less. We would be willing to endure budget cuts along with all schools, if done equally (at that time, not to save FSC). I stepped down with a clear conscience. I am proud of our entire cluster, from the Area Super. to the janitors, and teachers and parents, I’ve seen nothing but hard & effective work, when allowed.

    Two interesting things: 1 – I did not have to go through the regular request process, once I agreed I simply got a confirmation e-mail. 2 – I never heard any feedback, good or bad, after doing so.

  23. hopespringseternal says:

    Yes, Chamblee Dad, I’ve learned that there is still lots of that going on. It is the most shameful measure of just how some people regard their mission. The citizen comment period has been regarded as both great and horrible, depending on the prism one looks through. To me it sacred. And should even be extended. And if anyone out there approaches that podium as a cheerleader and doesn’t identify him/herself as an EMPLOYEE (which happened this month), it’s even worse. Any area superintendent who participates in this nonsense or who knows that principals are supporting it should immediately admit it, resign and do something else for a living. This is the PEOPLE’s system.

  24. concernedmom30329 says:

    Way back in the dark ages of Dr. Brown, he would have “community meetings” where every school would be required to send a parent to attend. Many times, half the room was system employees who happened to be parents in those schools as well. I was never clear if it was because the principals couldn’t get parents to attend or if there just weren’t involved parents at those schools who could make a 5 oclock meeting.

  25. Chamblee Dad says:

    @hopespringseternal
    My impression was that this request was from higher than area super/principal because the public comment scheduler sent me an e-mail without me having to do anything, I know how it normally works. to me that showed it was routine, so I bet all areas are expected/urged/even required to get people to do it periodically, that way it comes from all areas of DCSS. Central office, up to the super. & board were making sure the whole comment session wasn’t just a vent or attack time (not that they listen much anyway). So it really fits in with the entire culture of intimidation & fear we know so well. I’ve know plenty of teachers & staff who would thank us for speaking for them, they were afraid to even show up at the board meetings & would just watch for us in the news.

    I’ve heard many other parents speak with nothing but rah-rah chearleading about their schools, without putting into context the overall disaster enveloping the system as a whole. I wondered if they were unware, or simply trying to court favor from those in power. Mine was much more in the form of a plea for more help to those at the schools that needed it – teachers & paras. & not FSC & other protected things. I’ll stand by what I said and how I said it, I certainly never got a thank you afterward, not sure if the “plants” normally do?

    Funny thing about the FSC crowd. They wore green that night & I not only wore green but I sat next to them. I couldn’t figure out why they tried to engage me early that night, but when I returned to my seat after saying FSC should have huge budget cuts, more than the schools, I got a whole lot of dirty looks!

  26. No Duh says:

    Below is the email that is sent to a principal when their school becomes the lucky winner to get the privilege of sending a shill to the BOE meeting to waste Public Comment time. Prinicpals MUST at least ask parents to step up so the Principals can show the Powers That Be they are jumping through the hoops. Sadly, some parents jump at the chance to make fools of themselves. We all know many great things are happening at the school level. The parents, teachers and students know it. The public comment time should be used to highlight what the insolated Board needs to know to help solve PROBLEMS in the schools. This time should be spent bringing to light problems (and sharing possible solutions) that the BOE would never hear about if the principals/parents/students had to rely on the Superintendent/Central Office staff solely to communicate to the Board. The Emperor still has no clothes!

    From: LORRAINE SANFORD 1/29/2013 4:41:34 PM
    Subject: Great Opportunity to Highlight Your School

    Congratulations!!! You have been selected to highlight the great
    things/accomplishments happening in your school at the March Board
    Meeting. Please have your parent representative send an email message to:

    Margaret_C_Francois@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

    Please include the following in the message to Ms. Francois:

    Name
    Address
    Phone Number
    Topic: Great/Positive Things at ___________________School.
    Board Meeting: March ________

    Thanks for sharing the great things happening at your school. Please send
    me an email message after your parent is confirmed to speak.

    Thank you.
    Lorraine Sanford
    Executive Assistant to Ms. Cynthia Brictson,
    Region II Superintendent

    DeKalb County School District
    Administrative and Instructional Center
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083
    Office (678) 676-1105
    Fax (678) 676-0535
    lorraine_sanford@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

  27. Chamblee Dad says:

    @ No duh. Yes, same basic e-mail I got. I do not think I made a fool of myself. I did focus on a problem – they are asking those at the school level to do more with less & less, and offered a solution – cut elsewhere (FSC) we are already cut to the bone. But I did do it while praising the results of those overworked, overstressed & underpaid teachers & staff – give them more they can do even better. To state what we are fighting for in a budget fight – our school is doing good but could do better, isn’t being “used” in my opinion. Perhaps I don’t fit the mold of a typical plant, I’ve spoken at plenty of meetings by sending in the request. I don’t think they typically enjoyed what I had to say. This time either. Perhaps they should have know better than request me. I don’t think I gave them what they wanted – at least the highest of higher ups.

  28. dekalb observer says:

    No Duh, are you a principal? If so, you are a most impressive double agent in this war.

  29. Concernedmom30329 says:

    I bet No Duh is not a principal, but rather has had the email in question forwarded to him/her by the principal to get the public speaker.

    By the way, why is Kendra March still around? Today, I saw an email from her….

    Oh, Mr. Thurmond, stop worrying about the board and worry about the rest of the system.

  30. CT says:

    Yadda yadda!!! He’s all talk. He’s considering bringing back all the corrupt people back to CO that Atkins got rid of. Even head of HR. What is that going to solve? Just recreating the same mess.

  31. ShooShee says:

    Is it only in DCSS they are marking up the cost of the AP testing?

    College board lists AP tests at $89 w/ an $8 rebate to school systems. So, cost to DCSS is $81 per test and they are charging $99 why? Hoping to make enough $ to close up some budget shortfalls?

  32. Pullin_For_The UnderDog says:

    Randomly went to the DCSS website to peruse the 2.18.13 minutes held today….saw a submittal by our new superintendent to retain the services of McKenna Long and Aldridge to “..assist you, the DCSD, the school board, and others with key stakeholder outreach.”

    (what the heck is “key stakeholder outreach”….that’s form letter gobbledy-gook to me)

    Why does DCSS need this??? I understand the need to bring in an unattached reformer to clean this DCSS mess up…but it appears Thurmond is bringing in more legal buddies and partners to further clear the Board’s name…but none of this expense if adopted goes to the betterment of one child’s public funded education.

    I don’t really care about who stays on the Board or who goes. I want a new Super is going to employ tough managerial skills to exact optimum performance out of the limited resources…without the aid of law firms telling them how to run an education company (publicly funded).

    It appears the the teaser rate for McKenna is $50K per month plus $20K retainer…3 month minimum.

    Perhaps paltry in the scheme of an overbloated DCSS legal expense budget…but $170K can go a long way in impacting a few, if not many kids trying to learn in an overcrowded-classroom environment.

  33. Maybe they’re going to create a bunch of charter schools!!!

    This is from the MLA website:

    MLA Launches National Charter Schools Practice

    The charter school sector and its supporters are playing an increasingly visible role across the country in education reform activity at the national, federal, state and local levels. In recognition of this trend, MLA has formally launched a national Charter Schools practice to build awareness and to further brand our work in this space.

    The practice houses a cross-practice team of attorneys and advisors representing a variety of charter school industry clients across a broad range of issues and needs, both legal and public policy. To launch the practice, the group distributed the first edition of a quarterly newsletter.

    “We’re very excited to have formed and launched this Charter Schools group based on the diverse work our colleagues are doing for charter school entities in the different practice areas across the firm,” said Eric Tanenblatt, MLA’s National Government Affairs practice head who leads the charter schools practice. “We will continue to support clients in the charter sector and look forward to growing our exposure in the wider policy and legal conversations affecting the sector.”

  34. Thank you to Chamblee Dad for admitting with all honesty how you were contacted to speak at the board meetings in the past, a practice that is obviously still going on today. There is no blame here, just people trying to put the pieces together.

    What I hope people will start becoming more aware of in light of the fact that we have accreditation at risk here, is that the normal practices of the administration and board should not be something we follow blindly. It’s great to be asked to represent your school, but we have to all be careful about ulterior motives of those who are doing the asking.

    If you are being asked to do something that seems odd, there is likely more to it. Your willingness to do what they ask may be preventing someone else from being able to speak at that night’s meeting. That person may have important information that we all need to know. They may not get their nerve up to speak the next month or that might be too late.

    Public speaking times should be a process left to the actual public and not tied to the strings of manipulation. Who is pulling the strings is the question I hope we will find out. If it stops when the board is gone, we’ll know. If it continues, we still have more work to do.

  35. CT says:

    The Board is appalling. Why are they trying to sue and stay on. They’ve done NOTHING to benefit the students and about to cause Dekalb to lose accreditation.

    They all need to LEAVE, and give someone else a chance to come in and possibly clean up their mess. If they stay on all they’re going to do is reinstate all of the incompetent higher ups back to CO, to sit around and use up more of our tax dollars.

    When will the State of Georgia truly step in and put a stop to all of this foolishness and reclaim the Dekalb County School System?

  36. BREAKING NEWS! Judge Declines Restraining Order
    Posted on February 20, 2013 by dekalbschoolwatch
    Per Ty Tagami in the AJC:

    “The state hearing that could unseat the nine members of the DeKalb County school board should proceed as scheduled Thursday morning, according to a judge’s order.

    “Fulton County Superior Court Judge Kelly Amanda Lee on Wednesday declined DeKalb’s request for a temporary restraining order that would have halted the proceedings.”

  37. CT says:

    I don’t trust Thurmond, he’s best buddies with Eugene Walker who appointed him.
    Walker stepped down because he knew he didn’t need to be on the board to call
    the shots. Thurmond is his puppet, already looking to rehire all those that Atkins got
    rid of.

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