We’re confused. Steen Miles has published an opinion piece in the “Champion News” (only available in print or the January 27 online full pdf version, but moving around in email blasts) that viciously attacks Dr. Atkinson and praises Dr. Walker. In fact, the article is titled,
“School Superintendent Progress Report: failing”
“If one had to assess the overall performance of new DeKalb School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson to date she’d have to get a failing grade.”
How can she be failing? She’s only been here a few months, and yes, she’s made changes to her ‘cabinet level’ staff, but let’s admit, she hasn’t even had time to address learning in the classroom and student progress should be the barometer by which her success is measured.
“Just when we thought things were on the uptick with the election of Dr. Eugene Walker as chairman of the school board, more highly publicized dunderhead activities on the part of the new school superintendent come to light. One can only hope with Dr. Walker’s years of leadership, education experience and political acumen, that he will tutor Atkinson and help her make a passing grade. If not, her tenure here should be short-lived.”
Dr. Walker should tutor Dr. Atkinson?! Really? Does Dr. Walker secretly want to be the superintendent?
Then, Miles gets downright condescending.
“Perhaps one shouldn’t hold over the dear lady’s head the fact that she came from a 7,500-student system in Ohio to a system more than 10 times larger at some 95,000, but something has to be said of the need for comparable experience of which she is sorely lacking. It’s akin to allowing someone with crop duster experience at Uncle Ned’s farm to take a Boeing on a transatlantic flight.”
“Atkinson’s recent actions of shifting and reassigning key personnel before her expensive audit and the band debacle give rise to serious questions about her management ability.”
Don’t most new top-level managers pretty much clean house at the top and bring in their own people? I know that’s what the Governor did. And Atkinson is paid more than the Gov.
“Four lessons and no more: No. 1. Put the children’s interest ahead of ego. Take time to learn the lay of the land before making wholesale changes. If you’re going to spend tens of thousands of our tax dollars for expensive personnel audits, why not wait for the audit findings before making wholesale changes that call into question the integrity and competencies of people being shifted? . . . Good, dedicated, competent people in operations and technology, the deputy superintendent for teaching and learning instruction, chief of curriculum, purchasing, the nationally recognized, award-winning, “I told you so” CFO have all been side-lined. Why? Because you wanted to bring in your own people? Fine. We realize a new broom sweeps clean. But an old broom knows the corners. Know the lay of the land. Sometimes cuts are too deep.”
An old broom knows the corners. That is kind of scary.
“No. 2 Take time to learn the “culture” of the system.”
No. Please do not learn the “culture” of the system, Dr. Atkinson.
“No. 3 Talk to your board and key stakeholders before making major decisions. Get buy-in.”
Hmmm. Why have a superintendent if the board insists on tying her hands? Why not just go ahead and let the board decide everything?
“No. 4 Don’t allow a “spokes-person” to speak for you on major issues. Don’t let your constituents hear about major changes from the media before you give them the courtesy of sharing your decisions with them. Own your decisions if you are confident about them. The time-tested PTA slogan might apply: “The school cannot live apart from the community.” Our hard-working staff and teachers (no matter who they’re related to) need to be appreciated not deprecated so as to give the best to our children.”
Then she closes with a mean-girl throw-down.
“It has to be noted that she cuts a striking figure as a parade grand marshal. Someone wondered out loud whether she exempted the parade from the ban on band activities so that the boys and girls could trumpet her ride down Main Street.”
Fast forward three days after Steen’s post and Ty Tagami at the AJC tells us that, Cuts to DeKalb schools won’t be immediate.
Now, isn’t that interesting?