A feeble attempt at “appreciation”

This was sent by a DeKalb teacher feeling frustrated and very much under-appreciated about what used to be called Teacher Appreciation Week, but has now blossomed into Staff Appreciation Week.  Parents – please do everything you can to personally let your children’s teachers know how much you appreciate their hard work and determination to continue to do the right thing even in the face of extreme uncertainty and sacrifice.

I am a daily reader of your blog and want to thank you for all of your recent efforts regarding the teacher contracts debacle. Your blog is really the ONLY place where the TRUTH can be discussed honestly and freely.

Just thought you might like to see what the teachers received this morning, along with a half of a muffin, for “Teacher Appreciation Week” (also called “Staff Appreciation Week” apparently.) I fished it out of the trash can in the teacher’s lounge.

Thank you again for all you do for the students, parents and teachers of DCSS.

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
This entry was posted in Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson, Teacher Contracts, Workplace Abusers, Workplace Bullies and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

53 Responses to A feeble attempt at “appreciation”

  1. Nope. Not exactly. That means that Atkinson is not really making any changes. So who is running the show at DCSS?

  2. dekalbite2 says:

    @ dekalbwatch
    “That means that Atkinson is not really making any changes. ”

    That is incorrect. Dr. Atkinson is reducing staff numbers such as CTSSs so that is a change. When you go from 95 to 65 in staff numbers (isn’t that the approximate reduction in CTSS staffing?), that is a change.

    Dr. Atkinson is not opening up these positions for personnel outside DCSS to apply for. Perhaps that is what you meant by no change.

    She has in essence told these ancillary staff that they should not consider themselves as employees next year, and they will be interviewing for a reduced number of positions. Some will be rehired. Some will not be rehired.

    Should she open these positions up to personnel outside DCSS? It seems that most organizations would give preference to the employees who are already employed by that organization.

    IMHO – This would be the ideal time to see limited outsourcing in the departments of MIS, Security, grounds keeping, staff development, maintenance, food services, and/or custodial work. Having some limited outsourcing in a few of these departments could allow DeKalb Schools to assess the impact of outsourcing without going full fledged into this practice. If outsourcing would work on a small scale, and the data showed the same service for less cost or improved service for the same or less cost, then it could be slowly expanded with data gathered along the way. Benefits costs are a huge portion of our personnel cost, and personnel cost consumes 90% of the budget. There is an article in the AJC today about the APS superintendent proposing some expansion on a limited custodial outsourcing initiative that has been in place for a while.

    Every dollar counts, and if we are to keep the class size numbers down in math, science, social studies, and language arts, nothing should be off the table. Mastering content in math, science, social studies and language arts is the main reason the school system exists. It is imperative students read, write and compute. DCSS (and a number of other school systems) seem to have forgotten that rationale. Being able to read, write and compute will not happen for a higher percentage of students if class sizes in the content and grade level areas are increased, particularly in the low income Title 1 schools where so many struggling students need individual attention from content or grade level teachers to succeed.

  3. Seriously? You see reducing low-level staff numbers, such as CTSSs as “making changes”?

    Let us be clearer, then: Atkinson is not really making any changes in management and delivery of education services and education-related services.

    DeKalb County School System is not “most organizations.” DeKalb County School System is failing its stakeholders — most especially, it is failing its students. So, what “most organizations” might do is irrelevant here.

    Corruption, incompetence and friends-and-family hiring is deeply ingrained in DCSS.

    Fear, established through bullying, intimidation and thuggery, is deeply ingrained in DCSS. Not one single person in DCSS has had the courage to come forward as a whistleblower — even by confidentially handing over what they know to the DeKalb School Watch blog and allowing us to pursue criminal charges through combining that information into one large ball of facts and documentation.

    Why wouldn’t it be a good idea bypass friends-and-family cronyism and open job vacancies to anyone who is interested and highly qualified?

    You say that “nothing should be off the table.” Do you mean except for playing musical chairs among the same folks who have gotten us to where we are today — from first to worst?

  4. dekalbite2 says:

    The jobs are to be filled internally out of the pool of workers already doing those jobs. Some workers will keep their jobs. Some will not keep their jobs.

  5. dekalbite2 says:

    Look on PATS to see that elementary, middle and high school principal generic positions are advertised. Those are not low level jobs. It makes sense to me for CTSSs to come from the current pool of CTSSs. Area superintendents, Directors, etc. are higher level personnel. IMO – the very high level positions should be open to personnel outside the school system. When it comes to coordinators and specialists, quite frankly we have some terrific teachers who would do very good jobs as coordinators or specialists. DeKalb master teachers (and we have quite a few of them) should be considered rather than just letting the current crop of coordinators and specialists apply for the positions that are reduced in number.

    The net effect should be less personnel who are not in the classroom teaching math, science, social studies and language arts. We cannot expect better results in math, science, social studies and language arts if the teachers who teach these subjects have even greater class sizes.

    Nothing should be off the table including outsourcing and closing Fernbank Science Center. In addition, there are many coordinator and other supervisory instructional positions that should be eliminated because they are redundant and filled with personnel who are not certified to teach and have no classroom experience. It makes sense to consolidate some areas that have 3 or 4 coordinators under one coordinator or supervisor and “take up the slack” with additional lower paid clerical support or even have lower paid specialists performing those functions. For example, if a department is moved under another department, why would you need to keep 2 department heads? If the personnel who are displaced are certified teachers, they should be given the opportunity to apply for teaching jobs in DeKalb.

    I hope Dr. Atkinson will be explaining her new reorganization to the Board of Education and in addition, this should be on the DeKalb website. Also on the DeKalb website should be a listing of every position title in DCSS and where that position resides on the new collapsed non teaching salary schedule. I would like to see a check register as well.

  6. “It makes sense to me for CTSSs to come from the current pool of CTSSs.”

    Why? It’s not like many of these people know what they are doing or have an excellent customer service mindset. Outsourcing of these positions, as well as maintenance, custodial and other similar positions at Sam Moss Service Center, and Food & Nutrition makes financial sense because there is a strong incentive to provide excellent customer service. Of course, it should go without saying that companies who receive outsource contracts should have been in business for many years, with impeccable references, and should NOT be from the friends-and-family contingent.

    “When it comes to coordinators and specialists, quite frankly we have some terrific teachers who would do very good jobs as coordinators or specialists. DeKalb master teachers (and we have quite a few of them) should be considered rather than just letting the current crop of coordinators and specialists apply for the positions that are reduced in number.”

    Why? It is time for DCSS to think outside of the box. Salary scales should be set up so that excellent teachers and master teachers have a financial incentive stay in the classroom.

    “We cannot expect better results in math, science, social studies and language arts if the teachers who teach these subjects have even greater class sizes.”

    Actually, we cannot expect better results in math, science, social studies and language arts if the excellent teachers — the master teachers — who teach these subjects must leave the classroom to earn higher salaries.

    “If the personnel who are displaced are certified teachers, they should be given the opportunity to apply for teaching jobs in DeKalb.”

    Indeed. But, they should NOT be given a leg up simply because they have already worked for DCSS. These job openings should NOT be restricted to internal applicants only. ALL DeKalb County School System job openings should be open to ALL highly qualified applicants. DCSS’s goal should be to hire the best of the best from a broad pool of applicants — not just from applicants who have already worked for DCSS.

    DCSS being DCSS, it will be telling to see how many friends-and-family applicants just slide on in to new jobs.

  7. queserasera10 says:

    One thing we can be sure of since Johnny Brown left…..We are not happy and we know it.

  8. queserasera10 says:

    Teachers and staff voted on opting out of SS and the board replaced that with the Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) not the TRS. They saved because they contributed 5% rather than 7% to SS. Staff were not allowed to make a contribution to this account. The strongly urged employees to establish there own TSA to make up the difference they would loose in SS benefits. This is why the TSA account is so important. It will make a big difference in your retirement.

  9. dekalbite2 says:

    @dekalbwatch
    “Why? It’s not like many of these people know what they are doing or have an excellent customer service mindset. ”

    Have you personally worked with the CTSSs? Many of the CTSSs are knowledgeable and give very good customer service. Some are not knowledgeable and do not give good customer service. Those who are not knowledgeable and/or do not give good customer service should be the ones not offered continued employment. In addition, CTSSs have had little control over what they do since they have had to please two masters – the principal and the supervisors at the Bryant Center. The MIS administration’s emphasis on the network to the exclusion of the end user (computers, printers, interactive boards, etc.) has driven much of the functions of the CTSS job. This is not to say that outsourcing should be off the table for this group, but dramatic cuts and a completely different structure already seem to be in store for this group. This restructuring looks very much like what other metro school districts have in place.

    “Salary scales should be set up so that excellent teachers and master teachers have a financial incentive stay in the classroom.”
    There are DCSS master teachers who have vast knowledge of what works instructionally for kids. They should be considered for what should be very FEW coordinator positions. DCSS used to have one Language Arts coordinator, one Math Coordinator, one Social Studies coordinator and one Science coordinator before Hallford created umpteen coordinator positions. The Language Arts coordinator also did the ESOL coordination as well as more a few more hats. When Hallford’s “new and improved” supervisory structure was abandoned a few years later, these positions just got moved around the Central Office. Consolidation and reduction in the number of highly paid and often redundant supervisory positions should be a priority. This is the very overstaffed highly paid group that Brown tried to clear out. The BOE gave this group buyouts (40% of their annual salary if they had their 30 years in as an incentive – millions of taxpayer dollars spent on this buyout in 2004 and 2005). Suddenly, Brown was out and Lewis was in, and Lewis had a field day refilling those positions with his picks and the BOE’s blessing.

    “ALL DeKalb County School System job openings should be open to ALL highly qualified applicants. ”
    I’m not disagreeing with you. I simply stated that most organizations that are experiencing a RIF do give preference to current employees. DCSS upper management administrators set all of the policies, procedures and programs for the school system, allocated all of the funds and then utterly failed to move students forward. IMO – they should not be returning, and their job positions should absolutely be open to the public.

    “It is time for DCSS to think outside of the box. ”
    I agree with that as well. So why is DCSS making no cuts to Fernbank Science Center while the regular science classrooms have increasing class sizes and decreasing funds for equipment and supplies? If we want to keep the status quo of steadily declining science achievement, we will keep science education exactly as is and has been since the 1950s. If we want to increase science achievement for ALL DeKalb students, we will look at where our science education dollars are going and allocate them to the areas that are actually responsible for science achievement in the school system. Is this science center that employs more admin and support than teachers and consumes millions of education dollars even being considered for budgetary cuts?

  10. dekalbite2 says:

    Other metro systems pay for SS and TRS while DeKalb only pays for TRS. This is not competitive compensation. If you come from a system that you have paid into SS and then go to DeKalb and retire from DeKalb, you will lose a substantial portion of your SS benefits because of the Windfall Provision:
    http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10045.html#a0=0

  11. In addition, pre-schoolers do not count as “FTE” credit when doing the spring and fall counts. This is how we get our money from the state and this is the data the state uses to calculate construction support. So, when we have 30 preschoolers taking up space in a building, but not actually ‘counting’ as FTE students, the building ends up looking less utilized than it actually is and overall funding is effected. It is much wiser to house GA lottery preschoolers either in their own building (a preschool ‘academy’) or in private facilities such as churches, etc.

    Lynn Jackson from the state explained this in the past. Review her presentations at the links below:

    You can view Lynn Jackson’s presentation on state school construction funding here:

    Click to access facilities-committee-meeting-presentation-(2010-10-21).pdf


    The video of the meeting is found here:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/vision-2020/master-plan

  12. atlantawombat says:

    What I am hearing today is some very intelligent people who are interested in the success of the students of DCSS attacking one another.

    As a teacher I appreciate all of the support from fellow educators, parents, and community members. As the parent of a DCSS student, I am dismayed. As a taxpayer I am outraged.

    I had mixed feelings about the token of appreciation from Dr. Atkinson. On the one hand, I appreciated the acknowledgment because I understand that no one “owes” me anything for doing my job. On the other hand, however, I felt insulted to receive an apple and a cookie immediately following the roller coaster ride of misinformation with regards to my salary. I thought about all of the reams of paper I have purchased with my own money and perceived the “certificate” to be a waste of valuable resources (printer ink and paper).

    I think that there is a misunderstanding with regards to the proposed salaries. Most teachers did NOT expect a raise. We just want what was promised to us. We have watched the Central Office salaries DOUBLE in some cases while we have earned less each year (Please visit OpenGeorgia.gov and review the salaries for Dr. Berry and Marcus Turk from 2005 thru 2011).

    Most of us will earn LESS next year than we earned in 2005. In addition, we will be asked to do more with less (increased class sizes, etc.).

    And by the way…I urged everyone I know to vote AGAINST SPLOST. The individual who posted earlier is absolutely correct when he stated that money from the general fund is what is being used in these lawsuits. Please refer to the AJC and the Presentment for confirmation.

    As always, much respect to everyone here. Let’s move to the next step. Let’s get some action on some of the great ideas I have read here!

  13. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Here’s something for teachers,staff at stone mtn park: I thought it would be nice to pass along

    Teacher Appreciation Week

    DATES: June 10 – 15, 2012
    LOCATION: Stone Mountain Park

    In honor of our teachers, Stone Mountain Park invites Georgia educators to kick back and relax with us – our compliments!

    From Sunday, June 10th through Friday, June 15th, Stone Mountain Park is offering all active and certified K- University Level Georgia teachers, principals and home school educators a complimentary Adventure Pass and the opportunity to purchase additional Adventure Passes at a discounted rate of $20 plus tax. This offer is limited to 6 accompanying family members.

    The Adventure Pass includes admission to all open Stone Mountain Park attractions. It does not include Ride the Ducks admission.

    Educators: To receive a complimentary Adventure Pass, please download and print a special coupon on our Education page: http://www.stonemountainpark.com/education/.

    Bring the coupon with you along with your teacher ID to any ticket location at Stone Mountain Park from June 10-15, 2012. You may purchase up to 6 discounted tickets at that time. Educators must pay for parking at the main gate.

    After you fall in love with Stone Mountain Park, bring your students back to participate in an educational, engaging, and fun field trip.

    Teacher identification includes a photo ID and a faculty staff ID, a recent paystub or a copy of your teaching certificate. Home school educators must present a photo ID and a valid Declaration of Intent. This educator event is for active certified Georgia public and private school teachers, principals and home school educators. The complimentary Adventure Pass is only valid June 10th-15th.

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