Notes from the Arabia Candidate Forum

At the end of Arabia Mountain’s School Board Forum last night (July 19), the candidates were given about 2 minutes to tell the audience why they should vote for them. These are one of our regular contributor’s notes on what the candidates had to say about themselves.

Summary statements

District 8
Speaks – experience counts – if you want to continue the north/south or black/white battle then I am not the candidate for you. If you want a partnership to improve all schools, vote for me.

District 6
Johnson – experience counts. I know all the roles. I am a long time former employee of the school system. You have to know the roles – save the teachers, conflict management.

Rivers-Cannon – out of the box thinker, makes choices, I have walked in these shoes, make the change, blast off the change with Cannon.

McGill – endorsed by eduKalb and the Black Women’s Attorneys association. Inspire real change. Every child has potential to become that gifted student. You have a choice. You have to choose to make a change. Please vote for Denise McGill in District 6.

Walker – parent accountable. Preserve magnets. Look out of the box. If they can write RFPs for major cell phone towers with T-mobile, then they need to focus that kind of energy on forming good business partnerships with our local businesses right here at home and stop all that other stuff. I advocate for the rights of children in DeKalb. Take my ethics. Latasha Walker.

District 4
McMahan – thank you. Assumptions of attrition to balance budget. Need a sound budget so best case scenario we’re great but worst case is that we’re still friends. Can replicate what we have done in our community and take that system wide. Early intervention. Community support. I am out of time.

Womack – 15.5 years on this board. One crisis after another – moved education forward. You can believe that or not if you want to, but that’s what I’m telling you. This is a two year term – that’s the only reason I even offered. Tax digest will continue down so if you thought this year was bad, next year will be worse. Students are bedrock of our future.

Gilbert – you are a nice guy Womack, but… isn’t it time we get this crisis under control? I mean, really. I knew Womack in high school and he started out as a low achiever and then worked hard to be a high achiever and he was in that Bully Group. He was in a lot of groups and did real well for himself, but those times are past. This is now and we need to start giving a quality education for all our kids. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Tom Gilbert/Home Depot. Vote July 31.

Kinney – Tuesday we shared a stage with waana-be’s. Wanna-be CEO, Wanna-be commissioner but when it was over, what did they do – they LEFT! We didn’t do that. We want to be accessible. So, I hope you all stay around after and talk to us. I for one will be here until the last person leaves. You have, what? 2000 students in school here? What, more like 1300? Okay, Okay. But, I took a count and there is only about 200 or 250 in the audience. That’s good for you because that shows you are involved and your kids will be alright. But, it’s the other 1000 or more we need to be worried about, isn’t it? I hope everyone shows up to vote July 31. I hope you vote for me, but if not, that’s okay, I might not be in your district. The important thing is that this type of thing, this election is too important to not vote… you have to vote.

District 2
McChesney – every board member has only one vote. So some of you can sit up here and sing Kumbaya and whatnot, but you still only have one vote on the board. So, big ideas are fine, but I hope you don’t seriously believe you will accomplish all that. I understand the schools from the inside. I know how kids learn. I was a teacher. A myopic view fails the children. Mr. Womack is correct when he said that we have raised achievement. He is right. We raised 125 categories on the CRCT.

Orson – this is about social justice. I’m a businessman. I’ve been in charge of large sums. I understand teachers, but I don’t think being a teacher makes you cut out for this job. I have the Educalb endorsement and that is really saying something. They look at all the candidates and they know who is the right one. My Mom was a teacher. Sure, teachers are one part of the equation, but so are parents. Parents are involved and I think I’m the only one sitting up here for this job that even has a child in the system (objections from other end of table, Walker, McGill, Rivers-Cannon, but he restates that he meant in District 2, not all districts).

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26 Responses to Notes from the Arabia Candidate Forum

  1. For some reason I cannot comment on the electricity story, but just wanted to get this breaking news out to the group. Wendy Saltzman, CBS Atlanta Chief Investigative Reporter, is following up as promised with the Superintendent and the board regarding the waste of electricity going on at our schools. Here is a copy of an email she sent them today! Good stuff!!/2012/07/cbs-investigative-reporter-wendy.html

  2. @ GTCO- your story was such a hot topic that it was one of the questions presented to us at the forum last evening. I think its great that you broke this story wide open! Lets watch as this unfolds.

  3. Why would someone give Denise’s comment a thumbs down? No room for Haters here… unite the county, untie DeKalb or something like that… fight the towers, not McGill. She rocks!

  4. Dekalbite2 says:

    @ Get the Cell Out

    They gave you some thumbs down too. These must be people who want cell towers at the schools. Who would want cell towers next to where children are located all day?

  5. teacher/taxpayer says:

    I just read the summary of statements. I am not a Womack supporter, but I didn’t like that Gilbert used his time to make negative personal remarks about Womack. Who cares what they did in high school? I want to vote for someone who can make some realistic promises, build consensus among board members, and stop the madness.
    We need to work together to support that one person or there will not be enough votes for one person to defeat the incumbent. I note this blog supports MacMahan. Who else supported him? Why did this blog support him? Has he changed his position on the cameras in classroooms?
    As the election date gets closer, maybe a more comprehensive summary of candidates’ positions would be beneficial.
    Thanks for this fine source of info.

  6. I agree. Actually, I chuckled out loud when I read that bit about high school. How very old south….. Let’s get some new, fresh, young blood on the board!

  7. Jim McMahan says:

    After my first Edukalb forum at Westwood college, I met with several teachers who had differing views on the cameras in the classrooms. Some were suspect that they would be used against the teachers. Others approved of them and stated that they have nothing to hide and felt that it would improve classroom behavior because their students would be aware of the cameras. I decided to take it off of my website because of the distraction from the more important issues that need to be addressed. We can address classroom discipline in more detail after the election, OK?
    I was at the NAACP Candidate debate this morning at DeKalb Piedmont Technical College off of Memorial Drive.
    The only incumbent that showed up was Dr. Speaks. Let me say that again.
    The only incumbent that showed up was Dr. Speaks.
    It was a candidate forum that had the BOE candidates, county CEO candidates (Burrell Ellis has not shown up for one public event) and county commissioner candidates.
    I had the benefit of asking our county commissioners, “Are you willing to work with our school system and collaborate on a mentor, tutoring, summer jobs program within the county?”
    They all were in agreement to help the school system find solutions to our challenges.
    One long time incumbent commissioner said they would NOT try and collaborate with the existing board due to the infighting and lack of cooperation between the existing board members.
    I told them that would NOT be the case once I am elected to the board. We spoke about public, private partnerships that would help our students achieve and overcome our challenges that have hindered our educational efforts in the past. I was extremely impressed with the openness of the commissioners to create a collaboration between the public school system and our county government. It boggles my mind that this is just now happening but I am glad to be a part of the solution.
    Listen to school board candidates and vote for one that you feel can create a consensus within the board and bridge the communication gap that currently exists.
    I got a feeling that “One DeKalb” can actually exist and work to a better future for us all.

    T&T, Is this the type of openess and access to information that you would like from a school board member?

    Jim McMahan
    District 4 DeKalb County School Board Candidate

  8. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Yes, this is the kind of access and openness I want. Once you are elected, I hope I can be one of the teachers you talk with. There is so much emphasis on the wrong ways to fix things in our schools. I wish you had the power right now to get our interpreter back for my school. After the principal, I consider her to be the most important asset we have.

  9. justwatch says:

    I am curious how you would build consensus on a contentious issue — say raising the millage rate. I would love to hear your specific strategy. I find that this board can agree on the little things (a mentoring program sounds great) but not on the big things — a superintendent, millage rate, budget etc.
    Without a doubt, losing the insanity that Is Paul Womack would improve the overall tenor, but at the end of the day, we have board members who have very different philosophies on key components of the operation of a school system. How do you fit in with them? Who will you align ourself with?

  10. Jim McMahan says:

    I consider myself a people person.
    My father told me a long time ago, “It is more important to be an interested person than an interesting person.”
    Meaning, if you want to develop a relationship with someone it is more important to ask them questions instead on telling them how interesting you are. Many of our current board members, including our current chairman choose to tell us how extensive and interesting their life history is instead of ASKING us how they can help. Do you agree?
    I will build consensus by getting to know each and every board member on a personal level.
    I already know that Jay Cunningham and I are huge sports fanatics! I told him at Arabia Mtn. this week that we were only 46 days away from football and he corrected me by telling me we were only 45 days away!
    I will invite him to attend HS sporting events and probably challenge him to a pre-game BBQ fundraiser for our schools! We already BBQ for our teachers and staff at a couple of elementary schools for teacher appreciation week! Ask the teachers how that is received.
    You should come to a Tucker or Lakeside football game and see the comaraderie and community support for our schools that is in the stands and in the parking lot!
    It doesn’t take much to establish a personal relationship with someone. It just takes an effort to get to know them.
    Regarding the millage rate, I don’t think we have to address another increase because we are already very close to the maximum millage of 0.25 mills. We are currently at 0.2398 mills for school operations.
    I am very fortunate to have a loving and supportive family that realizes the importance of my advocacy for our county. They allow me to attend community meetings, forums and debates while leaving them to take care of themselves without their father and husband.
    If it was not for them I would not be here. I am truly blessed to have their support.
    If you have any more questions or concerns please feel free to leave a post on the blog.
    Your candidate for District 4,

    Jim McMahan

  11. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    I’m not a fan of Mr Womack, but building a consensus is a little naive. JustWatch is right about the difference in politics. Cunnigham, Edler, Copelin-Wood, and Walker will always, Always, ALWAYS vote for a millage rate increase. Jester, Womack, Speaks and McChesney will always vote down a millage rate increase.

    How do you feel about the current millage rate (hopefully I’m not making you repeat yourself from another blog thread)? How will you build consensus on either side? Note: I don’t think a Braves game is going to get this one done.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer questions for you constituency.

  12. Jim Kinney says:

    Hi DeKalb,

    Physics Jim here.
    Focusing on the millage rate is one of issues that causes the “Two DeKalbs” split. So instead, I want to point out that that no matter how we look at it, locally in DeKalb, our schools have never been funded to achieve barely adequate. Nationally, we have the same problem. So a $200,000 home provides $90 per 1 mill of property tax. For some people, that’s chump change. A night out at the Brick Store Pub can run that high! For those not as gainfully employed, $90 a year may be the toothpaste and toilet paper budget. But they won’t see it directly as many people rent that are that close to the edge.

    Even if we manage to get all the buses to run magic pixie dust and all the non-teachers working for free, we STILL will not have enough money to do the schools such that we know beyond a reasonable doubt that EVERY child will be served to their best potential.

    Even if we raise the millage rate to the legal maximum and employ only teachers and a superintendent who works for $1 a year, we will still not be able to provide enough.

    I say this because how much education is “enough”? The state constitution says to provide an “adequate education”. Adequate for what? Working at a factory job? Teaching K12 school? Fast-food cashier? Medical robotics maintenance technician? If the goal is to provide an adequate baseboard for releasing young adults into the workforce or college with a freshly printed diploma, can anyone say with a straight face “DeKalb Schools fully prepares all it’s students for post-graduation”? I can’t.

    There is a fundamental layer of pure politics at play even at the school board, which is supposed to be non-partisan. Maybe the staunch refusal from the usual camp to raise the millage rate is driven by a contempt for the past fiscal malfeasance. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” is a strong motivator in politics. Maybe the staunch insistent to raise the rate from the other camp is based on knowing the value, and costs, of a better education than what we are able to provide now.

    Or maybe it’s all just politics. There are certainly more “I hate all taxes” people around Tucker than South DeKalb. The physical districts are a detriment to the school board process. Maybe the people at the state level could figure out that maybe board seats to represent different educational areas, like a science, math and engineering seat, a humanities and arts seat, a physical education, nutrition and health seat, a civics, ethics and budget seat, would be better. Then people could vote on candidates based on their qualifications to champion for the entire county in that area.

    If my mechanic tells me it will cost $200 to fix my brakes, I don’t try and negotiate that to $100 as a “compromise”. Half a brake repair does me no good. If the schools decide it will cost $100M to achieve total grade-level literacy, then will $50M get us halfway there? Is that an acceptable compromise?

    We pay taxes to fund the schools. Georgia is ranked in the bottom of the country. DeKalb is ranked in the bottom of Georgia. Does cutting our budget improve the education process? It can be argued that “the right cuts” will make a positive difference but is that happening? When does that EVER happen? Why would management volunteer for a pink slip when there’s someone else they can give it to?

    As noted here a few days ago, well under 1/2 of the personnel are direct student contact people. That’s just nuts! I tossed out an idea at the New Hope forum that we should look at capping administrative costs to 20% of teaching costs. I based this number on the requirements of the insurance industry to pay out 80% of their revenue in direct patient care as required by law. Given the history of the Central Office Bloat, 20% would be a jaw-dropping improvement in management efficiency and budget constraints. Maybe a hard budget rule of 20% is the discipline needed.

  13. @Jim Kinney: You said, “So a $200,000 home provides $90 per 1 mill of property tax. For some people, that’s chump change.”

    I’m not sure about the math, but my $550,000 house was charged $7,300 in property taxes last year (with a homestead exemption!). That is not chump change to me. Considering that around 70% of our property taxes to to the schools, I paid DCSS $5,110 in taxes that went directly to schools. That is not chump change to me. I hope to have a board rep that is a good steward of my contribution and spends it wisely.

  14. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Marshall Orson is for social justice? that’s all I needed to know.

  15. Parent Teacher Conference says:

    Two questions the four candidates with children currently attending DeKalb schools should answer in writing:

    If elected, how will you resolve conflicts of interest between your responsibilities as a Board member and decisions that would directly impact your child’s classroom or school?

    If elected, will you recuse yourself from participating in decisions that will directly effect your child’s classroom or school? Please explain why (or why not).

  16. I was alerted by someone today that Arabia Mountain sent out a newsletter to their parents in regards to the forum- and expecting a great summary of discussions- find myself disgusted… I felt Arabia Mountain was one of the best forums- tough questions, awesome answers by all candidates. We spent two hours on stage fielding multiple questions- and Arabia chooses to send a newsletter to their parents asking them to vote for a candidate based on their responses on school choice and transportation?

    See Communications Below…..

    What we learned last night at the DeKalb County School Board Candidate Forum

    Good morning!

    Last night, over 120 parents attended the DeKalb County School Board Candidates forum sponsored by your PTSA! Although we are excited about this turnout, one candidate made it painfully clear that only 1 out of every 10 AMHS students was represented last night out of our total student enrollment of over 1,000! So we ask….where are you in the fight for our children? We need your help and presence as we work hard to achieve our mission of “Making a Great School Greater through PARENTAL Involvement!”

    As you prepare to make your decision in the upcoming DeKalb School Board elections on July 31st, please note the following positions of current Board members and their opponents on school choice and transportation:

    District 2
    Don McChesney (I) – wants to CLOSE magnet schools
    Marshall Orson – supports magnet and theme schools

    District 4
    Tom Gilbert – does NOT support magnet schools
    Jim Kinney – position on magnet and theme schools unclear
    Jim McMahan – supports magnet and theme schools
    Paul Womack (I) – wants to CLOSE magnet schools

    District 6
    Dr. Melvin Johnson – supports schools AND bus transportation
    Denise McGill – does NOT support bus transportation
    Terrilyn Rivers-Cannon – supports magnet and theme schools, but position on transportation is unclear
    Latasha Walker – supports magnet and theme schools, but position on transportation is unclear

    District 8
    Michelle Jenkins-Clark – supports bus transportation
    Dr. Pam Speaks (I) – says parents should PAY for bus transportation

    Make sure you exercise your right to vote on July 31st and in the upcoming November 6th election. The deadline to register for the November election is October 8th.

    Arabia Mountain’s choice affirms that it all boiled down to those two components is very “political” and an unfair analysis of the real issues. If you attended the forum- can you speak upon this? This stinks to high heaven, and agree or disagree- done in poor taste- I am truly disappointed in you Ms. Graham and Arabia PTSA- you could have saved all of us time by polling us on the phone if that’s all you really wanted to know.

    Together, we make a difference!

    Your 2012-2013 PTSA Executive Board,

    Tanya Graham, Rodney Perkins, Rose Smith, Tanya Smith, Jackie Cathey,
    Dia Taylor, Kerry Anderson, and Robert Campbell
    PTSA of Arabia Mountain High School
    770.875.0213 PTSA Direct Line

  17. Parent teacher Conference,

    If elected, how will you resolve conflicts of interest between your responsibilities as a Board member and decisions that would directly impact your child’s classroom or school?

    When you step up to take this role- you should be going into it knowing that this is for whatever is in the best interest of every child. As PTSA President at two schools for two full terms, the position you must take is, does this decision benefit every student in the school? Or does it only benefit a small sector. If the benefit is only available for the few- you can not support it. It’s tough because, you know that the cheerleaders really need new pom poms, and the debate team may need new written materials- but at the end of the day, does this support help the majority of the students in the school? NO! This is the stance that we must all take, even if it does affect our home school where our students are in attendance.

    If elected, will you recuse yourself from participating in decisions that will directly effect your child’s classroom or school? Please explain why (or why not).

    It is my job to look at the whole- period. It matters not if it has an affect on my direct school as long as the decisions being made are equitable. That is a key component that is a must in all of the decisions. Are we making these cuts across the board where the change is being equally distributed? Are the decisions fair to all? What is the long tern effect to the overall student body as it relates to that decision? Those are the things I am looking at – and not necessarily my school.

    We are coming into this as a representative of a district- which surely consists of more than just my child’s school. Everyone’s needs have to be considered- and you must also consider what the other districts are experiencing and their needs. I would not recuse myself when keeping all of this in mind, and following this practice. I must reiterate however, that I expect fair and equitable decisions to be made across the board and not limited to a set group or entity. Should that occur then there would be an issue- and rightly so. We are working towards ONE DEKALB- and in doing so, everyone needs to share a piece of the pie- good or bad.

  18. clarifying the PTSA reference… I was PTSA President at two schools for two terms at both schools- and these were decisions I had to face on a daily basis. Using those same principles, I would not see it as a conflict

  19. GTCO or anyone else who attended-

    Did you take notes at the Forum? Can we add some of the discussion here so that folks know we were not just dolts sitting there? I think Arabia Mountain used us as a set up for their own political gain- which is not cool. I read and posted their newsletter that they sent to their parents (see below)- It was very shallow and irresponsible to omit some of the best discussions by the candidates.

    If they wanted to know how we felt about Transportation or Magnet/Charter/Theme Schools they could have just sent a letter or called us. It would be great to have some of that transcript so that something of substance is listed other than those two items.

  20. Peachy says:

    Dekalb taxes 40% of the assessed value of a home, so for a $200,000 property the taxed amount is $80,000. This results in $80 of school taxes per one mill. On a $550,000 home each millage point results in $220 of school taxes.

    If you want to see exactly how much you have paid in recent years you can look up your property at

  21. justwatch says:

    I am surprised that they didn’t ask you about Arabia Mt. becoming the neighborhood school it was suppose to be. Even Jay Cunningham, at a budget committee meeting, blurted something out about that. I happen to believe that Cunningham only supports choice because it gets him elected.
    How totally short sighted of the PTA executive committee to focus simply on the magnet and transportation issue. Do they not understand that Arabia Mt isn’t enough to save S. DeKalb? and the impact that is having on DeKalb? Do they not have a clue about how desperate the situation is at the rest of the schools? DeKalb property values, especially in parts of S. DeKalb, have taken an unbelievable hit. Without significant improvement in the schools, it will be difficult for those values to recover at any real rate. This time next year, we will be in the same position, but without the option of a millage rate increase. There will be no additional money coming from the state.
    Ironically, some of the best teachers at Arabia Mt have left since the school started for better, healthier school systems. Do the parents at Arabia Mt not see the impact of that on their children?

  22. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    PTSA summary is TOTALLY inaccurate. Dollars to doughnuts the PTSA decided who they want to win in each race. Notice only one candidate in each race supports magnets and bus transportation. In their summary if they don’t want you to win they say you either don’t support bus transportation and/or magnets or it’s unclear.

    * McGill v Johnson (District 6) – Johnson is a New Birther and McGill isn’t. PTSA wants Johnson
    * McChesney v Orson (District 2) – Orson and Schutten are long time cohorts of South DeKalb interests. PTSA wants Orson.
    * Speaks v Clark (District 8) – Speaks does not do what Walker wants her to do. PTSA wants Clark
    * McMahan v Womack (District 4) – No good choices for PTSA here. Womack is against millage rate and not a friend of Walker, so they are going with McMahan.

    If you find my logic flawed, please give me a thumbs downs and post a quick comment why. I’m hoping I’m wrong and that the PTSA wouldn’t be so manipulative. PTSA email addresses are on their website ( if you want to express how much you appreciate them telling us how to vote.

  23. I sent several emails to the Arabia Mountain PTSA President, my last being as follows:

    On Sun, Jul 22, 2012 at 9:02 AM, Denise E. McGill wrote:

    It’s not a feeling Tanya- its what was done and how it
    was done-

    If ALL you wanted was candidates opinions on
    School Choice and Transportation then there was no
    point to having a forum. You could have sent us a
    questionnaire and saved us all from coming out
    in bad weather and answering additional questions.

    What you did was make a choice to put a one
    sentence quote to our constituents over a topic that is
    personal to you. It is that one sentence quote that
    will be used to sum up our “worthiness” as a candidate.
    Italicizing and Bolded text brings tone and or implies
    suggestion to ones reading members.

    As an attorney, you are well aware of this- and I
    would think that ethically, you would be concerned
    about this- I guess not.

    I will not be issuing any statements, I have made my
    comments on the DeKalb School Watch blog-

    I leave you with this comment…

    As a PTSA officer, we follow the national motto
    of “everychild onevoice” One of the questions posed
    to us candidates was regarding how we would ensure
    equal opportunities for all students.

    How does supporting transportation for a selected
    few meet the overall needs for every child in this
    county? REALLY??

    There is NO MONEY- educators are losing their jobs-
    Service people, bus drivers, quality of education, training,
    educational services are all being cut and this is all about

    If we were realistic and fair- the BOE should have cut
    the $700,000 in half. They should have alerted the
    parents that this “luxury” will be phased out- They should
    have found alternate solutions for parents so that they
    would be prepared to exercise those options for the 2013-
    2014 school year.

    If we were realistic and fair- Crawford Lewis should have
    left Arabia Mountain as it was intended to be- A neighborhood
    school. As much hell as you are raising now should have been
    raised in the beginning to ensure our LOCAL SCHOOLS had
    above par educational opportunities. Parents like yourself
    are willing to go 20 miles out of the way to fight for a school
    that is not even in your neighborhood- But not willing to raise
    a hand or do anything in the place they live and fight that
    same fight- WHICH IS WHY we aren’t on the same playing
    field as “North based schools” At least the parents collaborate
    and fight for their students in their home schools.

    That’s too much for us to even consider- It make too much
    sense….But I digress….

    I remain steadfast in my convictions that in order to do so;
    we must weigh the needs of the many against the needs
    of the few- ”

    As a school board candidate, and when I when this race. My
    priority will be to look at EQUITABLE and alternate solutions
    to meet everyone’s needs.

    Remember It’s about EVERY CHILD- not just a selected few- no matter
    where they reside. My campaign committee has been cc’ed on this email.

    Denise E. McGill
    “Individually, we are one drop-Together we are an ocean”~Ryunosuke Satoto

    Her response:

    Good morning, Ms. McGill.

    I’m not certain that you know enough about “parents like me” to make any personal comments me or other “parents like me.”

    Again, I only sent the PTSA members a statement about the issue that we have been advocating about, which is magnet/theme schools transportation. If you do not want to clarify your position on that issue, that’s fine. We very obviously care about more issues than transportation as it pertains to our School District; however, that particular issue has been central to our fight. We care about neighborhood schools, teachers, para-pro’s and all of the other questions that I had time to ask the candidates about, as well as a list of other questions that time did not permit me to ask. Our parents are intelligent enough to review each candidate’s position on all issues; I simply reported on what our PTSA has made our most pressing issue, particularly as it pertains to this 2012-2013 school year.

    If you would like, you can send me the link for your blog so that I can pass that along for our members to get more information about you and your campaign.

    Thank you for participating in our Forum and good luck in your campaign.

    Best regards,

    Tanya M. Graham, President 2012-2013
    Arabia Mountain High School PTSA

    PTSA of AMHS
    6610 Browns Mill Road
    Lithonia, Georgia 30038
    678.875.3602 Telephone
    678.875.3610 Facsimile

    770.875.0213 PTSA Direct Line

  24. dekalbite2 says:

    Ms. Graham might be interested to note that there is a much resentment on the part of teachers who are getting increased class sizes as they look at the transportation costs of magnets and other special programs. Teachers are asking why “choice” transportation remains and naming Arabia Mtn. as a good example. By next year, this will be a moot point since transportation even to neighborhood schools will be under siege.

    Fernbank ES ran a similar forum two years ago as they endorsed Eugene Walker who has consistently supported Fernbank issues to the exclusion of the rest of the county. Ask Ella Smith (Walker’s opponent) if she felt “ambushed” during the debate with Walker at Fernbank. Fernbank’s support of Walker has been extremely detrimental to students all over DeKalb. Now they have their own candidate (Marshall Orson) running. He is bright and articulate, but has been totally involved in ensuring the Fernbank community has things just right for this relatively small but powerful and politically astute group of citizens.

    They do not seem to realize that being a successful part of a larger community is about compromise and the ability to see every child in DeKalb as equally worthy whether they are in your particular community or not.

  25. Ella says:

    I am very glad to see DeKalb County School Board Watch endorsing school board candidates. I definitely feel the endorsement of The DeKalb County School Board Watch is less political and more on traget than other groups who do have political agendas at stake. I do believe you have to be very careful in putting a great deal of weight on other endorsements. You need to look close at their political affliations and their interests.

    I absolutely agree with the majority of the endorsements made by DeKalb County School Board Watch. You did a good job and I believe you did your homework.

  26. bettyandveronica1 says:

    This PTSA needs to check it’s mission statement.

    I don’t think the national organization believes it is proper for them to take up a position with regard to local political issues. The organization’s officers should NOT claim to represent all their members with regard to parent convenience (bus transportation) school choice or candidate preference. Parent Teacher organizations should NOT be advocating for any causes past a better school life (social issues), home life and better nutrition. Even raising funds for school extras is a sticky subject with the national organizations.

    The PTA’s and PTSA’s should not be championing anything remotely like school politics or transportation issues. Check your by laws and national organization website. I am surprised you used the office of which you hold to enter into this discussion.

    PTA can hold the forum as a service to their parents in the belief that the community at large will become more involved. But it should not take an official position or push an agenda with regards to the issues presented.

    Look, There is nothing wrong with being personally active in these matters. The more the merrier. We need more involved parents.
    Just don’t do it as a representative or officer of this organization.

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