The Voice of the Active Learner

This video will enlighten you as to the type of students most teachers face in the classroom today. It is incumbent upon our schools to deliver a quality education in the way that students today learn and process information. Instead of becoming more and more of a cookie cutter delivery system, we truly need to offer more and more kinds of learning opportunities for all kinds of learners. The world has stepped into another realm in the speed and volume of information. Georgia — and DeKalb need to get in step and stay in step. This is an emergency! Vote YES for charter schools. Support technology in the classroom. Support Georgia Virtual Schools. Support anything that provides a learning environment that young people can use, appreciate and advance in knowledge and critical thinking.

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Now, Click here to view a video interview with Themistosles Sparangis of the Los Angeles public school district about the need for large districts to work with the charter schools in their district.

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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"
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8 Responses to The Voice of the Active Learner

  1. tenbsmith says:

    That is a nice video. I hope DSW will continue to promote the petition mentioned in a previous post. Put briefly, the petition asks the Dekalb School Board to reverse their decision to provide another $100,000 for Crawford Lewis’ legal fees (Dekalb has already provided $100,000). BTW, Lewis is the ex-superintendent who is facing criminal charges (RICO) and civil litigation.

    Direct link to the petition:
    http://www.gac4l.org/dekalb_school_board

  2. “Vote YES for charter schools.”

    No one going to the polls next week can possibly vote NO to charter schools. According to http://www.legis.ga.gov/Legislation/20112012/125399.pdf, the “charter schools” amendment is to establish a state board to approve charter schools (removing local control).

    I’m very much for charter schools. But this amendment isn’t about them. Educate yourselves. I recommend Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled Blog (http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/?s=amendment+charter&x=0&y=0), which has run balanced essays for and against.

    Weird little aside: I’ve seen bipartisan opposition to the amendment — Democrat friends are sharing a Facebook group’s “No on 1” pictures that include a Tea Party representative speaking out against the amendment.

  3. I am for charter schools (to an extent), but not this way. Be very careful in this upcoming election choice, friends. I am considerably more in favor of the autonomy of local public schools. I would love to see schools and principals granted the right to make decisions based upon school and community needs. Certainly not all schools which did not make AYP (adequate yearly progress) will benefit from SFA (success for all), but this is what DeKalb continues to do…treat all “failing”schools the same while leaving the more “successful” schools alone. It would be nice to see the qualified professionals at the school develop a plan of action, buy into it, and make it happen. The current approach by the district seems to be “we will pick the program (be it America’s choice, SFa, etc.) and it’s up to the principal and staff to accept and embrace it.”. Guess what? Hasn’t worked until now and still won’t work.

    Charter schools may offer creative new directions in a district but if individual schools were given that chance it could work there as well. Most educators do actually care about their students, stay current on research, and KNOW what is best for the students (and it is NOT failed program after failed and dropped ridiculously expensive program). What I fear the amendment in question will bring is “Walmart” schools, which DON’T care about the students, community, etc. And will simply place their product in any area the state allows them to. Of course, with big government money comes greed (as we know all too well in DeKalb), and charter schools could prove to want the same.

    Do we really think the state (who WILL decide if a charter school can be opened/dropped in your neighborhood) knows or cares about the areas they will be placing these schools? I would support the amendment more if it guaranteed local control and not some national (or international) company forming as many new schools as possible for the sheer profit of it all. Maybe the charter school in your neighborhood will come from a company in Seattle. Really? We must be very careful to pay attention to the language of this law. Is it frustrating to think that DeKalb would try to avoid allowing new innovative charter schools to open due to the personal greed of a few individuals? Absolutely, without doubt, Yes! But, one day, hopefully sooner than later, when finally elect a school board that is actually FOR THE STUDENT, the BEST school for the students will be the main consideration and not the “one-size-fits all” pattern that they have been instituting for years.

    Again, if more local leniency is given to the schools, those with stake in the school will have much more say and investment in it’s success. I have faith in the public school if it is given the autonomy it once had and is not expected to do what everyone else is doing because a few people at the top think it’s “worth a try”. This is not the way. Beware of the ramifications and loss of local control that would come from this amendment…let’s focus on changing from within, not asking an outside, uninvested entity to save us. It seems to me to be too much like asking another country to save our national economy. I really do not think it is the time for this measure. At the very least, it is not defined in a way that would comfort me to believe it is for the children. Let’s continue to focus on changing locally, friends. Keep up the good fight and there will be the change we want.

    This is coming from a 13 year veteran educator. I’d hate to see the fate of our schools in the hands of politics (though, to an extent, it already is). Thank you.

  4. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    worldunitenow

    I have made some comments and corrections as well as asked some questions. Your original comment was a bit long, so I may have missed something. Please let me know what you think.

    I am in favor of the autonomy of local public schools
    1. There is NO way superintendents will give up control of their schools. Why would they.
    2. Isn’t this what state chartered schools do? They rip control away from the school district and give it back to the local community.

    Most educators KNOW what is best for the students – I disagree. I believe parents know what is best for their children … like which school is better for their child.

    What I fear the amendment in question will bring is “Walmart” schools – Why do you fear that? Who cares as long as they provide a superior education. If parents don’t want to go to “Walmart” for school, then they can choose to send their children somewhere else.

    Do we really think [a state charter granting body] knows or cares about the areas they will be placing these schools? – Does that matter? If the petition has a solid charter, then they should be able to open their doors. If the local community doesn’t like it, then the charter will fail and close.

    national (or international) company forming as many new schools as possible – Companies cannot petition for charters.

  5. bettyandveronica1 says:

    My daughter saw this video (6th grade) her response was “Wow, I like to go to that school” and she goes to a great school now. She recognized just how different school could be for many kids. We live in a huge metro area with lots of money, we don’t live in Podunkville. It amazes me just how far behind we are here in good old DCSS. Wireless issues, no updated computers. What we could be doing with the money we have spent on crawfish lewis. Why can’t Dekalb county take over this cost? Surely, we (the children) should be relieved of this burden by now.

    With all those resources, Oh, imagine the places they’d go…

  6. @DIO

    Thank you for you reply to my comment. I have been torn over this issue for some time now and have gone from supporting to not supporting many times over. I certainly believe it is a serious issue to amend the state constitution for an issue such as this and we must be very clear on what is being done. There actually is a process to forming charter schools already if local boards do not approve and this process is already in place (where petitioners can go to the state for approval if denied locally). My main concern remains the same and can be found on the GA Dept. Of Ed website Charter School section which says that the Committee to be formed at the state level will basically be appointed by politicians, not elected as the local boards are. The formed charter committee will be allowed to remain in office as long as they like. If we have issues with good-old-boys in our district now, imagine that at the state level. Do we honestly think they won’t try to fill their pockets there as well? I just can’t see it.

    In response to a few of your “comments and corrections”:

    1. I do not think a superintendent will give up control of the schools. That is not what I said. A super can however allow more building level decisions, especially if district mandated programs and initiatives have not been working. I am guessing most superintendents are aware that there is more than one way to do things, though many decisions might show otherwise.

    2. It seems to me the local community can have plenty of control if they are inclined to invest in their school (through PTA, volunteerism, etc.). In fact, I am sure the most successful schools have strong family and community support. It does not take forming a charter to make this happen.

    3. I did not say that parents don’t know what is best for their children. I do still say educators are generally aware of best practices and what it does take to reach a child as well. Sadly, I am aware that there are those who don’t care as much as others and it is certainly the job of the parent to look out for their kids’ best interests. A parent may feel that a school is not doing the best for their child and that is unfortunate but just having a new school in the area may not be the heal all solution, especially if, as you stated, it may just close after years of failure anyway.

    4. You asked “does it matter?” in response to my comment about the charter committee not having vested interest in the area or community they are placing the school. Yes, I believe it does matter. The same goes for the Walmart schools I mentioned. Again you said “who cares?”. I do. I actually support charter schools and I feel that Kipp school is one charter school organization that has a good philosophy to education and I wish we could see their features in our schools, but funding is often the issue, sad to say. I support their use of extended days, teacher availability and tutoring into the evening, and many other features. There are public school teachers who do this on their own and do wonders for their students. Ive seen it. What I feel they are missing is the connection to the communities they enter, though they may form that in time.

    5. You used the term “solid charter”. What is that? Do we think a charter “company” (to be discussed in a moment) from Texas can write a “solid charter” simply based upon the fact that a school or area is “failing”? I work at a school that serves 73% ESOL (mainly refugees from 40+ countries around the world). According to NCLB (no child left behind), we are a “failing” school. I, however, see amazing growth every year. The research that proves it takes 4-7 years for a child to master English is pretty much out the window at our school. We are actually extremely successful and this will show with the new education model which looks at growth over grade level knowledge, which a 5th grader from Myanmar may not have after 8 months in American school following 7 years in a refugee camp.

    6. You said “companies cannot petition for charters”. I’m not saying Pepsi or Publix will be in the business of education (though I wouldn’t put it past Walmart:), but these large organizations are actually called charter management “companies” (see article below and search online). They might actually use the term “organization” more but don’t let that fool you. Yes, many charters will be formed by individual groups (teachers and parents) but there certainly are “companies” out there licking their chops.
    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/stateroundup/charter-school-companies-online-learning-outfits-try-to-wield-more/1257714

    Guess I got a bit long again:). Just very concerned about what’s best for the kids and not for the state politicians and big organizations looking for profit from this possibility. As I said, if the amendment were worded to limit charter petitions to more local groups and guarantee concern for the communities at stake, then I’d support it, just not as it is worded now. Too many doors (and windows) are being left open. As I’ve said, be VERY careful with this one! Happy voting.

  7. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    WorldUniteNow
    I enjoy having conversations like this with such thoughtful and intelligent people. We would be in good hands if we had more people like you around!

    Note: Amendment 1 just grants the state authority to create chartered schools. It doesn’t say anything about the Commission.

    a process is already in place where petitioners can go to the state for approval if denied locally – The State BOE and the State Charter Commission were that place for years. Last year the State Charter Commission’s ability to create state charters was challenged. In a split decision the Ga Supreme court said the state can’t create charters. The charter amendment specifically addresses this. The State BOE hasn’t been challenged yet. Sally Fitzgerald, among others, have said they plan on making that challenge if the charter amendment fails. It’s a huge subject that I’m happy to talk about if you would like to discuss it further.

    it is a serious issue to amend the state constitution – Many people boil their decision down to what I call the sanctity of the constitution and I can appreciate that. But, let’s not forget that Georgia has had 10 constitutions. The current one has been amended 70 times.

    Committee to be formed at the state level will basically be appointed by politicians – The State BOE is also appointed. The commission is appointed by various different people. We have a lot of appointed people around the state. The “idea” is to hold the people doing the appointing accountable. That being said, we demonstrably do not hold our local boards, school districts accountable, or very many people accountable.

    allowed to remain in office as long as they like – False – the committee is made up of volunteers with terms.

    good-old-boys at the state level … fill their pockets – The state just approves the charters, but they are run by a board of the local community. I don’t see how somebody on the commission could rig it to get paid. We have plenty of state chartered schools, perhaps you could give me an example.

    A super can allow more building level decisions, especially if district mandated programs and initiatives have not been working They could, but no way they are going to give up control. This is the whole idea of the state charter … to rip control away from the super and give it back to a more localized group.

    local community can have plenty of control if they are inclined to invest in their school Parents have no control. Heck, local boards have no control (I’m happy to discuss that one). They can pressure the principals and administration. They can even embarrass them on TV. Ultimately, the super can tell them to get bent and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. If the board tries to step in then SACS gets involved and Elgart tells the board to do what the super wants.

    Educators are generally aware of best practices and what it does take to reach a child as well. There is also more than one way to skin a cat. Educators differ with each other on best practices. Perhaps we should let a different group of educators open a different school and let the parents decide which one is best.

    It matters if the committee has a vested interest in the community. It matters if it’s just a Walmart school – OK … why? What are you afraid of? If the community doesn’t like the school, then it will fail and close. If it provides a superior education then parents are better off … even if it’s a Walmart school.

    What is a solid charter? – I don’t know. The original commission only approved 16 of the 83 petitions, so they know and apparently have high standards.

    Education Management Organizations – EMOs run a minority of charter schools across the state. That being said …. so what? As long as the school they are running is providing a superior education (and doing it for much less money) then so what? If the school they are running is not providing a superior education then it will fail and close.

    I don’t see politicians making money off this. EMOs are a drop in the bucket considering all the other private companies making money off traditional and charter schools right now. This Amendment is very simple and just gives the state authority to create K-12 schools. I’m happy to talk about the Charter Commission, but that’s in a different House Bill and not in House Resolution 1162 that we will be voting on.

  8. Points of clarification: This amendment does not take away the right of the local school board to approve charter schools. Also, many states already have charter commissions – we are not reinventing the wheel here in Georgia.

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