Don McChesney talks about electing the board chair

chess_piecesDistrict 2 board rep Don McChesney has posted a very enlightening blog post about the process of electing the board chair. It seems that interested members are already vying for the position. Read more from Don here:

Board Chair Elections. This Should Be Interesting.

Thanks Don. We appreciate your honesty.

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27 Responses to Don McChesney talks about electing the board chair

  1. DeKalb Inside Out - reposted says:

    Dr Atkinson and Dr Elgart of SACS might be conspiring to remove the board. Looks like Nancy Jester is gearing up. She has published a response to SAC’s Special Review Visit Report that put DeKalb on probation and put most of the blame on the board …

  2. howdy1942 says:

    I would back off my request for the entire Board to resign if Jester could become chairman. In meetings that I have attended, Dr. Speaks has had little to say. Those meetings were dominated by Womack, Walker, Bowen, Copelin-Wood, and Cunningham. Nancy Jester has always been prepared and has always asked searching questions. Nancy Jester becoming Board Chairman would be a great start. Hopefully, all of us in all of Dekalb – North, Central, and South – would agree that the most urgent matter is to effectively address SACS’ concerns. I think Jester would provide the leadership to do that. It is more important for us the resolve these issues than to be loyal to any one Board member.

  3. The Patch has posted a report on Nancy’s email:

    They do a good job of explaining the whole situation and the possible outcomes.

  4. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Walker 5 and Team Fernbank would never organically vote Jester as the chair. Even if she were chair, she’s still only one vote.

    As Superintendent, Nancy Jester could really straighten things out.

  5. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    I think Nancy is a good board member. I don’t think she has the credentials nor the background in education to be a superintendent–there is much more to that position than simply managing $$.

  6. john says:

    the governor should fire the entire board, then hire Nancy Jester as superintendent.

  7. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Concerned DeKalb Mom
    Whatever credentials and background you are referring to, Mark Elgart, CLewis, Cheryl and Ramona have them and look where it got us. I’m thinking we need somebody outside the education background. The CEO of GM doesn’t need to be an engineer or have worked on an assembly line.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    Dekalb Inside Out – you are exactly right! If Lewis, Tyson, and now Cheryl have the proper credentials, then they are on paper only. Jester has the drive, the analysis skills, the organization, the focus, the commitment and the leadership skills to get the job done. She has a strong financial background – something that we need right now since that is where the problems are. Besides, she has children in the Dekalb System – what greater incentive could one have? I would hope that this Board could support Jester as Chair and give her their support. She would lead us through this valley.

  9. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    I think Nancy does a great job of looking at the numbers and analyzing whether or not the administration is doing what they should do. I think you can get away without knowing much about education beyond yours or your child’s experience to be a fantastic board member.

    I personally wouldn’t want to hire anyone as superintendent who has NO idea what implementing an outstanding and significant curriculum would entail. I have yet to hear Nancy J mention anything regarding student performance or achievement that is not simply synthesizing data. And that’s not a slight. That’s just not her area of expertise. She’s great with the numbers and analysis.

    While everyone is so focused on the financial and the fraud, don’t lose sight of the fact that DeKalb has a dismal academic record. A CEO would do wonders with the financials, which would certainly help…but I question again the idea behind bringing in someone without a proven educational improvement record. DeKalb Inside Out–I don’t disagree with your assessment of our past leaders. But I would say that the Board has not done a great job of vetting candidates. Their credentials were mediocre at best…and DeKalb needs a superstar to pull them out of this mess, someone with the financial understanding AND academic reputation that could help right the DeKalb ship.

    I question, though, whether anyone with that type of resume would even consider taking the reigns here in DeKalb.

  10. Undercover Reformer says:

    @Concerned DeKalb Mom
    You hit the nail on the head, my friend. A superintendent with experience turning around a large urban school district in terms of academics, resource management, and community involvement is worth the $275,000+ we’re paying Atkinson – but there are few out there who would touch this hot potato for even that salary. Michelle Rhee? Hell no. She got out of the game. Who do you think will want to take the helm of this huge, sinking ship? Part of Ramona’s problem was that she was not knowledgeable in Curriculum and Instruction (and, to be fair, she admitted that). She is a very organized manager, which is what Lewis brought her up to the central office to do for him. But she should be gone. Anyone associated with C. Lewis should be gone – I guarantee everyone at or above the Executive Director level had suspicions or knew what was going on with Pope (aka Reid) and Pope. Jester is too smart to pretend to want to be super – but board chair would be fine. I don’t know how the GADOE or the Governor do this “replace the board” thing. But if they get to decide who they sit on the board, perhaps Jester can be one of the appointees.

  11. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Nancy Jester for DeKalb Superintendent

    We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

  12. Ok inside out – we love Nancy, but making her superintendent is quite over the top. It’s sad really, that the board chooses the super and until we get a ‘functional’ board who chooses a highly qualified super based on experience and ability, then we will never improve. In fact, if the friends and family jobs program continues, then DeKalb schools will completely end in failure. I also don’t have much faith that the governor will step in. He doesn’t want to have to solve the problems of DeKalb’s schools. And the DA doesn’t seem in a hurry to punish those who are indicted for criminally harming the system. All the while, the gravy train leading to the law firms gets more and more use. We are in a spiral. Truly, the only option is to take areas that can do well if given their own power, like the Cities of Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Tucker and maybe Stone Mt and let them go then focus on trying to improve the remaining. Are you all aware that the Lorain School System in Ohio (Atkinson’s former district) is under receivership in Ohio? YES, the state has taken control of their finances and more or less sidelined their school board and superintendent. We need action like that. We need professionals to do an in-depth forensic audit and to implement the changes recommended by the salary study. We need someone who will draw fair attendance lines, consolidate schools and make class sizes and resources equitable. Nancy would be a great help and consultant to this kind of leader, however, we need someone with years of experience leading a large system of some kind back from the brink.

    Make it Nancy Jester for Board Chair and I’ll sign.

  13. DeKalb BOE for dummies says:

    Even if Nancy is chair, the block of 5 will still be there. Aren’t they our problem. Maybe Nancy can request to be reinstated based upon the things that she uncovered. Keeping everybody would be more of the same. Her constituents need to organize and contact the governor. Nancy cannot do it all by herself. It is very silly for anyone to think that she can. Getting rid of the board will surely send a message to anyone who ever attempts to run.

  14. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Nancy Jester for chairman is putting lipstick on a pig. If nothing else is going to change, we are better off having Dr Walker as chair. As chair he is personally compelled to bring both sides together. If Nancy is chair, he won’t think twice about ramming 5-4 votes through. Nancy is ultimately just one vote. What am I missing?

    Nancy Jester for Superintendent isn’t such a stretch. Michelle Rhee was a teacher for a couple of years and then started/ran a non-profit before becoming chancellor of D.C. Nancy’s integrity and honesty is beyond reproach. It would be like having Milton Friedman as Superintendent.

    We have tried over and over to find a super star superintendent with a 20 year track record. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

    I’m open to suggestions.

  15. Concernedmom30329 says:

    It is a stretch. The Board had better candidates that the majority managed to run off. There were and are better candidates for this job. Would they take it, maybe or maybe not? The majority of the board, some unaware I believe, ended up with a weak superintendent that Walker and Cunningham thought they could control. It didn’t work out the way they envisioned and so here we are. Again.
    Walker has shown no interest in working together as chair. Are you kidding me?
    Someone suggested that we work with Jester to encourage the governor to remove the board and then her constituents encourage the governor to put her back on the board. I support this.
    We need a new superintendent. Without a new board, it won’t matter if the opportunity arises to replace Atkinson. This board will repeat their past mistakes.

  16. The mistakes lie with the voters. Back when they had the chance, voters sent Paul Womack and Gene Walker to sit on the board instead of Shayna Steinfeld and Ernest Brown. Then the board fought tooth and nail – and sabotaged decent candidates – in order to hire Dr. Atkinson. I guarantee that Shayna and Ernest would not have played so badly. I would bet that a board that included them instead of the two we got would have hired the very qualified Dr. Duron – or someone of his caliber.

    Oh well.

  17. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    @Inside Out–you just illustrated my point. And to be clear, Michelle Rhee has her issues…but she spent time inside a classroom, so she had some credibility for the teachers in the system. Not to beat a dead horse here…but NJ doesn’t have that.

    And I would bet that NJ herself wouldn’t vote herself as superintendent. She has an understanding of what is necessary for a good superintendent–keep in mind, she was one of the “no” votes on Dr. Atkinson.

    And unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think the governor can replace the superintendent. That is wholly a BOE responsibility. They need to take responsibility for that choice/mistake and work to rectify it.

  18. DeKalb Observer says:

    Everybody needs to read Nancy’s blog post reviewing the SACs report. She is right that their contention that “the board doesn’t work together” is an absurd metric of whether a school board member is acting appropriately. She rightly points out that her research on the financial issues – lack of reports, lack of hiring data – forms the basis of many of the allegations SACS levels which resulted in DeKalb’s probationary status. Information Nancy exposed is now leveraged by SACS investigators who couldn’t find it themselves. Yet they then object to board members being demanding of staff. Well, if the superintendent won’t give you information that you, as an elected official are entitled to, what are you supposed to do? The failure of the school system to produce the information the board member requests, then, is the fault of the superintendent who did not direct her staff to comply.

    And it is hilarious that Nancy has been on the losing end of just about every vote since she’s been elected – and yet is lumped in with the Gang of Five as not living up to the board’s fiduciary responsibility. And here we have a superintendent who has been deposed for alleged Open Records violations. It is not appropriate for a board member to insist and push for information that is not forthcoming? SACS conclusions are really idiotic: on the one hand the board is at fault for not responsibly overseeing the school system; on the other, they accuse Nancy for being out of line because she failed to be sweet and compliant and cooperative – with people who routinely lie to her.

  19. dekalbite2 says:

    SACS is only intervening because of public pressure – this has nothing to do with student achievement and fiscal responsibility with respect to taxpayer dollars and everything to do with their business continuing to be a revenue producing organization and a center of power.

  20. Concernedmom30329 says:

    I disagree Dekalbite. I think SACs is intervening because Elgart couldn’t intervene anywhere else without taking action in DeKalb. The valid question is what took you so long.
    All accrediting agencies get paid, this is not unique to Advanced Ed.
    What is flawed in GA is that SACS is the only option parents and taxpayers have to protect them from bad behavior. It is my understanding that the passage of the charter school amendment may actually allow some new legislation to be introduced that will change this. We need a system where the state board can intervene with different levels of consequences based on the behavior.
    Dougherty County has been accused of misusing Title 1 funds but the state can do nothing but take back the money. There ought to be repercussions greater than that for the Superintendent or the board. Of course, criminal charges may come, but those take time.

  21. Ella Smith says:

    I can only hope for the best for the DeKalb County Schools for the students. Each vote should be about providing the best for every student in Dekalb County and not for the students in each of the districts.

  22. Ella Smith says:

    There is nothing that can be done until there is a change as to the number of board members that represent the county unless the state board or the governor steps in.

    I am sad that the new elected board members are already doing inappropriate things. It is sad for the students and citizens of DeKalb County.

  23. Steve Smith says:

    Donna Edler confirms the speculation (both by McChesney and people here) that she wants to be board chair:

    “She said Wednesday that she has no plans to leave the board. If anything, she is hoping her fellow board members will elect her their chair so that she can help lead the fight to rescue the board from SACS probation.

    “I have the knowledge, the technical skills and the leadership ability to help,” she said.

    I believe the anonymous commenter called it a few weeks ago when they said it will be Edler as chair and Orson as vice-chair.

  24. Oh my. That article also says that her cancer has returned in her spine. That is too bad. We are very sorry to hear that. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Donna in her battle with cancer.

  25. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Donna can’t “rescue” the system. She holds terrible grudges against certain board members and on top of that struggles with some of the more complex issues facing the board.
    A few weeks ago, she clearly parroted someone else’s words when arguing a point. It sure sounded like Orson was coming from her mouth.

  26. I find this part interesting,

    That said, Edler’s husband, Darryl, took her to the emergency room on Dec. 1 for nagging back pain that had plagued her on a Nov. 7-16 trip to China by a delegation of American educators and through the Thanksgiving holiday.

    What group did she travel with? What was the purpose? What did she learn?

  27. Ella Smith says:

    I am so sorry to hear about the health issues in the Edler;s home. Her son and my son played soccer together for years and both of them are very nice individuals. I do think Ms. Edler’s heart is in the right place. I have been disappointed in some of her stands. However, we do not know the reasons for her attitude toward certain individuals on the board. We do not know if there may be a good reason for the attitude. Knowing her I do believe something caused the attitude.

    I can see Marshall working hard to play politics and I can see Edler and Marshall working together to get things done. I know Dr. Walker and Marshall are close and that most of the Fernbankk PTA support Dr. Walker as to the deals they worked out. I can see Marshall as part of the 6 on the school board now.

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