Nancy Jester said What …?

We receive Nancy Jester’s blog, Whatsupwiththat?, through our RSS feeds.  Normally, Saturday is a slow day for all the blogs we receive.  Not this Saturday!

On December 26, 2012, Nancy began a series of posts on her blog, expertly dissecting AdvancED/SACS’ special team report.  As has been her practice, Nancy gives specifics, having vetted her facts to be sure of her accuracy.

Today, Saturday, January 12, 2013, Nancy, who obviously has spent the time following the AdvancED/SACS report studying the issues and opportunities, instead of making excuses or spending her energy campaigning to be board chair or vice chair, provides an equitable, customizable solution:

“Change The Game”

“If you’ve read my series of blogs beginning on December 26th, you’ve heard me lament the fact accreditation isn’t based on results for children.  Its focus is on “process”, pronouns and sweeping in late into the game after financial incompetence was already discussed and publicly stated by me for almost two years.  Apparently, regular accreditation reviews just didn’t catch what this mom with a calculator quickly realized was a deceptive budgeting practice.   My advice to the accreditors – (1) rethink the financial “standards and indicators” you review and (2) send in financial professionals, not just educrats, to look at the books. 

“My blog posts covered the tortured logic of “The Circle of Trust”.  It showed that no matter the mistakes or misinformation of the educrats in writing, reviewing and implementing policy, it is always the board’s fault.  If I ask too many questions, it’s pestering, suspicious or distrustful.   If I am misled by staff, that’s on me too.  Rigid policy is extremely important in accreditation and, as it turns out, in insulating bureaucracies from real accountability and responsiveness.  It has the added bureaucratic benefit of sanitizing the bad decisions made every day.  Remember, “it’s policy”.  Unfortunately, policy is no replacement for human discernment in the life of a child or a community.  We have been victims of policy.

“I understand your frustration with the board.  As the most consistent “no” vote, I experience this frustration more than most.  For what it’s worth, if the board cannot agree to a drastically new approach to the delivery of education and governance of our district, the board should be removed.  I do believe that all the members of the board and most of the DCSD administration want to have better results for children.  But, they want other things more.  Board members and administrators can be removed and the game remains.  Rearranging or replacing the chess pieces won’t result in improved outcomes.   The game itself is rigged.

“The only way to truly affect change is to change the game itself.”

Continue reading here

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36 Responses to Nancy Jester said What …?

  1. Guy Midvale says:

    Thank you very much Nancy. Hopefully the governor will read this and pay attention.

  2. concernedmom30329 says:

    Nancy’s solutions are great long term ones. The reality is that neither the state legislature or the State Board of Ed can move very quickly on these kinds of complex issues.
    In one way, the students of DCSS’ worst enemy is Gwinnett County Schools, which is 50 percent bigger than DeKalb and has won national awards and has pretty good student achievement, even among subgroups. When I asked my legislator about spitting the system, his response was that saying bigger is bad doesn’t work because of Gwinnett, Fulton and Cobb.
    The other challenge with Nancy’s idea, is that some board members like her can be hands off, while their schools and communities become autonomous. Others, like Cunningham and Copelin-Woods won’t be able to leave anything alone.
    Fundamentally, many of the board members currently on the board are just not competent, some are corrupt, and need to be replaced.

  3. May we suggest that you send Nancy’s blog post to the governor and state school board members? We will see if we can get a plain copy for our archives that you can cut-and-paste into an e-mail.

  4. September says:

    There is a big difference between the way that DeKalb and Gwinnett manage their schools. DeKalb tries to make all decisions from the top. They have lots of coordinators dictating how things are done. In Gwinnett instructional decisions are made at the schools because the principal is really in charge. If a principal is not getting results, that principal is gone. If you want to be a principal in Gwinnett you need to have a successful track record as an AP. That usually means several years in the job and experience at more than one school.

    The school model that Nancy Jester is suggesting might be similar to the way that Gwinnett manages their schools. It certainly would be worth a try. We could also take an in depth look at how Gwinnett manages its schools and adopt a similar approach. One thing is certain. If we continue to do what we have always done, we will continue to get the same results. Our situation is desperate, but we can look at it as an opportunity to make real and positive changes in our school system.

  5. Embarrassed Employee says:

    And if we converted to the power is with the principal structure, imagine how much money we could save when all of the chiefs are eliminated.

  6. If you agree with Nancy’s idea and want the Governor and State Board to know, please email them. Include the some or all of the text of Nancy’s post (below) if you wish. Also email members of the State Board of Education (click here). If you would like to provide a statement for the State Board to consider, you can email it to either Justin Pauly at jpauly@gadoe.org or Brenda Turner at brturner@doe.k12.ga.us.

    FWIW, we agree with Scott Holcomb who stated, “The bottom line is that I am concerned that those who caused this situation may not be able to fix it. ”

    Basically, we are willing to support Nancy’s approach as long as the administration is greatly reduced and board is reduced as well in the process along with new, clearly defined goals that focus solely on monitoring spending and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. We would further like to see our board replaced with people who Holcomb describes as “credible, competent, and capable of fixing the issues and moving our county forward.” We think a lean board of 5 members (like Gwinnett and other successful systems) would be able to manage such a Portfolio style system and its finances along with the members of the foundations of each Portfolio.

    We also think that we will no longer require regional superintendents, instructional coordinators and central office instructional ‘leadership’ staff, and can create a greatly reduced central office technology program and a greatly reduced HR staff including using an outside resource like ADP to manage payroll. The transportation, plant services and technology departments could function as profit centers from which the Portfolios purchase services (if desired).

    In addition, we would like to see the entire SPLOST program operate as a separate LLC or sub-corp of some kind that is under contract, and whose employees are not directly employed by the system. A third party accounting firm should manage every penny of the SPLOST IV program with annual detailed forensic audits. We would like to see these accountings posted in an online check register, along with all of the accountings of the school system at large. It is the SPLOST programs that have caused the system the most harm and it is the SPLOST programs that must be most closely monitored.

    Many many many changes need to occur in order to salvage this school system. Employing the Portfolio strategy could be a good trigger to start the ball to recovery rolling. But we can’t stop there and think all will be well. We need to watch even closer as any new system is employed. And we will.

  7. Change the Game
    by Nancy Jester (Whatsupwiththat? Blog — whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com)

    If you’ve read my series of blogs beginning on December 26th, “My Thoughts On The AdvancED SACS Report“, you’ve heard me lament the fact accreditation isn’t based on results for children. Its focus is on “process”, pronouns and sweeping in late into the game after financial incompetence was already discussed and publicly stated by me for almost two years. Apparently, regular accreditation reviews just didn’t catch what this mom with a calculator quickly realized was a deceptive budgeting practice. My advice to the accreditors – (1) rethink the financial “standards and indicators” you review and (2) send in financial professionals, not just educrats, to look at the books.

    My blog posts covered the tortured logic of “The Circle of Trust”. It showed no matter the mistakes or misinformation of the educrats in writing, reviewing and implementing policy, it is always the board’s fault. If I ask too many questions, it’s pestering, suspicious or distrustful. If I am misled by staff, that’s on me too. Rigid policy is extremely important in accreditation and, as it turns out, in insulating bureaucracies from real accountability and responsiveness. It has the added bureaucratic benefit of sanitizing the bad decisions made every day. Remember, “it’s policy”. Unfortunately, policy is no replacement for human discernment in the life of a child or a community. We have been victims of policy.

    I understand your frustration with the board. As the most consistent “no” vote, I experience this frustration more than most. For what it’s worth, if the board cannot agree to a drastically new approach to the delivery of education and governance of our district, the board should be removed. I believe all the members of the board and most of the DCSD administration want
    better results for children. But, they want other things more. Board members and administrators can be removed and the game remains. Rearranging or replacing the chess pieces won’t result in improved outcomes. The game itself is rigged.

    The only way to truly affect change is to change the game.

    My fellow citizens, along with the challenges presented by probation, comes opportunity. We can either leverage that opportunity to fundamentally change and reinvent education in DeKalb or things will remain the same. The board or administration can be removed but the deep systemic problems will continue, and possibly worsen in the short term, despite the false hope this action might give. The persistent and intractable problems that have plagued DeKalb for more than a decade will erupt again. Look at the outcomes where accreditation and various state actions have temporarily given relief and hope; only to see the systems plunge right back into the same quicksand. But there is a way out.

    Here are my solutions:

    Consent Decree

    The current or newly appointed DeKalb Board must enter into a consent decree with the State that contains provisions for addressing the “required actions” in the AdvancED report. This decree must do more than offer a weak promise to implement yet another plan and another round of stakeholder engagement meetings. It must demand that DeKalb reinvent the way public education is delivered and governed. The consent decree must demand that we push governance and autonomy to each individual school or cluster of schools. This approach is called The Portfolio Strategy. Using the Portfolio Strategy approach:

      ● The district can meet the required actions listed in the AdvancED report and ensure that the district retains accreditation;
      ● Design a new governance system that minimizes the risk and footprint of financial malfeasance;
      ● Eliminates the governance, policy and advocacy conflicts that entangle all layers of the district and;
      ● Provides a robust and authentic community engagement process that yields results to meet the unique demands of a diverse set of communities.

    Georgia needs to adopt a model for accrediting schools and/or districts based on the merits of their work. Accreditation should not be linked to anything but results for children and prudent financial management for the taxpayers. The state of Texas does this and we can too. Check out the value the Texas Education Agency adds to their systems at
    http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=2147494532&menu_id=2147483702.

    The state continually monitors and works with their systems and does not cede their oversight role. It is a transparent system based on student results and financial stability. Read how Texas determines accreditation for schools and districts. And, it has generated results. Read the news on their graduation rates.

    The Texas model has worked.

      ● Number 1 with Asian students with a graduation rate of 95 percent. (Georgia 79%)
      ● Number 1 for white students with a graduation rate of 92 percent. (Georgia 76%)
      ● Tied for 1 with a graduation rate of 81 percent for African-American students. (Georgia 60%)
      ● Has the 3rd highest graduation rate for all students with a rate of 86 percent. (Georgia 67%)
      ● Number 2 for Hispanic students with a graduation rate of 82 percent, behind only Maine. (Georgia 58%)
      ● Number 2 for children with disabilities who graduate at a rate of 77 percent. Only South Dakota had a higher rate. (Georgia 30%)
      ● Number 2 for economically-disadvantaged students who graduate at a rate of 84 percent, behind only South Dakota. (Georgia 59%)
      ● Number 26 for limited English proficient students who have a graduation rate of 58 percent. [Those who become proficient in English are removed from the limited English proficient category.] (Georgia 32%)

    The Portfolio District

    According to the Center for Reinventing Public Education, “A growing number of urban districts including New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, Denver, Hartford, and Baltimore are pursuing the portfolio strategy. The portfolio strategy is a continuous improvement model for districts that aims to dramatically affect student outcomes at scale. The strategy, built around 7 key components, creates diverse options for families in disadvantaged neighborhoods by opening new high-performing, autonomous schools; giving all schools control of budgeting and hiring; and holding schools accountable to common performance standards.” Most recently, the Cleveland Plan has been set in motion to reimagine and improve public education. Read about their plan at http://www.gcpartnership.com/Talent/Primary-and-Secondary-Education/~/media/Files/Talent/ClevelandPlanFinalExecutiveSummary%20FINAL.ashx.

    The Portfolio District strategy acknowledges the realities and complexities of a large, diverse community. The strategy allows the district to jettison the notions of “one size fits all” and “top down” implementation of policy, procedures, curriculum, hiring and more. This model removes the intractable governance issues by changing the function of the district from a unit responsible for all policy, budgeting, curriculum, HR decisions, etc. to a purely supportive role. Schools and communities around the district are given autonomy and then held accountable for their results. The district would simply be a conduit for funding and could provide other services at the request of individual schools. Innovative districts around the nation are using this strategy. You can read more about it by visiting the website of The Center on Reinventing Public Education at http://crpe.org/portfolio.

    The Portfolio District strategy also establishes a partnership with the community, business leaders and foundations. This public-private partnership helps guide the implementation of the strategy; ensuring that all communities receive the choices and support they need. This partnership is critical to reestablishing credibility with the citizens and parents. It will provide for authentic stakeholder engagement that will yield the results each community wants; rather than the false hope of surveys, task forces and commissions long ignored.

    Parents, teachers, citizens, I hope that you will join with me in asserting your ownership of the school district. For too long, the bureaucrats have controlled and affected your communities while your voice carried little authority to demand change. The mantra of accountability sadly has held almost no one to account. Don’t let this opportunity leave us with false hope. Let’s leverage this situation to bring about meaningful reform in DeKalb and our state.

    Please join me in asking The State Board of Education and Governor Deal to return power to the parents and the school communities. If we don’t make this structural change now, I fear that we’ll limp along with ambiguous plans to “do better” or with a new board that either plays the same game or gets rolled by the educrats. You deserve a seat at the table that determines how your school is run. You know what is best for your child and you should have a governance system that allows you to use the tools, strategy, calendar, schedules, budgets and staffing models that work best for your specific community.

    Please request that the State Board and Governor decree that DCSD must take immediate steps to begin converting our district into a Portfolio District. Ask them to study the Texas model for accreditation. If you agree with my approach, let them know. Let’s use this opportunity to take back our schools, empower parents and give every child in DeKalb the education they deserve.

  8. Below are the emails of the State Board as a group for you to copy and paste:

    “jpauly@gadoe.org” ; “brturner@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “lzechmann@gmail.com” ; “eragsdale2@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “hrice@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “disrael@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “kmason@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “bahampton@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “mroyal@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “wbarrs@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “lwinter@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “bburdette@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “glewis@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “arice@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “mmurray@doe.k12.ga.us” ; “state.superintendent@doe.k12.ga.us”

  9. Marney Mayo says:

    While I admit I haven’t read all of Nancy’s links…the kind of distribution of authority and autonomy that she describes sounds entirely doable within the present legal structure of becoming a “Charter District”. The term “charter” is a lightning rod for rubbing the establishment the wrong way–which is probably why a new term like “Portfolio” is being floated.

    There may be a small number of schoolhouses that have the leadership necessary to excel with that degree of autonomy—most of them at present do not. Therein lies our “chicken or egg” challenge. It is like shangri la—a beautiful separate world with no known real world path in. A great word picture, but one that ultimately functions as dust in the eyes or delay in our present need to address the immediate issue.

  10. Embarrassed Employee says:

    There definitely are some central office trolls here,how sad.
    #keepitaboutthestudentsnotyourbankacct

  11. Don McChesney has posted another interesting post on the subject of SACS. Here’s a snippet:

    Now let’s look at the upcoming suspension hearing by the State Board of Education.

    The relevant facts are that the twenty page SACS report is filled with non specific charges. Only the board chair was singled out. It is akin to punishing the whole class for the indiscretions of a few. Members of the BOE are “ordered to be there and…. “file a witness list”… “The parties are further directed to exchange copies of documents…”

    OK. How do you file documents of defense when you do not know what you have been specifically charged with? Some of the things in the SACS report I have no specific knowledge of.

    I understand this BOE has been a pain to deal with. I have experienced this first hand. Unfortunately, it is hard to answer inferences on generalities with which you are not familiar. It sounds like a Soviet court. We say you are guilty of something, but I won’t tell you what it is. Now prove your innocence.

    Read more >>

  12. kidsballcoach says:

    Dear Don,
    Garbage. Ask yourself what is wrong with the board rather than what did the BoE get caught at and need to defend. SACS offered oversight and feedback before,the current report clearly indicates the boards lack of fiscal discipline mis-management, meddling, failures to improve the DCSS and more than questionable ethical practices. The board are the peoples watchdog over the schools, yet while BoE members complain of the cost of hearings and responding to SACS, the BoE voted to pay for Crawford Lewis’s defense and claimed they had no idea he was guilty. WELL EVERYBODY ELSE DID! We have lawyers for crooked superintendent and no text BOOKS!
    How do you defend that?

  13. thedeal2 says:

    @Marney, THANK YOU. Perfectly said. It’s a great idea, but this is not the group that could even conceive how to get us there.

  14. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    KidsBallCoach
    Did you read either of Don’s posts (SACS – FRIEND OR FOE, or SACS ADVANCED PART TWO)? Don asked the administration to do their job. The staff, once again, lied during the whole ordeal. He’s a hero. On top of that, he is one of the board members that was always outvoted when it comes to fiscal responsibility. He supported Jester with what she found. They were the watchdogs and were outvoted. @KidsBallCoach, you should be a big fan of Don’s. They were also told to shut up about being watchdogs by SACS. They were told to trust the administration. Textbooks? When the board voted on it, they were told it was to purchase textbooks. SACS told them to trust the staff. SACS seems to want to have it both ways here. The Super didn’t do her job and passed it along to the board. Now SACS wants to slam the board for getting involved. That will give you whiplash.

    How do you defend that?

  15. howdy1942 says:

    Nancy’s recommendations are well thought-out and provide a framework for fixing our situation. Sadly, we have never heard any thoughts or recommendations from the present Chairman, Eugene Walker nor his predecessor, Tom Bowen. Nor have we heard anything from Copelin-Wood or Cunningham. It is also unfortunate that Nancy, who has served only two years, is being lumped into the same group that has served at least one full term and now must “show cause” – she shouldn’t.

    The “decentralized” management approach cited in Gwinnett County has also proven successful in the business world. Put principals in charge, develop commitments from each principal, and measure results. Reward success, develop people who need developing, penalize extended failure. That means the principals would set their budgets, get them approved, and manage their budgets. Allow them to carry forward at least a portion of any “under-runs”. Make their commitments attainable – not all schools have high achievers nor low achievers.

    Get the staff out of the way!! No more of this “I’m here to help you” crap that the current staff “provides”. Reduce the central staff drastically, reduce the floor space they consume and save in heating, cooling, information system, “training”, travel, and on and on!! No more directing from the top! If all the principals achieve their goals, then the Superintendent achieves his/her goals.

    Finally, it has been nearly a month since SACS placed Dekalb on probation. What has been done? One out of the 12 months we were granted is now gone.

  16. kidsballcoach says:

    Inside out,
    Yes. Did you read the SACS report? I wonder what your definition of oversight by the board is? They hired the Superintendents, they are responsible for the administration. if someone lied to them they should be indicted or fired. The BoE members HAVE allowed themselves to be boxed in by THEIR own administrations policies, but as the citizens the BOE is OUR organization that must use the law, policies, ethics, objectivity and their power to make change for the students. I understand Don and Nancy;s frustration, but SACS can’t come in and fire the administration, it is the BOARD’s responsibility. Nor can they say keep these 2 and fire the rest. Don and Nancy should support removing the current board and petition the Gov. for an appointment on the new board if they want to implement change. They both admit that they cannot change the current board or the administration which reports to it.

  17. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    KidsBallCoach
    Responsibilities of the Board – The BOE hires/fires the Superintendent and is the policy setting body for the school district. They are NOT responsible for the administration. They are not allowed to talk to the rest of the administration except during meetings. The board cannot fire anybody except the Superintendent.

    Kidsballcoach said The BoE members HAVE allowed themselves to be boxed in by THEIR own administrations policies. The state makes many of the laws like the ones I just mentioned. In the case of the infamous DJE Policy, SACS recommended the policy, the administration wrote the policy and the BOE just approved. How is that the BOE’s fault?

    What power does the BOE have? – The BOE can hire/fire the Superintendent which in and of itself is some power. Once that is done, the BOE basically has no power. They can ask questions which the administration doesn’t have to answer. They can approve policy which the administration doesn’t have to follow such as the DJE Policy. The BOE can request documents and text messages which the state says, by law, the administration must provide. Alas the administration does not.

    Until Ms Jester introduced the Portfolio District, I just didn’t see how we were going to get out of this mess. Next year every board seat will be up for election and we’ll have the same thing. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

  18. concernedmom30329 says:

    The election isn’t until Summer 2014 — 18 months from now. By then, we will likely be bankrupt and possibly lose accreditation, if this board stays the same. Nancy’s ideas are good, but the current board won’t support it and the status quo is the only likely outcome if the board stays the same.

  19. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Gwinnett states that holding the Superintendent responsible to adhere to legislative and board policies is key. DeKalb states their goal as ensuring quality personnel. They only have one employee and input on only one employee. They do not hold their one employee accountable, ever.

    I see a difference in that the Gwinnett Board strives to manage their Super and support the development of the counties staff thereby creating an environment that makes it more likely that kids will learn. They don’t focus on programs to fix issues of achievement, they are creating the environment that lends itself to staff working harder and thereby inspiring children to do the same, to recognize their own potential. Child centered maybe, less facts and figures.

    To me it is a cultural difference, a culture of achievement, support, responsibility and accountability. I am not saying their county is perfect or better, I am just saying the visions are different. Yes, both want better grades, teacher development and fiscal management. I just think the stated visions are better understood in Gwinnett. They seem to know where the line is. While some may say these are all just words, I do believe that a stated mission and goal has a way of setting the environment of a workplace or educational institution. It sets tone from the top.

    I am including the following from the DCSS and Gwinnett School System:
    DeKalb Mission
    The mission of the DeKalb County School District is to form a collaborative effort between home and school that maximizes students’ social and academic potential preparing them to compete in a global society.
    Goals
    1. To narrow the achievement gap and improve the graduation rate by creating a high performance learning culture in all schools and sites.
    2. To increase rigor and academic achievement in reading/language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies in preK–12.
    3. To ensure quality personnel in all positions.
    4. To ensure fiscal responsibility in order to maintain safe and healthy learning environments that support academic programs, resources, and services.

    Gwinnett
    The Gwinnett County Board of Education, elected by the people, is primarily a policy-making body with the responsibility of seeing that the Superintendent administers the district within the framework developed by the legislature and the Board.

    The Board is dedicated to the following:
    1. Providing an educational program and instructional arrangements which will permit each child to develop to his full potential;
    2. Developing and providing the data appropriate for the management functions of planning, evaluating, organizing, controlling, and executing;
    3. Ensuring that staff, students, parents, and all local citizens are provided the opportunity to participate in the development and evaluation of programs and policies;
    4. Providing an effective teaching climate to ensure the opportunity for the best possible education.
    5. Providing a system level comprehensive school improvement plan that includes a component for staff development and professional development. In addition, the Board shall require the appointment of a staff development coordinator/director and a staff development advisory committee.

  20. Disgusted in Dekalb says:

    Nancy’s Portfolio District idea sounds like a vast improvement over the way things are done (or not done) now. But giving more power to principals only works if you have competent principals. I’m sure we have many qualified principals in Dekalb. But from reading this blog over the years, I’m guessing that there are some principals who have been moved into their positions before they have the requisite experience because of who they know. Does Nancy’s system provide a means for culling out such employees?

  21. kidsballcoach says:

    DKIO,
    I have heard this before. It s so organizational and managerially dysfunctional I don’t understand how it is repeated with a straight face. The Board is accountable to the voters, the SIS is accountable to Board and the “system” is accountable to the SIS. This administration could not implement any new system, it like the creature it has become overtime due to lack of accountability an lack of focus on it’s true mission, will delay and deny change and wait out the new policy or initiatives. WE NEED DRAMATIC CHANGE, The board needs to be able to explore changing its role and responsibilities to bring responsibility, competence and efficiency into the system. Eggs will have to be broken to make this an edible omlet. Make the SIS and the system report, launch inquiries and panels and get the right lawyers in place to fix this. Stop treating the SIS like a board member and treat them like an employee and make them accountable. One of the things our BOE lacks is experienced managers from large effective organizations and governmental organizations. TO say the BOE only manages 1 person is absurd, when that person is the head of a large organization which is also accountable to the bosses of the SIS. Again how do you justify continuing down the same path when the entire State knows of the issues of Dekals schools and performance continues to fall. Reminder, GA is 48th in the nation on education yet Georgians remain in denial of the issues.

  22. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    KidsBallCoach
    said “This administration could not implement any new system” – The administration has full reign to implement whatever it wants. Bring it before the board and they’ll pass it like everything else. The board hasn’t voted anything down that the administration has recommended.

    “WE NEED DRAMATIC CHANGE” – Amen to that. Superintendents and administrations have come and gone. Board members have come and gone. Replacing them isn’t the solution. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.

    “TO say the BOE only manages 1 person is absurd” – To say anything else is grounds for losing accreditation. SACS was very clear about the chain of command.

    Sorry if I misconstrued what you said. I had a hard time following your train of thought.

  23. kidsballcoach says:

    DKIO,
    “The administration has full reign to implement whatever it wants. Bring it before the board and they’ll pass it like everything else. The board hasn’t voted anything down that the administration has recommended.” So the board exercises oversight by rubber stamp of the administration and this is acceptable? In that environment it is incredibly naive and at best “pie in the sky dreaming” to believe that the new Portfolio District would be successfully implemented when doing so would take power and jobs away from the administration, thus my original point.

    “Amen to that. Superintendents and administrations have come and gone. Board members have come and gone. Replacing them isn’t the solution. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results.” (not yelling) YOU SAY AMEN, BUT ARE NOT IN FAVOR OF ANY CHANGE. WITH THE CURRENT BOARD MAKEUP, ADMINISTRATORS AND MINDSET OF THE NOT BEING ACCOUNTABLE NOTHING IN THE DCSS WILL CHANGE.

    “To say anything else is grounds for losing accreditation. SACS was very clear about the chain of command.” AGAIN YOUR POSTS SHOWS A LACK OF EXPERIENCE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS. TASK HER WITH BRIEFING THE BUDGET OR HOLDING MEETINGS TO RESOLVE ISSUES. THE BOE NEEDS TO WORK THROUGH THE SSI TO FIX THE ADMINISTRATION. ALSO HAVE THE DISCUSSION OF IMPROVING ACCOUNTABILITY THROUGH OTHER MANAGEMENT TOOLS AND ORGANIZATIONS.THIS DOES NOT MEAN A BOARD MEMBER IS EMPOWERED TO WALK INTO A SCHOOL AND GIVE DIRECTION, BUT A MEMBER COULD AND SHOULD BE BRINGING ISSUES FROM THEIR DISTRICT UP TO THE BOARD AND TASKING THE SIS TO REPORT BACK ON THE ISSUE TO THE ENTIRE BOARD. THE BOARD NEEDS TO SEEK MEASURABLE (METRICS) CHANGE AND ACCOUNTABILITY.

    Thanks for the opportunity to clarify my positions.

  24. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    KidsBallCoach
    I believe in charter schools, parent trigger, smaller independent school districts, portfolio districts, the hanging curve ball, high fiber and good scotch. I don’t believe replacing the board and/or administration will affect the changes we need. All of the things I want are about smaller districts and local control.

    Boards don’t run organizations. The board can’t task the Superintendent to do squat. SACS was clear that asking questions and requesting the administration to follow policies are grounds for loss of accreditation. SACS ordered DCSD to get an internal auditor to report to the board. The board can’t even get that. The board used to harp on the administration for an auditor to investigate the fiscal malfeasance we keep hearing about. The administration said ‘No Thanks’ and SACS sided with the administration … big surprise.

    Also, don’t forget that the board isn’t one entity. It is currently 9 people representing very balkanized areas. I can say with metaphysical certainty the odds of them coming together on anything important are nill.

  25. dekalbite2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside and Out
    “What power does the BOE have? – The BOE can hire/fire the Superintendent which in and of itself is some power. Once that is done, the BOE basically has no power.”

    You left out the most important power they have which is to approve ALL budgets and expenditures. This is enormous power, arguably more than hiring a superintendent.

  26. kidsballcoach says:

    DKIO,
    I appreciate what you are representing, but it sounds like you propose re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.Dekalbite2 YOU ARE RIGHT!

  27. thedeal2 says:

    I actually argue that having a board of short-term appointed people might be the best thing to happen to DeKalb yet. They know they will most likely be short-term with the election in 2015, they are not beholden to voters for their jobs, and they are under a massive spotlight. While it is POSSIBLE there will be political appointments, it is a GUARANTEE that our current board will never, ever, ever, ever come together and do the right thing. What innovative, forward-thinking, productive ideas have come out of anyone but Nancy Jester? Even if you don’t like NJ, she is the only one trying to think out of the box and providing taxpayers with information to go out and research. Yes, the more I think about it, the more I like the fact that we would have a temporary, fix-it board with no obligations to the voters and under the understanding that they are most likely temporary. Call it an interim board.

  28. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    I hardly think independent school districts and portfolio districts are re-arranging the deck chairs. Replacing the board and administration is re-arranging the deck chairs … which we’ve done … three times in the last 10 years … to no avail.

    Dekalbite2
    Approving expenses and a budget is not as much power as you might think. “The Budget” as it is, is so high level it’s useless. Not approving a budget or really just asking too many questions about the budget is grounds for loss of accreditation. Dr Atkinson can write checks up to $99K without the boards approval. I can get paid over $1M a year in monthly $99K installments without the board ever knowing.

    So, you are correct. In theory the board should have this power to wield. In reality, not so much.

    –DIO

  29. concernedmom30329 says:

    Atkinson’s can only spend up to 99K annually on one person or entity a year Not a month.
    And you are delusional is you think this current board will go along with any ideas of Jesters, not without some real strong arming from powers that I don’t think exist. (perhaps members of the delegation, though I don’t see that happening.)

  30. dekalbite2 says:

    @DeKalb Inside Out

    The fact is that the BOE members have the final say on expenditure of funds. No one twisted their arms to pass budgets and approve class sizes that have had such a negative impact on student achievement. When Ms. Tyson asked them to set class sizes up to 39 in some high school classes, they could have voted no and she would have had to go back to the drawing board and make cuts in non teaching areas. The parents in DeKalb would have backed them if they had simply told Ms. Tyson – no – we will not approve putting 39 students in a classroom. What parent wants their child in unmanageable class sizes? That’s the key. Set the class sizes low and then let the superintendent figure out who he/she wants to keep in the non teaching arena. Placing students in safe, clean environments with a competent teacher and reasonable class sizes has not been a priority for the BOE. Everyone knows that now.

  31. kidsballcoach says:

    DKI,
    You can’t build anything on a rotten/sinking foundation. Proposals are great, but we can’t buy textbooks and you propose the current board and administration can successfully adopt a new philosophy? Reminds me of the “Premier” in front of DKS? Calling something premier doesn’t improve the quality of education being provided. We need real change that cannot be found in the current environment.

  32. @kidsballcoach: You are so right. And titling your newsletters and reports, “Victory in Every Classroom” doesn’t just make it so either. How can one lay claim to victory in the classroom and then increase the sizes of those classrooms and cut out key support staff like parapros and media clerks?

  33. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DSW and KidsBallCoach,
    Current DeKalb Administration and BOE … bad … I agree. Follow me on this. If the current board doesn’t seek an injunction, we will be lucky to have a new board by July. If Deal doesn’t tap the DeKalb Delegation and manages to find good BOEs, we’ll be lucky to have a new Superintendent by the end of the year. Best case scenario, we have 12-18 months of good BOE and Superintendent. In 24 months we are right back where we are now. We are back to doing things the way we do them now. We can’t keep doing the same things and expect different results … even if we are just delaying them for 12-18 months.

    I would like to avoid the part where we go back to where we are now. The only way I see that happening is via Portfolio Districts, Independent School Districts, or an extremely flexible Parent Trigger law. I don’t care if it’s this administration or the next, this board or an appointed board. We just need local control and get out from under DCSD.

    We are all on the same page. I just don’t think the appointed BOE and new Superintendent can make the lasting changes we need unless something like Portfolio Districts or Independent Charters are implemented county wide.

  34. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    DekalbBite2
    I’ll leave it at ‘I generally agree with you’.

  35. thedeal2 says:

    DIO, if you like the portfolio idea so much, why don’t you think a group of new people could propose and begin to implement it? Our current group is definitely NOT going to agree on it. Then potential candidates in 2015 would have to run on whether they liked that idea or not. Imagine, an actual platform instead of just voting in the (I).

  36. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    I believe and hope that a new group could push control down to the schools one way or another. I’m not holding my breath.

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