Eugene P. Walker Will You Please Go Now!

Eugene P. Walker, Will You Please Go Now

The time has come.
The time has come.
The time is now.
Just go.
Go.
Go!
We don’t care how.
You can go by foot.
You can go by cow.
Eugene P. Walker
will you please go now!
You can go on skates.
You can go on skis.
You can go in a hat.
But
Please go.
Please!
We don’t care.
You can go
By bike.
You can go
On a Zike-Bike
If you like.
If you like
You can go
In an old blue shoe.
Just go, go, GO!
Please do, do, do, DO!
Eugene P. Walker
We don’t care how.
Eugene P. Walker
Will you please
GO NOW!
You can go
on stilts.
You can go by fish.
You can go in a Crunk-Car
If you wish.
If you wish
You may go
By lion’s tail.
Or stamp yourself
And go by mail.
Eugene P. Walker
Don’t you know
The time has come
To go, go, GO!
Make like a bee!
Please Eugene P.!
You might like going in a Zumble-Zee.
You can go by balloon
Or broomstick.
You can go by
bumble-boat
. . . or jet.
We don’t care
how you go.
Just get!

With sincere apologies to the late Art Buchwald and his good friend, the late Dr. Seuss (Theodore Geisel).

“My good friend, Dr. Seuss, wrote a book a few years ago titled Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now! He sent me a copy the other day and crossed out ‘Marvin K. Mooney’ and replaced it with ‘Richard M. Nixon.’ It sounded like fun so I asked him if I could reprint it. Please read it aloud.”

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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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85 Responses to Eugene P. Walker Will You Please Go Now!

  1. Here is a summary of yesterday’s board meeting from David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators: (reprinted from the AJC Get Schooled Blog)
    http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2013/02/07/under-pressure-and-deadlines-is-the-dekalb-school-board-falling-apart/?cxntfid=blogs_get_schooled_blog

    As far as I could tell, only four citizens other than reporters and DCSS employees attended Wednesday’s DeKalb Board meeting to witness the fiasco of the Board’s fourth attempt to elect a Chair and Vice-Chair.

    The process of electing a Board Chair was truly bizarre. Dr. Eugene Walker was elected on a 4-3-2 vote as I previously reported with Walker, Johnson, Cunningham and Wood voting for Walker; Edler, Orson, and McMahan voting for Edler; and Jester and Speaks abstaining, thus allowing Dr. Walker to remain Board Chair. In my opinion Jester and Speaks are as equally responsible for the election of Dr. Walker as Chair, as the four Board members who openly voted for the status quo.

    I find this problematic on many counts:

    1. Dr. Walker’s testimony at the January Georgia Board of Education meeting was pitiful, unprofessional and abysmal. As the students would say. It was clueless.

    2. When asked by a state BoE member why the DeKalb Board did not take the SACS concerns seriously previously, both Dr. Walker and Sarah Copelin-Wood testified they were not aware there were problems. These statements defy credibility.

    3. Dr. Walker has repeatedly denied any proof of nepotism and “the friends and family network.” This denial also lacks any semblance of credibility.

    4. Many people besides myself who attended the Georgia BoE meeting had the impression that both Dr. Walker and Ms. Copelin-Wood were dozing off during the meeting. This in itself is disturbing.

    5. The simple fact that the DeKalb BoE could not muster 5 votes to elect a Chair is problematic. Were back room deals cut and then ignored? Why did Dr. Melvin Johnson nominate Donna Edler for Chair, then vote for Dr. Walker? This action sends up a red flag.

    What appears to be the dismal and total lack of integrity and transparency of the present DeKalb BoE is endangering the future of the DeKalb School System.

    They are apparently now meeting secretly to find an Interim Superintendent. Many people believe it will be former Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond. Many people on the AJC Get Schooled blog questioned his long-term relationship with Dr. Walker. Personally, I cannot fathom or believe Michael Thurmond would sacrifice the significant political capital and influence he has built up over the last two decades to protect and reinstate the nepotism and “friends and family network” that ruled DeKalb for so many years. I am ready to go public and name names. Is anyone willing to join me?

    The DeKalb BoE should not spend taxpayer dollars to challenge the state law allowing the governor to remove them. They should use their campaign funds or raise funds from donors who still support them. I understand the concerns of citizens who question the law that overrides the voters of DeKalb. However, the fact that Dr. Walker and Ms. Copelin-Wood have been re-elected does not speak highly of DeKalb voters. If the governor does not remove them, perhaps it is time to recall them.

    Both Dr. Walker and Ms. Copelin-Wood would do a great service to the students and all DeKalb stakeholders if they immediately tendered their resignations so the children can receive the best education possible, and the DeKalb School System can move forward. I will be submitting an Open Records Request to review all of their emails to district administrators over the last three or four years. Do they really want their myriad of emails made a matter of public record?

    And, finally, as co-chair of the faith based and labor based community organizing group Atlantans Building Leadership for Empowerment, I find the silence of religious leaders disheartening and discouraging. It is time for religious leaders in DeKalb County to speak up on behalf of our children and demand changes in the way the DeKalb BoE operates.

    If not now, when?

  2. howdy1942 says:

    I read Maureen Downey’s column, which is also posted by DSW in a previous comment on this blog. The actions of this Board are beyond belief – bordering on the insane! It is now very, very, very clear that the State Board must remove the Dekalb County School Board on February 21, 2013. If the actions of this Dekalb Board are any indicator, we will certainly lose our accreditation if the State Board does not act. The State Board should not fear nor be intimidated by this Dekalb Board. Any lawsuit by Walker would bring outrage from our citizens, especially if he were wanting to use tax dollars to fund his challenge. Loss of accreditation in Dekalb would be a disaster not only for the county but also for the State. This would capture national headlines and Georgia – not just Dekalb – would be cast in a very negative light. The universal question would be “why did the Governor allow this to happen”? After all, the State had a year’s warning.

    This Board must go.

  3. bettyandveronica1 says:

    It’s official…she’s gone. They are meeting tomorrow to announce interim. Guess who?

  4. Give the woman a chance says:

    Channel 2 just reported on agreement between Board and Atkinson. She will be paid through June 30th. $114,000.

  5. educator90 says:

    I can’t help but wonder how this came to be. If she decided to leave on her own, or if she was asked to leave. If she decided to leave, than she is owed nothing, like any other employee in the district. If the board voted for her to leave, than she is owed whatever her contract says.

    The whole thing this is a waste of money. If we get Thurmond, than it’s more of the same. So we’ll be paying for 3 superintendents. If the state doesn’t kick the board members out, than the citizens of DeKalb need to revolt against the school board, county, governor, and anyone else who has had a hand in this fiasco.

  6. no name says:

    Breaking News from Ty – “DeKalb school board schedules Friday meeting to replace superintendent”:

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/dekalb-school-board-schedules-friday-meeting-to-re/nWJTp/

  7. bjy1946 says:

    Makes me proud to be from Dekalb:
    Johnny Brown – hired and paid to leave….
    Crawford Lewis – too much to list….
    Cheryl Atkinson – leaves early….

  8. Dedicated Dekalb Teacher says:

    If my text messages were under scrutiny, and I decided to quit teaching tomorrow, would the BOE pay the rest of my contract? The rest of her contract is close to double my salary. I am fuming…

  9. feduptomyeyebrows says:

    First, I must say the post over the last few days have been hilarious. At this point I have to laugh to keep from crying. This is especially true being a single parent working in this district watching my pay get smaller and smaller after not receiving a raise in what has been seven years this past January. Keep them coming. Thanks for keeping us informed.

  10. educator90 says:

    And you should be Dedicated DeKalb Teacher. You also wouldn’t have been given all of that time off if one of your parents or spouse died, no matter how sad you were with pay! Don’t forget saying that the plagiarizer was not a big deal and that he could stay.

    Until administrators are held to the same standards of teachers, we will have bitterness within our teachers against the administration. We need to have an administrator who is not only good at keeping to a budget, weeding out deadwood, but also with extending olive branches to teachers and getting their faith back.

  11. This part of the article shows that not only does Ty ‘get it’, he has somehow been able to write about it so that it makes sense!

    I’ve tried, but never been able to synopsize DCSS as well as this:

    Atkinson, 54, has been earning $275,000 a year since starting in September 2011. She’s also gotten insurance and retirement benefits, home Internet access and a $2,600 monthly allowance for expenses. She was hired by the school board under a mandate from SACS. The agency wanted the system to replace its interim superintendent with a permanent leader.

    Prior to Atkinson’s arrival, Ramona Tyson, the current chief strategy officer, had been filling in as temporary chief since February 2010. Tyson was appointed interim superintendent after detectives raided then-Superintendent Crawford Lewis’s home and office. Lewis was indicted that May on conspiracy and fraud charges. The month before, he’d departed under school board pressure after months on paid leave. Authorities alleged he was part of a conspiracy to steal school construction money. His trial is pending.

  12. bjy1946 says:

    If my math is right, that’s about $22,000 a month? With Tyson in the background, will we have 3 supers for a few months?

  13. educator90 says:

    That is what it looks like bjy1946. We should all be praising the Lord that the school board doesn’t oversee our personal fiances, as we’d all be on the streets the way they throw money around. Can’t help but wonder who negotiated this deal. Hope this all comes out after they are fired or leave office.

  14. momfromhe11 says:

    If she had left of her own volition, we would not have had to pay. Why did they not wait her out? Were she and the BOE playing “who blinks first”? Or do they just not want to ruin her chances at another job…

  15. SRO says:

    Remember kids…. “Victory is in Every Classroom”…..even though the money isn’t……

  16. September says:

    That $114,000 was the deal to get her to walk away. I think they should have fired her. As bad as this is, things won’t get better if Atkinson stays. She will just figure out how to spend that last penny that we don’t really have.

    We need to get rid of the expensive fix our schools programs (such as SFA) and pay our teachers to do the good job that they know how to do. Those that aren’t up to the challenge need to be sent on their way. If you have good leadership (Principals and APs) at every school, you shouldn’t need a lot of county office coordinators trying to manage what goes on in the schools. Effective instructional decisions can be made at the school level. We need to find the money to pay our teachers a decent wage while reducing the budget deficit.

    When we cut school level staff, increase class sizes, and expect our teachers to take up the slack, our children suffer. Good teachers know how to help students learn. That is what that teaching degree/certification is all about. We do not need all of these expensive “special programs” and extra supervisors.

  17. @September: There was no deal to ‘get’ her to walk away. She QUiT! Her high priced attorney (paid for with your tax dollars!) negotiated this deal for her. She has not set her big toe back in the building since she walked out to take care of her ailing father.

  18. Pay close attention to this part (just in case those pesky text messages rear their ugly keypads again)…

    7. Indemnity:
    The BOARD will indemnify, hold harmless and undertake to defend DR. ATKINSON from any civil action brought or maintained against DR. ATKINSON where such action arises out of the lawful performance of DR. ATKINSON’s duties for the BOARD under the Employment Agreement; whether such action is based on negligence, violation of contract rights, or violation of civil, constitutional, common law, or other statutory rights, whether state or federal. This promise to indemnify and defend shall not apply to any action based upon or attributable to DR. ATKINSON gaining in fact any personal profit or advantage to which she was not legally entitled. Nothing herein shall be construed as waiving immunity or privilege now or hereafter enjoyed by the District, any BOARD member, or DR. ATKINSON.

  19. Read the “proposed” separation agreement between DeKalb County Schools and Cheryl Howell Atkinson: http://www.ajc.com/documents/2013/feb/07/view-dekalb-superintendents-separation-agreement/

  20. Thinker says:

    I was an employee of DCSD for over 20 years as a teacher. I saw programs, theories, newfangled ideas, and superintendents come and go. Never could I have imagined what a mess we would be in now. It is clear the Board must go. In fact, DCSD needs to start with an entirely clean slate.- new board, new governance. As an employee for such a long time, I can say that I saw a superintendent in the schools where I taught twice. Twice – in over twenty years. That brings me to this point (and many will not like it, but hear me out) – we have to think outside the box. The way we’ve always done it just isn’t working anymore. Most of us no longer use phones with rotary dials because touch dialing (or, gasp, voice dialing!) is more efficient. Changing times demand changing our ways of doing things. It may be that we need to divide the job of Super between two people – please hear me out before steam blows out your ears – one person who is in charge of the 84 elementary schools, and one person in charge of the middle and high schools. To make this work, we would have to know exactly what is expected of every child in every grade so that the learning is consistent and scaffolded. (Like them or not, the Common Core Standards do just that. They are a road map.) There would no longer be a need for five Assistant Superintendents who bring home exorbitant salaries. The two Supers would be IN their schools on a regular basis. It is very feasible to spend quality time in 84 schools if you are the Elementary Super and more than feasible if you are the Middle/High Super in charge of 41+ schools. While in the schools, they could get an accurate picture of what is needed to help our students succeed. You can’t get an idea of what our students need in a written report. You really have to SEE it. There would be no company cars, no expense accounts, and the salaries would be only slightly more than the salary of the current highest paid employee of the system. In fact, we could pay these two people just slightly more than the single salary paid to Atkinson. Since they would have half the job, they would have half her pay. I don’t know if any other school system does this. If it worked, we’d be the envy of many. If it didn’t, well, you couldn’t get much worse than what we’ve had over the past several years and we might just be lauded for trying something new. Our system is broken. DCSS is too big and in too much of a mess. We should be willing to look at new and innovative ways to get us back on track. Just a thought.

  21. BeverlyJ says:

    Tired, disgusted and want change fast…….

  22. whyaminotsurprised says:

    I know this is unpopular, but I get why Atkinson has been MIA for a few weeks. Anyone with a salaried job and a large employer is allowed to take FMLA for family emergencies, and this would qualify. If she has vacation/sick time, she’s entitled to be paid. This is Federal Law. I don’t like it, and the timing sucks, but she’s entitled to it, and if any of us were in her shoes we’d get it, too.

    Not knowing much about Thurmond, my biggest concern is that he came out of the board meeting the other day hinting that he’d been invited to be interim… and legally it seems that this discussion should not have occurred. He appears to have been ‘leaking’ information with very little forethought into what was professionally appropriate. This action does not bode well.

  23. Terry says:

    Is there a petition anywhere online TO the governor that we can sign in SUPPORT of getting rid of the board?? If not, would someone be willing to creat it? I will gladly sign….

  24. sodekalb teacher says:

    i am disgusted that we are paying her anything to leave; and on top of the 12.9% pay cut teachers have received in the last three years (with little or no comment from the community?!) I truly wish I could afford to quit and leave this corrupt, unsupported system. At least, our school administrators and other title I non-teachers are in our classrooms daily to make sure that I am teaching, that the appropriate classroom standards are on the board, and students are “engaged.” I love my students, but I am truly sorry I came to work for this school system.

  25. Pessimistic says:

    Nothing meaningful will happen until there is true outcry that brings national attention and business leader focus to the problem. Grady Hospital crisis and ultimate turnaround is the path and model, and cautionary tale of the challenges in fixing institutions in this racially divided area.

    Until the outcry moves from blogs to the streets, the expedient solutions will be to push one ‘acceptable enough’ AA leader after another into leadership roles with lip service towards fixing things. This quiets the critics temporarily, buying a few more years of no real change.

    This system needs an overhaul but the politics of it all require some community business leaders to unite with political leaders and rise above the racially charged cronyism.

    Sadly I’m not optimistic we’ll see that approach despite the depths of the abyss we seem to face.

  26. Concernedmom30329 says:

    No. That is wrong. During the budgeting process, parents regularly lambasted the board for balancing the budget on the backs of teachers. The problem is that S. DeKalb voters keep returning the same worthless people to office (sorry but N. DeKalb voters have regularly voted out incumbents for the last several election cycles).

    And now they have elected Melvin Johnson, the ultimate insider….

  27. educator90 says:

    At Whyaminotsurprised, she doesn’t have to be paid for family medical leave. No one else in the district would be offered pay while on family medical leave. Why are superintendents treated like kings and queens or the president of the US with different rules?

  28. Concernedmom30329 says:

    Because of their contracts. And that is a problem with Boards of Eds across the country.

  29. dekalbite2 says:

    @Terry

    Is there a petition anywhere online TO the governor that we can sign in SUPPORT of getting rid of the board?

    Here is the link:
    http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-nathan-deal-and-georgia-state-board-of-education-review-sacs-findings-if-accurate-replace-the-dekalb-county-school-board

  30. former dekalb parent says:

    If you have the available sick time, you will be paid for FMLA, not sure how much sick/vacation she received when she was hired, but a month would be excessive. The shame is that she was not fired and you will be paying for 3 supers…why is Ramona still on the payroll? And can we flush the Atkinson hires now, en masse? That’s a start to cleaning house. IMHO

  31. Insider says:

    Instead of Gene Walker’s buddy (Michael Thurmond) they need to hire Brad Bryant as (at least) interim superintendent. He was interim state schools superintendent, so he knows how to deal with a huge education bureaucracy (which DCSD certainly is.) He knows DeKalb County – having lived and having sent his kids to school here. And he knows the inner workings of a BofE – having been on the DeKalb BofE for years – including stints as chair.

    Brad would clean house… starting at the top – which is what DCSD needs.

  32. Insider says:

    With the sorry state of affairs in DeKalb… why would anyone consider taking the position of superintendent? Maybe if the Gov removes the board… but for now? No way.

  33. @Terry: Yes, there were two Petitions set up in December – one by a parent and one by a student. They are still active – Read our post on the subject:

    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2012/12/18/petition-to-the-governor-please-sign/

  34. no name says:

    whyaminotsurprised @February 8, 2013 at 6:25 AM: “Anyone with a salaried job and a large employer is allowed to take FMLA for family emergencies, and this would qualify.”

    I agree that FMLA is a great thing.

    However, the explanation given (within DCS) for Atkinson’s absence is that her father was ill, then passed away. When someone tells me that their parent has passed away, I am saddened and I offer them my sympathies and prayers.

    However, Atkinson is so doubted and mistrusted with DCS that many employees are actually wondering if her father has actually passed — I have heard more than one educator say that they doubt it. They think it is an excuse Atkinson made up just to get out of having to go to work.

    I personally don’t know what to think. I would give Atkinson the benefit of the doubt, but educators –whom I know are reasonable people, who are compassionate and are committed to helping others– so distrust Atkinson that they don’t even believe her when she says her father passed away. I was hoping to show my friends an obituary, but I have been unable to find any death record despite spending a lot of time searching for one.

  35. @no name: We have heard the same suspicions, and find it so sad that we have come to a point where the trust is so low. Although have observed that Atkinson’d first response is always to lie, even when the truth would do. That said, her father lived in Arizona as far as we know. She reportedly took him out of ICU, flew him here and placed him in hospice or some kind of medical care until he passed away on Jan 23. He is not a resident of Georgia, so a local notice probably would not be placed. And the coroner has a set amount of time to create the paperwork. It can take weeks. Still, we have checked nationally for a death notice and have found nothing. Although we understand the suspicion, and it is a strong statement of just how dysfunctional and opaque this school system has become, we must assume that her father really died. No one would make up a thing like that. Not even Atkinson …

  36. gmm says:

    Atkinson played DCSS like a violin…………she’s jumped from state to state boes collecting money; she is not qualified to be a superintendent anywhere. She comes across as being sincere with the “interest of the children” being her topmost interest………..and she laughs all the way to the bank.

  37. John Dewey III says:

    WHEREAS, the BOARD and DR. ATKINSON wish one another well in their future
    endeavors.
    NOW THEREFORE, in exchange for the mutual promises and agreements contained
    herein and other good and valuable consideration, the receipt and sufficiency of which are
    hereby acknowledged, the Parties agree as follows:
    1. Separation from Employment:
    DR. ATKINSON will separate from her position as Superintendent of Schools on
    February 8, 2013, as of midnight. A public announcement of the same will be made jointly by
    the Parties in writing on or before close of business on Friday February 8, 2013. The Parties
    agree to work cooperatively to quickly prepare a mutually approved joint public statement that
    is brief and non-disparaging which will be released before the deadline noted above.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….
    Your tax dollars at work !

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