Nancy Jester: On the Record and On Point

Moving Forward: Dr. Atkinson’s Separation and the Interim Superintendent
http://whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com/2013/02/08/303/
Reprinted with permission from Nancy Jester

I want to be on record as opposing both action items on today’s DeKalb BOE agenda. My observation is that the board, as a whole, does not fully appreciate the reality of our current circumstances. As I told the state board, we have three deficits: academic achievement, credibility and financial. With the actions today, I see no evidence that the board will improve on any of these deficits.

While I am prohibited from speaking about the separation agreement, I can state that I am philosophically opposed to the level of compensation and perks that superintendents routinely receive not only in our metro area but across the nation. The golden parachutes that are also typically given at their exit are equally problematic. Given the state of affairs in DeKalb, I do not believe there is any credible rationale for paying severance to anyone.

Regarding the new interim superintendent, I believe it was a mistake not to engage the State Board of Education, the State Department of Education, the Governor’s Office and AdvancED in the selection process of an interim leader. I believe these actions represent insular thinking which will further erode the relationships between DeKalb, these entities and the public.

On a broader note, I have been disappointed with the institutional limitations that have failed to arrest the declination of DeKalb’s school system. The state’s third largest system has been on a precarious path for many years. All along the way, the institutions of our state should have recognized the unsustainable and reckless path that was before us and engaged in increased and more effective oversight of this district. I’ve blogged before about our state’s need to move to an accreditation model based on student achievement results and financial management as is done in many states. Had such a system been in place a decade ago, DeKalb would not find itself in this situation. I will continue to advocate for our state to restructure our state department of education to produce this type of accreditation model. We cannot allow our state to continue investing in failure with no mechanism to identify and solve the persistent and developing problems with education in Georgia. The same state framework that led to our state and DeKalb’s problems is not capable of correcting them.

There are other steps that can help mitigate the footprint of district failure and incentivize DeKalb and other districts to improve their trajectory. Here are my top recommendations for immediate consideration to the state department of education and to our legislators.

  • Eliminate compensation to board members in districts that have deficits on their year-end financial statement.
  • Eliminate compensation to board members if their districts have achievement levels below state averages.
  • Eliminate compensation to board members if their district must request class size waivers.
  • Revoke the license of any superintendent that has 2 years of declination in student achievement results in their district.
  • Allow portability of per pupil state funding for students who are in districts that have seen declining achievement levels, are operating in deficit or have increased class sizes beyond the state standards. The portability of these funds should allow the students to attend public school in any other district or an independent charter school, should they so choose.
  • Should a district be put on probation or lose accreditation, mandate that the district must allow parents and teachers to enter into a contract to self-manage their school or chose an independent management company to provide services to their school. These schools must have full control over their per pupil funds.
  • Should a district be put on probation or lose accreditation, mandate that any community organization that wishes to pursue and fund alternate accreditation through another statutorily approved accreditor (such as the Georgia Accreditation Commission), may do so for any school with the full cooperation of the school district.

I hope that you will join me in advocating for these immediate measures to be put in place. If you agree with them, please tell your legislators, the state board and the Governor.

I also encourage parents to support the Parent Trigger bill (HB123) that made it out of subcommittee yesterday and will soon be before the full House Education Committee. Tell your legislators to vote for it.

I think that DeKalb is a cautionary tale for our state. Other communities are also experiencing changes that may lead them to face challenges and conflicts similar to DeKalb. If we can implement a framework on the state level that prevents these challenges and conflicts from festering into system failure, other districts can avoid DeKalb’s predicament.

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91 Responses to Nancy Jester: On the Record and On Point

  1. Hmmmm says:

    Love this Nancy. Thanks for not only voting in the interest of our children, but also for providing suggestions on how we can move forward. We are talking more about the portfolio districts and accountability. Accountability, what an idea. If only there were more of us around. I shudder when I think I may dissappoint someone by not holding my word. I get depressed. If only the politicians or others in charge these days felt accountable.

  2. briarlake mom says:

    Does anyone know how the vote broke down? I read 5-4 for the separation agreement and 7-2 for Thurmond. I can guess the 7-2, but wondering about the 5-4. And, by the way, I’m feeling very let down by “Jimmy Mac”! Why is he voting with Walker? It would help if he explained his recent actions.

  3. I am a check and balance person but this is way out in left field. Vouchers, charter schools, . If You can’t be a part of the solution then you are CERTAINLY a part of the PROBLEM. Let face reality and ATTEMPT to work for the betterment of this school district for all children. We need prayer!!!

  4. Embarrassed Employee says:

    This is one heck of a nightmare. I am going to go to bed, wake up in the morn, and all of this will be but an awful figment of my imagination. We are a joke. The private schools are going to be busting at the seams with new Applications. Teachers get ready to fill out all of those aptitude bubble forms for the private schools. A joke.
    So can someone tell me where does all of this extra money for salaries come from. Thurmond must feel like he hit the darn lottery. WTH.

  5. Longing for Integrity says:

    I want to picket the Palace!

  6. thedeal2 says:

    Nancy, this is why I continue to admire you. You are out there actually providing information and solutions. You are the only board member doing anything close to that. Reading your thoughts illustrates how far we are from having an infrastructure that can lead to DCSD’s success.

  7. Guy Midvale says:

    Thank you Mrs. Jester. Hopefully the State BOE is reading.

  8. teacher/taxpayer says:

    Mrs. Jester: Thank you for your honesty, integrity, and concern for the teachers, students, and taxpayers of this county. I truly hope that the Governor will replace this Board and then invite you back to be a member of the new Board or better yet, appoint you to be the Board Chairman or even Interim Superintendent.
    To all others: I teach at a school with a truly dedicated, incredibly smart, energetic, fully engaged, and caring principal. I am proud to be associated with the others on our staff as well. It is amazing what can be accomplished when the leader actually cares about the children.
    I pray the Governor steps up and helps us to clean house and start to rebuild under competent leadership. It is clear that the voters will not make it happen.

  9. whyaminotsurprised says:

    I am sure that this will be posted later… there’s just been so much going on that there’s only so much our dear blog writer and manager can do at one time!

    However, did anyone catch this in the K-12 Alert tonight? They have announced (why am I not surprised) the phasing out of 12 schools, to fit with the construction funds that were recently requested. They *said* at the time that boundaries were not being redrawn, but of course they were; they just didn’t want to talk about it at the initial hearings because they knew folks would protest. Now they get to hold 2 sets of hearings… when they really don’t have the time with SACS investigation going on.. for the same subject. Also, the hearings are again in only 1 & 1/2 to 2 1/2 weeks from now, which cannot possibly be enough time to conduct real research on needs and growth issues on this issue.

    “DCSD to Hold Public Hearings for Phasing Out of Instructional Facilities
    In accordance with SPLOST IV and the 2011 10-year master facility plan, the DeKalb County School District proposes to phase-out 12 instructional facilities over the next five years: Austin Elementary Facility, Avondale High Facility, Clifton Elementary Facility, DESA/Terry Mill Facility, Fernbank Elementary Facility, Meadowview Elementary Facility, Midway Elementary Facility, Ronald McNair Middle Facility, Pleasantdale Elementary Facility, Rockbridge Elementary Facility, Smoke Rise Elementary Facility and Wadsworth Elementary Facility. These schools will be replaced by the construction of new facilities and repurposing existing facilities in the out years.
    Public hearings will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Feb. 19 and Feb. 26 at the DCSD Administrative and Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain. “

  10. @ whyaminotsurprised: Thanks for the reminder – yes, we did post the info earlier on a different post – and it also can be found on the Meetings & Events tab… These are important meetings — Mark your calendars:

    Public hearings will be held from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Feb. 19 and Feb. 26 at the DCSD Administrative and Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain.

  11. Terry says:

    AH!! A voice of REASON…. A mind that THINKS!! WHY are we putting up with DeKalb’s crap-ola?? I will be praying every day that the STATE BOE will DUMP the county BOE and HELP US get this school system on track. This is seriously stupid and why parents from every corner of DeKalb have not rallied to PUSH BACK for a better education and a better future for their children is one big question. WHY are you allowing this? Very sad.

  12. Tim McGaughey says:

    Nancy: Thank you for your comments.

    Does anyone know what Michael Thurmond’s qualifications are to serve as interim Superintendent?

  13. John says:

    He’s black.

  14. Tim, Thurmond is a politician, that should be enough qualification for his running buddy Eugene Walker. Guess the friends, family and sorority sisters of DCSD are partying tonight! Status quo baby! Raises for the Palace staff are forthcoming! To think Tyson will be at Thurmond’s side to make sure he knows who Clew brought in and who Atkinson brought in. Gee, I wonder who will be riffed next!

  15. no need to earn F&F give it to you! Thanks says:

    Nancy, I applaud you for your upfront communication. I agree with your recommendations and observations. It is my understanding that Mr. Thurman has been a lifelong friend of Eugene Walker. I cannot stress the importance of everyone communicating with the state board of education. Thurman is going to blow his chance at US Senate hood by dirtying his hands with DCSS mess and Eugene Walker.
    At Southwest DeKalb High School today a 22 year old hired as a PE teacher. He replaced a 38-year veteran teacher-coach. The young man shared that he only has his student teacher experience. We know that many experienced PE teachers applied and coveted the SWDHS position. When asked the young man about who he knew to get his job I was told that he attended SWDHS his first year. Moments later a school counselor approached us and told him excitedly that they had a friend in common. Upon sharing the friends first name the two individuals hugged each other like newly found family members. This scenario is the third such incident that I am personally aware of at SWDHS. Surely, this is unethical and unfair to the RIF’s teachers and highly qualified veteran PE teachers in the system. I do not begrudge this 22-year-old fresh out of undergrad school employment. DCSS friends and family network does not believe in the need to gaining work experience. This is unfortunate for this young man taught that he does not have to compete for a job. That friends and family are more than willing to put you above more experienced and qualified applicants. Support him at the elementary school level. That way the children will recognize a 22-year-old as an adult. Students at SWDHS are already complaining about his being their age.
    Reconstruction for DCSS pathway the Governors’ office.

  16. John says:

    Dekalb County has a whole different set of qualifications. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. That’s why we are where we are.

  17. DCSS=Neputism says:

    Nancy, I applaud you for your upfront communication. I agree with your recommendations and observations. It is my understanding that Mr. Thurman has been a lifelong friend of Eugene Walker. I cannot stress the importance of everyone communicating with the state board of education. Mr.Thurman is going to blow his chance at US Senate hood by dirtying his hands with DCSS mess and Eugene Walker.
    A 22 year old hired as PE teacher and football coach at Southwest DeKalb High School today. He replaced a 38-year veteran teacher-coach. The young man shared that he only has his student teacher experience. We know that many experienced PE teachers applied and coveted the SWDHS position. When asked the young man about who he knew to get his job. I was told that he attended SWDHS his first year. Moments later a school counselor approached us and told him excitedly that they had a friend in common. Upon sharing the friends first name the two individuals hugged each other like newly found family members. This scenario is the third such incident that I am personally aware of at SWDHS. Surely, this is unethical and unfair to the RIF’s teachers and highly qualified veteran PE teachers in the system. I do not begrudge this 22-year-old fresh out of undergrad school employment. Support him at the elementary school level. That way the children will recognize a 22-year-old as an adult. Students at SWDHS are already complaining about his being their age.
    DCSS friends and family network does not believe in the need to gaining work experience. This is unfortunate for this young man taught that he does not have to compete for a job. That friends and family are more than willing to put you above more experienced and qualified applicants. How will he handle the unnecessary pressure and responsibility placed on his young shoulders too soon?
    Massive reconstruction for DCSS pathway the Governors’ office.

  18. Kiko Jewel says:

    @ Tim, Elgart, other politicians, and the good ole boys pushed him to accept the position to prevent him from running (and winning) Chambliss’ seat. PERIOD!

  19. NOTICE OF DEKALB BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETINGS

    The DeKalb Board of Education will hold the following meetings on Monday,
    February 11, 2013:

    4:00pm Called Meeting to adjourn to Executive Session for the purpose of
    discussing a legal matter
    Cabinet Room
    Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083

    6:00pm Work Session & Business Meeting
    J. David Williamson Board Room
    Robert R. Freeman Administrative & Instructional Complex
    1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard
    Stone Mountain, GA 30083

  20. Thinker says:

    According to the AJC article, Marshall Orson actually came up with Thurmond. I’m no Walker fan, but Marshall may have some ‘splaining to do. He admitted it was his idea in the article.

  21. disgusted taxpayer/parent/employee says:

    disgusted taxpayer/parent/employee:
    I am sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo fed up with Dekalb county on every level. I am glad someone has some common sense. I hope everyone will flood the Governor’s and the SBOE’s email because no one seems to be taking us seriously. The fact that the board would approve an interim that is a life long friend of the chair with boldness basically says to us little people they don’t care what anyone thinks. I’m all for protest. Just venting is not going to do it.

  22. John Oselette says:

    The leadership and clarity Nancy has provided to our community with regard to the untenable and unsustainable situation facing the Dekalb County School District underscores the utter lack of leadership and the complete failure of our current elected leaders. To name a few:.

    CEO Burrell Ellis
    The Dekalb County Board of Commissioners
    The Dekalb Legislative Delegation, particularly Taylor, Oliver, Mosby, Mayo, Drenner, Williams, Mitchell, and Dawkins-Haigle
    Fran Millar, former chair and current member of the Senate Education Committee
    Dr. John Barge, State School Superintendent,
    The State Board of Education,
    any governing body charged with the responsibility of the economic development and economic strength of Dekalb County,
    and our state leader, Governor Nathan Deal.

    In my view, this is a moral failure among our elected leaders and it is a colossal failure of planning for the economic strength of Dekalb County and the State of Georgia.

  23. John Oselette says:

    @Thinker, what article? Do you have a link?

  24. howdy1942 says:

    Thank you Nancy for your courage, commitment, and for your vote not to hire Michael Thurmond and your vote not to provide such a generous package to Dr. Atkinson. I know that you must get discouraged and probably take a lot of flak and criticism from other Board members. Just as Senator Miller has stated, you have accurately pointed out that our accreditation is the issue. It will take every dollar in property taxes paid by our small Tucker community of 52 homes to pay Atkinson through June 30, 2013.

    I also thank Dr. Pam Speaks for not supporting the selection of Michael Thurmond as interim superintendent and for not voting to give Atkinson such a generous package. For one, I appreciate your courage. Like Briarlake Mom, I am also disappointed in Jim McMahon. I voted for him, but his performance to date is of great concern for me.

    It has been over three weeks since this Board last met with the State Board and it is less than two weeks before you will do so again. We have reached a “mutual agreement” with the Superintendent to leave. This is a positive step, but Dr. Atkinson was not the central issue in retaining our accreditation. You have so much to do in such a short period of time. You need a leader – and Walker is not it! As others on this blog have suggested, Dr. Speaks is probably the best candidate at this point. You also need a plan – Nancy seems to have one and I haven’t seen any other.

    As to Thurmond, I have some of the same feelings I had when Atkinson was hired. Maureen Downey hit the nail on the head when she said that the Board should have reached out to the State Legislature, SACS, the Governor’s office, and the State School Board if it were going to replace Dr. Atkinson. Apparently, this Board limited itself to just the thoughts of its members – very shortsighted! The people, especially those of us who live in North and Central Dekalb, are angry and frustrated with this Board. This area represents a lot of people who are involved, who pay a lot of taxes, and who vote. These communities are not going to let our school system fail.

    Perhaps the best action you could take at this point – Eugene Walker – resign, please! Let someone else lead. Thank you.

  25. concernedmom30329 says:

    First, Walker and Thurmond probably aren’t lifelong friends since Thurmond was from Athens and is significantly younger than Walker. They clearly have known each other for 20 or more years.

    The AJC quotes Marshall as saying it was he that brought Thurmond’s name to the table. Walker said he proposed 4 others.

    For what it is worth, and because these fools can’t keep their months shut, this matches with what I was hearing the last few weeks. Thurmond was not on the initial list. However, no one on the “list” was interested either because they had sense or wanted a longer contract. I know of at least one current central office employee who would have liked the job and allegedly lobbied for it. There were probably more. These people were never considered even by their biggest board supporters.

    If you haven’t yet read the article, here is the link.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/dekalb-school-system-gets-a-new-interim-superinten/nWKP6/

  26. whyaminotsurprised says:

    Dekalbschoolwatch –> sorry I missed your earlier post. I’m usually pretty good at catching such things! There’s been too much craziness lately to catch it all.

  27. teacherwantingandworkingforachange says:

    These are the reasons I’m not encouraged:
    1. Thurmond’s contract doesn’t recognize our financial crisis. If he’s in it for the kids, then why didn’t he do what the Decatur super did and at least take less pay while we’re still paying Atkinson?
    2. Tyson stil hasn’t resigned. Do I need to say anything else?
    3. Nothing in Dekalb’s statement recognizes our financial crisis or explains how Thurmond will help fix it. Instead, we get more platitudes.

    Working to change things in the future is great. But these things should happen immediately:
    1. Tyson resigns.
    2. All instructional coaches, academic data coaches, and sfa facilitators have their contracts revised so they make no more than teachers with the same qualifications and years teaching experience.
    3. All instrucitonal coaches, academic data coaches, and sfa facilitators are assigned specific students to teach. Obviously they have the “data” and “differentiated instruction” is the underpinning of Dekalb’s pedadogy, so this would take little to no effort.
    4. Benchmarks and SLOs are suspended. Look at the data on the school’s website in the “Balanced Scorecard.” How many times do students need to take a test to determine that they don’t know the materials and/or the tests aren’t valid? And how much instructional time is wasted because of these?
    5. Dekalb announces that instead of paying for every junior to take the SAT, it announces that it will pay for one AP exam for every student, or at least the students accepting free/reduced lunch. It makes no sense to give tests to students that they can sort out themselves and take after a night of good sleep (not homework, etc…). College Board already waives the SAT fee for two test for financially disadvantaged students; it only reduces the fee for the AP exam. Good performance on the AP exam can save a student more than a thousand dollars in college tuition.
    6. The calendar is changed to something more financially and environmentally responsible. Unless a financial assessment proves that the “balanced calendar” will save us money-not cost us more, this balanced thing needs to be scrapped.
    7. The Leadership Academy is dismantled.
    8. The organiztional chart includes names.
    9. We teachers are given at least one work day. All the instructional supervisors and other “leaders” can rotate schools as they cover classes for a day, so we teachers can have some paid time to do all the things we do on our own time. We haven’t had a work day during a semester in at least three years.

  28. Weary worker says:

    I lieu of picketing I would much rather see a billboard put up near the palace warning potential employees and home buyers of the corrupt and foolish actions of DCSD and the BOE. I would much rather see my dues going to the ODE pay for this instead of supporting their hide in the bushes attitude regarding the problems at hand.

  29. John says:

    @John Oselette My sense is that Senator Fran Millar is one of the good guys, who is equally disgusted, and has publicly said so, with DCSS. What’s surprising is that there has been little or no public declarations from the so-called state “Education Senator,” Mr. Jason Carter, who represents part of DeKalb County. Perhaps Mr. Carter would like to come on this blog to share his thoughts and plans.

  30. Frustrated resident says:

    Maybe the first thing the new Superintendent will do is stop paying for Doctoral degrees for employees and use that money for teacher training.

  31. Whatever says:

    From reading the news article and his bio, I am encouraged that Michael Thurmond might be the “superman” that you all have been asking for. His stated goals for his job are very encouraging. The statements from people who actually know and have worked with him are very encouraging. Most of you on the blog are assuming that he and Walker are friends without providing any real proof. Of course he has known him a long time. That does not mean that they are friends. I work with a lot of people that I am “friendly with”; that does mean that we are friends.
    Wait to see what he actually does before you start slinging mud. I am a teacher so I have a lot riding on the hope that he is honest and fair. I work at a good school and am hoping that changes are not made to mess that up. I would like to see well thought out change all over the county. I am hoping that teachers and staff will not be lost from schools. That is the main concern that I have since most of the impact over the last decade has been on the schoolhouse.

  32. DSW and Fellow Bloggers-

    I think that we would all agree that this should only be phase one of house cleaning- Next, The Board followed by the internal structures within the administrative offices and finally through the actual institutions themselves. Then perhaps our students, and those really great teachers and staff who are suffering through all of this might stand a chance.Ms. Jester is by far a true leader and understands the totality of all of these actions.

    I need clarity as it relates to Board removal- because I am very conflicted. Can someone please confirm for me….s it truly an all or none removal process?

    It concerns me that should it be all or none, we will be doing a disservice to those such as Ms. Jester who are doing their job and advocating for DeKalb county as a whole. It also concerns me that in removing all- we are further behind the 8 ball…we need to hold on to those who truly understand, care, and are attempting to do right by our educators, students, and communities.

    There are in my opinion four individuals whom I feel would truly benefit the stakeholders in this system. One without saying is Ms. Jester- I need not state why. The others in my opinion are Dr. Speaks, Jim McMahan, and Ms.Edler. Many may argue my recommendations, but I see all of them as having equal, fair, and realistic views of what is happening, and what needs to happen going forward. I do not see a link to past history, and I do feel that they have very positive things to bring to the table. Yes, there are going to be differences, each individual comes bringing different styles- but I believe their overall concerns for what’s going on are genuine, and that there is no personal gain for them when its all said and done.

    With this recent outcome- and obvious continued control by Chairman Walker- what do you think the honest reality and outcome is going to be? I am really perplexed on the who/what/where/ and why of the decision as it relates to our interim leader.

  33. Jenna says:

    Um that’s a big no on Jason Carter. Last year he tried to take away the chance for my kids to qualify for the Hope Scholarship. I would be very careful.

  34. Terry says:

    It is very obvious that our “Board of Education is bored of educating our children”! Please talk to everyone you can and get them to email or snail mail the governor and anyone they might know or have an address to that may be connected with the SBOE and tell these people how horrible it is in DeKalb County. Write SACS. As a former employee, I know the backlash a current employee would suffer if they were to speak out, so I understand your concerns/fears. (YES, it happened to me on more than one occasion!!) I understand that you cannot talk about this mess while you are in your buildings. I understand that you cannot express your concerns to your principals. It’s really sad that employees must fear for their jobs for one ill- expressed idea… the board members are ruthless. I also understand the mountains of paperwork you are having to wade through because of mosley and beasley and several other “higher ups” that throw unnecessary work at you just so they can get the recognition of “their” accomplishments within a large school system. Worthless, meaningless hours and evenings wasted over their demands. This whole school system needs to be rebuilt from the INSIDE out…. but we need help!!!

  35. Concernedmom30329 says:

    At Monday’s board meeting, the Board will be asked to pay for one AP exam for all DCSS students. 250,000 dollars.

    Not real sure that we really have the money (I have heard we don’t), but a board member pushed Atkinson to do it, so here we are….

  36. Concerned Citizen says:

    I would like to give a medal for wit and courage to the person who wrote “Get Out, Walker.” That is so much fun that for a few minutes I forgot to be mad about all the craziness of the board, supt, and now the nutty “interim.”

  37. Well, at this point, it’s going to be a race to keep accreditation. No telling what SACS thinks of the board replacing the super – or what they think of the new super himself – or the fact that we are now essentially paying the salaries of three supers while classroom funding and teachers suffer — but they DID have a big problem with Gene Walker, who they cited several times in the report as being the source of a problem. The fact that the board re-endorsed him (by default, really) will certainly be a check in the NO column for accreditation. Not sure if Thurmond will be a check in the plus column – that remains to be seen. We’re not really even sure if he realizes just what a hot seat he has now sat down in — hopefully he has gone in with eyes wide open and not blinded by dollar signs! Time will tell. For me, it’s just another spin around the vortex – another smoke and mirrors attempt to stop the downward slide. If the board (led by Gene) tries to influence Thurmond’s decisions or if they refuse to endorse any truly healing and cost-saving plans he presents, then we will certainly soon hear that big flushing sound from SACS.

    When Atkinson was hired with the same ‘hope,’ we put aside our concerns and tried to support her and remain positive. Once again, our trust was burned. Fool us once, shame on you… fool us twice… This time, we will remain neutral from the start.

  38. Edugator says:

    Nancy- while I admire your willingness to swim against the stream, your suggested solutions are largely destructive and impractical. For example, denying compensation to school boards where students score below state averages simply means that half of all boards will go unpaid. Only in Lake Woebegone are all the children above average. Your main goal seems to be to serve as an advocate for vouchers and expanded school choice, which helps only a tiny fraction of students. As a board member you should be in there advocating for all kids.

    The post from teacherwantingandadvocatingforachange (that name is way too long) has good, practical ideas that have direct impact on classrooms, starting with moving the army of non-teaching staff back into classrooms where they belong. Teachetetc… is also spot on with the comments about useless benchmarks, bad school calendars, and the need for a realistic (and substantially smaller) organizational chart with names.

    Mr. Thurmond’s best qualification is that he’d isn’t weighted down by a meaningless Ph.D. Perhaps he’ll actually talk to the teachers, unlike the past several school monarchs.

  39. An org chart with names! What a novel idea! Same for the ridiculous ‘testing’ that is NOT supported with the necessary technology to actually take the tests, sort the results and disseminate the data to teachers in a reasonable amount of time! Same for putting more money into quality teachers and reducing the class sizes back to manageable levels – (the state could enforce this better)… I’m not sure that involves moving people who have met their Peter Principle back into the classroom – they would have terrible attitudes – hire fresh NEW teachers! Beef up their pay! Make DeKalb “the” place for teachers to work – aim to be listed as one of the top places to work in metro Atlanta. It’s all about teachers in the classroom – focus on them and the rest will fall in line. It’s no different than the accountant’s rule: Take care of your pennies and the dollars will take care of themselves.

    How about closing and selling off the properties causing blight around the system?

    Other thoughts? Add them below… but be mindful, this is the THIRD time we’ve done this exercise in 3 years. Do a search on this and the old blog and you will find lots more ideas.

  40. Thank you, Terry! We could not have said it better ourselves.

    We, too, understand, the retaliatory nature of DCSS. But, we cannot move forward without a great many more people speaking up — and naming names, dates, places. That is why we will keep all identifying information confidential. That is why we caution you over and over again to not use your DCSS computer (even a laptop used at home), the DCSS Internet connection and/or a DCSS-provided telephone to contact us or the authorities. If you don’t have a computer, go to the library and use one of the public computers there. don’t have an Internet connection at home? Then go to McDonald’s, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks or any of a thousand other places and use their connection. For goodness sake, even Publix has wi-fi!

    If you are aware of possible criminal activity, we urge you to go to Sally Yates, the U.S. Attorney, or the FBI (contact information on the opening pages of DSW blog) NOT GBI; they cannot do anything unless asked to by DeKalb County law enforcement. The U. S. Attorney or the FBI can give you federal whistleblower protection. For example, we have heard that Gary Brantley (an Atkinson buddy from Ohio) scurried around collecting cell phones and removing/replacing the SIM cards. That is destroying evidence with regard to Atkinson’s text messages. Criminal activity. Someone out there knows he did it and may even have helped. If you helped, on Brantley’s direct orders, you can still save yourself by going to the U. S. Attorney or the FBI. Believe us when we say there is no honor among thieves.

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