A Glimmer of Hope

Here’s a link to Rep. Tom Taylor’s bill to amend Georgia’s state constitution to allow creation of new, locally controlled school districts. Taylor’s bill was dropped Monday, February 25, 2013:

The core of the amendment, HR-486, is:

…to authorize any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, to establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system…

In short:  If HR-486 is approved by the Georgia General Assembly and voters via Georgia’s state constitution amendment ballot, any of the newer cities created could form a new school district either alone or in combination with a contiguous city, even if the contiguous cities are in different counties.

In addition to Tom Taylor, 79th district, co-sponsors of this sorely-needed, forward-looking amendment, HR-486, which will guarantee citizens local control of their children’s education are:  Mike Jacobs, 80th District; Joe Wilkinson, 52nd District; Lynne Riley, 50th District; Mike Dudgeon, 25th District; and Buzz Brockway, 102nd District.

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43 Responses to A Glimmer of Hope

  1. alm says:

    Why 2005?

  2. ash says:

    if passed the segregation will begin all over again…but I guess that the ultimate aim….

  3. Rick says:

    Sandy springs, Milton

  4. Leo says:

    Ash, Hate to break it to you but not all newly-created districts would = segregation. There are plenty of new and old cities without independent school districts which have diverse populations from both a race and a socio-economic standpoint. Look at Chamblee and Brookhaven, by way of example. And because most people aren’t advocating for segregation (indeed, most of us who want change couldn’t give a crap about race in connection with this fight and are frustrated by all efforts to make wanting change the equivalent of being a racist), it would be smart for any entity seeking to create a new district to ensure that they meet certain diversity thresholds to avoid such a legal challenge (of which I suspect there would be many).

  5. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Dunwoody High School is the whitest High School in DeKalb and it’s only 45% white. It’s not dividing up DeKalb by race or socio-economics. It’s dividing the county up into separate interests. South DeKalb is interested in Dr Walker, Jay Cunningham and Sarah Copelin Woods and the rest of the county is not.

  6. waitaminit 1 says:

    we can already do cluster charters. Going beyond that is just mean and not needed.

  7. waitaminit 1 says:

    We aready have the ability to do a charter cluster. If charters are the answer everyone says they are, then so are charter clusters Good intermediate step if nothing else. Any rush to fiance another system smacks of poliutical agenda (because not needed) and just downright piling on while someone else is down.

  8. Precisely Leo. We’re not idiots. Any attempt to reimpose segregration would bring unwanted scrutiny and lengthy legal challenges neither of which we can afford. Given Dekalb’s demographics I doubt it would be possible even if any of us were stupid enough to want it. The race issue is a red herring, used as it’s been used for decades in this country (by both whites and blacks) as a tool of incompetents and scoundrels. I am black. I live in Dunwoody and if we don’t get rid of this school board and/or form our own system this county will be little more than a ruin with people standing around wondering what happened.

  9. EAV Mom says:

    So I guess that means to heck with the kids who live in South DeKalb? I understand the frustrations of those on the north end of the county (some of us on the south side are just as frustrated), but how exactly does this help to educate ALL the children of DeKalb. Or are you just willing to say to heck with those kids and pay for prisons later on instead? Sorry, but I don’t see this as a solution.

  10. Kenwoody says:

    @EAV Mom,
    I’m sort of new to this, so please forgive me if I misunderstand. Are you saying “If Dunwoody and some subset of Brookhaven, Chamblee, and Doraville create their own school system then the remaining parts of DeKalb Schools will collapse”? If so is that because of property tax revenue (AKA Perimeter Center) or some other resource shift? It seems like you’re saying that the parts of DeKalb outside of Dunwoody&Co do not comprise a self-sufficient entity. Surely I’m missing something.

  11. Chamblee Dad says:

    @ Roselyn and others wanting to form a new system in Dunwoody. I understand the intense desire to bring change to the board & DCSS as a whole, I live it everyday & have for years and acted on it as best I can. But explain to me how creating a new Dunwoody system will prevent DeKalb from going to ruin? Will it improve the quality of education in the rest of DeKalb? I really want to know how this reasoning goes. I get local control, they are squandering our tax dollars, etc. I get it. But how’s that helping te rest of the county.

  12. I don’t want to form a new school system in Dunwoody, well I do if that’s the only way to get a school system that I actually want to send my children to. However, I think Dunwoody forming its own system one way or another is a foregone conclusion. The rage and frustration here is so deep and intense I don’t see any other alternative. This school system is on the verge of collapse and it threatens to take us all down with it. If cities like Dunwoody, Chamblee, Tucker and perhaps Brookhaven form their own school systems we at least stand a chance of saving something as opposed to having the entire county in ruin. I fear getting rid of this gang of criminal misfits is going to take months if not years and in the end it will cost us a fortune and result in federal scrutiny, which is never a good thing. Of course, a new school will probably take at least as long, but for many of us is the lesser of the two evils because at least we will have local control. Ideally, we can fix what’s wrong with the DeKalb school system, which is primarily this board, but I think it’s overly sanguine to believe for even a second that we can do that without a very ugly, prolonged and nasty fight.

  13. Margaret hansen says:

    Just think of all the money that is being spent on legal fees dealing with the school board’s problems that could be spent on the children’s educational needs.

  14. Chamblee Dad says:

    @ DeKalb Inside Out
    “It’s not dividing up DeKalb by race or socio-economics.” Really? Is Dunwoody diverse because has alot of Lexuses & Mercedes? Even a few BMWs? Vanderlyn crowd loves diversity = they allow building kids & trailer (sorry, educational cottages) kids. I live in Chamblee, my office is in Dunwoody, I drive thru Dunwoody daily, in my Lexus no less, you can’t hide the socio-economics. I really want to learn how a city of Dunwoody would benefit ALL the children of DeKalb. Or Woody Springs, Chamwoody, Sandywoody Chamhaven. Maybe even build a tunnel or bridge to Johns Creek.

  15. Obviously the Vanderlyn crowd doesn’t love diversity, but Vanderlyn is not the only school in Dunwoody. There are five elementary schools here and the majority of them are very diverse. And has already been stated, with only one middle school and one high school all the kids wind up in the same place regardless.

  16. Chamblee Dad says:

    I don’t plan to leave DCSS & do not want to join a city school right now, everything I’ve said below regarding moving DeKalb or going private (posted elsewhere on that topic) could be applied to joining a northside city school, if they ever get this thru. It’s just another exit plan.

    No exit plan for me. Here in Chamblee, our cluster is doing pretty good, more than good in many areas. I Would like more $$ for teachers & smaller classrooms with all this wasted $$, but leaving (moving or private) to me wouldn’t help my kids. In fact we added on to our house to stay in these schools, instead of paying for private schools. I LOVE where we live, not the fanciest, could have bought elsewhere, but our neighborhood, & Chamblee in general, it’s worth staying here to me, beyond a measure I can’t fully quantify.

    I’ll agree our system-wide problems are beyond comprehension at times, especially now. But enough to leave &/or abandon reform? that would hurt all the kids, especially in the Southside. Why punish them for the mistakes of the adults in charge?

    So reform is the goal for this Dad, the call to arms, is not fix MY school, let’s fix OUR schools. You tell me it can’t be done, so you are planning to leave (or start your own school system)? Then try this:

    Go to any of the many failing/underachieving schools, esp. in South DeKalb, walk into a 3rd grade class, pick out the sweetest looking, hardest working girl struggling with the assignment in front of her, who would benefit from any help we can give her, the same help that her single but hard-working mom would give her if she could, look her in the eyes & tell her “sorry sweetie, we won’t do anything to help you – as us adults say – you’re screwed.”

    There are kids like her of all ages, all races, in both ends of the county (yes, even up here) in the same boat she’s in. Abandon them? How about we act like grownups instead? When I go home to my 3rd grader tonight, I can look him in the eyes and tell him “we’re trying to do what we can, but we know we need to try even harder – and we will.” It’s a lesson he deserves to witness, not just see in a movie.

    To add a little more: our elem. school is Title 1 (but AYP for years) and I spent almost $200K to add on & stay here. I’m no liberal do-gooder or martyr, more libertarian than anything else. But to me, if there is one thing the gov’t should provide to our citizens is a quality education. Obviously we could do better.

    What do my kids get in this bargain? A quality education provided by an achieving school – thanks to teachers, parents & staff, and despite the worst efforts of many others. Provided as well by my wife & me, demonstrating how our family values & views education. But they also get a school with more blacks & Hispanics than whites, of all socio-economic backgrounds = looks more like the “real world” we live in. Those “minority” parents value education more than they are normally given credit for. So my kids get diversity far beyond what I got during my school years in Georgia in the 70’s. And I truly see them benefiting from it.

    So it can be done. My family is living it.

  17. I’m with you Chamblee Dad. I believe the right thing to do is reform this school system, I’m just not sure the political will is here to do it, especially if the battle is going to be a long drawn out one involving federal courts. This is probably even more likely given the new charter school bill. I fear those who can get out will get out, frankly I think that’s what the whole bill was about in the first place, unfortunately. I agree with you that minority parents do value education more than they are given credit for, but so many people fear them they don’t ever get a chance to discover that.

  18. Chamblee Dad says:

    So you have a fleet of boats, built by the same navy. For years a strong navy, recognized by many. But bad leadership, mismanagement, corruption & neglect they fall into severe disrepair, some worse than others. Yours is doing pretty good, could do better. But instead of trying to rebuild the whole fleet – yes I know it’s frustating beyond belief, but the lowly sailors joined the same navy your sailors did, even if their captains & admirals are mostly no good. But instead of trying help the whole navy, you pull away from the dock, pull up the ladders & wave good-bye, as the other sailors are bailing water as best they can, even if their captains are nowhere to be found. Or maybe playing cards on shore. Anchors away!

  19. Unfortunately, Chamblee Dad, I think that’s the way this is going to go. I think that’s what this whole governor-led charter school bill was all about. That bill was strongly supported by ALEC which is funded by the Chamber of Commerce, a group that is strongly in favor of schools that are run by for profit corporations. Where we see chaos and ruin, they see an opportunity to make a lot of money. I fear that the people are so frustrated and angry that they will give away the keys to the kingdom without realizing that they’ve essentially sold our children down the river. I’ve watched this happen in other school systems and it’s absolutely maddening to watch it happen here.

  20. @roslyn: What other school systems did you see sold down the river due to for profit charters? You do know that Pearson, the testing and textbook company is for profit – as is a whole bunch of other ‘programs’ DeKalb has paid millions upon millions for like “Success for All”.

  21. Weary worker says:

    This is going to be a big fight. It will be interesting to see where support lies and who will fight tooth and nail against it. Since it affects the entire state there’s going to be a lot of different dynamics involved. I wonder how the NEA/GAE will chime in on this as they broker a lot of voting power and advertising bucks. There may be a number of political trade offs involved. The amendment may look a bit different before it goes up for a vote by the people of Georgia. Sadly by the time the measure passes and new districts arise I will be out of the education business.

  22. I’m not from Georgia, the school systems were not here, Most of those stories came out during the charter school debates. And of course I know all those ridiculous programs and curricula are from for profit companies as well. Ridiculously redundant. Our teachers are trained in curriculum development. It’s crazy to pay twice for the same thing. We don’t need “programs” and “coaches.” We need to let our teachers teach. Obviously a profit is being made from all this and it’s ridiculous leading to a school system that costs far more than it has to. The only difference will be that rather than the profits going into local pockets they’ll be going to some out of state corporation.

  23. In addition, if you are going to make comments about expensive cars, check out the ones parked all day at the Palace! lol…

  24. You are right about the long fight Roslyn… the last federal case against DeKalb schools lasted over 25 years.

  25. DSW, what are you talking anout? You can say those people don’t love diversity if you want to. Why would I care? I have no idea how or why their demographics break the way they do, but I watched what happened here. Vanderlyn’s dislike for diversity is presumably not about race, or at least not in total, and has everything to do with their efforts to do everything within their power to gerrymander the “dreaded apartment kids” out.

  26. @Chamblee Dad – Dunwoody or other cities forming their own school districts do not have ‘saving’ the system as their goal. They have a goal of taking control of their own schools and their own tax dollars in order to provide a good education for their children – and most likely protect property values and attract business. Personally, I think the benefit to the county as a system is that you won’t have the squawking and fighting and Dunwoody demanding attention (parents are pretty vocal there) thereby allowing the rest of the system to focus more closely on the rest of the students — the ones who have gotten lost or overlooked in the loud cacophony.

  27. That’s just not how I read what you wrote Roslyn. To me, it sure sounds like you are inferring that people at Vanderlyn are prejudiced. And I’m pointing out that I’m pretty tired of hearing that about white people as a whole – it’s so easy to just pick out Dunwoody and say politically inflammatory things that just aren’t true. If you meant apartments, you sure didn’t make that clear – and besides – isn’t that just code for African-American or races other than white in Dunwoody? [Truth be told – the only school with no apartments in their feeder is Oak Grove. Many south area schools have far fewer apartments feeding their schools than the north end. And what about the Cross Keys gerrymandering to force all the apartment dwellers – mostly Hispanic – into a few ‘select’ schools?] I think the real concern about the students from apartments was their transiency – which is very hard for teachers and schools to deal with – especially if there are a lot of them shuttled to one school rather than disbursing them around to several schools. It’s not about an ability to learn or about race – it’s about offering consistency in some daily fashion.

    Say what you really mean here – and bring some data and proof.

  28. If I wanted to say that the people were racist I’d certainly have no hesitancy in doing so. For instance, I will emphatically state that I think Eugene Walker is both a bigot and a moron. And presumably most of the “dreaded apartment kids” are not black, they’re Latino, at least that’s been my experience at my son’s school. Frankly I don’t care what the Vanderlyn contingent is or is not, they’re just one school. A loud one to be sure, but still just one school. And dispersing the DAKs to more than one school was the issue, and their efforts to avoid them were more than apparent.

  29. Some apartment data from the old blog (2009 data – the system has not updated the file since…and the links are no longer active.)

    Tucker (24 complexes) – http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/apartments/Tucker.pdf

    Clarkston (28 complexes) – http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/apartments/Clarkston.pdf

    Druid Hills – (69 complexes)http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/apartments/DruidHills.pdf

    To look up others go to http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/~planning/apartments.asp

    [It was] reported on this blog once, the number of apartment complexes feeding into our high schools. The above links take you to pdf files that show the total number of complexes, their names and the elementary school they feed into. It’s very interesting when you dig into this data – a majority of the apartment complexes are in the north area of the county. For example, Cross Keys has 80 complexes that feed into it. Druid Hills has 69, Lakeside has 36, Dunwoody has 28, Tucker has 24, Chamblee has 22 – but CONVERSELY – Redan has only 2, SW DeKalb has only 4, MLK has only 5, Miller Grove only has 12 and Lithonia has only 17. The new Arabia HS has zero – due to the fact that they are now going to be a “choice” (magnet) school and have no attendance zone at all.

  30. I don’t mean to get into an argument with you Roslyn. I think these kinds of debates are exactly what get us off track from focusing on the inept leadership and corruption and waste. But please, everyone, try to refrain from making derogatory statements about communities – any community – and it seems Dunwoody is always an accepted target for unfair blanket criticism. The race issue is what will take us down completely. We all have to stop making everything a discussion about race. We will continue to call out people who do. Or we will just delete the comment. The only way to keep the “glimmer of hope” is to stop making racially based commentary and assumptions and focus on quality schools for all children.

  31. I don’t want an argument either, especially since I haven’t made any race based comments. I even said the race issue is a red herring and a fairly smelly one at that. I’m not sure why it is, but Atlanta is the only place I’ve been where the word “diversity” is apparently limited to race and only black and white. In the rest of the world it coversa multitude of variables. I could’ve said the Vanderlyn contingent didn’t want low income and transient kids in their school, both of those variables would falll under the word diversity. I make my living with words and try to be as plain spoken as possible. i used the word diverse because it is the word Chamblee Dad used and I assumed his comment was NOT about race. Presumably if it were he would’ve said so. It would seem to me that if there is a question about someone’s meaning that it might be a good idea to simply ask as this is not the best fora for communication and clarity is always a good thing.

  32. Chamblee Dad, My wife and I fought to get CMS built on the old Sexton Woods lot. Our family was threatened during that battle. My wife and I fought for our kids school to remain open, since the data they were using to close it was not accurate and the building was needed so DCSS could make a deal with a developer, which never even got off the ground. My wife and I were marginalized by the media, former BOE members and a former Super, the story was too difficult to tell, until Clew was indicted.

    We now stay in tune with the Palace, but after all we have been through there, we decided to redirect our total energy into the Chamblee schools and we have been doing that ever since. My wife and I moved into the area in 1996 because of the schools. Failure of the school system is not an option for my family either. Whether it is a portfolio, charter, a DunBrookCham system, or we clean out the Palace, my wife and I are ready to assist in any effort to help the future of DeKalb County, our kids!

    10 years of crisis after crisis has got this stakeholder very tired, it is time for a totally new direction with new ideas and leaders! It is great to see so many new posters here at DSW welcome, take a look back at the archived site as well as the plethora of other info here and enjoy the debate.

  33. Chamblee Dad says:

    @AMG Sounds like you live pretty close to me, I assume Sexton Woods? If so, we are very close to you – Huntley Hills. Many of our most involved parents often wondered where you were, our real fight began 8 years ago with the redistricting plans started then, I remember that fake demographer’s report, if you had a hand in uncovering that, job well done!. I chose “Chamblee Dad” because I want to work to support our schools 1st,m but I’m not prepared to abandon the whole system – yet. New poster but long-time visitor, used to e-mail Cere often, just not post – feared it might suck me in..

  34. Chamblee Dad says:

    Seems everone’s version of diversity is different, I can live with that, and I do think debate is great – I’m a lawyer. But DSW, I agree it can become a distraction, maybe here it has, & maybe I contributed. But the more I reflect on some postings here & Get Schooled – this proposed legislation wasn’t really crafted by DeKalb citizens, so not really fair to paint them with this brush – yet, maybe they embrace it as written, seems some already have. So I do wonder this:

    The way this thing is written – 2005 on & adjacent – does come off as sneaky. And further, it leaves out all the other cities. I’ve heard more than a few times: “we want local control, those to the south can have it too, with the new smaller district.” But it’s not equal. If Stone Mountain wanted local control with a city system they can’t have it. Maybe they don’t want it it, but they have no choice. Net result: Dunwoody & new cities could have true geographically local control the rest don’t/can’t.

    And that goes for almost all the county seats & other cities throughout the state. That comes off, at least to me, as we should get local control because we deserve it – our stystem is really bad. So bad we should amend the State Constitution. But after this select few noone else can have it. Is that motivated by selfish motivation &/or perhaps simple strategy to get it through the statehouse? If motivated by a true desire for “local control for all” shouldn’t all that language be removed.

  35. Chamblee Dad says:

    @roslyn, meant to say, you pesumed correct, to me diversity, especially as I used in my comment, was not about race. It was socio-economic, because while this is somewhat about local control of priorities, day to day decision making, it really boils down to money – tax $$, and local control on how to spend it. At least to me.

  36. psdad says:

    @Chamblee Dad. I am honestly having trouble trying to follow you. Aside from the issue of tax revenue (which could be/should be easily addressed), could you please explain how carving-out Dunwoody and/or Chamblee into separate school systems would damage the school system will hurt the schools ability to educate these children. Setting aside hyperbole and reference to race, can you provide some examples of how these schools will be less capable with the absence of Dunwoody/Chamblee.

  37. Chamblee Dad says:

    @psdad I’m NOT referencing race, I’m talking socio-economic = tax revenue. “which could be easily addressed” exactly how? Is Dunwoody going to start their own system, and send a big check each year to DCSS?

  38. psdad says:

    @Cham Dad. You ask… “Is Dunwoody going to start their own system, and send a big check each year to DCSS?” It might be more appropriate to phrase your question a little differently. Is Dunwoody going to continue to send a big check to DCSS each year?

    Short answer is Yes, if the only alternative is that they must remain a part of DCSS. Either way the subsidy will be paid, right? I believe that enough Dunwoody/Brookhaven parents are motivated by the prospect of gaining control over their schools, that there would be plenty of support for continuing those subsidies.

    Personally, I think that it makes sense to split the system-up because the socio-economic factors that your reference are the primary reason for student failure and are better addressed at the neighborhood/school house level. The one size fits all approach of our current school system does nothing to address the non-academic community support programs that (if put in place) would go a long way to helping these communities realize greater academic success.

  39. Ned says:

    DSW, Thank you for saying this:
    “Dunwoody or other cities forming their own school districts do not have ‘saving’ the system as their goal. They have a goal of taking control of their own schools and their own tax dollars in order to provide a good education for their children – and most likely protect property values and attract business.”
    It summarizes the whole difference between DSW1 and DSW2. I’m NOT blaming the moderator and maybe it’s because of the accelerating decline of DCSS, but the tone of commentary has moved from wanting to improve for all to wanting to protect “mine” on this board since Cere left and Kim and Ella stopped commenting as much.
    It used to be that those who were deathly afraid of getting off 285 anywhere between 400 and the airport were a minority here. There’s some beautiful kids of all colors in Clarkston, Pine Lake, and Lithonia, and they don’t deserve to be abandoned.

  40. Chamblee Dad says:

    1 – Is the tax revenue the citizens of Dunwoody currently pay into DCSS a subsidy? I mean legally, not how some perceive it.

    2 – would Dunwoody/Brookhaven parents really want to keep sending some $$ to DCSS once they left? It’s really just about local control, perhaps accreditation? Nothing about let us spend OUR $$ here?

    If true, Then WOW! I stand corrected & apologize. Very equitable & if offered might resolve some (not all) of the debate. If you are in one of those communities, perhaps poll you neighbors.

    Might be news to them.

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