Where Are the Voices of Teachers in DeKalb Mess?

Here is one and he’s not holding back … 

From Get Schooled blog, March 10, 2013, by Maureen Downey

“A DeKalb teacher sent me this piece, noting that none of the blog commentaries on the crisis in DeKalb have come from teachers.

“I suspect teachers all over the country will agree with his comments about the lack of respect for the profession. (At his request, I am not using his name because of his concerns for his job.)

“This teacher is responding to a recent DeKalb commentary on the blog  by Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall, but his essay speaks to the conditions facing teachers in many places:”

“I’ve seen so many commentaries over the weeks about the plight of the DeKalb School Systems – from interim superintendents to possible ex-board members to concerned politicians. The blaring omission of a teacher voice rings louder about our current state of affairs. I’ve shrugged all of them off and kept-calm-and-carried-on as has been the trickle-down mantra for years in DeKalb County.

“Then, l read I read Lawrence M. Schall’s “wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing” commentary.

“His manifesto of conservatism and privatizing the public school arena is, I think, a huge portion of what’s wrong with education today – it comes under the guise of common-sense solutions from informed think-tanks, but it’s really just the Trojan Horse that will finally do away with public education in this country. And, as I’ve said before, democracy in America won’t be far behind.”

Continue reading at Get Schooled blog …

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14 Responses to Where Are the Voices of Teachers in DeKalb Mess?

  1. Jay forgot to leave out the damage he’s done in his letter to constituents below. He should have added that he’s voted to increase class sizes, reduce the number of teachers by attrition and a hiring freeze, taking away teachers’ retirement matching contributions and cutting out parapros, librarians, and tech support in the classrooms.

    Letter from suspended BOE member Jay Cunningham sent prior to federal ruling:

    To my Constituents:
    I am writing you this letter in response to the decision of the Georgia State Board of Education to remove six of the elected DeKalb County board members. As you know I was elected by 64% of the voters to represent DeKalb County. Your vote would be nullified if I am removed by the Governor. To date the district has completed 8 of 11 action items that was cited by SAC, we are on a course of success. I am asking for your support in allowing me to finish my term so that I can continue the progress that we have begun in our district as follows:

    * $280 millions of construction to the Southside of DeKalb county.

    Addition to Martin Luther King High School

    Addition to Southwest DeKalb High School

    Addition to Miller High School

    Renovation to Murphy Candler Elem.

    Open Arabia Mountain High School

    Renovation to Bouie Elementary

    Opening of Flat Rock Elementary

    Renovation to Canby Lane Elementary

    Renovation to Miller Grove Middle School and various projects

    * $79m in technology.

    * Made District 5 a Technology pilot program

    * Reduced trailers from 800 to less than 100

    * Improved leadership in the district

    Upcoming Project:

    · $59 Million in Technology
    A. Making DeKalb County School System total wireless by eliminate landline internet
    B. Implementing E-books.
    C. All middle and high school iPods
    D. Training Teacher on technology
    E. Implementing Smart Board in every class room
    F. Update all software/hardware
    G. Continue work to selected new Superintendent
    H. Implementing New Common Core

    My platform during my election 7 years ago, which I have accomplished, are as follows:
    1) Leadership
    2) Reducing overcrowding in schools
    3) Financial responsibility
    4) Improving technology

    I will continue to work to keep DeKalb County accredited by SACS, as well as to improve the overall educational outcome for all students in the district. However, I need your help by letting the Governor know that you want your vote for me to stand, so that I can continue to work for you in the District. You can contact Governor Deal by telephone at 404-656-1776 or http://gov.georgia.gov/. You can also contact your area representative Pam Stephenson at pamela.stephenson@house.ga.gov. Please have your family and friends to do the same so that we can continue the work that we have begun together.

    Thank you again for your support.

    Jess Cunningham
    Board Member
    DeKalb County Board of Education
    Jay_ Cunningham@fc.dekalb.k12.ga.us

    Source: http://www.ocgnews.com/index.php/component/content/article/1792-6-ousted-dekalb-schools-officials-set-town-hall

  2. Concerned Citizen says:

    Let me just say that you are a “suspended” board member. You should hang your head in disgrace, but instead, you are trying to pump yourself up! That’s outrageous! Play a video of yourself at the state hearing and try to be impartial. You’re a hot mess of confusion, self-pity, absurdity, and dare I say it, ignorance of the King’s English.

  3. Tired Mom says:

    It makes me sad…just sad, to see the list of accomplishments on behalf of a subset of the county. He is doing exactly what SACS accuses the board of doing by focusing his energies on “his” constituents. Unfortunately, his choices and decisions impact my children, too, who attend NONE of the schools listed in Mr. Cunningham’s letter, but I have no voice in his election.

  4. Susan from Redan (a long time ago) says:

    The constituents elected a felon with 64% of the vote to a billion dollar a year school system. Who can blame Dunwoody for thinking about forming their own school system. You cannot reason or have meaningful conversation with an electorate that sees no problem in electing a felon to the school board. Once the old board members get reelected the loss of accreditation cycle will begin anew. We’re on the Titanic rearranging the deck chairs and there are not enough life boats for all us. Godspeed Dunwoody.

  5. It is very frustrating that we have Board members in DeKalb whose subjects and verbs never agree.

    In addition, how can Jay say that he has achieved his goals? How does one measure achieving a goal simply labeled “Leadership”? Also, I think the students were issued iPads, not iPods — at least I hope so! And then, “financial responsibility” — really? There’s just nothing to say to Jay about how far in left field he is on that issue.

  6. Why are teachers quiet? Because we need our jobs! When you sign your contract with DeKalb, you sign an agreement not to be interviewed, or speak to newspeople….I remember signing one…..

  7. Also, with regards to the hiring freeze – at our staff meeting, the principal announced that there WAS a hiring freeze….

  8. dekalbite2 says:


    Could you clarify?

    Mr. Thurmond specifically told Maureen Downey that there was nohiring freeze on teachers. Is your principal saying that there is a hiring freeze on teachers – they are just filling those positions with subs?

  9. Reposting from another thread:

    The latest from Mr. Thurmond:

    Dear Fellow DeKalb County School District Employees,

    I’m writing with good news. I’m pleased to announce that we are expecting the district to be within budget at the end of the current fiscal year. However, as you may be aware, we must continue to pay down the deficit that took place last year. In addition, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute projects that the governor’s proposed budget underfunds public education by $1 billion for the fiscal year 2014, so our district must also prepare for additional reductions in funding.

    To help maximize savings, we’ve implemented a hiring freeze for all positions except those that directly impact the classroom. That means that as long as funds are budgeted and staffing allotments are available, we will continue to hire teachers, counselors, assistant principals, principals, positions outside the general fund and those school-based positions that have direct instructional contact, like nurses, psychologists and special education lead teachers.

    We’ve also frozen all non-essential spending, including travel, equipment and contracted services. Salaries and benefits for existing staff, payments for fuel and utilities and materials and supplies essential to instruction are not included in the freeze.

    While we know these measures create difficulties for our district and our employees, we appreciate your patience and understanding through this process. As we move forward with the budget process, we look forward to receiving your input and feedback. I talk a lot about asset-driven strategies, and certainly the quality of our 14,000 employees is one of our district’s greatest attributes.

    Thanks again for all you do.

    Michael L. Thurmond

    Interim Superintendent

  10. dekalbite2 says:

    Yes. I saw that memo from Mr. Thurmond. But is Mr. Thurmond hiring subs instead of teachers and saying the classroom is adequately staffed? Notice Gwinnett our competitor for highly qualified teachers is not hiring subs for their classrooms. Rather they are hiring teachers. How are we to be competitive?

    And what is considered essential to the classroom? Are no supplies to be given to teachers and students in the classroom? That seems to run counter to the statement:
    .”…materials and supplies essential to instruction are not included in the freeze.”

    Look at this comment from the AJC Get Schooled blog:
    “Something is fishy because a lack of supplies affects the classroom.

    Teachers at SWD received this email Friday afternoon (a furlough day):

    PLease be advised, per the Superintendent of Schools, ALL SPENDING FROM THE GENERAL FUND HAS CEASED. This means if you have not received your supply requests, IT WILL NOT HAPPEN. I just got the memo today (3/8/13). I don’t not know if orders that was placed will come to pass. I repeat, I DO NOT KNOW. I will relay information as I receive it.

    The initial deadline has become null and void. As of right now, There will be no orders placed. Please use your current supplies WISELY. Do not waste paper and print unnecessary items. Please be careful.

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    p.s. (I repeat, I DO NOT KNOW. If you have not received what you have requested, chances are, it will not happen. I repeat, I DO NOT KNOW)

  11. We deleted the name of that email writer. These days people live in fear. We understand. But the content is important. It conflicts 180 degrees from what Thurmond is saying to the public.

  12. Just Saying. says:

    Orders can still be placed, but the use of the P Card was suspended. There was no advanced notice. Orders that were placed were not filled by the vendors because the P Card no longer worked. We found out because a vendor called the school and asked for an explanation.
    So we now have to use requisitions for even basic supplies.

    For example, . Instead of ordering paper from Office Depot and having it the next day.. You now have to do a requisition to get the paper. That could take over a week to do it. The memo stated that this would help monitor purchases.. When you use the P Card, you get a bill and a credit card statement.. I am not sure why that cannot be used to check purchases. Requisitions have to be approved. Then the county has to ‘cut a check” and send a :check to the vendor.

    As far as hiring, You can still hire. Depending on the job the person is hired as a sub for the rest of the school year. I think that this is to try and save money.

    There will probably lots of jobs opened. This year we have lost a lot of good people to other school systems. Regardless of what people may think there were good people in the school system that left. All former DCSS people were not bad. .

    One difficult thing is that the staff in the schools has no avenue to express their concerns about county procedures and departments.

    Please continue to pray for good things for our schools, staff and system.

  13. Parents: When you go to school the next time, please bring along a ream of paper for each of your child’s teachers. Then ask them what else you can bring or do to help them do their job. We have to hunker down and focus directly on our teachers and the classrooms right now, today. Do whatever you can to help our teachers!

  14. concerned citizen says:

    Subs, and only subs, are being put in classroom. I guess it’s about the money! It’s always that the money is not there for teachers. I’m dismayed by the lying from the Supt. because he seems to be saying there is no hiring freeze on teachers. So, that means he’s lying.

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