We have been waiting for Don McChesney’s thoughtful, reasoned commentary regarding the most recent actions concerning the DeKalb County Schools Board of Education. We are going to print it in full here, with permission. However, we encourage you to leave your comments on both the DSW blog and on DonforDeKalb, Don McChesney’s blog. We have different readerships, so by posting your comments in both places you expand the impact.
We have some thoughts to share, but we will post those separately. Here, now, is Don McChesney’s latest blog:
“Judge Story’s ruling seems to have many in DeKalb rather giddy. Many think prosperity is just around the corner. It is my hope that this will come to pass, but I doubt it. Let’s look at where we are right now.
“You have three board members that have no experience, but large egos. You have a superintendent that probably means well, but sounds more like an evangelist to me. Did I mention that he had no experience in professional education? Of course that could turn out to be an asset. Unfortunately, someone up there charting a course must know something about education on more than a theoretical level. You have legislators who are charting your course for you. They too have large egos but little expertise in education. I know some senators and a few representatives that feel like those that yell the loudest are the winners in any debate. That was just like one of our former board members that always felt like if you got the last word you “won”.
“Now who will the new people be? Will the Republicans stack the deck in the appointments or will they really try to find reasonable people that are not owned by a community, study and be willing to chart a course that will be lasting? Being a good board member is hard work. It takes study and preparation on a continuing basis. You can’t just be involved in your personal political gems. You must buy dust mops and replace grease traps. Will you study the bid sheets on these less than appealing items?
“How will you replace the two highest functioning board members? Nancy Jester and Dr. Pam Speaks helped expose much of what they apparently have been jettisoned for. It is hard to imagine finding two more dedicated servants than these two. Did I mention that they had experience and have had all the tricks played on them? Without these two there, I am worried about what the budget will look like.
“Ladies and gentlemen we are looking at a process that will not be quick. The public wants progress yesterday. This will probably be a slow journey to fruition. Do we have the patience?
“We have many things to fix. The hated BOE is gone. What about leadership in the system? The Palace is full of dead weight and highly competent people. Who decides who goes and stays? What will be the criteria? Our building leaders have the same issues. We have many poor principals as well as many good ones. How do we fix that? Our classrooms suffer from the same issues. We have many weak teachers right along side of the outstanding ones. With tenure laws how do you clean house quickly? With all their armchair quarterbacking, why hasn’t the legislature passed useful laws that protect children rather than jobs?
“Also you still have the constitutional question left. I am only a high school history teacher that tried to teach some of the basics of the constitution. Judge Story has totally mystified me. I agree the educational needs of the district’s children are the priority, but where in the Constitution does it reconcile that with due process? Don’t get me wrong, there were people on the board who had no business being there from a qualifications standpoint. But their district elected them and it should be difficult to thwart the will of the electorate without documented proof of their specific wrongdoing. I still believe the Georgia Supreme Court may strike down the removal law now that Judge Story has punted to them. I liken the Board’s situation to that of a coworker going to your boss and telling them that you are an evil person and should be replaced. On that basis your boss fires you. You think that is unfair so you want to question that person and see what “facts” they have submitted that would cause you to lose your job. You are told that you cannot question your accuser, the boss doesn’t have any documentation of your misdeeds and the matter is closed. How would you feel about that? That is what SACS did. That is what the GBOE and Governor did.They even admitted that they did not have corroborating evidence. Under oath, Dr. Elgart stated that his company does not keep any records regarding the review. In fact, during the hearing the whole textbook charge was completely blown out of the water by facts presented in testimony. It was a major piece of SACS allegations. Remember the Constitution exists for the just and the unjust. I would like to keep it around. We all might need it someday, including those due process rights. I do not want Big Brother to replace that document.
“While we’re on the subject of Big Brother, did you catch who has been appointed as a co-liaison between the Governor’s Office and the DeKalb Board? R.L. Brown. You’re probably asking yourself, “Where have I heard that name before?” Most recently, you’ve heard it in the AJC in connection with the investigation into the DeKalb CEO. You may also remember him as the Chair of the Grady Hospital Board before it almost went bankrupt. Here’s a sampling of articles on that matter:
“So, who’s advising the Governor on the selection of liaisons? Are they these the people we want picking a new board? Are things likely to get better or simply quiet under their care?
Stay Tuned … The Drama Will Continue