Mark Elgart speaks up

From the Dunwoody Reporter: The regional school accrediting agency has taken issue with the actions of members of metro Atlanta school boards, including DeKalb County’s school board. Reporter Newspapers asked Mark Elgart, chief executive officer of AdvancED, parent of an accrediting agency that oversees local schools, to discuss the role school board members should play.

Click here to read what Elgart had to say >> What’s the real job of a school board member?

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10 Responses to Mark Elgart speaks up

  1. dsw2contributor says:

    Elgart’s article is a response to the mess in Cherokee County, where the school board President and two Republican Party officials were criminally-charged and arrested for making false statements about the School Superintendent:

    Community activists are already calling for SACS to investigate:–calls-for-school-board-member-s-resignation-at-rally

    Dekalb residents really need to watch what –if anything– happens to the Cherokee board President. Criminally lying about the Superintendent is a far bigger deal than being a member of an incompetent school board.

  2. DeWoody says:

    if Elgart’s column was a response to Cherokee why was it in the Dunwoody Reporter, not a Cherokee paper? This opinion piece was aimed at Jester and DeKalb.

  3. That’s kind of what we thought, DeWoody. Elgart is not a fan of Jester – she is far too outspoken about the dysfunction she sees. He likes complacent boards – not people who actually work to fix things. It is due to his pressure to comply (in our opinion) along with some pretty sad race-focused, bull-headed board reps, that we have had back to back corrupt superintendents able to get away with nearly destroying our school system.

    Governance and leadership is critical to the success of any school or school system. The capacity of a Board of Education to work in concert with the leadership of a school system is a critical ingredient to establishing the proper conditions for a quality school system.

    But what he really means is – boards should always agree and should always support superintendent’s requests. SACS is highly supportive of superintendents — in fact, we would say so much so that the supers can run to SACS for support and possibly even intimidation of the board for them.

    The Board of Education is designed to support the leadership and its administration of the school system. It is not the role of the board to assume any function related to the administration and management of the school system. However, the Board of Education (as a whole) should and must hold the superintendent accountable for effective administration of the school system.

    However, when Dr. Walker* did just that, by asking for a report on all of the outside contracted vendors (again, per policy DJE) Dr. Atkinson had hired (outside of the budgeted expenses) he was called on the carpet by SACS in their report. SACS effectively forced the board to allow Atkinson to spend whatever amounts she wanted (at under $100,000 for each vendor contract, one of which went to her former boss and reference on her application, Barbara Dilligard for $99,975.99) and so ordered regardless of whether there was money in the budget. Then, when it became clear that Atkinson had overspent the budget, SACS called out the board for being fiscally irresponsible. Nancy had a great post with a circular explanation of her frustration: The Circle of Trust

    *Bottom line: Shame on Dr. Walker for leading the approval to raise this power to hire up to $100,000 and worse, for insisting on hiring a superintendent strictly based on race. Too bad you got what you got – and figured out your bad move far too late for the taxpayers and the children of DeKalb. Although we agree with many of Dr. Walker’s points in his case, we remain steamed at him for his inability to make balanced, fair decisions while putting his race-focused thinking aside. [BTW, we are STILL paying TWO law firms simply due to race issues.] Had he voted to hire Dr. Duron or some other highly qualified, strong, effective leader of ANY race, including African-American, we would never, ever be in the position we’re in today. Dr. Walker led this blow out – and even though he has a point in his case, we never, ever, ever, ever want to see him return to any kind of leadership position in DeKalb again. We simply MUST move beyond our race-focused culture and do the right thing for children in every way!

  4. Now, we have a super quiet board who will not communicate or even speak out on anything and is in full support of the latest interim superintendent, Michael Thurmond. Thurmond is most likely doing some major restructuring that we are not privy to as it is not discussed openly. Further, Thurmond obviously plans to maintain his position for as long as possible, fully supported by this board and SACS, thus he is able to make some heavy changes. We can only hope his decisions will improve the situation for students — ie: improve the situation in each and every classroom in DeKalb. But then again, we are highly concerned, as we have Thurmond today as the last action taken by the dismissed board, led by Dr. Walker.

    Time will tell. We have no other option but to wait and see.

  5. September says:

    I think Mr. Thurmond will have to stay until our school system has been rehabilitated enough to make the job attractive to a highly qualified replacement. We don’t need another under qualified superintendent. Let’s hope the changes he is making will help.

  6. midvaledad says:

    I wish Mr. Thurmond would do some “major restructuring,” but his reliance on Mrs. Tyson and promotion of Dr. Thompson make me doubt it. He has embraced the Friends and Family of the Palace in order to remain the King for as long as he can.

    It is good to be the King, $300,000 a year good.

  7. Stan Jester says:

    The 04/03/2013 Board Meeting With SACS gives us better insight into what SACS wants. These quotes are from Dr. Elgart at that meeting.

    “Are resources allocated to schools and classrooms in an equitable way? ‘Equity’ is not equal. ‘Equity’ is based on where they’re needed. … Equity is, I’m going to give more to the 30% that don’t have it than the 70% that do. “

    Board Communications
    “how to deal with the barrage of phone calls, or the barrage of emails. People want you to solve their individual problems. … bring back to them and say, You need to go through the process. Don’t own their problem for them. They have to own their problem. … What is it that you do, and almost and I’ve seen some districts do this, is you give every board member a script. It gets down to that level of detail. To help guide you through a very difficult conversation if it’s on the phone, or an email exchange.

    Strategic Plan
    “There’s been no community collaboratively developed strategic plan that galvanizes and focuses the effort of this district towards improving student achievement. “

    Actually, we spent hundreds of thousands on a strategic plan a few years back. Here is Nancy’s insight into Strategic Planning – A discredited zeitgeist of the past or a vital document needed for success?

  8. Another comment says:

    The only thing that works is small one high school large districts with their feeder schools. Which is basically a District that consists of one K-12 school. Then two districts can share a true vo-tech school with an inter district agreement. There must be at least two graduation tracks. One a 4 year college track and the other a General diploma, where students go to vo-tech 1/2 a day their jr and sr. years and end up with the equivalent of a 1 year technical school certificate. For example a cosmetology license, an HVAC pre license, a plumbing pre license , and auto mechanic certification, a welding certification, a court reporting certification, a line chef prep. A wide variety of careers that they would be able to make a living wage, not the minimum wage.

    This works in many of the top performing States. Board Members need to be volunteer, and Supt. should not make any more the top of the Federal GS schedule GS-15-10 in Atlanta mid 150’s.

  9. bettyandveronica1 says:

    The thought that makes me shiver..Tyson becomes next Superintendent at Mr. T’s recommendation.

  10. School supply giveway, other fun set in Clarkston

    from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

    The Clarkston Police Department is hosting a celebration of the 30th annual “national night out” on Aug. 6. The event will include free food, kids’ activities, public safety vehicle displays and a school supply giveaway. It takes place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Milam Park, 3867 Norman Road.

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