The August Update

So far we’ve had quite a wild ride since the start of school just ten short school days ago. So much has happened that we thought it would be helpful to go back and recap recent events in DeKalb.

Here’s a recap of the first two weeks of school in DeKalb County, Georgia:

Interim superintendent, Michael Thurmond toured a handful of schools the first day of school, stopping for a television interview at Midvale Elementary school where Susan Wilson serves as principal. Thurmond spent the entire interview with his arm draped over Susan’s shoulder, rambling on, never pausing to introduce her to the reporter (the reporter finally asked who she was).

Then, of course, the modular outdoor 16 classrooms at Vanderlyn that had been removed the week before school started have not yet been replaced and are not yet usable. Here’s a lovely photo of how it looked the day before school started (sent to us by a Vanderlyn parent) >>

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As predicted, Vanderlyn has been forced to squeeze these 16 classrooms into the existing space inside the school building somehow. Art classes and others have been displaced and students and teachers are doing their best to do the work of schooling in organized chaos. Even when the ‘newly refurbished’ trailers are ready to occupy, there will only be eight of them.

Interestingly, one of those infamous, new cars doled out to senior administrators was seen parked in the principal’s spot at Vanderlyn — with an expired tag.

DSCN0993DSCN0992

Later in the week, Druid Hills filed a petition to form their own charter cluster. As the AJC reported, “…the petition, the first of its kind under an untested state law, goes to the DeKalb school board for an up or down vote in coming weeks or months. If the school board approves the cluster, it will go to the state for final approval.”

“The petitioners seek to establish their own governance board that would hire an administrator and oversee operations at Druid Hills High and its six feeder schools. State officials say if the charter is approved, it could be a model that gets repeated elsewhere.”

“Parents and teachers thronged the gym of Druid Hills High School Tuesday to cast ballots in an unprecedented vote that could reverberate across the state.”

Then, the long-awaited court hearing for the teachers possible class-action lawsuit was postponed. Read more on the history of this situation here >> TSA: A Story of Betrayal and Greed

And of course, there was the frightening drama of a gunman loaded down with an AK-47 as well as other weapons, entering Ronald E. McNair Elementary School and starting a shoot out with police. Thankfully, the gunman was talked into surrendering by a wonderful angel, and the school’s front office employee, Ms. Antoinette Tuff. Listen to her bravery and tenacity as she single-handedly talked this troubled gunman into peacefully giving himself up to the police in this 911 call.

All our interim superintendent had to say about the school system’s complete inability to notify the parents of this disaster in a timely, efficient manner was this:

[Oddly, once again, one of those fleet cars was seen on a WSB television news report, still with an expired temporary tag, and parked next to a DeKalb patrol car.]

We have some very serious work to be done in the communications department. As we reported, Thurmond hired a new communications officer, Quinn Hudson earlier this month. However, as far as we can tell, he is there to run interference for the school system’s public image — as well as Thurmond’s own public image (the new guy formerly served as Thurmond’s communications director for his 2010 failed run for US Senate).

Anyone think Thurmond will make a congressional run? Or is the large DeKalb paycheck worth staying in this game? Or more frightening, will he try to do both, as our head of legal services, Ron Ramsey does by juggling his full time six-figure DeKalb schools job with his job as a state rep in the Georgia dome?

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118 Responses to The August Update

  1. Sarah says:

    I was just wondering if any other parents are having trouble with getting their children textbooks this year.. I have two children at Tucker High School and they have both been refused textbooks. In past years my son was able to talk teachers into assigning him a book to use but this year (my daughter’s first in high school) teachers and administrators are telling both kids that they are not allowed to allow use of the textbooks outside of class. Each classroom has only one class set of books available for use. Students are expected to have internet access every night to complete their homework assignments. Anyone else having this problem? Anyone else wonder whether the new communications officer’s salary would pay for a few classroom sets of textbooks?

  2. concerned citizen says:

    This is a typical classroom problem in DeKalb’s classrooms, not anywhere near enough books. At McNair Middle, for example, students are never allowed to check out textbooks and are never assigned one. There are classroom sets! Any one else want to talk about their schools?

  3. HA Hurley says:

    School systems have figured out that they can save M$$$$ on text books by giving teachers one class set, only. New teachers may not even know that it should not be that way, and that many students with Learning Disabilities truly benefit from having a book at home. The mantra of Internet textbook access was too easily told to students and parents. Even 5-8 years ago, when many had no Internet access and kids did not have access to texts – they ended up not using the info inside books, at all.
    All about saving $$$ and not about educating kids. Texts are necessary, especially in upper grades. Will not change. Systems spend $$$ on CO high salary administrators and attorneys.

  4. teachermom says:

    @Sarah
    They use the books inconsistently and are stingy with them. Years ago I learned to go on Amazon and by used versions of my daughters textbooks so she didn’t have to lug them back and forth. I was able to get some super cheap. If you decide to do this make sure you get the right version, check the date. The best way to know it is the right version is to order one with the same ISBN on the inside of the book.

  5. Sarah says:

    That’s what we’re doing, tracking down the versions they are using and just purchasing used books. When I called to inquire about book titles and ISBN’s you’d have thought I’d said I was going to roll myself in feathers and fly to the moon by the reaction I got. This is year four of dealing with this insanity. When we moved here, I had to have someone from the State BOE meet me at Tucker High School before Principal Jackson would allow my son to be enrolled. He said we didn’t have the appropriate documentation (we did), and that he did not have to go ahead and enroll our child while we adults got it all straightened out (he does), we just needed to “do what we needed to do so that our son could go to school” (so we did). Needless to say, my son was enrolled the very next morning when the nice young woman from the state BOE met us there and explained to the principal what he should have already known. Last year at Tucker Middle, they played Kanye West’s “Clique” at the talent show my daughter participated in. Of course, they censored out the curse words. They did not, however, censor out the verse where he discusses he and his “crew” sharing something amongst themselves that middle schoolers don’t need to be thinking about, much less considering sharing with anyone! I am at the end of my rope with this system. Complaints are met with a sort of desolate sympathy from those who realize the problems and almost outright hostility from those that don’t have a clue. In my experience, there have been more of the latter. I realize I sound bitter and awful….I should be able to apologize for it, but I just can’t. I am so fed up. I’m willing to volunteer or help develop projects that could raise money if that is the issue. Of course, the problem would have to be recognized as a problem first. The ones that meet your concerns with hostility will try to pass it off as if it is some brilliant new education technique that is helping our children learn to excel in our current technological age. No, it really is rampant mismanagement that has resulted in cars being bought before textbooks are purchased. That’s all.

  6. teachermom says:

    Sarah- If your son excelled at sports it would not have been a problem getting him enrolled, even if he lived in South DeKalb!

  7. Sarah says:

    Oh, believe me, I know! If I’d known then what I do now, I’d have called a news station or two as well as the state, What’s been allowed to happen here is a shame, it really is.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    This issue with textbooks is very disconcerting. How are these kids supposed to do their homework if they don’t have textbooks? OK, so they have the Internet to access the problems – how do they look something up if they don’t have a textbook? I thought that Eugene Walker and Thurmond made such a big deal out of saying that we had purchased textbooks and that they knew where each of them had been delivered and when. No wonder our kids are not doing well on their CRCTs – they are not equipped to do well on their CRCTs.

    Any comments on how our kids are expected to learn without texts that they can take home?

  9. Sarah says:

    Sad as it is to admit, I’ve stopped asking those sort of questions and moved on to asking myself if the kids really are even expected to learn. If learning isn’t the priority, then these kind of decisions make sense. The two sites below are both for Tucker High. The first is the school site. It has some outdated information and is inconsistently updated. The second is the site for the football team. Not the sports department. The football team. I get that having such a team is an asset that schools can use to help their students, I really do. That is NOT what is happening here.

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/tucker

    http://www.tuckertigersfootball.com/index.php

    Also, I read that DCSS is claiming a surplus in the budget for this FY. How is that possible when children are going without schoolbooks?

    *sigh* Okay, I will try to get down off my soapbox now.

  10. H.A. Hurley says:

    Howdy1942 ~ Not having texts is a huge problem. There is no way to look up math examples, helping your child, look through chapters, study effectively, support private tutoring – if needed, read at home……reading text on the computer via Internet is OK at times. Not available for many students. Can’t leave out students or ask them to go to the public library for access.
    All around, DCS needs to get text books to all students!
    My granddaughter in 5th grade has ONLY class text books, none to bring home. Upon asking, an Internet access code/password was given to us. Unexceptable!
    Yes, CRCT scores are at the bottom! If they rolled dice, chances would be to yield better scores. Schools want them to increase, but they are doing the same old same old, but expect a different outcome.
    Feels hopeless because there is no one who knows about curriculum, testing, achievement, technology integration and maintenance or is motivated beyond their paychecks. And, a superintendent who is FLUFF!

  11. Sarah says:

    At this point I’d almost be happy with a code to access it online, even though that is unacceptable, too, really. We have never been told that is an option. Not once. We have been told that with 1900 kids, they can’t provide them all with books; we have been told that they don’t get assigned “book work” for homework; we have been told that they can “google” and find everything they need; we have been told that they get all they need from the books during class time; we have been sighed at and finally handed books (after absolutely pitiful conversations had with teachers that know they cannot justify this behavior). We have never been told they have an electronic copy available.
    Apparently I can’t put the soapbox away….
    Seeing the detailed budget just muddies the water further. I cannot understand why this is being allowed. My family is in a situation that will most likely allow us to get out of this district soon, but I feel like that is running from a problem that belongs to the entire community. If the system is allowing this, why are we parents going along with it?

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/budget-detail-(2014).pdf

    How can we say that the school which chooses to fund extracurricular activities before needed educational materials, rather basic materials at that, is putting our children’s education first? We can’t. Test scores can be a symptom of many things in an educational system, they really can. I’m willing to bet that better management system-wide would do wonders for ours.

  12. concernedmom30329 says:

    Please, please email the board about the textbook issue. They are being lied to by staff about books and it is important that they hear from parents. They may not do anything about it, but I happen to think they need to hear from parents so they understand the reality of the situation and the untrushworthyness of the staff.

  13. jbgotcha says:

    It may be worth considering an organized protest in front of the Palace to get their attention. The media would surely respond to that. If enough parents get fed up and take action, something might change.

  14. hopespringseternal says:

    When so many bad things happen, it becomes increasingly harder to remember the good things. This hijacking of the McNair outcome by the administration is as perverted as the textbook situation and becomes overwhelming to parents who want to keep their eye on the ball. My senior was issued a British Literature textbook, initially issued in — 2008. I suppose this falls within the system guidelines of issuance every six years. However, on many occasions he was issued only classroom texts, meaning they couldn’t leave the classroom. (Math!!)

    Forgive me for singing the 4×4 block scheduling song — but the classroom experience is that these children come out of this with no concept of out-of-school study, because the design is that everything can be done in class. Have any homework? Never. What a way to send a kid to college. No outside study. Ever. A family must have a strong background and ethic to combat this fallacy. And the textbook situation only adds to this fallacy. When you combine the circumstances of textbooks, no homework, lack of bell-to-bell teaching and no learning vision from the district, you can see how the frustration grows. Our children are being academically snuffed before they ever get out of the gate, and only the diligent will survive. Is it any wonder that most kids go off to college only to find that they aren’t “all that”.

    This district assumes that parental diligence will offset its own failings. The reality is that there isn’t enough diligence to know that there is a fight, much less getting parents to win that fight. The textbook situation is but one component of that struggle. I call it academic homicide. And with every new administrator who arrives in a school singing the district propaganda, new licenses to kill are being issued.

  15. Ella says:

    As a special education teacher I can see that internet access at home being used like this. In fact I find the online textbook I use in high school in Biology has many extra services like reading the text to special needs students who have reading difficulties. I like all the extra study guides. I like that all the vocabulary words are listed with definitions.

    Another issue is that the new math curriculum and others do not go with the book so many teachers do not use the book as a study add in high school.

    I totally hear you guys and I understand why you want books for your children at home.
    I agree a book should be available to students who need a copy of a book for learning. I still do best myself with a copy of a book in my hand verses just a copy of the book on the internet.

    I suspect the school system is doing everything it can not to go into bankruptcy. Books are a big ticket item and this is a big savings.

    My husband is now a teacher at Arabia Mountain High School and he has been giving out new books to his math students this week so I am wondering if the problem is by school and not a county problem.

    I know so many books are lot each year and the county does not have the money to replace them. Another issue is if they are going to be replacing a book in a year it is tough to be replacing that book and spending tons of money.

    Not having a book for home may be a big problem for some children. However, please do check out the book online and see if it is really that bad for your child if you have internet service. You may find it actually easier than your child having to carry home their books. It also is nice to have when your child leaves their book at home.

    I am curious why some schools are having problems with handing out books and other schools are giving out books.

  16. Weary Worker says:

    The textbooks are very expensive as the publishing companies have made them into a full service item for the curriculum. I say this regarding what I have seen at the elementary level. They are more than just books they are a multimedia packages. With this in mind one should consider how these high price packages were intended to be used as directed by the publishers. If they are not used this way the system is not getting their full value. The system should also consider that Net access is not the same for all students as families run from having no access to multiple access and portable access for students. One should also consider that this is a transitional time for print textbooks. Five years or less from today students will no longer be lugging around 20+ pounds of textbooks in roller backpacks, instead they will carry all the information in whatever is the hand held device du jour.

  17. H.A. Hurley says:

    Lack of text books are often explained as being sooooo progressive. Poppycock!

    If EVERY child had access to the Internet, I may buy this explanation. The system has no clue who has access and who does not. Having access via smart phone is NOT HAVING ADEQUATE ACCESS TO TEXT BOOKS. Who could read homework on a cell phone. There may be some of you who would argue with me. Come on!!

    Our system is cutting from the children and teachers. They have been using the textbook $$$ for other things, for years. Yes, our kids pay a price: shift in values related to class work, homework, studying for tests, undermining prep for college, work ethic, referring to complete chapters related to a specific topic. Going home to Google something is not equivalent to having a well developed text related to the curriculum.
    Being told that teachers will pick & choose what needs to be covered, while the student has no book, leaves possibilities wide open for not covering all that needs to be learned. If the only guide is the Pearson Test Prep books, then we ONLY TEACH TO THE TEST! We have many years of data now…how’s it working for us? Pathetic! Bottom Feeders! Joke! Laughable!

    I do not blame the children and their teachers!!!!
    The top administration has MORE IMPORTANT things to spend the $$$$ on.
    Lawyers love it! Car dealers love it! Triple layers of top administrators love it! Past and present superintendents love it! Inflated sweetheart deals for shyster superintendents….they loved it!

    It will not change anytime soon. Parents can yell and expose whatever, but this system’s powerful and deadly strength is: to do nothing in the face of adversity! It works for them! Intrenched! They have learned to HOLD THEIR COLLECTIVE BREATH F.O.R.E.V.E.R !
    All we can do is find other schools for our kids, or MOVE!

  18. concernedmom30329 says:

    New math books were purhcased this year, but I know that Chamblee High school doesn’t have enough US History books, for example. I suspect that rather than school by school (and there will be some bumps there as some schools may be over enrolled and others under) it is subject by subject.

  19. concerned citizen says:

    About the protest…I can really, really go for that and have been suggesting it for months! Let’s roll, to echo a great American. And HA, we need you, so let’s do this and let’s remove every single member of the Palace staff who has been identified as incompetent; do I need to start a list again. We can use the excellent spiderweb developed by our own group of angry parents and teachers and staff. It’s a place to start. Anyone?

  20. concerned citizen says:

    HA Hurley, the only thing I have ever disagreed with you on is calling the supt FLUFF since he’s just the opposite.

  21. H.A. Hurley says:

    Fluff! I use that description of a person who has no depth to their intellect, character & motivation. Self-centered, ignorant, play a Super-on-TV, lack of dedication & commitment to others. But I am open to other terms. AirHead? Oatmeal? Just a pretty face – yuck! …..

  22. concerned citizen says:

    I’m talking about black/brown/spotted slim with form or not, usually flushed; also, the word is used to describe the person above.

  23. firstgradeteacher says:

    Parents please email whomever you can about textbooks. We are not allowed to let students take their books home. We tried last year, and the asst. principal told us we could not. As a first grade teacher, reading is fundamental and they can’t take the reading books home. When it boils down to it, our county lacks the instructional focus that it needs to serve our children. We need a superintendent with an instructional vision to lead our students in the right direction. As a teacher it is sooo frustrating. But we are trying…

  24. hopespringseternal says:

    Alright @firstgradeteacher, and thank you so much for your feedback. Now — WHAT reason were you given for why the books couldn’t be taken home, and is this a deviation from past years with this particular grade level?

  25. Dekalbite2 says:

    “I know so many books are lot each year and the county does not have the money to replace them. Another issue is if they are going to be replacing a book in a year it is tough to be replacing that book and spending tons of money.”

    Yet they can spend $20,000,000 for non teaching Coaches and Coordinators. And Thurmond can find the money to being back the Parent Centers even though the last decade they were in place the most of the schools achievement rates went down when compared to demographically similar school systems. He can also spend $10,000,000+ for almost 200 12 month Security personnel (a future that dwarfs the spending for Security for every other metro school system). Meanwhile, as he spends $10,000,000 for these 200 Security personnel, none of the elementary schools have any security personnel.

    Why has Thurmond not asked the teachers if they would rather have less non teaching Coaches and Coordinators and Parent Coordinators or textbooks? Has he even bothered to ask the employees who are directly instructing the students and who have the most responsibility for students outcome what the students need or is he depending on the advice of personnel like Ms. Tyson who has 3 years of teaching experience from the 1980s or Dr. Beasley who has 2 1/2 years from teaching experience for the 1990s?

    Why is it that he doesn’t understand that parents/taxpayers do not want the recycled failed ideas of the Lewis administration personnel. They want reasonable class sizes, fairly compensated highly qualified teachers and adequate supplies for the classroom. He needs to fund these components before he funds any other personnel or program. If he does not have those components, he will not improve student achievement. Mr. Thurmond is showing by his actions that he does not place a priority on Student Achievement or he would be asking the teachers what they and their students need to be successful and providing them with those compnents before he funds his and his administration’s pet projects and departments.

    No wonder the Druid Hills Cluster is trying so break away from the DCSS Central Office and Dunwoody and Stonecrest and Brookhaven and Lakeside are looking to see how they can break away as well. He is an extreme disappointment for students.

  26. firstgradeteacher says:

    @hopespringeternal, I have a good relationship with the admin. and they just stated that those were directions given from the county. I had a parent complain, I stated please let the district know. ( I don’t know if that answers your question).

  27. concernedmom30329 says:

    One quick point here, if the coaches are paid for with Title 1 dollars, that money can’t be used for books that the system would normally be buying. It can be used for materials specifically for that school, but not textbooks.

    Again, it is imperative that parents let board members know that they don’t have textbooks. (their kids don’t anyway)

  28. hopespringseternal says:

    Thanks again @firstgradeteacher. Still, what I’m reading here is that a directive has come down to the school and if a reason was given, it’s not apparent. Color me old-school, but it was only in the last few years that textbooks were issued but with the proviso to prohibit them leaving the classroom. After issuance, on what authority can an administrator tell a teacher how to teach a class, including the simple act of sending textbooks home? If the district can’t govern a teacher’s gradebook, how can it govern the texts, except for issuance? See my point? Where is the authority to tell you how to teach your class, and isn’t the texts-for-homework scenario a part of your teaching?? I’ll have to put aside the quest to answer my question about the REASON given for this prohibition. But my thought now is, does it matter what the reason is, when YOU are the classroom authority? Where’s ODE?? Somebody? If they’re already issued, then they’re already at risk of damage or loss. What, then, could possibly be the REASON they’re prohibited from leaving the classroom?? This is illogical. I will press until I receive logic. I suggest you all do the same. (Guess I really want that Reason question answered after all.)

  29. Question: Does Kittredge still send an extra textbook home for the students? They always used to have one at school and one at home. Anyone know if that’s still happening?

  30. Dekalbite2 says:

    @concerned mom 30329
    Only part of the Coaches salary is paid by Title 1 dollars (budget). Title 1 can’t afford 150 non teaching Coaches and 50 to 60 non teaching Coaches and Coordinatora so Lewis, Tyson, Atkinson and now Thurmond raid the General Operations budget.

    In addition, the General Operations budget (the budget from state and local dollars that pays for our teachers directly instructing our children in math, science, social studies and language) pays for the benefits (around 20% ) of these Coaches and Coordinators. So yes – we need to cut these non teaching Coaches and Coordinators to buy textbooks and hire teachers.

  31. bettyandveronica1 says:

    kMS had two copies last year for each child in most subjects. But they weren’t heavily used by the staff, they utilized other sources.

    All this, kids don’t need an actual textbook cuz it’s all online, just let your kid read it there stuff annoys me. Honestly if the textbook companies took half the crap and pictures , also the cross curriculum stuff out of the books they might be easier to haul back and forth. Sit down and go through sometime. Those books are extremely distracting, disjointed and miserable to read. The order sucks. Section, Chapter, Unit. The books have those silly curriculum notations in them that o one cares about except for educrats. CRT practice then chapter review, end of unit review, etc, explore on your own. Ugh! They are awful. Waste of Millions.

    They don’t teach cursive at every school cuz its unnecessary. its not true, these kids can’t even sign their own name.
    We don’t worry about teaching word families/phonics, they will sight read/spell. Hogwash!
    We don’t need to focus on spelling cuz there is spell check, Can’t spell check the three thousand worksheets my kid has filled out in her six years. There is no accountability for spelling because then they would have to fix it.
    We don’t teach basal math facts, we give them strategies to figure it out. Not supported, principal pleading with parents to drill math facts.

    Basically the statements above we conversation I have had with curriculum and instruction people.
    And then my response to their theories. These people do not know what they are doing cuz it changes all the time…see ajc articles regarding examining core curriculum. It’s only the second year aren’t we supposed to have this type of program for at least three years until they decide its crap too? Why the rush to judgement?

  32. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I ammend my previous comment about textbooks. In sixth grade, we had books at home for all subject except for one, the child’s home room subject. My child was in math homeroom so we had no math book at home, but had all other subjects. The Lang, arts book was never opened at home. Science was used at home because the teacher assigned reading from it. Social studies was used infrequently. So each child had three subject books at home, then went to the Internet for that one subject book that had not been issued to them.

  33. Fred in DeKalb says:

    Not saying whether it is right or wrong but several school districts around the country are not allowing textbooks to go home with the students. Part of the reason given is the high cost for replacing textbooks annual (mostly due to books getting lost). E-books will probably be the direction of the future, especially when the cost of device continue to go down.

  34. hopespringseternal says:

    Ok @Fred, but consider this: if my child loses his book, the school will require recompense. Period. Everything is held hostage until that lost book fee is paid. Believe me, I have personal experience with that part of it. So, what’s the issue again with allowing books to go home? Of all people, I hear you loud and clear on the direction of the future. I’m talking about NOW.

  35. Sarah says:

    I find this notion that textbooks are a waste alarming. Some children do not have a working computer at home, much less internet. Are we telling the families that cannot afford these things that their child just won’t get a decent education? We like to think everyone has these things, but the truth is that not everyone does! Not to mention, our family has have never been offered a link to an online copy off a textbook. We have been told our children don’t need them. The system has no idea what is going on at home, if assignments are not turned in out of lack of regard or lack of funds. If the board is being told that schools have the materials they need, then yes, we should stage a highly visible protest. There is a Title I meeting this Thursday at Tucker High. I certainly plan to ask why our kids do not have books.

    Also, to the person asking why teachers are not assigning them anyway…they did; for the past three years my son was refused textbooks at first, then talked teachers into giving him one. This year each teacher has only been given one classroom set of books. Meaning they only have around thirty books available to them.

  36. Jeff Bragg says:

    @hopespringseternal 8/25 9:08pm– Teachers who disobey a direct order, or who refuse to carry out a direct order, can be charged with “insubordination”, a fireable offense. They can be forced to attend an “informal” disciplinary conference with a local admin, with no right to take a witness, a representative, or to record the meeting. The admin can have a witness, who can take notes. If, at the end of the several step disciplinary process, you are found guilty, you can be fired. In addition, the system can also bring an ethical charge against you before the Georgia Prof. Standards Commission. Short of this catastrophic scenario, admins have numerous ways to harass teachers who defy them:”Professional Development Plans” (PDPs), stacking your classes with too many students, giving you students with severe behavior issues and then refusing to back you up when they disrupt the class, switching you to a trailer, frequent Admin “walk-thru” observations with no notice (teachers call them “Drive-bys”). You could even be forced to switch to a different school. I could go on, but now you should understand better why Georgia teachers who have no collective bargaining rights, no real contracts, and no true unions are terrified into submission to Dekalb-style stupidity and corruption. Jeff Bragg, retired Dekalb teacher.

  37. hopespringseternal says:

    OK @Jeff — two things: (1) I’ve known you to be a tireless advocate for the teachers throughout the years and still appreciate your feedback. (2) Geez.

    I get all that you’ve said. I know it all to be true. STILL, I want to know what reason the teachers are given for doling out the textbooks in class but prohibiting them from being sent home to reinforce classroom activity? Amazingly there is no answer to that one. Can you help us guess why this would be?

  38. Jeff Bragg says:

    Jeff Bragg @hope… 8/26 4:11pm– Thanks, I tried. Sometimes people think that the presence of outspoken advocates proves that teachers and other staff could resist more aggressively. But very few employees are law school graduates, married to a lawyer, with years of prior experience as advocates in real unions like the United Auto Workers, and…can afford to be fired. As for most others, resistance to the myriad irrational and unethical demands of autocratic admins is possible.
    But it’s very risky. Dekalb staffers should join a staff organization, get active, build a support network in their schools, CYA as much as possible in advance of resistance, gather allies, and if you are really lucky, catch your admins doing something wrong so they are even more afraid of you than you are of them.
    Now, the textbook issue. I faced that same problem at Cross Keys HS several years. Sometimes we could not get torn up books rebound, for lack of money. One year we were told by the central office that we had not been diligent in forcing parents to pay for lost books, so we were denied replacements. Another year two schools with more “influence”, i.e., not full of working-class and immigrant students like CK, demanded our unissued books. They got them too, even after we pointed out that we would not have enough for the second semester. Sometimes Admins are dismissive about the value of books, urging us to send kids home with worksheets instead. But they are no substitute for books. Plus, we often would have to violate copyright law to make enough worksheets.
    Students also lose and damage books, or keep them at home to avoid the weighty transport.
    As for Internet access– I surveyed my students about access at home and found most had no access except the few who had smartphones. Libraries are too distant for most to walk to, and some are in neighborhoods too dangerous for children to walk through at night. We did have digital versions on CDs of most Social Studies texts, but with no computers at home they were unusable.
    I’ll close this with a real kicker. One year at CK we tried to buy test prep booklets for the GA
    high school grad tests. The publisher would not ship them because Dekalb had not paid their bills for previous shipments. We offered to pay cash from our own pockets and they still would not ship
    to us. Sooo, some benevolent soul bought one booklet at a bookstore and a magical copy machine generated many copies. That’s what I call “Fair Use”. Jeff Bragg

  39. hopespringseternal says:

    Jeff, after I attend a community meeting in a few minutes and my juices are once again a-flowin’ I might have a more erudite response. But for now, I concede that teachers are issued books for students, that they can be told to prohibit the students from taking them home, and that it is of no moment that the students are hindered by this. OK. And, that teachers can be punished for pushing the issue. OK.

    Anyone else find anything wrong with this?

  40. Sarah says:

    Guys, I am not sure you understand. Teachers are not being issued textbooks for students. They are being issued one class set. Meaning they have thirty copies of the textbook. Should they distribute books to the first thirty students and tell the rest “tough luck?” I understand no one wants to lose their job. Fortunately, the school system doesn’t employ parents and they are dependent upon our tax dollars. We are the ones that can (and will have to) straighten this out.

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