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) >>

DSCN0988

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. midvaledad says:

    Martha Dalton WABE – mdalton@pba.org 404-733-0933
    Ty Tagami AJC – ttagami@ajc.com 404-723-7484
    Renee Starzyk – Renee.Starzyk@cbsatlanta.com

    Let them know.

  2. concernedmom30329 says:

    And I know I sound like a broken record but let the board know. And I want to add Thurmond to that too. He knows virtually nothing and only what his staff is telling him.

  3. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Don’t know how it is in high school but my child is in 7th grade and for the past six years her actual use of a physical textbook is minimal. I don’t recall her ever cracking a language arts book. Grades 1-3, worksheets, worksheets and more worksheets. In 4-6. There was more use of the books but not really. KMS students do a lot of projects and work sheets too. She did use the online versions but that’s because my daughter preferred it to the actual book. I hate their books. Waste of money, but I think it’s a better tool than online text. I don’t like my kid to read off the screen for too long. I like a physical book, flip the pages. If we didn’t spend so much money on printing worksheet the teachers get off of Ed helper we might have more to pay for some other needs. Worksheets cost us plenty in copiers, paper, ink. For some reason I don’t think they know or care that teachers aren’t utilizing the books.

  4. teachermom says:

    There is no actual textbook yet for Math in elementary. The old ones are used as “resources.” Gone are the days of “do problems 1-10 on page 59.” Teachers are using worksheets that are provided as resources with the books we “aren’t really using.” In math, you need to rely on worksheets even though Common Core discourages. You have to have practice problems.

  5. hopespringseternal says:

    While I’m sure not perfect, I keep revisiting the Gwinnett curriculum. The materials can be found here:

    http://publish.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps/home/public/home/!ut/p/a1/hY7NDoIwEISfhQNH2-VHbbwhiQlo9GIUejHFlFKFQkqB1xeNNxXntpNvdgZTnGCqWC8FM7JWrHzedHGJiQ-Rd4CIbPwQovXytN37RxdCZwTSEYAfCuBf_ozpJELgDUxUxJiKss5ec9NAZR4RmGqec8016vRoF8Y0KxtsEINUihuD7o6LBENdO3rXpp1VTKqBZ-Ag1ebf_hR1a3DymcdNlcBtXva7wLIee4x1ig!!/?1dmy&page=gcps.public.home.content&urile=wcm%3apath%3a%2Fgcps_public_content_enus%2Fpublic_site%2Fparents%2Fgeneral-information%2Facademic_knowledge_and_skills_%2528aks%2529

    We had our textbook discussion largely because there is no academic vision, and by consequence no direction, from DCSS — at least that parents are aware of. If we could focus on the vision and direction, we wouldn’t have to wonder about such things as the distribution and use of books. I’m not at all sure that I should hold up Gwinnett as a shining example (recall the outrageous slave math homework last year), but what does DCSS have, and where can I find it on the website? And why should I have to wait until curriculum night in the 3rd week of September to learn about it (remember the putrid 4×4 block, where by that time a good measure of the semester has passed)?

    In other news, does anyone know about a supposed hiccup with eSIS such that all grades were wiped out and students were told that they’re ‘starting over’? I have no idea if this is true. Or that the district is soliciting feedback on vendor selection (this evening) for new software for the teacher gradebook? Did anyone go last week to the first demo?

  6. concernedmom30329 says:

    Dear lord, I just checked ESIS and you are right, the grades are gone. It looks like at least a couple of her teachers had kept a paper copy because the grades have been reentered but all show the same date. (My child has been slacking a bit, so I have been paying close attention. )

    Is anyone going to be held accountable? Silly question, I know…

  7. Kenwoody says:

    E-Books will run afoul of NFB. It is possible that UEB texts will skirt the issue since NFB has been a major proponent of UEB. The lawyers will descend and either way one group of students, sighted or blind, gets the shaft.

  8. For those readers who do not have an Alphabet Soup dictionary handy, NFB is National Federation for the Blind; UEB is Unified English Braille.

    Contributors: please explain in plain English any acronyms or abbreviations you use.

    For what it is worth, we think that technology will find an E-books solution acceptable to both sighted and blind, provided each group is willing to compromise a bit.

  9. Sarah says:

    @ midvaldad, thanks for the contact info. I received emails from all of my son’s teachers this afternoon and I will be forwarding those to the press and asking them to attend curriculum night Thursday, where I intend to request an explanation from school administration. We’ll see how it goes.

    If anyone would like to see these emails I am happy to forward them or even post them here. I heard from all six of his teachers. There was zero continuity to the responses. A few did not even address my question of why this is happening, though a couple did give him schoolbooks today.

    Also, for those asking about ESIS, we did not begin checking it until the start of last week, when my son finally got his correct schedule for the semester (my daughter still doesn’t have hers – they are saying it will be done inside the next week and a half) and the information has not changed for us since that time. However, there are few (if any) grades from before 8/19. A few classes have a syllabus grade entered for the second day of class, nothing else. If it did indeed “lose their grades”, does that mean that work done prior to that was just not counted? Aren’t they required to keep paper copies? I will now be adding student assessment and grade documentation policies to my growing list of questions to be asked Thursday.

  10. Dekalbite2 says:

    eSis and its accompanying program SchoolNet cost $11,000,000 and was just renewed last year after the last of the 5 year payoffs. ESis caused a lot of headaches for teachers. SchoolNet ($7,000,000 of the $11,000,000) never was able to deliver even close to the real time information was supposed to deliver so the Return on Investment for taxpayers on eSis/SchoolNet has been abysmal. Not only that – it siphoned off technology funds that could have been productive for students. What a terrible waste and no one held responsible.

  11. Sarah says:

    Just…wow. I checked my email and have received a second response from one of my son’s teachers. She wanted to let me know that a memo was handed out in seventh period today that details the textbook issue. My daughter gave me the copy she received (my son did not get one) and just…wow. This memo says that it is reminding parents of the textbook pilot program that was announced at open house. (No such announcement was heard by us, we were late arriving though. But no teacher referenced it when we made the rounds of booths to speak to them…)
    It says that textbooks are to be used only in class and an online access code will be given to students. (We have received no code and none of the six teachers who responded to me offered one. I said that my intention was to purchase books and some offered to give my son books or pdf files of the textbook, this program was not mentioned once) This memo says that this program is keeping our children safe by reducing the number of bookbags inside the school and keeping them from having to carry heavy textbooks. It also asserts that this program helps children arrive to class on time because they don’t have to stop by a locker. It was also very interesting to me that this memo is dated for yesterday, even though, clearly, no one was aware of it until this afternoon. No teacher referenced this program, no teacher offered me a code, no one teacher’s response matched that of another, and when I called last week before my son’s schedule was fixed the secretary told me that I should contact each individual teacher to obtain the ISBN numbers for texts so that I could get books if I wanted them to have copies at home, this program was never mentioned by her and no hint of an online access code was given.
    I feel like my head is going to explode.

  12. H.A. Hurley says:

    Sarah ~ you are unearthing DCS’s dirty, not so little, secret. Millions of dollars are spent on tons of stuff, but not on children. I have heard the same excuses and some new reasons why kids should not have books. Poppycock! Some kids have always lost books, parents had to pay for them, schlepped tons of books home, had to read chapters, made it possible for family to help their children getting homework done. Now, we are told that everything is streamlined by kids not carrying books in school or to do homework. Kids are now safer if they have empty bookbags in school. Not having books reduces the class transitions and locker breaks. What?
    Nothing but a pile of …..!

    What we are constantly told is that students are coming to class totally unprepared: no books, no notebooks, no pencils, none of their materials. We are teaching them to show up to class to basically AUDIT their classes, and rejecting parents who want and need to be involved.

    The entire crap about Internet access is over the top. They have no data to support pulling the plug on text books. Thousands of kids have NO access to the printed word! Can you believe it? And, the system and its workers think this is OK? NO ACCESS TO THE PRINTED WORD! Think about it!
    School libraries have been compromised, too. How can anyone think we are doing all we can to educate our children and that their scores will reflect increased achievement.

    My other concern is that teachers have to plan for class by pulling info out of chapter units and create their own worksheets or print them from EdHelper (not great content for in-grade level kids). Continuity, especially in Math, is compromised. Spending tons of $$$ on paper, copiers, time, etc.

    DCS is all about using textbook $$$ for their own wasteful spending.
    We need to expose this to the media.
    Everyone in DCS is spouting the same propaganda and drinking the same cool aid.

  13. Sarah says:

    H. A. ~ I have contacted several media outlets and heard back from one so far. He says that he hasn’t heard of any program to reduce textbook use outside of class and has requested (and received) the information I have available regarding this. Hopefully, we can get the word out and motivate someone to take appropriate action. Until then, I expect to keep this migraine that developed as I read that memo.

  14. Sarah says:

    I have received another response from one of the news outlets that I contacted. CBS will be investigating this and asking for an explanation. If any parents are having a similar issue with textbooks, or any other issue that may impact SACS accreditation, CBS would like to hear from you. Any messages, emails, memos, parent letters, or any written dialogue between parents and school employees that discuss these issues would be helpful to the investigation. If you have any of these items that you would not mind sharing you can email them to Renee Starzyk at Renee.Starzyk@cbsatlanta.com. Let her know that you are sending them in response to the email request made to Sarah Ellis for parent information regarding the textbook situation. Thanks!

  15. Dekalbite2 says:

    Look on PATS:

    https://pats.dekalb.k12.ga.us/

    We still have 87 teacher vacancies on PATS.

    Mr. Thurmond is also advertising for 13 non teaching highly paid Coaches. That’s over a million dollars in non teaching Coacing positions he is adding.

    So DeKalb is short on textbooks and teachers for kids, but Mr. Thurmond can find the money for these non teaching positions. Mr. Thurmond and his administrative team think it is “business as usual”. How can they expect results for students to change when it is “business as usual?

  16. Sarah says:

    @ Dekalbite2, the most logical conclusion is that educating our children is not the priority. We have some amazing teachers here but when administration becomes this corrupted, a trickle-down decline in quality is the eventual and unavoidable result. Any district that spends as much as Dekalb on sports programs but finds it necessary to cut teachers salaries/benefits and withhold books from students due to a lack of funds is not a school district. It is a dollars before diplomas nightmare of capitalism. It is a slap in the face to any individual that has ever been called to teach. It is a failure of the community. We as parents are going to have to find a way to fix this. We cannot allow this total disregard for our children to continue.
    Okay, that was my last soapbox for the night. Sorry, guys, all this just infuriates me. I don’t see it as only the failure of a system. If we continue to allow our kids to be subjected to this then when they are adults it will manifest as a failure of their society, not just a local system. We are creating a generation that will not be able to function properly. >< Okay, now that was really the end of my soapbox.

  17. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Maybe walker, Tyson and Howe need to questioned again about those textbooks. Do we actually have books for all students in each core class?
    Who decided children shouldn’t be given equal access to the most Basic of tools, a textbook. Smells like discrimination to me. Some kids don’t have Internet, sorry its true and you can’t do homework using a smartphone, it’s stupid. You can’t learn by worksheet alone. God, this school system sucks!

  18. Sarah says:

    bettyandveronica1, don’t get me started on discrimination. There is litigation liability all over this district. Honestly though, I believe it stems more from ignorance than an actual intent to discriminate. On the Tucker High website there is an addendum to the dress code. It is titled “Young Ladies Dress Code”. This document is not discussing skirts, dresses, and/or bras. It is discussing tight pants, “jeggings”, yoga pants, etc, all of which I have seen young men wear as well. These people are just clueless!

  19. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    We have books and online resources at CCHS & CMS. Some online resources are clunky, due to Java – Flash issues and if you are using older hardware & software. Several online resources are for ipad-itouch too. I have not heard about any book shortages at our schools.

    Until DCSS gets new leaders do not expect change. The same folks are running the Palace who literally ran us into the ditch. The Clew White Car Crew is deeply entrenched and as long as Thurmond is around, their jobs are theirs to hold on to. I have been saying it for years, we need a total Palace cleansing! Someone needs to lead, admit their failure and admit it really has been about employing friends and family and then move on! But that would take honest leadership and we lack that at OUR Central Office!

  20. Sarah says:

    Atlanta Media Guy, I do believe you are right. That brand of servant leadership is not what I have come to expect from this school system. It’s good to hear that not everyone is having issues with books. I really am starting to wonder if the problem here is directly related to how much Tucker spends on their sports programs. We are talking really obscene amounts for high school football. It gives the impression that this school places more importance on sports than core education.

  21. concernedmom30329 says:

    Atlanta Media Guy
    I know for sure that some World History classes had no books as of Friday. I believe a friend also said her child was without a science book as well.
    I wonder if Tucker’s enrollment is up (and Chamblee’s down or the same as last year) and that plays into this. Things seem clunkier than normal this year (and normal is generally pretty bad.)
    Rumor is that the system has yet to give the word to principals to purge their rolls of kids who haven’t shown yet. This is generally done of the 10th day, which was Friday. Internally, some principals are collapsing classes and some area superintendents are moving teachers between buildings, but I am not certain it is happening system wide.

  22. The Balanced Scorecard 4th quarter results have been posted:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/superintendent/balanced-score-card-%284th%29.pdf

    Looks a bit all over the board to me. Teachers, weigh in please.

    Also note, there is a published Vision and Mission at the top of the document:

    THE VISION
    The DeKalb County School System will be acknowledged as one of the high-performing large school systems in the United States in preparing students to lead and succeed in a rapidly changing world.

    THE MISSION
    Our mission is to prepare 21st Century students to thrive and succeed in a diverse and ever-changing world through a partnership of homes, schools and communities.

  23. hopespringseternal says:

    Just showed this to my son. Shook his head on his way out. The following can be found on what I believe is Page 7 of the balanced scorecard document published by the school district and linked to above. He wasn’t aware that he took an Advanced Replacement course last semester. On so many levels, my humiliation knows no bounds.

    “% of graduates earning high school credit(s) for accelerated enrollment via ACCEL, Dual Hope Grant, Move On When Ready, Early College, Gateway to College, Advanced Replacement Courses, or International Baccalaureate Courses”

  24. midvaledad says:

    Do not go look at the “Balanced Scorecard.” It will make you cry.

    Almost half of it has NA for a score. For example, NA is the score listed for the % of students who passed the End of Course Test (EOCT) for GPS algebra.

    I will say it is the only place you will find any information about discipline problems. There were 1493 “school arrests” made last year.

    Then there are the questions about “District Wide Customer Service Surveys.” I think you can figure out what those scores are.

  25. concernedmom30329 says:

    Just heard that Lakeside High doesn’t have textbooks for World History. Also hearing that DCSS has not paid for the online service for that book. Anyone have a child in world history who can try to log on?

  26. Former teacher says:

    Online books are sometimes incomplete and very hard to navigate. I know that the English books have no page numbers nor index! Even my brightest (Gifted class) students struggled to locate the assigned readings unless we opened the book on the Smart Board and navigated together through the various tabs.

  27. dekalbite2 says:

    @DSW

    “The Balanced Scorecard 4th quarter results have been posted:
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/superintendent/balanced-score-card-%284th%29.pdf………
    …..Looks a bit all over the board to me. Teachers, weigh in please.”

    The best measure is to look at the CRCT for Grades K, 1, 2, 3,4, and 5, the CRCT in Grades 6, 7, and 8 and the EOCT for High School because:
    1. These are assessments that all of the students in Georgia took and therefore our students’ rate of achievement can be measured against other systems that are demographically comparable
    2. The CRCT and EOCT scores cannot be manipulated like the other indices in this report.

    The areas are denoted as Content Mastery which is the reason students come to school – to master the content of math, science, reading, language arts, and social studies. Look for the yellow highlighted row for Elementary Schools (Grades K-5), the yellow highlighted row for Middle Schools (Grades 6-8) and the Yellow highlighted row for High Schools (Grades 9-12). Directly underneath each of these yellow highlighted rows, you will see a row labeled CONTENT MASTERY.

    Looking at those scores shows that March and Howe just slapped a targeted 3% increase on EVERY CRCT for EVERY subject for EVERY grade. How ignorant is that? Anyone (literally) could just put a 3% increase for every subject in every grade and turn this in as their target for improvement. There is obviously no reason to believe that EVERY CRCT for EVERY subject for EVERY grade will go up by 3%, but there it is – the academic targets for Content Mastery for a billion dollar school system. IMHO – that is the height of laziness and incompetence.

    Ms. Howe spoke at Dr. Walker’s appeal. Listen to her take on DeKalb students’ rate of achievement:

    March is gone and Howe should soon follow. Neither one of them demonstrated even the slightest degree of critical thinking skills when assessing where DeKalb students are and where they should be. Either they are incapable, do not have the background or did not care to put forth the effort to establish REASONABLE projections for student achievement.

    This is why Mr. Thurmond should have cleaned house when he became superintendent. Ms. Howe is still the Deputy Superintendent of curriculum and Instruction and her second in command is the Executive Director Morcease Beasley who has a total of 2 1/2 years of classroom experience in the 1990s and during his tenure as head of Teaching and Learning under Ms. Tyson saw a decrease in student performance.
    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/teaching-and-learning

    Where do they get these people? Why do they keep them? Mr. Thurmon’s retention of low performing administrators is an insult to students, taxpayers, teachers, and parents.

    If these administrators are never held responsible, we will never see any improvement in our students’ performance.

  28. H.A. Hurley says:

    I think we need to spend much effort to expose the truth about the textbook myth in DCSS. Nothing can explain and support what is going in. Our kids are being denied FAPE! Free And Appropriate Education. Serious violation if proven. Kids are denied written text and information. Send it to EVERYONE in GA and USDoE, plus media. The lie about books being online has been told too often and they all believe it. Bottom line, no books, no access, no quality, low test scores, low graduation rate and teetering on SACS Cliff. What else?

  29. I really wish Ms Howe would have clarified and reiterated that she has only been employed at DCSS for about 18 months since Nov 1, 2011 (so she really has VERY LITTLE historical knowledge.

    She is the Deputy Superintendent in charge of curriculum and oversees several departments. She also has a pretty thin resume for this level of responsibility over so many students [just like the rest of the highest-ranking DCSS staff]. Her ONLY experience was as an educational consultant while she worked on her doctoral degree at the U of Kansas. Curious why when questioned about Friends and Family, did she not mention her ‘friendship’ as a consultant to Cheryl Atkinson in the past! hmmmmm.

  30. From the old DSW blog — anyone have an update?

    Time to find a replacement for Ron Ramsey too.

    Another article showing Ron Ramsey’s lack of accountability and siphoning of our taxes for his wife’s child care business! This is disgraceful!

    http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-officials-past-due-1183242.html

    Taxes owed by the Kingdom Group, a Decatur child care business run by Doris V. Carrington-Ramsey, the wife of Sen. Ronald Ramsey, D-Lithonia, also were blamed on the economy.

    The IRS filed $173,000 in liens against the center for unpaid taxes from 2007-2010. While owing the federal government, the Kingdom Group was getting money from the state for childcare services. The center received $278,122 in pre-k money from the state last year and has received about $850,000 in state money since 2006.

    Sen. Ramsey lists himself as vice president and general counsel for the company, although his wife said he has not played an active role in the business since he took office in 2007.

    “I am solely responsible for this tax matter which I hope to resolve in the near future,” she said, adding that lower enrollment in recent years has hurt the business. The Kingdom Group is making installment payments to the IRS to pay off the debt.

    Why is it not a conflict of interest for Ramsey, state rep and head of DCSS Internal Affairs, to run a state-funded Pre-K (in his wife’s name). It may not be illegal, but it smells bad.
    September 22, 2011 at 8:42 AM

  31. Fred in DeKalb says:

    In the spirit of the 50th anniversary of the *I Have a Dream* speech, I ask that we continue to join together to advocate for more early education intervention. I believe that children, regardless of where they live, their socioeconomic status, or their cultural background can succeed with a quality education. There are many examples of that throughout DeKalb. While we both agree something should be done about class sizes, it is imperative that sizes are reduced in the lower grades, where the foundations are being established. At the same time, we have to ask parents to take a more active role in their children’s education, in some cases help them to understand how to be good advocates and partners with their schools. We know the impact a quality education can have in providing a pathway to a better life. More positive role models are needed to help show the way. Hopefully at least for today we can put aside our differences, though slight, and come together for our county, schools and children. Can we do that?

  32. Sarah says:

    Fred, agreed. This issue is not about race, economic status, political party, or anything else other than every child deserves an appropriate education. I am just as appalled that my son was given books by some teachers as I am that others are withholding them. If my child deserves a book to bring home for study, then so does every other child in this system. You know something is wrong when a teacher gives a student a book “on the sly” and tells them to leave it at home so it won’t be taken up by administration. It’s completely unacceptable, like much in this school system is, and if we don’t come together and stop it, it WILL continue.

  33. Love all around Fred! In the words of the Beatles,

    Two, one two three four
    Everybody’s talking about
    Bagism, Shagism, Dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism
    This-ism, that-ism, is-m, is-m, is-m.

    All we are saying is give peace a chance
    All we are saying is give peace a chance

  34. H.A. Hurley says:

    Sarah & ALL Curriculum Watchdogs ~
    Went to Elem. Curriculum Night and heard the same explanation for the third year:
    * Texts are only for class use (2008 editions)
    * Common Core Standards are not linked to texts & materials available
    * No workbooks related to Common Core Standards
    * Only printed worksheets (Copyright?)
    * Common Core Stand. are only available online
    * Each teacher GATHERS his/her own content to teach, each day
    * Teaching activities and materials have to be collected by the teacher for every lesson
    * Elem teachers have all academic subjects to prepare for and research (5 x 5)
    * Insanely tedious
    * Feels like a turn-of-the century OneRoomSchoolHouse
    * 2 computers in class, not working & no programs for content learning
    * No Smart Boards or Promethean Boards – white board only
    * WORKSHEETS, WORKSHEETS, WORKSHEETS

    DCSS has done ZIPpppppppppp to bring the CCSS, texts, materials, tech access in-line with the demands of teaching the CCSS, and prepare kids for the tons of standardized tests. Many systems have made the effort to provide the texts, technology, workbooks and materials that teachers need. Starting each day by scrounging around to gather information is NUTS!

    Tests: Cogat, ITBS, CRCT, WRITING TESTS, EOCT, etc!
    Each time these tests are administered, instructional time is lost. Across the Nation, on average, 45-50 DAYS of instructional time are lost to testing. We are stuck with testing for now. However, DCSS is making it impossible for teachers to teach and address the CCSS, to prepare kids for academic success and increase achievement.
    It is a disaster! Pathetic!
    Where are they spending the M$$$$? Not visible in schools!
    Oh, yes…I forgot the TRIPLE LAYERS OF HIGHLY PAID ADMINISTRATORS and a white shiny fleet of company cars$$$$!

  35. midvaledad says:

    @H.A. Hurley,

    What school is it that doesn’t have smart boards?

  36. HA Hurley says:

    MidvaleDad ~ I would prefer not exposing the school, especially, during such pathological times in DCS. This school has a small number of Prometheun Boards in lower grades. In 3 years, grades 3-5, our child has not had a teacher with such a board. What a shame! Given the lack of available text, resources, workbooks and an old dark, never renovated, building….such a board should be a Must to teach our children.
    Everywhere we look, mediocrity in DCS?
    So many of our schools fit this description. The county could make M$$ renting out these schools to the film industry making movies with 1940s themes. Time stood still! The potholes in the parking lots will make vuntage cars look authentic as they bump along.
    Not even funny!

  37. dsw2contributor says:

    midvaledad @August 29, 2013 asked at 12:43 PM -“What school is it that doesn’t have smart boards?”

    I thought the trailers lacked smartboards — can you check on trailers at Midvale?

  38. howdy1942 says:

    Once again, I did the math. My understanding from all of the “lost but found” textbooks as described by Eugene Walker and Ms. Howe is that $21 million had been approved for the purchase of textbooks and somewhere around $12 million was spent. If I take that $21 million and divide it by as assumed cost of $150 per text, that comes out to 140,000 textbooks. That is 1.5 books for every child in the Dekalb County School System. If we replace books every three years, then that is 4.5 books for every child in the DCSS. If done every year, that would also mean that no textbook would be older than three years. Also, it doesn’t seem to me that it would be excessive to budget $21 million each year out of a budget of $1 Billion for textbooks. More often than not, those accessory packages are not necessary or needed.

    As for Dr. Elgart’s presentation at the April 2013 meeting, it seems to me that we need to crawl before we walk and we need to walk before we run. We need to focus on the simple things – get class sizes down to say 27-28, get textbooks in the hands of all students, pay our teachers and provide them with benefits commensurate with other teachers in the Metro Area, lead and motivate our teachers, measure results and take action, and provide our students and teachers with a safe, clean, and aesthetically pleasing classroom to enhance learning.

    My questions:

    1. Why aren’t textbooks being used in class? There are many on the market and surely we cold find one that would achieve course objectives. I attended college for 8 years, taught at the college level for 20 years (just retired) and used textbooks as the foundation of my teaching. Problems can be assigned, students can refer to the text for examples and, for selected problems, see the answers in the back of the text.

    2. If students have difficulty with assigned homework, where do they go for reference or, for courses such as math, to see examples?

    3. Do students have access to online textbooks equivalent to those in class?

    4. What do students do if they have no computers at home or don’t have Internet access?

    5. I’ll assure you that textbooks are being used at the college level – how are we preparing
    our students to be successful at the college level?

  39. Sarah says:

    About to leave for this budget and curriculum meeting that starts at 6 at Tucker High. My plan is to attempt to get some answers on some of these issues. I’ll give an update here tonight.

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