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. We look forward to your report, Sarah. Thanks.

  2. We look forward to your report, Sarah. Thanks.

  3. Fred in DeKalb says:

    @howdy1942, allow me to engage you on your math. I will use round numbers to make the math easier for me and do my best to provide references. Last year, there was just under 50 thousand elementary students (Look at the planning page for student population). Books needed by elementary students include Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies at a minimum. Look at this link for the syllabi and the Houghton Mifflin books needed,

    http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/elementary-school-teaching-and-learning

    Let’s assume each book costs $50 (probably low but again using a round number. In fairness, books should only be purchased once every 3-5 years unless replacements are needed.). We are now saying $200 per student for a total outlay of $10 million dollars. We haven’t gotten to middle or high school which can use up to 7 books per student, probably at a higher cost. This also does not include books for libraries though that may be a separate budget.

    Schools attempt to hold students accountable for any lost or damaged books by threatening to withhold report cards until debts are settled. How many debts do you think are realistically settled, especially when you have angry parents demanding the report card? What if it is the high school diploma they are demanding or transcript because they are moving their child to another school district.

    Like most here, I grew up and had books I could take home. Every student did. I benefitted from that. I also know that back in my time, school districts ate the cost of lost or damaged books. There were many. School districts can’t afford to do this anymore. Given all the complaints about content not being current, especially in Social Studies, this along with the high cost of books is probably why we are seeing the move to eBooks. The question is, what should be done in the interim, until eBooks are affordable?

  4. psdad says:

    @ Fred. I not sure that you were attempting to provide support for Howdys comment, but by your math it would only cost between $2million to $3.35 million per year to have books available for every middle school student ($10million total on a 3 year cycle).

  5. Sarah says:

    Fred, also, if Dekalb can spend 20 million a year county wide on athletics, we should have no problem getting textbooks. If it is that much of a problem, then the extracurricular budgets need to be cut til the county gets a handle on responsible fiscal policy, that’s all there is to it. Also, the money that was supposedly spent on books (12 million in credit from Bank of America) doesn’t seem to have been spent on books. I don’t understand why the BOA records haven’t been demanded since no one can produce a new textbook, purchase order, or packing slip.

    I just came in from this meeting and I have to tell you, I am absolutely astounded. I was hit with a lot of information I wasn’t expecting. I did ask about textbooks. I have video of that that I am posting here in a bit. Parents were also given information about the last PTSA meeting of the 12-13 school year. Listed in the minutes were the principal’s proposed plans of action for correcting/improving things that had been identified as problems. He listed his intentions and gave the reasons for them. It sounded great. Had any of it been followed through with, I am sure we would be seeing improvement. I think I may have identified a root cause of many problems Tucker High has. Administration can talk a great game and sell their ides, but there is zero follow through. It’s like all these people know how to do is play the “make it sound good” game. >< I'm going to post this video and then I will try to post a break down of the points in the documentation we were given that have not been acted on or have been acted on in a completely inappropriate way. If I don't make it to that last post til morning, I hope you guys will understand. This insanity is exhausting.

  6. H.A. Hurley says:

    Typically, school systems adopt new texts between 5 – 7 years. The books I reviewed at Curr Night were from 2008. Depends if the system replaces texts by subject matter, i.e., new Science books ordered 2014, Math books ordered in 2015, etc. Spreads out the cost. Also, many schools buy book tape and fix their books as they begin to show age. DCS books look fairly good because of the lack of use. At this current practice, we don’t even get our money’s worth out of them before they are discarded. Students knowing the content, ain’t gonna happen.

  7. Thank you so much, Sarah. If you run into difficulties and need any help, please send us an e-mail … dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    @Sarah – thanks for your input. I suppose that I am still trying to grasp the idea that our students don’t have textbooks to take home.

    1. Is that true at just some schools, most of the schools, or all of the schools in Dekalb?

    2. Do online versions of the textbooks exist if take home texts are not available?

    3. If textbooks are available online, do all students have Internet access?

    Fred, I am most concerned about our students being able to perform in the job market or at the college level when they graduate from our schools. Doing that is not rocket science. I realize that the DCSS is different and somewhat smaller than the college at which I taught, but the concept would still apply. We organized an Industry Advisory Board that focused on identifying the needs of local industries. I’m not talking about McDonald’s. As I read periodicals, I am puzzled by the fact that so many jobs seem to exist for high school graduates, but few are qualified. In Charlotte, NC, Siemens has organized its own educational center to train prospective students for jobs that it has. I’m sure that some will not agree, but the primary purpose of graduating from high school is to get a job that can support a reasonable standard of living. A college education should provide one with a reasonable rate of return for foregoing four or more years on the job and increase the scope of opportunities. Similarly, I don’t think designing a curriculum to accomplish these objectives is rocket science. We simply need to define what is expected of our graduates within the bounds of what the State requires, select the textbooks that most likely will allow that to be done, and teach this material. I also don’t think that it is particularly difficult to prepare exit exams. In fact, these exams should closely track the textbooks and the curriculum. I frequently hear a criticism of exit exams that “teachers teach to the exam”. Well, if they are covering the material to be taught that matter should take care of itself. But it all begins with giving the student that he/she needs in order to study, learn, and succeed and I’m at a loss to understand how that can be done without students being able to take textbooks home.

    Fred, I also remember having books to take home. I also remember that before texts were assigned, I had to return an agreement signed by my parents wherein they acknowledged that should I lose or damage a textbook beyond normal wear and tear, then that book had to be replaced by them before I could enroll in the following year or graduate or have my transcripts forwarded to an prospective employer or college. And that rule was strictly enforced with few exceptions that did include proof of one’s inability to pay.

    Sarah, I look forward to your post.

  9. Intouchouttamymind says:

    You are kidding yourselves if you think today’s students would rather have a real textbook rather than an online version. We old folks want books because that’s what WE had. Kids now live electronically. They would read EVERYTHING on their phones/ipads/kindles if they could.

  10. Sarah says:

    Sorry it is taking so long on the video, it’s uploading to YouTube now. When finished, I will post here immediately.

  11. Sarah says:

    Howdy, as you will see in the video, these people are clueless. I didn’t even go as far as I intended because it was immediately apparent no answers would be forthcoming. They tap danced all over the place dodging real answers. I will continue with written communication and attempt to get enough documentation so that someone will be forced to respond.
    I’d love to now how other schools are faring. I’ve tossed the idea around of touring schools myself as if I were thinking of moving there and doing some investigation…
    Of course we know that not every single home has internet. To think that isn’t true is arrogance in the extreme on the part of the school district. There are people in this county that can’t afford food and electricity and we are to assume they have internet? Ridiculous.
    I was told that online versions exist. I cannot find them, I was given no access codes tonight, even though supposedly this is an established program. Any parent I heard from that had codes could not log in because the accounts were not active. Anyone want to take a stab at why? I’d bet a month’s pay that somehow, the bills did not get paid. I received no real answers, just more insanity and CYA doublespeak. I was told by Mrs. Branch that she would get me answers tomorrow. Tomorrow. I am so disgusted over this blatant incompetence. I have not a doubt in my mind that myself and ten of my closest friends could take over for six weeks and do a much better job than these people. I can’t imagine what their priorities are….

  12. H.A. Hurley says:

    I don’t think we have been concerned about what kids would rather use to read a text book. If online books were consumer friendly, all bugs worked out, organized well, kids had Internet access & they were mature enough to know what parents are concerned about…then we would have discussed it. But, we agonize over the lack of ‘EVERYTHING DCSS’ to make sure they have all the opportunities we want them to have.

  13. concernedmom30329 says:

    Let’s talk about the living conditions for many of the students in the Clarkston district. Recent refugees and immigrants who live multiple families in one apartment with little money, Most will have no internet access and that is just how it is.

  14. Sarah says:

    Here it is. I’m going to have to put off the other post til tomorrow, I am so sorry. Also, sorry about my son’s cold. lol He is sniffling through the entire thing…

  15. Sarah says:

    Here is the YouTube link if anyone is having trouble playing the video here.

  16. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Using the books only as a resource is nothing new. I have been screaming for the last six years that in the third grade the amount of paperwork, worksheets,etc. was about 2 ft tall. The teachers are not using the textbooks for a host of reasons, especially in elementary school. The curriculums department seems to have changed gears each time their has been a superintendent reset. Not to mention the state buying into CCCS. In the last six years there has been 4 superintendents that’ve effected our children’s education. Liken this to a revolving door and there has been no stability. Children do not thrive in instability. Duh! By the way, neither do the adults.

  17. howdy1942 says:

    @Sarah – you’re doing great! Hang in there. If we were selecting texts that were not being used in class, then that is a mistake that needs to be corrected either by selecting textbooks that do meet the needs for our classes or we may need to develop those who teach the requisite classes. In our classes, we always asked the students to complete and end-of-course questionnaire that was used primarily to increase the effectiveness of the class. Nothing frustrated students more or impaired the learning process more than “throwing” material at the student. If a text was available, that’s what they primarily wanted to use. And these students were relatively recent high school graduates. Reading extensive passages on a computer screen or studying technical material that required frequent references to previous material was frustrating to say nothing of trying to do that on a smart phone. While that might not be so effective in middle and elementary school, it would be worth a shot in high school.

    Sarah, I look forward to the results of your investigation. I also would be very interested to learn what other school districts are doing. I was reading the Dekalb Neighbor today and was struck by the significant percentage increase in Decatur’s schools. That contrasts sharply with those in DCSS, particularly if we are going to have to “lose” teachers because the actual enrollment was below projections. Does anyone know if charter school students count in the DCSS population?

  18. Sarah says:

    Does anyone here have information on athletic funding for the high schools? Where those funds originate? How they are divided among the schools? I will be making a formal request for this info on Tuesday, but I’d like an idea of what questions I should be asking…. Any help is appreciated! Thanks!

  19. Kenwoody says:

    DSW2: “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.”

    In my experience your condition “each group is willing to compromise” is not supported by actual events and certainly not by NFB lawyers. Some schools are so afraid of their litigious nature that they are pre-emptively returning donated e-book readers. A school in Athens Clarke County did this within the last few years. That said, and it should come as no surprise to anyone here, there are commercial and political interests behind UEB, some international.

    Again, as no surprise, UEB is not “universal” but it is a code that one (and only one) of the commercial transcription programs can produce.The company making this is what we call “a winner”. The motivations behind this movement disregard the impact on braille literacy (all negative) and the fact that it bloats the code and reduces the information density by a factor in excess of four. But this company’s software can produce it and they’ve lobbied hard. And successfully.

    But to your original point, this program with an embosser will produce UEB output. Since NFB were co-opted into the mad rush towards UEB (by groups about as responsible to the public interest as SACS and some not even in the US–e.g., Nigeria) NFB have probably undercut their own litigation efforts. This is what we call “lemonade”.

    There is also the issue that even sighted students read far fewer pages and there are certainly programs (computer and otherwise) that produce audio renditions. Why read Huck Finn when someone will read it to you? So perhaps you’re correct and this whole kerfuffle (and many others) will be overcome by events.

  20. midvaledad says:

    @dsw2contributor,
    Midvale doesn’t have trailers, but I can tell you some trailers do have smartboards.

  21. midvaledad says:

    @howdy1942,

    Charter schools are counted in enrollment.

    Interestingly for elementary schools, pre-K classes don’t. The district is required to provide space for them, but those students are not counted by the state. This is why there are differences between DCSD elementary numbers and GaDOE elementary numbers.

  22. hopespringseternal says:

    I’m very appreciative @Sarah for your sharing of information. Seems the district prides itself on managing students, but not so much on actually educating them. In my own industry and workplace it is a constant challenge to make sure departments and groups avoid working in silos. In DCSS, this is where the leadership vacuum gets magnified, because senior management typically ensures that the line functions are executed and that there’s a whole view of the world. Not so here.

    Now to athletics. Tough one. There are a couple of athletics-related policies in the district policy manual, kept online. These include a booster club policy, which is where it gets murky. Booster clubs and what they bring in results in The Great Divide between the haves and the have-nots, and to your point, have the unintended consequence of taking the focus off of the school’s primary mission. So as you frame your questions, keep this in mind. You’ll want to know the allocation of district dollars to a program vs booster dollars, IMO. Then, there’s the intra-school equity question. E.g., is it the football program that’s swimming in largesse while the poor soccer team suffers because that’s not what the school is popular for? And I hope you won’t have to delve into the Title IX issue, but gender equity is also on the table. The district is responsible for compliance with regulations. Revenues from events factors large, if the district is supposed to have self-supporting athletic programs. Not sure how far you want to dive, but the water is deep and not for the faint of heart. I think your major focus is the emphasis on athletics vs academics, so take all of this and see if you can formulate your inquiries accordingly. Hope this helps.

  23. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Fred
    We spend $20,000,000 A YEAR on non teaching Instructional Coaches and Coordinators even as our student achievement has plummeted. Maybe we should cut in that area to provide students with access to textbooks and other learning materials that teachers actually want and need to directly instruct students.

  24. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Fred
    And is keeping 20 non teaching admin and support personnel and 20 science teachers at Fernbank for $4,000,000+ A YEAR a good investment when we can’t afford textbooks for students? Our science scores are lower than ever, and since we lost the forest back to the Fernbank Museum, we have a moldy old building in need of millions of dollars in repairs and updates (the Planetarium alone is pitifully outdated – all of the new telescopes in Georgia – paid for by private funding and moderate fees – have digital telescopes). Fernbank Science Center has become a money pit we can no longer afford. Yet Mr. Thurmnd actually increased its budget while cutting text books for kids.

  25. H.A. Hurley says:

    If the county is serious about educating its students, then the entire task performed by teachers cannot depend on teachers looking up the Common Core Standards and then begin to gather, scrounge, and collect the information to teach those specific concepts and facts. How much time do we think teachers have to plan for lessons? Especially, five different subjects in elem. school or 170 kids in middle and high school. Asking each and every teacher to create each lesson from scratch without materials, technology, texts, Internet, resource books, work books & only copier produced for our kids, each and every day – is not working and the dumbest thing we could ever expect of our teachers. Other systems and other states have invested in coordinated materials with coordinated lessons, along with supplemental materials. In DCS, this is disjointed, disorganized and the only framework are the Common Core Standards…which are up for discussion, anyway! Many of those objectives are not developmentally appropriate, which adds another level of difficulty for average ability kids, and a nightmare for many students with disabilities. Long story short….it’s a mess and our scores support that our kids are not doing well.
    If we continue this way, our kids may actually do better if we give them dice to roll for standardized tests. Ultimately, we will graduate undereducated children, and it is on us!
    We know better and we need to insist that DCS step up to the plate for all of our students to succeed.

  26. Exactly Hurley…. isn’t that why we have such an enormous “curriculum” department in the administration? If they aren’t putting together the curricula for teachers, then what on earth are they doing with their time up there in the palace?

  27. Stan Jester says:

    Tucker High School – Curriculum Night
    Thank you, Sarah! Like watching a live train wreck, I couldn’t stop watching. I was astounded by their answers. I’m fighting through the shock just to type this comment. Here’s a summary of the questions and answers. This will also help search engines direct people to the video…

    Sarah – Tell us about the pilot online textbook program

    Answer – The online textbook program is designed to:
    * Reduce student movement in the hallway
    * Cut down on the stress of carrying books
    * Getting students used to technology

    Sarah – Are our textbooks online and do we have access codes?

    Answer – Yes

    Sarah – We haven’t been given those codes. I asked my child’s 6 teachers why we don’t have textbooks and was given 6 different answers. None of them, however, mentioned this online textbook program.

    Answer – The textbook is considered a resource. The county purchased new math books recently, so those are available. I’ll have to check about the codes.

    Sarah – So we have codes, but haven’t been given them even though we are 3 weeks into the school year?

    Answer – Essentially. If you contact …

    Sarah – I sent an email to Mr. Jackson and all 4 assistant principals and I have not heard back from any of them.

    Answer – We’ll make sure you get an answer tomorrow.

    Sarah – I asked the secretary about our textbooks and she didn’t say anything about this online textbook program. That makes 7 employees and none of them mentioned this program.

    Answer – You should be able to get textbooks signed out.

    Parent – I have been told by parents to go to the county website. The administrators I have talked to didn’t know anything.

  28. Good synopsis Stan! I actually had to transcribe one section in particular – it exemplifies the outrageous frustration parents feel when dealing with administrators at just about any level…

    +++

    Sarah: I’d like to know more about this Pilot Textbook Program
    Answer: Uh, the Pilot Test, Test, Textbook Program is basically designed to ensure that students don’t have a lot of movement in the building.. the question is, was, how does the new pilot for the textbook, what’s the purpose of it, why we are rolling this (?) out. Pretty much it’s to ensure that there’s less movement in the hallway, uh obviously in order to get this textbook, that textbook, the student would have to constantly go to their locker. So it’s to cut back on that also the stress of having all of the extra books, um that students would have to carry around and we’re living in a technology society so it’s getting students used to using technology to access their books with a textbook online.

    Sarah: So are there access codes or online copies of these texts that we can use at home?
    Answer: Yes.
    Sarah: Well, I don’t know if anyone else is having trouble but..
    Answer: Are you having trouble logging on? Dr. A…
    Sarah: No, not logging on, we have not been given any code. None are available for us.
    Answer: Ok. (Asks the other woman if she knows anything – Sarah asks the question again. Says she asks 6 teachers, and got 6 different responses. None mentioned the pilot textbook program.)
    New Answer: Ok, um. What you’re looking at is, the textbook is considered a resource. But access is (??). And we realize too that the county has purchased, because of the new math, the CCCGS math, we rolled out the first one last year, and you all (??) the geometry this year. So there are books available for those courses. And that’s um, why, to answer your question, I really need to check on that because I know that they can access those books. They can get those books. We’ll make sure we will get an answer tomorrow. I have a meeting today with Dr. Pringle who is our area superintendent and we talked about textbooks. So I’m not sure if we’re not going to issue them cause I (trails off)…

    Sarah: I called the secretary at the central office and she didn’t know anything either.
    New Answer: First of all, did anyone tell you that if you requested a book, you could be issued a book? If a parent requests a book, they can have that.

    +++

    Note: Never does anyone define, introduce or explain what in the heck the “Pilot Textbook Program” actually is! What is it?

  29. PARENTS: First thing Monday morning, send letters in to your principals that you would like your child to have a textbook in every subject. Apparently, the only way to get one is if a parents requests one for their child. Pity the poor child who has no internet access and no parent in the loop…

  30. H.A. Hurley says:

    Sarah, Stan & all Concerned DCS residents:
    I watched the video of the Tucker HS meeting! U.n.b.e.l.i.e.v.a.b.l.e! They know how to KILL PARENT INVOLVEMENT! They don’t want involved parents. Sarah had a full-time job trying to get text book answers. No such luck! The reasons for not issuing texts is nothing but …….! Can’t print it here.
    My observation: Tucker HS is keeping kids from spending time in halls for any reason other than the absolute minimum. They are doing this to avoid social interactions, problems, fights, lates to class, bathroom teenage stuff, you name it! They don’t have control over kids, no structure and no security in case of fights. Bet ya!
    Books online: ask for a mass parent inservice in the computer lab by the administration to demonstrate use of the online texts. Collect many parents to attend. Let them show you the wonderful advantage of those online books using the syllabus of each class. I can predict what will happen! We Must Out them!
    They wasted so many hours/days of instructional time. Students have EOCT which weigh heavily on grades, promotions and graduations.
    THESE ADMINISTRATORS ARE WASTING Y.O.U.R CHILD’S EDUCATION!
    They can’t explain this mess away! It’s a shell game.
    THERE AIN’T NO THERE, THERE! No books! Millions of $$$$ gone! No Books! No Education!
    Wake up DCS Parents! Yell it from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

  31. Sarah says:

    hopespringseternal,, thank you! Exactly the kind of thing I was looking for. When this occurred to me, my interest was academics versus athletics, yes. The deeper I dig, however, the wider my focus is becoming. Around 9:30 yesterday morning I decided that I won’t put limits on how deep I am going to swim out, I’m just going to see where the current takes me. Part of me feels like I should have pressed harder at the meeting but it was just going nowhere, fast. I’ve sent out some more emails and heard back from Dr. Pringle; she says that the textbook situation at THS has been discussed among school staff and with the Director of Allotments; a letter is supposed to go out Tuesday explaining some things and updating parents. She also said that I would hear from her and Mr. Jackson regarding the school’s academic plan for this year. So, we will see how that goes.

    A few other things that I was shocked at from that meeting concerned things that were foreseen last year as potential issues for the start of this school year. These,things were identified, discussed, and planned for last school year and there was just no appropriate follow-through. Why tell incoming eighth graders to sign up for the highest levels classes they can then refuse them AP classes come the start of the year? Why coordinate with middle school and have them create schedules for these children if none of those schedules are going to be correct? Why register children before the first day of class and create schedules for them at all if the first four weeks of school is to be spent reassigning classes and re-entering student data? Why identify and plan for these start-of-school issues and then still put teachers, students, and parents in the sad position of watching the first month of school be a complete waste of everyone’s time? The fact that these things were correctly identified and planned for at the end of last school year says that we are not dealing with incompetence here, we are dealing with administration’s choice to put educating our kids somewhere other than the top of their priority list. I don’t understand how or why people like that are in the field of education.

  32. H.A. Hurley says:

    Sarah~
    The chaos at Tucker HS, thank our lucky stars, most likely is related to DCS and the layers and layers of incompetent administrators. From Mr. Thurmond on down! It is not difficult to have most structure in place by day1. There are always students walking in at last minute. The 10-Day Count usually shifts some students and moves some teachers. this is not what I’m hearing. sounds like utter chaos for weeks. No teaching going in, no grading, just crowd control they are lucky that kids ha e not exploded. Parents sure have not en mass.
    I spent many years in education and worked in several Metro ATL counties. Never, never have I heard of such a mess, nor have I heard it continuing for so long, and will continue. High schools and middle schools have scheduled students for years, without wasting tons of instructional hours. No brain, skills or experience POWER left in DCS system. Just folks getting their doctorates online, paid big $$ for what? Can’t learn those skills inline. Must work with knowledgable administrators to perfect those skills. Must care enough to want to be proficient!
    It took 30 years to kill DCS and it may not come back in our lifetime. Hopeless? Maybe! Look at APS, they are finally on the upswing, we hope! It took thousands of active parents, business and political leaders to insist on APS to stop the nonsense they used to call an education. Still in the throws of the Huge Cheating Scandal. $$$$ 4 Years!

    Right now, not many people with influence care enough about DCS to make a difference. The Secede from DC is the trend. Can’t blame them! Remedial School System 101 is exhausting, cost M$$ and endless. All we do is feed the systems financial habits.

    Sarah & DCSW2, most give up, but many of us keep plucking along and hope to make a difference. I happen to be one of the latter and you are too. Let’s ask for the online textbook inservice in our DCS schools. The WHITE FLEET CARS 4 TEXTBOOKS PILOT PROGRAM is system wide and no1 cares enough to fund textbooks anytime soon.

  33. Sarah says:

    For three years now I have regretted not being more vocal when I had to fight tooth and nail to get my child enrolled in ninth grade. I will not make that mistake again. I absolutely refuse to shut up until these people are forced to get their ducks in a row and act right, or until they get replaced, whichever comes first. If the final word Tuesday is that they are sticking with this cover sto…I mean, pilot program, then yes, we need to get a database of Dekalb parents addresses and start a movement to cast as much light on this as possible. Requesting training on the technological particulars of this program will be a great place to start. I wonder what excuse will be given to the auditorium full of parents when staff can’t log on to any textbooks?

  34. Midvale Dad says:

    When is the first Tucker High School PTA meeting? Everyone should go.

  35. Sarah says:

    It was on the 29th, right after the Title I meeting. Can’t find any information on the next one, as the THS site still has the dates for 2010 listed, I did find something interesting though. Apparently someone with the Tucker Parent Council asked about the e-book program at a TPC meeting this past February. Click the link and scroll all the way to the very last item to read about it. Too bad the Director of Allotments didn’t share that info with THS.

    http://www.tuckerparentcouncil.com/tucker-parent-council-meetings.html

  36. Wow Sarah. Those minutes from TPC are fascinating….

    April 23, 2013

    Mr. Thurmond discussed the following:
    · DeKalb School for the Arts was recently ranked by US News and World Reports as the number two school in Georgia and the number 75 school in the United States.
    · The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce has offered $125,000 in scholarships to deserving and needy students in the 2013 graduating class. [DSW Note: Anyone have an accounting of this?]
    · There is no current policy, nor history of a policy, to handle nepotism within DCSS. This subject will be discussed at the next Board Meeting on April 30. [DSW Note: Yes, there was definitely a nepotism policy passed by the previous board.]
    · In a meeting with former Superintendent, Robert Freeman, Mr. Thurmond discovered that there had been a purposeful history of family hiring during Mr. Freeman’s tenure at DCSS. This began during integration when there were few black educators in the county. Husband and wife teaching teams were recruited to come to DeKalb. This trend continued during Mr. Freeman’s term as Superintendent and extended to other family members of successful educators.
    · A survey of teachers found that they are overall dissatisfied with the Success for All Reading Program that was adopted. Many of the teachers are unhappy that they did not have any input into the adoption of the program.
    · The Balanced Calendar was dropped due to the thought that there was not a thorough investigation into the affect it may have on all shareholders. Recent studies indicate that there are no discernable differences between the retention rates of students educated using either calendar. The Board will revisit the calendar issue at a later time.
    · A SACS visit will be held in a few weeks. Mr. Thurmond reiterated that DCSS would not lose its accreditation.
    · The state budget cut of 85 million dollars, plus mismanagement of funds, is what has resulted in DeKalb’s current financial problems.
    · Neighboring school systems are also experiencing deficits.
    · DeKalb will end its current fiscal year with less of a deficit.

    Mr. Thurmond mentioned the following points specifically related to the Fiscal Year 2014 Budget:
    · The Board will set very specific parameters for the budget.
    · An increase in academic achievement will be the driving principal when setting the budget.
    · Due to legislation, there will be and additional 16 million dollars in expenditures, plus a three percent decline in revenue from ad valorem taxes.
    · This decline in ad valorem revenue will be offset by an increase in state appropriations due to an increase in students.
    · DCSS will work within its “fiscal reality” to provide quality in all schools.

  37. Sarah says:

    My favorite part was from the February meeting where the PTC was told that the eBook program had been put on hold and had been more of a one-to-one device program than a true eBook program anyway….

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