Strategic Churn: Recycling a plan and paying for it again

[Reprinted with permission from Nancy Jester’s blog]

DEKALB-CHURNING-LEARNING-butter-churnThe DeKalb Board of Education recently approved a new strategic planning process. I use the word “new” purposefully. In 2011, DeKalb engaged the GSBA (Georgia School Boards Association) to assist in the development of a strategic plan. As Ronald Reagan would say, “There you go again,” because DeKalb has once again asked the GSBA to perform the same task.

You can read all about the 2011 effort online. Click here (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/strategic-plan/community-engagement-session-report-(2011-10-07).pdf ) to read about the community engagement sessions that were held. The district formulated a strategic plan for 2012-2017 entitled the Excellence in Education plan – click here (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/superintendent/strategic-plan-final-(2012-2017).pdf ) to read it.

So here we go again. Given the GSBA’s political stances, it is highly unlikely they’ll build in autonomy or innovative governance structures for schools in DeKalb. The GSBA lobbied against the Charter School Amendment that was overwhelmingly passed statewide and in DeKalb. The GSBA routinely advocates against legislative measures that puts more power in the hands of parents and taxpayers. Wonder what they think of the charter cluster idea? I say this to illuminate that the entity, tasked with helping DeKalb (yet again) build a strategic plan, holds positions that are at odds with the majority of citizens in our county. So, back to that strategic plan…

The current DeKalb BOE voted to approve this work at their August 5th meeting. https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=31840&IID=721877 ). The bid review sheet that awarded the contract to GSBA indicated their proposal would cost the taxpayers $300,000. However, the “action item” read to the board and the public listed the cost at $250,000. If one can get past this discrepancy and the political leanings of this organization, one would still wonder, why the need to jettison the plan that the district adopted in 2012. Was the board made aware that there was a fairly new plan? Why wouldn’t they review it, possibly amend/edit it and see to it that it was implemented with fidelity? Why reinvent the wheel; hiring and paying the same entity to do this all over again?

Better yet, perhaps they should read up on “strategic planning”. I wrote this article about it in June. (http://whatsupwiththat.nancyjester.com/2013/06/10/476/). Here’s a paragraph I wrote about what an expert in the field said about strategic planning:

“In his critique of strategic planning, Mintzberg tells us that, “Because analysis is not synthesis, strategic planning is not strategy formulation.” He adds that, “Ultimately, the term `strategic planning’ has proved to be an oxymoron.” … “…..strategy emerges over time as intentions collide with and accommodate a changing reality.” Indeed.”

Even more important, read what I uncovered about the relationship between student achievement and strategic planning.

“…Vicki Basham and Fred Lunenburg found an ‘inconsistent and weak’ association between district participation in strategic planning and student achievement, as measured by standardized test scores in reading, language arts, and mathematics in grades 3, 5, 7, and 10. Basham and Lunenburg wrote in their review of prior research that ‘no other study shows a direct tie-in between strategic planning in school districts and school district performance on standardized achievement tests,’ and they can add their own work to the list.” So, as I stated earlier, I want results and strategic planning does not drive results.”

So why are we paying $250k or $300k (which is it?) for a product we already have that will likely do little to nothing to improve the educational lives of our children?

If we are looking for a mission statement, I suggest we look to Hall County. I had the pleasure of meeting the Hall County Superintendent this summer. He’s a different breed of superintendent – more on that in another blog. He told me that the best organizations have simple mission statements – no more than 5 words – that every employee knows from the custodial staff up to the CEO. Hall County’s mission statement: Character, Competency, Rigor For All.

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This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, Common Core Curriculum, DeKalb County [GA] Board of Education, DeKalb County, Georgia, Education in the South, Friends-and-Family, Michael Thurmond, Nancy Jester, Ramona Howell Tyson, SACS/Accreditation, Superintendent Cheryl Howell Atkinson, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Strategic Churn: Recycling a plan and paying for it again

  1. concerned citizen says:

    Thank you, Nancy. Every time I see your comments I am so pleased that you care about the schools. Thank you for your wisdom and perseverance! I wish that everyone in DeKalb who is a voter could vote for you for any school office you would be willing to help. With much gratitude –

  2. Ah yes! Victory in Every Classroom … Every Child…A Winner!
    I remember it well…

  3. Oh! Lest we forget about Atkinson’s 90 day plan!! (Not all that different from Tyson’s or Thurmonds…)

    In September 2011, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) started a new chapter with the appointment of Dr. Cheryl L.H. Atkinson as Superintendent. Upon being sworn in, Dr. Atkinson launched her 90 Day Entry Plan, a set of activities to fully immerse her new administration in the workings of the DeKalb County School District, DeKalb County’s communities and neighborhoods, and all of the external institutions that support and touch the School District.

    The overall objective of the 90‐Day Entry Plan was to listen, learn and lead. Listening and learning sessions consisted of numerous meetings with constituent groups, internal leadership and direct reports, as well as external leaders and representatives from business, service, not for profit, philanthropic, political, faith‐based and community organizations of all kinds.

    The 90‐Day Entry Plan transition proved to be critical, as the process reinforced that DCSD faces a growing list of challenges, including decreasing student achievement, inconsistent student discipline, declining employee morale, a lack of trust of the School District among parents and the members of the community and a number of other issues that require urgent action.

  4. Here’s the link to Thurmond’s 90 Day Plan — http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/superintendent/90-day-plan.pdf

    We are on a merry-go-round people!!

    The document outlines the strategic focus of the DCSD for the next ninety days. The plan includes five major goals and objectives:

    • Address AdvanceED/SACS action items and work to achieve unconditional accreditation status;
    • Develop and implement a balanced budget for FY 2014;
    • Prioritize student academic achievement and career readiness; strengthen parent, adult guardian and mentor involvement;
    • Develop and implement a plan that will improve operational efficiency throughout the district;
    • Continue to rebuild trust with internal and external district stakeholders.

    GOAL #3: Prioritize student academic achievement and career readiness; Invest in parent, adult guardian and mentor involvement
    The administration will engage nationally recognized curriculum and instruction experts, district instructional team leaders, classroom instructors, parents and other stakeholders to develop strategies that will improve academic achievement and career readiness. Review DCSD recruitment policies and the hiring, training and assignment of principals, teachers and support staff. Evaluate curriculum, program offerings, and curriculum alignment with common core college and career readiness standards. Analyze student achievement and career readiness data to determine best practices. Develop a more holistic understanding of the root causes of low student achievement and school performance.

    GOAL #5: Rebuild trust with internal and external stakeholders
    I have met with students, teachers, parents, parent-teacher organizations, parent councils, business leaders, local and state elected officials, board members, state education leaders, higher education, teacher organizations, non-profit and civic organizations, faith-based leaders, other school superintendents, employees, community partners, and the media. These listening and learning sessions afforded me the opportunity to hear the concerns of all stakeholders. The common theme among stakeholders was put student academic achievement first, direct available resources to the classroom, eliminate waste and mismanagement, review central office staffing patterns, support teachers and involve parents and stakeholders partners in the decision making process. We will rebuild public trust and confidence through deliberate actions grounded in transparency, open communication, collaboration and shared responsibility.

    Talk about recycled Eduspeak!! Ugh!

  5. Word Wall says:

    Great examples of the jargon. As long as classroom size is out of control and teachers are not compensated it is all just empty rhetoric. Waste 300,000 dollars to write some trendy jargon…typical!

  6. Oh! Did you like that Word Wall? How about this? It’s the INSTITUTION PROGRESS REPORT FOR ADVANCED REQUIRED ACTIONS … (probably another SACS report written up by Tyson)…


    REQUIRED ACTION 1: Re-establish the District’s strategic planning team for the purpose of effectively implementing the District’s Strategic Plan to guide the direction of the District.

    OVERALL STATUS OF REQUIRED ACTION: Complete

    KEY DELIVERABLES AND PROGRESS STATUS FOR REQUIRED ACTION:
    Research strategic planning models and best practices recognized by GSBA and other districts: Complete
    Identify/develop a strategic planning framework, process, and timeline for DeKalb County Schools: Complete
    Create a Board-directed strategic plan that is comprehensive with input from community and employee stakeholders: Complete
    Obtain Board-approval for the vision, mission, and goals for the strategic plan: Complete: Board approval received on February 13, 2012
    Implement a continuous improvement process plan based on strategic plan: Ongoing (Started February 2012)

    REPORT SUMMARY

    The Strategic Planning Team retreat was held on October 13-14, 2011. In December 2011, drafts of four action plans were submitted to the Superintendent’s Cabinet for review and alignment with the Theory of Action for Change1 and the 90-Day Entry Plan2. Upon taking office in September, the Superintendent launched the 90-Day Entry Plan, a set of activities to fully immerse the new administration in the operations of the DeKalb County School District, DeKalb County’s communities and neighborhoods, as well as the external institutions that support and touch the District. The 90-Day Plan was completed in January, 2012.

    Parallel to the 90-Day Entry Plan and the strategic planning process, on Oct. 31, 2011, the Board of Education approved a Theory of Action for Change for the DeKalb County School District, a mission and philosophy statement that outlines how the new administration plans to improve student success across the District.

    A key component of the Theory of Action for change is the District’s commitment to an Aligned Management System (AMS) for Continuous Improvement. The objective of the AMS is to effectively manage and continuously improve the District’s performance of its strategic goals and implement a customized balanced scorecard to measure and monitor performance in meeting targets. The initial training session for the AMS was delivered on February 10, 2012. This is the first step in planning and execution of the Excellence in Education Plan3 and a balanced scorecard to monitor progress.

  7. Funnily enough, this Strategic Plan ALREADY LIVES at the Superintendent’s website: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/superintendent/excellence-in-education-plan

    Superintendent
    Home:Balanced Scorecard
    Excellence in Education Plan

    Dear students, parents, educators, and all of our partners in the DeKalb community:

    Welcome to the Home Page for the DeKalb County School District Excellence in Education 2017 Strategic Plan, the blue print for improving DeKalb Schools.

    The Excellence in Education 2017 Strategic Plan is our vehicle to communicate to all of our stakeholders the challenges the DeKalb County School District will confront in the future and how we, working together, will address these challenges to create a better future for our students.

    This Strategic Plan comes from a months long planning process, which included input from the DeKalb County Board of Education, parents, teachers, students and others in the DeKalb Schools community. These partners helped us identify our priorities and goals and build a framework of steps for the School District to achieve them.

    The Excellence in Education Plan outlines the School District’s mission and vision, our guiding principles and our five core goals:

    Student Achievement and Success
    Excellence in Leadership and Personnel
    Operational Effectiveness
    Safe and Orderly Schools
    Engaging Stakeholders
    Critical to making the Excellence in Education Plan a reality is the School District’s commitment to an Aligned Management System for Continuous Improvement.

    An Aligned Management System will facilitate building a culture of accountability, and provides a means to manage, monitor and measure School District activities, decisions and performance objectives as outlined in the Strategic Plan. It will also facilitate communication with full transparency about our progress to all of our stakeholders.

    We invite you to look over our Excellence in Education Plan and follow us as we take decisive steps to achieve our goals to improve student success. Working together, we will make Every Child a Winner and achieve Victory in Every Classroom.

    Strategic Plan [ http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/superintendent/strategic-plan-final-(2012-2017).pdf ] (2012-2017)

  8. Dekalbite2 says:

    ” This is the first step in planning and execution of the Excellence in Education Plan3 and a balanced scorecard to monitor progress.”

    The Balanced Scorecard objectives which March and Howe established by merely adding 3% growth for EVERY SUBJECT for EVERY GRADE LEVEL (absolutely no critical thinking skills on that one). DCSS administrators who divert tens of millions from the classroom to pay their salaries utterly failed to meet the objectives they established. Kathy Howe and the other administrators still have their jobs even when they have abjectly failed to perform.

    Now Thurmond/Tyson want a “new” and “improved” strategic plan. A tactic to delay and deflect responsibility and accountability. These two must be held accountable for student performance. If they cannot move students forward, they need to move out of the way for the students’ sake.

  9. TracyW says:

    IIRC, DeKalb has a variety of plans and studies parked on the shelves that have been forgotten. Is DCSS using the same filing cabinets as the county proper? I should find the person who was rattling them off to me the other day and post a list to be found using the Freedom of Information Act.

  10. Midvale Dad says:

    Don’t forget that Ramona Tyson has been in charge of strategic planning for the last two years. She kept her salary when Dr. Atkinson was hired. According to the FY2011-2012 budget Tyson was paid $308,098. In the FY 2013 budget a total of $1,248,954 was allocated for the division of strategic planning. Look at page 266 of the FY2013 approved budget. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/budget/index/archive
    In the FY2014 budget Tyson’s salary is cut to $166,000, but don’t feel too sorry for her, she has a $10,000 travel allowance. I would like to be one of the part-time secretaries who make $34,000, but I am not in the Friends and Family network. (page 373 of the FY2014 approved consolidated budget) http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/budget

  11. Dekalbite2 says:

    Ms. Tyson’s the Chief Strategy Officer. Why is she not writing the strategic plan with her staff based on input from the teachers who know what needs to be done for the classroom to ensure success for students. Why are we paying Ms. Tyson and her staff hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then farming this out to a consulting firm for hundreds of thousands more? We can’t keep throwing money away like this. If the administrators have a job to do they need to do it – not pay a consulting firm to perform their job function.

  12. Midvale Dad says:

    I am sorry. The travel isn’t found in the consolidated budget. It is on page 371 in the FY2014 Approved Budget Detail. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/budget

    Remarkably that page also shows $174,000 for purchased professional and technical services. I thought that was the money for the RFP, but apparently it isn’t since the BOE approved $300,000. Is the $174,000 in addition to the $300,000? It may not be, but I can not tell.

    Nancy or Stan, to what does budget code 101.48.95.00.000101.766.0000 refer.

  13. Midvale Dad says:

    Hold the horses!

    At the bottom of the page Nancy linked, https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/ViewMeetingOrder.aspx?S=4054&MID=31840&IID=721877 Ramona is listed as “Ms. Ramona H. Tyson, Chief of Staff, Office of the Superintendent, 678.676.0010”

    Was there a game of musical chairs in the Palace that we haven’t been told about?

  14. howdy1942 says:

    Once again, we have another example of waste money, duplicated resources, and an administration that is so lost in its own virtual world. All of this would be laughable if it weren’t costing the taxpayers so much.

    That Superintendent from Hall County has learned what so many of us in business learned many times – keep your mission statement simple so that it will be a part of every employee’s daily thought process. In less than 11 months, the residents of Dekalb County will have the opportunity to make a statement – the first since we elected that dysfunctional board that was removed by the Governor. I always place an exception to that – Nancy Jester! I hope that some hard charging men and women of integrity and business acumen will come forward to offer themselves as candidates. We need seven – one per district. In that one vote, we can make a strong statement and get a board that wants to change things, a board that abhors the status quo, a board that would make it a top priority to find a hard charging, competent, and experienced superintendent and one that would pay no attention to the color of his or her skin, a board that would make the deep personnel cuts and changes in the palace guard, and a board that would focus the priorities on the classroom, on the teachers, and on the students. Most of us in business learned long ago to ignore race, gender, and color in personnel selections. I think most of our kids have also learned that lesson. Sadly, there are a few carryovers from the 1960s that haven’t seemed to learn that lesson and they have had a disproportionately say in the affairs of our school system.

    We don’t need a strategic plan. We need a mission. We need to focus on the simple things. Books for students, motivated and competitively compensated teachers, safe and comfortable classrooms, focus on student achievement, communication and listening at all levels with an emphasis on listening to the classroom. This is not rocket science. It is a hallmark of successful organizations. We don’t need another think book with mindless and numbing rhetoric that has no measures, no schedule of implementation, and is most likely to be ignored, shelved, and in just a few months abandoned. And we certainly don’t need to spend another $250.000 or $350,000 on anything other than the classroom. And we don’t need the palace guard to again abandon the classroom and students to think about this useless document.

    In the interim, I will continue to support new efforts such as the Druid Hills Cluster, cityhood efforts in Tucker and Lakeside, and other alternatives that would cause the bad dream that is the present day DCSS to be reduced and ultimately abandoned. We still await the Georgia Supreme Court ruling on Eugene Walker (By the way, hasn’t the GSBA signed on in support of Eugene Walker?). We still must see what happens on December 18 when SACS comes calling – just three short months away. The current school board and administration just don’t get it – the people of this County have been shouting for change, wanting action, expecting great things – all to no avail.

  15. teachermom says:

    Every time I see the huge salary paid to Ramona Tyson I am shocked. She makes more than most family doctors, attorneys, and high level politicians. What are we getting that is so special for that money???????? She needs to go and her salary with her. How about we “drill down” back into the schools for planning? How about TEACHERS get to help out? The achievement of the students cannot be removed from the school itself. This is just sick making. We don’t need more planning we need a way to implement plans that are made first; any teacher can tell you that interventions need to be tried and documented before moving on. Otherwise, you may never find strategies that work and will continue to churn through the same strategies, of which there are a limited number of possibilities in in given situation. Unless, of course, you are PAID to churn.

  16. The next meeting of the City of Briarcliff Initiative, Inc. will be held on Sept. 12 at 7:30 pm at Clairmont Hills Baptist Church, 1995 Clairmont Road in Decatur.

  17. So, will we pay $250,000 or $300,000 to learn the following items that we paid to learn in the fall of 2011?

    When asked, “To be the best it can be, what should the DeKalb County School System preserve/keep?” the following represents the areas of greatest agreement among survey respondents and community conversation participants:

    1) Alternative learning environments – DeKalb’s community likes having options for where to send children to school. The magnet school program was frequently mentioned as one that needs expansion.
    2) Quality teachers – While there was a great deal of discussion on how to define “quality,” it seems important to the community that the good teachers in the school district remain in DeKalb classrooms. The idea that the sole measurement of a “quality” teacher seems to rest on the test scores of his/her students was not the ideal process in the minds of community members.
    3) Small, neighborhood schools – Having a smaller neighborhood school that is located within the community of children it serves is important.
    4) Parent and community involvement – Building upon processes currently in place to involve parents and the community generated a lot of energy, as well as the idea of transparency.
    5) Keep kids first – In numerous ways, participants of the community engagement session and the online survey supported programs that provide additional opportunities for student success such as the arts, foreign language instruction, extracurricular activities, programs for at-­‐risk students, physical education, etc.
    6) Climate and culture – Ensuring a safe learning environment is an important trait for the school district to maintain.

    Why oh why has this become rocket science?

  18. And more brilliance we will certainly see repeated —

    Possibilities for Change and Growth

    When asked,“To be the best it can be, what should the DeKalb County School System change or do differently?” the following represents the areas of greatest agreement among survey respondents and community conversation participants:

    1) Class sizes – Having smaller class sizes appeals to most segments of the community.
    2) Fiscal management – A great deal of negativity exists about how salaries and furlough days are handled among groups of employees at the school level versus the central office level. There is a general call for more transparency and communication surrounding how these decisions are made.
    3) Policies and organizational structure – Again, there was a general call for more transparency and communication surrounding the roles and responsibilities of leadership and the need for building relationships, trust and credibility.
    4) Student assessment – There is concern about the use of standardized tests as the sole measurement of success for students. The added fear is that the mandates from No Child Left Behind in making AYP is forcing teachers to teach to the test and taking away their flexibility in classroom instruction.
    5) Success for all children – Many comments on the survey as well as at the community engagement session reveal that citizens want success for all of DeKalb’s children regardless of where they live in the district. They would like to see standards raised at all schools and a plan for technology to enhance teaching and learning for all teachers and all students. This also includes the need for individualized instruction for all levels of learners.
    6) Communication and community engagement – Facilitators at the community engagement session reported that many of the participants expressed appreciation about having the opportunity to be heard and hopeful that similar sessions would be held in the future. Online survey and community session participants expressed the need for more effective communication as well.
    7) Parental engagement and accountability – Many expressed the desire for more parental accountability in regards to student discipline and achievement. The need for programs to promote parental engagement was cited numerous times.

  19. Midvale Dad says:

    If you really want to get fired up, read this page starting with “Key Principles” and apply these business ideas to DeKalb County Schools. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Deming

  20. Dekalbite2 says:

    Strategic plans will not bring our budget under control so that we can fairly compensate and retain high quality teachers.

    Consider how many personnel make six figure incomes but NEVER teach a child.

    Looking at the mlst recnt (2012) State Salary and Travel audit for DeKalb, AT LEAST 311 employees are costing taxpayers around $40,000,000 a year as their salary and benefits place them in the six figure income bracket. Only SIX of these employees are teachers (4 of them are former administrators still on the administration salary schedule) so virtually ALL of the 311 six figure employees are NOT teachers. We are paying almost $40,000,000 a year for 300+ employees who NEVER TEACH a child.

    $100,000 – $245,000 EXCLUDING benefits:
    We pay six figure salaries to 146 people who make OVER $100,000 a year in salary per the most recent (2012) state Salary and Travel audit. ONLY 3 employees in this category ($100,000 to $245,000) are listed as teachers – two of them are former administrators (including the woman listed as Lewis’s mistress) and one of them is the Coach that sued the county and the county settled ($157,000 in compensation a year for that non teaching “Coach” that sued). That’s $16,000,000+ dollars or $19,000,000+ a year if we count benefits that we pay for all of those six figure income non teaching personnel in the $100,000 salary and up category.

    $90,000 to $99,000 EXCLUDING benefits:
    We paid 165 personnel $90,000 to $99,000 which totals to $16,00,000. With benefits they made $19,000,000+. Only 3 of those employees are listed as teachers, and one of them was a principal. So in essence that is another 165 non teaching employees that with benefits are costing taxpayers well in excess of $100,000 a year or a six figure income.

    Please remember that virtually ALL of these six figure personnel got their positions under Lewis (Johnny Brown had gotten the BOE to “buy out” their predecessors with 40% of their annual income as a bonus spread over 5 years in addition to their retirement – Lewis took over and decided to replace those administrators to create a power structure beholden to him). Meanwhile, student achievement experienced the HIGHEST rate of DECLINE in DeKalb Schools history and has fallen behind ALL of the metro school systems including demographically comparable systems.

    Does everyone see why we need a wholesale revamping of the highest paid personnel in the DeKalb School System? They say they are necessary personnel (Thurmond/Tyson says this as well), but they are NOT necessary if they cannot move students forward academically. We do not have defective parents, teachers and students, and we are behind academically when compared to demographically comparable school systems. Therefore the fault MUST lie with this $40,000,000 six figure administration (Lewis’s pick) and their level of competency. NO EXCUSES must be the mantra of parents/taxpayers. This group of highly paid administrators (almost $40,000,000 a year) including Thurmond/Tyson have NOTHING to offer but excuses, delays and never ending strategic plans.

    The Thurmond/Tyson administration (they are the only two at the top at this point and work hand in hand) has offered no quantifiably measurable student achievement objectives with established benchmarks. Therefore, it must be assumed that Thurmond/Tyson have no real plans for raising student achievement nor will they accept the responsibility for moving students forward because they have no idea of how to move students forward. Do not let Thurmond/Tyson tell you there are very few administrators. Look at the data to see that these hundreds of six figure income non teaching personnel have been shifted to the school budgets.
    Data, data, data – this is what Thurmond/Tyson do not want taxpayers to look at.

    source:
    http://www.open.georgia.gov/
    (Click on Salaries and Reimbursements)

  21. If you could get that information, Tracy, it would be a huge help and step forward. Post it here on the DSW blog and/or send it to DSW at dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com.

  22. just sayin says:

    a strategic plan is great when it contains actual measurable goals based off of the real needs of a district. it takes at least a year of gathering real quantitative data to even build a baseline, and it’s the kind of thing that a permanent superintendent undertakes with the understanding that the plan matches his/her intended tenure. not the role for an interim, who will just be replaced by another superintendent with a different leadership style… unless he doesn’t plan on being an interim.

  23. Or… he decides to run for a seat in the U.S. Congress and we have to either have an interim who works part time (ala Ron Ramsey) or find another interim…

  24. Dekalbite2 says:

    I think Mr. Thurmond will regret taking on this role of he thinks it is a stepping stone to Congess. He’ll certainly have to do a better job than he’s doing presently. He is creating much fodder for his competition.

  25. I think Michael Thurmond is one of the best Democrat politicians in the state of Georgia. I also think that, thanks to his time at DCS, Mr. Thurmond will never ever again win a race for an election for statewide office.

    Just think of the television commercials an opponent could run….Narrator: “When a gunman walked into McNair and started firing his AK47, strong leadership was needed. What did Superintendent Michael Thurmond do? He punted!” Commercial then cuts to the videoclip where Mr. Thurmond congratulates the area superintendent for her strong leadership that day. The commercial then cuts to a clip of the other candidate looking strong, while the narrator intones “”Victor Hill doesn’t punt!”, then the commercial concludes with another videoclip of Thurmond looking and sounding clueless while standing in the Walmart parking lot.

    Mr. Thurmond might have a chance of winning a race for Hank Johnson’s seat, but only if he is not running against Antoinette Tuff!

    +++

    DSW Comment: True that! Check out our Thurmond videos under our DCSS in the News Tab
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/dcss-in-the-news/videos/

  26. howdy1942 says:

    Hey group – the staff does need something new to do. Can you think of anything better that cannot be measured than the preparation of a new strategic plan? Based on my business experience, there are two really great lies”

    1. Staff: Hello, we’re here to help you.

    2. Schools: Come on in, we’re glad to see you.

  27. Word Wall says:

    Great thread. Dekalb is paying THREE HUNDRED people more than $90,000 a year, and six of them teach in classrooms. No wonder its called The Palace . . . So the new leadership and new board CAN find money for standard teacher step raises and a legally required annuity, but its all going out to educrats, Friends and Family and the clueless crew… 300 people making over 90K !

  28. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    DSW, you and I have seen this for 10 years! You can trace back to many posts and the folks footing the bill are still whining about the Palace, me included. Yet the folks who got us here, are still here and are paying big bucks for pages of educrat drivel. I remember when the Clew-Tyson Crew tried to write something themselves and it was an abominable joke. How much money have we spent on surveys, charrets, meetings, sharpee drawn maps, Blue Ribbon, Gold Ribbon, Red Ribbon committees meeting, conversing and yet nothing ever changes….

    Folks continue to volunteer at the schools. The Palace is a total loss and until I see wholesale changes in the leadership there, DCSS is doomed for another 10 years of CLEWLESSNESS!

  29. True that AMG! Anyone new to DeKalb – or just new to paying attention – you might want to spend some time perusing posts in the old DSW blog. Lots of great info there that is (sadly) still relevant.

    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/

  30. howdy1942 says:

    AMG and DSW – This is so true! And we will have these people until we have the courage to elect a different breed of person to the school board or until we break the DCSS up into smaller chunks that will be easier to manage and lead. At most, the existing Strategic Plan needs to be tweaked and once again put back on the shelf and hopefully that would be less expensive than hiring the same people to write a new plan to replace the one they wrote two years ago. After all, what has changed in two years? Well, we are on probation but the underlying causes were there two years ago. The same people are there. The same laws are in effect. No Child Left Behind has not changed. The test scores are still low.

    We need to get back to the basics – the most basic of the basics. First, we need leadership who knows what he/she is doing. We need permanent leadership – not interim and the School Board needs to get on with it. For people who are supposed to have such great credentials, they have done very little. Second, we need books for students. Third, we need to pay our teachers a competitive wage. Fourth, we need to get the budget again focused on the classroom and not on lawyers and administration. Fifth, we need to provide our students with a safe and clean classroom. If there are people in class that don’t want to be there or who, worse yet, seem to want to interfere with the learning experience of others, get them out. Send a message. Sixth, we need to measure student results – nothing fancy, just pick some problems or assignments from each chapter and grade them. Identify the topics where we are strong and weak and develop short, measurable plans for improvement.

    What is so strategic or difficult about that?

  31. teachermom says:

    I know this is not related but I just saw this in the AJC, but don’t subscribe. Anybody know what this means?
    “New indictment means smaller case against former DeKalb school superintendent and others.”

  32. concernedmom30329 says:

    I won’t paste the whole thing, unless AJC tweets out a version that isn’t behind the pay wall. For those of you on twitter, be sure to follow @AJCinEducation as sometimes they post links to some articles behind the pay wall. (However, it looks like they haven’t tweeted in a week or so.)

    New indictment means smaller case against former DeKalb school superintendent and others
    Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013

    BY RHONDA COOK – THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

    Former DeKalb County School Superintendent Crawford Lewis, his former chief operating officer and her ex-husband are facing a third version of a racketeering case first brought against them more than three years ago, but now there are fewer charges, fewer schools and fewer taxpayer dollars involved and two names have been added as unindicted co-conspirators.
    Although the case against Lewis, former COO Pat Reid and architect Tony Pope has gotten smaller, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James still says they are racketeers who enriched themselves at the expense of taxpayers and schoolchildren, personally profiting from school constructions contracts.
    The DeKalb District Attorney’s Office has not detailed the reason for the leaner, smaller case, but acknowledged that prosecutors streamlined it with a second superseding indictment, returned July 18, in time for the Oct. 28 trial date.

    AND

    There are four components to the complex case of racketeering as it is laid out now: the details of construction at Columbia High School and to a lesser degree the McNair Cluster Elementary School; Lewis and Reid allegedly using their positions to buy cars at prices far below their value; Lewis’ use of his county-issued credit card; and Lewis and Pope allegedly interfering with the investigation into their actions.
    Much of the indictment portrays Lewis as a passive participant who allowed Reid, known as Pat Pope when she was the district’s COO, to manipulate the system to benefit herself, her then-husband and her boss, the superintendent. Lewis knew what was happening, according to the indictment.

    “Without hesitation or question, Crawford Lewis approved Pat Pope’s financial decisions regarding DCSD’s compensation to Tony Pope’s firm made with DCSD,” the indictment said. “Many of those financial decisions directly and indirectly benefited Tony Pope and Pat Pope (Reid). Crawford Lewis established an environment in which Pat Pope (Reid) managed DCSD’s construction department with few, if any checks and balances. Crawford Lewis permitted Pat Pope (Reid) to manipulate DCSD’s construction department’s processes and procedures and to issue lucrative contracts to contractors working with and paying Tony Pope’s firm.”

  33. concernedmom30329 says:

    In the latest version, there are fewer charges against Lewis, Reid and Pope. But the indictment now names contractor David Moody and architect Vernell Barnes as “unindicted co-conspirators,” people suspected of crimes but not charged. The indictment says Moody and Barnes helped hide Pope’s involvement in a project at McNair Cluster Elementary.

    I am going to paraphrase the major changes, per this article. David Moody and Vernell Barnes (contractor and architect respectively) as not charged co-conspirators.”

    • The Bribery charges have been dropped. Previously, there were charges related to 1000s of tickets to differnt events. Now there is only one reference to Pope asking for tickets, etc, for a trip Lewis took to NYC.

    Some of the projects listed in the initial indictment have been dropped. Arabia Mt. and the Palace have been dropped.

    Still includes the charges relating to Lewis and Pope buying their county issued cars for less (10K) than book value.

    Lewis is still charged for P card abuses in Bahamas and Lake Oconee.

    All three are charged with theft because system paid for legal expsnese for Pat Pope in a civil lawsuit.

  34. concernedmom30329 says:

    Given what has happened in racketeering cases across the country in the last few years, I think it is really hard to win these cases. (Look at the Hill trail in Clayton that just ended this summer.)
    It should be better to have a simpler indictment which makes things clearer for the Jury.

    Also, a key witness died last year. That can’t help.

  35. One thing we need to have a serious strategy for is how to deal with poverty and single parent led homes. The parent centers on paper, address this issue. But in reality, they are doing very little to make a difference.

    Tune in as Oprah and TD Jakes talk about this issue tomorrow —

    September 7, 2013
    1 in 3 Kids Grows Up Without His or Her Father—It’s Time to Talk About It
    Oprah and Bishop T.D. Jakes talk about stopping this epidemic in America and healing those affected. Tune in tomorrow night at 9/8c.

    http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/First-Look-Oprah-and-Bishop-TD-Jakes-on-Fatherless-America-Video

    One of my favorite Jakes quotes is “Don’t shine when the light’s not on you!”

    I think a lot of DCSS administrators need to practice this one tenet.

  36. concerned citizen says:

    Nancy – Just how many strategic plans do we now have, total? I’m counting four – why spend any more money? Does anyone thing a strategic plan will help the DeKalb Schools? I think it’s just a term that has outlived its novelty. Back in the 80’s, it was a hot buzz word; now, not so much! And it’s usually said in jest!

  37. Dekalbite2 says:

    Each school should be asked how they want Parental Involvement funds spent in their school. All schools are not alike even if Mr. Thurmond is treating them that way. For example, parental involvement issues are much different in a school that has a lot of ESOL students versus one that doesn’t. Some schools have parents that are In close proximity to the school while others have transportation problems getting to the school. Some parents are newly poor as casualties of the Great Recession while some are entrenched in poverty.

    For the reasons above and others too numerous to name (and for many that I don’t know, but teachers in low income schools do) the schools themselves should be determining how their parental involvement dollars are going to be used. The Federal Government gives a great amount of leeway in how school provide Parental Involvement with Title 1 funds. Having Mr. Thurmnd being us back to the same old Family and Friends model that was not effective in moving students forward academically must not be an option .

  38. howdy1942 says:

    Once again, I am saying that Crawford Lewis and Pat Pope will never be convicted in Dekalb County. I said the same thing about Victor Hill in Clayton and Cotman in the Atlanta Public School System. It only takes one juror to hold out and one will easily be found in Dekalb. This decision will have little to do with their actual guilt or innocence. Sad, but true.

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