The Bridge Initiative…

Click here to watch the video of Mr. Thurmond talking about Bridging Gaps in DeKalb.

A recap: How do we build bridges that young people can cross?
Recites a poem about an old man who crossed the chasm deep and wide into the twilight dim… and stopped to build a bridge that he would never cross again. When asked why, the builder said, in the path I came, there are others that will follow.

We’ve spent decades trying to separate and build walls. We now want to use those bricks and mortar to build a bridge.

Problem – students don’t achieve for various reasons. Conclusion: DeKalb school district’s failure to implement a comprehensive strategy designed to bridge growth and achievement gaps that negatively impact the college and career readiness of students from low income families.

It’s not them, it’s us.

Working with Stacy Stepney and Morcease Beasley to formulate a plan.  (Oddly, he refers to them as Dr. Beasley and Miss Stacy.)

Stacy Stepney shows state data – red, yellow and green flags. Data shows that we have many red flags. Most students took the tests but economically disadvantage did not make state minimum requirements.

Common thread: Disproportionate number of economically disadvantaged are  not making state minimums.

Thurmond: It’s not race. It’s economics. White economically disadvantaged struggle too.

Stepney: What is the vision?  To help students, parents and families bridge the gap.

Action 1:  Evaluate data and do a root cause analysis

Action 2: Realign resources to improve academic achievement and career readiness.

Action 3: Revise and redeploy Title 1 and Title 2, Race to the Top and other grant program dollars to improve academic achievement and career readiness. Invest in parent, adult guardian and mentor involvement.

Goal 1: Indentify, support and recognize high-achieving, marginal and under-performing students

Goal 2: Enhance the effectiveness of district-level and school-level leaders and teachers to inspire, teach and train

Goal 3: Build capacities of parents, adult guardians, and mentors to support and improve student performance and academic success

Other points:

* New pre-K standards
* iPads for pre-K teachers
* Dual language immersion for pre-K (3 schools)
* Literacy approach
* Quality after-school programs
* AP and IB offerings
* Middle and high school graduation coaches
* Jobs for Georgia graduates (school to work)
* CTAE (Career tech — 80% graduate HS)
* Career academies
* Strengthen ROTC programs
* Wrap around support for ELL students
* Work on leader/teacher effectiveness (RTTT demand)
* Professional development for teachers

[The video is 45 minutes long and goes into much more detail.]

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71 Responses to The Bridge Initiative…

  1. murphey says:

    Two other subgroups, Students With Disability and English Learners, have almost identical very low academic performance on slides 5, 6, 7 of Mr. Thurmond’s presentation – red flags in almost every category for elementary, middle, and high schools. These groups are not necessarily the same as Economically Disadvantaged, although I’m sure there is some overlap.

    If we’re going to build a bridge let’s include these other groups too.

  2. educator90 says:

    I’d like to see the break down of academic performance from when teachers were told during the 2007-2008 school year that they weren’t permitted to give zeros to students, even if the child did not turn in an assignment. I’d like to see the academic performance for students over various federally mandated initiatives.

    I’m tired of hearing about economics and learning. I grew up poor, but my parents made education a priority in our home. Education is priority in my own home now, and would be whatever our economic status may be.

    I’d also like to see how larger class sizes has played into student achievement. Or how Race to The Top has effected student achievement. I could go on.

    To me solely blaming economics, is similar to the North vs. South fight in our county. No one is really looking at all of the facts, and just pulling the easiest data to draw their conclusions. Could it be that the way we are now teaching math and reading, are truly at the root of the poor quality of academic progress our students are making and that one’s wealth has nothing to do with it.

  3. Dekalbite2 says:

    Where the component that says EVERY child in DeKalb deserves a competent, well compensated teacher in a reasonably sized classroom?

    Thurmond is keeping students packed like sardines in classrooms and keeping the compensation so low that the personnel who actually teach the students content are leaving in droves (700 this school year – not including the mass retirements in January). He says there is no money for the instructional personnel, yet he directs money to non teaching Graduation Coaches and Parent Center Coordinators.

    This is an amazing list since it includes NOTHING in the way of actual direct instruction for students. How does he think students master content?

    EVERYTHING on his list has been in place and tried for a decade and student achievement has gone down faster and faster. Using the same recycled ideas from the same recycled upper management personnel will not produce different results.

    Morcease Beasley taught for all of 2 and 1/2 years in the 1990s. When he was a principal, his schools could not make adequate yearly progress. And when he was the head of Instruction for Port Arthur and DeKalb, he did not move students forward. Mr. Thurmond needs to look at the data:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/08/data-behind-man.html

    Why does Mr. Thurmond keep using the same old personnel and the same old failing ideas? Who is advising him?

  4. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Tyson is advising him! That is why nothing has changed!

  5. Midvale Dad says:

    A couple thoughts,

    First of all, here is the Power Point explanation. Remember, the budget is still in progress. https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dekalb.k12.ga.us%2Fwww%2Fdocuments%2Fsuperintendent%2Fthe-bridge-initiative-(09-09-2013).pdf

    Murphey was correct in pointing out the other subgroups whose performance is as bad & worse than “Economically Disadvantaged.” Why not focus on them? Because Thurmond is a politician and this plays to a larger audience. He is helping the poor. Cue the violins.

    I want to remind everyone this initiative came out of the week of training at Harvard. It isn’t the creation of the Central Palace. I think that is obvious because it is much more comprehensive than anything the palace lackeys have done in at least 10 years.

    That said, the analogy I think of is this: they came back from Massachusetts with a new bus, but gave it to the same crew that wrecked the previous 10 buses.

    This isn’t to imply I don’t like this plan. I think it is a wonderful plan. In the last 5 years I have not seen any plan implemented as written. I have my doubts as to whether or not this will actually happen.

    I hope Action #3 will result in all the Title 1 coaches being put in classrooms which is where the money should be going. Then evaluate them with the Teacher Keys. It would be interesting to see how many of them are ineffective.

  6. Midvale Dad says:

    Speaking of things that were not implemented as promised…

    What ever happened to the money Ramona Tyson had for smart boards when she was promising they would be in every classroom in 2010?
    Why did the BOE have to approve bonds to get them into the last 1000 classrooms?
    Where did the money go?

  7. @ educator90 — If you would like to see the breakdown of academic performance and student achievement, why don’t you specify the documents you want and the dates they cover and request them under Georgia’s Open Records Act? If you are a DCSS teacher, employee or parent and don’t feel comfortable about requesting this information, we will do it for you. Send us the request listing the specific documents and the dates they cover. We will re-send the request to DCSS from DSW without mentioning your name or explaining why we are asking for these specific documents. Send your written request to dekalbschoolwatch@gmail.com. We will take it from there.

  8. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Still sounds like the same drivel they have been saying for ten years. I swear ever since this bunch got a hold of the keys to the palace, we have been in steady decline. Just one more program, initiative or plan to change achievement that won’t add up to much.
    A compensated teacher treated as a professional, a child that is expected to learn and a decent learning environment. All the technology, initiatives, teacher keys and standards can’t do anything without these three basic components. This is yet another Bridge to Nowhere!

  9. Decaturmax says:

    I can’t help but look at this proposal and see a macro level plan with a one size fits all mentality. It sure is easy to blame something out of your control…..it must be pure economics??. I can see Thurmond subtly playing the race card again. Do they really think ipads and staff development are the issue.

    So here are a few constructive thoughts based on what I have seen in City of Decatur. Schools have instructional coaches instead of an Assistant principals. I realize Decatur has smaller schools, but also believe in big ES schools there is room and funding for instructional coaches an AP are not in the class much in Dekalb schools.

    Students are pre-tested and post tested several times a year. Data is tracked on how well a teacher progresses students of all levels. Data is broken down for each students achievement/content mastery and teachers have the opportunity to improve their curriculum and work of specific weaknesses with students. Teachers have significant amounts of time designated to plan as a grade level team to achieve their goals. Each school and grade has flexibility in the curriculum. Teachers are expected to be experts on the common core.**** While being affluent, Decatur does has a large population of financially disadvantaged students who are successful!.

    As Dekalb can not retain or recruit the brightest and best with their present focus on macro- management solutions, the Decatur model can not work right now. If i could give Mr. Thurmond some advise, I would say focus on school level changes and funding and stop buying studies that point out the obvious. Pointing out that economically disadvantaged kids are failing at school in Dekalb, emphasizes his complete lack of experience in education. All I can say is “duh” Does it take a $100k study from some friends and family firm/scholar to figure out the obvious? Still no real plan. This can not be fixed at the county level.

    Not sure who coined this phrase but it seems applicable.” The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result”. To take it one step further, why would a reasonable person expect better ideas and outcomes from the same people.

    This man has no ideas and has not sought and applied policies of successful educators and systems. When he talks about listening, what he means is say your peace and go away.Schools can’t be fixed by centralized administration. every year top schools lose a few top teacher. How many years does it take until teaching staff is truly 2nd rate when you lose a few a year and most top teachers would not consider Dekalb schools.

    I can’t help but think back to the Dr Seus book The Sneetches and relate it to the Dekalb county situation. The plain bellies live in N Dekalb and complain about more building funding in the South. In S Dekalb, the star bellies are complaining that the North is academically out performing, so they must be getting better instruction/more funding. Sylvestor McMonkey Mcbean(played by friends and family) plays them against each other and eventually leaves with stacks of cash. Can’t teach a Sneetch.

    It is still a sad day in Dekalb. SACS accreditation is the goal of the administration and not academic achievement. Cityhood looks a lot better these days in anticipation of a time when we can take back our schools from this political machine designed to put administration over students.

  10. Fantastic input Decaturmax. Appreciate it. Love the comparison to “The Sneetches” – we’ll have to check that out!

    This stands out to me —
    **** While being affluent, Decatur does has a large population of financially disadvantaged students who are successful!.

    Seems the Druid Hills Charter could say the same thing if allowed to move forward.

    And truly, our key problem is a lack of qualified leadership. Any decent leaders we may have had have pretty much all moved on (or been riffed by the new leaders). We don’t have much in the way of experienced educational leaders. Witness the fact that Beasley and Stepney are the people in charge of this “Bridge” and Tyson is in charge of pretty much everything else. It’s pitiful. I liken it to a crop-duster prop pilot attempting to fly a Boeing 757 on a Transatlantic flight. They are that out of touch with how education should be ‘done’… in fact, they don’t even know what they don’t know.

    We have NO faith whatsoever in our leadership. None. Nada. Zip.

  11. Stan Jester says:

    District 5 – Lift From The Bottom
    When the Interim Superintendent came on board, I was told he is hyper focused on District 5. I’ve heard him single out District 5 on numerous occasions. At the end of last year, his parent council tour included a segment on “Lift from the bottom”. He made it clear he intends to spend a lot of time and money on low performing schools saying “lifting from the bottom” and getting parents involved will elevate all schools.

    At DCPC last week, he specifically said those resources were going to be focused on District 5.

    ELPC (Emory Lavista Parent Council ) Reminder
    Tuesday, September 17, 2013
    6:30 pm ** Please note: this is an evening meeting!**
    (refreshments begin at 6:00 pm)
    Druid Hills High School
    1798 Haygood Drive, Atlanta, GA 30307
    Guest Speaker Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond presents State of the System

  12. Kim says:

    Decaturmax for Superintendent! While the leadership panders to the power base of electoral politics in DeKalb and spends more effort on message rather than execution in the schools and classrooms, we can only struggle to wrap our heads around the absurdity of it all. Thank you for the Dr. Seuss-based narrative – I am at peace until the next outrage hits.

  13. Stan Jester says:

    From the School Readiness Report
    Parent engagement will be based in South DeKalb, primarily in district #5, based on profile data.
    * Establishment of Family Centers
    * Provision of parent fairs and academies
    * Provision of systemic structures for student mentoring
    * Cultivating of parents on the language of schools

  14. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Those folks at the Palace have been working overtime with their thesaurus! More fancy words that basically mean no money for the classrooms, but more money for folks that never instruct a student. It is deja vu all over again! Elghart at SACS will love this, since he will see more love from the staff. Hey SACS when will student achievement become a concern for our accreditation…

    – systemic structures for student mentoring – Could this mean a raise for teachers, who have not seen one since 2007…… No! It means more money for those teaching coaches who are not certified and most likely a friend of someone sitting near the thrones of the Palace!

  15. You’re probably right Nikole. We are just frustrated. Thurmond sees his job as some kind of social networker. He glad hands and yuks it up with anyone who will listen, but he knows nothing about education – and certainly nothing about DeKalb schools – he sent his own child to private school. We are completely frustrated to be faced with this kind of unskilled educational leadership… We really need a qualified, professional superintendent. It was promised. It has been tabled. We are not happy about that.

  16. midvaledad says:

    At what point do we start looking at avenues for asking the state to come in and take over the school district?

    I don’t think we can wait until next year’s elections. The board voted in won’t start until Jan. 2015. We need some competent leadership and a comprehensive scrubbing of central palace staff. Now that we know it won’t happen while Thurmond is here and we can see he isn’t going anywhere soon, we need to look outside for help.

    Do we have to wait for another year of the same-old-same-old as millions of dollars are wasted?
    I think we all agree the Bridge Initiative is going to turn into another jobs program for Friends and Family. It is painfully obvious the governor’s selected BOE members have not bothered to get up to speed. Some don’t even care enough to read the meeting materials before discussing and voting (or not voting) on items. We are being led by the same group of incompetent cronies that were leading the system 4 years ago.

    Am I the only one who is thinking we need outside help?

  17. @Midvale: As far as we know, Georgia, unlike other states, has no provision or trigger to take over a school district.

    So, your comment, “Do we have to wait for another year of the same-old-same-old as millions of dollars are wasted?” appears to have only one answer: Yes.

    Problem is, these people know it. They are no different than Wall St. looters who break up companies, make a bundle and move on – they are in it for their own wallets. Period.

    Really, would anyone anywhere else even hire a single one of them in leadership roles, let alone pay them these ridiculous salaries?

    We have been hijacked.

  18. @ midvale dad

    Perhaps you could clarify how a takeover by the state is going to do anything to help the sorry DeKalb County School System? How would that be different from what we have right now — a Board handpicked by Governor “Let’s Make A” Deal and approved by highly questionable “DCSS insider”, Robert L. Brown, Jr. and Brad Bryant, a former DeKalb and State Board of Education member/superintendent who was then promptly given a nice, cushy position by the Governor?
    https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/oh-the-connections-they-are-more-tangled-than-ever/

    What is needed is not another band-aid repair on DCSS. It can’t be fixed. DCSS must be dismantled.

    The Georgia General Assembly must be convinced to allow the formation of city-based school districts in DeKalb County — perhaps as a “pilot.” The unincorporated areas of DeKalb County — and cities that don’t wish to form their own school district or combine with an adjoining city that qualifies to form a school district — will form the reconstituted and much, much, much smaller DeKalb County School District.

  19. howdy1942 says:

    This is a really excellent blog! There have been so many comments that are right on the money. midvale dad, educator90, Dekalbite2, Decaturmax, Stan Jester – really good comments.

    We all seem to be sending the same message – we don’t need a new, complex, fancy strategic plan that will most likely find its way to a shelf and never be reference again. In order for us to begin getting at the student achievement issue, we need to get back to the basics. Competent, highly motivated teachers who are compensated at levels their peers are receiving in the classrooms. Performance plans in place that rewards outstanding performance in the classroom and develops underperformers. Classes that are sized according to the need – smaller classes for those having greater difficulty learning and no class exceeding 28 students. Textbooks and technology in the hands of students to enhance learning. And this needs to be done throughout Dekalb County.

    We need to reduce the size of the administration for several reasons. First, we would realize savings that could be re-directed to the classroom. Second, these people are really dangerous for our kids. Another commenter pointed out that we’ve had strategic plan after strategic plan and the results have only become worse. Our response then as it is now – let’s pay for and develop a new strategic plan. Our needs are fundamental, they are basic, they are simple, and we should try something radically different for once – all of those strategic plans have failed! Motivated teachers that can motivate students, teacher and student resources, clean and safe learning environments, and a new focus on results.

    @midvale dad – the thought has also crossed my mind about the State taking over control of our district. We have yet to hear from the Georgia Supreme Court on the little matter of Eugene Walker. I can easily see how this one could go either way. Judge Story seemed to give a lot of weight to the rights of the children and the extent of damage that they would suffer as compared to how little Eugene Walker and his four peers would suffer. On the other hand, @DSW has made some very good points on the limitations afforded in the Constitution for the Governor to do what he did. If the Court sides with Walker, then my sense is that Dekalb County governance and leadership would descend into chaos and really jeopardize the retention of our accreditation. There appears to be a lot of bitterness between Walker et al and SACS. Dekalb is the third largest school district in Georgia with 700,000 residents and forms the entire eastern side of the Atlanta metro area as well as a large part of the north. A loss of accreditation in Dekalb would cause property values to plummet, which they will likely do if Walker wins his case. The tax base would be decimated and critical services would be threatened. Such a development would be a severe blow to economic development in the Atlanta metro and, more broadly, to the State. We would not be happy with the press all of this would bring to Georgia. In this case, I would suspect that a major focus of the next Legislative session would be on education in Georgia, in general, and in Dekalb, in particular. I simply don’t think there is any chance of the old board led by Walker having any success with SACS. I would think that the State would enter the picture and propose an extension of our probation status for one year with the State assuming responsibility for Dekalb.

    Finally, I think that all of this talk coming out of the palace is, for lack of a better term, crap. It is the fundamental reason why we have the Druid Hills Cluster – they want something different, something that reasonable people with a little common sense know would work, and they only want an opportunity to try. Again, I don’t live in that Cluster, but I am convinced that we need something far different than what we have.

  20. concernedmom30329 says:

    Howdy

    Even if the old Boad is returned, DCSS won’t lose accreditation. For all his many faults, Mr. Thurmond is a man who can “control” Walker, etc. The only one he probably can’t control is SCW and she had been so minimized by Walker that I am not sure she is relevant to the accreditation issue anymore– as long as the staff doesn’t allow her to make decisions for her schools.
    Thurmond will keep accreditation, even if we don’t deserve it. He is tough and speaks Walker’s language.
    The bigger problem is that he knows nothing about the rest of his job and is allowing the children to run the asylum. He doesn’t seem to recognize that allowing the same folks to stay is foolish.

  21. Good points Howdy. We are currently wondering if the court isn’t just waiting until after SACS rules on accreditation to make their ruling. We may be in a game of cat and mouse. It’s all moving almost as slowly as the Lewis/Pope “trial”…

  22. psdad says:

    Re: “Mr. Thurmond is a man who can “control” Walker, etc.”
    I think We lost a great opportunity to take our schools back when, just weeks before removing Walker and the board, the state allowed them to replace the superintendent with this under qualified career politician. Walker installed Thurmond in this position as a calculated measure to ensure that someone from the DeKalb friends and family establishment was still in control. I suspect that Walker was really concerned that, if a new superintendent was hired after he was removed from his position; the new superintendent would start uncovering some of the backroom dealings that Walker and crew have been involved in. Worse yet, if a truly qualified and independent board was selected from all of those amazing applicants, we might have actually witness a remarkable transformation in our school system this year. Unfortunately, Thurmond is just a place holder, collecting a check and waiting for the next round of elections so he can hand the school back to Walker

  23. More than that, Walker wanted to maintain control of the DCSS jobs program. His good buddy Thurmond (who he still chats with often) would ensure the continuation of Walker’s legacy. And would hold things and people in place until Walker’s return. Why Marshall Orson thinks he thought of Thurmond all on his own is interesting. Maybe he did, but maybe a seed was planted sub-consciously. They were scrambling to replace Atkinson because for all intents and purposes, she was not showing up to work for weeks on end and we had no actual superintendent. There were a lot of names bantered about and a few people were offered the job but obviously declined. I’m sure Walker could not believe his luck when Orson started pushing Thurmond.

    Recall please that only Nancy and Pam voted no. Of course, they were fired along with the other 4 of the former board, all of whom voted yes to the idea of Thurmond as did Orson, Johnson and McMahan. But Orson, Johnson and McMahan are still there! They were left in place by the Gov – In fact, Johnson is chair and McMahan is vice-chair. So, where are we, really?

  24. psdad says:

    I believe that David Sutton/SACS sees the push for dual accreditation as serious threat, a threat that has had a negative effect on SACS’ ability to be an unbiased advocate for change. I also suspect that David Sutton’s recent comments about the improvements at DCSS are more influenced by his desire to quickly reinstate DCSS and maintain single accreditation at DCSS by removing the perceived need for dual accreditation. It’s sad, because in reality nothing has really changed about the way that our schools are being managed.

  25. psdad says:

    Sorry, David Schutten (not Sutton)…

  26. Decaturmax says:

    Does David Schutten represent teachers and administrators (management) too?

  27. Concerned DeKalb Mom says:

    Curious to know what others think…how likely is it that, even if the state does not reinstate Dr. Walker, that he can run and be elected YET AGAIN by the same population that elected him the first time, thus rendering the removal moot? I mean, being removed by the Governor, in this case, in DeKalb County, may not be as severe a blow to the aspirations of some former board members as it may seem.

    The argument has been made by many that the majority in DeKalb County (clearly not on this blog, but I believe those on this blog are a vast minority of DeKalb voters, to be real) are fine with the Board Members as they have been. There have been several opportunities to “vote out” the ineffectual members of the board, but voters time and again don’t do it. Any reason to think the outcome will be different this time around?

  28. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    Either Johnson or Walker brought Thurmond in. To curry favor with the Walker 5, Orson agreed to say he came up with the idea.

    A majority of DeKalb is happy with the way things are going. District 2 voted in Orson and District 4 voted in McMahan. Elections have consequences.

  29. Stan Jester says:

    Druid Hills Charter Cluster
    Decentralization and parental involvement have been the rally cry for this administration all year. DHCC is the epitome of that. Our only viable solution is charter clusters, parent trigger and new schools districts.

    New School District
    There are 9232 public schools in Texas.
    There are 1032 public school districts in Texas.
    There are 4,850,210 public school students in Texas.
    There is a school district for every 9 schools in Texas!

    State DOE Control
    The State DOE is filled with administrators from various school districts across metro Atlanta. You can’t get a school district like DeKalb without a DOE like Georgia’s DOE. The DOE needs to be fixed as much as DeKalb Schools.

  30. Dekalbite2 says:

    Under Ms. Tyson Dr. Beasley gave us “Triage” which did not move students forward and in fact academic achievement was worse than ever:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2011/07/triage-thats-what-theyre-calling-plan.html

    Why are personnel who come up with these ideas that drive student achievement lower and lower listened to and rewarded? This is a prime example of no accountability for DeKalb students’ achievement progress.

  31. Dekalbite2 says:

    @Decaturmax
    “Does David Schutten represent teachers and administrators (management) too?”

    Yes.

  32. hopespringseternal says:

    How to house students, how to teach students, and now this.

    http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/dekalb-school-debt-downgraded/nZzCg/

    See the reasons for this downgrade. None of the things they cited are going away anytime soon.

  33. dekalbite2 says:

    “Working with Stacy Stepney and Morcease Beasley to formulate a plan.”

    Not only did Mr. Beasley’s policies drive achievement to a lower rate in DeKalb when he was head of Teaching and Learning (Instruction) in DeKalb under Ms. Tyson, he also did not show appreciable gains for students when he was head of Instruction in Port Arthur, Texas. Please look at his Port Arthur data:
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/08/data-behind-man.html

    2 1/2 years in a classroom in the 1990s is Mr. Beasley’s only time spent directly instructing students. It appears he was fast tracked to be an administrator starting in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition, Mr. Beasley has a certificate in leadership, but no certification to teach. In other words, he is not certified to teach in any DeKalb classroom.

    Looking at the student achievement outcome data, Mr. Beasley has clearly not produced positive results for students for all of the years he has been in an instructional leadership position including his tenure in DeKalb and Port Arthur. He should not be developing the plan to move students forward in DeKalb.

    Mr. Thurmond needs to explain to parents, students, taxpayers and teachers why he thinks the past failing performance of Mr. Beasley is indicative of future success for academic achievement in DeKalb.

  34. dekalbmom says:

    Would Eugene Walker win if he ran again for BOE? I am afraid that the answer to that is almost certainly, Yes.

  35. dsw2contributor says:

    hopespringseternal: Thank you for posting the link to Ty’s latest AJC article “DeKalb school debt downgraded”. Mr. Thurmond was asked about that article at tonight’s meeting; I had not seen the article before your post, so I didn’t understand the question that was posed to Mr. Thurmond.

    I suspect that the downgrade was probably caused by Thurmond himself, thanks to his very candid public descriptions of just how bad DCS’s finances were. Tonight he said, at one point, the multi-billion dollar operation that is DCS only had $100k in its savings account.

    Thurmond has said things like that before; I’m sure Moody’s analysts heard it, immediately crapped their pants, and quickly began working on a more appropriate rating for DCS. Their rating really needs to go lower, but Moody’s can’t drop it all the way down at once since that would be admitting that they were asleep at the switch!

  36. Well, if Thurmond was actually that honest this evening, we respect him for that. And it makes us understand a bit why he put the kabash on spending of any kind… we were (are?) broke.

  37. dekalbite2 says:

    So where is the money for non teaching Graduation Coaches and Parent Cooordinators coming from?

  38. howdy1942 says:

    @concernedmom30329 – You may be right, but I wouldn’t take the risk of assuming that SACS would not remove Dekalb’s accreditation if Walker and crowd were reinstated. My view is that the DCSS remains a big, big mess and I’ve seen very little to change my mind. Yes, we have a new school board, but I’ve been very underwhelmed by what they have done.

    @DSW – I’m taking the Georgia Supreme Court at its word that it will issue a ruling this fall. Well, this fall is rapidly approaching. If the Supreme Court does not rule, then our probation status would most likely be extended, at best. If the Court rules for Walker, then I think that SACS may well say “Well, we’ve had enough. These guys have had a year and we are right back where we started’. Maybe if we just yank their accreditation, these guys will see that we are serious and start doing something”. I still say that SACS has bigger fish to fry than Dekalb County or even Georgia for that matter. But I’m not sure that other school districts in Georgia would make any changes in their relationships with SACS. I think that Dekalb would find itself very alone with others viewing Dekalb’s fate as being the result of its own doing. I’m still not convinced that things are “just chummy” between Thurmond and SACS. All of us need to remember that it will not be Walker, not Thurmond, and not this DCSS administration that will suffer if Dekalb loses its accredition – it will first be our kids and then it will be all of the good people of Dekalb County.

    Regarding Walker, I see the situation as just the reverse – Walker controls Thurmond! Just look at how strongly Thurmond argued before the State Board that Walker et al should be retained, that they could restore Dekalb’s accreditation. That had a big, big impact on me as to Thurmond’s motives and stance. Thurmond should never, ever have made that argument to the State – he should have abstained. It was if he were a lawyer for the old board and not the interim superintendent. In spite of that, I decided to give him a chance. Well, here we are in September and we have the same administration making the same old tired decisions to waste even more of our money on things like cars for administrators, paying for yet another strategic plan, continuing to play the “lawyer game” as witnessed by the court case regarding the DCSS vs. Teachers, etc., etc. Marshall Orson claimed that Thurmond was his idea based on his observation of him in a single meeting – that’s a really good basis for recommending someone to be a school superintendent, That should not have been the basis of nominating Thurmond for school superintendent.

    You are probably right about Walker being re-elected if he chooses to run again. I hope not. I’m in my 70s and Walker is 77. I would hope that he would understand that he is not a sharp as he once was and needs to be enjoying life while he still can, unless he just enjoys destroying our school system and watching gleefully as our children struggle. Surely, there is someone from that district who can better represent the interests of its children and be more committed to the success of those children and all of the children in Dekalb County. I’m just so ready to get the uncertainty gone – the Supreme Court needs to rule, the school board needs to search for a permanent superintendent. Next July’s election cannot come soon enough. Then we can all see what we need to do regarding cityhood next November.

  39. Kenwoody says:

    @Stan Jester : “There is a school district for every 9 schools in Texas!”

    I understand the thinking leading towards “DCSS: too big to succeed” that is (only) one component of the desire to take our schools down the path our new cities have taken with regards to DeKalb county. While I suppose many would dismiss “The Cartel” as “docuganda” to me it seems just another thread in the tapestry of “public schools have failed”. Perhaps one is warp and the other weave but I think that documentary provides an existence proof that many small districts actually expands an ecosystem that supports a greater number of detached administrators.

    Dare I suggest to one with ties to the lone star state that size doesn’t matter?

  40. I’m not sure how the ‘good people of DeKalb county’ can elect the divisive, ego-centric, jobs-programs-minded officials like Walker, Cunningham and Wood and then after they decimate the budget of the school system by focusing on a jobs and contracts giveaway rather than the actual ‘job’ of educating students in their classrooms, those same voters join others in the county to complain that punishing these elected officials and stopping their ability to do more damage is unfair to the people of DeKalb and therefore shouldn’t be done. Voters in those districts are to blame for our current situation. Thurmond actually said so several times in early meetings.

    Elections have very serious consequences when you send people into office with the wrong intentions and goals. The more our government – and school systems – are viewed as a source for jobs, the more we will see programs and benefits to the people unravel. We are very concerned that Thurmond – whose political career was focused on jobs – does not understand this either. He seems to be going down the same path of creating high-paying administrative, ‘coaching’, and other jobs for the same group of friends and family to return, while ignoring the teachers’ and parents’ cries for focused spending in the classrooms.

    Two actions could redeem his image: Giving back all furlough days to teachers while giving back teachers retirement contributions and settling that lawsuit, and reducing class sizes as well as merging small programs and schools into larger programs and schools in order to save money and remain equitable.

    We don’t think he agrees though. He sees that he has the full support of south DeKalb (he has stated this in meetings) and he doesn’t ‘need’ Dunwoody and the north end (he has also actually stated this in meetings). This is why we have concluded that his goal is not to fix the system, his real goal is to run for another political office requiring heavy votes from the south DeKalb area, after being pronounced the ‘savior’ of DeKalb County Schools, which he is confident will happen. How is it that he ‘knows’ we won’t lose accreditation? What does he know that we don’t know? We’re not so sure – as we haven’t seen much change. Unless of course, it wasn’t about the condition of education in DeKalb in the first place…

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