By the Numbers: Dunwoody vs. DeKalb School System

From the Dunwoody Patch:

During a presentation of the report at last Monday’s City Council meeting, Robert Wittenstein provided a brief picture of a Dunwoody school system compared to Dekalb.

Dunwoody is on the road to forming its own school system. The city recently released a feasibility report by the community group, Dunwoody Parents Concerned About Quality Education.

During a presentation of the report at last Monday’s City Council meeting, Robert Wittenstein provided a brief picture of a Dunwoody school system compared to DeKalb.

Read more >> By the Numbers: Dunwoody vs. DeKalb School System

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74 Responses to By the Numbers: Dunwoody vs. DeKalb School System

  1. Stan Jester says:

    Hi HopeSpringsEternal.

    There is no “Leadership Vacuum”. Every school district already has leadership in place. If a new school district is formed, people within that district will have new leaders. There is no “left behind” or “survival pockets”. Residents of DeKalb will either be in the existing DeKalb County School District or in an independent school district. DCSD will have a smaller school district with more local control. That’s a win-win.

    I’m sorry, please be more specific about the “ones who don’t raise their kids properly”. If you’re talking about the poor and minorities like those in Valdosta, then throw DeKalb into that briar patch. Valdosta’s CRCT scores blow DeKalb’s away. If you’re talking about crack babies, then that segment of the population that doesn’t raise their kids properly is very small.

    Lower socioeconomic segments love their children too.

  2. Stan Jester says:

    Hi Ursokm16.
    Smaller districts, rich or poor, is an advantage. Just ask the 21 city schools across Georgia, many who have more free or reduced lunches, yet all get better CRCT scores. As FactChecker, I’m just pointing out the facts.

    “How will this roll out beyond North Atlanta’s new city areas?”. The bill only affects areas with cities formed since 2005. Most of Georgia will not be affected.

    Dunwoody is smarter? That is kind of you to say. Dunwoody High School has a diverse population with no race in the majority.

    HR 486 is sponsored by numerous representatives from many counties. This is not a Dunwoody initiative.

  3. howdy1942 says:

    Stan, like Nancy, has done his homework. Nancy has been presenting this information for years but she was, for the most part, totally ignored or put down by people like Eugene Walker and the majority of the DCSS School Board. It has been very, very clear that a growing number of people, especially those who live in North Dekalb are simply fed up with the DCSS and what it has become over the past 10 years. I think all of us are frustrated with years of being ignored and with years in which absolutely no efforts have been taken to make improvements. Those of us who have lived here for years know what it can be.

    I want all students in Dekalb to have access to a good education. I especially want those kids who live in poverty to have such access so they can once and for all escape the bounds of poverty. As Stan pointed out, better school system that produce good results can exist in the midst of poverty. But those communities also have an obligation to elect competent people who share those concerns. Good schools will come about in communities when the residents who live there insist on good schools and will not accept what the DCSS has become. That is what has happened in Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and Druid Hills and is now happening in Lakeside and Tucker. The people who live in these communities share common values, common interests, and common goals. They are reasonable people and will come together to resolve boundary issues. I’m convinced that the Legislature will approve their petitions to become cities and the people in those communities will vote to become cities.

    The critical question is how will those who govern and manage the Dekalb County School System respond? They could consider creating a Dunwoody/Brookhaven cluster, a Druid Hills Cluster, a Tucker cluster, a Lakeside Cluster each of which would consist of a high school and its feeder system. It could simply determine what the cost per student is in Dekalb County and transfer 97% of that amount to the individual cluster. It could allow those clusters to be managed and governed by the people who live in those communities and it could set standard results expectations for each cluster. But this school board and administration can’t stand the thought of losing its power grip, of losing control, of letting go. It won’t even consider trying this approach for even a defined period of time to see if the results might improve. It simply thinks that we ought to stick with the system that has failed all of Dekalb County so badly for so long and expect different results.

    December 18 has now come and gone and I am looking forward to the SACS report. I’m sure that it will cite improvements. After all, when a system is as bad as Dekalb was a year ago, the only way to go is up. I doubt that SACS will lift us from probation. I would encourage the State to increase its supervision of the DCSS and perhaps to make some “recommendations” that the DCSS could not refuse! The point is that change, big change is coming.

  4. @ursokm: Maybe you have never lived outside Georgia, but most other states — with all kinds of diversity – have small city/township school districts. It’s how it’s been done for a very long time in many states with far greater educational outcomes than Georgia.

  5. @hope: Interesting points. Exactly how does keeping the school system together benefit those you say live in a vacuum? FWIW, I haven’t heard about anyone getting shot in the streets in a very long time. Is there a street war going on in south DeKalb that we’re not aware of? I do know that our school system is doing a good job of feeding the pipeline to the county jail. And that’s with our system as it is – large and cumbersome and corrupt. What exactly do south DeKalb parents want to have happen in the school system that is not happening? How is it that keeping Dunwoody as part of the system will help their cause? I’m not being facetious, I would really like to know — in detail, not in sweeping generalizations that can’t be verified. For example, at the last board meeting, a man pleaded for more security at (SW DeKalb, I believe) because students were dealing drugs and having sex in their cars. What can Dunwoody do about that? They have their own parking lot to patrol…

  6. ursokm16 says:

    Stan–your costs will be higher than you imagine–look at the small districts around the country as you guys like to do. BTW–they are not present day startups. Dunwoody will handle it, but pay–see Decatur.
    It’s incredible to me that anyone on this board can envision an independent school district starting up anywhere south of US 78 in DeKalb County. It’s also incredible to me to think someone will start one up in Gwinnett or any other Republican led county, not even Snellville and Lilburn. Not for a looooonnggg time. This is a locally generated bill for local issues, just as cityhood was.

  7. ursokm16 says:

    Stan–why is HR 286 supported by legislators that have no cities formed after 2005…and know they never will?

  8. hopespringseternal says:

    Good grief Stan, we most certainly DO have a leadership vacuum when we can’t muster up (a) a decent BOE; (b) a decent super; and (c) principals who know anything about leadership — instructional leadership in particular. They’re very skilled at maintaining order. Whoopee.

    And how magnanimous of you to point out to me that the Socioeconomically challenged love their children too. You see, I’m very aware of this love. And I’m also very aware that you don’t think we have good leadership in place right now in S. DeKalb (feel free to disagree with that). So I’m gathering that on the one hand you decry the poor leadership, yet on the other point out that there’s no leadership vacuum upon divorce. How convenient.

  9. I think your comment was misinterpreted hope. It seemed as if you were saying that there is no leadership in south DeKalb and that Dunwoody would somehow take away quality leaders and leave a leadership vacuum (ie: the only current decent leaders are in Dunwoody, which of course is not true). No vacuum would ever occur in any district that finds the best and brightest teaching and school leadership talent and does everything in their power to keep them happy. I would imagine Dunwoody will do this. I pray that one day DeKalb does this as well.

  10. Miss Management says:

    @ursokm16:
    “Wow-who knew being a poor smaller district was such an advantage?”

    I’m so glad you asked! That is an excellent question. Lots of people know. The evidence is out there. So it is striking that you would go on to state: “At some point you have to realize how silly it is for wealthy, advantaged, educated and connected (WAEC) people to assume they have any credibility advocating to the poor–for the poor.”

    I’d like to follow you down that philosophical rabbit hole. Let’s see where that one leads …

    To prepare for our magical thinking journey, we must assume that there are no poor or minority students in any significant percentages in areas that are advocating for new, smaller, independent school districts. We must ignore that Dunwoody High School — like Chamblee Charter High School, Cross Keys High School, Lakeside High School and Tucker High School — is not a majority white school. We must assume, also, that as a result of your own poverty, race (i.e., person of color), lack of educational attainment and limited or no connections, you do not support breaking up large school districts. OK, I’m prepped and ready to go down the rabbit hole with you.

    Now that we are on the other side, we can see where the removal of the aforementioned credibility problem leads us. Using this new lens, we can see that in the past, no wealthy, advantaged, educated and connected (WAEC) person ever advocated effectively and credibly for an impoverished or minority community. There cannot have been a President Abraham Lincoln, a President Franklin Roosevelt, a President John F. Kennedy, a President Lyndon B. Johnson, Bono, George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Princess Diana, etc. American society cannot have eliminated slavery, suffrage, child labor, Jim Crow and segregation nor implemented any social safety nets (food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, public schools, free-and-reduced-price meals, public libraries, etc) because the overwhelming majority of persons in position to create and implement these programs and others have been privileged — mostly white men of privilege (WAEC).

    In this rabbit hole, WAEC persons never do anything for the benefit of anyone not like themselves. The facts are not facts regarding a minority or poor community if these facts are spoken by a WAEC person. If a WAEC reaches out a hand to help lift a poor person of color from the path of an oncoming train, that action cannot be perceived as credible. Ditto for burning building rescue attempts.

    Yes, in this rabbit hole, everyone is encouraged and enflamed to see differences as an enemy, not to be trusted. Therefore, would it also hold as true that WAEC people do not see anyone from “different” communities as credible? Yet, within anthropology research, reciprocity is an often cited element of successful, though different, societies.

    After safely making it back from straining credulity with the removal of credibility from entire groups of people no matter the facts, I prefer reality.

    The facts remain. Those looking to form new school districts are not all wealthy, advantaged, educated and connected. Their ideas benefit large groups of poor and minority students within any new districts and outside of them. There is consistent evidence that smaller districts produce better outcomes for poor and minority children. The reality is that many other states with better results, allow for smaller districts to form. You asked, “Who knew…?” A whole lot of people.

    Can we all please agree to stop defending adult interests on the backs of children? That’s the real credibility issue.

  11. howdy1942 says:

    As far as I can tell, no one intends to take any leaders from the Dekalb County School System, so the leadership and administration of the DCSS will remain intact. I think that Dunwoody and others are talking about new leadership with a new, sharply reduced administration per student ratio. I would propose not to form independent, separate school districts, but to form clusters within the County that would be governed and managed from within each cluster. Forming those clusters would not be rocket science. For example, there could be a Dunwoody/Brookhaven cluster, a Druid Hills cluster, a Tucker Cluster, a Lakeside cluster, etc. Funding per student would not be changed. In fact, if we could shorten the bus routes and reduce fuel and maintenance expenses, reduce the administration, and let local management take control, we could very well increase funding per student. It is very clear that the existing structure, governance, and management of the Dekalb County School System is not working. Test scores are among the lowest in the metro area, the graduation rate is 57.7%, far below those of Decatur City Schools and among the lowest in the State and lower than all of our neighboring States. The DCSS is the only school system in the nation on probation. And the results of been going downhill for at least 10 years. Does anyone on this blog really believe that the status quo is in the best interests of our children? Does anyone really believe that the current school board or leadership can effectively address the issues that we now face?

  12. @howdy: That is exactly what the Blue Ribbon Citizen Task Force concluded after working on ideas for over a year during Lewis’ tenure. They proposed “regions” which would be led by their regional superintendents – the DeKalb superintendent would function more as a CEO. Students could choose any school within their region to attend – for example, Tucker and Lakeside were in the same region along with all the feeders. There was to be a free flow. But nothing was ever implemented, because as always, the whole idea of naming a Task Force was to give vocal community leaders/parents ‘something to do’…. sort of like tossing a ball way out into a lake for a retriever. The leadership has never actually implemented anything these Task Forces, citizen committees, charettes, etc have ever suggested. It’s a joke on the participants. Certainly leadership chuckles all the way home…

  13. Gregory Walker says:

    DSW – with all due respect, the details are all that matters. I’m fine with carving up the County into smaller districts; I’m advocating, though, for a responsible way to do it all at once, not in some piecemeal fashion. How you get from here to there, as noted above, will absolutely have an impact on different parts of the county, in vastly different ways. And let’s be frank: the northern half of the county has a far bigger tax base, is far more cohesively organized politically, has more of the higher performing schools in the district (especially at the elementary level) and would likely be able to take on the responsibility of an independent school district more quickly. “So? Why is anything you pointed out our problem? Why should we wait around?” Indeed, why should we wait?
    Stan – I think you’re either misreading or misleading about the formation of new districts under HR486. It is absolutely tied to a municipality (town or city): “provided, however, that any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, irrespective of whether such municipalities may be in different counties, may establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.”
    I could be completely wrong, but what that seems to say is that 2 municipalities could form a single school system or that a single municipality could form a single school system. Specifically, it’s written to allow cities that cross county lines to maintain their own district. I do not see any provisions for an unincorporated section of a county to be able to either create their own school system or to ‘join in’ with a neighboring town/city. So, I don’t see how this helps out the large sections of the county that will still be unincorporated after this session. Also, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, the Druid Hills Charter is certainly an interesting way to bypass the legislation; however, they failed to address the same core issues: sure, it’s great for them, but what about the fallout? How will the County respond to Lakeside, Tucker, etc. all wanting to create their own clusters the next month? If the answer is to simply break all the current feeders into separate clusters… ok. Let’s just create the plan to do it for everyone, all at the same time.

  14. Another comment says:

    This is what people don’t realize when you break off into city or town size school districts that arrest one High school with their feeder schools. You vastly consolidate school overhead positions. hopefully the same time you gain the ability to have joint tracts to graduation. every District should have a General Diploma with a real vocational/ trade school which works with local industries to see what the markets needs. then they also need a College bound Track. Probably 50-50 may start out in each tract initially. But after awhile when students learn that 800 hrs of welding can start them making $50k starting salary welding on the ship yards first year that Cain quickly go up to $6 figures with overtime skill and speed. You may have move kids decide that suits them more than struggling for C’s ink the university systems and graduating to maybe a job in an coffee shop with the rest of the UGA drama majors. So it might be 60% are better learning high skilled trade and only 40% go on and get a 4 yr + degrees. ( Look at Germany education system ). but the net result is high 95 + % graduation rates and engaged students.

    theses Districts have one high school, one middle school, ( these should be co-located to save on bussing, sports fields, each should have a natatorium,,tennis fields., the elementary should be small and mostly walk able distances for most students, design should avoid the majority of students having to cross major high ways.) the bussing costs will drop rapidly. bussing for sporting events should be paid for as part of mandatory team dues, no exemptions to team dues, if you pay you play. This is a huge area of savings. The schools with share a votech school with one or two neighboring schools . jr. And sr. Will be bussed to this school ever afternoon. Support Grants and equipment will be sought from Local firms for equipment, and instructors as well in help setting up the students of the future they need career ready for jobs which pay $15, $20, $25 hr upon graduation, rather than minimum wage.

    general student will also be prepared so that they can enter a two year college and be successful.

    all Principals report to the Supt. who average approx $150-160k in this type of position. they have an Facilities Manager who handles the buildings,,ground s and security report directly to him. hey have a transportation director who reports directly to them, they have a curriculum director who report director who report directly to them, a state and federal compliance office, a title one office, a cafeteria manager who reports directly, a food and beverage manager who is a direct report. An Hr chief who is a direct report. the payroll function should be outsourced. The Finance Officer who report direct. so it hand up just being a hand full of people who need less than 2500 sq ft of space. Not a Palace.

    look at catholic schools they operate on $8000 including only 22 students per class. they also pay for their building and their buikding maintenance. no longer do they have nuns on the playroom for $120 month,

    kids with disabilities can be given voujcher to the Schenk school to a year or two, the same with the speech school,

  15. ursokm16 says:

    “Another comment’s” comment is helpful. Whether entirely accurate or not, probably harkens to mature school districts in other states–or does it speak to Buford and Decatur? Districts which form facilities and programs over time. Contrary to district “takeovers” of county facilties and new bureaucracies which come from the image of Ga county systems (however as much a reaction to them). So here, you immediately you have visions of separate high school and middle etc because that’s what the county had. Maybe doesn’t work in a new city system for the sake of cost efficiency and the variety of programs such as “technology”, etc and you really have no idea how special needs will be handled. The idea would be to engage the communiity on what they are currently envisioning to see whether that will indeed be the case–no doubt “morphing” will be the order of the day from Day 1.

  16. Stan Jester says:

    Good Morning Ursokm16

    Costs – The costs associated with starting up a new school district will be a part of the decision made by that community. The county school district is already up and running, so they will not incur any start-up costs. The start-up district incurs the costs and they both end up with smaller districts. That’s win-win.

    Who and Why? – If you want to find why people south of 78 would want to break away, just talk to the Stonecrest City Alliance. Prior to 1945, any municipal or subdivision of state could establish their own school system at will. In 1945, the constitution was amended to prevent that from happening. DeKalb Schools had roughly 10,000 students at the time, so I’m guessing nobody thought anything of it. We are now approaching 100,000 students, so people are changing their minds. Perhaps these other counties see themselves as DeKalbs in 10 years. Perhaps these other counties agree that it’s a win-win for the metro Atlanta counties, even if it doesn’t affect them.

    Special Needs – Special needs are highly regulated by the state. Old and new school districts must adhere to the law without exception.

  17. Stan Jester says:

    Hi HopeSpringsEternal,
    A “leadership vacuum” is where you don’t have leadership. Wilbanks and the Gwinnett board of education have been in leadership for 30 years. When they retire, there will be a “leadership vacuum”. There is no leadership vacuum in DeKalb. I am disappointed with the majority of the leadership we do have in DeKalb, but that is a different topic.

  18. Stan Jester says:

    Gregory,
    You are correct. You must be in a city, but an independent school district isn’t limited to cities within a single county (is where I was going with that one). Unincorporated areas would have to join a city in order to be a part of their school district. Unincorporated areas are quite frequently annexed by cities like Chamblee did in this past vote.

    The district lines should not be forced down on the communities. History is replete with examples of governments forcing boundaries and arbitrarily creating communities which rarely if ever work out. The communities must come together organically and decide for themselves what is best. In the case of Tucker, Lakeside and Briarcliff city initiatives, it will be the government’s job to arbitrate.

    South DeKalb isn’t cohesively organized politically? on the contrary, I see the political leaders in South DeKalb as very cohesive and organized as displayed by the Druid Hills Cluster Petition vote.

  19. ursokm16 says:

    Stan:
    –The provision for special needs was one of the explicit “exceptions” the Druid Hills Charter Cluster requested. Obviously it felt there was leeway in a law that is poorly written–so that they could form a charter with its own admin (and complete transfer of admin funding) but have the county still maintain some special needs responsibility. Will such “exceptions” be initially part of another ill-defined and inexplicit regulatory regime?
    –one poorly written (not clear) aspect of the law has already been referenced by you and reponded in by another writer. You implied that an independent district can be formed in an unincorporated area. Do you still read the law that way? I agree with the other writer–Clearly not the law’s intent.
    –Glad you brought up the pre-1945 law. If a Dunwoody system had been organized 40 or 50 years ago, it wouldn’t be dismantling a current system, which will render any comparison between a new city system in a large urban county and a mature city system moot. Also, the reference to large systems being inherently poorly managed is not the experience anywhere but parts of Fulton, DeKalb and Clayton. Gwinnett and Cobb are fine, North Fulton leverages many local advantages into well regarded schools–the best school systems in the nation is arguably Fairfax County, Virginia (not the city systems in its midst).

  20. midvaledad says:

    I hate to say this, but this whole thread is for naught. The legislature will never amend the constitution and if the proposed amendment did get out of the capitol, it will not survive the popular vote. It is already being talked about as “re-segregating the schools.” The NAACP’s opposition to the Druid Hills Charter Cluster was just a warm up compared to the backlash that will come against the proposed amendment.

    Gregory,
    I don’t understand “3 people are still waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for the promised next pizza…” twist on the pizza analogy.

    If you look at the average age of the school buildings by region, I think you will see the south end of the county has younger buildings. It is the north end of the county that has been waiting and waiting. The reason there are so many recently built high schools north of hwy 78 is because they were the oldest, most overcrowded, rat-infested schools.

    A comment about the perception the schools in South DeKalb get fewer resources than those in North DeKalb.

    It is totally false.
    Completely untrue.
    A fabrication.
    Fiction.

    Click the schools on this map and see which ones have the most instructional software. http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/instructional-software-programs

    Title I provides over $400 for each student identified as a Title I student. Where do the Title I students make up the largest percentages of student population? That is federal money that goes to the school house.

    Finally, do not assume the extra QBE funding for students with disabilities is more than the expenses incurred providing services for those students. Yes. The special education department is bloated with incompetent administrators who do nothing to support the teachers, but the students require adaptive equipment, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, para-professionals, interpreters, and tons of other resources most people don’t think about.

  21. educator90 says:

    While there is much that could be done to improve DCSS, not sure that breaking the county into separate districts is the answer. Electing competent people in the school board and holding them responsible for decision making.

    Tired of North VS. South, Black VS. White within the county at all levels. It’s time that citizens be thankful what they have and work together to make the county government and school district better. This infighting contributes to all that is wrong with DeKalb.

    The school district is so broke. The cluster approach would work, if competent people were hired for area superintendents.

    Wish that parents who are looking for separate school districts would learn about Common Core and the real effects that it will have on their children. To me, this is so much more important than Charter Clusters, and New School Districts, yet so many know so little and the effects on their children will be far reaching.

  22. @educator90: Right about the Common Core. Everyone, please download and read the free publications from EdWeek on the subject. We have them stored for easy downloads at this link: https://dekalbschoolwatch.wordpress.com/resources/resources-for-teachers/

  23. Dekalbite2 says:

    @midvaledad

    I would have thought the same thing, but the way the charter school amendment sailed through the legislature and Georgia voters was unbelievably fast even in the face of tremendous opposition. A legislative or federal court fight will bring more scrutiny and pressure on the DeKalb School System and its administration.

    Student achievement is not a priority for Mr. Thurmond as evidenced by his lack of focus on moving students forward. He should be setting quantifiably measurable student achievement objectives for himself and his administrative team. He has done nothing about lowering class sizes, making teacher compensation competitive with the other metro area systems, or stemming the extraordinary teacher attrition that is so detrimental to students (especially for those in low income areas). He has money for reopening Parent Centers, a recycled idea that failed students for 8 years, but no money to ensure students aren’t in such crowded classrooms that “crowd control” is all that is offered to them. We need a new superintendent who will “clean house” and not only focus on student achievement, but will step up and take responsibility for moving students forward.

    This battle over independent school systems will bring more demands for change and greater scrutiny than Mr. Thurmond could possibly conceive of. The upper level managers in DeKalb have always thought they can just wait out any unrest from the parents/taxpayers. IMHO – this is not a situation that will go away. They lost control of the situation, and they will not get it back with the same old recycled personnel, programs, policies and procedures. Unfortunately, no one in upper management (their term for themselves) has any idea how to meet the only goal that a school system MUST get right – improve the rate of student achievement at a level that puts our students academically on par with demographically comparable school systems.

  24. I also have to mention, there are some very expensive areas of south DeKalb. Some beautiful homes – places people like the very successful Russell (Construction) family lives as well as other business people. Many of our top school and county leaders live in beautiful areas of south DeKalb. In fact, last we knew, Johnny Brown (former superintendent) still owns a home in south DeKalb. People live there by choice. They are certainly free to buy and live in the north part of the county, but they choose not to. There are also some very impoverished areas in north DeKalb – Cross Keys and Clarkston high schools are home to many poor, mostly immigrant students. North DeKalb also hosts hundreds and hundreds more apartments than south DeKalb. South DeKalb is almost exclusively single-family homes.

    It was reported on the original blog once, the number of apartment complexes feeding into our high schools. The planning department had links to pdf files that showed the total number of complexes, their names and the elementary school they feed into. They have all been removed and this information has never been shared since. (Same is true for the per pupil costs.) It’s very interesting when you dig into this data – a majority of the apartment complexes are in the north area of the county. For example, Cross Keys has 80 complexes that feed into it. Druid Hills has 69, Lakeside has 36, Dunwoody has 28, Tucker has 24, Chamblee has 22 – but CONVERSELY – Redan has only 2, SW DeKalb has only 4, MLK has only 5, Miller Grove only has 12 and Lithonia has only 17. The new Arabia HS has zero – due to the fact that it became a “choice” (magnet) school rather than a zoned traditional school as originally sold to taxpayers, and so has no attendance zone at all.

    Here’s a post on enrollment data (note: it’s from 2010, but shows a trend away from neighborhood schools in south DeKalb to theme/magnet/admin transfers…)
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/09/new-attendance-data-to-review.html

    Check out the latest enrollment/race data here >> The numbers tell the story

    We aren’t just making statements – we provide the data for you. This race-baited squawking from south DeKalb is a ruse. South DeKalb parents have far, far more choice than anyone else in the system. And the mass exodus from traditional schools and neighborhood/school is simply self-segregation between the African-American classes. Our observation has been that South DeKalb political players like Gene Walker use the race-baiting as a means to garner votes to get/stay in office and remain in charge of doling out school/government jobs.

    Dunwoody schools are diverse. They are far more diverse that the United States as a whole. (Dunwoody High School: 46% White, 24% Black, 20% Hispanic, 8% Asian, 2% Other) +++ (For comparison, US Statistics: 63.7% Non-Hispanic White, 16.4% Hispanic, 12.2% Non-Hispanic African-American, 4.7% Non-Hispanic Asian, 3% Other :: Click here for World Statistics)

    African-American parents are doing your children a big disservice, as the world is not made up the way you are raising your children in majority-black communities. Black students must learn to get along with many races, as a minority in most cases, and seek to be accepted for their skills, talents and character in order to really do well in the world beyond DeKalb. And in truth, they are.

    Unless you decide to move to Africa (which is poised for exponential growth in the future), or another American urban center, you will be hard-pressed to find a country/state/community in which people of African descent are in the majority. And you will not find it in the work world either. If you are telling your children anything different, you are setting them up for either failure or a big shock. In fact, at a global level, white children will be shocked – the world is Asian and Hispanic by and large.

    Diversity means a melting pot of many races, religions and ethnicities. Webster defines it as:

    di·ver·si·ty
    noun \də-ˈvər-sə-tē, dī-\
    the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.

    Dunwoody is diverse. Central and North DeKalb are diverse. South DeKalb is not. Dunwoody forming its own school system will not change that fact.

  25. ursokm16 says:

    Has anyone considered how much of state law has been and will continue to be a Dekalb problem? or How much of state law is really about Dekalb? or How much state law is being written strictly to change DeKalb and salve Dekalb citizens? or How little state law will start and end with north Metro Atlanta counties?Truly unprecedented and sets dangrous precedents. Note: the votes from legislators outside DeKalb on the school bill will be because they have no political risk–new cities won’t be formed there–therefor no new school systems. That means they will vote if they get better metro vs rural deals made. The reason the precedent for state legislation being relevant to a small number of jurisdictions lies in that fact–very significant constitutional decisions based on deal-making.
    The next argument from the new city crowd to the above prognosis will be “but the people vote” after the legislature–however, the Republican legislature is only one vote shy of a Supermajority–where consitutional amendments can be decided by the legislature alone. One legislator folks.

    Then the next argument will be “but Republicans won’t always rule”. That’s true and that’s what the rush to “governmment by referendum” is all about. To do as much for special interests (yes North Metro Counties are indeed special interests along with the financial interests–bonds mostly) as possible (and render much of the more fundamental aspects of the Ga Constitution moot) in the next 4 to 8 years.

  26. @ursokm – the law allowing the Governor to dismiss the DeKalb school board was written to exactly target DeKalb. Same for setting the number of elected members of a school board. DeKalb has been usurping much attention at the dome in recent years.

    Also, regarding ‘governing by referendum’, President Obama is much better at this than anyone in Georgia could hope to be. It’s not a Dem/Repub tactic – it’s a political tactic in general – and we really don’t agree with its use. The people and their locally elected officials should have more say than that.

  27. ursokm16 says:

    Of course it was…of course it has…and its a dangerous precedent. The city school legislation is the same is my point–except its all about North Metro (two counties + potentially Clayton), where parts of counties are in dispute with their school boards–combined with areas that will form cities. I would also say that the charter school commission amendment was DRIVEN by north metro. The common denominators are obvious. Am I saying the schools are run well in these counties? No. I am saying using state constitutional changes to satisfy local interests is bad law–and sets a dangerous precedent (law making and school quality for a few areas has to be considered separate issues).

  28. Always keep in mind — the original law stating that no more school districts could be formed WAS an amendment to the Constitution. Georgia has one of the most amended Constitutions in the U.S. Perhaps legislators should cap the number of students in districts around the state — or just rescind the original amendment? It is out of date. It was written in an attempt to consolidate resources during the 1940s – a time when school districts in Georgia were rural and had few students. That is certainly not true today. The original writers of the amendment certainly never envisioned school districts of 100,000 students!

  29. ursokm: Why exactly are you so adamant to keep DeKalb as is? Do you have reasons other than race/class issues? Certainly the money can be worked out. And as I pointed out before, north DeKalb and Dunwoody are quite diverse. It is in south DeKalb that schools are almost 100% African-American.

  30. ursokm16 says:

    There you go…and I see this all of the time. You guys think a person is for the status quo in DeKalb if he is simply not accepting the terms of the discussion or further, adding terms to the discussion. That is evidence of an echo chamber and unreasonable zealousness on the board regarding in this case the advocacy of a particular position in Dunwoody and the introduction of a bill by North Metro politicians regarding city schools. For instance, if someone questions whether this bill is indeed for city school systems, its not looked upon as a clarification or rebuttal of a point made by another person on the board. If a person introduces the fact that a number of bills has eminated from North Metro politicians that are in fact local bills, but are admitted (and passed) by the full legislature to be admitted for full state law, regardless of the unlikely use or interest in them outside of North Metro–the person making the comment is viewed as against city school systems–or again in favor of the status quo in Dekalb. Another example–if a person questiosn how appropriate a law is that is limited to a certain subset of petitioning cities, particularly by formation date (2005), which needlessly connects it to recently formed cities–he is deemed a fan of the the status quo in a county that has obviously been targeted.

    This is again a symptom of zealousness (and defensiveness I might add). Reason enough to be concerned about it. See mob rule.

    This is one reason I spent my time on this particular blog–as a voice that expands the conversation rather than allow a growing myth that the notion of city school systems be narrowed to a false choice of ‘fer me’ or ‘agin me’–every scary indeed. Pointing out the aspects of “bad law’–as written (perhaps not as intended) is a legitimate reason to object to that particular manner in which the issue has been approached–and from whence it came–and whose narrow interest it may serve (just as cityhood law does in so many ways).

    In case its not clear–I ain’ happy with status quo either. In fact, I’m a fan of “clusters”, in fact “charter clusters”, but I question whether they should be managed as “public/privates”.

  31. Do you have any other solutions/suggestions? What kind of school system do you envision? We don’t consider ourselves to be ‘zealots’ but we do think it’s perfectly acceptable and logical to dismantle the cumbersome, large school system into smaller, more workable systems. We don’t agree with the assertions you make that seem to infer a racial or ‘wealth’ based motivation. People are really really really tired of dealing with the ineffective leadership and the bloated bureaucracy of this school system. They truly just want a nimble, efficient system that hires and retains the best and brightest teachers and principals and maintains clean schools with proper tools for learning and decent class sizes. That’s it. Do you have a way to make this happen in the DeKalb schools of today? Obviously, the people who run DeKalb County Schools will never approve of charter clusters.

  32. Tucker Mom says:

    In the “The Numbers Tell the Story” posting, the links to your simplified and PDF spreadsheets seem to be broken. I get “404-File not found” when I click on them.

  33. Thanks Tucker Mom — all fixed!

  34. I encourage you to review the school by school budgets found at the link from Stan Jester’s website. It’s very interesting to see the inequity in spending here. For example:

    Vanderlyn: 771 Students (2013)
    Category – 2011 – 2012 – 2013 – 2014 Proposed
    TEACHERS – 2,190,084 – 2,046,374 – 1,853,877 – 1,782,619
    ART,MUSIC,PE PERSONNEL – 256,616 – 294,479 – 302,650 – 258,752
    PRINCIPAL – 88,598 – 87,871 – 81,794 – 87,026
    ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL – 144,983 – 138,231 – 137,718 – 64,309
    AIDES AND PARAPROFESSIONALS – 90,877 – 106,154 – 104,941 – 54,349
    CLERICAL PERSONNEL – 110,003 – 109,948 – 87,389 – 87,654
    LIBRARIAN/MEDIA SPECIALIST – 71,793 – 72,773 – 60,303 – 0
    ELEMENTARY COUNSELOR – 78,056 – 98,958 – 68,033 – 52,976
    CUSTODIAL PERSONNEL – 130,788 – 129,518 – 117,073 – 111,271
    STATE HEALTH INSURANCE – 520,318 – 525,678 – 470,223 – 517,853
    TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM – 314,785 – 307,067 – 323,584 – 297,143
    OTHER EMPLOYEE BENEFITS – 81,703 – 85,876 – 74,801 – 71,879
    TRAVEL – EMPLOYEES – 0 – 0 – 652 – 714
    SUPPLIES – 49,327 – 46,114 – 38,596 – 39,947
    PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT – OTHER THAN BUSES AND COMPU – 0 – 119 – 7,460 – 6,876

    TOTAL EXPENSE – 4,127,931 – 4,049,159 – 3,729,093 – $3,433,368 ($4,453 per pupil)

    Robert Shaw Theme School 437 Students (2013)
    (Where many DCSS administrators send their children and a former high-ranking administrator’s son was once principal)
    Category – 2011 – 2012 – 2013 – 2014 Proposed
    TEACHERS – 1,401,116 – 1,426,509 – 1,341,476 – ,501,293
    ART,MUSIC,PE PERSONNEL – 224,271 – 186,502 – 205,827 – 171,042
    PRINCIPAL – 111,810 – 97,000 – 90,291 – 93,838
    ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL – 51,508 – 51,599 – 51,061 – 50,144
    AIDES AND PARAPROFESSIONALS – 173,903 – 83,733 – 54,533 – 0
    CLERICAL PERSONNEL – 78,993 – 94,907 – 80,008 – 79,598
    LIBRARIAN/MEDIA SPECIALIST – 61,983 – 62,099 – 51,458 – 61,452
    ELEMENTARY COUNSELOR – 53,893 – 51,350 – 38,790 – 61,511
    CUSTODIAL PERSONNEL – 75,187 – 71,129 – 53,300 – 54,656
    STATE HEALTH INSURANCE – 365,927 – 359,438 – 328,043 – 353,290
    TEACHERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM – 223,440 – 211,443 – 226,160 – 251,079
    OTHER EMPLOYEE BENEFITS – 60,925 – 56,321 – 52,359 – 55,656
    TRAVEL – EMPLOYEES – 0 – 0 – 420 – 425
    SUPPLIES – 20,567 – 20,734 – 21,889 – 21,857
    PURCHASE OF EQUIPMENT – OTHER THAN BUSES AND COMPU – 1,506 – 2,412 – 2,250 – 2,129

    TOTAL EXPENSE – 2,905,029 – 2,775,175 – 2,597,864 – $2,757,970 ($6,311 per pupil)

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