Ella Smith’s District 4 campaign statement

I am Ella Smith and I am announcing I am running for district 4 School Board Member position in DeKalb County. I am a concerned educator who has been advocating for educational accountability and reform in the DeKalb School System for over 15 years. I resigned as a teacher in the DeKalb County School System to enable me to advocate for changes in the DeKalb County School System.

I care about every student, parent, teacher, administrator and school employee in the school system currently. Many of them have not been given the respect needed in the representation of their past school board members. All the community members need to work together to improve the educational outcome of our students in DeKalb while reducing the overhead at the county office level.

To make a different we need to be coming up with ideas outside the box, in order to meet the needs of our diverse population of students with different academic needs.

I have been the Vice President of High School Soccer Boosters, Vice President and Secretary in local homeowners/condo associations in the Tucker area, and been an after school tutor, soccer, gymnastic, swimming and Competitive Cheer Coach while teaching in the public schools. I see a great benefit in keeping our students involved in after-school activities but academics have always come first with me.

I am a concerned taxpayer and a proud parent and grandparent whose family have always attended public school and received a great education. I have been a public school teacher and advocate for individuals who are disabled for over 34 years.

I believe there is a demonstrated need for new leadership on the Board of Education (BOE), due to the recent ethical crisis and all the recent educational needs that are not been meet due to the financial crisis of the DeKalb County School System. DeKalb County?s taxpayer resources deserve to be safeguarded and used with the highest level of integrity.

Education of our DeKalb County student is a public investment and the elected school board members must hold the superintendent accountable for results. The elective school board members need to be present at all school board meetings unless there is a family emergency. This has been an issue I have observed that has help convince me to run for the district 4 school board position.
The school board members need to be accountable, accessible, transparent, prepared, efficiency and effectively represent all the taxpayers in DeKalb County.

As an educator I understand the educational challenges in our schools have changed dramatically over the last ten years. As a board member, I intend to make sure the superintendent puts in places means to meet the needs of the teachers in the classroom so the teaching environment is appropriate for learning. Such things as discipline need to be improved in the schools across the county so learning can occur. This means great administrators need to be in place across the county to assure discipline plans are in place that meet the needs of today?s learner.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to call me at 404-550-5931 or email me at ella.smith@att.net

Please vote on May 20th.

Ella Smith, ED.S.
Coach Smith
ElectEllaSmith.com

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About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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63 Responses to Ella Smith’s District 4 campaign statement

  1. tracy says:

    Needs some proofreading to be effective. 😦 Sorry, but that really bothers me when someone does not take the time to go back over a public statement.

  2. Inthetrenches says:

    I’m sorry.
    You may be an outstanding candidate with nothing but the best of intentions, but the citizens… and especially the students of DeKalb County… are tired of “leaders” who cannot write or speak correctly.
    If this is any example of your attention to detail, no thank you.

  3. hopespringseternal says:

    This is why I encourage my special needs son to lay some of his challenges on the table, even as we exercise our right to protect his personal health information — a constant challenge. Anyone who has read this blog for a while knows that Ella has a condition which precludes her from writing like many of us. We have come to recognize it and some even find her courageous and don’t wish to be overly critical.

    That said, if Ella knows she has this condition and that others are likely to criticize it, she can keep a proofreader at the ready for editing, or she can put this disability on the table and understand that despite her openness she will still take hits for it. She is, after all, in the big leagues with a candidacy for a board of education position. And people are getting tired of sub-par anything from school system personnel.

  4. Ella says:

    That you hopesprings eternal. I took a great deal of time going over my statement. I would love to have some proofreaders. Apparently my husband needs some help in his duties.

    I am bothered when I make grammar or spelling mistakes. However, it happens and I am not ashamed that I struggle with a learning disability in written expression and other disabilities also. I actually did have my husband proofread my entrées on my webpage and this was taken from my webpage. He is an attorney and an Emory graduate who is extremely bright and does not struggle as much as I do with writing. However he is human and makes mistakes also apparently.

    Actually 10% of our population struggle with a disability of some type and there are many family members and friends who are very understanding of people who are not as perfect as some of you may be. I wish I was like you and never made any mistakes like this, but I am not. God did not make me as perfect as you may be. However, he made me like this so I would spend my life advocating for others who also have limitations but can learn and become very active productive voting citizens in our communities. You never know when you may become an individual with a disability. It happens to many after being so perfect and we all grow old and have many medical conditions which we have no control of.

    It is real easy to look at ones weaknesses and to almost be like a bully in your responses to someone who understands her weaknesses all too well.

    However, the strengths I have are extremely strong verses my weaknesses and their is absolutely nothing wrong with my intellectual ability.

    You have every right to feel as you do. However, it would be nice if you look at the whole person and judge them for their accomplishments regardless of their disabilities. But it is extremely your choice and I am not offended by your lack of knowledge about individuals who are disabilities and still the abilities they do have. I am thankful for those who do understand and are not unidentified bullies.

    I am assuming you are fairly a new member of the DeKalb County School Board Watch community. I have been involved for many years even actively writing articles for the cause. Many individuals who have viewed this website know my history and I appreciate their support over the years when I do make mistakes due to something I have no control of. If I did it would have been corrected years ago and I would not continue to have a disability in this area.

  5. Very true. Ella wrote many posts for the original DSW and helped Kim Gokce do the research on the Mr. Potato Head post, one of our most revealing regarding the overspending on administrators.
    http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2009/02/dekalb-county-schools-system-as-mr_11.html

    Search Ella Smith at the original DSW to find more of her long-standing efforts to keep the school system in line.

  6. Ella says:

    I am a little puzzled also as this is what is posted on my website. I suspect Celeb did not post this. I am wondering what happened and I

    I am an individual who is disabled. I know I make mistakes. However, I did not make some of the mistakes posted.

    Stakeholders:

    I am Ella Smith and I am running for DeKalb County School Board, district 4. The election date is May 20, 2014. As an elected school board member my main interest will be accountability in educating every student in DeKalb County regardless of where they may live in the county. There is no more important public investment than the education of our children in DeKalb County. Our product is productive citizens and future taxpayers. With the current graduation rate in the DeKalb County Schools it would appear the school system is not being very successful with current and past educational practices. Our school system must think outside the box and come up with new methods that produce better results through involvement of all our stakeholders in the county.

    Our district needs a fresh start with new leadership that encourages the school superintendent to come up with innovative ideas outside the box that focuses on the classroom and not district management. Our school board members need to understand the current physical, technological, and educational challenges of our school system and vigorously encourages our school superintendent to be accountable for students’ achievement throughout the school district. DeKalb County and state taxpayer resources deserve to be safeguarded and used with the highest level of integrity. Who better to do this than an educator who has been in the trenches the last 34 years and who is passionate about educational opportunities for our DeKalb students? I understands the current physical, technological, and educational challenges confronting our school system now. I understands the challenges teachers have in the classroom now.

    Due to the recent ethical crisis and governor’s intervention there is a need to instill accountability, accessibility, trust, transparency, effectiveness and efficiently to DeKalb’s constituents. Assuring accreditation of the DeKalb County School System should be a top priority of all DeKalb County School Board Members.

    I realize that when elected as a school board member I will be just another DeKalb County citizen with no control of the day to day operations of the school system. These duties are the job of the school superintendent who is evaluated by the DeKalb County School Board Members. As a school board member I will not interfere. The school system must regain full accreditation.

    As a voting member of the school board I know I will have the ability to help make important decisions that will benefit every student in the DeKalb County School System.

    Candidate Webpage: http://www.electellasmith.com/home

    Blog: http://georgiaschoolhousenews.blogspot.com/

  7. @Ella: We simply posted what is on the front page of your website after you emailed us via our contact form.

    This is what you sent to DeKalb School Watch’s e-mail:
    “Name: Ella Smith
    “Email: ella.smith@att.net
    “Comment: Please email me an email address and I will send you my announcement for running for school board or you can take it off my webpage at electellasmith.com.”

    It sets a bad precedent to blame others for your mistakes.

  8. Monica S. says:

    Ella, you are an excellent candidate in my book! If we can listen to the Super spill his “country gramma” and still pay him $300K…..
    I don’t understand why we are all so critical of human errors that are easy to correct and didn’t hurt not one child! People stop missing the big picture!

  9. Monica S. says:

    DSW2:
    I would like to know why there has not been one public conversation about relieving employees of furlough days, reinstating step raises, or doing an across the board cost of living raise. Several metro school systems have been in the news lately sharing their intent for the system. I am hearing nothing but crickets from Thurman and the current board. Surely they aren’t waiting for the new board (2015) to make these decisions.

  10. Mildred says:

    At least so far this go-round in her campaigning on this blog, Ella has been mild in her retorts to posters about her bad spelling and grammar. Last time around she threatened to have her husband sue those (like me) who pointed out her spelling/grammatical errors. Her thin skin back then was a major reason I urged people not to vote for her. As it stands now, I still urge people not to vote for her, but I will keep my reasoning to myself for the moment.

    I do encourage people go to back and read all those posts Ella made on the previous iteration of this blog. Some are quite illuminating, especially those dealing with the party that was going to be thrown near Lakeside and the flyer that advertised it. That flyer featured a scantily-clad black female, and, from it, Ella surmised that there would be drinking and smoking that could find its way to the Lakeside High School parking lot! Ella fulminated mightily about that along with offering a few pronouncements about how yours-truly (under a different moniker for that blog) could do well as a rapper. LOL. Hopefully they are still there to be read — for both insight and a good laugh.

    Cheers.

  11. @Monica: Michael Thurmond reinstated one furlough day. We think he thinks that is enough to carry him through. He is sorely mistaken. As we always say on this blog, unless and until the classrooms, students and teachers are fully funded first and foremost, with teaching supplies readily available (teachers shouldn’t have to purchase supplies), low class sizes, evenly distributed books, technology and outside resources, then we don’t think any efforts to assuage the teachers’ low morale will do much whatsoever.

  12. @Mildred – as we recall, this private party (at the ‘Atlanta Whitehouse’) was planning to use Lakeside’s parking lot for their guests and shuttle them back and forth. It was an unapproved use of the public schools parking lot for a very large, private for-profit party. So that’s where the drinking, etc on school property statement came from. It was a liability issue mainly. In the end, they used a private parking lot leased from a shopping center down the road.

  13. Word Wall says:

    The 2014 -2015 Dekalb calendar has furlough days with priority 1,2 &3! They fall at the end at May 2015!! Looks like only grudgingly moving back to 2009 baselines is the palace’s current tactic. Raises of 6% — to classroom teachers — would be normal in DeKalb’s case, for post-recession teachers’ retention, a six percent raise with no furlough days should be standard, — given the fiscal recovery of the Dekalb tax base.

  14. IntheTrenches says:

    Honestly, whether or not there are disabilities in play with regards to Ms. Smith’s initial posting here today, I see no reason why anything should ever be published for public viewing by anyone running for public office-especially for anyone running for a position that will put them in the position of making decisions about how are schools are run and our teachers managed.

    The people and yes, students of the DeKalb County School System deserve leaders who have mastered the written and spoken word..not those who have merely muddled through with a little help from friends. This is not an unreasonable expectation. It’s what we should minimally expect and demand.

    “Country gramma,” as Mildred said is the norm in DeKalb…not a “once in a while” grammatical misstep, and it MATTERS. This is not an example of taking our collective eye off the ball…this IS the ball, or at least a large chunk of it. Settling for those who desire power rather than picking those who best model the goal we set for our students is the tradition here and has been for the 25+ years I’ve been around.

    I reminded of the gem dished up by our former superintendent, Crawford Lewis a few years ago. When addressing the entire teaching staff throughout the county in a previously recorded speech Mr. Lewis used the phrase, “faux pas,” which was obviously not part of his normal lexicon. Nor did he have a habit of proofreading his speeches prior to delivery because when he came to the phrase, “faux pas” he pronounced it, “fox paws.” The two teachers sitting directly in front of me nearly fell out of their chairs… and they were NOT English teachers, either!

    We have many, many issues to tackle if the DCSD has any hope whatsoever at regaining the academic standing it had long ago. Putting people in positions of leadership that have the basic skills to do the job is the very least we need to require. WE need to raise the bar…and fast! No, I take that back. We need to take up a collection and go BUY a BAR! I’ll kick in $100 just to get us going.

    It’s not unreasonable to hold educators, and those in leadership positions who have decision-making power over educators, to this standard- and if you think it is…you’re part of the problem, not the solution.

  15. IntheTrenches says:

    And may I add…no one expects perfection. A typo here and there is to be expected. The trend however, is and has been to overlook poor writing and speaking skills for fear of being called everything from unsympathetic to racist to arrogant and elitist or all of the above.

    I’m tired of listening to so-called leaders (some with PhDs) pontificate about education while simultaneously using sub-elementary level grammar skills.

    It’s not OK. It’s just NOT.

  16. Word Wall says:

    That Fox got his Paws on some cash indeed.

  17. @InTheTrenches: Please consider running for an office of some kind if you feel so strongly. We, the people, need to literally take back our government. We’re not Tea Partiers, but we can see that without truly dedicated people in public service who view their jobs as just that: service, then we will continue to suffer corruption, incompetence and waste.

    Check out the campaign of Marianne Williamson in California for a better articulation of my point >>
    http://www.marianneforcongress.com/
    http://www.marianneforcongress.com/why_i_am_running

  18. @ Monica — E-mail your question about reinstating furlough days, step raises and cost-of-living raises to Thurmond, the current board members and those who are running for the school board. If you will copy us on the e-mail you send and forward the responses you receive, we will print all answers here on the blog.

  19. Inthetrenches says:

    Excellent questions.
    Even more to the point, why has it taken nearly 6 years for the general public to even notice how DeKalb has been treating its teachers?
    Up until the last 10 months or so most parents I’ve been in contact with had no idea that the county stopped contributing to our health plan let alone the retirement debacle and furloughs.
    It appears the mass exodus of teachers – many strong veteran teachers with easily transferable skills- has suddenly registered as a small blip on the radar of those paying attention.
    Too little – too late …I fear.

  20. Inthetrenches says:

    Thank you for the link. I know of her from her books but I had no idea she had political aspirations. My political leanings run closer to those of Elizabeth Warren. My communication style is similar as well, and my personal experience has been that the southeast in general is not open to the thoughts and ideas of anyone outside of the most extreme Republican fringe.
    I also don’t have the deep pockets of the
    Marianne Williamsons of the world. I will have to be content to cheer them on from the sidelines, crossing my fingers that the
    moderate populace regains its sanity…and
    soon.

  21. howdy1942 says:

    @Ella, there are some questions that I am expecting all candidates for the District 4 seat to answer, so I will start with you.

    First, what would you propose to do about the court case involving the teachers seeking the restoration of their TRA contributions that the Dekalb School Board voted to terminate?

    Second, what specifically would you do to address the bloat in the DCSS administration that has been documented by the AJC and others as far exceeding the administration/teacher ratio of neighboring counties?

    Third, what specifically would you propose to rein in the expenses involved with the so-called “parent centers” that seem to be concentrated in specific areas of Dekalb County and not others?

    Fourth, what specifically would you propose to rein in legal expenses? What would you do to insure we ended the practice of duplicating employment of both “white” and “black” law firms when only one is needed?

    Fifth, what specifically would you do to reach out to communities that feel that they have been ignored for too long, such as Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and Lakeside?

    Sixth, what would you to to restore the trust of the people of Dekalb County in the DCSS?

    Seventh, what specifically would you do to get the priority on the classroom and not on administration?

    Eighth, what would you propose to do about initiating a search for a new, permanent superintendent?

    Ninth, would you undertake to initiate a full independent forensic audit of the Dekalb County School System? If so, would you insist that the results be made public without any modification by anyone?

    Tenth, what would you propose to insure that the school board and administration listen to and truly consider what the public has to say?

    Eleventh, what is your position on new ideas such as that presented by the Druid Hills Charter Petition? What new directions would you propose to change the status quo at the DCSS and give all of us a new comfort that such charter schools, new independent schools, or other such programs are not needed and that the DCSS will take a new course of improvement that is measurable to convince us that it is serious and can be trusted?

    Twelfth, what specifically would you propose to get administrators out of the way of teachers and to get teachers into a fully accountable position?

    Thirteenth, are to comfortable with the current budget preparation, presentation, and approval process? If not, what specifically would you change?

    Finally, what specifically would you propose to end teacher furlough days and to begin to restore their full compensation with some allowance for annual raises?

    I appreciate your statement, but we need to get beyond the broad positions to the measurable specifics that I know that I am looking for in a candidate.

    Thank you for your consideration and response.

  22. Stan Jester says:

    Howdy1942,
    Those are relevant and applicable questions I would like to see all the candidates across the county answer. Perhaps you could organize and moderate a board candidate forum.

  23. Thanks, Howdy! We would move question #7 to #1 and Question #12 to #2 and Question #14 to #3. We would add Chamblee and Tucker to Question #5. And we would add a Question #15: Specifically, using position titles, how would you eliminate the Central Office (Palace) bloat? That said, if you will send these questions to all those running for a school board seat and send the answers to DSW’s e-mail, we will print all answers as sent.

  24. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    There are more schedule forums:

    Parent Councils United has partnered with the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and Leadership DeKalb to host two BOE forums:
    Please mark your calendars and plan to attend. They are scheduled as follows:
    Tuesday, April 22: Georgia Perimeter College (details coming soon) for Districts 2, 3, and 4
    Tuesday, April 29: Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center for Districts 5, 6, and 7
    Both forums will be from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. and will be moderated by local media personalities who are focused on education.

    Got these off the Parents for DeKalb Schools FB page.

  25. Thanks – we’ll make a post announcing these forums.

  26. concerned citizen says:

    Howdy, I think Stan has hit upon another great idea, as usual! Are you willing to set this up and moderate the program? I will be glad to help you, such as finding a place, contacting the candidates, putting out information, etc.

  27. DeKalb Inside Out says:

    How about an interactive Town Hall meeting with the candidates sponsored by the DSW community? If you can get 50 people to show up, the candidates will participate.

  28. firstgradeteacher says:

    I believe we have not heard anything in regards to the calendar, because the mass exodus will start earlier than it did last year… lol. Well, it’s sad, but all the other metro counties are talking about reinstating raises. While we are still discussing furlough days. DeKalb has to be attractive to teachers coming out of college and let’s not talk about retention of their current employees.

  29. concerned citizen says:

    Howdy, I believe DSW has ordered the questions (which are wonderful!) correctly. Do you agree? Would you be willing to send the questions to all the candidates? Then, we can all see their responses in writing. Howdy, doesn’t the supt get the same questions? It’s more than time for him to say something without spouting off about “sharecroppers” and other mush-mouth dribble.

  30. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – When preparing my list, I had so many questions that I wanted to ask that I pretty much listed them as they came to mind. I realized later that some were of greater priority than others. Like so many on this blog, I have been disappointed so often by this appointed board and this administration so it wasn’t difficult to begin listing questions. I am pleased that we have so many candidates, especially in my own 4th District, but I wish that more candidates had emerged to challenge Morley, Johnson and others. I’ve been pleased with the insight of Mr. Mayfield, but very disappointed in the performance of the other eight.

    I’m currently in North Carolina transitioning my mother from a hospital to a rehab center and now to an assisted living center, but I would be delighted and honored to make arrangements to moderate a candidate forum. I’ve lived in Dekalb County for just under 40 years, had two daughters to be educated here, and know what Dekalb schools can be and should be. My perspective is that getting our school system straightened out would be a giant step forward for our kids, out people, our tax base, our economic development, and community relations. My mother’s assisted living center is just around the corner from where the school board here meets, so I decided to drop in an listen. It is just so different to hear members of a school board, a superintendent, and local residents have a constructive conversation about priorities and measurable action items. The superintendent has recently concluded holding a number of community forums where the public asked questions and he either answered or made commitments to get back. At the particular meeting I attended, he gave a report of the questions and discussed how he had listed those questions along with his answers on the school’s web site. I’m not saying that I saw perfection, but the contrast with what is happening at the Dekalb County School Board and administration could not have been greater. At least, there was no discussion about SACS and none about answering any questions posed by SACS. I also know that the tax base here is far lower than it is in Dekalb County, its resources much more constrained, but teachers have not faced reductions in pay nor have they lost any benefits – in fact, they are scheduled for a 1.5% increase this year. I know that’s small, but that is so much more than what the DCSS seems to be able to muster. There are no teacher lawsuits, no obvious legal bills, and no apparent dissatisfaction on the part of the public that I heard or that I have read about in the month that I have been here. Perhaps the greatest news is that the Human Resources Director recently resigned to accept the same position in a larger district here in North Carolina (about the size of Dekalb, but at a salary of $112,000!). Members of the board, the superintendent, and the public praised her for her 19 years of service and the progress she had made in recruiting some highly educated, experienced, and gifted teachers. I left that meeting thinking about what we are paying a superintendent in Dekalb and what we are paying our HR director and realizing that, yes, we can afford to do so much better than we are now doing. Getting the right people into key positions in the DCSS is, in fact, possible.

    On a final note, the school district here is heavily African American and Hispanic. There was some discussion on spending $500,000 to hire learning specialists in schools – to work with students “who were advancing at levels beyond their classmates” and with students “who are having difficulty keeping up with their classmates” – across the school district. Enough said!

  31. Thanks, Howdy. Please don’t misunderstand — we were not being critical. We just re-ordered some of the questions. It sounds like you have your hands full. We will see what we can do about obtaining candidate e-mail addresses. And we will e-mail these questions to all serious candidates (those with e-mail addresses). Before we move forward, please let us know if that will be okay with you. We don’t want to swoop in and take over.

  32. acheolus says:

    District 4 desperately needs a qualified candidate! As of now, I can’t think of one. Also, as someone with a diagnosed learning disability who has EARNED a doctorate, I am appalled at the mere thought of someone using it to explain away what, in this time, should be a given. After all, there are a multitude of great programs out there to check your grammar!

    The small things count!

  33. concerned citizen says:

    I certainly am gratified to read your comments, Howdy. If only you were in charge, we wouldn’t be in this horrible school “MESS”! with a nutter supt and nutter Palace minions! It’s disgusting to think of the HR head, truly. The damage she has done cannot be undone, I’m afraid. She’s lies as a matter of course and has done teachers and the children unspeakable harm. I won’t even get into Beastley, Ramoona, Ramsey,etc. Look what they’ve done to the school system. How can anyone defend them?
    Contact DSW for my phone number, please, and let us proceed with demanding answers to your formidable questions. All my best wishes to you during this hard time helping your mother. She’s very, very lucky to have you as a son. And the teachers, parents, and students are fortunate to have you as a spokesman. Thank you.

  34. Stan Jester says:

    Instead of having 1 forum with a bunch of candidates, you could have a few Town Hall meetings with 1 or 2 candidates at a time. The election isn’t until May 20th.

  35. IntheTrenches says:

    Contracts were emailed to teachers today and for the 2nd year in a row, annual salaries have been omitted and daily pay rates posted instead. To make matters worse, there’s no mention anywhere in the letter that accompanies the contracts about how many days the teacher contracts are for. Are we being hired for 190 days? 181? Somewhere in between? It matters! It matters to the tune of thousands of dollars…per teacher, per year! Yet, the county fully expects teachers to sign open-ended contracts that in no way provides teachers with a clear idea of exactly what’s being offered.

    Last year at this time, Michael Thurmond issued a statement that many found incredibly insulting to our collective intelligence. In that contract letter he stated that after looking over the data he was happy to see that teacher pay had, in fact, actually remained steady over the past several years-implying that there was no real cause for complaint. Apparently, he thinks we’re incapable of deducing that, although the daily pay rate may remain intact, if you reduce the total number of days we work, Mr. Thurmond…that’s a CUT in PAY! (That’s kinda’ how math works, sir.)

    Several of my colleagues have been asking questions about the goings on in the system and they’re anxious to know if there’s been any mention from “on high” regarding furlough days, COLA and steps, etc.The “palace” has been conspicuously silent on these issues and I always advise everyone I know to check in with this website for up-to-date info as often as possible. Interestingly though, as of today, this website has been BLOCKED by the DCSD webwasher.

    Youtube? Check. Facebook? Check. Pinterest, Ebay, QVC even? Check.

    DeKalb School Watch 2?

    Blocked.

    Hhmmm…..,

  36. howdy1942 says:

    @DSW – I actually took your reordering as positive and helpful! Yes, we do have a deep hole that the DCSS has dug for all of us, but we can start next January with a new board that will at least stop digging! And perhaps the next board will start by actually beginning to fill up the hole. A lot of damage has been done over the past 10 years and the repairs will take time. If we can first start with a new board, then we can take the second step to initiate a search for and hire a new superintendent. And the third step will be to restructure the priorities of the DCSS, restructure and downsize the staff, and stop the hemorrhaging of good, caring school teachers. Closely aligned with that third step is settling the teacher lawsuit and sharply reducing legal and administrative expenses so we can reallocate those funds to the classroom. Hire the right superintendent and all else falls into line.

    Mr. Thurmond asked for a chance and he got it. He failed to even follow up on answering questions from the public for which he promised answers. He failed to do anything about the bloat that is the administrative staff. He failed to do anything to heal the gaping wound between the public and the administration. He fought the new idea that was the Druid Hills Charter Petition. He made his decision regarding what he wanted to do with the DCSS even while his appointed committee was seeking the input from the community. He did absolutely nothing to address the concerns of Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Tucker, Lakeside, or others who long to have their own school system. The crescendo is only growing louder as demonstrated by three new cityhood movements this past year that, while divided on geography, were united in their disgust with the DCSS.

    And it’s not just Mr. Thurmond that has done little – he has been joined by a “do-nothing”, rubber-stamping school board. My observation of this board is that, for the most part, they were ill-prepared for board meetings, asked few questions, and have been more than content to maintain the status quo. Funding legal expenses to fight teachers in court, funding new cars for administrators, extending Mr. Thurmond’s contract without even a hint of considering alternative candidates, not even giving the Druid Hills Charter Petition a chance to even try, funding new staff additions to the administration, failing to seek any understanding about the high teacher turnover rate in the DCSS, I’m just puzzled as to why they even applied for the job – there were at least 394 other applicants! I really thought that they wanted to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and start fixing the school system. They apparently did not want to begin that process.

    I’ll close this by adding to my previous comment about my observations here in the local school districts. While it wasn’t discussed at the most recent meeting, the school board and the superintendent have reached out to the local community college and to the business community to initiate vocational programs to develop skills for high school students who either cannot or have no interest in pursuing a four-year college degree. Local businesses have contributed equipment and internships to develop students in electrical, plumbing, automotive, air conditioning, computer and networking technician, nursing, medical, and other vocational skills. And it’s working.

    Folks, we can do better for all out kids throughout Dekalb County. We just need the governance and leadership to make that happen.

  37. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    Been saying it for 8 years, the Clew Crew MUST go! How can anyone expect change when the Palace has the same folks, that dug the hole we are in, making the same decisions that keep the F&F intact. DCSS mired in the muck of mediocrity for 10 years, thanks to Clew and his bumbling stumbling crew of misfits.

  38. Stan Jester says:

    InTheTrenches
    As you astutely noted, the contracts do not reflect the earned income a teacher can expect next year. For that matter, the contract does not guarantee that you will have a job. The administration is currently working on the budget. We won’t know the annual salary of teachers until the budget is passed.

  39. Word Wall says:

    Its shocking that “contracts” went out with no mention of pay by the appointed “reform” board at a board meeting…they totally folded and are following the Palace plan… another year of slowly and grudgingly bringing teachers’ pay back to the old baseline by … “maybe, if you’re good” … reducing furlough days. Pathetic.

  40. Thanks, Howdy! The current DeKalb County, GA School Board appointed by Governor Let’s-Make-a-Deal are the poster children for NOT having an appointed State Superintendent of Schools.

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