The June 2, 2014 BOE meeting and International Teachers

Kirk-Lunde-DeKalb-County-Schools

by Kirk Lunde

I spoke to the BOE last night during the Public Input Meeting and probably did a lousy job. I had notes ready and couldn’t use them because I was so upset by what one board member said during the work session. At the last minute I decided to speak about that instead.

Please accept my apologies if you felt I was out of line. Also, you probably don’t want to read any further if you get upset by calling out and challenging DeKalb School District employees, BOE members, and the superintendent when I believe they are “shoveling the manure” or just plain wrong.

The international teachers contracts is part of what I had prepared to speak about.

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International Teachers

It is interesting when you compare the salaries for the international teachers in the 2013-14 school year found here to their salaries for the 2014-15 school year found here.

In the recently ended school year these international teachers are reported to have earned a salary of $47,000 and in the upcoming school year they are reported to earn a salary of $55,000. On top of the salary the school district pays a “fee” to the placement companies of $11,500.

Surprisingly, several BOE members had questions about the contracts.

Dr. Smith was asked about using Teach For America teachers and she tripped all over herself trying to answer. First she said the $4,000 fee was too high. (compared to $11,500?) However, Teach For America has waived the fee for DeKalb County. Then she said if the district had to pay the benefits for the TFA teacher, the overall cost would be more than the international teachers. Then she said TFA couldn’t staff special education, but most of the international teachers are NOT teaching special education.

I would like to come back to the second point she made and prove she was either lying or is not aware of the salary schedule for teachers. According to the DeKalb teacher salary schedule a new teacher (such as a TFA teacher) earns $40,742 annually.

The first linked document shows the district paid 31% of salaries for benefits. Let’s assume that is 33% this year.

$40,742 X 1.33 = $54,187.

The international teachers cost the district $66,500 per year versus teachers from Teach For America which would cost around $55,000 (rounding up).

Dr. Smith would like us to believe she is saving the district money. Not surprisingly, the BOE believed her and moved the item to the consent agenda.

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What upset me yesterday was one board member’s rant about how the BOE needs to “stay out of the way”, “stay in their lane,” and “trust these people to do their jobs without micromanaging them.”

What I said last night, I honestly don’t remember. I wanted to tell the board they can’t trust the senior administration to be truthful or competent because at least one of those things is missing.

*This blog post represents only my opinion and does not speak for any other person or group.

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>> Read more about DSW’s findings on the international teacher contracts in the comments of this post >> Today’s board meetings: June 2, 2014

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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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27 Responses to The June 2, 2014 BOE meeting and International Teachers

  1. idabelle25 says:

    Thank you Mr. Lunde,
    For standing up for us once again!
    I understand your anger . They are headed straight for disaster that has everything to do with back room deals behind close doors and lining up pockets behind close doors(I will bet any money on it ) in other words , new players , same game ,. Except for a few teachers who are attracted to a few schools for their own few reasons in this county when I talk to potential teachers in the metro area the word is out and they are avoiding Dekalb county like the plague so instead of restoring reputation and making a real effort to improve morale and compete with money they are going to go overseas to pay more for their teachers than our own teachers. I want to say I don’t have a problem with recruiting and exposing students to teachers from different cultures in a healthy district but healthy we are not . We have sick students ( academically, accents and even placements of dollar signs have been barriers to learning with teachers from other countries) and sick teachers( fiscally , that lilltle boost they said they would give us won’t come close to restoring.). As for as Teach for America, they train these kids pretty well to stick it through urban environments and basic educational principles and I have mentored and led some fine young people in that program but experience takes time. WHAT A R E WE D O I NG? ARE W e going to let the school system single handedly make Dekalb county the joke of metro Atlanta .Enough is enough , be heard I don’t know what this meeting on Monday is about but maybe it’s an opportunity but I am tired of meetings and people taking notes and these backroom deals still being made. I compare it to drug dealers . Th ey don’t care how much they destroy their communities as long as they get their money or future promises of positions . Who is there for children to make common sense decisions!!!!!

  2. What do you suppose this announcement is all about??

    On Monday the proposal to increase graduation rates in DeKalb County will be revealed. Let’s see what the new school board has to offer. Here’s the Press Release:

    ATLANTA – A press conference is scheduled in Atlanta Monday, June 9, to announce a public-private sector effort to increase graduation rates among students in the DeKalb County School District.

    The press conference will be held at 2 p.m. at the Georgia Department of Labor’s (GDOL) state office building at 148 Andrew Young International Boulevard, N.E.

    Among those scheduled to participate are DeKalb County School Superintendent Michael Thurmond, State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, and Beth Shiroishi, President of AT&T Georgia.

    Parking for news media will be provided in the ground level parking lot behind the office building.

  3. midvaledad says:

    According to Superintendent Thurmond, the low graduation rates DeKalb County has seen were caused by a bookkeeping error. The individual high schools were supposed to document where students went when they left the school and had not been doing so.

    All the lost students were counted as “not graduating.”

    This year the schools have been diligent about their record keeping. “Adults doing the right things” as Thurmond put it.

    The Superintendent has guaranteed an increase in graduation rates.

  4. Kirk Lunde just sent this update via email:

    I want to answer the person who told me I was low in my estimate of the cost for a Teach For America teacher.

    Let’s assume benefits cost 36% of a teacher’s salary. $40,742 X 1.36 = $55,409

    Now let’s add the $4,000 placement fee to get the “total” cost to the district. $55,409 + $4,000 = $59,409

    The difference between the cost of 45 Teach For America teachers and 45 “international” teachers is ($66,500 – $59,409) X 45 = $319,095.

    The difference between the cost of 45 Teach For America teachers without the $4,000 fee, which Dr. Smith admitted was waived for DCSD, and 45 international teachers is ($66,500 – $55,409) X 45 = $499,095.

    Nearly half a million dollars wasted for importing teachers instead of effectively recruiting and retaining American teachers.

    DeKalb School Watch II discusses this in the comments below the agenda for Monday’s meeting. https://dekalbschoolwatch.com/2014/06/02/todays-board-meetings-june-2-2014/#comments It appears Global Teachers Research & Resources, Inc. has a Vice President who is a former Director of Human Resources at DeKalb County Schools.

    In the most recent Vendor Spends Report GTRR Inc. was shown to have been paid $1,319,274 through the end of April.

    Please draw your own conclusion.

  5. Oh that is a good one! A bookkeeping error!! (Hey! Wasn’t that the problem with the budget too?!! – If so, why aren’t people being fired for incompetence? Instead, suddenly now, these same people are ‘adults doing the right things’?!) This is not a new response. We have been asking the question for YEARS – why is the graduation rate so low? And they blamed it on people moving! Johnny Brown said a long time ago that many of these students simply ‘moved to places like South Dakota’ but that there was no record of it in the official transcripts. This cannot be true – as those receiving schools MUST have an official transcript. That is very EASY paperwork to track.

  6. idabelle25 says:

    @ Mr. Lunde’s email

    Wow!
    Without even knowing for sure, I was willing to bet there was a connection between the global services organization and the human resource office . Mr. Lunde do we need AJC or other investigative reporting involved to get some action? Never mind, evidence is already there of one hand washes the other at the cost of children and reputation of an entire School system . I am referring to the once head of human resources now being “a head huncho ” at the Global Services teaching organization. I wonder who will get a great position with this organization next as they watch our ship sink and laugh all the way to the bank..I guess we will wait and see. There is a reason we study history , so that we can learn from it. For instance, a certain superintendent who is now a top person for a widely unsuccessfully and expensive piloted program called “Success for all”. You don’t think promises were made before that ink dried while we all stood around dumb. Who is willing to call out the foxes in the hen house on this board?

  7. Very True idabelle25! While Atkinson was on ‘family leave’ due to her father’s illness and subsequent passing, she was certainly also negotiating an exit strategy — the key component of which was a job with Success For All – a company she shoveled about $5 million DeKalb taxpayer dollars to – as well as many more Ohio tax dollars! They owed her and she probably called it in! She was AWOL from DeKalb for at least THREE WEEKS as we ran our school system essentially without a leader (then again, we ‘always’ have Ramona! — and Ron Ramsey!) This, of course, is all due to the bull-headed board chair at the time, “I SEE COLOR” Gene Walker who would not consider anyone other than an African-American for the job! Now, behind the scenes, the board secretly hired and placed Michael Thurmond to the post — just in time before the Gov fired them all (except Marshall, Jim and Melvin.) And sadly, many in DeKalb are OK with that. We, however, abhor secrecy when it comes to our school system and our tax dollars.

    This is about money – always has been. There is BIG money in this school district — $1.2 BILLION a year to be exact!! Lots of jobs and contracts to hand out – and there is power in that – lots of power. The ONLY answer is to break up the system into smaller districts with greater citizen oversight. We want a good education for each and every child in DeKalb. That’s why we pay the tax dollars – not so that people can build themselves fiefdoms and political clout.

  8. @ idabelle25
    Further, DSW will call out the “foxes in the hen house” if — and this is a big “if” — we get real documentation on the foxes.

    Folks — what we believe to be true and what we can prove are two very different things. At this point, it should be clear to all that DSW is trustworthy, that we do not work for DeKalb County Schools, and that we will protect the identities of those who provide us with information. We have even obtained a P.O. Box so that documents corroborating the wrongdoing may be sent to us without a shred of identifying information. The proof we need must come from inside the Central Office in one of two ways: (1) send a copy of the document(s) that will substantiate wrongdoing to DeKalb School Watch, P.O. Box 660221, Atlanta, GA 30341 and/or (2) tell us specifically what to ask for in an Open Records Request — i.e., name and date of document and where it may be found. We will take it from there.

    Either give us the information you have access to — or resign yourselves to more of the same old, same old.

  9. On another note — and in our effort to educate and enlighten – watch comedian/news anchor John Oliver’s report about ‘net neutrality’ and do your part to leave a comment at fcc.gov/comments about Proceeding 14-28 – Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet Applications of Comcast Corporation and Time Warner Cable Inc for Consent to Assign or Transfer Control of Licenses and Applications

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    Share these links!

  10. Sick and tired says:

    Can this travesty be reported to WSB or another news outlet? Doesn’t seem like much will be done with just exposure here. Waste of tax payer money in my insignificant opinion. Also, the kids have a TERRIBLE time understanding many of the foreign teachers. Creates a recipe for disaster in such high stakes areas like MATH AND SCIENCE! All the schools I have been at have had horrible issues with classroom management in with these teachers.

  11. Another comment says:

    My child got stuck with a horrible one of these Foreign teachers students an Indian teaching physics, in a North Fulton School. It she was such a bad teacher that the guidance counselor was trying to steer the students to environmental science in lieu of physics. Only problem is a lot of students planning to go into stem fields need to have Physics. These is where a teach for a America teacher with a physics degree from a top US university who is a native speaker would do much better.

    Or I just don’t understand, why do we put those of us who are experts in STEM fields that have 20 + years of business or public sector experience working in these fields. Many have taken early retirement. The $40-50 k will prevent. Going into retirement savings until Social security kicks in. . Their are lots of good talented subject matter experts who are sick of the corporate world of 60-80 hr. Work weeks year round. Will take the unpaid 8-10 weeks off in the summer, the 2 weeks at christmas, week in the fall. Plus a week in the spring. A position with benefits. A second chance to earn a retirement, paid benefits. We are used to no paid training to keep up our professional certifications. Getting and keeping our certifications, plus the thousands of dollars in continuing education to meet the requirements to keep our license . We realize from day one it is the cost of working, not just moving up. Many have had teaching experience in graduate students. Doesn’t make sense we can teach in top colleges but not high school or middle. We know what is required for the real world and what employers expect. Not some education theory. A lot of private high Schools are moving to a ore college like schedule with days off between class for. Either internships. Work experience , or directed work study. They are using more college adjucunts.

  12. Teacher 33 says:

    Or what if they treated DeKalb teachers with respect in the first place? The need to go elsewhere wouldn’t be there. They need to invest our tax money in people, starting with our own. Yet another slap in the face!

  13. Nikole says:

    I prefer the New Teacher Project over TFA. TFA is temporary commitment for those that want to be lawyers or businessmen. TNTP is for those that are leaving other field to become lifelong teachers.
    Also, there is an equity community meeting at AIC on June 9th.

  14. midvaledad says:

    Wait a minute!

    According to the document HR used last October the international teachers made $47,000 for the 2013-14 school year and they are going to make $55,000 in the next school year.

    That is a 17% pay raise. The teachers who are dedicated to, invested in, the students and schools are getting a 1% pay raise.

    Was any justification given for the seemingly large increase in pay for the international teachers?

  15. idabelle25 says:

    In reply to midvale Dad,

    I don’t know why but I have come to the conclusion of which I have much evidence that the powers that be simply hate us ( teachers .) Why? Well , to ask why would be to ponder why the mean girls hate u in high school ( it’s a waste of energy) but more importantly why are we allowing them to distribute our tax dollars unfairly as if it is coming from their personal accounts to distribute to legal defenses of friends, put into countless programs without teacher input or morale first being restored, new cars and the list goes on while they continue to crack the whip on our backs,’. None of this is about the children. If they could show data right now or anyone to say that the people from this program have been able to move children in growth exponentially in comparison to me or my colleagues ( and let’s just say I personally am not doing so shabby along with many of my colleagues) than I will say nothing about giving someone more based on merit but no one can tell me that this is what it’s about…. Shameful DCCS.. You got to the point where you are bold enough to do your dirt out in the open … AJC are you there?

  16. Pangborned says:

    The HR department wants to pay $55,000 per foreign teacher, plus a $11,500 fee to the recruiting organization. If you’re a math or science teacher in DeKalb with a bachelors degree and 6 years teaching experience, you’re getting paid right around $42,000. With a masters and 6 years experience, these same teachers are paid around $44,000 to $45,000. Many of these teachers come from top tier universities like Georgia Tech, are highly effective, and recognized by their parents and administration. When you spend over $20,000 more on an unproven teacher from this program, what message are you sending to those teachers? The result will be the highly qualified and marketable teachers will leave, and the remaining teachers will be disgruntled and/or ineffective.

    If this were a business in the private sector, the math and science teachers would be paid more than the other content areas. When the demand is high and the supply is low, the pay goes up. DeKalb is essentially doing this, but rather than paying the teachers more, they are paying the recruiting organization.

  17. Not so casual observer says:

    So follow the money. It’s always about money. Money. Jobs. Contracts. Connections. Power. That’s pretty much it. Oh. And 100,000 kids.

  18. howdy1942 says:

    I wish that the administration could focus on recruiting and hiring competent teachers qualified to teach in the classroom. Every year, we have thousands of young people to graduate from our colleges in Georgia and it is just so puzzling that Dekalb County cannot seem to be successful in recruiting them, but instead the DCSS is face with unusually high turnover rates and frequently resorts to antics such as this one and recruiting from Chicago. One has to do more than just hold “teacher fairs”, but instead must have a workable strategy of establishing and maintaining relationships with our State’s colleges and universities. Recruiting is not a “sometime thing” and not just a “summer event”. I could care less about where one is from or what race he/she might be or even whether it is a male or female, but teachers must be able to clearly speak English and have good grammar and have backgrounds that are free from criminal or questionable activity. HR should have a consistent recruiting process that encourages candidates to apply and treats all applicants fairly. And it should also be one that is responsive and free from any favoritism. That is simply doing the right thing, using common sense, and focusing on that which is important.

    I sincerely hope that the new school board will make a comprehensive review of Human Resources one of its top priorities.

  19. In 2005, Dekalb County Schools was the fifth largest employer in Dekalb County with 13,000 employees.

    Despite what the current numbers are, Dekalb does not have a qualifited, professional Human Resources Director and staff. They’re only qualifled and experienced in smoothing the way for unqualified friends and family into lucrative positions. This is absurd. This is ludicrous. This is the seedbed for corruption and incompetence.

    No wonder Dekalb cannot hire and keep professional, qualified staff. No wonder Human Resources’ legal and regulatory blunders have cost so much in settlements and damages awarded.

    Dekalb County Schools is a long-term continuing train wreck. I thought it had bottomed out when Atkinson left. But there’s still more depth before they hit bottom. Sorry for all the mixed metaphors.

  20. http://www.ajc.com/news/news/dekalb-schools-get-budget-waiver/ngKFG/

    The state board approved DeKalb Schools’ request for a waiver to the 65 percent minimum direct classroom expenditures rule. Does anybody remember that being passed or discussed at a board meeting? We can’t find it in any of the agendas.

  21. dsw2contributor says:

    The June 11, 2014 issues of the Neighborhood Newspapers have an article about the meeting, titled “$800 million budget top topic at DeKalb school board meeting”:
    http://neighbornewspapers.com/view/full_story/25273907/article-%24800-million-budget-top-topic-at-DeKalb-school-board-meeting?

    About a third of the article (5 of 15 paragraphs) is devoted to describing Kirk Lunde’s comments — attaboy Kirk!

  22. Yes! Good going Kirk! Stay on it — and we hope the other person mentioned in the article, DeKalb resident Carolyn Brooks, a parent volunteer at Southwest DeKalb High, keeps pushing for that audit!!

    Along those lines, Governor Deal had this to say about school board governance >>

    We know that your actions as boards can shift the foundation of student learning — for good or for bad. Governance matters. Schools, teachers and students need support to not only get students across the finish line, but to avoid costly remediation later.

    http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2014/jun/14/nathan-deal-state-school-boards-governance-matters/

  23. idabelle25 says:

    @dekalb schoolwatch on Deal comments

    I love that Deal now publicly points out that he knows which districts did the right thing for teachers and which ones threw pennies at them and robbed the bank (Dekalb). Now, my dream would be for the AJC to put on the front page news using the data and info the governor is referring to, to publicly rank the districts that hat have committed the worst atrocities against their teachers in regards to abuse of use of surplus funds. There may only be one name to talk about, Dekalb. The governor just needs needs to call them out, but at least he made a step in the right direction.

  24. @idabelle25: It would be nice if the Gov would call out DeKalb – BUT – he can’t. Why? Because this board that continued to waste money on administrators and did nothing to protect and retain teachers and in fact remains in a lawsuit against those teachers was mostly hand-picked by the Gov himself. A real Catch-22 yasee?

  25. idabelle25 says:

    @ dekalb school watch

    So true! Didn’t think about that.

  26. Pingback: Update on the International Teachers contract | dekalb school watch two

  27. This is very interesting. It’s an article from a newspaper in India about STEM programs. They quoted Cynthia Brictson…

    Stem India plans Rs 3,000 crore on 100 schools

    KOLKATA: Academy of Stem India today said it will open 100 schools over the next 10 years across the country that would attract an investment of Rs 2,500-3,000 crore.

    “We have already acquired land for eight locations in Howrah, Baruipur, Rajarhat, Guwahati, Bikaner and Jaipur. These schools would be operational in next three years,” Stem India Chairman Vinod Dugar told PTI at the inauguration of first stem world school at Barrackpore in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal.

    Stem is a teaching methodology which is adopted from US to help students to foster greater interest among young kids in science and maths.

    Cynthia A Brickton, Regional Superintendent of DeKalb County Schools, Georgia US, said, STEM is acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and the education intregate these four factors to promote real world experience,

    Academy of Stem India is a Section 25 company.

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