You Should Read This! [DHCC follow up]

… a knowledgeable response, posted in full, from Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled blog on the AJC regarding Druid Hills Charter Cluster:

From the Druid Hills Charter Cluster (DHCC)’s refiling: The four bases provided by the DeKalb Board of Education for initially denying the DHCC’s Petition as “not in the public interest” … were:

(1) financial impact to DeKalb County School District (DCSD);

(2) duplication of programs;

(3) lack of innovation in the Petition’s “academic impact”; and

(4) lack of uniqueness in the Petition’s “academic impact.”

(1) Financial Impact:

. . . The DHCC wishes to clarify for the DeKalb Board that the DHCC budget, which would administer 97% of the state and local per pupil funding earned by the students enrolled in cluster schools while allowing DCSD to retain the statutorily-prescribed 3% of per pupil funds earned by those students, follows state law to the letter. See O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2068.1(c.2). . .  Therefore, complying with state law with respect to per pupil funding administered by the charter entity and applied at the schoolhouse level is not contrary to “the public interest.”

[This is precisely how other charter schools in DeKalb County, including The Museum School, Tapestry, and Globe Academy, are funded, and the Charter Schools Act does not distinguish between “start-up” and “conversion” charters as DCSD staff insinuated. Why should some students and teachers have a bottom-up budget of FTE and QBE dollars that puts the classroom first, but not other students?]

(2) Duplication of Programs:

The second basis offered in DeKalb Board letter of January 9, 2014 stated that the academic programs proposed by the DHCC duplicate programs offered by DCSD through other charter schools and its school choice program. That basis, however, is problematic for these reasons:

  • First, a central component of the DHCC’s instructional pathways is the “STEAM” pathway. While DCSD currently offers a “Math, Science, and Technology” and “Math, Science, and Computer Education,” at two elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school (all of which have academic entrance criteria, whereas no such entrance criteria exist for students to be enrolled in DHCC schools), nowhere within DCSD is a “STEAM” curriculum offered. Compare DCSD 2014-15 School Choice Catalog, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/school-choice/school-choice-catalog.pdf, with Jessica Lahey, “STEM Needs a New Letter,” The Atlantic (January 13, 2014) (“STEAM is gaining, well, steam as a curriculum . . . integrat[ing] art and design in to its existing STEM content with the goal of illustrating how art and design can be used to solve real-world problems.”), and Mackenzie Ryan, “Full STEAM Ahead: Schools Add Art to STEM Curricula,” The Christian Science Monitor (April 21, 2014) (“With heavyweights like the National Science Foundation throwing their support behind the initiative, STEAM appears to be picking up speed.”). Implementing the STEAM pathway at the Druid Hills cluster schools of Laurel Ridge Elementary and McLendon Elementary and Druid Hills Middle and High Schools in no way duplicates any other DCSD program, but rather, introduces an instructional pathway that is at the educational forefront of training tomorrow’s innovators. Finally, with the addition of this first-of-its-kind offering in DCSD, students across DeKalb will be allowed for the first time, assuming capacity exists, to enroll at Laurel Ridge or McLendon through school choice. See DCSD 2014-15 School Choice Catalog (showing neither Laurel Ridge nor McLendon as “choice” options for students throughout DeKalb).
  • Similarly, the enhancements proposed by the DHCC Petition to the International Baccalaureate and Montessori pathways are not duplicative of current DCSD programs, but instead forge new boundaries in the quality and programmatic integrity of these pathways. See DCSD 2014-15 School Choice Catalog (demonstrating that DCSD does not offer IB in the ninth and tenth grades at any school, or Montessori in the sixth grade at any school). Unlike DCSD’s current application of Montessori, the DHCC Petition extends Montessori to its intended and methodologically-appropriate end age of sixth grade and implements the class sizes and staffing that fidelity to true Montessori requires. See, e.g., North American Montessori Teachers’ Association, “Ages and Stages,” http://www.montessori-namta.org/Ages-and-Stages (2014). The DHCC Petition likewise brings the cluster’s IB schools into full compliance with a seamless K-12 IB pathway by introducing full-time, dedicated IB coordinators at each of the four cluster IB schools and gaining Middle Years Programme authorization for ninth and tenth grades at Druid Hills High School – all commitments to a true implementation of IB that DCSD does not currently offer. Compare International Baccalaureate Organization, “The IB Middle Years Programme,” http://ibo.org/myp/ (outlining the redesigned-for-2014 MYP that provides “closer alignment across the IB continuum, offering an ideal preparation for students going on to study the IB Diploma Programme or the IB Career-related Certificate”), with DCSD 2014-15 School Choice Catalog (containing no IB continuum in light of the failure to offer IB at any school in the ninth or tenth grades). Securing MYP authorization at DHHS will provide a smoother pathway to, and increase the number of students earning, the rigorous IB diploma by keeping students on track in the critical first two years of high school.
  • A final observation on the issue of claimed “duplication of programs” that the DHCC must bring to the DeKalb Board’s attention is the DHCC’s belief (which hopefully this DeKalb Board shares) that the existence of an excellent program at a limited number of other charter schools or DCSD’s “choice” schools should never be a basis for denying any student — let alone five thousand students — the opportunity to experience a similar or even better program at his or her school. See, e.g., DCSD’s 2014-15 School Choice Catalog (offering two magnet schools for “high achievers” in the same grades – showing that instead of “duplication,” offering that particular program at more than one school increases access to an excellent program). While the Board’s January 9, 2014 letter referred to unnamed, existing programs that the DHCC allegedly duplicates, the letter is silent on whether those programs have the capacity to serve the cluster’s approximately five thousand students. Given the length of the waiting lists at some of DCSD’s charter and “choice” schools, it is highly unlikely that capacity exists. For all these reasons, approving the DHCC Petition does not duplicate existing DCSD programs, but rather, is responsive to the large number of students throughout DeKalb seeking access to high-quality programs.

(3) Innovation and Uniqueness:

With respect to the assertions in the January 9, 2014, letter identifying “lack of innovation” and “lack of uniqueness” in academic programming as grounds for determining that the DHCC Petition was “not in the public interest,” those assertions are proven inaccurate by uncontroverted facts:

 DCSD does not offer a continuous K-12 IB pathway. Therefore, the Petition offers an innovative and unique program that does not duplicate any current DCSD program. Compare DCSD 2014-2015 School Choice Catalog at 27-28, with International Baccalaureate Organization, “The IB Middle Years Programme,” http://ibo.org/myp/.

 DCSD does not offer STEAM or a continuous K-12 STEAM curriculum at any school. Compare DCSD 2014-2015 School Choice Catalog at 16-19, with, e.g., Rhode Island School of Design, “STEM to STEAM,” http://stemtosteam.org/ (explaining that “innovation remains tightly coupled with Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – the STEM subjects. . . Art + Design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just as science and technology did in the last century,” and that schools, institutions, and employers “need to add Art + Design to the equation — to transform STEM into STEAM,” and highlighting as a case study the innovative K-8 STEAM curriculum at Atlanta’s Drew Charter School). Therefore, the Petition offers an innovative and unique program that does not exist within current DCSD program choices.

 DCSD does not offer Montessori as programmatically-intended, including through sixth grade. Compare DCSD 2014-2015 School Choice Catalog at 23, with, e.g., North American Montessori Teachers’ Association, “Ages and Stages,” http://www.montessori-namta.org/Ages-and-Stages (2014). Therefore, the Petition offers an innovative and unique program that does not duplicate any current DCSD program.

 DCSD does not offer instructional pathway choice among elementary schools in any cluster. See DCSD 2014-2015 School Choice Catalog. Therefore, the Petition offers an innovative and unique program that fosters creativity and constructive improvement at the schoolhouse level and does not duplicate any current DCSD program.

 DCSD does not offer bottom-up, teacher-driven curriculum, pacing, and assessments. Therefore, the Petition offers innovative and unique practices that do not duplicate current DCSD practices.

 DCSD does not offer Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) on a K-12 basis. Therefore, the Petition offers innovative and unique assessment and student growth tools that do not duplicate any current DCSD program. See DeKalb County School District, Curriculum and Instruction, Department of Assessment and Accountability, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/assessment-and-accountability (outlining assessments offered in grades K through 12 and not identifying MAP as any of those assessments); and DeKalb County School District, Curriculum and Instruction, Gifted and High Achievers, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/gifted-and-high-achievers (demonstrating that MAP is not the norm-referenced assessment used by DCSD to determine whether certain eligibility criteria are met for gifted services).

 DCSD does not apply 97% of per pupil state and local funding to goods and services directly touching students, teachers, and staff at the schoolhouse level. See DeKalb County School District, FY2014 Approved Budget Detail, http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/budget/budget-detail-(2014).pdf; see also DHCC Petition, Appendix 23 (filed with DCSD August 16, 2013). Therefore, the Petition offers innovation and uniqueness that does not duplicate any current DCSD policy or practice.

Thus, the final two “deficiencies” included in the Board’s January 9 letter, which stated, without evidence, that the academic curriculum and instructional plans proposed by the DHCC — which include both the brand new pathways and enhancements to existing K-12 pathways described above; elementary school choice among pathways; smaller class sizes; teacher-driven curriculum development and pacing; vertical and horizontal planning among pathways; use of the highly-regarded Measures of Academic Progress; increased supports for ELL, remedial, and special education students; and increased spending on teacher and staff salaries and professional development, among other things — lacked innovation and uniqueness. With respect, the DHCC maintains — and the uncontroverted facts support — that bringing K-12 STEAM to DeKalb for the first time, and bringing true Montessori and new fully-compliant K-12 IB to DeKalb for the first time represents innovation. Similarly, while the DHCC is aware that certain schools earning federal Title I funds have explored using Measures of Academic Progress (“MAP”) to assist in assessments and achieving student growth, no cluster within DeKalb has adopted full elementary and secondary use of MAP. Unlike assessments such as the Iowa Test of Basic Skills or the Cognitive Abilities Test, MAP is a fully-adaptive method of measuring student growth from Kindergarten through twelfth grade and provides instructors highly-relevant, real-time information to facilitate differentiated instruction and student achievement and growth. See Northwest Evaluation Association, “Computer-Based Adaptive Assessments,” http://www.nwea.org/products-services/assessments. Using MAP cluster-wide is an innovative and unique approach in DeKalb and one that will provide valuable data to DCSD and help instruct DCSD’s future decisions about assessments.

Last, but certainly not least, the DHCC wishes to stress to the DeKalb Board that in addition to the innovations described above, many of the other innovations proposed in the DHCC Petition are targeted at our County’s most vulnerable students: our English language learners, our special education students, our students who struggle academically, and our students whose home lives often put them at a disadvantage before they even walk through the schoolhouse doors. By bringing about new staffing models that partner more teachers and specialists with these students, by dedicating social workers and psychologists to stay with these students and their families from Kindergarten through twelfth grade, and by having the flexibility (both procedurally and substantively) that comes with charter approval to respond to these students’ needs, the DHCC is committed to making the K-12 educational experience and the outcome of that experience substantially better for these students than it has ever been.

For the foregoing reasons, the Petitioner respectfully requests that the Board approve the refiled DHCC Petition, and partner collaboratively with the DHCC as DCSD moves toward its desired election of charter system as its chosen method of improving both academic achievement and future success of all students throughout DeKalb County schools.

Thank you for this clear and forthright explanation!  Bravo!  Bravo! Bravissimo!

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15 Responses to You Should Read This! [DHCC follow up]

  1. howdy1942 says:

    In a previous blog, I shared my disappointment with the May 20 vote wherein 90% of Dekalb County voters chose not to vote. Another commenter pointed out that most of those on this blog probably did vote and I would share that assessment. With the exception of Stan Jester, the remainder of this school board will likely be holdovers from the present board that rejected the Druid Hills proposal. There is a good possibility that if Jim McMahon is re-elected in the 4th District that there could be a 4-3 vote for the proposal with Mayfield, McMahon, Orson, and Jester voting in favor. If Karen Carter is elected in the 4th, forget it!

    The most likely path for the DHCC is through the courts or a legislative effort to get this Petition removed from the jurisdiction of the Dekalb County School Board and considered by the State Board of Education or some forum other than the DCSS. In another comment, I opined that we simply must find a way to focus more of our dollars on the classrooms and much, much less on the courtrooms and much less on administration. I share Dr. Wilbanks’ view in Gwinnett that administration should be the “servant” of the classroom and not its “master”. Teachers and the local schools should be compensated for and accept full responsibility for student results and administration should stay out of the middle unless they are invited to participate by the teachers and local schools. Accountability remains with the teachers and with the local schools in any case. And local schools should understand that every dollar that goes to administration is one that they choose to give up to administration. Therefore, they would hopefully see a direct benefit to their funding administration.

    My earlier point was that Dekalb County students are presently paying a terrible price for the existing management by bickering. Look at what is happening in Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton and other neighboring counties. They are moving ahead and that is where new businesses are locating. Home prices there are rising and every new listing is gobbled up as soon as it comes on the market. Contrast that to Dekalb County. Without choosing one side or the other, Dekalb County seems to be caught up in an endless and fruitless battle between North Dekalb and South Dekalb and both are losing! For one long-term resident, I’m tired and frustrated by this course of action. I’m ready for the State to either divide Dekalb County into two “counties” or “jurisdictions”, to step in and take control of our school system, or to arbitrate some middle ground. Given the fact that 90% of our people did not vote, the State might choose to simply ignore Dekalb County, but that would pose a real risk to the best interests of Atlanta and Georgia. Just yesterday, South Carolina announced the addition of 3,000 new jobs to be provided by 3 new companies locating to that State. That is equivalent to 6,000 new jobs in Georgia by 6 new companies – imagine the headlines that announcement would have garnered in Georgia.

    I hope that all readers on this blog will choose to vote on July 22, 2014. The direction of the Dekalb County School System may yet be decided.

  2. concernedmom30329 says:

    As I understand it, there is no real court remedy for DHCC. The system owns the buildings, and the Constitutional amendment to allow the Charter commission didn’t go far enough to make a difference in any potential court ruling.

    I suspect the court could force the Board to vote on it again.

    Atticus LeBlanc wins and he will be another vote for the cluster.

    Another possibility, if this drags on a bit more, is that the Druid Hills area (not the whole school district) gives up and seeks annexation into the City of Atlanta, where Centennial Elementary School will open as a pretty autonomous conversion charter school in the Fall. This would given CoA much needed spaces in the area and would unite the entire Druid Hills neighborhood within the city limits.

  3. @concernedmom30329: We have long had the same theory. It will be much easier and more beneficial for everyone if Druid Hills annexed into City of Atlanta schools. Seems very logical and doable.

  4. deecab2bad says:

    Well that’s just great. Historic Druid Hills gets out of DeKalb, but what about the rest of the Druid Hills attendance area? I can’t see CoA bringing in Avondale Estates and environs, much less going all the way to Lawrenceville Hwy. and beyond. And what would be the plan for middle and high school? Inman and Grady? How is that not out of the frying pan and into the fire? Please fill me in.

  5. @deecab2bad: We have no answers, we just have a theory and have heard ‘rumblings’. This deal would be years away – but then again, that’s what was said about forming new cities. The City of Brookhaven is currently working hard to start their own independent charter school – and Dunwoody will certainly take a look at becoming a charter cluster or independent city schools if the amendment passes. (Or to clarify, retracting the old, antiquated amendment from the 1940s)… We can predict with a good bit of confidence though that the DeKalb of the future will look nothing like the one today. It will be segregated by income mostly – those who have the wherewithal and can afford to will take charge of their own schools and those who have little power, money or understanding will most likely continue under the direction of a corrupt system.

  6. howdy1942 says:

    @concernedmom30329 – you certainly make a good point, but I think that the Legislature can have a powerful influence on what happens. Dekalb certainly “owns” the school buildings, but a strong argument can be made that the people of Druid Hills have paid for those buildings and they seek to use what is only rightly theirs in the first place.

    I’ve stated many times that changes are going to be made one way or the other. There are a lot of forces in Dekalb County who do not like and don’t support the current structure or management of the Dekalb County School System. Right now, there is a tremendous effort for Lakeside, Tucker, and Briarcliff to resolve their differences and return to the Legislature with one or more proposals that all three can support. The issue is geography and I think that Northlake is becoming less of an economic issue and, I think, that is more amenable to compromise. If that happens, Tucker, Lakeside, and Briarcliff are certain to become cities and this will add a significant push to create new, independent school districts or, at a minimum, charter school clusters that would be outside the control of the DCSS.

    Board members like Joyce Morley, Melvin Johnson, and others outside the communities listed above would be well advised to get beyond their recalcitrance and seek to work with the McMahans, Jesters, Orsons of the world and come to some kind of compromise and middle ground. When new cities and/or new independent school districts are formed, compromise will not be an option. As I said before, I’m about ready for the State Board of Education or the Legislature or the Governor to step in and restore order and structure to the Dekalb County School System.

    Years ago when this recession began and the school board as well as the County government were raising the millage rate, I testified before both to “sunset” any millage increases so that they would be rolled back when property values recovered. As pointed out on other blogs, increased property values are now resulting in an almost 7% increase in property taxes while the higher millage rates remain in effect. Most of that increased burden will be borne by those who are not happy with the current structure. The Dekalb County School system has not been good stewards of the People’s tax dollars, wasting so much on legal expenses, poor hiring decisions, and just plain corruption. The same is true for the Dekalb County government. As I write this, I’m in North Carolina and just heard on the news where the salary of the superintendent of the Wake County School System, with its 150,000 students, will be paid $250,000. Dekalb County is more than 30% smaller and pays Thurmond $275,000 with all kinds of perks. And I’m certain that the cost of living in Dekalb does not exceed that in Raleigh!

    I have long worked for change. I was elated when the Governor removed the old school board, but I was also disappointed in the performance of his “replacements”. I welcomed the SACS decision. I welcomed the Legislature “downsizing” the size of the school board from nine to seven and supported the DHCC even though I don’t live there. I strongly oppose any tax increases on any resident to provide any additional money to the DCSS or to the County until they have demonstrated they have cleaned up their respective “messes” and set their priorities right. And I will vote again on July 22 but, either way, an “incumbent” will win in the 4th.

    Remember, neither the Dekalb County School System nor the Dekalb County government can do no more than what the people allow them to do and it is long past time for us to “clean house”.

  7. PatandMike says:

    DeKalb County Schools is NOT about educating children. DeKalb County Schools is a jobs-and-contracts program for friends-and-family. That is the status quo Thurmond and his minions want to maintain. (Note the delay and subsequent slap on the wrist for Crawford Lewis who, without his good friend DeKalb DA Robert James, should be and would be facing up to 65 years in jail on clear and provable RICO — Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations — charges.)

    Robert James and Michael Thurmond and their minions get away with it because:
    (1) too few people in DeKalb County [GA] bother to vote to get rid of the corrupt and/or incompetent;
    (2) too few people in DeKalb County [GA] who are honest and competent have the no-strings-attached money to run for office; and
    (3) even in the face of clear intent to illegally deny a charter cluster petition and maintain “status quo” (see paragraph 1, above, in this comment) there is no outcry at this wrongdoing — 43 or so comments on the AJC’s Get Schooled blog but not all opposed to DeKalb County Schools’ illegal actions to deny a charter cluster petition; fewer comments on DeKalb School Watch; no comments at all on Stan Jester’s Fact Finder blog. Yet the letter from DHCC’s Matt Lewis detailing wrongdoing by board chair Melvin Johnson, superintendent Michael Thurmond, and DeKalb County Schools administrators was re-printed in full on both DeKalb School Watch and Stan Jester’s Fact Finder; links to the complete letter appeared on the AJC’s Get Schooled blog.

    What is it going to take, people?

    The truly shameful thing is that the children whose futures are denied by the corrupt and incompetent people who run DeKalb County Schools are the underserved, impoverished African-Americans and Hispanics whose unknowing parents lap up the Kool-Aid (unfounded talk of racism, re-segregation and “white privilege”).

    More than 50 years after the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education, black administrators, black superintendents (there have been 5 since 2002) and school board members in DeKalb County [GA] continue to deny poor African-American and Hispanic children the opportunity to get a good education. And there is barely a peep out of the black or Hispanic communities.

    Wonder when the feds are going to wake up to what is really going on in DeKalb County [GA] Schools?

  8. @howdy: We completely agree that ‘ownership’ of the buildings is a moot point. The analogy we like to use is this: Say 6 friends go out for pizza. The pizza arrives along with the check. The check is split 6 ways and the bill paid before you start eating. But one friend decides they have to go and would like to take their slice of pizza home to eat. Do you make them pay for it again? Of course not! They already paid their share – and as the DHCC proposal showed – they may have already paid more than their share. The same issue comes up with the cities – and it’s been found that these groups of people had long ago paid for their share of the property in their districts. That’s kind of a moot point, except to say that yes, DeKalb schools technically ‘owns’ the property and must be fair in disbursing it in the case of a break up. Now that is the part that could be a problem. There certainly is a fair way to divide up property tax collections among the districts in the county. That can be worked out if people can remain objective. But in reality, that will require lawyers – and DeKalb is waaaay ahead in that area.

  9. concernedmom30329 says:

    I don’t disagree with either DSW or Howdy, just providing a bit of the legal reality. As for the legislature, I heard repeatedly during the session that legislators are sick of dealing with DeKalb specific issues. For a lot of reasons, I think this is sad and shortsighted, but the political reality is that we are a mostly Blue county in a red state and DeKalb issues (not just schools) suck up an extraordinary amount of time at the state capitol.

    I have come to believe that many DeKalb residents are comfortable with the status quo. They continue to elect the same (or the same type) of people to office and as a county, we continue to spiral downward. An article today talks about the huge gains in property values in incoporated areas of DeKalb vs unincorporated. Some County officials will use this as argument to fight new cities rather than embrace the message of better service provision, etc, leading to higher values. (And what the county needs to get to do to get to those same levels,)

    The feds are now investigating the County government folks and there is a trial in SC that has local implications starting soon.

    What will it take for the whole county to unite and say clean up your act?

  10. “The feds are now investigating the County government folks and there is a trial in SC that has local implications starting soon.”

    Wow. Didn’t know that. Thanks for cluing us in! The county leadership is just about as bad – including the recently revealed to be clueless Elaine Boyer who didn’t realize it was ‘wrong’ to use her p-card for personal purchases (of which she made thousands of dollars worth!)

  11. On a side note regarding charter school news: PATH Academy has this annoucement:
    Registration dates for 2014-2015 school year: Dias de registracion para todos los estudiantes son los siguientes.
    Grades 5th & 6th is Tuesday, June 24, 1:30pm-6:00pm.
    Grades 7th & 8th is Wednesday, June 25, 1:30pm-6:00pm.

  12. DHHS1984 says:

    one thing must be noted, DCSS does not own the high school out right. it was build by Emory and if DCSS does not use it for education it will go back to Emory. Why not annex into Decatur City?

  13. Interesting DHHS1984. Certainly the additions and renovations were paid for by taxpayers – SPLOST 2 and 3 … millions. It would be hard to believe that taxpayers paid millions to improve a building that they don’t even own. Can you check the details of what you’re saying and send us some kind of documentation? This really is interesting, if true…

  14. howdy1942 says:

    One way or the other, the DCSS as it exists will change. That point about Druid Hills choosing to be annexed into Decatur is a very real possibility. And I believe that Tucker, Briarcliff, and Lakeside will work out their differences and be back before the Legislature in January with proposals that all three can support. And I think that Tom Taylor’s proposals will once again be before the Legislature and, as more cities are formed in Dekalb, there will be greater support to do something. A by-product of that legislation could be a new charter school approval process that removes the local school board from the scene, especially if that school board has been ineffective or demonstrated bias by basing its decision on simply the factors stated by law.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether a charter school system introduces new innovations as much as does it offer a pathway to better education. I have long been concerned about all of the kids who live in all parts of the County, but when the residents who live there continue to elect the same people who won’t get the focus back on the classroom and teachers, then other communities are justified to do what is best for their children. From my perspective, the Druid Hills Cluster offered an opportunity to try a new approach to managing our schools. My daughter lives in that area and there is no question that the Druid Hills area is now fully integrated and consists of a wide variety of ethnicity. It deserved an opportunity to have at least tried. I’ve read the DHCC Petition and listened to various presentations. I think that it would have put in place a school system with a relative small administration and focused its resources on teachers and the classroom. That “bottoms-up” approach differs dramatically from the way the “top-down” approach used by the Dekalb County School System. The result of that DHCC could have provided significant new ideas to the DCSS. If the DCSS school board really wants improvement, then I think that it would try new approaches. Accordingly, I think that the DCSS school board should have embraced this approach, studied its results, and adopted best practices and not just shut it down to preserve a system of “100,000” and not “95,000”. It matters little to me what Mr. Thurmond thought he was hired to manage. What matters happens in the classroom and he needs to get over himself.

    In short, if the DCSS school board does not soon “smell the coffee”, then it will be managing a much smaller school system. Wide portions of Dekalb County are unhappy. Teachers are unhappy. Teacher turnover is much greater than neighboring school systems. The Legislature is unhappy. New cities are being pushed. New approaches to the school system are being pushed. Change is coming. It’s like a truck coming down the highway – you can jump on the truck, get out of the road, or get run over. But this truck is not stopping.

  15. deecab2bad says:

    The School Board’s response to the Charter Cluster petition reminds me of the Dreyfus affair and the Catholic Church’s cover-up of the priest child-abusers: both examples of an institution protecting itself even though the act of self-preservation contravenes the mission of the institution. The only response I can think of is to channel my frustration into an email to the school board urging them to approve the Charter Cluster petition. I hope “all y’all” do the same.

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