Breaking News! State commission denies Brookhaven charter school proposal

This is hot off the press at the AJC:

By Ty Tagami

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A novel petition to establish a charter school serving a new city in DeKalb County was denied by the State Charter School Commission of Georgia Wednesday.

Read more here>> State commission denies Brookhaven charter school proposal

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7 Responses to Breaking News! State commission denies Brookhaven charter school proposal

  1. howdy1942 says:

    Just got back from that meeting at Lakeside High School regarding the charter structure being proposed by the Dekalb County School System. My hat is off to Trent Arnold who endured over two hours of questions. He did a good job, but really didn’t have the authority to address many of the questions.

    Essentially, this charter proposal will allow innovative local charters with governing councils to be formed, but central office authority and control would remain intact. If these “charters” could not have the autonomy to hire its own teachers, set the extent of central office control, redirect the priorities to the classroom, base budgets that begin in the classroom, and impact so many other functions so important to student achievement, then why would anyone want to go through the extensive process to prepare a petition only to grovel before the esteemed central office? In short, my perspective is that this proposal is by the administration, prepared for the benefit of the administration, and is controlled by the administration. It is an exercise in bureaucracy that lacks definition, lacks standards, and does little different from what is happening today. I listened to the comments and questions and there is certainly no way that anyone could conclude that those in attendance came anywhere close to supporting this proposal. This things seems to have been hurriedly put together, not well thought out, is nowhere near a final stage, and is on a tight timeframe. Questioner after questioner asked about the next steps and expressed concern about what is to be done in such a short timeframe. As it stands now, it ought to be rejected.

    As presented by so many in attendance, the real issue in the Dekalb County School System, other than a lack of trust by the public, is the domination of the central office staff on all aspects of the Dekalb County School System. Everything that is proposed in our schools must be approved and controlled by the central office staff. Principals and teachers have little authority or control. One excellent point was made tonight by a speaker who passionately and articulately stated that the teachers ought to be involved at the very outset of this “charter” process. They have yet to be involved in any substantial or meaningful way, if at all. The message that the school board needs to hear is that everything ought to begin in the classroom and those in the classroom ought to have a lot to say about what happens in the classroom. That isn’t the case today. Rather, it is the other way around – everything begins and is controlled at the central office. And we all know what the results have been.

    SACS does not want members of the school board interfering with the administration of the school system. I don’t fully agree with SACS because I think that members of the Board really ought to be walking around the schools in their districts and observing what is going on. My point, though, is that the school board can hire a superintendent and it can set its expectations of that superintendent. And, after improvement in student achievement, one should address the administration/teacher ratio – it should be no greater than the median for the metro Atlanta area. And its authority to control so many aspects of the classroom ought to be sharply curtailed. Anybody listening?

    There were numerous points made tonight that ought to become action items for the school board. First, settle that lawsuit with the teachers – restore what you took away. Second, listen to the people and understand their concerns. Have them write put their concerns on paper. Develop measures that the community would accept as being an effective solution. Three, get the focus on the classroom – get everyone not a teacher or principal at that school out of the classroom and out of the way. Fourth, get those people who were in charge when the DCSS crashed out of the way. The size and dominance of the central office staff came up over and over. Fifth, get the compensation of our teachers up to par. Dekalb County has one of the richest tax bases in the State – it has the money to pay our teachers well, to fully fund the contributions to their “401k”, to put the latest resources in the classroom. The priorities just need to be shifted from administration to the classroom and needs to be an expectation of the next superintendent.

    People care about their kids and want them to have a safe, effective learning environment. They want career teachers and not those hired by some outside agency at the last minute. They want their kids to have their own books, computers, and learning resources. They want to see teachers who are excited about what they are doing and who will be there next year. We can’t continue with the same old tired, broken system and expect student achievement to somehow magically improve.

  2. Thanks for the report Howdy. Everything you say is spot on. We agree 100%. We had understood that the state didn’t think DeKalb was ready to become a charter system. But then again, we have seen the state make some weird decisions and frankly, it’s election season and the Governor – who stepped in and replaced 6 of our 9 board members – needs DeKalb to look as if all is well.

  3. Howdy! Thanks for the report. I was half way through it when I thought… it’s a Charette! It certainly sounds like a Charette, it must be a Charette! Remember those? This is the Central Office protecting their Palace filled with their friends and family. They do not care what we think, if they did, the folks who could answer our questions honestly would be there answering them. It’s Deja Vu all over again! I bet Ramona has her fingerprints all over this too. She has done this several times before. She is the best at writing a report about the public discussions and then hiding it in the same filing cabinet as the audits of yesteryear. Howdy, was the real Superintendent Tyson there?

  4. howdy1942 says:

    @Atlanta Media Guy and @DSW – Thanks for the kind words and support.

    I didn’t mention it in my previous post, but the words of another speaker at the Lakeside meeting still trouble me. She was apparently a teacher and talked about the domination of her classroom by the central office. She said they care little what principals and teachers think – what teachers and principals want or think is not important. She described the central office as being non-responsive and also as being “downright hostile”. This was a well-spoken teacher who spoke in a gentle voice. She showed no anger or malice, but she seemed to know from experience what she was saying. I spoke with her after the meeting to tell her that I admired her courage to say what she did.. I’ll not soon forget her – an amazing lady.

    I also thought more about the content of the meeting and cannot help but believe that if this proposal were to be submitted by an entity such as Druid Hills, it would be rejected by the central office outright. It offers little new and only vague descriptions of what could be done while clearly stating that the central office would remain in complete control – any petition submitted would be required to pass the muster of the central office. Given the treatment of the Druid Hills Petition, why would anybody want to go through that process? I think that I’d prefer having a root canal.

    After my post, I read about the public meeting in Dunwoody sponsored by Ms. Barbara Hampton, Sixth District Representative for the State Board of Education. and was struck by the comments of Dunwoody City Councilwoman and parent, Lynn Deutsch. She stated that the State Board of Education should reject the “charter” petition being proposed by the Dekalb County School System because it does not provide any degree of autonomy to local schools. That is true!

    Finally, I noted the presence of at least four members of the Dekalb County School Board at the Lakeside meeting, including Chairman Melvin Johnson. That meeting should have been sponsored and hosted by the Dekalb County School Board. Trent Arnold was placed in the unenviable position of having to respond to so many questions by saying “that’s a good question, but that will be up to the school board”. In listening to these questions, I’m surprised that Mr. Johnson did not attempt to at least provide some answers. @Atlanta Media Guy – to your point and in retrospect – this meeting seemed to be staged and seems to have served the primary purpose of checking the box that “we discussed in multiple meetings with the public”. If the DCSS attempts to even begin to say that its petition is supported by the public, my observation of the meeting at Lakeside is that is simply not true. So many of the questions asked at the Lakeside meeting were relative to the Druid Hills petition denial and it is very clear that few people in the public understand just why it was denied other than the fact that five members of the board arbitrarily didn’t like it.

    I’m to the point of simply saying to the School Board – time out!. Let’s just stop what you’re doing, focus on searching for a new superintendent, maintain the status quo (which you have been doing, anyway), and let’s look at this thing through the eyes of a new superintendent. Mr. Thurmond has a number of other issues on his plate. The central office is under his supervision and that organization is held in utter contempt by so many residents, teachers, and parents. He’s been superintendent for over 18 months and that organization has done very little to improve its image with the public. So many of the very people who led our schools to the point of losing accreditation are still in place. For example, we still have a huge Human Resources problem with over 15% turnover when the goal is half that much. We’re paying and outside vendor who works out of a little house in Chamblee a ton of money to, at the last minute, fill a large number of vacant position in the classroom from who knows where. Just where has Human Resources been for the last year? We have still done no audit and, until that is done, the public is going to remain skeptical of anything anybody in the school system administration says. At a minimum, the school board should have an outside audit performed of the expenses and supporting documentation of members of the school board over at least the past 10 years. If the Dekalb County Commission can afford to do that with 30% of Dekalb’s tax revenues, then surely the school board can afford to do that with 70% of Dekalb’s tax revenues.

    For now, I would urge the school board to pause these efforts to rush a “petition” before the State. It is not ready and, even if meets its timeframes, will afford little, if any, time for review by the public. The Dekalb County School System does not seem to understand the importance of connecting with the public, listening and HEARING their comments, responding to the public, communicating with the public and truly getting their support for what it wants to do. One very good suggestion made last night was one that asked members of the school board to sponsor public forums within their respective districts to begin this process. Wish I’d thought to suggest that!

  5. concerned citizen says:

    howdy, actually Melvin Johnson is not at all capable of responding to anything! He is now and has always been a real dummy. “empty suit” that soft voice, those stupid lies, those insipid wanderings and mucking around with a few key educujargonese! Who on earth does he think he has been fooling all these many, many years! Melvin, get out! I know you spent $20,000 on a past campaign and badgered former administrators with current administrators calling round the clock! GROSS. Just Leave….walk away

  6. d says:

    I’m just curious what you (moderators and others) think about the new mandatory K-12 all subject grade weights being used this year. I know this isn’t necessarily on topic, but since someone brought up control by AIC, I thought I would ask the question.

  7. We had started a discussion on the new grading policy in another thread — We will add a new, separate thread on this topic. It’s super important!

    Here’s the link >>

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