Gov. Deal’s overhaul list of failing schools gets mixed reactions

Written by Joshua Smith for “On Common Ground News”

Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to overhaul 141 failing schools is receiving mixed reactions in DeKalb County, which has 26 schools on the list, the second-highest number behind the Atlanta Public School System, which has 27 failing schools.

Deal’s proposal would give the state control over struggling schools to bring them up to par, convert them to charters or shut them down. The governor wants to launch what he is calling the “Opportunity School District” in the 2017 school year.

“Most of you will never understand what it’s like to work as hard as you possibly can in a failing school and fall further and further behind each year. This region has the highest homeless rate in the county and an extremely high rate of transience among students,” said Allen, responding to bloggers on the site. “I watched my school excel when it was a primary school with a class size reduction grant and fall deeper into the abyss every year since the grant was ended. Check the data on Midway Elementary.”

The measure requires a constitutional amendment and Deal says he will work with lawmakers this legislative lesion to put the amendment on the 2016 ballot to create the district.

The proposal is one that has Donna Priest-Brown, who serves as the South DeKalb Parent Council, concerned.

“The pulse I’m getting from parents is at least give us a chance to fix it first before the governor comes in and takes over our schools with people that are complete strangers to our children,” said Priest-Brown, who also serves as co-chair of the Parent Councils United. “A lot of parents are telling me that they don’t think the proposed plan is even about the children, but more so a way for the governor and others to make money by bringing in vendors that specialize in improving education.”

Priest-Brown has a sophomore at Chamblee High School and says that she would like to hear a response from the Superintendent or the school district about what they plan to do.

“As I get mixed reactions on this, I have to say I agree with some aspects of it but disagree with others. I have been checking the (DeKalb School District’s) website daily, but I don’t see a game plan from the school system on this. We don’t have to know the game plan, but we just want to know that the school district has plans to work on this before the governor just moves in on us,” said Priest-Brown.

Marshall Orson, who represents District 2 of the DeKalb County Board of Education, says he believes people need to keep an open mind about the governor’s proposal.

“I believe the governor’s proposed plan is just in the exploratory phase, but we should hear it out,” said Orson. “We have to do something. Parents at failing schools in this district and across the state are eager to find the solution, whatever that may be. As more and more meetings pop up across the county and state on this issue, I expect them to be well attended by parents looking for answers.”


Read the rest here >> Gov. Deal’s overhaul list of failing schools gets mixed reactions


The Georgia Partnership for Educational Excellence, a nonpartisan, nonprofit advocate for public education, is hosting a community discussion on the proposal on Tuesday, Feb. 24. The Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association founded the group in 1992.

The discussion will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the Georgia Freight Depot, 65 Martin Luther King, Jr., Drive, S.E., Atlanta. For more information, call 404-223- 2280.

“Our duty is to inform Georgia leaders and stakeholders through research and non-partisan advocacy. By hosting meetings like this one, we want to make an impact on education policies and practices for the improvement of student achievement,” said Stephen D. Dolinger, Ed.D, the group’s president.

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18 Responses to Gov. Deal’s overhaul list of failing schools gets mixed reactions

  1. More on the subject >>

    Georgia’s failing schools: The worst of the worst
    by Kyle Wingfield
    February 19, 2015 | Filed in: Education, Georgia Legislature, State.

    By my count, there are 25 elementary schools in Georgia that not only are themselves failing, but which feed students into failing middle schools and then into failing high schools as well. A kindergartner in one of those schools this year is, on the current trajectory, staring at 12 more years of attending failing schools — if he doesn’t become yet another of these schools’ dropouts, which of course is part of the problem.

    All told, these examples of uninterrupted k-12 failure account for 48 of the 141 schools on the list. Dozens more schools, rising to well over half of the total, are in feeder patterns where kids will attend at least two failing schools.

    But what we might call the total-failure feeder patterns are the most galling. Some of them represent the only public schools open in four poor, rural counties: Macon, Randolph, Talbot and Taliaferro. The others are located in one of five systems: Atlanta plus Bibb, DeKalb, Dougherty and Richmond counties.

  2. DeKalb Observer says:

    “The pulse I’m getting from parents is at least give us a chance to fix it first before the governor comes in and takes over our schools with people that are complete strangers to our children,” said Priest-Brown, who also serves as co-chair of the Parent Councils United.

    I am not sure if Governor Nathan Deal can swoop in like a super hero, with another “educational improvement (more money) program” and scoop up the failing schools, but the status quo ain’t getting the job done for these children. Some of these poor children (and I don’t just mean economically) will spend their entire public education life in DeKalb in failing schools if something doesn’t change. And for these parents to think that they can change or fix or remedy their school/s with the current administration is naive. As parents and tax payers, our power is very, very limited–especially with the “group” that has been leading DeKalb (or running this system into the ditch) with the recent lack luster, unqualified superintendents. Personally, I have attended hundreds of parent meetings or briefings or panels over the years in DeKalb, only to learn that the printed agenda is not the “unwritten” (behind the scenes) agenda. There is still way too much “friends and family” business as usual going on over there inside the walls of the A.I.C. in Stone Mountain. My biggest fear is that this current failing administration and Board of Education will hand pick another mediocre robotic superintendent–which will only extend this cycle of waste and non-accountabilty. The cycle has to be broken. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a fan of the Governor, but if it takes Deal’s Deal to make a real change, then “Let’s make a Deal.”

  3. Peace says:

    I am with you DeKalb Observer: I am at the point that if the Governor needs to “take over” let it be. If the Feds need to take over let it be. Clayton County went through their mess but it seems that they are working their way up. DeKalb has been in this rut for too long and somebody needs to step in and assist. I am a very frustrated parent and I know of many others. We have met with the Area Sups and they give you the courtesy to listen but at the end-of-the-day they protect their own even after you give them proof of leadership problems. The district only recycles their problem administrators to other schools instead of getting rid of them. I don’t know exactly what else we can do as parents at this point that will make a real difference. We are the shareholders but then you hear about an “alleged” 2.1M misspent and the district does not put anything on the website to ensure us that this is not the case tells you volumes. I really believe that a major overhaul is needed within the executive level staff. I know for a fact that they will and have lied, CYA and back step on the backs of our students to save their own hides.

  4. concerned citizen says:

    Well said, Peace. The administration in DeKalb is simply the worst mess imaginable. Friends and family are their only concern. The school system has never had a good supt. since Jim Cherry and to a much lesser extent Jim Hinson. The rest were pure scoundrels ,,thieves, drunkards, and ladies’ men – to a man and at all times. They pretended to do a lot of things, but they did nothing for teachers and students.!

  5. dsw2contributor says:

    It could have been worse.

    DCSS would have had twenty-nine (29) schools on the “Failing Schools” list…. but Indian Creek Elementary, Martin Luther King Jr High School and Pleasantdale Elementary all improved enough to be removed from the Georgia Department of Education’s watchlist of struggling schools.

    See the December “Good News about some Dekalb Schools!” post for that story:

  6. d says:

    We already have seen first hand what the governor’s hand-picked cronies could (or rather could not do) in DeKalb. Do we really think a second go-round will be any better for the schools that might end up on this list? Remember, they’re only talking about 20 state-wide first year, so no telling what that state-wide list will look like by the time this thing is up and running, but I don’t see a big change….. I honestly don’t think you can take all the teachers out of Vanderlyn and put them in McNair Elementary and see that school come off the list. It’s not the staff. These schools just have so much working against them to begin with. We have bigger problems to fix and this is one reason why I keep saying we need to stay united as a district to help all of DeKalb.

  7. I agree with many comments being made. At first I was thinking Orson was being silly so easily admitting that DeKalb could not solve its own problems, but after so many years of ineptness, I can see why a board member would make such a statement even though it does not reflect well on the board that is supposed to form a successful system. There have been numerous suggestions given to administration that could easily remedy some of the problems if they’d just be proactive and not strive for the bare minimum: raise teacher pay to attract and retain quality teachers, put money in schools to decrease class sizes, dismiss ineffective teachers/administrators (other districts do), and create high standards for all students and make them meet those before passing them on (again, other districts do). There’s been too many years of low expectations and pulling staff from schools that truly need it then blaming it on the budget. Maybe the state could do a better job but it’d better be education minded people rather than political.

  8. howdy1942 says:

    The Dekalb County School System has not fixed its mess and cannot fix its mess with the majority of the school board that is in place. Dekalb County forms the entire eastern boundary of Atlanta and the Atlanta Metro is the largest job engine in the State. Georgia must have a dynamic and vibrant Atlanta Metro is it is to attract the jobs essential to sustaining our economy. And it has no chance of doing that with so many failing schools and a school board such as Dekalb’s that cannot and will not fix the mess. We have been on a downhill trajectory for at least 15 years and it has only gotten worse.

    We need to put the emphasis on the classroom, reduce the size of the classroom, pay our teachers, restore their benefits, and restore the trust of the community in the school system. How long has it been since our school board discussed ways to reduce the size of the classroom? How long has it been since they talked about improving test scores? How long has it been since they talked about doing something for our teachers? How long has it been since it has listened to the community rather than just “checking the boxes” that they have held meetings?

    I would encourage the Governor to go beyond just taking over those failing schools and take over the entire Dekalb County School System. It is too broken and too divided beyond repair to leave it alone. If you don’t believe that, just put it to a vote and see how many of Dekalb’s residents would choose to remain a part of the DCSS.

  9. Peace says:

    Howdy1942: You hit it right! Maybe some of the rural school districts on the failing list may have a case in wanting to get a chance to fix their school problems but DeKalb does not fall in that category. The Feds need to come in and drive this train on the right track and monitor for indefinite time. You are right about the recent community meetings that DCSS have been hosting. I have attended some and the turn-out has not been good. Most people agree that the meetings are just a sham and the district will not incorporate the feedback from the taxpayers. It has been over a week that it became public knowledge that the Feds want 2.1M back and the district has not said one word. Tacky! I have neighbors who work for the school system and they tell me this is what DCSS does all the time. As employees, they are never told of any major news stories. I was told that they weren’t even told that Thurmond was going to be the sup. I have been told this from a number of teachers who have said ” we don’t know anything, they don’t tell us nothing”. How many public corporations do you know who would do this? Totally unprofessional.

  10. We do want to say – the state’s online academy is head and shoulders better than DeKalb’s DOLA program.

    For more online info check out these links >>

    Free Public Cyber School in Georgia

    Georgia Cyber Academy

    Georgia Virtual School

    Really – if your child is having issues with a DeKalb school, some of these virtual academies are interesting – and free – alternatives.

  11. d says:

    Regarding Georgia Virtual, I have several Georgia Virtual modules linked to my educational webpage in case of another Snowpocalypse so students have access to those materials amd don’t lose learning time.

  12. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    Don’t forget the next school board meeting is Monday. I wonder what antics we’ll see this time.

  13. Frustrated Dekalb Parent says:

    Can someone expand on this hardship waiver request? It is dated 3/2/15 but the request is for 07/01/13-06/30/14. They are obviously asking for forgiveness rather than permission. What happens if the request is not granted? What are they forecasting the % of direct classroom funding to be for the FYE 06/30/15?

  14. Along this thread – here’s what is happening with for-profit colleges – those that use publicly funded college loans to sell students a useless diploma and commit them to a lifelong debt in the process. It’s another education fraud – and it could end up costing the government (taxpayers!) over a Trillion Dollars!

    Here’s the letter 15 students refusing to pay their federal loans wrote to the Department of Education

  15. Regarding the darling of some the readers here, Fran Millar, I just read this in Bill Moyers & Company regarding GOP voter suppression. I, personally, find this insulting and disgusting.

    Georgia state Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) wrote an angry op-ed following the news that DeKalb County, part of which he represents, will permit early voting on the last Sunday in October. The voting will take place at the Gallery at South DeKalb mall. Here’s what Millar wrote in The Atlanta-Journal Constitution: “[T]his location is dominated by African-American shoppers and it is near several large African-American mega churches such as New Birth Missionary Baptist… Is it possible church buses will be used to transport people directly to the mall since the poll will open when the mall opens? If this happens, so much for the accepted principle of separation of church and state.” Millar, who is senior deputy whip for the Georgia Senate Republicans, promised to put an end to Sunday balloting in DeKalb County when state lawmakers assemble in the Capitol in January.

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