The Bridge: Has it filled a gap? No way to tell–nobody tracked it.

We here at DSW2 were wondering what ever happened to the Bridge Initiative and the Balanced Scorecard. Both of these things were brought back from the leadership’s big trip to Harvard in July of 2013 and are still linked on the front page of the school district’s website. Like so many programs, initiatives, and “cures” that came before. These two “tools” were presented with a lot of fanfare, then quickly forgotten.
Thurmond’s ‘Bridge Initiative’ was supposed to be a way to improve the graduation rate of economically disadvantaged students. There are three main goal areas:
1. Identify, support, and recognize high-achieving, marginal, and under-performing students
2.Enhance the effectiveness of district-level and school-level leaders and teachers to inspire, teach, and train
3. Build capacities of parents, adult guardians, and mentors to support and improve student performance and academic success
There is a total lack of critical observation and accountability in DeKalb County Schools, so we have no reports and no way to measure the success or failure of this $75 million program, or any others. No accounting of monies for the Bridge has occurred and an Open Records Report produces essentially nothing, as do most ORRs, as the district responds that no records are kept or that it will cost quite a sum of money for them to dig up the information — information that we, and most modern people assume is maintained and reports available at the click of a button… not so in DeKalb.

In reality, this “Bridge” Initiative was no more than just old, recycled ‘problem’ statements from past superintendent’s initiatives and repackaged into yet another stab in the dark at solving these chronic issues. There was never anything measurable to it.

Below is the same old recycled broad statement of a ‘strategic problem’ looking for another very costly ‘solution’ >>

Strategic Problem

DeKalb County School District’s failure to implement a comprehensive strategy designed to bridge growth and achievement gaps has negatively impacted college and career readiness of students from low income families

Hmmm. Where oh where have we heard those words before?

How about “Premier DeKalb” – the District-Wide Parental Involvement Framework by Dr. Crawford Lewis, former superintendent fired for being charged with racketeering and other charges >> (Almost every player is no longer with the school district)

Or how about Triage! That’s what they called the plan to improve test scores in July, 2011.

Or maybe these words harken you back to the day when in a speech to the DeKalb Chamber, “Ramona Tyson said she’s focused on providing students and teachers with the opportunity for a “safe and positive” learning experience. … Introducing Tyson, school board Chairman Tom Bowen said the board is focused on accountability, change and educating every student.

And we are all still waiting with baited breath for the full forensic audit long-ago promised by Ramona Tyson – complete with a very specific schedule for production >>>

(BTW – it never happened, it was just all blow.)

How about the fully ignored recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force?

The Citizens Task Force?

Lest we forget to mention the Charettes! Another enormous exercise in wasting your time!

And we so enjoyed Cheryl Atkinson’s fake “100 Day Plan” after her “Fireside Chats” with community members. There went another superintendent – who quit or was fired yet left with a $100,000+ parting gift. [before Lewis, Johnny Brown absconded with was given a whopping $400,000+ to leave!]

Overall, current $300,000 a year superintendent Michael Thurmond made many empty ‘promises’ to be included in his n’er to be submitted “90 Day Strategic Plan”… one of which was likely to be a forensic audit >> [Never mentioned again]

Not only that, the district was supposed to have issued a well-thought out decision regarding their choice for flexibility as requested by the state.  Rumors were that Thurmond was going to make the district a charter district, however, we still have no official news on that subject.

You see, the leaders of DCSD are very adept at making promises. It’s their specialty! But in reality, they have no earthly idea where to go from there. They have been unable to move the needle of student achievement for over a decade.

No Accountability :: No Tracking >>
The Balanced Scorecard is an approach for measuring an organization’s health that enables its users to employ data not only to measure past performance, but to assess how well the firm is positioned for the future.  Perhaps it is better that it was never used because a casual look at the data posted shows it doesn’t add up.

This administration does not track anything that might make it look bad.

What is the teacher turnover rate? HR won’t give a straight answer.
How many teacher vacancies go unfilled (no substitute)? HR does not track that.
How many of the new-hire teachers are in their first three years of teaching? HR does not track that.

Essentially, what we have in DeKalb is an awful lot of ‘EduSpeak’ and not much action.  For this, taxpayers fork over $1.4 Billion each and every year to fund the consolidated budget of DeKalb County Schools.

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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"
This entry was posted in Board of Education Meetings, Budget Cuts, Crawford Lewis, DeKalb County, Friends-and-Family, Jim McMahan, Michael Thurmond, Ramona Howell Tyson, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Bridge: Has it filled a gap? No way to tell–nobody tracked it.

  1. How about offering of basic services? I tried to find info today on our high schools. Just basic coursework info got into a vague web of standards. However, what I did find was a publication by the Gwinnett county schools called “The Choice Book”.
    Google it. It was an amazing resource for parents and students. Gave the reader the how to’s of high school in Gwinnett. Coursework, academic policies, summer school, extracurricular oportunities, pathways information. So much info that I was able to answer my question using their resource. I tried to contact our central office to ask and was not ever able to reach a human. Do they ever answer the phone or return a call? Guess I could have called the high school but didn’t want to bother the counselor. Thought my question could be easily answered online. Our website is pathetic.
    Do we have this type of publication? Not looking for behavior booklet they give out at beginning of the year.

    Two things came to mind, first, I guess this is what happens when there are serious educators in
    in a central office for a system. Information is readily available. The more I learn about what other counties do on a regular basis it makes me realize just how corrupted our system has become. It’s all about process and methodology. All talk. Blah blah blah No substantive changes have been made.

    Secondly, I guess if a school system is getting $50? Million in equalization grants from the state they have the funds to do things right. It so sad that if our school system where to receive this money even once it would be pissed away or blown on some crap initiative. Or worse, lawyers.

    We still have the same song playing seven years later. Until the central office is gutted, nothing will change. Our only hope is that a new sup is researching DeKalb and stumbles upon this website to get some understanding of what changes are really needed.

  2. thedeal2 says:

    Did anyone go last night? I decided I didn’t need to waste my time hearing Thurmond pat himself on the back and hear others heap praise upon his little Highness. I’m guessing it was the same song and dance? “We’ve seen tremendous growth and improvement. Thanks to my hardworking staff. We are on the right track. We need to stay the course. Nothing is wrong.”

  3. dsw2contributor says:

    Channel 2 is reporting that “Interim DeKalb CEO under FBI investigation”:

  4. Oh good god… there is NO END to the corruption in DeKalb!! How can these people claim that they ‘didn’t know’?!! Every homeowner knows that you are responsible for the sewer line going from the street to your house. Does Lee May really expect us to believe he is this dumb?

    … A firm came out by the name of Water Removal Services. I knew an individual connected to that,” acknowledged May.

    That individual was a man named Doug Cotter. At the time, Cotter was working for Water Removal Services, which was then-owned by John Meyer.

    …But six months later, Meyer still hadn’t been paid. So his company emailed an invoice directly to DeKalb County purchasing director Kelvin Walton.

    Fleischer asked Meyer who normally directs his company where to send a bill.

    “Well, the person who owns the property,” replied Meyer.

    Records show within half an hour, May’s invoice was approved and a check was cut the very next day for $6,495.

    …May’s friend, who arranged the cleanup, went on to get hundreds of thousands of dollars in DeKalb County work.

    …When the former owner of Water Removal Services checked his old files, he found a $4,000 check made out to May, personally.

    “Absolutely, I plan on having a conversation to figure out what the hell was that that was done, excuse my French. For someone to benefit off my name, that’s inappropriate that’s illegal, and they need to be dealt with,” said May.

    Friday at 6, see what our investigative team has been able to track down about that check, what is was for, and who cashed it.

    Betcha a dollar that May also filed an insurance claim on the sewage backup.

  5. Haha – he claims things back then were ‘loosey goosey’… totally not his fault and he finds it was ‘inappropriate’ for him to be treated differently … yeah, right.

  6. Three key details from Channel-2’s article:

    (1) In December 2010, Meyer & Cotter’s company did about $2500 worth of work on May’s residence.

    (2) In/around June 2011 (“six months later”), Kevin Walton paid for that $2500 worth of workby cutting a county-check to Meyer & Cotter’s company for $6,495.

    (3) Recently, Cotter checks his “old files” and finds a $4,000 check he made out to May, personally.

    To me, it sounds like Lee May accepted a kickback: Dekalb County paid a contractor $6,495 for $2,500 of work; the contractor then kick-backed the difference ($4,000) to a county official (May).

    Merriam-Webster defines kickback as “a return of a part of a sum received often because of confidential agreement or coercion”.

  7. So how many CEO’s is Dekalb going to end up paying at one time? 3. Lee May, needs to just resign! any fool knows that the county does not pay for for a sewer back up into your house.

    They would fight anyone in a white neighborhood tooth and nail. Tell them to submit a claim with their insurance company. Claim it wasn’t there fault.

    Just like they and Atlanta tell everybody when their water bills suddenly triple, that they need to hire their own plumber, they must have a leak.

  8. You seem to be onto something dsw2contributor! It’s not all that different from Elaine Boyer’s illegal activity and kickbacks. She is going to do jail time for her rip offs.

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