Hey Nancy,

What's Up With That

If you have a question and would like to ask Nancy "What's up with that?", please email Nancy@NancyJester.com.

The Circle of Trust

Process Versus Results – Accreditation by SACS explored the relationship between AdvancED/SACS accreditation and academic results for children.  DeKalb County School District has been accredited for years — as have other Georgia districts and schools that fail children, as witnessed by the state’s low aggregate graduation rates (48th out of 50 states).  My Thoughts on the AdvancED SACS Report pointed out that SACS accreditation teams had been visiting the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) for years, examining DCSD on many “standards and indicators,” including the management of financial resources.  Yet, these teams of SACS accreditors failed to find the simple, yet deceptive, accounting practices that I uncovered shortly after coming onto the board.

Do you know what the teams of accreditors (all expenses charged to DCSD) missed in the AdvancED report?  They missed the “mother of all financial problems.”  They said nothing about the accounting methodology used by DCSD.  The third largest school system in the state (approximately the 24th largest in the nation), has been reporting to the board of education using a cash basis.

Why is this a big deal?  For starters, the cash basis will always overstate account balances because it doesn’t include liabilities already incurred but not yet paid out.  The board would then approve budgets for the next fiscal year without a true picture of where the last year ended.   But that’s just one reason the DCSD accounting methodology is a “big deal.”

I’m just a mom with a calculator, but even I know there are standards for accounting methodologies.  The Georgia Department of Education (GA DOE) says that districts should use an accrual or modified accrual method.  The GA DOE’s manual for financial reporting, Section 1, Chapter 7 states:  “LUAs are urged to follow GAAP during their daily accounting and financial reporting.”

•    LUA stands for “local unit of administration” – that’s accounting-speak for “school district.”
•    GAAP stands for “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.”
•    Governmental Accounting Standards Board (GASB)

So, why would an accreditation agency that has best practices embedded in its “standards and indicators” ever accredit a district or school that used an accounting methodology that did not conform to the GAAP or requirements from their own state’s Department of Education?

Why would the GA DOE continue to allow a district to operate against GA DOE’s own financial manual; using a method that, in their words: “permits distortions in financial statement representations due to shifts in the timing of cash receipts and disbursements relative to underlying economic events near the end of a fiscal period?” (Section 1, Chapter 7, page 2.)

Doesn’t it seem odd to you that these issues were never brought to the attention of the board or the public by AdvancED/SACS?

Since at least half of the state budget is spent on education, shouldn’t Georgia have ensured that the third largest school district in the state was compliant with common accounting standards?  (I’ll blog later about what I learned during a meeting with state auditors.  Meanwhile, consider this:  in all my time being interviewed I never encountered a financial professional/expert; only educrats and one lawyer.)

I contrast the academic and financial failures that I have noted here with the issues that were highlighted in the AdvancED/SACS Special Review Report.  My personal favorite, I have labeled, “The Pronoun Police.”  On page 11, the report states:  “During interviews, board members used pronouns like “I,” “me,” and “mine.”

Were you aware that a school board member has their First Amendment rights curtailed and must refrain from using these pronouns?  Does that seem like a silly thing to note given the major financial and academic issues on which we should focus?  Yet, the report states, mildly, only that academic achievement has declined.  It does not speak to the administrations’ responsibility in said decline.  It doesn’t even address the competency issue at the heart of the academic failures we have witnessed.  But, it was apparently noteworthy to discuss the pronoun usage of board members.

The DeKalb school system has faced significant challenges over the last several years.  These challenges are what motivated me to run for the board.   I took office in January 2011 and was promptly fed a diet of misleading and false information throughout my tenure on the board.  I consistently pointed out the problems I saw.  Just to note a few:

  • 7.11.11 Board meeting @ 1:31:48 on the recording of the BOE meeting I note the variances in the budget concerning electricity and legal fees.  Mr. McChesney supports me.  
  • 10.03.11 BOE meeting @ 1:04 on the recording I ask about legal fees; @1:05, I note that I continue to “harp” on the electricity issue as we are more than $1 million over-budget; @1:06:11, I ask why we aren’t preparing better budget assumptions; @1:06:39 I am mislead about the reasons the overage has occurred.  
  • 1.19.12 BOE meeting @ 1:46 I bring up electricity again.  Mr. McChesney supports me.  Other BOE members try to prove me wrong, saying that the increase is due to rate increases.

As I highlighted in my December 26, 2012 blog, the AdvancED/SACS report states, “The board members’ questions to the staff displayed a suspicion and lack of trust for any information provided by the staff.”  But AdvancED/SACS fails to ask these critical questions:
•    “Why does the staff provide misleading, incomplete or false information to the board?”
•    “What if staff continues to provide misleading, incomplete or false information to the board?”
•    “What if many of those staff members are still employed by DCSD and continue this practice?”
•    “What if some newly hired staff also engages in similar behavior?”

Part of my “take away” from reading the AdvancED/SACS Special Review Report is that accreditation is attached to pronoun usage of board members, as well as their gullibility.  A friend of mine helped put together a “Circle of Trust” graphic that represents what I see as the paradigm for trust within the AdvancED/SACS accreditation best practices framework:

So, to anyone who wants to be a board of education member, make sure you are comfortable with the “Circle of Trust” — or give me call and I’ll tell you what you are really in for.

–Stay tuned for Fun with Policy DJE and Solutions.

(57) comments
  1. AdvancED/SACS has become a for profit and highly political organization that Mark Elghart uses for personal profit and notoriety. The review reports (Clayton Co, APS, Dekalb) are vague, full of contradictions, and poorly written. I served on an accreditation team that reviewed Clayton Co and was appalled by the process. With that said, it is time for the Georgia State Legislature to review and reconsider the state contract between Georgia and AdvancED. I firmly believe in a review and accreditation process for our school systems, but strongly feel that SACS, under the direction of Mark Elghart, falls way short and does not serve our citizens well.

  2. Nancy,
    Thanks so much for providing usable, believable information. Keep up the good work!
    Kathy Arnold

  3. Cash basis accounting – that’s what my college-aged son uses! When he walks up to the ATM and it tells him that he has $100, he takes most of it out for the weekend, forgetting that he wrote a check for his portion of the cable bill — $40! Then he gets mad when the bank charges him an overdraft fee!

    Maybe he learned his accounting prowess at his DeKalb high school.

    Stay on ‘em Nancy!

  4. Mark
    THANK YOU for speaking up … Cohones grandes! Can you give us a little more insight into the review and reporting process by SACS? Thanks in advance.

  5. Thank you Nancy for your continual updates.

    Nothing will change within DCSS unless there is a total overhaul of the entire district, Superintendent, Central Office personnel, the manner in which this school district does business, a majority of the members of the BOE, etc., How do we make that happen other than trying to get the State ot step in and take over the school district?

    The more I read Nancy’s information, the angrier I have become (if that is possible). How did the people in charge of the education of our children (BOE and Administration) allow the financial and moral decline of this once proud school system?

  6. Nancy, would it be difficult or complicated for Dekalb county schools to seek accreditation with another HOPE scholarship accreditation organization?

  7. I should add, our children began public school for the first time this year.They are in middle school and we have been pleasantly surprised. Their teachers could not be more dedicated. The financial woes of DCCS are heartbreaking because there are so many people in our schools who have taken repeated pay cuts when they, in fact, deserve a raise. When did teachers stop being the most important people in our school system? How can we both repair our financial house and fully support those in the classroom?

  8. thank you Nancy for not falling for the banana in the tailpipe trick. keep up the great work

  9. Also, a request: Nancy, in your next blog, please, address the move to replace books with laptops.

  10. The more I learn about the corrupt DCSS the angrier I, too, become. I am beginning to believe it is past time for the parents to come together and file a class action lawsuit demanding the removal of the entire administration above the Principal level and the majority of the board. Additionally, we should demand that either AdvancedEd accredit individual schools based on actual educational results such as graduation rates but NOT based wholly on standardized tests as well as accrediting systems based on valid measurements such as ethics, unbiased support for all schools in the system, fiscal management, etc. Either that or GA DOE bar them fro accrediting schools in GA.

  11. Thanks for your insightful posts about this process. Instead of focusing on how the administration and the board members “feel” about each other, shouldn’t SACS be concerned with what has led to the disconnect and distrust? Oh, for example, repeated budget overages that are unexplained? Approved budgets that aren’t followed? I agree with SACS that a healthy school system is one in which trust exists between the leaders. But willful ignorance is not the same thing as trust. Thank you for trying to get at the heart of the challenges in our district. Until we are willing to examine them honestly and then find alternatives to correct past mistakes, we’ll be stewing in our own muck forever. Surely SACS doesn’t prefer that option?

  12. Well said, Nancy. I appreciate your bravery and perseverance and just plain common sense. If you need public support just ask.

  13. The problem for us is how do we get to a total do over? I desperately believe that the governor needs to appoint a new Board, one that will be made up of 9 capable members. With such a board, Atkinson would be our, either for cause or on her own.
    Asking the governor to reappoint Nancy is not an unreasonable request. Suggesting that the students of DeKalb continued to be harmed by the majority of the board is.
    SACS maybe a farce but right now it is our only hope. The status quo is unacceptable and isn’t working. It is about time to begin a new budgeting process. Last year, it was a disaster for students and teachers. We need a more professional board and we need it sooner rather than later.
    A non-elected board might be able to make the difficult decisions. To their credit, Nancy, Don and Pam have been able to, not so much the others.

  14. Personally, I don’t think the Gov will do anything. In fact, he’s probably royally teed off at Elgart for tossing this hot potato in his lap and is currently diligently trying to find a politically expedient way to toss it back.

  15. I suspect the Governor will give DCSS a few months to get their act together but not much more than that. Given the personality of two of the new board members and the connections of the third, I don’t see things getting better as it relates to meddling. Deal did replace Warren County’s board after giving them nearly a year to improve. I read on DSW that the appointed board fired the super. We can only hope
    The problem with this scenario is the time it took. Atkinson and this board should not be allowed to handle another budget. Our children cannot afford it.

  16. Cirlcle of trust illustration: now I get why it does not work. This will never work until the staff is hired and fired by dedicated seasoned professionals, not by Board members whose term lasts about 2 years. Meanwhile DeKalb is producing citizens that are not equipped to handle today’s market, and it shows.

  17. I don’t think the accounting can be changed for many, many years. They don’t have an adequate computer system it or for electronic textbooks. It would cost millions in hardware and software.

  18. Terri,
    “When did teachers stop being the most important people in our school system?”

    The system fell apart when everyone forgot that the most important people in the school system are the students. Not the parents. Not the teachers. Not the principals. Not the librarians. Not the janitors. And certainly not the administrators. Until ALL those others step back and put students first any education is by accident.

  19. Are there any valid reasons for being on a cash basis system? If not …

    1. How did the State DOE and SACS let DeKalb start and continue down that path?
    2. How did all of our previous CFOs allow this to continue?
    3. Why was this severely bad practice kept from the BOE’s and public knowledge?

    This is at best a failure up and down the chain and at worse a conspiracy to deceive.

  20. Off-topic for a minute, but isn’t the plan due to the state DOE as to how the school district is to handle the $20+ million budget deficit?

  21. Amen Nancy!

    As we discussed in the past, all of the associations, organizations, incorporations, etc. etc. are funded organizations either “for profit” or “non profit” through members dues, fees, revenue, etc. In other words, private organizations are influencing and attempting to act as a government authority. This practice is evident in all aspects of our lives including education, health, public safety, community events, etc. I reference “etc.” as the list would encompass and include too many to cite. What makes one more qualified than the other? Who appointed who? Who certified who? Why is one certifying organization deemed more credible than the other? How can “pseudo” associations funded only by their members representing only a portion of such be seen as a credible authority? As you have mentioned to me time and again Nancy, the “silo” effect where one achieves authority and power influences all decisions. The idea that others may have insight, thought, ideas, resolution recommendations frighten such “created” organizations to the core. Regardless of who creates what be it a Governor, Mayor, President, etc., all are such models to influence and attempt to gain control through an attempt to legitimize such processes. I noticed a wonderful article, recently in the Dunwoody Crier, where a woman wrote that when an association speaks that they represent all when offering opinions and recommendations, such is non-sense unless this association has listened to each person and member offering their input and influence. How can SACS or any other organization be seen as anything other than a group assigned by someone who is funding their activity as a credible source. Nancy, no one wants their crumb of authority to be taken regardless to the benefits of others. I applaud you for recognizing and releasing such information. You are an elected official by the people! No one should have any authority as an “association, organization, etc.” to act as a public governing authority, only to recommend as an outside party. I truly hope all governing public officials begin to realize that private entities have no right to act as a public official nor to influence and act as an agent of such public official. This is occurring everywhere for the benefit of someone. Always follow the money trail. Contact the department of state to view who are the board members, executive directors, licensed corporate officials and you will determine the motive for profit.

    Happy New Year!!!!

  22. Nancy, you need to rename your blog, “A mom with a calculator”…. you go, girl!

  23. @ Ken Thompson: thank you. Children are the only focus anyone should have.

    There are other places in the world where the educational system is carefully crafted to support the child. The child can navigate the system (classes ) alone, without help of parents. DeKalb overhaul could really mean that – a real overhaul by being open minded and actually wanting to educate the child. Is DeKalb ready? No. The parents would rather have their comfort zone baking cookies for class parties, completing their 5-year olds “projects” and wanting to buy laptops as a solution to a crisis. The product of grown ups “educated” by the system is already here. Some of them are in power now, and they are going about education all wrong. Only highly educated educators should make choices for education, NEVER EVER should anyone listen to the opinions of “stakeholders”. That just sends a shiver down my spine. Education should be a State wide practice or perhaps a regional one, not EVER a County wide practice.

    Unless you are willing to invest in the highest caliber of teacher, who can teach without paper trail, and let go of almost all administration…you’ll never get out. It’ll just be a downward spiral.

  24. Sam has it right today at 12:45.
    Unaccountable, unelected providing cover for elected officials afraid to do their jobs because the people involved are all entwined. Think about it–why couldn’t state reps across DeKalb (DeKalb Delegation) come to some sort of position regarding school system performance with task forces, etc–and move toward change? (1) Too many in the south know where each other’s bodies are buried (Ron Ramsey is a double issue here, being state rep and school employee); (2) Northern reps have their own city agenda, so see an emergency in their best interests.
    Thus–bring in SACS to do dirty work and nobody has to screw with the deleicate balance.

    That’s the upstream issue– downstream issue then becomes SACS credibility, which has been lightly touched on by the AJC when SACS was late to the party in Atlanta (and had increasingly been in the news with Clayton and other systems)–and now the questions a little more detailed and pointed by Jester. SACS has overreached in the past few years and will be judged.

  25. Culturally South DeKalb does not value the education of their children. Gene Walker et al continues to insist that DCSD has no financial or education problems. This is going to be an uphill battle without independent school districts.

  26. I love The Crier’s coverage of you as a “Mom with a calculator!” As the wife of an actuary, I appreciate your qualifications. As a resident of DeKalb, I appreciate your thoroughness in digging at this all-too-important issue.

  27. I hope the state appoints Nancy as chair and replaces all the others.But – The only way to bring the school system back on a path to real, meaningful improvement is to completely clean out the central office. First, everyone gets a pink slip. Since they cannot even produce a real org chart – Pick a successful school system and get their organizational chart – Fayette, New Jersey, California, heck – Singapore – and rehire based on an org chart that has worked and achieved results. Proportional resizing due to population numbers is permissible. All those fired may reapply, but will NOT get preferential treatment nor are guaranteed an interview. And no excuses of demographics or low SES. You can’t say all along, all children can learn, all children can go to college, etc. and then want more eduCRATS based on demographics. Then maybe teachers can focus solely on teaching and not have to divert half their time to tasks originating in the CO designed to protect and justify educrat jobs. Then we will see some steps forward in academic success. We don’t have any time, any spare weeks or months, to give the existing board, OR the current central office educrats, any more chances to prove themselves. Game over!

  28. I have such an overwhelming feeling of impotence about the meltdown of the DeKalb School “District” (as the always distant Dr. Atkinson likes to call it). The SACS focus – entirely on the School Board – addresses a small part of the problem. Dr. Atkinson (who I am confident is reading this via her Gatekeeper K. March) has perpetuated the culture of misinformation, cronyism, bullying of schoolhouse administration, and mismanagement of financial and educational standards.

    Governor Deal: please appoint a School Board that promptly cleans house. Yes, Ms. Jester should be reinstated for her discernment and spine.

    Our legislative representatives: help us rewrite the Constitution and stop acting obstructively and patronizingly towards parents who are pleading for local control.

    DeKalb DA: stop buying Dr. Atkinson’s song and dance and start looking closely at that missing textbook money, deleted text messages, and other warning signs that nothing has changed in DeKalb’s Central Office.

    State Board of Education: FIRE SACS, just as North Carolina has and other states are currently considering. SACS does not address the education of our children: only the “behavior” of school boards. Our money is not well spent with that inept organization.

    I am beyond frustrated by the ignorant voters who keep reinstating ineptitude and the county and state government leaders who stand by, wringing their politically intertwined hands, and watch this implosion continue to grow.

  29. This is so frustrating. Is there hope or do we just give up and save for private school?

  30. The missing textbook money was actually discovered by Dr. Atkinson. It was misplaced, misspent or who knows what by Dr. Lewis or Tyson.
    Atkinson has replaced many of the key figures in the central office with outsiders. The problem is the people she brought in aren’t any better than she is. And the culture of DeKalb County as a whole is so corrupt it is a hard thing to clean up the school system.

  31. Atkinson’s problem is that she didn’t get rid of ENOUGH top tier people. She trusted the wrong people and they may have set her up.

  32. ShooShee, Can you be more specific about who set her up and how?

  33. Let’s see, there’s the new (under-qualified) head of HR who didn’t make the cuts HR was told to make, or at least made them, but then transferred or rehired the faves. Of course, the low level people like bus monitors, parapros and media clerks were let go, many replaced with new people in the end. Then, there’s the head of legal, who apparently made a ridiculous ‘offer’ to settle the text message case, saying that it came from Atkinson. She says no. So it’s he said, she said at this point, and he has power due to a position as a state rep and long time connections in DeKalb, inside and outside the school system. I would even go so far as to say that Ms Tyson has possibly not given the best advice, perhaps in the hope that if Atkinson fails, she will be restored to power? How about the people in finance who can’t seem to maintain sound bookkeeping and blame it on ‘software’? These people are very afraid of being ‘found out’ and fired as Atkinson has already done to several, therefore they want Atkinson gone, just like they wanted Johnny Brown gone.

    It’s my theory at least. And I haven’t found much evidence to the contrary. I personally don’t trust a single person currently on staff who has been with the system for over 5 years. They know darn well that if they were to lose their job today, there is NO place that they could get a job paying even half their current salary, much less a fat pension.

  34. Then again, Atkinson isn’t much better. Changing the amount she can spend on a contract without board approval to $100,000, then hiring her former boss and reference on her application, Barbara Dilligard on a contract for $99,975.99. Sneaky. I don’t like that either.

  35. Dear Nancy,

    Thanks for clarifying the muddy waters. I am really concerned about replacing the books with laptops. In addition to the cost, there are many kids that learn different ways and the computers are not always the answer. My son, who is ADD needs to read the textbook to get most of the material from because he is too distractable to take all his info from a computer. Studies are also finding that very young brains may in fact be damaged by this method of learning.

  36. Amen DunMoody! It’s not just the Board, but also the DCSS Administration that has gotten what used to be the star district in Georgia in this terrible mess. However, didn’t the Board hire Dr. Atkinson? Didn’t the Board hire her predecessor, Crawford Lewis?

    This is our first year with a child in public school although we have lived in DeKalb for 15 years. We had high hopes after talking to friends that our son could get a decent education at DHS after 9 years in private school. Now, I’m not so sure. He spent the first 3 weeks of school watching reruns of Myth Busters in his engineering class because the county hired the teacher away from the school two weeks before classes started. The outdated computers are in disrepair, the average age of books in the media center is ancient, and how many principals has DHS had in the last 6 years?

    Pulling away from the county and creating a Dunwoody School System could take years if at all feasible. We could also be jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Look at the infighting and waste by the Dunwoody City Council.

    The state needs to step in and suspend the board, sorry Nancy – maybe you can get reappointed – and CLEAN HOUSE.

  37. DeKalb Inside Out says on January 1, 2013 at 4:43 pm
    Culturally South DeKalb does not value the education of their children.

    With all due respect, your statement indicates to me that you know absolutely no one who lives in south Dekalb. South Dekalb is not a foreign country with a different culture from North Dekalb. Dekalb county is one county and it is not even a particularly big county. I’m sure painting every crisis as a north Dekalb versus south Dekalb issue benefits someone, but it most certainly does not benefit my children nor does it benefit the children of my friends.

    I have a few friends who live in south Dekalb and they most certainly value education. Last year, I attended the meetings regarding the proposed redistricting options. I attended multiple meetings including a couple on the south side. There were large numbers of very concerned parents at those meetings. I observed that the county seemed intent upon closing what appeared to be a disproportionate number of schools on the south side. Curious, I tried to find out why so many schools seemed to be slated to be closed on that side. I never got a straight answer. It left me wondering: Is the population of south Dekalb drastically shrinking? Or is the population of south Dekalb easier and more convenient to kick around? If the population is not drastically shrinking down there, they are being kicked around, in my opinion.

    We need a school system that respects all our children and all our hardworking teachers regardless of which side of I-20 an individuals’ assigned school happens to be located on.

  38. Sharon Cryor says on January 4, 2013 at 9:20 am
    Dear Nancy,
    Thanks for clarifying the muddy waters. I am really concerned about replacing the books with laptops. In addition to the cost, there are many kids that learn different ways and the computers are not always the answer. My son, who is ADD needs to read the textbook to get most of the material from because he is too distractable to take all his info from a computer. Studies are also finding that very young brains may in fact be damaged by this method of learning.

    Dear Sharon,

    I have also read about such studies. It amazes me that, during a time of financial crisis, DCSS is going to toss books and replace them with trendy, but possibly inferior for learning, laptops. I predict upper middle class families will purchase actual text books for their children and the remaining families will be deprived of proper books. Thus, the inequity in our schools will be further increased.

    If the goal is to provide experience with computers and the internet before a student graduates high school, I’d rather the children have both books and laptops. Perhaps a bit of money could be saved with laptops being provided only to those families who meet certain means tests. I don’t know if that would work or whether it would be allowable. It’s just an idea. The thought of kids being deprived of books by the very system that is supposed to be educating them just drives me nuts.

  39. Also, since no one else has unpacked the tinfoil yet, I’ll state plainly that I don’t believe for one itty-bitty second that those laptops will be free of spyware. I’ll leave this link for you all to have a look at. More articles on the topic can be found easily via an internet search.

    http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2010/04/19/school-laptop-spying-case-just-keeps-getting-creepier/

  40. Terri
    DCSD is the 3rd largest school district in the state and something like the 18th largest school district in the country. I know roughly 40% of the black students graduate from high school in DeKalb. I’m guessing 10% of those graduates are illiterate. I know seniors who do graduate high school from SWD, Towers, McNair, etc … with 3.5 GPAs make 800s on their SATs. Saying that South DeKalb doesn’t value education is a broad stroke, but it is relatively accurate.

    If you look at the enrollment, you’ll see that many schools in South DeKalb are under 50% capacity. Conversely, most schools in North DeKalb are over 100% capacity. Donna Edler and Sarah Copelin Woods talk about South DeKalb getting kicked around because it’s what their base wants to hear, but the numbers tell a different story.

    I agree, we need an administration that cares more about the children than the adults. We need an administration that cares more about education than color.

    Terri, please allow me to ask you a sensitive question. How would you feel about DCSD having a Superintendent that wasn’t black?

    Please correct me if I have gone astray anywhere. Thank you for letting me ask you a question that would be condemned by the P.C. police.

  41. Terri, please allow me to ask you a sensitive question. How would you feel about DCSD having a Superintendent that wasn’t black?

    I think it is irrelevant to the topic at hand.

  42. Dekalb must have a qualified superintendent – they should make the process race blind- so that a truly qualified person is chosen. Laptops are a terrible idea. You can get one for under $300 now- people can buy their own if needed. I do think making textbooks available in an e- format as an option is a good idea- but this should cost us no extra and should be paid for by the textbook companies. Gadgets are not the problem- education is.

  43. I hear teachers complaining that they can’t use their laptops in the schools because of the antique technology. I don’t think you need to worry about textbooks going digital for a while.

  44. Terri
    You say your feelings regarding a non black Superintendent are irrelevant. However, in fact, it is at the heart of DCSD’s many problems.

    Dr Gene Walker
    In public Dr Walker “sees and embraces color”. Behind closed doors Dr Walker talks about black people leading themselves. His rhetoric is reminiscent, IMHO, of W.E.B. Dubois. I have heard him say “we don’t need a white person to come in and fix our problems.”

    Sarah Copelin Woods
    Sarah has expressed that Southerland is a “white” law firm and brought in Josie Alexander expressely because they are viewed as a black law firm. She has said the children of DeKalb need to see they have black lawyers in leadership roles.

    I’m not part of the black culture and have no idea how rampant these views are. Affirmative action condones and has mainstreamed the practice of hiring black people over more qualified people of other races. Take a look at the candidates we had and compare them to Dr Atkinson’s credentials in her poorly written resume. Ramona Tyson was a typing teacher and Crawford Lewis was a P.E. teacher.

    I don’t see a way out of this pattern.

  45. DIO
    Thank you for contributing to our blog. I respectfully request that you email me, NancyWhatsUpWithThat@gmail.com, some references regarding your latest comment. Everything will be kept strictly confidential. Thank you.

  46. Dear Ms. Jester,
    Do you share the views of Dekalb Inside Out?

  47. Terri
    Aside from my rant regarding Affirmative Action, I have generally stated facts.
    1. Which “views” are you looking for a second opinion on?
    2. What is your opinion?
    3. Please give me your thoughts on a non black Superintendent.

    Thank you for obliging me on this sensitive subject.

    You have asked Ms. Jester a question that has only one answer. C’mon, there is NO WAY anybody associated with DCSD can officially agree with me.

  48. The administration has released current and forecasted enrollment/capacity numbers. Looks like it will be discussed at the board meeting tomorrow.

    I. 16. First Read: Approval of 2016-2017 Proposed School Organization
    https://eboard.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=4054&AID=419461&MID=23957

  49. The enrollment and capacity doc has been taken off the DCSD website. Please post a new link if anybody has it.

  50. I had saved it off on my computer. If you can provide me an email address I will send it to you.

  51. Thanks Paula!!

    .pdf link icon DCSS 2016-2017 School Organization – Enrollment and Capacity
    Current(1/7/2013) and Future(2016-2017) enrollment and capacity for all DeKalb Schools.

  52. The report linked above is not what we need to see.

    It is filled with errors such as showing 8 elementary schools open with no students.

    They fixed that problem with the forecast in the Dec. 10 proposal. However the header on the pages still say Dec. 6, 2012 Version. In fact, Tab 3 & Tab 7 of the Dec. 10 version have been revised twice that I have noticed with no explanation.

    I am curious about the forecast for enrollment decreasing when there has been an average increase of 800 students per year for the last 5 years. Maybe Dan Drake is expecting families to move?

  53. This is the link to the proposed organization.

    It changes from time to time.

  54. These docs are marked draft and the administration keeps talking about how they are drafts. How is the administration making decisions/recommendations off incomplete/inaccurate documents. How is the board expected to do their job with bad docs??

  55. DIO, the population “down there,” as you put it is neither shrinking nor are they getting kicked around – bused around is more like it. We have more transfers than any other school system in the state. Most of the “involved” parents from S. DeKalb are having their kids bused to the magnet schools elsewhere, or charter schools, theme schools, etc. or they are driving them or sending them via the free Marta cards from NCLB. They are sending enough of the Title I kids at schools not making AYP to other schools in the middle of the county that they are now turning those schools into Title I schools, too, thus raking in more money. How can they do this? By chasing the parents out of their neighborhood schools for privates, clearing the way for the transfers.

    This is my one big hesitation with the portfoilio model – reliance on parents and community to get involved in the decisions and direction when most of them are no longer people who live nearby. I’m afriad we are so far in crisis mode and have lost so many good families that we need some other way to right the ship before we’ll be able to lure anyone back. We need to really shut it all down and try to start over from scratch. Nothing other than basic schools, basic education until we can get that right then take it from there.

    I like the idea of giving more control to the Principal, but we would have to really evaluate the current principals. Many have been brought on for their loyalty to the administration. Anyone who cannot be trusted must go.

  56. GETtheCELLoutATL
    DIO, the population “down there,” as you put it is neither shrinking nor are they getting kicked around If you look at the forecasted enrollment, the student population for South DeKalb is either flat or declining. I agree South DeKalb is not getting kicked around, but the South DeKalb communities feel like they are. If you go to any public forum where Edler or SCW is speaking, you’ll hear a lot about how North DeKalb gets everything.

    There are no more Marta cards or new AYP transfers.

    I think a lot of people have the same concerns. I would remind everybody that South DeKalb has numerous successful charter schools that operate under the same governance structure as the Portfolio District.

    I like the idea of tearing everything down and moving to local control. Basic schools, basic education and good principals … damn skippy. No way orders like that will come down from the “educational leaders” at the palace. The schoolhouse needs to make these command decisions.

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