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Opening Statements to the Interim Superintendent

Every month a Board member is asked to deliver inspirational remarks to start the meeting.  Here are mine from last night.

I want to welcome Mr. Thurmond to his first board meeting as our interim superintendent.  You have come to us in tumultuous times.  On behalf of all the children and taxpayers in DeKalb, I wish you much success.

I shared with the State Board of Education, on my blog, and now I share with you –  We have three deficits:
1.  Academic achievement
2.  Credibility
3.  Financial

Please seriously examine and address these deficits.  Focus on returning competence and skills as the only credentials for hiring.  Please make every decision in the best interest of kids and taxpayers.  This sounds simple.  But it often gets confused when the board talks about “things”.  Remember, every dollar spent on something beyond the classroom teacher and other staff directly engaged with children in a classroom, is a dollar not invested in education.  Things don’t teach children.  Programs don’t teach children.  Scripts do not teach children.  Good teachers teach children.  This is especially important for our most impoverished communities.  Nothing can replace the gentle hand of a teacher reading and rereading a passage in a book and encouraging a child to think beyond herself, beyond today and imagine the possibilities of a full future.

Please communicate with the public.  Please don’t let that be one-sided.

Please watch the budget like a hawk.  I will.

Meet every principal and empower them.  Tell them to tell you when they face a bureaucratic obstacle.  Then, remove it for them.  Principals are your CEOs; your field generals.

Empower each school community.  Return discernment to our system.  Don’t let heavy-handed, onerous, administrative regulations put up a wall between the school and the community of parents.  Give principals, indeed every employee, the power to do what is in the best interests of children on the spot.  Support them.


(12) comments
  1. […] as superintendent to the DeKalb School System. [Reprinted in full from Nancy Jester's blog.] Click here to go to Nancy’s blog and leave your thoughts in her […]

  2. Beautifully said! Please know you have our support in your efforts, and thank you for being our voice!

  3. Thank you for those encouraging words. Thank you for your votes. I believe you will do your best to keep your word but lets take a second to see what the new superintendent said last night….http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/interim-superintendent-will-try-to-avoid-state/vqP9s/

    DKBOE is out of control and I believe the Chairman is in complete denial of his addiction to power and is in need of an intervention. He will destroy anyone and everything in his way. We need the GABOE and Gov Deal to step in and help. We can not do this on our own. He is a scary man. He will hurt your children.

  4. Let me first say thank you to Nancy Jester for keeping her eyes open the shambles and dysfunction of this BOE. As an employee, my disgust is at an all time high. I am considering leaving DeKalb both as an employee and as a resident. I have already taken my 6th grader out of the district because his needs were not being met at our zoned school that I was forced to put him in although I’m an employee expected to give my best to others while not being able to get the same for my own. With that being said, I has been an emotional, financial, and physical struggle to endure some of the decisions sent down the pipeline by this system and effectively give the best to those your are entrusted with daily. Too much redundant paperwork, much of which is never looked at, takes away from instruction. No time t plan those fun activities that use to make school fun. There are only so many hours in a day, and too many things interfere with teaching. Morale is low because of financial hardships among employees. Many of us are single parents and are robbing Peter to pay Paul, while we are paying a quarter of a million dollars to people who can’t get the job done. At what point will the people who really do the work be compensated. Seven years is a long time. Help us please. We can’t take much more of this.

  5. Thank you Ms. Jester for your opening statement and your ability to ask the necessary questions at every board meeting. We are so thankful that you, at least, understand the importance of the human connection between teacher and student. Thank you for sharing our concerns and bringing some common sense to the board. We are hopeful that you and the other board members will read and consider the resolution we proposed at last night’s meeting. It was intended as a way to help with the state board review in 10 days as it would go a long way toward showing significant progress on #1 and #2 from the SACS report list. It would help right a wrong of the past and rebuild trust in many communities that were affected. We know you voted “no” at the time, along with Ms. Edler, and we are very thankful for that. We continue to appreciate the issues you bring to light on behalf of all the children in DeKalb. We hope Mr. Thurmond will be the leader that we are all hoping he can be. Thank you again. You have many people behind you!

  6. I am a Dekalb high school teacher. I am here for students. I wake up each day excited to work with my students and maintain high expectations of them. To push them. To challenge them. To teach them. To prepare them. To guide them to dream and work hard to achieve. All students can achieve and all students in Dekalb deserve an excellent education. Thank you Nancy. You are here for the same reason. I see that.

  7. So a lawsuit was the answer to this??? Seriously?

  8. Nancy- Although you have made yourself look good the schools system is going down the toilet. You are playing checkers and the gang of 5 are playing a very simple game of chess. THESE ARE BAD PEOPLE AS THEY SIT ON THE BOARD. IF YOU WANT TO HELP, RESIGN, GO PUBLIC AND SAY YOU WILL NOT BE AFFILIATED WITH THE DEMISE OF DCS! Let the voters know that this is not a BOE but a gang with a checkbook! Save yourself.

  9. Thank you for being an advocate for the students of DeKalb County Schools. I teach in DeKalb and applaud your stand on what is right for the future leaders of tomorrow.

  10. Please post your words from the state BOE hearing regarding the hamster wheel, the Mad Mommy Brigade, the disconnect between achievement and accreditation, the new Superintendent’s ability to “corral the crazy,” the need for a new way to look at education in the state, the problems with SACS, the guardrails that should be in place and the ability to think of multiple things in parallel, not serial, and (from your first meeting with the state) the comment about worrying about the world that our children will inherit if we do not do our jobs with public education.

    And, separately, if you could explain your comment about being an eight-track in an I-pod world as we did not understand that in context with your later comment about the system should not be about “things” because it is the human connection of teacher/student that means the most.

    I wonder if the Superintendent (new one) is aware how far away we have come from your example of the teacher reading to a student or the class. I witnessed a pre-K teacher forced to hold a book and turn the pages every time there was a “beep” on a cassette tape which had the voice of someone else who was reading the words on the page to the children. Canned curriculum does not equate to quality teaching or learning. Teachers, parents and children are fed up.

    Thank you for saying so many of the things to the state BOE (and the public who stayed around late enough to listen) that so many of us have been discussing and wishing we could explain to someone who would listen and understand. You speak for so many well educated parents who have also been “marginalized” in their own schools because it has been the goal for far too long to cater to the most desirable student base in terms of how much state and federal money they can bring in, not because of the desire to help all the children learn no matter where they come from.

    We sincerely applaud your eloquence, style and respectful assertiveness. The Mad Mommy Brigade will live on in infamy, thanks to Nancy Jester!

  11. […] I look forward to seeing new faces on the DeKalb Board. I hope the new board and administrative team will reflect on what I said at our February board meeting about reforming our district. My remarks are available on my blog. […]

  12. […] I look forward to seeing new faces on the DeKalb Board. I hope the new board and administrative team will reflect on what I said at our February board meeting about reforming our district. My remarks are available on my blog. […]

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