Make children the focus

It is a tragedy and a disservice to children that the public drama and self-serving maneuvering in, on and around the DeKalb County School  District board is focused on the antics of adults and not the district’s nearly 100,000 students.
The emphasis in DeKalb needs to be on the schoolhouse, not the courthouse.
The priority in the state’s third-largest school district needs to immediately return to the tall challenges of offering a better education to the children who fill its classrooms.
That can’t happen with a lame-duck school board that’s flailing about in a legal quicksand entirely of its own making. The remaining hanger-on members should go, voluntarily or otherwise.
Yes, constitutional issues around voting are important and will ultimately be decided by attorneys arguing about imperfect laws. But we cannot continue to fail the innocent children who have the most to lose by continued delays in rectifying the DeKalb district’s problems.
The foremost issue in need of redress should be whether DeKalb’s children are receiving the “adequate” public education spelled out in Georgia’s constitution as a primary obligation in this state. It is clear they are not, so rapid, thorough change is in order and it should continue until real improvement in educational quality and operational efficiency is at least visible on the horizon.
This, after all, is about the children — especially the ones from meager means and below who have no one to speak soundly for them. A robust education, matched with grit and ambition, represents their best shot toward attaining their version of the American Dream.
These children are not hard to find. Some board yellow school buses stopping at working-class apartment complexes along busy Lawrence-ville Highway or winding stretches of Bouldercrest Road. Others leave from modest homes in varying states of repair in older neighborhoods where security bars may shield doors and windows.
The campus of Ronald E. McNair High School sits along Bouldercrest in South DeKalb. The school’s named for the late space shuttle astronaut who, literally, aimed for the stars, living up to his fraternity’s Cardinal Principles of “Manhood, Scholarship, Perseverance and Uplift” in the process.
More than 8 in 10 of McNair’s students were eligible for free or reduced-price school meals in 2010- 11.
That statistic indicates many of its students might fall under the sweeping category of “at-risk” of falling short of life’s great potential. Yet students walking through McNair’s front doors pass under an array of university pennants. Georgia. North Carolina. Yale. Auburn. Tennessee. Cornell.
The flags offer a silent push to the boundless power of ideas , of planting  seeds in the young and praying they take positive root. That is the tough work of educators. It is as American an idea as there ever was, one that should bridge the valleys of race and class that underlie tensions in DeKalb.
The late W.E.B. DuBois, civil rights icon, Atlanta University professor and father of The Niagara Movement, which influenced creation of the NAACP more than a century ago, understood the transformational power of education. Niagara’s recorded resolutions have this to say: “We want our children educated.  … They have a right to know, to think, to aspire.” Access to effective schools was the key to unlocking that door, the group believed, noting that “Education is the development of power and ideal.”
That labor of positioning young lives for future success is what should have been Job 1 on the DeKalb County School Board and the district it oversees, not wasting time, money and effort clinging to an elected post paying $18,000 a year.
The real, overshadowed labor of education has now fallen to Interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond, Gov. Nathan Deal, the state Board of Education and some brave members of DeKalb’s legislative delegation who have shouldered the politically risky work of trying to move the district ahead.
It’s a shame that the suspended DeKalb  school  board members can’t in good conscience be included on that list. That can’t hold up progress any longer. Let us now move on, away from a fractured past of political strife and on to the business of repairing public education in DeKalb. We owe the children that much.

Andre Jackson, for the Editorial Board.

6 comments Add your comment

Jesus Christ crushes NWO, DBMs

March 11th, 2013
2:38 pm

How can you ask us to make children the focus? Correct me if I’m wrong but the prevailing view of the United States Supreme Court and many Americans is that women and men should be the focus, not children.

Women and men, especially women, should have the right to choose to destroy the child’s life if it is detrimental to their careers etc…

Amen?

Bernie

March 11th, 2013
11:50 am

zeke@8:41 – I do hope that you ask all of your family members,friends,and neighbors when they and You, ultimately get your Social security checks on by end of the first week of each month. Please make all make payments care of U.S. Treasury, Washington, DC.

We all would greatly appreciate your cooperation in doing so promptly!

Shamehia @ 10:26 – I do not mean to burst your bubble, but that job belongs to Michael Thurmond and the Dekalb County School Board not the AJC!

One question of you, if I may. “Where Did You Attend School?”

Shamehia

March 11th, 2013
10:26 am

Well editor you’ve repeated the well known DeKalb County problems but you never got around to proposing any solutions. Anyone can do the hand-wringing/finger pointing/somebody DO something bit.

Maybe you’ll come back with some specific ideas that could be translated quickly into action. Mr. Thurmond, the new board, the kids and the taxpayers would probably be grateful.

zeke

March 11th, 2013
8:41 am

Regardless of “it is about the children” or not, IT HAS TO BE ABOUT THE TAXPAYERS AND WHAT IS DONE WITH THE MONEY CONFISCATED FROM THEM! The entire education system of this country has become no more than a promotion of the socialist and enviro nut agendas! That MUST CHANGE BACK TO A POLICY OF READING, WRITING, MATH AND SCIENCE! All the socialist B.S. and indoctrination MUST BE ELIMINATED IN ORDER FOR THIS GREAT COUNTRY TO SURVIVE!!!! And robbing Peter to pay Paul, robbing those successful their money through taxation to redistribute to others through welfare, subsidized meals phones housing, or, other agenda projects is just that, STEALING!!!!

Bernie

March 10th, 2013
3:55 pm

Correction..

Andre, Well said and I Totally agree! SometHing I do not do with you on a regular basis. As this calamity is resolved, as expected and predicted. You made No mention of the onging REVOLT that is currently being planned and acted upon, by the many more affluent communites of North of Dekalb County. Whose actions are certainly understandable, but unfortunate in light of this ongoing Crisis.

As soon as this one Problem is put to rest. A secondary and more volatile Crisis has only BEGUN to errupt. It will prove to be a LONGER & even more NASTIER Fight. Furthering the deviseness of an already Fragmented Community, that we are already currently engaged in.

Unfortunately, this Fire is merely smoldering at THE moment. Its Blaze is yet to come!

Bernie

March 10th, 2013
3:45 pm

Andre, Well said and I Totally agree! Someting I do not do with you on a regular basis. As this calamity is resolved, as expected and predicted. You made No mention of the onging REVOLT that is currently being planned and acted upon, by the many more affluent communites of North of Dekalb County. Whose actions are certainly understandable, but unfortunate in light of this ongoing Crisis.

As soon as this one Problem is put to rest. A secondary and more volatile Crisis has only BEGUN to errupt. It will prove to be a LONGER & even more NASTIER Fight. Furthering the deviseness of an already Fragmented Community, that we are already currently engaged in.

Unfortunately, this Fire is merely smoldering at moment. Its Blaze is yet to come!