Who should lead DeKalb County schools? What matters most?

DeKalb residents ought to show up Thursday at 6 p.m. to meet the three school superintendent finalists.

At the open session at the Administration and Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, candidates will each get 50 minutes to introduce themselves and answer pre-submitted questions.

(I did send this note to DeKalb schools: When are you releasing the three names? It seems odd that the county is asking parents to submit questions without knowing who the candidates are or their backgrounds as the questions would be a lot more relevant if parents knew the candidates’ history.

And I just received an answer that they do plan on releasing the names, possibly today. I will post. Maureen)

In an  AJC story on the search for new school chiefs in DeKalb and three other districts, DeKalb School Board Chair Tom Bowen said, “Rather than going behind closed doors, we want to be as inclusive as we can. It goes to the bigger picture of changing the culture and changing perceptions. We want to make sure with anything major we do, we give transparency to it. The more people understand the process, the more comfortable they’ll be we’re doing things in the best interest of students.”

The issue of these open or sunshine searches — where the public is aware of the three finalists — came up at  recent panel in Atlanta  where Baltimore schools CEO Andres Alonso spoke. He said that he would not be interested in a job that required such public disclosure. Alonso made the case, which is legitimate, that candidates risked their current jobs and their ability to do those jobs once their names were released.

“I don’t see how a district gets a top person who is in a position right now if it means their sustainability in another setting is gone,” he said.

But fellow panelist Sarah Carr, an education writer now working on a book  on urban education reform, argued in favor of openness in school chief selections, saying that transparency is essential and that any school board that uses a secret process ought to have very good reasons for doing so.

“Are school systems crucibles of  democracy or are school systems agencies of effectiveness on behalf of kids? Those two things are not necessarily congruent with each other,” said Alonso.

In looking for a new school chief, Carr and Alonso did agree that there is no one person who can do very aspect of the job well.

Until a community decides what is the thing that matters most, Alonso  said, “The question of who should be the leader is completely prematurely.”

So what matters most to DeKalb?

Does the county need someone who operates with ruthless efficiency and can purge the ranks of hangers-on, nepotism hires and redundant positions?

Or does the county need an inspirational leader who can rally the troops? Should the school chief be a topnotch instructional leader or a make-the-trains-run-on-time type?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

45 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
9:21 am

I want a Super who will be a C.E.O. that will put the best people in the very important positions underneath him/her that affect the education of our children. A person that can “rally the troops” while right-sizing this district do not have to mutually exclusive. The CEO of the company I work for has managed to make hires that are good for the company and at the same time he is an inspirational leader that employees world-wide admire for his decency and honor.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
9:23 am

Oh, and I agree with Sarah Carr – if a candidate is not willing to put himself/herself “out there” I want no part of that person.

almh

March 29th, 2011
9:29 am

Will the meeting be shown on PDS24?

David Sims

March 29th, 2011
9:36 am

I suppose that I could mention a characteristic that I believe a school district superintendent would probably have, if people remained pleased by his job performance and personal character ten years after he were hired. But you might not like it if I did.

Dr. Proud Black Man

March 29th, 2011
10:06 am

@ David Sims

Please mention this “characteristic.”

Bemused at how they get it wrong...so often.

March 29th, 2011
10:18 am

If the DeKalb Board of Education had a lick of sense, it would beg Dr. Sam King of Rockdale County to be its next superintendent. He’s extremely sharp, personable, experienced, and could make it happen in DeKalb better than anyone the board ends up choosing. He’s been Georgia’s Superintendent of the Year twice (selected by his peers). He grew up in the home of educators — both parents were teachers in Sumter County. In fact, Dr. King himself started his career teaching in DeKalb County.

People and teachers rally around Dr. King. Like ALL superintendents, he too can have some detractors, but, overall, the DeKalb County will not find a better young (for a superintendent), experienced, and well-liked superintendent than Dr. Sam King. Dr. King just has that “it” that most do not have. He is not plastic. He is not pushy. He is not phony. He has a proven track record, but I don’t even know if he applied for the job.

Tad Jackson

March 29th, 2011
10:22 am

After my corporate and teaching career I am finally of the belief that time should be taken, in the corporate and education fields, to make an interview with a psychologist or maybe even a psychiatrist a formal part of the hiring/interview process. Human beings in leadership roles have an enormous responsibility to other human beings, the budget, and the reputation of the organization. Why not take one extra, critical step. Why not.

Some organizations already do this. All should, especially school systems and independent schools.

http://www.adixiediary.com

Dr NO

March 29th, 2011
10:43 am

Does it really matter? The voters of Dekalb county have been consistently electing crooked officials for quite some time. Why change now?

Dr. John Trotter

March 29th, 2011
10:48 am

Tad, my friend, you might be assuming that school boards want decent, humane, and nurturing human beings. Ha! Many times, they are actually looking for the slashers…those heavy-handed, top-down “leaders” who (they think) can effect immediate change and improvement (in test scores, of course). If you have not already read it, please read the latest book by Diane Ravitch wherein she devotes a good bit of attention to the San Diego’s choice of Alan Bersin (a real slasher) to be its superintendent. (Eli Broad of the Broad Foundation, among others, was a force behind this choice.) The choice was a disaster beyond comprehension. Teachers were treated like hired hands. It reads eerily like the Reign of Terror of the Beverly Hall Administration in Atlanta. In fact, the phrase “reign of terror” was used to describe Bersin, the same phrase that I have used many times to describe the Beverly Hall Administration.

I remember in 2001 or thereabouts, then DeKalb County School Board Chairman Brad Bryant called me (as a union guy) to tell me how excited he was about Johnny Brown being DeKalb’s next superintendent. (It had not been announced yet.) I replied, “Brad, don’t tell me that you guys are about to hire Johnny Brown of Birmingham. He is a disaster in Birmingham, and the teachers can’t stand him.” Well, you know the rest of the story. Brown was a disaster in DeKalb County also. I warned Brad. But, what can I say? These schools boards (especially the urban ones) listen to search firms and Glenn Brock and the Broad Foundation.

If you pick a rotten apple, you will get a rotten situation. School boards don’t seem to understand that the search firms, Glenn Brock, and the Broad Foundation have their own agendas…and, personally, I don’t think that these agendas revolve around much other than money. It’s all about the cheddar, especially in public education.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
10:52 am

This what I find so frustrating with open blogs. It’s amazing how quickly an important topic such as this turn into trash talk. Maureen has posted an important topic that requires serious conversation and what do we get…..John Trotter promoting himself and his own agenda.

Tony

March 29th, 2011
10:53 am

Dr. Trotter makes several accurate and very important points.

Dr. John Trotter

March 29th, 2011
11:03 am

@ Dunwoody Mom (and your other monikers): What you have is John Trotter telling the truth, and this upsets you. I am sorry that you have been wrong so long and that you get uptight when I am always right. Keep the faith, brother.

DEKALB MOM

March 29th, 2011
11:19 am

WHO ARE THE 3 RUNNER UPS? AND CAN WE PLEASE GET SOME ONE THAT CARE MORE ABOUT THE CHILDREN EDUCATION, THEN THE SIZE HOUSE THEY LIVE IN OR THE CAR THEY DRIVE…..

Dr. John Trotter

March 29th, 2011
11:22 am

Hey Dunwoody Mom: You want Maureen to penalize me because I am right so much…about the systematic cheating in Atlanta and Dekalb, about the horrible work environments under Crawford Lewis and Beverly Hall (also called both DeKalb and Atlanta “gangsta school systems” in public — even on television way before the traditional media got hold of this), about Johnny Brown being a disaster, or about Edmond Heatley being disaster in Clayton County (just ask the folks in the school system in Clayton County about Heatley)? Should I be penalized for being right? For years, I have been calling for the cessation of the mania over standardized testing. Go back and read the maiden article in the first issue of The Teacher’s Advocate! magazine in 1995. It’s entitled, “For Kids’ Sake, Let Teachers Teach!” We talked much about the futility of the top-down, heavy-handed management of the schools. This magazine is in the MACE Archives >>> http://www.theteachersadvocate.com

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta

March 29th, 2011
11:22 am

Dr. Trotter,

The last sentence in your 10:48 A.M. post suggests that you’ve spent a lot of time around educrats.

How can people for whom student learning is the most important consideration partner and wrest control of public education from the money-changers who now control it?

Dekalbite@Bemused at how...

March 29th, 2011
11:31 am

“If the DeKalb Board of Education had a lick of sense, it would beg Dr. Sam King of Rockdale County to be its next superintendent.”

Rockdale County does have a superb reputation for being efficient and getting the job done. This is one of the few metro systems that actually Made AYP – i.e. every schools made AYP so the ENTIRE system of Rockdale Made AYP. The superintendent must deserve much of the credit. Look at the numbers below to see some of the differences in Rockdale and DCSS.

I. Title 1 schools:
89% of Rockdale Schools are Title 1 (low income)
67% of DeKalb Schools are Title 1 (low income)

II. Made AYP status:
A. EVERY one of the Rockdale Title 1 schools made adequate yearly progress – the same as the year before. BEFORE and AFTER strict test monitoring 100% of Rockdale Title 1 schools made adequate yearly progress.

B. DeKalb Schools saw their Title 1 schools Made AYP rate plummet from 80+% making AYP (2008-09) to 50+% making AYP (2009-10) AFTER strict monitoring of testing.

III. Salaries and Certified Personnel
A. ROCKDALE
Look at the salaries (benefits not included) of the CERTIFIED (i.e. personnel who hold valid teaching certificates) of admin, support and teaching personnel in Rockdale, a system with 15,526 students:

79 Administrators (Fulltime 79)
Average annual salary: $63,873
220 days worked
Average daily salary: $284

124 Support Personnel (Fulltime 122)
Average annual salary: $60,376
192 days worked
Average daily salary: $315

1,107 Teachers (Fulltime 1,094)
Average annual salary: $53,855
190 days worked
Average daily salary: $283

B. DEKALB
Look at the salaries (benefits not included) of the CERTIFIED (i.e. they have teaching certificates) of admin, support and teaching personnel in DeKalb, a system with 96,678 students:

523 Administrators (Fulltime 518)
Average annual salary: $90,900
225 days worked
Average daily salary: $404

974 Support Personnel (Fulltime 911)
Average annual salary: $66,890
197 days worked
Average daily salary: $328

6,738 Teachers (Fulltime 6,374)
Average annual salary: $54,413
191 days worked
Average daily salary: $285

Looking the data, Rockdale has a much higher percentage of low income students as DeKalb, but is more efficiently managed from a fiscal and educational aspect.

Why can’t DeKalb have this?

(sources:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=722&T=1&FY=2010
Click on Personnel and Fiscal
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=722&T=1&FY=2010
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2010
Click on Personnel and Fiscal
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=644&T=1&FY=2010)

catlady

March 29th, 2011
11:35 am

First, Dekalb needs a supt with NO friends or family–a socially isolated only-child, with no spouse or children, whose parents, cousins, nephews, etc are dead. S/he should have an uncompromising, perhaps military background–someone who will not lie, cheat, or steal, with a firm grasp of discipline. Perhaps a graduate of the Citidel. S/he needs experience teaching, at least 20 years in an academic subject.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
11:36 am

Rockdale County has like 16,000 students.

Tad Jackson

March 29th, 2011
11:39 am

catlady … I was a second honor graduate for two years in a row at the Citadel Summer Camp for Boys when I was 12 and 13. Would that count!

Meow! Teach on!

Dr NO

March 29th, 2011
11:41 am

It will make ZERO difference.

catlady

March 29th, 2011
11:45 am

Oh, and if s/he trumpets “her/his” accomplishments, they are not suitable for the job. Good administrators give the praise to the boots on the ground, not themselves.

catlady

March 29th, 2011
11:46 am

Tad, do you have the other “requirements?” LOL

oldtimer

March 29th, 2011
11:51 am

This new person needs an ethical working history. Maybe it is time to look outside education. This person must also put needs of kids before any other. It might also be time to think beyond race.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
11:54 am

Maureen, do you have any idea as to why Paul Womack’s behavior is being given a pass both by the BOE and, with the exception of WSB, the press? The incidents of Ms. Roberts and the mis-deeds of Mr. Cunningham have been played out all over the press. But this? barely a whimper.

Tad Jackson

March 29th, 2011
11:55 am

catlady … I know what you mean, and I wish I did. I’d love to run a school system. I’d love to run a little LD school, too, just as much, because I love and understand kids and young people and the huge role of education … and the fun of learning. I really, really do understand what school is supposed to be.

Anyhow, stay hopeful!

catlady

March 29th, 2011
11:56 am

I am wondering if in not naming the finalists they are trying to prevent the public from vetting them.

Dr. John Trotter

March 29th, 2011
11:57 am

@ Craig: These educrats are as worthless as teats on a bull, but they have indeed gained control of the public educational establishment. They are the “academic coaches” sent into the schools to spy on the teachers and write them up for each and every mishaps or minor mistake (and even imagined ones!). They are the area snoopervisors who float in and out of the teachers’ classrooms at will, sneering and never smiling. The teacher can do nothing right. Everything is wrong and falling short of the damn “standard” (which is bull sh_t too!).

When I read about the culture that Martin Luther grew up during the latter part of the Middle Ages when the Church routinely sold indulgences (to pardon people of their sins and to use the money to build those beautiful cathedrals), this reminds me of today’s public educational establishment (especially within the large urban school systems). The corrupted priests have taken control. (Some of the popes during this period of history were also pretty raw in their quest for earthly power, I might add. They were not shining examples like the revered Pope John Paul II of our lifetime.) It’s about the money, Craig. It’s about the publishing houses and the companies like Kaplan which push their curricula programs within the school systems. It’s about the superintendents being Lords of the Manor and the teachers being unnamed, faceless serfs toiling from sun-up to sun-down in the field. Or, to use another metaphor: It’s about the superintendents acting like the old Planter in his white suit sipping on his mint juleps on the veranda of the Big House while little slave girls dutifully wave the fan above his head. The slaves are toiling in the fields from sun-up to sun-down and if they deign to question one thing that the foreman (school principal) says, then they are metaphorically whipped (written up and perhaps corporately executed).

I don’t intend to make light of these horrendous times for many in the history of the world. But, I think that these metaphors do remind us of the capacity of the human heart to conduct all kinds of evil and cruelty toward fellow humans. Craig, what we have in the school systems nationwide now is the daily living out of institutionalized power crushing any dissent or creativity or goodness that threatens it. If a teacher is very good in the classroom and the kids and parents love this teacher, then often this teacher falls prey to being written up by myopic, scared, and insecure administrators. I have seen this scenario so many, many times. I will be sitting with a teacher, and the teachers pours out her or his heart to me and tells me that her or his students and parents lover her or him. This teacher is totally dumbfounded and mystified about what is happening to her or him. The teacher in the past has received many, many accolades and awards for her or his dedicated and creative service with a smile. Now the teacher can do no right. It’s all about institutional power, about the money, and about protecting those jobs with hefty salaries. It’s not about the children anymore. It’s about the educrats and their money. (c) MACE, March 29, 2011.

Dekalbite@Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:06 pm

So what does that have to do with the data? Do you think that DCSS is too big and needs to be broken into smaller parts? Is that your rationale for your statement. Do you think big systems like DeKalb cannot succeed?

Why can’t you just say, Rockdale has done an exemplary job for students who are primarily low income? That seems pretty obvious to me. I have many friends in Rockdale County (not all teachers – mainly friends who live there), and they are all extremely pleased with the education their children are receiving. Looking at the data, I can see why. The likelihood of a student doing achieving in Rockdale County even if you are low income is very high, not so in DeKalb.

16,000 is still a lot of children. Rockdale has 7 times (700%) the number of students as Decatur City which is one of the few systems to have Made AYP . Decatur City has much less low income students (only 50% of their schools are Title 1). Decatur City Made AYP. Rockdale has half as many students as Forsyth. Forsyth has only 18% of their schools as Title 1 while Rockdale has 88% of their schools as Title 1. Both Made AYP. Rockdale is the only metro system I know of with high levels of low income students who Make AYP. Please give them SOME credit.

Rockdale has good fiscal and educational management.

Look at the salaries of DCSS administrators and support personnel versus those in Rockdale – a big difference. Look at the teacher salaries in DCSS versus those in Rockdale. When you add in the extra day that teachers work in DCSS, the salaries are almost dead even. Do you really think this is not a factor in funding direct instruction of students?

I’m sorry you don’t like the data.

(sources:
Decatur City:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=773&T=1&FY=2010
Click on Personnel and Fiscal
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=773&T=1&FY=2010
Forsyth:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=102&CountyId=658&T=1&FY=2010
Click on Personnel and fiscal
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/ReportingFW.aspx?PageReq=104&CountyId=658&T=1&FY=2010)

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:09 pm

With all due respect the budgets for a 16,000 student school system versus an almost 100,000 student school system are vastly different in size and scope. I would like to see a candidate who has a proven track record of fiscal responsibility (not laid at the feet of our children) with a large school system budget.

SALLYB

March 29th, 2011
12:14 pm

@ Maureen Re: “Does the county need someone who operates with ruthless efficiency and can purge the ranks of hangers-on, nepotism hires and redundant positions?”

Well, of course!
However, all these “hangers-on, nepotism hires…redundant positions” are so deeply ingrained in DCSS that even identifying them would be a full time job ! This is no QuickFix situation. ANd whatever is done toward removing these people will be followed by law suit after law suit.

Also, the board is looking to improve test scores and AYP. Since the NCLB premises are so off base, that is a useless qualification.

A legitimate increase in any kind of test scores [nationally normed, CRCT, etc. ] will follow only when students attend class regularly, MOTIVATE THEMSELVES to listen, work, and learn, as well as have teachers who are experts in their SUBJECT areas.

I am not now, nor never have I been a member of MACE. However, Dr, Trotter’s posts here are accurate more often than not.
Don’t people in Dekalb ever wonder how the heck Johnny Brown was ever chosen, considering his past record? Didn’t anyone even talk to the people in Birmingham?
How Crawford Lewis ever moved from PE teacher to Superintendent? Did the board get recommendations from people in the DCSS who had worked with him for years …and years?

Who gets kick backs from all the money spent on the Cures Du Jour?
[Whenever a new useless “cure” was introduced to school personnel, the first question was,”OK…Who at the county office is driving a new Mercedes?

I am with CATLADY on her proposed qualifications for a superintendent for DCSS.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:23 pm

Also, the board is looking to improve test scores and AYP. Since the NCLB premises are so off base, that is a useless qualification

Useless qualification? Really? Forget NCLB – EVERYONE from the Super on down to the teachers, to the parents, should be looking at ways to improve test scores. They are abysmal. That you believe that this is a useless qualification is quite discomforting.

What's best for kids

March 29th, 2011
12:23 pm

How hard can it be to go into Dekalb and fire all of the cronies? Start there, and the system should be able to run itself.

Dekalbite@Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:32 pm

“I would like to see a candidate who has a proven track record of fiscal responsibility (not laid at the feet of our children) with a large school system budget.

I respectfully disagree. If you were a teacher, you would realize that the socio-economic makeup of your students is what drives so much of your instruction (or lack thereof). How resources (personnel, equipment, supplies and buildings) are managed can aid instruction or not aid instruction. Resource management becomes infinitely more critical with low income students since in middle and upper income homes parents will make up the difference (we see this in DCSS all the time).

The Rockdale superintendent has instituted a wise use of resources. That’s why you see such success in these low income students. Go to Rockdale County and tour some of the schools. I have done that. You will understand what makes them successful. They are run very differently than DeKalb schools. People think just being a money manager is adequate to run a school system. Not so. Unless you understand the regular education classroom and the curriculum that students must learn, you will have a hard time being effective for students.

Looking at the background of Dr. Sam King, he has experience as a teacher, AP, Principal and is known as a strict disciplinarian. Educational experience, fiscally savvy, strong on discipline – recipes for success in any school system.

I seriously doubt he would want to take on the problems and politics of DeKalb, but I would rather see these qualities in our school system leader than just looking at candidates that have worked for large school systems. After all, academic progress is the real reason DCSS is in the school system business.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
12:37 pm

We have totally different views of what the job of a Super is. I do not see it as an extension of the teaching profession. A Super is the CEO of this. The right person will build the school system with the right people to bring about the changes required.

say what?

March 29th, 2011
12:44 pm

So I have looked at the three, and I notice that they are young, are superintendents of small school systems, and 2 of the 3 have terminal degrees. Coming from small systems is not an issue as they have the experience to run a multicultural district with varied socio-economic status’.
Of course with this being GA, their age and the fact that they are not from one of the local school systems, and the fact that they will not come in “owing” a particular group favors, people will find fault.

Dr. John Trotter

March 29th, 2011
12:53 pm

The new superintendent should first of all do something about the callous way that the Office of Internal Resolutions (OIR) treats the DeKalb County teachers and other employees. You guys know that I have mentioned how State Senator Ronald Ramsey, who heads up OIR [when he is there], shut down a grievance hearing right before it was launched in the Spring of 2009. I was representing the teacher who was about to testify about systematic cheating at Clarkston High School. He had teacher-witnesses to call. (This was before the cheating scandal brought out in the traditional media, though MACE had been picketing in front of the Central Office and in front of Clarkston High School with signs asking, “Systematic Cheating?” and “Systematic Cheating At Clarkston?” This was also before Crawford Lewis was whisked out of the Central Office by police officers and was later indicted.) Perhaps now Ramsey and Lewis can see that it would have been wiser to adhere to the State Law which says that teachers “have a right to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witnesses at each level.” You see, Ron, as a State Senator, I presume that you were sworn to uphold the law. You help make the laws but don’t want to abide by them? Hmm. How hypocritical.

Oh yes, Ron and I engaged in a heated verbal exchange when he unilaterally and illegally shut down this grievance hearing. Before I know it, Robin Goolsby, Ronald Ramsey’s assistant, had her two hands in my chest pushing me out of the building. All kinds of witnesses were watching. I stopped in the hallway and pointed out to the onlookers what was happening. Beside the teachers and Mr. Norreese Haynes accompanying me, there were many other on-lookers in the hallway.

The next week, I get a stupid letter from that joke of an attorney, Josie Alexander, trying to threaten MACE about “illegal” pickets. (Ha! What a joke! Trust me…we kept picketing — even with the TV cameras filming. Several days in a row…even during torrential downpours of rain! What law school did Josie Alexander go to? Did she learn anything about the First Amendment in law school?). This same lawyer (for Crawford Lewis, I presume) also told me that I was “banned.” Well, now, Josie, do I look like I am banned? Now if I am truly “banned,” then I presume that I can sue your Interim Superintendent and/or the New Superintendent as well as school board members personally, and Ronald Ramsey in pro se action. But, first comes the sworn testimonies in Federal Depositions. Ahhh, the depositions. They are so much fun and so enlightening.

I look forward to a new day in DeKalb. I hope the mess can be cleaned up — especially the mess in OIR. “Resolutions”? OIR tries to “resolve” nearly everything in favor of the powerful. Maybe this is why they don’t like MACE. MACE is about the empowerment of the classroom educators, not the abusive and self-absorbed administrators. (c) MACE, March 29, 2011.

almh

March 29th, 2011
12:57 pm

I emailed the board and was told that it will be on PDS-24. If you don’t have Comcast you can watch it online http://www.ecstreams.com/dekalbschools/dekalbschoolslive.asx

another comment

March 29th, 2011
12:59 pm

The biggest problem here is that the school districts are too darn big. School Districts should not be any bigger than one to two high schools and its feeder schools. Other than that you loose the community buy in.

Also, with the one high school school district size, people are too embarassed to apply for the free and reduced lunch. Look at the NY times article comparing a poor rural district up there with 4,400 students, they still only had a 33% free lunch rate. I grew up in a rural NY state district is still only has a 3% free lunch rate. People who grow up in the small towns and farms up there do not want to humilate themselves or kids by going through the free lunch line. They can not pay their $5,000 propane heating fuel bills for the year, but they will not apply for the free lunch.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
1:06 pm

I rest my case on John Trotter – it really is all about him.

Dunwoody Mom

March 29th, 2011
1:23 pm

@another comment, I think many people agree with you that the size of some of the school districts here in GA are way too big. Maybe we can get some of the lawmakers to quit worrying about vouchers, and illegal immigrants and take up some legislation to allow smaller school districts.

SALLYB

March 29th, 2011
3:35 pm

@DunwoodyMom12;23 :
Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear here. I don’t mean improving test scores should not be important. I meant the CRCT specifically. After giving the test for years and discussing it with the GA teachers,etc who devised/wrote the test AND chose the very laughable so-called CUTOFF scores for passing, I am convinced that it gives us little or no information that is useful and/or that the teachers didn’t already know.

The CRCT score will indicate to parents that a 6th grader has passed or excelled in various areas, when actually, by all other measures [nationally normed standardized tests,etc] they are years YEARS below grade level.

Then to calculate AYP, the scores of 2 entirely different groups of students are compared….EXample : 2009 6th graders scores with 2010 6th graders. Do you think that shows you anything at all about how much progress the original test group made?? In order to gauge progress of a group, the testing must be done on THE SAME GROUP. Their are way too many variables with this years 6th graders and last years 6th graders…..more or fewer ESL students, more or fewer learning disabled students, etc.

Most teachers regard the IOWA test of Basic Skills as a good measure of achievement/abilities. When CRCT scores are compared with the same child’s scores on the IOWA,
WHOA!!!! WHat happened here? How can he/she pass the CRCT reading portion yet be way down in the 20th %ile on the IOWA?

SALLYB

March 29th, 2011
3:37 pm

OOPS!! Third paragraph toward end….should be THERE not their .Sorry.

amazed

March 29th, 2011
10:21 pm

As long as we rely on property tax to fund schools, Georgia’s large county systems are best. Otherwise you get a Dunwoody district with tons of money and S. Dekalb districts with none. Its harder, but some large systems are run well, even in Georgia.

Atlanta Teacher

March 30th, 2011
12:21 am

While the boards of education are paying search firms they need to hire some private investigators to get real life information on these superintendent candidates including psychological evaluations. Cause the current crop of candidates are scary, real scary!!! Like nightmare scary!! They are just college educated criminals running ponzi scams from district to district in urban areas. Maybe if Crawford and Hall go to jail for some time these folks will quit preying on school districts like musical chairs.

Cindy Lutenbacher

March 30th, 2011
4:09 pm

We’ve all got to stop believing in standardized tests. Research that is independent of the corporations raking in taxpayer money on testing shows consistently that these tests do not measure learning or aptitude. They show us financial wealth of families and quantity of test prep. If we love democracy, then we must throw away standardized testing, for our focus on said testing drives us toward a populace that is clueless about critical thinking/questioning, creative problem solving, and all the fundamentals of democracy. Focusing on AYP is an enormous mistake if true education is what we seek.