State rep cautions Cobb board: “I do not want my colleagues in Atlanta telling us how to educate our children and run our board.”

Cobb House member David Wilkerson (State Legislature)

Cobb House member David Wilkerson (State Legislature)

State Rep. David Wilkerson, D-Austell, shared an e-mail that he sent to the Cobb County Board of Education.

With his permission, I am posting it here:

Dear Board Members,

Good evening. I have had the opportunity to interact with each of you in one way or another over the last several years.  Several months ago, I made a decision to stay out of the recent calendar issue.  However, at this point I am concerned as a parent, a taxpayer, and a legislator.

I am concerned because my children attend our Cobb schools and this continued bickering does nothing for academic achievement from what I can see.  I am concerned because the Legislature has already shown a willingness to try and solve local issues when local boards have the appearance of not being able to solve their own challenges. I do not want my colleagues in Atlanta telling us how to educate our children and run our board.

We have a great opportunity with the hiring of a new superintendent.  I believe Sanderson has done a good job managing the district and I enjoyed my interactions with him through my volunteer efforts on the Cobb Schools Foundation and other discussions we have had. I see how the teachers speak very highly of him and his team.  At the same time, a fresh start and new perspective can be a very positive thing.  I encourage the board to take advantage of that new beginning.

I believe each of you made a commitment to our children when you ran for office.  I encourage you to continue to focus on educating our future leaders. As far as the calendar. No matter what day my children are told to go to school, they will get up and go to school.  Kids are flexible and adjust.  Is this debate about our children, academic achievement, or is it about something else?

I thank you for your time and look forward to a continued discussion on how we can best move past our current issues. Please feel free to let me know how I can be of assistance.

David Wilkerson

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

52 comments Add your comment

Shar

June 10th, 2011
7:51 am

So does this mean that Cobb parents want David Wilkerson telling them how to educate their children and run their board just because he is a member of the state Legislature?

Dedicatedandtired

June 10th, 2011
8:19 am

Someone needs to make a decision, and I like his stop bickering and make one stance.

MrLiberty

June 10th, 2011
8:21 am

This is the nature of government run education. Since the creation of the DOE (something Gingrich’s failed republican revolution correctly promised to abolish but didn’t) the Feds have been telling the entire country how to educate their kids. NCLB only made it worse. The hundreds and thousands of regulations and laws that come from under the gold dome do the same thing from the state level. Yes, education should be a local issue. Ideally it should be an issue between parent and educator in a private, free market setting. If Mr. Wilkerson and others want to regain local control the ONLY way to do that is to begin getting government out of the business of education. That begins by supporting candidates who will work to abolish the DOE. Then it must come from a state constitutional amendment that gets the state government out of the picture.

The problem is that everyone loves the power the feds and the state wield when it comes time to steal from the general population, businesses, etc. to raise the money needed to pay for the bloated administrative costs that burden the government education system. Nobody wants to have to pay for their own children’s education – they want everyone else to. Oh sure, a token amount on the property tax bill is fine, but that is nothing compared to how much is wasted in every classroom in every school all accross this country.

Face it, if the government is going to steal the money, they want the power. When they steal the money and run the show, everyone looks to them for some false sense of accountability. Since they have the power, and they control the money, they will tell everyone how to run the system. Why is this so hard to understand.

If the locals want the control they MUST take it back and that can only happen by eliminating the government they have become so pathetically and parasitically dependent upon.

justin

June 10th, 2011
8:21 am

I think the board should pledge to put aside the difference and not touch the calendar for 3 years. They can start talking about what to do in 3 years – perhaps they should first agree on what factors should influence the decision and start collecting the accurate data on those factors. But, once they decide something to last for 3 years they should not change it in the middle of the first year before any formal data is gathered – that is nothing more than stupidity.

Dr NO

June 10th, 2011
8:47 am

Impressive!! Not only is Wilkerson a volunteer but also a grandstander.

Inman Park

June 10th, 2011
9:20 am

I’m sorry, but this sounds like political grandstanding to me.

David Sims

June 10th, 2011
9:20 am

It is possible that politicians believe that they can and that they will keep some of the promises that they make while they are campaigning. Then, when they are in office, they get a visit from someone whom they did not previously know was a political player. The visitor, whoever he is, persuades the officeholder that it would not be wise for him to keep his promise. The persuasion might be a bribe, or it might be blackmail, or it might be a warning that the media will turn against him, or that campaign financing will be withheld should he seek reelection.

Agree

June 10th, 2011
9:21 am

Excellent point. A decision was made. Agendas were printed. Consultants are hired for teacher professional development during the first week of August. A decision at this late date is nothing but political grandstanding and needs to be avoided. Please Mr. Banks, let’s move on!

Paddy O

June 10th, 2011
9:23 am

for you pontificating schmucks, he is presenting a bow shot to catch your attention. If the local BOE can’t even make a SIMPLE decision such as a calendar (at it appears to me starting Aug 2 is counter productive to the economy, and the cost of air conditioning all the schools in August), then the state legislature will simply provide a start and end date for these inept local BOE’s. ie, a “word to the wise is sufficient”. We will see how wise Cobb is.

A Conservative Voice

June 10th, 2011
9:40 am

@MrLiberty

June 10th, 2011
8:21 am
If the locals want the control they MUST take it back and that can only happen by eliminating the government they have become so pathetically and parasitically dependent upon.

Right on MrLiberty – Great comment

Lee

June 10th, 2011
10:02 am

Certainly, Mr Wilkerson has the right as a private citizen to voice his opinions to his elected school board. However, this goes far beyond that.

The power to remedy any (perceived or real) deficiencies of a local school board have always been in place. The citizens can either recall or vote out the offending member. Recent legislation that enables the governor to take over a school system is setting a dangerous precedent, imho.

Much like when the feds wrested control as a result of the Brown vs Board decision. We now have a Department of EDUCATION with the police power to issue warrants and kick in doors.

We keep falling further into the abyss…..

A Conservative Voice

June 10th, 2011
10:48 am

@Lee

June 10th, 2011
10:02 am
We keep falling further into the abyss…..

That we do, that we do……..

not shocked

June 10th, 2011
10:52 am

And how is Wilkerson’s opinion any more important than any other parent’s?? Grandstanding for sure….

missy

June 10th, 2011
10:54 am

The Board did make a decision in February…time to move on! If you don’t like, then don’t elect the them back into office. They campaigned on changing the calendar and that is what we elected them to do. They are the first politicians in recent memory that actually followed through with what they campaigned on!

Pb

June 10th, 2011
10:57 am

Amen – the only way to improve education in America is to get rid of the DOE’s.

William Casey

June 10th, 2011
11:08 am

Local control of education is a long standing American tradition and there are good reasons for it. However, it is foolish to pretend that public education is not every bit as much of a “political arena” as what happens under the Gold Dome. Far too many Local Board Members simply use their positions as stepping-stones toward higher political office. If one wants true local control of education by people who have the best interest of students at heart, make it illegal for any BOE member to seek hgher office. Since that’s clearly unconstitutional, stop making the false dichotomy between local politics and state or Federal level politics. It’s all the same, just a bigger arena for the latter.

William Casey

June 10th, 2011
11:11 am

On the calendar issue, just put a referendum on the ballot and let the voters decide once and for all. That’s true local control.

Harvey

June 10th, 2011
11:20 am

Mr. Banks needs to sit down and be quiet. This has been hashed over, rehashed and warmed up again.
A vote was taken. Let it stand and move on.

David Wilkerson

June 10th, 2011
11:28 am

To give some insight on why the email was sent to the board. My wife and I made the commitment to have our children attend our local public school. This is a personal decision that everyone must make for their family. We are very happy that we chose public schools and are very pleased with the education they are receiving.

Although I am a legislator, first and foremost I am a parent. I am a parent of children in public schools and that is not always the case when talking about our elected officials. My colleagues are as committed as anyone to giving children a quality education, but many of them have made the decision that works best for their family. That decision often tends to be a private school. While this doesn’t mean that I know all the answers, it does give me a slightly different perspective. I don’t think anyone will say that things have been going as smoothly as we would like with our school board.

My only hope, is that we can focus on the education of our children. I agree with several of the comments that my opinion matters no more or less than everyone else posting on this website. – David

tar and feathers party

June 10th, 2011
11:30 am

Its not the BOE causing the problems, its the crybaby parents trying to optimize their personal vacation schedules, and minimize their personal child care costs! The BOE makes the calendar decisions, not the crybaby parents!

Butterfly

June 10th, 2011
11:30 am

What do you mean make a decision..it was put out for a vote and then put aside when the results were not what the new board members wanted..They need to be investigated for the nonsense they already kicking up!!! Why ask the teachers, students, and parents to vote and you going to do what you want!!! Pure mes…

NTLB

June 10th, 2011
11:30 am

Why are state representatives allowed to serve on school boards? Is it me or doesn’t anyone see what’s wrong with this picture?

thomas

June 10th, 2011
11:59 am

“local control of education,” as pointed out is an American tradition. It is JUST a tradition. No “research base” or anything. Some say we should replace the CRCT with the ITBS because what children learn in Georgia isn’t that different from what children learn in Iowa. So, let a testing company determine what we teach our children? Is it still a good enough local control if the local board decide which test to follow?

d

June 10th, 2011
12:02 pm

I have to laugh when people bring up the extra cost of air conditioning in August. Do you honestly think there are not people in schools nearly year round as it is and those buildings are still cooled? I was in my school yesterday and guess what, air was on! That being said, look how much Cobb County saved in substitute teachers last year when the balanced calendar was in use. My next favorite argument is what to do with the children during the October and February breaks? Well what do you do with them during the first two weeks of August? (Or, June and July for that matter?) Local businesses looking for profit will come up with day camps or something just like they have in the summer to keep the children occupied, never mind the fact that vacationing is cheaper in October and February than it is in June, July or August. Heck, you could even introduce them to something different than the beach like skiing (just a thought). I’ll say I don’t like vacationing in the summer when I’m too hot to enjoy the sights. Central Florida is a miserable place to be in the summer, I’d much rather be at Disney World during a cooler time (and less people in line). I’d also enjoy going to see places like Williamsburg and learn some American history or go see some of the fall foliage in western Virginia or West Virginia and not have to worry about school. There are so many possibilities and Cobb County residents lost that chance because of some one-issued board members.

ChristieS.

June 10th, 2011
12:05 pm

NTLB, Mr. Wilkerson is not a member of the Cobb BOE, if that was your confusion.

m. fresh

June 10th, 2011
12:18 pm

The real issue that the board is ignoring is:

Why are they not enforcing their rules on ethics?
David Banks should have been censured a long time ago.

Post 5 voters have an obligation next year to get rid of him.
Hopefully, he has enough brain cells left to know not to even bother to run again (as Crooks and Abraham did – and unlike his Cheerleader friend Holli).

I hope the Cobb GOP is paying attention to the damage the doofus is causing and more importantly leverages its influence to stop his nonsense.

CobbGrad

June 10th, 2011
12:22 pm

Everyone talks about the costs related to the different calendars. How can you have a true knowledge of the costs associated with different calendars when you only a partial year to gather that data from (the vote was before the first year was completed)? Also, I’ve spoken to many teachers who say there have been many less absences by teachers and students…that means less substitute teacher pay coming out of the budget. I realize this could be a fluke but no one will know unless you can actually gather enough data to determine trends.

Sam

June 10th, 2011
12:23 pm

I’d like to thank Mr. Liberty for fighting the good fight. With more and more studious citizens like this, this country will be the better for it.

So…SCREW ‘EM ALL, VOTE RON PAUL…2012

TimeOut

June 10th, 2011
12:32 pm

We have too many chiefs and not enough indians. We could dispense with the federal education offices, and consolidate much of our local services. We don’t really need city and county schools sytems with their separate central offices and bloated personnel. Marietta and Cobb could consolidate and rid the community of quite a few of these people. While smaller local schools is an improvement, multiple central offices are pointless. One super could run both systems. In fact, if we would hire the best, treat them like the best, and support their best, the classroom teachers would not need much of what the central office has to offer. Hence, we could consolidate systems all over Georgia, reduce the pond scum and allow the light to break through to the little fishes….that would be our children and their teachers.

Tom

June 10th, 2011
12:50 pm

We saw the same rhetoric from Earl Erhart during the redistricting a few years ago. Eventually when the redistricting did not go his way he legislated his way to make it happen. This is just the beginning here and Wilkerson may do the same if the school board does not learn to work together and compromise on the issues.

David Banks has proposd a compromised calendar for thier next meeting. Bartlett and the other three that changed the calendar in February better seriously consider this compromise. If they don’t we’ll see the state step in and mandate calendars ust like they did with the redistricting.

another comment

June 10th, 2011
1:02 pm

If you want true local control you would get rid of these huge county wide districts of 100,000 + students that do not represtent anyone. The states with the best districts are made up of small districts of 5,000 -10,000 students in their suburbs. The districts have one or two high schools with just their feeder elementary and middle schools. They still have all the IB, AP and then two or three districts share a Vo-tech school. You don’t have huge drop out rates, because everyone knows each other. The district knows its focus, those who live in the area. The parents are accountable it is there community. They also don’t apply for free lunch, because they don’t want everyone else to know. It is a smaller community.

WAR EAGLE

June 10th, 2011
1:02 pm

Dear Board Members:
you were elected to serve the PEOPLE and not put your OWN agenda on the table. Go back to the staggered calendar where kids have a break and we PARENTS can enjoy a vacation PRIOR to the Spring break fiasco where rates are cheaper.
Signed,

The People YOU work FOR.

Christopher

June 10th, 2011
1:03 pm

North Cobb High

800 less teacher absences this past year on balnced calendar. That is a fact! Wouldn’t that make -up for ac used?? And test scores better. Seems like the new board changed the calendar for Six Flag’s benefit.

Jayone30127

June 10th, 2011
1:30 pm

Shar
You seem to have gotten stuck on what the words look like. If you look real close he’s stating it doesn’t matter what the school calender is the Kids will go to school if tolds to do so.

Curious One

June 10th, 2011
1:50 pm

Just more grandstanding, striking out with rubbish – Fund the schools legally according to QBE, which is your responsibility sir, otherwise go back to parenting !

ali

June 10th, 2011
1:55 pm

They campaigned on changing the calendar back to a traditional calendar – it’s what we voters voted for and they kept their campaign promise! Job well done!

Mack

June 10th, 2011
2:01 pm

Changing the calendar to a balanced calendar for the sake of being able to go skiing or other vacation spots during off-peak seasons is absolutely absurd! Where are your priorities?! I support the traditional calendar! The breaks every six weeks is a disruption to the child’s education. It takes time to reel the kids back in after they’ve been out of school! I would love to hear a valuable argument for why the balanced calendar is better than the traditional calendar? Please spare me with comments regarding teacher absences because that is clearly a lack of personal responsibility on the part of the teacher and has nothing to do with a calendar schedule!!

d

June 10th, 2011
2:19 pm

@ali – back to my point…. now that they changed the calendar, what are these board members doing? Did they campaign on anything to actually improve Cobb schools?

@Mack – I work in a district that went 11 weeks straight due to the ice storm in January. By that time, the children were restless and not actively engaged in their learning. They need a break to refocus every now and then.

d

June 10th, 2011
2:25 pm

@Mack also, in almost any other industry, there is a degree of flexibility or some sort of personal time (that doesn’t involve hiring a replacement) to cover when medical needs arise. When exactly in that 11-week period could I have gone to the doctor if necessary without having to hire a substitute which basically costs the district my pay plus the sub’s pay (almost 50% of my daily salary)? Is your definition of “personal responsibility” waiting up to 11 weeks in pain, or if I had to accompany a family member to the doctor lacking “personal responsibility?” Please don’t tell me that this was just a fluke, because the days that were cancelled were holidays anyway so doctors would have likely been out of the office those days.

Thom Gray

June 10th, 2011
2:58 pm

There have been several comments here regarding data comparing Cobb schools’ performance under the traditional and the balanced calendar. For those like @CobbGrad and like @Mack who wrote “I would love to hear a valuable argument for why the balanced calendar is better than the traditional calendar”, I would encourage you to review the information in these two publications for yourselves.

1. http://bit.ly/mCOCuH is a direct link to a downloadable copy of the May 2011 publication of “THE CITIZEN’S REPORT on the Cobb County School District Attendance Calendar” . This report looks at a variety of operational areas in Cobb schools and the performance of each under the balanced calendar in the 2010-2011 school year.

2. http://bit.ly/iwz0UF is a directly link to a downloadable copy of the May 2011 report “Student Achievement in the Cobb County School District”. This report focuses exclusively on student achievement in Cobb schools under the balanced calendar in the 2010-2011 school year.

Dr. John Trotter

June 10th, 2011
3:29 pm

This Cobb County Calendar fight is a little above my pay grade. Ha! I have absolutely no dog in this fight. But, what is wrong with the majority of the votes on the school board carrying the day? Isn’t this how democracies are supposed to operate? Let the school board members fight, and then let the winning side win…until the next election, right? But, the State should keep its nasty nose out of this local of all local (perhaps the Mother of all Local) issues…a calendar fight. Don’t you just love school board politics?

A Conservative Voice

June 10th, 2011
4:50 pm

What in the world is wrong with you people? Why, when I went to school we didn’t start till the day after labor day, had a couple of days at thanksgiving, probably a week or so at Christmas and then a spring break in April and we got our 180 days in around the first of June. I know, some of you are shaking your heads and saying, “well, things were different back in the old days and things change”. Yeah, they were different….people weren’t as stupid back then and used a little common sense.

Paddy O

June 10th, 2011
5:05 pm

d= if your local school system leaves the thermostat set at the same temp when NOBODY is at the school as when it is full of kids, you and the school system are excellent examples of why people are sick of funding lazy inept school operations. if you can’t conserve energy, it is tough to see you thoroughly teaching children.

Paddy O

June 10th, 2011
5:05 pm

a conservative voice: Amen.

Paddy O

June 10th, 2011
5:07 pm

d – no medical care on the weekends? 11 straight weeks with no vacation? No federal holiday? Hard to believe.

Paddy O

June 10th, 2011
5:09 pm

you would think voters would have a little more respect for a letter written by a legislator. however, so many in the education system honestly appear to think their poop is odorless, that they dismiss this individual contribution as grandstanding. interesting.

d

June 10th, 2011
7:22 pm

Paddo – well, I could go sit at an emergency room, but for any regular doctor….. and to say nobody is at a school, you obviously have no idea how schools work. There’s kids there doing basketball, other activities going on all summer long, and yes from MLK day until Spring break this year was 11 weeks with no vacation or federal holiday that I was off – we were supposed to be off for President’s day but that was cancelled. And Paddy, since you needed to make it personal, let’s just say my students do just fine on every state and national test they’ve taken. I think I am doing a fine job. BTW, I don’t set the thermostat. I’m just telling you what I observed yesterday (and every other day I’ve been to the school so far this summer).

Paddy O

June 10th, 2011
8:28 pm

d- this is the disconnect from the school system and the taxpayer. YOU also chose an unusual period of time to make a point that you must have planned time off to take care of personal business, I don’t think this is reasonable from an employee stand point. I would suggest that the schools should be closed for recess, and those kids should be using recreational facilities. But, you are correct, I have no idea how schools are being misused during the summer off periods. I do know the cost of schools in Georgia is too high, when the results of statewide tests and Georgia’s ranking nationwide are factored in (sort of like the NY Yankees coming in last every year – if it continues, do you still need to lead the league in payroll for that type of product?). YOu also don’t indicate why as a teacher, you can not take a half day off to see to a Dr’s appt. Also, you stated subs are paid 50% of your salary; that seems high – are the subs also certified teachers? It appears from a cursory review of the posts here that many involve in the school/education system desire a champaign budget, but are not exactly delivering caviar. 11 weeks is also not very long to conduct yourself without a personal day off. How do teacher contracts handle sick time and vacation time, if they are addressed in the contract? Thank you.

d

June 10th, 2011
8:44 pm

Paddy, I am going to be very brief, because I honestly don’t want to get into long debates dealing with the ignorance of reality. I earn 10 hours a month personal/sick time for months worked (so no time is earned in June or July). Regardless, if I choose to use that time (or it becomes medically necessary), a substitute must be hired in my place. A substitute’s salary is approximately 45% of my salary, but I have a Master’s degree, so compare that to a brand new teacher with a Bachelor’s and it is closer to, if not higher, than a teacher’s daily salary. Teachers DO NOT earn vacation time. Our contracts are for, excluding any furlough days, 190 days. If we do not work 190 days (or have equivalent personal time, we are docked that amount. Summer break is unpaid. The check I will receive on June 30 and July 31 reflects dollars earned in April and May, prorated to give us twelve checks. I did not say I cannot take a half-day, but many substitutes do not find it worth the gas to drive to a school for a half-day. Many teachers, myself included, know that my students perform better academically when we are with them rather than a substitute. Finally, you recommend using recreational facilities, but many communities do not have those or they are too closed. Heck, even the HOA in my own neighborhood only has the pool open approximately 3 hours a day 4 days a week. But since schools are publicly owned property, how does that differ from a gym or other facility at your public park? Both are tax-payer funded.
I will also say from a personal perspective, before I entered education, I did work in the private sector and frequently had months off at a time without a decent break. As an adult, I can handle that. Children, on the other hand, become restless, especially as spring draws close. They need an outlet.

JE

June 10th, 2011
9:08 pm

For those who just want to interject their tea party policies into EVERYTHING…. can it. So annoying. Listen to FOX, repeat, rinse. This issue has nothing to do with party lines, believe it or not.

The majority of Cobb County wants the balanced calendar. Did it start off that way? No, but it was given a three year trial, and before the first year was up, they turned the whole thing upside down. Unfortunately for them, they did it after holding a county-wide poll that got a whopping 80% +/- a couple of points, in favor of the BALANCED CALENDAR. Then they went and voted against the majority claiming they were voted in on that platform. What a load of crap. How can 80% want the balanced calendar, yet vote them in to change it? I tell you how they got voted in… they rode in on the coattails of the Tea Party movement of 2010. Straight ticket votes got those folks voted in. Something is up.. there is a lobby, and our school board (four of them) are voting for that lobby.