Parents mobilizing against DeKalb school chief candidate. Why?

There is a growing effort under way in DeKalb to oppose the confirmation of educator Cheryl Atkinson of Ohio as school chief.

Parents are using polls and e-mails to mobilize against her appointment, building on the detailed objections laid out in letters from school board members Nancy Jester and Don McChesney.

After reading the hundreds of posts here on the Get Schooled blog for and against Atkinson, I see two major questions reflected in the divided commentary:

Is Atkinson the best choice for an urban district that has lost prestige and academic ground in the last decade? We won’t know the answer until Atkinson comes to DeKalb. A resume only tells a small part of the story. We have all seen leaders with fantastic resumes and great experience fail, and others with limited resumes and unproven experience excel.

The more relevant question is whether Atkinson is a good choice.

I have read her application and her dissertation — neither of which is poorly written, as some folks on the blog have maintained. I have also gone back and read more than a 100 news stories about her tenure in Lorain.

It would be a mistake to cast DeKalb’s new school chief as the system’s savior, as some posters are doing. They are bound to be disappointed. One person cannot turn around a failing school system.  It will take every principal, teacher and parent in DeKalb to improve the system, and it will not happen overnight.

Nor can the school system’s fate and fortunes be disentangled from those of the greater community. DeKalb schools are not immune to the failings of the county, which include neighborhoods decimated by foreclosures and high unemployment.

What we should ask is not whether Atkinson has the skills to single-handedly transform DeKalb schools, but whether she can set a better tone and higher expectations, bring in and rally good people and impose and demand accountability.

Can Atkinson work with others? Can she prioritize? Can she figure out the good leaders in DeKalb’s bureaucracy and the worthless ones? Does she care about kids, all kids? Does she have strategies to help children in poverty, of which there are now more than ever in DeKalb.

Atkinson comes from a rare small town with two newspapers, both of which are writing about her selection as DeKalb’s new school chief.

The Morning Journal wrote a complimentary editorial about her in the wake of her decision to come to DeKalb. Here is an excerpt:

The DeKalb County Schools, in metropolitan Atlanta, Ga., will be getting an exceptional superintendent in Cheryl Atkinson. She’s certainly proved that during her four years as superintendent of the Lorain City Schools.

DeKalb has chosen wisely in picking her. Lorain will be hard-pressed to find someone who can match or exceed Atkinson’s vision and her blend of academic, managerial and people skills.

Atkinson is set to start the new job in mid-September. She’s also intent on doing everything possible to get the school year in Lorain started on track.

But that’s typical of this gifted educational leader. In Lorain, she has been committed to accomplishing goals and exceeding expectations.

This past week, Lorain school officials learned that the district’s state report card ranking will move up from Academic Watch to Continuous Improvement. Also, Lorain High School’s latest state rating is rising to Effective, and all the traditional schools in Lorain will have met the state benchmarks for attendance at 93 percent for the first time since Ohio began the report card system.

Under Atkinson’s leadership, high school graduation rates have risen from 75 percent to 84 percent. The district has also successfully opened new state-of-the-art elementary and middle schools, reorganized departments to improve efficiency and put in place practices and programs to improve student academic performance.

Atkinson achieved all this and more despite being met with an unexpected financial crisis when she arrived that led to the layoff of one-third of the teaching staff to balance the budget.

What Atkinson accomplished in Lorain was remarkable and inspiring. Lorain needs someone who can build on the foundation she created and keep the school system on a steady path of improvement.

In a straight news story  about Atkinson, the Chronicle-Telegram wrote:

After being bypassed for the top job at Cleveland Schools, Lorain Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson will be leaving her post after four years to lead the 100,000-student DeKalb County Schools in Georgia.

Word of the decision was met with mixed feelings by Lorain school board members.

“In 40 years in education, Cheryl is the best school administrator I have ever worked with,” Paul Biber said. “I could definitely see her becoming a state superintendent someday.”

Biber praised Atkinson’s prowess with school finances, improving academic performance, raising graduation rates and establishing innovative programs such as the system’s Alternative School for troubled students, which stresses discipline and accountability.

“She was a legitimate educator who never lost sight of the education that goes on in the classroom between a teacher and student,” Biber said. “Sometimes people in those positions become bureaucrats.”

At the same time, he expressed disappointment at the timing of her job search and winning the Georgia school post. Given the district’s rough financial status including projected deficits, Biber said the search for a new superintendent will be a “complicated and difficult process. I’m disappointed in the timing. I thought we’d dodged that bullet.”

“It’s certainly unfortunate to see her leave, and I don’t fault her for bettering her career,” board president Tony Dimacchia said. “She’s done an excellent job, and we’re very happy with the progress we’ve made and the direction she’s sent us in.”

Board member Jim Smith, who has been a critic of Atkinson in the past, declined comment Saturday night.

Atkinson, who could not be reached for comment, was among three finalists for the top post in Atlanta City Schools in June, but she withdrew her name from contention last month amid news that Atlanta school officials were reportedly involved in a large-scale scandal affecting falsifying of student test scores.

Atkinson was among three finalists for the slot of CEO of Cleveland Schools, all of whom were passed over when the district opted to promote an official from within in June.

Lorain faces a projected $11.35 million deficit for the 2012-13 school year, which is expected to double by the 2013-14 school year.

“When you are in a situation like this, it limits what you can offer and who wants to come in,” Biber said. “If levies don’t pass, you go to a bare-bones district. And if you can’t pay enough to keep and grow someone, it makes it very tough.”

Biber and Dimacchia agreed that part of the work facing the school board in finding a replacement for Atkinson will be to determine how much of a salary and benefits package can be offered by the financially strapped system.

“We will definitely have to look at salary,” Biber said. Atkinson earned a base salary of approximately $200,000 when she received a five-year extension in 2009. The Lorain board will have to approve letting Atkinson out of that contract extension via an escape clause, Biber said.

Neither Biber nor Dimacchia said he felt Atkinson used the district as a steppingstone to a larger, better-paying job with a much bigger school system. “She moved us in the right direction,” Biber said. “Our report card is much better than it has been.”

Atkinson said in June that she had been up-front with the school board about looking for another job.

“She worked harder than many I’ve seen and added value,” Dimacchia said. “She was passionate about educating Lorain’s children.”

In Lorain, Atkinson worked with a $91.5 million budget and approximately 8,000 students.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

221 comments Add your comment

Ray E. Venn

August 16th, 2011
1:32 pm

Parents of Dekalb County children…

Please visit the Ohio Department of Education’s website and research the performance of our district in the years Atkinson was here.

Please compare Lorain City Schools with other school systems in the state of Ohio to see the TRUTH of Atkinson’s leadership. SECOND FROM LAST!!!

We have met 1 out of 24 academic standards on the state report card. Our academic scores have gone down since she arrived. We have schools in ACADEMIC EMERGENCY.

Do not believe the dribble from your board members and see the FACTS for yourself.

The academic results of her entire tenure here is available online.

As much as I’d love to see her go, I believe she should not be rewarded for incompetency.

funny

August 16th, 2011
1:35 pm

it just seems some of these school boards go for a “type” and not a person that will work to improve the system

chillywilly

August 16th, 2011
1:40 pm

I do not think that Cheryl Atkinson is the best choice to lead Dekalb County School System. However, if she is selected and confirmed, I wish her the best of luck. Here’s hoping that the AJC does not have hidden motives to make Nancy Jester & McChesney heroes. These two individuals are not the saviors for Dekalb County Schools and need to work with their fellow board members as oppose to running to the news media everytime that something does not go their way. If I was on the Dekalb County School Board, I keep an eye on these two haters.

Lorain Father

August 16th, 2011
1:44 pm

It should be noted by those in Dekalb County reading the “glowing” editorial by the Morning Journal that truthful, critical comments regarding Atkinson are removed from the Facebook page of the Morning Journal and they have never criticized her performance or questioned our school system’s failure.

We need an unbiased newspaper in Lorain to uncover the why’s of our school’s failures.

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
1:46 pm

I’ll bring over my comment from a previous post:

my two cents here…I’m sure that Dr. Atkinson is the lovely person Ms. Jester and Mr. McChesney say she is. And in a different time and environment in DCSS, she may be the an appropriate candidate. But, this school system is in dire crisis. I believe it is going to take someone with extraordinary talents to turn this around. I do not believe Dr. Atkinson has the background or experience for this mighty job.

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
1:49 pm

@Lorain, That’s why I linked to both newspapers. Also, to the comment about the system’s performance from an Ohio poster below: This article ran in the Chronicle-Telegram last month:

http://chronicle.northcoastnow.com/2011/07/28/lorain-schools-improved-in-18-of-24-categories-on-state-report-card-superintendent-says/

LORAIN — Meeting or exceeding standards in four of 24 categories on the state report card might not sound like a success story, but Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson said district students and their parents should be proud.

Atkinson said Wednesday the statistics — which won’t be officially released by the state until next month — are an improvement over the 2009-10 school year when just one out of the 24 categories was met or exceeded by the district.

Atkinson said students improved in 18 out of the 24 categories compared to last year, something teachers should be particularly proud of, given the obstacles they face. She noted about 80 percent of pre-kindergarten children don’t score ready for kindergarten on state tests.

“We understand we have to get them caught up,” she said. “The gap between birth and 5 is huge.”

Atkinson said the high-poverty district is also hampered by a highly transient school population, meaning that many teachers don’t have the luxury of continuity.

Atkinson said the district is doing a better job of tracking academic progress and getting students at risk of dropping out back on track.

“The journey is, ‘What do we produce by the 12th grade?’ ” she said. “By the time they leave us, they should be ready for the world of work, success and college.”

Inman Park Boy

August 16th, 2011
1:50 pm

As it has ever been, the “proof will be in the pudding.”

This is a highly politicized job for any educator, and I wish Ms. Atkinson well. What the parents of DeKalb County need to do is to get involved inthe school system, not POLITICALLY, but emotionally by insisting that your children READ, do their homework, achieve at a high leval, and, oh, by the way, READ A BOOK! The lack of parental support in the educational process is what is lacking in DeKalb. There are enough who think they know “how to RUN a school system.” What many need to do is run their own homes in a decent, caring, supportive and loving manner. If you don’t raise a child to be a learner, he will be a parasite forever.

Question

August 16th, 2011
1:51 pm

Is the writer of the editorial the same person Atkinson lists as a professional reference? Seems like I read something like that.

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
1:51 pm

@Chilly, I don’t think it is heroic or hateful for elected officials to speak out in opposition to a candidate if they believe the choice is wrong. That is what they are elected to do.
Maureen

quantivious's mama

August 16th, 2011
1:52 pm

i do not have a child in the Dekalb school system. but i am first and foremost a child advocate. not sure why the loraine parents/individuals are speaking out so in the ajc–but…considering the by-products of the aps ’scandal’ that everyone is still reeling from– why even take a chance on this person? yes, everyone does deserve a chance- but no one’s child should pay the cost of a superintendant’s failure. w/two board members not happy, the slightest thing will set off the other board members and it all sounds like a huge mess in the making. dekalb county’s children/students deserve better. do i think it is a matter of color? nope– everyone is capable of messing up. just hire the best candidate, dangit!!

Question

August 16th, 2011
1:53 pm

Inman Park Boy, We can and should do all those things AND insist on a qualified candidate for superintendant.

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
1:54 pm

@Question, Dr. Atkinson does list the publisher of the Morning Journal as a reference. I think that is unusual only because most school leaders have contentious relationships with their area newspapers. However, I don’t think it is sinister. The newspaper leadership apparently felt she did a great job.
Maureen

yes i am worried

August 16th, 2011
1:59 pm

Not one of the top candidates came from a system that is doing notably better than DeKalb. That is the disappointment. Even someone from Gwinnett might have brought in a perspective that is much needed == that minority children can and do succeed.

Dr NO

August 16th, 2011
1:59 pm

funny

August 16th, 2011
1:35 pm

TOUCHE’

justjanny

August 16th, 2011
2:01 pm

DeKalb needs someone with INTEGRITY!! Achievement will rise with hard-working PARENTS, teachers and administrators. Those of you who are so quick to pre-judge, you need to make sure you are doing all that you can for your children and your children’s children. There is no perfect person out there. Again, bring in someone with INTEGRITY. I haven’t heard anything negative about Dr. Atkinson’s integrity. Are Nancy and Don just trying to bring in Brad Bryant??

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:03 pm

@justjanny, it’s going to take a lot more than “integrity” to turn DCSS around.

Dr NO

August 16th, 2011
2:04 pm

“Dr Atkinson has done a tremendous job in Lorain. Im tired of you talking about Lorain as her only experience”

Doctor…thats a laugh…kinda like Dr Bev…LOL!!

To Answer the Question...

August 16th, 2011
2:07 pm

Maureen asks a question “WHY are parents organizing against Atkinson?” It’s simple – because parents are afraid Atkinson is a clone of Beverly Hall, the disgraced Atlanta Public School superintendent.

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
2:10 pm

@To all, I think that Lorain has more crazies than Atlanta. I just took down a comment attacking me, which is fine. That would be OK, but the commenter also cited some woman in Lorain by name. That is not OK. I cannot stomach people anonymously attacking rank and file citizens. And attacking other parents by name is pathetic.
But for the record:
1. I haven’t called any parents in Lorain. I have taken down a dozen posts from people saying they are from Lorain because they attack others by name. I would urge anyone from Lorain to post with civility. Otherwise, I am taking the posts down.
2. I am not friends with any DeKalb school board members. Never had coffee, a Coke or a personal conversation with one of them. (In fact, I have no friends on any school boards. Nor do I have any superintendents as friends. In fact, I have no friends in high places.)
Maureen

DeKalb Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:12 pm

Yes, but aren’t journalists supposed to remain unbiased? Endorsing a candidate for an elected position is one thing, but it seems there is a major conflict of interest for a paper’s editor to act as a professional reference for a candidate for a job.

Also, there are BoE members here in DeKalb who are refusing respond to basic questions about Ms. Atkinson’s qualifications from parents whom they perceive as being unsupportive. Their job as elected officials is to represent us, the parents and taxpayers, of this system. If they believe she is the best candidate for the job, they should be able to back that position up with facts which they are willing to share with their constituents. Refusing to answer questions and accusing anyone who asks those questions of being “unsupportive” is ignorant and a refusal to do one’s duty as an elected official.

justjanny

August 16th, 2011
2:13 pm

You are right, Dunwoody Mom. Experience does count for something. Again, I say PARENTS, teachers and administrators will bring up student achievement. The super will be the motivator and leader of the charge. The question Maureen should ask is, “Why aren’t parents organizing for their school system?” Oh, I get it, negative always trumps positive. By the way, some of the better principals in DeKalb and other school systems were given a chance and proved to be worthy.

Question

August 16th, 2011
2:13 pm

Respectfully, I don’t think that most are worried that she is a clone of Hall but rather that she lacks experience as the head of a large school system.

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:15 pm

@justjanny, Dr. Atkinson has no experience running a large, failing, dysfunctional system such as DCSS. On the job training is not acceptable with the issues facing this school system.

Anna Bell

August 16th, 2011
2:15 pm

It is amazing to me that some of the very DeKalb County School Board members who would question the qualifications of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson for the job of Superintendent of DeKalb County School System were staunch supporters of Dr. Lili Cox for the job back in the spring of this year. Let’s do some comparisons, Dr. Cox was Superintendent of Hickory Public Schools in Hickory, North Carolina for only eighteen months. Her student enrollment was 4,500 students, 500 employees, and an operating budget of $40,000.000. She had previously been Associate Superintendent of Almance-Burlington Schools in Burlington, North Carolina for three years. Her other administrative positions was Executive Director of Organizational Development for one year at Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson has been at the helm of Lorain, Ohio school system since 2007. Lorain Ohio School System’s student enrollment is 7,626 students, 955 full-time employees, and a budget of $95,000.000. Dr. Atkinson’s previous administrative positions include Deputy Superintendent of Instruction in Kansas City Missouri from 2003-2007. She was also Associate Superintendent in Charlotte Mecklenberg-County School System, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Regional Superintendent in Charleston, South Carolina .

Dr. Lili Cox received all her formative education and educational degrees in North Carolina , and her entire work experience has been in the state of North Carolina . Dr. Cheryl Atkinson was born in Dayton, Ohio moved with her family to North Carolina when she was in high school. She received her bachelor and master degrees from University of North Carolina at Charolotte and her doctorate from Virginia Polytech University . Her educational experience has been in the states of North and South Carolina ,Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio.

As you can access from the information and the data, Dr. Atkinson’s total executive experience mirrors more the DeKalb County School System than Dr. Cox’s experience. Dr. Atkinson’s has worked in school districts that mixes urban, suburban with many multi-ethnic and cultural students.

Some Dekalb County School Board Members have questioned Dr. Atkinson’s selection based on her Lorian Ohio’s school district’s current statistics, but if you read an article about her job performance in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (”Cleveland Schools CEO Finalist: Lorain Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson,” May 28, 2011) you would better understand how she saved a school district that was headed for a nosedive. Additionally Alison Strouse of the Morning Journal, stated that the Lorain Ohio school district has made continous progress under Dr. Atkinson’s leadership. Dr. Lili Cox has never worked anywhere long enough for you to adequately access her job performance.

Is the main differences in these two candidates may lie in black and white?

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
2:16 pm

@DeKalb mom, A personal endorsement from a newspaper editor on a resume is rare. I have never seen it before but I don’t know the town or the media there.
Maureen

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

@Anna, I think you raise a fair point. A teacher from Hickory sent me a note expressing her personal disappointment that Dr. Cox did not stay in Hickory long enough to make any real change. The teacher felt cheated because she had been a champion of Cox and the changes that she was trying to make, but felt let down. She wrote, “Why would a major school system take a chance on someone who didn’t honor her commitments or see things through?”
It was a good question.
Maureen

Question

August 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

No Anna, that’s not it. Both lack the experience as the head of a large school system. So you can forget about the comparisons to Cox. If anything, you could apply any previous arguments against Cox’s lack of experience to Atkinson. And frankly, the perforance in Lorain hasn’t been that great.

Dr NO

August 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

“Yes, but aren’t journalists supposed to remain unbiased?”

You should take that comment to CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, PMSNBC etc as every jounalist they have endorses the democratic platform.

DOH!

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:22 pm

@Anna Bell, most of us were pretty clear on the fact that Dr. Cox was never coming to DCSS. Many parents in DCSS were also uncomfortable with each of the 3 initial candidates because none of them had ever had experience with large school systems. It is disrespectful and wrong to try and bring race into this. Try and keep the conversation on an adult level.

justjanny

August 16th, 2011
2:23 pm

@Dunwoody Mom…I thought the schools in your neighborhood were wonderful? Failing and dysfunctional? Are your schools included in your use of those words. Why don’t you run for the board and see how effective you can be? Or are you Nancy Jester using a pen name??

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:25 pm

@justjanny, my children are lucky, they attended (attend) good schools. However, the majority of students in DCSS are not so lucky. Perhaps you might find it hard to believe that I care about all the students in DCSS. I am a product of DCSS (when it actually was the premier school system in GA) and I am sad and embarassed at what has occurred.

Write Your Board Members

August 16th, 2011
2:36 pm

Anna Bell

I think Cox was a terrible choice, but of the three choices they had in front of them, she was the one who put the most emphasis on instruction. However, her plan wouldn’t have worked in DeKalb because of size. Don’t believe for a minute that she was going to come here.

Your summary of Atkinson’s experience is wrong though. She was only in KC for a year and Charleston for a year. Not a very stable career path.

It bothers me terribly that none of these people stay around long enough to finish the job they start. There is something very wrong in public education and it may rest with school boards. But superintendents (unless indicted) ought to start and finish something.

Anna Bell

August 16th, 2011
2:40 pm

Corrections on Previous Posting
It is amazing to me that some of the very same DeKalb County School Board members who would question the qualifications of Dr. Cheryl Atkinson for the job of Superintendent of DeKalb County School System were staunch supporters of Dr. Lili Cox for the job back in the spring of this year. Let’s do some comparisons, Dr. Cox was Superintendent of Hickory Public Schools in Hickory, North Carolina for only eighteen months. Her student enrollment was 4,500 students, 500 employees, and an operating budget of $40,000.000. She had previously been Associate Superintendent of Almance-Burlington Schools in Burlington, North Carolina for three years. Her other administrative position was Executive Director of Organizational Development for one year at Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Dr. Cheryl Atkinson has been at the helm of Lorain, Ohio school system since 2007. Lorain Ohio School System’s student enrollment is 7,626 students, 955 full-time employees, and a budget of $95,000.000. Dr. Atkinson’s previous administrative positions include Deputy Superintendent of Instruction in Kansas City Missouri from 2003-2007. She was also Associate Superintendent in Charlotte Mecklenberg-County School System, in Charlotte, North Carolina and Regional Superintendent in Charleston, South Carolina .

Dr. Lili Cox received all her formative education and educational degrees in North Carolina , and her entire work experience has been in the state of North Carolina . Dr. Cheryl Atkinson was born in Dayton, Ohio moved with her family to North Carolina when she was in high school. She received her bachelor and master degrees from University of North Carolina at Charolotte and her doctorate from Virginia Polytech University. Her educational experience has been in the states of North and South Carolina, Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, and Ohio.

As you can access from the information and the data, Dr. Atkinson’s total executive experience mirrors more the DeKalb County School System than Dr. Cox’s experience. Dr. Atkinson has worked in school districts that mixes urban, suburban with many multi-ethnic and cultural students.

Some Dekalb County School Board Members have questioned Dr. Atkinson’s selection based on her Lorian Ohio school district’s current statistics, but if you read an article about her job performance in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (”Cleveland Schools CEO Finalist: Lorain Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson,” May 28, 2011) you would better understand how she saved a school district that was headed for a nose dive. Additionally, Alison Strouse of the Morning Journal, stated that the Lorain Ohio school district has made continous progress under Dr. Atkinson’s leadership. Dr. Lili Cox has never worked anywhere long enough for you to adequately access or assess her job performance.

Is it true that the main difference between the two candidates may lie in black and white?

Concerned DeKalb Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:41 pm

Dunwoody Mom–the pool of qualified candidates, under the criteria of “experience with large, failing dysfunctional systems” is very small if you are considering systems the size of DeKalb. Especially small is the pool of candidates who have been successful with such school systems. I think we need to consider someone with experience in smaller systems but with ideas that are innovative and may make true and lasting change to the DCSS landscape.

Most importantly…is this candidate willing/able to stand up to the BOE and remove administrators who have not done the job they were hired to do? They have all been in their positions long enough at this point. Is she strong enough to replace the “friends and family?”

Question

August 16th, 2011
2:47 pm

The pool may indeed be small. Are you saying, then, that she is just the best we could find?

The Deal

August 16th, 2011
2:47 pm

I will attempt to keep this response concise, as I tend to be really wordy on issues that are so important. The bottom line is that there is hardly an area within DCSS that isn’t falling apart. The new superintendent is going to have to touch every part of the school system and needs to have proven success (not just experience) in all of them – curriculum, Title I, alternate/choice programs, operations and facilities, BOE relationship and ethics and more. Add to this the behemoth size of our district, and our problems are compounded 100-fold. While there has been much attention focused on Lorain’s schools (which are not good), there hasn’t been a good look at Charlotte/Mecklenburg, which is the school system we are all relying on her for large system experience. The student achievement and parent input data that I have seen for the time period she would have affected is not good, either. She may be nice, she may be a good administrator, but everything on her resume suggests she would be way over her head in our disaster of a system. Many years of large system experience was one of SACS’s requirements and should be on the top of ours. We cannot afford to “try someone out” on our school system – our system has been without a permanent leader for too long. There are no guarantees, but Atkinson simply does not have the experience that we require.

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:48 pm

@Concerned DeKalb Mom. I have a different priority than you. While, at some point the DCSS “Family and Friends” mantra needs to be addressed, but, in my opinion, it is not the most important issue. Putting together a total plan for turning the system around academically is what is most important to me. The rest comes later.

Dr NO

August 16th, 2011
2:49 pm

“I will attempt to keep this response concise, as I tend to be really wordy on issues that are so important.”

Thats for sure ;)

Anna Bell

August 16th, 2011
2:53 pm

Dunwoody Mom,

This conversation is as adult as your group allow it to be. Your behavior has set the tone and direction for this debate. While we yet debate this issue, there are those in your midst who are still trying to bring in another local “unqualified white candidate” with “0″ experience in running anything. That person is no other than Brad Bryant. We know what your strategy and game plan is. So who is being deceitful and childish since you cannot have your “color” candidate. I am fed up with the “white is right” mentality of the minority group in DeKalb County. You have made yourself a “National Spectacle”. It does not matter if we brought “Jesus”, who is a man of color, to DeKalb County for Superintendent, your group would rise up and protest.

Dunwoody Mom

August 16th, 2011
2:55 pm

@Anna Bell, who exactly is trying to bring in Brad Bryant? Certainly, not me. In fact, the mantra given to the DCSS BOE was to bring in a Superintendent outside the State of Georgia with no ties to DCSS.

Here's One

August 16th, 2011
2:59 pm

Jester and McChesney sent letters to parents in their districts which is the right thing to do. I’ve asked my board rep why she supports Atkinson and she asked me why I didn’t support her? I’m not the board rep – you are.

The Deal

August 16th, 2011
2:59 pm

Dunwoody Mom posted SACS’s directive on our superintendent hire. Of particular interest is the requirement that the new superintendent have large system experience:

Select a new superintendent that exemplifies and has demonstrated the characteristics necessary to lead a unique district as DCSS… The selection of a highly qualified, innovative superintendent with demonstrated success in a large ethnically and culturally diverse system will be the catalyst for leading DeKalb County School System towards meeting and exceeding their mission…

I don’t pretend to know all of the ins and outs of SACS. So many people have so many opinions about their motives. But I don’t think they would issue a directive that was impossible to achieve; therefore, however small the pool of potential superintendents, the pool must exist for them to require this of our board. Atkinson simply does not have sufficient experience or proven success.

Lorain Father

August 16th, 2011
3:01 pm

Maureen,

An endorsement from the editor of the Morning Journal comes as no surprise to the residents of Lorain, Ohio.

The entire “aura” of this particular newspaper is even while at the bottom of the barrel academically the paper refused to ask why. When Atkinson staunchly supported a move of the single high school in Lorain to a riverfront site, the Morning Journal would have benefited financially. Many of the residents in Lorain hated the idea of moving the high school to that particular site but they forged ahead anyway. Many of us said the site was too close to the water and potentially dangerous but it wasn’t until the state came in and refused to allow that site did it change. The site accepted by most Lorainites was then chosen.

You have the evidence available to you as commented on in a previous post. Please do the research and maybe ask the editor yourself why he would so glowingly endorse an obvious failure.

We do not hate Atkinson here. We are not happy with the downhill progress the schools are taking. We are not happy with the congratulatory back slapping because we may go up in three areas to the point we were when Atkinson arrived. We are not happy with the $210,000 salary we pay her all while our academic standards plummet. We also asked why we need Chinese teachers in Lorain. Chinese???

By the way, those schools the editorial mentions being rebuilt were planned and paid for before Atkinson got here by her predecessor. Three school levy’s have also failed while she was here. Attendance is up because PARENTS are getting their kids to school on time and more often.

Someone also threw out an amazing 85% economically disadvantaged rate regarding Lorain’s students as one of her difficulties here in Lorain. The Ohio Department of Education has much different information. How would that really matter? Is someone trying to say that poor kids can’t succeed academically?

It’s all just excuses.

Do yourselves a favor. Check her out and if you want her, take her.

Please.

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
3:06 pm

@Lorain father, How would the newspaper benefit from the high school location? Did it own the land?
I appreciate your suggestions and your comments. (Here in metro Atlanta, many parents would love to see Chinese in their schools. In fact,we now have a handful of public schools that offer it.)
Maureen

Lorain citizen

August 16th, 2011
3:09 pm

@ downey why are people saying Dr Atkinson was in a cheating scandal? She wasnt. Lorain only had a case involving a administrator putting hands on a child.

Anna Bell

August 16th, 2011
3:11 pm

Concerned parent, you are absolutely correct in your thinking. Fulton County did not get someone who had experience leading a large district. He merely came from Charlotte-Mecklenburg, a system known nationally for their trail blazing efforts and successes in education. They are a sytem that we need to strive to become. He was not over instruction but something with data. Why did the AJC not have all of this ruckus about him? He is trying to lead a district for the first time! Is he accepted because he is a “white man”? I have almost four decades of experience in education and administration at all levels; kindergarten through college. I watch what is going on around me in education in a critical way. We do not need politics, favoritism, nor racism to stifle progress for our students. If Fulton can give him a chance, why can’t DeKalb settle down and support this quality educator?

Maureen Downey

August 16th, 2011
3:11 pm

@Citizen, Who alleged that she was involved in a cheating scandal?
Maureen

Lorain citizen

August 16th, 2011
3:11 pm

I love dialouge but I dont think a lot of this is truthful. I really think she has done some great things for lorain.

Lorain citizen

August 16th, 2011
3:14 pm

@ downey a few people on your other blogs. Can you report the truth on that? Lorain had a lot of hate which im sure you have seen. This is some of what she had to deal with . The town maybe small but the people are…. Well you see.

Anna Bell

August 16th, 2011
3:14 pm

Dunwoody Mom. Just stay tuned. Maybe you do not know as much as you think you do.