Bibb school chief sees miracle. Parents see mayhem in his ambitious reform blueprint.

I am leery of anything described as a miracle, but that is what the new Bibb superintendent is pledging for the 25,000 students in his district under his ambitious plan for reviving the district.

One of the most miraculous goals is a 100 percent high school graduation rate by 2023

Last week, Superintendent Romain Dallemand fulfilled his promise to shake up the sluggish system, unveiling his Macon Miracle blueprint to decidedly mixed responses. (There are more than 400 comments on the Macon Telegraph website, most of which could be described as skeptical and angry.)

The Macon Miracle blueprint is candid about the district’s challenges: With 41 schools in the District, only 24 of them made Adequate Yearly Progress for 2010‐2011. Discipline data also raises concern for the future of Bibb County, Georgia, and the United States. In 2010‐2011, almost 8,000 students were suspended for a total of 48,000 days of missed instruction. Nearly 500 students were expelled, 703 students dropped out of school completely and the District’s 9th grade cohort graduation rate was 44.6%.

The plan contains 100 action points, including closing schools, a dramatic restructuring of grade configurations, a move to year-around schools, Chinese classes for all students from pre-k to grade 12 (they would be phased in starting next year with teachers hired from China), schools of choice that students could pick based on their interests and dorms for students in need.

Bibb would move to k-3 elementary schools, grades 4-through-7 middle schools and grades 8-through-12 high schools. (I am not sure of the research underpinnings for this configuration. In my earlier reporting on k-3 models, I found the research suggests that children lose ground in transition years so fewer transitions are better)

Bibb students would go to school longer each day for a weekly gain of 10 hours. K-3 students would have 90-minute reading blocks every day.

The system would drop from 1,179 teachers to 856 teachers through attrition for a savings of $19 million in a five-year period. Bibb would shutter 12 elementary schools and save $4.5 million. The high school schedule would change from the current four block schedule to a seven period day, which somehow would save $1.5 to $3 million dollars.

I get the sense reading the blueprint that almost every conceivable reform has been tossed into the mix. I am not sure that a document with so many layers and so many moving parts is the answer. It seems to me that successful turnaround models begin in a single school with a community-wide commitment to put students first.

I have getting e-mails all week from unhappy parents and teachers in Macon. One of their complaints — Beverly Fraud,  are you listening? — is that discipline has eroded under Dallemand.

Even students are complaining about the lack of discipline in their schools. The community is still reeling from the alleged rape of a student with special needs during the day in a school rest room.  Two hundred students protested the plan Thursday at the Bibb school board offices.

There is already a parent petition under way to fight the plan.

The Bibb board expressed some concerns at the unveiling of the plan last week, according to the news story in the Macon Telegraph:

Board member Lynn Farmer asked about the plan’s costs, but school administrators said those details would not be known until the plan is approved by the board and administrators begin working out details of how the plan would work.

School officials need to be upfront about the costs required in setting the plan in motion, Farmer said.

“The devil is in the details, and there are not a lot of details,” she said after the meeting.

During the presentation, board member Gary Bechtel asked Dallemand what part of the plan addressed school safety, alluding to the report of a rape at Northeast High School last month.

School administrators responded by saying that the plan includes more training for students, teachers and staff, as well as creating two alternative schools.

“What are you (doing) to address … in this particular plan that we’re serious about keeping schools safe?” Bechtel asked again.

That’s where providing “wrap-around” services such as counseling and mental health services come in, to reach students before they misbehave, several administrators responded.

Often, students who misbehave don’t have the same opportunities as others, said Jane Drennan, deputy superintendent for teaching and learning.

“We have to treat every child if they can learn. We have to do everything so they can be successful,” Drennan said. “There’s the idea if someone misbehaves, they have to get out of schools. We as adults have to deal with behavior and learn why they behave the way they are.”

Incidents such as the alleged Northeast rape could have happened anywhere and point to the need for change, Barnes said.

“It’s not symptomatic of a school. It’s symptomatic of our district,” he said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

111 comments Add your comment


February 10th, 2012
10:38 am

These guys gotta stop smoking crack before they make these proclamations.

HS Public Teacher

February 10th, 2012
10:46 am

LOL! Couldn’t he just change how the % graduation is calculated?

After all, isn’t that what happend with the federal government’s way to calculated the % unemployment?

What if he said that the calculation is that he can ensure that 100% graduation rate is for all seniors in school after Christmas? LOL!

College Professor

February 10th, 2012
10:54 am

No reform of public schools will succeed unless it requires parents to fulfill their responsibility to their children.

Don Abernethy

February 10th, 2012
10:55 am

If you want your children in Macon to get a good education in a safe environment you have to send them to private schools or move out of Macon.

Old timer

February 10th, 2012
11:04 am

I like the schools…K -8 and 9-12. They seem to work well and have fewer transitions. dekalb schools were good K-7 and 8-12. Again fewer transitions. Since I do not like block schedules that change might be ok. The Chinese is just too much….
You are correct too many ideas. Why not just do things simpler first.

C Jae of EAV

February 10th, 2012
11:25 am

It definately reads like a throw in everything but the kitchen sink type of a approach. The potential boondoggle involving the technology plan alone is enough to bring me pause.

Purhaps if this plan in its sum total was focused a cluster of schools one level at a time or something to that effect it would have some merit. As written I believe it would be a recipe for disaster and huge waste of taxpaper funds.

APS Parent

February 10th, 2012
11:34 am

@Digger, I think the mandate to become a politician or school administrator either involves crack or just being bipolar. Loved your comment.

But, seriously, being ready to turn a system around is admirable but this man is smoking something. This looks like a political agenda and has nothing to do with the needs of the students. Trust me, after years of Beverly Hall, I can say Dallemand is shooting for attention and money.


February 10th, 2012
11:37 am

Education ? What education in GA ……? Not until we figure out what it is we really want to have!

Do read again………………

John from Little Five Points

February 10th, 2012
11:38 am

Where does one begin? Where do Georgia school boards find these people anyway? Macon…Atlanta…DeKalb County. Just one loser superintendent after another.

maharajiean shorts

February 10th, 2012
12:02 pm

As a Dekalb county resident, I am very glad someone is trying to one up our duma$$ness; especially the part about whacking all the teachers and bringing in Communists to teach Mandarin.

Give this guy a massive school building corruption case and he trumps us right out the door.

Makes me wonder… their a education requirement for school board members? And I don’t mean these faux PhD’s from unaccredited Strayer, Devry, or the University of the United States.

Mi Ga Retiree

February 10th, 2012
12:10 pm

I think school superintendents have taken a lesson from professional athletes. Hire an agent and let the agent negotiate the most profitable deal possible. Hire a PR agent to sell yourself to the search committees. I get the sense that school superintendents have become more centered on themselves and their oen compensagtion package than in putting students and instructions first. After all, if a superintendent stirs things up, is too controversial, or otherwise gets him or herself fired, the contract buy-out clause is lucrative enough to keep them going for years until they find another system to hire them.


February 10th, 2012
12:17 pm

Just another social experiment designed to bring the average test scores of black students up to the white level. If implemented, it will fail for the same reason all the other experiments have failed.

Beverly Fraud

February 10th, 2012
12:26 pm

“I have getting e-mails all week from unhappy parents and teachers in Macon. One of their complaints — Beverly Fraud, are you listening? — is that discipline has eroded under Dallemand.”

Why Maureen; I’m honored.

And you can ALREADY see the gambit that will be used to “prove” it is restored. “Reduce the number of suspensions” to “maximize instructional time in the classroom” and approach that has FAILED (Clayton) and FAILED AGAIN (Atlanta)

Suddenly the ASSAULT becomes “not following rules” the “consequence” becomes a JOKE and the students KNOW the teachers have been cut off at the knees.

DIShonest to the core.


February 10th, 2012
12:28 pm


Another majority black school system in disarray. Knock me over with a feather….

“Board member Lynn Farmer asked about the plan’s costs, but school administrators said those details would not be known until the plan is approved…”

ROFLMAO. I feel sorry for the taxpayers.

“In 2010‐2011, almost 8,000 students were suspended for a total of 48,000 days of missed instruction. Nearly 500 students were expelled…”

Sounds like a lovely school system. Feel sorry for the students who actually want to learn being caught up in that hellhole.


February 10th, 2012
12:33 pm

Bibb County = full of morons. The elected Mayor there a couple of years back openly celebrated Ramadan

36 Years in Education

February 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

Smoke and mirrors….Dr. D. is employing his friends and cronies in a con-game. Read all about his trail of glory creating mayhem throughout the USA. He came with this agenda, had meetings for the entire district, and as Gomer Pyle would say, “Surprise, surprise, it’s his plan from Rochester, Minnesota.

The Macon Miracle will be if they can survive this fiasco.


February 10th, 2012
12:34 pm

Please for the love of God keep these idiots in Macon, DeKalb, APS.

Beverly Fraud

February 10th, 2012
12:37 pm

“The system would drop from 1,179 teachers to 856 teachers”

I’m not sure the Book (Leviticus?) but Jesus said it best.

The Educrat spoke to Jesus and said, “I’m going to get a 100% percent graduation by drastically reducing the number of teachers. Please help me with this miracle.”

And Jesus said, “Why would I set myself up to FAIL by promising a miracle so preposterous? I’ll stick to DOABLE things, like healing the sick and raising the dead. Seriously, do you PRACTICE being stupid, or have you just been naturally blessed with the gift of stupidity?”


February 10th, 2012
12:46 pm

Well, it only took 12 comments before race was injected into this topic (carlosgvv, 12:17 pm); and then good ole boy Lee at 12:28 pm noted the “majority black school system.” Some facts for Bibb County, as of the 2010 US Census:
whites, 43.2%
blacks, 52.1% (not a very big majority!)
Hispanics, 2.8%
Asians, 1.6%.
Native Americans> under 1%.

Beverly Fraud

February 10th, 2012
12:46 pm

“We as adults have to deal with behavior and learn why they behave the way they are.”

WRONG. The STUDENT has to learn NOT to misbehave. The onus to behave MUST be on the student (as Dr. Trotter might say.) Asking the teacher to figure out the “why” is a rabbit hole (does mommy favor one child over the other? is daddy having a midlife crisis? does grandma enable misbehavior?)

Who knows? What we DO know, is that SWIFT, SURE and CONSISTENT consequences WORK, and work one HECK of a lot better than ANY edu-psychobabble that has come down the pike the last several decades in education.

Mary Elizabeth

February 10th, 2012
12:49 pm

@ MiltonMan , 12:34

“Please for the love of God keep these idiots in Macon, DeKalb, APS.”


“. . .idiots. . .?” Really? Sometimes those who think they are superior to others, are ignorant in ways that they, simply, can not see. Is this enlightenment? I think not.

More – later – on my thoughts regarding Bibb County’s innovative educational plan, after I have fully digested its various concepts and plans.

Beverly Fraud

February 10th, 2012
1:00 pm

“More – later – on my thoughts regarding Bibb County’s innovative educational plan, after I have fully digested its various concepts and plans.”

@MaryElizabeth: Seriously, I tend to believe from your posts that you have a genuine concern for students, but pray tell what exactly is “innovative” about a plan that you know going in YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY DELIVER ON?

And after the “Atlanta Miracle” and the “Houston Miracle” how TONE DEAF does one have to be to bill a plan a “miracle”.

If JESUS promised this plan and his flock asked “Do you really mean it?” He would respond, “H3LL NO! Don’t you know when someone is blowing smoke up your arse? Learn to THINK CRITICALLY.”

Leviticus I think, but the biblical scholars among us may correct me.


February 10th, 2012
1:01 pm

@FYI, you quoted the Census figures, not the demographics for the school system, which are:

Black 65%
White 17%
Hisp 1%
Asian 1%

Like I said, a majority black system.

Mary Elizabeth

February 10th, 2012
1:38 pm

Beverly Fraud, 1:00 pm

@MaryElizabeth: Seriously, I tend to believe from your posts that you have a genuine concern for students, but pray tell what exactly is “innovative” about a plan that you know going in YOU CAN’T POSSIBLY DELIVER ON?

Beverly, in all due respect, you misread my statement. Here is what I said:

“More – later – on my thoughts regarding Bibb County’s innovative educational plan, after I have fully digested its various concepts and plans.”

I have not offered any opinion about this plan until I analyze it more thoroughly, and I have other things to do this afternoon, but I will be back with an opinion, later.

The word “innovative” simply means “the introduction of something new” according to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. The word “innovative” makes no value judgment as to whether what is introduced as new is of value or not.

Beverly Fraud

February 10th, 2012
1:48 pm

“The word “innovative” simply means “the introduction of something new” according to Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary.”

I’ll grant you that MaryElizabeth. But it strikes me as anything BUT “innovation”. More of the same ole, same ole “throw up against the wall and see what sticks” as Maureen alluded to.

In short, it doesn’t pass the smell test. In fact this SMELLS like what you’d find in a Pamper. USED Pamper. Enclosing it in a Faberge` egg of educational jargon is NOT likely to make any more effective.

Nor smell any better to anyone with a good bs detector.

Tell the Truth

February 10th, 2012
2:02 pm

Well, I didn’t see any mention of start-up charter schools. So, he is not trying EVERYTHING. Too bad, the super seems like he is from another planet.


February 10th, 2012
2:10 pm

FYI – 12:46

Race is a legtimate issue here so why is it wrong to inject it here? Could it be you go into complete denial when someone speaks the truth here and it offends your politically correct sensebilities? I think you are too immature to be posting here.


February 10th, 2012
2:15 pm

@ carlosgvv: Why exactly is “race a legitimate issue here”? I don’t see a word in the news story about it. This is a cuckoo educational plan, whether the school district is majority black, white or Hispanic.

Dr. Proud Black Man

February 10th, 2012
2:52 pm


Well said!



Any suggestions for this “majority black system” or do you just like to point that out?

the prof

February 10th, 2012
3:02 pm


Colonel Jack

February 10th, 2012
3:06 pm

For the longest time, I thought I was employed in the oddest school system in the state. Now I see that I am wrong. This ridiculous plan in Bibb County is light-years ahead of my system in terms of being odd. Sheesh.


February 10th, 2012
3:09 pm

Fewer teachers is obviously the wrong direction.


February 10th, 2012
3:13 pm

Macon….the schools, mostly, are a cluster. And yes, Lee’s demographics (whether you like them or not;sorry FYI) are correct. Whether racial factors, poverty factors, or any other factors are considered the schools are a mess. Of course, there will be a few high-acheiving students who come to the defense of the system. But until something is done about the out-of-control discipline problems and the willingness to accept a horrific lifestyle as detrimental to ones self and society, it will be awful hard. Since the demographics are what they are, anyone who speaks out is deemed racist….no way out of it.

drew (former teacher)

February 10th, 2012
3:17 pm

Well, after scanning through all 25 pages of his Macon Miracle, it becomes obvious that this guy is a loon. True, there are a few ideas I actually like…I’d be surprised if someone couldn’t find something in there they agree with; there’s something for everybody! And Mr. Dallemand has certainly mastered “eduspeak”. Unfortunately, it’s all pie in the sky without the ability to implement. As previously mentioned, the devil is in the details.

To the question – what are schools supposed to provide? – Mr. Dallemand’s answer seems to be: EVERYTHING:

-provide free home internet service for all students.

-provide dormitory housing for students “experiencing unforseeable circumstances”.

-provide mandatory weekend and evening instruction for students…as an alternative to suspension.

-deliver foundational and customized parent training that establishes parents as key partners

-move the Central Office and turn the existing building into a student/adult learning center.*
*Conveniently, Mr. Dallemand has nothing to say regarding the “NEW” Central Office building.

-reassign building and department administrators every five years.

-provide training and computer access to parents to monitor grades.

-develop and implement a delivery model for nursing services and school‐based clinics.

-deliver language instruction in Mandarin Chinese to all preK‐12 students.

It’s like this guy searched, pasted, and copied 15 or 20 reform “blueprints” and rolled it all into one great big pie in the sky document.

And can someone explain to me how going from block to nonblock schedules is going to save up to $3 million dollars?

Fomer Maconite

February 10th, 2012
3:18 pm

I grew up in Macon. I am also a product of the Bibb County School System. Trust me, this is not the same school system I went through almost 30 years ago. I am embarrassed by it now. I moved to Atlanta six years ago, and the longer I am here, the more I don’t miss Macon and Bibb County!

retired teacher

February 10th, 2012
3:21 pm

Bev Fraud….you’ve outdone yourself this time. I’m falling out laughing…..wish this stuff was really laughable through. It’s unreal it’s so sad that this is actually coming out of the mouth of those in charge of education.

the good doctor

February 10th, 2012
3:25 pm

No one mentioned anything about the school board that hired this gentlemen? Remember they saw the plan before it was released to the public and based on what I have read thus far, have not objected to the plan or the person they hired to run Bibb School System?

One last thing, @Lee & @FYI it does not really matter who is the majority in the school system, the bigger issue is WHO IS LOOKING OUT FOR THE CHILDREN’S WELFARE? THE ISSUE OF RACE WILL GET YOU UNFOCUSED ON THE REAL PROBLEM EVERYTIME? “Un-Learn”


February 10th, 2012
3:35 pm

The superintendent needs to remember some of the courses he took: there is a limit on how much change you can implement at a given time. Go over that, and the whole thing implodes.

Dr. Proud Black Man

February 10th, 2012
3:36 pm

@ the prof


Laughing all the way to the bank. My degree helped me gross close to six figures last year; how’s flipping burgers been treating YOU?



February 10th, 2012
3:37 pm

The only thing that is going to save our schools and our country is birth control.


February 10th, 2012
3:39 pm

What are the other ~15% of Macon’s kids?


February 10th, 2012
3:51 pm

You save money with a 7 period day because fewer teachers are needed as teachers teach 6 classes a shorter time period than the 4 block. Thus teacher load is increased – more students total, more papers to grade, and less planning along with less time to help studnets in need.


February 10th, 2012
3:51 pm

Somehow the racial demographics for the Bibb County school system make this educational plan even worse, for it seems that this Superintendent is trying to fob off something as half-baked and unrealistic as this on the county because it doesn’t matter so much that black schoolchildren will experience it. Clearly, most of the white schoolchildren there go to private schools.

THIS is where the NAACP should be demonstrating, not at Beaver Ridge Elementary School!!


February 10th, 2012
3:53 pm

@ Dr. Proud Black Man– I’m not the same poster as “the prof.”


February 10th, 2012
4:11 pm

FYI – 2:15 – We may not agree on the race aspect, but you are absolutely right in saying this is a cuckoo plan.

Dr. Proud Black Man – 2:52 – I know you think that’s humorous but I’ve heard funnier things in a sinking lifeboat.


February 10th, 2012
4:11 pm

According to the report itself given in the link Maureen provides above, in the school district 73% are African-American, 21% white, 3% Hispanic, 2% Asian, and 1% multiracial. 77% are on free/reduced lunch programs. I should have written, “minority, poor schoolchildren.”

Dr. Proud Black Man

February 10th, 2012
4:29 pm


Not meant to be funny. Meant to be representative your typical AND boring attempts to inject race into every thread. Do you understand or are you too left of the bell curve to grasp what I’m saying???


February 10th, 2012
4:43 pm

I have said it before, we must reform our society before we can reform our educational system.. There is a reason why so many students are suspended or expelled…think about it!

I like this...GM

February 10th, 2012
4:44 pm

I like this “and dorms for students in need.”

When parents fail to care for their children out of their own fault or something beyond their own control, I am in favor of giving some kids a place to live. Perhaps, when they are in dorms, they will have the support they need to get homework done, get a good meal and get to school on time.

These are desperate measures but it is also a desperate situation. Instead of critizing someone for throwing everything at them including the kitchen sink I am glad they are trying to do everything they can including trying year round schools and longer hours and different models such as k-8. When something isn’t working as bad as this school system isn’t working, I’m all for trying something different.

Good Ma


February 10th, 2012
4:52 pm

What is Argosy? Is it contagious? By the way, I wouldn’t mention the Bell curve. It is definitely NOT your friend.