SACS to Cherokee legislators: Hands off school board elections and the chairmanship

The efforts of Cherokee legislators to realign the school board may be derailed by the accreditation agency that gives schools, including Cherokee, an important seal of approval.

Loss of accreditation could impede the ability of students from Cherokee to qualify for college scholarships, something that would not sit well with parents in this education-minded county.

House Bill 978 would realign the Cherokee county school board and effectively remove the elected school board chair and vice chair. Now, the school board has seven members elected county-wide who elect their chair and vice chair.

(You can read a condemnation of the legislators by Cherokee school chief here.)

I view this letter from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools as a rebuke of the lawmakers and a caution to leave well enough alone. We will have to see if the Cherokee delegation sees it the same way.

The letter was sent to Cherokee school board chair Mike Chapman.

February 27, 2012

Mr. Chapman,

This communication is in response to your inquiry regarding the proposed State of Georgia legislation that would restructure the voting districts and responsibilities for the Cherokee County Board of Education. There are several concerns regarding the proposed legislation. First, the election of the Board chair by registered voters in Cherokee County is highly irregular.

Normally the Board chair is elected by members of the Board. This is a normal and effective practice for a couple of reasons. The election of the chair is normally based on the individual’s experience as a board member, knowledge of the school system, ability to facilitate the work of the Board, and serve as a spokesperson for the Board, when required. Boards of Education take great care in making this decision. Such members are in the best position to select their leadership. The Board chair is the primary liaison between the Superintendent and the Board and plays a critical role in setting the context and tone for the school system.

Finally, the Board chair position is typically a one year appointment. If the community at large were to elect the Board chair it would struggle making an informed decision based on the above stated criteria. Also, such a decision would be for four years. If the decision is incorrect the school system and Board would have no recourse.

In such a case, the system could be irreparably harmed during this four year period. The school system’s ability to function could be significantly impacted including its capacity to meet accreditation requirements. I am uncertain as to the motivation behind the consideration of the proposed legislation.

However, the State of Georgia should not enact legislation that bypasses or usurps the local control of Boards of Education. There is no substitute for the impact that an effective Board of Education can have on the success of a school system.

Cherokee County Schools have enjoyed over a decade of success because of the strong and stable leadership of its governance leadership team which includes the Board of Education and Superintendent. Any legislation that would disrupt this successful track record would be unfortunate. If I can be of any further assistance please let me know.

Respectfully,

Mark A. Elgart, Ed.D., President/CEO

AdvancED

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

68 comments Add your comment

Like I said before...

February 27th, 2012
5:59 pm

if the legislators know what’s right, they leave things the way they are.

redweather

February 27th, 2012
6:10 pm

Big “if” when you’re talking about Georgia’s legislature.

LWall

February 27th, 2012
6:49 pm

They need to just admit they made a mistake and do away with this piece of legislation.

Andy

February 27th, 2012
6:54 pm

When is Georgia going to wake up and tell Mark Elgart to take a long walk. Why do people not realize this is a private business that takes the money from public schools and imposes his wishes on them. Why do voters and leaders of Georgia not understand how strange this appears

Concerned parent

February 27th, 2012
6:54 pm

If they continue on this self motivated path, then the local delegation needs to be removed from office. It is unclear what their motives are but I can imagine parents might rally and either call for a recall of these officials or vote them out at the upcoming election. They need to consider the over 38,000 students in the county.

Concerned parent

February 27th, 2012
6:58 pm

Mark Elgart is the CEO of SACS/CASI. His opinion is important when it comes to accreditation. Students are unable to get scholarships if they do not attend an accredited school.

Travis McGee

February 27th, 2012
7:03 pm

The legislators involve don’t give a tooter’s damn about the students. It’s about political power and should be derailed! And, the SACS has the power to do it.

“Lord what fools these mortals be!” ~Shakespeare

Mike

February 27th, 2012
7:03 pm

Like SACS or not, they control quite a bit in terms of education in the state. They did some good stuff in Clayton, helping fix a discredited and dysfunctional system. What they state hear makes good sense. Therefore, you got to go with it.

Active in Cherokee

February 27th, 2012
7:27 pm

“such a decision would be for four years. If the decision is incorrect the school system and Board would have no recourse.”

That part of his argument makes more sense than any other argument I’ve heard for or against the bill. I had been leaning that direction anyhow; however, this part of the argument sales me on being against the bill.

catlady

February 27th, 2012
7:30 pm

What is Elgart’s EdD in and from where? Has he ever held a real job in education?

For Kids

February 27th, 2012
7:42 pm

Please, please, please email the Cherokee delegation and ask they amend or rescind HB978, which has passed throught the House and is now in the Senate. We have been trying to make everyone understand that the shenanigans being played by our delegates – Sean Jerguson, Calvin Hill and Charlice Byrd with the full backing of Chip Rogers – are going to HURT our children in public schools but they’re so high on their own power trips that they’ve completely ignored us and insulted us through arrogant emails in response to our pleas. This is our LAST chance, folks, because if it passes as is, it’s LAW for 10 years. Think of our property values, the schools our children want to attend after high school, and the accredidation of our highly-ranked system. GET INVOLVED!

Mikey D

February 27th, 2012
7:43 pm

Chip Rogers and his band of misfits couldn’t care less what SACS has to say. They don’t care if the county schools aren’t reaccredited because they want to push privatization anyway. While reasonable adults would look at this letter and take a moment to consider, petulent children like Chipper will simply “bow up” and act even more foolishly. He’s a legend in his own mind, and no high-fallutin’ CEO lib is gonna tell him what to do!!!

Hillbilly D

February 27th, 2012
7:43 pm

Since I don’t live in Cherokee, I guess it’s none of my business but I’d have a few questions about all this, if I did. First off, it’d come as no surprise to me if legislators are overstepping their bounds for political reasons. On the other hand, I’d have questions about SACS/Elgart, etc. Who funds them? Are they public or private? What’s their skin in the game, etc?

A lot more questions than answers in this, for me.

Concerned Parent

February 27th, 2012
7:45 pm

He is the CEO of SACS/CASI. He is following standards from the Georgia School Board Association. If a school is not accredited by SACS then students are not eligible for scholarships.

btw…here is his information. Yes is has a background in education.
Prior to joining SACS CASI in 1995, Elgart served nine years as a math and science teacher, as well as a school administrator at the middle and high school levels, which included six years as a middle school principal.
Elgart currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Knowledge Alliance and is a National Advisor for the National Staff Development Council. In July 2011 he was recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as one of the 100 most influential people in Metropolitan Atlanta. Elgart also represents AdvancED as a lead business partner with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).

dcb

February 27th, 2012
7:47 pm

For those above who are prone to blame the messenger for the message they don’t like – shape up. Accreditation is voluntary. If you don’t like the position that SACS takes, lobby your district to drop their accreditation. In my opinion SACS is doing a good job of separating the governance from the operations part of our educational systems – private as well as public. Much of the credit is because Mark Elgart is at the helm. I know Elgart. He is a class act, bright, well-educated, and with an excellent professional background. More important, perhaps, he has an ability to let criticism suggesting he doesn’t know his job roll off his back and concentrate on legitimate questions of SACS standards and policies.

catlady

February 27th, 2012
7:47 pm

Are Chip Rogers and Newt Gingrich related?

Realist

February 27th, 2012
7:49 pm

Remember more than 10 years ago when CCSD was in deep trouble? Chip, don’t muck with something just because you can.

Truth Today

February 27th, 2012
7:51 pm

Leave well enough alone. A hint to the wise is sufficient. But, I must be reminded that wisdom is not common or easily embraced.

Hillbilly D

February 27th, 2012
7:52 pm

Are Chip Rogers and Newt Gingrich related?

Nah, Newt’s from Pennsylvania.

Attentive Parent

February 27th, 2012
8:04 pm

dcb- Accreditation is not voluntary if you want your graduates to have access to Hope scholarships.

What I find really fascinating is how the ed lab trade group that gets millions in federal funding elected Elgart to head the group. The behavioral ed labs think the Pres of the accreditors can best represent their interests.

I would ask why but then I have seen those new AdvancEd Standards for Quality Review. What a misnomer that title is. I urge every school board member to get a copy and see how accreditation actually means academics must be gutted.

And since you are such good friends with Elgart, you might tell him that jetting off to Dubai and explaining that accreditation will require gutting the traditional transmission of knowledge model is a better short-term revenue strategy than long term.

What does accreditation mean if that is what is being mandated?

Oh. And tell him someone took every last bit of the AdvancEd sticker off the Riverwood front door. Thereby verifying the extent to which Hinojosa and Avossa are Elgart plants.

“Here’s what you need to say to the Board members to get them to trust you”. Really interested in local school board autonomy over the schools. Right.

Dusty

February 27th, 2012
8:24 pm

It’s hilarious to see the likes of Attentive Parent railing on Mark Elgart with regards to this matter. The letter above states only common sense. When politicians try to use educational legislation to advance their political ideals they often have no consideration for the children that will ultimately bear the cost. Thankfully we have the likes of SACS to keep them in check.

TW

February 27th, 2012
8:26 pm

Chip Rogers could not care less if Cherokee were to lose accreditation.

Who's in bed with whom?

February 27th, 2012
8:40 pm

Seriously? SACS cannot strip a county of accreditation simply because they don’t like the fact that their little brown noser Mike Chapman didn’t get re-elected. How the board members are elected does not affect accreditation. RESULTS DO. The Bored of Education does not set the standards, the state does. C’mon… we’ve got a former professional wrestler with political aspirations on the board – he has no children and no true vested interested in the education system. The Bored is just a political bullying group that makes parents’ life hell.

Voice of Reason

February 27th, 2012
9:03 pm

Whether you agree with the board or not, you should be concerned if you live in Cherokee county. This bill is nothing other than retribution for the board turning down a charter school that the local legislative delegation wanted approved.

Voters of Cherokee County elected this school board to do their will. If they don’t follow through with that, it is voters that should remove them. Instead, you have a bunch of whiny legislators that didn’t get their way so they are going to ram this through regardless of what the voters think.

Mikey D

February 27th, 2012
9:04 pm

@Who’s in…
“The Bored (sp) is just a political bullying group…”

And you think Chipper and his crew are anything but political bullies?? What planet are you living on?

A teacher

February 27th, 2012
9:12 pm

Chip Rogers is egotistical and self-self serving and is hell-bent on destroying education. I might also add he is vindictive. I’m not a big fan of the Superintendant, but he’s right about this one.

Grandfather

February 27th, 2012
9:13 pm

I do not live in Cherokee county but do have children and grand children who do. Three of the kids are graduates of Cherokee schools and are well educated. Three others are still in school and are receiving an education that is top notch. Please do not mess with this very, very fine school system which is rated among the best in the state.

Ron F.

February 27th, 2012
9:25 pm

Your local BOE is NOT a part of your state legislative delegation and should not be controlled or influenced by them. Whether you agree with SACS and their accredidation methods, you have to agree that the state legislature has absolutely no business dealing with BOE affairs. Cherokee schools have done well in recent years, even with the level of growth they had before the recession. This reeks horribly of political retribution for disagreeing with the almight state (and conservatives say they’re for smaller government and less influence over local matters…yeah, right!). I cannot believe this is the will of the majority of consitutents. But, as I have mentioned in several threads here of late, if the voters don’t exercise their rights to demand their legislators’ behavior and step up and make their voices heard, then they get what they get. I fear in this case that local voters just may not do anything and let this happen.

Cherokee Parent

February 27th, 2012
10:01 pm

in response to Grandfather – I have a daughter (not a grandchild) in the Cherokee system. To say it’s a “very very fine” school system is offensive. And “rated among the best in the state”? Who cares, the “state” ranks at the bottom of the heap compared to the rest of the country. Cherokee County runs their schools like it’s 1998 – and while the Superintendent has the Board in his back pocket (Chapman and Read) there is little chance for change. I applaud our legislators – especially Chip Rogers – for taking on this fight – and working to set our schools on a better path.

Thank you, Mareen

February 27th, 2012
10:05 pm

Sen. Rogers and the other hand puppet legislators from that county are floating the “Clayton County” model for ONE reason: When each member represents only a small district, they will have no reason to get along with the other members (see Clayton County history) and people will run for the position as a springboard to other political office, grandstanding and running the school district into the ground which, by the way, has been a stated goal of Sen. Rogers.

Public HS Teacher

February 27th, 2012
10:20 pm

Keep politicans OUT OF EDUCATION!!!!!

Marc

February 27th, 2012
11:11 pm

Hope the county makes the right decision. Doesn’t matter what anyone thinks; doesn’t matter if it’s private or public. In the Game of Life, these matter : #0.5) Do you have an athletic scholarship? #1) What is your SAT score? #2) What is your GPA?

These are the only facts that matter to 95% of ALL colleges your child might apply to. The order of the questions is correct.
At most colleges, students on athletic scholarships ALWAYS have 1st dibs on ANY course selections. Way before the rest of the PAYING students get a chance. Most folks don’t know it; just getting it out there.

ANgela Palm

February 27th, 2012
11:14 pm

@Concerned Parent 7:45

Mark Elgart is CEO of AdvancEd, parent company of SACS/CASI. The accrediting agency sets the standards it’s members must meet. The Georgia School Boards Association has standards that local boards may choose to meet. GSBA standards are very similar to the SACS standards on governance but they were derived from different processes.

@ Ron F 9:45
You’re correct the local board and delegation are separate entities. Details of a local board’s organization/structure is often in local legislation, however, so a local delegation does have a role to play. As always though the “devil is in the details” and sometimes the details present an ugly picture.

Fish & Chips

February 27th, 2012
11:21 pm

Chip sends his kids to private schools. Charlice doesn’t have kids. Not sure about the other two state legislatures involved in this, but wouldn’t be surprised if none of them has sent a child to Cherokee public schools.

Scooby

February 27th, 2012
11:50 pm

State Legislators have dug around in Clayton, Atlanta and DeKalb schools systems. Now they are in Cherokee and there are chimes for buzz off and let the locals control things? If SACS and the crew under the Gold Dome were supported when the others were screwed with, then let them at Cherokee. C’mon, y’all are better than this. Aren’t ya? The old double standard raises it head yet again. I can’t make this stuff up!

Nostradamus

February 27th, 2012
11:53 pm

It ought to be painfully obvious by now that this was never about what was best for the students and parents of Cherokee County. The school board requested unanimously in its legislative wish list document to be left alone. This move was about retribution, pure and simple. And until these legislators are voted out of office, they are going to pander to the 100 or so people in a county with 200,000 citizens who don’t like the superintendent and want to control the school board. So much for appreciation of success! They would rather dismantle the school system than listen to reason and the majority of wishes. There was a poll conducted by an interest group funded by Rogers and a miraculous last minute change of direction by their appointed committee. The only way to stop these folks is to vote them out of office. They have been transparent in their deceit and disdain of parents who are involved. One representative was so rude as to use a sexist remark when referring to PTA moms. Another chided that she wished she could use OUR tax dollars to fix problems other than funding education. Another wants you to believe that not fully funding the state education formula (which is the law) is not really a cut, then proudly boasts that he is a champion of spending cuts! Wake up people, you elected these fine statesmen!

Cowboy

February 28th, 2012
12:03 am

@who’s In bed with whom?

You have to stop making stuff up about folks just so it will back up your point.

The former professional wrestler on the school board has in fact a teaching degree.

He also has 3 children… Two of whom currently attend Etowah High School and one that graduated two years ago.

I’d say that gives him a pretty strong vested interest.

Voter in Cherokee

February 28th, 2012
12:12 am

Chip Rogers is an idiot. All he cares about is getting re-elected and keeping his power. He needs to get a REAL job and stop screwing over the county and living off the taxpayers.

reeni

February 28th, 2012
2:46 am

how do we get invoved? how do we protest? i will move out of this county if they ass this law!

reeni

February 28th, 2012
2:46 am

oops typo…i meant pass this law

Lee

February 28th, 2012
5:36 am

This directive from the mother ship of all knowledge really chaps me. Why do we elect school boards in the first place if SACS, which has no method by which to be held accountable itself can act like Kind George and issue rulings from on high? And before any of you dismiss my comment, I have a doctorate myself and teach, so i am not a moron with a laptop.

Scumbag at it Again

February 28th, 2012
6:11 am

This is the same scumbag that destroyed Clayton and DeKalb BOE’s. Cherokee has a long history of attorney Glenn Brock meddling in their school board. Every time a county tries to align its board members with the community or the communities wishes, Brock calls in Mark EggBurt. They have this little dog-and-pony show they do for the AJC to get their BS thrown in. If Brock didn’t have EggBurt and EggBurt didn’t have the AJC to spread their deceit . . . Georgia Education would actually start improving off the bottom.

Piece od Trash at it Again

February 28th, 2012
6:19 am

This is the same piece of trash that destroyed Clayton and DeKalb BOE’s. Cherokee has a long history of attorney Glenn Brock meddling in their school board. Every time a county tries to align its board members with the community or the communities wishes, Brock calls in Mark EggBurt. They have this little dog-and-pony show they do for the AJC to get their BS thrown in. If Brock didn’t have EggBurt and EggBurt didn’t have the AJC to spread their deceit . . . Georgia Education would actually start improving off the bottom.

catlady

February 28th, 2012
6:49 am

Yeah, but for the sake of full disclosure, WHERE did Elgart get his EdD and in what field? I understand he has limited experience in education (ie, less than 20 years) but have not been able to find a complete bio.

SACS used to be a reputable agency, 20-30 years ago. Now it is not.

Kara Rose

February 28th, 2012
7:11 am

While I disagree with this letter and some of its points, it was refreshing to see someone express their point of view without personal attacks and slander for once. I understand that the residents of the county voting for the chair is irregular, however the way this sounds, it is as if they are saying we are not capable of making an informed decision in the best interest of our children. Also I know that Cherokee County is ranked well in education in the state but again I say that we need better. Being 48th in the nation should be unacceptable and we should not be patting ourselves on the back about that. Change is never easy, but it is necessary.

Karl Marx

February 28th, 2012
7:23 am

Wow Fish and Chips did you ever think that if state legislators don’t send their kid to “Public” Schools they may know something about those schools. Also I will remind everyone SACS is a dictatorship. They have no competition. Have any of you yet made the relationship that SACS has been the only accreditation group involved in southern school and most southern schools are at the bottom when compared with the rest of the nation. That is no small coincidence. Get your head out of the sand and look at how bad southern public schools really are and realize more money isn’t the problem. And by the way, don’t scream for “local control” while sticking your hand out for State funding. When you do you show just big of hypocrites you really are. If you want local control then “local” should pay for it.

Cherokee granny

February 28th, 2012
7:53 am

Please seek and find out where we rank nationally, I know the stats are out there. The real truth is how and why the legislators are trying to change the formula, it is nothing more than their way of dismantling public education in favor of for profit companies. Right now there are over 150 charter schools in the state and I will fully support more when you can show me full disclosure and transparency regarding the funding of the schools. It really isn’t difficult. I look forward to the IB program and other focused curriculum beginning in our schools, however this is not something that is just pulled out of a hat, you need the correct mix of administrators, teaching, support staff and parents willing to commit the time and involvement required to ensure success.

PappyHappy

February 28th, 2012
8:10 am

If the erstwhile politicians want to curb the growth in Cherokee County, they are moving in the right direction! These ‘grease my palmers’ need to take a look at Clayton County.

Are politicians INCAPABLE OF LEARNING FROM OTHERS’ MISTAKES?

dcb

February 28th, 2012
8:14 am

Sorry Karl – I disagree that SACS is a dictatorship. A “monopoly” by definition perhaps – but not a dictatorship. And standards are not developed by Mark Elgart. They are developed by member schools – your heads of each accredited school has a vote. Governance (Boards of Education) issues in local schools vs. operations (principals) is a very big issue in the SACS game. Violation of all standards are given two or three years to be cleared up save one – interference in the running of a school by the governing boards. So like it or not. Believe SACS membership is important or not. Nor think that Mark Elgart is doing his job the way you would like him to or not. It is what it is. And until the rules of the game are changed, my personal administrative experience of over 30 years in SACS accredited schools found it best to play by those rules.

Slip

February 28th, 2012
8:27 am

I don’t know about the majority of people in this state or that county, but I don’t want my education tax dollars going to the private corporate managers who will keep their hand in the pie with lobbyists whether they do well or not. You can bet they won’t get the blame from the recipients of their campaign donations.
Public schools with public money. Let us pick the managers through the elective process.