Guest column: Put even more limits on power of school boards

Mpaza S. Kapembwa is a student at Williams College, studying on a Gates Millennium Scholarship, among other scholarships. A 2011 graduate of DeKalb County’s Cross Keys High school, Mpaza has written two essays for the Get Schooled blog, which you can read here and here.

Here is his third:

By Mpaza S. Kapembwa

While opponents of the charter school amendment say it takes away control from local school boards, I argue the state hasn’t gone far enough in limiting that control.

The debate has been wrongfully focused on local versus state control, parent choice and whether or not the amendment will create publicly funded “private” schools. These issues have made both sides forget that they are all fighting for the same thing: A better system.

Creating more charter schools might give parents a new option, and they need that choice because they are the major stakeholders in the system, but choice alone won’t do much. The fact that no student is guaranteed a spot in a charter school, given the lottery selection process, serves again to minimize parental power.

If our ambitions with this amendment are to give parents a greater voice in how schools are run, we have to limit the power of school boards. Nancy Jester, a DeKalb school board member, pointed out in her recent column that real local control involves “a volunteer group of parents, teachers and community members” coming together and working for the interests of all students.

Mark Elgart, president of SACS, said the DeKalb board operates as nine political figures, fighting for their own special interests. This isn’t the local political atmosphere we want. In order to give parents a stronger voice, we need to constitutionally change the structure of school boards. Thus, several steps must be taken to limit the power of school boards.

The first step would be to make positions on school boards all unpaid. Part of a general public distrust of politicians comes from the perception that there is something monetary to be gained by being elected. Passionate community members who will run and know they won’t be paid will assure parents and teachers that the focus of debates and decisions would be for the best interests of the students.

Second, school boards shouldn’t be the ultimate deciders on who the superintendent should be. The board should do the searching and come up with a list of finalists, but the voters should decide. The candidates won’t be in a political campaign because we don’t want to politicize the office.

Candidates should attend forums, separately, in every attendance area around a county and convince voters they deserve the job. Too often, we see parents and teachers unhappy with the school board decision. School chiefs need approval from voters. School boards, like Congress, will still retain the power to impeach a superintendent who isn’t performing well.

Lastly, school board members should be elected in county-wide elections. Some board members manage to hang on to their seats even if they are not serving in the interest of all students because they are continuously elected by their district. Decisions these board members make affect every student and parent, and their fate should lie in the hands of all the people who are affected by their decisions.

No matter the results of the charter school amendment vote on Nov. 6, public education will still require more sweeping changes than state-authorized charter schools. Amendment One shouldn’t be seen as undermining public education but as a wake-up call, proving that enough people have lost faith in our public education system, which will fall apart without the support of the governed.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

88 comments Add your comment

Beth Maney

October 24th, 2012
5:49 am

There are other things that need limits as well, like a limit on superintendents’ salaries. Did you know that the Gwinnett County superintendent’s salary in 2011 was $410,000.00, plus travel expenses? See for yourself at http://www.opengeorgia.gov. Georgia superintendents’ salaries (and that of their staffs) have gone sky high in the past 15 years. No wonder the Superintendents’ Association is fighting so hard against the amendment. They’ve got a kingdom to protect. The average Georgia taxpayer would be outraged if he/she were aware of the amount of money that our education bureaucracy is raking in with these inflated salaries.

Jack

October 24th, 2012
5:50 am

I like the writer’s idea about unpaid board members and the fact they should be voted on by the entire county. If that should take place, it should attract citizens that aren’t looking for a political career.

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2012
6:26 am

public education will still require more sweeping changes than state-authorized charter schools

Two thumbs up for Mr. Kapembwa. He understands the current structure of the system is outmoded and is no longer serving anyone, except a few board members and their cronies.

A couple of points, though:

The real money for board members isn’t in salary, it’s in political power (which always equals $) and other perks. I’m not sure making the position unpaid would do anything but attract people determined to make money under the table. It’s wonderful to think there’s a load of noble folks sitting around waiting to take a thankless job for no pay but it doesn’t quite square with reality.

How do you keep Superintendents from campaigning? Again, it’s wonderful to think the entire community will turn out at public forums to meet the candidates but it doesn’t square with reality. People have jobs and families. You’d be disenfranchising people who couldn’t make the meeting. Also, the fact someone sounds good making a 10 minute speech means they sound good making a 10 minute speech. It has absolutely nothing to do with what I’d consider critical skills for such a job.

We should have made all school board positions at-large a long time ago, voters could break up some of these insane cliques. That’s the most realistic and immediately achievable goal in this list.

redweather

October 24th, 2012
6:34 am

County-wide elections would probably improve the selection process. The problem with Mr. Kapembwa’s Op/Ed is that he seems comfortable with letting a bunch of the Governor’s cronies make these decisions. That is one of the reasons I am adamantly opposed to this constitutional amendment. My other reason for opposing it was addressed by Jason Carter in his recent Op/Ed.

my own two cents

October 24th, 2012
6:54 am

Here is an idea since we seem to recycle old ideas in education and sell it as something new…Make all 180 superintendents in Georgia elected and have the Grand Jury appoint the board of education in each district.

Eddie Hall

October 24th, 2012
7:24 am

Electing Supt’s is a failed process that was tossed out 20+ years ago. I served on a BOE that was elected at-large, and recieved no pay. Yes, I agree, that makes for a better system. I also agree that education reform is needed. This amendment is just not it. VOTE NO!

Anonymous

October 24th, 2012
7:31 am

@Aquagirl, no one is “disenfranchising someone who can’t make a meeting.” People make choices to attend or not attend.

Your comment scares me. When I have a conflict with a political forum that I’d really like to attend I don’t consider that “Someone” or “the Man: is disenfranchising me. I consider it unfortunate, and then I talk to friends and neighbors who attended and I read the AJC to find out what happened.

Dc

October 24th, 2012
7:33 am

The best solution to ineffective inward focused bureaucracies is always competition….which forces them to make decisions that make their “product” (in this case, theirs schools) more attractice to the customer. With the current system, Local school boards view charter schools as competition for money, and since the boards can control charter approval, they can squash the charters ability to offer a more attractive service. Thus the local boards preserve their control of the money

This amendment is a positive step to removing the local boards ability to limit competition and keep control of our tax money.

“fixes” like the ones described in this blog are unfortunately ineffective bandaids that cant address the real problem. True competition is the only real long term solution

Maude

October 24th, 2012
7:36 am

When Hetley was in Clayton the school had no power!!

Beth Maney

October 24th, 2012
7:39 am

There are other things that need limits as well, like a limit on superintendents’ salaries. Did you know that the Gwinnett County superintendent’s salary in 2011 was $410,000.00, plus travel expenses? Georgia superintendents’ salaries (and that of their staffs) have gone sky high in the past 15 years. No wonder the Superintendents’ Association is fighting so hard against the amendment. They’ve got a kingdom to protect. The average Georgia taxpayer would be outraged if he/she were aware of the amount of money that our education bureaucracy is raking in with these inflated salaries.

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2012
7:44 am

When I have a conflict with a political forum that I’d really like to attend I don’t consider that “Someone” or “the Man: is disenfranchising me.

Who said anything about “the Man?” There are plenty of single parents who would have to find a babysitter or pay for childcare. If you live in a snobby world where those people aren’t good enough to vote, come right out and say so. If you have issues with voter ID law challenges or whatever, please call Neal Boortz or Limbaugh instead of considering my point as a launching pad for your issues.

Talking to friends or the AJC means you’ll get their their version of what the candidate said. That defeats the entire purpose of these meetings.

cute idea and all....

October 24th, 2012
8:02 am

Ditching school board salaries to weed out potential self serving politicians sounds like a good idea until you realize that state legislators are paid so low ($14k per year if I recall) they might as well be unpaid. This doesn’t seem to have any effect on corruption there.

bubba

October 24th, 2012
8:18 am

Some comments:
“Passionate community members who will run and know they won’t be paid will assure parents and teachers that the focus of debates and decisions would be for the best interests of the students.”
- this is garbage. If there were any “passionate community members” with half a brain – what is keeping them from running today?

“school boards shouldn’t be the ultimate deciders on who the superintendent should be. The board should do the searching and come up with a list of finalists, but the voters should decide.”
- this is garbage. So the Dekalb voters who ignorantly continue to vote for incompetent neighbors to be board members – are suddenly going to: 1) grow a brain and educate themselves on a handful of candidates from across the country; 2) super. searches are going to fall nicely with election cycles to allow people to vote on the supers.?

“Candidates should attend forums, separately, in every attendance area around a county and convince voters they deserve the job.”
- this is garbage. So, a handful of candidates, who are in a secret search, are going to effectively abandon their current jobs/income/communities and come to Dekalb and effectively “campaign” at 100 schools – where essentially no one will be there or care

“Too often, we see parents and teachers unhappy with the school board decision. School chiefs need approval from voters.”
- this is garbage. the “voters” select the school board

“School boards, like Congress, will still retain the power to impeach a superintendent who isn’t performing well.”
- this is garbage, the board would then have the power to impeach (i.e. remove them if they didn’t like them)

“Some board members manage to hang on to their seats even if they are not serving in the interest of all students because they are continuously elected by their district.”
- This is the problem, not the board/super relationship, etc. If the voters are idiots and keep voting for people because they have a D next to their name and their preacher told them to vote for the D candidates – they are going to get idiots as board members no matter what.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
8:29 am

1. I might use the approach “define” what a school board does.

2. School boards have monetary power because of award of service / supply contracts, and there is the commercial real estate angle, too.

3. It is notable that superintendents are supposed to come from a specified supply chain. Locals Sally-Sue and George-McGeorge are not even considered for superintendent. It has to be an exotic person, often from a far away place. In other words, following the corporate “CEO” formula. But schools are not corporations, they are community based. For those who recall the “Jim Cherry” era of Dekalb, isn’t he from Georgia: There’s not even any biographical information about him on line. This is embarrassing, thank you “Georgia Encyclopedia.” There’s one photo http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/nge/Multimedia.jsp?id=m-2502 ., Anyway, picking a superintendent like you’re flying in as dentist from California seems kind of screwy to me and apparently this is what is mandated by SACS. I would suggest considering local talent, and then if the person turns out to be a thief or not follow management code of law, put them in court and put them in jail. Right now, the SACS method seems to make the assumption that local is bad. I would sure like to see an interview on who they think, or what process is acceptable for superintendent search and why – and who it automatically leaves out.

bu2

October 24th, 2012
8:36 am

1 bad idea and 2 downright awful ones.
#1 School boards don’t make that much. As someone else pointed out, its the perks, like contracts and jobs for friends. There’s a saying in Louisiana, we don’t pay our politicians much, but they can steal all they can get away with. What we need are strong statewide laws on conflicts of interests and nepotism. For example, don’t allow people to run for school board if they have direct relatives at a level higher than teacher and require disclosure of all relatives employed by the district. We need significant penalties for circumventing contracting procedures. That won’t stop abuse, but it will control the most egregious cases.
#2 Elections absolutely politicize the office. Elected superintendents would lead to absolutely horrible people entrenched in office. We can’t even remove bad school board members. A well known superintendent would be even harder to defeat. The average tenure in big districts is only 4 or 5 years. Bad (and good) superintendents do get replaced, unlike bad school board members.
#3 Countywide elections would result in no representation for minority groups, whoever that minority happens to be. At large elections only work when you have a homogenous group in terms of economics and interests. Whites in the South for a long time fought to keep at large elections which kept them firmly in control. In Dekalb we would be stuck with 9 Walkers and Cunninghams who live only a few blocks from each other. Having districts keeps a check on the majority group.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
8:38 am

I always thought “school board” was supposed to be a bunch of grandmas put out to pasture who just sort of kept an eye on things.

Eddie Hall

October 24th, 2012
8:39 am

This is one question I have. If people in the counties that have bad BOE ’s and poor representation can’t get good people to run for board seats and elect them, who is going to serve on the parent councils of these charter schools? You have the ability to fix all things wrong now, just do it! The tools are at hand NOW! Don’t give up your right to vote because you don’t want to do the work to make it work. Think about this, IF this passes, and more money is taken from the local systems by the state, who do you think will foot the bill? LOCAL TAX PAYERS! There is big money at stake here, and it is all belongs to the TAXPAYERS.

Brasstown

October 24th, 2012
8:41 am

Your zeal is refreshing, Mr. Kapembwa. Inquire more, speak less.

honested

October 24th, 2012
8:46 am

Private Citizen,

I agree with your notion on ‘national search’ for a superintendent.
But I guess that’s what happens when a tentacle of the chamber of commerce (SACS) is given the false legitimacy of ‘educational accreditation’.
If accreditation were overseen by an entity concerned with education rather than focused on maintaining a business friendly school system I believe we might be surprised at the wealth of local talent that would be revealed.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
8:46 am

Eddie, the power of said parent councils does not scale in the same way that school board power scales. The question may not be so much “who” has opportunity for malfeasance due to sheer scale. You have to consider incentives. i.e. what is the incentive to be on a school board, to be superintendent, to be charter school council etc (I know the last term is like sand in your shoes! or ants in the car!)

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
8:53 am

honested Somebody said SACS is good at what they do on a university level, but I am not sure their approach is right for K12. And then later, I got a hint that they basically (?) prohibit local “roots” oriented superintendent. Now, if I go out to Oakland and be their superintendent, what do I really care? I’m not from Oakland. I’m there for the $200k salary and the package that goes up with it. That’s why I get up in the morning, put on my spiffy suit and do my “management” thing. But the people of Oakland? Are you kidding me? I speak “Corporate-ease” not “Oakland-ease.” Innovation? Local strength? Too complex for me, I’m going to bring you some of that Arne Duncan and Gates Foundation. People of Oakland? Hey look, I don’t drive a Caprice with sparkle paint and air-shocks on it – get away from me.

williebkind

October 24th, 2012
9:02 am

Good article Maureen!! At last we are getting to the heart of the problem–getting government of school.

skipper

October 24th, 2012
9:23 am

No matter which side you are on, APS makes one realize that stupidity and incompetance are fully in play on the board. Folks who cannot even speak proper English, and who have no credentials are elcected to “keep the power” when, whether their intentions are good or not, they do not have the capability to render good decisions.

sneak peak into education

October 24th, 2012
9:29 am

Since local school board members don’t make that much money anyway, I say ok. But if we go down that road then let’s take it all the way and make every official position non-paid, including our legislators in the golden dome.

The Gates Foundation is well known for pushing the radical policies of ALEC and one of their agendas for privatizing education is to weaken the strength of the school board by putting that power into the hands of a non-elected official(s).

Lee

October 24th, 2012
9:29 am

“Your zeal is refreshing, Mr. Kapembwa. Inquire more, speak less.”

Well said!

DeKalb Inside Out

October 24th, 2012
9:37 am

Sorry, but this article is naive. Before we get our panties in a wad, let’s all get on the same page.

Control – What control are we talking about. The school executive administrations have all the power and control. Local boards can hire/fire the Superintendents, but board members otherwise have NO power or control. All the boards can do is set policies which the administrations can follow if they feel like it.

Board Salary – $20K annual salary is corrupting our board? Why don’t we make the Superintendent’s salary $20K? We already have many bad board members. I don’t see where the good people turned off by $20K are going to jump at the idea of doing it for free.

At Large Elections – Are you crazy?? Why don’t we elect all of our senators and reps at large? If we did, the largest group of people would elect everybody and the smaller groups of people would have no representation.

Aquagirl, What political power and perks are you referring to?

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
9:49 am

-checked out the author’s other essays. He definitely has good ideas. The British graphic novel author of “Watchmen” and “V for Vendetta” has recently made a conclusion of abandoning the superhero motif based on that it represents something that is not accessible to regular people, use of “super tools” flying, etc. just not reality based. He arrived at this much later in his career than Mr. Kapembwa, but they share a similar perspective. For being such a recluse, there is a lot of interview video of Moore. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9G4DTyKh4Tk

In Alan Moore’s words, Waiting for Superman – “miserable and pretentious”

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2012
9:50 am

Aquagirl, What political power and perks are you referring to?

Mostly the nepotism and employment of friends in cushy, well paying administrative jobs. There’s also contracts to be handed out to friends and for kickbacks. IIRC someone a while back had the school system buy their book that probably wouldn’t have sold two copies otherwise. Talk about blatant cash diversion…sheesh.

School systems employ a lot of people and buy a lot of stuff. Both of these avenues are ripe for exploitation.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 24th, 2012
10:11 am

Aquagirl

BOE Perks – OK, so you’re talking about access to illegal activity. You’ll notice most of the time when there is illegal activity, it’s the Superintendent and the executive staff like Pat Pope and Crawford Lewis. Gwinnett board had the land scandal, but look at the number of board members being prosecuted for crimes vs the number of Superintendents being prosecuted for crimes … and we have 7 times as many board members out there.

The administration finds the contractors, makes the deals and brings it before the board. The board just votes to approve it. It’s very difficult for a board member to orchestrate these things.

Friends and Family Program – Nepotism – Very few board members benefit from the Friends and Family program. It’s not like once you get on the board, you start setting your friends up with jobs. There are a couple people that make the rest of the BOE types look bad with Friends and Family.

I think most of the problems you have are with the administrations. Nepotism and illegal activities are alive and well, but I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that it is a BOE perk but for a very very very small number of people.

Concernedmom30329

October 24th, 2012
10:22 am

DeKalb Inside Oout

It is well known, across the state, that there are BoE members who simply want the job for the salary, regardless how piddly. When the original Clayton mess happened, it really was BoE members who were doing wrong. However, several told state officials they would only resign if the state found them another part time job with equivalent salaries.

Many of the highest performing school systems have non-paid school boards. I happen to strongly believe that this would bring in better candidates, because simply running a campaign costs money, most of which would be their own. It would show a strong dedication to the cause, to be willing to do it for free.

skipper

October 24th, 2012
10:27 am

As I have stated before….lets see where this cluster is 10 years from now with the incpmoetant voters, many board members, etc. Does ANYBODY think an inner-city Atlana public school will be a dsstination, or will folks still be flying away. Folks may be moving in back downtown, but not with school-age kids. What a travesty…….an education system with uneducated people on board.

Cactus

October 24th, 2012
10:30 am

Local school boards are sometimes imperfect, just as our democratic system has its imperfections, but to redirect the power that rightfully belongs to voters to a commission appointed by the state’s top elected officers is even worse. I disagree with the statement that everyone on either side of the charter school issue is working toward the same goal, a “better system.” While some proponents of the amendment clearly have that goal in mind, the chief architects of this amendment are driven by money they expect to make from education management corporations and other out of state investors who have a national agenda that further enriches them with Georgia taxpayer dollars. In my opinion, improving public education is not part of their agenda. If this amendment is so good, why did our state’s top elected leaders, e.g. Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker of the House frame the language on the ballot to be grossly misleading if not intentionally false? I believe it is because they want to trick voters into approving something that sounds good but cannot bear up under citizen scrutiny. They have so little respect for voters that they feel sure no one will really study this topic and make an informed decision. I hope they are wrong, but I do fear at times that people are so busy that they will not have an opportunity to consider what is going on here, and will allow unethical leaders to reap financial rewards at taxpayer expense. We have a Governor today with a long history of unethical behavior dating back to his days in Washington, and he continues his practices today as though Georgia is Louisiana under Huey Long. Everything is for sale in this administration. How long he will continue to use Georgians’ tax dollars for his own political gain will be determined by voters who will either extend his leash or rein him in. I have voted against the charter school amendment because it is a fraud that will take badly needed funds away from the majority of boys and girls in our public schools and redirect those funds to “for profit” corporations that are acting in league with our Governor for financial gain. Charter schools are good things that need to grow in our state, but in my opinion we should not confuse the merits of charter schools with the scam that is the charter school amendment. We need to send a signal to the Governor, the General Assembly and those involved in perpetrating this scam that we are not as gullible as they think we are.

Aquagirl

October 24th, 2012
10:33 am

Nepotism and illegal activities are alive and well, but I wouldn’t make a blanket statement that it is a BOE perk but for a very very very small number of people.

That’s probably true, if you know Dekalb inside out, who am I to argue? Nevertheless it happens and eliminating salaries for board members would do nothing to solve the problem. It might add to it, though. You discourage people who can’t afford to work for free. That’s a good chunk of the population.

There is nothing wrong with paying someone to work and I think Mr. Kapembwa is unrealistic. I admire his idealism but it may spring from the fact he hasn’t really encountered the real world, where being paid is a necessity for most people.

bu2

October 24th, 2012
10:35 am

@DIO
I’m with Aqua Girl. Some of what happens is illegal, but some is just shady, steering contracts towards friends. As for the nepotism, there are also “friends,” which in Dekalb’s case, are often incompetent. And while administration is most succeptible, its awfully naiive to think Walker, Cunningham and Bowen haven’t been influencing what the administration is doing on hiring. Gwinnet’s bribery cases also shows what boards can do even though the administration is actually putting out bids and making recommendations.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 24th, 2012
10:40 am

ConcernedMom
Yup, I agree, some people are doing it for the salary. If we take away the salary, then we take away those people. I don’t see how that attracts qualified candidates we don’t have at $20K.

Please describe the type of person that can do the BOE job for free. Given the time requirements, it’s nearly impossible for somebody with a full time job to do it. So, now we are left with independently wealthy, retired, or people who have spouses with good jobs. We are severely narrowing down the potential candidate pool … almost eliminating everybody in low income districts.

I’m of the mindset that you get what you pay for. Same idea for teachers and all the other important jobs at the school district. Perhaps if we paid the BOE $100K+ we would get a larger pool of qualified candidates.

Just a thought.

RAMZAD

October 24th, 2012
10:48 am

“Mark Elgart, president of SACS, said the DeKalb board operates as nine political figures, fighting for their own special interests.” This statement addresses the crux of the “local control problem.” School boards are literally accountable to no one. We may believe that they are accountable to voters, but if they are it is three or four years after they have constructed the local academic destruction.

Mr. Kapembwa is right. Amendment 1 is supposed to be just a shot across the bow to tell local control that the whole enchilada is about to become a tamale.

Burroughston Broch

October 24th, 2012
11:10 am

The same sort of people will stand for the Board and be elected in DeKalb, regardless of whether it pays a stipend or not.
The reasons many Board members want the post are (1) financial deals under the table, and (2) posh school system jobs for friends and family.
Nancy Jester is the exception to the above.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
11:14 am

RAMAZADA, I’ll take one of the tamales, thank you. One thing about district electing of school board officials are that there are just not that many people who want to be on a school board. I don’t. I do not even associate the power of anything with a personal idea of being on a school board? What are they supposed to accomplish? To me, just guessing, it seems like school boards mainly manage the physical buildings of a school district, where they’re located, capacity, and condition, and that’s about it. That seems to be their exclusive use. The part about school districts signing off on hires makes me very very uncomfortable. When a worker is hired, the language is used that “the school board approved hiring so&so.” It is just very bizarre and I don’t relate to it. And it de-tracts me, not attracts me to their function. Companies hire people to get a job done, they don’t “approve” them. It is poor boundaries and poor language. It is pretty darn strange if they’re getting paid $20k/ year and then use the language of royalty. I don’t like it and I do not want anyone to “approve” of me and all that goes with it. I’ll go work where there is a market need and deliver value for what I am paid, but the rest of it – I’d rather be sipping a Miller Lite on my own time – and I don’t even drink. Get away from me with all that stuff!!! The first time you see it, it is like huh? wha? C’mon, surely this is not how teacher hiring is done elsewhere. And it’s the formal definition of micro-managing when you skip the manager and make decisions about what they are doing. Maybe there was a reason for this method at one time, but I don’t see the reason now. It seems excessive and burdensome. I think it would be good to see / make a list of what duties school boards are supposed to do exclusively and that no one else can do. What is their core and necessary function / duties?

DeKalb Inside Out

October 24th, 2012
11:15 am

bu2
If I get elected to the board, how do I steer contracts or get my friends hired? The BOE’s only employee is the Superintendent. The BOE can’t contact HR and get their friends hired and they can’t contact the people putting contracts together. There has to be a larger framework of people and connections in place to make that happen … refer to Walker below.

Cunningham – Jay tried his best to get the district to start buying pizza from him to no avail. They entertained him and bought some, but no real money.

Bowen – He’s impotent and a Walker pawn as far as I can tell. Let me know if you can connect him to anything.

Walker – OK. Walker is part of a larger organization, The South DeKalb Mafia / New Birth Church, that has infiltrated the DeKalb county government and school system. Note: Walker isn’t the head. Walker is going to have friends and family in there and get his shady deals whether he is on the BOE or not.

My point is that everything surrounding Walker is because he is part of the mafia and New Birth and not because he is on the board. Eliminating the BOE positions or limiting whatever power/authority they have will do nothing to affect Walker, the mafia and New Birth.

DeKalb Inside Out

October 24th, 2012
11:23 am

RAMZAD
Correct – School boards are virtually unaccountable. But what power/authority do they really have?

My point is they effectively have no power or authority. They can hire/fire the Superintendent, but that is it. The administration ultimately doesn’t have to comply with the board or their policies.

If the board and super start butting heads, SACS will step and tell the board to back off. SACS ALWAYS sides with the administration … even when the administration is breaking policies. Has SACS EVER held the administration accountable for anything?

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
11:31 am

I still do not know the formal duties of a Georgia school board. It would nice if someone provided a link to this information in concise form. The question then is, is the position doing their job according to the legal code? That’s about it. If they’re not, warn, counsel, get rid of or throw in jail. I am not an advocate of disposing people, I am an advocate of building people, but Georgia just seems real vacant about clear rules and remedy for not following them. There is too much sway, interpretation, and people getting money to push sway and interpretation. Georgia is a dangerous place to work and I’d have my attorneys’ cards in front my employers cards for contact information. If anyone thinks it is okay to grow up, work a career and then get frog-marched off the work site, this is not how I want to live. And seems like a lot of people think that is just fine, shows you how low we have gotten. Yes, one answer is to separate out from the Borg and build back smaller communities that have boundaries and where people care about things.

I suggest to you that if Amendment 1 is made material, the application of the law can be shaped and adjusted. If it is used to import schools that send a check to Koch brothers and the billionaire children of Sam Walton who just seem to need a little more, I think the application of the law can be made to serve education, vs. profiteering. I support the Amendment, oh yes. The sooner, the better. Maybe it will serve to compete with the sled of Gates Foundation rituals that have been signed into law during all of this current “local control.” Does anybody here even know what it is like in the schoolhouse now? with the five rounds of testing, two months of instructional time removed due to testing, and year-around pressure and propaganda to “prepare for!” “interpret!” and even have a pep-rally for “the test!” It is bizarre and I don’t like to be around it and as a professional, this type environment puts me in a position of dereliction of duty because I am not doing what I am trained for and hired to do.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
11:37 am

PS During teacher training, when you study education law it is limited to the classroom. They don’t train you about school boards and basically, when you finish, you leave the program and go into the workplace completely uniformed in this regard.

DeKalb Dad

October 24th, 2012
11:39 am

Thank you Mpaza.

Sandy Springs Parent

October 24th, 2012
11:40 am

What is needed is to get rid of these Mega sized school districts. No school district should be any larger than one to two high schools and their feeder districts. The Supt. Pay should be limited to a GS-15/10 on a Federal Pay Schedule about $155K. The principal of all Schools are direct reports. There is no palace, no Trinity Ave, no middle level of Friends and Family. Maybe 10 administrators combined with their staff who are direct reports to the Supt. The School Boards are parent volunteers who are elected positions, much like the PTA. They supervise the Supt. These school districts have Supt. that are members of the communtity and spend 10, 15 plus years in these jobs.

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
11:52 am

Georgia teacher training is like a trap, once in the work place, deeply rooted careerists start messing with you and you don’t even know who they are, much less what a school board is or does. The only thing you know is that they show up and expect a whole lot of attention and unwavering obedience of whatever they tell you to do. This is a quote from a labor representative in Georgia. “If they tell you to kick the building before you walk in the door, then do it.”

Hillbilly D

October 24th, 2012
12:10 pm

I disagree. The more local control the better, in my opinion. If there is a problem at the local level, the local people need to fix it.

Warrior Woman

October 24th, 2012
12:19 pm

Horrible ideas, as bu2 and bubba pointed out. More local control is better.

Ray

October 24th, 2012
1:12 pm

I read Mr. Kapembwa’s other two articles — good stuff. He is obviously an impressive young man, who is thinking hard about education issues. Good for him, and I hope he keeps at it.

But unfortunately I think he is off the mark in a lot of what he says in this piece. There are many things I could say, but my biggest reaction is that I think the problem is that we pay school board members too little, not too much. DeKalb and APS school board members make about $18,000. If a school board member really wants to do the job right, and dive in and try and fix problems, and attend constituent meetings and be responsive to their concerns, it easily can become a full time job. Then on top of it they catch untold grief when things go wrong. Who in their right mind would really want a full time job for $18,000 that is really difficult and sets you up for all sorts of public criticism? Certainly many potential candidates who are conscientious and have to actually earn a living and support a family are eliminated by the paltry salary. In my view, if we actually want to attract good candidates, we should increase school board salaries to at least $50,000, if not $75,000, or, gulp, even $100,000. Then you might attract more quality, rather than glorified volunteers.

Marney

October 24th, 2012
1:38 pm

Private Citizen

October 24th, 2012
3:06 pm

Yes, the whole paltry pay arrangement is weird. -Wonder where it came from. Another question is, How is it down elsewhere? Does San Francisco have school board members paid $18k? New Hampshire? Seattle? Nashville? One thing about U. S. public K12, things done differently all over the place. They say San Francisco is very expensive real estate – been there a long time, sophisticated, high dollar. If it costs $100k in Atlanta, it costs $600k in San Francisco. I bet they do not have school board paid $18k etc. Would be nice to have more dimension / factual knowledge to go with the subject.