Family gives half million to Decatur Ed Foundation in gratitude to teachers and staff.

Email messages encouraged Decatur families to come to the downtown square this evening to hear an “important announcement.”

It was good news: A Decatur family gave the Decatur Education Foundation its single largest gift to date, $500,000 to provide educational support to the city’s students.

“This gift will allow us to continue to build on the work accomplished over the past 10 years to ensure that every child in Decatur has opportunities to thrive,” says Paula Collins, chair of DEF’s board. “Coupled with the continued support from our community, it will allow us to impact exponentially more children. For that, we are most grateful.”

The Decatur family, who is remaining anonymous, made the gift to express their gratitude “to Decatur teachers and staff who do such wonderful work educating the children in our community, and who play such an important role in making Decatur a great place to live,” according to a release from the foundation.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

39 comments Add your comment

Decatur Denizen

November 9th, 2012
12:19 am

What a generous gift and how nice to honor teachers and staff with the donation. So refreshing to see support for teachers on this blog for a change. It’s easy to complain about the state of our public schools, but most people aren’t willing to do anything to make it better. These folks have put their money where most people’s mouths are. Parents who support their schools is just one of the many reasons Decatur is one of the best places to live in the metro Atlanta area.


November 9th, 2012
6:28 am

Great news! Think of what it would be like if, instead of being independent, DCS was a part of Dekalb County schools? That $500K would be gone into a couple of adminsitrators’ hands quickly.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
6:56 am

Catlady makes a good point. Decatur schools are excellent and they are an independent CHARTER DISTIRCT.
I find it strange that Get Schooled’s writer, Maureen Downey, praises Decatur City schools and sends her children to those schools but is against charter schools — she sends her kids to a charter district school.
And to catlady’s point, that 500K would be swallowed up quickly if was given to a crooked school system like Dekalb or APS.


November 9th, 2012
7:24 am

So how are they gonna disperse the money? Should be interesting.

Rhett Butler

November 9th, 2012
7:49 am

Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.


November 9th, 2012
8:15 am

What a wonderful gift. Thank you “anonymous”
My two children have had an excellent education at Decatur City Schools. I hope this gift inspires others to give significant gifts to public schools.

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2012
8:34 am

PRide, Not against charters. Dubious about the state Legislature getting into the business as I have seen how money influences state lawmakers who tend to grab onto fads — 65 percent solution, online learning — without any consideration of the data or research. They are handed a script by someone and just read it. And, as the charter amendment donation list showed, the for-profit sector intends to benefit from the amendment passage. Bad combo — eager new industry flush with cash and lawmakers eager to accept it.

joe in tucker

November 9th, 2012
9:04 am

Pride and Joy – CDS is not a Charter District! It is an Independent School District – BIG difference!! Think city of atlanta vs fulton county…


November 9th, 2012
9:13 am

Pride and Joy, you clearly don’t understand the difference between a charter district and a charter school. I suggest you educate yourself. Marietta City is also a charter district. These districts have to educate every child residing within the district, just like APS or DCSS. One of the unspoken reasons small school districts choose this option is that it actually makes it very difficult for someone to open a charter school in a city which is already a charter system. The results of a popular charter school opening in a very small, highly taxed area like city of Decatur would be catastrophic. There just isn’t enough funding.
The DEF is a fabulous foundation started and governed by Decatur parents and this generous gift will go a very long way. I suggest that parents who complain about their own school systems think about doing something similar to help improve things, rather than bitching at teachers or applying for charter school lotteries….


November 9th, 2012
9:30 am

Is wondering why she’s stuck in moderation….


November 9th, 2012
9:55 am

I think it’s worth noting that Decatur has the second-smallest percentage of free-lunch eligible kids of any district in the state (right after Forsyth County). So while this gift is fantastic, in a sense it’s a lot of money going to a district that, increasingly in the coming years, will have kids that don’t need it.

Ed Advocate

November 9th, 2012
9:59 am

@P&J: Way to turn a positive for City Schools of Decatur into a personal attack on Maureen! There are many of us who opposed the amendment and have our own kids in charter schools and charter school systems. I won’t go into all the reasons why, because other threads on this blog have exhausted the arguments for and against.

We can disagree about whether this opposition was misplaced, but I hope we can all move forward with the understanding that there are supporters of the charter concept who think the amendment was a bad idea.


November 9th, 2012
10:04 am

OK, I’ll try again. I was trying to point out to Pride that a charter school system and a charter school are entirely different. There are no charter schools within the city limits (which is a good thing because there would not be enough money to fund one in such a small system). Pride, the only thing stopping APS applying for charter system status is that there is too much discrepancy performance wise between the schools in that system and they do not all follow the same curriculum. Put simply, APS is too big and inequitable to be able to do it.
Secondly, DEF us a charitable foundation. This is not the same as someone donating $500k to a school board. DEF provides access to scholarships and technology to disadvantaged students and is the result of a partnership between motivated CSD parents and teachers. If APS parents thought about setting up something similar rather than in-fighting, the results could be fabulous.

Decatur Native

November 9th, 2012
10:07 am

DCS is an independent school system that has received charter school status system wide. This has allowed DCS to try several different approaches to educating our children. Since over the years we always perform above state norm I convinced it’s more on the teachers not the system. Parental involvement is strongly encouraged and that makes the teachers job easier. I thank that family for the donation as it will allow DCS to continue to perform.

DeKalb Inside Out

November 9th, 2012
10:17 am

City Schools of Decatur Charter System – was approved by the City of Decatur local board in 2008.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
10:19 am

To Joe in Tucker — Decatur City Schools are absolutey independent — DCS IS A CHARTER DISTRICT! Let your fingers do the googling yourself.
They are right on the front page of the Georgia Charter Schools website.
Just go ahead and Google.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
10:23 am

Brit, you’re preaching to the choir.
of course APS is too big to be a charter like Decatur City Schools.
APS should be broken up into much much smaller districts — but the power hungry APS board and crooks don’t want to use their power. A district should have one or two high schools — that is it.
Anything else is too big to manage effectively without corruption.
Parents need to be able to walk up to the super and talk to him or her without minions of hangers on and politics and corruption.
Decatur City schools thrive because they are small and manageable and cohesive. Four square miles. That’s as big as Decatur gets…and notice Maureen did not refute that Decatur City schools are a CHARTER DISTRICT.


November 9th, 2012
10:29 am

Bizarre how this news can inspire a charter school debate. Again.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
10:30 am

On the Georgia Charter Schools Association web site — on their main page — front and center with pride displays DECATUR CITY SCHOOLS.

DCS is a good school system. It is small and manageable. It is cohesive. Just four square miles of a cohesive community.
It teaches.
Parents are happy.
Students learn.
Teachers are happy.
This is an example of why we need to break up the monster-sized Dekalb and APS districts into smaller, manageable, districts with one or two high schools each.
Smaller districts are easy to hold to accountability.
There is not as much big bags of money so it is much more difficult to hide 900K spent on illegal use of funds ala Dekalb county.
The powerful in APS and Dekalb wont’ hear of it.
They don’t want to lose their power.
They don’t want to lose their share of stealing the money out of those huge bags of funds.
It is much easier to hide and say you didn’t know about cheating because you were way far up and away in your ivory tower ala Beverly Hall.
Smaller, more manageable schools distrcits.
THIS is what charters can provide and Decatur City Schools is living proof of it.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
10:33 am


November 9th, 2012
10:47 am


Feel better?

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2012
10:56 am

@Brit, Not sure why your original post ended up in the spam filter. But I did release it when I spotted it there amid the fake UGG ads.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
11:01 am

Listen to what makes Decatur City Schools great.
Part one — teachers have a SAY.
Time after time on this blog teachers have complained they have NO say in the curriculum or even how it is taught.
DCS has ONE high school.
The teachers in the high school did something different than APS and Dekalb. Straight from the pages of the charter…here is what TEACHERS in DCS decided…
“Decatur High School science teachers decided to restructure the high school science
curriculum so that all students, regardless of ability, take physics in the 9th
grade and
chemistry in the 10th
grade. This change, coupled with the professional learning
opportunities provided to Decatur High School science teachers, has resulted in the third
highest system science scores in the state, as measured by the annual Georgia High
School Graduation Test.”
Please read the Decatur City Schools CHARTER posted by Dekalb Inside and Out.
THIS IS what a charter school and system can do.
No scary boogeyman.
Teachers are getting paid and ARE HAPPY.
Parents are happy. Students learn.
It’s all good.
This is what a PUBLIC SCHOOL CAN BE — a success.

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2012
11:15 am

@Pride, One factor that cannot be ignored about Decatur is the education level of parents here. There is a striking number of people with doctorates, including many professors from Tech, GSU, Emory, Ga. Perimeter and the AU schools. There are even some folks who commute to Athens to teach.
I saw somewhere years ago that Decatur has one of the highest levels of educational attainment in the state. Just did a quick count on my street of 19 homes: Three physicians. Three doctorates. Seven attorneys. One judge. Five MBAs. One engineer. Two teachers. One school psychologist. One CPA. One TV producer. Three documentary/commercial video makers. Two CFOs. One college registrar. One nurse.
And two reporters. (My household)

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
11:30 am

Maureen, what you’re saying is that DCS is only successful because of the parents.
It takes intelligent, educated, caring professionals in the school as well as caring, intelligent parents.
To say DCS schools are great only because of the parents is a slap in the face and a disservice to all the hard-working, caring teachers and staff in the schools.

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2012
11:35 am

@Pride. Not saying that at all. But there is absolutely no doubt that a school system full of kids whose parents not only value education, but are themselves highly educated, is going to be high achieving.

Mom of 3

November 9th, 2012
2:09 pm

You are right. Now take about 75,000 families who are not highly educated and add them to the Decatur system. You get the Dekalb school system. This is a perfect example of why the big districts need to be broken up? How is it fair that Decatur is allowed to have their own system but no other cities in Dekalb are? Legislators need to step up to the plate (and 2012) and do the right thing. There are other areas of highly educated parents whose children are being held hostage by the big systems who focus on the lowest common denominator.

Maureen Downey

November 9th, 2012
2:17 pm

@Mom, Decatur’s system dates back at least 100 years ago. I would assume that the county system developed around it as the farmlands in DeKalb turned residential over the last 75 years.


November 9th, 2012
3:01 pm

The difference between charter system schools and state chartered schools is that state chartered schools have to close if they don’t meet goals. Charter system schools just go back to being regular schools if they don’t perform. I’m not knocking City of Decatur Schools. I wish I lived in the city limits myself. Congrats on the donation.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
3:36 pm

Decatur City recognized that the staete school system’s method of teaching to the lowest levels was a failure. Physics for ninth graders? You betcha. It works in Decatur City Schools because the teachers and parents recognized ths was best for the COMMUNITY.
A community is not a behemoth bloated bureaucratic gerrymandered area on a map ala Atlanta Public Schools and Dekalb County. There are areas in Dekalb county very similar to decatur city but they are not allowed to function as a cohesive, hih-functioning unit because of politics.
Just as teachers ahve said time and again, students need to be grouped by ability and not by a political agenda.
The reigning political agenda of the day is to close the achievement gap, which means, bring the poor black students up to the speed of affluent white students, which is silly. Race and income don’t determne intelligence and ability. Ability is ability is ability.
I am certain the parents of the kids in Inman Middle school would love to be able to function as a real school instead of the most hotly-contested political football in Georgi.
Error Davis has a racial ratio in mind. The school board wants contrl over all that money.
Parents just want their kids to learn.
Teachers just want to do their best job teaching kids as much as they are able to learn…
but because Inman Middle School is an APS school, it is fought over like the last piece of meat by a pack of jackals.
Move it here so the black kids can go to it — no keep it here so the people who actually live near it can go to it — transfer everyone in to make the scores look better. It is a disaster.
If Inman was a converted charter school the neighborhodd and the teachers could decide what is best for Inman students just as Decatur gets to decide.
Dear Lord, when APS was founded, the size of the district was tiny. Now look at it — bloated, corrupt, andd as slow as frozen molasses at the North Pole — and failing.
This is what the demand for charters is all about — the community — a real commonity — not a top heavy APS or Dekalb bureaucracy knows how to meet the needs of the real children living in it.
A charter allows the community the flexibility to do what the community needs.
Georgia has enough money and the willpower form parents to meet the needs of its students — and that’s why parents like me will be writing for more charter schools, which are SUCCESSFUL PUBLIC SCHOOLS JUST LIKE DECATUR CITY SCHOOLS.

Mom of 3

November 9th, 2012
4:56 pm

Maureen- I understand the history of how the school systems were formed. My beef is that it is 2012 and the system as it exists is not working. I also understand that the legislature would have to make a change. But from what I’ve been told – they just won’t do it. That’s what I don’t get. Where is common sense? Who says it can’t be changed to work better for the huge increase in population that has taken place since the school systems were formed? If legislators and educators in this state were truly trying to make a difference, it seems like this is an obvious one. I know it is all about money. But our country was founded on freedom. What is the difference between a city’s citizens wanting to be free from a huge bureaucratic Board of Education and America wanting to be free from England? It is the same concept. Citizens do not feel like they are represented. My original point was that the city of Decatur is a great example of what many citizens in Fulton and Dekalb counties want. So when you wrote about why you think Decatur is successful – it is really just rubbing salt in the wounds of everyone who “by law” do not have the same rights.


November 9th, 2012
5:58 pm

Momof3, I can see your frustration. I don’t think huge school districts are the answer either. But the city of Decatur existed before the city of Atlanta, and can’t really be used as an example of why brand new cities like Dunwoody, or Brookhaven should be entitled to their own school system.
Also the history of schools in Decatur is not what you think it is. 10 years ago the schools were very segregated and rich white middle class parents had a fit at the thought of sending their kids to an almost completely black school south of Dekalb avenue. Ring any bells?. That school was Oakhurst Elementary. Rightly, the superintendent ignored those parents and now all the elementary schools in the system are equal. I wish Mr Davis had shown the same kind of forward- thinking earlier this year in Atlanta. Once again, the DEF was started by parents in Decatur to ensure all students had equal chances. I wish parents in DeKalb would do the same, instead of acting like they’re under siege from invading barbarians and building city walls….
Pride and Joy, you clearly still don’t understand the difference between a charter school SYSTEM and a charter school. There is a huge difference. In fact, as I stated before, a charter school can’t open in a charter school district (which is one of the biggest reason Decatur and Marietta and many other small cash-strapped systems chose to apply for that status). It actually PREVENTS charter schools opening, period (which apparently is something you are a fan of).

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
9:12 pm

Brit, I understand perfectly well.
It is a pity close-minded people like you think that just because I city is new like Brookhaven, it ccannot have a good school system like Decatur.
your’re flat out wrong.
Every school in Brookhaven every traditional public school can be converted to a charter school and run as the parents and teachers and the SMALL COMMUNITY sees fit.
You need to read a little mroe about it to speak intelligently about charter schools, charter districgts, conversion charters and so on.
think outside your tiny little box, Brit.Open your mind to new ideas.
Georgia’s children don’t have to suffer just because the city of Brookhaven is “new.”
And I can’t wait for the parent trigger law to come to Georgia. That one will blow your little mind, Brit.

Pride and Joy

November 9th, 2012
9:18 pm

Good iddeas, Mom of 3. The constitution of Georgia CAN be amended to make as many school districts as the citizens want. Currently, the state constitution limits the number of school distrcits, which is why the mega-monster bloated Dekalb and APS districts exist. Populations exploded and the district numbers didn’t increase.
However just as I and other passed an amendment to the constitution to allow state approved charters, we can also amend it to increase the numbers of districts, which will allow us to cut up the ugly giant monsters like Dekalb and APS.
Of course, that little tidbit will blow Brit’s little mind too.


November 10th, 2012
6:06 pm

Dear Pride and Joy, my mind is fine. Clearly yours is suffering. Did you suffer from a blow to the head recently? You don’t seem to understand basic logic. If Brookhaven wants to be like Decatur it won’t have any charter schools, period. Once again, a charter school SYSTEM prevents the opening of charter schools, you ignorant person. I hate to break it to you, but a solar SYSTEM is not entirely made up of suns….
I couldn’t care less if every school in Brookhaven converts to a charter, but that won’t make the city a charter system, it will create a huge mess of gerrymandering, in-fighting and competing methods and curriculums. Good luck with that brilliant plan.
I do find it hilarious who that someone who lives in Candler Park and sends her kids to a private school is suddenly an expert on how Decatur’s schools operate and what a charter school actually is. You are sadly lacking in basic knowledge of either subject and are completely wrong about both.

North Decaturite

November 10th, 2012
7:40 pm

Brit, you need a history lesson. The rich middle class (an oxymoron, for sure) did win, by keeping their elementary school open (Clairemont). It was the middle class population on the other side of Scott Blvd who lost their neighborhood school, which they brought back from near-empty twenty plus years ago.


November 10th, 2012
11:55 pm

North Decaturite, I assure you I do not. The objective of redistricting at that time was to achieve an equal racial mix between all the elementary schools in the district. It was successful, even though some parents were very upset at the closing of their local school. But despite the upset, it worked. And if it makes you feel better, Westchester will be opening very soon.
Re: class structures. It is not oxymoronic at all to speak of the rich middle class. The American middle classes are the richest in the western world. Infact, America is unique for having no upper classes at all. Just very, very rich middle class people, sometimes with a few pieces of family silver….

Pride and Joy

November 11th, 2012
10:28 pm

This is so funny “Infact, America is unique for having no upper classes at all.”
yep, no upper class in America. The Kennedys are just working middle class stiffs like the rest of us who are worried about whether social secuurity will still be around when they turn 65.
Brit, you’re high on something.


November 13th, 2012
10:17 am

Actually, the money goes to the Decatur Education Foundation not the school. The Education Foundation assists the students with scholarships, computers, bikes, tutors, and etc to assist with their education. DHS graduate and proud of it!!!