I was planning to post this essay on DeKalb by local writer Janusz Maciuba later today, but events got ahead of it. A DeKalb resident, Maciuba teaches English as a Second Language at an area technical college.
Here is his piece with my note on today’s updates:
By Janusz Maciuba
The most popular teacher in every school is not the one who can control a class of hooligans or inspire students to love Shakespeare or physics. It is the teacher who knows about the retirement plan.
This teacher could explain why DeKalb is paying for two superintendents when there is only need for one.
Ramona Tyson, the previous interim superintendent, now tucked away in a make-work job, is still earning $235,000 a year.
The retirement teacher can explain: A teacher’s pension is based on years served and the average of two highest consecutive years of salary. If she had reverted back to a $150,000 position at the end of the interim period, she would be entitled to around $100,000.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the DeKalb Board of Education is scrambling to avoid being dissolved. Time is marching to the almost foregone conclusion in three weeks. Deckchairs are being stacked on the Titanic. What can they do to prove they can change?
Here’s an idea: stop paying for two superintendents, stop this thievery of our property taxes, and recover the misused money.
Another idea: fire Ralph Taylor, who once worked with Dr. Atkinson for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. (Revealed today, Tayor has resigned.)
According to the AJC story, he got a sweetheart contract to write a $10,000 report which proved to be heavily plagiarized. Then he got a sinecure as associate superintendent for $121,726. He is willing to give the little money back, of course, and keep the big money.
Dr. Atkinson’s deep thought relayed through a spokesperson, “The infraction pertains to his work as a consultant, not as an employee.”
What? Sixth-graders understand plagiarism but an associate superintendent with a doctorate doesn’t?
It must be okay to hire a man who doesn’t understand academic standards or common morality. How our school superintendent can defend this behavior and her own is beyond imagination and common sense.
So, the third idea: fire the superintendent because nothing has improved in her year on the job. She has hired incompetent friends at high salaries. She has not reduced the bureaucracy. The school system is on probation.
Do not pay her to leave.
Fourth idea: Stop offering golden parachutes in a superintendent’s contract. They are deployed too often in DeKalb County. Make in a by-law.
For other ideas the board members should read the DeKalb School Watch Two blog to find out the extent of cronyism and ineptitude that is going on in the DeKalb school system. For instance, a blogger estimates that more than $20million could be saved annually by following the correct salary structure.
Take action on as many problems as possible in the next week.
Even though there seems to be little hope of school board members all retaining their seats, this is a time to establish the beginnings of a new directions for future boards and to leave some measure of progress that has been lacking in all the in-fighting, power-wielding, employee abusing, and parochially-focused behavior of the past that led the SACS to put DeKalb on probation.
There is still time to go out with dignity. There is still time to leave a small positive legacy.
–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog