DeKalb school board: Resign to allow district a fresh start

The state Board of Education gave the DeKalb County school board a month to straighten up or risk dissolution.

Rather than pull itself together, the school board overseeing the state’s third-largest district appears nearer to falling apart.

With accreditation at risk, the superintendent out the door and an interim taking the reins today, the situation in DeKalb is dire, and the board bears a lot of the blame.

All nine members of the DeKalb school board ought to resign en masse. They’ve lost the trust of the community and the confidence of employees and are risking the welfare of students.

Under the policies and management of this board, DeKalb has experienced constant political intrigue and churn. For the third time in three years, DeKalb schools have a new leader after Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, hired amid great fanfare 16 months ago, resigned Friday. Former Georgia Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond was appointed interim superintendent.

While Thurmond is politically adroit and a proven manager, he lacks an education background, making it all the more vital that those elected to shape education policy in DeKalb are united in a vision to enhance education quality and assure equity.

DeKalb needs stability after a chain reaction of damaging crises, including the 2010 indictment of former Superintendent Crawford Lewis on conspiracy and fraud charges.

But it also needs reinvention and reinvigoration. It needs dynamic school-based leaders. It needs an intense student-achievement focus that addresses both the district’s high performing and struggling students.

This board has not demonstrated the capacity to provide either stability or innovation.

In a scathing critique of the DeKalb board, SACS noted, “There was frequent mention of board members who make special requests of district office staff, bus drivers and teachers, making threats to fire them if they do not comply with their individual requests. These interviewees used terms like fear, harassment, and intimidation to describe the behaviors of board members. Those interviewed consistently expressed that board members have created a level of animosity, and that both teachers and principals operate in fear.”

When the state board ordered the DeKalb school board members to report back on Feb. 21, DeKalb Chairman Eugene Walker promised there would be measurable progress on the required improvements outlined by SACS to avoid losing accreditation.

“We pledge our total commitment to staying fully accredited, ” he reassured the state board.

But, despite its pledge to work collaboratively, the board couldn’t muster five votes last week to elect a new chair, which means Walker keeps the top job for the moment. Walker received four votes against two other nominees and four again in a runoff when two board members abstained.

“What appears to be the dismal and total lack of integrity and transparency of the present DeKalb Board of Education is endangering the future of the DeKalb school system, ” said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators.

Some board members counter that they’re not the problem. It’s their self-serving colleagues who’ve allowed personal agendas, petty politics and a penchant for litigation to endanger the district’s accreditation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which placed DeKalb on probation in December because of mismanagement, meddling, nepotism and fiscal failings.

The three newly elected members can rightfully insist that it’s unfair to freight them with the wrongdoings of the board’s veterans.

But it’s an all-or-nothing deal under a 2011 state law that allows the governor to oust a dysfunctional school board and appoint a new slate (Those DeKalb members who feel wronged and desire another chance on the board can ask the governor to reappoint them, which the Department of Education assured me was permissible).

At the state board meeting in January, DeKalb school board members presented four hours of reasons why they should retain their seats.

But here are 99,000 reasons why they should not: The students of DeKalb have been shortchanged by the inability of this board to put their needs first.

After emerging from a private meeting with the board a week ago, Thurmond told reporters, “I’m here today because I’m interested in the future of public education in DeKalb County. I made it clear. I’m here to help.”

That’s good. Because if anything is clear in this mess, it’s that DeKalb needs help.

137 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

February 11th, 2013
3:38 pm

Maybe if there had been a Nancy Jester on the APS board, Atlanta wouldn’t have had a decade of academic genocide.

Hard to say which is worse; a board that acts like Clown Central, or a “professional acting” board that betrays children in the best interest of the “narrative.”


February 11th, 2013
3:43 pm

Thank you Maureen. If only they would listen…

Concerned Lakeside Mom

February 11th, 2013
3:55 pm

Amen! And thank you for putting this in writing. We know they hear us. If only they would listen…

Home-tutoring parent

February 11th, 2013
4:02 pm

Some of us have institutional memory. Going back waay long ago. Grandma, great uncle, soo century-ago.

But in the 1980s-2000s, we remember Stanford and Columbia devising “Outstanding Education Reforms”. Here’s how their “Curriculum Researched-Based Reforms” worked: For “field=-test studies”, they took the most energetic, smartest classroom teachers, as their new-curriculum subjects, and tested them against dreck-regular teachers as “controls”.

Then, after “proving” the new paradigms were “great”, they promulgated them, often inducing state-legislated changes, and the “new research-proven curricula” proved to have zero worth when teachers across the board had to implement them.

But somebody proved to get rich on this, ala the promoters.

I know nothing. I taught my kids to read, write, do math, ride 15 foot Hawaiian waves, get planted in Canadian snow banks, catch and eat salmon, ahi and mahi mahi, work hard, discover life.


February 11th, 2013
4:10 pm

This was passed by the GA House today, regarding BOE and local school boards:


February 11th, 2013
4:10 pm

Choosing a New Superintendent without any Education administrative experience and who lives outside of the County does not bode well for a ground swell of support by parents nor teachers. This current enviroment is too important and too critical to allow anyone to get on the job training at this juncture.

A search for a more experienced SUPER should have been opened and currently ongoing. If, this were COBB or Gwinnett County this choice would not be ALLOWED at ALL! PERIOD!


February 11th, 2013
4:18 pm

In case your straight talk doesn’t make it clear enough, DeKalb students deserve a

Clean slate
Fresh start

Strong post and timely.


February 11th, 2013
4:22 pm

I don’t know why folks keep praising Nancy Jester. She’s a big part of the problem. They all need to resign from the board, including Nancy Jester. I believe that Thurmond will do a good job in the interim. Cobb & Gwinnett are nothing to write home about as they have their own problems

Ed Advocate

February 11th, 2013
4:24 pm

I agree Maureen. It’s a shame it has come to this.


February 11th, 2013
4:25 pm

I sincerely hope there is as much consensus among the DOE and Gov. Deal as I am hearing within the communities of DeKalb. Thank you Maureen for giving us stakeholders in DeKalb a voice. They could hire the MOST qualified superintendent on the planet and still he/she would fail. This board has proven over and over again that they CANNOT do what needs to be done to right this mess. It is time for the powers that be to step in and remove them. Then, the first order of business MUST be to create & implement a code of ethics going forward. It should NEVER have gotten to this point and we must ensure that it never does again.


February 11th, 2013
4:27 pm

The same idiots would vote for the new crowd. No change, unless you can ship out those idiots to Clayton County.

Make It Happen

February 11th, 2013
4:31 pm

Want to understand part of the problem with Dekalb BOE? Read the blog scribed by former board member Don McChesney.


February 11th, 2013
4:33 pm

They will never resign. They have the same issue that the Board in Clayton had, most of the members depend on the small salary that job pays to make ends meet. These aren’t a group of high achievers.


February 11th, 2013
4:43 pm

@ SouthDekalbParent. Wow. This HB 115 extends any hearing by the State BOE to 90 days if a majority of the local BOE so petitions, with testimony and recommendation made in open meeting. Governor may remove members of the local BOE, who may petition for reinstatement with a hearing for such members. If petition is turned down, the member is permanently removed. Zap, gone, never to be seen again.

Still has the Senate to get through, but…….


February 11th, 2013
4:47 pm

Dekalb is not united on removing the board members. I don’t trust the state to take away our voice and our votes which have removed incumbents in 5 of the last 9 elections and came close in at least 2 others (Woods and Speaks). I don’t know how Deal will select new board members and I don’t know who those new board members will be representing. The Chamber of Commerce in Atlanta and the local politicians in APS weren’t representing the students. They tried to hide the cheating scandal. Are the local Chamber of Commerce and Dekalb legislative delegation going to be giving Deal his potential candidates?


February 11th, 2013
4:48 pm

While I agree they won’t resign, they aren’t dependent on the salary. Certainly not Jester, McMahan, Orson and Edler. I doubt Speaks, Walker, Johnson or Cunningham (with his pizza business) are either.

Eugene Walker Must Go

February 11th, 2013
4:49 pm

I am totally against democratically elected officials being removed and replaced with non-elected administrators. If you want real change, an engaged citizenry would demand resignations of those who caused this mess……specifically Eugene Walker. If the citizens don’t care about the incompetence, corruption and fraud, then they get what they deserve.

Beverly Fraud

February 11th, 2013
4:55 pm

I don’t know why folks keep praising Nancy Jester.

I think chilly it’s because ironically she doesn’t act like a court jester.

She seems to be willing to tell the truth a commodity in short supply in DCSS.

Disgusted in Dekalb

February 11th, 2013
5:03 pm

At the meeting with the State BOE, Chairman Walker stated that the system was running fine and that the board had done nothing wrong, and then declared that they would address all of SACS’ complaints. Anybody see any problem with that?


February 11th, 2013
5:10 pm

@ Eugene Walker Must Go, February 11th, 4:49 pm.

Hmm. Read the text of House Bill 115 that SouthDekalbParent thoughtfully provided above, especially the section on removal of individual local board members, with the grounds spelled out. Testimonies, witnesses allowed on both sides.

Aren’t democratically elected officials at the federal level allowed to be removed if their actions are egregious enough?


February 11th, 2013
5:22 pm

Get over it, folks. This board, this system is one big CLUSTER. Nothing Maureen or any poster on this blog can say can or will change that. Folks who do not see that this is an incompetant board running an incompetant system cannot see at all.

The Deal

February 11th, 2013
5:22 pm

Wow, Maureen. This is certainly a new tone for you. Congratulations on seeing the light. Those of us who have been mired in this mess for the last 6 years have been waiting for a strong statement like this. Thank you.

Dr. John Trotter

February 11th, 2013
5:31 pm

Beverly Fraud, you know that I tend to agree with you. In fact, I rarely disagree with you. SACS would rather not have the Nancy Jesters on the school board — those school board members who ask questions. Then SACS wants to blame the school boards for the actions of the administration. SACS stands for Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents.

Nothing irks me more than the “professional pretending” hacks who just nod their heads at any aciton that the superintendents do. They are the proverbial “head-nodders” of whom Mark Elgart and SACS approve.

I like the rough and tumble of school board politics. You are never going to take politics off the school board or out of the school system. The difference is that some are just more up front and open about their politics. I guarantee you that the uppidy-acting school boards of Fulton and Gwinnett have just as much politics on them as Clayton and Atlanta and DeKalb. The difference? Just not as loud about it. Just a cultural difference, I presume. But, ole Markie seems to like the ones who pretend to be so pious that they would say “pie” because it starts with a “p.”

Beverly Fraud

February 11th, 2013
5:34 pm

Wow, Maureen. This is certainly a new tone for you.

@The Deal, you mean in contrast to suggesting that Beverly Hall remain at the helm of APS for the “stability” she provides?

Guess Sam Williams isn’t as infatuated with Eugene Walker as he apparently was with Beverly Hall.

Dr. John Trotter

February 11th, 2013
5:47 pm

@ The Deal: I suggest that you engage in the political process. I know that this will make the many DeKalb School Board detractors mad, but, I don’t know…I just have an affinity for the democratic process. I don’ t trust the Gnostics to appoint the “enlightened ones” for us “craftsmen” class of folk. Oligarchies may have fine intentions but they end up being things like The Third Reich. How’s this for ticking off folks? Sorry, folks, but the big push to get the Guv to remove the duly-elected board members is wrong. If you just can’t stand their politics, then get yourself or others elected, send your kids or grandkids to private school, or move out of the county. But, messing with the democratic process is plain wrong, and I don’t give a rat’s a$s who gets mad at me for saying so.

Beverly Fraud

February 11th, 2013
5:50 pm

“What appears to be the dismal and total lack of integrity and transparency of the present DeKalb Board of Education is endangering the future of the DeKalb school system, ” said David Schutten, president of the Organization of DeKalb Educators.

So Mighty ODE finally notices? Hmm…can’t wait until the year 2020 when Mighty ODE makes a strong condemnation of Lance Armstrong.

Dr. John Trotter

February 11th, 2013
5:55 pm

@ Beverly Fraud: Don’t get on Mr. Shutten’s case too much. He has to represent the administrators too. He may appear to be an administrative lackey, but he’s really just break bread with his brethren.


February 11th, 2013
6:07 pm

Wow Maureen,

I very rarely agree with you, but I’m with you on this. Unfortunately, they won’t because they will do what’s in their best interest.

Bob Miles

February 11th, 2013
6:14 pm

As 34 year resident of DeKalb County; I have concluded that our county government and school board has been on a continuous downward spiral for the past 17 years and get worse unless the majority of voters have a mental reconstruction. In my opinion, we have the incompetency, self serving slick willies in county government and the school board that the majority of us asked for and received. I am throughly disappointed in my Governor for not having the intestinal fortiude to dismantle the school board exceop those recently elected. in my opinion, DeKalb, Clayton and Fulton commissioners and school boards members share common characteristics of incompetent management/leadership. Remember, the ones we elect represent the mind set and thought process of the majority of voters.

Dr. John Trotter

February 11th, 2013
6:16 pm

By the way, I was typing too hastily and left off “not” when talking about those school board members who pretend to be so pious that they would NOT say “pie” because it starts with “p.” That’s a big difference in the meaning. My granddaddy used this among many other expressions in his lffe. Fakes have always irked the crap out me. This is why I have urged the fake organization called SACS to send its fake leader, Mark Elgart, to engage me in a formal public debate over whether SACS’s so-called standards are arbitrarily and capriciously applied. I will gladly take the Affirmative that they are. He can take the Negative. I have asked him for the last four or five years to debate me on this issue. I don’t know, but I think that he is chickent. I don’t think that he wants to even try to defend the indefensible. SACS is fake. Very fake. It is a control mechanism for the politically-connected.

The Deal

February 11th, 2013
6:32 pm

@John Trotter, I didn’t create or vote for the legislation. I am just supporting what is there as a law of this state. If you have a problem with the law, please take it up with your local legislator. If he/she voted in a way that you don’t agree with, please campaign and vote for someone else. I agree with it, so I am going to support it. I don’t believe that the democratic process is perfect, and it may need laws like this to correct when it goes awry. So I really don’t have any work to do because I agree with it.

I don’t know why people attack each other on this board. None of us created this problem, and, for the most part, none of us can fix it. And certainly don’t try to tell someone anonymous to do something. For all you know, they have been working tirelessly. I don’t think any of the regular posters on here are people who just sit behind a computer and type. I think all of us have done our part to support what we think is right.

@Beverly, yes, this is in contrast to the Beverly Hall support. I cannot imagine your frustration as you saw that unfolding and saw unwavering support for her.

For better or worse, Maureen’s voice carries a lot more weight than ours, and I am happy to see her come around, if only for this post.

Dr. John Trotter

February 11th, 2013
6:46 pm

@ The Deal: The prior law that was used to remove, I think, the Miller County board (could have been another one) was declared unconstitutional by the Georgia Supreme Court, I think, in May of 2011. I don’t think that this new law has been challenged in the courts yet, but I believe that it might very well be challenged by some of the DeKalb school board members if they are removed. The local school board are set up by the Georgia Constitution. They are constitutional offices, if they matters to any. It matters to me.

Why remove all anyway? Are all part of the perceived problems? How could the two new members who just took office in January be part of the perceived problems? People just get caught up in some hysteria. This is what happens when SACS starts meddling in school board matters. SACS always makes the situation worse. SACS is fake.

Call Me Missouri

February 11th, 2013
6:46 pm

@ Prof: Aren’t democratically elected officials at the federal level allowed to be removed if their actions are egregious enough?

Well, that would make this board exempt because Eugene Walker told the AJC,”We have done egregious.” You just have to wonder what actions he WOULD consider egregious.

Thank you, Maureen, but I don’t think they will go anywhere. If Walker cannot see that what he has done is beyond egregious, then there is no hope. I just hate that the county and a system full of children are being held hostage by a cluster of uncaring, uninformed voters who continue to elect this man.

10:10 am

February 11th, 2013
6:49 pm

The DeKalb School Board—so proudly dysfunctional—exemplifies the reasons why continuing to deny school choice to parents is indefensible.

Dunwoody Mom

February 11th, 2013
6:56 pm

@The Deal…how sad is it that a newspaper blogger carries more weight than parents.

The Deal

February 11th, 2013
6:57 pm

@John, I agree with you on SACS and the pointlessness of their existence. However, in this instance, their actions have shed light and forced action on the DeKalb County School system, so they have served at least that purpose.

The law has not yet been declared unconstitutional. The judge only postponed the removal until a proper hearing could be held.

Yes, I believe they all should be removed, if only because there will never be a consensus on which ones should stay. I, for one, question the ethics, skill, and motives of all three of the new members. I don’t see them as squeaky clean. Orson, for one, plays politics as well as Gene Walker. Get rid of all of them.


February 11th, 2013
6:59 pm

I don’t have any problem with the legislation. I think there are cases where it is necessary. What I see in Dekalb is that the people are throwing out the incumbents. Sure Cunningham and Copelin-Woods are embarrassments and I don’t agree with Walker’s priorities (and what were probably his actions that generated some of the SACS comments). But incumbents have lost in 4 of 8 elections, very nearly lost in 2 others and one didn’t run again. Of the other two, Walker might well have lost to an experienced candidate and Cunningham didn’t win overwhelmingly last time. We will be voting on 7 board members instead of 9 in new districts in just 17 months.

Overturning Democratic processes is an extreme step and shouldn’t be taken when the voters are acting. It shouldn’t be done just because one part of the county doesn’t like the priorities of the majority in another part of the county.

And, as I stated above, Governor Deal and the Dekalb legislative delegation have not demonstrated that they will have the taxpayers and students as their priorities. I know the Dekalb delegation does not. They tried to deny the vote to the county and entrench Walker, Copelin-Woods and Cunningham, along with Edler and Jester.

Maureen is asking for their resignation, but I don’t see any embarrassment among the 5 longer term board members, so none of them are going to listen to her.


February 11th, 2013
7:20 pm


In fairness, MMO did a good job assuring that Marshall Orson would be elected with the map as drawn.

You have said that you may only use public elementary school. For children in middle school, 17 months is nearly half of their term in those buildings — it is forever.

We need immediate change. Perhaps, as a Druid Hills resident, you would be willing to lead the recall effort of Gene Walker. Walker didn’t win because he was a better person, he won because he promised to protect Fernbank from redistricting. (Check the numbers from the election. He came very close to losing. He would have lost if Fernbank had not supported him.)

bootney farnsworth

February 11th, 2013
7:22 pm

its not the inability of the board to put the needs of students first. its the willful, blatant disregard to deliberately choose not to do so that is the problem.


February 11th, 2013
7:27 pm

These are the grounds given in HB 115 for the Governor to remove an individual local school board member permanently: “whether or not the member’s continued service is more likely than not to improve the ability of the local system or school to retain or reattain its accreditation.”

You DeKalbites know the politics of all this better than this Fultonite does, but this seems to me like a law designed to deal with this specific situation. The length of the state BOE hearing is extended to 3 months. The grounds for removal seem so narrowly defined. At the member’s reinstatement hearing where documents are to be provided, obviously the SACS report that singled out specific DeKalb board members would be used.

And it seems that the bill is being fast-tracked if it’s already been approved by the House.

bootney farnsworth

February 11th, 2013
7:30 pm

@ Dr. John

99 times out of 100 I would strongly agree the way to change the board (and hopefully DCSS) is thru citizen involvement and elections. in this case, I don’t.

its an imperfect analogy, but here goes: keeping the board and hoping the broken process will work is akin to a stage 3 cancer patient opting not to have the tumor removed in favor or prayer and meditation.

can it effect a cure? in a very small percentage of the patients. 99 times it just means a slow painful death for the patient.

I favor wiping the slate clean, and setting new elections for two years from now. and a near complete and total revision of the qualifications for membership

bootney farnsworth

February 11th, 2013
7:35 pm

@ Dr John,

sake of argument: what if Georgia broke from SACS?
since SACS is the recognized accreditation body, and from accreditation all federal funds flow.
funds no public system can live without anymore.

IF we broke from SACS, what are the real world consequences?

10:10 am

February 11th, 2013
7:45 pm

The DeKalb School Board—so proudly dysfunctional—exemplifies the reasons why continuing to deny school choice to parents is indefensible.

But should the Board resign?

Arguing against that is the fact that the Board perfectly mirrors the DeKalb electorate—which after all repeatedly declines to remove them and their kind from power. Additionally, the present Board adds some urgency to the push for reforms. One of which might be expanded parental choice.

Wouldn’t future generations of DeKalb parents and children, therefore, benefit more by having the current Board remain in place?

Rick L in ATL

February 11th, 2013
7:54 pm

What’s the big deal with insisting that a superintendent have an education background? Many if not most of you (including–I’m absolutely sure of it–Maureen) voted –twice!–for a president who had no previous executive experience. Why? Because you thought he’d be good at the job.

Aren’t you sick and tired of the opportunists who have figured out how to leverage their weak-ass ed degrees into undeservedly high salaries inside the cozy cocoon that is our urban Educracy? Haven’t we been forced to watch that same movie over and over?

You need to effectively manage people, policy, PR and budget in a $1B organization. You’d better be a kickass manager first, and everything else second. How about we try that route this time?

Dr. John Trotter

February 11th, 2013
8:13 pm

@ Bootney: I read somewhere that some states accredit their own schools which is what I have been advocating. The General Assembly could pass the enabling legislation, and the Georgia Schools Accrediting Agency (GSAA) could operate under the overview of the Georgia Department of Education and ultimately accountable to an elected State Superintendent or the enabling legislation can provide for the Governor to appoint the members of the agency and it could operate under the overview of his or her office or under the Governor-appointed State Board of Education. Either way, it would ultimately be accountable to an statewide elected official.

I am not sure about federal funds being tied to SACS. I don’t think so. But, the HOPE Scholarship is tied to a school being accredited under SACS or the Georgia Accrediting Commission (GAC). GAC has been around since, I think, 1903. It has much longer standing in Georgia than SACS, and its Executive Director, Dr. Carvin L. Brown, is a highly esteemed educator here in Georgia. The General Assembly could easily change the law related to the Hope Scholarship and tie it to the schools being accredited by a public entity, GSAA, not a private and unaccounted-for company like SACS which seems fairly rapacious when it comes to taking from the public purse.

The Deal

February 11th, 2013
8:19 pm

Rick, my problem with Thurmond isn’t necessarily his lack of education experience but his clear ties to the most corrupt and pompous member of our board, Gene Walker, and to the person who brought him to the board, used-car salesman Marshall Orson. Orson stepped forward with Thurmond to shield Walker from the criticism of bringing him to the board, but make no mistake that Walker and Orson are working together. Neither of them are stupid, but, unfortunately for them, they think we are, too. I don’t doubt that the votes for the chair were schemed in advance, as well. Orson thinks we’ll assume he’s not tied to Walker just because he voted for Edler, but Edler is no better than Walker.

Again, instead of trying to figure out who is in bed with whom, we just need to clean the slate and get a very professional, serious board that is dedicated to the task of overseeing a superintendent bring this system back to where it can be. No personal agendas, just get down to business.

People say it can’t be done overnight. I beg to differ. If every central office member were placed on immediate leave and given a week to justify their positions and salary, that entire rat’s nest would be revealed. On Day 1, put the power back with the principals. Release the teachers from the scripted programs immediately, and tell them to work with their principals on the best lesson plans and syllabi to get their students where they need to be. Any teacher who cannot do this needs to be put on probation and given one semester to get it together. The money saved from cleaning out the central office goes right to hiring more teachers to lower the class size.

The two steps of cleaning out the central office and lowering class size would get us halfway to where we need to be. Does Thurmond have the guts to do it?


February 11th, 2013
8:27 pm

Parents, mobilize. demand to participate in the process of hiring a new superintendent after Thurmond. There are good ones in Georgia making a lot less money who could do a good job and could take on the challenge of Dekalb.


February 11th, 2013
8:46 pm

@Rick L
My problem with the choice of Thurmond is that the higher level staff of the district has not been getting the job done. So he doesn’t have good support.


February 11th, 2013
8:49 pm

Bu2- If I follow your logic, because someone is elected, then they are above everyone else. That is not the American way. Our laws always retain power to prevent abuse by elected officials, because elections and electorates can be manipulated. The DEKALB BOE has usurped the process to keep a corrupt majority in charge. To be clear- we trust a Governor with responsibility over lesser officials to balance the system to make sure elected representatives are not immune to the law and are held accountable. Follow the link below to the petition asking the governor to remove the board. The only hope for DCSS is a non-elected board which is not tied to the corruption of the county and the school system. Sometimes a elected officials need to be shook up in order to protect democracy for the future.

Dekalbite@Chilly willy

February 11th, 2013
8:55 pm

“Cobb & Gwinnett are nothing to write home about as they have their own problems”

But they have good student achievement. That is the ENTIRE reason for school systems to exist. There is NO other reason for an educational system to exist unless it – well – educates students and moves them forward at a rate that they can eventually compete with other adults for jobs. The data says that low income students in Gwinnett will probably make adequate yearly progress mastering math and reading content in Gwinnett while low income students in DeKalb will not. The same is true of Cobb.

It has always been difficult for the non teaching employees in DeKalb to understand that EVERY service and EVERY decision should revolve around the most important people in the school system – the teacher and students.

If DeKalb students were achieving at rates that other demographically similar metro school systems were achieving, there would not be this discontent and controversy.

Class sizes must be lowered and good teachers must be attracted and retained with competitive compensation and a sense of respect and involvement. These components are what ensure that students move forward academically, particularly economically disadvantaged students.

Any money left over can be used for the service and administrative group.

Students MUST get what they need to be successful and low class sizes and competent teachers are NOT an option. Cutting, consolidating and outsourcing for the non teaching group should be on the table. EVERYTHING must be sacrificed for the members of the classroom – teachers and students. That should be the “core business” of DeKalb Schools.