Has Thurmond reached out to teachers enough? He says Wilbanks is his mentor. (So did Atkinson.)

The AJC interviewed newly appointed DeKalb interim Superintendent Michael Thurmond. I found one of his answers surprising. AJC education writer Nancy Badertscher asked him about his efforts to get to know the district, which began with meetings with parents. She then asked him about meeting with teachers. Here is what he said:

A: “I look forward to spending time with teachers, but not just them — everyone, the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, everyone. I tell people I parachuted into the middle of a firefight with bullets, missiles, projectiles coming in all directions. But things have settled a little bit.”

I think Thurmond has to make a more visible outreach to DeKalb teachers as I am hearing from more of them how discouraged they are. Ultimately, education comes down to a classroom and a teacher.  One of the chief reasons there are still students in DeKalb winning science competitions and getting into Duke and Tech is because teachers are still teaching. They are closing their doors to the central office chaos, the warring board egos and the negative press and teaching.

There is nothing wrong with meeting with bus drivers or cafeteria workers. But Thurmond has to acknowledge the segment of DeKalb’s workforce on which the district rises or falls, its teaching force.

Another interesting fact: Thurmond tells the AJC that Gwinnett’s J. Alvin Wilbanks is serving as his mentor. Former school chief Cheryl Atkinson told me that Wilbanks was her mentor and that she sought his guidance frequently. (One thing that Wilbanks should have advised both of them: Develop an in-house communications team that really knows DeKalb schools. Gwinnett still outperforms everyone else in getting out information and responding to the media. I know it costs money, but it is important to deal with the full-throttle rumor mill in DeKalb. In fact, maybe DeKalb should try to hire Wilbanks.)

Here are some of the questions the AJC put to Thurmond, but look at the full story:

Q: On the topic of accreditation, have you talked one-on-one with Mark Elgart? What was the upshot of the discussion?

A: “I met with him the second week. I expressed to him that I will in this administration do whatever it takes to address the issues that SACS has raised and that I need his support to regain full accreditation.”

Q: Do you know why no action was taken on the SACS to-do list from December until when you were hired?

A: “I hesitate because I don’t want to violate any legal confidences. Yes, I know why. I know what I’ve been told. Senior staff was directed not to contact SACS.”

Q: By whom? The former superintendent?

A: (Silent for a moment.) “Senior staff was told not to respond to SACS. I think that’s one of the more compelling unanswered questions from the state hearing. ”

Q: In your mind, did that make the situation worse?

A: “Absolutely. It is an embarrassment. I think it had a tremendous impact on how the state board looked at the school district. How could you go two months on the most critical issue, which is accreditation and it’s at risk. That’s unconscionable. I was relieved to find out it was not for indifference.”

Q: I understand you’ve spent a good deal of time meeting with parents. What’s the upshot of what you’ve gleaned from them?

A: “Many parents are frustrated and angry, which is very understandable. What’s been impressive is so many parents and stakeholders have said, ‘We support you and want you to succeed.’ That is so gratifying to me. I’m not going to let them down. God be my witness. We have to succeed because for the children — their educational careers hang in the balance.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

88 comments Add your comment

Concernedmom30329

March 3rd, 2013
10:33 am

I have a friend who actually emailed the governor and asked him to try and get Wilbanks to come DeKalb’s way.

I hope what Wilbanks’ tells Thurmond is to be strong and stand up to board members. Make a decision, evaluate the decision on its merits and then don’t back down.

Worry about the attachment of certain (Ok Walker) board members to long time system employees. This is not a good thing and a warning sign. Atkinson was never going to be great but the fact that she was brave enough to get read of family members of former Board member Edwards and the former CFO, made Walker’s head spin.

Georgia

March 3rd, 2013
10:38 am

you know, just overall, and from the impressions the hysteria over the Dekalb situation has made: Why would anyone want to be a teacher? We should be grateful, no matter what a board does to stink up the news about schools . Like firemen and cops and our troops. They teach for a motive alien to most of us: public service? I don’t know. I just know that they seem to get the short end of every crisis, omg!

So, in view of that, I just wanna say thanx from a grateful john doe who had a daughter (jane doe) who went through a Georgia school system from preK to UGA. She’s amazing, thank you.

thank you.

Google "NEA" and "union"

March 3rd, 2013
10:41 am

Much more important that he reach out to parents and taxpayers first. Those are the groups most wronged by the current situation—and the only ones without recourse to other choices.

At least until charter schools or tuition vouchers make some real choices available.

living in an outdated ed system

March 3rd, 2013
10:48 am

I find it very “telling” that we’re using Gwinnett as the barometer of a strong school system. Last time I checked, Gwinnett was hovering right around the average high school graduation rate (67%) for Georgia, maybe slightly higher. That means that 1 out of 3 Gwinnett students is dropping out.

Not much of a standard of excellence.

Bottom line – Dekalb’s problems are DEEP. Resolving this SACS issue is only the tip of the iceberg. It will take YEARS to get this fixed. I do NOT believe that a Superintendent has to be an educator. They have to be a strong leader and surrounded by a strong team of educators. Thurmond is a politician and I don’t believe a politician should be running a school system. He also didn’t spend enough time with teachers in the early days of his tenure. Teachers need to be given strong support right now. Once they know you support them, then you’ll have the ability to propose changes to help improve their ability to deliver knowledge to students. So @Maureen, you are correct about his supposed lack of relationship-building with the teachers, and I don’t know whether he has lost that opportunity at this point.

crankee-yankee

March 3rd, 2013
10:53 am

Georgia
March 3rd, 2013
10:38 am

Thank YOU.

Dunwoody Mom

March 3rd, 2013
10:57 am

The fact that Thurmond believes that regaining accreditation should be his 1,2,3 focus tells me he doesn’t really have high goals for the district.

As far as claiming that senior staff was told not to contact SACS, why did Ramona Tyson testify that she was assigned the SACS response on January 8th, but she herself admitted she didn’t contact SACS until the Friday prior to the State BOE hearing? Who was that “senior staff” member? Atkinson was tending to her dying father and was pretty much out that door. I would love Atkinson’s “take” on all of this.

Pride and Joy

March 3rd, 2013
11:16 am

He says accreditation is his first priority but yet his actions are to save the jobs of the board members. ACTIONS speak louder than mere words.
Thurmond is just words.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:20 am

Centrist

March 3rd, 2013
11:20 am

My priority list:The BoE has to be reorganized with qualified replacements to save accreditation and shore up the DCSS. THEN – Parents first, teachers second, staff third, administrators 4th.

Spending $$ on communications is ridiculous – there is no way to spin the mess in Dekalb.

Anonymous in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
11:20 am

The real question is — will the new Super look outside the narrow box the education establishment hopes to confine him to? The one repeatedly shown to contain no solutions?

If not, he’ll simply be a time-server.

crankee-yankee

March 3rd, 2013
11:25 am

As noted in the original post, when front office shennanigans manifest, teachers have a tendency to close their doors and focus on their students. They will find a way to circumvent the cr*p they are dealt for the betterment of their kids. They will voice their displeasure, make no mistake, but the vast majority will continue to earn their keep. See @Georgia’s 10:38 comment about “public service.” There will be some posters here who do not have an understanding of that concept but it does exist and it guides us. After all, we didn’t join the profession to get rich.

I doubt Thurmond has lost an opportunity at this point but the clock IS ticking. He would be wise to enjoin some of the foot soldiers to be sure he has an understanding of the effect policies are having in the classroom but his focus has got to be on redirecting the administrative support.

It is not a bad thing that he is looking to Wilbanks for help. Alvin views school system employees as two groups… teachers and those who support teachers. He understands what the job of a school system is and how it gets accomplished. I wish Dekalb luck…

Hey Maureen!

March 3rd, 2013
11:25 am

Not much hope for DCSS if Thurmond’s mentor is Wilbanks. You won’t find a positive role model in GA!

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:32 am

Populist elected school boards may be a way to undermine education. It may be the wrong place to apply democracy simply because populist candidates often do not have the expertise or skilled management ability to fit the job requirements. Elected “School boards” along with federal political interference may be why Georgia is consistent in low performance across the state. Yes, there are pockets of “performance academies” which is really more evidence of a plantation caste system.

Let’s say my direct neighbors where I live are folk who vote for school board. None of my neighbors (let’s say… 4 families) even know who the school board representative is. I know at l

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:39 am

(CONT) I know at least 2 of my neighboring families are actually hostile to their kids being learned. I know this from making little suggestions, gifting books to them. Nothing. No resonance. My neighbors are hard working ethical folk, but are not college types. My family has 20 professionals in it, theirs has none! These are the families who when some in really high end, that means someone crawled through a “medical assistant” program at a college and that’s the one with the new car. Point is, they don’t even know what a school board is and they sure are no guardians of knowledge in the college sense. School boards? I just know from being a teacher that school boards are big power and their connected folk make trouble and run off good people. I note the people who do this tend to be rooted for several generations in the local area. How do I know this, I ask. Whenever I meet the real crooks, I ask, “So… Where are you from?… Where did you grow up?….” Usually within a mile of the the conversation is taking place., Point is, it is like the old bait and switch game. They draw in professionals and then screw them around. That’s what I think of “school boards.”

Fred in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
11:39 am

**I hope what Wilbanks’ tells Thurmond is to be strong and stand up to board members.**

I also hope Thurmond tells Board members to stand up to some members of the community who want to run schools through their Board members. Most know that when a community does not want a principal that has been assigned to their school to work through the Board member to get them removed. This happens throughout the school district and probably is not unique to DeKalb.

Board members should also tell members of the community to respect and follow the chain of command. This was mentioned in the SACS reports. When little Johnny doesn’t get the A on the project the parent believes he should have gotten, a Board member should not intervene on behalf of the parent.

There is enough blame to go around….

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:39 am

pssst. Don’t educate the slaves.

KIM

March 3rd, 2013
11:41 am

Excellent choice in a mentor for Thurmond. If anyone can help guide him, Mr. Wilbanks can and will do so with great dedication. His message for his principals has been focus on your agenda and don’t let others distract you from it. Looking forward to much improvement in and optimism for DeKalb and its students.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:43 am

when a community does not want a principal

I do not think you’re describing “a community.” Most people in a “community” spend their time working and what time they have left, the spend with their families. Very few people in “communities” are inclined toward local activism.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:46 am

Everything I read here, these political spider webs about assigning mentorship, strengthens my belief in private schools.

Maybe the conversation should be about different types of schools doing revenue sharing of the tax monies assigned to schooling. And to hell with that guy’s $275k salary and expense money.

catlady

March 3rd, 2013
11:49 am

I would suggest Thurmond get a sample of his teachers with over 15 years of experience. Then, ask what is needed to turn around student achievement, and LISTEN. YOUR TEACHERS can tell you what is needed; apparently the CO level administrators are clueless. I would NOT ask them anything. The system needs to be rebuilt from the bottom up, rather than top-down.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:51 am

Every speech / press release I have read from Mr. Thurmond contains a collection of trite non-original motivational phrases. Without being snide, he has a lot in common with how GW Bush would publicly speak when he was promoting something. The U. S. people seem to fall for and like this sort of thing. To me, Thurmond has so far not said anything. He has not ever lowered himself to specific objectives.

Fred in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
11:55 am

Private Citizen, I was referring to the school community. I’m sure your seen or heard what I mentioned also. How many knew that Womack responded to constituents in helping select the new principal at Lakeside? That is one public example with many others that flew under the radar.

Dunwoody Mom

March 3rd, 2013
11:58 am

I’m sure your seen or heard what I mentioned also. How many knew that Womack responded to constituents in helping select the new principal at Lakeside

Just about everyone knew that.

dekalbite

March 3rd, 2013
11:59 am

Teachers will run their classrooms and teach the students. Thurmond needs to understand that. The support group is there to serve the teachers and students. The computers and ACTIVBoards need to be working, the classrooms need to be clean, the buses need to be on time, and the teachers need to be compensated at metro Atlanta marketplace rates.

The teacher and his/her students are the ONLY members of the classroom. All support services needs to revolve around the teachers and the students. If the teacher’s environment is degraded, then the students environment is degraded because they share the same physical space. Maureen is absolutely right when she says…”Ultimately, education comes down to a classroom and a teacher.”

IMO – teachers should have a say in the evaluation of every support group in the school system. If the teachers surveys come back that the MIS group or the custodial group or the staff development group or the parent support group is not doing their job for the classroom (i.e. students), then action should be taken to correct that.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
11:59 am

Caste system. Students are on the bottom (told what to do and where to march). Next are teachers (the $40k,ers) who put in the long hours and work with the students. Then come building administrators (the $100k’ers) and their kin in the main office, and on top of all of that is the superintendent (the $300k’er) and we’re supposed to sit here and talk about tea and crumpets and a nice little party for him and fixing him up with a mentor for a walk-around. No thanks.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
12:01 pm

Video: Rhode Island teacher quits! and tells you how schooling his 2nd graders has changed since circa 1999. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=sBSgchJe2Z0

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
12:10 pm

I’m going to post that Rhode Island teacher video ten times over several weeks… that guy is so completely spot on. And being reprimanded for doing after school tutoring by his local “Academic Director.” This type management rings TOO TRUE. Like the people from the trendy Cupcake House are all into teacher’s business. Except it is really determinant on a career.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
12:16 pm

Mr. Thurmond would do well to relocate the headquarters and re-staff the new building in a streamline purpose strict method.

I think that old / existent management building has way too many ghosts (also called “jin”) in it. Plus, there in nothing pleasing about the aethetic of that building. If you had a “dull architecture contest” you can not find a greater winner. For me, it fits with the personalities attracted to the place.

Plus, if you want sense and stability, don’t locate a building in the middle of a street that is going down a big hill. It’s disorienting. Probably like making decisions inside the House of Mirrors at the circus, with the tilting floors and such.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
12:22 pm

Dear Mr. Thurmond,
Welcome to DeKalb County. He is your welcome video from your assigned mentor:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJa20z6L3d8 .

Bernie

March 3rd, 2013
12:33 pm

Week 3 of Michael Thurmond. As in weeks 1 & 2, Mr.Thurmond has NOT done anything of an REAL SUBSTANTIAL VALUE or Produced any verifiable Tangible outcomes. Nothing in Writing or in Action. ZERO!

As in week 1&2, all we are provided with are political sound bytes of “I’m GONNA” or We’re GONNA”
public statements, to have yet produce even a MINIMUM PLAN Of ACTION.

Everyone knows that to get to a destination, one should have a ROADMAP or a GPS to show them how and where they are going. Michael has neither! He is just flying by the seat of his pants.

Michael is on I-285 going in Circles and without an EXIT RAMP! He knows it…. You know it and I just told you.

Not Until Michael sit did and produce a written PLAN Of Action, a roadmap if you will as to where he envisions in taking this school system. I am afraid we ALL will face weeks 4,5 & 6 with the same sound bytes being repeated over and over.

Nice words Michael….But what many Parents,Teachers, Students and other Leaders want to know from YOU is…. where is the PLAN?

ALL want to see a WRITTEN DETAILED PLAN OF ACTION from start to finish! from nuts to bolts! from the recipe to the SOUP!

At a Pay rate of $300K plus, its only fair to the DEKALB COUNTY TAXPAYORS, that you at least PRODUCE a written PLAN OF ACTION.

Is that too much of a demand to request of your busy schedule?

Fred in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
12:41 pm

Bernie, perhaps you did not read the entire article but Thurmond did say he will present his 90 day plan on March 15. I will definitely want to see the specifics behind it as you are asking. I expect to see additional cuts given the initial forecast is reduced property tax revenue along with the $16 million dollar shortfall. The question will remain, will Thurmond be able to make the necessary changes to get our fiscal house in order while minimizing impact on the classroom.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
12:56 pm

Bernie, If you circle I-285, and add 5mph per each rotation, will you be able to reach 100 mph on one tank of fuel?

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
1:01 pm

I look forward to spending time with teachers, but not just them — everyone, the bus drivers, cafeteria workers, everyone. I tell people I parachuted into the middle of a firefight with bullets, missiles, projectiles coming in all directions. But things have settled a little bit.

He seems phobic of teachers, but I like the honesty.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
1:08 pm

Perhaps “affable” is a more accurate word: Adjective
Friendly, good-natured, or easy to talk to.

living in an outdated ed system

March 3rd, 2013
1:14 pm

Want a radical idea? How about Thurmond take NO PAY until accreditation is fully restored. Sounds “gimicky” I know, but we have seen many CEOs take no pay during a labor strike or during a period of major financial instability. That would send a strong message to the teachers and to all stakeholders that Thurmond is in it for the long hall. Instead, he’s drawing a ridiculous salary when teachers have been furloughed or underpaid for quite some time now, not only in Dekalb but across the state.

Bernie

March 3rd, 2013
1:16 pm

Fred in DeKalb @ 12:41 pm – I am not sure of your level of education and your understanding here. The math of this equation does not ADD up! A individual that is being a paid salary of $300k plus, should produce more than a (90day) Ninety day plan with in the the NEXT 2 WEEKS!

Mr. Thurmond has assured all parties that he is capable of Leading this system. 5 weeks to provide a 90day plan! how much time will it take for 6months to a 12month plan?

Obviously you are satisfied with this answer regarding his proposed direction. I can assure you it will take another 5-6 weeks to tweak and adjust those proposed plans, then what?

Being that we are all stuck with what we have…we will have to wait …I suppose!

The GONNA”S better BE GOOD at this RATE of PAY!

Bernie

March 3rd, 2013
1:31 pm

One must love how Michael has POOHED! POOHED! the required qualification, he most certainly lacks as well as experience, required as by the written policy of the DEKALB COUNTY SCHOOL SYSTEM. This is a disgrace and affront to who all who have sacrificed to reach the required level of education and experience to perform such a JOB that without personal political connections he would never ever be considered!

Based on what he is saying to the TAXPAYOR of DEKALB COUNTY, Pay me as If I am qualified because I have CS -COMMON SENSE! as if no one else in DEKALB COUNTY has such an inate quality but him. This is such BS!

are we going to hold the next SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT to the same level of QUALIFICATION!
If so, we should have a line of potential candidates stretched back to his own LAW OFFICE seeking
employment.

At a pay rate of $300k, plus I could produce a two year plan next week! tweeked in one week in put in action the following in 2days!

His comments regarding that matter does not lead for a serious confidence in anything Michael may produce.

Private Citizen

March 3rd, 2013
1:36 pm

Mr. Thurmond gets the right answer for the students of DeKalb County: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrf-RHrSUdw#t=109m18s

10:10 am

March 3rd, 2013
1:48 pm

@Private Citizen: Please shut up. We don’t need or want to know your every waking thought. Even you mother wouldn’t.

Lee

March 3rd, 2013
1:54 pm

What’s the matter @Bernie, you afraid that someone without all those arbitrary “qualifications” such as diploma mill Ed. degrees will come in and actually straighten the mess out?

Thurmond walked into an almost impossible situation and then had to deal with a week or two of distractions caused the the BOE removals. Bottom line, you’re not going to find many individuals with experience in leading a school system out of the mess that Dekalb finds itself in because, quite frankly, there have been very few systems that were allowed to reach the nadir that Dekalb occupies.

Sorta like the guy who weighs 400 pounds. He didn’t get that way in a week and it is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work to get back to a reasonable weight.

Was Thurmond the right choice? Maybe, maybe not. Only time will tell.

Fred in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
1:54 pm

**At a pay rate of $300k, plus I could produce a two year plan next week! tweeked in one week in put in action the following in 2days!**

Wow, someone else who believes they can run a billion dollar organization with over 15K employees, 100K students and over 700K citizens. I’m sure you can produce a plan that conforms with all federal and state laws while factoring in a budget you don’t know for the next school year. Bernie for superintendent!

bootney farnsworth

March 3rd, 2013
2:05 pm

I’d suggest Thurmond resign.

crankee-yankee

March 3rd, 2013
2:13 pm

Bernie
March 3rd, 2013
1:31 pm

Anyone who walks into a FUBAR type situation and says they have the answer to it right away is lying to you. Expecting someone to have the answer within a short time-period is guilty of magical thinking. A good administrator will assess the situation before acting. I would expect that is what Thurmond is doing. Once he has a bead on what needs to be addressed, he will need to prioritize, delegate, act, etc.

On the surface, accreditation would be #1 but he may find a few other crawly things under some upturned rocks as well. I think a 90 day plan is a good beginning & I expect there will be additional, further reaching plans subsequent to this first one.

So, do you want it done right, quickly or cheaply? Choose any two…

By the way, you really should not question other posters’ education levels (your 1:16 post) when your own posts leave that very question open to debate.

Bernie

March 3rd, 2013
2:21 pm

Lee @ 1:54 pm – Unlike you, I know there is a specific reason as to why those written and required MANADTORY QUALIFICATIONS are Required for Everyone Else BUT, MICHAEL THURMOND.

They are IMPORTANT!

The MANDATORY QUALIFICATION provide a resonable amount of assurances that this individual has a minimum amount of working knowledge and experience to perform the assigned tasks.

If you became ill would you hire a Physician without Medical knowledge,training or experience?

If you needed legal advice would you HIRE an Attorney without a LAW DEGREE and or experience?

If you needed financial expertise for your retirement would hire a NON Banker,untrained accountant,
inexperienced financial advisor for your nest egg or personal investments?

If your child had a TEACHER without a teaching degree and expeperience would you trust that teacher’s ability to tach your child in this time of importance and competition?

Yet we as a COMMUNITY of Parents,residents, and TAXPAYORS are so willing to accept this situation with all of the GLOWING PLATITUDES with the expectation that ALL turn out well with good results. This is an ACT of typical GEORGIA political cronyism at its very WORSE!

Can you not see that? are you that BLIND to reality! Not qualified in any way, not even CLOSE!

The more I think about it, the Angrier I get!…….and so should everyone else!

This is a politcally connected individual placed to run a dysfunctional school system in CRISIS, A BILLON DOLLAR Organization, 15k employees, 100K students, and is notminimumally qualified in EDUCATION or experience to handle the JOB?

Is this Zimbabwe, or GHANA, NIGERIA, or HAITI? starting to LOOK that way to me with this accceptance!

If you or I were there, this would be the NORM! or the expected. However, this is 2013 in DEKALB COUNTY GEORGIA! Has everybody here LOST THEIR MINDS?

Michaels comments are disturbing to say the least. I don’t need NO STINKING Ph’D or experience

to this JOB because, I have CS-Common SENSE!

What kind of message does this send to the children of DEKALB County? The School Superintendent saying the right way through education and experience to lead our children is not NECESSARY! or important.

This is the very Problem that many children of South DEKALB see as PRIME examples of role models of LEADERSHIP.

The message is that you do not need EDUCATION! You do not need JOB EXPERIENCE!

You can be like the DRUG DEALER on the corner and make it any way you can! JUST apply
CS-COMMON SENSE!

I have never seen that qualification or the question of do you have CS- COMMON SENSE? on any Job APPLICATION or job description ever!

Michael …..GOOD GRIEF!

The question we ALL should be asking here of ourselves…WHY IS IT THAT we are SO willing to Accept such SUBSTANDARD LEADERSHIP when it comes to EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN?

WHY?

Dr. John Trotter

March 3rd, 2013
2:36 pm

I believe the question was: Has Commissioner Thurmond talked enough to teachers? I don’t think so, and this will be his first big mistake. Though most educrats (and I mercifully place Commissioner Thurmond in this category) ignore teachers, teachers are the only ones who are on the front line each day. They know what is happening “in the field,” so to speak, because they are the only ones “in the field.” They see children all day long. They (and their parapros) are the only ones who are interacting, engaging, and teaching the children all day long. Yet, educrats treat teachers like they are of the pariah class. They are ignored, talked down to, and treated with contempt. Hence, they feel disenfranchised, disenchanted, and professionally disemboweled. They interact with parents more than any group also. So, what is Commissioner Thurmond waiting on?

Commissioner Thurmond can huddle all he wants with Alvin Wilbanks (I am not impressed with Wilbanks, and I will be glad to elaborate on this at a later date), but if he truly wants to be successful in DeKalb, he had better get the teachers on his side. Many of these teachers have relatives, neighbors, friends, and fellow church members in DeKalb, and teachers talk.

Fred in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
2:37 pm

Bernie, just for the record, several years ago Cobb County hired a retired general as superintendent. Joseph Redden was a USAF general before becoming their superintendent in 2000. Joel Klein was appointed chancellor of New York city schools in 2002. He was an assistant AG in the Justice Department. It is not unusually for superintendents to come from non traditional fields. These are but two examples. Those from the military bring strong leadership and management skills. They probably are provided a provisional certification until their necessary training/paperwork is complete. Teachers that come from non traditional fields are usually afforded the same courtesy.

If you believe it is an issue, you should check with the GA Professional Standards Commission. Let us know what you find out.

Fred in DeKalb

March 3rd, 2013
2:41 pm

Dr. Trotter, that is the BEST advice anyone could provide to Thurmond. Getting classroom teachers to buy in to what he is saying will be critical. DeKalb did not get into its current situation overnight thus it will take a while to right the ship. Teachers will be the key in redirecting the school district. I’m sure they would agree with you and request strong discipline policies also.

Dr. John Trotter

March 3rd, 2013
2:52 pm

@ Fred: I have refrained totally from criticizing the choice of Michael Thurmond. I know that in general, he is a quite capable and facile man. He was elected to the State Senate in a majority white district. He has demonstrated over and over that his is professional and competent. But, public education is a different animal. He is not in charge of producing boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Dealing with kids who come from all kinds of backgrounds (and some from very abusive backgrounds) takes an ingenuity that is not required for producing cookies. Teachers need to be freed up to teach…and to teach creatively. He needs to empower the teachers to do their jobs, and he needs to take the manacles off of the teachers. Rip off the straightjackets that are now encumbering the teachers and let them soar! Reduce many millions from the budget by paring down the Central Office staff by half. These “consultants” (or “insultants,” to quote my father) only impede the teachers. Get rid of them! For kids’ sake, let the teacher teach!

Bernie

March 3rd, 2013
2:53 pm

Fred in DeKalb @2:37 pm

“They probably are provided a provisional certification until their necessary training/paperwork is complete”

If I am not mistaken, I have seen nor heard of any proclamation of such an intent with Mr. Thurmond.
Any with such a system in a Crisis like DEKALB? and hired through political connections?

Try justfying and covering all you may, but the facts REMAIN as stated! In a Normal operating enviroment, maybe a non-tradional applicant could survive.

Not here! not in this politically charged enviroment tinged in RACE,CLASS and a Lack of FUNDS!

Dr. John Trotter

March 3rd, 2013
2:53 pm

Typo: “he is…,” not “his is.” Sorry.