Old school boards never die. They blog away. At least in DeKalb.

Old school boards never die. They just blog away.

Neither Nancy Jester, ousted by the governor, nor Don McChesney, ousted by voters, apparently believes that former DeKalb school board members should fade from view.

The two ex DeKalb board members remain vocal about the school district they once led. And both are using blogs to serve up their commentary.

In fact, Jester plans to live blog first meeting of the newly appointed board Wednesday. On her Nancy’s News site, she writes, “I’ll be hosting a live blog comment feed for tomorrow’s DeKalb Board meeting.  The meeting begins at 6pm and I’ll start the live comment feed around 550pm. ”

Jester goes on to tell her fans her latest plans:  In order to continue to advocate for you, I have partnered with the Georgia Charter Schools Association.  I am working as a consultant and strategist to advocate for charter schools and school choice.  I will also be working to develop a board bank of talented and trained citizens to serve on charter school boards throughout our state. Stay tuned for updates on this.

Defeated in November by Marshall Orson for the District 2 DeKalb school board seat, McChesney has been airing his concerns over the board drama in his blog.

In his most recent posting to Don’s Blog, McChesney writes about the federal court decision allowing the governor to replace the six veteran board members.

We have many things to fix. The hated BOE is gone. What about leadership in the system? The Palace is full of dead weight and highly competent people. Who decides who goes and stays? What will be the criteria? Our building leaders have the same issues. We have many poor principals as well as many good ones. How do we fix that? Our classrooms suffer from the same issues. We have many weak teachers right along side of the outstanding ones. With tenure laws how do you clean house quickly? With all their armchair quarterbacking, why hasn’t the Legislature passed useful laws that protect children rather than jobs?

While I believe that Jester and McChesney have every right as DeKalb taxpayers to offer their opinions, I’m not sure that ongoing commentary from deposed board members is helpful to the district or the new board. It reminds me of the former homeowner who keeps dropping by the old place to advise the new owners how to tend the roses or trim the hedges.

What do you think? McChesney and Jester understand DeKalb’s problems. Both are smart and articulate and care about kids. Can their blogs help the district or is their commentary a distraction for the new board?

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

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94 comments Add your comment

FM Fats

March 19th, 2013
11:44 pm

McChesney sounds at best semi-articulate. “Our building leaders”? Huh? “Right along side of”? Somebody needs an editor or a writing course.

bu2

March 20th, 2013
12:07 am

McChesney seems to be wanting to run for re-election. As someone, who in this day and age, sent out an e-mail (yes he put it in writing!) saying he was not inviting women to a meeting to keep the emotion out of the meeting, you would think he would lie low. Instead he goes around and insults the new members, the old members, everyone but the two who tried to gerrymander a district for him. To quote someone on another post talking about Dr. Walker, he just needs to sit down and shut up. He is not constructive.

Jester is really talking about broader issues, not just being ornery. But then we’ll see what she says tomorrow.

dekalbite

March 20th, 2013
12:26 am

Both Jester and McChesney have a lot of insight into the administration in DeKalb Schools. Even if you don’t agree with their opinions, the mere fact that they have sat in meetings with all of the “power players” gives thema a unique perspective taxpayers and even media reporters have had but a glimpse of.

bu2

March 20th, 2013
12:44 am

McChesney’s POV seems to be tainted by an extreme dislike for everyone else. It takes away his credibility. Everyone but him has an enormous ego. They all have ulterior motives. They all work for special interests.

Melanie

March 20th, 2013
1:01 am

When will Jester resign as she announced. She should have never served on the board because she never supported anything except Charter Schools. She is where she needs be be. Good Luck, Nancy, I welcome your replacement on this board. We need to support them, I am!!

Concerned DeKalb Mom

March 20th, 2013
6:06 am

I heard that NJ has resigned publicly, through her emails to constituents, but she has not officially handed in her resignation to Melvin Johnson. @Maureen–any idea if there is truth to this claim?

sapientia et veritas

March 20th, 2013
6:17 am

Ever think that Jester has resigned to the governor or his people. They may be sitting on this because they want her in reserve if things go bad or the supreme court rules against them.

concernedmom30329

March 20th, 2013
6:18 am

Nancy should not turn in a letter of resignation until the court case is settled. Can you imagine who Walker, Cunningham etc would appoint if they are returned and her space is vacant? She is moving on and not fighting to retain her seat. Remember, she had retained her own counsel. She is doing the right thing. If Walker picks her appointment, the whole system would suffer for it.

I am not a huge Jester fan, didn’t vote for her even though I know her well, but know that the type of person the rest of the Board would appoint would not be a good one.

Jester promised lots of communication when she ran, thus her blog etc. To me, McChesney just seems sad. On this Bu and I agree, he is clearly not quite ready to give up his seat.

Nancy Jester

March 20th, 2013
6:40 am

Just a clarification – I’m hosting the live blog as a service. Sometimes DSW2 would host an open thread during board meetings. Many people told me how much they enjoyed the live blogging that the Patch hosted during the State BOE hearing, so I subscribed to the software. Today’s meeting will be a trial run for the software on my website. I hope to host other live, interactive blog conversations about other meetings and topics.

Atlanta Media Guy

March 20th, 2013
7:09 am

Folks, you have a choice, watch Nancy blog tonight or not. We are free to choose whether to listen to her ideas or not. She has kids in the system and she is a DeKalb taxpayer so in my eye she has every right to express her opinions during a BOE meeting. Maureen, I am surprised that you gave Walker a forum to write an article about his opinions, but think Nancy should just be quiet. Whose side are you on…….

AP Teacher

March 20th, 2013
7:12 am

Its easy to be an “internet tough guy/girl” behind a blog.

SpaceyG

March 20th, 2013
7:22 am

When put out to pasture it helps one feel busy and useful when banging away on a keyboard.

Kneecompoop

March 20th, 2013
7:24 am

@Atlanta Media Guy Interesting: “Whose side are you on?” Is she on any side? Exactly what are the sides? Should Muareen be on any side? Maureen, are you on any side? Someone please explain.

ike

March 20th, 2013
7:37 am

As a Dunwoody resident, I think Nancy should move on and “get over it”. But it’s a bit ironic, or is it, that a journalist is suggesting the silence of another…..

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2013
7:56 am

Seriously, Maureen..did you need a topic so bad that this is what you went with? As AMG says, Nancy is a taxpayer in DeKalb and she is a parent of children in DeKalb schools – she has a right to her thoughts and opinions – as we all do.

And also agree with AMG – you continue to print Eugene Walker’s ongoing nonsense, but criticize Nancy and Don. Not good Maureen, not good at all.

winstonchurchhill

March 20th, 2013
7:59 am

We all come to know that your legal rights to vote for a candidate running for various positions. Now, if it were anyone of you in those School Board Members Positions…and did nothing wrong, removed by a SACS CEO, and a Governor what would you do? You all are saying that you all don’t have rights to vote for him or her…and when you see things of this nature happening, none of you need not run. Recall is the best methods for getting elected people from office. No matter who or whom they are. While I accept all of your comments; the facts remains is hearsay, lies, no reasons to remove any of those School Board Elected Members questioned your own judgment to vote herewith in the future. If all of you sit back and do nothing about this injustice….you stand a strong chance of this same thing being repeated; except, it may be one of you who lose your job for nothing or on hearsay or lies.

Mountain Man

March 20th, 2013
8:00 am

“And also agree with AMG – you continue to print Eugene Walker’s ongoing nonsense, but criticize Nancy and Don. Not good Maureen, not good at all.”

I agree with BOTH of you. I WANT to hear what Nancy and Don say, I DON”T WANT to hear Dr. Walker – but I can choose to scroll down.

USMC

March 20th, 2013
8:00 am

” Maureen, I am surprised that you gave Walker a forum to write an article about his opinions, but think Nancy should just be quiet. Whose side are you on…….”–Atlanta Media Guy

You should know by reading Maureen’s blog that Maureen is an Intellectually Dishonest Liberal Racist.

Another Voice

March 20th, 2013
8:07 am

Or is it that you just don’t like competition for your own blog, Maureen? Both Nancy and Don are entitled to opine and write as they please. I like diversity of views, and think that they have a unique viewpoint on DCSS.

catlady

March 20th, 2013
8:11 am

Watch out! SACS won’t put up with disagreement, even among FORMER board members!

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2013
8:24 am

@Another, If you read the blog regularly, you will note that I link to other blogs all the time. In my post, I said that they are entitled to voice their opinions. But entitlement and effectiveness are two different things.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2013
8:26 am

But entitlement and effectiveness are two different things.

Okay, that comment does not even make sense. I think you’ve dug yourself a hole here Maureen with your take on this. You are wrong..

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2013
8:26 am

@Dunwoody, If Walker or any other board member announced they were going to live blog from the new board’s very first meeting, I would write about that, too.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2013
8:29 am

And you would still be wrong.

AP Teacher

March 20th, 2013
8:32 am

I think Maureen’s just trying to present the multiple angles of the issue.

Dr. Walker is only shaming himself publicly by posting his op-eds and Maureen is only helping him advance his reputation down the toilet.

AP Teacher

March 20th, 2013
8:34 am

I’ll give Maureen a pass on this one. Shes showing the many angles of the story; or at least trying to.

Dr Walker and his “op-eds” are only public showings of his shortcomings and ignorance. Maureen is only helping Dr. Walker advance his career down the drain.

reality check

March 20th, 2013
8:36 am

Nancy Jester has every right to blog.

She supports Charter schools and is delivering her message effectively to an audience that counts. Maureen doesn’t support charter schools, so naturally she wants an effective voice muzzled. typical AJC.

Hamilton

March 20th, 2013
8:37 am

At least they remain vocal about the school system and not so much about getting their jobs back and how they’ve been wronged and due process… the list goes on.

We’re stuck with ongoing commentary from former board members and I guess we’re stuck with Maureen’s subjective determination of helpful. Both Jester and McChesney represented their communities well and I think they were concerned with the health of all of the school system, unlike some other former Board members that showed their true colors during the removal process. I agree with @Dunwoody, you’ve dug yourself in a hole and you are on the wrong side of this issue, as a blogger is entitled to be.

DeKalb Inside Out

March 20th, 2013
8:39 am

I thought the patch live blog during the State BOE hearing was AWESOME. I’m looking forward to the same thing on Ms Jester’s live blog tonight.

I’m also anxious to ask her a couple of questions. See you online tonight. –DIO

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2013
8:39 am

@Dunwoody, I understand well that people’s views color their opinions. But it is news that a recently ousted public official, whether a governor, state senator or member of a controversial school board with a dedicated following announces that she is going to live blog her successors’ very first meeting. (It’s also news that Jester is going to work with the charter school association, which is also part of the post.)
And it’s also perfectly understandable why deposed public officials would want to do so. They feel strongly about the issues. They believe they have a following and want to serve that following. They believe they have something to say. They want to remain in the public spotlight as they may want to run for office again.
It is also fair to comment that the blogs and commentary could have an impact on the new board.
As for Gene Walker, he is the source of a lawsuit that could overturn the state law used to upend the DeKalb board. He is in the news. And will continue to be in the news until the lawsuit is resolved.
Maureen

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2013
8:42 am

It is also fair to comment that the blogs and commentary could have an impact on the new board.

Many, many parents blog, tweet, “talk about the DCSS BOE”, etc., Should we be “quiet” so we don’t have an impact? No, we are involved so we DO have an impact and a say about our children’s education. But, hey, keep on digging that hole.

cautiously optimistic

March 20th, 2013
8:46 am

I appreciate that Nancy Jester is continuing to try and give us information. It is her prerogative as a parent and a tax payer to be in the meetings. I like the fact that she digs for information and then makes is public on her website and blog. Transparency is one thing that DCSS needs, let’s hope someone on the new board makes things transparent for us.

Maureen Downey

March 20th, 2013
8:46 am

@Dunwoody, If you are putting a parent’s tweets about the board in the same category as Nancy Jester’s live blogging tonight, then forget the hole. You’ve jumped off the cliff of rationale argument.
Maureen

reality check

March 20th, 2013
8:50 am

I put a parents blog comments in the same category as Nancy Jester’s live blog. They are both called free speech, which apparently you don’t think is rational

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2013
9:04 am

Nancy Jester is a parent, Maureen. Your defensiveness says a lot.

Pardon My Blog

March 20th, 2013
9:06 am

Personally, I’m tired of all of it. Let’s move forward, have all meetings videotaped and all minutes of each and every meeting made public. Let’s have a complete audit done by an outside firm and have the results made public (and not conveniently lose them like Lewis did). Let’s pare down the central office, make all re-apply for their positions and meet certain qualifications. Let’s get rid of people like Tyson and reevaluate all salaries and bring them in line with the job description.

Jester and McChesney are giving some insights into some of the issues and frankly Jester has to stay on top of all of the actions less they try to make her the scapegoat. Walker is just a bitter old man who does not seem to know right from wrong.

Concernedmom30329

March 20th, 2013
9:08 am

I will say that I think Don’s blog hasn’t been helpful. He is defensive, I believe in large part because he supported Lewis and then Tyson. Make no mistake, if had been reelected he would not have gone quietly into the night.

As to Nancy, she has worn her political agenda on her sleeve since she started. She is pro all forms of school choice, public, vouchers, etc and that is just who she is. (So am I for the most part.) What she failed to understand when she campaigned was that there was no way DeKalb was going to go the direction she wanted it too.

As an outsider now, she will have much more luck pushing her believes.

And she is still a parent and a taxpayer who has a vested (three children anyway) interest in the future of the system.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

March 20th, 2013
9:09 am

Consider Zepora Roberts blogging about a school board meeting. Or Chip Franzoni. Or Cassandra Littlejohn. If these past board members could blog from a completely neutral perspective, then fine, they would simply be disseminators of information.

Folks who were present during executive sessions, privy to information that the public does not have, who then blog and express opinions, sway arguments. You can be OK with that or not. Your choice. But you need to enter in with your eyes wide open.

As to the Dr. Walker vs Nancy Jester publication debate…this seems nonsensical to me. They are BOTH still receiving taxpayer money (suspended WITH pay for the remainder of their terms). Walker is still waging legal battles against the state. Walker could still wind up on the board. Nancy said she was gracefully bowing out. I think that publishing either of their op-eds is newsworthy.

DeKalb Inside Out

March 20th, 2013
9:09 am

Communication
Who else is communicating? I haven’t heard jack squat from the new board. We are lucky to have Marueen, DSW, Nancy, and Don covering DeKalb education.

We could be in Cherokee where education is never covered. The administration was incredulous when Kelly Marlow, a board member, asked them to complete a budget report before voting on it. The Cherokee Tribune was so astonished with the administrations lack of effort and brashness they wrote a critical article.
http://openagenda.kellymarlowga.com/2013/02/21/173/
The article was up a couple of hours before it was pulled.

I would like add Kelly Marlow to list of communicators and advocates for education in Georgia.

Lynn43

March 20th, 2013
9:11 am

Jester’s love affair with charter schools shows that she should not have been on a public school board. It was never proved but speculated that she was the source of the start of the lawsuit to keep public school board members silent on the November constitutional vote on the charter school commission. I argued against that opinion of her, but now I am wondering.

Dunwoody Mom

March 20th, 2013
9:14 am

@Concerned DeKalb Mom: Nancy Jester resigned her seat. She is no longer being paid.

williebkind

March 20th, 2013
9:21 am

Ok, I missed a lot. Why was the board upended? If these people are educated, articulate, and voted in by the people what did they do to or not do to complete their terms. The Governor replaced the void with the same credentials he tossed out. The new ones are just under greater scrutiny. I have a problem overturning the will of the people.

Mom of 3

March 20th, 2013
9:24 am

I do not put NJ in the same category as past board members. She has a huge following. Whether Maureen wants to admit it or not, she was the 1st person who had the guts to shine the light on the DCSS mismanagement. I do believe she was the catalyst for what has taken place over the last 6 months. I do not agree with her on everything. But I welcome her insight into the board meetings. I have never gotten the “sour grapes” feel from her that I get when I read McChesney’s blog. My gut is that Maureen is feeling a little intimidated by NJ.

Concerned DeKalb Mom

March 20th, 2013
9:32 am

@Dunwoody Mom…she has resigned her seat in word only. No official resignation has happened–writers above have given reasons as to why, many of which I think have merit–but unless she’s sending the checks back, she’s still getting paid.

Jack ®

March 20th, 2013
10:11 am

Responsible citizens, informed citizens are supposed to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. All this turmoil in DeKalb is the result of poor and absent decisions which began a long time ago. It won’t get better, it can’t get better unless there is a change in the culture that wrought this nightmare and that ain’t likely to happen in my lifetime.

dekalbschoolwatch

March 20th, 2013
10:14 am

We applaud Nancy for setting up a live blog. We don’t think anyone else is doing one this time and they are a great reporting tool (why don’t you do one Maureen? The general public LOVES the forum and the information). In fact, we encourage people to participate! We will also be blogging tonight – the regular way – in the comments! See you all at 6 pm!

[FWIW, Nancy did say in her blog that although she had been dismissed by the Governor, she would still remain involved. Further, Nancy voted NO to suing the state and NO to hiring more lawyers. She and Pam and we believe Jim were the only NO votes. We suggest you think about who the YES or absent votes were. Some are currently on the board. One is the current chair.]

The Deal

March 20th, 2013
10:22 am

Nancy’s blog is nothing new. You are just trying to use its existence to draw more hits or posts. Don’s blog began when he was voted out of office. I welcome both of their viewpoints, and I would welcome blog postings from any other current or former board members. Anything we can do to get insight into what this board has thought and is thinking is a benefit to parents and taxpayers, whether we agree with them or not. Don may not have the best writing skills, but I very much appreciated his insight into the hiring of Cheryl Atkinson. It was as bad, or worse, than we had all feared. The fact that no one stood up to refute it spoke volumes.

Maureen, I do take issue with the fact that you put a negative spin on the fact that Jester and McChesney are blogging and never put a similar spin on the blogging activity of Gene Walker. You posted his as news, and you appear to be criticizing Jester and McChesney. It does appear slanted, Maureen. You’re better than that.

dekalbschoolwatch

March 20th, 2013
10:30 am

BTW – don’t ever underestimate the power of blogs and websites. Journalism is a whole different animal these days. In fact, at a recent WordPress Camp, we attended a seminar called, ” WordPress is Saving Journalism!” The speaker, Joe Boydston told about how WordPress has allowed newspapers to downsize considerably! The AJC would be wise to prepare!

“VP of McNaughton Newspaper Group, operator of 8 northern California newspapers. Our *printed* newspapers are powered by WordPress, not just our websites.

Joe is an advocate for open source, an evangelist of Journalism and a dreamer of exciting futures for both.”

Your bosses might want to look him up Maureen!

Atlanta Media Guy

March 20th, 2013
10:36 am

Jack I am right with you! Until the entire CLEW CREW is gone, how can anyone expect change. The culture goes way back 40+ years. The only difference this time is the system is failing, has not met AYP, as a system, for years, budgets balanced on the back of teachers year after year and money is being spent on lawyers and NOT on educating students.

I plan on asking Nancy tonight, whether she has resigned officially or not. See you at 6!

George

March 20th, 2013
10:41 am

Both of them need to get the hell on.