After 45 days in the DeKalb school chief post, Michael Thurmond still optimistic if not specific

Michael Thurmond (AJC Photo)

Michael Thurmond (AJC Photo)

Interim DeKalb superintendent Michael Thurmond marked his 45th day on the job by speaking this morning to a packed gathering of Leadership DeKalb and the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce. Along with business leaders, the audience included the newly reconstituted school board and DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis.

I have now heard Thurmond speak six times, and he continues to deliver the same broad message of optimism: DeKalb schools will get on track, but it won’t be overnight and it won’t be easy.

Thurmond avoids specifics, artfully dodging questions about whether he intends to fire any of the central office holdovers from previous administrations. He responded today that new leaders err when they fire everyone on their first day. Then, the leaders devote the next six months to coping with the fallout. He intends to find out who he needs and who he doesn’t need over time.

Asked how he will stem the exodus of unhappy teachers from the system, Thurmond said he will show them greater appreciation and eliminate unnecessary tasks. “I can’t offer more pay,” he said. “I have directed the people at the senior level to inventory what we are doing. What things we can eliminate, we will eliminate.”

In his first 45 days, Thurmond has crisscrossed the county, speaking to parent groups and neighborhood associations several times a week.

In a question and answer session with moderator Dennis O’Hayer of WABE, Thurmond talked about the link between governance of the school system and what occurs in the classroom.

“Governance begins at the top and encompasses the whole organization,” said Thurmond.

Thurmond listed what has become his canon of leadership: 1. Open lines of communication. 2. Transparency. 3. Listening. “In order to govern anyone, you have to be willing to listen,” he said.

O’Hayer pressed him on how he will improve academic performance. Thurmond said he’s looking to reallocate resources to the classroom and ensure that everyone believes every child can learn. But he noted that he’s deliberately avoided new edicts and marching orders for teachers frustrated with the revolving door of new reform plans over the last few years.

What about resources, O’Hayer asked. How do you plan to dedicate resources to the classroom and move things around to do that?

“First, we have to get our fiscal house in order,” Thurmond said. “We’ve been granted public trust and that requires us to manage the resources we have in such a way as to support academic achievement in our classrooms. We are suffering like every other school district because of the lack of resources. But that does not excuse us from taking advantage of the resources we do have.”

Thurmond said DeKalb’s property digest fell from $25 billion to $18.9 billion between 2008 and 2012, a drop of 24.9 percent. And the state cuts continue.

“We will do a better job of using the resources we have. We have lost our way,” said Thurmond, adding that DeKalb  became too caught up in “politics and adult messes.”

He said he would not seek a tax increase until the school district demonstrates it is properly using the resources it has now.

While DeKalb needs funds, that’s not the greatest challenge, he said.  “It’s how we govern. Money is tight, but money is never really the primary challenge; it’s the lack of will, lack of ideas, lack of innovation.  Seven-hundred-and-fifty-million dollars is still a lot of money.”

Thurmond reiterated that he follows an assets-driven strategy. He repeated the story — you’ve read this before here on the blog — that someone recently asked him, “What assets do you have in DeKalb?”

And he replied: “The first thing, we have 98,000 assets. Those are our beautiful, bright wonderful students. Once you recognize that, all the other problems pale in comparison with the opportunities we have.”

Thurmond says he has been meeting with communities across the county, spending time last night with the mayor, council and citizens of Brookhaven.

While the drive from his Stone Mountain home to north DeKalb is a matter of a few miles, Thurmond said the politics make it seem as if 2,000 miles separate them because of historic divides in the county.

“We have to recognize that some of the dysfunction we have seen in the school board is really dysfunction in the county,” he said.

He said schools will not thrive unless communities can find common ground. “We will learn from the mistakes that have been made, and I will be the first to tell you that mistakes have been made. But I will not dwell on them,” he said.

While people keep hearkening back to the greatness of DeKalb schools 30 years ago, Thurmond said the system that existed three decades ago is not the system that exists now.

“That population today has 71 percent of its students qualifying for free and reduced lunches,” he said. “Not that those children can’t learn and can’t be successful because I qualified for free and reduced lunch. I was the grandson and great grandson of Georgia sharecroppers who could not read and write.”

He said 20 percent of DeKalb’s students are English language learners or have parents who only speak English as a second language in the home or not at all. “We have not engaged or understood the great opportunity that presents,” he said. “One mistake we did make is we fired all the interpreters.”

Asked about the stubborn racial divide in DeKalb, Thurmond shared again that he graduated Clarke Central High in Athens 42 years ago — in the first year that the black and white schools were consolidated. He spent 11 years in segregated schools and was 18 before he spoke to a white peer in school.

An historian by avocation, Thurmond said African-Americans were denied any access to education for 250 years and then faced separate and equal schools for the next 150. It’s only been four decades that blacks and whites have learned side by side in Georgia, he said.

“You cannot undo 400 years of history in 40 years. It doesn’t bother me when I meet people who may not have evolved on the race issue. The nation is still addressing the vestiges of a history that we luckily have put behind us,” said Thurmond

He noted that his high school still has two class reunions by race. “We have come a long way. But we have a long way to go.”

“If you are going to be a successful leader or you are going to be a successful anything in the 21st century, you have to engage with and work with people of different races and creeds. You just have to,” he told the crowd to applause.

“At some point, we have to deal with young people who come from high poverty backgrounds, who may not live in our neighborhoods, who may not attend our schools,” he said. “It is okay to be self interested. You must be self interested about your children. But leaders have to help other people’s children.”

Thurmond then went onto one of his favorite topics: How parents are the most important factor in a child’s educational success.  He noted that DeKalb’s bests schools have the most active PTAs.

“We have allowed politicians like me to shift all the burden to educate our children on teachers. It is just not right. Studies show the greatest influence is parents,” he said

Thurmond recalled his father helping him with his homework throughout elementary school. So,  he was shocked in middle school when his mother told him, “You know your dad can’t read  or write.”  Thurmond realized that it was his father’s presence in the room as he did his homework that had been so helpful.

He intends to use Title 1 funds to find ways to strengthen parental involvement in low-income schools. “I was disappointed in the lack of plans we have to encourage parental involvement in high poverty schools. That is going to change,” he said.

Thurmond tells parents he sees “shoulder to shoulder” at high school football games that they also need to show up at conferences and PTA meetings.

The complaint that north DeKalb schools enjoy greater resources than south DeKalb sometimes reflects fund-raising  by the parents in those northside communities, he said.  “What people don’t know is that the parents raised thousands of dollars for the new band equipment,” he said. “Some schools have outstanding parental involvement and what you are seeing in the dichotomy in funding is not necessarily from the central office.

Thurmond said he also understands that some parent communities can’t raise thousands of dollars. “That is the demarcation line and bridging that will be the challenge,” he said.

The final question focused on whether Thurmond will stay on as DeKalb school chief. “Well, I have a 12-month contract,” he replied. Will he stay beyond that, as did Erroll Davis in APS?

Yes, was his reply.  “I am here to do what I was called to do.”

When he does leave the interim post, Thurmond said he intends to turn over a functioning and achieving district to a new school superintendent.

“He or she won’t walk into the situation that I walked into. People deserve better than that.”

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

109 comments Add your comment

Dunwoody Mom

March 27th, 2013
12:22 pm

“One mistake we did make is we fired all the interpreters.”

Nice to see that either Thurmond recognizes this or he listened when someone else told him this was a big mistake.

southern opinion

March 27th, 2013
12:25 pm

What is he going to do with failing schools? What is his plan for those schools that continually fail the CRCT and do not make yearly progress? Seems like anything academic are the last to be improved.

USMC

March 27th, 2013
12:25 pm

“After 45 days in the job, DeKalb’s Michael Thurmond still optimistic if not specific”–Maureen Downey

You mean He sounds CLUELESS!

Sure he can throw around plenty of cliches and smile, but what SPECIFICALLY is he doing????

…….. crickets……. crickets……. that’s what we thought.

Pride and Joy

March 27th, 2013
12:36 pm

LIAR ““That population today has 71 percent of its students qualifying for free and reduced lunches,”
Lies.
There is NO verification for free and reduced lunches.
If there was, there would be a heck of a lot less free and reduced lunches.
We know with certainty that board members making 90K a year signed up their kids for free lunches. I also know for certainty that parents pay $100 and more for their hairdos and hub caps sign up their children for free lunches.
Free lunches are a scam. They give no indication of how much poverty there is in a system and schools WANT people to lie so that they can get Title 1 money.
Anyone who quotes free luch and reduced lunch as a measuring stick or an indicator of poverty are just lying through their teeth.

skipper

March 27th, 2013
12:37 pm

Thurmond may have answered more than some think. He points out that the schools have been desegregated 40+ years, and that you cannot undo 400 years of history. That being said, it should be even MORE important for black voters to realize that picking the best and brightest for office (especially the school board) must be a top priority. Someone who is not up to snuff on education or other issues certainly does not need to be elected to a school board. If a group was denied education for so long, and fought so hard for it then by cracky make it a priority, instead of a “I got mine” attitude. Unfortunately, like it or not, the new city formations, white flight, etc. will continue. This is a fact. So, Thurmond has his work cut out for him. If the “community” would get its priorites straight, that would be one heckuva start.

Jovan Miles

March 27th, 2013
12:39 pm

Rather than quickly leap to judgment or to make decisions before he fully understands the problems that he has inherited it is wise of him (1) meet and speak with the community her serves and (2) take time to understand his district from top to bottom.

Failing schools don’t turn around over night. Far too many people in the educational community look for simple quick fixes to a problem that extends beyond school campuses. If he intends to help increase student achievement he is going to have to find a way to make sure that parents become engaged and active, students must be held accountable for their part in the learning process, good teachers must be supported, bad teachers must be removed, and school district processes must be streamlined in order to eliminate and/or reduce waste.

It will take years to fix this mess and progress will most likely be painfully slow. I applaud him for stepping up to this challenge but I do not envy him in the least.

Pride and Joy

March 27th, 2013
12:39 pm

Thurmond DID NOT make a mistake when he fired the interpreters. The State made a mistake when they allowed the illegal immigrants into the schools in the first place.
Illegal aliens are CRIMINALS. They don’t deserve to suck off our tax payer money.
We need to educate and help AMERICANS, not MEXICANS.
Is anyone foolish enough to think that Mexico is paying for Americans to go to school?

Pride and Joy

March 27th, 2013
12:42 pm

YES YOU CAN undo 400 years of slavery!
We women have done it in far less time!
Sheesh. We women could not even VOTE until @1920!
Now, women are at the top of the class in schools, in colleges and are rising to the top of the Fortune 500 companies and all without whining about the past.

MoFaux

March 27th, 2013
12:44 pm

USMC: He deserves more than 45 days before labeling the man as clueless. Maybe he’s actually thinking and planning instead of prematurely spouting off ideas that won’t work. He deserves the benefit of the doubt, for now…

Road Scholar

March 27th, 2013
12:49 pm

“Thurmond listed what has become his canon of leadership: 1. Open lines of communication. 2. Transparency. 3. Listening. “In order to govern anyone, you have to be willing to listen,” he said.”

USMC: did you read the article, or are you unable to understand what he is doing? He is researching what the problems are before he engages the Board to collectively, with buy in, addresses the shortfalls and improvements. He wants to prioritize the corrective actions.

You surprise me that you did not realize that. I guess since you are military that you just rush in and Ready, Shoot, Aim! It’s hard to correct specific problems…..if you do not know what those problems are! And how each problem is associated with the other problems/solutions!

MoFaux

March 27th, 2013
12:50 pm

Pride and Joy: How many women are in the US Senate? Yeah, you women are represented so well, despite corporate successes and having voted for almost 100 years.

Question

March 27th, 2013
12:53 pm

I like this guy already.

Jovan Miles

March 27th, 2013
1:00 pm

@MoFaux it’s better not to engage with those who are more interested in oversimplification of a problem than in having a nuanced discussion about a complex issue.

reality check

March 27th, 2013
1:03 pm

Thurmond deserves a chance and support. He has been very successful in life despite humble background and anybody should respect that. He sounds perceptive and clearly he is many cuts above what has been there in the past.

If he gets support and fails then run him out of town. Until then, give him respect and the support needed to do the job.

George

March 27th, 2013
1:15 pm

Well something new will come along in the news and the school system will be off the hook.Being an educator resources is not the problem in the classroom it is discipline and every one knows that.We continue to pour money everywhere it is not not needed.North and south the hell with the both of them.It is about parenting my kids can compete and win because of her house hold five colleges between MOM and DAD and education comes first it not where you live it is how you live lets get with the real issues.By the way I am Black since everything is about race in Georgia because the Asians are kicking both races asses in the classroom.

irisheyes

March 27th, 2013
1:17 pm

@Pride and Joy, stereotype much? The only interpreters I’ve ever used are Vietnamese ones. I didn’t know that spoke that in Mexico.

WilieJo

March 27th, 2013
1:33 pm

Now that Thurmond has dropped his “I am here to defend the board” approach, I am all for giving him the benefit of the doubt. He has a hard job and deserves the support of the community until there is evidence to the contrary.

Dunwoody Mom

March 27th, 2013
1:40 pm

My fear is that Thurmond will take too much time in realizing that he has been lied to about the number of Central Office cuts – cuts that need to be in this upcoming budget.

RexDogma

March 27th, 2013
1:48 pm

I think Thurmond is going a good job so far. His comments are exactly right. Come on DeKalb can’t we just all get along!

DeKalb Inside Out

March 27th, 2013
2:01 pm

Thurmond is the Interim Superintendent. His number one priority should be finding a Permanent Superintendent. Thurmond and Johnson are products of the old guard and are running the show. The new board is a bunch of rubber stamps. The number one reason for getting a new board was to get a new Superintendent who would clean house and usher in new leadership.

* When are we getting a new Superintendent
* Who are these 600 jobs let go from the central office
* Why are we still dumping money into the Heery Mitchell lawsuit
* Why is Ramona Tyson still there

Bernie

March 27th, 2013
2:04 pm

Maureen, Did not Mr.Thurmond inform the community in a interview with a AJC reporter that a written plan was for the coming? Based on my notes from that report, Mr.Thurmond is about (10) Ten days late as he promised a presentation of that Plan. There is no mention of it or any referencing of its presentation in the article above. So far it seems that we are ALL continually getting the soft spoken platitudes and the ” AW SHUCKS” political response, as one would expect from a well seasoned typical Georgia politician.

This lapse in judgement, goes back to issue of Qualification & Experience. This is why that criteria is absolutely essential, when it comes to the hiring of a School Superintendent the size and budget of the Dekalb County School System. to ignore or disregard it, is another recipe for a successful failure
in the making.

I still wish him well and much success, but if Mr.Thurmond, is not standing by and behind his own promises NOW! how are we to expect any change in the future from Mr.Thurmond?

Pride and Joy

March 27th, 2013
2:24 pm

MoFaux, you’re making my point for me.
Even though we women haven’t reached complete equality, we’ve made tremendous strides. Yet, you blacks continue to blame slavery for your lack of education and success. It is shameful. We women educate ourselves and contnue to climb and go forward. You just want to whine, whine whine.
And let me remind you, there is no NAACP for women.

Pride and Joy

March 27th, 2013
2:27 pm

irisheyes,
How many ILLEGAL Vietnamese are there in your public school?
Legal Vietnamese are just fine and so are LEGAL immigrants but the ILLEGAL ones are sucking the blood out of tax payers.

teacherwantingachange

March 27th, 2013
2:27 pm

Sorry but I still remember when our former superintendent needed 90 days. Exactly how long does it take to find out the problems?

One could spend a weekend reading this blog and determine many of the problems: too many people are running departments without the ability or integrity (misspent Title 1 funds; absence of any evaluative data for costly academic programs; plagiarized audit); too many people using Title 1 funds, RTT funds, and SPLOST funds as a jobs and benefit program (salary disparities between certified instructional specialists and certified teachers, free Phds, free cars; travel reimbursements; tutoring outfits); dismal student performance.

I see how Thurmond has achieved communication. When is he going to implement transparency?

I only teach, so I don’t know much about running a business. But wouldn’t the first act of transparency require a proper financial audit? Wouldn’t the next be a published list of all people working at the central office (or rather all people making more than teachers who are not teaching a class)?

How long do you need to keep the very people who mismanaged the district around? If this were a private business by which real measurements are determined, when would Ramona Tyson have resigned?

Thurmond says he can’t give us any more money, but he hasn’t explained how he’s analyzed the following data:
1. salary determinations—The county is quick to refer to the state’s teacher salary. Why can’t the county provide the same for all other jobs?
2. personnel evaluations—Atkinson’s audit determined the same lack of innovation, so how long do these people get to keep working at it?
3. cost-benefit analysis of contracts—How do we approve contracts? There was no specific information about the number of repairs or the amount of paper used with the current copier contract that was extended, and the head of instruction provided no information about what SFA has done so far. Would this fly in a world in which one is accountable for work?

teacherwantingachange

March 27th, 2013
2:32 pm

Diversity?

How many of Dekalb’s administrators can communicate in an ESL student’s native language? How many have any experience working or teaching overseas?

I wish someone would compare the diversity of Dekalb’s student population to the diversity of Dekalb’s administration, especially the principals and assistant principals of schools.

DeKalb Inside Out

March 27th, 2013
2:38 pm

Gender Discrimination
* You can’t be a bishop because you’re female.
* You can’t be combat pilot because you’re female.
* You can’t go to a certain military college because you’re female.
etc …

Now replace “female” with “black” or “jewish”. People would FREAK out! It’s socially acceptable to discriminate against women … that makes me sad.

Mountain Man

March 27th, 2013
2:54 pm

“While DeKalb needs funds, that’s not the greatest challenge, he said. “It’s how we govern. Money is tight, but money is never really the primary challenge; it’s the lack of will, lack of ideas, lack of innovation.”

At least he is right about this. Give him a chance to be right about other things.

Chamblee Dad

March 27th, 2013
3:09 pm

@Dunwoody Mom On the interpreters, I sent him & some board members an email tacked onto a previous chain, I had something to hit “reply all” to, which I was happy I had something to reply.

Anyway, it was a rant on how that stupid decision was impacting our school, I know you are aware of how many Hispanics we have in my area, prompted by the most recent example – a “rising 6th grader” meeting at our school, held at night since so many of the parents couldn’t go to the CMS events during work hours. Had parents & students from CMS come to talk to us, rather than just school admin. Went great except we had issues with the headsets we had bought (with Title $$ I think) and with no interpreters we had to reply on bilingual parents who fortunately were there.

So my e-mail to them ended with “To have that many not fully engaged in their child’s education because of a lack of translators due to budget cuts, that truly is a shame. DeKalb Schools are
failing those families.”

Didn’t get a reply, but hopefully he heard it from enough people to take it seriously. To me, I really tried to paint him picture – a “real world” example of the impact that decision made.

DeKalb Inside Out

March 27th, 2013
3:11 pm

Moutain Man
I disagree. DeKalb doesn’t need more money. As we know, and Thurmond apparently does not, that school districts across Georgia are getting more money than they ever have (adjusted for inflation).

it’s the lack of will, lack of ideas, lack of innovation – What the hell does that even mean? I can walk into ANY company from here to a Oxnard and say the exact same thing and be right on target.

Everything he says is trite and trivial. I’ll will give him this, I’ve never seen anyone with the ability to string together as many platitudes as he does.

carol 80

March 27th, 2013
3:17 pm

It is interesting that the county hasn’t been forthcoming with data from Success for All, especially since every SFA school has a data coordinator. In our school, the data and SFA coordinators sit in their own classroom and just talk to each other. They do not visit the rooms very often or offer help the teachers. They just give deadlines on dates that something is due.
When the children were placed in their SFA 90 minute classes for the day, it was not done prudently. For example, a third grade teacher students tested out on the level the teacher was teaching except for two students. All students on the homeroom teachers were removed but two, In essence, she could have served all her own homeroom students except two. When this was pointed out to the SFA coordinator, she said that would have been to hard to do that. We are just assigning students to a class and we are not matching up students to their teachers. So during reading she only has two of her own homeroom students.
Race to the Top uses a rubric on evaluating students. Part of the rubric is on how well her students are performing academically. And this is connected to the teacher’s pay starting in 2014.. She will be penalized if her students do poorly and she is only teaching them part of the day. SFA is not aligned to Race to the Top. Teachers are so very frustrated because they could have served most of their own students.
When our teachers voted last week to see if we wanted to keep SFA, they were told that they would not be able to go back and use their present reading series which was only purchased three years ago if SFA was not used in the fall. There is a lot more structure in consistency in non-Title I schools and they don’t have all these constant changes with inefficient new programs along with coaches. They will still get to use the same reading program they have been using which was purchased for the entire school system. Tite I school teacher and students are constantly being treated like guinea pigs…always trying something new and throwing it out a year or two later. I feel sorry for the principals too that are stuck with implementing these programs with a smile on their faces.

Chamblee Dad

March 27th, 2013
3:19 pm

“The final question focused on whether Thurmond will stay on as DeKalb school chief. “Well, I have a 12-month contract,” he replied. Will he stay beyond that, as did Erroll Davis in APS? Yes, was his reply. “I am here to do what I was called to do.” “When he does leave the interim post, Thurmond said he intends to turn over a functioning and achieving district to a new school superintendent. “He or she won’t walk into the situation that I walked into. People deserve better than that.”

I don’t want him here that long, I don’t want him to “fix” the district & then hand over the keys, as I said on an earlier thread, I want him to “get us out of this pit stop & back on the track, but I want a new driver to get us back to the front of the race.”

His role as I see it, shouldn’t take 12 months, if he intends on accomplishing his stated goal, the one I want a new permanent super. to achieve, that will take longer than 12 months for sure.

Chamblee Dad

March 27th, 2013
3:25 pm

@ DeKalb Inside Out Thurmond say “He intends to find out who he needs and who he doesn’t need over time.” If he needs help in that regard, keep it up for me, as I have pledged to not demand the removal of R _ by name, at least for the time being. Not because she isn’t the 1st needed to go, I just would never get much else done. Now, if at any point he says she’s affirmatively staying, then my head & keyboard will explode.

10:10 am

March 27th, 2013
3:42 pm

Hey, @Bernie—is Michael Thurmond unaware that he’s not in the “lucky gene club” that you incessantly scapegoat for your personal failings in life?

He seems confident and in control of the situation. What doesn’t he understand about the America you continually disparage?

Thurston Howell IV

March 27th, 2013
4:00 pm

I say that he’s heading in the right direction.At least this guy is not coming in with a bunch of grand plans that would take a miracle to come to fruition. Even though there needs to be a housecleaning,he at least has the good sense to see exactly who needs to be broomed. It seems that he’s running the place in a more businesslike, professional manner.His predecessor was clearly out of her depth and he is a step up from that. all of you people that are criticizing him after just 45 days must live on Happy Planet,where turnarounds are immediate and permanent. I’m sure that you people wouldn’t want to be judged by your first 45 days on the job.

Give him a chance. Let’s see how the situation looks a year from now. He was handed a really bad hand.Let’s wait and see how he plays it.

Pardon My Blog

March 27th, 2013
4:37 pm

It is unfortunate that he spent a month trying to help his buddy Eugene when he should have been spending that time getting brought up to speed on where the system was. It is also unfortunate that once again, we have a superintendent that is unqualified for the position and has a huge learning curve. He needs to be careful who he listens to.

That said, I would hope that he focuses on the task at hand and backs off some of this divisive talk of north vs. south. He talks alot, knows the buzz words but I really don’t think he can get the job done. I think the reason he hasn’t met with the teachers is he does not grasp their importance and knows that he isn’t well versed in the profession of teaching and will look like a fool.

Glad to see Druid Hills going for the Charter Cluster, Lakeside would be well advised to do the same thing. Forget this “cityhood” move, the organizers are Dunwoody wannabes and are just trying to salvage their McMansion home values. Instead, the focus and energy should be on forming a cluster like Druid Hills and return to successful education. Lakeside will never be a Dunwoody, the commercial base is just not there to sustain the expected services. After all, this movement in large part is about the schools, is it not?

The Deal

March 27th, 2013
4:45 pm

It was insulting at the first board meeting to hear Thurmond say into the mike that voters approved SPLOST for, what, 50 new Ford Fusions? No, we didn’t. First, I voted NO because I knew shenanigans like this would go on. Second, those who did vote YES presumably had schoolchildren at the front of the line. Are we giving these Ford Fusions to teachers or students?

Looking for Solutions

March 27th, 2013
5:41 pm

Teachers Threatened Students!
I just watched the news about the indictments in the APS teacher cheating scandal.
Children testified that teachers threatened them and told them not to tell anyone that they saw the teacherscheating.
This is more than scandal and greed and fraud.
This is the most outrageous thing I’ve heard about it — teachers threatening innocent little children.
Those teachers need to be in jail forever!

Catlady

March 27th, 2013
5:42 pm

Mr. Thurmond shows his inexperience: Every task given to teachers is of top importance to someone! It may be to the state, the feds, the C of C, even the highly paid flunkies at the CO.

He can’t point to ANY accomplishments in the first 45 days. PR isn’t an accomplishment.

He needs to cut non-teaching staff in half, immediately, and then look at hom many it will take TO SUPPORT teachers and students, and cut that number in half again, directing all those savings into the classrooms. Start the cuts with those with idiotic “credentials” like doctorates from Argosy. Have no one in instructional supervisionwith less than 15 years of full time teaching experience..

He needs to cut the CO down to one person per division. If that person cannot handle it, get rid of them and get someone else (remember they should do it for the students, and that they should be happy to have a job! That’s what teachers are told!).

Give friends and family and sorority members of former board members and administrators 3 months to prove they are indispensable and cut their pay in half. That will show why they are in it.

bu2

March 27th, 2013
6:24 pm

Sounds like he is taking a good reasoned approach and looking at the right things. Rather than cutting people rashly based on internet blogs, he is making his own determinations and working through the budget process.

I do believe he said he was supposed to have a plan on March 15th. Haven’t heard any more of that.

Bernie

March 27th, 2013
7:03 pm

bu2 @ 6:24 pm – thank-you for information of the date of a Plan presentation by Mr.Thurmond of March 15th. That information coincides with my notes as well. Being that there has been no mentioning of it since from Mr.Thurmond and nothing from Maureen’s reporting. From the many comments of support here and elsewhere. It appears Mr.Thurmond’s promises of Action failures, still enjoys a bit of scccess that can be easily ignored and disregarded.

All indications of that little omission of FACT is not a real concern or care.
However, my perspective of the purposeful omission and non reporting is a very telling and ominous sign of what is to come.

A sign of Humongous Failure that is slowly rising just above the horizon. A failure slow enough to creep along to allow Mr. Thurmond enough time to collect fully on his (1) one year financial contract. The goal then changes to quietly allow him to walk away with a Golden Parachute with a total payment amount of $300k through months long after Michael has left office. ALL without really doing or accomplishing much of anything that anyone can point too or establish as a tangible accomplishment.

I am for allowing MR.Thurmond all the time he needs. However in his occupation as an attorney, Mr.Thurmond above all, knows the clock is ticking.

These type of acts of promises made and then those same promises are ignored and omitted purposely, by politicians are common place in Georgia and the people must hold them all accountable for their actions and non actions.

Time and time again Mr.Thurmond has told ALL of us that he has come to help. Well Mr.Thurmond …talk is cheap! let us see your CARDS!….. Sir!

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

March 27th, 2013
7:55 pm

@P&J Thurmond DID NOT make a mistake when he fired the interpreters. The State made a mistake when they allowed the illegal immigrants into the schools in the first place.
Illegal aliens are CRIMINALS. They don’t deserve to suck off our tax payer money.
We need to educate and help AMERICANS, not MEXICANS.
Is anyone foolish enough to think that Mexico is paying for Americans to go to school?

We use interpreters in my school. My school is near a university that employees people from all over the world, and hosts many on visiting sebaticals or teaching assignments. Our interpreters speak Korean, Hindi, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Urdu, etc. You are making some pretty distasteful assumptions about non-English speaking individuals.

Looking for Solutions

March 27th, 2013
9:04 pm

Catlady is right. PR is not an accomplishment and dodging questions IS NOT artful! It is deception, the kind we are trying to get rid of.
Why does anyone want to give Thurmond a pass? He was chosen by crooked, foul Eugene Walker to protect Eugene’s job. Thurmond needs to go and the new board needs to elect a new super has the best interests of the students and tax payers in mind — not the “art” of dodging questions and surely not protecting the interests of a crooked board.

DeKalb Inside Out

March 27th, 2013
9:24 pm

the audience included the newly reconstituted school board

Question – Was this meeting announced? It is illegal to have a quorum in an unannounced meeting.

O.C.G.A. § 50-14-1
A “Meeting” is a gathering of a quorum of any committee of the members of the governing body

For any meeting, other than a regularly scheduled meeting of the agency for which notice has already been provided pursuant to this chapter, written or oral notice shall be given at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting

Violations of the law can lead to a $1000 fine for a first violation and a $2500 fine for each additional violation within 12 months.

Happy 45th Day, Mr. Thurmond !!

Parents for DeKalb Schools

March 27th, 2013
9:48 pm

Maureen, have you asked Thurmond when he will release his highly touted 90 day plan? Your 3/11/13 post mentions that it will be released when the school board in intact.

teacherwantingachange

March 27th, 2013
10:03 pm

Thurmond admits there has been ” a lack of ideas, a lack of will, and a lack of innovation.” So why should it take so long to determine whom he needs and whom he doesn’t? If last week’s board meeting was any indication, he’s had enough time.

Thurmond recognizes that 71% of Dekalb’s students are receiving free and reduced lunch. I wonder if anyone has tried examining test scores with this information. If you take away the few schools that don’t serve so many of these Title 1 students, how much has Dekalb really done for 71% of the school district’s population? America’s Choice, instructional coaches, Success for All, and Academic Data Coaches seem to have been failures, no?

20% of the district’s students speak another language. How many of the school or district administrators are proficient in another language, or have any training/experience working with such students?

ShooShee

March 27th, 2013
10:05 pm

@Pride and Joy: The ‘newly constituted’ Board, hand-selected by the Governor’s committee only includes TWO women of the 9 total Board members. They were far too focused on race to care about gender.

Sickening. If they were going to replace race by matching race they should have A) told candidates of the opposing race not to waste time applying and B) Included GENDER.

We HAD 4 women on the Board — now we only have 2.

ShooShee

March 27th, 2013
10:10 pm

Furthermore, we still have to get a permanent superintendent. Guess what he or she will do? Have Town Hall meetings. Tour the county. Meet with staff. Evaluate. Ask questions. Listen. And present another of those 90 day “plans”. Then leave. With a nice exit package.

Next!

Chamblee Dad

March 27th, 2013
10:48 pm

@DeKalb Inside Out “His number one priority should be finding a Permanent Superintendent”

Ditto, ditto, ditto.

I’m really starting to think that he sees himself as the implementer of a long term solution, as in it’s going to take at least 12 months, and he’ll be here as long as it takes. That solution shouldn’t be his to deliver. What he should deliver is a system transparent & open, as he professes to value, allowing all to view some ACTION – getting the administration lean & mean, reasonable with the spending, getting $$ into the classrooms. Enough telling me what you are going to do, and just do it. The yearly budget extravaganza is about to start – a very serious test. If he says just once during the next 3 months “we all have to face some hard realities” instead of showing he can steer through those realities, I will have my answer.

Chamblee Dad

March 27th, 2013
11:16 pm

And just why do we keep talking about 400 years of history?

Yeah, yeah, I know. I get it – Georgia born & raised, know plenty of DeKalb history over last 30 years. I’m not uncomfortable talking frank on race, I won’t pretend it doesn’t play a role, often huge, even now. He cleans house in the central office alot of black people will be out of work. He gets more Title 1 $$ to the classrooms, alot of black students benefit, We know the demographics. Don’t try to teach me history, help the teachers teach the students history. And math, and reading,and science. Really, just get to work.

AJC isn't me

March 27th, 2013
11:20 pm

@love/hate teaching:

FYI, the terms “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” refer to foreigners seeking to live in a country without complying with its immigration laws. Not all foreigners fall into this category, as I’m sure @P&J would agree.