Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Keep The Dekalb School Board

Not quite what many of you expected to read here, but I think removal of the DeKalb School Board is short-sighted and not what needs to happen in DeKalb.

First off, if the governor removes the Board, expect many attorneys to join the fight to keep them.  Removing elected office holders is a tricky subject.  The voters voted for these people, and removing elected people from office is a major topic.  The State of Georgia has rules in place to recall elected persons, and this recall process is done by registered voters (a lot of them), not by a single person.  Although I do feel that a few of the current Board members need removed, having the governor remove them is not the way to do this.

Secondly, I am convinced that if the Board were to be removed, and the removed members ran for the same Board positions when eligible (after the terms of the appointed members expire), the same exact people would be elected by their constituents.  In just a couple of years, we are right back in the same position.

So what needs done instead of removing the Board?  First, DeKalb County Schools should NOT have a county-wide accreditation.  Blame Crawford Lewis for us having county-wide SACS accreditation instead of each high school being accredited.  Most districts in Georgia do not have county-wide accreditation as we do in DeKalb.  We should have SACS or a different agency accrediting our high schools (and eventually middle schools), not the district as a whole. Can any sane person really think to punish a student at Chamblee High School because of something happening at Miller Grove High School, for example?  If a certain high school continues to fail, maybe then the voters in that area elect Board members they think can make a difference.

Next, we need a new superintendent.  Superintendent Atkinson has shown to be following the same path as Crawford Lewis and Ramona Tyson.  And that path leads to total failure for all stakeholders.  This new text scandal with Atkinson is corruption at its best/worst.  If the allegations are true (that the superintendent intentionally destroyed a phone and deleted text messages) then our Superintendent may be in some hot water soon.  Look for the FBI or GBI to join the party soon since the DeKalb DA thinks the DeKalb Board can police itself.

The Board's selection of Atkinson as superintendent was obviously a bad decision.  I think the Board should vote to remove her now, before the Governor removes the Board.  I don't care if we pay her for five years of salary to get rid of her.  It would be money well spent.  There were a couple of candidates in the last search process that would be good to run our district.  Above all, we need an honest person - someone with integrity.  If the governor wants to do us a favor, appoint a new superintendent.

A new superintendent would need to have the word "no' in his/her vocabulary.  Say 'no' to Board members asking for favors.  Say 'no' to the special interest groups.  The new superintendent needs to clean house at the central office and at the local schools, ridding us of corrupt and poor-performing employees.  The new superintendent needs to run the system like a business, not like a jobs program.

But let's not stop with one superintendent - we need at least two.  We need a superintendent for curriculum and one for administration.  Perhaps we have a DeKalb School System CEO take care of the financial side of things, and a superintendent to implement academic strategies.

Of course, the overall goal is to have the DeKalb School System divided into no less than three separate systems.  But that takes time, and no one outside of DeKalb actually cares about us.  The surrounding systems see a DeKalb failure as a win to them.  As DeKalb Schools fails, people and businesses move to  Fulton and Cobb.  As DeKalb Schools fail, private schools flourish.  As DeKalb Schools fail, property values decrease.

Removing the Board empowers the current superintendent. Mark Elgart (leader of SACS / AdvancED) is protecting the superintendent.  Mark Elgart and SACS are in business to make money and protect superintendents.  AdvancED is not the fix, it is part of the problem.