Saturday, March 2, 2013

Improving Public Education in Dunwoody Meeting

Kingswood United Methodist Church Sanctuary
Sunday, March 3, 2013
4:00 - 5:00 pm
Dunwoody residents interested in improving the quality of education in Dunwoody schools will share information on accreditation, legislative efforts, alternatives to the current public school district, and potential actions. The presentation will feature representatives from city and state government, local public education advocates, and a discussion session for participants to share their ideas and concerns.

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Thanks  to the people putting together this forum.  I am not sure the identities of all the people working on this particular forum, but I do know Donna Nall is one. Donna Nall is a class-act.  We first met, by email, a few years ago.  No need to go into details about our first 'meeting', but it involved a fresh-water canal, a manatee, boat rides in the canal, a playground, zoning, and an off-and-on underground spring.  That's all water under the canal bridge now and we are on common ground.  I do wish she and Lisa would grant me permission to run that photo of the women in the canal boat.  It was one of the blog's best images.  It was right up there with our review of the Northchase Apartment House of Nachos Mexican restaurant (I will repost that review later, I found it on www.communityradar.com )

So on Sunday March 3rd a bunch of Dunwoody residents will gather to discuss schools.  Hopefully this accreditation issue has gotten the attention of a few people.  Like any other issue in Dunwoody, the same 100 or so people have been heavily involved with schools.  A few come in to the mix and a few leave every year.  But we really need a few thousand people in this effort.

Please know Tom Taylor's Bill in the GA House is a good one.  He worked hard on the Bill, but is is an uphill battle; perhaps a bigger battle than becoming a city.  Representative Taylor needs 120 votes to get this thing done.  Please ask Tom Taylor what YOU can do to help.  But please folks, don't put more than three of your dozen eggs in this basket. I am still committed to the Tom Taylor life-sized statue should this thing pass, but odds are against it right now.  Even with all the hype across the State with Dr. Walker and this and that, others in the State could care less. 

The Parent Trigger Bill, put forth by Majority Whip Ed Lindsey, is another glimmer of hope.  But unfortunately this Bill has been watered down recently.  The Bill needs to be changed to add more teeth to do Dunwoody and other desperate areas of DeKalb (and the entire State of Georgia) any good.  We hear Representative Lindsey has some peeps who read this blog, so please pass the word that the Bill needs strengthened to be of any value to people outside of Fulton County.  Perhaps you can put three of your dozen eggs in this basket.

Next up in the portfolio is the Dan Weber Dunwoody Cluster plan.  Place three eggs of your dozen in this basket.  I will not attempt to describe this plan, but it involves us (Dunwoody taxpayers) paying DeKalb School System an annual fee to break away into a Dunwoody Cluster.  If someone with more knowledge of this plan wants to post something here, send it over.

So those of you keeping track know you have three eggs of your dozen remaining.  What basket?  Well, those are for throwing.

And finally, I saw a few snowflakes falling to the ground today.  Here are a few snow pictures of years gone by:





A hidden gem in Dunwoody, canal rides, just off Mt Vernon Rd




Friday, March 1, 2013

Superintendent Michael Thurmond 2013 Tour

Courtesy of the 'Victory in Every Classroom' newsletter, interim superintendent Michael Thurmond will host a series of meet and greet sessions for district employees.  I recall when his predecessor, Cheryl Atkinson, made her whirlwind "Hello" tour to meet and greet parents.  She and her security entourage made it out to Dunwoody High School one evening.  Total waste of time.  And speaking of Atkinson, she landed a nice job already - good thing because she was handed only $114,000 in 'go away' money from DeKalb taxpayers. 



The meet and greets will take place on: 
  • March 12 - 4:15-5:45 - Arabia Mountain High School Auditorium, 6610 Browns Mill Road, Lithonia
  • March 13 - 5:30-7 - Dr. Ronald E. McNair High School Auditorium, 1804 Bouldercrest Road SE, Atlanta
  • March 18 - 5:15-6:45 - Cross Keys High School Cafeteria, 1626 N. Druid Hills Road, Atlanta
  • March 19 - 4:15-5:45 - Tucker High School Auditorium, 5036 Lavista Road, Tucker
  • March 20 - 3:30-5 - Stone Mountain High Auditorium, 455 Central Drive, Stone Mountain
 


According to the newsletter separate opportunities for parents and community members will be held.  Not sure when Mr. Thurmond will host a series of fireside chats to meet parents.  Maybe when the weather warms up a bit.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Dunwoody When I'm Gone Contest

All across Dunwoody we have tweens, teens, and others practicing for the 1st Annual  WIGFIG-FART (When I'm Gone FarmHouser Invitational Gathering For All Residents Together)

The event will be held on a make-shift stage in the middle of the WOVER (Womack Rd - Vermack Rd) intersection.  All proceeds go toward buying horses for the Donaldson Chesnut Bannister Spruill RedShirt non-working farm.  Practice up children and adults.  There will be three divisions: Youth, Old, Real Old.

Here are some samples.  Our favorite is of course the boy in the last video.





















Monday, February 25, 2013

Governor Deal: Mob Rule or Rule of Law

UPDATE:

Governor Deal agreed with the State Board of Education and removed six members of the school board.

Many people are glad, but many people today realize their vote was taken away and has no value. Now we wait for two judges to weigh in.

Whom the Governor appoints will be interesting. We know certain legislators have had his ear. So when the replacements are announced these names came not from Deal's Rolodex but from certain members of the DeKalb delegation. A nominating committee is said to be in the process of forming - their task is to name the replacements. I may as well submit my name. To whom do I send my résumé?

UPDATE
Nominating Committee is formed. No Dunwoody Chamber member on it but DeKalb Chamber does. Is there anyone from Dunwoody on this committee? It does not matter, the replacement Board members already have been contacted.


(b) Any local board of education member suspended under this Code section may petition the Governor for reinstatement no earlier than 30 days following suspension and no later than 60 days following suspension. In the event that a suspended member does not petition for reinstatement within the allotted time period, his or her suspension shall be converted into permanent removal, and the temporary replacement member shall become a permanent member and serve out the remainder of the term of the removed member.

(c) Upon petition for reinstatement by a suspended local board of education member, the Governor or his or her designated agent shall conduct a hearing for the purpose of receiving evidence relative to whether the local board of education member's continued service on the local board of education is more likely than not to improve the ability of the local school system or school to retain its accreditation. The appealing member shall be given at least 30 days' notice prior to such hearing. Such hearing shall be held not later than 90 days after the petition is filed and in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50, the "Georgia Administrative Procedure Act," except that the individual conducting the hearing shall have the power to call witnesses and request documents on his or her own initiative. For purposes of said chapter and any hearing conducted pursuant to this Code section, the Governor shall be considered the "agency" and the Attorney General or his or her designee shall represent the interests of the Governor in the hearing. If it is determined that it is more likely than not that the local board of education member's continued service on the local board of education improves the ability of the local school system or school to retain its accreditation, the member shall be immediately reinstated; otherwise, the member shall be permanently removed, and the temporary replacement member shall become a permanent member and serve out the remainder of the term of the removed member or until the next general election which is at least six months after the member was permanently removed, whichever is sooner. Judicial review of any such decision shall be in accordance with Chapter 13 of Title 50.
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Soon Georgia Governor Deal will announce a decision on the DeKalb School Board. I am in agreement at least three members of the Board need removed but the removal process is the tricky thing here.

The DeKalb School District was placed on probation by SACS, triggering a new law that calls for Board members to be removed. Please note that NOTHING in the SACS report points to bad schools or bad teachers - that is the saddest part of this mess. This is an adult issue.

My theory is this SACS probation was planned many months ago, targeting specific members of the DeKalb School Board. But not the specific Board members you think. SACS has a strangle hold on Georgia school systems and fear the Texas model. Like any profitable (to the paid staff) non-profit entity SACS wants to keep growing. Anyone calling out SACS and its lack of focus on the classroom and student outcomes is a threat. We will have more details on the conspiracy theory soon. It involves SACS, state employees, and perhaps an elected official or two.

At the start of the hearing last week the State announced they are going after six board members only, not the three newly elected members. Of course this is totally against the written law, but not a surprise. The law is very clear it is all or none. Those close to the situation find it apparent why the trio was not included in the hearing. These three have very close ties to one DeKalb legislator, and even though this legislator's political party is in the minority, she has the Power and controls the DeKalb delegation. The Fernbank and Druid Hills area will control the Board and $1 billion. Remember how organized the Fernbank posse was when the science center funding was on the chopping block? Where are they now? They are sitting on the sidelines, smiling knowing they have control.

The State Board recommended removing only 6 of the 9 board members, but this is against the law. O.C.G.A. § 20-2-73 says This Code section shall apply to all local board of education members, regardless of when they were elected or appointed. House Bill 115, protecting the rights of the newly board elect, has not passed yet and once passed won’t be effective for a while.

So will the fine Governor follow the law as written, or follow the uneducated opinion of the State Board of Education?

Too bad we did not already have legislation ready to go on the new school district issue. Based on the negative press and political pressure involved, a Bill allowing the People of Georgia to vote to amend the Constitution would have passed this session.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Federal Judge Tells Governor Deal No Removal

Today a Federal judge has put forth an order for Governor Deal to stand down on removing the DeKalb school board.

I know this upsets many people anxious to remove the DeKalb School Board.  But a document called the United States Constitution prevents people from randomly being removed from elected office.  It's been a while since I taught middle school students here in Georgia so I am not going to give a lengthy lecture here.  And besides, Civics class is not a big deal in Georgia. But to remind myself of those teaching days I have a homework assignment for the Governor, the GA State Board of Education, and John My Other Government Subsidized Vehicle is a Barge.

Go study Georgia Standards section SSCG6, parts a,b,d,e

https://www.georgiastandards.org/standards/Georgia%20Performance%20Standards/American-Government.pdf

Section SSCG6 is required learning for our high school students, but educrats and political types could do no harm in reviewing the Bill of Rights, with a focus on the 5th Amendment.  Then go read over the 14th Amendment, focusing on the Due Process Clause.  A quick glance of the Magna Carta would not hurt either. Although not on the same level as Dred Scott, the hearing last week was as far from Due Process as one can get.  I wrote last week that the GA law to remove the school board may be Constitutional itself, but the removal process is not.

What needs to happen is the State needs to give each Board member a hearing (Due Process).  This way perhaps we can find out who did a lease for text books, who voted for this and that, who shows up at schools and harasses staff.  The SACS  report was full of allegations with no sworn testimony. The report is filled with hearsay.  The hearing resembled a Banana Republic courtroom more than a US legal proceeding.  The Board members, like them or not, have a Right to Due Process.  And let those making accusations swear in court to said accusations.  The only solid and undisputable evidence in the SACS report is the financial issues raised by Jester.  As Bob Wilson said, the report was not an investigation, it was a report (and a poor one at that, with no supporting documentation because SACS is a paper tiger)

Tuesday a judge will rule. Governor Deal is a day late on removing the Board.  He should have removed the Board an hour after the hearing, especially since he knew it was going to be a 12-0 vote. The lesson of the day for Governor Deal is you can't outfox the fox.

Until the legislators find away to dismantle this mega school district the people of DeKalb and the students of DeKalb and the property owners/sellers of DeKalb will suffer.
Collectively the Board is not a good one, but removing the Board fixes nothing.