On Monday, the school board passed the DATE charter renewal petition, but not before an interesting conversation and perspective on charters and failing schools in DeKalb.
McNair Elementary has failed children for a generation, had the lowest elementary CCRPI scores in the district in 2014 and is at the top of the Opportunity School District List. Many parents zoned to McNair choose to send their child to the DeKalb Academy of Technology & Environment (DATE) charter school located in Stone Mountain and whose scores are an improvement over many of the other choices.
During the DATE charter board discussion, I pointed out that charters like DATE with long waiting lists (300+ students) are indicators of things going well in DeKalb. The waiting list is a market signal to that they are doing something right. Demand for this school is higher than what they can handle. People are choosing this environment for their child. The school district should figure out what DATE is doing to attract parents to choose this school. That would help DeKalb build a road map to improve academic achievement at poorly performing schools.
Marlon Walker is the AJC reporter that covers DeKalb Schools and wrote the following article about the ensuing board discussion. Questions of racial bias surface at DeKalb school board meeting
By: Marlon A. Walker – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A school’s charter renewal prompted discussion by DeKalb County school board members on racial bias in the district …
The discussion began as the board considered the DeKalb Academy of Technology and the Environment’s application for charter renewal. Michael Erwin, who represents District 3, said it bothered him that applicants sometimes could not answer simple questions including why a charter was being sought.
“Personally, I’m more concerned about whether they’re more financially viable,” said board member Stan Jester, who represents District 1. “Are their [test] scores good? And I think the fact that there’s a 300-person waiting list tells me those parents are paying attention and they want to go into those schools. I mean, what’s the waiting list to get into McNair Elementary? It’s not 300 kids. The parents know where they want to send their kids.”
“If you’re not going to have equity and children are not treated the same and they’re not a Fernbank or somewhere else, would you be on a waiting list?” Morley said. “And we know what needs to be done. If you treat all the schools the same, make the buildings look the same, bring in the same people, give them the same kind of equipment … ” Continue Reading at the AJC Online Here >>
Message from Trenton Arnold and Superintendent Green: Region I Community Engagement Sessions:
Where: Dunwoody High School When: Wednesday, September 23 @ 6:00 PM
Over the past eighteen months, the DeKalb County School District has continued to move forward with its intention to obtain charter system status from the Georgia Department of Education. Five community engagement sessions have been scheduled, and anyone seeking the opportunity to provide input is invited to attend, including parents, teachers, and other community members.
The focus of these sessions is to get stakeholder input on the Local School Governance Teams that will be required at each school and how those teams will have the opportunity to assist in the governance of the school and request flexibility from state law and Department of Education rules and regulations.
Modifications to the petition to meet new Georgia Department of Education requirements continue.
As a standing reminder, the GA DOE has an established deadline of November 1, 2015, for submission of charter petition applications that wish to begin operating as a charter district at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. The petition’s current draft can be reviewed at the link below: http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/charter-system-petition/charter-system-application-cover-sheet.pdf
You are also encouraged to review information from the Georgia Department of Education concerning charter systems. This information can be found at the following web address: http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/default.aspx
We thank you in advance for your participation and look forward to seeing you soon!
The following dates have been set for the Community Engagement Sessions:
“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.” — Frederick Douglass
“Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Moderation in pursuit of justice is no virtue.”