Monthly Archives: February 2017

Teachers Fired For Pro Trump Remarks? Superintendent Green Responds

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

Cross Keys High School teachers, Diane Clark and Susan Petre, resigned “in lieu of termination,” district officials said. Both teachers were removed from their classrooms on Nov. 10 pending investigations into claims they made statements about illegal immigrants, tying it in to Donald Trump’s presidential election.
DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green issued a statement in February saying, “Our schools will be safe places for learning and teaching. We will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination … on or off District property … that interferes with learning or the rights of others.”
Since then, some news outlets have taken this quote and run with it …

Employees of a Georgia school district known for its diversity of refugees and migrants – legal and illegal – are being told not to express themselves on or off campus if their views on immigration line up with those of President Donald Trump. If their words are considered not “welcoming” of refugees and migrants, they will face investigation and possible termination.

DeKalb County Schools Superintendent Stephen Green issued a warning to teachers in the suburban Georgia County to refrain from promoting President Trump’s policies on border security and legal immigration. Since the warning was issued two teachers were reportedly forced to resign.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby with the Reporter Newspaper wrote a good piece on the school district’s investigation, CROSS KEYS TEACHERS LEAVE AFTER DSPUTED CLAIMS OF TRUMP-INSPIRED THREATS.

DeKalb Schools has released its investigative report detailing allegations that the teachers, Diane Clark and Susan Petre, threatened students with deportation. According to memos from the DeKalb schools Office of Legal Affairs, both teachers were given the choice to leave their jobs or be fired.
According to the investigation a parent called the DeKalb school’s superintendent’s office and said her son told her that Clark told students if they continued to misbehave in class “she would be making a call to the Department of Immigration.”
Clark said she is consulting a lawyer. In the DeKalb Schools report, she denied threatening anyone and said she actually spoke in support of students.
A teacher said on the day after the election one of Petre’s students told her that Petre told her class that their parents are to blame for the “problems and fears” students have about deportations and also that it was their parents fault for deportation fears because their parents brought children illegally to the U.S.
Petre said in the interview she told students that undocumented people break the law by moving to the U.S., but she also told her students she would always advocate for them. “What might have been misinterpreted was that I also stated we are a nation of laws and that undocumented people who came here broke the law,” Petre wrote in a statement to the principal.
Petre said that telling her students she was voting for Trump was a mistake. Petre also said she “never, ever threatened anyone with deportation. I said only criminals should be deported, period.”
Continue reading complete article here >>

Superintendent Stephen Green

Dr. Stephen Green
CEO & Superintendent, DeKalb County School District

A conservative news and opinion website and online news aggregator has falsely reported that DeKalb County School District employees have been fired for their political views. It is important to know that this outlet never contacted the District or me to discuss the facts.
The article inaccurately represents the voluntary departure of three school district employees, two teachers and one nurse. These former employees had been investigated by our school system for comments suggesting DeKalb students with immigrant backgrounds faced deportation. Unfortunately, these comments were publicly available to students and families and negatively impacted the employees’ effectiveness in their schools.
These former employees received full due process of law and school board regulations after allegations came to light of their inappropriate comments and actions toward students.
Following fair and thorough school district investigations by the appropriate school principals, those principals and the regional superintendent of these employees unanimously recommended termination. All three employees provided written/oral comments and were afforded a full chance to rebut allegations and challenge any recommendations. All three voluntarily left the system without termination.
We are a public education system. We receive public tax funding. We are required by federal and state authority to educate every student who comes into our system. Students must only provide information such as proof of residency, immunization records, and proof of age … not green cards or immigration status.
We fully respect the free speech and all other constitutional rights of our employees, but actions by DeKalb staff members that interfere with their ability to effectively perform their jobs or interfere with our students’ rights to receive education are simply not acceptable.
We value all students, no matter their birth homes or heritages. We love them, and we respect what their presence here says about the goodness and generosity of America. Our diversity is our strength.
We strongly support the diversity of our school system, and we greatly value our role in supporting our immigrant population through the benefits of quality education. This is a core belief. We will not tolerate any form of bullying or discrimination … on or off district property … that interferes with employees’ ability to effectively perform their jobs or that interferes with learning and the rights of others.

EPIC FAILURE – AP Classes in South DeKalb

Using tax dollars to pay for Advanced Placement (AP) exams embodies many of the problems I have with the education and testing industrial complex as well as the implementation of political philosophies on both sides of the aisle in Georgia.

Stan Jester

Advance Placement (AP) courses are college-level courses offered in high school. Students can earn college credit from scoring a level 3, 4, or 5 on the exam. The State of Georgia covers the cost for one AP exam for students who are served by the Free & Reduced Lunch Program (FRL).
Last week, the Board of Education approved up to $310,000 for the purchase of one AP exam for all students enrolled in at least one AP course. This means that students receiving free/reduced lunches will get two free exams – the first one paid for by the state, and the second one (if applicable) paid for by the District.

Why? Student performance in AP courses and on AP exams has been determined to be a valid indicator of success at the collegiate level. The District’s purchase of an AP exam for students enrolled in an AP course will provide (allegedly) greater access and equity for students.

Related Posts
  Feb 21, 2017 – EPIC FAILURE – AP Classes in South DeKalb
  Mar 4, 2016 – AP Courses/Exams And College Graduation Rates

EPIC FAILURE in South DeKalb – Here are the AP Exam results for the last 7 years.
There are 6 schools that have pass rates percentages of under 10% (Cedar Grove, Columbia, MLK, McNair, Redan, and Towers). There are 8 schools that have pass rate percentages between 10-25% (Arabia Mountain, Clarkston, Lithonia, Miller Grove, Stephenson, Stone Mountain, and Tucker). There are 2 schools that have pass rates of 26%-43% (Cross Keys and Southwest DeKalb). There are 6 schools that perform at or above the average pass rate (44%) for the school district (Chamblee, DECA, DeKalb School of the Arts, Druid Hills, Dunwoody, and Lakeside).

It is interesting to note that south of Hwy 78, there are only two schools with an average or better AP pass rate and both of those schools are magnet programs with entry requirements. It is even more interesting to note that the magnet programs at Arabia Mountain and Southwest DeKalb performed below average. Arabia Mountain performed significantly below average and below Southwest DeKalb’s numbers. Of the 6 schools that performed at or above the system wide passing average, three are traditional neighborhood schools with no entry requirements.

The following people made these statements during the discussion of the 2/13/2017 – Purchase of AP Exams

Dr. Joyce Morley (Board of Education) – “That’s good. When we talk about Towers HS that has done a complete turn around and we don’t hear anything about them. When there was a lot of crime and a lot of problems they were always out there. Now, nobody mentions what’s going on at Towers.
Clarkston, we have all those immigrants moving forward, and Redan and encouraging them to take the courses. These are the schools where the principals are working hard, there’s been a lot of turn around and they’re holding down the fort there. Also, enable and empower the counselors to identify the students and challenge them.”

I’m not sure where the turnaround is because it isn’t reflected in the quality or quantity of learning in the AP courses at Towers, Clarkston or Redan. Towers has a 24% decrease in the number of students taking the AP exam and a 2% increase in the number of students that pass the test. Clarkston should be relatively proud of itself, AP exam participation has gone from 193 to 238 students and from 10% to 11% passing rate. Redan embodies EPIC FAILURE. Redan HS had a 25% decrease in the number of students taking the AP exam and went from 15% to 5% of the students passing it.

DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green – “This is part of a whole systemic effort that ties to My Brother’s Keeper or My Sister’s Keeper. What I’m pleased to hear is that contrary to popular belief, that “when you increase the number of students that the overall score will go down”. We are increasing the pipeline and the scores are going up. That’s what is most impressive to me.”

In South DeKalb there was a major decline in the number of AP Exams taken and a major decline in the percentage of students who passed the exams. The percentage of students passing these exams at MLK, Stone Mountain, Stephenson and Redan are at an all time low.

Style Over Substance and Who Really Benefits
The recent trend in education is to reward districts that have increases in AP test takers. Of course, the more tests that are taken, the more money flowing into the coffers of the testing industry. It’s no wonder that they give awards for increasing their bottom line.
Unfortunately, we are doing students and taxpayers a disservice with all these tax dollars going to the testing companies. Students and taxpayers alike should demand that money flow into the classroom to actually improve the quality of the instruction; so that kids might have a better chance to pass the AP exam and earn college credit. That would actually produce a return on investment for the taxpayers. Right now, all that is going on is a transfer of wealth to testing companies disguised as opportunities for disadvantaged students.
The irony is that the kids from more affluent backgrounds are several times more likely to actually capture the value of their free exam and earning college credit.

DeKalb County School District cites studies: Students who successfully complete an AP course are more likely to graduate high school and graduate from college.
Correlation is not Causality
It is more likely that students who voluntarily choose to take AP courses and exams are the types of students that are already better prepared and highly motivated. Success in college perhaps is not attributed to the AP class and exam themselves, but to the personal characteristics that led them to participate in the class to begin with.

Philosophically, why is the state or school district paying for Advanced Placement Exams?
Education is the largest budget item in the state. The DeKalb County School District has the 2nd highest millage rate in the state. Why don’t we lower taxes and let people decide for themselves what to do with the money? Anybody who says that people will make the wrong decision is somebody that doesn’t believe in freedom. Freedom is the right of other people to make decisions that you do not approve of.