By Erika Harris
Co-Chair of GLASS (Georgians for Local Area School Systems)
As young as the United States of America is, our public education history is even more juvenile. And as such, we are learning the ropes and constantly working to improve and meet our responsibility of educating, in an equal and effective way, each of our youngest citizens. Through our brief history of public education, we see that it is full of twists and turns, old and current – all to respond to the changing needs of our student populations and learning expectations.
Some of these decisions have been forward thinking, and some reactive measures to extreme educational crises.
In 1945, the Georgia Legislature and constituents responded to a statewide crisis in education. Severe inequalities existed in; school facilities, curriculum, teacher quality, teacher pay, etc. The funding for schools was haphazard and at a certain point, schools were only able to stay open for three and a half months during a year – costing schools and districts accreditation and sending Georgia spiraling into educational failure.
Realizing that there was no continuity in the control mechanisms of school houses or districts, and that because of an extreme number of single school systems and tiny schools districts being fiscally and instructionally unstable, Georgia made an effort to consolidate schools into county districts to: equalize educational opportunities through increased county oversight and to increase the efficiency of funding through the same county control mechanisms.
A constitutional amendment was passed in 1945 in Georgia that created a cap on the number of school districts in Georgia and furthermore prohibited the creation of any municipal controlled school district from that point forward. The only door left open as it pertained to school district “creation” was through the consolidation of grandfathered-in municipal school systems into county systems, or by allowing county systems to consolidate with other county systems.
The response to the educational crisis by the legislature and electorate in 1945 provided important and direct benefits at that point in time. However, what was a benefit then, has become a liability today through its inflexibility as it relates to deconsolidation.
Back when the amendment was passed metro Atlanta looked very different than it does today. As an example, DeKalb County back in 1945 was a rural district, serving approximately 9,000 students. Today, DeKalb County services more than 10 times that many students, nearly 100,000.
In 2013 education looks very different than 68 years ago. We have become more attuned to individualizing the educational experience of our students to ensure that they meet their highest potential, we have a greater offering of in-school programs, and a wide variety of curriculums and instructional methods available to us. Our teachers are among the most highly educated of our constituents, often holding master’s degrees and beyond.
And we spend more per pupil today, adjusted for inflation, than we ever have. Our schoolhouses have often become second homes for our student populations, offering after school enrichment and intervention programs, having students spend more waking hours in school than at home.
And while the above is a phenomenal improvement and a direct result of the foresight of those in 1945, the current limitation of the amendment is where we begin to see a disconnect between ideology and reality.
Every school district’s goal is to meet the needs of every student, to guarantee each a quality education. Many districts are living up to this mission. However, others are not. And when you look at the data, you find that the school districts that are often missing the mark are the ones who are either supersized or are incredibly small.
Through this lens, the story of education becomes much like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears; this school district is too small, this school district is too large, this school district is just right.
Now, it is difficult to draw a blanket statement and say that all super-districts are failing to meet the needs of their students or that all small districts are failing. They aren’t. But there are districts out there that are failing their student population – from both ends. When a district shows itself incapable of meeting the needs of each of their students, to ensure that each is being provided the opportunity to meet their highest potential – whether they are high performers or students struggling to meet grade level expectations, that school district is failing its student population.
Gone are the days of one-size fit all, top-down education policy making. Education has become too complex, too large, and the needs of our students too diverse and important to treat education that way.
Today, our educational systems need to be able to flex with the fast-changing needs of our student populations, to allow school-houses to identify the needs of their learning community and implement a learning experience that will bring out the very best in each student. This experience includes (but is not limited to); school day and calendar organization, curriculum and instruction programs, data collection (standardized testing), after-school programs, parent-education programs, teacher training, the hiring of faculty to ensure proper vision-matching, financial management of resources and allocation of these resources.
And when a school district shows an inability to do the above, it begs the question, “Is that district sized and organized properly to be able to service its student body in an effective and far reaching manner?”
If a school district is too small, and struggles to financially support a diversity of needs for its students, the Georgia constitution allows for these small districts to consolidate into a neighboring one, so as to maximize the funding and more effectively and efficiently deliver a high quality education to its students.
However, today when a supersized school district shows an inability to meet the needs of all of its students, there is no response mechanism that would allow for deconsolidation to bring an unmanageable district down to the “right size.”
House Resolution 486 seeks to amend the current state constitution to allow for the creation of local school systems in municipalities created after 2005. It also allows for any other municipalities who share a contiguous border with the post-2005 cities (regardless of county lines) to band together to form a local school system.
This amendment gives a voice to these localities and allows them the option to seek local control over their schools – to provide a tailed and high quality education for their students. It does not force deconsolidation for those municipalities who do not want it, it simply provides the option for those who see the need and can show that a local school system for their area is feasible.
HR 486 is an important stepping-stone for education in Georgia as it provides an opportunity for local municipalities who are attuned to their students’ needs to customize their school system and be highly responsive to their community – thereby helping to ensure a high quality education where each student can reach their highest potential. Which is after all, the ultimate goal in education.
- Removing Teachers From Region 1- Title I Comparability
- Spectator Guidelines for Spring Sports
- Class of 2021 Graduation Schedule
- Biden’s Executive Order Supports Reopening of Schools
- Dangerous Intersection In Front of Dunwoody High School
- DCSD Employees May Continue To Work Remotely For 30 Days
- Teachers and Students Are Coming Back To School
- DeKalb Schools Reopening Plan
- Regional Town Hall Meetings For Parents
- DeKalb Schools 2020 Graduation Rates
- Black Lives Matter in DeKalb Schools
- Giving Grace Network – Hardships For Children
- DeKalb Schools 2018 and 2019 Independent Auditor’s Reports
- Sept Survey Results – Updated Input on Returning to School
- Teacher Town Hall – My Notes
- Football Spectators – Billboards – Teacher Town Hall
- DeKalb Schools Is Returning to Face to Face Learning
- Re-Open Athletics & Schedule
- Booster Club Policy Townhall
- Formula To Calculate Moving To Hybrid
- COVID-19 Cases Trending Down
- Divisive Statement By Dr. Joyce Morley
- Conditions To Move To Hybrid
- Sports – DeKalb Schools Delays Athletics
- School Virtual Opening Update
- Professional Development Institute
- DeKalb Schools Approved 2020-2021 School Calendar
- Micro-Schools – Students & Teachers Coming Together
- DeKalb Schools New 2020-2021 School Calendar
- Results – School Re Opening Survey
- DeKalb Notice of Property Tax Increase
- Opening Schools in Metro Atlanta
- DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Update
- Survey Results – DES 4/5 Academy Site Name
- DeKalb Schools Re-Opening Framework
- Public Input on Name of DES 4/5 Academy
- DeKalb Schools – FY2021 Budget Considerations
- Meeting 2 – Naming Committee – DES 4/5 Academy
- DeKalb Schools Approves TSA Settlement
- Cheryl Watson-Harris – DeKalb Schools Superintendent – Sole Finalist
- Meeting 1 – Naming Committee – DES 4/5 Academy
- Officially Naming the DES 4/5 Academy
- CDC’s Considerations For Schools
- Virtual Classrooms – The Future of DeKalb Schools
- Superintendent Search & Anna Hill, CPA, For Board of Education
- Class of 2020 Graduation Ceremonies
- FY2020 Metro Atlanta Teacher Salary Comparison
- Superintendent Crew – Positive Public Feedback
- Rudy Crew – DeKalb Schools Superintendent – Sole Finalist
- 2020 Graduation Ceremonies – Superintendent Student Advisory Council
- How Do I Claim My ‘A’ And Call It A Year
- DeKalb Schools – End Of Year Guide For Students And Families
- DeKalb Schools Closing – Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- Central Office Reorg
- 2021 Utilization Matrix
- DeKalb Schools Audit Policy Debate
- FAQ – Fall 2020 Redistricting Plan
- E-SPLOST V Revision Plan
- Fall 2020 Redistricting Elementary Schools
- Trailer Count Across DeKalb Schools
- Nancy Creek Elementary – Immediate Relief For Dunwoody & Chamblee Clusters
- Dunwoody Elementary School Redistricting & Utilization
- Removed SPLOST Projects & GO Bond
- Redistricting Round 4
- Correcting Operations Austin Redistricting Guidance
- DeKalb Schools Volunteer Policy
- New CFO – DeKalb Schools
- Dunwoody Cluster Redistricting – Round 3
- Doraville United Redistricting – Round 3
- 2019 – 7 Year Enrollment Forecasts – Dunwoody Elementary Schools
- 2019 Enrollment Forecasts For Chamblee & Cross Keys Elementary Schools
- Dunwoody – Elementary School – Growth Projections
- Interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson
- DeKalb Schools 2020-2021 Approved Calendar
- Tomorrow Vote Yes-Robert Miller And NO-Revised Ethics Act
- DeKalb Schools 2020-2021 Calendar
- New Visitor and Volunteer Policy
- DeKalb Schools Calendar FactChecker Poll
- Austin Elementary School Redistricting – Round 2
- 2020-2021 Calendar Options
- DeKalb Schools Calendar Update
- Jester Community Town Hall
- Doraville United Redistricting – Round 2
- DeKalb Schools E-SPLOST Project Recommendations
- Public Feedback Results – GO Bond & E-SPLOST Projects
- News & Updates – 10/7/2019
- AP Exams – Return on Investment
- Capacity Determination Guide
- Redistricting First Round Summary – Austin and Doraville United
- Meeting Tonight – Redistricting Dunwoody Cluster Elementary Schools
- Coffee Talk With Stan Jester And Friends
- IEP Accommodations Neglected
- DeKalb Schools 2019 Graduation Rates
- Redistricting – Geographic Proximity – Austin And Doraville United
- DeKalb Schools 2020 Graduation Schedule
- Air Conditioning at Chamblee Charter High School
- Not Fans of the GO Bond
- E-SPLOST/GO Bond Discussion Materials
- 2019 Chromebook Rollout Update
- Cross Keys HS – 2019 Milestones Results
Newt Gingrich communications director Susan Meyers
Atlanta Pediatrician Little Five Points Pediatrics
String Tennis Racket – Dunwoody, Chamblee, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs
Million staffing covid Jackson Healthcare
Jackson Healthcare connect state contract connect insider Governor Brian Kemp political staffing
Jackson Healthcare connect million staffing
Jackson Healthcare COVID insider connection Geoff Duncan Kemp million
Just trying to make it clear – you are running for DC School Board but by running this are you simultaneously advocating that your district be given the right, via Constitutional Amendment, to leave that system & form its own system. Would you then run for that school board, or shoot for the superintendent’s job? How would that public position impact your voting on the board? Much of the criticism leveled against many previous board members was that they were only out for their own districts. Would such a position call your motivation into question? – aka ChambleeDad
Good Afternoon Bill.
Thank you for your thoughts and questions. I am running for the DeKalb County School Board District #1 seat.
2013 CRCT Scores Analysis
* 2013 CRCT Metro Atlanta Scores
* 2013 CRCT City School Districts In Georgia
The first link is DeKalb’s status relative to the other metro districts. Out of the eight metro districts (APS, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Decatur City, and Marietta City), DeKalb has the last or next to last achievement scores in 28 out of 30 categories.
The 2nd link is the results of the 21 city school districts in Georgia. Compare their results with the state averages, the averages of the 8 metro districts and DeKalb’s averages. In every category, the city districts’ averages outperformed the state averages, the metro averages and DeKalb’s averages.
New City School Districts
The city districts’ averages outperformed DeKalb by a minimum of 5.2% to a maximum of 18.81%. No longer are we in the era where we are simply trying to create economies of scale by consolidation in an effort to contain costs. Georgia spends in the top ten on education in the nation but achievement metrics remain in the bottom ten; often the bottom three. Georgia’s education struggles hurt our children and our economic viability. If our state is to improve the educational lives of our children and have a robust economy, we must allow independent/city school districts to form. To continue the arbitrary freeze on new districts is a disservice to our children, particularly our most vulnerable children, and impairs our economic viability.
I am a parent, school volunteer, education blogger and IT professional. I don’t see myself on the road to full time politician or superintendent.
Voting on the Board
I will always be dedicated to reforms in DeKalb that put the classroom first and protect the taxpayer from wasteful spending.