Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Every child left behind?


A parent at Dunwoody High School has written the following plea for relief to Dr. Crawford Lewis and copied me asking that I let the community know. She states that there is a developing situation at DHS that could be catastrophic in terms of AYP, the ability to offer specialty classes, and a sense of community "ownership" of our neighborhood schools. Below is the email she sent last evening after the DHS PTSO board meeting. Despite the August 1 deadline for parents transferring students, and the availability of spots at receiving schools Stephenson and Redan, Dunwoody accepted 7 more transfers yesterday and are under orders by the school system to continue accepting them.

Dunwoody's enrollment has surged to 1640+.
Dear Dr. Lewis,

If DeKalb County Schools is a "Premier" school system, why is this administration failing Dunwoody High School?

We are short 3 math teachers. In a block schedule, that's a critical loss that cannot be made up by the affected students.

Because my son's Gifted Lit/Comp class has too many students to meet federal standards in gifted education, it has been redesignated as an Advanced class. Will the same thing happen to all of his classes, including AP World History?

Congestion on the streets within the school neighborhood and accessing from I-285 is reaching a critical mass. Kids are jaywalking and waiting too close to the street at the MARTA bus stop closest to the school. We've already had one accident. Will a student be hurt next?

Several times in the past week, on my way to work in the morning, I have seen students dropped off by parents as early as 6:30 am. In evening, returning from a meeting at Peachtree Charter Middle School, I saw students waiting in the outdoor picnic area for a ride home. Are the rules different for transferred students? Because at DHS, students hanging around unsupervised are sent home.

It's very clear that the DeKalb County School System has failed every student involved:
  • the students transferring from failing schools, eager to experience a quality education and enduring commutes lasting more than an hour each way because their home schools have failed them.
  • the students sitting up to 35 deep in classrooms without teachers and textbooks.
  • the students either sharing a locker or without a locker at all.
  • the students having classes changed two, three, even four times as the school staff desperately tries to place them in a viable schedule. Can we possibly achieve AYP in this environment?
  • the students forced to bring lunch to school because now there simply isn't enough time or capacity for every student to have a hot lunch.
  • the students who simply cannot get to class in time because gridlock happens in the halls and on the stairs during every class change.
Why is Dunwoody High School receiving so many students when schools like Stephenson and Redan are under capacity, yet met AYP? (DHS did not.) We have known since last spring that students would transfer to DHS. We prepared all summer to make the projected 130+/- students welcome. Then everything fell apart in the week prior to the opening of school.

You allowed far more students than our capacity to transfer . . . without giving us the teachers, support, and trailers to accommodate them. You are continuing to allow students to transfer despite an August 1 deadline for application.

Why are you doing this to us? Why, if everyone involved, from the Administration to the School Board, KNEW this would happen, is DHS not better supported?

I am saddened by what has happened to Dunwoody High School.

Do something about it. Now.

10 comments:

Rick said...

This issue at DHS is just the latest example of the school board trying to destroy Dunwoody. If the 4th-5th grade academy goes through as planned John will be posting another story here about it in about a year from now. As the schools in Dunwoody implode property values will continue to fall (and not because of sub-prime or economical issues). If we cannot control our schools and the school board (including our Dunwoody representative) continues to mismanage, I'm afraid all the time and money spent to become a city will be fruitless. No matter how great our new city council and mayor are as planners and leaders, without great schools the City of Dunwoody will quickly lose its attractiveness to those living here now and those seeking to relocate here.

Rick Callihan

Paula said...

I sent an email yesterday a.m. to my School Board Rep and so far I have not received a reply. I guess I should not be surprised.

themommy said...

Paula

I am certain that the board members have received 100s of emails not just from Dunwoody parents, but Lakeside, Druid Hills and from parents whose sought transfers from their home schools, in addition to the 100s of emails that the board gets about schools where AC isn't working, books are in place, to many kids in class, etc.

If anyone wants to have an impact on this issue, they need to write Senators Chambliss and Isakson and Representative Price and ask that this year (it could of happened last year) that NCLB by modified so that this kind of thing can't happen.

The DeKalb Board of Education is powerless (and they have tried repeatedly) to get relieve from NCLB. It is a federal law that needs changing at the federal level.

DunwoodyParent said...

I don't understand your logic, Rick. How will housing 4th-5th grade students throughout the cluster in one school rather than scattered in multiple schools cause Dunwoody schools to implode? When DCSS moved from a 1-7 elementary and 8-12 high school model to a 1-5 elementary, 6-8 middle, and 9-12 high school structure, did the Dunwoody cluster experience any significant problems? Upon what data are you basing these doomsday predictions?

I agree that there are plenty of issues in the DCSS, but I seriously doubt that a 4th-5th grade academy will contribute to greater problems.

I agree with The Mommy concerning the NCLB issue -- the DCSS has been saddled with laws created by the Federal government. Write your congressman and senators.

Paula said...

You are correct themommy, though I do blame DCSS for allowing transfers after the August 1st deadline and not being better prepared to handle the number of requests.

Rick said...

dunwoodyparent,

would you move to the area knowing your kids would attend an overcrowded K-3 in your neighborhhod, then take a bus to a 4-5 school, then a 6th grade school, then a 7-8 middle school, then an overcrowded 9-12?

The move from a 1-7 school was based not just on increased enrollments but the national trend (based on research)that kids of middle school ages performed better when segregated (middle school ages being 6,7,8 grade - not 4th and 5th grade)

dunwoodyparent, you say, "How will housing 4th-5th grade students throughout the cluster " but they are not housing kids from the entore cluster, only those from 3 of the 5 schools in the cluster. If this 4-5 thing is such a great idea why do we not see it elsewhere in the county or country?

Pick any college or university with a teaching program and email at random anyone in the elem. education dept. and ask for their opinion (as I did) on the 4-5 school situation. You'll find out it goes against all modern research. I emailed four and got four replies; all four stating it was a bad idea.

Fred said...

FWIW, there are interesting comments on this topic at the GODEKALB.COM website. You can read them at:

http://godekalb.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8951&Itemid=2800#jc_allComments

Paula said...

Yesterday, I took themommy's suggestion and emailed both senators and Rep. Price. Below is the "political drivel" I received back from Saxby Chambliss:

"Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns about P.L. 107-110, the "No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) of 2001." It is good to hear from you.

President Bush's landmark education bill, NCLB, set high standards for public education and educators. It is imperative that every child in Georgia's public school system learns to read to their maximum potential. This is one of my top priorities because reading is the foundation to our children's academic success and the gateway to knowledge. We need increased accountability for students and teachers, improved results for students with disabilities, increased safety in schools and classrooms, and more parental involvement. Meeting these goals will go a long way in improving the quality of education for all of Georgia 's children.



While there have been some concerns with this legislation, I am committ ed to continuing to implement high standards for our students. Over the last few years, I have met with teachers, principals, and administrators all over the state to discuss the successes and failures of this legislation. I look forward to working with both educators of Georgia and my colleagues in Congress to make positive and necessary changes and improve our education system through the reauthorization of NCLB.



As the husband and father of public school teachers, please know I am committed to improving public education and making sure our children and grandchildren get the best education experience possible. If I may ever be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to let me know."

pmyost said...

I also sent an email to our representatives in Congress regarding the situation at Dunwoody, and received a response from Senator Chambliss that was word-for-word the same as the one that Paula posted! Not only is it political drivel, it's form letter political drivel!

Paula said...

I have received no reply to my emails to Senator Isackson and Rep. Price. Pitiful.