Thursday, September 9, 2010

DeKalb County School Closures and Redistricting are coming and listen to Board Member Sarah Copelin-Wood argue at the inequities.

Last week Ms. Ramona Tyson, Interim Superintendent of the DeKalb County School System informed those attending the Dunwoody Chamblee Parents Council that a number of schools in the central and south parts of DeKalb County are severely underpopulated, which means the district is spending more money to keep them up and running. Due to this and over population in the northern part of the county, Ms. Tyson said that redistricting and consolidation is a must for the entire district. She stated that numerous community meeting are in our future.

I was provided a DVD of the BOE meeting of August 27th and after viewing I decided to highlight Board Member, Ms. Sarah Copelin-Woods closing comments berating the data being used for future consolidation, the staff member providing it, as well as the process in moving forward. In my opinion, Ms. Woods seems a little out of touch in this 20 minute tirade (broken into two parts) where she not only publicly berates a single staffer, she openly states that she is willing to provide tit for tat on wasting our tax money as long as she gets hers. The comments in video 1 at 8:58, when she states "Fellow Board Members, I always voted for your schools, whatever it is. If you wanted a Taj Mahal out there with parking decks ..." is clearly a disgrace.

We deserve better.

Video of first half of comments.

2nd half with Ramona Tyson response.

41 comments:

Dunwoody Mom said...

I posted this on DSW:

I'm speechless. I would think this is behavior the Governor should look at as far as using his powers to remove a BOE member, such as he did with those from Warren County

knitternall said...

As the inestimable Forrest Gump says, "stupid is as stupid does."

On a sidenote - LOVE the new graphics, John!

RBRENTADAMS said...

Business as usual in DeKalb County. :(

Momfirst said...

And you wonder why nobody wants to run for BOE and waste their time like this....It's shameful!

Wishbone Nolan said...

A little lesson I learned from my days with the Hannibal Journal, in that non-editorial journalists need to be prudent to ensure they are not being too biased in their posts in other forums for fear that they should be perceived as tainting the impartiality of their compensated reporting.

RBRENTADAMS said...

Thanks, Wishbone Nolan. I appreciate it.

But honestly, what you're basically saying is that I'm not allowed to have an opinion. And as this thread has shown, my opinion is that I distrust and am skeptical of government (as most journalists also have).

But hey! At least I'm using my real name.

Hit me up at RBrent.Adams@Gmail.com or 678-468-8879 and I'll explain to you why that model has been failing since the last decade and why the public themselves don't expect that anymore.

RBRENTADAMS said...

After all, I'm a Missouri journalism graduate. And I've been keeping up with case studies and other academic research that seems to indicate that's where the market is going.

I have to — I'm 24 and been laid-off twice. It's a tough market out there for journalists.

But enough. This thread is about the Board of Education; not the changes happening to how people consume news.

RBrent.Adams@Gmail.com
678-468-8879

Wishbone Nolan said...

No issues youngster. Just conveying an experience of mine from years years ago, though I recall it like it were this morning as the heart has no wrinkles.

You have no worries, son; you'll be fine. Just continue with your same dogged persistence as you have been doing and most importantly on the way up: live a civilized life, civilized I mean in how you treat other people.

RBRENTADAMS said...

Ah, resolution!

I'm a human being and Dunwoody community member first and a working journalist second; so when I see things like this Board member and other silly things persist, it breaks my heart that nothing has changed.

I actually agree: kindness is a trait many of those in my profession do not have. Too often in "trying to break the big story" do reporters fail to realize the source they just smarted off to is their neighbor and likely has a personal life away from his/her job. You know, a family and children and what-not.

Besides, I've often found that being kind and building rapport with sources leads to a higher quantity and quality of stories. Councilor Heneghan here has tipped me off to MANY leads in the past simply because we were friends well before I entered the communication field and he entered politics.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Brent, you're a smart, young man with a bright future, imo. Continue to remember that the way you treat people will come back to you full circle. As the old saying goes "you can catch more flies with honey"....

Bob Fiscella said...

Brent,

You're absolutely right. In today's world, journalist had better have an opinion or they will get lapped by the field. That's just the way it is.

While I don't have a journalism degree from the prestigious school at Missouri (mine is from Texas, and we think we have a pretty good journalism school, too), I'm sure professors there and everywhere are now advising students to be edgy. Of course, getting facts correct is still the number one priority.

Enjoy reading your work - and opinions!

www.dunwoodyusa.org

RBRENTADAMS said...

Thank you all for your kind and thoughtful words. Ironically, at my previous career, they told me I was too NICE and needed to be more cutthroat to get ahead. I simply retorted, "In a client-centric industry such as our own, it's best to treat others as you would want to be treated. After all, they're essentially paying our checks. But if you want to see me get aggressive, be careful what you wished for."

While I appreciate the praise, let's get back to topic.* The sad part is, this is nothing new with DeKalb Schools. I mean, I was at a council meeting a few months ago and I received a text from a friend asking, "Are you watching the Board of Education meeting?" I texted back no, and he wrote that basically the DeKalb Schools meeting was more entertaining than a trashy reality show. We're talking about a government board here that had a member threaten to assault a member of the press a few weeks ago. So it's sadly not surprising.

And saying to someone that you're not "playa-hating?" (Sigh...)

*RBrent.Adams@Gmail.com
678-468-8879

Dunwoody Mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dunwoody Mom said...

The BOE is a mess - one can see that just by viewing the meetings - I don't think anyone is arguing that.

However, despite what you may hear and read otherwise from the editor of your own newspaper, there are excellent schools in our community and in DCSS - don't lose sight of that.

People talk about how a retention pond can lower the value of a home - one of the biggest items people look at when buying a home in a community are the schools - in particular the high school. It would be beneficial for those in our community who really care about home values and our community's reputation to do their best to support the schools, promote the good things the schools accomplish. Help the schools when they have when not-so-good situations arise. It's a win-win for the community.

RBRENTADAMS said...

Actually, as a PRODUCT of DCSS schools and proud 2004 graduate of Dunwoody High School, I really want the best for the district. I sort of believe in the betterment of the human race; and to that end, I want to see better facilities, better teachers, better employees, better leaders, better test scores and better students than when I was there, and see such improvement year after year.

The sad part about all of this controversy with DCSS is, like Clayton County, it's not in the classroom; it's the leadership. And who's really going to lose? The children. The teachers. And everyone who lives in DeKalb County.

Yeah, I sort of believe that test scores have a bigger effect on property values than eyesores that will be fixed within a year's time. Bow-tie and Cobbs feel that way, too.

And I agree that if you want to see change in the community, take an active role in bringing about that change; instead of sitting around complaining. This is why I'm the founder/president of Dunwoody Football Alumni.

We'll see though.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Good for you Brent for giving back in the way you have - these type of organizations are important to the community. A community and its schools needs its residents and former residents to be involved. I have been surprised at the number of Dunwoody High alumni who have gone back to DHS to teach - it says something about the experience they had a Dunwoody.

I have to disagree a bit with you Brent and Mr. Bowtie, who, btw, allows very little positive DCSS news in his paper - but that's for another rant. At this point, I don't see DCSS becoming a "Clayton County". The officials in Clayton fought SACS every which way at first. I see DCSS, without C. Lewis, trying to do its best to get on the same page with SACS. That's my view and hopefully SACS feels the same way.

RBRENTADAMS said...

Well, I always saw it as a back-against-the-wall mentality with DHS folks. We're in a community that mostly sends its children to private schools and doesn't seem to like us (see DunwoodyTalk Rick's blog about the neighbors who threatened to call the cops on DHS parkers). So we band together to support one another.

I'm actually speaking about Dick from a personal standpoint. He's pretty invested in the community — Mayor Ken Wright calls him "Mr. Dunwoody" — so he wants to see the best out of the schools. (Who doesn't?)

The problem is, and this a problem a LOT of organizations have, we just don't get good news about when the schools are doing well. Often there are communication and public-relations problems that prevent the schools from telling us their successes. And when "bad news" comes out, of course we're obligated to print it.

SO PLEASE — IF THERE IS SOME GOOD NEWSWORTHY INFORMATION COMING OUT OF THE SCHOOLS, E-MAIL IT TO ME!!!

Here's a secret: I actually don't like reporting on "bad stories." I prefer to report on "good stories"; or at least articles that have a clear problem/resolution thing going. ;)

I've too much. Back to the job search!

Dunwoody Mom said...

Okay, Brent I'll take you up on that. I know for a fact that there have been stories submitted to The Crier, article written, pictures included, that were quashed.

Dunwoody Mom said...

Brent, have you tried Newell-Rubbermaid? I think they are hiring.

RBRENTADAMS said...

By all means, please do! The Crier employs an army of freelance writers it pays on a per-article basis, so the more, the merrier!

But keep in mind: the news hole is shrinking, so sometimes the stories and tips that are submitted to us cannot be published. Case in point: We're in the month of May right now for the "Where in the World is the Crier?"

Newell Rubbermaid? I'll look into it. Thanks!

Cerebration said...

Thanks for dogging this, John. This was very important video to get out to the public, IMO. This is the kind of behavior that SACS greatly frowns upon. Ms Woods was totally out of line when she publicly berated Mr Drake.

That said, I get very frustrated with Ms Woods as I do think she sometimes comes very close to making a cogent point, but then she flies off in another direction, never quite completing a sentence in her verbal stream of consciousness.

I understand that the people in her district are upset that some of their schools are being considered for consolidation, but they are not being well-represented by Ms Woods. She is making this a north/south, us/them issue when it is clearly not. She just doesn't understand the numbers. The schools being considered for consolidation only have a couple of hundred students in them. She does come close to wondering how it is that the charter schools popping up in the area are allowed to operate with just as few students, but she never can quite nail down a point.

Fact is, the schools in her district are losing out on state funding because they have too few students. This means that local tax dollars have to fill the gap - and that is inequitable.

I also find it quite revealing that she seemed to consider that her support for the "Taj Mahals" in Jay's district should have come back around for support to maintain the tiny schools in hers. She pretty much admitted that there is a tone of "tit for tat" on this board. That's just plain not right.

ps - Like the new template!

Cerebration said...

ps - Brent, as I've mentioned once before, (a long time ago) although the DeKalb School Watch has no budget whatsoever, we would welcome your reporting! If you would like to attend and report on school board meetings, just let me know and I'll give you front page posting privileges - just put it up - no editor in sight! (I do add graphics here and there though.)

Send me an email at

reparteeforfun@gmail.com

RBRENTADAMS said...

Just e-mailed you.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Aside from what you are being told here, please hold true to the ideals and ethics of your craft of true journalism as a man of journalistic integrity Jim Lehrer has, and don't prostitute yourself as FoxNews has (which is really not news but a neo-Joseph Goebbels propaganda industry that cons white-trash and other gullible pathetic beings into believing that they are "Fair & Balanced"). As that sage social critic, Jodie Foster, once said, "Cruelty and mendacity might be popular these days, but they are never right."

Unless you are an editorial journalist, your journalistic "Edward R. Murrow" Hippocratic Oath, is to report objectively. Please live that type of life, as you will realize when you are my age that all you have left is your integrity.

That's my last word of advisement to you. You have a great adventurous life! I really envy you - your age, your intelligence, and your enthusiasm. You will do well, young man.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Actually I have just one more word of wisdom to impart: get some world experience. If you're a young man just a few years out of college, the last place you're going to obtain any fodder for your writing career is in a wealthy staid old Republican bedroom community.

You could join the Navy, Marines, or Merchant Marines, or teach in the International Corps. Go have some Jack London, Stephen Crane, Ernest Hemingway, or Michael Herr type of adventures.

A young man should only live in a place like Dunwoody if he is planning on starting a family soon; otherwise, before you know it you'll end up like one of the of the prudish fussbudgets in this town, worrying about the height of your neighbor's grass, and all your perspicacity will go for naught without some good life adventures to fill your journal.

RBRENTADAMS said...

It's a tad more complicated than you realize, dude. But let's get back to topic.

Isn't there a School Board meeting tomorrow? (I'll be covering Dunwoody City Council.) Perhaps we'll have another funny moment like this one. They seem to happen quite often with DCSS.

And does anyone know if she's come under fire for this rant, aside from us up here in Dunwoody?

My favorite part: "I don't mean to playa-hate, Jim."

Wishbone Nolan said...

The point I'm trying to make is that this country now has so many gullible people taking their direction from faux pundit journalists like Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Bill O'Reilly who never served in the US military but were calling for other families to sacrifice their children to fight in Bush's Iraqi war to eradicate the mythical "WMD's".

The only life experience these knuckleheads ever had was a coddled middle-class lifestyle where they could either make a career out of graduate school or become drug addicted or drunken middle-classholes.

Perhaps life experiences with other classes or cultures would have opened up their eyes a little and mollified their current bigotry.

Perhaps Bill O'Reilly wouldn't have told the child victims of Katrina that if they worked very hard, unlike their parents, then next time there is a hurricane they could evacuate their families with an SUV, or Rush Limbaugh would have had the tact and compassion not to have called little 12 year-old Chelsea Clinton a "dog", or Glenn Beck wouldn't have recently engaged in a racist exaggerated Ebonics parody of little 11 year-old Malia Obama's speech patterns.

Just don't see the world through the lens of Dunwoody shades. People who didn't have the advantages of being raised in an upper-middle class suburb like Dunwoody aren't going to view the world as those who did. As in the film "Saving Private Ryan", the children of these advantages need to "earn this": go out into the world and give back, not just perpetuate an entitled world.

But that's all, no more advice; I'm sure you're perceptive enough to realize all this.

RBRENTADAMS said...

I'm referring to how it's complicated to why I am living/working in Dunwoody.

Let's try to stay on topic. If you want to continue this conversation, then email me off-list. I'm sure at least Heneghan would appreciate it.

DunwoodyPerson said...

Yo Brent, the DeKalb BOE is a sad mess. It's ok to say that. The Fourth Estate needs to keep them in check. And I have some advice for you too: it is best not to listen to someone who has diarrhea of the mouth. And five bucks says that guy will surely give you some more amazing wisdom on that too. He seems incapable of letting you or anyone have the last word. When will he start posting on his own blog? Doesn't he have great-grandkids he can annoy?

RBRENTADAMS said...

I really wish y'all would use your real names or at least sign your posts with your real names. It's too easy to hide behind a fake moniker when you're posting something potentially offensive or likely to incite a heated discussion.

Back when I was an Internet forums moderator, we would often ban people who would "threadshit" and "troll" and incite "flamewars." Basically what they were doing was getting off-topic and posting things they knew would upset the other folks, for the sole purpose of being a despicable, unlikeable person.

So please, can we just stick to the topic at hand, which was EDUCATION (not journalism)? Again, you can CONTACT ME PRIVATELY* if you want to discuss this elsewhere.

I'm sure at least Heneghan would appreciate it. He's probably fed up with the plethora of non-sequitur e-mails.

*I've provided this information MULTIPLE TIMES.

Wishbone Nolan said...

Just to clarify, and I'm done, I do use my own name, albeit a nickname that most of my friends call me by, but I don't get out much any more to meet anyone new.

And my comments did indirectly address the school board topic in that the entitled of Dunwoody need to be able to see through the eyes of the people they are denigrating in these posts, in ridiculing their speech as well, and the press needs to have a little impartiality in reporting on them.

“Compassion is sometimes the fatal capacity for feeling what it is like to live inside somebody else's skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you too.” Frederick Buechner

Not sure what prompted the rancor by your friend, that Dunwoody, person. Probably just envious of the eloquence with which I express the truth, but I take it as a compliment as jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.

Take care, and I guess from here on out, I shall only impart my wisdom to my grandchildren. Perhaps one day you shall read the biography of the greatest US President, or an altruistic doctor, or a compassionate civil rights lawyer, or the author of the great American novel, etc. and that marvelous person shall attribute their success to the sage advice their Grandpa Wishbone provided them with.

And this is truly it, so any attempts to bait me shall fall on blind eyes as I shall read no more.

RBRENTADAMS said...

OK, I feel that I said something that was misunderstood, so please allow me to clarify what I said and what I meant.

I'm not accusing anyone here of "threadshitting" or "trolling" or starting a "flamewar"; I was just trying to keep us on topic. If anything, I'm just as guilty.

I talked to Heneghan tonight and apologized for this long, drawn-out conversation; but he said it didn't bother him so much as it drove traffic to his site (which he appreciates).

Wishbone, the reason I've repeatedly posted my contact information (RBrent.Adams@Gmail.com and 678-468-8879) is because I recognize the quotes you're writing (I'm pretty well-read) and I feel we have a lot of the same beliefs and thoughts. I just want to exchange them with you off-list; and stick to the topic at hand here.

I feel like I know you or have met you before; and Heneghan tells me we have made the other's acquaintance. I sort of have an idea of who I think you are. Again, I'd like to continue this conversation; but to be courteous to the other people on this list (as well as their e-mail inboxes), let's chat privately.

I feel that having read a lot of different works by a cadre of authors with different belief sets (from Che to Malcolm X to MLK to Gandhi to Mussolini, etc.); as well as having lived and worked in places that aren't Dunwoody (Missouri & Oklahoma); as well as my own personal life experiences (again, just because I grew up and currently live in Dunwoody doesn't mean I've had a sheltered list experience); I have developed a bit of empathy for others. Or at least the ability to step back and consider what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.

I can empathize with the parent in Ms. Copelin-Wood's district who worries his child will have to attend an elementary school eight miles away, as opposed to the one within walking distance of home. I can empathize when that parent looks at the school closure list and wonders why a number of "black" schools are being closed while all the "white" schools are staying open (admit it, the coincide does look a little fishy). I can empathize with DCSS's colossal task of balancing the bottom line with trying to do what is in the public's (and the students') best interests. So I'm not taking a conservative pro-Dunwoody NIMBY WASP stance here.

As for speech, I admit that I don't talk well myself. If you know me, then you know I stutter, mumble, have a bit of a speech impediment, etc. But I make the attempt to use correct American English, correctly conjugate my verbs and use correct pluralization. It's not fair for me to expect that EVERYONE do the same; but I sort of expect educators to be able to. I also recognize that I'm a better writer than speaker; but I'm OK with that.

As for the content of her speech itself, Cere says it best up there: Ms. Copelin-Wood makes good points — we all want smaller schools and smaller class sizes — but articulating and arguing those points in a clear, understandable manner is not Sarah's strong suit. And when she says she'd vote for more building in other districts just so that others would support building in her district, it stinks of vote-trading. The board of education is elected to make decisions that are best for the whole of DeKalb County; not just their own constituents.

I'm not sure who DunwoodyPerson is either. I take no responsibility for his/her words. I neither side with nor against him/her.

Wishbone, unlike a number of other people, I actually constantly take advice and listen to wisdom. A flaw of my generation is that we're constantly seeking praise and affirmation that we're doing the right thing. I sort of do that too, but the opposite — constantly analyzing my life, wondering what areas I can improve.

That's all I have, y'all. I'm going back to applying for a full-time career.

RBRENTADAMS said...

(I actually wrote this last night but it apparently didn't post, after multiple attempts. So I split it into two parts.)

OK, I feel that I said something that was misunderstood, so please allow me to clarify what I said and what I meant.

I'm not accusing anyone here of "threadshitting" or "trolling" or starting a "flamewar"; I was just trying to keep us on topic. If anything, I'm just as guilty.

I talked to Heneghan tonight and apologized for this long, drawn-out conversation; but he said it didn't bother him so much as it drove traffic to his site (which he appreciates).

Wishbone, the reason I've repeatedly posted my contact information (RBrent.Adams@Gmail.com and 678-468-8879) is because I recognize the quotes you're writing (I'm pretty well-read) and I feel we have a lot of the same beliefs and thoughts. I just want to exchange them with you off-list; and stick to the topic at hand here.

I feel like I know you or have met you before; and Heneghan tells me we have made the other's acquaintance. I sort of have an idea of who I think you are. Again, I'd like to continue this conversation; but to be courteous to the other people on this list (as well as their e-mail inboxes), let's chat privately.

I feel that having read a lot of different works by a cadre of authors with different belief sets (from Che to Malcolm X to MLK to Gandhi to Mussolini, etc.); as well as having lived and worked in places that aren't Dunwoody (Missouri & Oklahoma); as well as my own personal life experiences (again, just because I grew up and currently live in Dunwoody doesn't mean I've had a sheltered list experience); I have developed a bit of empathy for others. Or at least the ability to step back and consider what it's like to be in someone else's shoes.

RBRENTADAMS said...

(Part 2)

I can empathize with the parent in Ms. Copelin-Wood's district who worries his child will have to attend an elementary school eight miles away, as opposed to the one within walking distance of home. I can empathize when that parent looks at the school closure list and wonders why a number of "black" schools are being closed while all the "white" schools are staying open (admit it, the coincide does look a little fishy). I can empathize with DCSS's colossal task of balancing the bottom line with trying to do what is in the public's (and the students') best interests. So I'm not taking a conservative pro-Dunwoody NIMBY WASP stance here.

As for speech, I admit that I don't talk well myself. If you know me, then you know I stutter, mumble, have a bit of a speech impediment, etc. But I make the attempt to use correct American English, correctly conjugate my verbs and use correct pluralization. It's not fair for me to expect that EVERYONE do the same; but I sort of expect educators to be able to. I also recognize that I'm a better writer than speaker; but I'm OK with that.

As for the content of her speech itself, Cere says it best up there: Ms. Copelin-Wood makes good points — we all want smaller schools and smaller class sizes — but articulating and arguing those points in a clear, understandable manner is not Sarah's strong suit. And when she says she'd vote for more building in other districts just so that others would support building in her district, it stinks of vote-trading. The board of education is elected to make decisions that are best for the whole of DeKalb County; not just their own constituents.

I'm not sure who DunwoodyPerson is either. I take no responsibility for his/her words. I neither side with nor against him/her.

Wishbone, unlike a number of other people, I actually constantly take advice and listen to wisdom. A flaw of my generation is that we're constantly seeking praise and affirmation that we're doing the right thing. I sort of do that too, but the opposite — constantly analyzing my life, wondering what areas I can improve.

That's all I have, y'all. I'm going back to applying for a full-time career.

RBRENTADAMS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Famous FarmHouser said...

BA,

Don't drink the Copelin-Wood Kool-Aid. Whites represent less than 10% of the nearly 100,000 students in DeKalb schools. I'm not sure the exact number, but I think at least 75% of DeKalb students are black. I think all of DeKalb has less than five schools where whites are over 50% (DeKalb has about 150 schools). She is trying to play the north/south card and the white/black card at the same time on the school closure issue. Fact is the schools in her district may have only 40% or 60% capacity, and schools elsewhere are 150%.

RBRENTADAMS said...

I'm not. I'm just saying that at first glance, it's a little fishy if you're a black parent.

But it's not a black-white north-south issue; it's a overcrowded-vs.-undercrowded issues.

RBRENTADAMS said...

I'm going to politely excuse myself and bow out from this conversation.

Y'all win.

All the best,

Brent

Famous FarmHouser said...

BA,

Not sure why it would be fishy to a black parent. DeKalb is 91% minority, with most on the Board being black. your right that it is crowded vs not crowded

RBRENTADAMS said...

Yeah, don't bother to put yourself in their shoes or anything. Don't bother to try to consider why they're upset (albeit for a false reason).

Yes, it's NOT race-based; it's based on CAPACITY. I NEVER said it was race-based; I said I can understand why they're upset.

I've been covering this issue for OVER A YEAR now, so I sort of feel I have a good idea of it.

I just said that I can see why they are upset; but said that their reason for being upset is FALSE.

And don't bother using your real name either.

I'm bowing out.

John Heneghan said...

2nd DeKalb school board member reprimanded - AJC

The DeKalb County school board reprimanded another board member for misbehaving.

Board member Sarah Copelin-Wood became the second board member this month to be publicly admonished.

On Monday night, the board voted to reprimand Copelin-Wood for insulting comments she made about the interim superintendent and another school employee. Copelin-Wood made the statements at a board meeting last month during a discussion about redistricting.

“The board does not condone the type of behavior exhibited by Ms. Copelin-Wood. We expect members of the board to comport themselves in a manner that reflects well on the board of education and to interact with our employees in a professional and respectful manner,” the reprimand reads.

Copelin-Wood also issued an apology Monday. “I did not intend to offend anyone by my comments,” she wrote in a statement.