Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What about the schools?

One of the most critical considerations for anyone moving with a family from one community to another is the quality of the schools. Dunwoody is blessed with great schools that thrive in spite of lackluster central office leadership, strangled budgets, self-protective personnel policies, and education pedagogy that change with the whims of state and county administrations. 

All those woes are well documented in DeKalb County School Watch, a blog that serves as watchdog and gadfly for our local system.  If you're a parent, you should read it. Knowledge is power.

For awhile, there was a grassroots effort underway to consider turning Dunwoody High School and all its feeder schools into a single Charter Cluster. I don't know if the steam has run out of that effort, if the folks engaged in the foundational work have turned to other issues, or where things stand today, but I hope the concept finds new energy in the near future.  Fulton County Schools are considering charter status, one of many school systems and clusters willing to tackle the massive documentation, research, and development work required to satisfy the state's evolving requirements.

DeKalb Schools has a new superintendent. Maybe she's a rainmaker and something good will finally come out of that dysfunctional nexus. We have an outstanding School Board representative in Nancy Jester, who is often the lone voice of pragmatism in a group of people who seem to add to our problems rather than solve them. Georgia is requesting a waiver from the illogical No Child Left Behind paradigm and trying on yet another measurement tool that ignores the realities of student capabilities and inconsistent parent support. Our state level elected representatives would have to change state regulations and budget limitations that prevent Dunwoody from having greater control over our schools. There are lots of obstacles (costs are #1) to having our own school system. But there are many, many positives to having our cluster go charter.

By the time the education juggernaut changes direction, my kids will likely no longer be in Dunwoody's public schools. But I'll still be a taxpayer, homeowner, and passionate booster of this community.

Schools are relevant now and for the future.

2 comments:

  1. I have thought about this initiative several times, especially over the last 4 months or so, with my anger and disappointment with DCSS and the BOE. Does anyone have a status? I am not even sure of the individuals who were heading this up.

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  2. The charter cluster concept is one that is being spearheaded by parents of children who are presently in the Dekalb County School System or have already graduated from it. It is based on the idea that Dekalb's School System is too large and that it would be most beneficial to align the Dunwoody cluster (Dunwoody High School, Peachtree Charter Middle School and its six feeder elementary schools) under one charter. We'd form an educational plan through a conversion charter that is specific to the needs of the students in the Dunwoody area.

    Our group experienced various hurdles and thought it best to wait until a new Dekalb County School System superintendent was hired to continue with our initiative to find a better and more productive way to educate our children.

    If you have any questions please contact, Mrs. Allegra Johnson, parent of children at Kingsley Charter Elementary and Peachtree Charter Middle School.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts - it's great to hear from you!