Rally Cry! What you can do to support the call for a new day in the DeKalb County School System !

Yesterday I wrote an article about SACS placing the DeKalb County School on probation.  In that article, I made a plea for the citizen’s of DeKalb County to unite in the wake of said action.  I also placed that same plea in a public forum/blog that I frequent on a regular basis.

I received a response and found that the general disposition of the reply was defeatist in tone and manner. I was asked what I thought could be done?  The responder felt that we are “POWERLESS”, and that this was a lost cause.  I was encouraged to save my son, as no one else cared or would do anything to help.

It took me a bit to read through that reply, and to seriously think about what the response meant.  I sat and I thought about all of the challenges that life presents us with- I then sat and thought about the various challenges I have had in my life- and I wondered how someone could respond in that manner, and why.

I was raised in the 60’s in a household where FAILURE WAS NOT an option. In fact, it was not even an allowed word in our vocabulary. The motto my parents instilled in me was…."If at first you don’t succeed, you try, and try, and try…"  I continue to live my life with that same set of morals and upbringing- Giving up is NOT an option, and never will be…

I think about the current state of our School System, the full implications of what comes with the lack of taking action- and I ask- DO WE HAVE A CHOICE?

Are you willing to risk that?

I’m Not……

So as I thought about this individual’s response, the first thing that came to mind was something I learned in Kindergarten.  A simple little concept called Good Old fashion Team Work….Anyone remember that concept and how it works?

Teamwork is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group.”

Teamwork is possible, and it works. We have seen it first hand during major times of crisis-

Most recently, Sandy hit the Eastern shore, and bands of strangers came together to help. We as a Nation have banded together and worked in ways not thought possible to help our fellow man. We have seen a nation rally together to support those in Newtown, CT from the unfortunate tragedy of this weekend past


What we are facing has a huge impact on the whole state of Georgia and not just DeKalb County proper. It also impacts the future of this State, the future of some generations.  Did anyone stop and think that and in 20 years the current Junior and Senior High School students will be making major decisions about our well being. Take care of them, and in return, they will take care of you- a novel concept- and we are NOT holding up on our end of the bargain. I don’t know about anyone else, but I consider this a crisis of a catastrophic magnitude, and we need to address it expeditiously!

Now is NOT the time to be selfish and adapt and attitude of every man/woman for themselves. Now is the time to RALLY behind what we believe in and make a difference.

One way to do that is for Governor Deal to remove the board, including the newly elected members. A petition that you may sign that will go to Governor Deal is on the AJC’s Get Schooled blog. For your convenience I have included the link to the petition here.

This is a start, but don’t stop with the simple signing of a petition- stand ground and take it a step further. I keep reading and hearing cries to remove the School Board Members both present and newly elected.  We must not just turn to the board as the source of our problems. Please remember that the JOB of a BOARD MEMBER is TO EVALUATE the Superintendent's performance.  Anything above and beyond is considered interference with day to day activity. We need to seriously evaluate the performance and leadership of Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson. Let us not forget that interim Superintendent Ramona Tyson must also be held accountable for what DID/DID NOT happen under her leadership.

While cleaning house; let’s look deep into the intertwining of the “Friends and Family” network of the old DeKalb County School regime. One can not continue to plant on barren land.  It is time to start fresh and anew.

Yes, I could quietly sit back, take care of mine, and take the attitude of every man for themselves- but what kind of person, citizen, and parent would that make me? As an advocate for my community- do I now become selfish simply because the impact truly will affect my household? Or do I stand up and make a difference?

In my mind, this is NOT about my son- This is NOT about Black or White.  This is NOT about North vs. South. This about EVERY CHILD in this school system.

I ask each of you to take the time to inform your neighbors, friends, family, brethren, ANYONE who will listen about our crisis!

Rally behind this force, and when asked- DO SOMETHING- don’t expect someone else to do it for you.  WE DO HAVE A VOICE; WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE- STAND UP AND BE COUNTED!  TAKE ACTION!!!

Look for further communications from myself- as well as Cheryl Miller, founder of Get The Cell Out of ATL.  We both welcome comments, and are willing to meet with other stakeholders to see what we can do collectively as a united front.

Denise McGill

Founder & Director

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Stephenson Community Council, Inc. January 10, 2013 at 02:42 AM
Mr Steadman . Nothing is one hundred percent. Standing back and grumbling amongst a watering hole won't help either . A few rebels with a cause might make for some change which is better than what we have now . Nothing! In life there is risk and there are times where you take it . Now would be the time!
Alton Steadman January 10, 2013 at 05:02 AM
Lithonia based Stephenson Community Council suggests now is the time to take a risk? Their mission statement reads in part: " ... As such, it is committed to bringing people of diverse backgrounds and opinions together in an atmosphere that fosters cooperation and communication. ..." So, where is the harm in suggesting the very idea of a DeKalb County School Board is itself part of the problem? Unless of course keeping the present model benefits the educrats. SACS is big on process, that is how they grade school systems - Well, Stephenson neighbors - I believe the DCS Board process is horribly broken, that the scorekeeper, SACS, is turning a blind eye on the real issues and should be replaced or modified. After the APS cheating scandal, Clayton County, and now DeKalb, I don't see SACs accreditation changing poor outcomes. Scrap the idea of elected citizens trying to manage almost a BILLION dollar budget, scrap the school board and scrap SACs, too. I hope you get your 501(3)c, Stephenson, BTW.
Cheryl Miller January 11, 2013 at 11:26 AM
Wow, I just read the article that Mr. Steadman referred to in his comments. There is not a single good idea there. The suggestions are: #1) wait for someone (not sure who) to go to the very difficult and time consuming process of initiating a recall in their own district without any fear of retaliation when they go door to door to get the thousands of signatures knowing that the doors they knock on could belong to people who work in the school system. Seeing as this has not happened to date, I don't think it's going to happen now. #2) With nothing other than a "hunch" that the same people would be re-elected and despite the fact that 3 of 4 positions were overturned in the last election and 70% of voters went against their board members statements on cell towers to vote no, the suggestion is that we should just do nothing because it might be temporary. Guess what... it might also work! I'm ready to try something that might work. #3) going back to a school accreditation isn't even an option right now, so that's not going to help us with anything before the SACS deadline, is it? #4) The Gov. is not "doing us a favor," he is acting by the letter of the law. There isn't a law that says he can step in and make personnel changes at will, so again, this is a "do nothing" and complain idea. #5) The overall goal is to educate our children, not divide up our county because Dunwoody wants to keep their money for their kids. That's not how public education works. Sorry.
Cheryl Miller January 11, 2013 at 11:48 AM
But the most offensive portion of the blog from Dunwoody, "Can any sane person really think to punish a student at Chamblee High School because of something happening at Miller Grove High School, for example?" No, I wouldn't want ANY child at ANY school to be punished for the problems in the schools right now. Do you know why? Because they are CHILDREN. And, we are the adults. We are responsible for their well being and their education. The state constitution does not allow for more districts, so the idea of breaking into smaller sections is not even a legal possibility right now. So, again, this is not a actual idea, just a bunch of talk about nothing. The author suggest the people who have a failing school should vote for a better board member, yet the author would be recommending the very thing that SACS is sanctioning the board for doing. We have to be advocates for ALL the schools. If one school is failing, we must rally around it to bring it up. These children deserve the best that our tax dollars can provide. Right now they are all being left behind. What you might consider to be a good school, is judging it on very low standards. None of our schools are doing well on graduation rates and our entire state is one of the lowest ranked by test scores in the country. The problem is not about how many sections we can break into. It is about how we can come together and fix these problems before things get worse.
Richard Head January 11, 2013 at 02:55 PM
The only point Ms. Miller chose NOT to address is the most important - A citizen elect school Board is unlikely to have the qualification needed to run a $780MM organization. Obviously, history shows the current Board system is not working. I don't know if smaller Districts are the best answer to DCSS managment woes, yet history shows that DeKalb unity is elusive. The hue and cry from neighbors for unity must be based on trust, transparency, and freedom from any political or financial agenda. Those attributes are in short supply in DeKalb.


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