Anyone who cares about DeKalb County, and more importantly, anyone who cares about the children of the county and their education was probably disturbed to learn that the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) has been placed on accreditation probation.
AdvancED, the organization that accredits the school district, described DCSD’s situation as being one of “chaos and conflict.”
One only needs to look at the district’s 2010-11 graduation rate of 58.7 percent to see that there is a serious problem in DCSD.
“Chaos and conflict” are not words residents want hear about a school district that uses 70 percent of their tax dollars. That’s not a description that should be associated with a school district with a budget of nearly $1 billion.
AdvancED said DCSD has so much racial, socioeconomic and geographic division that it can’t even focus on what should be a no-brainer for it: ensuring that all students have all the books they need. According to the accrediting agency, some students started the school year without books, while some others were given damaged books and told to take them home and glue them.
According to AdvancED, the school district has many problems. It is is “woefully behind” in classroom technology; school board members interfere with the day-to-day operations of schools and the budget is in a deficit.
There is even a chance that the board could be replaced by the governor and the district could lose its accreditation next year.
This is really bad news and it should not be ignored or glossed over because it not only affects students and their families, it affects the entire county.
As DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis said, “There is nothing more important in any community than the availability of high quality education for our children…I am greatly concerned about the potential impact of this decision by SACS on DeKalb County as a whole.”
A loss of accreditation could have far-reaching effects on the ability of students to get scholarships and the ability of the county to attract and keep businesses.
Since the school board seems incapable or unwilling to provide adequate oversight of the district, we need parents, business and community leaders to watch, and when necessary oppose, every action and decision of the school superintendent and every board member. Residents must demand that schools put students first.
And if necessary, voters should consider recalling board members and starting over.
These issues are that serious. The “chaos and conflict” needs to end now.