MY, MY, things are moving rapidly over at the ol’ school board. Walker is resigning from the chair. That is a good move. Now who will take over. There are only two people with any credibility on the board, Pam and Nancy. Of course that is like having the proverbial snow ball pass through hell. I do not believe it will happen. That leaves probably Melvin. I do not think any new BOE member should be chair or vice chair, but so many of the rest are unable. Of course what will change if Mr. Johnson becomes chair? He and Dr. Walker go way back.
What about the hiring of Thurbert Baker from McKenna, Long, and Aldridge? Let’s look at the connection here. Mr. Baker a former legislator; Mr. Thurmond former legislator and state labor commissioner. He worked closely with Dr. Walker, a former state legislator. The “DeKalb Friends Network” is intact and they are all on the payroll.
We are going to pay Baker $150,000 for governance training. This is incredible. As far back as two years ago I kept pointing out to my colleagues we could get this training from Sutherland, Asbill, and Brennan, who were the BOE’s attorneys, at no additional cost. That was not considered. Ask them why? We also could have had the GSBA do it at a much lower fee, or for nothing, depending on our arrangement with the GSBA. Why does the board need a high-priced legal firm with contacts to the “DeKalb Friends Network” for “governance” help when there are other closer and cheaper options?
It reminds me of when we were interviewing our legal firms about three years ago. Brock and Clay did a very capable presentation by a delightful Indian attorney. One of our board members asked if there was any “diversity” in her firm? When Sutherland made their presentation the same board member asked if there was anyone in their firm that had experience with African-Americans? The presenter was African-American. Some on our BOE clearly do not understand diversity.
I hope you are getting the picture.
It is good to see that three members of the BOE voted against hiring Mr. Baker. Thank you Pam, Donna, and Nancy for seeing the issue clearly.
Even Senator Millar has stated it is a waste of taxpayer money. Thank you for stating the obvious. Too bad Senator Millar did not step in sooner to try to help the voiceless on the DeKalb school board. He was chair of the education committee. Imagine the good he could have done in DeKalb and the state if he had authored legislation that reformed school district spending and actually held administrations and boards responsible for low student achievement scores. He could have proposed caps on central office expenditures at a percentage of total budget. I always got outvoted when trying to push more money to the classroom. I sure could have used state laws to help me force the district to change its spending ways. Instead, Sen. Millar was a supporter of the bill for getting rid of the BOE. I don’t like the board either but the law is seriously flawed. First, I know it’s unpopular to say, but it’s most likely unconstitutional. Call me sentimental but I like the constitution and believe it applies to the legislature. Let’s ask the Attorney General or the State Supreme Court to quickly hear this case so your time and money isn’t wasted. The law also doesn’t prevent anything. It’s only triggered with a SACS probation. Can’t our legislators come up with a system that prevents situations from getting to this point? They do this in other states. What’s wrong here?
Sen. Millar(R) and Rep. Oliver(D) were part of the downsizing movement of the board from 9 to 7. Many of us told them their plan would not work. Remember, both Millar and Oliver said the board would be reduced to seven at the last election? How did that work out? I and others often asked these legislators and others how it would work. We got blown off with official sounding commentary. In the case of MMO, I watched her literally run away from Pam Speaks at a luncheon at Warren Tech, when she tried to ask her how the downsizing of the board would work.
The DeKalb delegation was instrumental in redrawing the school districts for the last election. I personally appealed to one to see that a map be drawn that aligned neighborhoods that had like issues in common. The current map still keeps the Briarcliff corridor marginalized. This was all done to protect one particular area of the county. Tucker/Stone Mountain should have its rep as well. There really is a logical and legal way to draw these maps to align people. Instead we drew them to assure political autonomy. At a meeting at the capitol I heard one Rep. in the delegation say to Nancy Jester to fix the map so MMO would accept it. Do you see who is driving the bus?
There are two people on this BOE that continually fight for children and reason. They are never heard. It is a shame that they be asked to sacrifice their jobs when they are consistently outvoted on almost every issue.
Remember in 2009 when I challenged the hiring of a particular law firm because they were a duplication of services? That is when Dr. Walker replied to me with his famous “I see color” speech. In it he said he was not race neutral.
Remember this: Dr. Walker, Thurbert Baker, Michael Thurmond, MMO and her protector Speaker Ralston go back a long way.
The sad part about our BOE and county delegation is that maneuvering wins and principles lose.
Flash. This just in. The BOE is asking for an injunction on Thursday’s meeting with the state board. They are challenging the law on constitutional grounds. I think they will win this because the law is most certainly unconstitutional. Same legislators involved in this one. I believe the BOE would benefit with some change, but the law is poorly written. If the injunction fails they will play the race card. That is their only defense.