An Investigative analysis
BY: Tom Herrington for Georgia Weekly Post
Tom Taylor is a Georgia State Representative. We never met. He never called me. He never knocked on my door.
With low voters turnouts, fewer residents, including me, knew that he represented them in the State House. I vote for those I know.
Tom and other politicians around DeKalb county knew how important schools are to families, including mine with school age kids.
A recent school scandal rocked the foundation and the image around the nation - of Georgia's education system.
To keep his job, Representative Taylor made the independent school system, his main campaign platform. He will get it done, as he claims.
During the past local election, State Representative Tom Taylor assured skeptical voters, of his ability to get an independent school system allowed and get the governor to sign into law. Last year, he won re-election, defeating his opponent Dr. Brad Goodchild. He failed to deliver what he promised the voters.
This year, 2015, I just just celebrated my ninth anniversary which is a reminder of how long I have owned my house in DeKalb county at the City of Dunwoody.
Marriage is a big change and for a single guy with no children for me, it was even bigger. I was about to become instant Dad. We needed a bigger house for the three of us. I was promptly informed that the house must be in the Vanderlyn school zone. According to my bride, it was on the list of the best elementary schools in the State. Thus my introduction late in life, the importance of schools in real estate.
Who was I to argue? I now have to look for a house in the area of a postage stamp with a limited budget at the mercy of sellers and real estate agents. Location, location, it is what every real estate agent will tell you sets the primary value of a property. And, that location has much to do with the school system.
My stepdaughter in her 5th year attended Dunwoody Elementary, which was at the time a settlement plan due to the havoc created by the potential rezoning of the Dunwoody elementary schools. Even friends of mine who did not have children were rabid about the rezoning, fearing a drop in property value.
Even though Vanderlyn remains a highly regarded elementary school, DeKalb County as a whole has been failing. SACS, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, put the DeKalb County School District on probation in 2012. Dr. Mark Elgart, president of the parent organization of SACS, "The current condition of this school system could be classified as one of conflict and chaos." Further Elgart said, “Here's a system that has nearly $1 billion, but today they are woefully behind in providing kids with technology access that has become commonplace in most of America's schools." In regards to the school board, "It is a system divided along lines of race, socioeconomic levels and geography. Such divisions are continuing to paralyze the ability to address the needs of all students," Elgart said.
According to U.S.ED: "...state approval is not the same as academic or professional accreditation, and that institutions approved to operate by a state, but that lack accreditation by a recognized agency, may not be recognized in other states and their degrees and credits may not be accepted. Only accreditation by a recognized agency assures national recognition.
Seniors in Dunwoody High could potentially lose out on scholarships and be turned away from out of State schools. If accreditation has been lost, could they possibly lose out on the Hope Scholarship? The potential loss of accreditation is no longer an issue, but the damage has been done to the credibility of the school system.
Based on the overwhelming success separating from DeKalb County, it didn’t take long for the citizens of Dunwoody to consider separation from DeKalb County School Systems as well. Dunwoody is not alone, Brookhaven and Tucker are also pursuing separation. Proposed Dunwoody Independent School District Financial Feasibility Kelly McCutchen and Prof. Christine P. Ries November 18, 2013 revealed that not only is an independent school system feasible it would be a net savings of 30.7 million dollars.
▲One of the newest education structures paid for by DeKalb County. Independent school system in small new cities such as Brookhaven, Sandy Springs or Duwoody will take it from from Fulton or DeKalb Counties and give it a new unknown bodies, elected or appointed.
The makeup of Dunwoody would be 51% white which does not reflect the population of DeKalb. The fight will not be on racial grounds though. The argument against allowing separation will be whether wealthier children regardless of race will have a better education than the rest of the county.
So every child should have the same equal education, a poor one. All of the parents should have their property tax dollars wasted, equally. If townships like Tucker, Brookhaven and Dunwoody separated, that would put pressure on DeKalb to improve itself. If allowed to continue unchallenged and no consequences, the result will be more of the same substandard education for all. The wealthy can have a better education by sending their children to private schools, just so long as they continue to give their tax dollars to a poorly run education system that has bordered on losing accreditation. This isn’t about lowering expectations to be fair, this is about forcing the hand of DeKalb to make real and honest improvements.
More say, more control, better quality and services, it is why Dunwoody incorporated itself. Our roads, parks, police and 911 emergency are all better than ever as a result of separating from DeKalb.
Having our own school system is just the next logical step. Yes, we will have better schools than the rest of the county. Maybe just maybe, DeKalb will quit the musical chairs of Superintendents and make real change, instead of the false promises of each new board or administration.
▲Little disputes over the quality of education the primary education in Georgia including the surrounding counties.