Home > Education, Society > DeKalb County School Watch: Anger at South DeKalb residents misplaced

DeKalb County School Watch: Anger at South DeKalb residents misplaced

November 3, 2010

You folks in South DeKalb can call me racist all you want, but I know that you folks do not vote for change, but for more of the same. I can’t believe you folks in the south part of DeKalb are happy with mediocre education and a crumbling infrastructure.

via DeKalb County School Watch: No message sent to the school board.

First of all I take umbrage at the “you folks”.  Addressing someone as “you folks” is a slight in my opinion. It could have easily been “citizens” or “people”. I think the above comment over at DeKalb School Watch is typical of the beliefs held by so many people who live outside of South DeKalb. There is an image of people in South DeKalb striving for mediocrity and wanting nothing more than corrupt leadership and a government handout. That image is far from reality. Like most other misleading perceptions, the actions of a few dictate the image of the whole, especially when dealing with African-Americans. There are several under performing schools in South DeKalb, but there are plenty of schools that do quite well especially at the elementary level. I would be willing to go out on a limb and say most parents in South DeKalb want their children to succeed in school. They want them to be challenged and they want them to be safe. They want their children to achieve excellence in all aspects of their school career. There are a minority number of parents who either do not care about their children’s education, or are just plain ignorant as to what is happening with the school system in general. These parents can be found in school systems all over the country. It is not unique to South DeKalb. Further, South DeKalb is in a position that is unique among areas in the metro. We have well to do, very educated people who send their kids to DeKalb schools and we have citizens who live in excessive poverty and are less educated than the average Georgian. It is the concentration of this poverty and lack of education in South DeKalb that needs to be addressed by citizens and leaders throughout DeKalb. It has been proven through the ages that education is the eradicator of poverty and ignorance. It is a sure fire way to move from poverty to middle-class, and from middle-class to wealthy. It is easy to cast stones in the direction of people who do not have the ability to see the stone coming, or do not know what to do once it is thrown. Criticizing an entire population based on the actions of a few is counter-productive. It creates the very animosity that fuels this civil disagreement between Northern and Southern residents. I do not buy in to the belief that South DeKalb does not want change. District 7 sent the message it wants change with 61 percent of voters wanting Zepora Roberts out. I think part of Jay Cunningham’s and Sarah Copelin-Woods victory was in part due to the fact that many of their constituents are poor and less educated than residents in other districts. This is not a knock on the citizens living there, this is a fact. Copelin-Wood and Cunningham rode that tide of ignorance back into office. The concentration of poverty and low education standards played as much a role in those two keeping their seats as did a more educated and middle-class electorate in district 7 and district 1. treating ignorance is as easy as providing information and explaining it if necessary. Anger at South DeKalb is misplaced at best and misleading at worst. What is best for all is for people who have the knowledge to help spread it to those who do not. Media, bloggers, and activists did a poor job of that. If replacing the board members is what we want, then those in the know have to talk with those who are not. Talking amongst ourselves does not help anyone become a better and involved citizen. Instead of tossing barbs back and forth we should be tossing information back and forth.

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  1. November 28, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    ps – to be fair, the comment you quoted in your post was from an anonymous commenter and was not part of the original article. We try to allow comments to flow freely and only delete those that use offensive language or name names…

    The original post (written by me) states that I think Zepora, Sarah and others use the racial north-south fear, debate and perceived inequities as campaign fodder. Once elected, I’m not certain they work to improve the education provided to students in their districts. I personally think that the north/south politics have become just that – politics.

    As someone raised in farm country in Ohio, I do not pretend to understand the deep racial hurt of the past in the south. But it is definitely real. All I’m saying is don’t allow your representatives to use fear and race to place themselves in a position of power (which they then use for personal gain as well as to place family in nice jobs or to protect certain schools and programs). Let’s all find, support and vote in people who really will work to improve the education of ALL of our youth – north, south and in-between.

    Let’s move forward together!

  2. November 28, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    As the moderator of DeKalb School Watch – I completely agree with your post! I hope we can all work toward understanding and trusting each other – as parents – and work together to demand equity for ALL of our schools in DeKalb!!

    That said, there is a survey going on right now and the responses are coming in heavy from the north end – I just posted this comment at DSW and hope you will work to get the voices in south DeKalb heard too. I know plenty of solid parents who want the very same things for their kids in south as in north DeKalb. We’re in this together – really.

    It’s very interesting to me to see who is responding to the survey and who is not. You can actually watch the comments in real time here –

    VISION 2020: PUBLIC COMMENT INPUT

    So far, as you can tell from the bar charts, of the 719 responses representing a specific elementary school, 140 or 19.6% are from Fernbank, 103 or 14.4% are from Montgomery and 85 or 11.9% are from Vanderlyn. Huntley Hills, Kittredge and Dunwoody ES are also represented, however, there are many, many schools – most in south DeKalb – with no voice in the survey. (Kudos to parents at Towers HS for their very large contribution to the survey though!)

    So, will this play out that the most represented schools in the survey are heard, while others are not or are the people from other schools bending the ear of their board rep to go to work for them so that they will be heard as well? I’m not sure this survey is a very good representation of the entire school system. It really does focus on the opinions of a few very vocal schools. Valid opinions, but one-sided just the same…

    South DeKalb parents should find a way to get their opinions in the survey ASAP!

    Click here to take the survey –

    2020 Vision Survey

    Go to the “Stakeholder Input” section and click “Take the Survey”… it literally only takes 5 minutes or less. All you do is rank what you think in order of importance and then at the end – leave a comment. All comments are immediately published online for the world to see!

  3. Name One
    November 10, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    “I don’t know the population figures, but I would like to see the demographic chart that you are getting your numbers from. Could you provide a link?”

    I saw that info. presented at one of the bond meetings a few years back. The lowest population area in the county is the lower Southeast, which make sense with Arabia taking so much acreage.

  4. Dekalbite
    November 10, 2010 at 8:46 am

    @ Just Watch

    I support Obama, and I’m a die hard Democrat. I’ll be working again for Obama to get re-elected. I also support fiscal responsibility which is one of many reasons I’m a Democrat. If Nancy Jester is not a Democrat (she’s running as a non-partisan for the BOE race), then that’s okay will with me if she brings funds back into classroom.

    Decreasing class sizes, updating our school facilities, and attracting the best teachers to DCSS will do more for our students than all the expensive programs and non-teaching personnel could ever do.

    If Nancy runs for state senator as a Republican candidate, she won’t get my vote. But IMHO she will be a BOE member that places the emphasis on money flowing to the schoolhouse. There were (and still are) viable candidates that hold that opinion.

    @ Name One
    I don’t know the population figures, but I would like to see the demographic chart that you are getting your numbers from. Could you provide a link?

  5. Hmmm
    November 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    Sarah Copelin-Wood’s daughter Thomakia Copelin, a DeKalb County School System employee, is in a little trouble (and it’s a felony):

    Offense Date
    28-JAN-10

    Charge Level / Code and Description
    FINANCIAL TRANS CARD FRAUD/Felony

    Filing Date
    08-FEB-2010

    COPELIN, THOMAKIA ROSHAY
    DOB: 08-MAY-74
    SPN: X0405631
    BOOKING DATE: 28-JAN-10 01:23 PM
    RELEASE DATE: 29-JAN-10 03:37 PM

  6. Name One
    November 9, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    “South DeKalb has a much larger population than North DeKalb so I question the idea that the majority of the tax revenues flow from North to South.”

    Actually, that’s not correct, DeKalbite. Central Dekalb and north DeKalb have a more concentrated population. Commission district 2, for example, has the same population in much smaller area than 1, 3, 4 or 5. South Dekalb has a much lower resident per square mile.

  7. Just Watch
    November 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    DeKalbite,

    The South DeKalb voters voted for the candidates they know and trust. Their trust may be misplaced, but in Cunningham’s race, his opponents are basically unknowns.

    What we lack is solid participation in the process on a consistent basis. At election time, people come from this way and that way to run for positions, but they haven’t been known in the community and really have little experience. If Cunningham, for example, had faced a strong involved canddate, that person would have had a chance.

    Just a note:
    You supported Obama? And now you support Jester? I find that a bit strange. Their politics couldn’t be more opposite. Ask her what she thinks of Obama.

  8. Dekalbite
    November 8, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Agree South DeKalb. So true. Redovian is presently currying favor with Chamblee parents now when he wouldn’t give them the time of day before. Voters have short memories.

    I don’t think Sandy Spruill has spent much time in South DeKalb. If she had, she would realize that there are many lovely areas with well educated and interested citizens, and there are many areas of poverty. To say that the “poor and less educated” are not registered voters is incorrect. I canvassed for Obama all over DeKalb, and I know that registered voters are not just the affluent.

    South DeKalb has a much larger population than North DeKalb so I question the idea that the majority of the tax revenues flow from North to South.

    I’m a big supporter of both Nancy Jester and Donna Edler. They have similar backgrounds in finance, no family personnel ties to DCSS, and children in the school system. I sent donations to both of them even though neither one of them is in my district. Jester only lives a few streets from me so I will be canvassing for her. I hope Mrs. Edler has people who are going door to door for her. Name recognition is so important. Electing these women wouldn’t solve all our DCSS BOE problems, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction for our school system and our students.

  9. Kerry Abraham
    November 5, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this well thought response to the Dekalb BOE situation.

  10. Sandy Spruill
    November 5, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    “What is best for all is for people who have the knowledge to help spread it to those who do not. Media, bloggers, and activists did a poor job of that. If replacing the board members is what we want, then those in the know have to talk with those who are not.”

    Sorry. I’m not buying this. Who did you talk to? Which “poor and less educated” voters did you talk with? I am betting that those “poor and less educated” are, for the most part, not registered voters — at least, not regular voters.

    A lot of property tax dollars flow from North DeKalb to South DeKalb. Yet, how many South DeKalb voters would “take umbrage” if North DeKalb voters were to “spread [the knowledge] to those who do not [have it]”?

    South DeKalb voters have made a serious tactical error by returning to the DCSS BOE an “alleged” thief, an admitted racist and a person who comes to BOE meetings unprepared and is often incoherent. As far as I am concerned, this misstep was deliberate. Not electing the few candidates of quality who stepped forward to run was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The magnitude of this deliberate slap in the face to taxpayers in North DeKalb who foot the bills will become clear in a few years.

    • November 8, 2010 at 11:50 am

      In short, I would have to see numbers that show me that somehow north DeKalb is supporting South DeKalb. Since most commercial development is in the north, I do not doubt that more tax revenue is generated in the north, but to think you subsidize the south is quite a leap. Let’s also not forget that Dunwoody could not come to a consensus as to who they wanted on the board. Be careful, because you may get your one incumbent back on the board as well.

  11. Dekalbite
    November 3, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I’m from the Northlake area, and I agree totally with what you say. There are concerned and involved parents all over DeKalb. Paul Womack is my BOE rep, and he has done absolutely nothing for the students of DCSS. Neither have Don McChesney or Pam Speaks yet they along with Womack were elected 2 years ago by North and Central DeKalb voters. And Nancy Jester did not even get 51% of the vote from the Dunwoody crowd. “People who live in glass houses should not cast stones.”

    I’ve taught many, many students in South Dekalb as well as Central and North DeKalb. I’ve taught kids whose parents don’t speak English and kids whose parents work 3 minimum wage jobs and kids who along with their parents are lving in homeless shelters – and these kids were from Central and North DeKalb. It upsets me when someone says that parents who aren’t typically middle class do not care for their children, and I heard that a lot in my teaching career – often from other teachers. Poverty is not a “choice” lifestyle. You are correct that we might be better off by talking to people face to face rather than relying on conversations among ourselves.

    I post on DeKalb County School Watch and contribute the occasional article under DeKalb Parent – I’m that nerd who always contributes all that data research. I’m uncomfortable with passionate outbursts and name calling. It seems so much more reasonable to deal with just the facts. But I have come to realize that blogs are very much about opinions and passion. That seems to be more interesting than the presentation of dry data. I guess that’s what elections are about as well.

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