The Georgia Citizen

Keeping Georgians Informed.

Atlanta’s Beverly Hall, Among Others, Indicted on Good Friday! What is Atlanta’s Current Superintendent, Erroll Davis, Doing to Change the Operational Conditions for the APS Teachers? Not Much! He and His Minions Still Refuse to Comply with the State’s Complaints Law! Read Here Dr. John Trotter’s Two-Day Commentary on the AJC’s Get Schooled Blog About the Sad State of Affairs in the Atlanta Public Schools.

The first thing that Erroll Davis needs to do is re-vamp the APS Complaints Policy which, as I have pointed out over and over, egregiously and flagrantly violates the Georgia Code (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.). Destiny Washington, the attorney who was acting as Davis´s designee, shut down a grievance hearing on Wednesday  when I just would not let her talk over me when I was cross-examining a principal (Tyronne Smith of Mays High School). APS´s actions relative to grievances/complaints are still unconscionable under the Erroll Davis Administration.

Now about Beverly Hall and the indictments: All one has to do is go to the MACE website or look on my personal blog and see that it was the people at MACE who were warning about “systematic cheating” on the streets of Atlanta and DeKalb, calling both systems “gangsta systems” in writing and on the streets with picket signs well before there was any talk about investigating the Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis administrations. So much for a prophetic voice, heh?

Naturally, MACE has its detractors among the administrators who can “bravely” blog anonymously about MACE being a “tiny and third rate union.”  But, it was ole Johnny Trotter and “his tiny and third union” which openly pointed out the complete disregard that the Beverly Hall and Crawford Lewis administrations had for the law, despite the fact that many, including the major media in the State, were either singing their praises or looking rather impassively at the goings-on in these systems.

So many of the administrators indicted have been the target of MACE (articles, our Needs Improvement List, pickets, letters, grievances, etc.) in the past. We never called them “criminals.” But, it looks like Paul Howard has stepped up to the plate and is calling them precisely this. I too believe that their actions were criminal, but we always leave the criminal stuff up to the prosecutors. I am impressed with Paul Howard´s mettle in prosecuting from the very top on down.

In particular, I remember the extremely hot picket on Trinity Avenue in the boiling summer heat in July of 2009 or 2010 when we were calling APS a “gangsta school system” and the three pickets three days in row in front of the DeKalb Central Office on North Decatur Road in 2009.  The first day or two was in torrential downpour of rain, and Keith Whitney of 11 Alive News called to tell me that the company’s van had to return to the station because of the ominous weather.  In these pickets, we were talking about “systematic cheating” and about DeKalb being a “gangsta school system.”  In fact, we also called Crawford Lewis a “Candy @ss” (because his administration also shut down a grievance when a teacher whom we were representing was about to testify about systematic cheating at Clarkston High School).

Yes, our tactics may be rather ruthless and politically incorrect and irreverent, but we just don’t care.  When as many egregious and unconscionable things are occurring as were occurring in these two systems, sometimes it takes “a tiny and third rate union” (ha!) to point the finger at the injustices.  I know one thing, anyone who works at MACE has more guts in their pinkie finger than these hollow and feckless administrators who blog under the cloak of darkness and who would never deign to use their real names.

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@ AJC isn’t me:  We must really get under your skin!  Ha!  It’s this “tiny and third-rate” teachers union that is always right on the situations and issues…and the same union that these disreputable administrators fear.  Whether you are a shill for incompetent and petty administrators or for GAE and/or PAGE, it doesn’t matter.  You do seem to know who to anonymously attack.  You anonymously attack those whom you fear.  You anonymously attack that which is a threat.  Otherwise, you simply ignore the group or person.  I presume that you find MACE and me too difficult to ignore!  Ha!

APS WAS and STILL IS a gangsta system, by the way.  When the administration totally disregards Georgia Statutes like the Erroll Davis Administration continues to do, then it STILL IS a gangsta system under an erstwhile corporate executive.

Yes, Maureen, I remember the bus tour and its stop at Parks.  I remember laughing uproariously about how the Partnership and you guys were either being duped big time or were willing participants in the scam.  I remember it well.  Like it was just yesterday.

I think that it is very significant that Kathy Augustine was not indicted.  Hmm.  I also remember when she called the police and tried to block me and my colleagues from entering into a “secret” school board meeting.  Cooler heads prevailed.  I think that it was the good Dr. Norman Thomas (who, by the way, should have been named the superintendent in 1999, and APS would have none of these problems) who convinced Ms. Augustine that we had every right to be in the “secret” school board meeting on the third floor of the Taj Mahal.

I think that this 7.5 million bail will be reduced significantly.

I really don’t think that the average person realizes just how much pressure that there was on the teachers to cheat.  I admire the many teachers who did not give in and do so.  Many lost their jobs as a result.  But, before losing their jobs, they underwent the most harrowing corporate executions, resulting in many losing their good health before losing their jobs.

From the very beginning, I knew that the Beverly Hall Administration was full of shit and therefore I never even once attempted to sit down talk with Beverly Hall about any issues…unlike doing so with other superintendents.  Sometimes, you simply conclude that it is a complete waste of time.  I felt and still feel this way same way about superintendents Joe Hairston, the Thompson fellow, and Edmond Heatley in Clayton County; Jim Fox, Jamie Wilson, and Robert Avossa  in Fulton County; Alvin Wilbanks in Gwinnett; and Thomas Tocco in Cobb.  Some just reek with arrogance.  Complete jackanapes.  I have probably interacted in some way with 50 to 75 superintendents in the Metro Atlanta area in the last 25 years, and some are just not worth sitting down and engaging in a conversation.  I can assure you that unlike APS superintendents Benjamin Canada, Lester Butts, and Betty Strickland, Beverly Hall (as well as fellow transplanted New Yorker, J. Jerome Harris) have this arrogant air about them.

I did speak at the school board meeting in, I think, July of 1999 when Beverly Hall was first introduced to the public in Atlanta.  I remember saying, “Dr. Hall, Welcome to Kosovo, welcome Rwanda, welcome to North Korea…because the Atlanta Public Schools doesn’t seem to think that it is located in Georgia.”   I went on to talk about APS’s almost complete disregard for the Georgia laws (relative to complaints, duty free lunch, sick leave, etc.).  Under Beverly Hall, the situation in Atlanta got worse…much, much worse.  Many lives were ruined by the actions of this administration.

Attentive Parent:  I personally haven’t heard about any talks of merger but I know that the educational think tanks that are full of Ivy League trained non-educators always push for school system mergers.  Several decades ago there was a big push for cross-district busing.  This mush-for-curriculum is, in my opinion, racist at its core.  It stems, I think, from the notion that minority students can’t keep up with the white kids and the Asian kids in the suburbs…and they can’t as long as virtually no discipline is in place in the urban schools.  I believe that with the proper discipline in place and with the teachers freed up to be creative so that they can find unusual and sometimes crazy ways to motivate the unmotivated students that these students can learn information (you know, the “old” curriculum) instead of having to push them to engage in non-accountable group projects and touchy-feely stuff which will not help them in the real world, but will doom them to lives of serfdom in the “global economy” (which is perhaps the plan).  Thanks for indulging me in “stealing” some the good stuff that you have tirelessly unearthed.  Thanks!

@ Attentive Parent:

The average parent has no clue that the average middle school student in urban schools could not tell you if Thomas Jefferson or Abraham Lincoln wrote the Declaration of Independence or if the Civil Rights Movement took place in the 19th Century of the 20th Century, much less tell you the difference between the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and historical significance of Selma and Hiroshima.  These students are just clueless…and without much future.  Now, if you asked the same aged students at Marist or Westminster or Lovett the same questions, they probably readily know the answers.  Public education’s curriculum, by the design (as you eloquently point out on your blog), is full of mush, full of touchy-feely crap, full of games and group discussions/projects.  It is this way all the way up to graduate school now.

Bill Gates even admits that he envisions using games to teach the kids (using his app, I’m sure).  But, the idea of transmitting knowledge (the foundation of a “common” culture, if you will) is so 1950ish to these new educational policy wonks (who don’t have the good sense to get out of the rain).  But, in the 1950s, at least we could tell you that Idaho was out west and that Massachusetts was in the northeast.  We had a very definite idea about the location of Japan, Iceland, and Argentina.  We knew how to multiply off the top of our heads and how to break down words phonetically.  We knew the parts of language and how to write cogent sentences and paragraphs.  But, these poor kids in the public schools (especially in the inner city schools) are lost when it comes to such standard and basic knowledge.  The key to success in the business world is being able to communicate in writing and orally the King’s English.  Now I am not taking away the exceptions to the rule, viz., the entertainers and the athletes who earn incomes outside this standardization of common knowledge, but how many people are going to be successful in these endeavors?  It is really somewhat criminal to set up expectations for these children to think that they are going to be the next T. I. (“King of the South”) or another Michael Vick whose mastery of juking skills have earned him millions.

Look at the successful people in our world today.  Look at President Barack Obama.  He attended Punahou Academy with very high academic standards.  Then, he was off to Occidental College, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School.   Look at President Clinton.  Georgetown University, Oxford College (Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School.  George W. Bush.  Started off at Midland Elementary and then San Jacinto Jr. High.  But, Poppy and Barb sent him on up to the northeast to go to the very rigorous Phillips Academy before matriculating to Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School.  This is just politics.  Look at Ted Turner.  McCauley Prep in Chattanooga and then to the very tough The Citadel in Charleston.  (I think that I am right about Ted’s education.)  Look at Oprah Winfrey.  Fish University, I think.  All of these successful people learned knowledge…yes, information.  None of the touchy-feely stuff.  None of the holding hands and singing nursery rhymes.

Today, however, none of the educrats or the educational wonks know what to do with urban education.  They are afraid of it.  They think, like Social Security with politicians, that it’s hands-off topic.  It reeks with charges of racism.  So, they think that perhaps that they can just try the soft approach…you know, group projects which will not hold each student accountable for how he or she performs.  The individual’s success or failure can be hidden in the collective meltdown.  And, be sure, it is a meltdown.  It is a meltdown of knowledge.  It is, as I often say when I see that an administrator criticizes a teacher for being “teacher centered” and not “student centered,” a pooling of ignorance.  If the students don’t know squat about the U. S. Constitution or about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, then how can they teach each other in some group discussion/project.  They first need to have some knowledge transferred to them.  But, as my friend Beverly Fraud (often on this blog) says, “They want a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.”  This is a good way of putting it.  Teachers become mere facilitators, not transmitters of knowledge.  Why?  Because in this new way of thinking (can we say, “Common Core Curriculum”?), verifiable, objective knowledge is no longer cherish or even tolerated.  We are now witnessing the philosophical deconstructionism attacking our schools like a far eastern tsunami.

No one wants to first tackle the near dearth of discipline in the urban schools.  This is a dirty job and not very appealing.  But, until these schools are put back in order discipline-wise, no significant learning will take place.  We have said over and over that you cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.  The first thing that any school leader worth his or her salt has to do is to get the school in order.  In other words, he or she has to first establish sound, fair, and consistent discipline in the school, and the students have to know undoubtedly that the administrators support the teachers when it comes to discipline.

@ Top School:  I hear you, brother.  Money still covers up a lot.  The more money that you have, the more “justice” you receive (actual, the more “mercy”).  This has been the Atlanta way for years…going back to the 19th Century.

@ 20/20:  I have been saying over and over now that I don’t see any improvement with the Erroll Davis Administration.  He’s just the un-Beverly Hall.  His administration still violates the Georgia Code Sections which govern the schools.  Just this past week, his designee, attorney Destiny Washington, abruptly shut down a grievance hearing when my questions to Mays High principal apparently got too probative for her taste.  On the very face, the APS Complaints Policy is a joke.  It egregiously and flagrantly violates the law (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.).  There is no difference between the Erroll Davis Administration and the Beverly Hall Administration in this regard.  Both administrations were/are shameless when it comes to the teachers having an avenue to complain and blow the whistle.  Someone asked earlier why we didn’t take these guys to court over these violations.  And appear before the same judges who dine with Erroll at the Rotary Club or the 191 Club or the Piedmont Driving Club?  Right.  And perchance that a judge actually would deign to rule against ole Erroll, why would I think that he and APS would be more prone to follow case law than statutory law that is a clear as the nose on your face?  Ha!

I have thought from the very beginning that ole Erroll is just a puppet.  Was there a deal in the works that if he would step down from being the CEO of the Board of Regents without any stink that he would be given a consolation prize of heading up APS?  It makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

@ Bernie:  I am not indicting all public schools.  Many are doing a great job but the advance of the Common Core Curriculum with its emphases on group projects, etc., will eventually whittle away at the excellence like what is currently happening under Robert Avossa in Fulton County.

I thought that I made it abundantly clear that I was particularly addressing the complete mess that currently characterized much of urban schooling in the United States.  I also pointed out the difference in the type of education that we received in the public schools of yesteryear before the deconstructionists got control of the curriculum and frowned upon objective, verifiable knowledge and instead began to push more existential mush.  I certainly yield to my fellow blogger, Attentive Parent, who has done a massive amount of research in this area.  I recommend that you tune into her blog.  It will be a treat.

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@ Maude:  I am still here, my friend.  I was just reading the very informative piece by Dr. Clayton Alford from New York City who has been acquainted with Beverly Hall for many decades now.  Right on target.  I read another piece that he wrote and submitted on another thread.  I think that the good Doctor about sums it up.  Beverly Hall’s so-called leadership was flawed from the very beginning, rooted in intimidation, fear, and retribution.

If we learn anything from the life of the Good Master and from mortals like Abraham Lincoln, it is not to harbor grudges.  Somehow, however, I think that these posts that Dr. Alford has written had to be said…and say it well, he did.  So apropos.  The entire Beverly Hall administration (I am talking about the close sycophants whom she promoted) was just unconscionably corrupt.  The poor teachers and administrators who wanted to do the right thing were put on a medieval rack and tortured until they resigned/retired or were corporately executed.  Of course, I would be remiss to my own organization if I did not boldly and proudly say that we were able to save and protect and empower our members.  We had to act “crazy” in the eyes of the prim and proper and wannabe socialites in Atlanta.  (Picketing on the streets and boldly speaking at board meetings and engaging in thorough and sifting cross examinations of the administrative goons who were carrying out tyrannical decrees from Trinity Avenue were seen as “crazy” by some but was seen as necessary by us.)

I remember when the teachers were apparently so stressed at one of the high schools that they called me on my cell phone, begging us to come to the school.  Mr. Haynes and I were actually just leaving a Fulton County school, but we told the teacher on the phone that we would head their way.  When we got to the Atlanta high school, many teachers were signing up for membership into MACE.  (They knew that we were not one whit afraid of the principal – very close to Hall, by the way – who seemed to be terrorizing them.)  Unbeknown to us, this principal apparently later called the police and filed warrants for our arrests.  (This was not my first arrest at the hands of an Atlanta school principal.  Another principal had me arrested apparently because she was not winning a dialectical with me in her office…with a MACE attorney and a MACE teacher present.  She had not asked us to leave at that point and when she asked us to leave, we did indeed leave.  I had a smile on my face the entire time that we were discussing the teacher’s situation.  The principal’s logic and rhetoric was flawed beyond measure.  Later, this principal, I believe, abruptly resigned/retired during the middle of a school year.)  Back to the high school:  We were arrested, yes, by the Beverly Hall administration.  My second stint at the “Garnett Street Hotel.”  Ha! I know firsthand about the goings-on of this heinous (yes, heinous) administration that even this newspaper and others tried for the longest to defend.  I give credit (much credit) to the The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for finally blowing the top off of this story.  I really do think, despite the initial tepid response, that this newspaper should be in the running for a Pulitzer.  I really do.

Let me show you another way that Beverly Hall stepped on the rights of others to gain money.  The State Law (OCGA 20-2-850) says that certificated employees in the Georgia schools are “entitled” to 1.25 days of sick leave days per contract month.  These days can accumulate up to 45 days, but many systems even allow the teachers to accumulate over 100 days.  But, in Atlanta under Hall (and maybe still under Erroll Davis), if a teacher is out for six days in any particular contract year, the administrators put this teacher on a Professional Development Plan (PDP) which is very onerous and job-threatening to a teacher.  We filed many grievances for teachers on this issue.  When Hall could show the school board that she lowered absenteeism, she received huge bonuses.  Huge.  And she received them by denying the teachers their “entitlement” to take care of their very sick child or to stay home and recuperate when having the flu, etc.  Many, many teachers in Atlanta came to school sick because they were afraid to use their State-granted sick leave.

So, Attorney Schall, I am not sympathetic to your opinions about the RICO charges against Beverly Hall.  She set it all up.  Never doubt this one moment, and I appreciate Dr. Clayton Alford of New York City revealing even more of her unconscionable modus operandi in the public schools of New York and New Jersey.  A leopard can’t change her spots, heh?

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  @ Beverly Fraud:  I think that at that point (2001) the AJC did not really have the stomach to follow through on Donsky’s revelations.  I think that this is pretty obvious.  The city fathers were trying desperately to show to outside investors that Atlanta’s public schools were improving greatly and that there would be a better labor pool here than in, say, Charlotte, Jacksonville, or Birmingham.  But, today the AJC is under different management and in different circumstances than in 2001.  I understand clearly your point, and you are trying to make them say “Uncle,” but few large institutions want to admit wrong, even the U. S. Government.  Let’s just be happy that in the last couple of years, the AJC did what would make Henry W. Grady quite proud.  It demonstrated impressive journalistic mettle, at the risk of offending many city fathers.  It never was really about the children; it’s always been about the money to the moneyed class of Buckhead (as our fellow blogger Top School often points out).  Now the AJC’s publisher and editor might even have a hard time securing a good table in the Piedmont Driving Club’s dining room.

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@ living:  I have been around public schools my entire life, and I have never seen so much fear and intimidation in one school system before.  APS took the prize hands down.  I personally know some who worked at the Central Office on Trinity who were abruptly escorted out of the building under armed guards…and I understand it was because they deigned to question the unethical practices.  They were not MACE members.  They were not teachers but just people whom I know.  The totalitarian nature of the school system was something that the average person could not fathom and something that the Chamber of Commerce leaders apparently didn’t worry about.

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I wonder if anyone remembers me writing right here on this blog when Mark Elgart of SACS came down very hard on Clayton County for very dubious reasons that I knew of several school systems doing much, much worse than anything that was happening in Clayton County.  In particular, I had Atlanta, DeKalb, and even Fulton in mind.  (Later on we found out that the hallowed Cobb County School Board had been meeting illegally behind closed doors for admittedly 57 times and that the much heralded Gwinnett County did not report to the State as required by law 45,000 serious – yes, serious – disciplinary offenses.)  One of the Clayton County school board members had told Mark Elgart in a public meeting that he had “no integrity” when he came traipsing down to a Clayton County School Board meeting on the sole request of the then chairperson, Ericka Davis, about a superintendent selection.  Later, according to what one school board member at the time told me, attorney Glenn Brock told the Clayton County School Board in closed door session that this was the reason that Mark Elgart was coming down on this board.

It appears that little Markie cannot handle public chastisement.  Perhaps we ought to be wondering now – with all these criminal indictments fresh on our minds – why Mark Elgart was coming down so hard on former Atlanta Chairman Khatim El.  Why was Mark Elgart such an apparent shill of this Beverly Hall?  Was he toting, as I have asserted so many, many times, the water for the Chamber of Commerce and/or other business interests with his bully club call “SACS accreditation” which is, in my opinion, not worth the paper on which it is written.  Perhaps the board of SACS and/or AdvancED ought to look for a clean start as well.  I can’t help but think that of all the people with the most eggs on their faces, ole Mark Elgart looks like he just came from the chicken coop himself.

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Maureen:  I do understand that my statements are not so pithy…such as the one above.  I have points to make, and I don’t count my words.  So, if it is in your best interests to remove my statements, go for it.  I think that I contribute something to the dialogue, but it is indeed the AJC’s blog, and I do indeed have many different avenues on which to write.

Off to lunch.  If, by the way, you, Maureen, are going to let administrators like “Georgia coach” (as admitted administrator, by the way) organize an effort by constant complaining to get me off this blog or to try to reduce me to writing harmless homilies which I won’t do, then again, it’s your choice.  Some of your more silent readers might just be disappointed.  No one really likes censorship…except those who want to control everything.  I have never complained about anyone’s posts on here…even the ones that are vitriolic toward me.

@ Catlady:  I agree.  A very thorough (not just one article here and there) investigation needs to take place on SACS and AdvancEd.  These two entities are laughable relative to any seriousness of applying its so-called standards evenly and with discrimination.  They are, to the contrary, applied most arbitrarily, capriciously, politically, and with a transparent and distinct goal of simply controlling school boards.  For this hollow organization, SACS (and its somewhat phantom parent company, AdvancEd), to sit by idly after all of the cheating in Atlanta was brought to full disclosure and to do nothing relative to this cheating is unconscionable and a clear sign that SACS stands for this:  “Still Advocating for Cronies and Superintendents.”  Mark Elgart was knee-deep in defending Beverly Hall and was using any power at his disposable with SACS to silence any of her critics among the elected members of the Atlanta School Board.

Maureen, the AJC is still the Georgia’s flagship newspaper, and its readers still expect the flagship paper to be aggressive when corruption seems to be rearing its head.  This is what keeps the newspaper relevant.  It still has much more resources at its disposal than individual blogs, though journalism has indeed changes and individual blog has the same ability to get on the internet highway as the large institutions.

I have complimented the AJC’s final thorough investigation of this huge cheating scandal in Atlanta.  I still applaud the AJC for this.  Without the AJC doing what it did, Beverly Hall may still be sitting ensconced on the 8th Floor of the Trinity Taj Mahal and ruining lives.  But, when the AJC was taken over by Ron Martin a few years back, the shorter and more “readable” articles were mandated.  More like the USA Today.  Quite frankly, I think that the average Georgian still greatly appreciates it when the AJC does the thorough investigations.  That’s when I pick up a paper copy at Publix.  There’s nothing like pouring over the paper newspaper at lunch!

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