Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Good School Superintendent Sets The Tone for a School System

A school superintendent sets the tone and directions for a school system, so it is imperative that DeKalb County School System finds a great one in its next search.  The DeKalb County School Board must get it right as there is too much for the DeKalb County Community to lose by making another bad decision.
A school superintendent must have a cooperative relationship with the school board members.  Together they set the vision of the school system.  A school superintendent must be a great communicator to communicate the needs of the school district to all stakeholders.  A school board member must be flexible and be able to work collaboratively with others.   Sometimes they run into difficulty with make-up of school boards.

A school superintendent must be an instructional leader that has the right leadership skills so others will follow.  He or she must know that the most important jobs he or she has is to make sure students are learning and achieving at the highest level possible according to the students’ ability level.  The school superintendent must be knowledgeable of the best practices for maximizing student achievement.  The school superintendent must support his or her teachers and administrators in their tasks of educating the students.
A good school superintendent must be a good listener and use his staff to think outside the box and come up with strategies and problems that work for the community and that work for the students so success is not an option but a reality.  A good school superintendent must work with the business leaders and local politicians to ensure the school system is meeting the needs of the community.  Without good schools a county, city, or state will miss opportunities for all its stakeholders.

A good school superintendent must be a good manager.  He or she must always be evaluating the employees to assure the goals and vision of the school system is being met.  Once meet, the school superintendent must push for constant progress of achievement for all students.
The school superintendent is in charge of hiring quality teachers, administrators, and staff to run the individual schools throughout the district who assure the vision of the district and the students are achieving to their maximum ability.

To be a good leader it is also important that the school superintendent has the ability to make meaningful relationships with staff from assistant superintendents to all employees.   He or she must be able to handle the political challenges of being a school superintendent.  He or she many times may need to work on the loyalty of its employees and retention of good employees.   Happy employees produce better results.
It is imperative that DeKalb County School System finds a great school superintendent in their next search.  The DeKalb County School Board must get it right for the students and the stakeholders of DeKalb County.


Cell Phones Usage Causes Major Problems


Cell phone usage causes major problems in high school classrooms across the county.  Cell phones distract students during the school day because students are too concentrated on vibrating phones, or texting or receiving texts from friends.  However, cell phones can be used on occasion for educational purposes.

Cheating is also a big problem when cell phones are allowed in the classroom.  According to a survey published by Who’s Who in American High School Students approximately 98 percent of all students now cheat.  Students use their cell phones to cheat on tests and to copy homework from a friend.

Students also use their phones to take pictures of students in their classroom, locker rooms, and bathrooms and think it is acceptable to post these pictures or to send them to their friends.

In most school district phone usage is prohibited across the county unless a student is using the device for approved classroom purposes for learning.  However, some cities (like New York) have banned cell phones altogether in their public schools.  Some advocates of totally prohibiting cell phones indicate allowing cell phones in school is like giving a child a candy bar and telling the child they cannot eat the candy bar.

Many school district ban cell phone use and then take an “out-of-site, out-of-trouble approach to the problem.  Then teachers end up totally ignoring the policy entirely because enforcing it become too much of a discipline issue.  This out-of site, out-of-trouble approach also helps the administrators deal with the issues parents have about their child having their cell phone  available to them at all times. 

Most parents want to be able to keep up with their children’s whereabouts.  Some parents even have global tracking devices on their children’s phones so they can track them at all times. Most parents also want their children to have cell phones in an emergency situation before, during, and after school. Many times when students are caught texting during the day they are actually communicating with their parents.

What can be done?  There are devices that allow students to be able to call only certain phone numbers or text certain numbers.   There are devices that block cell phone use in the school entirely or just the use of texting and cell phone use.  However, most parents are opposed to their children not being able to use their phone during the school day.  There are parents in New York who are suing the city for banning cell phones use in public schools.

As an educator I find the situation ironic in nature.  Parents and politicians are pushing educators to improve the educational opportunities students are receiving.   However, they continue to want students to have constant access to cell phones which end up being a major distraction in schools across the country.


Monday, March 17, 2014

03/15/2014 - Panel 3 - NAACP DeKalb Board Candidate Forum (playlist)

03/15/2014 - Panel 3 - NAACP DeKalb Board Candidate Forum (playlist)

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Let's Think Outside the Box to Help Our Students in DeKalb

Many of our children in DeKalb County belong to single parent homes and many of these single parents have to work two or three jobs to pay their bills.  As citizens and educators of DeKalb we must help our students by thinking outside the box.  How effective are our parent centers?  They probable are not very effective at all.

 Instead let’s make a contract between the parents, school superintendents/principals, and community members to support a student and his/her parent as an advocate for that student and go online and keep up with the student's achievement and encourage the student to bring up test scores, complete homework assignments, and projects.  This advocate will stay in contact with the parent to develop a support system for their child.

 It just may work and it is something different from what we are currently doing.  Our parents in DeKalb all want their children to be successful.  However, on occasion they are so busy trying to put food on the table that they really do not have time to keep up with their children's progress.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

I am Ella Smith and I am running for DeKalb County School Board, district 4. The election date is May 20, 2014. As an elected school board member my main interest will be accountability in educating every student in DeKalb County regardless of where they may live in the county. There is no more important public investment than the education of our children in DeKalb County to be productive citizens and future taxpayers.

Our district needs a fresh start with new leadership that encourages the school superintendent to come up with innovative ideas outside the box that focuses on the classroom and not district management. Our school board members need to understand the current physical, technological, and educational challenges of our school system and vigorously encourages our school superintendent to be accountable for students’ achievement throughout the school district. DeKalb County and state taxpayer resources deserve to be safeguarded and used with the highest level of integrity. Who better to do this than an educator who has been in the trenches the last 34 years and who is passionate about educational opportunities for our DeKalb students?

 I have attained an Educational Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership so I do understand the current physical, technological, and educational challenges confronting our school system and our teachers have in the classroom. Due to the recent ethical crisis and governor’s intervention there is a need to instill accountability, accessibility, trust, transparency, effectiveness and efficiently to DeKalb’s constituents. Assuring accreditation of the DeKalb County School System should be a top priority of all DeKalb County School Board Members.

I realize that when I am elected as a school board member I will be just another DeKalb County citizen with no control of the day to day operations of the school system. These duties are the job of the school superintendent who is evaluated by the DeKalb County School Board Members. As a school board member I will not interfere. The school system must regain full accreditation. As a voting member of the school board important decisions will be made to benefit every student in the DeKalb County School System.

Ella “Coach” Smith, ED.S.