Wilbanks to stay: Why am I not surprised?   4 comments

Proof that education change is slow to come to Gwinnett County: The Gwinnett County Board of Education voted to extend Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks’ contract for 2 additional years, until 2012. Wilbanks is currently the superintendent of the largest school district in the state of Georgia; he is also one of the longest-serving superintendents in the country. Some of the highlights of Wilbanks’ career as superintendent:

  • Missing AYP for 6 consecutive years (See story here);
  • Challenging a charter school that is actually closing the achievement gap (See story here);
  • Blaming Special Education for the academic woes of public education;
  • Questioning the existence of Blacks in Idaho at an open school board meeting (See story here);
  • Operating a system that continues to suspend and expel Black and Latino students at disproportionate rates;
  • 48% graduation rate for students with disabilities.

There are more, but there is no need to fill this blog with a laundry list of public education failures. One a brighter note, The Broad Foundation overlooked the district’s blaring discrepancies and less-than-culturally sensitive superintendent when they awarded Gwinnett County $250,000 as a finalist in the Urban Education competition.

Yep, I am certain: The road to change does not run through Gwinnett County.

4 responses to “Wilbanks to stay: Why am I not surprised?

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  1. EducationCEO:

    I only know you from one post on my blog and a brief overview of your blog. As such I am going to limit my judgment (positive or critical) until I obtain a better understanding of what you are driving at.

    In regards to the school system of Gwinnett County and the racial undercurrent that you are focusing upon I have these data points to put forth as the basis of our discussion:

    From Great Schools.net

    Gwinnett County School System Rating – 8 of 10

    Dekalb County – 4 of 10

    The reason why I index the Gwinnett scores with Dekalb’s is because I can make a list of about 10 African-American families that I know who have exited Dekalb to Gwinnett for the consumption of a higher quality education system.

    Please note – I am NOT suggesting that you should just suck up any “racism” and take it.
    What I am saying, however, is that you are driving for the dismissal of Wilbanks over racial matters yet I hear PRIDE from the Black community in Dekalb that the school system is lead by a Black man – Dr Johnny Brown DESPITE the system being rated 4 out of 10. With the schools in South Dekalb where they reside in their highest concentrations being the boat anchors.

    The pattern is clear Ms EducationCEO – fire the school head with the 8 while everyone is behind the school head with the 4 because they have confidence that he is going to turn things around.

    In the recent mayor’s race in Atlanta – members of the same machine that is in power campaigned that the city was screwed up and needed new leadership BUT instead of punishing the MACHINE – they elected a member from that same machine.

    Ms EducationCEO do you ever step back and make note of the proportional “injury” that is taking place with Black students between Gwinnett and Dekalb?

    Do you know of any parents who can no longer tolerate the “racist” school administration in Gwinnett and thus they moved their children back to attend “SouthWest Dekalb” where there is no “racism” but the academic quality is questionable?

    I remain as a critic of the NAACP in that they are apparently unable to make note of the “threats” and go after the larger one that proves to grind down more Black people on balance.

    I am not sure that my friends moved to Gwinnett for a “diverse” administration. They already had one in Dekalb and this did not translate into educational quality to their satisfaction.

    • I will tell you the same thing that I tell other parents: You cannot rely on those ratings to make educational decisions. for those 10 families you can list who have left DeKalb for Gwinnett, I can provide you with 60 who are unhappy with the quality of education here as well as the manner in which their children have been handled, including, but not limited to discipline-wise. Parents do express their concerns about the school system, but as they say in the hip-hop community: Money talks and b.s. walks. if you don’t have a certain zip code, your concerns are basically dismissed or minimized. I have started encouraging parents to become more actively involved in the school board elections so that we get someone who will listen to and consider our concerns.

      The comment you made about driving for the dismissal of Wilbanks was actually in reference to an incident that happende last year, where he publicily asked if there were any Black people in Idaho. Regrdless of his intent, the comment was inappropriate, insensitive, ignorant. and in my opinion, racist. As an African American woman, I have the right to determine what I find offensive. Other African Americans may disagree, as they are entitled, but because I am a member of that group does not mean I have to feel or think the same way. By the way, Johnny Brown is no longer in charge of DeKalb County. Again, another reason why i tell parents to rely on trustworthy sites (typically government and non-profit sites) and thoroughly conduct research.

      I would like tom know what you mean by proportioanl ‘injury,? Are you referring to the disproporationate numbers of African American and Hispanic/Latino students who are brought before disciplinary panels in Gwinnett County? If so, the school system is being named in a class-action lawsuit over that very issue. One of the parents spearheading that effort has successfully sued the school district for that reason. If you are referring to the disproportionate number of African American/Latino students in Special Education, my forthcoming book will cover that as well as the under-representation in Gifted Education programs.

      As mentioned earlier, I know numerous families who are unhappy with the current status quo, from lack of diversity in teachers, teaching methods, access to innovative instructional programs, and manner in which concerns are addressed. Of those, I do not know anyone in a position to buy another home and move back to DeKalb County. That would be absurd anyway. In this economy, not many people would have that option. Likewise, private schools are not feasible. Let’s face it: We are already paying property taxes for Gwinnett Schools so why should we have to find another option for our kids? I withdrew my oldest because he was constantly bullied in school and the administration’s response was lackluster, at best.

      I certainly hope I have answered your questions. I enjoy dialogue. More importantly, I rarely blog without checking my facts. I can assure you that everything posted is supported by data provided to both the state and federal governemnt.

      Lastly, we must not forget that our quest for Civil Rights has already been won. Moving to a suburban area does not and should not preclude our children to racist or culturally insensitive statements by teachers, administrators, or the superintendent. perhapsif more African Americans stopped living under the illusion that assimilation is the cure-all, such staements would not be tolerated in any community, organization, etc.

      Thank you.

  2. Once again, EducationCEO, you appear to be initiating in Gwinnett the very same path that was initiated in Dekalb, Fulton, Clayton and other places as the influx of Africa-Americans grew.

    I keep hearing about drives for diversity as you dismiss the documented assessments in the quality that the school system has in aggregate. Redan High and North Clayton High used to be top notched schools 20 years ago. Now, especially North Clayton is problem plagued.

    I am not sure that putting “diversity” as the #1 goal has served the parents and student body well.

    It sounds to me that Gwinnett, like Dekalb and Fulton has a varying level of school quality. Unfortunately it appears that the two key items to determine this quality is the prevailing “family income” and race of the given student population.

    My criticism with your agenda is that you appear to be leading based on your grievances with the system in aggregate instead of focusing upon the school that your children attend (assuming that this is the case rather than your advocacy being in general terms as an educator).

    My point remains true – that in general Black famlies have migrated to Gwinnett and Fayette and Henry and Cobb and North Fulton in order to consume better educational opportunities from where they’ve come from. Whereas we all are ultimately individuals and are seeking our own interests I do see patterns of behavior and migration trends that accompany the racial dynamics with respect to the educational system. Too many times after the Black parents have “won” they also have “lost” because far too often the school’s performance does not retain its high standards.

    I don’t take GreatSchools.org as bibilcal truth. However I believe that it provides for a good thumbprint regarding some of the challenges that are faced in various school systems and individual schools.

    • Why should an influx of minorities equate to a decline in academic performance and offering of unique programs? Why should an influx of minorities equate to an extremely overcrowded high school with no future plans to build another one in a certain area? Not sure you really understood my point because, as I stated, many parents (Black, White, etc.) has voiced their displeasure with the leadership here in Gwinnett County. I guess if a White person wrote the blog post the grievances would have more merit? The fact that a superintendent ‘forgets’ to report 40K, not 400, disciplinary issues, blaming Special Education for the deminse of public education, and questioning the existence of any racial group in the 21st century simply added fule to the fire. Sure, the distrci has a reputation for overall academic achievement, but when you take the time to actually look at the performance of each and every group, as I have done, you will get a more accurate picture of the truth.

      It sounds to me that you have chosen to remain in DeKalb County for whatever reason; I do not assign any value to your decision. However, I moved to Gwinnett County to purchase a home and attempt to provide a more diverse learning environment for my children. Dekalb County is not diverse. Being around Black people all day everyday is not a realistic living environment because every city does not mirror DeKalb County. There are many parents who grew-up in diverse environments and want the same opportunities for their kids, myself included. Hence, our decisions to move to other counties. The sad reality is, quality of education does still heavily depend on the value of a home. Despite Brown v. Board and the segregation orders of the 1980’s, some districts still manage to elude equal distribution of diverse student populations.

      Lastly, I would like to add that the leader in any organization sets the tone for that organization. If left unchecked, disparaging remarks towards any group, will be construed as acceptable to those who serve under that leadership. That is a proven fact. I seriously doubt that an African American or Latino, in charge of a suburban district in the South, could reference ‘rednecks’ (as they affectionately call themselves) without coming under fire. That’s the reality and sometimes it bites, whether we choose to accept it or not.

      Again, thank you for your feedback.

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