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Should it be the responsibility of one school community to improve the educational standards of another? In a , , a former parent, said he thought the Lakeside High community was elitist and promoted their self-serving, socially-economic advantages over those from clusters with less-than-stellar academic performance. He said redistricting was a noble effort for the community, and Lakeside High community students could pollinate the rest of the DeKalb County School System so everyone could benefit.
Where is it written that our students should be responsible for improving the educational achievement of all schools countywide? Our students should be provided the opportunity to learn in a safe environment with high standards for academic achievement and necessary resources to obtain their education. The responsibility of improving the educational standards across DeKalb County rests with the board of education.
I am befuddled why so many people see the Lakeside community as an elitist community. When I bought a home in the Lakeside High/ area in 1985, there was an elementary school on the verge of being closed. Thanks to the hard work of many who came before me in the Oak Grove community–such as Joey Callaway, Priscilla Harris, Jane Bush, Anne McCord and Merrill Fraser–they set higher standards for educational achievement in our community. Many parents who had children in Oak Grove Elementary in the 1980s demanded more from their students, teachers and school administration. These parents recruited a principal who could help us achieve our goals. They raised money for extra instructional incentives and resources. I came in and followed their lead once my eldest son enrolled in kindergarten. We worked hard to build a nature trail, raised funds for foreign language instruction and found ways to support our teachers.
This is not rocket science. Any school community can do the same. It takes a lot of sweat equity. Desire for entitlements don't work so well.
These educational values didn't rest with the elementary schools but followed our students into high school. Karen Rowles and I took over the Miss Lakeside Pageant in 1994 when the choreographer quit. We continued to support the event which was the largest money maker for the Lakside High PTSA at that time until 2000. When I saw the Miss Lakeside Pageant in 1994, I was shocked at the deterioration of the school from when I had been a student there in the 1970s. The gym curtains were in shreds. The acoustics in the gym were horrible, and there was no equipment for any type of musical performance. The gleaming Lakeside High of the 1960s and 1970s was showing its age by the 1990s. The money from our property taxes was spent in other parts of the county. Many people worked long, hard hours in our local elementary schools and high school raising funds to provide not only extras but necessary equipment. The school board was not focusing economic resources on our community though our property assessments surely went up to reflect the value of our school district.
Coleman Seward, former leader of the DeKalb NAACP, served as a judge in the 1990s for one of our Miss Lakeside pageants. He was stunned to see the school's facilities because he had been led to believe that our school had everything. Well, it is not paved in gold. He asked me how we had such high test scores with such outdated equipment and facilities. I told him once he stepped in the gym, he would see the real strength of the Lakeside community: our teachers, our students and our parents.
I have been out of Lakeside High for almost four years. I am glad. I had three active boys who tested me as well as the schools they attended. I am not white-haired, and it is a testament to the strong DNA provided to me by my parents. I know people in our community who have students at Lakeside High. Are they snobs? No. Are they elitists? No. Are there parents at the school in charge of committees that are difficult? Probably. Are their teachers who may not be the best? Maybe. Are there parents who would fight tooth and nail to make sure their child gets the best education they can at Lakeside High? Definitely.
What parent wouldn't want to see their child have the best teacher? What parent wouldn't advocate for their child? I never could get my children's schedule changed or get a preferred teacher (and don't think I didn't ask) but I support any parent that can.
If Miranda wants to be a Christian and spread the wealth, great. He just happens to live about 2 miles from Lakeside High between it and . Funny thing: I also live about 2 miles from Lakeside High. My children could walk and ride bikes to Lakeside. Yet, Miranda never faced the prospect of being removed from the Lakeside High attendance zone upon which he casts such dispersions. I live on the south side of Lavista Road and faced redistricting under the original plan. I and many of my neighbors want to stay in this vibrant community. What some people call elitist, I call hard-working. What some may call self-serving, I call diligent.
If you want to improve the educational standards of the other areas of the DeKalb County School System, great. I hope you will be out there in the other school clusters volunteering your time and talents to tutor other students. I contributed to our community and want to remain a part of it. What I think we should focus on is not the Lakeside High area but the mismanagement of our entire school system. We do not need to pit neighbor against neighbor or even one school community against another. We need need major changes to flow from the school board into the entire school system. Our school district needs to be free of nepotism, corruption and stupidity.
The real question is where is the money? Where is the ethics policy for our school board and the administration? Where is the outrage when a superintendent fills up three SUVs in one day with our tax dollars from his county credit card? Why are there so many people at the central office related to present and past school board members who do not teach in a classroom? Where is the Ernst & Young salary study conducted with our tax dollars? Why are our teachers furloughed while administrative staff receive excessive raises? Why is our administration not required to document expenses? Why don't we have an ethics policy? How can we continue to raise our taxes without proven results in achievement? Let's focus on improving the educational standards of DeKalb County. Let's demand more from our school board. Let's stop the name-calling and labeling of certain schools out of self-righteous indignation or jealously. Let's focus upon our students. Let us provide all students the best education they can obtain from kindergarten though high school.
Rebecca Wynn Amerson