Board member wants to SCOUT talent for south Cobb schools
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
November 30, 2009 01:00 AM | 2984 views | 16 16 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
AUSTELL - Cobb school board member David Morgan wants the board of education to approve a pilot program to raise student performance by improving teacher quality in southern Cobb.

Poverty and a lack of English proficiency or parental involvement are factors that either drive good teachers out of south Cobb schools or burn out the ones that stay, he said.

His proposal targets teacher retention and quality. For existing teachers, Morgan proposes a three-week summer training program based at Lindley Middle School's seventh and eighth grade academy, where teachers would receive advice and training from the district's most polished educators. The training would be ongoing throughout the school year, with meetings twice per month to keep teachers on track.

For new teachers, Morgan proposes partnering with Georgia State University's College of Education and requiring beginning teachers to receive more training in exchange for a better salary.

"One of the best ways to help them is to have more talent around them. If you get five or six really good additional teachers the school prospers," he said.

The student teachers would clock an additional 200 hours of field experience, 20 hours of community service with the Austell Community Task Force, and take a course on classroom management. If they made those commitments and agreed to teach four years at Pebblebrook High, Lindley Middle or Bryant Elementary, they would start out with a salary equivalent to that of a five year teacher.

"If they do it you've got to be able to compensate them more," he said.

It's more than most student teachers are asked to do, but then, "In the U.S. military if you want to be in the Navy Seals, baby, you've got to go way above basic training," Morgan said.

Morgan said he proposes partnering with Georgia State University because he didn't receive interest from Kennesaw State University. Moreover, Georgia State has a number of initiatives with Atlanta Public Schools and those schools are similar in makeup to theones Morgan represents.

Morgan proposes about 30 teachers for the summer training program, which he calls South Cobb Outstanding Urban Teachers, or SCOUT, program. The cost is $38,280 a year for three years from summer 2010 to fall 2012.

The program would be evaluated by state and national test scores and by other evaluation measures to prove its effectiveness, he said.

He also sees 25 to 30 candidates participating in the Georgia State partnership.

"It's merely creating another vehicle to bring talent to the table," he said.

When Morgan delivered his proposal to the school board in October, board Chairman Dr. John Abraham asked Superintendent Fred Sanderson to review it and bring back a recommendation. Sanderson did not respond to Journal inquiries sent Wednesday and Friday regarding the proposal. Morgan said Friday that Sanderson hasn't told him whether he supports the pilot or not, either.

Abraham said he was not opposed to Morgan's teacher initiative, but he wanted to see how the recent federal $8.9 million five-year grant Kennesaw State University's Bagwell College of Education worked first. The KSU grant is meant to help prepare education majors to teach in more of an urban setting. KSU faculty will use the funding by partnering with teachers in the Osborne area to improve the training for educators who teach poor students or those who are learning English as a second language.

"I don't disagree with what he says. I just don't want a duplication of effort," Abraham said.

Morgan said the KSU grant will accomplish much of what he's proposing, but it's targeted at the schools in board member Alison Bartlett's Post 7.

"What I'm proposing is concentrated in my post (Post 3). We need to have something also," he said.

Two years ago, Cobb Board of Commissioners Chairman Sam Olens raised the problem of southern Cobb schools, saying for too long the county was content to talk about its top high schools such as east Cobb's Walton and Pope. The county needed to have equal pride in its south Cobb high schools, such as Pebblebrook, Osborne and Campbell, Olens said. He called on Sanderson to take some risks in those areas.

Two years later, Olens said many southern Cobb schools are doing better such as South Cobb and Osborne high schools.

"Principals Grant Rivera and Steven Miletto have made great strides. The increase this year in the number of schools making AYP is very impressive," Olens said.

Olens believes teachers are making great improvements in the area, but it is the parental factor that needs to change.

"No school will succeed without parental involvement," Olens said.
Comments
(16)
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mk -smyrna fantasy
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December 01, 2009
UHHHH,... abc's of economics maybe? Empty storefronts mean people aren't working, or shopping,... crime takes over, poor neighborhoods, failing schools,.... etc., etc. The result of that IS affordable housing, which Smyrna has plenty of! Section 8 & HUD housing take root! I just came from Crossville in Roswell.While there, I stopped @ the Traders Joes,... you ask WHY I have to shop? How 'bout so I can EAT?? Too bad we have to take our money OUT of Smyrna to accomplish that very task!
Not so
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December 01, 2009
I could see some areas of South Cobb being undesirable, but Smyrna is not one of them. The area around Atlanta Road is clearly going upscale and there are several new developments around Campbell HS. And I agree with the poster below, the location is fabulous!
Just Wonderin
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December 01, 2009
Why do you have to shop in Smyrna? You can't beat Smyrna's location - affordable housing within minutes of areas like Atlanta and Vinings/Cumberland Mall.
mk--rah-rah
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December 01, 2009
to smyrna rocks--

jonquill village?

belmont hills?

4 corners?

concord & king springs?

hawthorne/roswell street buisness area?

south cobb drive strip centers?

windy hill west shopping center?

ALL EMPTY (or substandard shops!!)

Until the people of smyrna get off the mayor bandwagon- nothin's gonna change here!
Morgan Assessment
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December 01, 2009
You know I'm glad Mr. Morgan is speaking up on this issue but when I review board meetings, his voice is either muted or he's absent. Speak up and attend your meetings!
Cobb Title I teacher
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November 30, 2009
I am a teacher at a Title I school. Our population is 50% black, 20 % hispanic, 20% white and 10% other. While it is not as minority as some South Cobb schools, a great staff can make a huge difference. Unfortunately, money does not matter to educators who are burned out. The average stay for those at the Title I schools is about 5 years. They usually stay for the initial money and then leave. I have frequented Green Acres Elementary and I was shocked at the teachers misspelling of words on schedules hanging in their rooms and on the boards. Cobb administrators should be taking notice of these issues in the first three years of an educators hiring. Train teachers who are lacking an education themselves. Parent involvement is key to educating these students as well. They need parent liasions to provide parent training and reaching out to parents to volunteer their time to the school. In addition, teaching english to the parents would help. Good luck David Morgan but you need to watch who the county is hiring in the first place. We have many staff members whom we hired for diversity issues and are not hiring based on qualifications. When a teacher can not spell or speak proper english themselves, can we really expect them to teach our students?
Smyrna Rocks
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November 30, 2009
Are you guys talking about Austell or Smyrna? Smyrna actually has been improving in a lot of places and I definitely don't get the sense that it is undesirable when I drive around the area. Not sure about the townhouse market but the market for single family houses in the area is actually quite strong - my neighbor's house just sold last month at close to full list price.
Pat H
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November 30, 2009
Mr. Morgan, you must surely be educated enough to understand that it is not the teacher but the student. If the parents are disinterested or the child is illegal and only here for benefits, there are no special teacher who can turn around unmotivated desk sitters. We already spend more per year on educating the uneducated and unwilling than we can afford. What makes you think a summer program can improve them, other than provide year round free lunches and breakfasts?

Incidentally, when citizens proposed to Smyrna's city commissioners to institute 287(g), the very commissioners with the worst school districts, containing more illegal offspring than any one district should, refused to consider it. I imagine they are very proud of their poorly performing schools.
smyrna nightmare
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November 30, 2009
Have I been there lately? Yeah, every night when I'm forced to drive down Concord Road to my house!I live a few blocks from city hall, have had my house on the market 2 years & can't get anyone to look @ it, let alone sell it,... not when all the houses in Smyna Heights are turning rental! Good markets don't turn rental!!!You are in a fantasy about Smyrna. When you try to sell your house out here, reality might give you a wake up call.
Dale G.
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November 30, 2009
Smyrna is not a place, but a state of mind. I am fourth generation Smyrnite and all of you folks who have moved here just need to know that. Oh, by the way, whatever happened to Oakdale? Yes, the little town at the intersection of I285 and Atlanta road. Remember the Hardware store burning down? Didn't think so. It's not Vinings, it's Oakdale. Blend or leave.
mk -smyrna fantasy
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November 30, 2009
R U Kidding?

The dirtiest Kroger in Atlanta is corner of Concord/South Cobb.No-one in the schools speak english!! Chain link was put up around Jonquil 2 years ago & just erected @ Belmont Hills last week! WHY?? Because NOONE w/ any business sense & money will take a chance in this area! Oh yeah, not one piece of pinestraw out of place @ the glorious (empty) Village Green,... & THAT is the problem- these awful elected officials here don't know how to open their eyes & see the WHOLE city- EVERYONE here pays taxes, but the only ones who benefit live in a 1 mile stretch of Atlanta Rd. Yeah, they were gonna sit back & let Cobb County do all the work & eventually Vinings would push its way up.You watch what Bob Ott does along the Powers Ferry corridor! Because he has a DESIRE to make his community BETTER!!! I guess if I want to play baseball & go to church, Smyrna would be awesome--- but I'd rather go hang out @ a square(like Decatur)-- where there really are things to do!
I Love Smyrna
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November 30, 2009
mk - have you been around Smyrna lately? This is not the same town it was even 10 years ago. There are stores, parks and new subdivisions galore here and it is definitely not unattractive to anyone that's actually been in the area. More and more residents are using the public schools in this area and Campbell has a very strong IB program. Sorry but your conspiracy theory is complete garbage.
a West Cobb Parent
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November 30, 2009
Morgan has got to feel pretty foolish right now. Why did the Super not tell him they were working on the same thing with KSU when Morgan pitched this program? Fred Sanderson should said no, this is something we are doing with KSU. Talk about letting a board member spin in the wind. Hope Fred has his Resume updated when David gets more friends on the board next year.
Real Deal
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November 30, 2009
Oh give me a break. Smyrna is not poor, uneducated and undesirable. You couldn't pay me to move to East Cobb given how convenient it is to get to entertainment venues from here. Streetscaping, million dollar houses, parks, Smyrna has it all. Scout is just one more example of the effort residents here are putting towards rebuilding the schools.
Support SCOUT
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November 30, 2009
In the CCSD, our posts are as large as many entire school districts. I would hope that SCOUT does not get derailed because of "duplication of effort." When it comes to teacher quality, we need more duplication of effort across the posts given the size of CCSD. When you have efforts concentrated in certain posts, that is a large reason why some parents feel the need to move or transfer their kids to other areas. Mr. Morgan's program is targetted specifically at the s. cobb community, and that is what we need.
mk--power corrupts
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November 30, 2009
Hey, ya gotta keep the south Cobb area poor, uneducated & welcoming to illegal immigrants. It helps to ensure more million dollar homes get built in east Cobb & close to Olens neighborhood.

Nothing's going to change out here in Smyrna area. No stores, no resturants, no shopping, no streetscaping- NOTHING!!!

Smyrna must get paid to remain unattractive & undesireable. How long can conditions along Atlanta Road & South Cobb Drive be completely IGNORED????????
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