DeKalb: Johnny Goes Marching On!
Ole Johnny Brown doesn’t exactly
know where he wants to go, but he definitely wants to leave the DeKalb County School System. He came into DeKalb with a heavy hand and a big loud bark, and now he’s trying to
whimper away with his tail tucked under his legs. But, of course, he’s
telling his cabinet that he’s “being courted.” Of course, when
a superintendent of a school system the size of DeKalb (nearly 100,000 students) lets the “head-hunters” (i.e., search firms) know that he wants to move on,
then they get excited because there are always other foolish, gullible school systems in other parts of the country who are
looking for a “savior.” They are willing to buy into the next song-and-dance
or buy the next vial of snake oil. Remember: Test scores have to go up, and surely
there’s a “messiah” out there somewhere who’s got the answers.
So, the failed superintendents in one part of the country are re-cycled by these search firms, cleaned up a little,
and then they are “re-sold” to another naive school board which desperately wants to raise the standardized test
scores. (Do you remember when the search firm “sold” Stephen
Dolinger to the Fulton school board in 1995, claiming that Dolinger’s high school in Fairfax, Virginia had an auspicious
number of national merit scholars. However, when the facts were checked out,
his high school, Thomas Jefferson High School, had in fact the lowest number of national merit scholars than any of the approximately dozen
high schools in Fairfax, Virginia. How embarrassing! But, did the school board rescind the contract with Dolinger? No. He stayed as superintendent for about 7 ½ years! But, if there
are inaccuracies on a teacher’s application, we hear of school boards firing the teacher – even if the inaccuracies
were unintentional.) Every time that a search firm lands a superintendent a job,
the search firm can make between $50,000 to $75,000. Now, you see why the search
firm has such a motivation to make their candidates look as good as they can. They
“spin” stories of the superintendent’s accomplishments at the superintendent’s previous job. And, of course, the school board which is trying to get rid of the superintendent
dares not to give the superintendent a “bad rap” because the school board won’t be able to get rid of the
superintendent. That’s why the DeKalb Board of Education members will be publicly saying how they will miss Superintendent Johnny
Brown – yeah, miss him like a root canal! The DeKalb County school board doesn’t know what to do with its “mistake.”
(After all, Brown was DeKalb’s first African-American superintendent, and there’s always the
racial matter to consider – especially with demagogues like Harry Ross involved. In fact, one high ranking DeKalb administrator recently stated that Ross helped “kill” Brown in DeKalb by attacking the school board members in public – even calling their names. Ross is considered
to be Brown’s most staunch
supporter.) The “Street Committee” has it that newly-elected school
board member Zepora Roberts is about
the only supporter that Brown has on the
DeKalb County Board of Education.
She still voices her support of Brown at every opportunity.
announced that he was being “courted” by a couple of school systems. Initially,
he was trying to get on as superintendent of North Forest Independent School District in the Houston, Tennessee
area. This school district only has about 11,000 students. But, since the DeKalb school board sent Brown a message last month by not extending his contract
for an additional year (a practice of extending an incumbent superintendent’s contract each year is traditional when
school boards are satisfied with the superintendent), Johnny Brown read the tea leaves.
He knew that his tenure as superintendent in DeKalb was on shaky grounds.
This was the reason that he, all of a sudden, decided to look elsewhere for job opportunities. This is why he was willing to go to the Texas school system that was much smaller than DeKalb. But, on the way to Texas, the Memphis, Tennessee system announced
its intention to hire a superintendent. The Memphis system is even larger
than DeKalb. This opportunity was just too tempting for Johnny
and his search firm to pass up. So, Johnny went trotting out to Memphis
for an interview. But, the school board in Memphis did its homework, and
the board drilled Brown about the financial problems in Birmingham when he was superintendent there. Evidently, when talking to the Memphis board members, the school board members in Birmingham
were forthcoming about their dissatisfaction with Johnny Brown. They no
longer had to be close-mouthed about Brown because they had already unloaded Brown onto the DeKalb school
board last year. The DeKalb school board members obviously were too naive
to see the reality of Brown’s situation in Birmingham. Remember: DeKalb was looking for a “savior,” and Brown had all of the
answers. The Birmingham board members were not about to tell the DeKalb
board members how zealously they were trying to get rid of Brown. That’s
how the game is played. But, when talking to the Memphis board members,
the Birmingham board members must have told it like it was. This evidently
sunk Brown’s opportunity in Memphis. But, it also gave his
past much more exposure – exposure that he didn’t need. Now, it appears
that the North Forest school board in Texas is backing away from Brown.
It appears now that no school board wants Brown – not even his current school board in DeKalb. But, what is the DeKalb County Board of Education going to do with its wounded,
lame duck superintendent? The school employees in DeKalb County –
as well as the parents – are smelling blood. This past Monday night, the
same Harry Ross got up at the DeKalb school board meeting and offered his shrill support for ole Johnny
– as if anyone really cares who Ross supports. We understand that
when Ross got through voicing his support for Brown, he announced that he was on his way to the Clayton County
Board of Education meeting. Wow. With
a friend like Harry Ross, Clayton’s Nedra Ware and Connie Kitchens don’t’ need any
enemies. Ross has spread his bumbling destruction over two of Georgia’s
large school systems. His support appears to be the “kiss of death”
for those whom he supports. (By the way, what ever happened to Ross’s
much ballyhooed boycott of Clayton’s white-owned businesses? His
anemic boycott was not even a blip on the screen. His demagogic ways have essentially
destroyed the political careers of Nedra Ware, Connie Kitchens, and Carol Kellum. Incidentally, Harry Ross claims to have a “doctor’s” degree – but he is
apparently unwilling to state from whence he earned this “doctorate.”
Did he ever earn a “doctor’s” degree – or, does he just like the way it sounds?)
school system, like the Clayton school system, is in a state of disarray. Are
there any other school boards out there who need the political advice of Mr. Harry Ross? Are there any school systems left in the county who will hire Johnny Brown for superintendent? A word of wisdom to the DeKalb County Board of Education: It’s a bitter pill that you’re going to have to swallow.
Go ahead. Swallow it whole. You
don’t have to chew on it. Just swallow it.
You’ll feel better.
August 20, 2003
NOTE: Since the above article was written, Johnny Brown is now claiming that he “turned
down” an offer from the rather small Texas school system. (This
school system has just gotten out of state receivership. Hmm.) It’s more likely that the system allowed Brown to save face by having him to say that he turned
down their offer. We don’t believe that they wanted his services. Poor ole Johnny Brown. The arrogant
and the haughty come crashing down the hardest.