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Georgian Educator

Thoughtful and Critical Conversations About Education in Georgia

Author

Rebekah Cohen Morris

l’m passionate about public education, especially its role in fighting poverty. Education gives people a chance to succeed, even when the odds are stacked against them. I write about education in Dekalb County as it relates to the state and to the nation as a whole. Rebekah taught English for four years at Berkmar High School in Gwinnett County Public Schools and for two years at Cross Keys High School in the DeKalb County School District (both Title I schools). During her time as a teacher, she coached volleyball and basketball, served as the Co-President for the Berkmar High School PTSA, participated as the teacher liaison on the School Council at Cross Keys High School, and helped spark the student-led initiative Unify BuHi (which now operates as the student advocacy arm of Los Vecinos de Buford Highway). This year, she returns to teaching high school English in Gwinnett County Public Schools. In the past, she has also worked for the Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) doing advocacy and civic/community engagement. She has served on the Board of Directors for Presencia, a non-profit located on Buford Highway that exists to provide economic, educational, and social support to refugees and immigrants through after-school programs, job creation, and leadership development. In addition to this work, she has also worked for the Atlanta Children's Shelter and for the Latin American Association teen summer program. Throughout the past two years, she has spent her time co-founding Vecinos with an incredible group of Cross Keys cluster students, alumni, and residents to establish a community association within the apartment complexes along Buford Highway. The idea of vecinos or neighbors working alongside one another is integral to the idea of a strong, healthy community. She also serves on the board of PATH Academy in Brookhaven. The mission of DeKalb PATH Academy is to create a safe and nurturing learning environment in which refugee, immigrant and local children from the Chamblee, Doraville and Clarkston areas in DeKalb County, Georgia can develop the knowledge, skills, and character needed to succeed in top-quality high schools, colleges, and the competitive world beyond regardless of their socioeconomic and linguistic barriers. Rebekah lives in Doraville, Georgia, with her husband, Andrew Morris, who works for the Metro Water District at the Atlanta Regional Commission. She has two beautiful daughters who attend school in the Cross Keys cluster. Please email georgianeducator@gmail.com with any questions or concerns. To submit a guest piece, please send the article (up to 1400 words) and a brief biographical note.

Charter Schools: Barriers to Entry and Community Impacts

Charter schools cannot be viewed as the ultimate solution to problems with the local schools. Now, before you think that this is just another charter-school bashing article, I want to say that I serve on the board of PATH Academy (a DeKalb charter school with a lottery and a separate governing board) and I send my daughter to a DeKalb theme school (a public school with a lottery yet without a separate governing board).

More Buildings, More Maintenance Problems: Ideas for Improving Facilities in DeKalb

I spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about DeKalb Schools and one of the questions I have continued to be plagued by is this: Why are the facilities in DeKalb in a state of such disrepair, especially compared to other Metro Atlanta school districts? I began to look at the traditional arguments: “Other districts have more money to invest in their schools,” “That district’s buildings are newer,” “Those districts have wealthier students,” or “Those districts spend more money per student.” I’m not entirely convinced that those answers explain why DeKalb’s buildings suffer more than other districts.

Catch 22: DeKalb County Schools, Cross Keys and Site Selection

The new communities that will be forged and the new friendships and support systems that will arise are worth these growing pains towards a more just and equitable education system for DeKalb County Schools. It will have its challenges.

Please, DeKalb Schools, don’t tear down more affordable apartments in our community.

Please, DeKalb Schools, don’t tear down more affordable apartments in our community. A couple weeks ago, our Cross Keys community was excited to find out that we are moving closer to getting a long overdue new school building. However, my... Continue Reading →

The Story: Why I Left Teaching in DeKalb

Obviously, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I really tried to work with the school administration to help address truly important issues that seemed essential to retaining teachers and helping holistically increase student achievement. However, that style of proactive problem-solving was great for getting some things done. It was not, on the other hand, effective at building strong relationships between me and my administration.

Looking Ahead: Recommendations for Improving the School Site Selection Process

The Shallowford Gardens property looks like it’s going to become an elementary school. There isn’t much that we can do about that at this point. In the future, however, I would love to see a revised site selection process that includes community input and a thorough site analysis and final report. This would go a long way toward improving and sustaining a healthy relationship between the school district and its families.

Does DeKalb Schools Have to Displace Apartment Residents to Build New School?

Before deciding to knock down your students’ homes after promising those same students and their families new facilities to address long-term neglect of the Cross Keys Cluster, I think DCSD should have involved the public in the process, exhaustively explored other options and been able to provide clear, written and thorough explanations as to why alternative properties were not feasible. 

DeKalb County Schools Addresses Overcrowding by Planning to Demolish Apartment Homes

I’m really trying to be collaborative. I’m trying to understand the logic that leaders in DeKalb are using. But today, I’m having an extremely difficult time reconciling that objective with the latest news that DeKalb County School District is going... Continue Reading →

Graduation Rates in Georgia: The Emperor Doesn’t Have Any Clothes

If we are using data to drive our practice, we need to use solid numbers that allow practitioners to identify and isolate individual variables so that we can at least know what the issue is. Let's actually close the achievement gap, not just pretend that we are.

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